I have a confession to make.
When I was in Lowsec, I was never actually a True Pirate.
In fact, I didn’t even live in Lowsec.
Oh, the shame.
OK, now I feel better.
I had a fun discussion about the state of Lowsec on Twitter a couple of days ago, where I bemoaned that all the “real pirates” appear to have disappeared since I spent my days there, replaced by ridiculous hotdrops and button-orbiting stabbed frigates.
But before I write that post, I have to write this one so it’s clear where I’m coming from. For me, Lowsec (and granted, to some extent NPC nullsec) is the home of the “goodfight”. One where stabs are for industrialists, people use gates instead of cynos (except when moving capitals or jump freighters to null or wormholes). Where an adrenaline-rush battle is first, and all else is second. Not the industrial homeland of highsec, the surprise ganks and paranoia of w-space, or the endless structure grind of sov nullsec.
So with the disclaimer that these are my definitions and mine alone, here is the way that I define my Lowsec stereotypes (and yes, that means that they are generalizations and some corps may meet multiple tests – work with me here). YMMV.
True Pirates: I’ve always admired those with the fortitude, alts and time to live the True Pirate life. These are people who are between -5 and -10 security status, and live in lowsec. While this also is true of some other stereotypes, True Pirates see solo and small gang itself as a badge of honor. They tend to live in more isolated systems. You will rarely see more than 10 in a group, and most often less than 5. They sometimes pause on a gate for a brief camp but rarely stay there. They are in it to fly ships and get fights, damn the cost. More often than not they’re dirt poor and spend most of their non-combat time in a hauler alt. They will generally fly nothing larger than a battlecruiser if given a choice. UPDATE: I’ve been intrigued by the comments both here and on Twitter around this one. On the one hand, some have highlighted soloists who truly make their living off the destruction of other ships – those who don’t necessarily do it just for the fights. Others pointed out that some of these edge into “The Bad” as they attempt to lay claim to their own personal system that no one else should play in. A topic I forgot to bring up is ransom – which is an entirely legit method of “winning” and making ISK for this group. I don’t often ransom myself but I applaud the practice so long as you honor your ransoms.
Faction Warriors: The people who play Faction War the way it was intended first, and the way CCP built it second. Many of these folks were in FW before it became a source of money. The root of their psyche is similar to that of the True Pirate, but due to their extensive time in the crowded warzone, they are more likely to ride in larger groups and likely to fly in larger ships, at some level out of necessity more than preference. But they are still fighters.
Interlopers: These are generally people who would be True Pirates except for one primary fact: they keep their security status above -2 (or above 0 in the case of Anti-Pirates, who are a subset of the Interlopers). Often they actually live somewhere else. Yes, this is what we were in Noble Sentiments. We spent all our time in Lowsec, but lived one jump out. Interlopers set up regular roams as their primary activity, running loops of 10-40 systems looking for a kill, a gate camp to tip over, a full FW plex, or someone to take their bait. Camps are brief and purposeful, since they expect to be targets of the locals if they sit still. When compared to True Pirates and Faction Warriors, Interlopers generally fly larger ships (cruisers and battlecruisers, sometimes with logi or ewar) in order to sustain survivability over many-jump roams with no easy base to return to. But in terms of numbers they tend to number more in a group than True Pirates, but fewer than Faction Warriors. When the roam is over comes the pain – regaining their sec status for the next roam.
[UPDATE] The Barbarians: So when I originally wrote the post, I thought, “What about Shadow Cartel?” – Shadow and Heretic Army were the lords of Lowsec during most of my early time there – others like 7-2 have grown to this critical mass more recently. I was thinking about it as shorthand for bigger groups with more fleet discipline, but who are not nullsecers playing at Lowsec. I decided to duck and hope that they would categorize themselves in one of the other categories, but they called me out. So … fine. These are the big dogs of Lowsec – pirate bands, the barbarians who, if capsuleers were really to overthrow the NPC empires, would be the first wolves at the door. On their good days, they sit somewhere between True Pirates and Interlopers – negative sec, Lowsec natives, but that fly in midsized groups and larger or blingier ships. On bad days, they can border on the BitterBlob (see below), but still generally prefer a “goodfight” to a blob.
