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We play a funny game sometimes. And nowhere is it funnier than the tendency of EVE players to want to push every in-game and out-of-game border to see where the breaking points are. EVE developers don’t like to make concrete statements about what is legal and what isn’t when it comes to these borders. The reason is that if a dev makes a concrete statement that “doing X 17 times is legal, but doing X 20 times is illegal”:

  1. there will invariably be someone who insists on doing X both 18 and 19 times to see how CCP reacts; and,
  2. any concrete statement a dev does make will be picked apart and picked apart to look for loopholes.

With that in mind, let’s look at the Erebus kill that Shadow Cartel managed the other day. Normally I wouldn’t write about this until my KOTW post, but there’s so much going on with this titan that it deserves a deeper look. I’d rather not clutter the KOTW post with all the details.

When a ship is logged off or disconnected in space, the ship will execute an “e-warp” or an emergency warp to a random location one million kilometers away from where the log off/disconnect happened. When the player logs back in, their ship is then return warped back to its previous position in space. While this return warp looks like any other warp, the player cannot abort the warp by stopping their ship, nor can they jump the ship to another system (if it’s a capital ship). The return warp is really part of the process of logging back in.

However, as the art of probing has advanced over the last couple of years and become quicker and more precise for the practitioners of it, it’s become more and more common for players to probe down these e-warp locations. As player risk aversion and patience have increased also over the last few years, it’s become more common for players to wait hours or even days for a ship logged off to return. In a way, it’s not much different from sitting on a POS or a titan for several hours, but with one difference: sufficient patience in this situation will guarantee a kill, often an expensive kill. The CEO of my own corp has been heard to remark “you don’t leave beer to go find beer” and while my alliance doesn’t bother with this kind of log-off camping, there are a number of corps that do.

This situation was becoming common enough that as part of the deployment of the Inferno patch more than a year ago, CCP was asked to make a ruling about this situation: was tackling ships in their e-warp positions considered legal? CCP Masterplan said yes:

…you’ll be warping back from a random 1M km point. If someone manages to find this spot and bubble it before you align, they will now prevent your warp. They could always do this with targetted tackle, this change just makes bubbles consistent.

But what about low-sec, where you can’t use bubbles? You can only tackle a super with a directed heavy interdictor point. In actual practice, players trying to do this to return warping supers in low-sec found they were unable to do so… probably a side effect of the log-in return warp process.

So EVE player W0wbagger and his buddies at Shadow Cartel decided to innovate. If they couldn’t “infini-point” a super coming out of a return warp, they decided to prevent it warping by bumping it. In normal EVE play, this is a perfectly valid technique and has been used to prevent many players from getting into warp. But in a e-warp return warp scenario, it’s really all the tackle you need against a super. Since the super is trapped in the return warp process, they can’t even use an emergency cyno to jump their ship out of harm’s way!

And that’s how this titan kill went down. Shadow Cartel bumped the Erebus repeatedly until they could arrange a proper dread fleet with which to kill it.

Needless to say, those involved quickly split between those crying “exploit!” and those crying “oh clever!” W0wbagger wrote a post on Failheap Challenge justifying SC’s use of the tactic and wrapped it up with:

TLDR – don’t feel it’s an exploit due to masterplans post/previous patch changes, Rubicon just made it easier to do. Has always been legal in null. Only issue is inability to cancel ewarp. Hopefully CCP clarify.

And it’s taken CCP all of 24 hours to “clarify”, with an EVE Online news post written by CCP Dolan:

Bumping a ship in order to get it stuck in emergency warp alignment limbo when its pilot logs in is now considered an exploit.

So that means the issue is completely settled now, right? Well, there are a few people disputing it (and the argument is raging back and forth on FHC) but for the most part players are OK with the announcement.

But if you are currently saying “Jester, this is a concrete statement by a CCP dev. Are there players out there picking it apart looking for loopholes?”, well done! Award yourself +1 Internet. No less a personality than Helicity Boson did:

Bumping a ship in order to get it stuck in emergency warp alignment limbo when its pilot logs in is now considered an exploit.

Obviously it was going to be ruled exploitative imho, but as the statement shows it was not consistently ruled an exploit until now, this has now been resolved.

Hee! It just never stops, does it? EVE players can’t help but camp the spawn point, wherever they find one. And people wonder why EVE devs drink…

– Ripard Teg

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