I love EVE Online, especially for its griefer subculture. I know, it’s odd, since I generally hate griefers, but in EVE it is very simple to exploit their own skewed delusions and failed perception of the game. Let me get things in order: I came back from my months long hiatus from the game after a friend of mine asked to help with a newborn Italian Corp and suddenly a grief war started…
In EVE, in-game politics often mirrors the real life politics of the people playing it and the Italian community is a landmark of this theory: most of the Italian corps are sadly boastfully incompetent and usually they tend to disintegrate in a couple of months due to internal struggles. The few that survive are smashed behind the language barrier: most of their CEO can’t get three English word straight and they are doomed to a smaller player base, the Italian community is said to be so xenophobe and incompetent that is very difficult for an Italian player to be accepted outside our virtual national borders. To get a premiership nobody cares about, most of the longstanding corps around use terror tactics to prevent other Italian power groups to rise in reputation and recognition, especially if they are fair-playing, international oriented corps. Most of them transformed from once glorious 0.0 corps to small griefer corps, unable to return from where they were exiled. No wonder I came out as an active Italian player only 4 weeks ago, despite playing under major 0.0 corps since 2004. In this instable scenario, we have our premier griefing corps that use all the communication tactics of Italian politics: lies, deceptions and continuous propaganda, without facts backing their own spite.
This lengthy introduction was due to understand how the average griefer thinks: he is convinced that he himself can influence the game, that he controls it, even if he’s just a victim of the game mechanics itself, being the ultimate slave of the EVE machinery.
Getting back to the game: as soon I joined, the mixture of seeing a past hated enemy revealed as an Italian together with bold, new players debunking most of the griefer corp lies in the Italian chat was enough to exploit one of the most impairing game features of EVE online: an unprovoked and unmutual galaxy-wide war declaration. The lies were particularly stinging and evident: a forged killboard that defies the common sense law, several failed alliance attempts sold as stable and longstanding (probably worth a permanent KOS flag, if the right people will know about it), even if a simple look at the corp info would have revealed that things were a bit different from what was told. All of this, done strictly in Italian language, to get facts inside a small and isolated community, with almost no connections outside itself, instrumental for them to maintain a shade of authority and being able to boast skewed facts without attracting the attention of their more authoritative international adversaries or supposed allies.
And so the circus began. Up to 5 ships outside our 0.0 office, an always docked, always running CEO and lots of incompetence where a warring corp must really shine: tactics.
To be honest, I was a bit careless when joining: with several investments running in Empire, only a T2 fitted Prophecy to fly with and less than 30 Millions on my name, all my stuff at least 30 jumps away, I was stretched pretty thin and I was a bit worried about my future. Until I noticed something.
Aside sheer obsession and accusations that could’ve be appointed to the griefer corp itself (like having too much inexperienced pilots, being mission runners, not having the guts to engage in open combat), what they currently lacked was a rational war planning and real experience in sieges. They were mostly interested in flexing muscles and engaging in battles with at least a 2 to 1 ratio, against ships of at least a class lower than theirs. Known that, I began exploiting their irrational lust for explosions.
Just after the fight started, was really simple for me to prepare a 500M ISK worth of cargo (named turrets for my BSes and BCs, several blueprints, tons of materials and lots of T2 components) in a transport ship and force the supposed block with one of the oldest tricks in the EVE history: I went to rat in a self constructed Prophecy, equipped only with crap loot, aside tanking equipment, ready to be blown out. Shame on me, I overestimated my enemies. The foreseeable engagement in a belt took 27′ to be successful, despite being attacked & jammed by a Command Ship (that was busy tanking & jamming all the time) and an Assault Frigate (who did a fair bit of DPS, but was compelled to warp in flames two times). Too good for me, since I was able to move about 750M ISK worth of supplies in two trips (I expected just one to be possible with the diversion) while the children ran after just another stupid killmail for a ship and a pilot that, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t worth the interruption of a siege.
I left them rejoice for their small accomplishment (it kept them busy for an entire week in the italian chat, absurd!) and I continued with my exploitation of their perceptions of the war, sure that their lust for veritable killmails can be exploited even further.
The next day I undocked during a blockade in an empty interceptor (my only other ship in 0.0) and used my clone to be able to get back in Empire space without taking any further risk (there were 3 other corps gate camping with bubbles on the way home, being killed and instantly pop at one of my several stations, dozens of jumps away was very tempting) to start phase 2: networking and making money.
