We all love the ALOD: the Awful Loss of the Day. These are expensive ships lost for apparently stupid reasons.
There’s a deep sense of schadenfreude inherent in EVE Online, and in the culture of the game; that space should be dark, and unforgiving, and subject to the best and worst humanity brings to the cold vacuum of space.
Dark Humor: Culture of Loss
The game itself is steeped in the idea that frequently the most unfortunate or calamitous things which happen in space are not some cataclysmic collision of stellar bodies, or the ignition of a populated planet’s atmosphere, or the extinction of a race at their own foolish decisions. The truly dastardly and horrible things will always come at the hands of sapient beings.
The unofficial motto of EVE Online has got to be, “Here’s a spaceship. Fuck you.”
That irrational sense of glee and chagrin that comes at the loss of a truly, astoundingly expensive ship seems pervasive. Alliance Tournament (AT) vessels seem to drive this feeling into guilt-inducing levels of satisfaction. Everyone who plays this game has at some point heard of the loss of just such a ship, or the theft of one (or more) such ships—something CCP even gave the nod in a new commemorative item.
Sure, zKillboard has entire pages and a widget dedicated to showing the most recent, expensive losses by pilots and organizations in New Eden, but AT ships are expensive on a scale usually reserved for super-capitals and structures.
Like Nuclear Wildfire
The news of the loss of an expensive ship spreads pretty quickly. One might draw allusions to forest fire leaping over a freeway. When an AT ship is lost the speed of news can bring on flashbacks of a Sarah Connor dream sequence.
Discord threads immediately spring to life with postings of the kill mails. In fact, these three most recent losses are of particular note.
Here we have, in a span just over 24 hours, the loss of three of the most valuable ship hulls in the game, with an overall value approaching nine hundred billion interstellar credits (867,613,788,601.97 ISK).
Just as quickly as news spreads, people begin asking why. Why in the name of Holy Amarr would you even undock a ship worth more than a Keepstar? Smart pilots, or those seeking attention, might put themselves out in front of the loss by hosting a Reddit AMA (ask me anything). Others just quietly smile and keep doing what they’re doing.
Hangar Beauties or Hanging the Carrot?
Hangar Beauties is more than a fond moniker for ships of extreme rarity or exceptional value, it’s a term of scorn or derision when one of these ships are inevitably lost. In a universe where all spaceships are designed to explode – with the notable exception of some CCP dev vessels – perhaps that’s half the point.
Some people will inevitably argue that undocking a ship of that worth is stupid on levels reserved for nominees of the Darwin Awards, while others will argue for using the ships for what they were made for; to be piloted and to eventually explode in a glorious fireball. For some, the loss is the destination at the end of a challenging road, and they make a game of seeing how many ships they can destroy using their hangar beauty before they watch it detonate.
I have personally seen a certain notable pilot and YouTube personality use his ultra-rare Magnate as a bait ship in Black Rise and Placid, and drop a blinged-out battleship on anyone dumb enough to warp to it. I think for him that fun is using it as a fishing lure. The patience almost always pays off.
The bonuses and special attributes of the AT ships in and of themselves don’t make these ships an overwhelming threat, except in the hands of a very skilled pilot. One can, by extension, say that any ship is dangerous in the hands of a very skilled pilot, so the worth of that vessel or it’s particular advantages at a certain point become moot.
In my own opinion, the greatest value an AT ship presents is that no one will simply ‘drive by it’.
Ships for the Sunday Driver
For some, the joy of simply owning a ship and being able to enjoy it while they own it is its own reward. I can appreciate this. I still use my small collection of Zephyrs to do exploration and sightseeing in EVE, particularly because I love the lore of New Eden, and they let me go places unfettered I might otherwise not get to.
North Americans have a love of the automobile. Sometimes it’s nice to treat your spaceships the way you treat your car; just get in, put the windows or the top down, and take it for a ride. There are those of us, especially those lucky industrialists or tycoons who have more ISK than they know what to do with, who recognize that the loss of an AT ship isn’t so big a deal. EVE’s just a game, right? Hah.
In any case I suspect the ride is worth the view.
My only parting question is ‘why are these ships being lost with such alarming, and increasing frequency?’
Is New Eden so bereft of interesting content that pilots with expensive assets are getting bored enough to undock them, or is it one of the reasons I’ve explored above?
Is the drive to risk losing such expensive assets being stoked by a lack of risk or challenge in the shape of the cluster?
I can’t say for sure which way I think the needle points, but I look forward to hearing our readers thoughts. Feel free to leave your comments in the section below.