Sunday, September 11, 2011

Making Low Sec Matter

When a band of barbarians shows up on your doorstep, it's often  because they've been displaced by another band of barbarians who showed up on their doorstep. The Goths, after all, didn't cross the Rhine-Danube line in 376 simply because it was too nice a day to stay indoors . 
              -"Lowsec",  Fiddler's Edge, January 15 2011

In response to Winter is Coming, Rixx Javix, lowsec anarchist and sometime pirate, invited displaced nullsec residents to migrate to low sec space. "Not only is it more fun," he wrote, "But we don't shoot structures - only people". Rixx and a few others have held forth otherwise and elsewhere on what a wonderful world it would be if only the alliances of nullsec would come to lowsec, where real PvP is practiced. There, unprotected by their cynojammers and warp disruption fields, they would provide Rixx and the rest of the lowsec pirates and rapscallions a target rich environment filled with PvP opportunities.

It seems one must be careful what one wishes. 

With free nullsec capitulating to the Drone Russians Forces (DRF), a number of medium to large nullsec alliances and corporations players have been pushed out of their nullsec holdings. In some cases, as with Northern Coalition members driven from Vale of the Silent and Geminate, these entities moved from Northern to Southern nullsec, only to be displaced a second time when DRF and their vassals moved South to complete their run of the nullsec table. Unable to withstand the assault of the heavily bankrolled DRF supercapital blobs, ever more nullsec refugees have been seeking safe haven in which to draw breath until the much hoped for Winter Supercapital Nerf ® is deployed.

Thus, safe harbor for such refugees is at a premium. NPC nullsec, immune from being claimed by player alliances, was the safe harbor of choice for -AAA- when they were rolled over by White Noise, The Initiative and Pandemic Legion last Fall. Likewise, Pandemic Legion (PL) sought temporary refuge in NPC nullsec early last Spring, after the Northern Coalition showed PL at the Saint Patrick's Day Massacre that they had developed the tactical wherewithal needed to defeat PL supercapital fleets.

However, nullsec has never before seen so many organizations and players displaced at one time; NPC space will simply not contain all the refugees. As the DRF & Co expand their holdings, competition for the scraps of nullsec space not yet under siege increases, and the overflow is pushed elsewhere.

Elsewhere, as in nullsec-adjacent low sec space.

We've seen this before, of course. As I wrote last January in Lowsec, BOB retreated to lowsec after that storied alliance was disbanded and run out of nullsec by their many enemies. There they appropriated high-value lowsec properties, recovered, rearmed, and reorganized themselves as IT Alliance before re-entering nullsec. Though much diminished in their retreat from nullsec, the BOB refugees were veteran nullsec PvPers. Their ships and fleets more than a match in terms of size, composition and discipline for the lowsec entities they encountered during their exile.

One again lowsec alliances have nullsec entities arriving on their doorsteps. Even those denizens of lowsec with prior nullsec experience are taken somewhat aback by the sudden presence of supercap fleets they've begin to encounter. Lowsec is well acquainted with capital ship combat and the odd ratting carrier is regarded as high-value prey by lowsec pirates and griefers. Faction warfare militia regularly engage in capital ship combat, and even the odd Titan or Supercarrier encounter is not unusual.

However, Supercapital fleets are another matter. Immensely powerful, immune to ECM and unstoppable except by Heavy Interdictor (a ship class in short supply among lowsec combat groups due to its relative lack of utility there), a small fleet of ten or so supercapitals can drop on most lowsec capital/battleship fleets with relative impunity. There is limited chance (for now) that the lowsec alliances will have hictors and larger supercap fleet on standby for a counter-drop.  Life in lowsec is markedly less fun when any Drake or Navy Raven caught ratting a lowsec anomaly might cyno in a supercapital fleet on top of the jolly gang of pirates that tackle it. 

At the moment, the most evident example of this phenomenon is Pandemic Legion cooling their heels in Amamake. While not driven from nullsec per se, PL seems to have realized that, with no contract in hand binding them to the DRF, and the Goons having made common cause with PL's former employers, they are high on the gank list once said employers get bored with chasing -AAA- and look around for their next victim. With all of their enemies laid low or in hiding, the DRF as little use for PL and will likely seek to ensure the weapon they have  employed regularly and to good effect isn't available to DRF's growing list of enemies. Thus PL seems to have quit nullsec in good order to wait outside the DRF field of vision for what changes to the strategic landscape the Winter Supercapital Nerf ® may bring.

