Friday, June 5, 2015

Eve 101: How to Join a Corporation

Joining a player corporation in Eve is the best way to deepen your engagement with the game and become a long-term player.  It gives you access to a community of players, learning opportunities, and forms of content unavailable to the solo player.  When you join a player corporation, you gain access to another source of content.

But joining a corporation isn’t as easy as everyone makes it out to be.  Joining isn’t automatic, and usually involves a rigorous interview and consideration process.  Eve corporations aren’t like guilds in WoW.  Being part of an Eve corporation put you in a position to do serious damage to that corporation if you choose to, and Eve’s sandbox environment means corporations have no recourse to rogue members.  Every major corporation has had its share of spies, awoxers, thieves, and traitors over time, and has adapted to weed out those undesirables from the recruitment process.

For any alliance that owns assets in space or provides discounted or free ships, fittings, or contracts, it’s better to pass on a candidate than let in a spy.  In fact, it’s better to pass on three candidates than let one spy in.  That said, honest, genuine interest shines through.

How You Appear

The first step is to take an honest look at yourself.  Based on your activity, what would you look like to a potential recruiter?  Recruiters will start by opening up your character information screen to see your past corporations.  Contrary to opinion, a long corp history isn’t as critical as the last couple of corporations you’ve been in.  No recruiter will look at NPC corporations when judging how often you switch around, only player corporations.  Leaving and rejoining the same corporation isn’t a problem either (people take breaks in Eve; the fact that your corp accepted you back reflects well on you).  No decent corporation is going to have a problem with this.

Instead, they’ll look at patterns in focus.  Did you switch between 10 mission-running corporations, and remained with them for only a week at a time?  That could suggest that you went on a scamming binge.  Did you recently dabble in mission running, low-sec, null-sec, WH, and mining corps for a couple weeks?  That could convey that you don’t really know what you want.  Do you have any infamous corporations in your history?  The presence of certain big players in your history will make recruiters skeptical of your intentions and loyalties.

Recruiters will also look at your killboard to get a sense of what you’ve done.  Kills and losses can tell a lot about a person.  Do your fits match what you’ve done?  Do they show any improvement as your skills improve?  What you fit and fly can tell a lot about your skill points, as well as your approach to the game.  Both of these are critical pieces of info for a recruiter.

One thing decent PvP corporations will NOT be looking at is your kill/death ratio.  The “how” and “why” of what’s on your killboard is more important than the “what”.  Your killboard should be consistent with what you’re looking for or what you’ve done (if you’re changing what you’re looking for); both in terms of kills/losses and the way you approach the game.  If you’re joining a PvP corp, decent ones will be more interested in seeing your fitting philosophy, how large of gangs you fight in, and what sorts of ships you tend to fly.

Incidentally, recruiters will also check your killboard for any instances of awoxing – killing your own corporation mates – particularly if they align with changes in your corp history.  That combination would get you blacklisted by the corporation/alliance/coalition as untrustworthy.

But most of you won’t have any issues there.  So let’s move on to the next, most important step.

What do YOU want from a corporation?

Joining a corporation isn’t just about you being useful to them.  Just like a job interview, you need to choose one that’s a good fit for your playstyle and desires.  And before you can do that, you need to honestly assess what it is you want to spend your time doing.  No one can answer this for you.

Every corporation is different.  It’s important to drill down to more than, “I want to PvP/mine/mission/build.”  I see the following on a lot of corporations’ descriptions:

These corporations want to try to appeal to as many people, but one of those playstyles is going to win out over everything else, or the corporation isn’t going to provide you with what you’re looking for.  If all you want to do is cooperatively mission, for instance, every player that chooses to mine or PvP is, effectively, meaningless to you.  Sure, they can be great people to talk to, but you’ll end up with that many fewer people to engage in your preferred activity.

Side note: a corporation cannot dabble in PvP and still be effective.  If your corp goes on a weekly PvP roam as a change-up from their heavy focus on industry and mining, that roam is either going to end in a welp or result in heavily one-sided battles.  Just recognize what you’re getting in to.  That’s not to say that PvP corps are insensitive to players needing to make isk, of course, but PvPing well requires a primary focus; dabbling results in lossmails and the exodus of your best talent to other corps, which only exacerbates the issue.  So, if you see a corp that focuses on mining, ratting, and PvP, effectively this is a mining and ratting corp that likes to dabble.

