Wormholes are to the rest of known space as the vast deep blue oceans are to barrier reefs, swamps, and rivers. There is no stable point of reference. The safety of the barrier reefs and the geography of swamps and rivers that give a sense of place are gone. You’re left with an alien, dark, inaccessible world where only those who learn to adapt will survive. Or not.
Nearly three years ago, I left wormholes. After nearly two and a half years, I couldn’t keep up what I had helped build. While I was lucky enough to not have been evicted by an outside party, my group of friends were forced to part ways for various reasons. Broken, humiliated, and with yet a desire to overcome my fears of risk in PvP, I joined Pandemic Horde. I do not regret that decision in the slightest, and would heartily recommend them to anyone seeking a place to learn PvP with a lowered barrier of risk. However, in the last few months I found that it was probably time for me to move on. I wanted more intimate brawls over vast clogged server fights. To matter as an individual pilot with high skill points once more, rather than just being yet another number. I yearned for the camaraderie that wormholes provide from a shared hardiness needed to survive in the space version of the Wild West. I believe I found what I was looking for.
WORMHOLES ARE WEIRD
Wormhole life is not teeming with PvP in the same fashion as nullsec. In Horde, I would get an average of 10 fleet notifications a day. It is not uncommon for kill quotas to be the norm among K-space groups, and Horde eventually followed suit for the Capital group I was a member of. Why wouldn’t they, when their enemies would come knocking on their doorstep a dozen times a day? Horde is part of one of the super-powers in nullsec in a lot of ways, and wants to be taken more seriously. Deployments and campaigns are often the highlights of many a nullseccer’s year. It could also make or break you.
In wormholes, you have to be willing to seize opportunities when they present themselves or slip a scout in a wormhole for exploiting the situation later. One of the ways to mitigate this boredom is by “hole rolling”. My corporation lives in a Class 5 wormhole with a Class 5 static. This means that, unless we get a random wormhole that connects our home system directly to another system, we have to scan down the “chain” or maze of connections branching off of the Class 5 wormhole systems we will consistently come across. When our chain is empty, we overload the wormhole with mass until it collapses under the pressure, and check to see what we can find in the next one.
Sometimes, we will find either abandoned or undefended wormholes with low-power structures. Evictions are often not malicious, just opportunities taken when weakness is sensed. Like sharks swarming in when they smell blood. My corporation had an operation where we shot some undefended structures a few weeks ago, and we got over 20 billion in loot that could go towards the corp’s SRP programs. You either defend your belongings, or you don’t deserve to have them. Nothing personal. Just business.
Some groups live in wormholes with specific effects that provide bonuses and advantages to certain doctrines. We have some “Frienemies” in a group called “POSPY” that live in a Pulsar wormhole, which provides bonuses to shield doctrines. We had the opportunity to fight them, and we brought in a decently large Gila fleet that killed a few of their ratting Tengus, showing them respect by not podding our victims. POSPY attempted to outmaneuver us on the return wormhole by warping at 150 kilometers and sniping us with their cruise missiles. Both sides had a bonus to their EHP, so neither side was able to really break the other. I had a Sabre character that temporarily had the bonused EHP of a normal Caracal, and was able to avoid a few narrow scrapes with potential death. Eventually, we decided we had had enough and couldn’t really do much against our opponent, and we jumped the wormhole and went home.
The next day was another story. We found POSPY down chain again, and we expressed an interest in another brawl. They accepted, using a similar tactic of long-range battleships from the night before. This time, however, their FC warped their fleet directly onto where we were warping to, and we were able to catch them with a bubble. Once in range, we tore them to shreds with our drones. The shiny Curse that I had been lent by one of my corpmates, along with a couple of others, were able to apply heavy neut pressure on each target, making them far easier to kill. Pulsars can be a double-edged sword, especially if both sides are using shield.
INTENSE WORMHOLE COMBAT
Not every fight is nearly as tidy. Nearly a week after, one of my corpmates was running Abyssal sites in our home system. Because Abyssals provide a beacon that anyone can see, a wormhole group under the Moniker of “No Vacancies” attempted to gank our corpmate, whose beacon was 1,000km off of our home Fortizar. The would-be ganking oracles were able to escape our grasp as we attempted to catch them, and a discussion on a fight was held between the leadership of the two sides. They brought large T3 fleet, and our leadership called for one of our most expensive doctrines. My main character couldn’t fly the DPS ships, but he could fly a guardian. What unfolded would be one of the most intense battles I’ve ever participated in.
The stakes almost couldn’t be higher. If we lost and got podded, we couldn’t just “reship and come back” as in K-space, even though we were fighting in our home system. As a member of the logistics in fleet, I had to pay extremely close attention to who needed reps and be there for them in time or they would melt from the incoming DPS. I could only lock 10 targets total, and I had to keep 6 permanently locked, so that left me 4 open slots to save the rest of the fleet. My heart was pounding hard for nearly an hour as I got into the rhythm of “unlock, control-left click” as my fleetmates broadcasted for reps. While every pilot mattered, from the Hictors and Dictors controlling the field and the Command Battlecruisers giving everyone bonuses, to the rest of the fleet following ExookiZ’s target calling, it was on the shoulders of myself and the 5 other characters to keep our fleet in the fight. For nearly an hour we teetered on what felt like a knife-edge, but we prevailed.
Not only did we outrep the other side’s Ninazu and their guardians, our Logi was able to sustain seriously heavy neuting pressure from the other side. There were times where the only thing I could run were my remote capacitor transfers and everything else was turned off. If I ran out of capacitor, the cap chain would be compromised and that could spell disaster for the fleet given how quickly everyone else had to react. I had to wait patiently, but it worked out as I was able to keep the heavy neuting ships busy, which enable the others to do their part. No doubt the other guardians had to do the same, as the opposing fleet would periodically switch targets, and in the logistics channel I saw the others express frustration with their lack of capacitor, but we did it. In the end, we only lost a few ships, whereas our opponents had to flee the field licking their wounds with over half their fleet gone. I felt more accomplishment in that moment than any TiDi clogged large fight, or lopsided Capital ship fleet engagement. It was fierce, but we won.
I remember getting up shaking, trying to let myself calm down from the intensity I had just participated in. I came back a little while later to another call for us to hop in Gilas and run to another wormhole where someone had found a Dreadnaught doing PVE. We were able to kill him, then went home a little later as the inhabitants did not want to fight. Then I was finally able to rest.
While Nullsec may have the large fleet battles and huge ship fights, TiDi tends to get old. Fights in nullsec seem to get more personal, with sides showing genuine animosity towards each other as they use attrition and assaults to wear their opponents down. Out in wormholes, nearly everyone is aware of everyone, at least the bigger groups, and as a result, come to an understanding to fight when we see each other, but to not tear each other down. It’s in everyone’s best interest to just ride the waves as they come and to not take things too personally. One day you’re fighting against each other, the next you’re fighting side-by-side. While that may be somewhat rarer in nullsec, it’s the norm out in wormholes. It’s how the wormholers do.
Ah! It’s good to be back.