The Truth

Deep in the shadows of your deepest secrets
I sleep next to the precepts you hold most dear
Your heart is in my province hour upon hour
I shiver when you feel the cold,
Everything you say I hear
Like a bomb and its fuse,
We bring bright light
But I could be a devil to you

My engines roar to life as I align towards Belt X-1, pointing the nose of my Hurricane directly at the the Ferox, Vengeance and Retribution sitting some 300km away. Jack’s Myrmidon is already aligned and all we need to do now is distract them from the truth.

To distract them from the truth, we must first posit a false truth.

Jack starts talking shit in local and I add to it with the odd quip or some unimportant trivia. They start to respond. Chitter chatter chitter chatter… Together, we are filling local with the kind of junk that causes true capsuleers to consider not updating their clones.

We have already tried to attack them at the belt but they simply warped off to an on grid tactical safe some 300 klicks off. Their plan now is to sit still and look like viable targets until we get into range. Once we are at a range at which we might start getting excited, they will align and then warp off, leaving us high and dry and without satisfaction.

We know what their plan is. They know that we know what their their plan is. As convoluted as it sounds, they also know that we must know that they know that we know their plan.

In their search for truth the first step must be a question. Without the question, the truth can never be ventilated. If truth is not sought, it cannot be discovered. They have taken the first step. They have asked the question:

So why are we approaching them?

We are not going to catch them – they are 300km away, have eyes on us and are at a safespot. We are not inexperienced PvP pilots. We must know that our approach leads only to a lack of satisfaction.

We have checked the surrounding systems and know that they have no backup. I focus on their ships’ speeds – 0m/s. Perfect – everything is going according to their plan. I check in with Amber. More nonsense fills the local channel – there is even reference to old media and various exchanges are made regarding the “fairness” of capsuleer combat (an issue which, apparently, neither party regards as important).

We shoot some rats, providing them with an opportunity to warp to the wrecks as we continue to slowboat towards them. They do not respond. We destroy the wrecks, denying them the opportunity of warping in. They respond with afew jabs and thrusts in local about whether or not we want a fight.

If we don’t want a fight why are we approaching them?

Of course we want a fight… but in New Eden, You get used to a lack of satisfaction and a dry existence where PvP combat is fair. A life where PvP combat is predictable and safe.

Assumed truisms are necessary in their search for truth. Glimpses of such “truths” arise in their minds. We know we can’t actually attack them but are slowboating towards them because we are bored and they are the only viable targets in the surrounding systems. We are all here to have fun and we are willing to risk a lack of satisfaction in order to obtain fun. We are “friends” or perhaps even “colleagues” engaging in an honourable “debate” in which our weapons speak and counterpoints are made by electronic warfare, range and tanking. We are all just capsuleers looking for a good time. We are friends engaging in the recently proclaimed “fight club community” that is lowsec pvp.

I check in with Jack. He is aligned and ready. Amber gives the go ahead and the countdown ensues.

I land directly on top of the vengeance and point him. Jack calls point on the Ferox as my my 425’s unleash hot fire in every direction. Local is suddenly quiet – this wasn’t part of their plan.

We are not here to make friends. We are not here for the conversation. Lowsec is not “fight club”. Lowsec is our domain and we are here to kill you.

The truth. As pure and simple as it gets.

Today

I had been mining and mining and mining and mining and mining. It wasn’t all that bad – I had bought a retriever and some strip miners and was raking in the profit. Rebeccah had tried to persuade me to join A77A, but I knew that I was destined for greater things (even if they were offering a 20 million isk sign up bonus) – I had started my own corporation, Ultra Vires, and had even managed to recruit two pilots. I was well on my way to dominating the Metropolis minerals market.

Yakutat had been a member of Ultra Vires for a short while and seemed like a good chap. He didn’t seem to want to mine, but he flew a very sexy ship called a punisher and seemed pretty friendly.

Well, back to mining… I undocked from Boundless in Hek to find myself amidst explosions – there was some kind of war happening right outside the station! Up until this point, the most action I had seen was a few highsec asteroid belt hunting Angel Frigates being killed by my warrior I’s. There were beams of light, drones, explosions and ships I had never heard of, let alone seen in action. I immediately let Yakutat know – it was really something cool to see and I thought he would appreciate it. He seemed to think it was pretty cool (reaffirming my belief that he was cool) and even warped over in his punisher to watch. I then realised that my isk per hour rate was suffering, warped back to my favourite asteroid belt and let my strip miners rip into some veldspar.

