Eve really is a funny game. One of the first rules you hear is that you can’t trust anyone. Every pilot who isn’t a blue is trying to kill you. If you don’t learn that lesson by rote, you learn it by experience. We disregard dscan and a search for probes at our own peril.
But on the other hand, the status of another pilot can change in an instant. One day, you’re all part of the same alliance, but the next, a CEO decides to pull his corp and suddenly you’re enemies. Back when I was in Razor, we experienced a similar thing when hirr decided to leave the alliance. Instead of an orderly evac and well-wishing, they decided to burn their bridges, cloaky camp our space for a few weeks, and kill people who were allies a day before. Such is life.
But, ultimately, that only tells part of the story. Reality in Eve isn’t about what alliances and corporations do, but what happens on the individual level. It’s about friends becoming enemies overnight. It’s about alliances of convenience springing up. “When did we blue Black Legion?” I remember asking once. All of a sudden, the people you were killing are your allies, only to change when the moment passes.
The consequences of that add a level of complexity missing from other games. Sure, some players just hate PL or Goonswarm, and will never see beyond it. Every pilot with either in their history is a hated enemy, never to be redeemed or to remove the stain.
But for most of us, we recognize that pilots come and go. Corp or alliance membership is often temporary, and it doesn’t do to burn your bridges.
And, on occasion, that kind of attitude wins you support when you most need it.
Earlier today, I was roaming through Black Rise in my Curse. Ever since I was caught by a Curse at a Guristas Transportation site, I wanted to do the same to someone else. With its dscan immunity, the Curse is a fantastic little ship for catching prey unawares. Their first indication that you’re nearby is when you appear on grid. And by then, it’s usually too late to do anything about it.
Jumping into Hykanima, I quickly narrowed my dscan and saw a Vexor and a Ferox at a Transportation site. In local, a couple pilots gave each other “gf”s, but both ships remained on a narrow dscan. Obviously, they weren’t killing each other.
I did a quick calculation, and felt I had a chance of killing at least one of them – the Vexor – if I played my cards right. I’d put my TD on the Ferox, my point and neuts on the Vexor, and hope to mitigate damage long enough to take it down. So, I warped in.
The Vexor, though, was by itself in the first room, about 50 km off the button. I started to burn to him, but he was gone long before I got within range. Careful to sip my capacitor, I made my way to the acceleration gate to the second room. The Ferox was still there.
And he was a goon.
When I landed, the Ferox was about 23 km away, so I promptly pointed him and flashed the colors – the tracking disruptor, three medium neuts, and point – as I launched my drones.
For those of you who haven’t flown neut ships before, fights have a very different cadence. Typically, you’ll notice that your ship does very sub-par damage at first, but at some point, if everything goes according to plan, the enemy ship suddenly begins to drop quickly. That point, of course, is when you cap them out. Before you can blink, the fight’s usually over.
So, I wasn’t alarmed when the Ferox was tanking me pretty well at the beginning, and I kept my cool. Flying a Curse requires that you pay attention to several things at worst. Chief is the need to manage your capacitor, pumping your cap recharger as needed and shutting off some of your neuts as the fight progresses. You also need to watch your drones, though, to make sure they aren’t being targeted by your enemy and are still following your commands. Depending on your fit, you also have to watch your tank. In my case, I was fit with an X-Large ASB that repaired about 85% of my shield each cycle; to avoid wasting any, I had to wait until my shields were just about gone. It’s effective, but another thing to watch.
To my eternal shame, one thing I didn’t watch was my range, so I had the pleasure of watching my Ferox target warp out at 40% structure.
GFs were tossed around local, and I offered a little ridicule at myself. He landed on the station to repair himself just as I did, so I knew I had lost him. At this point, I was feeling a little low. While it’s invigorating to score a kill, letting one escape from your own foolishness is just about the worst feeling I experience, even worse than losing a ship myself.
But the only way past it is to move on, so I did a quick dscan again. The Vexor had come back after we left, and was at the site now. Dscan also had a Cerberus and Drake, but as I narrowed, only the Drake was at the site with the Vexor.
Now, a Drake and Vexor was a little more than I felt comfortable handling, particularly since both were fresh to the site and likely to be very close to the warp-in beacon. I –might- be able to kill the Vexor if I got lucky with range, but 250 million is a lot to risk. While my tracking disruptor could neutralize much of a Ferox’s damage, a Drake’s missiles wouldn’t be affected.
I needed help. And the answer was obvious.
“Want to team up to take down that Vexor and Drake?” I asked the Ferox pilot I had been shooting only a couple minutes before. It was ballsy, and in any other game, the other pilot would curse me and would never dream of trusting me.
But this is Eve. “Sure, let’s do it,” he replied. We fleeted up, and he was so eager he actually beat me to the site. He took the gate first, and grabbed point on the Vexor, who no doubt suspected that he and his Drake friend could take a lone BC.
Then, my little old invisible-to-dscan Curse landed, and ruined their day. The Drake immediately began burning off, with me in hot pursuit, while my neuts capped out the Vexor and the Ferox applied most of the damage. I began to close range, getting to within 30 km before he finally warped off.
The fight now over, this was the moment of truth. Would we turn on each other? I’ve spoken before about how I’ve tried and failed at being duplicitous, so I wasn’t about to go back on my word. For his part, the Ferox hadn’t fared very well during the first fight, and wasn’t eager to risk the successful result.
Of course, I pulled range from him, just in case.
But, wouldn’t you know, our temporary alliance held. We wished each other well and went on our merry way – myself back to Nisuwa, and him to run more sites. A Goon and an ex-pat cooperating together? I had to check for dogs and cats dancing together in the streets.
In speaking to him afterwards, he shared that he recently came back and had dedicated himself to becoming better at solo PvP. I’ve found there to be a code among solo PvPers… they tend to honor 1v1s and their word, when given. After all, to really enjoy true solo PvP – no links, no alts – you need to be in it for the challenge. And taking advantage of someone’s trust isn’t challenging; it undercuts the source of value in those kinds of engagements.
Very few people would ever expect a goon to honor an agreement or play with any sense of honor. They have a reputation for exploiting and abusing everything, being out to ruin everyone else’s game, and generally operating on a “no apologies given or required” approach. As I mentioned up top, the reality always comes down to the players. Players interact, not alliances. And when a solo PvPer interacts with another, if they’re being true to the reasons that bring them to solo PvP, they tend to treat each other fairly.
After all, just because we’re trying to kill each other doesn’t mean we have to be uncivilized. Algamel gets that, and he has my respect for it.