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‘A Game Changing Mechanic’

In April of 2016 New Eden experienced a massive change in its foundation that is, a year later, still occurring. From the very dawn of New Eden one thing has been at it’s foundation and a core part of every capsuleers adventure.

The Station.

As capsuleers we were all ‘born’ in a station and throughout our our journeys we have always known the station was not only a place to dock our ships and store our goods but was also a safe harbor, strategic fortress, place of business, manufacturing, ship spinning, socialization, where we form to defend our space, and for the majority of capsuleers, where we start and end our ‘days’ as capsuleers. The later advent of player owned starbases (POS) maybe shifted some things around but for most of us the station was home.

When citadels were released ‘home’ changed over night. Not only did they take over the majority of a station’s function, they expanded who could live in that home, where that home could be and what those homes could do. Titan and Supercapital pilots came in out of the cold, corporations who never would have been able to deploy a ‘player built’ station could now deploy one and plant their own flag without owning space, and a station under attack could respond with massive weapons, fighter squadrons, and doomsdays. In the last year, the variant of citadels called “engineering complexes” have replaced all the functions of a station, including refining, research and invention. In the coming months, the ‘moon mining’ complex variant will replace POS; conquerable stations and outposts will be decommissioned by being turned into faction citadels. In short, just over a year ago, the universe changed overnight.

‘The Experts’

Understanding the impact that citadels have had was not something I am expert enough to know. Gathering opinions from the actual experts of New Eden and writing about the impact of the citadel was a daunting quest. So I began a journey and traveled to every corner of New Eden to ask questions, gather insight, and learn. What I learned from them, both good and bad, surprised me and painted a picture I was able to grasp. I knew the impact of the citadel was big, but I really didn’t understand it until my journey was complete.

For every type of space (high sec, low sec, null sec and wormhole space) I interviewed a group or an individual(s) who over the last year have pioneered and operated large citadel operations. They were some of the first players to really test and deploy these structures and (some of them) have since grown their operations to truly staggering sizes.

I asked all of them three basic questions:

  1. What are the pros and cons of Citadels?
  2. How have citadels affected your part of New Eden?
  3. From your ‘veteran’ experience, what are your ideas on how to fix some of the problems with the current system?

Today’s article will cover the ‘citadel’ impact on what is commonly reffered to as “Empire Space” (High & Low Security Space), followed by part two covering “Null” Security (0.0) space, and we conclude with part three by diving into wormholes.

‘Empire Space Interview’

For High Security space I spoke with Khromius and Natural CloneKiller of Vendetta Mercenary Group (VMG) and for Low Security Space, Reza Najafi, from WAFFLES.

The first question I asked was the easy one and the one which targets the core of any game. Content. Plain and simple, New Eden and its capsuleers live and breathe on content.

How do citadels support and create content?

VMG (Khromius, NaturalCloneKiller) : “For us, the citadels have provided a huge opportunity in terms of attack and defence based contracts. In that sense whether you are a mercenary or not it is content in that respect. We saw it as an opportunity to take peoples’ stuff down and get paid for it and built on that.

We weren’t 100% sure how mechanics were gonna work and how hard the citadels were going to hit back. All these things needed to be tested and ironed out. In terms of protecting stuff we needed to work out doctrines in terms of ship fits and how is this going to work for us in HS. We were actually quite excited by the content, even the trailer video was inspiring for us. And this is play around stuff and that means we can blow stuff up.”

Reza Najafi: “Citadel Expansion did bring new content for the players. New content in term of bumping ships out of tether range of Citadels and ganking them after or being creative with the citadel ACL and allowing people with limited knowledge of game mechanics to be ganked. Jokes apart. Citadels allowed pilots to be even safer in lowsec with their assets. Let it be moving their capitals, supers from citadel to citadel instead from stations to a station with a small docking range or POS to POS for supers. If done correctly, you are unable to kill a ship with jump drive while moving in lowsec after the Citadel expansion.

 Another thing that Citadel brought to the game is a cheap way of having your own little station in any solar system you want.”

