Spies In Faction War


Author: Wendi Wu

The Story

It was a Friday evening in Huola. The Arzad Minmatar (CTRL-Q and Angry Mustelid) had been camping the Kourmonen gate along with a handful of Gallente destroyers and so my corp formed up to go after them. The Minmatar withdrew back to Arzad as soon as they saw us coming. They didn’t tell the Gallente. Several dead destroyers later, Huola was clear of war targets and we went looking for something else to shoot.

Scouts in Arzad started to report that the Minmatar fleet was reshipping and getting reinforcements, so we formed up our own fleet to counter them. As we went through the usual form-up delays, though, we began to notice something odd. Whenever our FC gave an order on Ventrilo to change fleet composition the Minmatar fleet would suddenly halt and go back to Arzad station to reship.

It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. There was a pilot in fleet from the 24th Imperial Crusade, Seirscha Valentine, who nobody seemed to know and who wasn’t talking on comms. Further investigation revealed that Seirscha was in a rookie ship in Tannakan, at which point a general feeling of disgust went through the fleet. We’d had a spy listening to our voice comms for the last 15 minutes, which meant the Minnie fleet knew exactly what we had and how few of our pilots had heavy ships avaiable. As soon as Seirscha was booted the battleship-heavy Minmatar fleet began moving out from Arzad, heading slowly towards Kourmonen.

Given that the Minmatar had more battleships than we had people in fleet and given that less than a third of the people in our fleet had battleships, fighting them wasn’t on the cards. The rest of our fleet ship down while I stay in my Crow, hanging a few hundred klicks off the Lamaa gate. A few minutes later Zenton Karvash shows up in a Navy battleship with a group of Guardians and escort ships designed to look just small enough to be vulnerable. I’m not fooled: I know what’s on the other side of that gate. When I don’t engage Zenton starts talking in local.

Zenton Karvash > call a shipup to bs on comms then run off ZzZ
Zenton Karvash > get your fuckign ships we’re here
Zenton Karvash > lets do this
Wendi Wu > Zent, a friendly hint: if you want to get big fights putting spies on enemy comms is not a great way to do it. 😛
Zenton Karvash >
Zenton Karvash > tis

The Minmatar chased us for another hour, but the lumbering battleships couldn’t catch our cruisers and frigates. We got another half-dozen kills before logging for the night.

Aftermath

Although our kill ratio for the night had been nearly perfect, several people left the fleet in a bad mood and I found myself thinking about it over the next few days. Next week one of the EVE blogs I follow posted a story of another fleet roam which had ended badly due to a spy, and it got me thinking about spies in FW in general.

I don’t have a spy alt in the Minmatar Militia, and as far as I know nobody in my corp ZERO HEAVY INDUSTRIES has one either. I can’t speak for my corpmates, but for me there’s nothing a spy could tell me that I’d be interested in. I don’t fly in the Amarr Militia for ISK or for territory or for RP, I fly for the sake of combat and to practise my skills to become as good a pilot as I can possibly be. The combat doesn’t need a purpose: it’s it’s own purpose, and spying would just be a distraction. The fight is everything.

There’s a second reason I don’t like spies: it feels like a vaguely shady sort of thing to do. When I log on to EVE fleet comms after a day’s work I want to relax and chat with my corpmates and generally let my hair down. I don’t like the idea that someone could be eavesdropping on what’s supposed to be a private conversation, I don’t like lying to someone over something as trivial as a computer game, and I don’t want to get involved in the general culture of suspicion and paranoia that spies tend to produce. I don’t like it when other people do it to me, so I don’t do it to other people either. Yeah, yeah, I know, “it’s part of the game”. Acting like a douche is part of the game too.

On top of that, spies are a bad way to get fights. Few things kill a fleet’s enthusiasm faster than knowing they’ve got spies on comms and corps that use them too much will get reactions of “if you’re going to act like this then **** you, we’ll go do something else.” CTRL-Q and Angry Mustelid have started to get a reputation for this and the couple of times over the past week that they’ve brought a big fleet into Kourmonen the Amarr have simply ignored them and waited for them to go away, which is really the cruellest thing you can do to a PvP fleet.

But there’s another reason I don’t think spies are a good idea, and it ties into FW as a whole.

The Decline of FW 

FW used to be much bigger than it is today. As recently as six months ago when I joined FW, I’d see fleets of 100+ Amarr ships slugging it out with the same number of Minnies. Nowadays a fleet of 30+ is rare and anything with over 50 is almost unheard of.

Most of this is probably the fault of CCP. FW has been suffering from years of neglect, and despite Hans’ efforts on the forums there have been few signs that anything will change (though the plex fix is a good start). For a long time vets have been drifting away from FW. But there are newbies out there who want to do PvP and small gang warfare and supporting their faction and everything else that comes with FW. They join the Tribal Liberation Force or the 24th Imperial Crusade or the Federal Defence Union or the State Protectorate and once they’ve joined they pipe up in the Militia channel asking to join a fleet.