It took a whole week to get back in ISK, selling stuff in the sieged system to our own besiegers. To get a metrics of their own inexperience, they bought overpriced stuff from me for about 76M ISK in the first day of conflict alone, enough to get a new Armageddon and fit it accordingly helped by the other corps living in the system. After getting the new ship, I was headed for Empire, forcing once more the blockade and make our griefer huge personal sacrifices completely void. Once there, I settled in several low sec pockets, starting to get connections with resident pirates, doing favors for them, granting their mostly unconditional gratitude and support in the outcoming operations. The Datacore commerce (pumping out 100M a week) and several mission running for named loots, got me the juice to get back in action and, once the griefer corp started out posting stories about our inability to play and leave the system, I stung back with proofs of my free roaming among 0.0 and Empire for the whole period they’re talking about.
That was the last drop. Our besiegers, sworn retaliation against me and started a full blown galaxy swipe just to get me into submission. Fitting the Geddon to be unjammable, I waited patiently and exposed their own proficiency with location agents, so much for a self proclaimed corp that get all his own profits from deep 0.0 and hate mission runs and mission runners. They were really mad!
Personal harassment became the norm. They increased their online time to an unhealthy rate, to try to have a 24/7 siege running. They were determined to achieve a complete victory to regain reliability in the Italian community that saw them as incompetent liars. Too bad that less than 10 people can’t control a 0.0 system with multiple, potentially hostile corps playing in it, especially if they are also determined to get rogue enemies disturbing their own activities in Empire. I’m convinced that, even back then, their unprovoken war declaration was becoming more and more a mistake. Playing the cat and mouse game for a couple of days in Empire netted us more time to organize our forces and made me able to effectively demonstrate that guerrilla tactics where more effective against this small griefer corp. Soon they started to stretch too thin around the galaxy to get us. Their CEO and other veteran members were blown by Concord just because they started podding our Empire alts in a streak of frustration. Several other griefers fell by the hands of the pirates I allied with, who were more than willing to loot T2s and Nameds from the griefer’s wrecks (I just needed to alert them when they were almost there, helping them to lure the enemies at the agreed sortie spot and let them feast).
Soon, their losses and risks were so high that they stopped their chase in Empire (of course a couple of more sorties were instrumental to let them drop the chase). They tried several softer, younger targets, who promptly left the corp to aid us as external members in the retailatory strikes in 0.0. Griefers were mad against them, petitioning for exploits. Their distorted naivety was frankly sympathetic and scary at the same time. It was time for guerrilla.
As a side effect, all this ruckus made us aware of the holes in their intelligence networks and the price of several of their members (pretty low, I must concur).
As of now, the war is still officially going on and it’s still unmutual, the griefers are holed back in our 0.0 system, in a shaming stalemate. Ironically, they are the ones in an uneasy position now: if they leave the system unguarded, they will lose prestige, implicitly declaring that they can’t properly do the siege they already declared as won, but since they already failed at it, they can’t even chase us off, because it will mean that the blockade never happened and that they were fooled since hour 0. Lately, To bolster their ranks new faces shown up, mostly green players whose status (are they alts?) is still not very known to me.
Aside the in-game price (that, for less spiteful people I’m sure would be a nice source of enjoyment), we should also point the huge real life price the griefers are taking: most of them are online for about 12h a day, even in our 4th week of war, waiting for an opportunity to strike back (that is not happening anytime soon, after all, they are the ones that wanted to attack us). Several of their corpmates delved the net for every personal information they can find about us, used to menace us in a real life context, asking to surrender or face the consequences. We maintained more or less our casual gameplay, and get our businesses and lives going as usual.
I must admit that one of our members snapped off pretty bad by the constant harassing and courtain of lies the griefers started to spread when they realized they cannot win someone that doesn't play by their rules. They posted an offensive blog about us and he took it too seriously, being involved to much to the point of being banned by CCP for harassment, just to realize the game burnt him off. It happens and it's sad. It's just another way to compromise your personal life: burn out slowly as a dedicated griefer or just snap off in a burst of irrational fury for something that is (and still remains) a game.
In the end, the griefers lost. They retracted the war declaration, took off their unwanted casualties by third parties and moved along. The war costed a lot, personally and game-wise. To us, it was a pleasant enjoyment and made the Italian community thing twice about accepting useless griefing by unreliable, too involved gamers.
While the offensive post remained on their blog, there's no news of a sucessfully war against us. Instead there's the sad news of a much newer corp, of only 4 members (all newbies) that surrendered almost instantly to their insane dedication to ruin other people gameplay. The choice was utterly desperate to regain that shine of fear they lost against us.
But something was wrong. Their own website had a stain, an empty spot that logic, once again, demands to fill up: why the corp being compelled to post apologies wasn't our own? Why their own attack against our corp remained silent and without a proper epilogue? Today, they're feared a little less and people, have learned that saying "no" something doesn't cost a thing, aside the griefers' time...