Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, May 23, 2014

The five paragraph essay

I'm reluctant to write this sort of piece. When I write responses to other poeple's writing, I am more or less constantly accused of "starting a feud" with that writer. Hell, at this point, I seem to have "had feuds" with every writer covering EVE from DNSBLACK to Mord Fiddle to Xander Phoena and everyone in between. And this is both a silly accusation and not particularly true, for two reasons:
  1. If I write a response to a given writer's piece, I fundamentally respect that writer; and,
  2. I generally have friendly relations with the writers I respond to and I don't make a continuing big deal about my issues with their writing. "Feuds" by definition are on-going.
When is the last time you saw me write a response to James315, for instance? If I were going to have a feud with someone, presumably I'd go on and on about him. He certainly goes on and on about me!

No, from time to time, I read a single piece at a place where I usually enjoy reading their pieces... and that single piece strikes me as a little silly. It then seems right to me not to let that single piece pass without at least commenting on it. Such back-and-forth responses and counter-responses have been a center-piece of opinion-based writing for hundreds of years... and you guys know what a fan of history I am. ;-) So at the danger of starting a feud with yet another EVE writer, I'm going to do it again.

In writing, there is the concept of the logical chain. This is most commonly used in the standard "five paragraph essay" that U.S. middle school students are taught (to their horrors). The idea behind such an essay is that you open with a paragraph stating three major points you're going to write about in a thesis statement. Then for three paragraphs, you cover the points in your introduction usually in one point per paragraph. Then you conclude with a final paragraph stating that you've proven your thesis and why.

With this in mind, go read this five paragraph essay from Forlorn Wongraven of Pandemic Legion on Xander's Crossing Zebras. Read the whole thing. It won't take long.

Ready? Let's deconstruct this piece a bit.

Forlorn starts with a rather startling thesis statement with five points:
  1. Providence is newbie-friendly and NRDS. Stations in Provi are open stations freely dockable by anyone.
  2. CVA and other Provi holders offer bloc-wide fleets and doctrines;
  3. Providence provides lots of stations with easy access to ratting and mining;
  4. "The region has no valuable moon such and as such is inattractive for a sov attack."; and,
  5. alliances in Provi do not have a "decent SRP."
Then he starkly states as his thesis statement "[This] is all a lie"! So, interesting thesis statement, right? Let's see if he follows it up.
  • In para two, Forlorn departs from the standard format to briefly state that PL is on deployment to Providence and what that means -- he adds that PL "shys away from using capitals";
  • in para three, he states "Providence is as rich as any other region as far as moon goo is concerned." with some rather spurious backup, then implies that this moon goo is going toward lining the pockets of individuals, corps, and alliances rather than a ship replacement program;
  • in para four, he complains that PL is being unfairly maligned for their conduct, then with no sense of irony at all maligns Provi residents for theirs; then,
  • in his concluding para, he states "the reason why Providence still exists is that almost every entity uses this region to entertain their pilots since alliances there will often only field cheap T1 fleet doctrines but you can catch the 2b ISK Marauder or the unscouted Freighter." He goes on to say that one day, former residents of Providence will return their to destroy CVA utterly and after that, "decent newbie friendly alliances will find a place there."
OK. There's a lot going on in this piece. Let's deconstruct it a little.

Let's start with full disclosure. Forlorn Wongraven was previously in Ushra'Khan, apparently fairly highly placed among them. For the learned among you, take a moment to laugh then move on to the next paragraph. For the rest, Ushra'Khan was a Minmatar role-play alliance. I won't belabor the details but you can rest assured that a former U'K pilot is going to be nothing but hostile to CVA. When Forlorn talks of fueling towers in Provi in 2010, that's who he was doing it for. Presumably, Forlorn only has a problem with some "decent newbie friendly alliances."

Now, the basics. Forlorn raises five points, then states the five are "all a lie." Does he prove his thesis statement? Flatly, no.
  1. Providence is newbe-friendly and NRDS. Stations in Provi are open stations. Forlorn says almost nothing against this, except for an implication that Provi residents overcharge in their markets.
  2. CVA does provide bloc-wide fleets and doctrines. He says nothing against this... he just implies he doesn't like what those doctrines are.
  3. Providence does provide lots of stations with easy access to ratting and mining. Can't tell you the number of Ventures, mining barges, and ratting ships Rote Kapelle guys have had to let go in Provi. That hurts, man. ;-)
  4. I'll get back to his statements about moon-goo and whether the region is unattractive for sov attack because of it.
  5. And I can assure you that alliances in Provi indeed do not have a "decent SRP." Only a small handful of ship classes are replaced, and only in CTA fleets.
So out of the five points in his thesis statement, at least four of them are in fact not lies. Yes, Provi residents do overcharge each other in their markets but I have yet to live in a region in EVE where this is not the case. Further, he fails to spot the irony in his statement that "[Provi] alliances are looking down at each other and always point out what others are doing wrong." Again, point me at a location in New Eden where this is not the case.

