tl;dr There's now a reason to fight for better space again: sov upgrades will spawn better cosmic anomalies in lower truesec space; cosmic anomalies spawned by methods other than sov upgrades are unaffected.
'Ello 'ello 'ello, wot's goin' on 'ere then?
One of the many internal discussions we had during the development of Dominion was how to strike a good balance between making sovereign space everywhere more desirable, and ensuring that we still had enough reasons to fight, and how this should affect the way we let players upgrade their space.
At the time we decided to go with having upgrades have the same effect everywhere, to try and maximize the potential holding capacity of nullsec and give more people reason to live out there. Having given things time to settle down and find their new equilibrium, we're now revising our opinion on this decision.
While it's been successful in making more space more useful, it's also become a damper on conflict in nullsec. With everywhere being essentially the same in terms of the value of key resources, once you've got yourself established in one patch of space there's little incentive to move elsewhere, because there's nowhere "better" to go. This is resulting in fewer drivers for conflict, both in terms of wars of conquest and also in terms of intra-coalition power struggles.
It's also a concern that by making the traditionally less-valuable areas of space viable for long-term settlement, we're depriving new organizations of somewhere to start out.
We're pretty happy with the increase in useful space, but having a densely populated nullsec is less important to us than having an interesting, vibrant and entertaining nullsec. Therefore, we're making some changes.
Those changes in full
We've batched nullsec up into five security bands, based on the current truesec values that are already available via the datadump: 0.0 to -0.2, -0.3 to -0.4, -0.5 to -0.6, -0.7 to -0.8 and -0.9 to -1.0. (And yes, we're rounding in the same way that we do in the UI currently, so the boundaries actually lie at -0.25, -0.45 and so on.)
Firstly, we've evened out the upgrades so each one has four sites in it now, rather than five in the first and four in the rest. We're also retaining a mix of the sites that we're aware are regarded as "filler" by high-end players, for several reasons: to act as genuine filler so the earlier upgrades in some systems aren't empty; to give newer players resources they can use without much competition; and to give people running anomalies a little more safety from marauding enemies.
In terms of the high-end sites that high-end players are after - Havens and Sanctums for normal factions, and Hordes for drones - the break-even compared to the current system's maximum of four is around the 3rd and 4th band (-0.5 to -0.8 space), which are -1 and +1 respectively. Below this, things get worse (0.0 to -0.2 systems won't get any high-end sites after the change), but the -0.9 to -1.0 band can potentially gain an extra six top sites with full upgrades. 26 of the 34 regions have at least one system in this security band, with half having 5 or more.
- Some alliances will immediately start wanting to look for better space
- In the longer run, there'll be more conflicts going on, with more localized goals
- Newer alliances will have an easier time getting a foothold in nullsec
- Coalitions will be marginally less stable
- Alliances will have to choose more carefully what space they develop, where their staging systems are, and so on (low truesec systems generally tend to be in strategically inconvenient places)
You're seeing this first because it was an obvious target that's relatively easy to implement. We're conducting an ongoing review of nullsec issues at the moment, with items on the agenda including force projection tweaks, conquest mechanic adjustments and improvements to the nullsec industrial landscape. Keep your eyes peeled for more updates as the year progresses, and let us know in the comments if there are any other areas in need of some love that you'd like to see brought to the top of our priorities.