VMG: From a mercenary perspective, more than half of income would come from citadels being attacked or defended. The game has shifted for us in terms of HS, instead of people wanting take down POSes, now it’s citadels. It was an opportunity for a potential fleet fight. In January when Horde came in, they tried to take market in Perimeter and surrounding systems and that was a great content.

Both sides agreed on content. However, this is where they diverged; each type of space had its own woes. Reza Najafi summarized the problems of ‘Lowsec’:

 Reza Najafi: The biggest threat for LS at the moment is that in its current state it is not attractive for a big enough population of pilots, and that leads to stagnation and LS becoming again a zombie land of solo pirates and stabbed FW ships. This can be fixed by making FW more lucrative and living in LS more attractive. The proposed introduction of mining platforms will kill it even more. LS is already a victim of CCP not paying attention to it and because like the rest of New Eden we’ll have to account this “no content” feature of the game CCP introduced. If the mining platforms will have same vulnerability windows as citadels and will be able to timezone tank then there will definitely be one less – and a huge one – opportunity for content for all LS.

What about vulnerability timers?

Reza Najafi: “I definitely do not agree with the vulnerability window mechanics, especially if we compare it to POS mechanics where a POS manager needs to be active while the POS is being reinforced and set the level to whatever the reinforcement timer they prefered. With citadel that is a lot easier. You pre-select a vulnerability window profile, usually in your stronger TZ (for Astrahuses) while for Foritzars/Keepstars you can just set it up for AU TZ/downtime during weekdays where only few groups in game can actually form a fleet big enough to kill it even without any ship defenders being on field if the Fortizar is fitted correctly. Vulnerability window makes killing a citadel too much of a hassle. Especially Fortizars and of course Keepstars, which are really hard to kill and thus we didn’t see many of them dying yet.”

VMG: How does that makes sense? Out of the all the hours in a week or a year a group of people gets to choose when they can be attacked? Wouldn’t that have been lovely during WW2? It does make sense to me the reinforcement timer on a POS, you can shoot that POS anytime, but reinforcement timers depend on the amount of fuel it has, so some calculation and estimations need to be done in order to land it in your TZ. To say you can hit it within only 4 hours out of whole week, just too much.

My experience in hitting a citadel in HS and hitting that same citadel in WH space, there is a night and day difference with the respect of the capability of a Fortizar and the level of commitment that needs to be put into from the offensive side. In WH and NS space – you can kill it in 3 consecutive days, no week long timers while in HS you wait 7 days and you do day 3. That leaves the target a very little time to gather a defence. 3 days is a still a good chunk of time, but still way less than a full week for HS. So I believe some changes need to be made there.

 And then on Saturday you can change the timers on the evening, where you can partially avoid attack. In our opinion that should be called an exploit.“

I asked them to explain more about the issues with killing the larger structures:

VMG: “The capability of a Fortizar in HS is essentially just a big fat cow, it can’t do anything. Anybody who says citadels are “too safe”, hasn’t had a fleet go after them in HS. So an organized group like VMG can easily take down a Fortizar. The only thing we have to concern ourselves with is the defending fleet. Unlike NS and WH. Where you have to worry about citadel as well as the defending fleet. That is a force to be reckoned with on its own. Not only that , they have some capabilities in terms of neuts. They cap themselves out, but as long as you have enough Guardians or Basilisks to feed yourselves cap (they are neutral to the main fleet)…they will become again just a big fat cow waiting to be killed.

So if you are able to defend it based on your number, MC will show up. That is a reason we haven’t seen any bigger citadels in HS, they are just a waste of money, Fortizars – waste of money. For HS, why would you have a Fortizar when you can have an Azbel, which has markets. That is another thing they need to change, Azbels shouldn’t have markets. And then a Fortizar would make sense.”

Reza Najafi: “Most of the fights (lowsec) happen at the onlining phase of launching a citadel, after it’s online no one really bothers reinforcing them and killing them because it is too much effort.

