By experiencing different aspects of being a pilot in a corporation and part of an alliance, I am learning more about myself.
I love lowsec piracy best. Win or lose, nothing gives me more of a thrill than finding a target in local, scanning him down to an accessible point in space, tackling him, and going at it. Even if I'm just ganking a T1 mining frigate or a shuttle, adrenaline courses through my veins as I warp to his presumed position. If I walk into a trap, so be it; something inside me admires my opponent for his prowess in sucking me in, even as my mind wonders how--if--I'll ever be able to exact revenge. If I lose a close fight, I go over the fight in my mind again and again, thinking of what I could do different next time; and if I win a fight against a more experienced pilot in a more capable ship--oh, the glory!
Now, some of my mates prefer large-scale fleet combat in nullsec. They like killing "real combat pilots" in "real combat ships fit for PvP." The implication--and sometimes it's said outright--is that lowsec piracy is killing noobs in ships that aren't well fit. They actually have a point there; many of my victims in lowsec are, well, noobs; and their ships bristle with the kind of sensors and armaments that are the opposite of formidable.
Still, I die plenty in lowsec. I've even been killed by rookie ships (and their friends, waiting in the wings), mining at a belt for the sole purpose of enticing overconfident frigate pirates such as myself. The risks are real. And based on my experience, large-scale fleet combat is, if anything, even less risky than lowsec piracy. The blobs I've flown with in nullsec are so massive that in more than 95% of the time a target presents itself, I can't even manage to get a lock before the target is dead. Granted, the target was a combat veteran in a PvP-fit battleship; but when faced with a mighty fleet, he'd have stood a better chance facing me and my Taranis in a Navitas. When my fleet isn't just pwning everything that moves in nullsec, it's because we're being pwned; even then, I have little to stimulate my imagination in after-action reflection. How much more can I do to avoid being primaried when it's my turn?
I imagine it could be stimulating being a fleet commander in nullsec; I'm a long way from being that. With the bulk of my experience in frigates, and the rest in a poorly-flown battleship or battlecruiser following fleet orders, I'd be a poor choice as FC.
Alliance life, to me, has come to mean alliance politics. Right now every single pilot in the corp has been ordered to stand by in our alliance home constellation in lowsec; the alliance has sent out a call-to-arms to weed out the reds and neutrals that have been encroaching on what we consider "our" space. This is probably a great thing from the perspective of the industrial pilots in the alliance; having their lowsec POS's for research, mining, and manufacturing no doubt fills the coffers. However, for pilots like me, ops like this mean I lose ships frequently while simultaneously gaining less in loot. Maybe if I was in another corporation, some of those industrial pilots would be corp mates, and maybe we'd have a ship replacement program. But my corp is pure PvP, we have no ship replacement program, and we're meant to be self-sufficient pilots, funding our ships and modules from loot and ratting alone. I find ratting boring in the extreme; I make all my ISK from selling loot, and from playing the markets. Ops such as the one we're engaged in now, to protect the economy of some brother corps, cut into my money-making ability (I've had to cancel market orders in order to pay for ships for the campaign).
To add insult to injury, it seems to me that our corp takes this call-to-arms more seriously than the very corps we're there to help! I have frequently cooled my heels in a space station in the alliance constellation over the past week, being available for ops as ordered. In the meantime other pilots in the alliance have been ratting in nullsec or going on long roams in space entirely unconnected with the dominance of our alliance in the constellation in question. When enemy ships are spotted, the intelligence is quickly passed on--and there seems to be little interest in responding.
This past shift is a case in point. I reported for duty, starting by fitting out a new interceptor to replace one I lost in the previous shift. Four targets were reported on more than one occasion in our headquarters system; the consensus seemed to be to ignore them, as they just liked to play dock/undock games. Ignore them? Then why can't I be off in some system, hunting in the belts? As I flew a couple of systems over to pick up some missiles I'd purchased (as usual, our corp ammo locker was empty of the ammo most of us actually use), I found that the gate to our headquarters was being camped by three enemy, two of them with outlaw status. I reported the intel, and just a single other pilot indicated his willingness to respond. No action resulted; there's not much two of us could do against two battleships and a battlecruiser. In the meantime, in our "PvP ops" communications channel, the rest of the alliance pilots--spread out across several regions of space--made plans for a joint ratting op. While I worked my shift being ready to defend their lowsec base of operations. Finally I clocked out, disheartened.
Fortunately, I'm hearing this call-to-arms will be canceled sometime within the next few days. The official line is that we've been successful, and so the op can be concluded naturally. It is true that we have destroyed a number of POS's while protecting our own. But some of the other pilots seemed to hold a different perspective--rationalizing their inaction? They were saying over an alliance comms channel that the reds in the constellation could never be driven away.
I hope, dear reader, that you will take this post in perspective. I like my corp mates, and I like flying with them. Our alliance is solid, and has opened up nullsec combat for those in our corp that crave that sort of thrill. Apparently my periods of active duty do not correspond to the periods when our best alliance fleet commanders are taking names and kicking butt. But if I, who consider myself relatively fortunate, feel this way, feel sorry for those in less happy situations.