Monday, August 3, 2009

Fighting fair

Oft do I hear the lament, "Nobody fights fair anymore." Well of course not!

People seem to have the idea that "a fair fight" consists of two equally-matched opponents risking it all in a thrilling space battle. But if one were to stop and consider for a few moments what "equally-matched" could possibly mean, it becomes clear that there is no such thing as a fair fight. Consider this short list of factors that contribute to one's ability to win a fight:
  1. Skills (in broad terms, skills affect speed, DPS, EHP, agility, and the modules one may fit; in more narrow terms, skills affect speed, the damage capability of the turrets one may fit, the range of those turrets, the rate of fire of those turrets, the tracking of those turrets, the damage capability of one's drones, the number of drones, the range of the drones, the speed of the drones, the hp of the drones; they affect the actual HP of one's ship, the resists to various damage types one has, one's scan resolution, one's manuverability; they affect the size of one's turrets and the tech levels of one's modules). In other words, fighting completely fair has to start at the beginning of a pod pilot's training.
  2. Ship and modules. Two equally-skilled pilots may make different choices as to ship (e.g. Incursus or Tristan) or modules (e.g. web or tracking disruptor). Even ships with roughly the same fitting could actually have modules with different meta levels. Further, two ships fit identically could still load different ammo. So fighting fair has to take into account one's fitting bay.
  3. Numbers. More is better. This is easily controlled, unless you don't find it easy deciding which members of your gang don't get to get in on the killmail.
  4. Pilot experience. At what range to fight? Traveling at what speed? Which modules to activate, and when? Which ammo type to load? Which drones to deploy? Shoot the ship, or take out her drones first? Fly into that asteroid field, or steer clear? Should I use up my own cap to suck up theirs? Good answers to these questions come from native intelligence and experience, and an intimate knowledge of the other pilot's ship, modules, experience, and personality doesn't hurt, either.
Now, tell me if you can how to balance these factors to end up with a truly fair fight? Bah, there's no such thing as a completely fair fight. Furthermore, it is foolish to want a fair fight. In the history of combat, any good commander is looking for an edge, whether it comes from numbers, armament, terrain, intelligence, politics, logistics, whatever. The people who complain about a battle being unfair tend to be the losers.

On the other hand...

I do actually believe that the combat we engage in is fair. Let's back things up a little.
  1. As a pilot, I am free to choose which skills to train, which ships to spend my money on, and how to fit that ship. Sure, I can't have it all, but the information is available to me to help me understand the trade-offs. No other pilot in the game makes these decisions for me.
  2. As a pilot, I am free to roam lawless space's asteroid belts, or stay huddled in my hangar. I get to decide whether to undock, and where to go and what to do if I so choose. The information is available to me to assess the risk of any activity: system security levels, recent kills, pilots in space--all are publically available information. In the system where I am--in the place where my ship is vulnerable--I have further intelligence on every other pilot: their security status, their employment history, and their tenure as a pilot.
  3. As a human being, I get to choose whether to live a solitary existence, or whether to build relationships with others. Society with others can be a powerful deterrant, and having friends who are willing to risk themselves for my sake can make all the difference in whether I win or lose a battle. If I do have such friends, I get to make the decision whether to fly with or without them.
  4. Finally, in many instances I get to decide whether or not to engage. The judicious use of coverts ops cloaking devices, warp core stabilizers, safe spots, and speed cover a multitude of combat vulnerabilities once one has made the decision to share space with combat-ready vessels of all types.
If I know that my ship could be destroyed within seconds of undocking, what do I mean by claiming "Unfair!" when it happens? If I know that some pilots don't honor their word, yet I agree to a duel anyway, how can I claim it isn't fair when I get blobbed? Have they somehow exploited the laws of physics or broken some civil law? If I myself seek to win fights by countering my foes' advantages with advantages of my own, how is it fair to prohibit them from doing the same?

The basis for fairness in New Eden is free will (I get to choose how to prepare myself and my vessel), full disclosure (I have access to information that helps me assess risks), and actual rules (everyone knows that anyone may attack anyone in any system of any security status).

No fair fights in New Eden, you say? "All is fair in love and war," says I.


SarKnagel said...

Ah, I always get excited when your blog pops up in my feedlist. :)
This entry is another reason to be.

It also once again kinda bums me out, because I neither have the time nor funds to renew my own pilot license. Siiigh. ;S

Mynxee said...

Nice to see you posting, KJ. Great topic...and mostly I agree. It's just when those 7 Falcons decloak on a few cruisers having a bash at each other, I want to cry "FOUL!" Or maybe "FOULCON!"

Anyways...your theories about free will and fairness apply in the real world too, if only the governments would let go that way more often.

Flashfresh said...

Good Post KJ and yes, life in New Eden is not fair - far from it. Parity is a myth and the only 'fair' fight would be an agreed duel. This will only negate the ship fitting and numbers, it doesn't equalise the skills and experience of each of the pilot. The only fair fight would be if everyone was a clone with identical ships and skils....and then combat is left to chance....and how fair is THAT?


Tony "EVE's Weekend Warrior" said...

I agree with you, all is fair in love and war!

alaph said...

If you find yourself in a fair fight then your tactics suck!

nikola said...

it will be very brave and honourably to defeat poor and defenceless miner, inventor or corebear who get to your system to fulfil mission for agent or to diliver his stuff to far system. Who have 5 mil SP in science and 3 mil in mecanics and you bravely defeat him wirh your 18 mil SP in combat skills. It is the same if you become pro boxer and after that get to the nearest department store and start to fight with every one - children, girls and old people - they have chose - don't get to shop or become pro-fighers previously. If you fight only other fighters is one case but if you honourably destroyed transport ship or industrial it is disgusting.

Tony "EVE's Weekend Warrior" said...

This is EVE, you can kill whoever you want, and sometimes killing the carebear you speak off really yields good rewards, like T2 BPO's, deadspace items, and etc.

Just live with it man, and if you can't replace it, you shouldn't fly with it.