Monday, July 23, 2012

Alliance Tournament X Wrap-up

The Tenth Alliance Tournament has come and gone, and it was quite a show. In my opinion, there isn't an event more representative of the best parts of Eve. The AT runs the full gamut of planning, meta-gaming, and small gang pvp execution. From the first match to the last, it was an impressive display.

My initial impression is that this is the closest Alliance Tournament I've ever seen. There was a bit of a cookie-cutter feel to some matches with all of the Vindicators, Sleipnirs and Vargurs, but match outcomes were determined far more by skill than simply by bringing the right setup. Speaking of setups, there were a few noteworthy ones. The first one that has to be mentioned is the HUN Reloaded Vargur team. This one general team anchored around the two or three Vargurs pushed them all the way to the final round. The team was well put together and even more so, well piloted. 

My other noteworthy setups both belong to Pandemic Legion. I've already discussed the team with the flagship Bhaalgorn and the four Malices. PL failed to disappoint on the final day as well, packing a very impressive ECM team, anchored by three Widows. This team absolutely handled Darkside in a near-flawless victory. A part of me wonders if they should have saved it for the HUN match against that Vargur team, but I suppose you have to make it to that semifinals before you can use it there. And Darkside was not to be taken lightly after last year.

Rather not be on the receiving end of this one
I have to say, I'm damn proud of both PL and RvB. I thought the latter was performing especially well despite many people not taking them as serious contenders. As Raivi commented, I'm a bit disappoined PL couldn't manage to find their way through just one more match, as that would have at least secured 50 Cambions. I have a feeling that we may be able to get our hands on either Cambions or Etanas somehow though ;-)

Out of the Alliance Tournament, I have two new goals for my own career, and they're both a bit ambitious. The first is to own an AT prize ship of my own. I'm especially partial to the Freki, being a Rifter hull. My second choice would be an Adrestia, the Thorax-inspired HAC. I make enough isk that its plausible to procure one of these little treasures at some point. 

The second goal is to someday fly in the Alliance Tournament. The AT is a "fair" fight with everything on the line and everyone watching. That's something special. I've got some work to do over the next couple years, but that's the next step for me. I can't think of a more rewarding experience.

As a final wrap-up, CCP and all of the commentators who put in their hard work deserve a great deal of thanks. These people gave up their weekends for a month straight and put on one hell of a show. Congratulations as well to all of the competitors, especially Verge of Collapse and HUN Reloaded. Enjoy the new toys.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Suitcase Carrier

The old mantra in Eve is to trust no one. In general, that's how I operate in this game. I trust fleet members and corp mates, but less so with my ships and isk. Everyone has a breaking point in terms of where they can be tempted to steal.

When it comes to moving my gear across the universe, a Carrier seemed like the only good option for me. I've trusted corp mates before with no problem, but I also don't like to be a burden. The "Suitcase" Carrier is a fitting optimized to be jump-ready as soon as possible, and you can pack in a fair amount of ships via the ship maintenance bay, which holds 1,000,000 m3. That maintenance bay is an interesting cargohold because the ships need to be assembled to go in there. This means that you can fit 30+ fitted frigates in there, or only about 4 battlecruisers. Its your call, but there are a lot of options.

First Cyno I lit

With the action in Delve over the past couple weeks, I decided it was time to get my suitcase carrier operational. I trained up a quick cyno alt and fitted the Thanatos to the gills with capacitor mods.

[Thanatos, Suitcase]

Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Armor Explosive Hardener II
Capital Armor Repairer I
Capacitor Flux Coil II
Capacitor Flux Coil II

Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II

Heavy Energy Neutralizer II
Heavy Energy Neutralizer II
Heavy Energy Neutralizer II
Large Proton Smartbomb II
Large Proton Smartbomb II

Large Semiconductor Memory Cell I
Large Semiconductor Memory Cell I
Large Semiconductor Memory Cell I

The actual moving of the carrier is detailed extremely well by The Eve Altruist. I looked over his guide extensively before I actually fired up the cyno for my first move. There are a few quick points I'd emphasize for the trip though. If you're moving through lowsec, you likely won't be aggroed on station if you're above -5.0 sec status. If someone does try some funny business, you get station gun support. I'd say this trend was true for the cyno alts too, but its not. I've popped plenty of cyno alts for no reason other than I was bored. It will happen; you will lose the occasional Kestrel.

Cynoing into the Docking Ring

Also, you can cyno directly into docking range many times. On the above picture, the cyno alt had 5km clearance in all directions, and I cynoed the Carrier inside the undock. As long as your careful with an offlined Salvager I (which gives the 5km bubble on the tactical overlay), you can usually get into instant docking range.

The last big thing I'd recommend is to plan the trip carefully before you get moving. Use Dotlan's Jump Planner. Its a great application. It gives you a lot of choice in what system you want to jump into, especially with regards to cynoing to stations. Also, pack plenty of jump fuel. You wouldn't want to click the "Jump To" button only to find you can't make the trip. And lastly, try to keep a low profile. I have always kept my Thanatos docked until the second I'm ready to make the jump. Make sure the fleet is up and the cyno is lit before you undock and press jump.

In the end, I'd recommend the Suitcase Carrier for anyone with 2+ accounts and the means to do so. Its very self sufficient, and when done right, there is very minimal risk. Essentially, it operates the same way as a jump freighter, but it has much smaller cargo holds. On the positive side, its not entirely defenseless. Far from it. Plus, you've always got that fun toy in the background in case a hotdrop situation comes up. You can't do that with a jump freighter ;-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Three Quick Fixes For Eve

I'm no CCP Dev, but there are a few quick things that Eve needs to have implemented. There would be almost zero opposition to them. My points aren't complex, but they make sense.

Recently I've been doing a lot of logistics over two accounts. I finally started moving my Carrier about to get some ships across the universe quicker. With that comes both cyno alts and for me, different jump clones. All of these points fall under making life easier for alts and jump clones.

The first thing that needs to be changed is the jumpclone timer. Twenty four hours is just too darn long. If you log on the same time every day, wait a bit, and then jump clone somewhere, you're going to be constantly fighting the jump clone timer as it gets pushed back. The overarching idea with the timer makes sense though. If there were no restriction, you could take off in a fresh clone whenever someone camped you into a station. What about twenty hours though? Or twelve? Either of those timers, or even less, would make the mechanic a lot more useful. It would never put a damper on getting into the action, and it leaves no room for abuse. I missed out on a couple of corp fleets because I was in another jump clone, and that's not a fun part of the game.

The other changes are related to characters on the same account. I realized once I wanted to start jumping the Carrier that I didn't have a dedicated cyno alt I wanted to use. There's no need to muddy up the killboard for a developed character, so I rolled another one as a cyno alt. In doing this there was a lot of flipping skill training and switching between characters. This process is too tedious at the moment. Switching skills involves logging in on one character, logging off, logging back in to the other, and starting the skill. Painful.

Here are the changes. First, let skill training be interrupted by another character on the same account. If Character A tries to start training a skill while Character B is already training, just pop up a window that says "Do you want to pause skill training on Character B?" If you click yes, the skill should start right away. My borderline OCD tendencies had me going off the wall when I had no skill training for a minute or two. Its not a huge deal, but its a pain in the ass and presumably an easy fix.

The last fix is the general switching between characters on accounts. A switch character function would be much appreciated. I tweeted about this in the #tweetfleetbacklog hashtag a while ago and it was one of the most popular RT's according to CCP. Again, its the logging out, logging back in with full-credentials-again deal. Why can't you switch more seamlessly? Most people would have no problem with a session change timer or something similar for switching between characters, but the current format is not useful.

These changes aren't monumental in any way, and its not the first time they've been suggested. But seriously, in ALTs Online, we need better functionality with multiple characters and moving around. None of these are absurd, nor absurdly difficult, but they'd make a world of difference in using multiple characters. End Rant.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weekend Review 7/15

It was quite a weekend for me in Eve. I was lucky enough to have the Alliance Tournament, Thukk You Frill Me & the corresponding Ganked roam, and my cyno alt finished up the necessary pre-reqs all at the same time. Let's kick it off with the AT.

