Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not what I wanted... but good nonetheless.

I was scheduled to take out a sniperhac roam this evening, but due to a lack of sniperhacs, I ended up doing something a little different.  Here's the after action report (AAR).  Enjoy!

The  night didn't really start off very well.  We formed up in 6VDT and got decent numbers... just not a lot of dps.  I think we had 4 or 5 sniperhacs between the people in 6VDT and PNQY :(.  After 30 minutes, it was clear that we weren't going to get any more dps, so I decided to reship the fleet to nano battlecruises... we got some good dps after that.  We ended up with about 30 dudes.

We headed out to 9-V and picked up a few guys in PNQY and then went around the fountain whale, looking for targets in NPC fountain... nothing.  We went down the pipe to Y-2, took a bio, then went into the Delve.  We tried pinning a PL vaga in Y-2 before jumping into Delve, but he cloaked, reapproached, and then jumped back into ZXQ.  Our guys on the other side didn't have a bubbler and the vaga warped off too quickly.  Anyway, we went into Delve and tried to catch a PL botter in PDE-U3 with a logoffski technique, but alas, it didn't work :(.  Lin got eyes on a neut ratter a couple systems over in 23G, so we headed over there, shotgunned the belts, and then VP called out a point on him.  We had a bit of fun before popping him, holding him in place so everyone could get on the mail.  His drake took a bit to pop... maybe because some of our scimis were still repping him.

Then Lin spotted a cloaky ishtar in D-W7FO, probably scouting forward for his gila in a neighboring system.  We cleared our scouts out of D-W and camped the D-W gate in JP4.  It didn't take long before we saw a gate flash and his name showed up in local.  We bubbled up, sent a few guys through just in case he reapproached, and got the decloak and tackle on his ishtar.  His Gila cloaked up in D-W, so I decided to start back home.  We burned to Y-2, and while we were waiting for stragglers, a V.L.A.S.T. scimitar was reported heading up the pipe from APM.  We burned to KVN to try to intercept, but he got to KVN before us... though not before Lin (in a rapier) got ahead of him.  After he saw Lin jump ahead of him into J-R, he decided to try to go around us through 87X.  This is about the time that fleet arrived in KVN, and I warped them into J-R.  I put half of the fleet on the I-C gate, and the other half on the LJ- gate.  We bubbled up and sure enough: gate flash, new red in local.  The scimitar is a very fast ship, and he decided to burn instead of reapproach.  He overheated his MWD with our tacklers on the LJ gate in pursuit.  When we got heavy tackle about 70-80km off the gate, I had our I-C guys warp to the tackler.  The scimi went pop.

We continued on our way home when an 18-man neut gang was reported in the J5A pipe in mostly frigs and t1 cruisesrs... finally the fight we were looking for.  We burned to 5-D and regrouped on the 9-V gate.  Fortunately they were moving slowly.  9-V was empty, so we jumped in and got on the 3WE gate.  Lin reported their fleet in 3WE, and when he reported that local was dropping, I jumped in alone and warped to the IR- gate (it was their only logical exit).  I came out of warp just as their last throax was jumping.  He saw me before jumping, but I held.  He jumped back through and aggressed.  I aggressed back and seconds later their gang jumped through after him.  Just as I saw their gang jumping, I jumped in my gang from 9-V and warped them to IR-.  They didn't seem to notice our local spike, probably because their gang was entering local at the same time, and they continued to pound on my insane tank while our fleet made the short warp to the IR- gate.  This is what followed.  Once they realized their mistake, their small stuff got off field.  We ended up pinning down 2 ruppies and 3 thoraxes.

From here I took the gang back home and we called it a night.  Not a bad night.  Given how dead Fountain was, it was probably better that we didn't end up taking out the sniperhacs.  That scimi kill was due to awesome teamwork and fleet composition.  We had 3 rapiers, 2 falcons, and at least one razu/lachesis.  It was them and our light tackle that made that kill possible.

TL;DR - total kills: 2x rupture, 3x thorax, 1x scimi, 1x ishtar, 1x drake... total losses: none.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eyes on the horizon: part 2

I also have some thoughts on the various changes to 0.0 gameplay that CCP is considering.

