Jin’talks—What’s Wrong With Wardecs?

Jin'taan 2019-01-17

Header art by Major Sniper.

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Wardecs – The mechanic behind CONCORD approved Hisec PVP – has been heavily in the spotlight over the past 6 months, going from a single pain point amongst many on the EVE Online forums, to one that garnered itself mainstream coverage. This led to it being the subject of debate on the various discords, reddits and talk shows where these sort of things are digested by the community at large.

This came in the wake of the minutes of CSM 13’s first summit (Page 12), where CCP publicly revealed what their data showed about the impact of wardecs on new players. This highlighted a key false correlation that a significant percentage of the community, and to some degree CCP themselves, held about the impacts of wardecs on the health of the game.

It’s been a long held notion that players who are killed in PvP are more likely to stay in the game than those who don’t, and data from CCP backing this up has been repeatedly shown to the community, which has in turn been used as a default argument for all forms of Hisec PvP – But Wardecs in particular.

The problem with that line of thinking is that it’s a non-sequitur argument for wardecs being good. It was assumed by the community at large that wardecs lead to deaths, however this proved not to be the case once the data was more closely examined. Wardecs lead to inactivity.

I would encourage readers however, to – in the vein of CCP – not make value judgements of those who participate in the activities as either attacker or defender. I have participated in one roundtable and listened to the most recent one, and have talked extensively with those who take part in wardeccing as their primary activity in EVE. EVE is a sandbox, and cutting an entire gameplay style out of the game (Non-Suicide HS PvP) is not a solution that would overall be a benefit to the game. The important thing is trying to rebalance the mechanics in such a way that they encourage healthy gameplay patterns, rather than ones that are bad for the health of the game, as I feel they currently are.

Multiple Problem Mechanics

One of the main problems with Wardecs in my opinion is that the system itself is a solution which masquerades as an elegant solution to two separate problems, but in reality is problematic for both. Wardecs serve as a solution to;

  1. Structures in High Security space need to be able to be destroyed, in order to allow people to take over places with limited spots i.e moons in 0.5 or PoS’, and contest control of HS trading hubs (Perimeter Wars)
  2. Highsec PvE (Mining, Missions, Incursions, etc.) has very little natural risk or chance for player interaction and the induction of the PvP/PvE player ecosystem, and as such players need a way of endangering these activities.

In theory, the way wardecs solve these two problems together is by allowing corporations to put all of their members and assets at risk in combat with one another. This leads to the wardec system being fundamentally hard to tweak, as both players and structures are the same degree of vulnerable, despite the intent of the mechanic to be to induce different outcomes to different problems. Creating a fight over a structure vs adding general risk to Hisec PvE and Travel.

As such we found ourselves in the previous situation, where hisec citadels are hard for people other than the owning corp to defend, due to corp-hopping allowing attackers to ‘slide’ away from allies, and small corporations were pushed into an inactive state by blanket declarations due to the perceived danger they presented.

The recent changes have somewhat abated this, by refocusing the mechanic on “Citadel holding corporations”, effectively creating social Corporations which are immune from the current wardec system. However, I don’t feel this adequately gets to the root of the problem, as there are still deep rooted issues with the system, most notably in its conflation between corporation and structure defenders, and in how it doesn’t change the problems experienced by corporations that are wardecced – although statistics do bear that they deal with them better than others.

A Modest Proposal

In order to properly ensure that wardecs are dealt with in a manner that doesn’t end up like the Sov system (another Multiple Problem Mechanic, in my opinion) and need reworking in another 3-4 years, I feel the best way to approach it is to exempt Structures from Wardecs and replace it with a more dedicated Structure Removal system in hisec.

We even have a good framework to allow people to opt-in to combat with one another in a limited basis in hisec to use as a starting point for fighting over structures in the Duelling system. In my opinion, there should be a “Eviction Notice” structure that you could place on a targeted structure in hisec, which would grant a limited engagement to all pilots who “opt in” to a siege of the structure, as well as the structure itself after anchoring and onlining.

This would serve to give an objective for the defender to fight against, as well as force the attacker to have some skin in the game when it comes to assaults, but leaves the process relatively easy for other defenders and attackers to join in – Hopefully nucleating fights in hisec without the worry of CONCORD randomly killing half your fleet.