Suddenly, Yakutat warped on top of me and started laying into me with his punisher. I tried to warp away, but couldn’t. I called Rebeccah over comms and pleaded for help. Rebeccah warped in, started shooting Yakutat and was immediately killed by Concord. I was dumbfounded, shocked and… strangely excited? I tried desperately to kick Yakutat from corp, failed and then found myself floating in a pod, with absolutely no idea what had happened.

I warped off and asked Yakutat what the hell he was doing. He insisted that he had been trying to protect me from Rebeccah, who had been shooting me for no reason whatsoever. I quickly warped to a station and fitted out the biggest and most badass ship I could – a rifter. Yakutat was telling me that I should meet him at planet V and we would go get that bitch Rebeccah. Yeah right, you bastard. I played along for a while, telling him I would be along shortly in a slasher, and then undocked my “pwn mobile”, warped to Planet V and immediately started laying into Yakutat, who promptly rid the world of the worst rifter fit ever conceived and sent me, with a “gf” to the nearest clone vat.

And that is how it all started…

I soon forgot mining (after some exciting mining experiments in lowsec… which lasted about 30 seconds) and joined A77A – I had decided I would like to kick ass and joining a corp and shooting red things during missions seemed like a good start. The corp didn’t really seem to be that great and I didn’t really get the feeling that I was learning anything for a while… Fortunately, A77A, being a new corp operating out of Metropolis, was soon wardec’d. With everyone docked up, split all over the universe and running scared, my vigil, slasher and even my rifter didn’t stand a chance. I was a “n00b” and I was getting “pwnd”. Except for this. Man, that was a great day…

With a second wardec issued against A77A and still no sign of the corp’s upper management (or anyone else for that matter), I decided, after much heart wrenching worrying about hurting the CEO’s feelings, that my relationship with A77A was just not going to work out.

I dropped corp and started looking for a PvP corporation. Circle of Shadows soon recruited me as willing tackle and I started learning – Fleets were not just things that you threw together. PvP took organising. Proper planning was key. Scouts were invaluable. Shooting people in wormholes was great fun. My share of the loot from killing a Tengu was literally more isk than I had ever seen. In your face isk / hour!

However, I soon realised that Circle of Shadows, although bunch of really great guys who were willing to take me along for the ride, were simply out of my league. I started Onei Robotics with some friends and began exploring Wormholes. Wormholes proved very profitable, but often very dangerous. Over time, Onei became more and more PvP orientated – a wardec soon came our way, but we fought our way out of it, losing only ships and not the respect of our opponents. Lowsec roams, usually lead by Angellano, soon became a staple. Unfortunately, the directorate’s focus (uhh… me) on Wormholes and profiteering stood in the way, corporate politics reared its ugly head and Onei collapsed.

It was time to move on. I decided to try my hand at griefing, but gave up when the corp I was in collapsed due to being the target of multiple wardecs (can you say irony?). Red vs Blue yielded me a number of great kills and some embarrassing losses. I joined in on some Agony Unleashed classes, shot my way through nulsec, lost more rifters, tried a few ruptures, learnt some difficult lessons involving a lack of T2 insurance, became a gate-camping pirate, desperately tried to fix my security status, tried to run some missions (and gave up due to boredom), desperately tried to figure out how the hell to make isk and finally started M-E-A.

So what the hell is the point of this post?

No, it’s not a desperate cry for attention and / or proof that I am now amazing. I’m still not. I’m still learning. I don’t think I will ever stop. That is what keeps me here. Well, that and the heart pounding excitement of killing people.

Really, this post has two purposes. The first is to give my personal thanks to Yakutat, Leetness and GenghisKaun for showing me, without any sense of compassion, that what I needed to do was stop mining, stop being afraid of dying and get out there and kick the crap out of anything I could warp scramble. The most enjoyment I have ever had in New Eden is following the path upon which I was roughly shoved by Yakutat.

And that is where you (the subject of the second purpose of this post) comes in – I want to encourage you (rather more gently) to do the same. Get out there and PvP. Get out there and have fun.

If you are a new pilot, if you have never really tried your hand at PvP, if you are afraid of low / nul sec, if you think solo mining is fun… Here is the plan:

  1. Stop what you are doing;
  2. Dock up;
  3. Stop being afraid of dying;
  4. Forget your security status;
  5. Forget “isk per hour”;
  6. Buy a combat frigate;
  7. Fit your frigate as best you can;
  8. Fly to the nearest lowsec / nulsec gate;
  9. Jump Jump;
  10. Shoot someone in the face.

