Friday, 28 September 2012

The Rules to Can Ball

Can Ball was the brain child of columbio, one of my boffins of long standing.  He's moved on now but I have carried the ball and developed rules and tried a few games.  Now I'd like to share the game with the Eve community and get help formalising the rules.

You can think of Can Ball as football in space.  Doesn't matter which game you call football.  It has similarities to all of them.  Essentially, we use a jetcan as a ball.  Abandon it so anyone can tractor it.  Then use tractor beams to move the ball across a goal line.  Players tackle the ball carrier using ECM, Webs and other Ewar.  You pass the "ball" by disengaging the tractor and telling your receiver exactly when to active his tractor.  Remember, a T1 tractor beam moves a can at 500m/s (600m/s for T2) so its not a matter of getting in a super fast ship and racing for the line.

I have chosen to go with tech 1/ meta level 1-4 gear so that anyone can get into a game.  I see that there is a good chance people will try a tech 2 game but I'm a little worried about the sensor strengths of tech 2 frigates.  This is something to test.

Setting Up the Field
I asked CCP if they could spawn objects to use as goals.  There are some structures I've seen which would be perfect.  They however, declined.  I then went about making a field with Small Secure Containers.  They are so annoying to place that I had to give up on "goals" and went with a "goal line".  This is the easiest to set up but I do hope that if Can Ball becomes popular then we might be able to get real goals.

You need a minimum of 5 small secure containers and the anchoring skill.  Anchor one container to mark the centre of the field.  This I call "The Spot" and is where the game starts.  Draw an invisible line 75 km from the spot and anchor a can at either end to make a goal line.  Do the same in the other direction.  The image to the right is better at describing than I am.  The goal line cans should be at least 20km apart.  If you have the patience, try to make a line out of cans so the goal is more defined.  However I found that very difficult to place the cans.

I've found that making a team play into the sun is a bit unpleasant.  For this reason I put the field at the last planet in the system and make it go sideways so no-one is constantly staring into the sun.

Setting Up the Ships
As I said before, I have gone with tech 1 and meta level 1-4 gear so that the game is cheap and easy to get into.  It can be played with relatively rookie pilots and the ships wont get blown up so you can keep costs down.  Advanced players can try tech 2 ships and gear but you should have the whole game declared tech 2 or tech 1.  I personally don't want to see people using faction gear in these games.  It would get way too expensive.  However if a league forms that may be an option.

The ship setups are as follows;
  • Tech 1, non-faction frigates only.
  • No weapons that do damage.
  • No drones.
  • No Rigs
  • Choose a Tech level for modules.  Eg. Tech 1, Meta 1-4, Tech 2, or Faction
This leaves a lot of equipment left to use.  Here are some comments on various useful modules;
  • Small Tractor Beams - These are your hands.  Be aware that they will only move a can at 500 m/s.  only one tractor beam can activate on a target at one time.
  • ECM - If you want someone to drop the can then the best way is to break their lock on.  Of course they will expect this.
  • ECCM - Ahha.  Their going to try break your lock.  This will make it harder.
  • ECCM Projector - Help your team-mate avoid dropping the ball by boosting his sensor rating.
  • Energy Neutralisers and Nosferatu - Drain the targets cap so much they can't keep their AB/MWD or Tractor running.
  • Stasis Webifiers - Stop them going anywhere.  This gives you time to break their lock or drain their cap.
  • Warp Scramblers - Useful for shutting down MWD.
  • Sensor Dampeners - Make it hard for people to target their team-mates or opponents.
  • Afterburners - You'll find you have to travel slower so you can tow the can around.  MWD will make most ships too fast.
  • MWDs - Ok so you can't easily tow a can with a MWD going but its a big field and position is important.  There is a good argument for dual prop.
  • Capacitor Boosters - They are going to drain your cap and MWDs are expensive to run.  This may give you the cap you need.
  • Capacitor Batteries - These now have an anti Neutraliser/Nos effect which may make the difference in a head on rush.
  • Speed and Agility Mods - These are pretty obvious.  Lots of running in a sport like Can Ball.
  • There's more but that's for you guys to work out.....
There needs to be a Referee with a tractor beam, ship scanner (or two) and some random ammo or veldspar todrop as cans.  He wont have to move so that's about all he needs.  He can use the Look button to zoom to a goal line container and see if the ball has crossed.

Team Size
 I recommend six players a side to begin with.  To many and no-one will maintain a lock or move anywhere.  You could do it with three a side if you are short on numbers.  The size of the team can be a little flexible but must be agreed upon with the other team before game time.

