Wars, What Are They Good For?

Commander Aze 2016-12-16

If you have ventured through high sec for any length of time you probably have had war declared on you. Whether you deserved it or not, it changes how you play for that week. Our low, null, and wormhole space brothers do not live the same lifestyle that the casual high sec pilots do. There are a few things that I want to be clear about before continuing. My personal killboard is very green, I’m not risk-averse, and I do my research on my enemy every time. Additionally, I think there is positive content that comes from the current mechanic for war declarations but largely I think it is abused and the Concord is being made to be a very cheap date.

For the last three years, I have had this discussion regarding War Declarations and their issues. I have pulled many ideas from others to build a better idea of how the system might be fixed. This article will start with some political theory regarding wars. Then move on to discuss the broken aspects of the game, and looking at fixes being asked for by both sides. Lastly, we will discuss the current player driven effort to bring the ideas into a formal discussion and hopefully develop a firm set of goals and list of fixes that both war-deccers and defenders will enjoy and will lead to more fulfilling content for both sides.

On War

Let’s drift into theory for a little while as we discuss the purpose of war. To do this we consult the German Carl von Clausewitz’s work On War.

War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means.The military objectives of wars are two-fold: To achieve limited aims and to disarm the enemy or render them politically helpless or militarily impotent. All else being equal, the course of war will tend to favour the party with the stronger emotional and political motivations, but especially the defender.

Let’s summarize this: one of the greatest minds regarding war said that defence should have the advantage and that war is done for political reasons to achieve political or economic objectives.

It’s also important to introduce Sun Tzu, a Chinese military strategist who stressed the importance for fighting only those fights that were worth fighting or finding ways to change the conditions of the fight, to make what would be an even fight be, dramatically in your favor for victory. Specifically, the following two passages from Art of War are of vital importance when discussing wars:

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting

raises the idea that battles may not need a physical conflict to be resolved.

He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.

This plays a special role in Eve wars as knowing your opponent and the intricate mechanics means you need to know all of their alts and spies that are ready to support them at a moment’s notice. This also supports the most common conclusion of people docking up when finally confronted with a real fight.

The Good

CCP’s war declaration system can, and does, lead to great small scale content when used to settle grievances when diplomacy fails. The best example of this was a small skirmish in Devoid between two corporations. I’ll leave names out of it to prevent them from being war-decced for the next few months. It all started when this neighboring corporation slighted us in a fight with another group causing the loss of two very expensive T3 cruisers. I took it upon myself to drop my current corporation to create a new shell corp and solo war dec this group. Knowing they had logistics abilities, but were at heart miners they would be easy targets to exact my revenge. I was joined by a couple of friends as we sieged their two industry towers and a number of  POCO’s.

Eventually, we gamed an engagement out of them. Knowing they had all docked in one station I warped to the station at 100 in my Vigilant (a pirate faction cruiser that prior the recent patches could fit a good tank and deal 700+ dps with blasters and a full flight of hammerhead 2s) and my reinforcement a single proteus in the neighboring system on standby. They took the bait,  undocked and chose to engage in a Malediction, a Kestrel, a Corax, and what we later found to be a remote rep Dominix with mixed tank.

First and foremost it is important to know warp ranges, I warped to station at 100, forcing them to slowly approach me or warp off and come back. This led exactly where I hoped it would. The Malediction and Kestrel micro warped in as the Corax slowly came in behind them and luckily the Dominix chose to warp off and come back. The Malediction tackled me and I ignored him, then the Kestrel made it into range. The T1 frigate was quickly dispatched. The Corax then made it in range and died with two cycles of the guns as it had no tank other than a meta damage control. The Dominix had already reentered warp, and landed only 20k off. With the Malediction holding range and trying to hold long point, I activated my micro warp to be the perfect warp to point for my proteus friend who had jumped and was waiting to warp as I engaged the Dominix. He dropped quickly under our high DPS. By now I was in very low armor with the consistent low DPS of the malediction and I was down my light drones.  With him outside of my weapons range, we decided to use his orbit against him. The proteus was also blaster fit however with longer than average range for webs he set himself in line with the interceptors path and waited for him. It was after this embarrassing loss that they started diplomatic actions to try and end the war. In the end, they replaced our two T3s and paid our full ransom for a billion isk.