I promise you, it will be fun… even when you die horribly – and you will die horribly. You will, however, also learn very quickly about gate guns, bubbles, session timers, grouping your weapons, overheating, getting your pod out, ransoms, backup, manual flying, blobbing, remote rep, falcons, ganks, dramiels, d-scanning and all those other wonderful (and horrible) things that get you through and over the learning curve.

Just remember – You don’t need to have everything trained to lvl 5 to kill someone. You don’t need years of experience, excellent fitting skills, buckets of isk or T2 modules. You just need a frigate, some ammunition, luck, perseverance and a desire to learn. A few good friends flying with you can’t hurt either. Eventually, you will kill someone. And when you do, there will be no going back.

Now stop reading blogs and get the hell out there and do it. Don’t start soon. Start today.

In Eve we trust

But by and large not the capsuleers who roam its muddy shores. As MEA’s exploration director my portfolio is somewhat more focused than the kill everything approach our corporation lives and breathes. My portfolio is to help you make money in low security systems by motivating the benefits of and integrating soloist piracy into exploration activities, and by doing so help players understand and have access to not only regular pvp, but also to the vast amount of isk that can be gained by low sec pilots. I don’t buy the risk/reward ratio debate. Low-sec has kept me in ships for some time and reward should never be purely measured in monetary gain. Luckily for me, and I guess for you, this is not a post about that debate and as for my portfolio, I merely placed it here as an introduction of sorts.

This is short write up about one of the more successful fights we’ve had recently and not whore mailed by our illustrious CEO. And to make matters even more outrageous, I was calling the fleet.

Let me get back to my opening statement. Trust in eve is difficult to give, mainly because the moment you start taking pod pilots at face value you are opening yourself up to loss. Nobody is really trustworthy in Eve. Realising this, and tactically operating within this statement’s boundaries, will open up a world of possibilities and action. It will influence everything from your corp’s recruitment strategy to your fleet dynamics.

I lose alot of interceptors, those paper-thin king’s of tackle, and my corp mates generally reap the rewards after I’m heading back home in a pod. This was one such night after a somewhat poor engagement against a Fla5hy Cynabal near our current base of ops. Just as I was about to head back into the system, on the last jump, I saw an old friend in a Hurricane hanging around the gate. We previously hadn’t had the stones to really deal with this teams battlecruiser fleets but after recruiting some solid experienced chaps (welcome on board Earl and Dreynar) I thought I’d offer a fight. Need to get the guys some action any way I can I thought. My initial suggestion to said pilot was you bring your cane, I’ll organise 3 assault frigates and an interceptor and we’ll have a bout. I docked up in home system, saw the Hurricane in local, got my pod into another Taranis hull and warped back to the DED. I then popped open local chat and told the adversary that I was at the DED and that the assault frigates were on the way. He arrived shortly after I did and remained cordial. Targeting from about 50km’s away and staying put at about 10km from the DED gate. He was also springing a trap of sorts. More on this later.

Now at this point I must say that I had absolutely no intention of sticking to the terms of the bout. I knew there was some healthy support in the form of a Sentinel and a Hound close by as well as a very well fit rupture and a couple of frigates. Jack ended up bringing his cane along. Once everyone was in place, I thought candidly to myself that we should rip the cane apart with this fleet but was unbelievably happy to see what happened next. I called the team in and we engaged as the first Jaguar landed.

It was at about 25% of the Hurricane’s armor we realised that, read opening statement, our opponent had absolutely no intention of sticking to the terms of the bout either. In short order an enyo, myrmidon and a megathron arrived on the scene. We could barely believe our luck. Hurricane explodes. We focus our attention on the the Mega while my Taranis burns over to the Enyo and pins him down. Points on everything and only our rupture in any sort of danger. It turns out we made pretty short work of the fleet. The Mega explodes first, then the Enyo, then the Myrmidon. All were pointed and too slow to get away from our propulsion modded frigates and the damage our bigger ships brought to the table.

We either docked up to smooth things over with Concord, or burned wreck-wards to get first crack at the loot. Smiles palpable over the voice communications server.

This highlighted two things that are important for me to remember. Important enough to want to blog about.

In MEA, we like to fight above our weight. Popping battleships with a handful of frigates and a cruiser or two. Awesome. Winning fights our opponents should never lose. Brilliant. We fight against the odds and sometimes we have a night like tonight. We also take heavy losses in fights we really should be losing. This will keep me motivated to fly the way we fly. Welcome capsuleer to Mise en Abyme.

The second was that it was entirely engineered by two pilots blatantly lying to get one over the other. Welcome capsuleer to New Eden, who ever said mistrust was going to be a bad thing in this galaxy.

-Volstruis

Why we don’t care about killboard stats

Because they are a bullshit representation of ability.

