The opening paragraph of the latest Citadel devblog says it all. Entosis is out. Shooting things is back in. Capital ship pilots everywhere rejoiced as they once again had a place in a post-POS world. But what about us Citadel owners and specifically about wormhole space was most important to me. Let's dig in.
First, asset safety is out for wormhole space. I can only say good things about this. Wormhole space is hard. It is one of the many reasons I live there. Having our stuff magically saved from destruction was simply wrong for this part of space. People already made statements that this will kill low-class wormhole space as the risk is too great for people. I have to disagree. The vulnerability mechanic makes them even safer in their own activity windows. For groups that simply are absentee landlords, good riddance. Your occupation of wormholes is not good for the game and adds nothing to wormhole space. I will be happy to see them disappear even if, in the short term, it means more empty wormhole space. Like abandoned sov, the hope is that it will be repopulated by those wishing to actively engage in wormhole space.
Second, with Entosis links out, EHP is back in only with a twist. Structures will reinforce twice, once after shields, once after armor and there is a new idea of a damage cap. Structures will still have vulnerability windows as before only they are simplified. Medium structures get 3 hours per week, Large get six and XL Citadels will have 21 hours. These can be allocated in one hour chunks any time during the week. Outside of your vulnerable periods, the structures cannot be attacked. While invulnerable, the structure also will not use any fuel. This also has carried over from previous blogs where it was explained that service modules on the structure will be the fuel consuming pieces. It was nice to see some clarification that the new fuel blocks will be made of materials from all the existing fuel blocks plus stront. At least the ice market will not collapse when these are introduced. Maybe
Instead of a standard shield regeneration or needing to use logistics ships to repair a structure, the structure itself will have a Repair state which it enters if damage is not continuously applied to it. It is a timer that will pause when damage is being applied. If you are stopped from attacking the structure, the timer will continue to tick off. The time to reach is different depending on your area of space. For high-sec and a fully indexed null-sec, it is 15 minutes. For low-sec and wormhole space, it is 30 minutes and for null space with no indicies, it is 60 minutes. So for wormhole residents, if you can stop your incoming DPS for 30 minutes, you will recover all the damage applied in that phase and the attacker will have to start over again.
Anchoring has an interesting wrinkle in that after a 24 hour invulnerability period starting with anchroing, the structure will start with only hull and begin the repair state. That means for 30 minutes, 1 day after you anchor your Citadel, it is open to attack and can be easily destroyed by shooting through hull. This will certainly be an interesting meta as anchoring towers are spotted and timers watched to ambush and destroy it as it is brought online.
The final piece of the puzzle is the damage cap or damage mitigation. Basically there is a threshold of DPS after which more DPS has no benefit when attacking a citadel. For a medium it might be 4,000 DPS while an XL could be upwards of 60,000 DPS. This works in conjunction with the total HP of the structure which are being balanced currently to reach a goal of about 30 minutes of attack time to knock down a shield/armor/hull phase of a structure. There is no repairing a structure being attacked. There are no hardeners to change the resist profile. It is a straight out DPS application which you need to destroy or drive off the ships attacking your structure to stop them.
Timers will be visible on the structure so that scouts can find and calculate the vulnerable periods of Citadels they come across. Also, as previously outlined, the structures will not auto-defend themselves. You must have people in the tower for it to participate in a defense while it is vulnerable. It was stated by CCP Nullarbor that the Citadel weapon systems will all function like missiles in that they will not be subject to tracking calculations. This does make it so that small fast ships will not be able to speed tank the Citadel defenses like they can against today's POSes.
So what does it all mean?
Small to medium wormhole corporations are likely to have Medium Citadels at first glance. They will have a total of three hours a week that they have to be at or near their tower. They will have three timers (shield, armor, and finally hull) to defend if they are attacked. The duration between the timers is to be determined but you can likely assume it will be on the level of a day or two, not hours and certainly not a full week. This gives attackers a rally point and defenders time to organize a defense if they were not present for the first. This does not seem to overly burden the defender.
The DPS component, however, does favor larger organizations as expected. Additionally, the time commitment to take down a tower is no more than 30 minutes in a Citadel environment if you are meeting the maximum DPS threshold. 4,000 DPS is not hard to reach (5 gila could do it pretty easily). It remains to be seen how effective Citadel defenses are for each size class. How those work will likely determine if corporations want to move up to a large Citadel to perhaps take advantage of bigger or different weapon system while incurring the extra vulnerable time.
I'm not sure that I like this better than the Entosis mechanism from a purely selfish standpoint. The Entosis mechanic heavily favored the defender and did not allow for much advantage in numbers, at least with what we knew about it up until now. I'm not critical of the proposal, however, as it does try to temper the DPS blob effectiveness. It is still possible with the right tactics to disrupt the enemy long enough to have your 30 minute timer tick off while they struggle to apply enough DPS to break your HP.
The fact that these structures will have station like hangers is quite simply worth whatever change in risk profile we have. I am very excited to see these fleshed out further and to see them in space sooner rather than later.