The Case for Wardecs: An Appeal to Reason


For most of a decade, wardecs have been a prominent feature in EVE. Over the years, wardecs have suffered from many different nerfs and restrictions. Yet wardecs are still around, and it's difficult to imagine an EVE without them. Despite their long-standing place in the EVE universe, it seems wardecs have lately fallen out of favor with many. Wardecs are perceived as a problem to be solved; it's taken for granted that something is seriously wrong with them.

Even people who enjoy wardecs would agree that there are flaws in the system. The most nagging problem with wardecs, historically, has been the ease with which they can be evaded: Long after the problem was supposed to have been addressed, players still drop corp or dissolve wardecced corps at will.

But the new feeling of discontent about wardecs has nothing to do with making sure wardecced targets can't escape the effects of being wardecced--quite the opposite. There's a growing sentiment that wardecs unfairly benefit the attacker, and that wardeccers need to suffer more disadvantages. (All the previous wardec nerfs, it seems, have not been enough.) In addition, wardecs are being subjected to vague new criticisms about the lack of "consequences" to wardecs. As CCP Fozzie recently put it during a Crossing Zebras interview,

"What really needs to happen with wardecs is that we get to a point where, when one group wardecs another group, at the end of the day, something gets resolved... When wardecs happen, both sides get to have potentially fun gameplay, and the end result has an actual end result." (1:22:12)

According to Fozzie, opinions vary on the specifics, but the disappointment with the wardec feature is universal among the CCP development team:

"The one thing we can pretty much all agree on is that wardecs often don't serve the kind of, any, purpose for anyone involved." (1:20:35)

In the midst of this ennui, some have suggested that non-consensual wardecs be removed from the game entirely. In his own interview with Crossing Zebras, CSM member and candidate Trebor Daehdoow explained why he has proposed CCP get rid of wardecs:

"If non-consensual wardecs are costing CCP a lot of subscriptions, then that's resources that could be used to hire more devs to fix other areas of the game. So maybe it would be worth slaying that sacred cow and going back and actually looking at the numbers and figuring out, are non-consensual wardecs doing what we would like, if they effective in achieving the conflict goals that we want, and if not, what could we do to fix them, or is it worth fixing them? And to their credit, some people at CCP have gone and run some interesting numbers on that, of which I'm not at liberty to tell you." (22:15)

Of course, only the most devout advocates of a highsec theme park could hold to the opinion that wardecs should be removed from EVE. But while the extreme anti-wardec position is held by a radical minority, it has become fashionable to accept the criticisms concerning lack of risk for attackers and the lack of wardec consequences.

It's worth taking stock of the environment in which this new anti-wardec sentiment is taking hold. For example, consider the criticism that wardecs unfairly favor the attacker. Thanks to various wardec nerfs over the years, wardeccers are subject to more restrictions and costs than ever before, and defenders have more options than ever before. So why is the concern about unfairness growing, rather than diminishing? (I've noticed a similar phenomenon with the need to "protect new players" and boost CCP subscription revenue; the concern is growing despite EVE's subscriptions reaching an all-time high.)

The main problem with the anti-wardec sentiment of late is that it's devoid of rational thought. The traditional criticisms of wardec mechanics--mostly concerning the ease of wardec evasion--make sense. It's hard to argue against the idea that defenders shouldn't be able to nullify wars by dissolving and re-forming the exact same corp. By contrast, the new criticisms, coming from the more "carebearish" perspective, don't hold up to anything approaching serious scrutiny. At their best, the criticisms are flawed, and at worst, they're completely nonsensical.

James 315 has a distinguished history of combat in nullsec, mostly fighting against the Band of Brothers alliance, which was a bad alliance. Recently he has moved to highsec, where he currently serves as Father of the New Order and Saviour of Highsec