Lowlife: Meat for the Grinder


Welcome to the first weekly Lowlife column from our new columnist, Niden! Lowlife is a column looking at all aspects of life in low security space. This week serves as an introduction to life in lowsec is really like. Be sure to offer him a warm welcome in the comments

Anyone remember Judas Priest? Of course you do; part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal back in the 80’s. You get extra points if you remember the track ‘Grinder’. The lyrics are about as corny as you’d expect:

“Been inclined to wander, off the beaten track.

That’s where there’s thunder, and the wind shouts back

Grinder, looking for meat.

Grinder, wants you to eat”

When I sat down to write this piece, that lyric is the first thing that popped into my head. Have you always wondered what’s so fucking great about lowsec? Sit back and let me tell you about the Grinder.

A hive of scum and villainy

To many of us the lure of EVE is its merciless nature in tandem with the sensation of freedom, especially for those that live outside the relative safety of hisec. The dark side comes in flavours, however, and Faction Warfare lowsec is a particular one.

Today, FW lowsec is a thunderdome, a meat grinder, where life is cheap and mercy is neither expected nor given. Space is filled to the brim with people of a mind to kill you in all sorts of inventive ways and a fight is usually no more than two or three jumps away. New pilots are often welcomed with gate camps and smart bombed back into hisec, PvE is all but looked down upon, and a common saying is that a ship is considered dead until docked back up.

Now why would someone go to a place like that?

“The inception of expanded Faction Warfare in lowsec has created a more vibrant, evolving, and challenging gaming experience in the regions where it is active. Lowsec has slowly transformed from a region where pirates bashed each other’s heads in, to a region where there are more and more active players involved.”

Rixx Javix, CEO of Stay Frosty

“The areas of lowsec that are Faction Warfare war zones used to be 5% of what they are now. Faction Warfare has brought life and conflict to areas of space that were virtually dead.”

Julianus Soter, director of Villore Accords

Those that make it past the smart bombs and inevitable humiliating first deaths, find a home like no other in New Eden – particularly after their first kill. Red-handed, they dock back up and realize they are no longer just prey. They are also the predator, part of the infamy lowsec enjoys. Some don’t have the nerves for it; some never look back.

They don’t look back because during those intense moments of a fight, where their personal choices directly and violently affect the outcome, they feel alive. The feeling of surviving an enemy that is just as able as you are, just as intent as you are, becomes an experience they crave. Nowhere else in New Eden is that feeling more readily available or more closely connected to the individual pilot.

“It’s arguable, that your average FW veteran in any of the main corps or alliances sees more action in a couple of days than many null pilots see in a week.”

FunkyBacon, TheMittani.com

To give you an idea of the carnage, we need look no further than the Fountain war of late 2013. At the height of the war, when it was all you could read in the EVE media, the Gallente / Caldari war zone had more kills – and this was just another month, like any other.


Tune in, turn on, burn out

“Lowsec now offers the freedom of action on tap, you don’t have to wait for an FC to create PvP content for you – in lowsec it becomes a much more pilot level affair with small gang fighting occurring organically within a strong community atmosphere.”

Julianus Soter, director of Villore Accords

I categorize the denizens of modern lowsec into five kinds of pilot: soldier, privateer, opportunist, outlaw and farmer (I’ll cover these in depth in a future column). One thing almost all of them have in common (apart from the farmer) is that they are in it for the “gud fites.” The thrill of testing your mettle against opponents in an environment where split second decisions on a pilot level make the difference between life and death is what separates the wheat from the chaff. If they are the gladiators, low security space is their Colosseum.

This gladiator attitude is part of the success that lowsec has become; most of the people that stay have done so for the same reason you have. That, in itself, has translated into a community that creates content for itself and a mindset that has gained more popularity and definition in its differentiation from other environments in EVE.

