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FW Tiers and Tears. Why FW Missions are outdated and need to go.

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

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Today we will explain the Factional Warfare Tier mechanics in depth, and look at the problems with the existing system, and possible solutions.

On the Warzone Control bar of the FW UI, you’ll see a bar with your friendly faction on the left, and the enemy faction on the right. In this case, it’s for an Amarr pilot. The Warzone Control Bar is increased by Warzone Points, Warzone Points are based on the number of systems that a faction controls, and how many upgrade levels that system has. For example, in the Amarr vs Minmatar warzone, there are 70 systems total. This means that there is a total of 420 points in the warzone (70 from the systems themselves, then 70×5 from the tier points).

Upgrading systems is done by depositing Loyalty points into the faction controlled Infrastructure Hub.

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Here you can see an Ihub owned by the Amarr Militia. As you invest more points into the Ihub, you will reach more milestones, up until 200,000 LP invested, which unlocks the highest level of V. You can put more LP into the Plex, up until, 300,000. Which the additional 100,000 serves as a buffer.

The buffer is useful because whenever a plex is captured by the opposing militia, 10% of the Base LP reward from capturing a FW plex is removed from the Ihub. For example, capturing a novice plex in an enemy system would result in 1,000 LP being removed from the Ihub. The amount removed is not based on Tier and is always the base amount.

Additional levels grant addition warzone points which contribute to the overall warzone tier as mentioned, you also gain up to a 50% reduction in broker fees and Industry job costs.

So we’ve mentioned tiers a few times, what exactly does the warzone tier do? Well, it multiplies the reward you get from successfully capturing a plex.

Tier Multiplier
1 0.5x
2 1x
3 1.75x
4 2.5x
5 3.25x

Tier 2 is considered the ‘base’ tier, and will not alter the base payouts of plex, Tier 1 awards half the normal payout, and tier 5 will offer more than 3x the base payout. The problem with the Tier system is it heavily incentives players to join the winning side. As of right now, Minmatar are Tier 5, Amarr are tier 1. That means that a Minmatar player capturing a plex is earning 550% more LP than the Amarr Player, which is a huge amount. While the market obviously corrects itself to a certain extent, as the LP value is decided by players, and larger supplies of LP means lower ISK:LP values, there is no denying that this is a huge disincentive for the losing side.

Tiers are based on a percentage of the overall warzone points. I mentioned earlier that the Amarr vs Minmatar warzone has 70 systems, and a maximum of 420 points. Tier 2 is awarded when you control 20% or more of the warzone points, or 84 points and higher, Tier 3, 40%, Tier 4, 60% and Tier 5 at 80%.

The Tier doesn’t also alter the plex payouts, it also alters mission payouts and kill payouts too.

Speaking of missions, they are the biggest problem in factional warfare right now in my opinion, almost every FW group I talked to agrees. Let’s talk about the missions.

FW Missions are easy to complete missions (Generally speaking), a large percentage of them can easily be blitzed, usually killing a single commander, a few industrials, or a structure, Gorski Car has a good guide for farming them on the Minmatar Side if you want to see how ridiculously easy they are to complete. The Game Design of them made sense when they were created, they are easy to complete but have you travel into the enemy side of the warzone, the purpose of them was to have a player be able to complete them in a PVP ship and have that ship travel throughout the warzone in order to generate content. Unfortunately, the missions are very dated, have been completely figured out and are usually run by ships which minimise any risk whatsoever in travelling, while usually clearing them in a few minutes each, minimising exposure. Stealth Bombers, Cloaking ships like the Stratios or <2s align time Sniper Hecate/Jackdaws can complete these sites, which having almost no risk whatsoever in their use.

Missions are taken in stacks, you pull 9-10 missions at a time, using multiple FW characters to pick up missions that are suitable for blitzing, you then use those characters in fast warping ships like travel ceptors to spawn the missions, once warped to, FW missions act in a similar way to FW Plexes where they become public beacons that appear on the overview for everyone. The Mission Farmer then uses his main characters in Bombers/Jackdaws/Hecates or whatever incredibly low risk farming ship to complete the missions, The mission farmer is further circumventing more FW PVP too by using characters that aren’t even in FW so that you must take a suspect timer to engage him, and to get around the risk of travelling through hostile FW faction space and the station lockouts. There is even a Minmatar Farmer right now who runs the missions on Amarr characters so Amarr FW PVPers can’t even engage him without taking standing losses and risk being kicked from FW themselves.

Another problem with the missions is the fact that the NPCs in them will often swap to friendly militia players or gankers attempting to kill the farmers. Making it even more difficult to kill them even if they are somehow caught with all the risk minimisation they already have.

Missions also reward absurd payouts, A level 4 FW Missions pays out about the same as capturing a Large Plex does, however, a L4 FW mission can be completed in under 3 minutes easily, while chaining multiples together, a Large Plex takes over 20 minutes to capture, can be interrupted by and rolled back by opposing FW characters, and requires an in FW character to complete. Making them far more risky.

Training a pulling alt for missions is also incredibly easy once you already have access to the FW Missions. FW Missions award very high standing boosts to the militia corp when handed in, so by sharing the mission awards with your alts, you can boost them up quickly, and every 1.00 interval with FW corps, you will get promoted, causing a large faction standings boost. This allows you to chain decline a lot of the non-blitz-able missions.