This would also allow CCP to sit down and really refocus the war declaration mechanic on it’s intended purpose of making hisec less safe, without it being used as a tool to ‘overfish’ hisec in certain chokepoints, most notably trading hubs.

I have less solid ideas on how to fix this aspect of wardecs, but I’d like to imagine we could see a day where wardeccers have access to more intel on their targets – but their wars have an in-game casus belli. A system akin to “kill-rights” for wars may make them feel like they have a reason, as opposed to being a blanket risk applied to Hisec corps that garner any notice, although getting the balance right in this regard would undoubtedly be a delicate balancing act.

Why Does It Matter?

As a nullsec player, you might be wondering what investment I have in the wellbeing of hisec corporations, and why I’m writing about it as opposed to sov, or the new jump bridges, or rorquals – Especially given that it’s only a month until the next CSM summit, and this tends to be a time to gather important information to CCP from the community.

The reason for that is fairly simple; 70% or so of the game’s population plays in hisec. Whilst I don’t conflate game population with community participation, as the majority of invested, long term EVE players are in other areas of the game, it’s fair to say that all long term EVE players have to deal with hisec to get to those other areas of space. Having Hisec be in a state that turns off new players with mechanics that are as awful to deal with as cloaky camping or a hole eviction, with none of the associated rewards, seems like it will do nothing but keep people from progressing through their time in hisec.

These Hisec players are the eventual nullsec line members, lowsec pirates and wormholers of two years time, and right now they’re being crushed under the weight of this mechanic. As such, it’s a high priority for almost every CSM member, not just out of a desire to fix a broken mechanic, but also because we intend to be around in the game in 2-3 years time to see the benefit of a healthier hisec. It would produce new corporations and line members without the need for massive newbie corps to take people out of the supposedly safest are of the game in order to properly care for them.

I’d like to think everyone can see the benefits to the game of doing that, and their self-interest in the game doing well.

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Comments

  • J Moravia

    I have a massive amount of respect for Jin and all he does for the game and the players. However, I’d like to dissent about two things.

    I don’t think high-sec needs to be made less safe. CCP’s statistics show that when players feel high-sec isn’t safe for them, they abandon the game and don’t come back. Since there is no option of playing on a PvE-only server like in World of Warcraft, there really ought to be a place where casual players can simply play, without the kind of paranoia that those of us who live in null have come to be used to.

    The tradeoff for this safety is, of course, that high-sec is less profitable, and I think that’s a fair trade. You want safety and poverty? High-sec should be that place. You want wealth and peril? Null or wormhole space is your jam.

    I agree with nearly everything Jin said about the war-dec system except for the premise that “players need a way of endangering” high-sec space. The lower payoff is itself the trade you make in exchange for safety.

    Great article.

    January 17, 2019 at 11:53 AM
    • Colin Byrne J Moravia

      I agree with you here sir, however we still have to have some ability to threaten high sec players with pvp. I really liked the idea of the “Eviction Notice” structure. Perhaps we can simply have a system where only citadels (And pos) can actively be targeted through this mechanic and leave any players who do not want to participate out of it entirely. So I am essentially saying remove the part of a war dec that allows two corps to shoot each other freely (unless they opt in, don’t want to spoil RvB) and focus all pvp around the eviction notice structure that Jin proposed.

      January 17, 2019 at 3:17 PM
      • Aurel Specker Colin Byrne

        if the is something like an “opt in battlefield” around structures, that would open up diplomatic tricks very well. but i don’t think it is necessary to make wardeccs a “structure fights only”. as you now can offshore your structures to your “military corp” which only has combat characters and no isk makers. and thanks to alphas, everyone can muster at least one decent combat alt for highsec battles

        January 17, 2019 at 4:52 PM
    • Arrendis J Moravia

      The only problem with that is that highsec isn’t non-competitive. ‘Safe’ highsec means no ganking… but it also means you can’t go after someone who’s screwed you. Someone can bounce alts all over, stealing from corporations, and nothing can be done about them. No reprisals can be made, no justice exacted.

      CCP has 2 systems in place that cover highsec violence: Wars, and Crimewatch.

      They have to be looked at as parts of a whole. They have to be addressed as parts of a whole… and I don’t think they really get that.

