Friday, April 6, 2012
How neutral does EVE University get to be?
(Some preamble to begin. Scroll down to Neutrality, if you want to get to the meat of the post.)
There are, of course, caveats to any such move. The lowsec camp already decreased PvP roams via the Ivy League Navy [ILN] (the University's PvP department) by an estimated 50%. The lowsec camp runs unto itself and is not under the auspices of the ILN. Most of the skilled pilots in the University, including ILN officers and taskforce coordinators, moved to the pocket for the frequent good fights available in the area. The ILN has since became a shell of its former self, its experienced fleet commanders off in Hagilur fighting pirates. The newbs, too new to feel comfortable roaming in lowsec, were left without much in the way of PvP training. Audio classes galore, but practical experience became slim pickings.
Now with a nullsec camp being constructed, every last dreg of PvP experience will either be in the lowsec camp or the nullsec camp. The ILN will be on life support. Practical newbie PvP training will be something folks reminisce about: "Remember back when the Uni used to run fleets out of Aldrat?"
Whereas newbies are quite capable of operating in lowsec, it's certainly not the culture in the University to suggest to any new player to head to lowsec. University members either avoid lowsec for most of their EVE careers, due to fears instilled early on, or the braver ones eventually find out that all the fear-mongering was just a bunch of hooey, discovering the joys of the lower security systems on their own.
There are a lot of potential benefits to the University setting up a camp in nullsec (just as there have been since setting up camp in lowsec), but it all depends on how they handle the situation, the inevitable brain drain that's going to occur. The Hagilur pocket is close to University operations (seven jumps). So it's logistically easy for the experienced pilots to still take part in newbie training. The brain drain, due to the lowsec pocket, while obvious and pronounced it did not damage the newbie experience. The issue that's been affecting practical PvP training for the University newbies is time, not logistics. If you're having fun hunting pirates, you have less time to teach.
The new nullsec camp, though, is going to be deep in Test Alliance Please Ignore [Test] space. Fountain, to be exact. Granted it will be in an NPC pocket within Fountain, but no easy trip in and out. Forty or so jumps from University homebase. (Sure sure, jump clones exist, but with the twenty-four timer, for only a couple hours of lessons nullsec dwellers are going to find it hard leaving the fun, to be locked down in highsec for a full day.) The brain drain will be pronounced and severe. Practical PvP experience given to those remaining in highsec? It's going to disappear entirely.
So, why set up the first nullsec camp in Fountain? And how does this affect the University's much vaunted neutrality?
The arrangement. The University gets access to all of Test's jump bridge network. They get access to Test's markets and stations. They are free to operate within Fountain, with Test as a friendly blue neighbour. A friendly blue neighbour that is likely more than willing to help the University when overwhelmed by existing occupants (Godfathers and others.) In exchange, Test alliance gets nothing (or so the official stance would suggest.)
Of course, the reality is that Test gets quite a bit. They have a new channel of recruitment. If you're an EVE University graduate, and your intention is to head to nullsec, where might you start your alliance/corporation search? Test alliance, of course.
Test alliance also gets another corporation to help defend the homeland. The official University line is that they will not get involved in any Test conflicts. That may be true with respect to conflicts that occur outside of Fountain space. But let's say that Red Alliance, at some future date, decides to attack Fountain. Is the University going to tuck tail, evacuate all their assets back to safe space, not firing a single shot to defend their new friends and their new home away from home? I would doubt it very much. That's not a particularly grateful attitude.
So, defence of the homeland. Test gets to train up a home defence fleet under the auspices of charity and education. Classes. Guest lectures. Joint fleets. Training according to Test standards. After all that Test has done to accommodate the University in Fountain, it's a tad hard to believe that the Uni would abandon their new friends if a time of need happened to arise.
Test also gets a brand-new partial pet alliance. Not the entire alliance, but certainly all of their PvPers.
The University sets Test to blue standings. Test sets Ivy League to blue standings. That's the given. What of the rest of the Clusterfuck Coalition [CFC]? According to the University, Goonswarm standings will not change (they'll continue to remain as is, which in nullsec means targets.) Exactly how is this going to work? It doesn't happen often, but Test and Goonswarm do fleet together for non-PvP activities. Ripping through missions. Ratting. Incursions.
So, a Uni fleet is out on a roam. Finds a nice juicy Goonswarm target, perhaps a ratting Tengu, and pops it. That Tengu was part of a Test fleet. What does Test do? A couple of those incidents and it won't be long before the University has to set all of CFC to blue standings (if they wish to remain in Fountain, of course.) The University becomes a member of CFC, by proxy.
What exactly about any of that sounds neutral? I don't care if the University is neutral or not, but don't pretend that they aren't compromising their principles. The moment they set any of the nullsec sovereignty alliances to a blue standing, they are doing away with any notion of neutrality. Pretending to the high ideals is just whitewashing the obvious. They've chosen a side in the sovereignty wars. And that side is the CFC.
If the University is serious about its neutral standings, why would they not set-up shop in Syndicate? It's an extremely active NPC nullsec region. It houses some of the most experienced and successful small-gang PvP alliances in the game (Agony, Rooks and Kings, Rote Kapelle, Clockwork Pineapple.) If nullsec PvP experience and training is the goal of a University nullsec camp, then no better place to be than Syndicate.