The group stages in the Alliance Tournament were pretty spectacular. Both of my teams drew a bit of attention. The buzz surrounding RvB was mostly in regard to their comeback win over Rote Kappelle in the boundary violation match, which the Robo-Blogger has of course already covered. The more interesting match was Pandemic Legion vs Rote (Congrats Rote for stirring up some good fights this weekend, by the way). PL dressed to the nines, bringing out their flagship Bhaalgorn and four Malices, which were Alliance Tournament prizes from previous years. If you haven't seen the match yet, watch Michael Bolton III squeal like a little girl here:

I'm still not quite sure how the second PL Bhaalgorn went down so quickly. The Guardian wasn't jammed or neuted from what I could see, and the reps never really kept up. After that, Rote was able to pick off a couple Vengeances and the Guardian, and they took a relatively close match. I was pretty impressed with the PL pilots keeping all of the Malices alive, but that's the only real positive for them here. It was a great fight to watch, but you've got to give it to Rote for not only winning the match but kicking ass in the isk war. I'm surprised the Pandemic Legion fit wasn't able to do more with the ridiculously awesome ships they had on the field.

All while this was happening, Thukk You Frill Me was forming up and rolling out. For the unaware, this is the campaign headed by Rixx Javix and Seismic Stan to bring the Frill back to the Vagabond. The event started in Jita with an official protest by shooting the infamous memorial there. I couldn't make it to this part since my security status was just a bit too low, so I waited patiently in lowsec while the gang moved towards me. 

The Ganked roam featured Stabber hulls in honor of the Vagabond's frill. Personally, I grabbed a Stiletto, as we were a bit light on tackle with no Dictors in fleet, and there's no better way to whore on killmails than a fast locking interceptor ;-).  This was one of the slower Ganked nights I've been on. It took quite a while to get someone interested in fighting us, and we were a bit distracted by the great AT matches wrapping up the evening. Eventually, AAA decided to ~undock~ and fight us. It was a pretty decent fight, finally. I'd say the highlight was knocking down a Loki, since it was a bit pimped out. Perhaps most surprising is that I survived! When I started taking some damage, I burned out of the bubble and managed to warp off before anyone got point on me or managed to take me down. I even made it all the way home! Mangala formally apologized for this obvious flaw in the roam, as he promised that we would all die.

Speaking of Ganked, next week's is RvB's year anniversary of hosting them. The theme should be up soon, but I invite everyone to come. They're open to the public, and they're a blast. The fleets are disorganized, drunken messes, and they're fantastic. Also, I'm sure Mangala has something up his sleeve for this one. Don't miss out.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Day I Learned To Pack Barrage

The other day, I fitted up an Ancillary Shield Booster Cyclone and headed out roaming. I took off through  Gallente lowsec, as Gallente space has always felt like home for me. I was checking out some of the local hotspots, but wasn't really able to find a fight. I had been roaming for about an hour without seeing any targets before I came across Old Man Star. I knew I'd probably end up being blobbed, but I decided to give it a go.

Despite there being about thirty in local, the system was pretty quiet. I warped to the station to find a Jaguar there. I didn't think he'd give me a fight, but I aligned and warped to the top belt to see if he was interested. He quickly followed, landing about 30 km away from me. I engaged first, popping drones and firing away with my 425mm Autocannons. He kept range on me, orbiting around 20 km. That was trouble. He had me pointed, but couldn't touch me with any real DPS. As he went to work on my drones, I knew he was also Autocannon fit, which meant that he'd have to come close to do any damage to me.

...That or he could bring friends. In warped seven of his buddies, in battlecruisers, a few frigates, and of course the Rook for good taste. At this point, I didn't have much chance. The Rook had me permajammed for the duration of the "fight." Their DPS couldn't touch the ASB tank though. In fact, they didn't actually down me until I had to reload cap charges for the booster. All of this was without any blue pills, warfare links, or implants of any kind.

What did I learn from all of this? First of all, I've got to start packing Barrage for solo roams. The Jaguar wouldn't have lasted long enough for his friends to warp in had I just reloaded and started hammering away with the longer-ranged ammo. That's the last time I'll make that mistake. The other part of the lesson was to fit ASB's more often. Especially when coupled with any bonuses, they're absolutely unreal right now. If you haven't flown with one yet, fit a ship and give it a whirl before CCP nerfs them. Its worth your while.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

BB 37: The Double Edged Sword

Welcome to Blog Banter 37, the mass-community bloggery your mother probably didn't warn you about. Don't worry, it is legal and it won't hurt a bit (more info here). The question being kicked around the blogosphere this month is possibly a sensitive one, but it's certainly topical.

"EVE Online sits on the frontier of social gaming, providing an entertainment environment like no other. The vibrant society of interacting and conflicting communities, both within the EVE client and without, is the driving force behind EVE's success. However, the anonymity of internet culture combined with a competitive gaming environment encourages in-game behaviour to spread beyond the confines of the sandbox. Where is the line?"

Our little sandbox is a pretty dangerous place. Our playmates' behavior can get a little bit out of hand sometimes, but we like it that way. It keeps it interesting. Where do we draw the line though? What becomes too much for the average player to handle?

Simply put, the line is where it becomes too personal for a player in terms of out-of-game experience. Across the board, other bloggers are pretty unanimous on this point. My biggest problem with this definition is that its vague. What is too personal for you might not be for others. We're playing in an international and incredibly diverse game here. The casual smack talk seen in local might be more than enough to turn some away, but I think most would agree that type of stuff is still solidly in the "not-so-bad" category. Griefing goes the same way. Is it a behavior that everyone finds acceptable? Absolutely not. Too far? The general consensus is no on that one as well, despite some vocal opposition from the minority.

For me, it goes a little deeper than some of the examples above. Griefing and smack talk can be considered "soft" lines in the sand, if you will. My "hard" line is where people start interfering with actual home computers, other assets, or real people. If you read Emergent Patroller's Blog Banter Entry, those incidents were well over the line. In fact, it was enough to make me consider shutting down the blog and just get back to solely playing the game. Stalking someone is far, far over the line. "Lesser" offenses like DDOS attacks break the boundary for me too. Say someone had a bill to pay online that night after their dedicated Eve time. You just cost them real money, and I'm not talking about Plex. Even if they just felt like watching Netflix, its still a real disruption to their lives outside the game, and that's unacceptable.

The most interesting part about all of this though, is that deep down, we secretly like that its a part of our game. I'm not saying everyone is out there hoping and praying that the opposing alliance gets DDOS'd into submission. No one roots for the internet stalker gathering others' private information. But it is intriguing. We like that people are willing to go to these measures. Its part of our culture at this point. It is very much a part of our "Eve is Real" notion. Its an extension of the old saying, "if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying," and in this game, everyone is trying.

Simply put, Eve is a double edged sword. On one side, no one really wants others property destroyed. On the other, it wouldn't be the game that we know and love without that base level of slightly malicious intentions. That's the Eve we know. Don't expect any drastic changes to these lines in the sand any time soon. Eve's dark side is here to stay.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The First Time FC

Today was quite a day for me. Things were a bit slow in Delve, so I logged on to find RvB had a small gang (10 or less), frigate, free-for-all weekend. For the first time, I decided to give it a go and take the helm as FC. I've been flying on and off with RvB for the better part of a year now, and the small gang FFA weekends are some of my favorites. Worst that could happen is that I lose 10 frigs, I was pretty sure that the RvBers would survive that atrocity.

I've got to say, its pretty thrilling to be the guy making the calls. On the first go, I took the fleet out towards Red HQ through Josameto. A gang lead by a Taranis and a Slicer spread us out a bit and picked off a few of our guys. That one was my fault. I shouldn't have let the Slicer draw us apart without good reason. A few guys died, a few got out. I went down under fire from the Taranis, and apparently he ended up slipping away in hull after I warped my pod off. Damn.

We reshipped and headed back out, this time with more success. First, we caught the notorious Patrick Kasper in his Hookbill on Blue HQ. Always good to get Patrick, a fantastic solo artist. Then we went out towards Otela again, hoping for better results. I had us set up a camp on the Josameto side of the Otela gate, waiting for prey. Our forward scout reported a Merlin engaging him on the other side of the gate, so we jumped through and locked him up. The Merlin had some mates join, and it was a decent clash. We traded some kills and got out of there ASAP.

One of the last things that we caught on the day was a Harpy who was sitting at a corp bookmark. Tisk, tisk. Great work by one of our scouts to realize and get point on him.

Overall, I'd grade myself at about a B/B- on the day. We got some kills, sustained some losses, but it wasn't anything too terrible. I think I managed the fleet well, including communicating back and forth with the scouts. Target calling seemed to go fairly well too. There are certainly things to improve upon though. The biggest example I had today was to not take bait from ships like the Slicer. There's no excuse for giving away easy kills. The other big thing was just learning to think more like an FC. Some calls were just a hair slow - I'm used to being on the listening end of the target calling and fleet movements. I think it'll all tighten up with experience.