Their defences are good enough that a Fortizar can solo defend itself vs medium sized fleet pretty easily. Void bombs play a huge part in it but there are other fits that you can use – which I am not going to leak – to have a big advantage over the attackers. Also you can fit a Fortizar for anti-cap and force the attackers to bring a subcap fleet that you can take on and vice versa.”

So what about the repercussions if a citadel does die? How have asset safety changed things?

VMG: “With Citadel, CCP implemented a wow style magic that i don’t get…It’s just… I think that it is a really, really silly thing that in HS and LS that when you destroy a Citadel, their assets get magically teleported to the nearest NPC station.. .Although I’m not sure “magic” is the best word… while warp can be considered “magic”, to me that mechanic is a little too much. I understand why CCP wouldn’t do that. They are probably afraid people might leave the game. However, it does seem a bit strange that your stuff gets teleported, there should be some losses upon destruction, especially when you compare it to the likes of WH where everything gets dropped.“

Reza Najafi: “I mean going from HS -> LS -> NS, that the risk of having assets in a destructable station is adequate. I would probably change the LS one that even if there is a station in the system where the citadel is being destroyed you have to pay a fee to recover all your assets. I am not sure what vision for it CCP has once all the NPC stations will be removed and if they will be.“

What about the ‘damage cap’:

-Author’s note: Damage Cap refers to the amount of DPS a attacking fleet needs to reach to stop a citadel from being able passively tank/repair itself and thus take enough damage to get pushed into its next reinforcement cycle. Any damage that exceeds this “damage cap” is set to 0, as in it does not damage the structure until a 30 second timer since the cap was reached expires. This mechanic is meant to prevent an overwhelming force from one-shotting anchored citadels.

VMG: “Stupid, stupid, so easy to reach. VMG is relatively small when you compare us with Goons or PH. And how is it right that VMG can show up with 14 Rattlesnakes and we do a Fortizar in a same amount of time that a 500 man Rattlesnake fleet? That to me is BROKEN. We quite like how it only takes 30-45 mins, instead being on a POS for hours. What we don’t really understand is that damage mitigation.

Reza Najafi: “I have no issues with damage cap to be honest.”

One question I asked VMG was about the citadel proliferation problem in HS. They (being mercenaries) answered it in a very simple and straightforward way…

VMG: “Not a problem…great business. You can come to a guy: Hey, wanna protection contract? Or shoot it to get a good fight out of it and then get a protection contract. Or someone is attacking it, we can assist (great fight, possible future contract). More opportunity. Great fire for the markets (Perimeter, trade hubs).

Summary

VMG: So citadel is in terms of content, great. It’s been very profitable, but also very costly. We lost our share of fleets on citadels, but they need to have some attention paid toward their capabilities in different spaces.Give citadels in HS a little bit more power. We wanna buy our own Fortizar and feel it can pack a punch. To balance it out, allow it to be attacked at any point, and in terms of damage mitigation, CCP open that up a little bit so a 14 – man gang can’t attack it in 30 mins- 45 mins.”

Reza Najafi: “Sometimes what CCP wants and what happens in the EVE sandbox are different things. Lowsec is already pretty safe per se. Once and if they will start removing NPC stations that will be a different question. Also the introduction of mining platforms will remove another content opportunity: moon mining towers. Probably one of the biggest content drivers in lowsec. In my opinion, Citadels took a whole lot more than they gave us.”

Both groups seem to agree that citadels have added more from a ‘complexity’ point of view and CCP has given more power and control to the players, but it is not enough. I thanked both Vendetta Mercenary Group and WAFFLES for taking part in part one of this interview and their insight. Check back tomorrow for part two as we depart Empire space and venture into the smoke filled rooms of 0.0 space.


Author’s note: I would like to express my gratitude to the players who volunteered their time to participate in this interview about citadels and the impact they have had on the game so far. It is not every day I have the opportunity to talk to such a wide range of veteran players on any subject. To have the opportunity to speak with experts from pretty much every region (High Sec, Low Sec, Null Sec, and Wormhole space) about a singular subject was a major undertaking and a privilege. Also, I would like to say thank you to Salivan Harddin who helped a lot when I first decided to write about citadels.

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