And lo, as the Age of the Capsuleer enters it's eighth year and capsule-bound gods roam the heavens of New Eden in greater numbers than ever before, there has been a disturbance in the equilibrium of Greenbeard's Freebooters.
Once a fearless quartet of renowned and peerless warriors, the Freebooters have become a fading force, with three of original members now lost, absent or defeated. Once they ruled the stars with their wisdom and skill, having faced all challenges and vanquished all enemies, but now ...
Oh, who am I kidding.
Like many old corps in EVE Online (in a little over a month, the Freebooters will also turn eight years old), the merry band that once was has disappeared into the vortex that is reality. We were never that successful anyway, but we did spend years enjoying the content available to a small independent corp; missioning until we knew them all inside out, indulging in some Faction Warfare, skulking around in low-sec, making some ISK with planetary interaction and a couple of marketing coups, roleplaying when the mood suited. They were good times.
But those times are in the past and there is little left for the Freebooters to do. No challenging stone left unturned.
Or is there?
Enter the Black
The one thing that has always eluded us (or we have just avoided), has been that mythical, dark realm beyond the borders of pirate-infested low-sec. A world apart from those nestled comfortably in the folds of Empire space. That forbidding other game-world they call 'null-sec'.
Null-sec is a strange beast. Many of it's denizens seem to see it as 'the only way to play EVE'. There seems to be a suggestion that if you're hanging around in high-sec and 'carebearing' you're missing the whole point of the game. There is definitely a them-and-us relationship between Empire-dwellers and null-sec players, with each side happy to go about their version of EVE whilst pretending the other doesn't exist.
However, the rise of the CSM in recent years clearly turned a few null-sec heads and this year they emphatically seized control of the sixth administration with the intention of championing causes that matter to 'their EVE'. It must be noted that there has always been a degree of null-sec representation on the CSM, but this term there is an overwhelming majority.
So now seems like as good a time as any to find out what their beef is with current sovereignty mechanics and large fleet fights. One way or another, Greenbeard's Freebooters is going to go see what all the fuss is about.
Can I Join Your Team?
The problem with null-sec is that it's full of alliances comprising hundreds of players and they don't take kindly to small independent corporations wandering around in their backyards. Clearly, the way around this problem is to join an alliance, but even that can be fraught with problems. Many of the more established alliances will not entertain small corporations, preferring that players enlist with one of their existing member corporations. This would not be a problem for most I suppose, especially if you're an independent free agent, but Greenbeard's Freebooters is an institution. Granted, it's a small delapidated institution that probably smells like a gents urinal, but it's important to us. Well, to me. And those blue cubes don't taste too bad.
Historically, attempts to resolve the alliance issue have not gone well for the Freebooters. We flew for a short time with the TREAD alliance, who were a modest alliance concerned with policing the then CVA-dominated Derelik low-sec regions. They disbanded around the time the CVA were shown the Providence door by Against All Authorities, leaving the Freebooters to fend for themselves in an increasingly lawless low-sec. That was actually quite an enjoyable period - standing defiantly resolute against the tide of hostile fleets whilst maintaining our low-sec operations. The truth be told, we were too small and inconsequential for anyone to pay us much attention.
Eventually we grew to yearn for more contact - EVE can be a very solitary experience if no effort is made to be gregarious. We sought a new group to bunk up with, but many doors were closed to us due to our small size. Finally we found the Art of War alliance who were based not far from our low-sec haunt. They offered small-gang action, training and orientation for those unfamiliar with PvP combat and a community. That lasted a little short of a week, before an untimely war-declaration from a 'griefer' corp saw us suspected of being spies.
So the 'Booters were cast adrift again.
The next period saw the old guard become increasingly inactive as the jaws of responsibility, real-life and disinterest locked down. Although Long Jack and Karpov Katyusha are still around, their appearances in-game are currently at an all-time low. I am hoping that upcoming excitement may lure them back. Greenbeard alas has allegedly hung up his neural implants for good, but who really knows for sure.
Fortunately, fresh faces have begun to appear, both veteran players and newcomers. There's Teh Smit; a font of endless EVE wisdom (did you know how to get into the last room in Angel Extravaganza without the appropriate tag? I didn't.). Lozyjoe, a budding industrialist with a weird space-rock fetish, and Caveat Emptor Tempora who, despite his name, has very little to do with trading but shows all the hallmarks of being an excellent scout and combat pilot.
It is in the company of these brave and foolhardy souls that I will partake in the next chapter of Greenbeard's Freebooters and I'm glad they're buckled in and coming along for the ride.
Because I have a feeling that this one is going to be special.
The truth of EVE, especially the null-sec portion, is that it is a social event. It is not a part of the game that is intended for the crowd-shy and the reclusive. So it is fitting that it was whilst getting bewildered and drunk in Iceland at Fanfest 2011 that I met two people whose alliance I hope we Freebooters will fit perfectly; Quivering Palm and Luminus Aardokay.
I am pleased to say we are now proud members of Split Infinity Alliance.
I hope to keep you apprised of how we clueless Freebooters fare in this brave new world of sovereignty warfare and null-sec politics. At the very least I can now start developing an informed opinion.
Watch this space.