Wormholes: Social-liteCilvius Sanctus
It’s no secret that living in a wormhole tends to isolate you from the rest of EVE, but what is it really like? What are the issues that arise from such isolation? What are the benefits? This piece looks into the unique social aspects of life in wormhole space.
Life in a wormhole allows you to stay as far away from the ruckus of other areas of space as you want to. Events like Burn Jita will hardly have an effect on you, you can just roll your static and look for an exit close to a different trade hub. You can pick and choose when and, to an extent, where you pop out in space. If a particular region of Faction Warfare space is dead at that moment you can collapse the connection and find somewhere else. You are less likely to have random people passing through your space (which some may see as a negative), but when you do get visitors you tend to be more aware of their presence than, from my experience, in other areas of space (like lowsec).
How can I be more aware of my surroundings without local chat to show me who is in my space? Well for starters there is far less of it for me to cover. In wormhole space the only systems I really care about and want to keep a constant eye on are my home system, my static(s), and any other connections exiting in my home wormhole. This limits the number of systems you care about to as low as two (or three depending on how many statics you have). The upper limit will rarely exceed five or six, and most days it won’t even reach that high. With a few cloaky characters sitting on wormholes we can keep an eye on the big important systems and have a pretty good picture of whether or not there are any visitors. Monitoring any additional systems is mostly optional and happens when we suspect activity in a wormhole further down the chain.
Back when I lived in lowsec we used an intel channel with other friendly groups and made sure to report anybody in our vicinity who wasn’t blue. The area around our home system was significantly larger than in w-space and without an army of alts to watch each system it was harder to feel truly secure in your home. The amount of warning you would have of a fleet roaming in your direction could vary wildly, occasionally leaving you with a minimal amount of time to form up for defense. In w-space this rarely happens as long as you are scouting properly, allowing you to react swiftly to anybody entering your home wormhole or a nearby one. The lack of local might at first seem like a hindrance to this practice, but once you get used to it you find it to be a benefit.
The nature of random wormhole connections means that you can have trouble getting to a particular area of space quickly. While players in k-space might be able to turn to big fights like B-R to ninja their way onto some killmails, players in w-space don’t have that luxury. If you have a desire to jump in on a massive battle that is taking place somewhere you might find your current exit is across the universe from the action. You can do some ragerolling to hope for a closer connection but it is never a guarantee that you will get one.
Even if getting in on some shiny nullsec killmails doesn’t appeal to you, this can also impact your ability to deploy to help friends (either elsewhere in w-space or out in k-space). If you are asked to help defend allies who are being invaded you need to find an exit from your wormhole that is a reasonable distance from the entrance to your friend’s wormhole, and then hope it isn’t closed by the invaders while you are traveling there. This can make support fleets difficult, but certainly not impossible.
While these issues can cause problems in specific situations they lend themselves to some interesting and fun combat scenarios. Deploying from a wormhole to a given system for a gank or a roam feels like stepping into that system from a secret backdoor entrance. Often the residents seem to have no idea there was even a wormhole there to begin with. You can pull off some fun ganks of mission runners or miners, or even break up a gatecamp with some element of surprise. Sure, the local spike gives away your presence, but when it does, people immediately start aiming their D-scan at gates, they rarely suspect an intrusion from a wormhole.
Living in a wormhole means living life out of a POS. While there are Personal Hangar Arrays to allow pilots to store up to 50k m3 in a private storage space there is currently no way to do the same with ships. With some fancy corporate roles footwork you can set things up in such a way that newer and less trustworthy pilots are unable to access ships belonging to older members. The issue with that is that these setups require more than a handful of POSes and the knowledge to setup the roles in such a way. Smaller groups may find it difficult to handle the added costs of setting up and fueling all these additional POSes.
To be frank, this means you must share trust with the people you live with. Players who trust each other in wormholes share ships regularly, typically under the pretense that if you lose a ship you are borrowing you replace it. If someone is taking a trip out to a trade hub they will almost always offer to pick things up for anybody else at cost. These situations all benefit the corp as a whole. If you need a Heavy Interdictor for a fight and nobody online owns one there is no question about grabbing somebody else’s from a Ship Maintenance Array to use in combat. This allows the corporation to work together for the greater good.
When these trust scenarios go poorly, bad things happen. Ships can be stolen, POSes can be unfueled or put offline. Everything the corporation has worked for can be destroyed in a night. If you wonder why wormhole groups might seem hesitant to give out roles to newer members or why they often place newcomers into a separate “new member” corporation, this explains why. Smart corporations will take measures to ensure things like this cannot happen. Any stolen ships will be replaced by corporate funds as soon as possible. Diligent use of corporate roles and multiple POSes can help ensure that only the most trusted of pilots have access to all POSes at once. The vetting process for a wormhole corporation can be very strict, second only to the ones of major 0.0 alliances.
The need for trust can make wormhole groups seem less welcoming to new members and more hostile to outsiders, but with good reason. Anybody logging off in your wormhole can potentially be a major threat in the future. Perhaps somebody is trying to get access to your wormhole later so they can seed pilots for an invasion. Or maybe someone has decided to simply live in your wormhole for a short while and take advantage of any targets of opportunity. Wormhole groups need to be diligent in order to help maintain the security that they feel while in w-space. You can ask just about any wormhole resident and most will agree that they feel far safer in w-space than they do in highsec.
Life in a wormhole isn’t for everybody. Many players miss the comfort and safety of having a station to leave your valuables in. Others cannot deal with the lack of local or the need to do so much scanning on a daily basis. Perhaps it takes a special kind of player to handle the feeling of being so far removed from the rest of New Eden and the odd social situations this sort of life can put you in.