      January 17, 2019 at 6:40 PM
  • Romulus Loches

    One of the mechanics that wasn’t addressed is the changing of corps to avoid being at war with certain entities. It makes it almost impossible for any allies that join the war to actually participate.

    Lets say Corp A wardec’s Corp B. Then Corp B asks for help and Corp C joins the war so they can fight too. Unfortunately, Corp A has multiple ghost wardec’s with alt corps D, E, F, G, and H. All corp A needs to do to avoid Corp C from helping is move to one of the ghost corps. This can be done in a matter of minutes, even right before a fight.

    I know this article focused on a particular problem, but tactics like this are a major problem as well. This is an abuse of the current mechanics which I consider almost worse.

    January 17, 2019 at 10:29 PM
    • Carvj94 Romulus Loches

      Hard to fix it completely but a duct tape solution could be to force people to drop out of Corp and be in the 24 hour Corp stasis if their corps in a war. Essentially don’t allow people to directly join another Corp directly from their current Corp during a dec.

      January 18, 2019 at 4:32 AM
      • Eli Carvj94

        How would that work for big nullsec alliances? For instance, we often get wardecced by highsec gankers 2 to 3 times per day in some weeks. It gets crazy. Goonswarm may have as many as 20 to 30 wardecs on us at anyone time. Does this mean our members could never leave us?

        We are essentially, permanently wardecced with our corporations and as an alliance.

        January 21, 2019 at 7:32 AM
        • Carvj94 Eli

          Of course members could leave. As I stated above they’d need to drop Corp and wait for the 24 hour stasis. Nobody would be stuck in Corp during a war they’d only losing the ability to directly join another Corp from their current Corp. Least that’s my napkin solution to wardec dodging via moving between corps. Make it annoying.

          January 21, 2019 at 9:30 AM
    • Jin'taan Romulus Loches

      >One of the mechanics that wasn’t addressed is the changing of corps to avoid being at war with certain entities. It makes it almost impossible for any allies that join the war to actually participate.

      “As such we found ourselves in the previous situation, where hisec citadels are hard for people other than the owning corp to defend, due to corp-hopping allowing attackers to ‘slide’ away from allies”

      Please read the article

      January 18, 2019 at 1:54 PM
  • Carvj94

    I don’t agree with you much. I think hisec should be safer for pve focused players. Some people simply don’t like or want pvp and there’s no point in forcing them out of the game because they were forced into non consensual pvp and the actual isk payouts are tiny compared to none hisec. That said I agree that wardecs are completely essential because there needs to be a way to force people out of unique spots like drilling points. Though to give casual none pvp players more safety I’d say that structures that are none public and have an access list smaller than 50 people should be exempt from being a wardec target. Though only if their not in a unique spot of course.

    January 18, 2019 at 4:15 AM
  • Zo Fryer

    The game wants to make money. Hand holding new players is better than say, just giving players free stuff. There’s only one server really. There isn’t a shard system where people that don’t mind constantly looking over their shoulder can choose between pve and pvp versions of the game. There are people that do not want to be constantly looking over their shoulder. So the choice is really whether you are going to punish those folks and lose them as customers, and lose money, or accommodate them and get their money. That’s it. Tough love like forcing people to pvp that don’t want to pvp doesn’t work. It just loses a company money.

    January 18, 2019 at 1:31 PM
  • Asia Park

    I’ve been playing Eve for over 10 years. I’ve always heard that Eve was a sandbox and that I could play it the way “I” wanted to. I’m primarily a solo pvp player in faction warfare space. The problem I see with wardecs is that they force people to play the game the way “other” people say that their suppose to play them game – that is, pvp. As a sandbox, if I choose not to participate in pvp I shouldn’t be made to. I think that wardecs should be a opt-in choice for corporations. Just like corporation members ability to engage each other through the “Friendly Fire” option. Have another option: “Wardec Illegible.” If a corporation chooses not to be “wardec illegible then they can not deploy structures and other stuff. Come up with a list of things make being “wardec Illegible” gives you access to. Remember people if Eve is a sandbox then players should be allowed to ‘opt-out’ of wardecs. People shouldn’t be forced in to participating in pvp if that’s not what they want or let’s start telling people that ‘Eve is a sandbox that forces you to play the way others would have you play.”

