Open University of Celestial Hardship (OUCH)
Proceed With Caution - Printable Version

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Proceed With Caution - Bren Genzan - 12-04-2011

I'm a relatively young combat pilot, on the staff of a non-profit null security space survival corporation. Our job is to train pilots of various levels of experience to be unafraid of living in null sec, and to give them the skills they will need to move on in their careers as combat pilots. We have decided to do that by "maintaining a blockade in null sec, interdicting traffic bound for Empire".

Blockade duty is boring: Sometimes you fight, sometimes you run, but mostly you wait. And wait. And wait some more. And it seems like nothing is going on. Then BAM, a stealth bomber decloaks in the bubble, or a small T2 gang jumps in come in and tries to gank you, or a large gangs sweeps through and your gang runs to your safes, your skirts flapping in the wind. Sometimes, you don't see a soul for hours, and you ask yourself, "Isn't there something better that we could be doing?" It seems to be a lot more fun to be in the small gang looking for a bubble camp to break, or the large gang sweeping through null looking for a battle. But then I look at it from our adversaries point of view.

* * *

A member of a neutral alliance based a half dozen systems away lands in a bubble and loses his ship. He tells his corpmates that there is a camp in system N1-4U2. An hour later, another guy gets caught in the bubble and he complains about it to his mates. After a couple of days of this, there are a bunch of people in that alliance that really are annoyed that their travel been restricted. A few of them head over to N1-4U2 to "teach those guys a lesson". They pop one or two ships but they don't get away clean, the campers kill the bait. The next day, they attack the campers using the same tactic, but the cowards don't give them a fight. They kill the bubble and leave. The campers put up a new bubble, and later that evening, kill another alliance pilot.

Days later, the bubble camp is up again and a recon ship lands in it. The campers web and scram and take the ship quickly down into armor. Then local comes alive: stealth bombers and recons appear from nowhere, lock and kill several of the bubble camping fleet. They just got hot dropped by a Black Ops gang, who are very pleased with themselves for the battlecruiser kill they got today. That will surely teach the campers not to be so predictable. But hours later, those stupid noobs are back, camping the same gate in N1-4U2.

On the weekend, the alliance organizes another raid, a dozen ships. They scout N1-4U2 with a cloaked ship for an hour, bring in their fleet and the campers run off to safes like a bunch of screaming girls. The only casualty in the contest is a Mobile Small Warp Disruptor. The fleet leaves, and the campers set up another bubble.

Meanwhile, the alliance from the system next door, they jump in and engage the campers every day. Sometimes they get kills, sometimes they get killed, but most of the time, they just kill the bubble, smack-talk a bit and move on. Our campers look forward to them coming by to visit, and put up a new bubble.

But a few of the members of the big alliance down the street decide that something must be done about this camp. They get a recon ship and station it spying on the camp and wait for the opportunity to implement their plan. A fleet stages in at the closest POS: cruisers, recons, HACs and battlecruisers, ready to take on a camp of, well, pirates from their point of view. They closely orbit one of the largest ships in the game, an Erebrus. They are ready.

The recon uncloaks and lights off his cyno and 20 cruisers and battlecruisers jump in and destroy a 6 ship frig and cruiser fleet in seconds. They cheer, and pat themselves on the back, sending a clear message to these pirates:

Your scouts cannot protect you. We can take you, without warning, anytime we want. We own you.

A few hours later, they get word from one of their corpmates: The bubble is back up in N1-4U2. Don't those noobs ever quit?

They put out an advisory to their alliance: N1-4U2 is permanently camped. Proceed with caution. Various members place dedicated scouts in system, alts to log in and check the system status. Some place cloaked alts and leave them up for hours at a time. They are not the only corporations to do so.

All of them watch and gather intel. They fly through in big fleets. They fly carefully when solo. They change the way they operate to avoid this camp when they remember. When they forget, they end up in the bubble and more often than not, in their pods. N1-4U2 becomes a very popular system. The pilots of the region start to learn that they can find a fight there if they want it, but if they go overkill, all they'll find is a bubble.

* * *

I'm just one pilot, in a small alliance. We've got a handful of experienced combat pilots, teaching brand new players how to fly and die in null. We fly mostly T1 Frigates and Cruisers. We're nobody special, yet what we are doing, playing our Eve, affects hundreds, maybe thousands of pilots as they fly through a small "useless" system in a quiet region of NPC space.

Proceed With Caution. That's a snapshot of the Eve PvP dynamic. No TCU required.

Originally posted on The Travels of Black Claw, March 2011.