So why tell you about a time I roflstomped a mining corp? Because they deserved it and it had good reason to happen.  This falls into the logic of wars having a reason to exist, mine being to render my opponent militarily impotent and to attempt to recover my losses.

The Bad

Mechanically speaking wars are broken, and lack real purpose. They have no options for political negotiations beyond isk for surrender and 2 weeks of not being able to be war decced again by that group. This isn’t how wars end in reality and this isn’t how wars end in EVE. The mechanic has nothing to do with actual wars it only removes concord from the equation to allow two parties to engage in combat legally in all sectors of space. Currently, wars are not fought via the war declaration system over land or resources or even for economic gain. They are rarely fought to politically paralyse alliances or even to remove military ability. The vast majority of wars are simply to remove Concord and fulfill quotas of under-informed individuals rolling through trade lanes and trade hubs for easy kills. There is no reason to declare war on these groups beyond they happened to have someone roll through when deciding who to war dec for the next week. In all honesty in a game of infinite depth, this is a rather shallow mechanic.

Additionally, we put the new structures under this category. There are a number of issues faced with Citadels and Engineering Complexes. Every part of the war mechanics and structure mechanics seem to be designed to contradict content creation between the two. Let’s start with the instant transfer of structures regardless of if at war or not. This means you can quickly transfer structures to shell corps and prevent wars from ever having an effect on them. Although let’s be honest aside from killmails, there really isn’t a good reason to kill high sec structures now that asset safety protects everything but current builds. Gone are the days of hunting offline POS and looting the spoils of complacency and poor planning.

The Ugly

Let’s talk inconsistent and straight up broken mechanics. Corporation A is War decced by Corporation B. Corporation A Disbands and starts a new Corporation C transferring all members and completely dissolving the corporation and avoiding the war altogether.

There is some basis for this, in War Theory Sun Tzu states:

If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

Let’s assume Corporation A is a mining and industry corp with little to no military power, their best choice is to evade and deny fights. This evasion is a common way to avoid wars as most of EVE expects the major groups to stay in hubs and rarely hunt beyond trade lanes. That being the case if you live in an isolated area you lay low as a corporation for the week and deny content thus making them go away to seek greener pastures.

Defence is given the option to hire in Allies. However, this leads to some issues when coordinating attacks as it has a related mechanic. Crimewatch 2.0 is an elegantly simple design that takes the actions of a single player and determines legal outcomes for those actions with as few special circumstances as possible. The issue lies in its simplicity while ruling a highly complex environment. How this applies is the unintended consequence of simplicity is that allies are seen as neutrals in terms of providing remote reps to each other thus despite both being able to DPS, EWAR, and aggressively act against one of their opponents they can’t however, without being tagged as suspect (and thus a legal target in high sec to all) repair each other.

Offence used to hold the great opportunity that was the Watchlist, I kid you not at one point I had all of Pangu University on watchlist so that I could more easily hunt the ones that were online. This was done via adding them as contacts and hunting the online targets via the locator agents. The changes to watchlist that now require both parties to have each other on watchlist in order to see if that person if either person is online have effectively eliminated efficient hunting as a thing.

