Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TEST Approaches 10,000 Members, Not A Good Thing

I heard a rumour that Test Alliance Please Ignore (aka TEST) (also, awesome alliance name) passed 10,000 members recently, a milestone and record for Eve alliances. I checked out DOTLAN Maps this morning and see them close to that mark at 9882, and it looks like from the history graph they may have hit the 10K mark earlier this week.

Regardless, congrats to them for bringing together so many characters into a single entity.

Unfortunately, it's indicative of what's exactly wrong with null sec at the moment.

I took the top 121 alliances ranked by member count (because in null sec, member count is the only resource that matters) and plopped them into a spreadsheet. Then I calculated the percentage each alliances membership accounted for the total of the top 121 alliances.

Both TEST and Goonswarm are nearly twice as big as the next largest non-renter alliance individually, and together are almost as large as the combined total of the next 6 largest non-renter alliances.

For all intents and purposes, null sec has devolved into a single superpower political structure. I know that the TEST led Honey Badger Coalition is a separate entity from the Goon led Cluster Fuck Coalition, but as long as they are nominally friendly to each other, it is fait accompli that there is no alliance that can threaten them. For all the fault that lies with Against ALL Authorities for their handling of the Southern Coalition and failures in the recent Delve war, one wonders if they ever really had a chance.

However, the thing that really bugs me is players belonging to these two mega-coalitions centred on the two most massive alliances in the game complaining how stagnant null sec is and bitterly complaining on podcast after podcast how CCP needs to "fix null sec". (I'm looking mainly at you Selene, but there are others.)

Eve is a sandbox; CCP has given tools and the players have decided to make null sec a uni-super-power political landscape. If you don't like it, members of the coalition blob, do something to change it. Its the height of hypocrisy to sit in the most stagnant-inducing power structure and complain about state of the game.

Stop waiting for CCP to magically bail you out with some magic bullet that will never come. Mix it up, shake things up, do something different. Because right now you are not "winning Eve", you are merely contributing to the problem you rail so furiously against.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Tusker Frigate Free For All

On Saturday I decided to try and make the Tusker Frigate Free For All but I knew I could not dedicate a lot of time to it since it started at 4 pm my time and ran until 8 pm. With 3 kids aged 4, 4, and 2, that's the busiest time of day: supper, playtime, bath, and then bedtime.

But I figured I could sneak away from the action for fifteen minutes right around the start. To save me some time, I moved my main Kirith and alt Korneilia to the Jovainnon system ahead of time.

Side Funny Story: Before heading over to Jov with Kirith, I jumped out of my Rifter to switch clones (+4s at a free for all? HA!) but forgot to jump back into my ship and in my distracted kids-biting-ankles state, did not notice I was flying only my pod until I landed at station in Jov. Fortunately, there were fully fit Merlins for sale on contract at the station so I bought one of those.

Just before the event started I was outside the station with a few other shady looking individuals when an Executioner pilot decided to take a run at me. That, son, only works if you don't get into web-scram range. A good start for me.

When the event started everyone warped to the first asteroid belt. I followed up a second later and landed to find about 50 of my closest friends there, including tgl3 from Through Newb Eyes blog. No time to wave though, there were targets to engage!

I started targeting anything close and tackling it with extreme prejudice. A Tristan, three Rifters(1, 2, and 3), and an Ibis (Hey! he shot first!) felt my wrath before my brave little Merlin crumpled under the firepower of 19 attackers. I admit I went after Rifters and the Tristan over the close by Merlin of VonSpaky simply because I feared I would spend all my firepower shooting at an ASB fitted ship and not get any kills out of it. Two minutes after I died an Incursus I was firing at died and the aforementioned VonSpaky died five minutes after that, giving me a little extra credit.

Once Kirith was safely out of the danger zone, I switched over to Korneilia and sent her into the fray in her trusty (or is it rusty?) Rifter. With her I was able to close the deal on three more Rifters (1, 2, and 3) before Tusker Abellona in her Merlin finished me off as I tried to take out a Punisher.

