Half Measures – The Citadel Problem

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Rich Richman here. The views expressed in this post are my own and do not represent any other group.

The long dreaded Citadel Quantum core update has hit EVE Online after months of pre-announced warnings and incentive to prepare. It has been an update long dreaded by logicians of alliances from High to null, and of all wormhole classifications.

Small groups dread this change, for it increases their startup costs and puts a bounty on their head.
High-security war-dec groups are rewarded for their relentless slaughter of poorly protected citadels, and setting up a citadel in low-security is an easy loot pinata for anyone with enough time and friends. Wormhole groups – especially those will masses of citadels setup in a well-lived home – will groan at the random logistics demanded to core their structures.

But most egregiously affected are the coalitions and alliances that have placed so many structures down, owing to how incredibly powerful and inexpensive they are. Those coalitions and alliances are now incentivized to scramble to purchase and transport these cores, multiplied by the number of regions and systems they must put them in.

But what are these cores meant to change?

These cores are meant to combat the offensive structure spam that has become a thorn in the side for many, and the mass proliferation of structures anchored across EVE. Structures are inherently easy to anchor, annoying to kill, and difficult to suppress or deal with afterward. This prevents a group from putting up multiple structures to base from at low ISK cost. Removal of which wastes a lot of time. If left un-cored, existing structures would have features such as repairs, refitting, tether, and weapons disabled. However, production and similar utilities remain functional. But these changes completely fail to deal with the elephant in the room; the existing structures.

Half measures and poor execution.

Structure destruction has been a universally despised activity by many EVE players for various reasons. It is why some groups such as Simple Farmers – whilst dwarfed by size and numbers – have consistently kept structures in their home constellation nearly uncontested for months at a time. The activity of setting up a fleet, bringing them there, and for several days in a row take it upon them to destroy these structures for next to zero profit and gain is not something that most people enjoy. In fact, the issue prevails when the very structures that are destroyed are replenished and re-anchored the next day. They never stop, and the prices for structures are so low; even sub-capital ship hulls are more expensive.

With these cores, the feasibility of repeatedly putting down structures and refusing to defend them is discouraged. Theoretically. Will I put three days worth of effort for a core worth a few billion split between friends? Not a chance.

Let’s turn back time for a moment.

Citadels were introduced to replace the Outposts. Prior to the Citadel update, there were limited numbers of Outposts throughout the galaxy that could be captured. Here items were safe. It functioned just like NPC stations of today, except they were capturable. Access was restricted to whoever controlled the station. A dangerous prospect if you quit the game with your belongings in the station. Or if you lost access to the station somehow. Otherwise, you were relegated to living out of “Player Owned Starbases,” control towers with force fields.

If those control towers were sieged and you couldn’t rescue your belongings, then to the victor goes the spoils. And if your group post access or control to that Outpost? Your items are trapped there until you are able to gain access. The POS system which was (at the time based on nearly decade-old anchoring code) incredibly unintuitive and not user-friendly, requiring knowledge of modules and positioning and more just to effectively use. The citadels were marketed as a replacement for the clunky, old, and buggy control towers and POS starbases.

What wasn’t expected however, was the proliferation of mass citadels.

These citadels were incredibly durable – being far harder to kill than a POS. They were easy to fit up with sophisticated defenses and possessed additional timers for their protection. For reference, a fitted Astrahus worth less than 2bn can easily be fitted to deal more damage than a Carrier, with energy neutralizers more powerful than a Bhaalgorn, and offers more ECM and warp disruption control than Recon Cruisers.

Did we mention that it could also fit additional guns, has far more health, is capped for damage (so you can’t quickly kill it), and you have to break it down into armor and structure timers afterward? Never mind the fact that a Fortizar has greater damage outputs than Dreadnoughts, with the above-mentioned utilities and the ability to constantly pulse thousands of damage via it’s “Point defense systems”, or that a Keepstar can apply perfectly with an arcing Doomsday capable of instantly killing most ships (even ships in warp). Fighting on a Citadel grid – for the lack of a better phrase – is extremely dangerous and foolhardy. A Supercarrier tackled on a gunned Fortizar poses a significant challenge to fight and kill. And Citadels possess the incredibly powerful tethering feature. Allowing people to reposition on-grid and retreat to safety far more easily than that of old outposts and POS. An effective 70km+ worth of invisible immunity means trapping people on and inside structures is impossible.

Now, let’s snap back to the present. These citadels are proliferated everywhere. First starting off with single citadels, then multiple. Today it’s a common sight to see multiple Athanors, Raitarus, and Astrahus in every system no matter the sparsity and remoteness. And even the larger structures such as Fortizars could be purchased for less than supercarriers and fielded in the system in mass numbers. Perhaps the foresight wasn’t there, especially with the anchoring of multiple Keepstars per system never mind constellations.

With this war raging on, it’s clear with the dozens of Keepstar losses and tit for tat exchanges that the Citadels are too cheap and too mass proliferated. The citadel proliferation requires a full measure put to an end. And abandonment is the way to go.

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