Monday, March 4, 2013

Safety in cynos

It's something I've noticed several times since I moved to null-security. Cynosural fields (AKA cynos) make for the fastest, easiest and safest travel in EVE Online. My corp has several capital pilots, all of whom have alts capable of lighting a cyno in a far-off destination. They undock, jump, and dock up at their destination. In total, they're in danger for a matter of seconds if they do it right.

With the Local chat channel giving you a real-time list of who's in the same system as you, the only real danger to my corp-mates would be an awoxer. If there's a neutral or worse in the system you want to jump to, just don't light the cyno. I've lit a couple cynos for corp-mates, and I've got a flawless record. Maybe I've got an over-inflated sense of how easy it is, but the overall difficulty level seems rather low.

I'm aware that there's more than a few things that can go wrong. So-called "kickout stations" have caused near-misses for alliance members in the past, but that's a situation caused by lack of planning and knowledge. While I'm not a capital pilot personally, the general opinion seems to be that losing a jump-capable ship while moving via a cyno is a rather dumb manoeuvre.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the chance to see capitals tear through structures a while ago. What struck me the most were two things: The sheer fire-power offered by massed capitals, and the ease of movement they enjoyed. In real-space, they move about a millimetre a minute, but light up a cyno and they're the fastest things in space. Moving on to the next target could take the sub-caps three jumps and ten minutes, but the cyno goes up on the new target and the capitals travel there instantaneously.

In high-sec, the biggest ships are the freighters. Sit in Jita and you can watch them come and go constantly. They travel point to point in high-sec with all the grace and speed of a glacier. What would null-sec be like if capital ships had to travel like that too? I've read/heard/watched a lot of EVE-related media that suggest the big null-sec alliances are only possible because they all have their blue buddies sitting on their borders, and no-one shoots anyone ever.

I'd like to posit an alternative explanation for the large territories controlled by the blocs. In an EVE Online without near-instantaneous travel like cynosural fields and titan bridges, what alliance is capable of mounting a focused defense against attack anywhere in their territory at any time? The only way to defend everything is then to spread your defenses thinly to cover all possible points of entry for an enemy. Want to take your capitals on campaign against an enemy to your south? Good luck getting them back to defend against an attack from your northern neighbour in time to fight the attackers off.

What if CCP really wanted to shrink the size of the null-sec powerhouses? They'd force players to move their big guns the same way as the rest of their ships. That's an impossible suggestion though, as they'd never be able to do it without making the Incarna backlash look like a child's tantrum. Bright idea it may be, but it's not going to ever happen.

On the bright side, new players like myself get to continue to covet ships that move faster, carry more, tank more damage, and shoot bigger guns than anything else in the game. And to think, it all comes down to something as simple as cynos.

Now I only need 120 more days of training before I can sit in an Archon. So close!

- Sam.

Edit: If someone with experience as a capital pilot wanted to weigh in on the gameplay effects of removing cynos from a purely mechanical standpoint, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Before you immediately say "rage-quit," I'm already assuming that to be the general reponse. I'm far more interested in the planning and new strategies that would be required to cope with the change to game mechanics.

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