In recent CSM meetings, it’s been made clear that CCP is considering making several changes to 0.0 game mechanics, all geared towards making 0.0 more accessible to smaller, independent alliances.  First, a bit of a history lesson: this philosophy isn’t new for CCP.  The Dominion expansion, released about a year and a half ago, was the first attempt at this.  Before Dominion, sovereignty warfare revolved around tower spamming.  Resources were limited, so alliances controlled vast areas of space in order to provide larger ratting grounds for their members.  With Dominion, CCP introduced the current sovereignty mechanics.  They introduced infrastructure hubs (ihubs), which were meant to allow an alliance to install upgrades (military and industrial) that would enable a single system to support more players.  It also evened the playing field a little by making a system’s profitability less dependent on its trusec.  This served the dual purpose of attracting smaller alliances to 0.0 while making it so that larger alliances didn’t need to control as much space to keep their members happy.  They also introduced sovereignty bills, which were based on the specific upgrades installed in the system’s ihub (some upgrades cost much more than other upgrades).  The scaled sovereignty billing system was meant to make it hugely expensive to hold sov over vast areas of space.  To those ends, CCP was successful, but what developed wasn’t exactly what they had in mind.

Larger alliances decreased their number of sovereign systems, but that didn’t prevent them from exercising their influence over vast regions of space.  Large power blocs developed the habit of leaving several systems within their sphere of influence unclaimed, but exploiting the system’s resources nonetheless.  In fact, CCP failed to eliminate one of the main motivating factors for holding large amounts of space: moon materials.  For anyone that isn’t aware, most major alliances rely on moon-mining for the bulk of the finances.  In short, the more high-end moons you control, the more money you have.  The more space you control, the more high-end moons you control.  Nevertheless, in many cases, smaller alliances were attracted to 0.0, but only in the form of renters and pets.  CCP failed to realize that the new sovereignty mechanics would not prevent larger alliances from maintaining control over large areas, regardless of how much sovereignty they actually held in that area.

And here we are, a year later.  Coalitions are king, and it’s rare for any alliance to succeed in 0.0 without being a member of one of the major power blocs.  The suggestions that have been thrown around to remedy the situation all involve making logistics more difficult in 0.0.  The two most prominent suggestions are eliminating jump bridges and severely nerfing the jump range of capital ships.  The idea behind the former is that jump bridges allow large coalitions, such as the Northern Coalition, to exist.  With access to the NC jump bridge network, I can travel from Fountain to Geminate in less than 20 minutes.  Fountain and Geminate are on completely different sides of the map.  Without this jump bridge network, it’s very difficult to live in one region while fighting in another.  Nerfing the jump ranges of capital ships follows the same idea.  If capital ships have shorter jump ranges, it limits the area over which an alliance can project its power.  I can’t say that the reasoning is wrong here, but what I can say is that these two suggestions, if implemented, will have a huge impact on life in 0.0, particularly for those that make their homes in regions like Branch, Tenal, Cobalt Edge, Period Basis, and other regions of 0.0 that are very far from empire space.  Many of these regions require a route through other conquerable 0.0 regions in order to make logistics work, which makes logistics impossible without “blueing” their neighbors.

If these changes are implemented, residents in these remote 0.0 regions will either have to be blue with everyone that they can practically fight, or they’ll have to rely exclusively on local industry.  The implication of this is that they will have little, if any, T2 items at their disposal.  T2 items are produced from various combinations of moon materials, which are not distributed evenly among all the regions.  Technetium, for example, is found in large abundance in the North while being almost non-existent in the South.  Alliances that live in 0.0 regions don’t have access to many T2 items without importing either the T2 items themselves or the moon materials necessary to build those T2 items.  For alliances that live in remote 0.0, importing and exporting goods would be almost impossible.  The same principle applies to meta 1-4 items, as these items are only dropped by pirate NPCs, and no 0.0 region has every variety of pirate NPC.  A resident of Period Basis would have a very hard time finding meta level shield upgrades to fit on their drake or raven.  Likewise, a resident of Branch would have a very hard time getting their hands on meta level armor hardeners.  EVE is very much a global economy, and making logistics more difficult only places unreasonable limitations on what pilots in 0.0 can fly.

There are ways around the limitations of a global economy.  For example, CCP could distribute moon materials evenly among the 0.0 regions, which would allow an alliance to produce every T2 item locally.  Concurrently, they could allow pirate NPC anomalies and complexes to spawn randomly throughout all 0.0, instead of relegating NPC pirates to specific regions. This would distribute meta level items to all 0.0 regions.  However, both of these changes, combined with the changes to jump bridges and capital ship jump ranges, would completely change the face of 0.0, and for a while things would be very chaotic.  Coalitions would dissolve and remote 0.0 regions would be thrown into a “dark age” of sorts, where the alliances that live in these areas would either be forced to slowly adjust to the importance of having a strong industrial backbone, or be forced to move out.

