Life in a Wormhole: Really, Truly, Doing it Wrong #eveonline

I’ve mentioned the alliance’s pending group operation a couple times, alluding to the fact that the corporation that they’ve targeted deserves to have their tower destroyed and their frozen corpses ejected from wormhole space.

Now, I’m not much of a wormhole (or any other kind of) elitist, but the fact of the matter is, if you make a serious mistake in EVE, someone is going to take advantage of that mistake, and (within the context of the game) they are right to do so; in EVE, what might be considered bannable griefing activities in other games is the sort of behavior you can (and should) expect from your fellow players, and in some cases the people doing such things believe they are doing you a favor — once you are burned a couple times, the theory is you will either learn… or leave. And either way, the net skill of the playerbase as a whole improves.

(I don’t wholly agree with this, to be honest — I think this attitude sours a lot of new players on a game they might otherwise really enjoy — the current playerbase does more to destroy the chance a new player will stay than anything that may or may not be wrong with EVE. But I digress.)

Whether or not you agree with this attitude 100% of the time, you will eventually encounter a situation where you just stare at the screen, open-mouthed, and then shake your head and mutter “well, clearly, this guy needs to get his crap blown up.”

I examined the facts surrounding the corp that our new alliance has singled out, and found myself in exactly that situation. Let’s review the sorts of things that will eventually (probably sooner rather than later) make you a target in wormhole space.

  • Don’t be an easy target. I’ve discussed how to make your tower a less appealing target before. It’s not hard to do — in fact, it’s hard NOT to do it; you really have to go out of your way to put up a tower with few defenses.
  • Don’t advertise your wealth and possessions. I talked about that as well.
  • Don’t over-share. This may seem like kind of a funny thing for someone blogging about his every experience in EVE to say, but I’ve taken what I consider to be sufficiently paranoid steps to protect key pieces of information, simply because I don’t want every potential attacker to have too much intel.

So, with these guidelines in mind, let’s review the target corporation for the current alliance op.

  • Owns a single tower with four medium-sized guns and no other offensive modules online.
  • Has, anchored and online, no less than FOUR ship hangars and FOUR corporate storage arrays, as well as two other modules that can be used for general ship storage, implying a really staggering amount of gear stored within the tower’s forcefield.
  • Named the corporation “We Make Incredibly Expensive Tech Three Ships in a Wormhole” (I’m paraphrasing, but I’m NOT exaggerating.)
  • Has all the arrays necessary for making the promised tech-three ships online within the aforementioned, poorly-defended tower.
  • Invited a complete stranger into their password-protected corporate voice-comms channel less than 5 minutes after said stranger started a random conversation with them.
  • Told that stranger, within the next ten minutes:
    1. That they have only five ‘real’ players in the corp, and that the rest of the characters in the membership roster are just alts.
    2. What times (and timezones) those five players are active.
    3. That they have no allies.
    4. That they have a Billion-isk original blueprint stored inside their tower.
    5. That they have at least three billion-isk ships stored inside their towers… and then link their fitting to this stranger.
    6. That their membership is woefully inexperienced in both wormhole living and in PvP activities in general.

Seriously? There’s a point at which you need to blow a guy’s stuff up and say “Come back when you’ve figured out what you did wrong.”

It is at least partly for this reason that I’ve agreed to participate in this tower-bash op.

I logged out the night before in what I’d assumed would be a pretty good system in terms of being able to easily travel to wherever the rally point was set on the day of the operation — I selected the capital of Amarr space not because I especially like the Amarr (quite the contrary) but because Amarr space makes up a majority of Empire space and, as a result, wormholes will connect somewhere in Amarr space a majority of the time.

Not this time, however.

I log about a half-hour before the time when the fleet will move as one into the target wormhole and ask for the rally system. I’m given the name, check it in my navcomp, and tell the fleet that I’m on my way as fast as I can.

“No rush: you’ve got at least thirty minutes before we head out.”

“Yeah… I’m 28 jumps from you guys, and I’m in a Typhoon.”

“Oh. Yeah. You better hurry.”