Thats the short answer. Now lets take a look at why:

First, let’s do a bit of a comparison:

Xi ‘xar

Joslin Kra

Horace Weatherspoon

So? Who Wins?

Well, according to the stats, your’s faithfully of course (Xi). I have great efficiency, have destroyed over 13 billion isk worth of ships and modules and my enemies only have a 33% chance of survival.

So does this make me better at PvP than Joslin or Horace? According to a brief glance at the stats, yes.

Yay. I rule.

Pfft. Not in the slightest.

Firstly, take a proper look at my killboard. Upon a closer inspection you will see that I have benefited greatly from having the honour of flying with a number of really good pilots and a number of really good fleet commanders. Yes, I killed a tengu whilst flying a rifter… next to a uni-blob. Yes, I killed a carrier… along with 39 other pilots whilst on an Agony Unleashed roam.

Hmmm. Suddenly my killboard stats are looking a lot less impressive.

What also has to be remembered is that in New Eden, each capsuleer may well hold the knowledge of multiple capsuleers. For example, Joslin represents a capsuleer who’s alt has destroyed close to 30 billion isk worth of ships and modules. Joslin’s counterpart has over 400 kills under his belt (twice as many as me), the majority of which have taken place in nulsec. A quick scan of his killboard indicates that he is versed and clearly well educated in fitting a variety of ships.

Simply on this basis, Joslin has vast pvp experience and is well educated in the school of hard knocks, regardless of his killboard stats.

So does this make Joslin the winner?

No. Horace Weatherspoon, with his laughable 4 kills, might well actually take the cake. His alt, although with a measly 49 kills, is a specialist. Out of 49 kills, only 3 were not in wormhole space. Of those 49 Kills, only 2 were not solo kills. This means that Horace has a number of invaluable skills – knowledge of how to control range, knowledge of how to pick targets and how to find them and an intimate knowledge of dscanning.

So does this make Horace the winner? Not necessarily. Horace has great solo skills, but can he operate in a fleet? Does he fire on command or does he hesitate, considering what his best options are? Is he blinded by his solo experience? Perhaps.

I have met a number of pilots who have made out that they are excellent at PvP. These pilots often point to their killboard stats as an indication of their brilliance. However, these pilots often turn out to have very little knowledge about PvP mechanics, virtually no knowledge as to how to fit a ship that doesn’t fall within their race or skillset (which is a very useful skill when fighting other ships), only attack when they are certain of victory, and often most importantly, don’t know how to shut the fuck up on voicecomms when they are dying.

So what is the conclusion? killboards are a useful tool – for gaining intel, in assessing your own losses and trying to figure out what you did wrong or to guage a target or potential recruit’s experience. But, above all, killboard stats are a bullshit representation of PvP ability.

As a last word to the reader, please don’t take this post as a representation by me (Xi) or M-E-A that we are elite PvP’ers and that we are “above” killboard stats.We are not. We just don’t give a shit about your stats or our own, and will attack regardless.

Surviving a wardec through leadership

A corporation’s first incoming wardec is the true test of its leadership and its general cohesion.

Let’s take your average highsec mission running start-up corp as an example (we will call this corp ACME).

Let’s imagine that ACME has 20 members, mainly with only a couple months experience.

Most of the members of ACME will likely never have experienced pvp, other than perhaps being ganked in lowsec once or twice on their way from Hek to Jita, a canflip here and a random attack there.

Suddenly, everyone in ACME gets notification that GRIEFERS INC (GINC) has declared war on ACME and that within 24 hours, fighting can legally occur.

I’m willing to bet that within 24 hours, there will be a quick evemail discussion between the chief executive officers of ACME and GINC, during which the latter corp’s ceo may demand payment of a ransom. ACME pilots will discuss the matter, though it will mainly be discussed by upper management. The ceo will send out a corp mail, telling everyone that this whole thing will only last a week and that ACME pilots should simply dock up, stay safe, try not to lose any ships and generally, wait for GINC to get bored.

Someone in ACME will log on and then complain about griefers in general. Someone will suggest fighting back. No-one will disagree that fighting back is a good thing to do. People will talk about fighting for their honour, about how the corp is strong and how they should think out of the box.

No-one will do any actual preparation for the war.

Soon enough 24 hours will pass by. The events of the next two days will consist of one newish corp member undocking a mining ship and getting ganked in a belt, an upper tier member trying to blow up a bait frigate or two outside station and losing his battlecruiser to an off grid HAC and the ceo of ACME logging on briefly to do some station trading or contracting, telling anyone online not to worry and then leaving without doing much else.

