Possible changes to reduce Citadel population

Dear Readers,

After reading the discussions about citadels (and their proliferation) I thought it would be useful to compile the different proposals into a more structured format to further the debate and make it a bit easier to sort and understand the different effects they may have.

I will preface this by saying that I’m pretty new to EvE and not quite sure about most of the deeper strategies and functionalities of the game, but I would like to propose to approach the problem a bit more systematically. Doing problem analysis (for other people to make decisions about it) is something I do have some experience in and I hope that it can be useful here.

Please note that I do not recommend implementing any of the following proposals (much less all of them), I’m simply listing them as different possibilities to address questions of balancing of citadels and associated mechanics. My commentary is mostly added to give my view on how these changes would shake out, not to give a concrete idea what I would or wouldn’t do. The goal is to enhance discussion and the exchange of ideas, not recommend a certain solution.

Also, this post is more of a “wide overview”-type of analysis to set the field out and give a simple structure for discussion and certain points to create ideas, but you will not find any in-depth, data-based analysis here as I don’t have the knowledge or resources to produce those. Also a small shout-out to Sven Viko/ EVE Lost and Found on whose blogs I partially based some ideas here: http://evelostfound.blogspot.com/2018/01/part-3-in-why-upwell-structures-are.html .

Table of Contents:

1 Overview
2 Costs
2.1 Set-Up costs
2.2 Operating Costs
3 Benefits
3.1 Build-in benefits
3.2 Additional benefits through modules
4 Risk of downsides
4.1 Damage in case of destruction & asset safety
4.2 Chance of destruction & attackers calculations

1 Overview:

The first question in such an analysis would normally be, if there is in fact an overpopulation of citadels (for the sake of brevity we will call all medium and larger Upwell Structures citadels, even though it’s not exact) and why that may be a problem in the first place. But for this analysis let’s just assume that the case is so, that we want to take a crack at changing something about the population of citadels (in this case, reducing their number, although many of the proposals could easily be implemented differently to make it easier to deploy them).

So, then, which factors are important to the players decision to deploy (or not deploy) a citadel? You could basically say that the relevant factors are "What do we gain from deploying a citadel?" and "What do I have to do for that gain?". In short: Which Costs and Benefits are there for operating a citadel.

I decided to add a third category of “Risk of downsides”. Although you could add that under “costs”, risks are different in that they are uncertain (maybe they materialize, maybe they don’t) and they influence different play styles and personalities in different ways. The category of Risk also contains the other player perspective on citadels: Do I try and attack/destroy citadels or do I not? We will model this as a change of the “risk of destruction” (the more likely other players are to attack your citadel, the higher your risk).

So, within this framework of Costs, Benefits and Risks, we can sort the different proposals. If we want to reduce the amount of citadels, we should aim for raising costs, reducing benefits and heightening risk. So let’s take them in order:

2 Costs:

When we talk about costs, many people automatically assume the talk is about ISK to be paid, but for this analysis we take the (more precise) view, that we measure costs in time-investment. For one that may be the time necessary to farm and convert the materials necessary to build a citadel, for another it may be the time necessary to make enough ISK to outright buy a finished product. But in any case, Costs are basically always the working hours required to do a certain thing.

2.1 Set-Up costs:

The set-up costs are the costs associated with deploying a citadel in New Eden. They are characterized by the fact that they are a one-time expenditure that needs to be paid before the citadel is active and can generate benefits (in an economic context you may talk about an "investment").

These costs are basically wholly comprised of the work required to build (or buy) the citadel itself and any desired fittings.

Proposal C1: For these costs the only (and easy to implement) proposal would be to simply up the required man-hours to build citadels (and fit them), for example by requiring more materials to do so or making the materials more rare so that the time-investment per unit rises.

Commentary: As these costs are one time only, I think changing them would have limited effects, especially if you assume most people deploy their citadels with the expectation to use them for a longer time. As long as there is a decent margin of earnings to be made from the citadel, the initial investment will be repaid sooner or later, even if it’s changed a good bit. Higher upfront costs also favor established entities over newer ones as they have more liquid capital to begin new projects.

2.2 Operating costs:


Operating a citadel doesn’t incur costs by itself. Having modules (and, with them, full power mode) requires fuel in different amounts, depending on the module in question.