My advice to potential FC's is to go out and try it. Take out a cheap fleet and see what you can do. Don't go in totally blind. Know the area, know your corporation and definitely know general pvp mechanics first, but once you've got that down, give it a shot. Its pretty rewarding to see what you can do at the controls. I'll be out again soon for sure.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Transport Ship Bonuses

As my security status drops, I have had to consider how I'm moving my gear out so I can continue to pew. This led me to look into the Transport Ships category. Particularly, I'm looking at the cloaky transports that can fit Covert Ops Cloaks. Let's be honest, these ships are pretty great for logistics runs. They're relatively fast, align well, and they have a decent cargohold. The cloaky transports are fantastic, and you have no excuse for dying in them in lowsec. Even in null, your odds are still pretty darn good.

Here's my problem though. Every single ship in the "Transport" class has that stupid bonus to either armor or shield repair bonus. Let's break it down with a Viator. The fitting layout is one high, three mids, three lows, and two rigs. Now let's consider what modules and rigs are essential: Covert ops cloak and microwarp drive. After that, its at least agility modules and rigs and maybe cargo mods if you're greedy or you really need it. What does that leave the ship with? Not a lot, to be honest. At all V skills, it has plenty of CPU left, but only 2 MW of power grid. Not a lot of room on there for an armor repairer, huh?

Looking through all of the cloaky transports, the song remains the same. The decreasing order of cargo size runs Viator, Prorator, Crane, and Prowler. The order for align time is just the opposite. All four of them have distinct issues with tanking though, especially the active variety. Fitting for the required Cloak/MWD plus tank leaves room only for small armor repairers and either small or maybe medium shield boosters. I can't find any fit that tanks more than about 100 DPS. Holy useless bonus, Batman.

The thing is, these ships shouldn't be super tanky. If there should be such an industrial, its the other half of the transport ships. The covert transports have safety in their cloaks. Given this, there is no reason to have an active tank bonus for these ships. In fact, there's almost no reason to train Transport Ships past level one unless you need the CPU for the Covert Ops Cloak for some reason.

There are a few ways the Transport bonus could be fixed for these ships. First, take out the armor or shield repair bonus. Its useless, no one uses it, and even a frigate will roast your Transport if it gets caught. Replace this bonus with a new one, that could go a few different ways. The most logical would be either a bonus to cargo or navigational skills. The cargo bonus would be much appreciated since they run a bit light on space as it is. The navigation bonus could be better agility, better speed, longer duration of afterburners and MWD's, or even something else. All of these would be useful, but none are present right now. You could even just add a passive resist or HP buff, and it would still be more useful than the active tank bonus right now. Something needs to change.

Transport Ships don't need a change like some other ship classes do, but right now they have a 100% useless bonus. Given that CCP is undergoing such an effort to tweak ship balances, it makes sense that they give this class a quick once-over. I'm looking forward to being able to say "I told you so," if and when they get around to looking at these ;)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Officially A Bad Person & A GCC Rant

After just five short days in Waffles, I'm already below -2.0, meaning I'm not allowed in 1.0 space. In my book, that makes me officially a "bad person," if the negative security status previously wasn't enough. And the kill that put me over the edge, you may ask? Total domination. I was out roaming in a Myrmidon, and came across this little beauty. He didn't even put up a fight. -2.0 killmail. Yup, that's one cyno frigate down. Nothing like a good fight to push you to a new milestone.

Going lower on the sec status scale has been something that I've been considering for a while now. I'm looking forward to going -10.0 in the coming weeks. Its mostly just a badge of honor, but its a nice one to have.

The only part that bothers me with the lowered security status is that it makes logistics a little bit more difficult (see: logging in an alt). Related to that is the fact that my Macbook is on its last leg here. I've had it for three years, and its pretty burnt out from so much Eve (oh, and that engineering degree that put hours upon hours of running Matlab). Anyway, after flying the Viator on my alt to get gear out here, I'm not too worried. On the other hand, my Viator fit only has 7.7k m3 of cargo space, meaning it can't even fly out a cruiser hull. I'll have to look into some other options for that. Regardless, I'm headed towards a nice, even -10.

Now, on to my GCC rant. I know I'm not the first person to say this, but GCC is just not a fun game mechanic. The other night when a gang disrupted our lovely little POS shoot, I aggroed one of the frigates that wasn't red to me, giving me GCC. Once their gang took off, we resumed the POS shoot. I didn't realize that going back to shooting the POS continues to extend the timer with every shot, effectively keeping GCC for as long as we were out there. To recap, besides the 15 minute timer, which is already too long, any aggression (even legal war decs) keeps restarting the timer. That doesn't make much sense to me.

Personally, I think GCC should be changed to five minutes after the last illegal aggression. Five minutes is more than enough time to get away from the bad people who shot you, but it doesn't waste a pirate's night waiting out GCC. Also, extending the timer for legal aggression doesn't make much sense at all to me. If you're going about business as usual, there's no reason to get more criminal flagging. I'm actually surprised this mechanic hasn't been tweaked by CCP in recent memory, but here's to hoping that does happen and soon.

Recruiting My Roommate

Settling into my new place IRL, I was chatting with my new roommate about Eve. He's a big time gamer, but had never taken part in our lovely little universe. On the first day we got down here I tried to sell him on it, but he refused, saying he had never really gotten into MMOs. "Just wait," I thought. Its been a little under two weeks, and I got him to fire up the client and log in the other day. Man, its a different take on the New Player Experience when you actually have a new player in front of you.

When he first logged on, the character creator was the first part that popped up, naturally. He'd never really been interested in creating characters in previous games and so he decided to randomize until he saw an option he liked. Then he got to the screen where you have to take a picture of the character and was amazed by the level of detail in facial expression. After a "Wow," he was back to the previous screen, making sure his character was done exactly how he wanted. Hooked already.

Once he got in game, I directed him towards the tutorial missions. He's generally been PvE focused in other games, and I told him that it would be a great way to learn general controls. Its pretty funny watching him buzz around in a Velator doing approximately 45 DPS. He's enjoying it though. He turned the graphics up to high and fell in love. I'm surprised that two things I take for granted (character creator and graphics) were two big selling points for him as a new player. As a side note, the one thing he hasn't liked so far is the general UI. Fair point.

I have to say, its been an experience for me so far, and I can't imagine what he's thinking. Questions like how do I warp and how do I train a skill are beyond foreign to me, but that's the level he's at. I think my biggest problem is trying to get him involved in too much. I want to get him set up with EFT/PyFa, Evemon and iPhone apps. I want to get him into Pvp. Its a bit frustrating for me because he's just not ready yet. Hopefully he can get it relatively figured out soon and I can take him out on a roam or at least point him in the right direction. Regardless, it could be a lot of fun having some more RL friends get hooked on Eve. Let's hope CCP's work on the NPE works like a charm this time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wrapping up the POS Bashing

Tonight was another night in the Oracle cleaning up some of the space trash. Luckily, the Waffles & PL supplied some dreads to help drop the POS's coming out of reinforced. Its unbelievable how much quicker it is to take down a POS with Cap support. I pity anyone who has to do it any other way.

Everything was going smoothly for quite some time. On the third POS of the night for me, local spiked and in came a decent sized gang. Our fleet didn't have much in the way of light tackle given our mission, but we had to stick around to support the dreads. The enemy fleet got tackle on a couple dreads, so they went into siege and waited out their timers. Once this happened, our fleet was committed, at least for the short term. As the battle went on, we ended up taking down a large part of their fleet before they warped off. I was impressed to see the results. The dreads jumped out safely to a friendly cyno at the end of their siege cycle.We held the field.

Apparently there is only one more day of POS shooting left. After that, its on to actually targeting and violencing ships instead of towers for a while. I'm most certainly looking forward to that. I've racked up a few kills this week, but nothing really of interest. Its time to start getting back to basics. Looking forward to seeing what gangs the FCs are taking out this weekend and learning the ropes for real. My plan is to stick to tackle, bombers or battlecruisers to get my feet wet. I'm ready to go.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Joining SniggWaffe

Over the weekend, I applied and joined up with SniggWaffe. The Waffles are affiliated with Pandemic Legion, but from what I've gathered they don't directly fly together too often. No problem for me there. I want to jump into low & null and take fights where I can get them; I don't need to be actively flying with PL members all the time.