And they get treated like crap.

Why?

Because everyone assumes they’re a spy.

Trying to get accepted into the PvP “inner circle” of a FW militia nowadays is a nightmare. The main way spies get into fleets is through fleets that are open to general militia (like our one was in the story I just told). After a few experiences like this most FW corps stop running open fleets – but those open fleets are often the only fleets that new FW pilots can join! This has made FW’s recruitment system like Fight Club where newbies have to stand on the doorstep and take shit for however many days or weeks it takes for the people inside to decide they’ve taken enough shit to be allowed in. Occasionally a new pilot is patient enough to break in – I did – but how many would-be PvPers try this for a while before giving up and going off to join a pirate corp or Red vs Blue or a nullsec alliance instead? I don’t know but my guess is that it’s a hell of a lot.

The problem is that in each case it’s the other militia that causes the suspicion. The Minmatar spy on the Amarr because the Amarr are all evil scum who deserve to die (and anyway they do it to us). The Amarr spy on the Minmatar because the Minmatar are all evil scum who deserve to die (and anyway they do it to us). There’s no motivation for either side to treat their opponents better because they’re enemies – what helps the Minmatar hurts the Amarr and what’s good for the Amarr is bad for the Minmatar, right?

Well, no.

The truth is that the opposing militias depend on each other. The Minmatar need the Amarr as an enemy to fight, and vice versa. If either militia vanished the opposing militia wouldn’t last a month – without war targets FW is just a more restrictive kind of lowsec piracy.

And this means that in the long-term spying actually hurts your own militia, by driving off the enemy newbies that are your future food source. Sure, in the short-term it might win you a fight. But the only way you can get fights is if there are people willing to undock and give you fights, and the more of a spy culture there is, the less that’s going to happen.

What to Do 

I think FW needs more people, and to do that FW needs to be able to recruit and keep newbies. So how to deal with the spy problem?

In the long run the only way spies are going to fall out of fashion is if the militias police themselves. If some bittervet wants to make a spy alt, the rest of the militia can’t stop him peeing in the pool – it’s not like we can revoke the guy’s membership. But we can tell him not to use it, and we can refuse to fleet with or help him if he doesn’t listen. When spies are used in fleet actions, it’s generally with the approval of the FC – if the major Amarr/Minmatar FCs make it clear that people who used spies aren’t welcome in their fleets, I think spy use will drop pretty fast.

In the short-term, though, people on both sides can help by trying a lot harder to welcome newbies in the Militia channel. Sure, some are spies, but most aren’t. And the newbie you help today might be someone who you need a favour from somewhere down the line.

In the end what we make of FW, just like so many other things in EVE, is up to us.

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13 Responses to “Spies In Faction War”

  1. Hans Jagerblitzen Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that the use of spies in a militia setting is an absolute detriment to the ability to find and engage in good fights. Spies are quite easy to spot, as was the case here, and only lead to the infiltrated enemy refusing to fight. I am pretty ashamed that it was individuals in our militia that sank this low. They got what they deserve in getting blue-balled by the Amarr.

    To my knowledge, AUTOZ has never used an infiltrated spy, and I’ve warned my own corp to be above such tactics. I strongly encourage the other leadership in IFW, KPP, CTRL-Q, WEAZL, HUANG and TRIAD to take control of this activity if its going on and put it to an end.

    We are all veterans enough now that we should be using our talent and fleet work to be able to track and engage the enemy victoriously, the Minmatar should always win an even fight against the Amarr (cause we rule) so there is no need to try to one-up them and win through shady intel.

    Faction Warfare, as Wendi Wu pointed out, suffers these days. It’s still fun, but its not what it used to be. When Faction Warfare was at its strongest there was a huge diversity in fleet size and activity, which there isn’t today. This is directly because of entrenched bittervet spai paranoia that infests every one of the top corps, and leads to new players being shunned rather than embraced. The result is that we prevent the very activity we wish to invite.

    I urge all militia corporations to put an end to this immediately. Using spais to win an engagement because you’re too lazy to scout the traditional way or fight on level terms is show of cowardice, and more importantly a sign that your own personal killboard or corp kill count matters more than enriching Faction Warfare as a vibrant, active scene with plenty of influx of pilots and more fights for everyone. It is utterly selfish and hurts all of us who are involved with the militia.

  2. Silence ikillyouu Says:

    Spy’s are gay.
    In regards to new members in the milita chan.
    When I notice someone in local pvping that I don’t know I usally convo them and send them to a corp that would suit them.
    It’s different on the Minnie side. We don’t really care about spy’s as much.

  3. Silence ikillyouu Says:

    BTW Huola is now minmatar and if u don’t have a ‘pass’ u ded

    • Hans Jagerblitzen Says:

      Excellent news Silence! Lets send these bible-thumping slaver scumm straight back to their Empress. And no, I’m not talking about you Shalee!