Proposal C2: The simplest proposal for operating costs would be to heighten the fuel costs on service modules. A relevant thought here that the fuel consumption of the service module with the lowest rate of fuel consumption is basically the operating cost of a full power citadel.

Commentary: Any change to the operating costs is bound to become more impactful on the overall costs of a citadel and its business in the medium to long-term than a change in the one-time costs, so even smaller changes will have a considerable impact. (Basically the fuel cost of a service has to be a consideration in running the cost/benefit-analysis of the service and will shrink profit margins of doing so).

Proposal C3: Another method to make sure that structures operating costs are paid would be to make them more unattractive if they are not properly maintained. For example, if letting a citadel go into low power mode would cost it it’s capacitor or, further, it’s use of offensive modules.

Commentary: This proposal considers the additional fact, that citadels do provide a good bit of their benefits (safety, logout point, storage space etc.) even when they do not have any service module whatsoever. A good bit of the feedback in this thread centers on these "basic benefits" of citadels. Making low power mode more punishing by taking away these benefits would incentivize people to associate them with a running cost.

It should be noted that a structure reinforced into hull currently enters low power mode. In case that low power mode hampers the ability of the citadel to defend itself, this would probably have to be changed by adding a different status to a powered citadel that get’s hull reinforced (maybe something like a “Defense priority Mode” that is the same as the current low power mode)

Proposal C4: A slightly bigger change (in terms of mechanical differences) could be to add a basic fuel consumption to the citadel itself (maybe scaled to the size of the structure, with bigger structures requiring more fuel). Failure to provide fuel to the station would send it into low power mode.

Commentary: This change goes a slight bit further than the previous one, but addresses the same basic concern (a low power citadel offering some very useful benefits without operating costs). Especially if low power mode would be associated with the citadel providing fewer of these benefits, it would probably make in-universe sense that maintaining full power itself would take fuel.

Additionally, bigger structures could be made out to need more fuel to operate if the structure itself is seen as a benefit. There are certainly different considerations to be made regarding balancing of these things.

Lastly, this proposal would indicate a smaller Set-Up cost if you install one service module only to get a full-powered citadel, as that wouldn’t be necessary anymore. But I don’t think this is significant in most cases.


Why is Space listed as a cost? At the moment, Space isn’t really a cost for citadels, but it could be one. Consider space as a form of “real estate”, the land on which you build your citadel. In this case space would be a permanent cost as the citadel “takes the space”, while it is active. That is the case even now, but doesn’t really get considered as a cost.

Why not? Because it is just not a significant amount. A citadel basically takes a ball of space with a diameter of 1000 km to deploy. New Eden has massive volumes of space, so this cost of citadels is so small that it can be safely ignored in virtually all situations (you could fit all citadels in existence into a single Solar system, basically).

One exception to this rule are Athanor refineries for the purpose of moon mining. They need an extraction spot on a moon and occupy that one when deployed. Especially on more valuable moons, these refineries incur a permanent cost by consuming a limited/rare resource (extraction point) while deployed.

Proposal C5: Make Space a relevant cost factor in the deployment of citadels.

Commentary: This could be done in a number of ways that basically all aim to constrain the amount of citadels deployed in a given space in a way that would make "deployment spots" itself a commodity with a price.

This change would have profound effects, as it would probably be asymmetric. Space with a high density of citadels (and interest to deploy more) would be hit harder than space with fewer citadels and interest. Additionally, this would force citadels to be spaced out more and would likely make "ownership" of space (in the sense that you can control who deploys there, not necessarily through sovereignty mechanics) more important (and lead to it being contested more).

3 Benefits:

Benefits are a bit more difficult to generally define than costs. This has to do with the simple fact that different people have different desires and valuations of things they are provided. But, generally speaking, for our analysis here we will define as a benefit every advantage that the citadel offers their owner in terms of gameplay. This get’s a bit crummy but essentially you have the services (and their higher effectiveness over NPC-Stations) as well as the defensive capabilities of the citadel as a “safe room”.

3.1 Build-In benefits:

A big part of the debate centers on the benefits a citadel provides even if it’s not fitted with anything. This includes according to the list on the eve university wiki: Tethering, Hangar, Fitting, Insurance, Repairs, contracts, direct trading, deliveries and corporation offices. I would also add “Docking” (or, to be clear, the ability to log off safely) to the list. All of these benefits run without having an operating cost associated with them (so, basically for free over a long time horizon).