Not sure when I picked up the massive bounty btw

Why the change? For me it was pretty simple. RvB is great, but I needed something more. I'm not going to pay for multiple accounts so that I can smash Rifters into other Rifters forever. Again, that's no knock on RvB at all, but I want to upship and take on some bigger challenges.The question, then, was a matter of where. I'd known of SniggWaffe for a while, and saw on the forums that they were recruiting. As I've said before, I respect PL, so I decided this would be a natural choice.

Upon joining, I had to wait for forum access for comms, putting me a bit on the outside for fleets. I was still able to get on board for a good old POS bash though. All I had around was a Tornado, which does the job well but wastes a lot of ammo at the same time. I spent most of the weekend grabbing ships, shuttling them in via a Viator and fitting them. I'm glad to be mostly done with that part of the process.

A banana boat with Tachyons

Tonight we were still bashing POS's. Some we had to reinforce and some were coming out of RF, but it was pretty rough both ways. I did learn my lesson regarding the Tornado though. An Oracle with T1 ammo has no need to waste charges.  Its a fantastic POS take-down ship, which is just like being the best at winning staring contests... its really just not all that great.

I did manage to get in one good fight tonight, but sadly I was on the wrong end. A fleet mate and I split a gang across a gate and tried to take down a Sleipnir before getting the hell out of there. The isolation worked pretty well, but I botched a jump instead of a reapproach and got caught up. I neuted the Sleipnir and gave it everything I had, getting him into hull before I dropped. It certainly would have been a nice kill to start my time in Waffles. I think the pilot's direct quote in local was "I JUST PEED MY PANTS." Yeah, it was that type of close. Oh well.

Its been a very solid start to the new corp overall though. I'm well settled and ready to hit the ground running. The first deployment should be a damn good time too. The next task is finally getting the dust off of that Thanatos and getting it over here. Meanwhile, I'm hoping for some actual fleets instead of POS bashes (for at least some part of this week). Time will tell.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Boosting The Battle: Command Ships vs T3s

At this point, its pretty apparent that CCP is going through a large-scale rebalancing effort for all ships. As I've talked about in previous posts, I think its been very well done so far, with the exception of only Supercapital roles perhaps. One thing I'd like to bring up is the current roles of fleet boosting ships. I know that Rixx posted a piece on how he thinks off-grid boosting should be removed altogether, but I'm not going to argue either way on that issue. While off-grid boosting is still a part of the game, I think the balance between Command ships and T3's needs to be looked at.

Right now, Strategic Cruisers are much more effective at providing links. The easiest comparison to look at is the Loki & Claymore. With the Loki Defensive - Warfare Processor subsystem, the Loki gets 5% bonus to effectiveness of Skirmish Warfare links per level. The Claymore only gets 3% per level of Command Ships. Right off the bat, that seems like a problem to me. That's especially true given that the Defensive Subsystem skill is a 1x multiplier versus Command Ships 8x, and Command Ships require a much larger skill investment overall with Racial Cruiser and Battlecruiser V.

This isn't even the start of the problem though. Tech 3's are incredibly versatile. Anyone who is using a T3 as a pure booster (alt) will clearly set it up with the Covert Subsystem and likely an expanded probe launcher. This can easily be setup with 3-4 warfare links to boot, no problem. What you get out of that is an unbelievable advantage: a ship that can launch probes, cloak up, provide a warp-in and then GTFO and boost you to victory. That's a pretty awesome advantage for "solo" or "small gang" pvp.

The Claymore, on the other hand, has almost none of those advantages. It has the lower bonus for warfare links and none of the cloaky-warp upside. You can fit an expanded probe launcher on it, but it has no bonus for scan strength of probes or fitting requirements. It can field three warfare links without need for Command Processors, but the Loki has no problem tacking on two or three of those to get the links fitted. The only advantage currently to Command Ships is that you can fit these three links without gimping a combat fit. But with boosting as it stands today, very few people bring their link-fitted ships on grid anyway.

This whole deal doesn't seem quite right in my opinion. T3's should not outdo Command Ships in the role that CS's were designed for. Strategic Cruisers were meant to be a jack of all trades, not the ultimate ship for every task. The balance is clearly off.

What's the answer then? There are a few options. First of all, if RJ's proposition of ending off grid boosting goes through, the problem would solve itself in terms of balance between these classes. No one will leave a gimped Loki on grid to get primaried, but the Claymore (and other fleet command ships) can hold its own, especially with appropriate Logi to prop it up. But if those changes don't go through and off-grid boosting remains, the bonuses on these ships need to be changed to bring them in line. Either Command Ships need a buff or T3's need a nerf or maybe even both. A cruiser should not be beating a dedicated bonus-providing battlecruiser hull. No questions asked.

I hope CCP takes a look at this over the next few months (years?). Its not necessarily an overwhelmingly important fix, but the current situation is out of balance nonetheless. Give Command Ships back their rightful place in fleets and as off-grid alts!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Three Years in Eve

My first character's three year birthday in Eve was two days ago, and I can't believe its been that long already. The best part is I'm having more fun now than I've had yet in Eve (Note: If you're a carebear, please, please, please go try PvP somewhere. It doesn't matter what form, just go freaking do it).

Let's recap the journey over the past year. I finally stopped being a little bitch and started shooting other peoples ships. I have just shy of 60M SP and just over 400 kills. Its nothing crazy, but I'm starting to come into my own, I'd say. Also, just like CCP's prediction regarding the three year mark for players, I shouldn't be going anywhere any time soon. I think I'll be in Eve as long as my schedule allows it and the game doesn't tank (dont mess this up, Dust 514).

What's next? I'm glad you asked because I have some goals for my next year in Eve. First and foremost, its about PvP. I plan on getting over 1000 kills lifetime, and hopefully over 1000 on the year. Its ambitious, but I want it. In line with that, I'd like to cross into Battleclinic's top 10,000 pilots. I'm around 40,000 right now, but I've been trending upward pretty rapidly. I'd also like to start FC'ing. I feel like its the logical next step in my internet spaceship career. I feel pretty confident that I could step into that role. I'll probably welp a couple of cheap fleets first, but I'll get there.

I suppose my last goal is monetary. I'd like to cross 20 billion in liquid isk. That might actually be the toughest on the list, especially as the more I PvP, the more isk I spend.The most difficult part about this one is just keeping motivated to log in and change orders regularly. I usually use that time to catch up on podcasts though, so life isn't too bad.

To wrap it up, cheers to my best year yet. Here's to year four being better still. No bitter vet syndrome here. See you in space.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Moar Ship Rebalancing

CCP rolled out yet another set of changes for ship classes. I'm beginning to feel like an old timer, thinking about back in the day when Merlins had missiles and the Navitas was a mining ship. Anyway, I can't really complain about many of the incoming changes to frigates. A lot of the lesser used (see: anything that is not a Rifter, Incursus, Merlin or Punisher) frigates are getting buffs or total re-designations. I'm not sure that all of the theory crafting that CCP is undergoing will make all of these ships useful, but I don't see much being detrimental. I'm almost going to miss my split weapon system (hybrid/missile) Tristan though. Just picked up a new batch from Jita today.

Mining ships are also getting tweaked a bit. It may sound ignorant of me, but in all honesty, I don't care very much. The buffs to the lesser used ships won't outpace the mining bonus for the Hulk, meaning we won't see a great change from the status quo. The one positive coming out of the mining rebalance is the introduction of an ORE mining frigate. Instead of having 4 very sub-par mining frigates, have one ORE specialized one. It makes perfect sense to me.

The last point CCP brought up in the Dev Blog was more Destroyer rebalancing. The Crucible expansion left the Thrasher and Catalyst well ahead of their counterparts, and there are apparently some changes inbound to balance the four. Hopefully that means a buff for the Coercer and Cormorant as opposed to nerfing the previous two. Also, CCP alluded to creating 4 new missile-based destroyers. Start training those rockets and light missiles.

Overall, I have to say CCP is on point with all of these changes once again, and believe me, its nice to say that. Happy anniversary of Incarna, by the way ;)  CCP is gunning for all ships to have a role somewhere. Right now, there are tons of ships we, as players, don't even dream of flying. It'd be great to see more variety on the field as opposed to Drake, Maelstrom, Abbadon, Tengu, & Hurricane. As long as CCP gets the balance right, its going to be a fun couple years to be an internet spaceship pilot.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Internet Returns!

After over 15 hours of driving and all of the setting up at the new apartment, I'm finally getting settled in. Here's a picture from my bedroom window.