The biggest reason why the missions are hated by FW groups is the fact that they just don’t interact with the warzone at all, are often simply exploited by outside groups which have puller alts that have never fired a shot in the warzone, and never will. Because Missions are so much more efficient at earning LP than plexing directly, they dilute the value of the LP earned by those who earn it through PVP. Picture this, You join the Amarr Militia at Tier 1, despite the 6.5x lower payouts!! You fight and successfully push the Amarr Militia to Tier 3 despite all odds, you’ve taken back your sides space. Your reward? All the LP you’ve earned plummets in value as mission runners who don’t interact at all and were on the other-side until now flip and crash the market.

I’ve even seen treaty’s proposed by FW corps where they agree to not take/defend each-others mission stations…

Missions are by far the biggest problem in FW right now. The ‘value’ of PVP would rise and it would be more attractive if FW missions were not diluting the value of LP through sheer demand, which would hopefully cause more players to take part in PVP in FW in the plexes, and those already doing it can hopefully keep doing it without having to earn ISK through alternative methods, more PVP for all is good. I hope this demonstrates just how bad the missions are for FW, the only value in them is the slight importance they have on some FW systems when attempting to attack.

Now that we’ve berated missions, let’s go back to the Tier system, right now it completely discourages loyalty. 6.5x more payouts by flipping sides is an enormous difference. I also don’t like the fact that Tier 1 feels more like a punishment and further discourages joining that side. Instead. I would like to see a system similar to the project discovery rank system for Players and Corps in FW.

The goals of the Tier System when CCP introduced it was to make the warzone feel more like a huge conflict rather than a small set of skirmishes which simply change systems every once in awhile, I completely understand that, and it does fulfil that purpose, however, the current system does not reward loyalty to a faction at all. For a healthy and interesting warzone, both sides need to at least feel balanced and you want the possibility of a comeback to be on the cards, you want to generate stories and conflicts that span a long time, you want groups and players to stay put. The AvsM warzone is the perfect example of why the current system completely discourages healthy consistent action. Whenever either side hits Tier 5, you can correlate this to about a 30-40% drop in kills in the war-zone on zkillboard.com – this is because fresh blood is completely discouraged from joining the losing faction, why join the uphill fight where you’ll be earning anywhere from 4.5-6.5x less reward for the same effort, you’ll be Oplexing vs Venture Dplexing, and fighting not only your enemies but hordes of farmers which will come out in droves to Dplex highly contested systems for easy LP.

Not only that, but once one side hits tier 5, there is far less locations to Oplex, this might concentrate fighting if there is a last stand happening, such as what is happening in Sahtogas at the moment. But generally, The Tier 1 Side has less players to shoot. Tier 5 players are encouraged to abuse the risk free missions and accumulate LP  for a big payout instead of being in Plexes where they can be more freely engaged. So Less PVP is happening, the PVP is focused more in big fleet fights which the losing side is less likely to be able to achieve victory in. The Tier 5 players get bored due to winning and not encountering new resistance, and simply farm missions and then stop playing.

This is why I would like to see the Tier System nerfed, and instead, add a new FW Rank system for players and corporations which effects payouts. Here is an example of a system that I would like to see.

The rank system would be simple. you can level up from 1 to 999. Just like project discovery, long term FW players can brag about their rank. The rank should be per faction. So swapping to another FW faction, for example, leaving caldari and joining gallente, you would have to start from rank 1 again to encourage loyalty. Have the first levels from 1 to 75 increase your LP payouts from 1 to 75%. And you level up by capturing plexes or getting kills on the enemy FW faction (With the kill value being used to determine how much experience you get like the bounty system so it cannot be abused). And have some special BPCs (like 1 run FW frig/cruiser/BC/BS BPCs) and similar faction themed rewards at milestones and to give a reason to level beyond 75 without increasing the LP payout %.

Corps should also have a corp rank, maybe 1-25 for LP rewards. and being able to achieve 999 for ultimate bragging rights. With ranking up done in a similar way, just needing more experience so a group of players would need to level up. with 1-25% bonus to LP Payouts. I would like to see this corp rank because it would give an immediate benefit to joining a corp rather than staying in the NPC FW corps. I.e. Join my FW corp we are rank 20 so you get 20% more LP! would be a good selling point, and would also encourage corps to stay in the same faction rather than hopping. Players who join corps are way more likely to stick around, and this would be a good carrot for people to get involved into established FW groups.

Tier 1 should become the base, no penalty, with Tier 2 offering 12.5% more LP, up until 50% more at tier 5.

The Max LP would be similar to now. Tier 5 + Corp Rank 25 or higher + Player Rank 75 or higher would be a 1 x 1.25 x 1.5 x 1.75 multiplier, or  3.28x total (As opposed to 3.25x now). But it would require a player who has taken part in the warzone through PVP and plexing. This would nerf mission pulling alts that never take part in PVP a lot, reward long term players, and give a reason to stay in a losing faction.

A player who takes part a lot in the warzone in a well established corp, but the faction is losing and is Tier 1 would get 1.75 x 1.25 = 2.18x payouts, which would be between current Tier 3-4. Making it way more worthwhile to stay put where you are. Joining the winning faction but changing to a different faction rank would only be a 1.5x payout multiplier.

TL;DR Delete Missions, maybe change the Tier system.