Changes to these benefits would also be of higher impact than changes to module-based benefits, because they impact all citadels regardless of their specific intended function, so smaller changes can have large ripple effects. If you want to see commentary on making the basic services cost more/any operating cost, see the proposals C2-C4.

Proposal B1: Make basic services conditional (for example on the citadel being not reinforced or full powered).

Commentary: This proposal has some overlap with the proposal C3, but I relist it here because I want to focus more on the idea that some of the basic services could become conditional. This means that there could be ways to ensure that structures lose some of their basic value without destroying them. One proposal often made would be to make structures that are reinforced (or reinforced into hull) don’t provide as much value in basic services.

Proposal B2: Limit or weaken the build-in benefits in some ways.

Commentary: The other often stated idea would be that the benefit provided by the basic services should be less (in total). One of the more radical ideas would remove tethering, but it is by no means the only idea here. Other possibilities would be to limit some of the aspects of the basic benefits in other ways, like removing the auto-repair functionality from tether.

The most far reaching changes would probably those affecting things that a citadel provides unlimited for the moment: limiting the amount of space a single players hangar in the citadel could have or give them a maximum of corporation offices fitted. It should be noted however that these changes may result in more citadels being deployed as more structures are needed to fulfill the role that fewer structures provided before,

Proposal B3: Move some benefits from Build-In benefits into service modules.

Commentary: This is probably one of the least impactful changes you could propose. Having some of the basic services (insurance, repairs, contracts, corporation offices come to mind) removed from the "basic" set and added as service modules would make citadels slightly less useful and force more specialization decisions for the service slots. You could also make it more of a "cost factor" by providing structures with additional service slots parallel to this change.

3.2 Additional benefits through modules:

Most of the bigger benefits and profit margins from citadels are tied to the opportunities provided by the modules fitted into the respective structures. This includes the use of the citadel as an active asset in combat, as that requires weapon systems to be fit. These benefits also include the ability to cash in on other people using the services provided by your citadel via tax. Furthermore there is the "opportunity benefit" of not paying additional taxes if you would have to do your business in another station.

It should be noted that citadels provide some services that compete with NPC-stations (like simple industry jobs) but also those that are unique to citadels (supercapital production, reactions) and they have to be regarded differently, because while for the unique ones the whole cost/benefit-analysis is relevant, for the competitive ones it’s mostly the comparative advantage over the NPC-station that matters for the decision of using a citadel or not.

Proposal B4: Make structure components destructible without destroying the whole structure.

Commentary: This proposal is mostly tied to modules for the defense of a citadel. There are multiple ideas that are basically all tied to the ability to “defang” a citadel by destroying or making inert it’s defensive capabilities through interacting with it in the battlefield.

This proposal (also aimed mostly at weapon systems) could also be extended to make it possible to destroy or disable certain services within the structure through outside interaction. In addition to weakening citadels in total (as they can’t maintain their firepower as long as they are active) it would make them a bit less binary by allowing more interaction than destroy/not-destroy.

Proposal B5: Reduce the efficiency of the modules.

Commentary: Well, this is basically the simplest proposal one could make. By reducing the efficiency of the modules in question (be it combat ability, production values or anything else) you would make the module and citadels in all less desirable.

Proposal B6: Make alternatives to using a citadel to do a certain job more attractive.

Commentary: This proposal is basically a more round-about way to make citadels less useful to limit their proliferation. While you can reduce their comparative advantage over the competition lower by reducing the effectiveness of the structure itself, you could theoretically do it the other way around. If you make NPC-stations more effective, the comparative advantage of citadels would wane. This is obviously only possible for services that are provided by other structures in the first place (so, not for reactions/supercapital production).

Proposal B7: Limit the use of modules or scale fuel consumption with usage.

Commentary: This final proposal would mostly be relevant in regards to structures that see very high rates of use (something which is naturally constrained by the system-cost-index). But there might be cases where having modules that provide unlimited services (like industrial production slots) provide only a certain amount of those makes them less attractive. Another way to achieve that effect would be to scale fuel consumption of these modules with the amount of jobs that are in them (making it less desirable to massively scale your production within the same citadel).

It should be noted that similar to proposal B2 this may actually lead to an increase in the number of citadels as people are forced to spread their work out more.