Life Sucks

If anyone is in the Pensacola area, give me a yell to grab a beer sometime. 

Getting back to Eve business, I'm beginning to return to logging in regularly. My work schedule is going to be a bit erratic for about a month or so, but I should have plenty of time to log on and kill some Reds. RvB is really firing on all cylinders right now, and I can't wait to get back to business. 

On another positive note, the Alliance Tournament is coming up. CCP is replaying old AT's until the action begins on June 30. I'm looking forward to the action. I'm pulling for RvB (obviously) and PL. I have no affiliation with PL, but I respect their style and they're top notch Alliance Tournament veterans.

Lastly, I'm considering taking my main out of RvB and into null permanently. I want to fly with some competent fleets backed with Logi and some strategy as opposed to "Fit for DPS --> Fire the Weapons." I'd like to find a null corp with gangs of 5-25 pilots on all the time. Logistics in getting out there would be appreciated to. We'll see what pops up.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Learning From My Mistakes

In RvB, a small in-house tournament just got underway. Its 4 rounds of double elimination format, set up by one of the Blue FC's, Uclanchar. The rules are pretty standard: T1 frigs with all T1 fittings, ammo and drones. Any meta level is fair game. The tournament seemed like good fun and it is a pretty laid back format, so I threw 1M isk to Uclan for the entry fee and headed to Jita to fit a ship. To me, the ship choice was clear. After getting beat up by an Incursus a week ago, I knew that ship had the firepower I needed.

I modified the fit I posted earlier this week to all T1 stuff, most of it being meta 4. I'm not going to post the exact fit as the tournament is still going on, but let's just say that by dropping from T2 gear I had the ability to put a little something extra on the previous fit.

My opponent and I warped in on the anchor, both of us at zero. He was in a Tormentor. I don't think I'd ever fought one before, so I really wasn't sure what to expect. As it turns out, he had lasers and a nos. I engaged him with the full force of my blasters and my measly little Hobgoblin I, and I was pouring DPS. I got him below shields first, and he started repairing armor. Once he got me into armor, my overheated repairer was working like a charm. I took him down without too much trouble and didn't even cause any heat damage to the repper. Here's the killmail. Also, Uclan was kind enough to Fraps all of the fights from the anchor's perspective. It's nothing too special, but here it is.

Just as a side note, I love corp contests like these. I think its a blast for everyone involved. 0UCH used to run monthly FFA's and they were great for corp morale too. Looking forward to the next match.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Somer Blink: Utility Calculations

Disclaimer: In this post I'm going to use **MATH.** I don't mean to scare anyone away, but its something I wanted to delve into. Also, please correct me if I'm wrong on anything here.


At this point, most people have heard of Somer Blink. If not, its a lottery system using all in-game isk and it is run by a third party website. I've been intrigued by it for a while, and despite not being much of a gambler, I decided to give it a shot today. I threw in 250M isk to start, and figured if I lose it all, no big deal. I decided I wanted to calculate how many tickets I should buy. I started working on the math and then promptly got caught up in just blinking as much as possible. Out of the 250M I used to start, I got as low as 1.5M isk remaining. Then I won a few big ticket ships and got right back in the game. I'm currently sitting at 493M isk. At that point, I knew I was getting pretty lucky, so I wanted to actually run down the numbers for this lottery. The results surprised me.

To me, this looks like a classic problem in Expected Utility, which is a concept out of Economics and Game Theory. To be honest, I studied engineering, not economics, so forgive me if I've botched something along the way. Based on what I saw though, this is the formula for utility:

L = pA + (1-p)B

where L is the lottery's utility, p is the probability of option A, and 1-p is the probability of option B. To translate this to Somer Blink terms, the probability, p, is the number of tickets purchased divided by the number of tickets available. A is represented by the value of the ship minus the cost of the tickets purchased, and B is simply zero, since losing costs nothing (outside of ticket cost, which is already accounted for). So, our formula for Somer Blink is as follows:

L = (n/n_max)*A - n*bid

 By changing values of n (number of tickets bought) up to n_max (total tickets available for specific lottery), you can see the utility of each possible number bought. If we rearrange this equation, we get a very useful form for the utility. 

L = n * (A/n_max  - bid)

Very clearly, the utility is proportional to the number of bids. The question is whether or not the other quantity is positive or negative. As is almost certainly by design, I have yet to find a blink that has a positive quantity for the (A/n_max  - bid)  term. This means that utility is decreasing for every bid you place on an item. It also means that utility is negative for all n, indicating that there is no rational reason for you to bid ever
Taking a step back, this all kind of makes sense. If the lottery were set up so that you pay one eighth of the price of the ship, and there are eight slots, you have perfect odds. You should make your money back exactly (and by exactly, I mean statistically over time). Since this is a system where the bids are more than the respective share of the ship, you're supposed to lose over time. That's how Somer Blink makes isk.

There's one last important thing to note. You can buy enough tickets so that you automatically lose isk. Divide A by the bid price and round down to the nearest whole number. Don't be a dummy bidding to automatically lose money. 

What does this all mean? Probably not a lot at the end of the day. If you buy multiple tickets, you'll earn less when you win, but you stand a better chance at winning each individual blink. Like almost all lotteries, its not really what you'd call a good investment. On the other hand, someone still has to win, right? If you get lucky, then good for you and enjoy the ride. I've doubled my money already, why can't you? Best of luck.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Post-Inferno Incursus

The other day I was roaming about the Forge and wandered into RvB's FFA system. I'll poke my head in there sometimes, but its often unoccupied. I was in a trusty Rifter and feeling pretty cocky. I saw an Incursus jump through the gate and knew I had him from the start. I was doing everything right. I was keeping out by the edge of scram range to utilize my falloff versus his, overheating guns. When he got me into armor, I had my overheated small repairer ready to go. There was no way I was losing the fight.

TFirish3's Rifter was destroyed.

At first I was confused. I had him to low armor at one point and I was sitting pretty. After the fight, the pilot asked me how I was pumping out so much DPS without any damage mods. I'm pretty sure we both thought I had it. So what happened?

Inferno happened. I had forgotten all about the buff to Incursuses (Incursi?), and to Merlins for that matter. The previous bonus to falloff was instead changed to an armor repair bonus, and there was some more general tweaking. I fired up PyFa today to see just how strong the Incursus has become. Results are as follows:

[Incursus, Inferno Incursus]

Damage Control II
Small Armor Repairer II
Adaptive Nano Plating II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

1MN MicroWarpdrive II
Warp Scrambler II
Stasis Webifier II

Light Neutron Blaster II, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Hybrid Collision Accelerator I
Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
[Empty Rig slot]

Hobgoblin II x1

Well that's quite a fit. I was able to pack on a full rack of neutron (most powerful) blasters, the full MWD/scram/web complement, and still had 4 slots in the lows to play with. The small armor repairer is a must-have for the solo/small gang option. After that, it was all about boosting resists and speed. With this little fit, the Incursus has 195 DPS, 57.5 HP/s repair, and goes about 3.3 km/s. On the other hand, that Rifter I lost has 126 DPS, 40.1 HP/s repair, and does about 1 km/s (Afterburner fit, still has room for MWD if desired). No wonder why I lost. That's one heck of a boost for the Incursus.

Needless to say, I'm eagerly awaiting the delivery from Red Frog Freight to Blue HQ in Liekuri. Its nice to see Gallente ships becoming useful again. Incursus, here I come.

Credit Where Credit is Due

We all know Eve is supposed to be a cold, harsh universe, and both the players and CCP have embraced that fact fully. Players have absolutely no problem telling CCP when they messed something up. In fact, we're coming up on the year anniversary of Incarna and the Jita riots (Incarna dropped June 21, 2011). I'd like to take a minute and actually commend CCP for all they've been doing recently though. Let's look at the trajectory.

This time last year, CCP was just about ready to give players a room that could fry GPU's, cause massive unsubs, and make players spend their in-game time shooting a statue. We were about 12 months into the legendary "18 months" of no spaceship iteration. They kept true to their word on that one, by the way, failing to do anything remotely significant for combat-oriented spaceships until Crucible. And then, of course, there was the "Greed is Good" publication. Can't forget that one. The best part about this ongoing fiasco was that  CCP had no clue what they were doing wrong. "Why don't you guys like the pretty room with the door?" It makes me shiver just writing about this.

