So the fleet is a mix of lots of different corps and alliances, with lots of different countries represented. It's fair to say we all have a slightly different way of looking at how life in the warzone works.
This eventually led to an enlightening conversation.
As we're capturing yet another complex in the enemy system, recon reported a fairly good-sized fleet coming in, but they aren't Amarr -- it's a gang of pilots under the Ivy League banner -- graduates of Eve University who like to slum out in low- and null-sec space from time to time.
Sure enough, they headed for the complex, jumped in, and started shooting. I'm left with a bit of a problem.
None of them were viable targets for me.
They weren't outlaws, they weren't in faction warfare, we don't have a secondary war declared with them, and they haven't suddenly been flagged as criminals or "suspects" for engaging our fleet, because they're only shooting those pilots on the field who are outlaws and, thus, legal targets for the technically law-abiding Ivy Leaguers.
Luckily, two things happened: first, the support ships in the Ivy League fleet started repairing their fleet mates, which flagged them as part of a legal 'limited engagement' that I'm somehow part of and, second, our fleet commander called those same pilots our primary targets. It's like two great tastes that explode when put together.
Long story short, we stomp the other fleet pretty handily. Go us.
Later, I commented that for those of us in the fleet who actually care about our security status, it's handy -- if a bit silly -- that the guys supporting the enemy fleet became viable targets for repairing the combatants, even if the combatants themselves never did.
"Just shoot everyone," says the FC. "If you're living in Low-sec space and you aren't an outlaw, you're doing it wrong."
"I'm fighting a war," I replied. "I'm not a fucking pirate."
So... What Can You Shoot, You Pansy?
One of the things that was added in the most recent expansion was the idea of a "Safety" that, like a gun safety, generally keeps you from doing anything that's too terribly stupid without a bit of forethought. The basic settings for the safety are:
- Green: The game won't let you do anything that would cause you to be flagged Suspect, which in turn lets anyone at all in the game legally shoot at you until the flag wears off in 15 minutes. Not coincidentally, this safety setting also prevents many of the actions that lower your overall security standing.
- Yellow: The game will let you do things that will flag you Suspect, but won't let you do anything that would flag you Criminal. This means you can do stuff that will allow player retaliation, but you won't pick up that flag that will cause CONCORD to instantly destroy you if you wander into High Security space with the flag active.
- Red: You can do anything, anywhere, and damn the consequences.
It may surprise you to learn that you can (if you want) take part in Faction Warfare full-bore without ever switching your Safety off of green.1 That's how I've chosen to roll, most of the time.2 Here are a list of my viable targets:
|War Targets (Faction War) - This one is kind of obvious. If the target is part of the opposing forces in the war, you can do whatever you like to each other. If it's gold and shiny, you are hereby encouraged to shoot it.|
|War Targets (Declared War) - This is more of a specialized thing, as it shows up for any member of a group for which your corp or alliance have a privately declared, CONCORD-approved war active. Otherwise, it's exactly the same as a faction warfare target.|
|Outlaws - This has nothing to do with wars of any kind -- the target simply has such a bad security rating that any and all pilots in New Eden are encouraged to make them explode, and may do so wherever they like.|
|Criminals - This may seem a bit redundant with Outlaw, but the distinction is important: An Outlaw's standing makes them a perpetual target, while someone with a Criminal flag has earned it due to a specific action, and the flag will drop off in 15 minutes or less. Pretty much the only thing in low-sec that will give you a Criminal flag is destroying the pod of a non-wartarget.|
|Suspects - Like the Criminal flag, a Suspect flag has earned it due to a specific action, and the flag will drop off in 15 minutes or less. Unlike the Criminal flag, there are quite a lot of actions in Low-sec that will give you this flag -- the short list includes attacking non-wartarget ships (not pods) and looting containers or wrecks owned by someone else. This is useful to law-abiding Faction Warfare guys if some non-Outlaw neutral attacks some non-Outlaw militia member - you'll see the stranger pick up a Suspect flag, and know that he's become a viable target for retaliation.|
|Limited Engagement Participant - Of all the flags, this one is the most opaque to me, with the most obscure and possibly goofy mechanics. The basic idea is that it's supposed to allow you to shoot back when someone you wouldn't normally be able to attack starts shooting at you. It's also been set up to flag anyone who helps someone you're engaged with, such as someone repairing your opponent. If that were all that happened, it would be pretty simple, but what I'm seeing in practice is where the weirdness creeps in.|
For instance: I'm in a fleet with Pilot A. Pilot Z (who normally isn't a legal target) shoots Pilot A. Pilot A is now in a limited engagement with Pilot Z, but I am not -- I still have no legal targets. Pilot Y starts repping Pilot Z, joins the limited engagement with Pilot A, and is also flagged as being in a limited engagement with me, even though I still can't legally shoot Pilot Z, and haven't done anything to help Pilot A.
I mean, I'm not complaining, because it gives me a legal target, but... what?
|Kill Right Available - This is another slightly odd one. The pilot with this tag has, at some point in the past, done something that has given another pilot "kill rights" on that pilot. Typically, this means they either blew up a ship or pod in high-sec, or killed a pilot's pod in low-sec. Kill rights mean that if you get on the same combat grid as that pilot, you can 'activate' the the kill right, which makes that pilot a legal target for anyone for the next fifteen minutes -- kill rights now basically deputize the victim pilot for the purpose of dishing out single-serve retribution. In turn, the "kill right available" flag shows up because the pilot who 'owns' kill rights has made them publicly available -- meaning anyone can activate them. SO: the pilot with this tag isn't a legal target, but he can be made one.|
So: that's the stuff you can shoot legally, and thus preserve your law-abiding security status.
I'm not a pirate, so this matters to me. Maybe it will to you, too.
1 - Granted, this isn't saying much; you can leave it green in null-sec or wormhole space too; it doesn't affect those areas in the least.
2 - When we were ousted from Faction Warfare for a couple days, I fought in one battle against the Amarr in which I had to "go yellow" to engage called targets, and I did, because it was necessary for the war. In all the other fights, the Amarr conveniently engaged me first or were Outlaw enough I could shoot them regardless.