This article-series really represents only my view, and mine alone. I just wrote down my thoughts and (self-)observations derived from living in Provi as one of the rock-hugging, rat-harassing, salvager-fitting and nrds-loving fun and friendly crowd we have in our nice little 0.0 garden.
Now that I got you hooked on Provi and the native spacebears, I want to give you some more insight into the guiding principles, the beautiful theory and the ugly realities of being a ProviDweller. Since the recent tourist-visits from some of the larger 0.0-entities, Providence – together with neighboring Catch – has also become one of the most violent regions in the game according to dotlan (18.05.2014), with around 2200 ships and 980 pods killed in 24 hours.
So what drives those natives to attack peaceful visitors like this tourist cruiseliner (http://public-crest.eveonline.com/killmails/38923818/41381d2f3c7c1b3cecf4693411757946896215b2/ ) with stones, sticks, and a lot of gleeful energy every day? To get one more glimpse into the strange workings of the provi mindset, bear with me, dear readers…
When you want to meet one of the furtive residents of the space commonly known as Providence, NRDS is the difference between him or her inviting you into their homes and stations, run away screaming or shoot you in the face.
NRDS is one of the different forms of rules of engagement in Eve and means “Not red – don’t shoot!”. Red is the color the standard overview assigns to hostile ships (war targets, criminals or enemies), while friendly ships are blue, neutrals white and fleet members purple (non standard overview settings can sometimes look more than a disco dance floor, with all the colors of the rainbow blinking away to get your attention). This leads us directly to the other beautiful colour acronyms governing the chance of getting your ship shot away from under your beautiful capsule:
NPSI (Not purple – shoot it!) is “EVE in Easy-Mode” (at least initially), as you basically shoot everything not in your fleet for kill board-gardening. Regions, where the wild diplomats thrive are governed by NBSI (Not Blue – shoot it!). There the alliance standings hammered out by diplomats colour you view of space.
Providence adopted the NRDS – rules of engagement to make it possible that anyone not specifically known to blow up poor Provibears is given the benefit of the doubt (= not being shot at on sight). This allows neutrals to come out and play in 0.0 on a corps or individual basis very early in their EVE-life and without having to take sides and join one of the large alliances that hold most of the 0.0 space. This is especially interesting for newer players who just want to try out this aspect of EVE.
Fun fact: Providence has such long memory that it long expired the maximum number of entities you can set standings for. Therefore external KOS-checkers are used to keep up with all the people wanting to shoot and stuff the furtive common Provibear.
Providence residents traditionally don’t want to expand Sov (besides some fun excursions to bring even more fun into catch due to “historical” reasons) but are bound to the geographic region of Providence. There they just know all the best haunts and can navigate the region blind and intoxicated – which they allegedly do from time to time in groups and alone. While normally alliances expand their territory when growing, Providence just gets more crowded. This creates a unique culture in the region. Most of the Provi alliances are old and well established, and after having lost and retaken Provi numerous times, the idea still is strong enough to attract old and new players alike.
This focus on one region and the deep roots Provi-residents have with “their” systems is also mirrored in the long view Provi holder alliances take. While self-respecting 0.0 dwellers sometimes claim that they would not want to own these systems even if paid, residents call it home. Providence will always be their focus and even if conquered, people will move the few systems to high or low and visit the temporary owners on a regular basis. While some of the Provi residents might not want to fight as they are pure traders and industrialists, the recent fights in 9uy did mobilize more people to join fleets and discover PVP as a fun activity. The main PVP activities at the moment are:
ProviRoams: Friendly visits to neighbors in roaming-fleets or visits from neighbors in Provi, where you can expect to die gloriously in a system close or far away but try to have fun, even play station games, reship to something more suitable or wait in local for a red fleet to appear. These fleets usually let our normal residents be. These are the fleets we love, as we learn a lot while having fun together hacking EVE game mechanics as much as we dare – and there are no bitter feelings but just good fights.
