Thursday, October 30, 2014

Shaking off the Rust

I lost two EVE sessions in October due to Thanksgiving travels one weekend and my fall Board Game Day another. Which sucks because I get rusty at FCing pretty damn quickly.

Sunday night I logged in and started putting together a fleet for the corp. We quickly grew in numbers and swtiched from a kitchen sink frigate fleet to a Rouge Squadron doctrine Algos fleet supported by interceptors and Navitas logi.

We got word of a Caldari Militia assault frigate fleet movign around Tama and we swung through Fliet's back door to try and engage them. In the battleground of Sujarento we jumped in on them and engage at point blank range on the gate. They had a couple Griffins and my target calling was rusty because at one point I primaried a couple of Harpies that I should have left for some softer Tech 1 Frigates.

Not a big deal and I internalize the lesson and we won the fight and held the field, losing 5 Algos and a single Atron and Navitas while killing 2 Harpies, an Ishkur, a Wolf, a Jaguar, a Retribution, a Kitsune, a Merlin, a Burst, and two Bantams.

We went back to Fliet and reshipped, then proceeded to scour the warzone looking for more targets. It was going pretty quiet until we got reports of two hostile pirate fleets in the Fliet area while we were deep in Black Rise region. We ran back to Essence and while an allied Gallente Militia fleet took on one fleet, we engaged the other in Heydieles.

We executed the attack a lot more smoothly this time and we only lost our initial scout Algos (don't ask, but really Marcel deserved it) and killed 4 Coercers, 2 Cormorants, an Ishkur, a Thrasher, a Jaguar, a Harpy, and a Hawk in return. Our Logi were hero's in that conflict and props to Ordo Mortis alliance who gave us that exciting finish to the night.

All hail the mighty Algos!



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Board Game Day 2014

I got together with 5 of my friends (Andrew, Brian, Dave, Evan, and Udit) and had a day full of board games from the morning until night. Here's the rundown.


*burp*

We opened with a simple palate cleanser with Red Dragon Inn in which my character got very drunk very fast. *burp* Ended up in a tie between Dave and me as he got me drunk but I retaliated and punched him to knock him out.

Infiltration
Then we moved on to two games of Infiltration, set in the Android Netrunner universe. Very fun, I think we all died the first game and everyone got out the second time as we were a lot more cautious.

Power Grid

Go green empire!

Getting crowded on the east coast.

Next we moved on to something meatier in Power Grid, a fun bidding / resource management game. Definitely worth the time we put into it, Andrew and I were leading and he pulled out a win in the end.

Dead of Winter

Next up was a new zombie survival game called Dead of Winter. Five of us played, each of us starting out controlling two characters. The goal is to complete the main scenario public objective and each of us complete our personal secret objective. Eventually it looked like a couple of us were going to win but Dave's secret objective was "Serial Killer" and he killed a bunch of people in the last turn and let the zombies overrun the colony so he could win.

Setup.

My dudes, the principal and sheriff. 

Zombies swarming the hospital!

Things not looking good at the Police Station.

Mansions of Madness

Brian had to leave so we ended the evening with a game of Mansions of Madness, an Arkham Horror type game (Praise Cthulhu!). Evan was the Keeper and the rest of us investigators into the weird happenings at a local university building.

Setup.
This game was a lot of fun in hindsight, but during the game I was very depressed as it seemed like the Keeper had all the advantages and was toying with us.

The intrepid investigators!

Dave locked in freezer and going crazy. Good times.

He's really, really locked in.

The beginning of my character's descent to insanity...
By the end of the game my character was:
- afraid of the dark (in a game where my opponent's main ability was to kill the lights)
- afraid of enclosed spaces
- afraid of doorknobs on doors ("the house is alive!")
- afraid of other people ("they are all demons!")
- afraid of monsters... in a monster hunting game.

Yet still better off than Dave who ran into a stairwell and blew his brains out.

Get the witch!
 Eventually the monsters and the Head Boss witch showed up and Andrew as Trashcan Pete pretending to be a Hobo with a shotgun blew up one monster and sent the other running for cover, and then strolled down the hall and blew up the witch with two shots.

Hobo with a shotgun.
Basically we went from "we have no chance" to "hey, we won!". So after that I realized it was a lot of fun.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Project Vulcan - Orcas Versus Archons

To recap, early on in Project Vulcan I started producing Orcas because they required a lower level of entry investment for BPOs and could be produced entirely in High Sec. After a period of time I turned my activities to producing Archon carriers.

I think its time to evaluate which activity is better for my invested effort and is most compatible with my playstyle.

