EVE Evolved: War declarations need revamped for the citadel era

It’s a universally accepted fact in EVE Online that you’re never truly safe from attack. Low-security space is littered with pirates looking for an easy kill, nullsec alliances respond to invasion of their territory with overwhelming force, and cloaked ships could lurk around every wormhole. Even in the friendliest parts of high-security space, you can still be blown up by a squad of suicide gankers or find yourself the target of a highsec war declaration. Wardecs are intended to allow player-run corporations to fight with each other in highsec without interference from the police, but over EVE‘s entire lifetime they’ve been almost exclusively used to grief and harass small corporations.

Some wardec alliances log literally thousands of wars per year, with almost all of them being against small industrial and social corporations whose members have no intention of fighting back. The aggressors typically just camp trade hub such as Jita 4-4 and declare war on any corp caught hauling valuables through the system, turning a potential sandbox content-generator into a boring pay-to-grief mechanic. With the landscape of EVE being transformed by player-owned citadels and a dynamic PvE revolution on the horizon, I think the time is right to revamp war declarations for the new citadel era. The current wardec system isn’t fit for purpose, and we deserve something more engaging.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I give some thoughts on the wardec problem, a suggestion on how they could be revamped to fit the new citadel era, and an idea for how they could even provide a more immersive PvE experience.

The problem with wardecs

The wardec system was part of the original core design for EVE Online and has been in the game since day one, forming an important part of the original gameplay dynamic. Some corporations in those early days did actually war over unofficial territories in high-security space, and the earliest mercenary corps got their starts fighting other people’s wars for them. War declaration was simply a lightweight sandbox tool that players could use for whatever reasons they wanted, and it comes from a time when players didn’t even have structures such as starbases to fight over.

People used wars to settle grudges, muscle in on territory, to harm a business competitor, or just because they enjoyed PvP. It wasn’t long before the dominant users of the wardec system were de-facto pirates preying on traffic to and from the trade hub in Yulai, kept in check only by the fact that wars cost a lot of ISK to initiate. CCP has tweaked wardec costs multiple times over the years, but ISK has never really been an effective limiting factor in any EVE play style. Developers even overhauled the entire wardec system back in 2012’s Inferno expansion with the goal of forcing the attacker to commit to a war and giving the defender more options, but not much has really changed in how they’re used.

Responding to a wardec

When faced with the prospect of war, players have four main choices: Fight back, leave high-security space, quit their corporation, or stop playing. The defender should ideally want to fight back, but wardec corps overwhelmingly attack weaker targets and can just dock up if you actually show up with enough force to win a fight. That’s a massive shame, because the few wars I’ve been part of in which the enemy actively hunted for us in small groups produced some of the most fun PvP I’ve ever had. Wars can be amazing fun if both sides are willing to fight and have set engaging goals for the war.

Moving your corp out of high-security space can be a great experience and I’d advise everyone to do this eventually, but it’s a huge step for small organisations and newer players. Quitting your corporation will put you in an NPC corp where you’re immune to war declarations, but that’s hardly ideal when you want to play with your friends. Ultimately, the most effective response to an unwanted wardec is to stop playing in order to deny the attackers any targets for the duration of the war and hope it goes away, because there’s no actual mechanic to allow the defender to win.

The best advice right now is to avoid wardecs in the first place by doing all of your hauling and Jita shopping on alt-characters in NPC corps so they can’t be targeted, and social corps may actually be better off disbanding and just starting a chat channel instead. This means wardecs disproportionately hit newer players who won’t have a second character trained up for hauling and social corps that live primarily in highsec, which is obviously bad news for player retention.

Revamping wardecs for the era of citadels

I suggested a potential solution to the wardec problem back in 2012, and other players over the years have independently arrived at roughly the same idea: Tie the war to a structure. In order to declare war on a target corporation, you would have to build a structure in space to be the headquarters for the war. The war would proceed as it does now with both sides able to attack each other, but if the structure is destroyed then the war ends early. This would give the defender a strategic objective and a way to forcibly win the war, and means the attacker would have to actually fight or risk losing the structure.

A whole new type of structure just for highsec war probably wasn’t a realistic request back in 2012, but today we have versatile citadel structures that could easily fulfil this role. Small corporations have already planted hundreds of medium Astrahus citadels all across high-security space and around 75% of all production in EVE now takes place within player-built engineering complexes. When the new Upwell Refineries and moon mining gameplay goes live in the Winter expansion, players will also finally be able to claim moons using these structures and will have a huge incentive to war over them in low-security space — an official wardec would allow the attacker to also pursue their targets into highsec.

