18: The Jihad

2009-06-30

We find ourselves in the aftermath of the Second Great War, the carnage and the confusion of the routing of Band of Brothers and their vassals from Delve and Querious. The balance of power has been overturned after three years of violence. The last spastic tremors of the conflict reverberate in the galactic north and northeast as the remaining BoB-aligned forces are besieged, lesser ripples in the wake of a greater drama.  Increasingly, players are asking themselves: Now what?

From the perspective of a 0.0 inhabitant, the political and geographic dislocation is great. Entire power blocs have been destroyed or rendered irrelevant. Long-standing coalitions have lost their strategic purpose, not unlike NATO immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union. Refugees of the losing side have had to evacuate their assets with haste and withdraw to Empire or to safer locales in 0.0, leaving many corporations in unfamiliar territory.

Yet, while the Great War captured the imagination of both the players and the media, only a small proportion of the playerbase directly participated in it. One might bandy about rough figures of twenty to thirty thousand participants on either side of the war, yet EVE has 300,000 subscribers. The vast bulk of those pilots live in protected Empire territories, patrolled by unkillable NPC ‘police’ and insulated from the violence of 0.0. Bring up the map with ‘pilots in space’ during Euro Prime, and it seems clear that 80% or more of the population blunders through EVE in Empire, intolerably free of the threat of violence. The Great War may have thrown the markets of Empire into disarray on a recurring basis, but the Empire-dwellers themselves remained effectively untouched. Unacceptable.

Historically, Empire has been an oasis of idyllic space-pacifism. Pilots mine, run missions and produce with little risk of hostile activity. On the rare occasion that a corporate war (a formal mechanic that allows corporations to shoot each other’s pilots without police intervention while in high security space) occurs, conflict is limited to the participating organizations rather than the population as a whole. When the Privateer Alliance began experimenting with cutting-edge gameplay by declaring corporate war on everyone – every alliance and every major high-population empire-dwelling corporation – the result was delightful mass chaos. But because Empire is where the bulk of CCP’s subscription money comes from, the howls of wounded carebears provoked a patch to drastically limit the scale of corporate war. Empire was safe once more – until the coming of Jihad.

In February 2008, much of the coalition was exhausted from the attrition warfare of the first invasion of Delve. A bored goon found himself in Empire and marveled at the profusion of untouchable Hulk and Mackinaw exhumers peacefully gorging themselves on rock and ice in the asteroid belts.

Empire mining is a financial paradox. The usual considerations of 0.0 ship fitting such as loss-to-income ratios do not apply. In 0.0, ships are flown with the expectation of violent loss, and pilots suffer little loss relative to their income when these combat vessels get turned into scrap. By contrast, the empire-dwelling Hulk pilot uses a fantastically expensive ship (by Empire standards) to secure a paltry and tedious but ‘absolutely safe’ income.  Each of the Hulks used by the miners cost at least 100 million isk. Adding modules and rigs into the equation, a single Hulk would require many hours of intensely boring Empire mining to replace. If somehow these Hulks could be destroyed, the personal impact for each kill would be catastrophic.

That bored goon was Karttoon. He began to experiment in Misneden, an Empire system with an ice belt full of oblivious, ruminating Hulks. Fitting out an Armageddon with disposable modules and insuring it, he put a mere fifteen million isk at risk. Eyeing a likely target through his Covops alt, Karttoon warped his battleship to one of the Hulks, locked it, lit it up with his lasers, and was rewarded with a fiery explosion. Moments too late for the luckless Hulk pilot, Concord spawned and destroyed Karttoon’s Armageddon. The disbelieving victim began to spew incoherent rage in the local channel about what happened. The Jihad was born.

Word spread like wildfire through Goonswarm. This relaxing pasttime was financially self-sustaining, too.  Fearing no risk, the Empire dwellers often decked their Hulks out with reckless abandon, while the suicide ships of the mujahideen cost practically nothing to sacrifice after insurance. Once the wreck of the victim was looted, aspiring mujahideen often found they had the funds for many more attacks. But profit was not the primary motive. The Empire miners reacted to the mujahideen with a level of raw, impotent outrage not often encountered in the more worldly areas of 0.0.

wicked01 > a goonswarm dude blew my hulk up in high sec yesterday

Ser Shondi > O_O

wicked01 > pissed me right off

wicked01 > concord didnt get there on time

?Ser Shondi > i thought killing someone in high sec was pretty much insta-smite from concorde

Gaiscioch Nova > we have it down to a t

wicked01 > he killed me in seconds i dieed and then concord showed up just as i popped

wicked01 > you pride yourself on that shit

wicked01 > ?