For the final point, some background is in order. Right now, Providence is the hottest location in New Eden. PL aren't the only ones deployed here or fighting here. Provi residents have their pick of targets from PL, N3, the CFC, HERO, and a dozen smaller corps and alliances, every single day. And unlike several of these, Provi residents are free to shoot at any or all of them. We can pick our battles on a daily basis and engage who we choose to engage, ignoring the rest... or ignoring everyone if we so choose. That's the benefit of playing defense. It probably won't surprise you that CVA and allied pilots are pretty routinely racking up sufficient kills to put them on weekly top killer lists on the EVE kill boards that track such things.

So from among our choices, is PL the best choice to fight? Sadly, no.

In American-style baseball, a backstop is used with school-age teams; its intent is to prevent a single wild pitch from turning a game into a rout. In Pandemic Legion, their capital and super-capital fleets exist in Providence as a backstop to prevent them from losing battles. Forlorn might claim that they are "shying away" from using capitals but in six major timer battles so far in their deployment, they have used massed carriers in one and super-capitals in another. Against Provi residents more routinely, they use massed bombers and large Vulture fleets.

Again, Provi residents have the option of fighting whomever we choose. N3 has been reinforcing Provi assets but come into the timers with engageable fleets.(1) Where we engage them in a big fight or two, they have shown a willingness to take down their SBUs and even help us rep structures. Brave Newbies and other HERO Coaliton members have been everywhere in Provi and have been fun to fly against. CFC member alliances have been bringing small "no fucks given" fleets into the region. Smaller alliances have been coming in with fun little fleets to fight. Provi residents can fight whomever among these we wish. If you could choose, which of these would you fight? One of these others, or PL with their massed bombers and backstopping capital ships?

I thought so. Us too.

As for whether Providence is unattractive for sov attack, even by conservative estimates, Pandemic Legion alone has between ten and twenty times the mass of capitals and super-capitals of Providence residents. The other blocs fighting in Provi have even more. Provi residents have absolutely no illusions about our ability to hold sov in the face of a real invasion. I think the vast bulk of us recognize that CVA and the other holders hold that sov only at the pleasure of the big boys on the block. If they chose to close down this little NRDS experiment, they could do it without breaking a sweat.

When it looked for all the world like N3 was going to try to head-shot CVA, we immediately pulled our main staging system out of Provi and put it in low-sec. Our assumption at the time was that N3 did indeed intend to fold the Providence region into their rental empire. As accurately reported in both EN24 and TMC, PL took exception to this. Forlorn doesn't have a word to say about that, though.

Finally, I find it ironic in the extreme that a PL member would complain that moon-goo might be going into the hands of individual pilots, when PL is proudly, defiantly famous for doing exactly this. I can tell you from experience that if there were large number of moons worth anything at all in Providence, the big boys would take them. Mittens -- who is obviously in a position to know about such things -- is openly dismissive of Providence. I don't doubt that a few moons are in CVA member hands and it's even possible that a corp or individual here and there is profiting by this.

But the amounts are paltry and certainly not sufficient to fund any kind of large SRP. In a single recent battle of the six referenced above, Provi residents lost eight billion ISK. I assure you that is a significant fraction of CVA's total SRP budget. It wouldn't take many such battles would bankrupt it. And that's with CVA using inexpensive ships.

All in all, Forlorn's piece comes off as an angry screed that he can't understand why Provi is fielding Ruptures... and that we should definitely start fielding battleships or something even more expensive against PL bombers, Vultures, capitals, and super-capitals. In particular, we should apparently definitely do this instead of taking on fleets belonging to other organizations where we have a fighting chance of actually winning a battle here or there. To that screed is attached a vendetta against CVA springing from his own personal history.

The overall piece is the product of sloppy thinking and sloppy writing. In an American middle school, Forlorn's five paragraph essay would likely have trouble scoring a "D".

(1) They immediately primary FCs, though, which is counter-productive if they want fights with us. They've been slowly learning not to do this.


