Saturday, November 15, 2014

War Decs: I'm Sorry That I Hurt You...


I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know

Last Tuesday, I started a conversation about war decs called, "The Incomplete Triangle".  I've since renamed it to "War Decs: The Incomplete Triangle" and added a label for ease of research, later. This is a continuation where I am attempting to wrap things up and move forward before we talk ourselves into circles. I feel that I am  attacking a topic that is to large for me alone. I'm okay with that. I'd distrust myself if I climbed on the stage and said that I had solved something this intricate with a few days of thought. It may be to large for those that I reach out to. But, I cannot help but feel that serious discussion needs to happen about the war declaration system and what we do with it in Eve. And, it is my job to some extent. War decs are a topic that come to me time and time and time again.

As the posts started to come in I have picked up a general trend. Some suggestions are complete reworkings of the war declaration system. These tend to do two things.

The first thing is to give the entire system a structured path and reason. It is a system within a system. Its own game and activity in a way. It is a mission, a task, something that has walls, corners, a floor and a ceiling. This is often an objective based system.

Next, I see many wishes to define the war declaration with meaning. There is a desire to define why the declaration happens. That reason is often founded upon what appears to be a rational why. It is similar to the first system in that there should be clear objectives and reasons. There is a tint of morality to this system and it firmly tries to move the system away from declaring war just for the amusement of what is often the attacker.

The fact that the dec must be accepted is a source of annoying to many. The war dec is heavily in favor of the aggressor. The defender is given a twenty four hour notification that Concord will no longer protect them due to another player group paying Concord off.

In here is the question should that be the way things work. Should the other corporation has a chance to counter pay Concord to retain their protection? For this situation mostly exists within high security space. In low security space paying for a war dec turns off gate and station guns. I do not add that in as a clause for the mechanic being good or bad. I add it in for completeness. It is easy to focus on high security space and the activities of war decs without looking at how they interact with other areas of the game.

Often often we trot out the sandbox to defend or attack a topic. War decs are no safer from this then anyone else. It means that if people want to do things just to do them, they should be able to. Conversely, that applies for both sides. If I want to declare war on you because I want to, whatever my reason, I should have the chance. But, that does not mean an uncounterable chance.

What I am see is the one sided nature of war decs and the lack of counters to war decs. And in that lays questions of what are war decs? Are they a system for one corporation to evade Concord? Are they there for corporations to battle over corporate goals? As many different reasons, ideas, and responses to war decs as I see all seek to understand what the dec even is.

The idea I dislike the most is where the war dec follows the individual. I believe that someone should be able to move themselves away from a situation. Just as I believe that people have the right to log off if they so wish to log off and do other things. Someone should be able to walk away. Not fighting should always be an option. I'd prefer if people did not want to walk away from the game because you have paid to have open season on them until you get tired of paying for it. There is one type of person that this effects and that person lives in high security space and rarely has much interest in combat.

Some say just get rid of it completely. But, is that type of impunity wanted? High sec may be a safer zone but it has its risks created by players. To just delete war decs would be to allow corporations who currently move large volumes of items through and around high security space to only be at risk to gankers. I am not in love with trade hub campers but they do cause people to but some thought into their asset movement or to lose it.

Some of this comes back to carrots and sticks. We can wave sticks at people to make them fight to our hearts content but what type of lack luster warfare do you get then? Something that involves no passion or reason only forced mechanics. Forcing people into situations causes them to avoid them. And currently, that means logging of. It makes war decs a large stick and the aggressor is often waving the stick an eating the carrot.

When I first wrote the opening paragraph of this blog I wrote that I was tackling a problem. Upon further thought I changed it to a topic. I did so because calling war decs a problem is ignoring all of those that love the current system. There are a lot of them and they feel that the system is fine as it is. Whenever any change is discussed in Eve there lays a large possibility of removing the play style of someone else. Change is a potential that we all face when we play Eve.

As I explore this topic there are two clear paths that come into these discussions. One is to prop up the current system with its mechanics of declaring war simply because you want to with more tools and resources for the defender. The second is to rip out the mechanic, kill the entire concept of war declarations as we currently know it, and restructure it into something based off of objectives and reasons.

The former is a fix. The later is a rebirth that would challenge us to look at what a corporation is and why it would maintain assets or if it simply must do so. All sides have huge, potential flaws. The former leaves many of the current aggressor mechanics in place. The later gives a powerful backdrop for high security activities to those that do not live in high sec. It makes me ask, would that be a reward? I know that objectives are unappealing to me. I dislike others defining my goals and focus. That may also be a me thing and I am very much aware of that.