Quick stats:
4,277,208,841Total from sales
66# Orcas sold from June 2013 to ~March 2014
64,806,194Average Profit / Orca

7,667,296,552Total from sales
24# Archons sold from March 2014 to Present
319,470,690Average Profit / Archon
(both average profits exclude startup costs)

In other words, I made about 475 million ISK per month on Orcas, and about 950 million ISK per month on Archons. The effort is definitely higher when considering the transport of minerals to low sec but I've not found the time commitment too overwhelming. In fact, I've started investigating if I can get a third carrier blueprint into the rotation when my liquid ISK builds up into the multiple billions again. Even though I've made 7.6 billion ISK, I've reinvested a lot of it in BPOs to replace BPCs, bought myself a Thanatos, and at any one time I have a sizable chunk of ISK in unsold product. 

For example right now I have ISK locked up in:
1 Archon on market
2 Archons building
1 set of Archon components 
1 pile of minerals for the next set of components 
1 set of orders for minerals for the set of components after that.

Easily 6 billion ISK right there. 

So to answer my evaluation question, yes producing capitals has been a better investment of my time and effort than Orcas. Time to expand operations.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Clearing the Cache

Let's talk more about the dark side of Phoebe and the jump changes.

First, let's state the problem that plagues all competitive multiplayer games but open ended games like EVE the most, the n+1 problem:
All else being equal, the side with n resources is at a disadvantage to the side with n+1 resources. 
In EVE, n can refer to the amount of ISK, skill points, friends, experience, etc. Basically, there is always an advantage to have more of things available to you than your opponents. This is a fact of gaming life. Games try to address some of this with caps on players, points, ship types, or diminishing returns on adding more of something, and so on as in tournaments so that what is being measured in the competition is player skill and ability as much as possible. But in the wild, so to speak, there are no effect limits on collecting these resources and hence why so much paper is spent discussing how to give "the little guy", i.e. the side on the lower end of the n+1 problem, the ability to punch up against the "big guy".

A common refrain out of null sec when new changes are announced that they don't like is always "this change benefits the big coalitions more than the little guys you want to balkanize null sec with because they have more of [insert specific resource here]". Well, no kidding! The larger and more organized group will ALWAYS have an advantage over the smaller and less organized groups unless the former choose not to take it. This is not a surprise. The goal of changes should be to give so many decisions and actions for large groups to take that they cannot press the advantage in all areas at the same time.

This is what the jump ship and fatigue changes in Phoebe are trying to do: limit power projection of all capital fleets AND force large coalitions to make choices about how they use their n+1 advantage to the best effect, hopefully leaving opportunities open for smaller groups to gain footholds in the game. Right now, there is no choice to be made when faced with the question of smashing a smaller group because of the ease of tactical and strategic deployment of capitals, or rather the only choice is "do I feel like it?" and that's not a good gameplay design.

So we get Phoebe. And one of the responses is "well, the large capital using coalitions will just put caches of capital ships all over the galaxy and use jump clones or interceptors to get to them when needed".

Yes, yes they will.

The groups we are talking about are some of the most organized and affluent in EVE's history, there is literally no mechanical solution to force projection they cannot buy and/or maneuvure around with enough effort. But that's the key word there, isn't it? Effort.

Yes, they will create stockpiles of capital ships in various NPC stations and POS around the cluster (easier with regular caps than with super caps). Yes they will be able to avoid the jump fatigue mechanic with interceptors and/or jump clones to get to the caches as they need them. Yes, they are still going to be able to throw their weight around considerably.

But hopefully the effort of making and maintaining these caches in an operational and ready to go state adds enough complexity to force projection to cause these large powerful groups to have to make decisions that leave gaps in the defenses. Hopefully Phoebe creates decision trees where all paths cannot be explored to the fullest for these large groups so that gaps occur where smaller groups can exploit and have content. Right now the decision tree is a single line back and forth across the map; there are no gaps, there is no fun content for the smaller groups.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Head Spinning

When CCP announced last winter/spring that it was moving away from the biannual release cycle to 10 times a year (roughly every 6 weeks) I was pleased as I am a big Agile development fan and this has one of Agile's handprints all over it: frequent stable releases to respond to customer demands more often, i.e. making the development process more agile to the clients.

So since then we've had the Kronos, Cruis, Hyperion, and Oceanus releases with Pheobe release coming up quickly. Changes are coming so fast and often I find myself left with my head spinning.

