Search form

Published December 27, 2012

With Apologies to Marisa Tomei

Imagine you're a noob. You're flyin' along, you wanna make some money, you spot a little site to run. You open up your little noob guns on the usual Sleeper rats. BAM! A fuckin' laser rips off part of your hull! Your brains are drifting out in space in little bloody pieces! Now I ask ya, would you give a fuck what kind of monocle the son of a bitch who shot you was wearing?

I don't know Dale Launer, but I can guarantee that when he wrote My Cousin Vinny, he didn't foresee one of the monologues being used to describe a fairly common incident for a wormhole player in EVE. Loss is everywhere in w-space, as evidenced by the stats found on WHKills, and it very often happens at the watering holes that are Sleeper sites. Without counting losses to Sleepers themselves, pilots in w-space lost approximately 2.1T ISK in November, and another 2.1T ISK the month before that. It all seems so tranquil when you're in the familiar surroundings of your home system - and it's that very deceit that lulls so many into a false sense of security.

If the secondary thrust of my first piece was to encourage k-space pilots to give w-space a try, it’s only fair that the aim of this one will be to caution these same players about the dangers of underestimating an environment that does precious little to make your life easier or safe. Like an Ayn Rand fantasy with more believable characters, w-space rewards those who persevere in the face of adversity and remain suspicious of the intentions of others. Unlike the fevered dreams of Ms. Rand, however, working closely with friends is more profitable than going it alone.

The Illuminati Speak

Most players aren’t foolish enough to think that w-space is a risk-free ISK printing machine. The Internet, however, has a reputation for opinionated ignorance to uphold. While the OP in that thread was most likely attempting to troll, the near-unanimous response was informative nonetheless: as with all things in EVE, there are a myriad of risks stalking the sizable rewards in wormholes.

By far, the best explanation for how w-space compares to nullsec in terms of difficulty was written by corbexx, a veteran in AHARM (cleaned up a bit for clarity):

sites would be worth more in nullsec, the down side being you'd need to properly fit carriers, dreads, and a small gang of people not just 1 ratting carrier. the bs in these new sites would also neut loads, point, and do way more dps than what you're used to at the moment, but they would be worth more isk.

....

stations would get just 1 reinforce timer but you could alter this with stront up to a max of 41 hours. as people in null are not wanting to grind stations we'd improve this sov war mechanics and just say hey if your station is killed after the reinforce timer all your **** is gone. everything. this would not only speed up sov wars but make future ones even quicker (assuming you haven’t rebuilt the outposts).

we'd keep your gates but these wouldn't show up on overview and you would have to scan them down every day (they would change location after every down time). while on the gates talk they would only allow so much mass through them and if this is exceeded the gate would move to a new location and you would have to scan it again. i'd say 3billion mass so about 30 bs's 1 way.

W-space PvP pilots don’t care much about the ISK they have, but to thrive in the environment they call home, now that’s something to be proud of.

No Local

I’m pretty sure I just heard the entire population of null bears shifting uncomfortably in their seats as I wrote that section title. “But how will we know when there’s someone around who might rudely interrupt our mindless carrier ratting?!! What about intel channels?! Ermehgeeerrrrddd!!111!” There’s a local chat in w-space but it doesn’t list anyone who doesn’t speak, and this alone makes w-space more dangerous than nullsec by enhancing the possibility for surprise attack.

In wormhole systems, pilots must rely on d-scan, scouts and scan probes to gain knowledge of their surroundings. There’s no idle glancing down at a list in search of a neutral or red, and wormholes can open up at any time so one can’t just put up twenty bubbles on a gate. Even for those who remain alert, scouts and probes cannot protect you fully – you can never be completely sure that someone isn’t already in system, sitting cloaked not more than 10km away. I personally know individuals who will stalk the pilots living in a system for days at a time, holding cloak and observing until just the right moment. It is said that EVE makes you paranoid but nowhere is this more true than in wormhole space.

Ante Up

If you can get beyond the uncertainty, there are also the Sleepers. With the possible exception of mothership spawns in Sansha incursions, Sleeper sites are the most challenging and dangerous PvE content in game. Hisec mission runners learned (and cried) about the difference just recently when CCP introduced Sleeper AI to all hostile NPCs in game. But even as dealing with the AI is challenging in itself, the real issue with Sleepers is that their armor carries impossibly high resists and they deal massively more DPS than any other NPC spawn. Couple this with focused, heavy energy neuting from all the battleships on field and you’ll get an idea of what we’re up against. I’ve seen faction battleships get alpha’d, carriers that weren’t fit correctly go pop, and a group losing their fleet when attempting them for the first time.

Because of the difficulty, to even start making money you will need to invest fairly heavily. This isn’t entirely true when considering C1-C3 sites, but for C5 and C6 sites you’ll need faction or deadspace mods fitted on an expensive hull and a well-considered fleet doctrine to harvest your riches. Getting the most out of the high-end sites requires at least 25B on field and the participants have to commit for a minimum of five minutes at a time because of triage and siege timers. Beyond the risk from the Sleepers themselves, it is not uncommon for a couple weeks of site-running to be wiped out in the course of ten minutes when Bite Me Inc. comes a-calling.

Get a Job, Hippie

In addition to the dangers lurking all around you, the activities of w-space take patience, persistence and pluck. Your chain will need to be scanned out regularly, the PvP you seek will often require hours of hunting, and even running sites in your own home system (if you’re doing it right) will require you to make precise bookmarks with specialized ships before even forming the fleet up. A covert ops ship with probes will need to ping for new signatures at least once every thirty seconds while you’re running them, and if you’re flying logistics in the sites, you will have to keep your eyes locked on the watchlist and switch reps when appropriate for what can be hours at a time. Only once all this is squared away can you salvage the wrecks and claim your prizes.

