With the refined Planetary Conquest (PC) concept coming from CCP, they changed a few key pieces of the system:
The Genolution clone pack is now 80 M ISK and contains 150 Clones.
The minimum clone loss count is 150 clones, as is the minimum clone movement amount.
A corp can buy more than one clone pack and distribute up to the maximum clones to a district.
There are EVE-side bonuses that apply to entire Alliances (more on these in a later blog)
This makes life a LOT harder for small and medium-sized corporations. The cost is quite prohibitive if you are a small corporation, as you will have less people contributing into the corporate pot. There's currently no tax system, so its entirely dependent on donations from members that won't "miss" the money much. I, personally, roll with Raven Type-I BPO suits fit with an Exile BPO and all militia BPO's for 95% of matches. I do well in these, so I haven't felt the need to rock Type-B's and Proto mods, despite having the skills and fittings for them.
Also, small corps will be hard pressed to pull together the 16 players for these matches. I have trouble getting people into multiple squads of 4 on occasion, despite regularly having between 10-20 players on during peek hours. This is another problem with CCP's system; not having an easy way to ping people to join squads or advertise their presence. The game needs a sort of EVE-style fleet finder where players can log in, see what squads are running that they have access to, then jump into them, even in match (or at least queue up if they are in a full match). That brings me to the next point: if you missed the boat with your squad for whatever glitchy reason, you are fucked until the match is over... at least in pubs, that is.
So, in the comments section of that dev blog, I noticed a few posts by a guy named xLTShineySidesx concerned about the accessibility smaller corps will have to PC. Realistically, I already accepted that it would be impossible for a singular small corp to do PC on their own, but he had an idea that, for some reason, I haven't thought of before: what if small corps formed a coalition? This really got me thinking, and I reached out to him. He informed me that he was a leading member of such a coalition, and thus I entered SMERG into their loose federation, called the Federation of Small Corporations (FSC). I then explained to their members about the EVE Alliance structure and how it isn't necessary for corporations to have loose coalitions when CCP allows for an actual ally-mechanic under a single banner.
After much explanation, xLT created a trial account in EVE, promoted him to CEO then applied to General Tso's. His corp, UNOBTANIUM, INC, is Tso's first Dust-only corp, and it will be far from the last. I currently have 1 more being processed, and two that have specifically requested the assistance of my alts to put their corps into Tso's. Many others have expressed interest in joining and I will facilitate this as best as possible. There is a CEO meeting tomorrow night that I will not be able to attend, but will have Lord Rectanus (my Director and Dust player) there in my stead. He will hopefully explain to the corps the function of our Alliance and the benefits for joining it. A small FAQ popped into my head, so here goes:
What ARE the benefits of joining?
As I explained earlier, the admission cost for a singular small corp to enter into PC is steep. SMERG is not a huge corp by any means, but we do have a large player base than most of the other corps in the coalition, and we generate plenty of ISK. Most of my better guys roll cheap/free suits in every match and contribute regularly into the corp wallet, so meeting the goal of 80 M will be easy, and 160 M might not be completely unreasonable, either.
SMERG will certainly spend the money to assault a district early on (hopefully we'll snag one the morning this launches). We can then bring in members from the coalition into battles with us. Preference, of course, will be given first to SMERG, then to Tso's, then to the FSC guys. It'll most likely be first-come-first-served as well, so SMERG guys that show up 1 minute before the battle are shit out of luck.
What are the requirements to be in General Tso's Alliance?
Virtually none. You can't be in another Alliance (not a personal thing, just a game-mechanics thing.) It's also probably best if you have more than one guy, but if you like your own corp and plan on recruiting, then all the power to you.
Please note, however, that for district owners in PC, you will need at LEAST three squads running with three squad leaders form your corp to drag friends in.
The Alliance fees are paid for by SMERG's EVE-side profits and taxes, so there is no monetary payment required even if it was possible to transfer ISK from character-to-character or corp-to-corp in Dust.
K/D ratio isn't important to me, teamwork is what matters, as is goal-accomplishing. This means snipers are nice, but you better be providing over-watch for the squads that are actually taking objectives. Lone-wolf style playing is fine in pubs, but come PC battles, we all have to work towards the goals!
How can I join Tso's?
There are two methods. First is to create a 14 day EVE trial. Then create a character and have him train Corporation Management to I. Have him apply to your corporation, make him the CEO. Go to the Corporation Menu, go to Alliances -> Rankings -> View All, then scroll to General Tso's Alliance. Right click and Apply Corporation to Join.
The second method requires more trust. I have a couple alts set up for corporation management already. I can join your corp, you make the alt CEO and I can do the rest. I will then give you back CEO, drop all roles and leave the corp after the 24 hour cool down. Make sure its me that is applying to your corp and not someone masquerading as me.
My main EVE character is Burseg Sardaukar. My main Dust514 character is BursegSardaukar. Message them for clarification that a character applying to your corp is actually authorized by me. I am not accountable if some random dude pretends to be me and steals all your stuff (when that eventually becomes possible from the EVE side).
What if I want my corp to own a district?
That's absolutely awesome! If you can come up with the 80 M, we will happily aid your corp on the ground, whether it be defense or offense. A good plan would involve Tso's and your corp hopefully working together to grab the same planet's districts. If we can pull it off, it would make it easier for us in the long run because off-planet invasions have an attrition rate for clones attacking, meaning the hostile forces will lose clones before they even land.
If SMERG finds itself somehow owning several Districts, it would not be unquestionable for us to transfer ownership, even though it will still require you to pay 80M to "invade." We can easily pull all of our clones out of a district to leave it abandoned for your invasion.
A good strategy would be to stagger our district's reinforcement timers to ensure they can't all be invaded simultaneously, and we can maximize the defense.
What are Tso's goals for PC?
We want to get our feet wet and understand the system and hopefully establish some income from the clone generation. We will assault districts we think we can take, and we will defend down to the last man. We all need to understand that a TON of big-wig corps with kdr's of 4.0 and such are going to be competing against us in these, so its going to be a tough run.
If we fail and find that even with each other's support that we are unable to hold districts, keep in mind this is just ONE REGION in the EVE universe that is opened at the launch of Uprising. Eventually ALL lowsec systems will behave under this one game play style, and we will redouble our efforts when the territories can handle everyone more fairly.
I specifically have an eye for the system of Seyllin. It has been my home in EVE since 2008, and I will do everything in my power to own all the districts on BOTH Temperate planets there. Chances are it won't be available with Uprising, given what information CCP has stated regarding the attributes of the region will be, but it will happen some day.
If you have any more questions about General Tso's or Sardaukar Merc Guild (SMERG) ask in the comments below, or in the FSC thread on the Dust514 forums!