I'll stop here. Next War Dec post, I'm going to try to look at the two potential paths outlined above and the questions and thoughts related to them..

29 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Mike had a funny idea about a Peace Dec a few years ago which I still find as an absolutely hilarious answer to War Dec.

    http://mikeazariah.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/peace-dec/

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    1. The idea of a peace dec is rather interesting. Attack with peace. Attack with war. Neutralize each other.

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    2. If you actually read Mike's article, then you would understand that the "peace dec" was never intended as a serious mechanic - it was an intellectual study to present a different viewpoint on the situation and to get people to think and consider a new perspective. Basically it was an attempt to say to all those using wardecs to force PvP on miners, missioners, etc., "how would you feel if you were forced to PvE?"

      Don't treat it as a real proposal, because it's not. Mike lays that out pretty clearly at the very beginning, but still that fact seems to often go ignored in favor of the oh so intellectual "lol, peace dec" response.

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    3. Peace declaration proposal essentially revealed the hypocrisy of the PvP loudmouths. They want to be able to ruin others' day, but don't want others to be able to ruin their day. The entire debacle showed me how the PvP braggards are just big babies who cannot take what they dish out.

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    4. As TurAmarth stated it: Ying and Yang. The agression through PvP vs the agression through PvE. The agression of players vs the agression of NPCs.

      I don't know why wardecs started, but unless their purpose was legal griefing, they've failed to accomplish anything than driving people away from the game with a bag of good reasons.

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  3. I think what warrants our focus is the nature of corporations in the game, and why they would want to go to war. The answer should, by reason, be profit.

    To that end, we can come up with any number of mechanics around corporations, incentives and profit. Concord can come up with protocols for gentlemanly or orderly conflict between groups. Likewise, the station governors most likely have concerns of their own. If these concerns go in the same direction, progress can be made.

    I propose the following: 1)Expand corporation buy and sell orders. Truncate order slots for individuals. 2) Make the war dec system on a per constellation basis. 3)Add subfaction navies for corporations like Lai Dai and the like, and make gate guns and station guns respond to simple aggression flags even during war decs, thereby encouraging combatants to focus on moons, belts, anoms or deep space more generally. If subfaction navies can respond or not according to faction standing, even better, but it's not required. 4)Docking fees for npc stations that mainly take corp standing into account.

    The goal here is to allow groups of players to retreat. All of us look at a cluster that has boundaries that are shaped by other players. That's nothing new. The war mechanic for higher security space should simply bring that down to a more granular level. Creating a sense of landscape is the whole point of player conflict. Most importantly for incentivizing, players in npc corporations need to have more economic hurdles for the most risk averse activities. The most notable of these is freighter alts, an activity that clearly need to be economically penalized. When we no longer have anonymous industrials plying the lanes, the need for keeping industrial ships weak rather than the last target in an escort group, should evaporate.

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  4. wardecs are and always have been stupid. unless a corp has a POS, they just leave corp and move on. those using wardecs in hisec are invariably griefers and idiots. get rid of the decs. if people want to kill in hisec, they can suicide gank. why would concord allow it (from a lore perspective)? idiocy

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    1. You say that wardecs are easy to avoid. This is not a reason to remove them. If the corp has a POS, POCO or chooses not to avoid the war then the system is working correctly.

      "those using wardecs in hisec are invariably griefers and idiots."

      This isn't a very compelling argument; it sounds like you want to remove wardecs simply to spite someone because you despise them. If they're idiots then you can beat them. Engaging in non-consensual PVP isn't the same thing as 'griefing'.

      Are you happy with the state of suicide ganking?

      EVE is a game. Lore and realism is secondary to gameplay. CONCORD is omnipotent, missions are infinite and ore respawns. From a lore perspective it would make more sense if CONCORD had finite numbers and was killable. CONCORD exists in the lore to justify a game mechanic, it was not put in the game to stay faithful to the lore.

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  5. I've mentioned this to you before but I'll post it here for the sake of it :)

    I think there's 2 mechanics that are separate from wardecs that if changed would o much to alleviate the one-sidedness of them.
    Make the watch list something that has to be agreed to, so if somebody can not monitor your online status without your permission.
    And disable the functioning of locator agents against any characters currently involved in a wardec.

    What that would do, is make hiding a viable option for the defender. Aggressors would have to actively seek out their targets, no longer could you simply compile a watch list and sit around for 10 minutes running a locator agent. You would have to actively go out into EVE's massive universe and *find* your prey, yourself (or with human help). And if you found them they could run and hide again it would enable counter-play to the aggression, without taking away the threat of said aggression.