With that my fifteen minutes of sneaky free time was over as I was instructed to go get Mini-Kodachi #3 up from his nap. I logged off wishing I had more time.

Great job Tuskers!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sometimes You Should Not Undock

So let's go back to that Sleipnir I helped kill (or rather put out of its misery) early this week.
Click for full size.
Its easy to see what the goal of this fit was: massive tank via the dual X-Large Ancillary Shield Boosters on a ship with a shield boosting bonus. I estimate that with both running he could tank a couple close range battleships at point blank range with no effort for as long as his cap charges held out. Throw in a Blue Pill booster and he could take on those battleships and a couple smaller buddies. Alternatively, he could tank one or two foes indefinitely by alternating the shield boosters so that one is one while the other reloads (as long as charges in the cargo hold out).

The problem is what this ship fit has to do to fit those dual reppers.

A minor concern is the mixed weapon calibers. Since the Dual 180mm autocannons are only one tier smaller than the 220mm autocannons, they are pretty close in range and falloff properties. But it is worth noting that its rare to see a big ship like a Sleipnir command ship without the biggest caliber medium guns.

Another minor concern is the usage of four webbing drones. There is a good reason webbing drones are rarely seen in combat: they are slow, vulnerable to damage, and combined do less to slow down a target than one good webber midships. On top of that, for this fit unless you plan to take on a lot of frigates I can't see it doing much good that ship with small caliber cruiser sized weapons would need. One would think that damage drones to chase the frigates would be better.

No, the big concern I have is the 3 (!) CPU enhancing modules: Co_Processor II in low slots and two Processor Overclocking Unit rigs. Typically the rule of thumb is that one fitting module is OK, two is pushing the limits but might still be alright in radical fits, but three is a sure sign your fit is trying too hard and will fail. Worst part is, even with all skills at level V you still need a 3% (or 2% I suppose) CPU implant to make this sucker work.

Ultimately, all the tank in the world is not going to save you when you stumble into a 40 ship enemy fleet.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

BB40: Interstellar Blood Sports


From Freebooted blog courtesy of Seismic Stan:
So on with the banter.

Fresh from publishing the community spotlight on the EVE blogosphere and Blog Banters, CCP Phantom has suggested a banter focus on competitive tournaments.

There is no finer spectacle in the universe of EVE Online than the explosive dance of weapon-laden spaceships in combat. The yearly Alliance Tournament is the jewel in EVE Online's eSports crown and the upcoming New Eden Open should deliver the same gladiatorial entertainment showcase.

Given the scope of the sandbox, what part should eSports play in EVE Online and what other formats could provide internet spaceship entertainment for spectators and participants alike?
Well this is a very open question. "What part should eSports play in Eve Online?" Hmmm... in the past I explored the question as to whether or not Eve could learn anything from World of Tanks and this is what I said then:

