Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Assault Frigates and the Proposed New Module

I've mentioned recently how assault frigates and cruisers have been squeezed out of the meta.

At EVE Vegas CCP devs announced that they are going to do a balance pass on Assault Frigates and Assault Cruisers, and as part of that pass they will introduce a new module that can only fit on these classes of ships, an Assault Damage Control. This new low slot module is like a normal damage control module with less resist bonuses, but can be activated to give 20 seconds of super resists with a long cooldown (how long is unknown at this time).

The concept is to try and make the frigates a viable option for heavy tackle in fleets (i.e. tackle that can get in close and scram/web to allow rest of fleet to pile on, as opposed to interceptors that usually only point from a distance and do not slow the target down) and to make assault cruisers more viable as a mid range fleet ship more capable of resisting initial enemy fire and to catch logistics repping in time.

Read more details from this article by Jin'tann.

Ashterothi has a quick audio editorial (~5 min) on the topic and he thinks that this concept is not a great idea because it's just another variation on the burst tank as popularized by Auxiliary Shield Boosters and Auxiliary Armour Repairers. In fact, since this module will fit will on the ships and operate at the same time as the repair modules it will exacerbate the issue with a super burst tank.

I can't speak to how this module will impact larger scale combat in fleets except to say that it might improve the lot of HACs versus T3 Strategic Cruisers or it might not work out if enemy fleets are smart enough to force an activation of the module on a target and then switch off it for 20 seconds only to come back while its cooldown is active.

But in low sec, these modules are going to be a pain in my ass if the enemy has them.

Tech 3 Destroyers are already a deadly opponent with the combination of speed, tank, and damage, but at least these machines are hampered by being excluded from Small faction warfare plexes. Assault Frigates with super tanks are going to be able to crash a small plex, activate the ADCU, and push the position more so than any contemporary frigates or destroyers that can fit in the small plex. I predict the current small plex champions, Cormorants and Algoses, will get replaced quickly by assault frigates.

On the other hand, small gang fighting in roams will be very interesting in low sec with these ships as they will act as durable scout / bait / tackle for long enough for the rest of the fleet to arrive. Hell, it may even help to make the Ishkur a viable alternative to the double-rep Incursus I'm so fond of.

Regardless, I'm pleased CCP is looking into these ship classes and look forward to trying them out once they receive some attention.

P.S. I've been radio silent the past few weeks due to a project at work eating all my free time. Its finally letting up.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Capital Wrong Way

Lately CCP has had a thing for expanding the capital range of modules and ships. There was the big shake up early last year where carriers were split into carriers and force auxiliaries, followed by new tech II and faction modules to increase. Then this year we've been introduced to more faction capitals to join the Sansha Revenant, first four from the Blood Raiders and then three from the Serpentis, ships that like their sub-capital counterparts combined differing design philosophies into more powerful and threatening ships (in theory). For example, the Serpentis Vehement dreadnought gets a 10% bonus to stasis webifier effectiveness for Minmatar dreadnought skill.

And not to be outdone, the Guristas are building three new capital ships which include a dreadnought and titan with fighter bays (subject to change):

Secondly, the Dreadnought and the Titan have Fighter Bays! … Yes, you did read that correctly!!

I get what CCP is trying to do here, I really do. They have an aging population of players who get to the end of this graph and then run out of things to do:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/2tlstq/for_all_the_newbros_who_havent_yet_seen_this_the/
So they are expanding the number of possible goals for those players by introducing capitals with unique abilities / play styles to will give them something to train for and save ISK for. It also gives them opportunities to spice up capital gameplay with odd possibilities and synergies.

I get it.

But I think CCP is missing an opportunity to expand other areas. I have pointed out that the sub-capital to capital jump is large and has room for an intermediate class, and I think that class could be a smaller carrier:

2) The gap between battleships specializing in drones and full blow capital carriers is too big.
I've argued for this last year in a blog banter. Think about it: you are specializing in drones, working up through Tristan, Algos, Vexor, Myrmidon, Dominix, controlling five big Ogre IIs or 5 Warden IIs in a hull around 200 million all fit, maybe a bit more. And the next step is a hull 5-6 times the cost that can control 10 Fighters (or 15 if you're insane with Drone Control Units) but has all the mobility of a log. And includes new mechanics such as jumping, triage module, ship maintenance hangers, etc, etc. 
The jump in price and functionality is too big. Its a barrier to natural progress and prevents fighter gameplay from seeing wider use, creating an environment where a lot of people never (or hardly ever) experience it because its too risky / difficult to learn and a few people master it and use it extensively. This will only be compounded by the new fighter mechanics and interface (which might be mitigated some if drones undergo a similar shift). 
So I propose a new capital ship class that I call Assault Carriers similar in size and function to the Orca: hull price point about 500-700 million ISK, can use fighters like carriers (albeit fewer in number), no jump capability, can go into high sec, etc. This would make the jump from drones to fighters less severe, get more people used to the mechanics of fighters (both on controlling and receiving ends).
CCP, its time.
I added emphasis because I feel my prediction has played out exactly like that. The new fighter mechanics keep any player who is not constantly in carrier gameplay from being more hesitant in using carriers casually because the mechanics are vastly different and the risk investment is vastly higher.