Another factor to consider is time zone.  When do you reasonably expect to play?  A corp member that you never see is not a corp member that has value to you.  When I was in the heavily EUTZ Imperial Legion, I was laid off from worm, and was able to play during the day.  But when I went back to work, I quickly realized I never saw the people I was playing with anymore.  Time zone is critical to happiness in a corp.

Likewise, culture is a big issue.  Are you looking for a competitive environment or a community?  Do you have interested in playing other games with the same people, or are you all about the space?  Some folks are looking for a low tax rate and a nice group of mates to talk to while they do their own thing. That’s great!  Don’t join PL, NC., or Goonswarm, then.

How big of a group do you want to be part of?  Do you want to rise up the ranks and become a meaningful part of a group (small corp)?  Do you want to have lots of people to play with, but still small enough that everyone can fit in a common comms channel 24/7 (medium corp)?  Or do you want to be part of a large group with lots of things happening, and are okay with not talking to the same people day in-and-out (large corp like Goonswarm, RvB, or Eve Uni)?

And finally, there are some differences between corps that are by themselves and ones in an alliance.  Having alliance mates around is helpful in some situations, but those other corps in your alliance can lead to some baggage that can hamper your ability to play your own game.  The extent of alliance culture is worth considering, as well.  Do corps intermingle on comms and in various activities (a space empire), or do corps pretty much stick to themselves (a space confederation)?  The differences in culture can have a huge difference, and you need to keep in mind what you’re looking for.

Starting Looking

So, let’s say you really understand what it is you want to do, and are ready to start looking.  There are two ways to start looking.  The first is preferred, and is to look at corps you’ve had interactions with in the past, or which have pilots you’ve had positive experiences with.  Particularly when joining PvP corps, the best ones to consider at the ones you’ve had a hard time fighting against in the past.  If you’ve trolled FW space and are looking to get into an actual FW corp, consider the corps you fought before.

You have to be careful here, though.  Generally, your goal should be to approach corps that are stronger than you, and with whom you’ve had balanced interactions.  Even if you’ve lost fights repeatedly to a corp, if you’ve built up a track record of fighting honorably (or very skillfully being dishonorable, with some corps!), you’ll have some positive credibility with them.  And that will reflect well on your chances.  Alternatively, if you always fit warp core stabs, always have a Falcon alt ready to decloak as you fight them, or blob them constantly, expect a swift rejection and look elsewhere.

When I was looking to try out wormhole space, I reached out to Repercussus (who I was not a part of at the time), and they put me in contact with Sky Fighters, a group they had some interactions with in the past.  Mentioning the connection was a great way to break the ice with them, and got me in the door of a type of corp that is generally a bit leery about new blood (POS mechanics, theft, and all).

But if you don’t have an “in”, check out the recruitment thread on the Eve-O forums and the in-game recruitment tool.  Pay very close attention to the times of day that people post in the Eve-O threads, and the dirty tricks people play in the recruitment thread.  Watch for “all things to all people” sentiments and time zone targeting that covers the entire day.  These are huge red flags.

Be sure to box your weight: look to join corps that are a bridge of where you are now and where you want to be.  If you’ve never been a part of a player corp before, don’t set your sights on the “end game” corporations.  If you haven’t PvPed before, for instance, consider joining a smaller, more focused corp instead of Snuff Box, Rooks and Kings, and Origin. You may struggle to keep up with the corps that are filled with seasoned and well-skilled PvPers.  Don’t plan to immediately jump from mission running to Lazerhawks.  The culture may be a bit of a shock to you, and you’ll have a tremendous amount of catching up to do just to speak the jargon and get familiar with the experience of being in a player corp.

This is especially true when you want to change your focus.  If you want to move from mining to piracy, for instance, any competent, tightly run corp is going to want to have some evidence that you have at least the potential to hold your own in a fight.  That means seeing some evidence of your flying.  You don’t need to be perfect, just show the ability and willingness to learn.  But that generally means jumping into the activity before you become a member of that corp.  With PvP, that’s especially true, as it’s the most demanding of disciplines (with the possible exception of industry and demonstrating your knowledge of charts, graphs, and process planning).  So, this usually means first joining a teaching or entry corp in your discipline so you can gain some experience.  Once you have that experience, though, shoot for the stars!

When you have a short list of candidates, do your research.  Review their corp killboard to get a sense of when they fly, how large of a fleet they fly, what their focus is, and where they spend their time.  Check Dotlan to see how large their corp is and how it has fluctuated.  Check names in their public channel and see how long they’ve been members of the corp.  Check how often they have kills (if PvP), if you see any trends in their lossmails (ex. they’re constantly at war with Marmite), and how often they post in their recruitment thread.  Search their corp name, in quotes, for any scams, scandals, or examples of ill faith. 