Eve needs arena PvP. Full stop.
It boggles the mind that this simple game play mode has never been added to Eve's feature set. Even worse, it was considered and technically sound a few expansions ago but cut because some people at CCP felt it didn't work for the game. I think that is poppycock but let's play devil's advocate and ask ourselves why arenas would not work in Eve.
1) Safe Space - By their nature, in order for arenas to provide an even playing field for the teams then outside interference must be disallowed. However, in Eve no one can hide completely safely in space, that is to say, that everyone can go everywhere in theory. These two concepts cannot exist together.
2) Lower PvP Population in Low/Null sec - Arenas would provide easy access PvP and thus cause a number of pilots to not bother with frustrating roaming to find targets when willing targets are available. As fewer people choose to roam, fewer targets present themselves for those that do.
3) Gaming the system - Eve players are notorious min-maxers and any system put in place to try and find even matchups would quickly get disassembled and analyzed to find the perfect combination to give an advantage, making casual arena players quickly loose interest as they can't compete with the "hackers"
To which I respond, bullcrap. (I realize this is making a strawman and then beating up on him, but since no official explanation was offered to the general public as to why arenas don't work, I'm going to do this. People can correct me in the comments and I will re-evaluate my position then.)
Docked in stations players are completely safe. Sure they may not be doing anything in a space ship but they can market PvP from there, including in null sec causing great havoc to enemy logistics. The casual PvP population in low and null sec is already low and the players most interested in arena type combat (assuming moderate consequences and fast turnover) are players not interested in long-ass roams and big risks anyways. In other words, the players most likely to participate in arena combat are players that would otherwise be tempted to log out and do something else, like World of Tanks.
Now I could go on to how I would design and implement an arena combat system in Eve much like Seismic Stan did in his latest blog post, and I hope other bloggers take this topic and run with it in a Blog Banter type idea (hint hint), but suffice to say that I think something needs to exist to provide casual quick PvP in Eve to keep players with short time scales in the game, to provide a stepping stone between PvE combat training and PvP combat training, and actual full on PvP combat in low and null sec (and high sec wars).
I still think this concept or some variation on it is something that could be brilliant for Eve. Amateur eSports run by players for players, with various degrees of success and legitimacy, happening all over the cluster at any time. Then the official tournaments run by / sponsored by CCP would be the pinnacles of the sport.

* * * * *

Now on to the second question. "What other formats could provide entertainment for spectators and participants alike?"

I have several ideas!

Death Race - Based on events that Rixx Javix held in the past, I could totally see a CCP sponsored event where racers have to run a course with the obstacles being the spectators themselves! CCP could also set up cameras at various points to cover all the action much like a Formula One race.

Skill Race - Similar idea except having really structures as the obstacles and the goal is to complete the course in the fastest time, much like Olymipic down hill skiing.

Space Polo - A can has to be moved through a circular structure for a point. Teams consist of five players each, and can can only be moved by tractor beam. Everything else allowed.

New Eden Cluster Series of Poker - Let's put those fancy avatars to good use!
Wait til the River!
The list is nearly endless.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nashh Kadavr is Going Out In Style

Nashh Kadavr, namesake of the Kadavr corporations, has decided to hang it up for good.  In order leave in
style, he's having a little bash:

I am planning a little leaving party to be held in Goinard, my home for the last 12 months on Sunday4th November starting at 21:00 evetime. I will be in space in a Carrier and invite all to come and blow me up, and as a little treat will add a sizable bounty on my own head.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Alternate Panic

Last night I logged in to find the militias in a bit of a panic due to CCP Fozzie's dev blog pointing out that the faction warfare zone control and loyalty point rewards overhaul is coming a bit early:
TL:DR Is that we’re accelerating some of our Factional Warfare feature changes that had been planned for Retribution and releasing those features that are ready for prime time starting with a patch on October 23.
Note that the dev blog was posted just after downtime on October 22nd.

For me, this is no big deal. For plex farmers, this is a huge deal because it means everyone who has a stockpile of LPs only had one day to drive their warzone control up to 4 or 5 (or even 3) to cash out before the changes came in and altered everything.

Needless to say, when I logged in last night there were fleets up. For the Gallente militia, there was no drive to get the warzone control up mainly due to lack of numbers I think, but we definitely wanted to frustrate the Caldari fleet nearby that was flipping systems in preparation for the new mechanics coming in.

The fleet being organized that I joined was different from any other militia fleet I've been in. For one thing it was larger, reaching 45 pilots at its peak. For a second thing, the FC was a lot more concerned with fleet composition. The request was for nano battlecruisers (preferably Drakes) and Tier 3 battlecruisers with ~50 km effective range.