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    1. Elegant ‘little thing’ change introducing interesting game play: Declare overt war, remove Concord/Gate Gun/Security status concerns *but* also lose valuable intelligence. Engage in a covert undeclared war, retain Concord/Gate Gun/Security Status concerns *but* also retain valuable intelligence.

      Kaeda, if I may request, kindly keep repeating this idea. It enriches the game, for all concerned *and* introduces glorious additional possibilities like . . .

      Really wanna fly a super blinged battleship in greater safety? 1) Drop off the watch list & 2) Spur a friendly alt to declare war on you. Suddenly, hunters can’t track you unless they actually in person see you. Suddenly, a War-Dec bribe to Concord can be used both by the belligerent to hunt prey and the peaceful to avoid detection.

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    2. Okay, just to clarify this idea:

      Players under a declared wardec (concord paid) cannot be found by locator agents and do not show their online status to anyone during the war? (Seems to make it annoying for friends, but gives greater relevance to private channels...)

      Players under an undeclared war (IE: Being ganked) can be found with locators and seen on watchlist... and Concord still responds. (I wonder if fining gankers based on the ship insurance payout (if destroyed and split across all of them) of the loser would deter them in any way? Concord should have the right to seize assets after all...)

      Anyone see any downsides to this? Is there a bunch of other little things like this that might balance the system and let people (carefully) keep doing things during a wardec?

      Also, what effect would this have on the people who wardec the nullsec alliances for profit? They usually just sit in a trade hub or at border systems and try to block commerce, only occasionally going out to try to find targets, don't think they'd really care about this, only those who actively search out targets...

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    3. @DireNecessity "Spur a friendly alt to declare war on you"

      Am pretty sure CCP would see that as an exploit, because that's what it is IMO.

      Overall, it's an interesting idea -- but two points. Firstly, Eve is just too big for blocking locators to be viable -- locators exist for a reason. Blocking the watchlist might be viable, locators, I'm not sure.

      Anyway, this is less of an issue for pure asshats deccing 100-pilot hisec indy corps, as they will always find stragglers or just camp the trade hubs, so it doesn't really help defeat those nastier deccers. For smaller corps warring for economic or personal reasons, it breaks wardecs entirely. If you all base in a system with alts watching the systems next door, and haul OOC, they aren't going to catch you anyway.

      If you are complaining that wardecs mean you can't AFK mine or rat then sorry, I have no sympathy :)

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    4. What do you base that EVE is 'simply to big' on? If you mean it would be really hard to find somebody then, yes, but I think that is a good thing.

      It means you have to expend a decent amount of effort to get results. And it also means that people who invest in good intelligence systems will gain an advantage over people that don't. If you're the merc corp that has a reputation for always finding its prey that creates value. A reason to pick you over your competition.

      Having to rely on humans to do stuff instead of automated systems (like locators) inherently creates gameplay and opportunity. If you can no longer simply run a locator you'll look for other ways to get that information, this is EVE, people *will* fill that niche (they might charge more then a locator agent though).

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  6. " To just delete war decs would be to allow corporations who currently move large volumes of items through and around high security space to only be at risk to gankers."

    Competent corporations already use NPC-corp alts for moving any sort of valuable cargo through high-security space, and have been doing so for many years, because of: (1) wardecs and (2) awoxers. Ripping out the entire wardec system would at worst have zero impact on meaningful gameplay, and at best would actually encourage people to form their own corporations.

    The problem with the current wardec model, as you've written, is that it's grossly stacked in favor of the aggressor. The aggressor knows his resources and his target, and can end the war or continue it at-will. The defender's best response is to not log in, because aggressors will never declare on a target they cannot easily defeat. Players who do not log in will not remain players for long, which is bad both for the health of the game and for CCP's bottom line. Wardecs at the moment are merely a sanctioned form of griefing: the griefer pays a certain amount of ISK and in return CCP will look the other way while the griefer does whatever he wants to his victims short of violating the EULA.

    This is different from suicide ganking, because players have meaningful choices for managing ganking risk. Players have zero meaningful choices against a wardec -- the sole option is to log off.

    To make wardecs useful, they would have to be rebuilt from the ground up, to make them something special and not something that gets declared a dozen times a day. First: defenders should be able to pull in as many allies as they want. Second. attackers should be required to declare goals: assets destroyed relative to assets lost, or POSes removed, or whatnot. For every week that the wargoal is not met, the cost of the war doubles. That will give the aggressors a reason to want to finish the war quickly, rather than drag it on as a means of harvesting tears.



