The Conditions of SuccessSarin Blackfist
Ever since I started playing EVE nearly a year ago now, I’ve read, heard, and been told, that the only way to win the game is to quit playing. EVE is a playground of near-infinite possibilities and total freedom from structured gameplay objectives. The game is whatever you make of it, and for most, the joke is the only way to get any sort of closure is to quit. Short of such an extreme measure, what does victory in EVE look like?
A game as vast as EVE is going to lend itself to multiple interpretations of “victory.” You could ask ten different people and get ten different answers, ranging from something as complex as complete social breakdown of an enemy, to simple things such as killing an enemy ship with your own. That’s not even counting players who act as industrial barons or long haul space truckers, trying to build a mercantile empire rather than bathe in the flames of their foes. I know very little about the industrialist mindset myself – I haven’t fully explored that side of the game yet, and I may never.
As for the PvP side, I believe that you can distill the disparate victory conditions that exist into four basic archetypes: Objective based gameplay, killboard efficiency, personal achievement and finally, simply having fun playing the game shooting at people.
Shooting people for fun and profit!
The simplest style of claiming victory in EVE is to just enjoy the game, fly how you want to fly, with who you want to fly with, and do whatever you want to do. In my opinion the best example of groups that follow this spirit of victory are the NPSI entities, forming fleets that form up with the sole goal of flying around, blowing up spaceships. These are entities that may or may not have a massive bureaucracy behind them, forming up on a flash because a target was found, and disbanding just as quickly after the target is destroyed.
The greatest thing about the “just for fun” victory is that it is almost impossible to deny it to anyone without some very pointed effort. If your ship and pod are destroyed and you are sent home to your clone bay, as long as you enjoyed your experience, you win! Players who chase this victory do not necessarily follow a common cause – some seek killmails, some seek riches, and some just want to have a good time with other humans playing the same game as them.
Conversely, this victory is the hardest to prove. There is no concrete evidence of “fun.” There is no killmail provided, no loyalty points, and no space stations erected in your honor. Because of this, many groups do not recognize this as truly achieving victory.
Elite PvP, playing EVE on hard mode
These are the people looking to prove their own personal worth in EVE, judging their success or failure in the game on whether or not they are better than every single person fortunate enough to share a grid with them. These are the people who seek the personal achievement method of victory. They want to be the very best, and will go to great lengths to prove it.
The scram kiting Orthrus pilot with off-grid links, who goes out of his way to engage in 5v1 battles, just to try and come off with an amazing story, or video clip. The overly bling fit tactical destroyer pilot, who is the scourge of Faction Warfare space. The guy on the Jita 4-4 undock who challenges any and all ships that exit the station to duel. The annual Alliance Tournament draws a great number of these types of pilots together to duke it out and prove they are the best of the best. Each of these are examples of what I call the challenge, or personal achievement victory type.
Succeeding at this can be as simple as teary eyed mails from the fallen foe or a new clip to add into a PvP montage. As long as the seeker fights against the odds, and comes out on top, they are happy. We’ve seen in the last Alliance Tournament the extreme measures that pilots will go to appear to be on the top of the list of the Elite Pilots of EVE, bending and breaking the rules to make sure they come out on top.
That is probably the greatest weakness of this type of victory. Those who seek it often truly care if others perceive them as powerful or skillful players, and will go to great lengths to earn or preserve that reputation. Proving you are the best is a constant struggle, and requires a massive amount of dedication, from research, to playing the game, and to making sure that your name is known.
Killboard Efficiency is, in my experience, the most often proclaimed victory. It’s very easy to “prove,” and very difficult to argue against. The game’s API service feeds data from any recorded kills or deaths, and feeds it to one of many websites that display it to everyone who wants to see it. Major fleet engagements are judged victories or defeats by people who weren’t there and had no part in them based on which side of the conflict lost the most ISK.
There are some entities out there who’s entire directive is driven by the almighty killboard. To them it does not matter what the engagement is, how many pilots are involved on either side, fleet composition, or anything else, so long as they kill more than they lose. Some do not even care for raw ISK value, and only look to the efficiency ratio of their pilots to determine success.
The only way to deny a player, corporation, or alliance of this victory, is to kill them, more than they kill you. As a member of KarmaFleet I am very familiar with this style of achieving victory, not from my own corporation, obviously, but from one of our enemies. Mordus Angels operates in NPC nullsec, in the systems near Deklein, and follow this code of victory almost religiously. I have seen entire fleets of MOA pilots obliterated in their tech one destroyers and pods empty of implants, fifty pilots dying under Imperial guns, and have them claim unquestionable victory, because they managed to kill one or two Imperial vessels which greatly outweigh the value of their entire fleet.
“OP Success, pap in fleet”
The final of the four major types of victory is success based on completing an objective, be it a small tactical win, or an overall strategic goal. The Imperium believes wholeheartedly in this particular type of victory, and make no secret of it. Imperial FCs are infamous across all of New Eden for whelping giant fleets of expensive ships, with their only response being “they’re already replaced.” As long as the fleet accomplishes, or even incrementally pushes towards the completion of a campaign goal, the fleet is considered a success by its members, and the organization as a whole.
Obviously, the Imperium isn’t the only organization who follow this doctrine of success – in general any sovereignty-based alliance leans towards it. Fighting over entosis beacons, holding onto stations and keeping your space intact are all objective-based wins. So long as you prevent the enemy from taking your objective, you win, no matter how pyrrhic the victory. Lowsec entities participate in this style of war as well, defending their money producing moons and starbases from those who would assault them.
Objective victories provide perhaps the clearest distinction between victory and defeat. Either you successfully defend, or assault, the chosen objective, and it belongs to you or your alliance. Or you fail, and the cartography of New Eden changes for all to see.
Wait, so how do I win EVE?
Essentially, everyone plays EVE for different reasons, but everyone enjoys winning. It’s very hard to compare any one type of victory to another, and often times, two groups involved in the same conflict can walk away both thinking that they have won and the other has lost. The best way to make sure you, personally, are winning EVE is to identify exactly what you consider to be a victory, and find a group of people that are like-minded to fly with. After that, all there is left is to not let others convince you that your definition of winning is wrong, and theirs is right.