Do they match what you want?  If so, join their recruitment channel, look them up on Dotlan, Google the corp name and search the Eve-O forums, check their killboard(s), and read through the MOTD (message of the day in their recruitment channel) and all links within the MOTD.

The Initial Conversation

I can’t stress this enough, so I’m putting it at the top of this section, too.  READ THE MOTD AND ALL THE LINKS.  Nothing annoys recruiters more than having to state the same thing as is written in the MOTD.  Having to do so is a failure on the part of the applicant either to follow basic instructions or to phrase questions appropriately. 

For instance, the question, “What are you looking for in a pilot?” is generally answered in the MOTD or in resources access via external links linked in the MOTD.  A better question is, “Your recruitment link says you are a PvP corporation.  What are the most valuable traits you look for in new pilots?”  Don’t even ask, “Do you do solo, small-gang, or large fleet PvP?”, as this information should be clear from their killboard (you reviewed that, right?).  If you’re looking for a mission running corp, check the MOTD and recruitment links first to see if they identify what kinds of missions they run, whether they run solo or in a group, and what standings requirements they have.  If they’re a ratting corp, drill deeper into the kinds of ratting, where they do it, and rules… anything that would demonstrate you’re aware of what they’ve written.

Be entirely honest about yourself.  If you don’t have much experience doing something, but want to, tell them that.  Share the reasons you’re interested in it, what made you decide this was something you wanted to pursue.  Talk about experiences in your past.

Keep in mind, while you’re only talking to a handful of corps, recruiters are constantly talking to prospective members.  And they’re doing it while they’re doing their primary activity too.  That might mean hunting down a target while they’re talking with you, or joining a fleet.  Be direct in your questions, be open with your reasons for looking, and that will come through.

Recruiters are looking to quickly understand what it is you’re looking for so they can judge if they think you’re a good fit.  Recruiters WANT to recruit the right candidates, and have every incentive for accepting and helping those players they feel would be a good fit.  And if they don’t deem you a good fit, then it’s best to know that BEFORE you join and move all your stuff, isn’t it?  Honesty and openness is always the right move.

The key thing to remember at this stage is that you’re trying to gauge them just as much as they’re feeling you out.  It’s absolutely critical that you ask deep questions to understand what it will be like on a daily basis talking to these people.  If the recruiters get angry or frustrated while you’re asking good, insightful questions, maybe that corp isn’t for you.  Recruiters are there to help you…


…but, they’re also there to protect the corp from infiltration.

Inevitably, any group that takes security and corp integrity seriously will want an API.  These are the corps you want to be a part of.  Submitting a full API key is not negotiable for them.  You must have one ready.  I recommend setting one up specifically for applications, which you can pull at any time.  It’s worth noting that the API provides visibility only; it doesn’t give anyone control over you, your account, or anything in it.

Why is a full API key so critical?  It can give visibility into everything, but particularly locations of assets, former Eve mails, and transaction history.  The asset breakdown can give recruiters as sense of what you can fly and how you operate.  By knowing what you have and regularly fly, they can see what your objectives might be.  In particular, they can use this information to judge how self-sufficient you’ll be.  This can have a huge effect on whether or not you’ll be able to bring yourself up to speed and begin contributing.

Recruiters, though, are also looking through your eve mail and transaction history, looking for red flags.  If you submit an API key for one account, but regularly transfer assets to a character that isn’t on that account, it will signify that you have an alt.  You’ll either have to submit an API for that account as well, or be deemed a spy.  They’ll look deeply at any suspicious bumps in isk, any repetitive small deposits, or anything that would indicate that you’re being funded by a character outside of the account.  They will go through eve mails to identify whether you have regular associations with any enemies or associates of enemies.  At this stage, they won’t be scrubbing your API for intel, but trying to judge whether your character records confirm what you’re telling them.

By giving them an API that you can pull at any time (and which isn’t tied to your current corp, Eve-kill, EFT, Evemon, Pyfa, etc.), you maintain control over how long they can review this information.  But everything you do is generally publicly available.  In Repercussus, for instance, leadership can view every asset that every player has through the full API, and players can view this info on themselves on the RP web hub (I say web hub because it extends well beyond just forums… We love you, Troyd!). 

