"Judge shot him. Dead. Dead, dead. Then he fined him for some other crimes. And then later we hanged him."
- The Life and Times of Judge Roy BeanThere is a scene in the western "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" in which an albino desperado/gunslinger named Bad Bob (played by Stacy Keach) rides into town, terrorizes the townfolk, and then calls Judge Bean out for a gunfight. When the Judge doesn't show himself, Bob resorts to all manner of insult and smack talk. When direct insults don't draw the judge out, Bob begins to insult Lily Langtree, whom Roy Bean is known to idolize as the best and most beautiful woman in the world. Finally, Bad Bob shoots a poster bearing Miss Lily's image through the heart.
Thus provoked, Judge Bean, who has used this time to hide himself in a church steeple with a high powered rifle, shoots Bad Bob in the back from long distance. Kills him on the spot.
The judge's men, while not long on virtue themselves, are a bit off-put by this as shooting a man in the back, even so vile a villain as Bad Bob, violates the code of the West.
Fermel Parlee: You call that sportin'? It weren't a real standup fight.Which sums up my philosophy of PvP very nicely. In fact, this is one of the few aspects of the game in which my point of view and Mitten's overlap almost entirely. War in New Eden is not about e-Honor. It's not about "good fights". It's about ruining the play experience for the other side; a deliberate peeling away of any enjoyment the enemy gets when they mess with you. It is a war of attrition on fun. A good fight, to me, is when I kill the enemy in as efficient and merciless fashion as possible with minimal danger to me and mine.
Judge Bean: Standup? I laid down to steady my aim.
Fermel Parlee: Well, I mean he never had a chance.
Judge Bean: Not at all. Never did, never would have. I didn't ask him to come here. I don't abide giving killers a chance. He wants a chance, let him go someplace else.
It is a pragmatic and, I will be the first to admit, soulless view of PvP.
Of course, my point of view is anathema for many small gang PvPers for whom PvP is an end in and of itself; the very reason for playing the game in the first place. Such players are very passionate about what they do and can be a bit defensive when it comes to their play style. Small gang PvPers tend toward an almost knee-jerk dislike for "fleet" PvP. They are quick to sneer at it and state that it isn't "real" PvP; that outfits like Eve University do new players a disservice by teaching them fleet tactics as opposed to the more nuanced skills needed to be an effective solo or small gang pilot.
In truth, they are the gunslingers, the samurai of Eve Online.
For these players it's all about the kill list and the good fight. They rail against the fleet doctrine because it is closely associated with the blob. Skilled though they may be, most small gangs are not a match for an ably led fifty ship fleet of more modestly skilled pilots. Winning by application of overwhelming force does nothing to burnish one's PvP reputation and those who win in that manner are not deserving of respect. Dueling with blobs of t1 battlecruisers does not generally fall under the small gang PvPer's definition of a good fight.
Carebears, on the other hand, are not constrained by such delicate considerations.
A carebear is, generally speaking, not terribly interested his or her PvP reputation. They are a pragmatic lot. If the small gang pirates and griefers don't enjoy blob fights, the bears are well advised to blob with a will. As I mentioned in Creatures of Light and Darkness, nullsec bears became very adept at hemming small fleets of interlopers into kill zones and then exterminating them. Executing the same tactics in lowsec, of course, assumes fleet PvP numbers, know-how and coordination that most highsec carebear corporations and alliances lack. Further, assets in lowsec have, by and large, either been impossible to secure, or not worth the investment an organization would need to make in order to project a sphere of influence into lowsec space.
With the advent of Player Owned Customs Offices (POCO), this has changed. POCOs offer a structure that can be claimed by an organization and generate a number of revenue streams. Of course a prerequisite for optimizing revenue from such a structure is that they be reasonably accessible to those allowed to use them, and that they be defended if attacked. Thus, carebear organizations have been provided a rationale for projecting power into lowsec.
Of course, as most faction warfare players will know, lowsec space is difficult to lock down. Not only are there no in-game mechanics to facilitate this, lowsec mechanics tend twork to impede such efforts. Thus, a lighter touch is needed; the development of a sphere of influence as opposed to outright territorial control. The goal of a sphere if influence is an area of nullsec in which hostile traffic can be minimized enough to allow a profitable degree of allied industrial activity by friends and allies. This is, at present, beyond the ability of most high sec alliances. Therefore, if they wish to extend their operations to lowsec and have the wherewithal to protect their investments, they are going to have to form coalitions.
To date, lowsec coalitions have been a very different breed of cat from their nullsec cousins. Nullsec coalitions tend to be highly public, with well known list of member alliances, defined borders, common diplomatic standings and a clearly defined administrative structure. Lowsec coalitions, on the other hand, tend to be smaller, much more secretive and more informal. Most are PvP/Industrial hybrids and have no interest in calling undue attention to themselves and tend to locate themselves off the beaten path.
However, there are indications that a new type of lowsec coalition is waiting to step out into the spotlight. It bears a much closer resemblance to a nullsec coalition and that's not surprising; a key constituent of these emerging entities are former nullsec bears. Unlike many highsec bears, nullsec bears tend to be well grounded in how to fight in fleet, how to coordinate defense of their space and how to spoil a roaming gang's evening out. Some are passable Fleet Commanders as well.
Whether and how quickly these bear coalitions catch on and whether they survive for long is an open question. There will be a trial and error period, them we'll see. While I don't expect them to stand off a concerted attack by Pandemic Legion, Legion of Death or their nullsec ilk, the bears should be able to hold their own against the usual assortment of lowsec pirates and griefers. However, the winners or losers in this fight will not be measured in ships or ISK lost. It will be measured in fun denied.
For Texas, and Miss Lily.