Is high-sec safe? High-sec is about as safe as that African plain. And in my opinion, that's just about right.
Every week -- it used to be on Fridays but now it's on Mondays -- I entertain all of you with a kill of the week. If you've been reading the blog for any length of time, you know that these tend to run the gamut from hauler ganks to interesting PvP kills to expensive super-caps to goofy little one-offs.
And lots and lots of times, either the KOTW itself or one of the little honorable mentions that I throw in are high-sec ganks.
I'm not the only one that advertises such things, either. Just in the last couple of days, TMC has entertained me with a couple of really amusing examples, including an all-out undeclared war on high-priced mission ships in Sveipar. And of course, I've already discussed mining barge ganking.
Granted, suicide ganking in high-sec is down, most likely due to three factors:
- Mining barge tanks are tougher than they were.
- It's harder to profit from ganking thanks to loot-scooping making the scooper suspect-flagged.
- Kill rights gained from suicide ganking are transferrable, making the practice riskier for the gankers.
As for kill rights, they're becoming increasingly silly as anyone's idea of a deterrent. Suppose I get my Retriever ganked by a couple of people using Catalysts. I now have two kill-rights that I can sell. BFD: the pilots involved are almost certainly only out there in Catalysts, and likely in criminal-flagged Catalysts to boot! The kill right is not only irrelevant, it's laughably irrelevant. In exchange for the loss of my 30 million ISK ship, I get the right to kill a one million ISK ship. Again: BFD.
Is high-sec "too safe"? In my opinion, no. People who do dumb things with their expensive or even not-so-expensive toys are getting themselves killed with no war-dec in evidence and CONCORD reduced to a foot-note in the affair. If you leave an expensive Antonov AN-12 cargo plane unguarded in the plains of New Eden, you'll soon find it reduced to metal scraps. And this is particularly true if you choose to go AFK with your ship in space or use auto-pilot. The system, in short, is working as designed... again, in my opinion.
While I understand the desire to make high-sec less safe, the problem with doing so is that the advantage right now is still in the hands of the gankers. And even if all other factors were eliminated, the reason for this is that they get to choose the terms of the engagement.
Let's say that you're running a major mining op and you do everything "right." You have 20-odd mining ships, an Orca on grid, a solid 15-man defense fleet with tacklers and a variety of DPS ships, even a couple of logi. Let's put aside that half of this fleet is going to be absolutely bored out of their minds. I've been the guy sitting in a Caracal orbiting some mining barges waiting for something to happen. I assure you, Dear Readers, that this is not a fun way to play EVE. Watching grass grow is more engaging. But we're doing it "right": we're all right next to the keyboard guarding our mining op.
The gankers are still probably going to win this engagement if they choose to take it.
Unless their pilots are -10 or suspect flagged, they can warp a group of ten Catalysts up to my mining fleet, slide right up to engagement range of two of the Retrievers, bump them to keep them from escaping, and then blow them both away, no problem. Sure, CONCORD will show up. Sure, my tacklers can run in and get on the kill-mails. Absolutely, I can apply DPS and all ten Catalysts will die. But in exchange for 15 million ISK in T1 destroyers, they kill 80 million ISK in mining barges.
They win. The mining fleet loses. To put it in "elite PvP" terms, I'll take the ISK efficiency of that fight every time. And there's nothing the mining fleet can do about it until it's already over... even though the mining fleet did everything "right". Hell, the gankers might even be able to do it even if they're all -10 and suspect-flagged, because they'll have the element of surprise on their side. They know exactly when the attack is going to take place, and those crucial few seconds -- even against players that are at their keyboards -- will probably be all the difference that's needed to get the ganks. By the time someone gets a chance to yell a warning on comms, the Catalysts will already be firing.
The thing preventing this scenario from happening all the time is that:
- mining this way is incredibly boring for the guard fleet, so you'll almost never find anyone willing to volunteer for this; and,
- a ganking fleet that sees this going on will almost certainly move on to a softer target rather than attacking this one.
If high-sec is going to be made "less safe", then the pendulum has to swing both ways, not just one. Right now, high-sec ganking is preemptive, defending is not. As things are now, the defender has no viable way to reduce risk or generate safety in high-sec... without turning high-sec into low-sec, of course. But I'm obviously not in favor of that, either. I've already covered why.
As I said yesterday, I'm conflicted on this topic. I absolutely believe that there should be non-consensual PvP in New Eden. I've said that many times. It's one of the things that makes EVE EVE. Anyone trying to paint me as someone who wants to make high-sec a PvP-free zone is barking up the wrong tree. But this is also one of those topics that I don't currently believe is broken, or certainly not broken to the extent that other aspects of the game are.
But in the event CCP were to ask my my opinion on this subject, that's what I'd say.