Archive for the 'Today In Ironfleet' Category

I haven’t been online much this week — real world calling — but I logged in an hour ago (after midnight local) to shuffle some ships and organize some gear for an hour. But of course, first I had to check my local belts for Dread Guristas, loose ore, and similar hazards to navigation.

Found a guy mining in a Vexor.

Just there, mining, miles from any containers, all by himself, no jetcans out, mining lasers shining cheerily.

I said to myself, “Self”, I said, “this cannot last. I shall come back later and see what is to be found then.”

So, I finished sweeping the belts, I ran an errand in the next system, and I returned.

I found my industrious Vexor pilot mining about twenty klicks from a jumbled pair of Giant Secure Containers, shuttling back and forth to them to dump his cargo hold. The GSCs were adrift where he’d (presumably) jettisoned them from a Badger, nav lights flashing green and brightly.

Flashing green. Yum.

Off I went to get my Bustard. Overkill, but it was handy.

Warp in on the cans. Scoop. Leave. Takes awhile — the Bustard is no twinkletoes — but there’s no reaction from the Vexor, who keeps mining about 20km away.

I wish I could have been there when his mining lasers turned off and he went to approach his … cans? “Hey, where are my cans? WTF? What happened to my cans? I tell you, they were just there, they were RIGHT THERE!”

One can was full, one was about 10% full.

Twenty minutes later, I’ve been watching local for puzzled or outraged inquiries, but nothing.

There’s a corporation in one of my systems called “Rampaging Alpacas”, which I think is one of the great corp names. Sadly, although they used to be numerous, they’ve suffered some sort of recent explosion, and yesterday when I looked they only had two members. I mention this because all of the players in today’s salvage operation were former members of Rampaging Alpacas but for one, who is still an alpaca. I don’t know why they are mostly now in NPC corporations, but today’s salvage operation would have been impossible otherwise, so I won’t complain.

Anyway, I warped to the belt in my salvage Crane, to find a former Alpacan mining into three numbered jetcans, in a hulk, mining drones out. Cool.

Closed slowly on the first can. It was full. That’s great — I flipped it — but it left me in a bind, because I’ve got a 2.5 minute wait before I can create another jet can. Sigh, can’t haul it all. Filled my Crane from the second can and warped home.

I decided to go back in the Iron Crowbar (as I call my favorite salvage Ferox) to guard my can and (if I’m lucky) secure some more ore.

Warped in at 20 clicks. There’s now a hauler present and only one “enemy” jetcan. I lock my own can and tractor it away from that immediate vicinity. Then I hit the afterburner and head in to see about flipping that other can.

By the time I get there, it’s only got about 10k cubic meters of ore left in it, but what the hey. I flip it, put it on tow, and go powering out of the belt.

When I get 20km past the first (full) Ironfleet jetcan, I drop the partial and pick up the full one, and then keep running for deep space. The idea here is to make it harder for them to flip it back, and to keep the can moving so that nobody can warp to zero on it. Then, once all agro is clear, I can come back in the Bustard and move it in one shot.

Normally that works. Today, an Iskur and a Scorpion showed up, and then the hauler pilot in a Caracal. The Hulk pilot (the only guy who can shoot at me) continues mining.

The Iskur immediately closes with me and launches five Tech II combat drones. I expect him to flip some or all of the ore and then dare me to shoot at him, which would be foolish insomuch as my Ferox is not optimized for catching small fast frigates with good skills.

Only, he doesn’t. He just chases me.

And chases me.

And chases me.

Much more slowly, the Scorpion and the Caracal also follow me. None of these characters has agro rights, so I’m not sure what the plan is. But they are all former corpmates, and I assume they have one.

Eventually I figure they must plan to flip the ore once I leave, and then haul it before I can come back for it. But, they don’t have a hauler present. Maybe they plan to flip it and then pwn my hauler when I come to take it back?

Dunno. But I’m now 200+ km from the belt, all agro timers have run out, so it’s time to move. Drop the can, bookmark it, and warp home for my Bustard.

Warp back (and this is key) 10km from the can. There I find the Caracal pilot, the Scorp pilot, and the Iskur pilot, sitting around drinking Quafe and admiring the jet can one of them has apparently just shat out. But my own can still exists, and nobody is flashing red. Lock the can, hit the tractor. ZOOMcan!

The Caracal pilot begins flashing red as my jetcan flies out of his range. He obviously managed to grab a cruiserload of ore, at least.

