Monday, 8 June 2009

A pirate's life

We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!

Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.

We extort, we pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!
Maraud and embezzle and even hijack.
Drink up me 'earties, Yo Ho!

Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.
Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me.

©1967 X. Atencio & George Bruns

What defines a pirate's life? According to history and many stories either written or told by movies pirates are outlaws who act detached from politics, usually plundering those who are not prepared to fight. Wealthy merchants or passenger ships are the usual prey, as those offer good loot or high ransoms. The number of pirates among all those who are cruising the seas is relatively low. The vast majority are fine seafarers who respect the law.

Is this the same in EVE? Due to the highsec/lowsec separation the playerbase is also separated. Those willing to fight other players roam lowsec while those interested in earning money avoid fights by staying in high security space.
When I moved to lowsec several weeks ago I started marking other pilots I met by adjusting their standing. Other pirates received a negative standing and thus an orange mark while I marked all mission runners and industrials I met blue. I thought this would be a smart idea to spot the few other pirates among the crowd of potential victims.

A crackpot idea!

When roaming the local lowsec systems, especially those close to mission hubs, it is quite common to have 20+ orange marked people around me with only a few neutrals or blues - if at all. Examining their info there are usually two or three alliances involved. Sometimes they fight each other, sometimes they don't. But what about the classic pirate theme? Where are the rich merchants?

The closest to the "rich merchant" type I usually meet are more or less bot-controlled industrial ships. Ever been to Ingunn lately? A lowsec system with 100+ people in local at all times. Most of them are shuttles and industrials. Shooting at those ships is a waste of ammo however, as they usually do not carry anything but junk and their pilots don't even send a hatemail.

With so many other pirates in the area locating a victim before the others do is like playing the lottery, especially if you're flying solo like me. Also the most valuabe ships are combat ships, so mission runners and other pirates are the juiciest prey. But doesn't this lead to pirates fighting other pirates? Are we even pirates -in the traditional romantic way- if we fight each other due to lack of real customers?
Don't get me wrong, I do not mind fighting other combat pilots nor am I afraid of losing my ship. But initially my intention was to play a game of cat and mouse with pilots who are not expecting a fight. Some of the activity in lowsec reminds me more on street fights of rivaling gangs than on classic piracy.

I might even go one step further. Pirates in highsec are often frowned upon by their lowsec brothers. Because of the CONCORD mechanics highsec pirates are limitted to ore theft, ninja salvaging, suicide ganking, can flipping, and war decs as far as criminal activities are concerned. But aren't those pirates closer to the classic pirate, the lone outlaw among a crowd of do-gooders, who needs not only brute force but tricks and bluffs to pillage and plunder? Not because he is a more skilled pilot, but because of his situation in relation to his victims?

Maybe I am wrong. At least I hope so. I am enjoying my life in lowsec. I like the fights and I like the people I meet as friends (more on those two topics in upcoming posts (TM)). However, what I miss are systems that are not already crowded by angry PVP alliances or totally deserted. There must be pirates out there who regularly catch mission runners, bust mining ops and are not busy fighting other pirates but use humor and wits to sneak up on those who are not looking for a fight.