I’ve been getting back into the swing of things, moving ships etc and catching up on changes. Something that has been hard to ignore is the back and forth arguments about the new war dec mechanics and the upcoming fix/nerf (depending on your point of view).

The problems
It is my understanding that there are two issues reported with the new war dec system

  1. The ability for a defender to hire (or obtain for free) allies to help them and then make a war “mutual” locking in the aggressor and everyone until one side or the other surrenders.
  2. Many corps/alliances are willing to assist in wars for free (the so called dog-piling) which pushes mercs out of the market.

These combined features caused an amusing use of the gameplay mechanics where after getting war decced by goons and receiving assistance from people wanting to shoot goons, Star Fraction were able to turn the war mutual and lock everyone in.

CCP’s fixes
The relevant changes CCP are putting in to “fix” this

  1. Allies can not be part of mutual wars – defender cannot hire allies into mutual wars and existing ally contracts are cancelled (with a 24 hour grace period)
  2. Hiring more than one ally now incur a cost that goes to CONCORD. The cost rises exponentially the more allies are hired into the same war.

There are a few other changes to cap the base price of wars and add fixed 2 week length to ally contracts, but we’ll discount them for now.

Of course these changes were not well liked by some and applauded by others – not a shock really ;). However what has been interesting is the level of tinfoil on one side with accusations that it was for the benefit of the goons who are currently locked into this mutual war.

Widely quoted is a rather interesting post from CCP Soundwave.

CCP Soundwave wrote:
The other thing is that war dec prices are determined by the value you get from them. If you want to go to war with someone, a higher number of potential targets should be more expensive. If you’re a smaller alliance, this makes you a less attractive target, unless you’ve made someone angry in which case you’re responsible for any social repercussions you’ve created.

Letting attackers add allies conflicts with the notion that attacking someone is risky. If you decide you want to go to war with someone, the consequence is that he could punch harder than you anticipated. If this is just about stacking up allies, the power of that choice fades away a little bit.

Which is interesting because that cuts both ways under the inferno 1.0 system and actually less so in the 1.1 fixes. Goons are against so many “allies” in the star fraction mutual war not because people are friends of SF, but because of the Social Repercussions of various goon actions over the years πŸ˜‰

Ok, so lets take a closer look at these two separate things.

Should a defender be able to hire allies then turn the dec into a free mutual war? Short answer, I don’t think so under the current system.

Whilst the current 1.0 system allows this behaviour and it is quite funny I think the CCP intent was for you to hire allies (or mercs) to defend your assets and drive the aggressor to drop the dec. The emergent gameplay that Star Fraction and others found is a good example of the creative players, but it also causes other issues.

I would suggest it should be allowed but without the current “free” system and lock in. The aggressor should still pay their dec free but the defender should also pay something to make it mutual (and perhaps pay more per ally included). Also escalation could be allowed such that once the defender makes a war mutual then the initial aggressor can also hire allies to help. How is that for Social Repercussions πŸ˜‰

Clearly I’ve mentioned the sliding scale things above based on the other change that CCP have put in, however I think the exponential scale talked about is to high and they need to consider something lower. Another intriguing thing is this post from CSM representative Alekseyev Karrde

I’m the one spearheading for reforms to the Inferno war dec system (not Mitanni) and the CSM has pretty solidly been behind the changes we discussed prior to and during the CSM summit.

The slight cost added to taking new allies was not one of those changes, I do not support it, and I do not think the CSM as a whole is too enthused (though Issler doesn’t support it for different reasons than the rest of us do: it’s still ****).

The worry here is that not only does this remove a lot of the risk for an aggressor to dec smaller corps (unless the defender wants to spend a huge amount of isk or can find a few really large allies to help) but that it could be counter productive to the merc marketplace too.

It will be very interesting to see how this shakes out and if CCP really can enable a new merc marketplace when there are so many players willing to shoot people for free.