Then the can reaches me. It’s still virtually full — he must not have managed to flip any. Dump it all in my hold, warp home laughing.

There’s still another can back at the belt, 1/3 full, so I go back for that. Warp to it. It’s still there. Flashy red Caracal, and the Scorp, and the Iskur, all still there, out at 200 kilometers. Take ore, go home.

Now for some fun. Back in the Ferox. Warp to where the flashy red Caracal used to be.

Sadly, he’s not there no more; he’s 50 klicks away. What the heck, I approach him to see if he runs, and lock him. He locks me back. Iskur and Scorp are standing by, interested neutrals who cannot play. I hold my fire, turn on my afterburner, creep closer. He is running away as if to kite me, but I am catching him slowly, and he’s allowing it.

When I’m at point blank range, I turn on my warp scrambler, hit “keep at 500m”, overheat my afterburner, and start launching missiles. Then I launch drones. If he’s really the world’s slowest Caracal, he’ll be dead soon.

And he is. He starts shooting at me and trying to outrun my scramble range, but he can’t do it. He’s gonna die, while his friends watch helplessly.

This is where the alert readers will be smiling and saying “Marlenus, you don’t know dick about PvP.” Which is true. Because right then the Iskur starts bumping the crap out of me. It slows me down, the Caracal quickly gets out of scramble range, and warps away with dented armor.

So I begin to align for warp home. It’s going slowly, the Iskur is still bumping me and it looks like the Scorp is still trying to lumber into range to do the same. Interesting! Can they really keep me here long enough for the Caracal pilot to come back in something dangerous?

Answer: No. Once I remembered that my afterburner was still on, and turned it off, I was able to get aligned between bumps (nav skills for the win!) and warp out. But it was an amusing and very instructive encounter.

Not to mention: profitable.

Although I don’t write about it much because it’s not very exciting, I take a great deal of enjoyment in, and make some fair income from, putting up bizarrely cheap buy orders on the market and hoping they will fill. Usually they don’t; sometimes they do.

Recently I decided to stock up on Tech II precision missiles. They are fairly cheap, widely considered to be worthless or at least a poor ammo choice, and there are rumors that the devs are tweaking (“balancing”) missiles as part of the upcoming nanospeed nerfing patch. Even if missiles generally get nerfed in that balancing extravaganza, it struck me a few weeks ago that the relative worth of the precision missiles might increase relative to other options, and I’d feel stupid if I didn’t have a robust inventory when the price explodes. So, I bought some token shooting amounts, and put in some very large “stupid cheap” orders to see if anybody felt like dumping inventory.

I’ve picked up a fair few cheap missiles, but today I found two purchases in my wallet that I particularly enjoyed:

Scourge Precision Heavy Missile, 34 ISK, Quantity 14,502
Thunderbolt Precision Heavy Missile, 10 ISK, Quantity 43,680

The average market price for those missiles in my region has recently been at about 350 and 225 ISK, respectively. So I could dump them now for a quick 14 million ISK profit, or hold to see if they appreciate after the nerf/balance episode. Either way, my cost was under a million ISK.

The only fly in the ointment is that I’ll need to take a hauler about four jumps into low sec to pick them up, but with my new FW-honed low-sec skills and a spot of luck, I should be able to pull that off.

So, the interesting question becomes, who dumps a large inventory of expensive missiles (or anything else) into an insultingly cheap market order, and why do they do it?

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the long silence. As mentioned, I’ve been having a lot of fun in the Caldari factional warfare fleets, and the skills I’m learning will serve me well when I decide to return full-time to my salvage activities. But, sadly, most of the FW fleet actions don’t generate much worth blogging about. It’s like that weary general said during World War One: They came at us in the same old way, and we killed them in the same old way.

Only, sometimes, it’s vice versa.

My other problem has been technical; EVE has been marginally unstable for at least a month, crashing me out at the most inopportune times. I upgraded my video, no help; reinstalled my OS, no help; and then (far too late) discovered I had some bad memory. It seems to be stable again, after many frustrating nights of troubleshooting and tinkering; I’m keeping my fingers crossed and holding my breath.

Moving rapidly along, you want to hear about the blockade runner versus the battle cruiser, dontcha?

First, some background. After I got a hulk kill in my trusty blockade runner transport back in early June, I’ve been wondering what’s the next big thing to hunt, for another notch in the ship’s bell.