Let's take a look at now. A year later, I think we have an almost entirely different CCP. Let's start with the releases: Crucible and Inferno. Please raise your hand if you had a problem with Crucible. I'm not holding my breath for any takers. In my opinion, all of the Inferno features are neutral at worst, with the exception of the unified inventory. Personally, I don't think that the UI is that bad. Its different, but not inherently terrible. Regardless, CCP committed to a very aggressive release cycle in order to rectify the issue, including two more releases over the next 2-3 weeks. Plain and simple, this would not have happened last year. Its an extremely positive step.

Another important factor that says great things for CCP is the CSM interaction. It appears that the CSM is being well utilized and the the summit was at least relatively successful. Even through strict NDA, Seleene and the rest of the delegates seem optimistic about the state of things. Again, this is a drastic contrast from CSM 5's open letter to the public and CSM 6's public opposition to CCP. The CSM is no longer fighting against, but instead defending CCP. They have no reason to be lap dogs, which therefore leads me to believe this is genuine.

The overarching theme is more communication and transparency. Look at Twitter for example. CCP devs are constantly chatting with players. The environment is laid back and friendly, but these people care. If you're interested in getting something done in game, it can't hurt to poke one of the devs on Twitter. The answer to requests is not always yes, but a lot of times its "Hmm interesting, I'll look into it." That's a nice start. A special shout-out goes to CCP Punkturis, who is arguably #tweetfleet's favorite dev.

Overall its just nice to see positive change. Before Crucible, I told my girlfriend that I was worried about the state of Eve and the impact Dust would have. I'm still a little bit apprehensive about Dust until more details come out, but Eve is most certainly going in the right direction. CCP still isn't perfect, but its nice to give credit where credit is due. To everyone at CCP, thanks for all of the hard work over the past year and keep it up!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

RvB Ganked 27: Kotuku

Ganked night is a tradition in RvB that takes a themed fleet out to nullsec and pretty much welps it into anything it can find. Despite being in RvB for the better part of a year now, I've managed to not make it out to a single one until today. I'm not going to make that mistake again. These fleets are awesome (and open to the public!).

The theme for Ganked 27 was missile ships in honor of the new launcher and missile effects on Tranquility. The fleet had tons of different ships: Drakes, Caracals, bombers of all types, and even a Raven or two. The fleet was over 80 strong to start. Personally, I decided to go with a typical nano Drake. I know that seems pretty boring, but I've actually never really flown them. Plus, what could be more appropriate for a missile themed roam? Here's the fit:

[Drake, Nano Drake]

Heavy Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missile
Small Energy Neutralizer II

Experimental 10MN MicroWarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Stasis Webifier II
Stasis Webifier II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Large Shield Extender II

Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

Warrior II x5

The Ganked roams kick off from Rens, so I grabbed a fresh jump clone from Dodixie and fit my Drake. We set out through Great Wildlands. That entire region was pretty dead, but it was good to get new guys used to the large fleet movements. Next we headed into Curse. Not surprisingly it was a bit more active. A fairly large gang from Raiden kept after us. They first gave us a go by cynoing in from a Devoter. In came a Damnation, more Devoters, and a metric ton of Abbadons. Most of the gang was able to burn out, and we managed to get the initial cyno Devoter. I'm not sure how many we lost on the engagement. The Raiden gang followed us for a couple more jumps, but there was a similar result. I'm sure we lost a few, but we took out another Devoter. Most of the gang was able to burn out though.

At that point, we ran off towards a lowsec system for a quick break. We took 45 minutes off and formed up to hit it again. Numbers were still over 90 pilots for the second go. The gang snagged a Tornado on our way out towards Providence. A poor Hawk also jumped into the gang once we were in Providence, but I wasn't nearly quick enough to get on that mail.

As we pushed into CVA space, we found a small fleet of ratting ships. The fleet managed to snag an Apocalypse kill worth about 500M isk. A little faction pimped for a standard Apoc, huh? The interesting thing is that I actually flew for the same corp about a year ago when I was still a big carebear. Crazy how times have changed for me over the past year.

On the third leg of the trip, we set our eventual destination for HED-GP. At this point, I'd been missing out on a lot of kills because a Drake takes too darn long to lock and we had a lot of DPS still. Remind me to pack a SeBo for the next one. Anyway, the fleet size was still around 60+ pilots, which is great. We picked up some kills en route & made it to HED safely. Finally we drew the attention of a well-organized AAA gang. There were a couple of Machariels, some Cynabals, a ton of BCs, HICs and 4-6 Scimitars. Somehow I managed to get myself primaried and podded pretty quick. I didn't mind too much as it had been quite a long day of roaming, but I would have liked to kill something before I went down.

It was an awesome day all around though. Special thanks to Mangala for getting it together. Also, thanks has to go out to everyone in fleet for the great work all day, both in fighting and in the spectacular local spam, ranging from facts about the Queen of England to some softcore porn. I'll be seeing you at future Ganked events.

Gentlemen, The Queen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ATX: Gallente Blaster Team

Here's a crack at an Alliance Tournament X team featuring a primarily Gallente setup. As a reminder, CCP rebalanced some ship values, upped the ship total to 12 and kept the point value for the team at 100 overall. This setup uses all 12 ships and all 100 points.

2x  Proteus
2x  Rook
1x  Guardian
2x  Keres
3x  Daredevil
2x  Catalyst

This setup capitalizes on many of the changes brought about in Crucible to Gallente ships and blasters specifically. The Rook & Keres combination is meant to jam a few targets and then delay their locking time & distance. The Keres should pack both the distance and the scan resolution scripts.

The damping by the Keres should force the enemy fleet to come closer, which is perfect for this blaster fleet, anchored by the two Proteus. The DPS is supplemented by the Daredevils and Catalysts, which both put out quite a bit of damage for smaller ships. Also, the Daredevils have that fantastic bonus to webs, which is always an asset.

All ships are armor fit, making the Guardian the useful addition to the team.

I think the key to implementing this team well is calling the appropriate targets and using the Keres to their full potential. Any long range, ECM or logistics ships should be jammed and damped early in order to get the best effect from the Keres/Rook pairings. After that, its just a slug fest with the blaster brawlers. As always, I'd love to hear comments & thoughts from all.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

BB36: The Expanding Universe

Welcome to the thirty-sixth edition of the EVE Blog Banter, the community discussion that brings the collective minds of the EVE blogosphere together to chew the cud, exchange opinions or troll the world.

"With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?"


 Closing in on the beginning of my fourth year of Eve, I've had a few expansions under my belt at this point. My first character was started on June 20, 2009, as I was spurred on by a few very excited coworkers at an internship. This was just after Apocrypha came out, with the introduction of all of the wormholes and T3 Cruisers. Read that again. Three years ago, CCP introduced 2500 new systems, an entirely new mechanic for transportation between systems, and some of the most versatile ships in the game. I'd say that's some pretty solid expansion right there.

For me, it comes down to a case of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let's break it down. I've been through Apocrypha, Dominion, Tyrranis, Incursions, Incarna, Crucible, and now Inferno. That's 7 expansions, and its been quite a mix in quality.

The Good
Apocrypha: As alluded to above, Apocrypha was a fantastic expansion, and I didn't know how good it was until subsequent ones came out. In fact, I'd argue that its the best one to date that I've been around for. The magnitude of what CCP did with this one is absolutely unreal. Wormholes & T3's. Enough said.

Incursion I've never actually participated in an Incursion, but the expansion itself was pretty solid. It brought a much needed new NPC challenge, the character creator and the removal of learning skills. None of these are "incredible! WOW!" features, but they have all made the game better.

Crucible: Crucible introduced almost zero new content outside of the Tier 3 Battlecruisers, but it was one of the most successful expansions to date. It fixed a ridiculous amount of things the players wanted done, and it did it well. Eve can't live on expansions like this long term, but this was a much needed one.

The Bad
Dominion: On my first patch day misery, Dominion was released. Honestly, as a carebear in highsec, I was hardly concerned about Sov mechanics, but its still something that many people complain about.  Having just reread the patch notes, the only thing I found of interest was the introduction of Navy Battleships (Tier 1). It had lots of little fixes as well, but not nearly on the level of significance as Crucible.

Tyrannis: Farmville in space and Spacebook. I looked into doing Planetary Interaction once, but it didn't seem worth the trouble. I am one of the few that actually does use Eve Gate, but it is still flawed, and this has been almost two years now. Outside of PI, I find nothing really memorable about this expansion.