But we’re not done yet. Since Sleepers don’t give bounties, everything you gain from the sites must be hauled out and sold in hisec. Let me tell you, running through Niarja in a cloaky hauler containing 30B in Sleeper loot isn’t exactly the safest or least-demanding of activities. Then, there’s the whole business of distributing ISK fairly to those who participated. No serious corporation or alliance I know hands out loot after sites. It’s all sold together and then, when the ISK is finally in a wallet, it gets parceled out to members. Obviously, this bureaucratic process presents its own administrative and record-keeping challenges for corporate leadership.

At the same time, bulky fuel or fuel precursors, ammo, ships, modules and everything else will need to be brought in regularly through nebulous connections via hauler, Orca, or freighter. No cynos for us. Of course, these hauling ships need to be protected by an escort fleet and scouts as they lumber through the most dangerous space known to EVE.

Putting Your Eggs in One Basket

Speaking of asset protection, your living arrangements can be a bit problematic if someone decides your lease term is up. Eviction notices will be nailed to your forcefield with hot plasma, and calling in friends who are not already in system is impossible if the invader knows what they’re doing and maintains control of the exits. If you can’t or won’t fight them off, all you’ll be able to salvage is whatever you can log off in, and some particularly vindictive pilots have been known to hang out in system for a few days after the deed is done to pick off stragglers with bling in their cargo holds.

Considering that control towers are where all of your fancy ships and items must reside, that they can be readily destroyed and looted is a fundamentally different scenario than what nullsec players face. If a nullsec player’s alliance is booted from the region they reside in, most of the members’ ships and items are preserved in station. I still have stuff up in Cloud Ring and Fade from back in 2009 that I just haven’t bothered to collect. When you move into w-space, you not only risk the ships you feel comfortable losing in combat but anything that you happen to have in your hangars. That gas you spent hours harvesting? Gone. The pimp Tengu you use to run sites? Kiss it goodbye. Got a nice capital ship? No you don’t. You might be able to deny them loot by self-destructing all the things but you’ll be hard-pressed to save it for yourself.

Clone Wars

With respect to losses, getting podded in wormhole space means considerably more than it does in known space. Without stations or outposts, every pod that escapes from a ship is an opportunity to remove a pilot from the fight entirely, so they can’t just head back to their POS and reship. If you already have an exit scanned out, that’s great, but sometimes it can take a day or two to return. In the meantime, you’ll have to rely on alts or other pilots in your home system to do the scanning.

In our travels, we often come across dead towers. Some of these belonged to people who just stopped playing the game but many others belonged to those who got podded out with no alt to scan them back in. Losing a connection to your home system means losing all the things you have there, and w-space is vast enough that the chances of recovery are slim to none. When the towers run out of fuel, they become piñatas for those who were lucky enough to stumble over them, and the circle of life continues.

Inside Jobs

This part is specific to corporate and alliance leadership but it affects every member of your corporation. Early on in a group’s history, they will need to figure out how to segregate and protect their members’ assets or else fall victim to the rampant corp thefts that hound ill-prepared groups. POS mechanics and corporate roles are a big pile of shit and everyone who has ever worked with a tower or come into contact with the role system will instantly know what I mean.

The best method involves anchoring lots of password-protected, semi-private towers, with 2-5 members living in each one. This makes it so that a thief can only access a small subset of the total value contained in system, and allows your security team to compile a very short list of suspects in the event of things going missing. There are no security logs for an SMA or CHA, and if a thief is smart about it, API checks will not turn up anything.

The cost of this security is relatively high fuel costs per member and a lot of hassle in maintaining loads of towers. It’s worth it when you’re trying to protect vast sums of ISK and prevent the kind of rampant suspicion that can tear groups apart.

Pockets of Humanity

So that’s the other half of the story - wormhole space is dangerous, and many will find it entirely too foreboding to make their home there. For those brave and careful enough to lay claim to a system, great riches await. As I said last time, you don’t need to be independently wealthy or have 50M+ skillpoints to get into wormholes. More than anything else, what you need is patience, a willingness to learn, and the ability to adapt. The rest will come in its own time.

Though some players will say otherwise, I’ll stop well short of saying that w-space players are better than k-space players on account of the difficulties they surmount on a daily basis. That’s entirely too broad an assertion and I’m not so narrow-minded as to believe that the challenge of living in w-space in any way detracts from the accomplishments of many k-spacers who have achieved great and difficult things. What I will say is that, for w-space players, the risks and rewards are much more pronounced, and as a whole, we’re better off for the experience.

For most w-space pilots, the challenge is the appeal. They relish it, let it mold them into more focused and driven players, and view it as a force that elevates their dedication, skill, and especially the ties to their friends. Wormhole pilots rely heavily on each other for their very survival and this realization drives them do better – not only for themselves, but for the people who depend on them. The irony of wormhole space is that, despite how desolate a place it can be, the pockets of humanity that do exist are closely-knit, struggling to succeed together where so many have failed. Knowing what you do now, if you still feel like w-space is the place for you, you might just have what it takes to fly with us.

Abis Cann
Straight outta J115405, I'm a wormhole resident and director in Hard Knocks Inc. When not writing about wormhole PvP and events in the greater w-space community, I enjoy jokes about Kazakhstan and the occasional glass of delicious tears.

Recent Threads