DefFleets: These are the fleets most reds coming to Provi complain about (*gasp – reds complaining about Provipvp – the irony) and where the infamous term ProviBlob originates. If a red touches sov or acts retarded, the purpose of the fleets changes to just make life of those reds as miserable as possible while winning the isk war – period. Sov itself may be defended but if it’s clear that it is just a trap (“It’s a trap”) it might not, if the fleet can be better used to harass and hurt than to be whelped in SovDef. There we naturally use each and every of the few advantages we have – as Core said in a comment: “If you come to our house, don’t expect us to stand down half the fleet (…), stop using jumpbridges or turn off the few cyno jammers we do have…” These invasion-atempts always leave personal feelings hurt and should therefore be avoided…
That said, reds mostly come to Provi to train and entertain their members, as it got awfully quiet in the rest of 0.0 space after the Halloween war. Therefore one of the few places they can come for fights without having to fear the consequences from sov-holders is Provi. Reds come and go but residents have to welcome each red individually – therefore they participate in the fun in cheap ships that can be easily replaced. It is just not practical to undock anything expensive with the extremely uneven distribution of power between one of the large 0.0 alliances and little ProviBloc.
This uneven power distribution also dictates the available combat strategies: it is a little like neutral Switzerland, that just makes the life of real invaders so tedious, that it takes a real effort, a lot of motivation and quite some sacrifice to grind 70 stations with a 1 week timer each only to get harassed by those stubborn and illogical ProviNatives from low and high until you are ready to leave in disgust.
As the battle of 9uy also showed, Provi can also easily become a trap for the invading party. Residents do have logistical advantage and great intel. Pair these with interested third parties with cap fleets and you might well get trapped because of the same reasons you came to Provi: Boredom as the great equalizer…
To get back to the peculiar habits of inhabitants, don’t think that PVP survives contact with Provi-dwellers unharmed. So many Provi PVP fits included at least one salvager and a salvage drone that CCP allegedly got petitioned to add some damage dealing ability to salvagers. As Provi is a relatively poor region (Resource-wise), salvage and loot is also a way to support the PVP habit of residents.
People in Providence are totally and irrationally focused on the region. They want these systems, not a substitute, and will go to great lengths to keep it or take it back. That ProviBloc can survive and actually get stronger can be shown by this cycle having been repeated aalready in the past. This focus allows people to take the long view: they don’t have to always field large ships or defend a certain timer. They might not even show up for a timer that everyone else feels to be important. They have the luxury of picking their fights because even if they lose a POS, a station or a system they will be around for a long time in surrounding systems in 0.0, low and high to retake it. They can save their expensive ships for just the right moment and just the right fight – sometimes with great, other times with horrible outcome for some or all parties involved.
Living in this crowded space also requires a certain mindset from all of the residents. You need tolerance of others, as it might well happen that those juicy ABC-ores are already mined, all the anomalies plundered or left half-finished and prices on the market might vary from fair to outrageous. The positive side of this is, that you can do pretty much anything you want in Provi, be it alone or in a group, as a miner or trader and even as part of the feared Provi-blob (kitchensink ftw!). All play styles are welcome and while you are encouraged to join fleets, it is perfectly acceptable to support Provi on other fronts, like stocking the market, set up buy and sell-orders, manufacturing and trading.
As pointed out above, ProviBloc alliances have made the very best out of a region that initially no one wanted. It does not have valuable moons or exceptionally good NPCs but it is 0.0 space and combined with the NRDS policy it still generates a certain attraction. Combined with the dense net of stations, jump bridges and cyno-jammers to provide safe spaces, Provi is one of the best developed regions in the game.
At the same time, a peaceful Provi-region can only exist if the region remains neutral and does not take part in offensive sov-warfare. While it might be a strain to grind through all the station systems, it is certainly possible for the large alliances to do. However, as the battle of 9uy showed, it is not a fast war and this gives all entities in EVE ample opportunity to join in as not-to-very-honorable parties in crime and destruction… welcome to the Provi-Thunderdome!
With this fun picture of Provi as the thunderdome for roids, rats and reds ends part 2 of my little series. Stay tuned for the next parts, where I will present you with more fun and shocking revelations – or not.
P.S.: The all new link section for the clueless and interested:
Infos on rules of engagement: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Rules_of_Engagement#Rules_of_Engagement
Overview setting explained to keep your FCs happy: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Overview_Setup
Some history on CVA one of the main ProviHolders: https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/CVA
Old stuff on NRDS (2010): Aralis on NRDS – an EVE-Uni lecture: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/w/images/3/39/E-UNI_Guest_Lecture_Aralis_CVA_and_NRDS.mp3
Old but interesting stuff part II: Situation in Providence before the great invasion (2010): http://www.tentonhammer.com/eve/guides/politics/battle_providence