The Red Killboard

I was worried about catching up on things after a week, but so far my fears have been mostly ungrounded. I did leave a mail behind before I left for EDU, asking the guys to continue shooting things regardless of the outcome, and they rose to the challenge spectacularly. The killboard remained active – hell it looked like activity skyrocketed – during the week I was away, something I am immensely proud of.

I am a believer that the active killboard speaks volumes more than a green one. If it is active and green, that’s great. But if I am looking at a killboard and I do not see any losses whatsoever, I can only assume that 1) you are better at PvP than anyone I have ever known or seen in New Eden, or 2) you’re sticking to combat within a comfort zone.

It’s very easy to claim option 1 when in fact the case is most likely 2. I could go into that but to be honest, it is not my place to tell anyone that the way they PvP is ‘wrong’ or unworthy of praise. I am only here to say, do not be ashamed of your losses.

Members of the alliance, I fear, find that losses reflect poorly on our performance. Most recruits, I also fear, use the killboards to judge us before they join. They see a red killboard, or red ISK efficiency, and they turn tail for greener pastures, literally. It happens because it’s easy to look at and assume. >50% ISK efficiency means they’re killing more than they’re losing, and that MUST be good. However, I have found that the devil is in the details.

A killboard does not reconstruct a fight for you. It does not tell you the initial terms of engagement, positioning before, during and after a fight. It does not give you which modules were activated, by who, to who, and for what purpose. It doesn’t detail the intent of pilots during the fight, nor the commander’s control of the situation.

Essentially, it gives you cold hard facts, when EVE PvP is anything but that. There are thousands of variables in each and every fight to consider, give or take a few hundred depending on the fight, and all that is remaining after the last wrecks are salvaged are the victors, the defeated, and a smattering of killmails. Killmails which hold next to no detail when it comes to piecing together a fight.

06_Pirates2

History is written by the victors…

…and is usually painted in the best light possible. I have rarely seen a victorious fight where we end up considering what we could have done better. It’s just a bunch of patting each others’ backs and gleefully looting.

On the other hand, when we lose a fight, we wonder how exactly things had gone so badly. We reconsider everything from our modules to our actions in the minutes leading up to the fight. I try to do, at least. Sadly, the answer we give ourselves is “they had a bigger, stronger force than us.”

It’s inadequate. I hate to say it, but I have done it before. I have just dismissed a fleet whelping as due to the other side being stronger than us. I have also looked at battles and compared ISK destroyed by both sides to determine the ‘winner’. It’s habitual and I wish I could rid myself of it, but alas it is hard if not impossible to remove that urge to compare using the numbers at face value.

Green is good, red is bad.

The mentality we have of a killboard is that kills are good, losses should be avoided at all costs. It’s a duality that doesn’t have anything to stand on. Kills can be bad, the most obvious example being accidentally killing a friend or corp member. Or, a little more sinister, not accidentally killing corp members.

But you can go a little deeper.

Example:

Two fleets engage, both have logistics.

In the kill reports after a fleet fight, you see that the first kill for our side was a heavily-tanked ship that had absorbed tons of damage? Is that a good kill?

Or did that mean the FC was being stubborn and pummeling the initial primary even as it was receiving repairs, ignoring the possibility of switching to enemy logibros?

But then again, what if the enemy logistics were too far to effectively target, and the FC had no other choice?

If the friendly fleet reported no losses before that kill, then in that case I’d say the kill was the best possible course of action, but better positioning could have led to a cleaner fight. This example highlights two important things:RapidMissileLauncher

a) A killmail can provide negative information about the performance of those involved in the kill. In this example, damage taken. Conversely, that loss for the enemy fleet was a ‘positive lossmail’ . A heavily-tanked ship receiving reps and soaking up damage lets the rest of their damage dealers go about their task of shooting things.

b) A killmail cannot provide ALL the information to judge a battle. In this example, it does not tell you where enemy logistics were.

In light of this, I find it extremely… shallow, to use the killboard as any serious measure of performance. I still do it even though I write these words, though. Once again it’s hard to give up something that is so simple to compare with.

Blood runs red.

Victories leads to satisfaction. Extended periods of satisfaction leads to complacency. That’s when you make the worst mistakes possible, and ignore obvious warning signs.

It’s interesting, that inevitably as time goes on, we will learn from the losses and red will slowly turn to green. It’s surprisingly simple, but it seems to me the main task of an EVE Online alliance leadership only has to provide members with a vision and entertainment, and they will grow themselves around that frame you provide, hopefully laughing and enjoying themselves the whole way. You don’t work on your members, you simply work on keeping them with you.

But a balancing act is necessary. Even if we do achieve the heights I want our alliance to reach, I want to be here to always remind my friends that we always have room for improvement, and that the red killboard isn’t so bad, because it is blood that runs red. *evil*

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