Tonight, I found a Ferox mining in a belt, with at least three mining lasers active. “Aha!” I said. A battlecruiser will do. It will do nicely.

Now, let’s be realistic about this ambition. A Crane has exactly one weapon slot. Is it even possible for a Crane to break the tank on a Ferox? I can’t say, but I’m certain it would have to be a very lame Ferox.

And, to be blunt, that’s what I had. I looked up the pilot, one InfameWolf of White Star Corporation [W.SC], member of Talon Alliance. Date of birth: twelve days ago. I am not making this up.

A Ferox is a forgiving ship, but after you’ve mounted three mining lasers as a 12 day old character, what could you possibly have left in the way of weapons and tank? There’s never going to be a better target than this one. It’s late at night and he’s been in his new corp for one day, so the odds seem decent that he won’t even get reinforced.

So, selecting my very best and most deadly combat Crane from the array of fitted Cranes in my hangar, I warped to zero on his cargo can.

I opened his can.

It had about 12k cubic meters of fancy Plagioclase ores in it. And some heavy assault missiles. Which vanished as I was transferring the ore to an Ironfleet jet can. Hmm, better not stick close to this guy.

He’s targeting, he’s launching drones, a motley assortment of three Tech One combat drones. His drones begin pecking at me.

I warp scramble him and attempt to orbit him at good scramble range, and begin pecking at him with Caldari Navy heavy missiles. He manages to find at least one gun, (type unknown) and two heavy missile launchers, and begins shooting at me with those.

His damage is … sustainable. It’s close; he took me fairly fast down to the best place on the recharge curve for my shields, and I’m having to use some shield boost to stay there. But it’s shield boost at a level I can (I think) sustain forever. The gun stopped scratching me when I got out to max disruptor range and began orbiting, and no HAMs are hitting me out there either.

Meanwhile, my own heavy missile system is — well — gaining. That’s the best I can say; it’s eating his shield faster than his recharge rate, but it’s going to take half an hour to get him there, and I’ll probably need to overheat the launcher if I’m going to have a prayer of getting through his peak recharge.

I decide I might as well take out his drones, just to make my life easier. I pop one of them, and just then … WTF?

He warped away.

Was he warp stabbed? Did I flail at my navigation and let him get outside of warp disruptor range? I can’t say. Why did he run? I assumed this would all end badly after he summoned a friend — did he not have any friends online? I just don’t know.

All I know is, a Ferox (possibly the lamest Ferox in the known universe, but a fugly battlecruiser nonetheless) attacked me, and I shot at it in my transport ship, and it ran away, leaving ore behind to be salvaged. This makes me very happy.

Since there was too much ore to haul home in a Crane, I went and got my own Ferox, the one with a tractor beam for moving ore cans out of hostile warp-in zones. And then I cheerfully towed the can away from the belt and waited for my new best friend InfameWolf to come back.

Which he did, about sixty clicks away from me. I targeted him, but he prudently chose to flee some more.

Eventually, I docked the Ferox, grabbed a handy Badger II, and hauled all the tasty plagioclase home. It felt good to be hauling ore again, I need to do this more often.

All the Factional Warfare excitement has really put a crimp in my old-time aggressive salvaging fun. I’ve been too busy fitting, fighting, and losing ships to bother much with any but the most opportunistic of salvage opportunities.

Like the one I encountered today. I was putting a different fit on my Scorpion, and on a whim, I warped to the belt to jam the crud out of a Gurista Arrogator. Instead, I found a dude in an Osprey snuggling up to a Giant Secure Can. It was NOT anchored.

Back I went for my Crane.

By the time I returned in the “helpless hauler”, the Osprey dude had managed to anchor the GSC. Drat.

But hey. Has he had the time, or the knowledge, to set the password?

In a word, no.

So I removed the ore from the can, fully expecting to get a criminal flag the way I do when I remove ore from a jet can. Only, no flag!

Cool! I’ve never found an unpassworded can with stuff in it before, so I’d never realized there is no agro when you take from an unpassworded can. I looked around, saw two more anchored cans with the same owner, and went scooting around emptying them, too. Tasty, tasty pyroxeres!

By now the erstwhile ore owner is convo-ing me in impotent fury. He keeps opening new convos and typing “WTF” into the windows, then apparently losing the windows, before starting over. I think he sent me about five “WTF!” convos.