The Ugly
(We all know which one was saved for this category.)
Incarna: This was a shit storm. Walking in stations turned into walking in one and a half rooms by yourself, graphics cards were fried and Jita rioted. This can be termed as the expansion where CCP totally lost focus. Subscriber numbers dropped and CCP knew it. Trying to pass off WiS as an expansion was a joke, and the players knew it. Worst expansion to date.

To lay out my career in term of Eve expansions, it started off with a bang, sunk for about a year, recovered, tanked and recovered. Where does this leave us? Well that's the thing that people don't realize. It has almost always left us at least marginally better, still playing the same ridiculously awesome internet spaceship game. I mean look at the Dominion Patch Notes. The very same patch notes that I earlier described as "a lot of nothing" have a ton of little fixes that made this game better. With the exception of Incarna frying GPU cards, CCP has worked hard and made the game better. Even if you don't like the new content introduced, you can usually ignore it if its not for you (although that's clearly not the goal with these expansions). We have a great core game, and the expansions are icing on the cake, giving us new features to play with.

Inferno brings the return of Faction Warfare amongst new modules, ship rebalancing, and war mechanics changes. It has all the makings of a pretty solid expansion, though not a ton of it affects me (outside of the new modules). FW has a few thousand players, and to be honest I don't think that war declarations are that important. They only really apply to a subset of highsec warfare. Again, I'm not saying the changes are bad, I'm just not sure it was the most necessary thing possible.

What should Eve expansions be then? My proposal is that each expansion should be some cross between Apocrypha and Crucible. Things should be changed and rebalanced as necessary (per Crucible standards), but significant new content should be introduced like Apocrypha. And when I say "significant new content," I mean content related to spaceships and combat. I have no interest in harvesting planets or walking in stations. Its perfectly fine to add these things to the game, but not as the focus of an expansion. Inferno has come close to doing this, but I'm not sure it quite made it. Regardless, it is a step in the right direction. I'm much happier with CCP's current path as opposed to recent years, and like I said, we still have the fantastic core game without expansions. At the end of the day, its all about MOAR COMBAT and MOAR SHIPS. If CCP can keep that going, it'll be smooth sailing for years to come. Cheers to Inferno!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Return To Normalcy & The First Jag Roam

Over the weekend I graduated from college. While this is all well and good, it significantly cut into my Eve time recently.  ;)  My killboard on Battleclinic showed 0-0 on the week for the first time in a few months. It was a bit disappointing, but it was during an understandably busy time. The other night I decided to get back on the horse and logged in again. I was in a pretty small fleet of 8 men, and we managed to catch a Drake coming through the Otela gate in Poinen. I was worried that we wouldn't be able to burn it down in time, as there was intel that the Red Fleet was jumping into us any minute. I was even pretty sure it was bait, and when I ran out of missiles I was ready to bail. Overheat saved the day though, and we got him down just as the Red Fleet landed. It was a satisfying kill, but I had to hit the rack for work the next day. 

The last action I saw prior to that was my first Jaguar roam. I took a trip and started by setting the navigation system on a course towards 5KG-PY in Providence. In all honesty, the roam reminded me of one of the biggest things I don't like about null - a distinct lack of targets. I ran through Providence for an hour or so, and most people were docked up or systems were empty.

I finally got a fight with a hesitant little Harpy. I thought for sure that my Autocannons would tear him apart, but his shields were pretty resistant. I burned my guns to about 75% damage from overheat and decided that since I hadn't cracked his shields yet, it was time to bail. I burned away, got out of scram range, and kicked on the MWD. It wasn't exactly how I wanted the fight to go, but it wasn't a bad effort and I got out alive.

Then I headed towards somewhere more friendly to repair my overheating damage. I took off for Assah in the Derelik region. I wandered around this region for a while until I realized that I was close to Curse. I've got Curse at least decently well bookmarked from my brief stay in Open University of Celestial Hardship (0UCH), so I figured I'd give that a shot since Providence was so quiet. I popped a few cyno alts on the way there because I was getting restless.

Once in Curse, I was seeing more of the same. It was either no one around or larger gangs. There was a Slicer that wanted some action, but I knew that without Barrage I wouldn't be able to close distance and apply some damage. Finally, I came through the Jorund system, and saw a cynosural field lit up with a Dramiel on scan. That sounded manageable. I warped to the cyno which was just above the station and saw the cyno Kestrel and a Dramiel. Sadly, the Dramiel called in friends. I was burning him into armor before he and 4 of his mates undocked and took me down.

Overall, it was a tough roam. Taking out a few cyno ships is hardly an interesting trade for a few hours of roaming culminating in an eventual death to a superior gang. I still have the nullsec itch, but maybe solo isn't the route. I'm still not in the mood for 1000 v 1000, but perhaps there's an NPC null corp that'll catch my interest. I've gotta give it a few more chances my way for now though. That's all I've got, but I'm glad to be returning to my regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Its Prom Season Baby!

If you thought I was talking about the high school dance, kindly click the little "X" at the top of your screen now. No, I'm talking about Prometheus Exenthal, and if you haven't seen any of his videos, check them out now. I've linked his latest, "Appreciation," below.

Now Prom's videos aren't supposed to be any type of PvP guide or anything. I like them because they're really well produced, mixed with some pretty quality music, and he shows the good with the bad. He clearly knows his stuff, and CSM6 members often referred to him as a human EFT.

Now why did I call this post Prom Season? That's because yesterday I took my last final as an undergraduate, and I no longer have the burden of engineering on my shoulders. I've got a few months to waste hours and hours diving into Eve, and I'm giving some solo roams through null a shot. I've debated what ships to use, from frigates to BC's mostly, but I ended up going with Rifter hulls. Surprise! These are my fits for a Jag and a Wolf, and the first stop is Providence this weekend.

[Jaguar, Standard MWD Jag]

150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Mjolnir Rocket

Coreli C-Type 1MN MicroWarpdrive
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction

Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Small Core Defense Field Extender I
Small Projectile Burst Aerator II

The Jaguar is a fairly standard DPS fit. I found the addition of Faction/Deadspace/Officer mods to the market to be pretty helpful, as the C-Type MWD is readily available and comes in around 11 million isk. The fit is pretty darn tight, but I like it a lot. The EFT stats are 186 DPS, 9.32k EHP, and 2941 m/s. I like the Jag because its quick and pumps out quite a bit of DPS for a little guy. My only complaint is that I'll probably need to target or at least draw out frigates to get a decent fight. That or get under someone's guns. Regardless, I think I'll try the Jaguar first.

The Wolf is something I shamelessly ripped right off of Prom's killboard. Its an Arty Wolf with near zero tank, but it is fast and it can pack a punch.

[Wolf, Prom's Arty Wolf]

280mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
280mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
280mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
280mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
[Empty High slot]

Limited 1MN MicroWarpdrive I
J5 Prototype Warp Disruptor I

Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Co-Processor II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

Small Projectile Collision Accelerator II
Small Projectile Ambit Extension I

This fit is also pretty tight, but it works. Stats are 179 DPS, 4.35k EHP, and 2543 m/s. My favorite part about this Wolf fit is the ability to kite and not have the MWD shut down. Any time you're flying a kiting ship, it takes a lot more skill in manual piloting, but it can be really rewarding. Any idiot can click orbit at 500, engage scram, web and guns. Dictating range to the point where the other guy can't touch you is something else though. With this fit, I'd like to stay on the edge of point range, from 15-20 km away from the target.

That's the plan though. An RvBer taking some more advanced Rifter hulls through Providence to stir up some trouble. I'm certainly hoping to snag a few kills before I die in a fire, but we'll see how it goes. I know I'm looking to score this Prom season though ;-)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Feature Idea: Pod Scanner

This afternoon on Twitter, someone posted a link to a killmail of a pod with a full set of +5 implants plus a pretty expensive hardwiring to boot. It got me thinking, wouldn't it be nice to have a way to scan down what people have plugged into their heads?

I poked @EveOnline and @CCPGames with the idea for fun, but got a response from @HLIBIndustry. After a brief public discussion on Twitter, this is what we came up with: there's a potential place in game for a pod scanner that returns what implants you have installed. It's the same essential idea as a ship scanner, but it only works while you are in pod. That means you can safely go about your business in an empty shuttle looking inconspicuous, but if you're dumb enough to autopilot in your pod with a full HG Slave set plugged in, then you're in for it.