It’s extensive info, and it can be daunting to give that sort of info out.  But, you quickly grow used to it, particularly when you consider some of the tools at your disposal when you do.  And when you consider that eventually you’ll gain access to corp hangers and be given increasing responsibility, it’s only fair to expect to have to give something back.  They are trusting you not to shoot your own alliance mates, after all.  And the API key will help them track down any thefts to either recover the goods or quickly identify and kick the perpetrators.  And that benefits all those members who remain by mitigating the risk.

“Your application is accepted!”

Congratulations.  You’ve found a corp in your TZ engaging in activities you really want to participate in, and which you feel will have a culture you’re interested in being a part of.  The recruiter vetted your API and both of you gave answers that satisfying the other, and everything was in order.

Now what?

Most corporations have a staging area, an area of space that they call home.  In many cases, this is a specific station in a specific system.  Sometimes, a corp can have multiple stating areas (RP has a low-sec home, an industry home, a null-sec alliance home, and a deployment zone, for instance).  And you’ll be expected to make your way there as soon as is possible.

Expect it to take several weeks to move all of your assets to your corporation’s new staging area.  Caravanning everything across new Eden is not an easy task, and was made harder by the introduction of jump fatigue.  Look to make progress, not accomplish it all at once.

I recommend first sitting down and identifying what you want, where.  This is a good time to bundle up and Jita-sell some of your assets you don’t use anymore.  Keep what you think you’ll use in your new life.  This could be incredibly complex step, or a relatively easy one depending on how widely distributed your assets are.

Don’t be in a hurry, and don’t wait to jump into activities with your corp until you’re fully moved.  Part of this is to make a good first impression, but the bigger part is to give yourself some time to try out your new corm before you haul everything across the map.  What if you spend four weeks moving your stuff only to find the Teamspeak culture incredibly toxic and stressful?

If you’re joining a PvP corporation, don’t bother bringing PvP ships at first.  Most corps have contracts with the fits they use, and that will be all you’ll need for the first couple weeks.  If you do want to bring some ships, bring solo or small-gang PvP ships, which tend to be more “kitchen sink” in nature.  Don’t bother buying fleet-doctrine ships at first… not until you get a feel for what ships they fly regularly.  In some cases, expensive doctrines are flown so rarely that you don’t even need to buy them, particularly if your corp has contracts you can pick up when needed.

Focus on getting all of your permissions sorted out for Teamspeak/Mumble, Jabber, web services, forums, etc.  The best thing you can do the moment you’re accepted is to start setting those up.  Having them all active and engaging with them can give you a quick sense of whether you’re a good fit.  Spend time on Teamspeak just listening to your corp mates.  Keep jabber open to get fleet pings.  Read as much as you can in the forums to understand some of the culture and attitudes among members.  All of these will help you immerse yourself and give you a great sense of whether you fit.  Better to do this now than later.  It’ll also let you verify whether the story you were sold during the recruitment period is true.  Even the best-intentioned recruiters are guilty of seeing their corp as they envision it, not as it really is, and sometimes that difference can be striking.

And don’t wait.  Jump on in.  Experience, play, and participate; it’s never more important than at the beginning.  Congratulations!

“Your application has been rejected.”

That’s okay, sometimes this happens.  Sometimes, you get your hopes up and start to plan what you’ll do when you join your new corp, only to be crushed when they reject you.  Don’t panic.  No one is rejecting you as a person, only you as a compatible fit with that particular group of people.  There can be several reasons why this happened.  Your job is to find out what those reasons were.  Ask questions of the recruiter and try to understand the cause.

Maybe they felt you didn’t have enough experience.  If that’s the case, try again with another corp.  If you keep hearing the same story, then consider scaling down to a more “starter” corp where you can gain more experience to prove to your rejecters that you are serious about your game and building a resume to reapply later.  Recruiters like to be proven wrong by you showing them your value.  If you aren’t accepted into Awesome Null PVP Corp, try starting with another PvP-focused null-sec alliance and work to prove yourself.

Maybe you came off as a spy.  If so, the recruiter may not be as willing to explain what flagged you as suspicious… after all, he doesn’t want to empower spies to correct their mistakes and try again.  But it doesn’t hurt to ask.  If there’s a misunderstanding, you might be able to clear it up or, at worst, apply the lessons to the future.  It’s even possible that the recruiter is being paranoid, which might be an attitude that doesn’t suit you at all.  Again, better to know than not know!

And maybe, just maybe, you didn’t do a good enough job of convincing them that you are eager to join them or that you really are dedicated to their mission.  If you get this response, consider going back and rethinking what it is you want and whether your targeting criteria matches the types of corps that you’ve been looking at.  We can’t always know what it is we want right out of the gate; sometimes we need to try and get it wrong to really nail down what’s important for us.

