For a few weeks in a row optimal hours have been suspended. This means more pilots in non-optimal hulls and fits joining the WTM fleets, but it also means the fleet is less able to take contests in the heavily-contested EUTZ, resulting in more waiting, bouncing and losing contests. Recently a few people discussed the problem, different interests that need to be balanced and possible solutions that could improve the current situation. This post was written together with Thomas Neoo and Xoceac.
During EUTZ there are four groups running HQ sites. WTM, TDF, NGA and recently a Korean group has started running HQ sites. These groups generally play nice with each other, but TDF can and will contest other groups to raise their own ISK/hr, lowering the efficiency at which the other groups can run sites. Running the WTM incursion fleet on a first com, first serve basis during these highly contested hours (from DT through early EUTZ) results in a serious loss of income for the entire fleet.
There are two conflicting sets of interests. On one hand everybody likes more ISK. On the other hand WTM wants to be a community open to newer members without requiring a multi-billion ISK investment up front. For each suggested solution we will try to balance these two sets of interests.
Limiting non-optimal hulls in fleet
Set a hard cap on the number of non-optimal hulls that are allowed in fleet until there are no more optimal hulls on the waitlist. This would make WTM fleets harder to contest, but the tradeoff would be making it harder to join WTM fleets for new pilots.
A less harsh version of this would be only accepting optimal and preferred starter ships. This would remove some of the more... interesting hulls from fleet.
Expansion and stricter enforcement of the upgrade policy
Currently the upgrade policy requires pilots to upgrade to an optimal hull after 30 hours in fleet and to T2 guns after another 90 hours or 4 months, whichever comes first. Using the low estimate of 100m/hr you're looking at 3b for 30 fleet hours. That is enough ISK to (currently) buy PLEX for one month + upgrade to one of the non-Leshak optimal hulls. The suggestion here is requiring damage mods to be upgraded after 20 hours in fleet after getting an optimal hull. Assuming four damage mods that would be approximately 400 million ISK of the 2 billion people should've made in that timeframe. If possible it'd be great to expand upon the waitlist tool showing pilots they might have to wait for a long time to get in fleet because they are lagging behind on the upgrading policy.
More guidance for new pilots
Make a clear and easy guide on how to upgrade your ship, starting from a starter ship and covering all improvements until the pilot is in an optimal hull and fit. Preferably with an explanation for each upgrade. This gives pilots a clear path to contributing more to the fleet. This can also be combined with other suggestions. Also, Xoceac already started implementing this it seems!
Newbro-focused assault fleets
Another idea floated around in the Discord conversation was running assault fleets focused on non-optimal pilots. Newer pilots could get some incursions practice running assault sites, making ISK without having to deal with the higher stress and contesting resulting from the high competition for HQ sites. Obviously these fleets could only be run during very active hours (like EUTZ during weekends), but it would be a solution that would be beneficial to all (except if there aren't enough FC's to run assaults that is). One of the FC's seems to have already stepped up to organize this
Bringing back optimal hours
This solution speaks for itself. Bring back the optimal hours during the most highly-contested time (11-16 approximately). Perhaps combined with having a minimum number of x newer pilots in fleet.
Waitlist notifications for non-optimal fits
Another way of informing people they can and should upgrade could be through the waitlist, showing notifications for pilots to remind them to upgrade their ships.
There are a bunch of ways to improve WTM fleets without hurting the goal of being new-player friendly. We were wondering what other people thought. Let us know