Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eve Online: nullsec adventures

As mentioned on this blog before, I am currently an alliance diplomat for the MPA alliance in Eve Online. When we were offered a chance to travel to nullsec - the dangerous, lawless, but most rewarding space in Eve Online's New Eden universe - some of our corporation took it with both hands. Most of our corporation and alliance members reside in the more safe highsec areas; some live in wormhole space, but we rarely venture into nullsec. Yet for many of New Eden's pilots, nullsec is the place to be. This is where the big space holding alliances reign, where epic battles involving hundreds or even thousands of players are being fought, where campaigns lasting weeks or months are being executed. It's also the place where each and every move is potentially dangerous: there is no safety in nullsec. Theoretically the same goes for highsec and lowsec (empire space) but still, nullsec is a different story.

So after all diplomatic hurdles had been taken care of (a process which went more smoothly than I could hope for) some of us embarked on the long trip to a hospitable system in Providence.

This region had just been conquered by two alliances, Ushra'khan and Atlas Alliance, who defeated the previous owners CVA and their holder alliances in a campaign that lasted for several weeks. For many neutral pilots, CVA's loss was bad news, as CVA and their holders regularly allowed these neutral outsiders to reside in their space. The new owners, however, quickly restored some of CVA's hospitality. Ushra'khan (ticker: UK) themselves declared they were adopting a 'Not Red, Don't Shoot' policy (NRDS), essentially allowing neutrals into UK space, and some of their allies followed suit. It was this policy that allowed us to go there, and enjoy the thrills and rewards of nullsec.

From the start, however, it was clear that Providence was still in a lot of turmoil. Hostile fleets roamed the systems and blocked routes, even in Ushra'khan space; it seemed UK wasn't able or willing to enforce their 'NRDS' policy. We resided in another system, but suffered a lot from these roaming gangs of hostiles, and we lost several ships. Pretty soon, we started to feel the financial pain of these losses, and it started to look like the rewards were not enough to cover the costs anymore. So, we contemplated a retreat from Providence back to highsec, and wait for another - perhaps better - shot at nullsec space later.

While we were discussing this, news broke that the Ushra'khan alliance had been dealt a deadly blow. An undercover agent infiltrated Ushra'khan, slowly working his way up through the alliances' hierarchy; after one year of patient roleplaying and plotting, he rose to such a powerful administrative position he was able to dismantle the alliance from within, simply by ejecting most member corporations from the alliance - and steal a lot of stuff in the process, too. As this agent is now the only one left in the Ushra'khan alliance with any power - he removed all others- there's no way UK can be restored to it's previous incarnation. Whether you like Ushra'khan or not: you have to admire that kind of dedication! It's stuff like this that makes Eve Online unique, in my opinion.

As it is now, Ushra'khan still does exist, but it's no longer a meaningful entity. The corporations who used to make up Ushra'khan membership are still active and of course keep defending their space, but obviously they suffered a severe blow to morale and organization. As was to be expected, hostile alliances like Hydra Reloaded and Razor alliance are now trying to profit off the confusion, to gain sovereignty over parts of space currently owned by former Ushra'khan members. In other words: more battle, more turmoil.

Luckily I succeeded in getting my clone and most important gear (Drake battlecruiser, T2 drones, loot and some ammo) out of Providence, earlier today; it is now safe in highsec empire space. We will continue to watch the situation, which is highly interesting in itself. But it probably means we'll have to look for another, preferrably more peaceful part of nullsec to continue our exploration. A nice task for a diplomat..

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