The future of highsec wars and PvPvE

While just tying war to a structure would be a huge step forward for the wardec problem, I personally also believe you shouldn’t be able to declare war on a corporation that has no structures in space. This would allow corporations to effectively opt out of the war system by just not deploying anything, but the truth is that players can already opt out of wardecs simply by dropping to NPC corps. Limiting wars to corps with structures would allow people to create non-military organisations that still have a collective identity. People should then be encouraged to build structures by making all of the major benefits of being in a player-run corp (such as low tax rates) accessible only to corps with a structure to use as its headquarters.

A wardec change could also provide additional scope for CCP’s new PvPvE feature, which was recently demonstrated on a massive scale when the new Blood Raider Sotiyo was spawned in nullsec and annihilated several alliance fleets. We know that the next step is to try to roll this feature out over highsec in a scaled-down manner, with NPCs planting structures in space that players can interact with or attack. As CCP works to continue this dynamic merge of PvP and PvE styles of gameplay, wouldn’t it be amazing if NPC factions could actually declare their own wars on player corporations? We might have to destroy their war headquarters to end the war, giving a PvE-based way of experiencing citadel warfare and helping to prepare small corps for PvP.

The war declaration system in EVE Online currently acts as a boring pay-to-grief system, with some alliances running hundreds of wars simultaneously and just camping trade routes. The defender currently has no way to actively win a war declared against them, and the attacker can simply choose not to fight if you show up in any kind of force.

Now that player-built structures are permeating all aspects of EVE and taking over industrial functions from starbases and NPC stations, perhaps it’s a good time to link them to the wardec system. Tying wars to a citadel would give the defenders in a war incentive to fight and a way to win the war, while potentially moving the fighting away from trade hubs.

There are currently no announced plans for revamping the wardec system and CCP’s plate looks pretty full over the Winter expansion period, but this age-old problem isn’t going to solve itself.

EVE Online expert Brendan ‘Nyphur’ Drain has been playing EVE for over a decade and writing the regular EVE Evolved column since 2008. The column covers everything from in-depth EVE guides and news breakdowns to game design discussions and opinion pieces. If there’s a topic you’d love to see covered, drop him a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com!
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19 Comments on "EVE Evolved: War declarations need revamped for the citadel era"

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agemyth 😩

War declarations need revamped for the citadel era

Am I reading this wrong or is that a grammar goof.

buklemaschu
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buklemaschu

Much as i hate to say it (As a former long term member of the nearly perma decced E-Uni), I don’t think removing the High Sec “Griefing” of War decs entirely is a good idea. Solutions to the High Sec Grief Wardec problem need to amend current behaviours and give people options to avoid being griefed.

Personally I like the idea that the Empires could sell corporations a “Letter of Marque” that would allow them to attack any player in that empires space that has poor standing with the empire.

This still allows the Trade Hub Camping style of play. Even those rare groups that roam away from the Hubs, But most importantly it gives you an option to avoid them, Keep the empires happy and you’re a happy little fish. Of course if you’re the High Sec “Pirate” and you down someone under a letter of marque that is in good standing with another Empire, you will take a standings hit against that empire for taking out its friends. Killing someone operating with a letter of Marque would also incur a small standings hit.

This idea also brings back a bit or a reason to standings… making your recent choices matter, but not locking you into them forever.

Wardecs could then focus on structures as an objective, they could be limited to a constellation, or any one of the other great suggestions here. And return to their original goal of forcing people out of your claimed territory or operating spaces.

We need to separate the two gameplay styles into two separate mechanics.

dixa
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dixa

While the vets want their pvp, encouraging more pve will bring in and retain more players.

The occasional great pvp match is quite exhilarating yet those instances are few and far between. Pve on the other hand can be a great time pretty much on demand.

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Sally Bowls

These seem like improvements.

But I don’t see making the griefing corp have a structure will add much. A high sec group without the skill, ships, or interest in pvp being involved in high-sec pvp seems just another way for the Eve vets to run off customers, usually newer and more casual customers. This is a clear case where CCP’s financial best interests and the desires of the hardcore who vote in elections are in opposition.

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Robert Mann

Fair warning, this is long!

I’m a proponent of limiting the number of wars a group can instigate. That is to say, since in general they are used in such games to mitigate some of the normal systems by players, that wars should be a more serious thing.