Personally, I don’t think that the changes to 0.0 are all that necessary.  I think that too often people jump to the “nerf-it” solution when they find something they don’t like.  I think solutions could be found if you just use your imagination.  For example, what about adding to low-sec?  How about changing low-sec so that the alliances that enjoy small-gang warfare can hold a kind of pseudo-sovereignty in low-sec systems in the same way that pirate cartels hold influence over small areas of space?  This way, 0.0 could be left to the coalition empires for those that enjoy that, and lowsec could be the realm of the small-gang pvper.  It’s not perfect, but at least it’s interesting.

We have yet to really see what the future holds for 0.0.  Everyone has their own ideas of what EVE should be like, but really, the only ideas that seem to matter are the dev ideas.  Only CCP has the power to change the game mechanics to fit their vision of what EVE should be.  But don’t be too disappointed, that power is only an illusion.  As the past has shown, whenever CCP changes the game mechanics in an attempt to influence the way people play their game, it doesn’t quite turn out the way they want it to.  After all, EVE is a sandbox, and in a sandbox you can manipulate game mechanics, but you can’t manipulate the way people interact with one another.

Eyes on the horizon: part 1

I know, I’m a bit late to the topic, but I’ve had plenty of time to think, and I want to share my thoughts on the 0.0 political situation.

First, ever since it became clear that the IT bloc wouldn’t survive, there has been much speculation on what the 0.0 landscape will be like with half of the 0.0 map being blue.  There are plenty of people claiming that it will ruin the game.  To that, I can only ask, “Ruin it for who?”  It’s always been the position of the “losers” to complain that they don’t like the way the game is being played.  All you have to do is visit the forums and read the numerous threads from miners complaining about can-flipping or hulkageddon, or the highsec nooblet corporations complaining about constant griefer wardecs.  The “winners” always respond, “stop complaining about people not playing the game the way you do.”  That’s a fair response, but now the tables have turned… somewhat.  The carebears have their 0.0 empire, and the small-gang – ‘leet – pvpers are severely outnumbered.  Frankly, with the way sovereignty mechanics work, what did you expect to happen?  In this context, complaining that the NC is going to ruin the game is a bit ridiculous.  Get over it.  Personally, I don’t really care.  I live in Fountain.  All I need to do is travel a few jumps into Delve or Querious to find all the targets I’ll ever want.  I suppose I might feel a bit different if I lived in Tenal or Branch.  And for all those complaining that the sov map isn’t going to change.  So what? Other than the rare occasions when you actually get a fight out of your enemy, sov warfare is all about shooting at stations and ihubs for hours on end.  I’d rather roam.  Anyway, that’s really all I have to say about that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fallen from Grace

Everyone has someone that they look up to.  Whether it be personality, skill, or even just simple possession, that one person has something that you covet.  For me (in EVE anyway), that person was Perseus Kallistratos.  I started reading eve online blogs back when the iphone app, capsuleer, was still running, and KrazyKinux's Blogpack was fed right into the app.  That's where I discovered PK's blog, Aggressive Tendencies.  Up until a few months ago, PK would write almost exclusviely about his roaming.  And it was good reading.  I especially liked how he would go through engagements in incredible detail, listing all the actions and thoughtprocesses almost as though he meant to teach his audience.  His blog was definitely the most exciting to read, and I read it religiously.  Not anymore.

Since the Fountain war began, his posts have become... well, overtly political.  He stopped focusing on pvp, instead filling his his blog with half-assed propoganda against the NC, constant bitching about blobbing, and whining about how biased evenews24 is (which is true, but everybody already knows it; the site practically trolls itself).  You can pretty much summarize every one of his posts over the past couple months by saying, "the NC are napfest carebears, the Fountain campaign is a joke, and everyone sucks but me. The end."  Reading his blog is like listening to a small child throw a fit because his mommy won't buy him icecream.