4 Risk of downsides

While costs and benefits are relatively straightforward concepts that can be planned out in advance, risks by nature are a bit harder to calculate. Generally we can assume that every risk is formed by two components: (1) The chance that the risk in question materializes and (2) the impact of the risk materializing. While you most likely are able to reliably assess the impact of an event on you and your operation, it is quite hard to estimate the chance that the risk materializes. This is especially true when the risk is linked to the behavior of other human beings that you cannot reliably plan for.

The main risk with a citadel is the danger of it being destructed. This happens mostly as the result of the interaction with other players and their decision to attack your structure and their ability to succeed in destroying it. Correctly estimating these factors is a hard endeavor and you can never know if your guess is correct before seeing the actual events happen.

4.1 Damage in case of destruction & Asset safety

What you can estimate though is the cost of the citadel getting destroyed. This contains basically three different items: First, you lose the citadel itself as well as the fittings (the initial investment cost). Second, you lose all benefits provided by the citadel (this can be rather substantial if the citadel provides you with regular profits from industry, refining etc. - but for this analysis, we will omit these losses).

Third, there are your assets within the citadel that get affected. And this part is heavily influenced by the existence of the asset-safety mechanic (outside of wormhole space). Instead of the destruction (or loss through other players pillaging them) you face a rather more benign danger:

Either your assets are unavailable for 5 days and you incur no further losses. This requires there to be another station or structure in the same system that you can access and you to reclaim the assets in a timeframe of twenty days. As you can choose to where to establish your structure, this option can be guaranteed (with an NPC station around). In the other case, your assets have to be "bought out" for 15% of their value. Or, in other words, in the worst case you face a damage of 15% of your stored assets. This automatic damage mitigation is an important factor in the calculation of risk.

Proposal R1: Abolish asset safety (and make it work like in wormholes).

Commentary: This proposal would probably have the most major impact of every proposal made in this document. As assets within a citadel are often much more valuable than the citadel itself, facing the loss of these assets could be very discouraging to deploy citadels. The damage in the worst case scenario just got multiplied by a factor of around seven. Even worse, if you are now protected by being able to deliver your assets within the system (at best, to an indestructible NPC-station) you just went from the damage to assets being essentially nothing to total loss of everything.

Additionally, this proposal sees the assets within a citadel drop around it when the citadel is destroyed. This has the additional effect of increasing the chance that it may be destroyed, because prospective attackers have the added incentive of financial benefit for successfully destroying the structure.

Even a conservative estimate of the change in risk under this scenario would probably conclude that the downside risk is substantially (at least ten times) higher as under current rules.

Proposal R2: Make asset safety work only on parts of the assets (and the rest drop or destroy).

Commentary: Basically the less impactful version of the above. If you set the asset safety up in a way that it basically has a chance of X (between 0 and 1) to either safe a certain item or to allow it to be dropped/destroyed, you could basically try and mitigate the risk increase. For example, for a chance of 0.5 the increase in risk would be roughly half that of the first proposal.

There is also the question of how the engine handles not saved assets. If all drop, it’s more of an incentive to attackers when compared to a situation where every item not saved has a chance to drop and a chance to simply be destroyed.

Proposal R3: Change the terms of getting items back from asset safety. This could either be the rates that need to be paid to get an item out of asset safety or the time that you need to wait before you are able to do so. (Technically, you could also change the requirements to access items in asset safety, but that would probably be a more complex change.)

Commentary: This proposal is a bit easier to assess than the other ones, because it would not directly affect the attacker (he wouldn’t get the items like today). On the other hand, it increases the damage done to the defender when he needs to rely on the asset safety. The rates which need to be paid to get assets back from asset safety basically are a multiplier on the value of the damage. If you for example always needed to pay at least 5 percent of the asset value, even if you have another station in the same system, you would always be at risk for that value if you have assets in a citadel. Also, the worst case could be a lot worse if the rate to “buy out” the assets would be higher (for example, 25 or 50 percent).

In the same category, longer periods of holding the assets would make it a bigger problem for the owner. Being locked out of your assets for substantial periods of time may limit your income or any other benefits conferred by ownership of these assets.

Proposal R4: Tie the effectiveness of asset safety to security status.

Commentary: This proposal could be combined with the ones above to create different "safety levels" and risk calculations for different levels of security. This currently exists in the difference between wormhole space and real space and could be further differentiated.