Obviously the correct handling will vary game to game, based off systems involved and how the game world is meant to be. For the case of Eve, I would suggest that since Wardecs are supposed to be about big PvP in Highsec space, there should be two or three mechanics to declaring one added:

-No corporation can exceed 20% of formation time at war with wardecs calculated and reset monthly (aka, no more than 1 month of built up time to use,) with a timer set to players who are involved in a day 1 war within a corporation (aka, that corporation declares war on day 1 of forming, so now 5x the war timer of cooldown is applied to players, who cannot gain any benefits for any other Wardecs.) This limits forming new corps simply to grief and avoid that time rule. Monthly calculations mean an old group can’t just sit around using years of built up existence to grief. This means when that limit would be exceeded (excepting brand new corps with a first wardec) that no wardecs may be used.

-The group being declared upon must not accept ‘terms of surrender.’ The terms of surrender would be a 10% cost of profits for 24 hours in game time on each character in the surrendering corp (not to exceed 72 hours real time,) sent to those who used the wardec. While having the terms of surrender debuff the surrendering group would have to be shielded BY the group that used a wardec. This not only means that griefing too small a group will be a net loss, but that if you don’t protect those who surrendered you pay costs (against other PvP, saving them from PvE or their own stupidity in attacking in High-Sec is not covered!) Optionally, the group using a wardec can just eat the cost of the wardec. *Small groups with nothing to lose will be protected, big PvP is still quite possible.*

-Using a wardec generates some discomfort with the police forces of high-sec. Using them against a smaller group generates larger levels of unrest with your corp. As discomfort rises past a certain point, it is possible that not only will your corp’s ships be attacked upon entering high-sec for the next week real time, but that a very high level may see NPC attacks staged with forces not quite so overpoweringly lethal against your territory.

Obviously that last one is a LOT of work. The first two alone would vastly limit any possible griefing. It is something of a balancer with the first point, where the two systems could be a choice or used together. Either way, the option to opt out, the requirements upon those using wardecs, and the limiting of total wardecs by any group would go a long way to preventing these being used solely for griefing.

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

People should then be encouraged to build structures by making all of the major benefits of being in a player-run corp (such as low tax rates) accessible only to corps with a structure to use as its headquarters.

How many of those small new-player and social corps are PVP focused? (Hint: High-sec PVP is lame)

From their perspective what you wrote in that quote above is trading one miserable experience (open season for griefers) for another (castrated guilds). EVE’s got a bad retention problem. This isn’t how you fix it.

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Arktouros

Back when I was being griefed while high-sec mining a guy kept declaring war on my corp. My corp literally consisted of me and my alt account at the time so we could share way points and have the corp way points separate from personal way points and, of course, avoid the NPC corp tax. This guy somehow thought it cost something significant to disband corp (which nullifies war dec) then just re-establish corp again. This was after the initial War Dec overhaul so it was costing him millions to my thousands to just recreate. I told him this and he said he had “infinite” money to which I replied “we will see” and sure enough the War Decs stopped after he hit 500 million mark. No clue what he was thinking.

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Rheem Octuris

So maybe the answer is this:
When you wardec someone, you choose one of their structures (a citadel, for example) You must have a similar structure in that region or a constellation adjacent to said region to target this structure. (An Astrahus for an Astrahus for example.) The defender then has 24 hours to choose which enemy structure of the enemy’s structures is vulnerable, using the same qualifiers as before.

Then the average the vulnerability windows of each of those structures. (For example, if one is set at 10:00-13:00 Eve Time, and the other at 18:00-21:00 Eve Time, then both would be vulnerable from 14:00-17:00 Eve Time.) The structures would be vulnerable for seven days in total, starting the next time the vulnerability window would start, excluding if it has been less than 12 hours of the defenders choice of target and both sides being notified of the vulnerability time.

One hour before the vulnerability timer begins, until one hour after it ends, all enemy ships maybe be freely attacked and destroyed, including pods, regardless of security region. This is the same as it is with current wardecs, except restricted around the period of vulnerability. Additionally, during the vulnerability times structures can not go into reinforcement, and are immune to outside interference if outside their normal vulnerability timers. Should one of the structures be destroyed, the war will end at the end of the vulnerability window. It is possible in this case that both structures can be destroyed, resulting in a draw.

While likely not a perfect solution, and adjustments are likely needed, this gets rid of certain issues . It makes wardecs important to all regions, it reduces the window that corps can be griefed in and bypasses the reinforcement mechanic entirely. It also makes a condition for the attacker to lose a war, with significant losses to be preventative.

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Robert Mann

Aye, although smaller groups would then be completely bound to not build any structure, ever. Only flaw I can see there.

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kanbe

Really like these ideas. Wardec’s need some love as my most boring memories from EVE where logging in to find a Corp message that says “War, don’t undock.”

That leaves me with plenty of other exciting options though like walking around in station

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