I think 15 minute halves are good with a ten minute break.  This mean that empire teams will retain their aggression counters for the second half and shouldn't run out mid game.  However this is up to discussion as you may find there isn't enough time for many points in 15 minutes.  The Referee is in charge of watching the time.

Important Step for Empire Games
If you are playing in Empire anywhere and your opponent is not in your corp then you have to get aggression timers on everybody.  Both teams meet at the spot and each person jettisons enough ammo/veldspar for all the other team members.  Players then proceed to steal from each of the other team's players.  The team captains confirm with their team that all opponents are red then confirms to the Referee that they are ready to play.The counter will reset every time you aggress each other so you should be able to play a half without issue.  If necessary, do the same thing at half time.

Important Note:  As of Retribution, stealing has become a global offence and anyone can shoot you for taking someone's stuff.  If playing in Empire you had better set up your field at a safe spot somewhere so you don't get interrupted.  Be careful who you invite to watch too.

Starting the Game
At the start of the game the Referee scans the members of both teams with a ship scanner to see if they have obeyed the fitting rules (hence the ship scanners).  Anyone caught not complying is suspended for the game and their team will have to play short handed.  This avoids people trying it "in case I get through" since the scanners aren't perfect.

Both teams start the game at their goal line.  They may target each other and the can but not the other team.  Range will probably stop this anyway.  The Referee drops a can at the spot and abandons it so that everyone can tractor it.  It adds flavour to rename the can, "ball".  The Referee call go and both teams are free to run for the can or whatever.

When a goal is scored, the can is popped (remove the ammo) and the Referee makes a new can at the spot (this means the Referee doesn't have to move).  The teams quickly return to their goal lines and awaits the restart.  The Referee confirms with the team captains that the opponents are still red and then starts the game again.

Scoring a Goal
You score a goal when the can crosses the goal line.  The Referee can see when the ball has crossed by zooming to the container than makes up the goal line and sighting across to its partner.  The Referee announces the goal and the game starts again.  Extra cans on the goal line would make this easier for Referees and players to see but I've found it very hard to make a straight line.  If CCP ever gives us goals that would work wonders.

Miscellaneous Rules
There is no "out of bounds".  I don't see the ball moving to far left or right except when "passed" to another player.  The Referee can call a halt if it gets silly.

Players are free to target any other player (once play starts) and use any legal module on them.  Its not necessary to target/tackle only the player with the ball.  This gives players the option of blocking opponents and supporting the player with the ball.

The Referee can penalise a team for their players taking too long to get back to their goal line.  Suspension of the offending player for 5 minutes is a good option.  The Referee needs to make allowances for ships without MWDs though.

It is easiest if you have a VoIP system like Teamspeak, Mumble or even Eve Voice to allow you to talk to each other.  You will need two channels, one for each team, and the Referee will need to be able to "whisper" to both channels.  I'm not sure if Eve Voice can do this but i know TS3 and Mumble can.

If unable to share comms, the Referee can make a common chat channel that all players are in.  People will just have to watch for the Referee's calls.  Players wont talk in this channel except to confirm with the Referee that they are ready and the enemy is red.

To be honest a team is going to need voice comms to play this game.  Eve Voice is your basic option and a chat channel to the Referee.  You will find the game needs good communication skills to the team as it is often hard to see who has the ball.  you will also have to verbally co-ordinate passing the ball.

I hope players will enjoy playing this game.  I see it as something a corp/alliance can get together and play to improve their communication skills and teamwork.  It is also intended to be new player friendly with low skill requirements and costs.  This provides a friendly competition that people can do in Empire. 

I'd like to see a league form if the game gets popular.  However I can't organise it.  I don't have the organisation skills.  I'm told the game is actually fun to watch too but that's for you guys to decide.  If enough people get into it, we may be able to get proper fields from CCP.  Lets hope.

 If you have comments of suggestions for rules changes or issues with game balance please add comments to this post or send your ideas to  I want to hear what you thoughts are.


  1. Interesting, maybe use an anom site that has multiple warp gates spaced x KM apart, these warp gates would make excellent goal posts

  2. You could probably set up corporations as leagues with can-ball designated alts and have the can-ball corps war each other for the sake of keeping the high sec side of things going as far as being able to keep everyone red to another.

    You shoulda clarify the use of drones as well. maybe use Webber drones or neut. drones to help slow down a team?

  3. How do you clarify "No drones" further?

  4. I believe that the game should cost people capacitor to do anything. Having drones that don't cost anything to run would be too powerful. So the idea is that no-one may use drones. This also clears up the view area so you can see what's going on. A cloud of drones makes it very hard to see.