In the meantime, the lowsec residents have largely adopted a strategy of either steering clear of the PL forces altogether, or venturing in to pick off the odd PL straggler. The faction warfare teams in particular seem inclined to take the odd potshot at the unwary PL ship. Recently a PL Carrier was jumped by an Amarr faction Stealth Bomber fleet. The degree of drama that accompanied the take-down, along with the celebratory chest beating that followed, speaks volumes about the degree to which the lowsec residents are over-matched by the new arrivals. While a critical loss for a lowsec player, mere capital ships have practically become a commodity item in nullsec; the loss of one barely attracting any notice at all.  

The presence of PL in lowsec has, in turn, drawn other nullsec entities into the neighborhood as nullsec alliances, looking for some good fights with the legendary Legio Pandemica, drop in for visits. Lowsec players seem largely ignored in these incursions, unless they happen to get in the way or try to participate in the action.

Once the Winter Supercapital Nerf ® and associated nullsec sov changes have been put in place and assessed by the various parties, I expect most nullsec entities that bide time in lowsec will saddle up and head back into the sovereignty game. Their departure will be met with relief by some parties in lowsec who prefer the region as it is.

However, the wiser lowsec players will see the presence of Pandemic Legion and their nullsec peers as an opportunity; a teaching moment. As with any game, the best way to improve at PvP is to move out of your comfort zone, and play against one's betters. The presence of some excellent nullsec PvP talent in lowsec provides a rare chance for lowsec fleets to measure themselves against the big hats and up their level of play.

Expected changes to the sov rules will likely mean greater opportunities for incursions by lowsec fleets into nullsec. Likewise, they may make parts of lowsec of value to nullsec entities, resulting in nullsec alliances adding parts of lowsec space to their spheres of influence.

This could go a long way toward blurring the lines between nullsec and what I like to call "lower" lowsec.


  1. I've been living in lowsec for a longtime and in my experience it's nothing like this, and PL recently moving into Amamake (I live 2 jumps out) has not changed anything either.

    So yeah there's Nyx's sitting in Make now, I guess that's a problem if you are a FW pilot who wants to fly in his BS blob, but to the average lowsec pvper? I see you Nyx and blaze past in my frigate/cruiser, it's not a threat to me. It can't catch me and I have no interest in fighting it.

    Yesterday jumping into Orfrold with a buddy; oh scary a xxxShadowxxx Hyperion and a bunch of drakes camping the gate *politely wave and warp off* your slow locking BC doesn't scare or affect our Frigates, they simply get ignored.

    Unless these nullsec entities dockup their null hardware they'll annoy the crap out of the faction warfare people and the gatecamper pirates, but the soloists & small frigate/cruiser gang pilots are pretty much unaffected by it. Without bubbles it's really hard to force an engagement with fast agile ships that don't want to engage you.

    I would love for all of PL in Amamake to get into frigates and I'll be most happy to test their legendary skills in within scram range frigate kiting combat, but until they do I will see their NYxes & Aeons and smile politely as I ignore them and go about my business just like I did a week and a half ago.

    That supercap is, well, irrelevant to me ;-)

  2. I'm a member of the Amarr Militia who also lives a few jumps from Amamake. I have to agree with Kaede - this post doesn't really describe how things feel to us. OK, so now there are a bunch of Nyxes and Aeons around Amamake. Thing is, without bubbles, those Nyxes and Aeons have been pretty much unable to actually CATCH anything.

    PL spent their first few days in the FW zone hot dropping everything in sight with their supers. They killed a very few targets (generating the odd comedy killmail such as the Vexor with seven titans on it) but not many. After that they started going after the one thing slow enough for their supers to catch - POSes, with much more success. But in terms of ship to ship combat they've yet to do anything all that impressive.

    You say that we're supposed to 'learn from our betters' but what exactly are we supposed to learn from watching a bunch of PL supers sitting around waiting to hotdrop something?

  3. @Kaeda - As small ship specialist who stays out of their way, I don't expect your life will change much. There are, however, lowsec power blocs and owners of lowsec resources who'll be somewhat put upon by Tengu and Supercarrier fleets.

