[TL;DR: Spaceships sometimes blow up]
“What is welp in Eve” is often a search term and a word that I had to look into the meaning of myself, when I started playing Eve. Welp, not to be confused with Whelp (such as having puppies), is what one says when they lean back and access a loss or place something into the field with the intent to lose it based on fit, strategy, or situational reasons. It has many other reasons and quite often it is the, "Oh well" and dusting of the hands after a situation is over with.
One can welp a fleet accidentally or purposefully. Purposeful welps do not have to be intentional sabotage. Sometimes fleets will engage just to see what happens. Accidental welps may involve a risk being taken and risk proving to be too much to overcome. And of course, there is always bait taken for one reason or another.
Win and Loss are not static, black and white terms in Eve. There are many players who will never take a risk because they do not wish to lose. Others may take a risk and accept the loss, even the great loss, that may come with it. I find the concept of a 'welp' fleet very interesting because it is often an accepted series of decisions based upon an end loss. It rests inside of the strategy or choice steps that come before the loss. A situation where loss is incorporated into a goal that is flexible. The goal may be simple, "to have fun" or it may be complex, "to take an objective we will throw this at it until we achieve our goal," but they are flexible decisions made and entered upon.
I was at work the other day and I pulled up the kill board to see the status of an op I was missing. Status checks such as there are simple. Win. Lose. Stalemate. Sometimes comments. I blinked a bit at the amount of red splashed across the main page. With one of the carrier kill mails sporting sixty plus people on it and a dreadnought showing over seventy, it looked as if things did not go in our favor.
This isn't a fight break down. I wasn't there to break it down. It was a fight that was taken and it was also lost. It was a fight that was taken with the known potential of being lost. On the other hand there is the potential of doing well, holding our own, holding ground, or winning. But, if the fight is never taken for fear of losing the fight then the outcome can never be determined.
As much as I advocate kill boards I also know that they have their toxic elements. There is not going to be a perfect balance. Currently, our kill mails are already broken, partial reports. The latest news filtering about CREST has made me wonder if CCP will give us our logistics on kill mails finally, when that comes to pass. The lack of logistics on kill mails alone breaks them because it only shows one piece of history. The reason people like verified kill mails is because they have something stable that players can go back to to look at what happened. Because people lie. As much as we’d like to believe that everyone gives a balanced kill report the lies that are so often flushed out on the forums and in the board comments says enough.
I have had my own corpmates killed in battlecruisers by a fragile cruiser who was backed by two logistics that allowed them to grind away at their attacker. I have rescued people from logistics and had a fleet fleet when their repairs vanished and the DPS came down the line. It is the nature of people to wish to win and I have no problem with that. But it is the nature of Eve to risk losing. The gain that comes with the risk of losst is what appeals to some people in this game.
But not everyone.
Loss in Eve does not equate to bad. It may be a natural tendency to feel that loss is bad. Loss rarely feels good. In ways, terms like welp help to sooth the loss because it assigns it an expected value. Enthusiasm or acceptance aside, not everyone will accept loss.
I was reading a necroed thread from the eve forums where someone who says that they are a Merc spends an amazing time defending and explaining what he calls empire PvP. This particular thread was before the crime watch revamp with Retribution. The OP (original poster) explains that fleets of Vindicators backed by four to six logistics are mandatory because the other group also had battleships backed by fleets of logistics. He also explains that as a Merc he cannot have losses because that will be bad.
It reminded me of the quote about Noir.’s kill board that 7-2 pulled up when Noir. wandered into Molden Heath in May of this year. The focus on avoiding loss is one that I understand. But as I stand from my position in the Kingdom of Yarr I cannot embrace it. To avoid loss would be to avoid most of my game of Eve.
Small gang PvP is hindered by being small gang. Because of what we are, we do not have the numbers to counter. There is no amount of strategy, no ship fits, no anything that will save us from a much larger force. Yet, that small size and those frantic attempts often successful and sometimes not to devastating effect each way are intoxicating. It is the draw of Eve PvP that calls to me the most. It is a challenge for the challenge and ability vs a strict line of win and lose measured by numbers without details.
But Loss. Eve does not give us everything that we want. It simply lets us try to take it. It lets us try to build it. Try to carve it. I watched a group in local attempt to use the earlier killboard loss to smack talk the corporation as we whittled away their fleet. On one side, smack talk is smack talk and so full of senseless non-reason as to be laughable. On the other, I know that people often glue various facts together to see if they fit. To mock the earlier loss of the day is to hopefully get us angry and worked up so that we start to make mistakes. From the insulated place inside my corporation it is hard for me to remember that they do not know what happened, why it happened, or how we are reacting. They can only flail blindly and find their own fears and insecurities to project onto others. It is nature after all.
At Fanfest, upon an opportunity to chat with CCP Masterplan about low sec, I said that if he wanted to work on improving low sec as a place to live he needed to give us ways to live off the land. Moons, I told him, were not it. While technically they were resources that the residents should live off of that was not the way that Eve had come to play out with static resources. Moons would always be controlled by Null Sec powers. The simple fact is timers give null sec organizations the ability to leverage their weight to defend resources. And I am fine with that. I do not have a problem with the fact that a larger organization can come and defended a moon from a smaller group such as ourselves. It is part of Eve’s nature. That is why I said we needed some way to live off the land. It did not have to be comparable to a moon. It simply had to be enough food to let us not starve. We know that it can be lean times and that our PvP machine has high fuel requirements.
Of course some would wish to shoo us from low sec. We are a tenacious entity, the low sec denizen. We want to live here because we like it. We like what it gives and we like what it can take. I have a hundred ships in Sugar's hanger that I do not count as assets when I calculate my personal wealth. That is because I accept them as lost. Even my sweetest shiny, my Machariel, as long as it stands in my low sec hanger is a ship that I cannot count as an assets because the lifestyle that I have taken on. A life in low sec where loss is embraced to create gain.
I'm not a competitive person. I often say this to people and they do not understand why I PvP if I do not consider myself competitive. In a way, small gang work with the objective to be able to take on larger groups, appeals to me. it is about the task, the goal, the abilities, and the successes inside of wins and the success inside of loss. It it accepting that things will not work and learning from them. A lot of the satisfaction lays within the objective. Sometimes, you will lose and that is okay.
Last night, I spent the bulk of a fight 100k out in a Jaguar waiting for a Blackbird to warp back in. When it did, I was on it, tackled it, and it died. During that time I 'missed out' on many kills. But was being on kill mails my purpose for being there?
It is the lack of killboard grooming. Sure, one may wish to win every fight but it will not always happen. The solo PvP warrior will die to blobs. That is part of being a solo PvP warrior. He will not always have good efficiency but what he can do and what he does do is amazing and simple numbers will not reflect it. It is not being scared of loss because someone will rant and rave over the red and green that is out for public display.
Welps happen. They are going to happen as people continue to improve their chances, take risks, and raise the stakes in the game. The game is unpredictable even with all of its hard counters. The actions of other people will never cease to amaze us, in good and bad ways. And some will thrive on the good and the bad. It doesn't have to be enjoyed but it can be accepted, learned from, absorbed, and moved beyond.
And they will happen. Not everyone will seek a position of complete assurity. Not everyone will suffer just as not everyone will thrive from moments of loss. We're people after all. It is our greatest power and our most powerful limitation.