If you take a look at the many war doctrines espoused over written history, from Sun Tzu to Carl von Clausewitz, there are certain principles that recur. They have been expressed in slightly different ways, but they all boil down to some fairly common sense rules. Have more offensive ability than your enemy has defensive. Concentrate on what's important. Keep it simple. And my favorite, don't give the enemy an advantage by your own ignorance. This is summarized with the single word "security" in Field Manual 3-0 of the United States Army, as well as the British Defense Doctrine of 2011. Russia refers to it as Information Warfare. Sun Tzu called it "the use of spies," which has been translated in modern Chinese doctrine as Intelligence and Espionage.
How is this relevant to EVE Online? For a care-badger, it is everything. As anyone knows who reads this blog regularly, I am currently running level IV security missions for the Sisters of Eve. This awards me LP which I use to by blueprints for the new SoE ships. I foresee doing this until CCP decides to nerf the Bastion module, or announces something more interesting to play at.
There are some dangers in running level IV security missions though. First, you are in a big, expensive ship. It would look good on anyone's kill board. Second, that ship is fit for fighting rats efficiently, not surviving (let alone winning) PvP actions. Third, you are actually making good ISK; many feel it's easier to take candy from a baby/parent than to to do anything worthwhile with their lives.
"But I'm running missions in high-sec, I can't be attacked," you say. You think if someone attacks you CONCORD will stop them? This is EVE Online. If you want to succeed, you need to stop believing such fairy tales. Nowhere is 100% safe except your Captain's Quarters. If that's where you want to play EVE Online don't let me stop you. I firmly believe in freedom of choice. But if you are part of the 99.̅9̅ % who don't play this game just for the Captain's Quarters, you need to understand you are never safe - especially in high-sec. In fact, not only are you in grave danger, but you'll be blown up with no recourse - no kill rights awarded and no option for revenge.
The first step in understanding how this can be is to do some intelligence gathering - thus the title of this post. We have perhaps the greatest tool in all gaming to assist us: the EVE Online API. Use it. When you decide to play the PvE game, you need to understand the space you will be playing in. If there are 250 people in local, as was the case in Apanake yesterday, you'd better not leave dock until you have some idea of who they are and what they're doing. You need to do a risk assessment. You're best source for that information is one of the kill board services. I personally use EVE-Kill.net. I used to use Battleclinic.com a long time ago, but their search options do not provide what I need. I need this:
link to the kill mail. For the price of a Tornado, that gank squad have a 3 billion ISK kill mail on their record. Do you need any better proof of danger point #1 above?
And what's more, the worse any of those involved got as punishment was a suspect timer - notice there are no CONCORD kills during or right after the Paladin kill. The schmuck who lost the Paladin probably got nothing but heart burn over the incident. The clue as to why is all over the rest of the page. Look at all those Mobile Tractor Units (MTU) destroyed. What's up with that?
What's up is anyone can shoot at them without CONCORD interference. All the shooter gets is a suspect flag. Read about it here (#8) and here. He hasn't actually shot at the Paladin so no CONCORD intervention required. However, he did shoot at the property of the pilot. That's the point. Either the Paladin pilot was dumb enough to shoot him, or his drones were set to aggressive mode. When the MTU is shot, the drones react by attacking the 'hostile' just like they attack rats. Either way, that makes the engagement consensual. That's when the original suspect's buddies/alts all pile on. It's a free kill at that point.
Now, is this a bug? Not really. It's been the case for a long time (a year isn't it) that shooting a suspect makes for consensual PvP in high-sec. The drones are just doing what you told them to do - attack anyone 'hostile' to you. But carebear ignorance of engagement rules is giving gank players undeserved PvE ship kills and bloating their worthless kill boards. It's like shooting fish in a barrel, but some people get off on that sort of feckless activity. A pilot like Rixx Javix, Drackarn or Repard Teg can be proud of their records. High-sec gank kill boards are a joke and every one of them an A.J. Dicken. They're an insult to real PvP pilots in my book, and only us high-sec mission runners can preserve their honor... by not getting assploded by the asshats.
Now that you know about it, it's fairly easy to avoid getting blown up. Here's how you stay out of trouble.
- Make certain your safety is set to green. This should always be your default in high-sec.
- Make certain your drones are set to passive. Click on the three horizontal lines in the upper left corner and click "Passive" so the radio button is filled (see picture.) You can order drones to fight by selecting a target and pressing "F."
- If someone shows up in your mission site uninvited, pull your drones in AND DO NOT TARGET THEM. Do not shoot rats while they are present.
- Empty your Mobile Tractor Unit and scoop it to your cargo hold. If you are too far away, don't worry about it. It's only loot. There's more where it came from.
- Don't "talk" to the interloper. Just keep your mouth shut. Talking to them only eggs them on and gives them an opportunity to try and enrage you. There is no point in talking to them, so don't.
- If they start to shoot your wrecks, let them. If you want to make a statement, shoot your own wrecks. Be careful, you don't want to inadvertently shoot them. But shooting your own wrecks gets the point across to them faster than anything. It says, "I'm not playing your game."
That's all you have to do. Don't shoot back and wait them out. They'll get bored in short order. When you won't fall for their shenanigans, they'll go find someone else to bother. Those types lack the patience to wait when it's obvious you're in it for the long haul. Patience is your best weapon when faced with these types. Now go make some ISK!