After two days of this, no-one in ACME will be having any fun. Someone else will have undocked and been podded with a full set of implants. The newer members just don’t understand station trading and have nothing to do. The CEO sends out another mail about not undocking, not playing on GINC’s terms and how “if we just don’t give them kills, they will get bored and move along. Only three more days to the end of the war”.

Of course, GINC extends the war. Soon enough, one or two of the more senior corp members will quit the corp due to a lack of direction. Disillusion will set in. Some members will go permanently afk, quite possibly including the CEO, who likely, by this time, is sick of replying to evemails from grumpy pilots and in order to avoid his corpmates has started a new alt who pirates.

ACME is dead.

The question then is what could have been done to ensure that ACME survived the war? The simple answer is preparation. The more complicated answer is that the CEO or relevant delegate should have actively maintained corp activity.

I will discuss preparations for wardecs and security measures in another post.

Keeping active

Consider the above example of ACME v GINC. Was it heavy losses that caused ACME to close? Absolutely not. It was the simple fact that a wardec has one certain outcome – the war will likely put an end to all current non pvp day to day operations.

Without regular pve activities, members of a non pvp corp will grow bored. Boredom leads to frustration and frustration leads to corporate collapse.

Without corp activities, members will suffer from a lack of isk, become disillusioned and, after a while, go afk. A corp with a large proportion of afk members is a dead corp.

The key here for corp leaders is to make a decision whether or not to fight back and stick to that decision for a reasonable amount of time (about a week should do it). Once a week has passed by, a re-assessment can be done, and strategies changed.

Either way, corp leaders should lead the corp’s activities – if your going to fight back, leaders should arrange fleets, set out ship requirements and FC the fleets (or at least, delegate these tasks to competent pilots who will perform these tasks). If you are not going to fight back, arrange to teach newer players how to do some station trading, arrange low or nul sec exploration fleets (test the waters as to whether your enemies will follow you), organise a karaoke night on vent..

A fun night in new eden is a fun night, no matter what might be done, even if it involves singing into a plastic microphone for corporate goodwill.

Whatever you choose to do, make the decision and “lead” the corp through it. Don’t end your new eden career because of a simple wardec. If you can’t fight back with ammo, fight back with your superior leadership skills – keep your corpmates entertained, keep the isk flowing and all will end well.

Lowsec – a hovel of paranoia

A number of lowsec roams have recently been undertaken by our pilots. For this purpose, our pilots (mostly recently inducted capsuleers) have mainly set out in small, manoueverable ships (frigates, destroyers and / or cruisers). It is worth mentioning that as is apparent from their age, the majority of pilots involved barely have the skills to fit one T2 module.

In accordance with Mise en Abyme theory and our desire to put that theory into practice, we actively look for fights, ignoring (to a large extent) the possibility of a target being bait and actively pursuing targets which will push the boundaries of our abilities.

However, it appears that the majority of pod pilots in lowsec are not of the same views. Vast reaches of low security space are simply empty. Where lowsec is not empty, the moment anyone spots 3 low skill pilots on D-scan, they dock or POS up. The only exception to this are the huge blobs present in popular lowsec pipes.

So why is lowsec such a desolate hole?

As is clear with Operative TX’s experience with Dameon Diablo, pod pilots have begun to slip down the slippery path of paranoia.

In lowsec, everything is bait. There is always a fleet on the other side of that gate. All of your corp mates are actually spies. Everyone is out to get you. That rifter on D-scan is really a strange combination of a dramiel, vagabond and cynabal that you will never catch let alone even see on overview before it and its 300 friends waiting to spike local blows the hell out of you.

This kind of paranoid and circular thinking has begun the downfall of New Eden and if it continues, the capsuleer era will end – not through the coming sansha invasions, not through the modifications to ships by production lines or the collapse of the universe, but through the simple unwillingness of capsuleers to undock and kick the crap out of each other for fear of losing their ships or lowering their efficiency rating.

I wish to argue the contrary view. So what if it is bait? Get out there, bite and find out! So what if you are outnumbered? Get out there and have a good fight! So what if you lose your ship or your efficiency rating? Surely, as soon as you undock, you know that your ship is lost forever?

This is not to say that one must merely fight blindly. Obviously, risks must be assessed and preparations must be made. But do that! Don’t dock up just because 3 frigates, piloted by week old capsuleers, fly into ‘your’ lowsec system!

Violence is in out blood. It is in our very spirit. It has been woven into the frabric of our pods by the Jove. Well, at least, that is what Mise en Abyme believes.

Come and find out why in Metropolis lowsec.