I had to jet some of the ore — there was too much for one trip in my Crane — so he had a chance to take some back if he was so inclined. Sensibly, he wasn’t.

Eventually he manages to keep his eyes on a chat window long enough to ask why I was stealing his ore. That question always bemuses me, I’m never sure what to say that isn’t hopelessly sarcastic. Usually I fall back on my “I prefer to consider it aggressive salvaging” and leave the “why” unaddressed — if the tastiness of ISK isn’t universal, I don’t know how to communicate it.

But then he asked a very good question: “How are you doing that without flashing red?” I didn’t want to educate him about password protection, so I simply said “you have failed to secure your ore” and closed the chat. But I got to thinking about the question.

Is taking ore from an anchored can with no password most analogous to scooping a can with no anchor (in which case the lack of red-flashy is to be expected)? Or is it more like taking ore from a jet can? If the latter, there should be red-flashy, and there wasn’t.

Given the two years of ugliness with VampireZIM that’s at least partly founded on his opinion that my operations against his POS were exploitative, I’d much prefer to know what the game mechanic is supposed to be. And I wasn’t quite sure, in tonight’s case, whether my salvage victim should have gotten the right to shoot at me.

So what did I do?

I petitioned myself.

Well, not literally. I filed an exploit petition, but they are described as being for the purpose of “asking whether something is an exploit” as well as reporting exploits, so I wrote a nice note explaining what happened and asking whether the lack of a crim flag when I took from the unpassworded can was “working as intended” or a bug.

Within minutes, I had my answer from GM Surmoi. Criminal flagging, it turns out, is only supposed to happen with respect to wrecks or jet cans, but never in connection with secure containers. Cool!

Moral: Anchor those bad boys, and then don’t forget to set the password!

The Concord mailbag today brought word that CLDRI has indeed stopped paying for Revenge War Number Nine. So, by this time tomorrow, Ironfleet will be at peace … except, of course, with respect to the enemy militias.

In other news, Ujagar Sommdax caught up to me on Friday night while I was forming up with a fleet. He performed a well-executed gank, killing my Scorpion battleship in a Megathron that must have been jammed to the gills with ECCM, considering how many jamming attempts I made without landing a single one.

Fortunately I made money on the deal, since the Scorp cost me, ship and insurance and fittings all together, several million less than the fat check I got from the Secure Commerce Commission. Since I had a second one all fitted and ready to go in system, it was really as painless a gank as I’ve ever suffered. I think I was ten seconds behind the fleet when it jumped into Tama for the night’s operations.

The stars turn in their courses, the sun sets and rises again, and in the dewy dawn of a new day, another letter arrives from VampireZIM. This one is collected and fairly reasonable:

2008.07.28 01:43
Well, after talking to my corp mates, they have convinced me that I am being over obsessive about killing you. The funny part is that CCP re-embursed me for everything you destroyed anyway, because it was in fact an exploit, thats why you got the CONCORD message, but then didnt show up.

Anyway, I will allow the war to run its course, so i get my moneys worth. :P

As to your question on your blog, you go to Character Sheet and Kill Rights.

Please dont mis-understand me, I still think you are scum of eve, but I am going to burry this hatchet and next time I am bored, I will pick a larger corp with people willing to fight back. :P

Its unfortunate that I will still have to see you in space, but I am setting you to neutral, so maybe I wont notice you there.


Point the First: The war started on 6/23 at 01:14:00. So, if I’m counting my sevens right, the war would have expired 29 minutes before VampireZIM sent this email, unless he’d already paid the war bill for another week. So, the war’s got at least a week to run, even with the hatchet buried. Probably not quite time to spend the peace dividend just yet.

Point the Second: Has anybody ever heard of a case where CCP reimbursed someone for losses due to exploit, without CCP also at least warning, if not banning, the exploiter? Because, I have not, and it seems like it would be an odd way to proceed.

Point The Third: Smart corp mates. Keep ’em.

That would be: my shields.

I have been flying some Griffins and Blackbirds in faction warfare fleets, so (at the urging of some fleetmates) I decided to buy and fit up a Scorpion electronic warfare battleship. They are so cheap just now that if you insure them, and lose them, the insurance pays out enough to cover the cost of ship, insurance, and a full set of low-meta-level T1 fittings, making it a completely free ship to fly, or just a very cheap one if you get fancy with the fittings.