Now locator agents are an older mechanic and a good one at their heart. When hunting a 250 man alliance generally you only have 25 to 40 online at a time. This gives you a pool to look for with the locators. The issue, it takes time. Often up to 5 minutes and if your war targets are savvy and know how to screw with you, they can use a combination of leaving toons logged in all day in locations far from their normal space. OR they go and hide in a C1 or C2 and find content in there for the week giving a maximum time response from the agent only to come back with a message equivalent to ‘good luck scrub they are not in known space.’ Simply put when you can only use a locator agent once every 5 minutes to find 1 person knowing who is online is important. Changing how quickly the locator agents work would, according to Tora Bushido CEO of the Marmite Collective, be a major improvement to the aggressors side as well as a balanced counter play from defence.

What can be done?

Every once in awhile, there comes a time when even bitter enemies sit at the same table to try and resolve issues. EVE is no different, In recent weeks, the War Dec project, a community-driven effort originally started by Tora Bushido, CEO of the Marmite Collective, and Jason Quixos has been rebooted with several notable mentions falling in the mix of names to contribute ideas to try and build out a workable fair and content driven War Declaration system that will be useful in more than just high sec trade hub camping.

Some of the notable mentions from the community are Toxic Yaken who ran for CSM XI on a high sec platform and is currently the lead coordinator of the War Dec Project. Bobmon and Jin Taan, both highly respected members of the current CSM XI, and myself with several others ensuring representation of War Dec based alliances and corporations as well as some representation of new player focus alliances and some interested third parties.

It’s important to know this project is not closed door or for the privileged few. The project is being run over a public discord server , where the only rules are to keep an open mind, participate, and to remain civil and on-topic.

The Overarching goals of the project

  1. Create a more balanced Wardec system
  2. Ensure Wardecs continue to create content
  3. Provide the community a place for focused discussion
  4. Have CSM/CCP input and feedback on collective ideas

Instead of attempting to rewrite what has been discussed so far, Toxic Yaken has compiled the current arguments into a document 

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Comments

  • Rhivre

    Wardecs definitely need revisiting (again?). There are so many broken aspects to them, and citadels have just exposed a lot more issues with them.

    December 16, 2016 at 9:36 pm
    • Bill Bones Rhivre

      You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink…

      The core issue with wardecs is that they only work when they’re consensual and both sides want to PvP. Yet you can’t force a player to fight if he doesn’t wants to. Highsec players can just stop playing, for a week or forever, if they don’t want to fight a war.

      December 18, 2016 at 9:26 am
  • Sasha Nemtsov

    The issue is a thorny one. In particular, I can’t see how they can address the wardec mess without addressing the problems with Highsec corp organisation; and *that* will likely lead to an evaluation of Highsec aggression in general.

    I think CCP is very wary of fiddling about with Highsec, because of course that’s where the vast majority of the player base spends its time.

    I can’t look at the linked paper right now, but I’d be surprised if the focus group hasn’t already discovered that it’s impossible to consider wardecs in isolation from other mechanics.

    December 16, 2016 at 10:30 pm
    • Commander Aze Sasha Nemtsov

      I hope my article stated the complexities of inter related mechanics… its really a messed up issue because of everything it touches or that would have to change to make it work. like I stated changing wars means changing crimewatch 2.0, and structure mechanics. Among other issues. But it also is one of the most toxic mechanics in eve in its current state.

      December 16, 2016 at 11:07 pm
      • Gla Frite Commander Aze

        Wardecs are broken for sure : but don’t you think people in HS have found ways to work around them for quite some time ?

        So, what’s the problem ?

        I for sure know that Eve elite guys prefer to bend the rules instead of just playing them, but why looking at High Sec now ?

        December 17, 2016 at 5:53 am
        • Bill Bones Gla Frite

          Well, highsec wardeccers hope to attain a information advantage on their preys so they get easy kills. If the rules change, highsec wardeccers will get a chance to kill many uninformed highseccers while they adapt to the new rules.

          December 18, 2016 at 9:31 am
          • Gla Frite Bill Bones

            I just wonder : is CCP dumb to the point of not seeing the trick here or else, what do they earn at having a CSM playing against the only paying users of the game ?

