Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lessons: Always Honor Ransoms

Let’s face it; you don’t decide to “shoot all the things” and engage in generally satisfying PvP because you want to get rich. Generally speaking, the kinds of PvP that earn you lots of isk are massively disconnected from genuine piracy. If you want to get rich, camp the trade routes and engage in war decs, gank freighters or mission boats, or camp low-sec entrances.

These activities, I’d generally refer to as true piracy – there’s a natural money-making element of them. Why did pirates attack merchantmen instead of galleons? Because that’s where the low-risk profit was.

On this blog, I talk about improving your PvP skills. That usually means learning to fly better, it often means learning to cope with “the blob” and being prepare to manage multiple targets, and it sometimes means preparing not for an easy gank, but the more difficult act of getting away with the loot and dodging the response fleet that hits you afterwards. All of them are skills that you need to cultivate, else you end up whining about blobs, cheap tactics, and start getting bitter.

But, every so often, you have the opportunity to conduct a good, old-fashioned ransom.

I was in Tamo, looking for a low-sec wormhole to move a bunch of my ships closer to my stomping grounds. After a scanning a couple systems, I found one in Iitanmadan that lead to a nice, quiet wormhole with a high-sec static.

Mind you, I wasn’t looking for action, but I was in my scanning Proteus, having misplaced my covops scanning ships. So, of course, I did the usual thing. I checked dscan for ships, towers, and probes.

To my surprise, I saw a Drake on dscan, and not at a planet. So, I warped in at short-range – but not at zero – to find a Drake shooting a few sleeper rats in a site with a lot of asteroids. He wasn’t using a mobile tractor unit, but he was going from wreck to wreck looting anything of value.

At this point, I was 50 km off him and burning at a crushingly slow speed of less than 200 m/s. He was down to only two rats, and I was seriously debating decloaking and trying to rush him for the last 40 km. But, I only had a scram, and chances were poor I’d be able to reach him before he warped out.

Then, I noticed him start to burn towards a wreck only 20 km from me, and realized this was my chance. Making way for it, I got within 16 km as he landed on top of it. I decloaked at 16 km and burned the rest of the way. Overheated, my cloaking target delay ended just as I entered range, and I got him, and set to work on slowly eating away his shields.

I was making incredibly slow progress on his shields, inching it down bit by bit. In fact, his repping was so strong I figured he had to be blinging his ship a bit. But I was making progress nonetheless. He was at 50% shield while my Armor Proteus was about the same. After a few cycles of my neut, I noticed him start to drop much more quickly.

At 25% shields, he requested a convo with me. Curious, I accepted. Immediately, he cried, “Stop! I’ll pay!”

I had an odd moment. Typically, I value killmails much more than ransom or loot; I’m after the content, and have more than enough isk to keep myself content. But recently, I’d been suffering a lot of losses to a certain Machariel pilot in the Tamo area – albeit getting some good kills in the process. The lion’s share of my isk is locked up in plex investments at the moment, too, so I’m feeling the hurt.

Maybe he caught me on a good day, or maybe I’d accept an offer any time. But in this case, I did a quick calculation based on how well he was tanking. A Drake isn’t an expensive ship, but perhaps he had some blue on it. “250, send it now,” I replied. For added measure, I pulled my drones and cycled my launchers; he was deep in structure by now.

When I opened my wallet, I honestly didn’t expect it to change. But, lo and behold, it did, and I was 250 mil richer.

For some players, this was another moment of choice. He was at my mercy, and I could decide to kill him anyways. But for me, I really didn’t think about it. I dropped point and pulled range. “Next time, watch dscan,” I told him, before I outlined the terms I’d honor. “I won’t kill you in this system or in that ship.”

Then, an odd thing happened. Rather than being upset or frustrated that he was caught, he started a conversation, asking what he did wrong and how I caught him. An hour later, he left with more understanding of wormholes, dscan, and warnings that a lot of other players may not be as honorable as I was.

It was – dare I say – a positive, though expensive, interaction. And he had exactly the right sort of attitude a player should have when flying in this game.

When you get caught, you’ve got a choice. You can either get angry that someone caught you, or you can try to get out of the loss. And you have another when you have to decide whether you want to produce salt or try to learn from your mistake. After all, it’s always one of your mistakes that gets you caught.

Good job to this player – you know who you were – for the way you responded. If I felt other players wouldn’t exploit your trusting nature, I’d post your name with honor, but I wouldn’t want to make you a target.

I have no doubt that he has a long Eve career ahead of him. We all make mistakes and get caught. It’s the way we respond that defines the sort of person we are and whether we’ll last in this game.

And for my part… hey, 250 mil is a good day’s work! Thanks!


  1. I like that attitude, even though he lost 250m, the knowledge he gained would probably save his arse in the future.

  2. If "lion’s share of my isk is locked up in plex investments at the moment" means you bought plex to sell later for profit, you are in trouble. Sell them now as they only go down.

  3. When i was a very young player over 8 years ago, i would accept ransoms and pop anyway. I had a talk with my ceo later about why thats not acceptable behavior and how the negative impact does not jsut effect me but the entirety of the game. It took those words to heart and still carry the quite "All terms Honored" Eve is a game where you forge your own story. Don't be the deuche bag that ruins it for everyone else. Honoring a ransom is a positive thing for both sides. My favorite kills never died. They payed.