Lollipops for Rancors is the Eurogamer readers' Corporation in EVE Online. This is the story of how a relatively safe, "carebear" Corp came to embrace the espionage, theft, treachery and revenge of the world's most merciless online sandbox.
It could almost have ended before it had even started. We'd moved ourselves into position, settled into our base camp for the operation ahead of us and waited patiently. Just one small detail had been overlooked and now threatened to undo everything.
Having arrived at the space station 20 minutes before the server's daily downtime, we'd found ourselves all alone, killing the remaining time chatting nervously about the hours ahead of us. Without warning, a solitary member of our target Corporation appeared on the list of station guests, someone who could see us as clearly as we could see them. We were a long way from our home but very close to theirs and, while there was no good reason for us to be out in this region of space, there was one very bad one. Revenge.
As the cry went up, we logged off hurriedly to begin the anxious wait for the server to complete its daily maintenance and restart.
Staring now at a login screen that slowly counted down one second to the next, a combination of tension, disbelief and hurried soul-searching filled our conversation. Could we even pull this off? Were we actually going to inflict this level of destruction and theft onto another Corporation? A Corporation with dreams and aspirations just like our own?
Yes, yes we were. Two dozen nervous hands logged in and prepared for war.
Lollipops for Rancors is an EVE Corporation created in February 2009. As a one-size-fits-all Corporation formed on the basis of mutual association through Eurogamer, we have always had a fair mix of new players, veterans and the somewhere-in-betweens. Nevertheless, with some happy to focus on the PVE side of EVE and others itching for fights and explosions in space, we had come to find ourselves in something of a rut.
We were all aware that there was an infamously fearsome sandbox to be discovered out there, but the question was how best to expose ourselves to the right opportunities and experience this so-called real side of EVE.
The natural progression for a Corporation in this situation is towards an Alliance, a collection of Corporations with similar aims and, above all, a desire to claim for their own the lawless areas of space where the NPC police don't just turn a blind eye - they don't turn up at all. In the right Alliance, the fighters would get their fights and the more industrially-inclined players would gain access to greater opportunities to advance both themselves and their wallets.
In many ways we had chosen the right Alliance, almost an expanded version of ourselves. However, with a leadership learning on the fly and no firm structure in place, the Alliance had simply become too big, too soon. Shortly before we joined, a declaration of war had been placed against the group by an experienced mercenary Corporation, leaving us vulnerable across all of New Eden and unable to group and gather stock for our venture.
In a scenario like this you do one of two things. You either form fleets capable of taking on the enemy at hand, or wait it out in the station until such a fleet can be made. The end goal is the same - deny the enemy cheap kills for their killboard, bore them to tears and so remove their desire to renew the war. Losses, on the other hand, would only encourage a continuation of the war into the following weeks.