“The hi-sec pilot is comfortable in the safety imposed by control derived from CONCORD and the Empires. The Null Sec pilot is comfortable, in much the same way, under the safety imposed by their Alliance. In lowsec the pilots are comfortable knowing that there is no control, and they thrive once they experience what that truly means for them individually.”

Rixx Javix, CEO of Stay Frosty

The cost of war

In Faction Warfare war-zones people die. A lot. FW pilots, pirates and neutrals alike. It is, after all, the meat grinder between the empires. Along with loss comes cost and one thing many lowsec pilots, who are in it for the fights, do not enjoy is a fat wallet.

“To wage war, you need first of all money; second, you need money, and third, you also need money.”

– Prince Montecuccoli

One of the main obstacles facing permanent residents of lowsec is income. Income being, in this case, a means to continue the fight. Many turn to PvE for their income, but have to do so in an area of New Eden that presents the most risk to it. Some join FW and make their living with loyalty points, while others venture into wormholes for extended periods of time when the wallet runs dry.

But even if you do manage to secure a relatively stable source of ISK, the next problem rears its ugly head: logistics. Both hisec and nullsec have much more active markets than lowsec and keeping yourself fed with hulls and modules can be a difficult task, especially for the newer pilot. I’ve seen many try their hand at lowsec, only to quit because they would get shot attempting to bring new ships from the nearest trade hub one time too many.

“Without large scale freedom of movement, protection from CONCORD or Alliances, the movement of goods and transfer of assets is a major challenge. Access becomes the cornerstone of control in lowsec, so access to the flow of goods is a primary concern for any lowsec entity.”

Rixx Javix, CEO of Stay Frosty

However, a new economy has slowly been emerging in the busiest areas of lowsec. More and more corps are setting up their own hauling operations. Pioneering industrialists have realised that there is a demand in the area and are manufacturing locally, as well as importing to home systems. Markets are, although still quite volatile, stabilizing.


Tools of the trade

The ships flown in lowsec reflect the above mentioned economic, logistic, and environmental parameters. Hulls tend to be of the smaller and less costly variety; shiny ships are seen as loot piñatas that get intel channels buzzing and people hunting for the killmail and drops. So if you’re really fond of your Machariel you’d better turn at the door. The question in lowsec is not if you will die, but when you will – and how many you will take down with you.

Your baseline lowsec ship is typically a frigate or destroyer with a mix of T1 and T2 modules. Cruisers and T2 frigates are also relatively common, but anything beyond that is usually saved for special operations. Since combat in this area of space is so close to the line, fits are often incredibly tight, efficient, and well tested over countless fights. I’ll be speaking more about specific ships and fittings for lowsec in coming weeks.

The freedom of movement (as opposed to nullsec with its bubbles) and availability of conflict (as opposed to hisec with CONCORD) means fleets are often very flexible, and there is a lot more opportunity for engagements between them. This also means fleets don’t spend as much time setting up; every moment doing that is a moment you’re missing a fight somewhere. That, along with the logistical problems of living in lowsec, means more mixed fleets and dynamic strategies than in null.

Post the kill

“Lowsec represents the best opportunity for new and old players alike to get into, or get back into, real, readily available and fun PvP.”

Julianus Soter, director of Villore Accords

Fed up with TiDi and structure grinds? Tired of always flying doctrine and being just another brick in the wall? Had it up to here with repetitive missions? Just want to shoot the next guy you see to find out what happens? Why not postpone that PvE Proteus you’ve been thinking of buying and invest the money in a freighter-load of fast and dirty frigates, destroyers, and cruisers, and come join the fun? I can’t promise you’ll like what you get, but I can promise you it will elevate your pulse and that it’s worth a try. You may just find that EVE has more to offer than you knew was possible.

“New Eden is a vast, complex and amazingly vibrant and incredible sandbox worthy of all that you can bring to it. But it requires one thing – you. Undock and let yourself experience all that it has to offer.”

Rixx Javix, CEO of Stay Frosty

Tags: low sec, lowlife, niden

About the author


12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.