    @Wendi - You are correct. You won't learn much watching a bunch of PL supers sitting around.

  4. @Planetary - You may well see them testing some new fleet configuration and tactics. They often use their down time to experiment.

  5. 3rd last paragraph, 1st sentence "the wiser nullsec player" I believe you meant "the wiser lowsec player" unless I have misread the intent of the paragraph

  6. A lot of PL have been getting into smaller ships and making the rounds of lowsec. About everyone is dropping in sec status - I am negative for the first time on my main!

    The problem with PL is that it's not the type of alliance that would go on a "roam" or get a fleet together to look for a fight in low sec. PL Pilots are used to having an op timer for an engagement, getting titan bridged there for a fun fight then bridging home.

    That's not to say it wont happen. I have been in an AHAC gang that formed up for a militia fleet that was coming through. The militia left but Black Legion heard about our fleet and came in so there was a fight at least.

    PL will almost always form up for a good fight, but are too lazy/spoiled to get a roaming gang together to find one.

  7. Mord, to put this bluntly, you have no understanding of lowsec, no understanding of the people who play there, and no understanding of its dynamics or content.

    Specific illustrations of this at work:

    "ratting in a lowsec anomaly...cyno in a supercapital fleet..." Actually, lowsec anomalies are terrible so no one runs them; the lucrative lowsec pve occurs in deadspaces. Cyno no worky in deadspace.

    "while a critical loss for a lowsec player, capital ships have practically become a commodity item in nullsec..." Actually, this is dependent on the type of carrier and the person who owns it, in both lowsec and 0.0; there are plenty of nullsec residents for whom the loss of their first ratting carrier would be a Big Deal and conversely plenty of lowsec entities who can and do laugh off the loss of multiple carriers by truthfully saying they've already been replaced. As for the response to the PL carrier loss, you're misinterpreting the tone of the comments on both sides of the fence - it's not "omg guys we killed a CARRIER!!11! this will surely break PL!", it's "haha, look at this retard who lost a carrier to a bunch of scrubs in bombers." That is to say, more or less exactly the same sentiment expressed by PL members on their own killboard:

    "lowsec power blocs..." Ain't no such thing. Nobody chooses to live in lowsec to play politics or forge coalitions to defend mutual interests. What would be the point? There are very few resources that would encourage one to do so, and those that do exist are held by people who like 100+ man fleets. The people who choose to join lowsec pvp corps do so because they find the type of gameplay necessary to hold assets like tech moons to be completely stultifying and want to roam in small gangs or solo. A direct consequence of that is that lowsec/NPC 0.0 pvp corps tend not to have any particular need for corp/alliance-level resources. The other consequence is that they tend not to have significant assets in space that can be hit to force a fight. If someone shows up and decides to roll around lowsec with "Tengu and supercarrier fleets" or any other sort of comp you'd use to contend sov, all that will happen is that the locals will sidestep them or remain docked, they'll get no fights, and their members will get very bored very fast. If you want fights in lowsec, you have to either be *very* good at setting traps or make a point of flying engageable setups that people will feel they have a good chance of beating.

    "As with any game, the best way to improve at PvP is to move out of your comfort zone, and play against one's betters..." If and when PL choose to come out from under their titans and start roaming in small gangs, they'll get fights. If they refrain from dropping caps in those fights, they'll get more. Until then, the practical impact of their stay in Amamake for the average lowsec resident is non-existent. Shocking news: the Osoggur gate is camped, and you're likely to get lol-ganked if you hang around 3-1 or outside the wrong station for too long. Plus ca change...

  8. @Tsubutai: that was spot on and made me laugh. Kudos.

    @David: The odd PL guy has been going roaming over the past few days - I managed to get a good fight with one - but it seems fairly rare and most are just hanging around Amamake.

  9. @Tsubutai = In fact I've spent a number of years living in lowsec and understand it quite well. Very likely my experience with lowsec is broader and more diverse than your own.

    Your statement that no one runs low sec anoms is incorrect on its face.

