This was announced in the August Works in Progress on the Kixeye forums.
The general consensus is that this was done so that players could no longer "gunboat spam" to defend their base. For those unfamiliar with the concept, this means that a player would keep launching instant repair ships (usually gunboats), so that players could not attack their base, because the launched ships would instantly guard.
My opinion is that this is a good change - gunboat spam subverts the intent of base guarding. Although bases should be guardable, winning a battle (or two or three) should result in a base being hittable. Some players are against this change, since they don't believe that they can defend their base any other way. I'll give the same advice that I've given for years... click repair, try to learn something, and move on. I predict the next wave of player complaints will be directed at driving base defense fleets, but I won't discuss that issue now.
The point is that winning a battle should be meaningful, and this change helps on that. So I'm cautiously optimistic on this change.
By the way "Winning a battle should mean something" also is the root of my opinion on zombie fleets. I think if a fleet is sunk, it shouldn't be back on the water in 30 seconds. So even though I will use zombie fleets occasionally, I'd like to see something done about that as well. I know Kixeye is looking into making changes on that front as well.
Also there will be fewer accidental combats where someone tries to pick up a salvage that someone else has just hit... and you can't pick on someone hitting cargo by picking up the cargo they just hit.
So how does the game work with the change?
- A fleet parked under your base will no longer defend against attackers.
Many players used this strategy to slow down attackers whether online or offline. Parking a fleet underneath was enough to deter many 'casual' hits, encouraging random hitters out for alliance points or for yuks to just move on and hit an easier target.
- Guarding your own base now works just like having an alliance member guard your base:
Guarding yourself means that an alliance member can't guard you.
- There is a 30 second cooldown between guards.
This is whether the guard was sunk by an enemy, or removed manually.
How does this change affect strategy?
The big change here is that if someone is going to attack you, they only have to beat one fleet before they can get into your base. Thirty seconds is plenty of time (even with fly-bys) for a player to get a fleet that is moving around nearby into a base.
If you self-guard, then that is the only guard that you are going to get. Make your guard a good one.
If you don't self-guard, then you are relying on an alliance member to anticipate the attack & guard you before the attacker arrives. If they don't anticipate it, your only hope is that the attacker retreats before committing to the attack, and then an alliance member can guard you during the break. Possibly mixing up the base entrance location (I estimate 75% of bases have a west-facing entrance) would help a bit to force attackers to reposition.
Update (thanks for the comments!): From the attacker's perspective, a player's self-guards can be cleared without attacking the base directly. This means that someone can use an FvF fleet to clear many guards in an area, and even if they have a bubble, their bubble won't be affected.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this long-term. I used to keep a fleet parked under my base as a deterrent to casual hits. I don't really like the idea of the fleet hanging out on guard all the time like that.
- If you write "guard" a lot, it starts to look funny.
- I'm hitting Draconian bases to get back in practice - the brief teaser for the next raid looked (to me) more like a Drac base layout than an occupied base layout. I think I'm in the minority with that opinion though.
- I changed my ad provider to Google. Hopefully my ads will be much less spammy now. Thanks to the reader who messaged me on the Kixeye forums and prompted me to get off my butt and switch.