Though they may accept the cost of combat, pilots naturally go to great lengths to minimize the cost. One way to mitigate the cost that comes with the destruction of a ship is not to fly expensive ships; in EVE, the more expensive ships - specifically Tech Two ships - cannot be insured for their market cost, meaning that the cost of losing them is much greater than the loss of a lesser ship. But greater expense means greater power, which means a better chance of besting potential foes and reaping the benefits. Beside, once a ship has been introduced to the game, it is impossible to simply ignore or swear off - even stealth bombers still get a little love from time to time.
The alternative is blobbing. "Blobbing" is a contentious term that gets thrown around a lot in EVE, suggesting that there is no solid definition. Rather, the definition of blobbing is variable; when a ship or group of ships encounters an enemy that outnumber them to such an extent that individual ship types, fittings, character and player skill no longer matter, they have been blobbed. The point of a blob is to reduce the cost of combat to zero for the blobbers, by reducing the possibility of defeat to zero. The only counter to a blob is to bring a bigger blob, and thus EVE's system of combat - when unfettered, as in nullsec space - spirals into the impersonal numbers game that reduces tactics to calling primary targets and dulls the capsuleer's individualistic spirit.
From this disillusionment arises the hope for something more pure that hearkens back to a nostalgic, rose-tinted age of better PvP. This hope found a home in the idealization of the 1v1. The 1v1 is essentially the absolute opposite of the blob; not only is it a lone player facing off against a single opponent with no interference, its motivation is not rooted in the cost-benefit analysis that gave rise to the blob - 1v1s are just for fun, for competition's sake, superiority determined by sheer skill. By reading the countless complaints about dishonored 1v1s, it becomes clear that players sorely wish 1v1s were more than a romantic receptacle for their desire for better PvP, for fights conducted purely for fun instead of material gain. I have only ever had two 1v1s - and they were both honored - both were during my wanderings of ship and thought, and it showed me that EVE's holy grail of PvP exists in the most stunning environments, even on a nullsec gate straddling the doorstep of a raging interalliance war. I'm still not sure what to make of those experiences, but it is clear to me that an honorable 1v1 is a rare treat - and an aberration.
The absolute destruction of a ship - and hence of time and money - that comes with defeat in EVE is what forms the foundation of the universe's indifferent harshness, an egalitarian coldness that players have run with since the onset, creating a brutal online culture in which players are practically obligated to inconvenience, harm, and kill one another. It is this ruthlessness that makes EVE the great game that it is, but it is this desire to do harm and win that is at the core of blobbing and dishonored 1v1s. Players will eventually have to accept it, and undock their precious ships into the black maw of space, lined with glistening teeth made of stars, greedy to gobble endless amounts of time, money and hard work into the gullet of the abyss.
Steven Croop publishes disparate thoughts at Open Salon when not suicide pod-bombing corpmates. Maybe he'll get a real website one day.