As great as it is, low security space does have significant drawbacks. I would be a hypocrite if I said lowsec has everything and is for everyone, because it doesn’t and it isn’t. The strengths of lowsec come at a price and today’s Lowlife takes a look at the bill.
Eye of the beholder
Everyone and their dog knows I’m a lowsec fanboy, stubbornly waving the flag and ranting about how great it is ad nauseum. Defender of the faith against the glorified lemming hordes of null, passionate champion of small gang PvP and stalwart enemy of farming and boring content. That’s one way of putting it.
Another way would be to say that I’m trying to make big waves in the kiddie pool. Attempting to compensate for an inferiority complex in the shadow of big brother null using expressions like “true PvP” and “fun/hour”. Yapping on about stuff that has no lasting impression on the universe and arguing about the dishes when the house is on fire.
The truth is somewhere in between and slightly to the left.
The side-effect of constant fighting and living in hostile space is often a thin wallet. Lowsec attracts people looking for PvP and those that find the lifestyle to their liking have a tendency to develop a skewed skillset.
As an example, Joe Lowsec could probably discuss the finer details of fitting and combat comfortably, but will often struggle with making serious ISK. He could scan down a ship within seconds but has only a rudimentary understanding of what the most effective PvE content in the region is. Joe could probably get you into a fight inside of 10 minutes with detailed intel to boot, but have no clue how to run the local market or what kind of mining or PI gives the best profit.
Sticks and stones
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
― Albert Einstein
The economic status of lowsec is well reflected in the ships that are flown. The gears of war grind mercilessly and have an inherently devolving effect, with higher aspirations giving way to daily practicality. Attrition warfare using cheap frigates, destroyers and cruisers tends to be the baseline norm, especially in Faction Warfare. The exceptions to this rule oftentimes come from elite pirate corps, not seldom with a nullsec connection, and a select cadre of militia pilots. The majority of lowsec however will gladly undock and fight but often fall short when the situation escalates. Heavy assault cruiser fleets are uncommon, battleship ones rare, and capital fleets so scarce that many newer pilots haven’t even seen one.
There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, it is better to always have something to undock in than to have a powerful ship on hand sporadically – it creates its own reward structure socially and by virtue of sheer military efficiency, extensively utilized in Faction Warfare. Secondly, freedom is a virtue cherished by many lowsec entities and in integral part of the culture. The other side of that coin is of course that the cultivation and enforcement of high-level doctrine and SP requirements isn’t widespread. Thirdly, most money-making activities in lowsec involve a good helping of risk, and the rewards are somewhat lackluster with that in mind. Lastly – and perhaps most importantly – PvP is a jealous and alluring mistress. It’s easy to give in, undock the next Thrasher, and go have some fun with your mates rather than work on your wallet and the quality of your hangar.
Because it’s always there; the never-ending sirens’ call of small gang PvP. Consistently just an undock and a scant few jumps away the ravenous and insatiable meatgrinder of lowsec awaits. Often lowsec pilots get into a rut of destruction and death that erodes away until it is the only thing they know how to do with any skill. Some paint themselves into a corner of battle fatigue and don’t have the tools or the motivation to get out, ultimately losing their passion and stepping away from EVE for a time.
With the release of Kronos lowsec has been given a whole new set of possible, and more importantly local, income streams; Mordu’s ships (read the Lowlife special on the Garmur), ship skins and ores. But the locals haven’t learned how to make best use of these opportunities yet, heavily anchored in the PvP-centric nature of the community (and the sub-par spawn rates of Mordu’s). The required shift in culture to achieve that goal is a change that may take some time, because, quite frankly, many of us are terribad at PvE.
It is common amongst lowsec-based corps to have a liberal and open stance on recruitment. Fighting and fun are routinely prioritized over strict standards when it comes to drafting new pilots. People that value individualism and personal liberty are often drawn to lowsec, virtues that have long been cornerstones of the culture there.
While this is great for the individual it also means that lowsec fleets tend to be a motley crew of players from all walks of life and difficult to mobilize due to an innate resistance to authority. Often pilots range from the young and inexperienced, to veterans with years of fighting under their belts.
Another factor that plays a major role in the recruitment of new blood and the composition of fleets is that there are simply less people that call lowsec home than highsec or null. Recruitment officers and FC’s cannot afford to be picky and take what they can get. These two facts of life mean that the common denominator in fleets decimates numbers quickly as the ships get bigger and more advanced.
In other words, lowsec PvP-ers make fine gladiators but tend to fall short when an army is called for.
Although lowsec pilots routinely see more action in a week than most null pilots see in a month there is an important distinction to be made. Fighting in low security space is spread out and more or less constant, playing out predominantly in a large volume of small skirmishes with the occasional medium-sized battle. Fights are regularly ad-hoc where there is little to no warning that something of import may break out. Fleets are often scrambled on the fly and in the thick of it within an hour of their inception.
With speed and tenacity there comes a need for simplicity. While this makes lowsec fighters incredibly flexible and quick to react, the fleets of this type can only adhere to the most basic doctrines, especially when they grow in number.
By contrast null PvP has a lot more of ketchup-effect, supported by more premeditation and logistics, driven by politics and the concerns of larger entities. Stereotypically, if lowsec is perpetual guerilla fighting with the occasional escalation, null is two armies lining up and going at it now and then.
The nature of null politics, economy and strategy mean that the battles often grow to impressive proportions. They are laden with meaning and their outcome has ramifications for the world around them. Compared to null lowsec is somewhat of a closed circuit and although it does happen, it is rare that the events of lowsec effect the world at large. Even so, when large battles are met in lowsec it is often null entities going at it.
Outside of a few events of note and some very general and broad strokes of what goes on in Faction Warfare, the only legacy lowsec leaves behind is its reputation and killboards. Compared to null politics, effecting a great many people and with a lot of ISK at stake, what goes on in lowsec can hardly be identified as the same thing, and seldom makes the headlines.
Lowsec isn’t for everyone. If you want to make the front page you will have better luck in null. If you want to make ISK wormholes are the place for you. If you value peace and quiet highsec provides. Lowsec is dirty, cheap and violent. No-one will be writing stories about how you fought and how you died, and when you are spent the grinder will just keep on grinding.
With Kronos and future improvements to life in low security space the time has come for the denizens of lowsec to find the next gear and evolve. To move away from the (much hated) stigma of being the stepping-stone to null we need to put our money where our mouth is, taking the culture of lowsec a leap down its own path. The evolution of lowsec isn’t to be more like null, but rather taking the values we hold dear to the next level.
Tags: kiddie pool, kronos, lowlife, lowsec, niden