Now I don't currently have a Drake in my hanger (still haven't replaced the one I lost back in April) but I do have a Tier 3 battlecruiser; in fact I have four, one of each empire. The Talos and Naga were fit with blasters and the Tornado with 650mm Repeating Artillery autocannons so they could work at the very end of their range, but why compromise when I have a pulse fit Oracle waiting to shine?

The enemy fleet flipped a system and moved off to Notoras to flip that system, a dead end which suited our needs perfectly. We moved in and engaged.

I'm not going to describe the blow by blow of every move the fleets made. Suffice to say the Caldari fleet had no interest in going against a larger and PvP fit Gallente fleet in their kitchen sink hub-shooting fleet and I don't blame them. We chased them and they led us around, both sides looking for kills where they could. I helped kill a Drake early on, and then later got one salvo off on a Sleipnir that got careless. The fleet also nailed a Caracal, Cormorant, and Hurricane that I was too slow to lock, and our fleet took some losses too including a Lachesis if I'm not mistaken.

All in all it was a good fleet if a bit frustrating as I was hoping for a big clash with the enemy, but I'll take my kills where I can get them.

Now, all that remains is to see how the warzone changes with today's patch.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Skill Check

I'm nearly done training for the Amarr Legion and Minmatar Loki strategic cruisers, with only another 10 days left on the last three Minmatar subsystem skills to level V. That gives me all sub-capital combat ships trained to combat readiness. I don't have any plans to fly either ship any time soon, but I like being prepared.

Next up I'm going to tighten up some drone skills that I've ignored for a couple years:

Drone Durability V
Drone Navigation V
Drone Sharpshooting V
Electronic Warfare Drone Interfacing V
Gallente Drone Specialization V
Minmatar Drone Specialization V

That will take around 90 days and into the new year. After that, who knows? At 108 skill points, its mostly level V skills all over the place if I'm working only combat skills.



Friday, October 19, 2012

You May Be Correct, But Not Necessarily Right

So as part of a week of rants, Ripard Teg bemoaned the rise of the Retribution Scythe as a "replacement" for the Tech II Scimitar:
Problem is, the Scythe is not an attractive alternative. It's a replacement. It turns all that time training the actual Logistics skill into wasted time and is going to put 75 million SP characters into T1 cruisers.
This statement stems from the initial numbers of the new Tech I Scythe support cruiser bonuses:
Scythe:
Cruiser skill bonuses:
-> 15% bonus to Shield Transporter boost amount
-> 5% reduction in Shield Transporter cap useRole Bonus:
-> 1000% bonus to the range of Shield Transporters
-> 100% bonus to Logistic Drone (both armor and shield) rep amount
Meanwhile, the Tech II Scimitar Logistic Cruiser has the following bonuses:
Minmatar Cruiser Skill Bonus:
-> 150% bonus to Tracking Link and Shield Transport range
-> 20% bonus to Shield Maintenance Bot transport amount per levelLogistics Skill Bonus:
-> 10% bonus to Tracking Link efficiency
-> 15% reduction in Shield Transport capacitor use per levelRole Bonus:
-> -50% CPU need for Shield Transporters
So for the relevant skills all at level V, we see that the Scythe has 75% bonus to shield transporter amount compared to none for the Scimitar and a 1000% bonus to range compared to 750% bonus for the Tech II ship. In favour to the Scimitar, it has a 75% reductions in cap use compared to only 25% for the Scythe.

So Ripard is correct: the Scythe will out range and out repair the Scimitar by a huge margin. I'm not as inclined to dismiss the tanking and maneuverability of the Scimitar over the Scythe, but I recognize that being able to repair from 90km away larger amount will make the Scythe a strong choice for logistic support in battle.

But I disagree that Logistics skill training is a wasted effort in the long term.

