Sunday, May 26, 2013


Current sentry mechanics:
  • Sentry aggression incurred due to security status penalty.
  • Security status penalties occur through the following actions, against players not under the effects of a limited engagement, suspect, criminal flag or war target:
    • Offensive module activation (against players or player owned entities, ship, cans etc).
    • Property destruction (ship, cans, drones, structures, etc).
    • Capsule destruction.
  • Further, flags only occur once per target per PvP flag.
    • In that, for the duration of the PvP flag, activating modules more than once on a target will only incur one security status penalty.
    • Unknown whether multiple poddings of the same target would incur multiple sec status penalties; likely.
    • This means that after initial security status penalty, for the duration of the PvP flag, further aggression against a player will not incur sentry aggression.
  • Further, flags carry over through systems.
    • In that, a player can initiate a hostile action, follow his target to another system, and continue to initiate hostile actions without security status penalties, for the duration of the PvP flag.
      • This effect does not carry into highsec space; offensive actions in highsec space without ‘consentual’ PvP flags (limited engagement, suspect, etc) against the opposing player will incur concordokken.
  • Further, any additional hostile actions will renew the PvP flag.
  • Non-offensive module activations on players or player owned entities, such as the use of remote repairs, sensor boosters, tracking links and other modules, do not incur a security status penalty.
    • PvP status flags will be inherited however, such that suspect, GCC, and weapons timers will be inherited by the supporting player.

How does this affect game play in lowsec?

These changes heavily influence game play around stations and star gates.  Immediately notable is that players engaging other players on stations or gates can remove sentry aggression by leaving range of the station or gate (note: cloaks do not count as leaving range of the defended object).  This mechanic allows for less downtime when camping a station or gate, lessens the need for strong local tanks or logistics ships, and allows players to move through star gates or stations without worry of sentry aggression.  Looked at alone, this makes PvP around stations and gates more casual (less downtime), opens camping to less expensive, tank dedicated ships, and helps promote fragile ship usage in lowsec as low tank ships can now continue through lowsec without a quarter of an hour of sentry aggression on stations and gates gradually destroying their HP pool.

The change to when sentries engage targets brings many nuances to PvP on stations and gates.  When a player engages another player with a hostile action (guns, etc) both players will receive a PvP timer.  If the attacked target shoots back, a limited engagement flag will occur, which enables those two players to fight each other anywhere, including highsec, for 5 minutes.  However, the initial PvP timer is what carries the initial cost of security status for attacking a player.  In that, for fifteen minutes, the attacking player can now engage the defending player anywhere in lowsec without sentry aggression on stations and gates.

This goes far to do away with station and gate games, where the defending player relied on attrition brought on by sentry aggression to wear down his attackers.  Now attacking players need only to incur the initial security status penalty, if done in range of a star gate leave range of the sentries and return to freely fire upon the attacked player without further sentry aggression.

Further, this mechanic promotes the use of highly fragile ships to attack other players in lowsec within range of sentries, where their use in the past necessitated logistics or strong EWAR support to survive.  The burden for the attacking party becomes holding down the attacked player(s) long enough for the attackers in vulnerable ships to leave sentry range and return to destroy the attacked player.  Alternatively, attacking players can chase down players after PvP in other parts of lowsec, and attack them on stations or gates, for the 15 minutes the PvP flag lasts.

Just as important is the derived change to support ships lending friendly logistics or EWAR effects (remote sensor boosters, tracking links, etc): these effects will no longer cause a security status penalty.  This means that regardless of the actions of the players you are lending support to, a support ship not engaging in hostile actions will not incur sentry aggression.

This lends strongly to the use of logistics ships in PvP in lowsec.  Unlike EWAR ships that use aggressive EWAR modules (such as ECM, sensor dampeners, etc), logistics ships will only be threatened by other players.  Indeed, whereas in the past logistics ships were preferred in pairs to keep each other alive under sentry turret attrition, lone logistics ships are viable as long as they can evade or tank player retaliation.

This does not however mean that support ships using aggressive EWAR are less potent with these changes.  Rather, the long targeting range of these ships, coupled with the inability to group EWAR like weapons, means that EWAR ships are very capable of aggressing large groups of targets, from relative safety of range, leave sentry range and return to lend support.  Indeed, the "incur aggression, warp off and back" tactic suits their game play very well, as these types of ships normally use range from other players to mitigate incoming damage.