Took the fitted ship down to Nourvokaiken and stopped at the Tama gate to see what was up. A friend in a Raven was demonstrating EVE to a relative, and asked me to jump into Tama with him to provide a little cover and maybe get a little action on the Nourv gate. We did that, but nobody came to play, so we jumped back into Nourv. He docked, and I was planning to do likewise, when I noticed a flashing red target reticule on a neutral Megathron that was sitting there.

And then, as the saying goes, my shields began to melt like snowflakes in July.

It was a complete surprise and my reaction was one of barely functional panic. Our Gallente friends like to mock the Caldari style of play by talking about how we “roll our foreheads across the F1-F8 keys”. Well, that’s what I was doing.

I selected a random warp destination, gave the warp command, and began the slow and ugly battleship aligning process. (That thing is a flying PIGDOG, my BUSTARD aligns better!) Then I started mashing my jammers and seeing to the details of my tank. I honestly can’t say what he was hitting me with (there were drones involved too) but he was hitting me really hard. I don’t know if he got me warp scrambled (I assume he did) but when I dumped my whole rack of jammers on him, I got a successful jam cycle, which lasted until I was in warp.

It all happened very fast. He didn’t quite get through my shields, but there must have been some bleedthrough, because I had about five thousand ISK worth of armor scratches that needed repairing.

It turns out he was a pirate, name of Ujagar Sommdax, member of Earned In Blood [EARN], with a thirty million ISK bounty on his head. We had a fairly pleasant after-action convo in which he attempted to convince to come back and jam him again “just for fun”. (I declined.) He also expressed astonishment to learn that this had been my first-ever fight in a battleship. As for me, I was trying to find out how he could attack me in high sec without a Concord response, because he is not at war with me and not a member of the Gallente militia.

All he would say is that I “stole his cookies in low sec.” It is true that while out with an Achmed fleet last week, we did engage several neutrals who were attacking the fleet. So I checked the killboards. Ah, there he is. If memory serves, several neutrals were attacking fleet members, so the FC asked for volunteers to tank the gate guns and take them out. I volunteered; so presumably he got kill rights in that encounter.

Is there a way for an EVE player to check, via the interface, for active kill rights other people may have?

Apologies dear readers if this grows tedious for you. I use this blog sometimes as an aid to memory, and so I tend to include stuff that happens all in a rush even when it doesn’t make a lot of dramatic sense to blog about it. If you’re just now joining us, there’s a rush of incoming love notes from Vampire Zim. If you prefer sequential chronology to this reverse-bloggy stuff, start with Love Letters From VampireZim, then read But Wait, There’s More! and then come back to here.

For those just joining us, in a previous post I called VampireZIM a liar for claiming he was “making every effort to right this issue.” Last night just as I was logging off, he responded:

Obviously I meant that I was making every effort to right this issue without losing face. If I back down after the wrong you have done me, then I look bad. So that being known, unless we find another way to right this, and I think I have taken a big step in calling for this cease fire, that you have declined, then I dont see this ever ending.

Losing face? You’d think the guy in his ninth fruitless war would have started to notice he’s not exactly saving face by declaring and maintaining them. But, maybe that’s just me.

Just before I logged out for the night, I wrote back:

Do you honestly think anybody but you thinks that some POS modules you lost two years ago are a matter of honor? It’s like the first caracal I ever lost to a pirate, I’m the only one who cares. It’s EVE, sometimes you lose shit.

I suppose that wasn’t nice, but it’s how I see things. Readers, tell me — does anybody here have a low opinion of VampireZIM that stems from his failure to avenge some laboratory modules lost in 2006, which low opinion will be revised upwards if he successfully blows up some Ironfleet ships and pods?

Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

Anyway, this morning I woke up to more love letters. I tell you, things don’t look good for the forces of detante. Where’s Jimmy Carter when we need him?

Responding to the last two paragraphs of my last blog post, VampireZim writes:

First, of all I dont need permission from an FC to pursue you into low sec, if that was my intention, it would have already happend, like the first two times i asked for fleet, I knew you were entering tama, why didnt i set up my camp on the other side waiting for your arrival.

Second, I offered this cease fire for the benefit of the fleet, I very much want to kill you, but I am not going to cause problems in a fleet where I am expected to watch my “brothers” backs.

Zim’s trouble here is that he’s got a credibility gap. Why didn’t he set up camp on the Nourv gate in Tama? Because he lacks the forces required. That gate is usually too hot for two pilots (which is what he had in Nourv yesterday) to sit on. It would be a waste of his Ishtar and Max Threat’s Onyx, and he knows it.