    You're correct in that the whether or not the loss of a carrier is a big deal depends on who loses it and the state of their finances. You make my point exactly. To you it's a big deal and many would have trouble imagining someone for whom it's not. Trust me, for PL it's not except insofar as the pilot was sloppy and got caught with his pants down. Nullsec PvP alliances are highly motivated to get capital pilots into supercarriers and titans as soon as possible. Alliance supercapital purchase programs coupled with nullsec players' earning capacity have put mere carriers in fleet support role (when they're not in the garage) and made them practically disposable.

    While lowsec power blocks aren't as well defined as their nullsec counterparts (whose definition mechanism is facilitated by the in-game Sov system) they do exist in varying degrees of size and and complexity. I know this from first hand experience. The fact that you are unaware of them is not an argument against their existence.

    I pointed out that the presence of PL and company in lowsec is an opportunity for you to learn. I do not compel you to learn. PL certainly has no interest in going out of their way to tutor you. You have every right to let the opportunity pass you by.

    Finally, I've little respect for the "you don't understand lowsec" argument. It's an empty rhetorical device used by parochial and incurious lowsec players to dismiss opinions and points of view about lowsec against which they've no compelling counter-argument.

    Whenever I hear it I know the speaker is, from a reasoning standpoint, drinking from an empty cup.

  10. @Mord: But Tsubutai is correct in that you're underestimating the amount of money/resources lowsec players have. Lowsec isn't the cash machine that null or WHs are, but it's more than profitable enough to fund a steady stream of carriers. Lots of experienced lowsec residents don't have multi-billion bank accounts, but that's usually because they don't care enough to get them and want to spend their time PvPing rather than carebearing.

    Without sov to fight for and with no real danger of bankruptcy, lowsec PvP is mostly about fun and bragging rights. The Amarr and Minmatar weren't laughing about that PL carrier kill because they expected it to do anything ISK-wise. They were laughing because they managed to kill a capital ship with frigates.

    Hopefully PL will form up some subcap gangs in the future and we'll have the chance to get some decent fights against them. But we can't force them to do it if they don't want to.

  11. @Wendi - Apologies if I'm being unclear.

    I'm aware of lowsec's lower earning potential. I've experienced first hand the difference of isk faucet outputs in low and null sec. I've commented elsewhere with regard to how the large bore faucets in nullsec are fueling supercapital proliferation, which I regard as a bad thing.

    That proliferation has begun to creep into lowsec as well - slop over from nullsec so to speak. Unless I miss my guess, upcoming changes will make the demarcation between null and lowsec less distinct; nullsec space being of greater interest to lowsec entities and lowsec to nullsec entities.

    Lowsec may, at last, matter. And, as always, folk who benefit from the status quo won't like the new attention.

  12. Lowsec is vast and varied, and in Minny/Amarr FW space the 'local powers' are the respective militia and BANE. In Genesis it used to be Chain of Chaos and now it's Dark Solar Empire (largely the same people). And other lowsec areas have other powerblocks (Rooks 'N Kings and Purple Helmeted Warriors spring to mind). And their used to be Veto. but they since moved to Venal (0.0) I think.

    But to keep the ball in the Minny/Amarr corner even if both Militia & BANE were to team up (unlikely) PL could crush them underfoot like a bug in a large fleet engagement by sheer firepower.
    However I think that isn't really relevant as nobody is going to try and engage PL at all, nobody expects their stay to be permanent and furthermore there is nothing to be gained from attempting so, Amamake doesn't have any resources worth fighting over certainly not v.s. supercaps (unless you consider the privilege of camping Oss gate a resource).

    PL's presence doesn't really affect lowsec play nobody runs anoms in hubs like Amamake anyway (people run anoms in quiet places like Lantorn). And it's not a choke point system (you can go around). PL can simply be ignored, nobody has to care and nobody will until they start coming out for 'good fights'.

    Trust is a big thing in lowsec. For example; I am a pirate (Black Rebel Rifter Club), but I trust a Tusker, Bastard, M&A and several other Pirate corps to keep their word, call it 'pirates honour'. Any of those guys asks for a 1vs1 I know they will honour it, any of them opens a convo; 'Hey have a myrm tackled can't break it want in?' a null pilot will go; 'lol trap' I go 'sure'. Myrm dies loot gets split we go our seperate ways. We see each other an hour after we'll merrily explode each other. No hard feelings.

