Friday, February 6, 2015

When 50 Players Came After Me - Poking POCOs and Provoking PVP

So, there I was, shooting a POCO by myself in a backwater high security system. I'm not set up for pure structure bashing, even though I'm in a Rattlesnake that to my surprise seems to be doing pretty good against the customs office. Dual XLASB with rapid heavies and a large micro jump drive, with two Augmented Ogres out. It is a curious sight, considering I have a bunch of kill rights, including a free one, and am at war with 300+ characters. What could go wrong...? An Arazu uncloaks, with bomber support--pointed, damped, painted, with webs and ECM and torpedo deliveries incoming. Local spikes by 10, 20, 30, all the way to 60 people. What, indeed, could go wrong?

WELL, I'm screwed.
 Well, first I will tell you how I got into this situation, then I will tell you how it ended. As I first described in my post about finding and destroying inactive POSes in HS a small side-project I've had while doing exploration in HS is scanning for POSes that are inactive (no forcefield) but have modules that can be destroyed without removing the tower--such as labs and hangar arrays. I've made upwards of 20b isk doing this casually now, in blueprint and ship drops, but I do it mostly for fun and because it is something to do while exploring new areas of space (as part of my goal to visit every system). The first area I searched for POSes was Verge Vendor--nostalgeic, since I haven't been active there since I started the game 3 years ago.

Space piƱata!

Since I've been active in the Verge Vendor low sec area lately, I was scanning in Jufvitte one evening and noticed that the system had many new POSes since I had last been there. I did a sweep of the system and neighboring areas, and found multiple new POSes, including some with inactive modules (spoiler: after destroying them, I made close to 1b isk in blueprints. I ended up giving the blueprints to some newer players I met via, of all things, PVP. More on that in another post).

However, it appeared that some of these corporations I declared war on had active members. Sites like EVE Who seem to gauge corp/alliance activity by ships lost/destroyed in recent weeks, but some players and groups go years without ever losing or destroying a ship. One member of a corp--Marie Kaster of Exul Fossores--seemed particularly active, online quite frequently. Using a locator agent, I found her in a little LS pocket along with a corporation that I soon learned was an informal ally. When I visited, they seemed eager to send me back to high sec, undocking with Marie in a Damnation and allies in two vexors and a cruor, coming after me in my confessor. I zipped around, harassing the vexors, hoping to get the cruor isolated, but it was being shy. They did not seem particularly happy of our little skirmish.

A few days later, I notice that the Exul corp had a number of POCOs in an out-of-the-way HS system. My interest in POCOs has been growing lately after reading EVE Hermit's story about taking POCOs as a solo player. Hermit's blog is one of my favorites, and in a lot of ways we are very alike. We both play solo, engage in a varied set of activities in game, and enjoy seeing the boundaries of what can be accomplished solo (not to mention blogging about it).  I don't need the meager isk from POCOs, and I stopped doing PI around a year ago when my trader moved out of deep LS to take up trading full-time. However, the stories of taking, owning, and defending POCOs has fascinated me from my early days in RVB, when the alliance just started getting into the business of destroying POSes and, later, taking POCOs for fun and profit. (Side note: The blog Stabbed Up also has an interesting set of stories about "POCO Wars.")

So, while working from home on Friday, I decided to poke a POCO. I was hoping it would draw that Damnation out of LS to defend it, hence I fit for some PVP. Except for the Augmented Ogres, my Rattlesnake was vanilla and very cheap considering that it is a pirate BS. I orbited and did some work at the computer, but monitored local and the players in system--mostly newbies from CAS. I was nervous from the start, as I always am when sitting in one place in high security space. Everyone is a spy in HS; everyone is potentially an alt of someone who would like to kill you. Nervous, too, because I was sitting in space while at war with 300+ characters and free kill rights on my head. It was pretty fun.

I am making surprising progress on the POCO, and thinking about what to do with it if no one shows up. I recently met some newer players who formed a corp and were interested in customs offices and PI--maybe I could gift it to them? I am, though, getting suspicious, since Marie of Exul is online. I send my alt to a locator agent to see where she might be. While waiting for the locator agent to find the war target, I go back to Sven. Reloading the rapid heavies is a pain in the butt--I could do this relatively afk if I had lasers, I'm thinking. "DING!" I hear, but it is not the locator agent, it is the warning notification that I've just been attacked.

Enough thinking, because you've just been pointed, webbed, and damped by an Arazu that decloaked, and are under fire from multiple bombers. Shit, the kill right has been activated, and local jumps by 10. I lock the Arazu, send my Ogres to him, and spam my micro jump drive. ECM hits, and the torpedoes are doing serious damage. PRAISE BOB! I am not scrammed! SPAM THE JUMP DRIVE! Local is to up 60 from its original 10 and more pilots are landing. No initial scram is a major mistake on their part, considering the gang is entirely composed of cloaky ships that could have gotten close enough to do a stealth colonoscopy on my oblivious rattlesnake.

Level 2 micro jump drive skill be damned, I pop 100km away, and warp to station. What a rush! The rush is only beginning, as the horde of bombers follows me in warp to the station, just about beating my slow BS there. I still have a weapons timer. I overheat everything and prepare my XLASBs. As I land, 20 seconds. As I snug closer to the station and am being locked by the the gang, 15 seconds. Bombers are delivering torpedoes, XLASBs are a GO.

The shield boosters are just starting and my shields are at less than 50%. With the numerous target painters and my BS sized sig, the torpedoes are hitting me for volleys of 1-2.5k damage. I drop into armor; the XLASBs bring me to half shields. I drop into low armor; the XLASBs pull me to  half shields. I drop into half structure, the XLASBs pull me to half shields. Into low structure now--the timer is done, I'm in station. You lucky shit.


Players from lots of groups came after me, including many players I've flown with in NPSI public fleets. I actually feel bad that so many players formed up and weren't able to get a kill. I wouldn't have cared losing the rattlesnake, in any case, but the rush of saving it (twice) was worth it.

Marie did indeed come after me, just not alone in her Damnation like I had hoped. I attracted not a little bit of attention to myself, sitting out in space with free kill rights, apparently (but not quite) afk while orbiting a customs office. Next time I try a solo-POCO venture, I should do so without killrights and active wars. Maybe.

Incidentally, I learned something after the event. EVE's not all guns and glitter and good times. I talked with Marie, jovially joking about our little war. It is not like I am some great entity looking to crush their industrial empire, I explained. I am a solo player trying new things and looking for a bit of amusement.

All of this was great fun, I thought, but Marie and the corp holding the POCO was none too pleased. In fact, they were livid.

I've made a powerful enemy, she explained.

"You came after the wrong corp," she replied, and they would always have back up, batphones, and bad guys waiting for me. Spaceships, she explained, were serious business.

Isn't PVP just for fun, though? It's just a game after all, I bemused.

Not to her corp, she warned: "We take PVP very seriously."

Well, what do you do in game then?

"What my corp does is classified."


  1. There are two Bartlet types doing PvP:
    - killers who do PvP for the act of it. For killers the PvP is fun.
    - achievers who want the objective. For them PvP is just a grind, a necessary work to get the objective (this time the POCO).