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    1. This post is about 100% wrong.

      tl:dr; if your CEO is too awful to manage a wardec then maybe that that CEO is driving players from the game, not the "griefer" deccers? Maybe the players would be better off, and the game would be healthier, if the players found a better CEO? This is a sandbox MMO and you don't have a divine right to play exactly how you want without consequence.


      "The defender's best response is to not log in"

      No, it is to drop corp. Then they get to continue with their mining or whatever and cost the aggressor 50m+


      "Players who do not log in will not remain players for long, which is bad both for the health of the game and for CCP's bottom line."

      Here we go, the "I don't want to think or adapt and I shouldn't have to, surely losing players like me is really bad for the game, won't someone consider CCP's bottom line?" argument. CCP have, and concluded that maybe you aren't right for the game.

      If a corp can only shed all its members or not log on, you have to consider exactly how valuable or useful is that corp to its members. If a CEO can't manage a dec then maybe that CEO sucks, and it's the CEO that is forcing players from the game, not the deccers? Maybe it's a good thing for player retention if that corp folds entirely and players move sideways under CEO's that aren't terrible for the game? If you go out in the rain without an umbrella, don't moan when you get wet.

      Cue cries of "some people don't want to PVP". In my experience they are rare, what is common in hisec is ppl who want to PVP but haven't got around to it yet/wouldn't mind occasionally/need more skills first etc excuses excuses -- basically they don't know what to do and lack leadership.

      CEO's are scared because they are happy farming their members, or don't want killboards which they feel will attract more decs, if they display a solid record of sucking at wars. Their grunts on the other hand are usually excited and quite happy to lose a few rifters or whatever. If you fly cheap-ass ships during war you are not going to attract professional deccers looking for your incursion boats and ORE Strip Miner macks. You might however make some friends/future allies, earn some GF's, learn some lessons, gain some self-respect and become better players for actually having the balls/boobs to undock.

      The sole responsibility of an Eve CEO is to provide their corpies with fun. Not to make the best killboard or to be crazily space-rich. So not logging on is the worst thing you can do as a CEO. If that is not your goal as a CEO you probably shouldn't be a CEO.

      If you never fight a dec how to do you ever hope to learn? When I was in my first bearcorp and got decced it was the most fun I'd ever had in Eve, and all the rookies seemed to feel the same way. The vets took a hit running 4's for a week or so, the industrialists moved their haulers out of corp and used their OOC alts more. People were excited. People died for the first time. People got their first PVP kills. Engagement went through the roof. We realised our CEO was too risk-averse. We made stories happen that bound us together for years. No-one gets misty-eyed and says "OMG do you remember that epic mining op from 2 years ago".


      "Wardecs at the moment are merely a sanctioned form of griefing"

      You don't know what griefing is.

      As an aside, by putting your playstyle up against someone else's playstyle than demanding CCP nerf theirs, some would argue you are doing exactly what the Goons do.


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    2. To continue;



      "This is different from suicide ganking, because players have meaningful choices for managing ganking risk. Players have zero meaningful choices against a wardec -- the sole option is to log off."

      For the hopeless at Eve, here are some other ways to manage wardec risk;
      1) Don't talk smack etc in local
      2) Don't leave tasty POS around, esp with no fuel in them
      3) Don't haul 5b in a frieghter, esp not in-corp
      4) Don't make rich enemies by being too aggressive on the markets
      5) Don't be a dick when mining amongst other corps
      6) Don't wardec other corps (see how that works? "OMG you mean deccing isn't 100% risk-free griefing after all?")
      7) Don't be a dick on the forums etc.

      "To make wardecs useful, they would have to be rebuilt from the ground up, to make them something special and not something that gets declared a dozen times a day. First: defenders should be able to pull in as many allies as they want."

      Get better allies.

      "Second. attackers should be required to declare goals: assets destroyed relative to assets lost, or POSes removed, or whatnot."

      The former is easily countered by leaving no-one in the corp bar station alts. The latter will just get you wardecced by bigger corps than can take down a POS in minutes not hours.

      "For every week that the wargoal is not met, the cost of the war doubles. That will give the aggressors a reason to want to finish the war quickly, rather than drag it on as a means of harvesting tears."

      There is an assumption here that it's all about the tears. When I wardec, it is not at random and I am not interested in tears. I wardec business competitors. So often there is a perception thats it's all about the tears and "griefing". Often it's either business, explosions & ISK (e.g. mercs) or for some meta reason (e.g. CODE).

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  7. "that Concord will no longer protect them due to another player group paying Concord off."

    Take a lesson from RL. Who pays off an entire government (or the entirety of Concord for this matter)? What people and organizations do is buy local regions of control. Perhaps a war-dec could be limited to a system? Doesn't it seem more realistic that a corp or alliance could pay a smaller number of people to look the other way?

