Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A New War Declaration System, Coming In May 2019

I honestly didn't expect CCP to publish a dev blog on changes to the war declaration system until the week before Evesterdam at the earliest. Then again, I didn't expect CCP to roll out the changes over three releases either. When I read the dev blog, I went back in time to when I started playing. No, not about all the war decs I experienced as a member of EVE University. Instead, my thoughts went back to the Crimewatch system and the phrase, "superior knowledge of game mechanics". CCP eventually removed a lot of the opaqueness surrounding high sec aggression mechanics with the implementation of Crimewatch 2.0 in the Retribution expansion in December 2012.

When I look at the changes CCP plans to make, I see some welcome, if overdue changes. I won't go through the process of trying to decide whether the plan is good or bad, because I think overall the plan will make EVE better. Instead, I'll just go through the dev blog, if for no other reason as to put my views on the record.

The March release will see CCP close two loopholes and fix a bug. The first is the "head fake" loophole used to deploy citadels.
"The first of these loopholes is one that we have referred to as the “headfake” trick internally. There are a few ways for corporations to get themselves into this situation but the end result is always a corporation intentionally getting itself into an expiring war against a specific opponent and then using the 24 hour warning period of any newly declared war as a period of planned invulnerability to deploy a structure..."

"To close this loophole we are changing some of the mechanics around the 24 hour cooldown period at the end of wars.

"After the March release, either side of a war that is within its 24 hour cooldown period can choose to declare a new war instantly to replace the old one. This new war is subject to the same billing and eligibility requirements as any other war, but instead of starting a 24 hour warmup period it will begin instantly with shooting allowed.

"Since both the attacker and defender of this new war will already be able to shoot at each other thanks to the old war, there is no need for the 24 hour warning period."
The next loophole is on I'm not sure I see a use for, but if rules are open to manipulation, EVE players will find away to use them to their advantage.
"Another unintended loophole in the war declaration system is something that we refer to as the “war inversion” trick. This loophole allows a corporation to essentially switch sides of a war, turning a defensive war into an offensive war through joining and leaving an alliance under specific conditions..."

"To close this loophole we are preventing corporations that are defenders in an active war from joining an alliance that is the attacker in another active war against the same group attacking the applicant corporation."
Finally, CCP will fix a bug that made a corporation immune to wardecs until downtime based on certain server configurations on the back end of the cluster. Sporadic issues based on changing server configurations are always a pain to solve. At least, so I've been told.

The April release will see changes in remote assistance by neutrals to players involved in a war. The two changes involve how remote repairs and command bursts are treated in high sec. The big thing to remember is that the changes only apply to neutral characters assisting characters in a war. No changes are occurring for those not in wars.

The first area is remote repairing of ships in combat by neutrals. Once again, I'll rely on the dev blog to explain, because the current high sec war mechanics are complicated.
Under current mechanics, if a neutral character applies a remote assistance module (such as a remote repairer) to another character they can receive a suspect flag if their target meets all of the following conditions:
  1. is involved in a war (including normal wars or FW)
  1. does not share a corp/alliance (or FW side if the war in question is the FW war) with the assistor
  1. is engaged in PVP (has a capsuleer logoff timer)
Basically, the neutral logistics ships are protected by CONCORD until they start to repair a ship. Also, because the ships are neutral, an opposing fleet commander doesn't know the true strength of the enemy, even with proper scouting. CCP has come up with a solution.
"After the April release, the penalty for direct targeted neutral assistance meeting the conditions above AND occurring within highsec will become a criminal flag and CONCORD response. The safety system will prevent the activation of the targeted assistance modules under these conditions, so we suggest that support pilots in highsec engage their safety at either green or yellow levels to prevent unintentional CONCORDOKKEN."
While under the current rules, the neutral logistics eventually become engageable, the same is not true for boosting ships. A neutral command ship can sit and buff an entire fleet involved in a war and the opposition has no recourse, as the command ship is protected by CONCORD. Given that command ships tend to have formidable tanks, suiciding a large number of ships in the middle of a fight to end the buffs is not really an option. CCP wound up taking a slightly different approach to the problem.
"For area of effect command bursts we are approaching the problem a little differently as you may want to continue boosting the members of your fleet that are not involved in a war. Therefore, after the April release neutral command bursts will simply not affect a pilot that meets the conditions listed above when activated in highsec space."
The changes to remote repairs and command bursts will also apply to pilots flying with a limited engagement timer. The changes also do not affect interacting with others in your corporation nor extend to low sec, where everything remains the same as today.

The May release will see the bulk of the changes take effect. The big feature is the introduction of the War HQ. Attackers will need to designate an Upwell structure with docking facilities somewhere in high security space as their headquarters. If the structure dies or is unanchored, the war is over. Here are the highlights of the feature.

  • War HQs are required for the attacking side of a war, but they are not required for defenders (defenders will continue to need to be war eligible) or allies.
  • The identity of the War HQ structure for a war will be public information available in the war report window as well as sent directly to the defenders when the war is declared as a reminder.
  • Corporations or alliances with multiple outgoing wars may choose to spread out the War HQs for their wars across multiple structures or use the same structures as HQs for multiple wars as they wish.
  • It will not be possible to change the War HQ once a war has been declared.
  • If a war ends due to the War HQ going away, the former attackers will be unable to declare a new war against the same former defenders for two weeks.
  • The enforced peace will not prevent the former defenders from declaring a new war against their former attackers.

The war dec fee also was simplified from a complex formula to a nice round 100 million ISK per week.

Before continuing, I want to say how much I like the concept of the War HQ. Yes, wealthy war dec corporations can probably shrug off the lost of a few Upwell structures every week. But now, if the defender wants to pay mercenaries for protection, the mercs have a target they can hit to stop the war dec. I also can see collusion occurring, so those hiring mercs to take out an aggressor's headquarters should perform all due diligence to avoid a scam.

The next part of the change is mutual wars. The idea is so simple, I'm honestly surprised it wasn't implemented back in 2012 when the system was last iterated upon.
"After the May release, mutual wars will be started through an invitation and acceptance process similar to how corp/alliance applications work. One corp or alliance will be able to send invitations for a mutual war to other corps or alliances and the organization that receives the invitation can choose to accept or decline the offer. Mutual wars will not require any ISK costs, war eligibility, or War HQs.

"Either side of a mutual war will be able to retract the war at will, triggering the standard 24 hour cooldown before shooting stops. Mutual wars will also continue to end automatically if no PVP kills have occurred between the two sides in the last 90 days."
Mutual wars will also get its own user interface. But the regular war declaration UI will also receive improvements in the May release as well. Since the dev blog makes it sound like the changes are still under way, I'm sure the devs will take changes suggested in the forum thread under advisement.

Overall, I'm excited that a significant irritant in EVE Online is finally receiving a revamp. I get the feeling the devs had to rip out a whole lot of legacy code, including the POS code, in order to make these much needed changes. Yes, I'm sure we'll see some unforeseen issues emerge. But I do like what CCP is doing. Now, what else can we expect in May?

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