    January 18, 2019 at 1:41 PM
  • concerned whiteman

    Keep the ban waves coming

    January 19, 2019 at 10:32 AM
  • DickDastardly

    The obsession of null-sec players with risk and loss needing to be part of high-sec is bizarre. You never hear of high-sec players wanting to see null-sec safer and to try and force null-sec players to play the way they do.

    There are people who log into their mining ships every day and just want to mine or do L4 missions or whatever. If there needs to be risk then make the rats stronger. It doesn’t need paid CONCORD free ganking under the guise of a war. Osmon is one of the busier hi-sec systems where players are happy to just keep running L4 SoE missions. Plenty of them seem to get blown up by the NPCs (and by MTU attackers), a slight strengthening of rats would kill some more.

    The new war mechanic allows for the removal of structures. If it doesn’t work for attackers/defenders of the structure then all that’s needed is some sort of limited engagement when a structure is vulnerable to either join the attack or join the defence. Surely it wouldn’t be hard for a popup saying whatever structure is under attack with a defend it , kill it or have nothing to do with it option when you enter the system when the fight is on or something similar.

    January 19, 2019 at 6:05 PM
    • As a nullsec player, I agree with this sentiment. I’m happy for highsec to be high security space. It’s a different playstyle that I’m happy some hisec players love. The only issue here is, that at least half of hisec characters are nullsec alts at a guess. They move nullsec war munitions through hisec. Nullsec enemy alliances will want to target them (much of Goonswarm’s hisec ganking revolves around this specified targeting for example). My question to you is, how do we separate out this blurring between the lines between genuine highsec players and nullsec alts?

      January 21, 2019 at 5:10 AM
    • Guilford Australis DickDastardly

      I’m a nullsec player and I’m fine with highsec being preserved as a relatively safe environment for new players to learn, experienced players to do low-commitment PVE for enjoyment and modest profit, and displaced alliances from elsewhere in EVE to regroup. I spent my first nine months in EVE learning the mechanics of the game through highsec PVE (mainly combat sites, event sites, and exploration).

      CCP’s own data indicates most players prefer the safety of highsec – coupled with lower profits and potential for PVP glory – to the extreme demands of life in lowsec, nullsec, and J-space. CCP also recognizes that highsec should not be a haven for large, risk-averse organizations to monopolize limited resources (e.g. 0.5 moons). The problem, of course, is that several large, risk-averse organizations (PIRAT, Marmite, VMG) have used the wardec mechanic to turn highsec into an absolute farce of asymmetrical violence while steadfastly refusing to engage any war targets that undock in ships that can actually threaten them. Those organizations hide their own structure-ownership (and thus wardec vulnerability) behind shell corporations and holding groups, making some of the stopgap measures already put forth by CCP ineffective.

      I think that when nullsec players talk about making highsec ‘less safe,’ they are not saying that miners and site runners should be vulnerable to constant threat of annihilation like we are in our home regions. Rather, we are saying that the longtime, high-skillpoint killboard warriors of PIRAT, Marmite, and VMG should be made to play in the big leagues or stop pretending to be heroes.

      January 21, 2019 at 3:07 PM
  • Carvj94

    The stats in question are internal ones that show at the start of wars hisec players tend to go inactive and stay inactive following the war cause it’s often unsafe to even mine and they can’t fight back cause they suck at pvp so they just lose interest in logging in. If a player want less protection they can just go to lowsec. If they just wanna not be bothered they stick to hisec. No reason to make hisec dangerous cause if people want risk it’s extremely easy to find it usually just a few jumps away.

    January 21, 2019 at 11:34 AM
  • Guilford Australis

    As far as I can remember, I’ve never put forth a cheeky one-liner as a fix-all for any system in EVE, but I sincerely believe there is one for the wardec system:

    Limit active wardecs to one per corporation and one per alliance.

    Wardecs should have clear goals that can be attained or failed. There is no reason to allow any organization in highsec space to pursue multiple wardecs given CCP’s reasons for offering a wardec system in the first place (e.g. to displace large, risk-averse organizations that threaten to monopolize limited resources). This limit will allow highsec corporations and alliances to achieve CCP’s stated goals for war declarations while denying griefers an opportunity to turn highsec into a canned hunt.

    January 21, 2019 at 3:18 PM