The alliance is an international bunch, and every rally time is different. In this case, it falls roughly during my lunch hour, and since I don’t want to be left behind and find myself forced to sneak into the system later that evening when everyone is already busy with the assault, I’ve brought a slow-but-functional laptop with me today, and pilot my ship while I’ll chew on a sandwich and soda. I can’t be on voice comms, and the sound is off to avoid disturbing my fellow deli patrons, so my trip is eerily devoid of the sounds I associate with EVE.

I’m still five jumps away when the fleet commander announces the gate where everyone should form up and prepare to move.

I’m three jumps out from the rally system when the target system (five jumps further along, deep in lowsec space) is announced and they start moving, and I reset my navcomp to that locale, knowing I’m unlikely to catch up until the last moment, if then.

The fleet moves, and I monitor their progress even as I try to catch up to them. There are a few points when we’re in the same system for a moment, but I’m frustratingly unable to narrow the gap, and the fact that I’m moving alone has attracted the attention of several local pirates who HAD been traveling the opposite direction, but who turned a prompt 180 and set off in pursuit of my lone Typhoon.

The fleet reaches the target system and aligns to the wormhole as a group while I’m in warp to the final gate — they will be on the wormhole by the time I jump through the gate, and my pursuers are within d-scan range, behind me.

I jump through the gate, select one of my fleetmates at random, and try to warp to their location, but the navcomp tells me they are not in-system with me — they’ve already jumped through the wormhole. I try another, then another, but get the same response.

“This is Ty, I am on the gate. I have reds on my six, and I need a warp-in.”

“Use the bookmark.”

“He can’t. We didn’t wait for him.”

“I was not ready the rally point,” I type. “I do not have a warp-in.”

Silence. Seconds tick by.

“Ty. I’m out. I’m at the wormhole. Warp to me.”

I start my warp, wondering if my part of the op is going to be over before it’s truly begun. The gate behind me flashes. Flashes again. One, two, threefourfive. Oh good.

The reds decloak. An interceptor races to get into range for a lock, but by luck, the gate dropped him too far away. I’m gone.

“Thanks, man,” I tell to my warp-in target when I land. “You just saved my ass.”

“De nada, bro,” he says. “Thanks for coming.”

It isn’t until I jump through the wormhole that I realize I was talking to the fleet commander.

Obviously, I can’t stick around once I’m on-site; lunch hour is over, and I wish the rest of the fleet good hunting and tell them I’ll be back on when I can. I’m thanked (again) for making the effort to get on-site — everyone is very understanding of my time constraints — for some, it is already tomorrow morning; for others, it is past midnight.

By the time I get back, the alliance has set up a tower of their own in the system (equipped with a ship maintenance array for quick refits, a half-dozen ammo containers, and all the various sundries that an invading army needs), has a small PvP fleet guarding the entry points to the system, and has JUST taken down the last gun surrounding the tower. I’ve arrived just in time to join in on the assault of the tower force field itself.

No defenders have arrived — the fleet command have scheduled the initial attack to coincide with the tower owner’s downtime (conveniently shared by the corporation’s CEO) — and the tower assault itself is completely drama free. We beat the tower down (I wave to Liss and Cabbage from Walrus, who are both in the fleet as logistics pilots, and give Bre a warp-in when she shows up a bit later in a torpedo-toting bomber), and in a few hours push the tower into its invulnerable but largely offline “reinforced mode”, in which the tower runs purely on its limited strontium fuel supply before it can be well and truly destroyed. Another half-hour after that, and the fleet has erected a ‘cage’ of warp-disruption bubbles around the tower as well. We’re done for the night.

For all intents and purposes, the assault is in a holding pattern; either the defending corporation will try to buy their way out of their ‘problem’ when they come online, or they will try to tough it out and we will resume the assault in a few days when the strontium runs out.

For now, though, there’s little to do, so I help out with what I can, make sure I’m where I need to be, and make it an early evening. Unexpected, but that’s another reason I wanted to come along — to understand what an operation like this was like.

The answer: like the military. Hurry up, then wait.