  1. I'm kinda bummed now that we've never had a back and forth, I gotta start something with you I guess. Or maybe we did once, I dunno.

    1. Well, I almost teased you the other day about your statement that you don't care about kill-boards. Does that count? ;-)

    2. Jester has never criticized my blog, clearly he deems me inferior and is trying to start a feud!

      ... ya can't win ;)

  2. Some markets in some regions dont over charge their buyers just because they can.

    1. Dont feel bad, like they say "The exception proves the rule"

    2. True, however Ripard may not have lived in your market area. Keep up the good fight on the CSM.

    3. Which region? Maybe I'll move there. ;-)

    4. I often fly a lengthy journey from Gulfonodi to Bosena to pick up a needed module. And if I wait until they give up station camping in Bosena, I get back to my mission area with a great deal. (I think some of those great deals are a not-so-secret plot to draw more folks into lowsec. GF!)

    5. Sugar, you do realize that because Provi stations are open to all, anyone can haul stuff there and sell it?

  3. I think that may be the most words ever written about Providence outside of CVA internal forums. Providence was only worth fighting over after CCP made the anomaly change a couple of years ago. After that change was nerfed, it was - once again - simply not worth the trouble. The lack of good moons has been rendered moot to some extent, but the truesec of the various systems and constellations is awful.

  4. Where should I look for the tl;dr on why providence is suddenly full of war? That seems to have come out of left field, but I've been out of the loop since work blocked FHC...

    1. tl;dr: There's no place else. Literally every other location in EVE is pacified and under the domain of one of the three remaining super-powers. Those super-powers are unwilling to go to war with each other at this time.

    2. Ah, so provi is the Monday Night RAW of the empires, lots of play fighting to entertain while everyone gets ready for the next big PPV? Makes sense, and by the sounds of it still makes for a dynamic PvP environment, so it's hard to complain.

    3. "Those super-powers are unwilling to go to war with each other at this time."

      This is CCP's fault, for being unwilling to change from static resources to dynamic resources. If tech moons, ice, etc. depleted and then respawned in a new region of space - like incursions - we'd see more activity in null.

    4. >If tech moons, ice, etc. depleted and then respawned in a new region of space - like incursions - we'd see more activity in null.

      This is an awesome idea! However, power projection would still present a problem as large coalitions would be able to dominate. We need to remove Jump drives and bridges. Offer an alternative that involves w-space connections for rapid transit. Again very dynamic and limited due to mass restrictions.

  5. I recently wrote about PL in a response to Grath Telkin's posts about how "hard it is to get fights". Wonder of wonders, people don't want to fight you when you're known for lighting a cyno and dropping supers in to kill a lone Drake.

    In other shocking news, Eve players are mean.

  6. I think that if you are going to go at it in the blogs, it is only fair for you to also to throw down in the game. Duels are, after all, a time-honored method of determining who is actually right... lol.

    Put an alt in Jita, agree on a set of 5 ships each (lol... see your earlier post), and then have at it - as each ship is destroyed, you pop back to station and get in your next one to continue the duel. Last man standing wins, ofc.

  7. I think you seriously underestimate the power of Providence residents to deter invaders. Sure, any of the big boys can grind down the structures. But then they'd get a large bunch of skilled guerilla enemies who want revenge for their destroyed lifestyle. Renting the space or even mining moons would be impossible as the ex-Provis would hunt relentlessly and reinforce every tower in elusive subcaps that needs to be repped by supported caps or suddenly neuting tempests.

    Think of Triumvirate and Mordus at the back of CFC. They had to start a SotA declared war on them to clear them out of their space. Now magnify their numbers to the voters of corebloodbrothers. That's the price of taking Providence.

    If I was a coalition financial manager, I'd resign on the day I can't convince the leader to keep away from Provi.

    1. This is the first halfway entertaining and smart thing I've read from Gevlon

  8. I read that particular Crossing Zebras post and found it amusing. It does give the feeling of a jilted lover.

  9. A harsh but fair critique of what was, I assume, a propaganda piece. The majority of propaganda pieces stretch the truth and are easy to take down, but you did a good job nonetheless.

  10. Lord Ripard, do you enjoy the small gang warfare in your holdings? i would say god has been kind to you.

  11. "engageable fleets"
    By this I think you mean to say "fleets we know we can beat"

    so far we have had to bring caracals against naga fleets 3 to 4 times our size to even get you to not be docked up or running away


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