Just remember, even a rejected application can help you get into a corporation… just not that corporation.

But when you approach the recruitment process with a respect for the recruiters’ time, with your homework and research completed, and from a position of knowing what it is exactly that you want, you’ll get there.  If not the first time, then later.

And that’s it.  Be thorough in research, honest in conversation, and specific in your desires, and you’ll get what you want.  Know thyself, and find thy perfect corporation.


  1. Great write up Talvorian Dex. Really wish this had come out like 3 weeks ago though.

  2. I swear... I got halfway through this and realized... this post is an effective and positive proof of the lead graphic... that joining a corp in EVE is incredibly complex and is an experience that, if they were to follow your guide, would put most if not all noobs totally off the idea of ever attempting to join a corp in EVE.

    Talk about completely needless and potentially negative complexity... sheesh.

    You talk a lot about the hurdles of needless complexity and how they bar noobs from this or that type of gameplay, especially your preferred (IYHO bestest) gameplay group PvP... and yet do you realize this thesis of yours took 4,093 words?... and you want noobs to see this as reasonable? I can explain entry level ship fitting in fewer words.

    Come on Tal... you wanna lower some of the real barriers working against noobs in EVE? Especially those barriers that are keeping them playing solo?... then we need to talk about this one.

    I don't want EVE to ever be the first panel... ever. But I think we are paying a very high price because EVE IS just like the second panel... and it aint no joke.

    1. Eve corp recruitment is as complex as it needs to be. Unlike every other amateur MMO, Eve players can do immense damage to an Eve corp, and scamming is actively encouraged. Corporations have to develop an amateur psychological profile on applicants to protect themselves.

      This post was borne out of a recruiter comment: “What is this guy asking?” If you’ve never applied to a corp before, it’s really easy not to understand the language and culture of corp recruitment. I remember feeling overwhelmed when I first applied to a corp, wanting to please the recruiter. All the power was in the recruiter’s hands, and as a result, I spent a year in a corp that was a bad fit.

      If 4,000 words are too overwhelming for a person, they can always move along to the next post. I suppose I have more faith that anyone who consults blogs and online guides is capable of channeling their focus for long enough to get a complete answer.

    2. Turamarth, I understand your point but Tal isn't telling noobs they need to go out and start the grueling application process with PL tomorrow. New players have a large variety of options to choose from to get experience in Eve without having a Prostrate exam first. RVB is a great example that let's in just about anyone that is smart enough to click on the in game app (no interviews or lengthy out of game apps required). PL's new Pandemic Horde Corp and the original idea behind Brave newbies are also good examples or corps that will let in just about anyone.

      Now to get in somewhere more advanced I do think the second panel of the graphic is appropriate as the mechanics of EVE forces you to place assets that have significant real dollar value at risk. It only takes one spy to steal billions of isk worth of assets, drop sov, relay the information of your fleet to the opposition causing a whelp of an expensive fleet, or (as we saw happen last year to PL) get a fleet of super caps to jump into a trap.

      An aside to Talvorian, one thing I feel is missing from you great article is the function of vouches. Plenty of higher power corps actually wont let you in without one even if you have 100M SP and are a PVP God. If you do have a really strong vouch within a corp it can help the recruiters overlook some missing skills or a limited PVP history.

    3. I did get what he was aiming for... but when I tried to read this from the eyes and viewpoint of a new player... well, it was daunting. And yes, WE all know about RvB and the new player friendly corps and Alliances... but this write up mentioned EVE Uni and RvB exactly once... and that was very much in passing.

      I simply would have take a few hundred words to talk about the New Player friendly corps/Alliance then moved on to drawing blood and immersing potential recruits in butter is all... =]

    4. There are more corporations than Brave or RvB in Eve. And not everyone reading this will be looking for their first corporation. I learned these lessons after my 4th corporation.

  3. Thank you, a very informative good writeup.
    Hozan Vaardra

  4. A well written post but on the matter of vetting recruits, it must be observed that many non-null sec corps have relatively low barriers to entry, for example mine. I get why so many corps have such spy-wary processes but I am very glad I don't have to spend any of my EVE time worrying about such complications. My corp leadership team decided from the get-go to organize our corp and its assets such that we didn't have to implement huge barriers to entry. We all know this is EVE and it may just be a matter of time before someone nails us, but so far our approach has worked fine and is thankfully trivial to manage.

  5. Looking at you WH corps