I’ve been finding myself increasingly disengaged with Eve the past couple weeks. It’s not that I haven’t been playing; I’ve been spending a lot of time running around FW sites shooting frigates. In my eyes, that’s still a great way to brush up on basic mechanics and counters. It’s a lot easier to fly and lose T1 frigs against other, equally balanced frigs than it is to lose T2 cruisers or above. I’ve already covered a lot of my observations about that sort of flying in previous posts.
It’s fun, and I’ve been logging time in game. It’s not that. My corp has a lot of players who hunt FW pilots. Sure, you have your farmers, but there are also a lot of FW pilots who really enjoy the low-risk PvP. They tend to charge into battle quickly and often, which makes for great content. And having friends nearby to share intel and team up when we run into a blob only makes it better.
Razor is training some new FCs, and they’re starting out with lower-level ships. This is a necessary and intelligent step for any alliance looking long-term. You need FCs at all levels of competence to keep varied content flowing. But invariably with the current metas, training new FCs means interceptors pretty much exclusively. So we’ve been having a lot of interceptor fleets lately.
I hate interceptor fleets. I think the “avoiding bubbles” mechanic is absolute rubbish, and part of my hatred is definitely a protest against that mechanic change. But more than that, it’s also very low-risk: you only face fights on your terms; you can void any fight you don’t want to take, regardless of the circumstances. I doubt anyone would deny that… it’s low-risk nature is part of the reason it’s an entry doctrine for new FCs. You have complete control over the engagement. And because intys are insanely squishy, you’re guaranteed to lose some ships with every engagement. Because it’s so easy to travel in an interceptor, when you do lose your ship you’re likely looking at a very long trek home in a pod, which is not fun at all.
It’s not that I don’t want to support new FCs in the alliance, nor that I think they’re doing poorly (they’re actually doing extremely well). Rather, I can fly low-priced ships on my own, or with a few friends in a small gang setting that’s a lot more satisfying than joining a 20-man interceptor fleet. I don’t want to run through fifteen jumps in null-sec when I could easily find frigate and destroyer targets in 1-2 jumps through FW lowsec.
Satisfaction in Eve comes from risk. Sure, we want to win every fight we take, but we want to win them because of superior flying, surprise fittings, or outthinking our opponents.
There’s a reason Burn Jita is only one weekend. On some level, yes, it’s briefly fun to smite an opponent with no risk to yourself, but does that really satisfy you? Killing people who can’t defend themselves doesn’t satisfy in the long term for most people. Yes, you have your high-sec war-deccers who do that sort of thing all the time. And it works for them, I guess. But it doesn’t work for me, and it obviously doesn’t work for a lot of players. There’s a reason the height of PvP is solo roaming (no boosters) against overwhelming odds.
I think perhaps we may put too much focus on killboard stats… God help an FC that has a lot of red on his record. We demand nothing but green! That kind of thinking gets you risk-adverse fleet doctrines, standing down from timers whose whole purpose was to generate a fight, and large alliances hot-dropping anything. I refuse to fight PL pilots I come across anymore because I have no faith in their desire for a good, honest fight; go hot-drop someone else.
The last really good fight I was in was two nights ago, when myself and two corp mates came upon a Hawk and Astero who were fighting each other. Both of the mwere dual-rep fit, the Hawk with shields and the AStero with armor. It seemed neither of them was able to break the other’s tank – the AStero did too little damage, but he was keeping the Hawk out of his optimal. Our gang was in two Incursuses and a Firetail. The three of us had seen Hawks before, and we knew exactly how to kill him, so we primaried him first. Killing the Hawk took about 1 minute.
That wasn’t the great part of the fight. The great part of the fight happened when we turned to the
Astero, who surprisingly didn’t warp out. Given the isk on the field, the only way he could win the isk war was if he survived. Against three ships, including two high dps, close-range frigs, that was a tall order. But he stayed – they tend to do that in faction warfare about half the time, a better rate than anywhere else.
We began to engage him, but Alice’s Incursus was already in trouble from the fight against the Hawk, and he popped six minutes into the fight. That’s right… six minutes. He tanked 13,000 damage. A minute later, the Astero took down our Firetail, who also had a lot of damage from the Hawk fight.
By this point, I was by myself, and continued to orbit closely while my friends rushed to reship. I didn’t have enough DPS to break his tank, so I set to work killing his drones, but I found my guns weren’t able to track them very effectively… I came into the fight with very little ammo, and didn’t have any tracking ammo left. So pretty much my goal was to keep him tackled until my allies could return. 11,000 damage later, the little Incursus that could, couldn’t. Nearly every module was burned out in my steaming wreck. My buddies were still a couple jumps away.
It was an awesome fight that lasted about 12-13 minutes. We made some mistakes we can learn from (the two Incursuses should have engaged and orbited close until he set his drones on us, then we should have had our Firetail sidle in to apply some more DPS). Even though we lost, it was insanely enjoyable. He saw what we had, we saw what he had. When we jumped in, we thought the Hawk and Astero were working together, so we were taking a fairly even fight from our perspective. When the Astero stayed, he was fighting outnumbered, and accorded himself extremely well. Both sides were taking a bit of a risk, and we both had a lot of fun. More than that, we respected the pilot at the end of it.
Ultimately, that’s what pushes PvPers to fly, the hard fight, the outnumbered gang. I’ll remember the time I jumped into a Brave Newbies gatecamp in my Harpy and killed eight of them before escaping. I’ll remember the time I fought a single boosted enemy that tore up a group of four of us. Those are stories that compose Eve. I remember the pilots I was fighting with for those fights. They imprint on my mind and make a lasting impact.
I doubt the great stories of Eve will be generated by interceptor fleets.
It’s just something to think about. As an alliance or corporation leader, do you want your members to get run-of-the-mill, safe kills, or do you want to provide them with tales of victory and defeat that are worth the telling? You can’t do it by swarming an enemy. You can’t do it by smiting the defenseless.
You do it by guiding them into hell and back out the other side, with the wrecks of their enemies strewn behind them. No one remembers the good fight they almost had. Even if you try it and fail, they’ll respect you more for attempting it than they would for playing it safe.
And if they don’t, they’re not pilots you want to fly with anyways.