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.