An Attacker Defending the Attacking of the Defenseless

“So… is this how you get off?” “wow dude, ur a pvp pro..” “Why don’t you pick on someone other than a defenseless miner?” If there’s one word I see come up all the time in my many torpedo delivery adventures, it’s “torpedo.” But if there’s a second word I see very frequently, it’s “defenseless.” “Defenseless miner” “defenseless hauler” and even “defenseless corporation” are usually preceded or trailed by insults and/or name-calling. “Nice cloak you fuckwit,” they might thoughtfully begin, “how could you shoot a defenseless explorer?” “Easily,” I’d reply. “They don’t shoot back.” Of course, the “how” isn’t really the part they don’t understand. With the limited technicality of EVE’s PVP mechanics, it’s typically the simplest part. What my customers don’t understand – or rather choose not to understand – is the morality of the matter. Shouldn’t I feel bad about murdering the defenseless? In one word, no. I don’t feel bad. But in 902 additional words, here’s why.

Don’t Hate The Player; Hate The Game.

I know this is going to sound crazy to some capsuleers, but EVE Online is a game. Everything in it (the locations, the ISK, the ships, and the torpedoes) are fictitious, and I don’t feel any worse catalyzing or observing their demises any more than I feel guilty winning a game of Monopoly. I don’t feel guilt when putting my chess opponent into check. I don’t feel bad winning two Perfect rounds in Street Fighter IV. I don’t feel bad killing digital zombie Nazis, or headshotting Counter-Terrorists to win the round in CS:GO. And I definitely don’t feel bad watching EVE’s ten trillionth Iteron V combust in a very cool (if not scientifically inaccurate) explosion. Nothing of value has been destroyed when an AFK Venture pops. But I assure you, something of value has been created: a lesson.

Survival Of The Everyone-But-You-est

Every time I’ve fallen into a trap, gotten surrounded, or simply been outplayed, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. “Engage outside of webbing range” or “Watch your overheating damage” or “Holy shit a Proteus does a lot of damage.” I’ve been thoroughly rekt (as the kids say) plenty of times, but I also like to believe I’m all the better for it. And I’m not just talking about EVE Online, either. For instance it’s only after you’ve failed 100 backstabs in TF2 that you intuitively know the distance at which your decloaking can be heard. True gentlemen will know what I mean. So when I see players sitting too close to a hacking site to be able to cloak defensively, or at an asteroid belt with zero velocity, or warping to the same POCOs in the same sequence with the same untanked hull, I feel a Darwinian obligation to correct these behaviors. Now, they say when all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, all I’ve got are torpedoes, drones, and the awesome recording capabilities of NVidea’s GeForce ShadowPlay. So I hope others excuse the sometimes blunt nature of my lesson plan. However, the reality is New Eden isn’t going to protect you from your mistakes; if it weren’t my Hound uncloaking 15km off your multiboxing salvage team, it would probably be someone else’s.


Defense Of The Ancient And Tired Arguments

Going back to the roots of the matter – the idea of defenseless, helpless victims – I’m not sure what that term is supposed to mean. Every pilot in EVE is free to choose his or her own vessels, fittings, and allies, and I’ve been bested time and time again by players who leverage these freedoms. The un-pointably stabbed Magnates, the secretly tanked and combat fit mining barges, the unexpectedly cloaked Stratios orbiting the POCO. There have been scores of occasions when I believed I’d get away with virtual murder, only to retreat with a burning hull… or a frozen corpse… to show for my not-so-well-laid plans. In other words, anyone who is supposedly defenseless in New Eden has, consciously or not, chosen to forgo defenses. Maybe they don’t know better. Maybe they don’t feel like asking for help. Most of the time, I’d say they’re simply greedy, and choose to fit for maximum ore yield, scan strength, or [insert KPI that’s not tanking]. For instance, I camped a certain j-space system ending in 518 for two or three weeks. At first, the deliveries were easy, and my corpmates and I filled our killboards with green entries that would make even Ruby Rhod jealous. But the local residents began fitting warp core stabilizers to their miners. They began varying their planetary interaction routes, and even launching PI materials to non-POCO locations. They fit their exploration vessels with warp disruptors, holding our bombers in place while hostile destroyers landed on top of us. These guys chose not to be defenseless, and I heartily salute them. What’s more, I guarantee you the next corporation that wandered into that system looking for easy ganks got a rude awakening.

But What About My Feelings?