CCP's tiericide started with frigates and has accelerate into destroyers and cruisers for the Retribution patch. Its not inconceivable that the battlecruisers and battleships will be rebalanced in Retribution 1.1, 1.2, and/or 1.3. If their acceleration on balancing continues, we may even see the Tech II frigates addressed before the summer patch. Regardless, I'm willing to bet that the Scimitar and other Logistics ships will come under the microscope in the summer expansion or soon thereafter in a 1.x release. And when these ships are looked at, there is a strong possibility that they will receive similar bonus changes to make them a valid alternative over the Scythe (and I'm not sure they won't be already due to tech II qualities like speed and tank).

In other words, the Scythe and brethren *may* dominate the logistics landscape for 6 months, 8 tops. Then we'll be back to saying its a valid alternative to the more expensive but better performing tech II version.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Game Has Changed

Sometime in 2007, Somewhere in Placid -

Young pilot Kirith Kodachi and friends in a pirate corp hunt from system to system, checking the belts for targets of opportunities. Most systems are deserted but occasionally prey can spotted in local chat and the wolfpack shotguns the belts, each pilot hoping to be the one to get the tackle.

The fleet might dip into Syndicate, maybe even live out of an NPC station for a while, scouring the belts for NPCs to kill for ISK and target to shoot for fun. Parts of this region are barren quiet wastelands with the occasional alliance living in a pocket here and there.

Elsewhere in null sec, alliances send out fleets of up to 100 pilots to protect the handful of POS tower anchoring pilots as they try to gain dominance of the moons of strategic systems, with one or maybe two titans waiting in the wings to Doomsday the enemy fleet at a strategic gate.

* * * * *

Late 2012, Somewhere in Essence -

Experienced pilot Kirith Kodachi joins up with an open fleet of militia members that begins the move from Heydieles up to Nemmemalia to engage a Caldari militia fleet spotted recently. Some systems are empty but plex farmers can be found in almost every system, racking up the Loyalty Points for the next cash out. The fleet sends scouts into the plexes looking for slow enemy warp outs. Belts are empty.

In Syndicate Rote Kapellle has declared its time for a purge of all the corporations and alliances living there and engaging in massively risk averse PvP.

In null sec massive coalitions smash against each other with each side having multiple fleets of hundreds of pilots, with yet another fleet of supercarriers and Titans waiting in the wings, fighting over Technitium moons for massive profits to fund their ship replacement programs.

* * * *

The game has changed a lot in 6 years. The rate of change has accelerated recently with Crucible and Inferno expansions: new ship classes, refurbished ship classes, new mechanics, new income sources. Couple that with the increasingly top heavy population demographics of rich players and alliances, and you have a completely different game than when I started.

And the change will continue to roll in.

The death knell of small gang PvP rang 9 years ago when the game design was set in stone with no limits on number of people in any area at one time. We are merely seeing the design decision's impact play out now. That's not to say you can't jump into a ship with one or two buddies and go off and find a "gud fite", but it will increasingly be the exception rather than the rule.

Ironically, although Faction Warfare has decimated belt ratting and mining in low sec, it has provided a lot more opportunity for small fights than anywhere in the game right now due to its plexes and concentrated warzones and I hope the Retribution (ugh) changes do not negate that property.

The only constant is change.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DRAM DOWN!!!

I logged in this morning to add a skill to the queue.

"I've got five minutes and there is a war target in local, let's go plex-fishing."

I grab my favourite rod for fishing, the dual prop Dramiel. I undock and see two plexes on scan. I go to the first one, nothing. But on scan at the second one is a Federation Navy Comet. I warp in and activate the gate. There he is. I set orbit for 22 km and head in. He comes towards me and locks. He wants to fight, so let's go.

I am maintaining range and using drones and barrage to whittle him down. He's not targetting my drones so I feel good... but then he boosts his speed somehow and catches up to me!

SCRAMMED! WEBBED! I punch the afterburner and pull my ship into a 500m orbit. But I forgot to activate my web, I think. Not sure; it all happened very fast.

My shields were gone; only Damage Control to help me. I didn't have time to switch to better ammo. SHIT.