Intrepid Industrialists: While they are carebears in the most literal sense, I do not consider industrialists in what is demonstrably the most dangerous real estate in the game to be bears. They are the hardiest of souls, flying at peril of exploding all the time. While I try to catch them at times, I always respect someone with the gall to try for Lowsec’s gems, whether they be hauling, doing exploration or even mining. Most of those activities require quick reflexes and advance planning.
The Nooblob: There are a handful of entities that take the blob idea to the extreme, acting largely like Interlopers (although some live in Lowsec) but with groups so large nothing in their way stands a chance if taken head on. The kicker is, they are so loud and noticeable, and so famed for this, that everyone knows what they are getting. So some other Lowsec denizens will pick a fight in which they are greatly outnumbered in order for shot at thinning the herd. When you see EVE University, Brave Newbies or RvB in Local, you know that you’re likely looking at the scout of a giant blob of small ships, and you can pick the fight or not, but unlike The BitterBlob below, this is a fun fight where everyone knows the odds when it starts.
Full-Time Gatecampers: Example: The United. This is one of two that I brand ELITE PVP in the most sardonic tone I can manage. In short, a large pile of ships sits on a gate doing something I can only categorize as stupidly simple and boring, like hanging out reading a book in a smartbombing battleship for hours on end. While history may record these as the true pirates (because pirates of old made their living off the booty of the vanquished), in a game I find this approach lame. Yes, it serves a purpose. Yes, it’s all in bounds. No, it shouldn’t be banned. But I can tell you that my absolute favorite people to hotdrop are The United, because it uses their own tactics against them. The fact that they never bring a good fight, just gank newbies and carebears and dock up when a real fleet shows up means that I don’t respect them and there are few things that give me a smile like the bully getting bullied.
The BitterBlob: Examples: Blackwater, Soul Takers. More ELITE PVP. These guys hang out all night in hugely overpowered ships for the space, blowing their time and money on jump fuel while they hang out on comms and wait for their (out of corp, unlike the Nooblob or the Barbarians) bait ship to call a tackle. They haven’t even got the will to jump through gates and risk their ships on roaming, instead hanging out in their home system and doing the equivalent of carp fishing with dynamite. They do things like drop 4 supercaps and 6 carriers on a solo Legion. Or drop seven black ops battleships and a carrier on a lone Vexor. The overkill is so bad that you wonder why they even bother. Because of these guys, if I could swing the nerfbat on only one thing in EVE, do you know what I would pick? Lowsec cynos. No contest. If I could find a way to allow them to move capitals between stations while making it very risky to jump into a combat situation (say, if you had a 10-minute cooldown timer before you could jump again if you jumped into Lowsec without docking?) I would do it in a heartbeat. Leave your cynos in nullsec, take a risk, and do something more challenging than the EVE equivalent of stepping on a Box Elder bug (for those of you who don’t get this reference, these bugs are very slow and almost impossible not to catch). It would be fun to “bully the bully” on this one too, but frankly it’s too much work to be worth it if you live in a wormhole (distances to target vary widely day by day).
The Mice: The negative opposite pole of the Faction Warrior, the Mouse is the player version of a rat – something that inhabits a plex. At least a rat shoots back. These are frigate pilots with multiple warp core stabilizers and a cloak. Yes, it is a legitimate way to play by CCP’s rules, but like mice they have bred to hideous numbers and become a pestilence upon the game. Worse, they are leveraging a mechanic meant to encourage PVP, but instead subverted to farm ISK while reducing PVP and adding frustration at a level that makes people decide that PVP might not be worth the hassle. When you have Faction Warriors, True Pirates and multiple other groups that are often opposed to each other find common ground in their disdain for this specific tactic, it too is primed for the nerfbat. What once was a clever and unusual Intrepid Industrialist tactic is so widespread and common now that it has become an overpowered plague. Number two on my list of things for the nerfbat would be warp core stabilizers – specifically I think they need a maximum limit of two per ship, which seems more straightforward than some sort of stacking penalty. Why are stabs immune to this design that applies to so many other things? Their time has come.
What do you think?
So there you have it. I’m sure you disagree and I’ve said something infuriating. Or listed someone you object to as the image example. Especially since I no longer live in Lowsec, I just come to visit … the worst kind of Interlopers, a bunch of filthy wormholers.
Or maybe you agree? 🙂
I’ll cover the meat of my Twitter complaint – namely that the bulk of Lowsec is now all BitterBlobs and Mice – in another post.