These are the majority of uses of mechanics, and changes to old game play on stations and gates to the game.  While they spell out how players can use the new mechanics, what do they mean to game play at large in lowsec?

Being able to nullify sentry aggression can be a difficult task to accomplish; in a safe and timely manner, anyway.  Frigates often have difficulty executing this maneuver as their lock ranges are relatively short; they risk being tackled when attempting to aggress their target, then flee.  Larger ships, with their longer locking range are more able to use this mechanic from outside of tackle range, however they are less likely to be able to chase down the target after warping, or have a harder time aligning to warp, etc.

Use of this mechanic also requires much in the way of target selection: players are only able to fire upon the targets they have aggressed previously without sentry aggression.  This is due to the mechanic of attacking a neutral target incurring not only a PvP flag, a weapons timer, but also a suspect flag in lowsec.  Thus if their target is a gang of players, the attacking player(s) must engage all targets prior to dedicating to the fight, else the attacked gang will still eventually have sentry support.  Given that the task of activating multiple modules across multiple targets can be a somewhat arduous task that takes a few seconds, the attacking player is liable to take a round or two of sentry volleys before leaving the station or gate.  Also, if any additional players enter the fight, the attacking player(s) will then have to take sentries to fight those targets, unless they can evade tackle, etc to repeat the process.

In practice, any player or group of players that is looking to use this mechanic to avoid sentries is looking to engage a lone or very small group of players.  It can be difficult or impossible to effectively aggress all members of even a 10 man fleet with a similarly sized group of players to use this mechanic, which is why it is not often done.

Support ships, using logistics and EWAR gain much from these changes.  Logistics ships which are not engaging in hostile actions no longer are affected by sentries, and thus gain for that reason.  EWAR ships are the most common ship to be holding at range from a fight, and from the relative safety of range are able to avoid sentries through the new avoidance mechanic.

Players who take the time to create station and star gate tactical bookmarks further gain tremendously through use of the sentry avoiding mechanic.  Instead of having to warp to celestials, which can be a very time consuming process, tactical bookmarks can be very close to the minimum warp distance of 150km away, enabling players to only leave an engagement for a few seconds, instead of a minute or longer spent in warp.  Tactical bookmarks are especially important when put into context of station or gate camping, as the downtime for campers from the gate if their target is attempting to repeatedly crash to the gate is minimal.

For larger fleet fights where the bulk of players are present in durable ships, or have adequate logistics to keep their ships intact, sentries will still be an often ignored factor in the fight, if the fight would have occurred in the past with sentry aggression.  Fragile ships in this setting, such as frigates or support ships will still suffer, and be required to either have logistics repair them in anticipation of their aggression, or mindful of sentries cycling to their ship to either receive repairs or leave sentry range.  Effectively, little changes in these situations for fragile ships in larger gang fights in lowsec on stations and gates.

All together, sentry mechanic changes most affect smaller gang or solo engagements on stations and gates.  Typically, the party benefiting the most is the party with the greatest numbers, force multipliers, etc, which in the past already had their significant advantage.  The smaller gang or solo pilot will have difficulty exploiting these mechanics, as not only do the larger gangs have more opportunity through numbers to catch players in the act of attempting to avoid sentries, but the attacking player(s) must engage all important targets prior to dedicating to the fight.  Use of support ships, such as EWAR or logistics ships is highly encouraged through these changes; small gangs are less able to lever these assets due to limitations in player count.

Players who do not run in gangs to scout a threat, or with logistics to exploit their immunity, with EWAR ships to exploit their strength in avoiding sentries, who do not have bookmarks in place to exploit their usefulness, or in gangs with ships who can tackle and tank the target, while the rest of the gang leaves sentry range and returns, lose out.  Overall, smaller gangs and solo players lose out.  Players who travel frequently, without the benefit of bookmarks lose out.  Static game play found in camping and dedicating to PvPing in a known, mapped (with bookmarks and scouts) area is reinforced.  Branching away from larger gang combat becomes more hazardous, while gang combat becomes less risky.

Food for thought, proposed changes:

It’s my belief that the previous sentry system, which favored neutral parties travelling through lowsec, which heavily punished static game play found in gate camps, forcing campers to ship up considerably to sustainably tank sentries was a positive system for PvP interactions in lowsec.  Further, I believe current sentry system of cycling off criminal offenders who leave sentry range and return is too a positive system, which can be melded with mechanics of the past to help rebalance the risk/reward of criminal star gate and station PvP in lowsec.