Gaiscioch Nova > why yes

wicked01 > man i had respect for goons till that moment

Ser Shondi > it is pretty cynical

wicked01 > wheres the skill in that

Ser Shondi > no skill, no honour, just “the lulz”

Gaiscioch Nova > sorry for our lack of e-honour

wicked01 > no your not

wicked01 > you just agreed you take pride in it

Gaiscioch Nova > :v

In order to exploit the griefing potential of the Jihad technique as much as possible, an Islamic liberation movement was created, with Karttoon dubbing himself ‘The Sheik.’  Terrorist tactics were used to defend ‘Allah’s Sacred Belts:’  The imposing miners were labeled ‘infidels,’ the suicide ships were dubbed ‘explosive vests,’ and Allah’s word was spread with cries of ‘Allahu Ackbar!’ whenever a suicide attack was initiated.  The gimmick caught on, adding insult to the injury of the miners.

Suicide attacks in Empire have existed since the beginning of the game, but they were limited in scope and primarily motivated by profit. Pirates have always been willing to sacrifice a battleship on the approach to a Market Hub to destroy and loot a particularly loaded hauler. Yet the outbreak of the Jihad across Empire caught the galaxy by surprise. With the financial impact of the Hulk losses, the victim’s sheer surprise at being assaulted in ‘safe’ space, and the deliberately incendiary terrorist gimmick of the Jihadis, the appeal of the Jihad is self-evident.  Blowing up an armed, expectant enemy in 0.0 was merely war; the Jihad was raw grief.  For the Swarm, what to do after the Great War ended was obvious: resume the Jihad.

Since the outbreak of the Jihad, the targeted griefing of Hulks in Empire has gone viral and expanded far beyond Goonswarm. Despite the unending cries of protest, the attacks have not stopped. I encourage everyone to give Jihading a try. Here’s a brief guide:

  • Buy and platinum insure a battleship which you have good damage skills with. Armageddons are the classic mujahideen ship, being cheap and extremely damaging. The most important attribute is volley damage.
  • Fit your ship with named but low-quality modules. These tend to be even less expensive on the Empire market than tech one mods.
  • Fit for maximum damage (4 damage mods), use short-range weapons, the heaviest Gallente drones and a few rounds of faction ammunition. If you don’t use lasers, you will only get a five or six volleys before being destroyed. You need a scrambler, a sensor booster for quick locking, and may want to use a passive targeter. Maximize damage while minimizing cost of loss.
  • Don’t bother with any sort of survivability mods, as they won’t extend your ship’s life at all. When Concord spawns, your ship will be instantly destroyed regardless of hitpoints or tanking levels.
  • If you have a covops alt, this will make scouting your target and scooping their loot after you blow them up much easier. An alt is required if you hope to recover your victim’s loot after the kill, but it doesn’t have to cloak. You can also fit a ship scanner on your alt to help select a victim who isn’t heavily tanked.
  • Choose a target system between .5 and .7 security; higher than .7 and Concord will respond too fast for you to make the kill. Start in .5 when you begin suiciding so that you have the most room for error as a novice.
  • Do not engage if Concord has already spawned in the location of your target.
  • Overheat your guns, scramble and engage.
  • Use your alt to scoop the loot of your victim.
  • Sit back, relax, and troll your mark in local. You have 15 minutes of criminal flag to wait out, so you might as well relish the tears.

Empire will never be safe again.

Commentary

Truer words were never spoken – Hisec has only become more dangerous, despite ever-increasing buffs. The Jihad of 2008 resulted in such an outcry from the hisec crowd that CCP buffed CONCORD, and it directly inspired Helicity Boson’s Hulkageddon events – events which now, in 2012, Goonswarm is sponsoring, bringing the Jihad/Hulkageddon saga full circle; ganking for pleasure has transformed from the isolated practice of one bored alliance into an EVE-wide sport.

From a modern perspective, the early Jihad was positively archaic in tactics. Overkill was the order of the day, using battleships where battlecruisers and even Thoraxes would suffice. The Jihad also had a poor understanding of going -10; most participants would gank until -2.0 and then stop and grind sec status back up; this was in the days before the Orca, so ‘mobile pirate base-stations’ did not exist.

In February 2010, Karttoon went ‘fuck goons’ as CEO after his finance director failed to do his job/pay the sov bills in Delve; he was trolled out of the alliance by an enraged membership and then disbanded Goonswarm, feebly claiming this to be a ‘master plan’.

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by The Mittani.

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