The galaxy of EVE Online is a big place, with sixty-four player-accessible regions of solar systems (plus another 2,499 solar systems that are part of un-mappable wormhole space). All of these systems tend to get clumped together into categories based on their security class: high-security space where CONCORD prevents most forms of PvP, low-security space where there are penalties for initiating PvP, and null-security space, where there are no penalties for PvP.
There are, however, more specified kinds of space, more detailed characteristics, and of course, the political boundaries developed by players. This article offers a breakdown of those kinds of space, intended for very new players.
High-security space is where every EVE player starts out, and so the characteristics of that place will be familiar: PvP is mostly limited to wars, suicide ganking, or as revenge for property theft. Any un-provoked aggression that happens outside of a war will have tons of invulnerable NPC CONCORD ships show up and destroy the perpetrators. Almost everybody in EVE knows this. What many may not realize is that it is divided into four areas, with each being comprised of several regions belonging to one of the player races.
Avoid getting any one high-security space faction angry at you, or you may suddenly find their space off limits to you.
Knowing what empire controls what space is also important for members of faction warfare, who are automatically attacked by faction police when in enemy space in the same way that someone with -5 standings would.
Low-security space doesn't have the same protections as high security space: CONCORD will not intervene, but invulnerable NPC sentry guns will automatically take the side of any party that is wrongly attacked.
Though mostly abandoned, low-sec serves a few useful purposes in EVE Online's unique geography:
- Most travel to and from null-sec and high-sec takes place in low-sec.
- It is likely that the majority of reaction POS are set up in low-sec, as are quite a few mining POS.
- Faction warfare takes place here. The various faction war corporations fight those in their opposed factions, plus the pirates that infest the more populated swaths.
- There are other small reasons to visit low-sec, including COSMOS sites, R&D agents, mission agents with superior rewards, and so forth.
Null-security space is completely lawless, and players may attack each other here, freely. Some null-sec systems may be conquered by players, while others belong to unassailable NPC factions.
Most regions in null-sec are conquerable, though some are "pirate space" that is owned by an NPC faction and cannot be taken from them, such as Curse or Stain. Some regions may be partially conquerable, with a constellation or smattering of systems controlled by NPCs, but the rest up for grabs. Geminate is a good example of a region like that, with several of its "western" systems belonging to an NPC organization, but the rest of the region is up for grabs.
Under the current game mechanics, the main things differentiating swaths of null-sec from each other are as follows:
- What kind of NPC pirates spawn there?
- What kinds of moon minerals are available there?
- How close is high-sec space?
- How porous is the area with neighboring regions, especially high-sec or low-sec?
- Are there any COSMOS constellations in that region? (COSMOS are special constellations with additional features, including unique exploration sites and one-time missions)
The Politics Of Outlaw Space
As of this writing, the territory of the universe of EVE is divided into about four power blocs. These blocs are made up of alliances that partner with each other strategically for fighting other organizations. Together, any one bloc can project such a large amount of pilots and powerful ships that smaller organizations cannot hope to fight them. Each of these blocs has various smaller groups under their wing, either as a potential future member or as a tenant.
The power blocs as I reckon them:
Power blocs tend to form and re-form along the same borders, based on how far they can project their power, while sustaining their member numbers and budget.
- The Northern Coalition: The most stable bloc in the game over the long term. Recently ejected from the drone regions and currently having a tiff with the nomadic (and competent) Pandemic Legion.
- The Russians: Portraying all of the Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking alliances as a single organization is an oversimplification, since each alliance has its own leader and unique history of relationships with the others. But much of that information is private, or at least not available without learning another language. Still, they have seem to have more or less reconciled their differences enough to defend each others' space from incursions by the other blocs.
- IT And Friends: IT Alliance is successor alliance, being the latest incarnation of the storied Band Of Brothers alliance. They currently control the southwest, though things do seem to be heating up in Fountain between them and their old rivals, the goons.
Each of these blocs is more or less hostile with the others. Initiative. alliance (dot intended) may eventually form its own bloc, but in this writer's opinion are not quite there yet, since they are still sort of expanding to fill the south, and have not yet installed large amounts of client alliances.
There are also various smaller parties wedged into the cracks, of course, though most of these come and go like the wind, and are allied with at least one bloc for the present. Similarly, there are a few non-conquering alliances that do not hold territory, but still exert sway over null-sec politics.
Each of these blocs has expanded to fill their areas, mostly because of a few key game mechanics:
- The utility of bringing overwhelming numbers to a battle, and the increasing maximum number of pilots able to participate in a fight, over time.
- The improved ability to project force and move large numbers of pilots to a battle.
- Jump bridges making friendly space effectively smaller for travel purposes, allowing smaller numbers of pilots to exert ownership over larger areas.
These combine with certain other factors to create natural borders, with each bloc expanding and contracting along strategic fault lines. We'll discuss more about this in part two of this guide.