Header Art by Major Sniper.
Sometimes you have to take a risk, make that jump and dive into a new start. For me, 2021 was the year I would leap into in Nullsec. Like many others, I had been watching World War Bee 2 from the safety of a wormhole. Alliances that I’d only read about were tearing each other apart in a war that would grab headlines and shape the geography for years to come.
On New Years Day 2021 my life as a wormholer was becoming stale. My corp had decided to evacuate our C2 and move to Low Sec. I decided not to join them. I wanted a change, a big change. What followed was the biggest, record breaking and intense year of gaming that I’d ever experienced.
Did he say jump?
In the mess of WWB2 how do you pick a side? I knew people in a few alliances, but there was one that stood out: The Initiative. (INIT). They had lost their home, they’d cut SRP, and reddit was watching as they lost members. I spoke to a friend who vouched for me and the decision was made, it was time to move to 0.0 space. I joined INIT two days after the M2- armour timer, sold most of my assets in high sec and flew my trusty interceptor out to Curse. It felt like learning the game from scratch all over again.
To put this story into context, Elthar Nox had been alive for a year at that point. I had made the transition from explorer to hunter, but I’d only just skilled into a Tech 3 Cruiser—which I had never flown in combat—and that felt like an age to train into. When one joins a “null bloc” with zero exposure the first thing that grabs your attention is how your skill queue grows ten-fold overnight. Why does an Astero pilot need Projectile Turrets V? I didn’t even know what a Muninn was, and on the first day I almost bankrupted myself by buying skill injectors to get me into the ships-of-the-line.
On my first full day the alliance had pinged a “Call To Arms” for M2-XFE. I ended up in the Zealot fleet. Everyone knows what happened that night, but for me, having never been in a fleet bigger than ten people before, it was an eye opening, jaw dropping experience. I had been in null sec around 25 hours when my FC gave the order to “free fire on titans”. Eventually fatigue took over and I logged off at around 0400. The wife was not happy. She didn’t understand why I was gaming so late, and to be honest neither did I.
What followed felt like a whirlwind of fleets and learning. Not only learning new tactics, mechanics and a way of living (what the fuck is Entosis?), but also a huge cultural shift. Wormholers, in my experience, are very conscious of their killboard—green is good. But I had entered a world where my coalition had just launched a trillion ISK of Ravens to kill a Keepstar. “Ships are ammo” is the cry. The difference was stark.
Death & Learning
In the first few months I ticked all the boxes for null sec stupidity. I lost a number of ships to Wraithguard, who loiter in NPC Curse constantly. And I lost unsuitable ships trying to run missions. I got yelled at for not anchoring, and died. I lost ships when I thought I was doing everything perfectly; sometimes you just get alpha’d. But as annoying as these experiences were they helped teach me new things about living in this strange new world.
There were also some great deaths. As INIT began our burning of Catch and Immensea we regularly ran Machariel fleets. Of course, I was absolutely broke at this stage so could only afford a Huginn. One particular night we were escaping a number of PAPI fleets, tension was high and Dark Shines was doing his best to out manoeuvre them and get us home safely. We jumped gate to gate with our enemy close behind, but one time they were too fast.
A Machariel got caught as we burnt off the gate. My Huginn turned and blasted its rapid lights at the ceptors that had pinned down my ally. I killed one, broke the point and the Mach snapped into warp. But in doing so I was caught and destroyed. I lost my Huginn, but saved someone’s blingy battleship. And I felt like an absolute hero. It was deaths like this that started to change the way I think about loss in EVE Online. Maybe a red killboard doesn’t tell the whole story.
The War’s End
As the summer dragged on, so did the war. The siege of O-EIMK was becoming a stagnant affair, but I, like so many others in the Imperium was pumped up. In seven months my attitude had changed entirely, embracing the mantras of the Imperium I had stocked my hangars and was ready to throw all of my meagre wealth into the woodchipper that was the PAPI assault. When the final wave was beaten back the immediate feeling of “is that it?” was replaced by the sheer elation expressed by my friends in INIT. The war was over, we had endured. We had won.
Rebuilding a life
The following rebuild opened another new chapter in my EVE life. All I had known in Nullsec was fleets and war. Now began the complexities of actually living out here. How did people make money? Why can’t I buy anything? How do you hunt someone in Nullsec when they can see you in local? I learnt about planetary interaction and became an addict. My accounts expanded from two to nine, learning how to PLEX and skill farm alongside my Robotics empire. I learnt that Ishtar ratting is really dull, and re-learnt that mining is just as dull as it is in Highsec.
Despite all the new things to learn as I embraced this new frontier, my overwhelming feeling was that of exhaustion. The war had absorbed so much time and effort for so many people and I was one of them. As the game began its post-war slump it was easy, as a line member, to become less engaged. However, for alliances to run effectively the leadership does not have this luxury. It’s moments like this where you see the neverending efforts of the FC team to keep content coming, the industry and finance teams ensuring the local economy works and the IT crew working their socks off keeping the services alive.
Making a leap
Most of our avid readers will be experienced players, even nullsec experts. Still, some out there may be pondering the same question that I was a year ago. Do I change everything I know and jump into a new part of the game? If my experience of 2021 has told me anything, then, yes do it.
This has been a turbulent year of crazy activity, but throughout the highs and lows it has been a brilliant journey. Being an F1 monkey may look unglamorous but there are moments where it all becomes worthwhile. I am sure many of us bought The Guinness World Records 2021 for friends and family this Christmas. Waiting for them to open their gift we all forced our dearest to page 187. Seeing EVE Online breaking records is a great thing, but for a few thousand of us, who made the jump we get to say “I was there.”