A very simple application of this would be to tie the cost of "buying out" assets from the asset safety to the security status of the system. For example in High security space you pay a rate of 0% (local)/15% (global) like today. In Low security space a rate of 3% (local)/20% (global) and in Null sec a rate of 10% (local)/ 30% (global), which would see the higher rewards of lower security accompanied by an increased risk for those asset. An in-story reason could be given by referencing the higher difficulties of operating asset safety in unsafe space.

4.2 Chance of destruction & attackers calculations

The other important aspect of risk assessment is the chance of the risk materializing. In regards to the destruction of your citadel, this happens to be chance of other players successfully assaulting your citadel. This chance can be split into two further factors: (1) The decision of another player to attack the citadel in the first place and (2) his ability to follow through with his intent.

The decision to destroy your citadel is again the result of a cost/benefit/risk calculation by the attacker. This generally depends on the adversary and may include some factors that changes in the mechanics in the game don’t influence much (like hatred for the defending party etc.), but certainly involves the following: The necessary investment in man-hours to successfully crack the citadel (and gain ownership of suitable weapons), the benefit gained from this (either directly through loot, fun fights etc. or indirectly through gaining a comparative advantage through denying your opponent benefits) and the risk of own losses in the process of destroying the enemy citadel.

These calculations obviously include his ability to follow through on the destruction. But even if the attacker decides to attack a structure his success is not guaranteed but depends on his ability to overpower the defensive efforts of the owner. These efforts are generally aided by the citadel itself and the fighting capabilities and force multiplication it provides for the defender. As such, changes to the combat capabilities and force multiplier effects of a citadel have a big impact on their chance of destruction.

Proposal R5: Give attackers additional incentives to try and destroy a citadel, for example by making assets drop.

Commentary: This is a proposal that could be achieved in several different ways, some more direct than others. Some people have presented ideas that link this with the asset safety feature in the sense that citadels dropping some/all of the assets within as loot would give a strong economic incentive for attackers who could earn their money by destroying citadels for profit. For further discussion of this, see proposal R1/R2.

A bit on the smaller side would be the proposal to make the loot from wrecked citadels more valuable itself. This change would probably be of less impact but could have some effect especially for larger citadels if the value of the loot is substantially higher (for example closer to 40 or 50 percent of the original value of building the citadel).

Additionally I may add that every change that makes the loss of a citadel more painful for the owner is an additional incentive for many attackers whose main goal it is to deal damage to an opponent.

Proposal R6: Weaken the defensive capabilities of citadels and/or make them easier to destroy, for example by removing damage caps.

Commentary: This proposal aims to make it easier to push through a citadels defenses for the attacker. This would have an additional effect of the attacker being more aggressive because their own costs and risks are reduced and a successful operation more likely. Please note that there is some overlap with proposals C3, B2 and B4.

One of the most common proposal to achieve this is the removal of damage caps on citadels. This change would basically remove the minimal amount of time needed to destroy a citadel in favor of making it a matter of how much firepower could be brought to bear against it. A change in this direction would obviously favor large and well organized groups with many capital assets as they are the ones most able to bring higher amounts of firepower.

Other proposals in this direction include but are not limited to: Denying citadels certain weapon systems, giving the attacker more control about the time when the different reinforcement cycles end, reducing the number or duration of reinforcement cycles, reducing the base stats of citadels or denying the use of ether when a structure is in repairing mode.

To be honest I find it hard to give much of an opinion on this because these proposals are in regards to a field where the citadel mechanics interact with many other basic systems of EvE where other people have a much better understanding of the tactical and strategic consequences of possible changes, so I will not comment further in this place.

Thanks for taking the time to write this out and put it up. I’ll include it with my stuff I’m taking to the summit.

One simple thing that could help with the highsec structure spam is to re-introduce the starbase charters. Make a new hangar for them with limited space so you can only fill it with maybe 3 months worth of charters. If your charters runs out then the faction police for that space will actually come and RF/kill it after a week of unchartered operation.

As far as EC spam, it is actually be CCP’s design. They introduced cost indexes just for this purpose. Not sure how we can combat that without a drastic change to cost indexes.

As I said once before, citadels should have been restricted to a maximum of 2 per planet in New Eden and not 6000 watchtowers on every gate, wormhole, asteroid belt, ice anomaly, combat anomaly.

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