    I'm not saying this is the answer. It just always seemed wrong to me that a war-dec corp with 3 guys in it could have the funds pay off all police protection in Empire space.

    macker

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    1. Maybe CONCORD have hit a sweet price-point thereby allowing flat rates due to the bulk of orders received and the ease by which they can add another conflict to the "ignore" list. Like a real business.

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    2. Then one would need to define Concord's "real business." ;-)

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  8. I'm somewhat alarmed at the idea of the second proposal (totally replace wardecs with articifical objective-based conflict"instances" or "mini games").

    - In EVE, what may seem like small extensions or special cases to any system often exponentially complicate the overall balancing of the game due to all the inter-dependencies. We have to favour simplicity: core PvP mechanics is just player interaction (talking, trading, shooting, etc), leaving the higher-level objectives to be defined by the players, not the game devs.

    - Just look at the instances where additional mechanics have been imposed over "pure PvP": sov null (a total mess that is taking years to repair), FW (better -- because simpler -- but still subject to recent rebalancing to improve gameplay).

    - People have to face the fact that in a PvP game, there are better players and worse players, and some people come off worse. In some cases (of course, not all), we have to recognize that a player in a bad situation is not the fault of the system or even other players, but just the player him/herself. The way to help such players is not by radically changing the whole game to positively discriminate in their favour. Hisec is not the PvE server option of EVE.

    - While trying to help certain players by changing wardecs, we should not break the gameplay of other groups, especially those whose main business is wardecs. For example, wars between merc groups or null groups that wish to disrupt the hisec operations of other null groups.

    - Examples of a small changes that may address many of the issues: link a scalable upfront wardec fee to a damage cap (and/or re-dec cooldown); increase re-dec cooldown against aggressors that do not reach a certain threshold (perhaps linked to wardec fee) in kills (this is a way for the target to "beat" the aggressor; etc. Yes, it's fun to play at theorycrafting a whole redesign for a major part of the game but a simpler option should always be favoured over complicated ones.

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  9. So far the best suggestions I have seen are from Gevlon Goblin, allow for special high sec corporations that can't be wardecced but face restrictions like unable to anchor a POS and perhaps with the additional 11% npc tax.

    Also: http://greedygoblin.blogspot.nl/2014/11/highsec-is-concord.html

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    1. Undeccable corps are a good idea, but they do not solve the problems of wardec. They do reduce the scope of the problem to a subset of corps, and that's worth doing.

      People will still want to have assets in highsec, and (unless they are changed) wardecs will still create little incentive to fight and lots of incentive to duck.

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  10. A complete reworking of the war mechanics is not necessary in my opinion. What is needed is a reason for the defenders to fight. Add a way for the defenders to end the war beyond refusing to give the attackers kills and the war dec mechanic will be fixed.

    Something as simple as having surrender conditions with the war dec could alleviate a lot of the problems. Like pay the deccer a specified amount of isk (set by the deccer) within the first 24 hours (before fighting occurs) and the war is void. Surrender conditions once fighting starts would work as they do now.

    Once fighting begins, the defenders need options. There is very little incentive currently for the defenders to actively hunt the aggressors. Having win/lose conditions and having the defenders compensated if they manage to win would provide a large incentive for the defenders to put up a fight or hire mercenaries.

    The simplest objective system that I think would be functional is that when starting a dec, a corp declares an amount of isk damage they want to cause and pay a fee accordingly. If the defenders manage to reach a level of damage that is a percentage of the amount the attacker wants to inflict, they win and the war is over. Keeping track of the objectives and having a win/loss war statistic that is coupled to the actual objective of a war would allow for easier tracking of how effective mercenary corps are as well.

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    1. The cost to bribe Concord to cancel the wardec should be only slightly more as the wardec price itself.

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    2. I don't like that you want to make people fight. Fighting shouldn't be the only answer. Lots of people in the real world to don't fight in wars they simply flee or hide for a wide variety of reasons.

      War in EVE is very one-dimensional in it's current state and I'd much rather see a system where war has meaning but can be dealt with in other ways then fighting.
      That said I don't like the just bribe concord more idea, that's equally one dimensional and just makes about wallets instead of pvp prowess which is equally terrible.

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  11. http://mikeazariah.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/peace-dec/

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    1. Wardecs make sense given the default in hisec is peace.

      I'd happily go for peacedecs if the default was war.

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    2. Again, read the comments above regarding this. For that matter, actually read Mike's article. The "Peace Dec" was never intended as a real proposal; it was a hypothetical used to illustrate a point.

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