In EVE, the majority of the content in the game is PVP. There are many forms of it, from market PVP to Sov Warfare, but it is all PVP. Many players find that their preferred form of PVP is blowing up spaceships, but there is a problem. Killing people’s ships is diametrically opposed to ISK making in most situations. So we have an incentive to become friends with our neighbors to protect our ISK gathering operations.
If we are blue to our neighbors, however, we have to roam further to get fights. In modern EVE politics there is a middle ground though, the NIP or Non-Invasion Pact. The Non-Invasion Pact is a player creation commonly employed as a stopgap between hostile empires in Null-sec. The reasons vary, but protecting valuable moons while out on campaign (1) or promising to keep out of wars (2) are the most talked about reasons. NIPs also allow for endemic warfare between two groups, which keeps FCs and line members fighting skills sharp.
NIPs, however, tend to be enforced in a manner similar to MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction. This method of enforcement forbids smaller entities that lack the firepower to rapidly cause significant damage from participating in NIPs. MAD is also not a valid enforcement option against a group living in Low-sec where it is very difficult to cause significant pain to an adversary.
Meanwhile in Lowsec
There has been a massive uptick of groups living full time in Low-sec in the last year or so. We can thank Faction Warfare and a little known Low-sec mission buff for this. This fulltime population has been growing, and endemic warfare between enemies often times within ten jumps of their homes has become the standard. This closeness and constant combat has turned Low-sec into what it was always meant to be, a hub of endemic small scale warfare.
Like all things, however, there are those who do not play the same game. Low-sec fosters predators as well as young corporations and these predators are usually in the form of nomadic groups that travel Low-sec looking for targets to gank via titan bridge or capital hot drop. Sometimes it’s Pandemic Legion, stopping by to gank some capitals. Other times it’s Shadow Cartel bridging on top of a lone carrier taking down a POCO. These groups travel Low-sec looking for prey, and often their actions bring endemic warfare to a halt for fear of being dropped upon. This endemic warfare is exactly what they were hunting and once it is gone, they move along.
These third party groups have added an external pressure, and the fulltime entities have found ways to adapt. When two sides fight regularly, even with malice in their hearts, a mutual respect is built between both sides. They learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, their doctrines and their willingness to fight. They learn which players can form fleets and which pilots really make things happen in their enemy’s corporation or alliance. This knowledge allows these smaller Low-sec entities to lay down plans and develop combined fleet counters to the predatory alliances when threatened. We saw this in action when the Amarr Militia corp Wolfsbrigade and Gallente Militia alliance Drunk ‘n’ Disorderly united and took down a Pandemic Legion Erebus in Agoze.
Flying together with one’s enemies may be considered odd, but PVP can be a very enjoyable affair for both sides. Especially if they’re able to have 'Guud Fites' regularly because they’re relatively evenly matched forces. The days of fighting invoking deep and personal loss are gone, fighting is now about enjoying the fight, and for that you need enemies who are willing to fight. One tactic to help you hold onto those that are willing to fight is to become ‘frenemies’.
Benefits of Frenemies
Being frenemies is similar to an NIP except it isn’t enforced with the threat of destruction or centered around not killing each other's infrastructure. A frenemy is a group you fight regularly, but you have developed friendships with their leaders in an effort to continue the conflict. This friendship develops and evolves as necessary but does not usually involve rules around what you can and cannot bring to a fight. Instead it allows both groups to cut their teeth and keep their skills sharp while reducing the inherent negatives of PVP. Negatives like long roams to hostile space, or the constant threat of being hot dropped by a superior force.
Having frenemies also means that you have a group of respected players nearby who share a similar set of motivations with you. Should you get attacked by a hostile third party with superior numbers, your frenemies will likely be interested in getting in on the action. Tackled a hostile capital on a late night roam, but can’t break it’s tank? Frenemies to the rescue!
Fostering these violent relationships requires walking a very strange path somewhere between friends and enemies. If you can find a frenemy and not let things get personal, you can build the foundation of a strong coalition without removing the fuel that supplies either group; targets.
1. CFC’s ‘Delve Pile’ in June of 2012
2. The CFC & NCdot NIP during the CFC’s invasion of Tenal