Honestly, I feel like its the next logical step since CCP gave us implant loadouts on killmails. Popping a random pod in highsec has some pretty harsh repercussions in terms of sec status, but who wouldn't mind padding the killboard with some high value targets once in a while? This probably would be largely used for griefing, but it does have a lot of potential for pirate use as well. Scramble someones pod and then you call in a buddy (or alt) to scan down his head to see what he has. That would revitalize the ransom process as long as you're competent enough to hold a pod in place. Maybe its all too extreme or too niche for it to be necessary, but it could certainly add a lot to the game.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

ATX: Rules, Impact & Theory-Crafting

Let me start by saying that I love the Alliance Tournament. I watched the later rounds of last year's tournament, and I think its fantastic. The best alliances in Eve clash in a fair, organized system not based on who can bring more supercapitals or numbers. Its all about who concocted the better team and then outflew the others. 

A few days ago, CCP announced the ATX rules, and there were a few small tweaks. The most interesting were the points rebalancing, as was well laid out at Scram Web, and the reduced time for rounds, which was discussed at Eve Opportunist. The other big thing that happened was all of the rebalancing and new ships introduced with Crucible. ATX could have a very new look to it.

The Alliance Tournament format changes are going to have a big impact. The average point per ship went from 10 to 8.33, which is a significant decline I'd argue. A few ships did get their point values lowered, but I'm not sure if its enough to combat the ship number increase from 10 ships to 12. I played around with some numbers in excel, and I couldn't decide on any clear cut winning teams, so I tried to model them after previous year's teams.

The core of what I saw was 3-4 high DPS ships to start. These were often anchored by Sleipnirs, T3's or Faction Battleships, such as Vindicators. That's 48-60 points of your total right off the bat. Most teams were then supplemented by Logistics, which makes sense. Another 12 points right there, bringing you to a minimum of 60 points by only counting four out of your twelve ships. That means we've got 40 points for 8 ships, or an average of 5 points per ship after the core 3 DPS ships and the logi. Recons can make the difference in a fight, but even one will cost you 14 points, rounding out to a minimum of 74 points & 7 ships remaining (3.71 points/ship remaining). At that point, its your call to tack on seven Assault Frigs/Interdictors/Destroyers/Frigates.

I'm certainly no expert, but here's a team I would consider trying based on these "truths" of successful alliance tournament teams from past years:

-3x Sleipnir
-1x Scimitar
-1x Huginn
-3x Jaguar
-2x Sabre
-2x Thrasher

This setup, modeled after 0utbreak's team from the final match last year, uses all 12 ships, but only 98 points. The problem with adding two more ships to the field without a team point increase is that it is difficult to tack on anything larger than a Frigate or Destroyer class ship.

The other option is to do some larger rearranging. If you take out the Huginn (or equivalent Recon) and the Assault Frigates you can add two Tier 3 BC's. The downside is that 2 Assault Frigates have their place taken by regular Frigates. Regardless, it still makes for an interesting setup, and it hits 100 points on the dot.

-3x Sleipnir
-1x Scimitar
-2x Tornado
-2x Sabre
-2x Thrasher
-2x Rifter

I think I like this team better despite the lack of a Recon. Its a very quick team, and between the Sleipnirs and the Tornadoes, there is a ton of DPS to neutralize the enemy fleet. The best part is probably the Tornadoes ability to project damage while keeping range. The Sleipnirs can brawl up close supported by the Scimitar while the Tier 3's skirmish along the edges of the arena. This team should not have any trouble keeping the match under the new 10 minute time limit.

The theory-crafting is one of the best parts about the Alliance Tournament in my eyes. I'm by no means an expert on the situation, but I'd love to be behind the scenes with the people who are. Its events like this why I would push for some type of arena combat in Eve. Just the thought of creating these teams and testing them out in a fair combat environment is so damn cool. On a roam, you would never trade a Huginn for a Rifter if that's what your fleet really needed, but those are the sacrifices you have to make for the Alliance Tournament. I'm very much looking forward to the beginnings of the event this year. I'll probably continue to theory-craft and if I come up with anything good, I'll be sure to share.

What's in Your Hangar?

I decided to jump on the band wagon with the "What's in your Hangar?" posts. A big shout out to Rixx Javix who is at least semi-active in posting again. I hope life sorts itself out for him and he can return to playing (and hopefully posting!) about Eve more in the future.

Here we go then. This isn't all in one hangar, but most of it is concentrated in Liekuri (Blue Headquarters). I have a loose dichotomy of RvB and Not RvB, and I think it'll be pretty evident which is which.

Enyo - I've actually had this since the Crucible launch, and I named it Jerry Sandusky. I know that is horribly inappropriate, but I realized that it would be very effective against little things and that I'm apparently a terrible person.

Jaguar - I have two of these, both AC fitted. I don't get a chance to fly them too often, but after Projectile Weapon Rigging 4 finishes, I'm taking a solo roam out through Providence with one.

Drake - I've got 3 of these in the hangar, two fitted. Its called Bricktop for those of you who like the movie "Snatch". Its HML and pure tank fitted. It hasn't left the hangar since a POS Bash a while back.

Hurricane - I have one of these left. Autocannons, Medium Neuts, Webs, Scram and armor tanked. I'll occasionally take this out to lowsec, but I can never seem to get a decent fight.

Rupture - The pair of these in the hangar are both armor fitted, despite the fact that I'm dying to try out a shield variant. They're brawlers with AC's & small neuts.

Catalyst - 2 of these with blasters and general gank setup. Nothing too flashy here.

Thrasher - I have four of these with the same general theme as the Catalysts. I really should do more Dessy roams.

Imperial Navy Slicer - This ship was my first foray into kiting ships. Its the typical fast, Scorch-loaded ship you'll commonly see around New Eden. The Slicer is a bit squishy, but its a fantastic ship if you can keep range.

Rifter - I still have 17 left from my latest stack. AC's, armor, point and web. It wouldn't be RvB without Rifters, right?

Vagabond - This one is a typical Vaga fit - AC's with Barrage, Medium Neut, built for speed. It hasn't seen too much action since I don't feel like getting blobbed in RvB and losing a 200M+ isk ship for no reason.

Claw - I generally like to keep an interceptor built for speed in case I need to make a trip somewhere. It has an MWD, 4 Nanofibers, and 2 Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizers. I'd say its pretty tough to catch, especially if you're chasing from behind.

Dramiel - There are two of these still lying around, but I'm still mourning the Crucible Nerf. I managed to get the same fitting back on there by going Meta 4 instead of a T2 mod, but its just not the same without the old speed.

Tristan - I've grown to love the Fat Man recently. I have a gank fit with rockets and blasters. I tossed on an MWD and damage mods and its a nasty little force until someone sneezes too loudly and it breaks.

That's all I've got for right now. Let me know if you've got interest in any specific fits. Thanks RJ for the idea.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hulkageddon V: Gank Proof

This morning I was looking through Twitter, and Helicity Boson posted this lovely gem:

For those who want the link, here you go. Yes, that is a 3.6 Billion isk Hulk, lost to a pair of destroyers. Wow. Looks like you have officially won Eve. Deadspace shield gear, T2 rigs, fit for mining efficiency. 3.6 Billion isk is a long way to go in mining Veldspar, so enjoy that buddy.

The killmail gets even better when you look at damage taken. As Helicity pointed out, this fellow only took about 5000 damage, which means that all of these expensive modules likely weren't even on! I am constantly astounded by the incompetency of a lot of these miners out there, especially the ones that are clueless about Hulkageddon all together.

The event did get me thinking if I could build a Hulk to resist ganks. I gave it my best shot, but Hulks are pretty squishy. Here's my best effort, with the constraint that I was only going to use T2 gear since literally anything can be ganked with enough firepower.

[Hulk, Anti-Hulkageddon Hulk]

Modulated Strip Miner II
Modulated Strip Miner II
Modulated Strip Miner II

Invulnerability Field II
Invulnerability Field II
Photon Scattering Field II
Survey Scanner II

Damage Control II
Power Diagnostic System II

Medium Core Defence Field Extender I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I

Mining Drone II x5
Mining Drone II x5

This poor fit still only has 25.1k EHP. Honestly, it seems like the best defense against getting ganked would be to put an alt in corp, grab a cheap T1 frigate, web your Hulks to kingdom come and keep them aligned. Plain and simple, any ship can be ganked somebody wants to do it. If pilots can gank freighters, your Hulks definitely aren't safe. Stay aligned, have some good intel, maybe get some shield gank links from your Orca buddies. Throwing isk at the problem does little to nothing for you.

Gankers, enjoy the ride. You've got a lot of easy targets out there.  ;)