War. War never changes.
War declarations in New Eden are used for many different reasons. Most of the time you don’t know what the reason is. Most of the time it doesn’t matter what the reason is.
Sometimes mercenary corporations are hired by participants in a null-sec war to ensure their rival alliance has difficulty performing logistics or moving around. Other times alliances take care of their own dirty work with a war declaration. Often war declarations are used to gain satisfaction for some perceived slight from a rival corporation. But sometimes war declarations are just a way to extort or bully inexperienced corporations of young pilots.
I will never suggest that there should be a safe place in EVE; I’ll never propose that you shouldn’t be able to outsmart, trick or bully an opponent into open conflict. But, I will swiftly and often express my desire to see consequences for those who travel a less-than-honorable road to fame and fortune; though this is more because I want to be able to shoot them cheaply and easily than because I want to see them punished.
Exploratory Thought 7: Punishment of players should be in the hands of players whenever possible; not because players are better at it — they aren’t — but because it’s more fun.
Consider this short story (for the TL;DR version you can skip the story):
Ivan loitered outside the office nervously fingering his somewhat fresh implants. They’d told him that with enough time and experience these would become a part of him, but for now they were as unfamiliar as the dread he’d felt since receiving the notice from CONCORD.
Subj: Black Mamba Ninja Pirate Assassins of Anarchy Declares War Against Venture Capitalists
Sent: 2010.01.01 12:00
Black Mamba Ninja Pirate Assassins of Anarchy has declared war on Venture Capitalists. Within 24 hours fighting can legally occur between those involved.
Tensions had run high between the members of the Venture Capitalists since receiving the notice; they were all fresh from the academy with backgrounds in mining and small-time bounty hunting for local agents — they lacked the resources to successfully defend themselves against a well-trained and supplied force of pod pilots. Worse yet, they’d done nothing to provoke this aggression and the BMNPAA had as much as admitted that — they just wanted a little fun.
That was why he was here, outside this office, acutely aware of his new implants — the wetware a metaphorical wetness behind his ears.
With a deep sigh he resigned himself to enter and ask for help. “That’s what these guys do”, he reminded himself. Another breath and he inserted a data chip into a panel by the door. Inside he found himself faced with an array of comfortable looking synthetic leather chairs and a short round table — not at all what he expected.
“Please, sit down. I’ll be right there,” a gruff voice called from beyond an open doorway. So Ivan sat; he was not comfortable. A moment later a well-muscled Civire pod pilot appeared with two mugs of coffee, setting one on the table in front of Ivan before settling into a chair on the opposite side. The mercenary looked expectantly at Ivan and waited.
Again Ivan’s hand reached toward his implants, seemingly of its own accord. “We n-n-need protection,” he managed to stammer.
“Son, protection is what you need when you don’t want your girl to get pregnant; what you need is justice. We can give you that justice — but it comes at a price,” said the Civire with a distinct air of confidence.
“We can pay what you ask,” answered Ivan, regaining some measure of composure.
Ivan felt so very small with the mercenary’s knowing eyes piercing his confidence from across the table. After a moment the mercenary said, “You’re new to this. I’ve done my research. You’ve only been a pilot for two months — your corporation only in existence for one. I’ll give you this piece of advice for free, kid: this kind of thing happens all the time. When this is through you’d be better off putting us on retainer for future operations. It will lock in our rates and ensure a seamless process.”
The conversation turned to a discussion of the specifics. The Venture Capitalists would pay 5% of the base insurance cost (a decent marker of ship worth) for each enemy ship the mercenaries were able to ‘bring to justice’. Further, there was a minimum fee of 20 million isk to be payed in the event few ships were destroyed and a cap of 300 million isk, after which the mercenaries would drop out of the conflict.
The mercenary captain explained that while CONCORD allowed these wars, they also allowed the victim to hire mercenaries in their name so the moment the war became active the mercenaries would also be allowed to engage in the hostilities. This was a change from past policies which required mercenaries to make their own war declaration which was not in any way tied to the original war.
Ivan’s worries began to fade as the Civire began explaining that for a fee the mercenaries could be held on retainer in expectation of another conflict — such a contract would reduce fees of future employment. And, more importantly, the right kind of retainer contract would enable the mercenaries to respond to theft and other aggression-able acts.
In essence, I’d like to see a new class of contracts which allow corporations to hire mercenaries with mechanics for payment based on a percentage of kill value with an optional minimum and maximum fee. The contract would, for the purposes of a single war declaration, treat the mercenaries as part of the hiring corporation in that they would be covered under the war declaration and able to engage in combat against the declarers.
Further, I think it would be interesting to allow mercenaries to be kept on retainer for a fee which would ensure they were hired with a minimum of fuss for newly declared wars. Perhaps the retainer contract would have an option to allow the mercenaries to engage pilots who have earned aggression to the corporation (through theft or an act of aggression).
There are pilots willing to be the ‘good guys’ — or at least as good as you get in New Eden. We just need the mechanics to provide a little bit of certainty. Clearly there are sheep to be fleeced, even by those who claim to be good; our New Eden will never be without wolves, whether they’re in sheep’s clothing or not.
There’s no protection in this scheme — there’s only justice. A corporation who thought they’d get a handful of free kills will probably still get the free kills, but they’ll have other, prepared targets ready to engage them as well. I think this is in keeping with my “more PvP” theme. More consequences, more PvP, more fun.
Note: I’ve thought about war declarations before, but this blog entry prompted me to further explore these concepts.
Note 2: A related topic (related in the sense that this is about war declarations favoring the aggressor) was broached with CCP before; the summary can be found here.