Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Insurgency in Null

Okay, so people have been talking a lot about guerilla style warfare and irregular tactics as a counter to the growing stagnation in Null. I say talking, because no one has actually stepped up to do it.

We have a saying on Khanid: All talk, and no trousers.

Anyway, despite people talking in theoretical terms, I'd like to discuss what the hit-and-run tactics being suggested would actually involve. A lot of the comments I've read are full of 'great ideas', that 'could work only if people tried'. Which shows a remarkable lack of understanding of the problem.

So lets look at it, so that people can understand the challenges of insurgency in sovereign null.


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Getting there

You'll need a ship that can either warp whilst cloaked, or pass through bubbles unhindered. Wormholes are distinctly unreliable as a transport system to a specific location, which makes them impractical for our purposes.

This limits you to Strategic cruisers, interceptors, the covert ops line, and Sisters of Eve ships.

The use of covert jump drives and jump bridges expands your options, but at that level you've already hit conventional warfare, and you may as well bring in the dreadnoughts.

Alternatively, you just fly a fleet in and hope for the best. Not a terrible idea, considering the gaps in most sov-null alliance defenses, but also not as secure. You'll need to run scouts. But this leaves you wide open to a counter-attack from a settled fleet, that can pick the hard counter to what you'v brought... being next to heir home bases and all.

Extremely restricting. And this is the easy part.

Targets

Admittedly if all you wanted to do was take out miners and mission runners, all you need is a gun and a warp jammer. This is already being done, and hasn't helped the stagnation. If you want to destabilize a system, you'll need to do something more impacting.

Sadly that means structure.

Here is where you can find out about the Sovereignty structures you'll need to shoot. I consider myself an educated man, and even I have difficulty deciphering this. As far as I can tell, unless you start putting up Sov-blocking units, everything worth shooting is invulnerable. And once you've put those onto the field, you're reverting to conventional warfare. (Note: To be honest I don't even know if this site is still relevant. Seems like a peculiar way to manage sovereignty.)

About the weakest thing you can shoot at there is a POCO (and I'm not even sure they are vulnerable).

Foo goes into detail about how this can be done.

I've run my own numbers, and yes, it's largely correct. To get a POCO to reinforce under an hour you need the equivalent of 4 battleships, pumping out 1000dps. Once the reinforcement timer is finished (and provided they've let you shoot this long without repping the POCO), to finish it off takes little more than half an hour.

And yes, that's do-able. But even if you manage to take it down, you've cost the alliance 50 million ISK. To put that in perspective, using tier 3 battle-cruisers for the DPS you need, you've invested just under 100 million.

For one ship.

Theft

Extremely easy to do. Get ship, go to null, start blowing up non-capsuleer pirates, and carting off the loot. Alternatively use a Prospect to steal ore. Alternatively, use siphon units to steal moon resources from POS.

Now... how do you plan to get that stuff out again?

You can't sell it locally. A Prospect fills up it's hold in maybe one belt run, and battleship modules dropped from the NCPs take up a massive amount of space. You'll need a logistics network to get this stuff to a place you can sell it.

It's a lot of effort. And in the end, you're better off working in low-sec. And based on the results of my low-sec belt ratting run, you're probably better off in hi-sec running missions.

Attrition

I was informed that Dirt Nap Squad is doing these things regularly, and stealing resources from null entities to fund themselves. If that's the case, then good! They've managed to work through the logistical problems presented above, and are surely destabilizing the sov-empires as we speak!

But they're not. And the biggest problem is why they're not:

Your supply lines are far more vulnerable than theirs.

Guerrilla tactics work best against an opponent who is far from home, who needs that plane full of bullets and pancakes to land to be re-supplied. Blow up the airfield, and he'll starve and run out of ammo. Stealing his resources costs him not only the resources, but the travel time it takes for new resources to get to him. This costs them more to resupply than it costs you to attack.

They also work great because your fighters an just go home, bury their weapons and become a civilian again within minutes.

Hit and run against null requires you to go there, and escape again. It's going to cost you more to hurt them than it will for them to resupply, which means you haven't actually hurt them. You can't hide in null, and you can't go home easily. Cloak up in a system and log off, and you'll still have a mission to get back out.

It's a headache, and one most capsuleers have sensibly avoided.

The only way for a capsuleer to hurt null-sec in this way is to be so invested in their destruction, that even the tiniest scratch on a POS shield is worth a Titan. You have to be willing to set fire to yourself to watch them burn.

But these are New Eden capsuleers. Immortality mutes these passions.

Final word

That said, if all you're looking for is to kick mud in sov-null eyes, and come away with a bunch of kill mails, Gevlon Goblin has some data that shows them to be rather soft targets. This is where 'insurgency' works.

Theoretically, if enough capsuleers maintained a round the clock siege of a null empire, then the members might lose heart, quit and join the sleepers in slumber. Realistically, the profits of null-sec are good enough that I doubt this will ever happen. It's a place where you can replace your lost battleship in half an hour, and that raid that happened mostly just livened up your day.

It's probably been said before, but null-sec is mostly likely choking on the glut of ISK available to it. So called apex forces will be much harder to field if you cut the income needed to fly them.

That's as far as I want to think about null-sec issues. Frankly, everything about null seems so taxing, I don't know why people bother with it in the first place.

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