  4. My stint in fw lasted about a half a day due to this exact situation. I told the caldari fw peeps they were idiots as what 85m sp toon is a spy so I left and am doing my own thing. It is the fault of how you interact with new people that us killing fw. I was pretty pissed openly being called a possible spy. People in nullsec have dealt with spies for years, you don’t treat new folks shitty because they might be a spy, fw lost a valuable pvp’r being rude to me. If fw tanks it will be their own fault.

    Zandramus

  5. One of the reason’s I’ve never stayed in FW for very long, is the spies, and the counter tactics.

    Trying to join a Fw gang when your not inner circle means one of two things, you end up fleeted with people that have no clue about what they’re doing – and you die horribly. Or you end up fleeted with a spy, who promptly warps you into a large predator. – You die horribly.

    This has to put lots of the “younger” members of FW off as its certainly difficult to break into the orgainsed gangs as a “newer” player.

    I like the idea of FW, and will rejoin if it improves to a decent level of small scale pvp, otherwise I’ll just stay -10 and try to kill all of you.

    @Hans – at least one of your bonus’s alts used regulaly by [AUTOZ] is in Ammar milita 😛

  6. Vordak Kallager Says:

    @Anabaric: We have a booster alt that is in Amarr militia? News to me!

    • Yup its either to accept that fact, otherwise the following facts are a little harder to believe…

      That or some of your corp will quite happily jump a gang past a solo Enemy brutix parked at zero with obvious booster effects, on the lulm/bosberger gate. The same pilot that is often online in Lulm, or the surounding systems, at the same time as several of your pilots.

      And that same Amarr milita pilot has managed to steal the password for your POS in Bosberger… as that same pilot has been seen in there with booster effects running…

      Just saying… maybe its just a coincidence…. or maybe its an overview bug for your entire gang… or maybe one of your members forgot what militia he was in, and applied for the wrong side on with his already blue alt?

      Also say hi to Nitro for me, is he still mad?

      • Hans Jagerblitzen Says:

        Anabaric, this is all news to me as well. I know exactly which booster characters we use on a regular basis, and neither of them are in the Amarr militia. They are all either a neutral corp, or part of AUTOZ proper. Feel free to mail me the name of the pilot in question, and I’ll readily investigate.

        Hell, I don’t care if you call him out publically here. AUTOZ has never, to my knowledge, used a direct Amarr militia plant, and certainly not allowed one into our POS. The sooner this brutix pilot is identified and dealt with the better, in my opinion.

  7. Good Blog and I agree that spying is bad but this bit made me smile.

    “I don’t have a spy alt in the Minmatar Militia, and as far as I know nobody in my corp ZERO HEAVY INDUSTRIES has one either. I can’t speak for my corpmates, but for me there’s nothing a spy could tell me that I’d be interested in. I don’t fly in the Amarr Militia for ISK or for territory or for RP, I fly for the sake of combat and to practise my skills to become as good a pilot as I can possibly be. The combat doesn’t need a purpose: it’s it’s own purpose, and spying would just be a distraction. The fight is everything.”

    Why then does every Neph fleet I see you in include the neutral scimi and booster loki?

    If your just in it for the fights then what’s the point in engaging our 4 man Jaguar gang with double our numbers AND the neutral scimi and loki.

    The fight is over in seconds. (Although we did kill your malediction lol)

    I think it’s all a big case of if you can’t beat them join them, So when everyone is boosting the next step is spying.

  8. Just for the record, HUANG never spies. I have been INVITED as my main into Amarr chat on occassion, but for social and non combat reasons. Nor will I tolerate spies (vs. neutral scouts) in any fleet I lead.

  9. I don’t care about spies, but spying voicecomms is a big no-no.

  10. Spys in FW are stupid because fw does not have consequences. Spies in Null sec makes sense because null sec wars do have consequences.

    I agree with Wendi:

    “I don’t fly in the Amarr Militia for ISK or for territory or for RP, I fly for the sake of combat and to practise my skills to become as good a pilot as I can possibly be. The combat doesn’t need a purpose: it’s it’s own purpose, and spying would just be a distraction. The fight is everything.

    ….it feels like a vaguely shady sort of thing to do. When I log on to EVE fleet comms after a day’s work I want to relax and chat with my corpmates and generally let my hair down. I don’t like the idea that someone could be eavesdropping on what’s supposed to be a private conversation, I don’t like lying to someone over something as trivial as a computer game….”

    Keep this in mind when people talk of adding consequences to fw. If substantial consequences are added then more people will spy.

    As much as ccp plays up lying and scamming in eve I hope they understand that not everyone “like[s] lying to someone over something as trivial as a computer game.”

    We need to consider this when we ask for “more consequences” in fw. If they make more consequences besides good fights then there will be more reasons to spy.

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