TL;DR: Make Port Battles last for 24 hours. Get rid of port timers. This way people can PVP whenever they want, and all time zones get a fair shot. All players will be able to participate. Port battles become a truly national endeavor which require the time, effort, and resources of all its players!
-Make the ports vulnerable to attack any time of the day. No more port timers.
-Once a port siege is declared, the battle room opens and remains open for 24 hours. Possibly make the announcement when flag is purchased, and then open the battle when servers are up from maintenance. The battle could last until the servers go down, at which time the developers can check the score and set the new ownership. Not quite 24 hours, but whatever works best for the development team.
-Allow defenders to use crafting hours and resources to repair the forts. Forts now occupy objective zones, if the attackers successfully destroy the towers and occupy the objective zone, they will produce victory points overtime until they are contested once again. Once an objective area is being contested, or a fort is repaired, the attackers no longer gain points in the objective area. Defenders will not gain points over the objective area while attackers are present.
-Grant no access to the port under contest. Neither the defenders nor the attackers may enter. Participants must sail from the nearest friendly or free port. Blockading/scouting is highly encouraged, perhaps somehow rewarded.
-Players can enter the battle room as often as they want to. Each time they die, they may sail back to the port to enter again if they wish.
-Players gain their loot, exp, and gold for each successful participation within the port battle. The more victory points they earn within the span of that life, the more lucrative their rewards will be. Surviving the battle and gaining more points is encouraged over zerging by offering higher quality loot items.
*A player that gains 1000 points in one life could receive and exceptional upgrade.
*A player that gains 100 points over the course of 10 lives, could receive 10 basic upgrades.
-Make the flag prices based on the type of port (if a regional capital, deep, or shallow) and multiplied by the number of ports that nation owns. Nations with few ports will have cheaper flags. Nations with lots of ports will have more expensive flags.
-Have some sort of tournament point system which award players for doing things in the port battle such as...
*Holding objective areas
-The player who purchases the flag will automatically receive a certain number of victory points for financing the operation. However; the highest performing player on the team (the MVP) will be granted lord protector status. You may buy the flag and have the advantage so long as you participate and do well in your own battle. But if another player is more dedicated than you to that port, they will usurp you and be the lord protector of that port. This will grant them the voting rights and land ownership status along with whatever other privileges the administrators develop. This also stops players from simply paying for the flags and then letting their nation do all the work. If you want to be a lord, you must play!
-Defenders win by default, the towers holding the objective area will automatically win any port that isn't contested by the attackers. They do so by generating points over time while "holding the objective uncontested". Attackers must show up and establish dominance of the objective area and accrue points to beat what the towers have established in order to qualify the port as a win for the offensive side. This prevents a nation from declaring 100 ports under attack and making the defenders have to respond to each one. The defenders will only have to respond to the ports that are actually under attack and they will win all the others by default unless the attackers respond. The current scores of each battle should be displayed so players may check and see where they are needed most.
-After the 24 hours (or upon server maintenance), the nation with the most points overall will win control of the port. The 24 hour time limit gives each time zone a fair shot at participating.
-The battle can be persistent in nature, or it can be split up into several battle instances with each one counting as a round towards the total fight. I would, personally, prefer the "persistent" battle model.
-Nations may have multiple battles at the same time. The more battles they have, the more thinly their forces will be displaced. The more territory they take, the more exposed and vulnerable their territory will become. The port battle system will, intrinsically, establish an ebb and flow of control based on the population and participation of each nation. It will not be practical or economical for one nation to dominate all others. They will have too many open fronts, too many open battles, and too many defensive operations to possibly continue their press into enemy territory. Alliances will become crucial.
-Place a cool down period on each port, after the victor is decided, before it may be placed under siege again. Admin suggested 7 days or longer. I agree with that time suggestion.
-This accomplishes several of the Administrator's objectives for port battles
*Port conquest will be slowed down.
*7 day cool down for port captures.
*Losing or capturing a port should be a national effort.
*Losing or capturing a port should be a big event.
This will, of course, be a MASSIVE fundamental change to the way territory is fought over and how the game is played. It has many pitfalls and balancing issues, I cannot possibly think of them all. I would like to discuss the ones you discover at length!
I ask that you keep an open mind and provide constructive feedback with an objective eye towards making it fair for everyone.
After reading this post, please vote how you feel. Also comment below for any changes you wish to discuss.