Warning: This post is highly generalized, stereotyped and a bit tongue in cheek. Humor me and provide some of your own stories in the comments rather than taking it personally. :)
The more people I talk to and the more time I spend in corps that live in different types of space, the more I come to see an amusing balance within EVE Online – namely that rock-paper-scissors theory applies to space as well as ships, specifically when you look at it through the eyes of a new emigrant to a new space, whether it be a newbie born into the game from the tutorials or an old pirate trying wormhole life for the first time.
Now, of course any time you’ve lived long enough in one place that “fear” transmutes to simple caution, or leads to an army of compensating out of corp alts, but during your first few months in a new type of space, the messages that you get from your mentors generally cautions you against one thing or another, and I have found it interesting how it lays out.
Highsec Fears Lowsec
Sample System Of Fear: Rancer, Sinq Laison
When you get that first “are you sure” popup on a lowsec gate as a newbie (or even a long-term highsec-only player), it is your official notice that the game design will now actively conspire to get you exploded. There is a real logic in this fear – the simple fact is that on average, lowsec is the most dangerous space in EVE. Nullsec throws the biggest kills per day spikes, but those systems will often never again see another big fight, while faction war and pirate systems show high-average kills every single day. When we were all newbies, most of us were conditioned by this message, as well as any first corp focused on teaching, mining or missioning (obviously RvB and wardec corps are a bit different), that to jump into lowsec was certain death in a non-combat ship or without a fleet at your back.
Good teaching corps talk early on about the danger of transiting from Hek to Jita, and the many tales of horror of people taking the shortcut. Rancer is the home of notorious pirate alliance The United, who sit on the Rancer/Crielere gate with smartbombing battleships all day exploding anyone foolish enough to try running the gauntlet unscouted. Other systems like Amamake are similarly warned against.
In the end, of course, most highsec players get brave enough to try other routes, and find they are relatively quiet if you make smart choices. They also find that bookmarks are an easy enough way to avoid running into a smartbomb camp. Those who go for PVP also eventually find that The United don’t like a straight-up fight, and a bigger blob will make them POS up very quickly, leaving the gate untended.
Lowsec Fears Nullsec
Sample System of Fear: B-VIP9, Great Wildlands
When you’re a corp that primarily lives in lowsec, you work hard to master its mechanics. The mechanics of lowsec are of course painful, and as your personal standings with CONCORD drop, your mastery of the space grows. But in the back of their heads, many lowsec pilots are secretly more thankful than anything that they don’t have to deal with the bubbles, bombs, blobs and supercaps that so define nullsec. Lowsec is (generally) about smaller ships and smaller gangs.
B-VIP9 is not the most notorious null gateway, but those that have truly fearsome reputations like PF-346 in Syndicate or HED-GP in Catch are “cliff drops” from highsec, snaring the unaware from the top of the cycle. In a funny way, places like B-VIP9 or its sister gateway 7Q-8Z2 are actually scarier places for the over -2.0 lowsec pilot, because you had to travel farther, through more hostile space, to get there in the first place.
In the end, forced experience finally puts this one to rest, as your character slowly sinks in sec status and you despair of ever seeing the bright lights of highsec again. To make matters worse, if you ever want to see sec status rise, you need to take many trips to nullsec to go ratting. Living in lowsec, you eventually must develop a symbiotic relationship with nullsec if you ever want to get back out. The ultimate cure for this fear is a cloaky nullified ratting T3 strategic cruiser and some practice in bubble escapes.
Nullsec Fears Wormholes
Sample System Of Fear: Your favorite home ratting system. The Killer is Inside the House
Surely some will debate this, so let me remind you – this is about the newer pilot to the space, not a veteran of the endless wars of Syndicate or Stain. While I have not been part of one of these corps myself, many of my corpmates have and report that “wormhole fear” is an accurate portrayal. Specifically, this is more likely to apply to the newer ratters and industry “nullbear” types in sovereign nullsec space, quietly plying their trade little differently than the carebears they mock in highsec. In their great swaths of quiet, protected and long-sovereign space, they fear nothing and lack for little. Their providers and masters thus have to warn and remind them of the wolves outside the door just waiting to leap in and gank their shiny faction-issue ratting ship. Therefore, they are told, “If you see a neutral, dock. Don’t be stupid. Just dock.”
This fear again has its root in truth and is in fact good advice. In wormholes, we truly do see sov null as a nice place to get some soft targets as we drop in behind their lines. Getting a faction battleship in a sanctum or haven and dropping a herd of T3s on it is a great snack. As a bonus, you can finish the site for ISK! As people who live and die by the cloak, wormholers also trigger the infamous “AFK cloaker” reflex from many nullsec residents.
Of course, much like the highsec carebear, the nullbear eventually learns defensive techniques to avoid getting ganked, and the braver and wiser corps venture into wormholes themselves, creating invasion pathways to their enemies and setting up additional sources of income for their alliance in the shallower reaches of wormhole space.
Wormholes Fear Highsec
Sample System of Fear: Niarja, Domain
In a wormhole, your entire livelihood, everything you do, every Sleeper you kill and every planet you exploit is utterly meaningless from a profit perspective unless you get the goods out to highsec and sold at a market. To make matters worse, you never know when you’ll get out, or where you’ll come out, and almost all payouts are pegged to Jita prices. This means that at some point, you or some key person from your corp needs to take the goods to market – and preferably to Jita. Add to this that after some time without Local, wormholers get seriously paranoid in a system full of people in Local – one of the great ironies of losing Local is that your brain’s defense mechanism is to automatically categorize anyone in Local as an enemy – obvious a problem anywhere along a route to Jita.
So what every wormhole denizen fears most is the ganking of their loot hauler en route to Jita. Wormholes come out more often than not near Amarr, and Niarja is the one deep, dark, utterly gankable 0.5 security system on the route.
Only proper care in routing and packing along with the occasional acceptance of using a different trade hub can resolve this concern.
Axes of Misunderstanding – Crossing the Wheel
Going “across the wheel” of the cycle is where you also find the greatest level of misunderstanding, based on my observations. Of course, all of them are wrong at some level. High and Null always seem jealous of each others’ resources (Axis of Envy), where wormholers and lowsec dwellers just seem to think the other are strange for the restrictions they live with (Axis of WTF).
- Highsec dweller thinks of nullsec: Why do they get all the advantages? They have all the best ores and then see fit to come and suicide gank us while not facing the risks themselves – after all, their alliance provides them all their ships for free! They’re all blue to each other anyhow. It’s not fair that they get these advantages with no real challenge to their space.
- Nullsec dweller thinks of highsec: The people there need to play the game, and come out of the “training zone” of highsec. Also, why on earth do we not have all of the highsec components here in our home constellation? It’s not fair that we have to be dependent on highsec and we don’t have good sources of personal spending money.
- Wormhole dweller thinks of lowsec: What the hell do you mean I can’t go into highsec any more now that I podded those 5 guys? You POD ALL THE THINGS. WTF CONCORDOKKEN when I jump?!? I have to get this stuff to market! This space sucks let’s go shoot each other or gank some nullbears.
- Lowsec dweller thinks of wormholes: Seriously? Locked away in their inaccessible cocoons with nothing to do but run sites? Sounds like a boring pain in the ass. I got into lowsec to shoot stuff in the face, not farm.
They are of course stereotypes and broad generalizations. But it’s funny how many things I see in blogs or on Twitter or in game that correspond to these stereotypes – that is, after all, the definition of a stereotype. Thoughts and examples welcomed.