            December 19, 2016 at 10:10 am
  • PewPew

    The problem with the wardec system is that you have two groups that want totally different things.

    So the industrialists don’t want to be wardecced ever and any system which lets wars happen is bad for them.

    The mercs and highsec warriors want to be able to wardec anyone, anytime, for free.

    Therefore any system is going to make everyone unhappy, it’s just a case of balancing the unhappiness.

    The way it was always supposed to work was that Highsec would be safe but poor and the industrialists would be incentivised to move out to low and null. Even though they would die more frequently there they would make profits which were sufficiently great to make it worth it. Then the pirates could be happy and the industrialists could be happy too.

    It’s another example of where the fundamental system wasn’t working and CCP never did another pass to get things working as intended. Just pushing up tax rates in highsec would probably do the trick.

    December 17, 2016 at 6:54 pm
    • Bill Bones PewPew

      Why pay higher taxes when you can just take your money elsewhere and play other games where developers don’t screw John to please Peter?

      December 18, 2016 at 9:18 am
      • PewPew Bill Bones

        The idea is to screw John to please John. Getting industrial activity moved out of highsec would help industrialists have a more interesting and deep gameplay experience.

        December 18, 2016 at 10:08 am
        • Bill Bones PewPew

          That “better” experience is already available and they don’t take it. If you make them choose between take that experience or quit, they will quit. And actually since highsec is a poorer experience, that makes it easier to quit.

          December 18, 2016 at 12:57 pm
          • Commander Aze Bill Bones

            Agreed, Generally speaking High sec is more casual players. A group that has a common goal but generally are not interested in changing their play style to conform to the needs of others. If anything they adapt to finding ways around fighting their opponents.

            In part its human nature but more interestingly it matches Sun Tzu “If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.” if you cant beat them run and hide… In terms of EVE this evasion is significantly more likely to be not logging in. which isn’t really good for the game.

            December 19, 2016 at 9:00 pm
          • Apostophe Noodle Bill Bones

            Spot on.
            CCP did try. Before just wrecking the sov mechanic with Pheobe/FozzieSov, they said ‘if the huge coalitions are going to own so much neglected space, go rob them blind.’
            They created things like siphons, ship lines with inherent warp stabs and covops cloaking PvE ships. The fact that huge sov empires wasted much of the space they owned should have been a bonanza for players to sneak in and make use of upgraded space that someone else had to grind structures over. Laughing all the way to Jita.
            It didn’t materialize.

            December 20, 2016 at 4:57 pm
    • Apostophe Noodle PewPew

      100% right.
      I would add though that a critical missing element is the players’ sheer inability to tolerate ANY loss.
      How do you fix THAT? How do you make people accept losing ships as the ‘cost of doing business?’ The NPE makes you lose a ship…..and for most players that is the last loss they’ll ever have that doesn’t send them into a rage.

      The key part of the ideal scenario you explain is ‘die more frequently….but sufficiently great rewards to make it worth it.’
      But for that segment of players that are “care bears”- there is no reward sufficient to offset any amount of loss. Care bears are incredibly wealthy- by far the most blinged out sub caps in the game are exclusively PvE boats (Incursions, Burner missions, L4 blitzers, Sleeper farmers) yet there is at no point where losing ships is just part of the job.
      CCP can’t fix that. That comes directly from the players themselves. They can already afford multi billion isk ships and pods, but lose their minds over the occasional loss. Seriously- it seems to be some kind of gold standard to PvE while watching TV or making a sandwich! It’s a meme at this point.

      December 20, 2016 at 4:43 pm
  • Apostophe Noodle

    The only war decs I ever see is the few ‘professional’ ones that squat in trade hubs and simply war dec every alliance involved with sov, trying to shoot their freighters. My alliance still gets war dec’d every few weeks despite leaving sov and the coalition months ago. They just go down a list.
    If you go 2 jumps out of any trade hub, you won’t even see them.

    December 20, 2016 at 5:33 pm