The pious “for the benefit of the fleet” would cut more onions if he’d ever previously volunteered for this or any other of the fleets leaving Nourv at that time of day. (There are time slots when I’m rarely online, I can’t speak for what fleets he joins at those times.) Bluntly put, I don’t believe that he is “not going to cause problems in a fleet” that he joined for the express purpose of finding and killing me. It’s simply not credible.

His next EVEmail, responding to the one above that I sent just before logging off last night, the one in which I asked if he seriously thought anybody else in the game cared about his two-years-gone POS modules:

No, that is the difference, you lost a ship because you were stupid and entered low sec, my POS was my home, it was supposed to be safe in high sec, but you exploited a bug that allowed you to attack it without concord agression. Thats why it was telling you that you were committing an offence against concord, but they didnt show up, you knew you were doing something wrong and you did it anyway.

In addition, it doesnt matter what others think, I think its a matter of honor and thats all I need.

I am fascinated and astonished that VampireZIM thinks I “exploited a bug” when I attacked his off-line POS (apparently home maintenance is not a vampiric strength). At the time, in 2006, there was no Concord response to such attacks. I searched the forums to find out whether Concord ought to be responding, and found nothing but a few conflicting opinions; nobody seemed to know. I didn’t know squat about “the rules” for high sec POS warfare, so I figured hey, shoot first and ask questions later, that’s what everybody else in this game seems to do.

Moving on: Does anybody else see a conflict between the statement “If I back down after the wrong you have done me, I look bad” and the statement “it doesnt matter what others think, I think its a matter of honor and thats all I need”? If it doesn’t matter what others think, why care about looking bad? How can someone fret about “losing face” who doesn’t care “what others think”? Somebody needs to quietly re-examine their inner motives.

And then — the fun never stops! — two more emails in the queue:

I have always warned you, out of sight out of mind, since you joined militia, you have been in sight alot, that is why you are perma dec’d. It was easy to forget you and move on, but now you are always where I am, that is the problem.

I will not cancel this war until we are back to that point, you on one side of Caldari Space, me on the other side.

You make alot of assumptions, I join fleets all the time, you dont seem to notice, I play eve 16 hours a day and I have 3 accounts, just because you dont notice the times I am in fleet, doesnt mean i never do. When I am in fleet, i have a job to do, i dont give a fuck about you, im not going to sacrifice my position in fleet and make myself look bad just to kill your “fully insured T1 replaceable ships”.

But while you are flying around stealing peoples shit, blowing up thier POS modules or whatever the hell you CLAIM to be doing with your time, I will fuckin hunt you till i pass out.

Thirty six minutes later:

In addition and I really think you would be doing the few people that read your blog justice by adressing this. You keep coming back to this SMOKING GUN, that I promised not to attack you if you stopped blowing up my shit, and then afterwards war dec’d you.

Lets put it like this, an evil man breaks into your home, while you, your wife and 5 children sleep, you wake and confront him, he stars shooting one child at a time. You in an act of desperation, tell him you will open the safe and give him all your money if he just leaves, he agrees, then you pull a gun out of the safe and shoot him. In your twisted little mind, are you a dis-honest person or justified in taking revenge on your attacker, someone who has done you harm?

You were blowing up my fucking shit, I negotiated with you to get you to stop blowing up my shit, you are NOT the rightious party in this situation, so get the fuck over yourself already!

The first email speaks, I think, for itself. The second one, since he asked me to address it here, I shall address.

VampireZIM entirely misconstrues and misunderstands the significance of his broken promise to me the night he first encountered Ironfleet. Although I am enormously entertained by the comparison of Ironfleet’s mighty Caracal fleet to an evil child-murdering home invader, I have no problem with the essential mechanics of the analogy. This is called situational ethics, and it’s highly pragmatic — the idea for people like VampireZIM is that you make the promises you need to make in order to get what you want, and then you break them as soon as you’ve gotten what you want.

Situational ethics are pragmatic, but they are not “honor” in any normal sense. Someone with situational ethics cannot be trusted, because they will break a promise whenever it is convenient. And that is why I “keep coming back” to my first encounter with VampireZIM. He speaks of honor, but he doesn’t practice it. And then he wonders why he cannot negotiate with Ironfleet. I think he’s genuinely confused about that part. Because he’s full of his own sense of self-justification, he doesn’t see that he’s forever destroyed his capacity to be believed.

