Friday, September 13, 2013

Blog Banter #49: "Rich" Means Not Having to Worry

(or: "How I got poorer when my net worth increased, and richer when it dropped")

The question was posed:

What is "rich" in EVE? Is it simply having more ISK than most everyone else, is it measured in raw numbers of some other ethereal quality? Can you actually be poor? Have you ever lost nearly everything and had to claw your way back? If you are rich, how do you know and how did you get rich?

"Rich", like "poor", isn't a number to me; they're states of mind, security versus danger.  To me, in EVE, as in life outside, "rich" means the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can experiment with something you've wanted to do but weren't certain you could do properly, and that even if it all goes horribly wrong for you, it won't substantially harm the other aspects of your life.  Simply put: in EVE, anyway, "rich" means you've got a comfortable safety margin, while "poor" is the lack of that safety margin.

And you can go from rich to poor in a heartbeat without your wallet or asset numbers dropping at all.

It can happen with a move to a new area of operations, or enrollment with a new corporation or a new alliance.  A change in fleet doctrines can annihilate your safety margin in a heartbeat.  It happened to me last year, when my corp joined a faction warfare alliance, and the posted doctrines demanded each pilot have at least two PVP-fit battleships ready to fly at the forward operations base at all times.  The only way I could make that happen would have been to liquidate the assets I'd kept in hisec to support me if things went wrong; conforming to the doctrine would have wiped out my fallback plan and emptied my wallet into the bargain, so all of a sudden, I was deep on the "poor" side of the line.  The only way I could think of myself as secure was if I flat-out ignored that part of the doctrine.

Then the move to null.  By then, I thought I was, if not well-and-truly rich, at least possessed of a comfortable safety margin if I had to withdraw with my tail between my legs.


There were jump freighter fees, jump freighter replacement fees, I had to get an appropriate ship for ratting and have the ready cash to replace it if-and-when it got ganked, and I was running among people for whom my entire net worth at the time was pretty much just fiddling pocket change.  I'd ask for suggested fits for one task or another, and I'd be given setups costing three billion ISK ... on tech-1 battleship hulls, no less.  I'd comment that I'd have to find a way to reduce the shininess of the fit - I took to calling it "parkerizing", and I've still got a lot of "parkerized" fits in my EFT files - and be scolded for it and informed that one had to spend money to make money.

The easiest way to make two billion ISK in profit is to have three billion ISK available to invest, I suppose.

Then there were the fleet doctrines - I was in the HBC, shortly before it imploded, and one of the major doctrines was the Foxcat, based on Apocalypse Navy Issue hulls, thankfully with less-shiny standard Apocalypse variants which were acceptable but not preferred.  Oh, and a goal in the corp I'd joined to get into null was to have everyone own and be able to fly carriers, for logistics purposes (in the traditional sense as opposed to the fleet repair role).

Life in sov-null?  Yeah, not exactly cheap.

It also worked at higher levels, with space-richness being measured in the natural resources commanded and the military power to defend or claim said resources.  That was the first domino to fall in the HBC, actually; a larger, richer alliance looked at the resources my alliance controlled, talked to the coalition higher-ups, and basically said: "Nice moons.  We'll take 'em."  And suddenly, our alliance's financial security, along with a lot of its industrial capacity, was gone.  And by now, the alliance itself is pretty much gone.  And the HBC?  Didn't last much longer.

I withdrew back into Black Rise, and found myself less stressed, less paranoid, and less apprehensive about things going wrong.  Flying frigates, cruisers, the odd battlecruiser, assault frigates, interceptors, covert ops birds, stealth bombers now and again, flying with people I could talk to without worrying with a knife getting slid between my ribs...

My wallet had bled the entire time I was in nullsec.  I was less wealthy in absolute terms than I'd been the day I'd left for Delve and Querious.

But I wasn't in jeopardy any more.  I could relax.  I could enjoy travelling, fighting, mixing it up.  I could put ships on the line, frigates, cruisers, battlecruisers, and so on, secure in the knowledge that I had the resources to replace them and go back out and put them on the line all over again.  I didn't have to worry about alliance higher-ups threatening to hunt me down and pod me and blast me back into noobships for not conforming to a whim on their part.  I could talk with people, shoot the breeze, and not have to worry about holding back secrets from them.

I didn't have to worry.

With less money and fewer assets to my name than when I'd left, suddenly I was rich once more.

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