We're both in strucutre, going down, come on drones, come on.... low structure... am I going to get him?!?! ...

NO! Dram down, DRAM DOWN!!!

The Comet was in low structure but alive. I warped my pod out and offered a "gf!" in local.

* * * * *

In other news, looks like I have another purchase to make. Another Dramiel, and maybe look into Comets. Hmmmm....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Shopping Spree

I was going to blog about the decent night of PvP I had last night, working solo and with a fleet in my favourite ship of the moment, the dual prop Dramiel, but there was nothing spectacular so I'll spare you the gory details. I will say though that I mistook an Executioner for a Crusader and a Crucifer for a Sentinel at different times. Need to bone up on Amarrian ship class names apparently.

Instead I'm going to talk about the ships I purchased in a shopping spree with my very last EON Magazine paycheque (except the Harpy which I got from trying SOMERBlink lotteries, my only win on 150 million worth of tickets, making it one expensive assault ship).

Many of these ship setups I stole from various sources which I will credit here.

Guristas Worm Frigate

This I plan to use as a brawler in small gangs where someone else is fast enough to get the initial tackle. Teh Worm has impressive drone DPS and a good sized tank to be the second ship in. I stole this fit from the infamous Nashh Kadavr.

Minmatar Vagabond Heavy Assault Cruiser

I stole this ship previously from Kovorix from Bringing Solo Back podcast fame (please come back guys!) and had fun with it until I lost it to Sansha rats on a gate during an incursion (doh). I wanted to give it another spin so I bought it again. Dual propped for maximum flexibility in determining engagements (or gtfo), big tank from the booster until charges run out, and nice DPS with good tracking and range (compared to blasters).

Caldari Ferox Battlecruiser

You'll notice a theme in a lot of these ships: Ancillary shield boosters. They are perhaps too good. This Ferox is my own creation and is a pretty simple PvP ship designed to take on cruisers and destroyers that stray too close to my webs and scram. Because its a Ferox, people sometimes underestimate it and let it get closer than they should. Plus it looks badass.

Caldari Harpy Assault Frigate

I usually fit my Harpys with blasters and go full on DPS, but I decided to try a kiting ship this time that wants to fight outside of scram range. Not sure I can pull it off but I'm willing to give it a whirl.

Gallente Incursus Frigate

I haven't had a chance to try and Incursus since the upgrade so after I lost a Rifter to a Tusker pilot frying one, I decided to scout out killboards and stole this fit from a Tusker killmail. Afterburner fit means its not a fast tackle but if it can get a hold of something, the scram should keep it close unless its a target with afterburner and webber. Once in range, the blasters and drone do an impressive amount of damage and the dual reps should keep the Incursus in the fight.

Minmatar Sleipnir Command Ship

Ever since I foolishly lost my Sleipnir at the end of August, I've been aching to get a new one to replace it as my flagship PvP battlecruiser sized vessel. I have an Astarte that has gank but not an impressive tank making it good only for gang situations close to home. This ship boasts the best of both worlds with a good amount of cruiser tracking DPS and a nice solid tank thanks to the ancillary shield booster and the ship's native bonuses.

When putting it together I inserted a few faction mods here and there that I had lying around. We'll see if I can prevent myself from losing it foolishly this time.

* * * * *
I expect comments from this post will include people telling my why one or all setups suck. I welcome such criticisms as I have no illusions to my ability in PvP in this game. 

FInally, these posts always have someone asking which program I am using. Its is called Pyfa and can be found here. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who Is Winning the News Site War?

Full disclosure: I'm paid for posts from my blog that the editors at Eve News 24 syndicate. So I'm one of those terrible syndicated low quality blogs that TheMittani.com talks about.

Who is winning the news site war? As the battle between EN24.com and TheMittani com continues, my opinion is that the former has stepped up its news reporting while dialing back the number of published syndicated blog posts, while the former's news reporting has dropped slightly but the number of guest "articles" has increased, articles that could be blog posts of their own.

