A Basic Primer To Space In EVE Online (Pt 2)
The galaxy of EVE Online is enormous, consisting of thousands of solar systems filled with vicious pirates, greedy industrialists, and fractious alliances. Many of the player-run political organizations have been around for years, meaning that there is a lot of history and social interplay to take into account if you want to understand why the world of EVE is the way that it is.
The first part of this guide focused on the simple divisions of high-, low-, and null-security space, and dabbled in some of the politics. This part will go a bit more in-depth to why the territories in EVE are the way that they are, and how things work out between the major power blocs. It is intended for very new players, but may also be of interest to politically minded pilots.
But first, let's talk about the fourth area of space that was not covered in part one of this guide: Wormhole space.
Wormhole space is pretty freaky, but it is probably a better place for small corporations to move to, than low-security space.
W-space is distinguished by local channels that do not display how many people are in a system, advanced-AI "sleeper" NPCs, tons of exploration sites, and the inability to mine moons. The systems often have stellar phenomena that modify basic the characteristics of any ships in the system, giving bonuses or penalties to basic statistics like speed or damage.
The shifting nature of w-space and the randomness of the W-space solar system interconnections with each other prevents maps from being made. Nor is claiming sovereignty over a w-space system possible, as in conquerable areas of null-sec. So it is not a very easy matter to discuss politics there, especially if one has not been. Still, here is what I have been told: most of the better wormholes have a lot of people living in them, with the best being heavily farmed and jealously defended. There are a couple very PvP-oriented corporations that cruise the wormholes, and are supposedly very good at infiltrating systems and dismantling POS. There are also some corporations that live in the crappier systems that are more likely to intersect with the known universe, and venture out to harass the locals any time it connects somewhere interesting. It is all very difficult to follow without being involved because wormhole politics are necessarily local.
Why The Blocs
As mentioned in my previous guide, the conquerable portions of the EVE universe seem to split up into about four mega-regions of space. These territories are based on a few things. Firstly and most importantly, they are based on how easy it is to move capital ships around. Capital ships do not use gates, but rather must hop around using special "cynosural fields" with limited range. Areas of space that are connected by jump gate are not always near each other when reckoned in light-years. If an alliance cannot move its capital fleet to a battle in a timely fashion, it cannot defend that space. It's all about the force projection within a reasonable time period, while making reasonable demands of alliance pilots.
The second matter of import is NPC regions. If a region cannot be conquered, it will forever by an untamed no man's land, full of pirates and a ready base of operations for any enemy that want to harass your space. These regions cannot have jump bridges set up in them, so they can essentially split a multi-region empire in half, forcing pilots to be on one side or the other. Again, it's all about whether an alliance can effectively project force throughout its space. Stations are being attacked with capital fleets on opposite ends of an alliance's territory, then the capital fleet will not be able to defend both.
A close connection to empire may seem like a beneficial characteristic, but it actually tends to make a region a bit of a cesspool due to accessibility to pirates and invasion. Geminate is a good example of a region like that. Any pirate in Jita that gets bored of suicide ganking Noctises can fit out a combat ship and cruise out there with very little effort.
The intersection of these and certain other qualities tends to make for certain strategic advantages with regard to controlling territory. Whatever group controls Delve will almost certainly control Period Basis, because logistics to and from that region are so difficult. Whatever group controls Geminate will be able to menace the drone regions because of the way capital jump ranges work out. Not that bypassing these intermediary regions is impossible, but rather it makes more sense to seize them first, as a springboard.
Politics With The Big Boys
Under the current state of affairs, a special POS structure called jump bridges allows fast fleet movements to the edge of any alliance's territory. It is essentially a player-run stargate. When players set them up, though, they tend to be rather more efficient for travel than normal stargates, allowing their users to travel very far, very fast. Multiple alliances will often work together, developing vast interconnected networks of cooperative jump bridge connections.
I don't know about you, but on any given night I can handle maybe thirty minutes of mindless jumping between stargates. If I can use jump bridges, I can travel much farther, allowing me to attend fleet fights on the other side of EVE while still staying within that time limit. Maybe I am a primadonna about this, I don't know. But I do know that if too much time is spent traveling, pilots will start to drift away from a fleet operation out of boredom and intoxication.
The universe just isn't big enough for everybody. Especially if they hate each other.
Stagnation And Vendettas
I said at the beginning of this article that EVE Online politics goes a way back. There are not a lot of major territorial changes going on, partly due to the disproportionate effort required to conquer space, and partly because space has become fairly homogenized in value, Technetium moons excepted. Despite the diminished incentive and unpleasant labor involved, there are still bitter, bitter grudges. These are more than sufficient to cause political action.
Case in point: the most active flashpoint at the time of this writing is in Fountain, a western region controlled by IT Alliance and several client alliances. It is being invaded by Redswarm Federation, more or less as a division of the Northern Coalition. The motivations for combat here go back to at least 2006, when the precursor alliance to IT Alliance attacked the precursor alliance to Goonswarm Federation over some unpleasant remarks. Those two groups have been fighting more or less since then. The leaders on each side hate each other, and I think nothing could entice them to cease hostilities.
EVE Online has a ton of grudges like that, big and small. Having a single persistent world and an alliance structure that favors megalomaniacal personalities only feeds into it. Sailing these stormy seas can be a rough ride, but any corporation looking to move to null-sec space will need to do it. Most people move their corporation to null-sec based on some sort of rental agreement, though PvPers with weighty killboards are always in demand. Once a certainly size or activity level is reached, it can then start trying to organize PvP operations and the more difficult industrial projects. Play your cards right and it might be your corporation holding grudges for more than half a decade. You never know.