With everything going on recently in wormhole space, I feel like now is a good time to talk about why anyone would even live there. Just why anyone would choose to live so far off the grid as I do. You’re giving up stargates, reliable trade hub access, and asset safety, so surely there must be a good reason. I doubt that reason is to live in a van and escape the ‘system’ like some sort of space hippie. I think Viktor shaved his man bun anyway.
If you weren’t aware, wormholes were released 11 years ago in the Apocrypha expansion; I suggest reading some of the original blogs by CCP Abathur and CCP Whisper. Back then even CCP weren’t sure how popular they would be, stating that it was possible to drop a POS, but that it was very difficult. In my opinion, the underestimated the free time some EVE players have. Need someone to move 300,000m³ of fuel blocks 20 jumps? Someone will do that.
So why do people live here in 2020? The answer is very much the same as why people play EVE in general, but there are some unique pros and cons to this esoteric little playpen.
Chaotic Evil – Wormholes to Hunt From
So one of the major reasons that I love wormhole space personally is simply the random nature of the connections. Being able to roll a static and find a new area of space within seconds is wonderful. If you’ve just had a frustratingly boring roam then rolling the nullsec static can feel like a palate cleanser, like the space equivalent of a grapefruit. Gone are the old connections and you only have new frontiers to look forward to. CCP recently introduced the Needlejack filaments which do the same thing, but it isn’t quite the same and it leads onto my next point.
Having those temporary connections to new locations held open for a short time feels less like a simple visit to nullsec and more like an adventure through a stargate beneath Cheyenne Mountain. Think about it, any good wormhole corp needs to stock whatever they need within their own hole. What you have is all you’ve got and this includes people. Getting backup isn’t easy and living together so closely helps foster real bonds between players.
Your wormhole system is own personal Stargate Command and your statics can be closed or opened when you like. You jump out, cause trouble, and come home before time or mass runs out. It’s a good system and it works. It’s the chaotic neutral way to play EVE Online.
Where this falls apart is when that random nature doesn’t swing in your favour. That search to find a a logistics hisec or a ratting pocket to hunt in can take three minutes or it can take three hours. You could argue that this makes finding a nice connection that much sweeter, and that even in the worst situations a compromise can be reached, but that doesn’t make the process any more fun. What I’m talking about of course is rolling holes. It’s necessary, it’s useful, and I hate it.
For the uninitiated, rolling a wormhole involves shoving several heavy battleships back and forth until it collapses. If that was a static then you’ll now have a new connection to explore within a minute. It’s easily done and easily messed up if you read something wrong so rolling demands attention and care from all but the most practised rollers. Being rolled out as a single battleship doesn’t even result in fun gameplay. It just means a couple of hours of slow scanning and burning back home for that character.
I could honestly imagine a wormhole space without rolling wormholes working quite well as long as there was something to replace it. You can’t just take rolling/mass limits away right now and call it good. You’d drive away so many players. What is needed is something to allow players some sort of limited freedom over holding a connection open without letting them slam it shut. To give my two cents, what if wormhole had an extra short lifespan and some sort of Drifter tech was used to hold them open for a period of time. This would facilitate roaming and logistics for extended periods, but would also let you wait out the collapse.
Lawful Neutral – Wormholes to PvP In
PvP in wormhole space has been a longtime tradition of many corps. It’s a unique space where cloaking is a lot more viable and you can have an intel advantage just by scanning more than your opponent. The kind of fights here range from cloaky skirmishes on a wormhole, to ‘honour brawls’, to ganks and 100-man Loki eviction fleets. They’re all my personal favourite types of fight to have and it’s what kept me in wormhole space since I started.
That said, there aren’t many other places in EVE that you’re going to fight 20v20 in a brawl without having caps rudely inserted into the fight. It makes wormholers that do fight these ‘proper’ fights some of the most fun people to fly with and it hearkens back to what I’ve already said about being alone together in a wormhole system as a cohesive group. When you go into that brawl together, you’re trusting that your fellow pilots know what they’re doing. These aren’t the 112 out of 284 F1 monkies waiting to press a button. They’re good pilots and hopefully they’re your friends.
Included in this group are the cloaky pilots that I’ve mentioned, too. Many groups such as Wingspan have made wormhole space their home these days. They’re the people who camp hisecs near Jita, and they’re the people who won’t leave the jumping range of a wormhole. It’s annoying and risk-averse, but it’s what they like to do and it’s unique at the very least. I’m still of the opinion that this propagated down from the old cloaky Proteus meme from years ago and people never stopped doing it.
Day-to-day life for wormhole PvP corps is very similar to what I’ve already described for those that hunt in nullsec (and there is definitely an overlap between the two). The loop of scanning, rolling, and scanning again is central to life. Taking this further, wormhole PvP can often mean having to take part in a weaponised form of rolling, ‘hole control’. This is the dreadful way in which wormholes are controlled to either prevent attackers getting in, or to prevent defenders from calling for reinforcements.
I say dreadful because it’s dreadfully boring. Any wormhole anchoring/eviction requires the participants to sit and have members watch wormholes 24/7 for up to a week. At any moment you could have to log in urgently to drive a ship back and forth through a hole after being alerted by whoever bought the most cans of Monster. It isn’t fun gameplay and I could talk about it for a long time, but let’s leave it there. As a pilot in wormhole space, you need to know about hole control and why it’s done. It isn’t a reason to live there, but this article isn’t an advertisement.
Neutral Good – Wormholes to Make ISK In
There are certain kinds of people in EVE Online who really just want to make a bit of money. They log in to earn ISK, they buy blingy ships to make more ISK. This is their gameplay loop and it’s what some people like doing, you can’t really fault it. Wormhole space has it’s fair share of people like this and I should know, I wrote the guide to it! I’m not a massive krab for what it’s worth. I hate doing PvE and just wanted to write a guide so I could stop teaching my corp members.
This is also the area in which you find the most overlap between playstyles. Everyone has to do it sooner or later and even the most PvP-focused players need ISK. If you live in wormhole space then you might as well make your money at home rather than having to venture out into kspace. Besides, it sucks if someone rolls the hole or calls for backup while you’re out somewhere else.
When compared to more standard methods such as nullsec anom ratting or mission running, wormhole space can be quite lucrative. I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to dip their toes in the pond. Even if 100m ISK/hr in a C2 battlecruiser isn’t much to me, that’s a hell of a lot to someone who has just started the game. Likewise, the improved ISK of C5s is a great thing to get into wormhole space to aim for. If anything, it gets people out of safe hisec space and into spookyspace where I can kill them. I’ve said time and time again that a healthy wormhole ecosystem needs hunters and it needs prey. I’m not telling people to come into wormhole space to become the prey; the best way to avoid that is to bite back when you get attacked or to get in and out fast.
Now if I were redesigning wormhole PvE then I would take an approach that tries to satisfy that high-risk high-reward style of gameplay that it deserves to be. Having scrams hold players in site despite MJDs is a good start, but there needs to be more to it. For one, the sites themselves could do with a rework with the newer AI behaviour systems. Having to scram the Drifter is slightly interesting, but shooting the same old triggers, again and again, is not. Some level of variance in how the Sleepers behave would be very interesting. Imagine if they fought back and shot your own structures or patrolled the system? Now that would be more like the wormhole space I was originally promised years ago. This is not our space and the Sleepers shouldn’t make us feel welcome, especially in the depths of high-class wormholes.