When I last spoke about my so-called progress through the universe of New Eden, I was getting killed left and right by making all kinds of fun newbie mistakes. I’ve grown quite a bit since then. I wouldn’t dare call myself a hardened veteran, but at the very least, I’ve earned some scars and learned more than a few things.
One of the biggest differences from then to now is the ships that I lose are a good deal more expensive. Occasionally, I’ve had a vessel blown out from under me and just had to stop playing for a few minutes, sometimes hours, and let that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach fade. Another difference is realizing just how important the people around you in the game are to a player, new and veteran alike.
Finding a place to live, and people to lean on
At this point in my journey, about three weeks into playing EVE, there were three other pilots that regularly played with me. The first started within a few days of me, and we constantly talked during the day about our plans on EVE for the night or what we were going to train. In the early days, it changed day by day. He was planning on specializing in Gallente ships, hybrid guns and drones, aspiring to fly the mighty space potato, otherwise known as the Dominix.
Our more sensible friend started a few weeks later and did quite a bit of research. He was only flying around in a destroyer, swatting the frigates in missions, but had a small empire on several planets and intended to roll around in piles and piles of ISK generated from Planetary Interaction. He churned out spreadsheets for days proving that he could easily PLEX his account in the first month with just a bit of initial investment for a second training queue. His plan worked. As far as I know, he’s more space rich than I am at the moment.
Finally, we had one veteran in the group, dragging us along to places we didn’t belong and helping us make ridiculous profits compared to most characters our age. He flew two Dominixes and a Noctics and helped us run Level 4 missions well before our time. His ships boosted our fleet numbers to six, and it felt great.
“Our ships were worth more than we could afford to replace, a capital sin in New Eden.”
Fighting off the NPCs inside of missions was high stakes for us. Our ships were worth more than we could afford to replace, a capital sin in New Eden. It was intoxicatingly fun though, coordinating our strikes, watching triggers and looking up missions online so that we did not bite off anything more than we could chew. This went on for a few weeks, and it was good.
Unfortunately, I’m never happy with the status quo in a game for long. I started bringing up recruiting for our small corporation and trying to build an empire for us. We convinced a few more of our friends to join the game, and started setting up a base for ourselves near Amarr. We had a few miners to start our industry. We were exploring and running missions and anomalies for money, really starting to get a foothold for ourselves.
It was terrible. After a bit more research, I realized just how little money and power we had. My plan was to secure a customs office in our system for some extra income and better returns on our PI, but the sheer numbers involved made it seem impossible. So we began the hunt for a new solution that would give us the power and freedom to do what we wanted in the game rather than scrounging for minerals and hunting small-fry pirates for bounties.
At the time, our research gave us four options, all sov-holding nullsec alliances. The Brave Collective, a group founded by new players for new players. We also heard rumors that a similar organization, Dreddit, was recruiting. Dreddit, part of TEST Alliance, and Brave were both relevant organizations (at the time), looking for their place in the sov landscapes, fighting daily to carve out their own empires.
As it happened, around the time my group was looking to join up with one of these newbie-friendly organizations, Pandemic Horde opened their doors. A training organization related to Pandemic Legion, which I had heard was one of the nullsec powerhouses, Pandemic Horde promised PvP training and constant uphill battles in support of PL. It was an intimidating prospect, and a few of the pilots playing with me did not relish the idea of constant PvP. They just wanted to log in, shoot at space rocks and get paid.
Finally, we came to Karmafleet, a member of the coalition known at the time as the CFC. Karmafleet was not just a member of the CFC, but a partner organization to the CFC’s infamous Goonswarm. Goons were something I had been warned to stay away from in Eve. They were scammers, gankers, and generally sadists. They were extremely hostile to those outside of their borders if stories should be believed. They were also an organization full of spies, and once you were marked as a Goon, you could never stop being a Goon.
However, the more I looked into Goonswarm and their exploits, the more I realized that they had hands in almost every major EVE event that led me to love the idea of New Eden’s sandbox: massive battles, corporate heists, espionage and intrigue at the highest levels. I convinced my friends that if we were going to dive into nullsec, we had to go with Karmafleet. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Moving to nullsec, and learning the way of the drone
We applied to join Karmafleet, and a few days later, I was the first to be invited. I was still pretty green at the time, so I accepted the invitation, undocked my ship, and opened my star map to set my destination to my new home! I was destroyed as soon as the station invulnerability wore off. Apparently, people were at war with the CFC. That was unfortunate. Eventually, I decided that the one year cooldown on remotely changing your home station wasn’t so bad, and suicided my way to null, abandoning all of my highsec possessions. Fortunately, over the next few days my friends learned from my mistakes, and were able to more safely make it out to Deklein.
On joining the organization, we were presented with a staggering amount of information. Most of it informed us of how incorrectly we were playing the game and suggested what we should be doing to fix it. We rapidly adapted our skill plans to get ourselves into Vexor Navy Issue (VNI) cruisers and began our careers as semi-AFK ratters. It was not as exciting as our adventures in Level 4 missions, but it was a good deal more lucrative. Trading my massive battleship and its many cannons for a tiny lump of a ship that didn’t even have so much as a single gun on it was not something I enjoyed, but the riches made up for it.
The semi-AFK fit VNI was a workhorse, nearly unkillable in its natural environment, so we quickly got complacent. Instead of paying close attention to spawns, we started paying more attention to chatting, or in extreme cases, playing other games. I lost my first VNI to Sa Matra, the self styled “Ghost of Deklein” while playing Diablo 3. I went fully-AFK ratter. You never go fully-AFK ratter. The VNI was tackled and killed by Sa Matra’s crew of interceptors before I could react. I vowed it would never happen again.
It happened again later that week. I bought a new VNI, fitted it up, took it out and did some serious ratting. I watched our internal intel channels like a hawk, looking for incoming enemies and docking up whenever they were near. Then, I took a bathroom break in the middle of the site. I knew I was in no danger from the NPCs, so two or three minutes away from the screen shouldn’t be a big deal. I came back to my pod in station and another killmail from a roaming group of interceptors.
At this point, I was months out of flying an Ishtar, the premier ratting ship in all of New Eden. Fortunately, I could fly a Gila in only a few days. The Gila was supposed to be nearly as effective as the Ishtar with much less training. The only problem was the cost of the hull. The first Gila I bought cost me nearly 500 million ISK after fitting it, double the cost of the battleship that I left in highsec a week earlier. After building my Gila though, I had money to spare. Nullsec life was working out very well for me and the rest of my group. We had found a home in rich space, guarded by one of the most powerful entities in the game.
For a few weeks, my friends and I grew fat and lazy on the bounty of Deklein, joining up with defense fleets from time to time but mainly running sites and earning ISK. It was not all sunshine and happiness though. I have lost more than a few Gilas since then, either doing sites I was not prepared for or not paying close enough attention to our intelligence channels and getting them blown to bits by invading gangs.
The relative ease of life under the wing of Karmafleet led to a few more mistakes, challenges and lessons in my still young EVE career. I’ve taken several steps down the path of the bitter vet but still hold on to the excitement I started the game with. I appreciate that so many people out there are willing to let me share my story with them and look forward to the next chapter.
Tags: Goonswarm Federation, karmafleet, new player experience, nullsec, Sarin