At least when the releases were twice a year you got a chance to get used to the new order of things in New Eden and had time to develop all the appropriate habits and responses to how things work. There are times like this month where my playtime has been limited due to real life issues that I find myself just wishing the changes would stop so that things would be consistent long enough for me to get used to them!

I'm sure once I get back into the saddle this weekend that I'll feel better as I focus on my small slice of the cluster and get back to shooting things in the face, but the nerves about missing any time have only inceased in the post-Kronos EVE, a brave new world.

Side Note: Light blogging will end next week.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tugging at the Edges

Another thing announced at EVE Vegas was a new ship code named a "Tug":
Then there was a new ship type announced, currently codenamed “Tug.”

This will be a freighter sized ship that will be used for carrying around multiple fitted sub cap ships. A mock up of the ship was shown.
While this currently has no value to me in any of my activities right now, its something I can definitely see a need for in the world of rigged vessels that can't be repackaged. I was always a fan of the Orca's ability to carry ships around high sec but bemoaned its limited ship maintenance array that, at 400k m3, couldn't even carry a single battleship. This new tug is a nice counterpart to freighters which can carry everything but assembled ships with ease.

Now I'm wondering what its defenses will be like (i.e. how vulnerable it is to suicide ganking and I hope the answer is about the same as a freighter) and whether a tech II jumping version is ever going to be available, because that is what would interest me and my low sec shenanigans.

I Feel This Justifies My Earlier Position

During EVE Vegas it was announced that new Tech 3 Destroyers are coming to the game:
Each of the empires will get their version of the end result in the order in which they place… and what they are getting is Tech 3 Tactical destroyers.

Tech 3 Destroyers
The Amarr should get theirs as part of the Rhea expansion, which other races getting theirs with following expansion. There were even some mock-ups of potential models for the Amarr tactical destroyers shown.

Amarr tactical concepts
 I find it very interesting that these new ships are not using the Subsystem mechanic. I feel it justifies a position I took in a blog post two years ago titled "Strategic Cruisers are a Failure":
But the concept itself failed.
[...]
The concept is simple: you can pick what role / bonuses / slot layout your ship has AND you can change it whenever you want. The first part is part of the reason the ships are so ubiquitous but the second part has pretty much failed miserably. Most of the time, you use a tool like EFT or Pyfa to determine what setup you want for your Strat Cruiser including the 5 subsystems you want, and then you buy that setup, put it together, and most likely never change it again.

If you want a Strategic Cruiser for a different role, e.g. a probing cloaky ship instead or your sanctum running missile spammer, you are more likely to simply buy an entire second ship rather than just the mods to switch your current ship. My hanger, for example, has three Strategic cruisers in it: one for PvE, one for cloaky probing, and one for pure gank PvP.
Although a few commenters disagreed with me I have seen nothing in the past two years since I wrote the piece that convinces me I was wrong. And now with the new Tech 3 Destroyers ignoring the concept of subsystems entirely for a new mechanic, I feel vindicated in my opinion. Consider this: all the development effort to create the subsystem mechanic and support it since Apocrypha was disregarded for a new mechanic (or borrowed mechanic from siege mode, triage mode, etc) even though they are both Tech 3 ships. The only two Tech 3 things in the game, and they don't share the same mechanic that makes them special. Very telling.

All that being said, I'm super excited for these new ships and the gameplay they promise. More decisions to be made on the fly in the heat of battle? Excellent! More juicy targets trolling the space lanes of low sec? Sign me up.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cross Training Dreadnoughts

Aideron Robotics is heavily focused on armour tanking at all doctrine sizes, from frigate to capital.

I recently cross trained into a Thanatos carrier and purchased one from Project Vulcan, and then proceeded to invest in the skill book for a Gallente Dreadnought, the fearsome Moros.

I've got the skills to fly and fit one excepting the Tech II version of the Siege Module. For all the skills to V that I want I have 153 days to go!

Capital Repair Systems V (32 days, 1 hour, 50 minutes, 42 seconds)
Capital Hybrid Turret IV ((none))
Gallente Dreadnought III (1 day, 10 hours, 48 minutes, 8 seconds)
Gallente Dreadnought IV (8 days, 17 hours, 53 minutes, 12 seconds)
Tactical Weapon Reconfiguration V (32 days, 23 hours, 31 minutes, 51 seconds)
Gallente Dreadnought V (49 days, 11 hours, 17 minutes, 46 seconds)
Capital Hybrid Turret V (28 days, 20 hours, 35 minutes, 22 seconds)

Of course, most of that is for the three level V skills at the end so more like 2.5 months to be acceptable levels. 

Ah EVE, you heartless monster.

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