Now, as it happens, I think “honor” tends to be pretty silly in an internet spaceship game. These modern-day would-be samurai who smack-talk anybody who won’t “come out and fight” are figures of derision for me; I see EVE as a very modern war of all against all. Picking your fights and arranging for uneven fights, avoiding the ones you aren’t sure to win, strikes me as the very essence of enlightened self-interest, and EVE is a game that rewards self-interest.

What is not silly, despite all pointless notions of honor, is a reputation for keeping your word and doing what you’ll say you’ll do. Even pirates, the good ones, try to develop a reputation for honoring their ransoms. In a game where many fun and interesting activities require trust, a reputation for situational ethics — for giving your word lightly and breaking it just as lightly — is a bad thing to have. And that’s the reputation VampireZIM has earned with Ironfleet. It makes negotiations between VampireZIM and Ironfleet virtually impossible — a fact he does not seem to grasp or comprehend.

I have never claimed to be the “righteous party” in Ironfleet’s dispute with VampireZIM. On the contrary, I’ve freely admitted that we did him an injury in the hope of financial gain. That’s what Ironfleet does, unless we’ve given our word not to. (I defy anybody to name an instance where Ironfleet has given a promise and not kept it, though. The closest case I can think of was when I accidentally podded Aktala at a time when she thought, wrongly but with good reason for thinking, that we had a no-podding agreement; and I resolved that by paying her the price she named for her implants.)

Nope, the only reason I keep mentioning VampireZIM’s infamous lie (and his repeated statements that he doesn’t feel bound by his promises to Ironfleet) is because he keeps going on about his honor. What he needs, and does not have, and now cannot get because of his repeated denunciations of the very idea, is a reputation for keeping his word.

While I was blogging the last love notes from VampireZIM, another one came in. This one contained a sort of half-assed armistice proposal, which I thought a bit odd, coming as it did from the aggressor:

I would like to propose a cease fire if people in your corp are in militia fleet with people from my corp. We both have FC friends, its stupid for us to put them on the spot to decide who gets axed from the fleet.

So if we are both in militia fleet, we will have a temporary cease fire until 5 minutes after returning back to high sec from a militia ops. All other times war is in full effect.

This cease fire will be kept in place even if one party drops from the militia fleet, it will hold until both parties have returned to high sec space for 5 minutes.

You can post this on your forum, so that if for any reason there is a friendly fire during a cease fire moment, you can hold my honor to it. Unlike a thieving liar, I hold to my word, I hope that we can gain some middle ground in this endevour.

I gave this one some serious thought, because to be honest I’m not happy about internecine strife within the militia. I think it’s stupid and deleterious to the war effort, and I think it ought to stop.

Too, it’s not fair to any FC to have to worry about this shit. They’ve got a lot going on, they don’t need the distraction. I think any FW corp ought to be willing to settle — and more importantly, not to start — wars against another FW corp. Sadly, VampireZIM appears not to share this view.

But the half-assed cease fire option doesn’t make a lot of sense. For one thing, VampireZim and his crew have never before flown any interest in flying with the fleets I fly with. I’ve never seen any of them in low sec (although, to be fair, I did see a CLDRI wreck in lowsec once). So it shouldn’t be an issue for the FC’s of the fleets I’m in. And if it is, I can always — quite happily — leave those fleets and go do something else — a fact of which all my favorite FCs are fully aware.

But mostly, I was thinking of VampireZIM’s infamous emails in which he wrote, a very long time ago:

First of all why the fuck would I honor a promise to someone who has attacked and robbed me?

And also:

I will not honor my word against a tyrant who goes around destroying peoples property, without provocation.

There you have it, folks, from the vampire’s own cold clammy lips. His word, when he gives it to me, is no good. So why should I take it?

And as for his honor, of which he speaks in the armistice offer — well, let me just say that I would not be impressed by it, in the event that I were able to detect it.

So I wrote back the politest rejection letter of which I am capable, after first deleting several more derisive versions:

I’m going to reject your proposal, because I do not trust you. You broke your word to me the very first night you met, and have repeatedly said you feel no obligation to honor your word to me. I don’t see how your public word will help, since you are already on public record as not feeling obligated to keep your promises to Ironfleet.

If you want to protect your younger players and our FC friends, drop the war dec so that we can go back to ignoring each other and killing Gallente scum.