But this isn't all.  Immediately before he stopped posting about his roams, he would post about his nightly sniperhac roams into cloud ring.  This is where I personally got the most exposure to him ingame, as I was FCing a lot and occasionally I would run into him.  I started to notice what others had already pointed out: in his blog, he never makes mistakes.  Whenever his fleets are bested, it's always someone elses fault.  When he can't blame losses on anyone else, he doesn't write about them.  I remember one particular night where I was leading an ahac fleet against his even-manned sniperhac fleet.  By the end of the night, 7 of his sniperhacs and only one of my zealots were dead.  He didn't meantion it in his blog, which wouldn't be unusual, except that he has a tendency to ragepost when he takes as little as 3 or 4 losses.  That's just one example, and there are many others.  On top of all this, comments on his blog have to get his approval before they'll display.  It looks like he took a play out of the SirMolle book of information control.

His post today is the piece de resistance of the general character his blog has adopted:

"The NC "Incursion" has fallen short of Delve" - It's amazing how he refuses, even after IT is gone, to give the Deklein Coalition (Clusterfuck) it's own identity, as if being defeated by the goons is unthinkable.  While there was NC participation in the Fountain invasion, the truth is that every one of IT's losses in Fountain was to a goon FC with a 95%+ Dekco (Goons, TEST, Widot, FA) fleet composition.  The only notable exception was the seond battle of Z30, where the NC capfleet ambush was a deciding factor.  And even then, the NC wasn't there to help take Z30; they were there to get titan killmails.  Oh, and here he's also ignoring the fact that even before the Fountain war ended, both the goons and TEST openly stated that they don't want Delve.

"perhaps the biggest surprise was the apathy of Goonswarm towards the whole affair." - Again, he ignores reality and focuses on pushing his own agenda.  In Fountain, goon leadership asked the NC to put their supercaps on the field to completely overwhelm IT's supercaps.  The NC supers were never in any significant danger.  Asking the goons to drop their relatively small supercap fleet into an already hopeless situation is pointless.  If 100 of your dudes are going to die, making it 101 isn't going to change anything.

"what... [the NC alliances] lack in participation, experience and FCing they make up for with massive numbers." - This is an efficient combination of the "you blob, no fair" and the "I'm good at everything, you're bad at everything" agendas that have come to characterize all of his posts.  Despite being one of the most successful, if not the most successful, entity in EVE's history, PK attributes that success to blobbing, and blobbing only.

He is so pleased at the NC's losses that I half expected him to claim victory for Perseus Kallistratos.  This is the general air of the entire post, and I have to say, I'm over it.  I don't think I'll be reading PK's blog very often anymore, if at all.  It's not that he's my alliance's enemy.  On the contrary, I love reading my enemys' posts.  I read Easley Thames' blog and Manasi's blog almost as religiously as I used to read PK's.  It's just that PK's posting has gone south so rapidly that I don't think it can recover.

So, why write this much about another writer?  As I said at the beginning, I once looked up to PK's blogging ability, and it's extremely dissapointing that his writing has turned to crap.  I'll miss reading about his ganks and his FCing.  Only time will tell if his blog can regain it's character.  I hope it can.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Now that I have your attention, I just wanted to say that things have been busy for me ingame lately, so I haven't been able to post as much as I'd like to.  But more business = more things to write about, so expect a flurry of topics shortly.

Also, CrazyKinux has been kind enough to add me to the Eve Online Blogroll.  If you have the time, there are a lot of great blogs in there, including another Ixionian blog, Vive Virtual.  Many thanks to CrazyKinux.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Coming Down

We’ve been cleaning up IT’s mess in fountain for the past week and our progress is nothing short of spectacular.  Of course, much of the cleaning is being done by NC FC Imperian, along with significant help from the NC supercapital fleet.  Nevertheless, at the time of writing, only 12 hostile systems remain of 108 conquerable systems in the region.  Most of those hostile systems are under the control of Hun Reloaded.  Hats off to them for holding out for so long, but they’ll soon be disposed of like the rest of IT’s pets.

It’s been a hard fought war, by both sides, and it will be nice to have some downtime for harvesting and building up the infrastructure in our new home.  I’ve gained some good memories during this war, including the defense of PNQY, the supercapital fight in Z30, where I was one of very few bubblers on grid with the enemy supers (and the only HIC that got on the titan killmails, yay me!!!), and the epic campathon in 6VDT.

