But you'd have to take them out of the pile that I'd gain from people being kind enough to tell me how much they enjoy the blog, which I'm always thrilled to hear. :-)
So yeah, sometimes I'll post something to be contrary, but yesterday's post wasn't that. I meant what I said. I'll tell you why, but it'll involve a story. And at the end, I'll even have a couple of suggestions on how to start to fix high-sec war-decs in EVE.
As I mentioned, one of my first experiences with PvP in EVE came in a high-sec war-dec. I'd been playing the game for five months, and had just started my second account, which was going to be a PvP-focused character. That character was four months old and had right around two million skill points (and a ton of those were in Learning skills). This was long before double-speed training, before 24h skill queues, before Battleclinic was particularly helpful, before the projectile buff, before a lot of stuff that current players take for granted. I hadn't figured out how missions really worked yet, was nowhere near ready to run L3s (or even L2s). The best ships I could fly on this character were T1 cruisers... badly, so I was mostly sticking to T1 frigs. I was in a high-sec corp that had seemed like a good idea at the time, but I was realizing that I knew more about EVE than my CEO... and I had been playing for five months. Most of my income came from mining in a 1.0 system where the corp lived, courtesy of my first character, who was a whole month older. At that time, trit was selling for 4+ per unit, so you could make a decent low-effort income from veldspar mining.
But the system I was in was infested with can-flippers, so I decided to start fighting back. I let myself get can-flipped, and used my second character to chase the perpetrator into the next system over. There, flying a Merlin fit with the help of a friend in Agony Unleashed, I managed to catch him on the gate and solo him to scrap. If memory serves, he was flying a Punisher. And that was my first PvP kill in EVE. ;-)
Which earned my corp a war-dec the next day. A second war-dec followed about 16 hours later. My CEO was horrified, as was the corp's one Director. They immediately instructed everyone in the corp to dock up, log out for the week, and invited all of us to instead play in Singularity that week! "They'll get bored and the war-dec will end," I was told. "Don't give them any targets." And both of them disappeared into SiSi and that was pretty much the last time I talked to them during the war-dec.
Being a mutant and a rebel, I pulled together two other people in the corp that were willing to fight back. And we did, over the next couple of days. One fight sticks in my memory today, almost four years later. Us: a frig, a Harbinger, and me in a Caracal that I definitely couldn't afford to lose. Them: BCs, battleships, and T2 frigs and cruisers, chasing us around our system. I designed what I thought was a pretty cunning little trap to catch one of their expensive ships (today, it strikes me as ridiculously primitive). Still, we got very lucky and it worked. We managed to isolate one of their T2s from the rest and blow him up before the rest could warp back and rescue him. I was particularly thrilled because the T2 pilot was more than two years old. We ran away after it was over.
That single kill guaranteed we won the ISK war from both war-decs. There was no way they were going to kill our T1s enough times to make it back.
But the war-decs continued for four more weeks. Before they were over, I was thrown out of the corp. I heard that the CEO paid green-mail to finally end the wars. It makes me smile today, but at the time, I was not happy. That was my first and last time in a high-sec corp. I moved my PvP character to null-sec soon after. I got my ass kicked repeatedly, but persisted and learned from it.
What lingers for me today about this incident was the inherent unfairness of it. All of us that were fighting were sub-5m SP characters, trying to defend our right to mine veldspar in a 1.0 system. The aggressors were much older characters with tens of millions of SP and ships and income streams that we couldn't dream of. They could keep the war-decs going cheaply for weeks, and we had no defense against them. One of the comments in my post yesterday referenced the desire for high-sec war-dec pilots to pick off low-hanging fruit: easy-to-gank players that can't put up much of a fight. And that comment, in my experience, hits the nail on the head. Almost every other high-sec war-dec I encountered later in Sturmgreandier was of this type. In EVE chat yesterday with someone about my post, he mentioned that high-sec war-dec corps are terrible and not to be feared. I retorted that sure, I feel that way now, but at the time, they were formidable enough.
Some of you are no doubt bristling at my use of the word "unfair". EVE is a dark, cold, risky universe where you can get killed at any moment, blah blah blah. Fine. I accept that. Wouldn't still be playing this game if I didn't.
But this morning, I pulled up the names of ten EVE players from old loss-mails from that long-ago high-sec corp, curious as to how they're doing now:
- six of them have no Incarna-era character pics, and are therefore no longer playing EVE;
- two of them are still in high-sec corps (one's employment history hints at a brief null-sec past); and,
- the last two are in a high-sec war-dec corp, apparently inflicting the same pain on other newbies that was inflicted on them years ago.
Guys, I sympathize with high-sec PvPers and mercs. I really do. But in this, I have to look at the Big Picture, and the Big Picture says that such high-sec war-decs are often bad for the health of the game. As another commenter in yesterday's post correctly put it, there are way more people harvesting tears right now than there are "suppliers." And I have no sympathy at all for people who get blown up in billion ISK mission ships, or Orcas, or Hulks. These people have shown by the ships they fly that they should have learned how to handle themselves. If they can't, gank them with my blessings.
I'm all for teaching new EVE players that New Eden is dangerous. But I also feel like the true newbies -- the ones that are still trying to learn how this game works -- should be protected more than they are today. That's why I say the current high-sec war-dec mechanics are badly broken. I have four suggestions for places to start to fix them.
First: I think it would be great if anyone with more than five million SP were barred from 0.9 and 1.0 systems. But first, we throw all the L3 and L4 agents out of those systems, and make sure that there are good transit paths around 0.9 and 1.0 systems to get from region to region. Once that's done, if you have more than five million SP and you try to jump into such a system, you get a message stating that the "Yulai Convention Decree Against Immortals" prevents it. Once you have five million SP when you log in, if you're docked in such a system, the same mechanic that bumps you out of Jita when it's too crowded offers to bump you and your belongings to the closest 0.8 system.
Want to hunt true newbies? Still want to suicide gank them? Fine. Start a new or trial account to do it. Level the playing field. You 20 and 25 million (or more) SP characters hunting true newbies? Get out. You're embarrassing yourselves and you're hurting the game.
"Jester, what about the markets?" I can hear some of you ask. "Move them," sez I. I've been playing long enough that I can vaguely recall a time pre-Jita.
Second: I think a war-dec should inflict significant ISK penalties on actions that are currently free. If your corp is war-dec'ed and you want to join an alliance, you must pay a sizable ISK bribe to CONCORD to do it. If your corp is active in a war-dec, new players or the corp itself have to pay individual (smaller) bribes to allow it. If you're in a war-dec'ed corp and try to leave: again, a sizable bribe.
Third: if you fleet with someone who's at war, or provide any material assistance whatsoever -- repping, friendly e-war, gang-link boosting, whatever -- to anyone who is in a fleet with anyone who's at war, you're at war. This won't stop all the neutral alt exploits, but it'll stop a lot of them by making them valid WTs from the get-go. But it'll make incursion-gankers happy: they can go after anyone in an incursion fleet they like rather than just the WTs in the fleet. As a side effect, that will force incursion-runners to HTFU.
Fourth: each week, the cost of maintaining a war-dec against the same target doubles from the previous week, as do the costs of all bribes affecting that war-dec from my second point. This will blot out or reduce a good bit of dec-shielding, but will also reduce or eliminate endless or near-endless war-decs. At the very least, you'll have to give your war-dec target cooling-off periods from time to time.
Wow, this is a long post. I didn't intend to rant quite this hard. ;-) Anyway, what do you think? Are these good suggestions, or are they fail for some reason I'm not seeing?