If there’s one thing that is real in EVE Online, it’s the humans behind the computers behind the avatars behind the ships I’ve committed to blowing up. It’s one thing, after all, to triumph over an adversary (willing or otherwise), but it’s another thing altogether to “harvest tears” or go out of one’s way to rub the loser’s nose in the matter. And while many have taken my habit of sending “delivery receipts” to victims as an exercise in cruelty, I personally prefer to get a cheeky RP response than an upset rant. I’m even just as happy to send “failure of delivery” notices when my own vessels go down in a catastrophic torpedo malfunction. If I couldn’t celebrate dismal failure, I probably wouldn’t enjoy EVE particularly much! Anyway, interpersonal cruelty is where I draw the line, and the reason I’ve always required WINGSPAN agents to train Customer Service to V. Because just as I’ve used this article’s points to justify digital genocide, they are equally applicable to the importance of a professional mindset.
  • EVE is a videogame; don’t trump up your victories as anything more important.
  • There are lessons to learn, so sportsmanship and constructive advice have value.
  • Defenselessness is a choice, and every capsuleer has the right to fly dangerously.
You know, it’s just that every other capsuleer also has the right to blow them up!
Tags: bombers, Chance, Wingspan TT

About the author

Chance Ravinne

As the CEO of WINGSPAN Delivery Services, Chance Ravinne has committed himself to bringing content (and torpedoes) to unsuspecting pilots throughout New Eden. His uncanny need to jump blindly into new situations has fueled his adventures as a covert ops pilot and all-around stealth bastard. You can follow him pretty much everywhere @WINGSPANTT.

  • Xin Mae Sunji

    Getting destroyed used to get me all bent out of shape, I think it takes a couple of good losses to get over that. Bonus points for the Ruby Rhod reference.

  • Nou Mene

    I, too, laugh at the defenseless miner with 30 guys docked on local. I, at least, will kill a miner or hauler if i can, at least to create a reaction from others.

  • Tarsas Phage

    This post makes me smile with familiarity. I’ve done a lot of things – highsec wardecs, can-flipping/mission-baiting, lowsec gate camps and ganks to supercap hunting, and all the nullsec PVP activities everyone is familiar with. Every one of these venues have gotten me plenty of retorts and salt based around the “I’m defenseless” theme. I’ve even had a *NYX* pilot yell at me for being dishonorable because
    he was caught when he had his sub-par holding alt in the Nyx, instead of
    his fully-skilled pilot. Go figure.

    It’s odd how people, in a cut-throat PVP-centric game, try to impart some sense of noble untouchability upon activities which render one, on an individual level, “defenseless”. Even people in 80-strong PVP-centered corporations will put themselves at extreme risk by doing something solo in a “defenseless” ship, rather than mustering even just a few of their corpmates to assist or escort them. And then they’ll yell at *you* for ruining their day.

    If I’m rolling through a system and see a miner in a belt, am I going to pass it up? No. If I’m trotting down a pipe and a freighter jumps blind into me, am I going to give him a free pass because he’s “defenseless?” Not at all. People are just angry because they made a gamble and lost – or you’re seeing the product of incredulousness because they didn’t realize they were at war, or were in lowsec, or something along those lines.

  • Semideus

    Best one:

    ”Whats the point of killing me, im just a defensless miner”

    ”We had 3 points on you.”

  • “…green entries that would make even Ruby Rhod jealous.”

    Excellent reference.

  • Kamar Raimo

    I usually don’t care much about killing non-combatants these days.

    Would I do it given the opportunity? Sure! But with my current set of goals I can’t be bothered to even try. I want to learn how to win fights against opponents who can shoot back. When I see a killmail of some hauler with ridiculous amounts of ISK in the hold, I might smirk, but when I see someone killed an Orthrus with a Vexor ( I am impressed..

    Yes, I will shoot a defenceless target of opportunity, but what I personally aspire to is the destruction of equals, maybe even someone who outguns me. One day.

  • BS

    The thing is the only thing you can do is killing defensless miners and in general defensless people. You see I have nothing against killing them. I do it myself, but for me its just a means to get more pvp. I’m hoping someone comes to rescue tackled miner, or try to retaliate so I can get a proper fight. You just kill a miner and cloak up waiting for another defensless victim. Which is cool, but why brag about it

  • Abraxis

    Comparing board games and video games where the resources you need are already there (and have therefore no value) with an MMO where you grind for hours (or even days) to buy a ship is a misleading comparison. Saying “a ship in EvE has no value” is the same as saying “my time is worthless”.