While I applaud CCP at expanding gameplay in the upper tiers for veteran players, I want to also encourage CCP to expand gameplay in the middle tiers to ease the jump from battleships to capital carriers.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Art of Teaming Up

There was this comment from Ashertothi on twitter today and while I responded, I want to follow up here more completely.

When I started playing EVE, I remember the terror. Not of losing my ship which was more frustrating than scary, but rather the terror of being in a group of people and making a fool of myself. I knew some of the people in that first corp from my Warhammer 40K group but others were strangers and the anxiety of being part of that group was monumental. Going on voice comms? Terrifying.

When I first decided to try Call of Duty online, the hardest part was steeling myself up to get on a public server. I didn't even have to talk to anyone! But just being in the public space was fraught with nervousness and hesitation.

Social Anxiety of various degrees is a common condition for many people and online situations can be as threatening as public spaces, especially if attention falls on you. It is hard for people that do not suffer from it to understand how something like saying "Hey, want to join me in this mission?" can be a minefield of stress. I'm 43 and just a few months ago I was shaking with nerves at going to a martial arts class with people I didn't now. The biggest obstacle to becoming a fleet commander of even newbie low sec fleets was the social anxiety of putting myself in front of strangers.

I'm not surprised Alphas don't team up. It is a step beyond just playing a game to steel oneself to make that first move to ask for help of virtual strangers.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Times Have Changed

The first time I went into null sec, I decided to buy a destroyer.

Being a Caldari pilot I went looking for a Cormorant on the market. But I wasn't in a big null sec alliance, I was in a small corp tucked into a couple systems of a constellation in a quiet part of Syndicate region, 9GYL-O to be precise. And the only Cormorant on the market was in the opposite end of the region, in a pocket that was controlled at the time by Goonswarm.

It did not end well.

It is amazing to me how much I didn't know back then. I spent many years in and out of null sec in corporations and alliances of different sizes and capabilities before deciding that low sec was more my speed for my casual playstyle. I got better, learned how not to buy things in hostile territory, how to move assets into null without getting ganked at the first jump, and eventually mastered using carriers and jump freighters to move things around. Null sec because comfortable to me and I did not leave it because it was hard or frustrating.

Last Sunday night, back in a fleet in null sec as we defended some timers in our constellation in Cloud Ring, I was scouting and tackling in a Taranis. Pandemic Horde dropped by to give us a fight and I scored some kills on a Griffin and Taranis and a few pods. Nothing special.

But afterwards as I mused on the evening's activities and reviewed my performance, I was struck by a difference: I was calm. Excited for the battle, pleased at the outcome, but calm. Last time I lived in null sec every engagement was fraught with nerves and adrenaline, but years of constant fighting and killing and losing in low sec have steadied my nerves and given clarity to my piloting.

I flew towards jamming Griffins, dodging missiles slung from Caracals, dogfighting a Taranis, bobbing and weaving in and out of the battle, and while I felt alive I did not feel panic. Hands were steady, heartbeat even.

It is been a long road from frightened newbie to hardened veteran and it is hard to see the difference week over week, month to month. But the stark contrast from the last time I was in null to fight and to this time allowed me to see the change easily. I'm not saying I'm a better pilot, but definitely more ready for the challenge.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Game of Thrones Board Game

** NON-EVE-CONTENT **

This past weekend I finally got the chance to break out my Game of Thrones 2nd Ed board game with a group of friends.

First a quick review:

This game has very simple mechanics for managing supply and armies, and for issuing orders to armies and resolving combat, but the permutations of options in orders and planning makes the game very deep and intense, and even in the last turn the winning spot was open to 3 players. The downside is that it took a long time to explain the mechanics and the game itself took over 4 hours to complete (but it was well worth it).

On To The Report

The first few turns of the game saw us slowly expanding and rubbing against each others borders, get the hang of the march, defend, and support orders. March means move into adjacent area, possibly initiating combat, defend means not moving but getting a bonus if someone attacks, and support means not moving but throwing your combat strength into any battles in adjacent territories. There is also raid orders to try and remove other players' orders, and consolidate power orders which gives more power tokens for the political bidding side of the game.

