Most people don’t really like hostility missions, and I have found them incredibly repetitive on the few times I did do them. With the recent changes to ports and the addition of port management, customization, and a real reason to own them (awesome changes btw!) it opens the door for much more interesting port battle setting mechanics.
I propose getting rid of the hostility mission system and replacing it with any one or combination of the following ways to set a port battle.
Blockades. The premise simple, the details more complex, a large group of players sail to the port they want to blockade and when a sufficiently large battle group is near the port, they can trigger a “blockade” event. To successfully blockade a port and either set a PB or complete one step in setting a PB, the attacking team would have to prevent the defending team from bringing more than a certain amount of “relief supplies” –food supplies and gunpowder for instance— into the port. Lineships and frigates would not be able to carry relief supplies, only merchant ships and smaller vessels; the defenders must protect a big merchant (Indiaman) or create a distraction allowing several light ships to sneak through. The blockade would have to be kept up for a standard amount of time, probably somewhere between 1 and 2 hours, but if the defenders do not show up and get at least one ship within a certain range of the port within 30 minutes, the blockade is counted a success so that people don’t have to sit in the blockade for hours waiting for nobody to show up.
“But aero you noob, it’s impossible to blockade a port in NA because you will just get screened out and people can sneak by once ur in an instance, also tagging mechanics make blockades so hard!”
Here is the big trick: the blockade is an instance of its own. If you trigger a blockade, a battle instance is created in and around the port. The open world continues somewhat normally, with players who aren’t involved coming and going like normal. The catch is that if you want your supplies to count towards breaking the blockade, you must drop them off into the port from the combat instance, having sailed into the port through or around the blockade while they can chase or block you. When the blockade is triggered, all ships in the attacking clan/attacking alliance of clans are pulled into the instance based on their relative position to the port in the open world. When the defenders join the instance, they join also based on their relative position but at least 10 minutes sail (in the battle instance mind you) away from the supply drop off point, which would be right in the center of the port. The wind in these blockade instances will always be set to a neutral position so that nobody spawns in down wind with 0 chance to make it to the port.*a small caveat is that the blockading ships might need unlimited chain or sail repair mechanics may need to be nerfed in these particular instances, to stop spamming and sail repping as a cheesy break-through tactic.
In this type of engagement, port defensive batteries and towers will actually be extremely important because the closer you can bring your blockade to the port, the easier it is to cover all the gaps and stop a small ship sneaking through. Enormous and expensive shore batteries can destroy warships at long range, creating a “safe zone” for blockade runners that will be very difficult to prevent them from reaching, as opposed to a port with no defenses where the blockaders can keep shooting the supply ships even as they are slowly unloading their supplies into the port.
If team composition and size is unrestricted, it will be extremely easy to break a blockade because the defenders have the advantage of being able to use any one of multiple strategies ranging from a powerful fleet to smash the blockade, to a swarm of blockade running lighter ships to shotgun the defense and hopefully make it through. Because of this teams would have BR limits, with the blockaders getting more BR so they can bring a combination of powerful warships and interceptors. Also remember that depending on the layout of the port and any spits of land with defenses, the attackers may be required to bring a mortar brig to neutralize particularly problematic shore batteries. Ideally, the BR limits are shaped for each port so that a fully exposed port with no defenses is easy to blockade, and a heavily protected port that the clan has invested in is very difficult to blockade without some way of destroying the defenses first... This would require fine tuning on the BR limits for each side. Raids and Assaults. Been suggested a million times before, and other people have put a lot more thought into it so take what I write here as a general idea. The premise is simple, but here the details are pretty simple too. You show up with a bunch of ships and you start blowing shit up right way, mainly those defensive fortifications. Defenders trying to break up the raid spawn in at any time from the moment it starts and with any ships they want. They would spawn rather close to the attackers. Towers destroyed in these attacks would not be available in blockades and PBs for the next week or so. So yeah. Show up and start blowing shit up, guaranteed action, high chance of PVP. You don’t even have to do it because you want to launch a port battle, you can just do it because you want a fight, or just because you don’t like the clan that owns the port and you want to give them a head ache.
Economic Warfare. As the developers alluded to in their post about port mechanics upgrades, economic sabotage in more indirect ways could play an important role in RVR and with port battles. The possibilities are endless, so I’ll only list a few ideas I’ve had.
Sinking shipping to weaken port defenses
Sinking shipping to increase PB/RVR timer window. (Sink AI merchants near an enemy port to create a window for a raid or blockade or to increase the length of the existing one.)
Sinking shipping to decrease the prosperity of a port and reduce its output of materials.
Hiring “privateer” players to go attack merchant shipping around an enemy port or to suppress piracy around your port waters. (pls I just wanna be a pirate come on).
Rewards for escorting AI merchants and for intercepting them (if on a contract to do so by a clan.)
Etc, etc. Lots of possibilities that give people meaningful reasons to go out and look for trouble, and giving them central focus points around which to focus their activity, increasing the likelihood of encounters that turn into fighting. Escort and intercept rewards would also give rewards to players even if they can’t find PVP, leading to less of those frustrating instances where you spend an hour searching the OW but find little of interest and log off with nothing.
Those are my three big ideas for how to change mechanics around port battles and ports to improve the conquest aspect of RVR and introduce a more “sustained” aspect, with spontaneous raids and constant economic warfare being important to weaken an enemy clan before the decisive confrontations.
Couple this with the “front lines” that admin confirmed: https://forum.game-labs.net/topic/28606-manage-ports-and-save-time-coming-soon/?do=findComment&comment=627960
and you will (hopefully) end up with more RVR action, and a lot more different types of RVR action. My favorite part of this idea is the privateering and merchant raiding, because it’s a way to get solo players involved in RVR, and it offers a smooth transition from PVE to PVP.
I don’t think that requiring a clan to tick all the RVR boxes to have a PB is necessary either, as these mechanics could flow together. Raids and eco warfare make it easier to blockade, blockades trigger PBs. If the impact of coastal defenses on blockades are well balanced, then players will have to perform raids and destroy them before trying to perform the blockade and set the PB. Some sort of screening nerf may be needed, however, because I think if players must sustain economic warfare, conduct raids, and blockade ports to set a PB with no guarantee that they won’t be stopped by an impossibly big screening fleet or just really cheesy delaying tactics, then people may not go through the trouble of trying to set PBs.
Alternatively, blockades, raids, and merchant sinking could all work together to build hostility, so after either several blockades, several raids, or a combination of the above, a port battle could be set.
I might not have the specifics down pat, or there might be a glaringly obvious weakness in this idea that I was blind to in my excitement, but please look at this as a suggestion for a type of mechanic change, not a hypothetical set of patch notes. I fleshed this out quite a bit because its an exciting prospect to me and because I wanted to propose solutions to a lot of the problems pre emptively, not to try to tell the developers how to do their job.
Thanks for reading this and kudos to you if you actually did read most or all of it, I hope it wasn't a waste of your time. I'll check to see how people have responded in the morning. o7.