    We don't know yet where people like PL fit into that picture and until we do we'll all be careful around them but little else.

    Not sure if I make any sense anymore oh well I hope I do.

  13. Surely you must be kidding. Level 5s in low sec produce some of the best $/h in the game. Rooks & Kings, Muppet Ninjas, the various factions around Aeschee etc., they mostly live there due to the close proximity to fantastic PvE opportunities. Most of these guys have multiple Supercarriers & a few Titans, enough for their purposes at least. I've personally seen them laugh off Carrier losses, hell one of them (TinkerHell) laughed off his Adrestia (AT 9 prize ship) loss - valuated at roughly 50B or so. So yes, there are rich people in low sec who will willingly throw into Capitals into a fight to see what happens.

    Also, do not forget where a significant part of PL's Supers came from - the disbanding of Cry Havoc and the subsequent movement of their members (and supers) to PL. And where did they come from? Low sec of course, Murethand with its L5 agent.

    I do not disagree there are strong organizations but they are not "power blocs". They do not go on invasions to "take over" another power bloc's territory. They are simply large organizations who live in a certain place due to proximity to agents. And hell, they even share the same agents a fair bit of the time!

    As for your comment regarding ratting in low sec anomolies, here is where your glaring lack of relevant experience comes into play - outside of a few, specific areas, all serious PvE comes from L5 missions and Cosmic Signatures, both of which are deadspace and cannot be cynoed directly into thus the risk of a PL Hotdrop is fairly low.

    From my experience in null sec (I live in low sec), the average "PvP skill" of the residents is significantly lower than their counterparts in low sec. My educated guess is that this is due to the fact that they are used to flying around in larger gangs and their individual skill has suffered as a result. In low sec, gangs are (typically) smaller and more reliant on pilot skill. Of course, there are the occasional "blobs" passing through, mostly Militia but others as well, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

    As for PL's entry into Amamake, it has had one effect on me (and I visit there fairly regularly) - I chose not to roam there yesterday in my Battleship. That's it - for Battlecruisers and below the risk of a PL Hotdrop is laughably low.

    If you require an education in low sec, feel free to visit Hevrice and we'll make sure to accommodate you.

  14. @Suleiman -

    Thanks for your kind offer to educate me viz lowsec. As stated above, I've spent extensive time in various parts of lowsec over the years.

    Lowsec players often rat in anoms that are not in deadspace. Just because they are not the most lucrative mission anoms doesn't mean they don't attract players who are then subject to being jumped by pirates, griefers or the odd bored PL fleet. Seen it happen. Nuff said.

    As I said in answer to Tsubutai, power blocs exist in lowsec in varying degrees of size and and complexity. You seem stuck in a fairly narrow definition of the term rooted in the nullsec metagame.

    I have known lowsec power blocs to fight over territory. I appreciate your experience may be different, but I know from my own experience that these conflicts do occur.

    You are correct in that PL doesn't attempt to keep their lowsec space airtight against lowsec entities as they might in nullsec. Stay below the radar, don't present a tempting target, and you'll likely only be subject to harassment when they are bored and you're the only thing moving.

  15. Can you please tell me what systems "Lowsec players often rat in anoms that are not in deadspace". The only people I've seen ratting in anomalies have been high sec bears wandering into low sec, looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    And yes, I have roamed far and wide in low sec - I roam very frequently into Caldari Space, have lived in Gallente space for nearly 2 years now and have been on campaign to Amarr & Minmatar space, as well as taking wormhole roams through them.

    Judging by Battleclinic, your main appears to have focused around OMS/Heydieles and I can certainly assure you that in those areas, there are very, very few people running anomalies.

    As for PL in Amamake, pft. I know off the top of my head several acquaintances who are still doing fine, having the GF in PL's "backyard" against other PvPers.

    So, what exactly are your credentials regarding Low sec PvP? Battleclinic has you with 8 kills total, with 4 of them in low sec. Or do you PvP with an alt?

  16. @Suleuman -

    Can you tell me in what systems lowsec players don't rat in anoms that aren't deadspace? Show your work.

    You seem to want to engage in endless rounds of "is not, is so" punctuated by petty quibbling and hair splitting. If you have something substantive to say, please feel free.