We finally got to muster on turn 3 (i.e. get new units, its not guaranteed every turn) and by the start of turn 4 the stage was set. The six of us had formed into three alliances: Myself as Baratheon working with Lanister in the middle, Greyjoy and Stark in the north, and Tyrell and Martel in the south. This would turn out very bad for my alliance; I had counted on Tyrell and Martel fighting each other while I went north with Lanister but in hindsight our alliance forced them to ally rather than being left on their own.

I took King's Landing from the neutral army sitting on it since the start of the game and the real game began.

Stark came south along the east coast and I moved armies to meet him around Crackclaw point while Lanister pushed north along the west coast. Greyjoy was looking beaten so I hoped to push stark back as well so we could turn around and hit the southern forces. But my attack against stark failed and Tyrell, secured in his alliance with Martel, launched a surprise assault on kings landing from the west and took it.


Near the same time, Greyjoy launched a brilliant flanking move on the Lanister armies, cutting them off from retreat and destroying a routed army! I launched a counter attack on Kings Landing and retook it, but my strength was waning and my ally falling back, with Stark still breathing down my neck.
As turn 8 opened I hoped that Martell, seeing the growing strength of Tyrell and weakened state of my alliance with the north marching, would break his alliance and try to grab castles (the main victory condition) from him, but while he did start making inroads there it was not before the Highgarden Hustler made a push for seven castles with an amazing march from The Reach into King's Landing routing my armies again, and then oblitering them in Crackclaw point, before ending his marching in Lanister territory. Meanhile, my fleet unable to help, tried to break the Stark blockade of Dragonstone only to be completely wiped out as well! WOE IS ME!

At 6 castles Tyrell was only 1 away from the immediate win condition but he lacked the orders to take one more.

Tyrell suffered counterattacks from the Lanister, Stark, and Martel in turn 9 to try and prevent his victory, while I tried to rebuild a fleet and Greyjoy moved into weakened Lanister territories. There was a lot of castle trading between Martel and Tyrell but eventually the game ended with both Greyjoy and Martel at 6 castles, one away from clear victory. The first tie breaker was whoever had the most strongholds (i.e. big castles) and Greyjoy controlling his own plus the two Lanister strongholds came out on top.

"We do not sow."

Lessons Learned:

- be careful making alliances with regards to who is going to ally against you in response.
- double check your math calculations before initiating battles.
- don't over extend
- maybe build up a little more before attacking to agressively

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Year 11

When I wasn't paying attention earlier this month, my 11th EVE birthday came and went. Of that decade plus one time frame, I've been in Aideron Robotics for over 4.5 years.

Wow. Time flies when you're having fun.

In other news, Federation Uprising got its alliance icon approved and put into game.

Nice.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

You Reap What You Sow

I don't want to go too in depth on this Circle of Two disaster that has occurred with The Judge making off with trillions of ISK and turning over citadels to the alliance's enemies, and gigx getting banned, but I do want to comment a little.

CCP was put in an unfortunate position when gigx had the entirely human reaction to the betrayal and destruction of his alliance for all intents and purposes, and the company had to follow the reasonable policy of permanent ban for anyone making real life threats in the game or community. Its sucks for gigx and I feel for him, both for the in game loss and the subsequent banning, but CCP can't afford to be lenient in some cases and hardline in others, regardless of the publicity of events or innocence of the reactions.

CCP has created a society where almost anything is allowed in game and promoted how "EVE is Real" and so much more than a game but also put in a hard and fast line against real reactions involving threats that they are in a no win situation in this case.

CCP, you reap what you sow.

Gigx, from all reports, was your typical alliance / coalition leader. Confident, even arrogant, and not afraid to talk ill of other alliances in private chats, even if they were part of the coalition. Its a common theme in EVE politics and indeed human nature. Had he been more humble, understanding of others, a better leader, its possible that the betrayal might not have happened. Had he taken a more zen attitude about it all he would not have been banned. But then again, truly nice guys with zen attitudes rarely rise to lead null sec alliances.

Gigx, you reap what you sow.

While others deal with the blow back from their decisions and actions, The Judge strides smugly off into the sunset, his place in EVE infamy doubly secured. Not only did he pull off an impressive heist against Co2 which can be acknowledged as part of the game and a risk all alliances face, he had to stream the reactions in alliance chat and purposely provoke reactions that led to gigx's ban. That's a dick move, sir. Selling out the alliance? OK, its that kind of game. Rubbing it in faces and acting like your some sort of mastermind for it?

The Judge, you reap what you sow.

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