It is my opinion that your wars with Ironfleet make you look bad, and that it would be in your interest to stop them.

Despite your aspersions, I defy you to point to any time, any where, where anyone in Ironfleet has failed to keep a promise. You, on the other hand, cannot make that claim.

We do have one point in common — the desire to find some common ground. I suggest we find it by quietly, peacefully, ignoring each other, forever.

— Marlenus

Gather around me, good citizens, and speculate with me about how the VampireZIM we know and love will respond to that letter. Will he drop the war and let us both get on with killing Gallente scum, mutually unmolested? Let us read together, and see.

Oh, dear:

Your Loss, I have extended my hand and you slapped it, you will have to leave gang, because i have made an effort to make things right.

I dont give a fuck about young players, i can buy them new ships.

My war is JUST, You attacked me first, I am defending my honor.

This war will go forever, so if you dont want to take this kind gesture, then fuck you.

I have spoken to [name of fleet commander, redacted by Marlenus] and told him my gesture to you, your next lie in fleet, wont go as well as last time, I am making every effort to right this issue.

Besides, what the fuck do you care, every ship you take into militia should be one you are prepared to lose. I am not going to betray my fleet by shooting my own, if you cant make that claim, then you are a piece of shit, which re-afirms my original opinion of you.

OK, so diplomacy is not VampireZIM’s strong suit, I wouldn’t have called the insults in the first letter an extended hand of any sort. But then again, I’m obviously not a first-rank diplomat my own self, so I guess we can move past that.

“I don’t give a fuck about young players.” Well. I guess that’s their problem, then. They have my sympathies, and best wishes in finding a better corp as their EVE career progresses. I hear Boromor and RapidTaco have grandiose plans involving 0.0 access and a State Protectorate capital fleet; despite my skepticism of those goals, I can personally attest that both of those corporate leaders genuinely do “give a fuck about younger players.”

“This war will go forever.” Gee, really? I never would have guessed.

The fleet commander — whose name I see no reason to associate needlessly with this drama — is aware of the situation. I have no idea what “lie in fleet” VampireZIM might be referring to; the only thing I’ve said about Zim in the fleet is variations on “He’s just hunting me, he doesn’t usually go out with fleets” which is, I believe, the truth.

But, it doesn’t matter. I’ll happily fly with that fleet commander when he wants me, and leave the fleet to accommodate his preference if he’d rather have VampireZIM on a given evening. My goal in fleets is to be an asset to the fleet commander and the fleet goals. If I’m not an asset because of my baggage, that’s fine with me, there are plenty of fleets and plenty of complexes and (let us not forget) still plenty of uncollected salvage that could use Ironfleet’s loving attention. That’s why war has never been a problem for Ironfleet; two years into this game and I still have far more activities I enjoy than I have time to do them. If I have to put one on hold and pursue another, because of the Zimwar? No big deal.

(Just by way of example, since FW started I’ve been itching to go hunting for stragglers in my stealth bombers. Haven’t done it because I haven’t found the time. But it’s very high on my list.)

Back to VampireZIM:

“I am making every effort to right this issue.”

Now that there is a lie. VampireZIM declared this war; it wouldn’t take much effort to cancel it. If his concern is for the greater glory of the State Protectorate and the Caldari State, he could “right this issue” with three or four mouse clicks. Not so very much effort at all.

The profanity in the last paragraph seems not to warrant a response, but I’ll give it this much anyway: I have never shot at another member of one of my fleets except when ordered to do so by the fleet commander. Given my very strong reasons for thinking that VampireZIM has been trying to get shots at me by joining the fleets that I’m flying in, I think it’s pretty funny who he’s calling “a piece of shit”. I didn’t take his offer because I don’t trust him not to shoot at me in fleet no matter what he says — he’s tried (twice!) to put himself in a position to do just that and he’s repeatedly said he won’t honor promises he makes to me.

VampireZIM, if you want peace, offer peace. You can still shoot at me in low sec, from inside the fleet or out of it. You don’t need a war dec for that. Or, you could offer a fleets-only low-sec cease fire once we are at nominal peace; I’d be willing to make and keep to that deal, although I wouldn’t exactly stop watching my back.

But if you don’t actually want peace, than please, own your belligerence, and don’t try to look all surprised when you get caught trying to set up a sneak attack. Twice.

That is all.

Unless, of course, you want to send me some more love letters.