    I do recommend you start your own blog about lowsec. It's an area for which you have an obvious passion and enjoy writing about.

  17. Substantive comments are always welcome. Non-substantive comments are welcome too - to a point.

    While I normally do not filter comments, I prefer not to waste my own time or that my readers' in ad-nausium arguments over minor points in a post - particularly when those arguments cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of either the commenter or myself.

    After all, that's what Twitter's for.


  18. I have lived in low-sec for the better part of my 4 years in EVE and have yet to hear of any of these low-sec powerblocks that you speak of, my guess is that our definitions of 'powerblock' must be different.

    I had thought of powerblocks a large number of alliances working together under one leadership, following same standings and same goals, usually fighting over space with lots of supercaps.

    That is something I have never seen in low-sec

    What I have seen is groups of corps working together under one leadership, following same standings and same goals, but I think there is a different word for it, something like an alley, or reliance, damn, the word escapes me.

    If there are these powerblocks out here somewhere will you please enlighten us (the inferior low-sec pirate/pvpers) on who and where they are.

    I have also not known of low-sec pvpers to actually rat in anoms, usually if you find a pirate/pvper in an anom it's because we just killed a carebear that wondered into the wrong system.

    I realize that I'm only a low-sec pirate and my opinion doesn't matter, but low-sec mattered before the null-sec alliances got displaced and will matter long after you leave

    Equincu Ocha

  19. @ Ocha -

    A question. Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question....

    Sorry, got carried away there.

    But, you've started drawing some interesting distinctions here and asked some good questions. I'll write to those in my next post.

    Stay tuned.

  20. Mord, I really like your blog, and I respect your opinions on low sec, but I don't really feel that you are at your best when discussing low sec.

    For example, you suggest that "Suleuman" (sic) start a blog about low sec. Trouble is, he already has one:

    It's been running for over a year, and is very popular - it was just recently inducted into the blog pack, in fact.

    However, the fact you did not know about his blog (which you could have found just by clicking on his name in the comment) is a sign of the general disregard that primarily null-sec players have for low sec, it's residents and the rules that govern it.

    (Aside: don't get me started on the horrific bias of the much lauded "blog pack" - although there are signs that this is starting to change now that Rixx is in charge.)

    I've been hunting in low sec for almost as long as I've been playing Eve (and yes, I have a blog too:, and I can only think of two occassions where I found a target in an anomoly; it's so rare that I still recall them!

    Of course, you are right to say that we could argue about that for a long time without resolving the issue. And frankly, it's not important; it's simply evidence (to some people) of your lack of low sec experience.

    I won't go as far as to say you lack experience in low sec, because experience is not always the same as understanding in any event. But I will say that I don't feel that PL or any other null sec day-trippers have made any difference for me - yet.

    Time could still prove you right, of course.

  21. @Taurean - I am, of course, aware of "Flight of Dragons".

    And, at the time I posted the comment to Suleiman, I was aware of his "Flee on Sight" blog as well. That was me being ironic. Were you aware he hasn't updated since August?

    I appreciate that, despite loud claims of indifference, many lowsec players are very sensitive when it comes to comparison with their nullsec counterparts.

    Hence the subject of my next post.

  22. I dont understand what the lesson is
    Sorry for my naivety

    Some null sec alliance who is between homes brings a tactical nuke to a knife fight, gets a few ganks with hot drops and then you post that low sec dwellers can all learn lessons by fighting them?

    Surely if anyone really cared that they were there you wouldnt need to be touting for targets?

    From what I gather you have settled in a system, the people who were there were probably there because they CBA with the supercapital blob fest that is null sec so just move out and wait for you to get a home again? As you have stated yourself, you will eventually move back into null sec.

    I think you are over estimating the value of individual low sec regions / systems, bring a super capital fleet into someones null sec sovereignty and they will likely fight you, bring a super capital fleet into a camp site and the camp just moves to where you arent until you leave again.

    In low sec you arent judged on where you live, you are judged on what you kill. Any low sec corp / alliance can move to anywhere in low sec and be on equal footing with "residents". In low sec you see PL / Goons / DRF in local, and dont think, ooo how do i get rid of them, you just avoid the system for a while

    Not being abraisive or argumentative, I just dont understand the lesson. Maybe that means i am not your target audience...