This can be accomplished though several ways:

  • Actions that would refresh suspect or GCC timers, or aggressive module activations on neutral targets refresh sentry aggression on offending players.
  • Supporting module activations, such as the use of remote repair, remote sensor boosting, tracking links, etc share sentry aggression in addition to other PvP flags.

These two changes retain many of the positive changes to gameplay brought on by Crimewatch 2.0 changes, while helping to reinforce risk/reward gameplay which is so iconic of PvP in lowsec.  Firstly, renewal of sentry aggression aids considerably players who in the past relied on the underdog sentry mechanic to enable (safer) travel through lowsec, which acted as a balancing force against criminal players who preyed upon vulnerable players passing through their space.  Aggressors in this situation still benefit from the ability to warp off and back to ‘reset’ sentry aggression, providing an avenue for support ships to retain more presence in a fight, alternatively in instances of station or gate games allowing the aggressor to minimize damage caused by sentries.

Secondly, these changes would bring into line the use of support ships used in supportive actions around stations and gates.  Currently, these ships are incredibly potent by virtue of their immunity from sentries, out of line with the relative risk of employing aggressive EWAR, damage or tackle modules found on other ship types.  Sharing of sentry aggression not only is sensible (the guy driving the getaway car in a heist is very much a criminal), but provides a sense of risk/reward to their use in station/gate PvP.  Lastly, it helps deny the use of support ships for very cheesy PvP heavily practiced by that jerk Missy Lorelai (skirmish, shield ganglinked logistics and tackle ship duo camping stargate).


  1. The times they are a-changing ... Sadly.

    It's a weird old change, like, on one hand I like it and on another I hate it. Especially when you see shit like that happening in the vid clip with risk-averse retards.

    I like the getaway car comparison and I fully agree. I sometimes think we're playing a different game at times. Actually, I know we are.

    1. Well there's a lot of good with some bad to recent lowsec game play changes. It just so happens for some folk like me, the bad is worse than for most others that play in lowsec. Or should I say, it gets worse for the people that are traditionally ridiculed for traveling alone, stereotypically at fault trying to PvP against the odds without stacked advantages of intel, composition, numbers or fitting.

      God forbid I try to run around lowsec in a BS/BC; new sentry mechanics are a slap in the face to players that enjoy slow ships in small PvP settings.

  2. I've been out of the game nearly a year now, and will be coming back this weekend. Between these and the ship changes, there is a hell of a lot to take in.

    Really appreciate seeing a breakdown of these new mechanics and a bit of a play by play on what they mean for a low-sec pirate like myself.


  3. I think one of your main downsides for solo is missing a behavioral element that I, while solo, have taken advantage of quite a lot.
    Once you've cleared sentry aggression for one target in a group, and come back to exploit that, the rest of the group will probably shoot you, allowing you to return fire.
    If I were in a Cyclone, for example, and I encounter a Scythe supporting 3 Caracals on a gate or station, I can fire on the Scythe, warp off, return at 50km, and continue firing on the Scythe. The Caracals are sure to open fire at this point, and now I can shoot everything, especially if my pressure on the Scythe has forced it out to range, while the Caracals isolate themselves toward me.
    Or, on an even smaller scale, I can shake sentries in a kiting frig or destroyer by aligning away and firing a shot vaguely in the direction of a fast tackler, and then bounce away and return to continue my harassment at a safe range. Under the old rules, I had no real options in either circumstance versus targets that wouldn't shoot first.

    1. Its my experience that the expanded options allowed to solo players in particular are far outweighed by the difficulties of exploiting sentry avoidance versus gangs. I will freely admit however, that this viewpoint is taken from true solo - no links play. I'm quite certain that with skirmish ganglinks in particular that I would be able to exploid this avoidance mechanic much more effectively than in my current trials without.

      Further, while it's indeed viable to exploit avoidance mechanics in small, relatively fast frigate and destroyer hulls, its been my experience that if the target wasn't interested in fighting in the first place, they do not stick around to allow you to exploit sentry avoidance. This has generally been against other frigate/destroyer sized targets. If you were looking to engage a larger target, such as a BC/BS, I'm sure you'd be very well equipped to catch up to the target, though it's my opinion that exploitation of the mechanic in this regard is a failure of the defensive sentry mechanic, rather than a boon.

    2. I wouldn't know, I don't use links except in fleets.