Suitonia brings his perspective on Faction Warfare capture mechanics, originally published here.

This is an idea that has been suggested several times over the years, the main gist of the complaint/suggestion is to be able to combat farmers and players who want to contest/decontest systems or gain loyalty points from plexxing while avoiding combat with other players. The proposed mechanic would mean that instead of progress being halted while a militia player is not inside the plex, that it would instead roll back towards a neutral position. This would mean that one PVP player could stop farmers from taking a system. What commonly happens (mostly in defensively plexxing) is that if a farmer is interrupted in the large plex for example, he simply goes to the medium or another plex. The PVP player then has to constantly chase and trade time 1:1 with the farmer and cannot undo his progress. This would allow PVP players to combat these farmers easier and perhaps provide more ‘ante’ to fight for the FW site.

Timer Rollbacks is also a feature that has been pushed by CSM Candidates in the past, as well as something that CCP has said they would like to do.

The main concerns with this proposal are that it would allow neutrals/pirates and non-FW players to influence the war zone indirectly. i.e. Caldari own Tama, but they do not live there or even control the plexes, so Gallente are trying to take it, but pirate groups are preventing the Gallente from taking it by constantly rolling back timers despite the fact that the Caldari are non-existent in the system. It is also worth mentioning that this would be a much bigger buff for defenders, and that might be a bad thing considering the advantages the defenders already have, and could cause more stagnation in the war zone.

Warzones already stagnate when one Militia achieves dominance, see the Gallente vs Caldari Warzone recently when the Caldari achieved T5. Since farmers, players who are only interested in making ISK, or just players who have not tried FW yet are highly incentivized to join the winning faction, it’s already an uphill struggle for a losing militia to make a comeback. Timer Rollbacks would probably result in this being even more difficult to achieve.

I think there is already an argument for progress already made on a plex might also be a driving force for someone to come back to a plex too. i.e. a player has put 10 minutes of the 15 minutes progress into the small when he’s killed or interrupted by pirates. Does he go back to that plex with a new ship/reship to deal with the pirates or hope they’ve left with the knowledge that he’s already got 10 minutes of work into it as an incentive?

This information is anecdotal evidence, but I’ve had several great repeat fights with players probably because of the progress already invested on a plex. If I kill someone in a plex, or if they kill me. I can go back to that plex in a more suitable ship with the knowledge that I’m either going to get a rematch and a fight waiting for me or a plex that’s even closer to being captured providing me with ISK. In a world with timer rollbacks, there is no need for an enemy FW player to stay in the plex that he just killed me in if he cares about the system. There is also less incentive for me to go back there assuming the player that just killed me has moved on. I’m more likely to go back to a plex that has probably reset, and there’s no advantage to be in that plex as opposed to another one closer to me if I only care about ISK. Likewise, the player who killed me will be less incentivized to stick around with the lower driving forces for me to return. This will result in less ‘repeat fights’ and less struggles over plexes, especially from neutrals.

Alternatively, I also believe that many players asking for timer rollbacks generally do not think about ‘valid’ reasons for leaving a plex, and how timer rollbacks will pressure people into flying more expensive ships, and higher end ships ‘best in plex’ style ships. For example, if I’m flying a Kestrel in a novice plex, and a Worm is on the outside and comes into a plex. I will have to leave as it’s impossible to fight a Worm in a Kestrel, this is obvious and expected. However, with timer rollbacks, I’m punished and lose progress for “running” from a fight I have almost no chance of winning. This mechanic makes it much harder for low SP, low ISK players from advancing in FW. As anytime you have to leave a plex, even if it’s a valid reason, stalls out your progress. Alternatively, I’d probably go from some ships like the Griffin Navy Issue even though I would fight almost everything that wasn’t a pirate faction ship in my Kestrel. I’d be worried that players in FW and pirates would trend even more towards higher end ships.

FW already has somewhat of a high barrier to entry to fight back in a plex realistically. For example, in novice plexes, the ‘average’ FW player is flying a faction navy frigate. Ships like the Comet and Firetail are usually more common than say Rifter or Incursus. You can usually expect most FW players will be experienced in the ship they are flying, with most relevant skills to level 5, and flying a well-optimized fit for winning 1v1 fights, as well are most likely skilled in flying it too. Most new players in FW flying tech 1 frigates already have to run from the average fight or be destroyed in the majority of cases. I’d hate for the new guy flying a Condor to be heavily punished because he chose to run from a Garmur, and this slows down his progress and ISK generation, slowing him down from getting to a point where he can realistically fight back and provide content and the fights people want to players in the war zone.

In short, I’m actually somewhat opposed to timer rollbacks. While it would hurt farmers, it also hurts anyone who is legitimately looking for a good fight from new players and people flying more engage-able and lower entry ships, and will probably push a war zone where the default already is all level 5 navy frigates into pirate ships + implants. It wasn’t too long ago that an off-grid booster was almost required in order to PVP in FW (or at least run from the OGB users). I fear that timer rollbacks would result in the same upward pressure.

Alternatively, roaming blobs become more powerful as they don’t even have to sit in the plex, just push someone out and then move on to the next system. Costing someone 2+ minutes off the timer each time they force a player out of a plex. Essentially, timer rollbacks reward the more powerful players and groups more. This could be a good or bad thing depending on your viewpoint.

Instead, I think maybe there is a discussion around defensive plexxing being possible in unfitted or throwaway ships without much commitment, and readjusting victory points to make them more normalized for time. Right now, novices are the best plex since they are worth the same as a large plex, but since you can capture a novice in half the time, and with a significantly cheaper ship, they are much more attractive for farmers who want to control the system without committing to a fight.

I’d be really interested in hearing from FW players about discussing the merits/demerits of timer rollbacks and alternative systems.