We’ve been riding high on our victory, and we’re only now starting to come down.  But, before we do, we’d like to share one last treat together.  If TEST is good at one thing, it’s… well, it’s trolling.  If they’re good at another thing, it’s propaganda.  Tez is one of our best video-maker-dudes, and he made a video to commemorate our victory over IT, our campaign in Fountain, and Dreddit’s one-year birthday (for those not in the know, Dreddit is the largest corp in EVE and makes up the bulk of TEST Alliance).  Enjoy.  (BTW, the dude talking at the beginning and at various parts of the video is SirMolle, the leader of IT alliance.  Tez is nothing short of an artist)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scams, Lies, Betrayals

I remember the first time I was scammed.  I had joined my first corp after about 6 months of playing EVE without enjoying the MM in MMO.  We were deploying to Stain and one of the members volunteered his services to transport our things.  I don’t know exactly how many of us he duped, but I know that I was one of them.  In hindsight, he only got a Rokh and a few mods out of me, but at the time it was the bulk of my assets.  Now, 2 years later, I am worth tens of billions in cumulative assets, and a Rokh, worth about 130mil isk at the time, seems like a paltry loss.  Hell, I’ve lost several times that amount in last few weeks of duking it out with IT.  Nevertheless, it’s important to realize how significant the loss was at the time, and how much it affects newer players when they realize that that EVE is not a friendly place, even within your own corp/alliance.

TEST is full of newer players who are still in the process of learning the ins and outs of the game.  What’s special about TEST, though, is that it’s very newb friendly.  There are mentor programs, in-game channels, and even a special fund dedicated to getting newbies airborne.  However, despite the friendly atmosphere, danger lurks behind every corner, because after all is said and done, this is still EVE.

Recently, a member of the corp OMFG within TEST Alliance scammed several billion from various TEST members in the same manner that I was scammed two years ago.  It’s not clear (to me anyway) whether this person originally intended to scam or not.  He was an old friend of OMFG CEO TooDucky, an honest and trusted member of the TEST community, and he was reportedly having real-life issues.  It is possible that when he was finally able to login, he saw the drama centered on his lack of activity and decided to abandon EVE for good.  I don’t think this is the case, but it is possible.  Regardless of what his original intentions were, the end result was still the same: lots of scammed newbies.  This, along previous issues with both OMFG and TooDucky, resulted in massive flaming of OMFG in the TEST forums.  This, in turn, led to OMFG deciding to leave the alliance.

I’d like to start by stating that OMFG leaving probably has more to do with the constant aggravation towards them and less to do with their recruitment standards.  First, this is EVE, and scams happen in EVE.  Betrayals happen in EVE.  It’s an unfortunate part of the game that no one can control, regardless of how strict their recruiting standards are.  There are methods that recruiters can employ to mitigate risk on new recruits, but those methods are limited.  Second, TooDucky is a bad forum poster (lol TEST and their posting standards).  While the incident was unfolding, he made several posts that were intended to be funny and/or calm people down, and they came off a bit insulting.  Having spoken to Ducky and people that have known Ducky for years, I don’t think he meant to insult anyone.  This only worsened the ill-feelings that a few high ranking members had towards him and his corporation.  In true TEST fashion, the trolling started, and some of it was fairly vicious.  It caused OMFG to leave the alliance.  I don’t think that this is what (most of) the trolls intended to happen, but it happened nevertheless.

The timing was impeccable, as we just defeated IT, which dissolved largely due to internal drama.  Irony isn’t without a sense of humor.  The effects of OMFG’s departure are yet to be seen, as they haven’t yet departed.  A few people aren’t concerned, as it puts only a small dent in the number of pilots that TEST can field.  But, I’m more concerned about the long-term implications.  Ignoring OMFG’s sizeable cap fleet, they also had an asset that we really need at this stage in our development: TooDucky… that is to say, TooDucky’s skill as an FC.  While we have many FCs with talent, other than Ducky, none have been truly tested as far as I know.  The Catch campaign was very significant for TEST alliance.  We were on our own against the IT/INIT bloc in Catch, and we proved our worth… with Ducky FCing all of our major engagements, including a huge victory where we eliminated an enemy CSAA and several carriers.  When we moved on to the Fountain campaign, the Goons led most of the strategic ops and FC’d all of the combat ops.
Regardless of what some think, what we lost in OMFG will be difficult to replace.  They’re assets that we need if we’re to project our power.  In addition, if TEST members (especially members in positions of authority) continue to fan the flames on internal situations, it won’t be long before we rip at the seams… just… like… IT… did.  Don’t get me wrong, I like that TEST trolls.  It’s a very effective weapon.  But just like nuclear arms, trolling needs to be handled with care, or it will blow up in your face.