I decided to look into the numbers on Google to see what some basic stats say:



The number of subscribers and posts per week are virtually identical, but the steadiness of the posting rate at TheMittani.com is obvious over the more erratic publishing at EN24.com.

Right now it feels like a dead heat. The question is, can Riverini and whatever help he has keep pace with the large staff TheMittani com boasts? Or will TheMittani com find its cluster sources drying up as interest wanes and it struggles to report news outside of the CFC?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Back to the Crystal Ball

Retribution (ugh) is coming this winter and it has a lot of changes that will impact a lot of areas of the game. In particular, I'm going to look at Faction Warfare since that is where I have been for a few months now (and loving it) and I can speak fairly reliably to the estimated impact.

Prediction #1 - Militia numbers will drop significantly as alts created to take advantage of broken mechanics leave.

The basis for this prediction is easy: currently there are a large number of alts in various militias who do nothing but farm loyalty points to cash out when there is a push for warzone control tier 4 or 5, making billions of ISK with a character sometimes only weeks old. With changes to faction warfare including lower LP payouts for low tier control and smarter AI in the plex NPCs, these alts will no longer be able to farm ridiculous amounts of ISK.

At first this appears to be a win as these alts are not setup to fight and run at the first sign of trouble anyways,  but this does mean fewer travelling targets overall for the PvPers of the militia to hunt, and there is a chance that as players draw their alts out of FW for greener pastures, they may draw their mains out as well.

Whether or not numbers drop enough to affect quality and frequency of PvP in faction warfare area remains to be seen.

Prediction #2 - FW Cyno Jammers will not see a lot of use for faction warfare operations.

First off, the fact they can only be deployed in systems with level 5 upgrade means that you will be lucky to have more than one or two systems you can use them in (except maybe in a weird scenario where one militia is totally dominating another to the point of absurdity). Secondly, they have to be deployed at the IHUB and have very few hitpoint and no POS to protect them. So you won't set one up and forget about it, you will need to actively defend it.

So what's the most likely FW use case? Enemy is harassing or all out assaulting something in a friendly level 5 system so the defenders setup the cyno jammer and then undock the carriers/dreads to chase the hostiles off. The enemy does not come back because they can't counter-drop their capitals. Sure, there might be some fights on the cyno jammer itself but as soon the capitals are on field they will have a hard time knocking out that cyno jammer with just conventional ships, and even if they do, they don't open it up to just their own fleet, but rather any watching on alert null sec alliances are free to bomb the party too now.

However, I can see nullsec alliances taking advantage of this mechanic more often. Get an alt in a militia, give them a few FW cyno jammers, and you have defensible systems you can operate in low sec for logistics and training with no threat from any other capital fleets other than whats in system with you.

Or pirate corps using and alt to create the ultimate gate camp with carrier support and no threat of hot drops.

But helping FW corps have their own capital battles? That I don't see happening.

Prediction #3 - Faction will have one to three fortified capital systems, and the rest will be no man's land.

This already happens now. Gallente militia base out of Heydieles, Nennemaila, and Vlilirier. Caldari in Tama and I think Rakapas recently. And so on. But with the changes to FW in Retribution the effect will be even more pronounced as miltias are encouraged to develop fewer systems and are rewarded for the defense.

I don't think this is a necessarily bad thing, but it is interesting and promises to be worth watching in the new year.

Prediction #4 - More and More Ship Types will be seen in space.

Faction warfare is unique in that it requires pilots in different ship types to enter certain complexes. This means you see a lot of tech I ships you don't see in null sec and high sec. But as tiercide continues and ships are balanced overall with respect to each other, pilots will have more options for taking different ships out. We already see this with the rebalanced frigates that have been released. Hell, two nights ago I engaged three Condors for fuck's sake! That is more Condors than I have seen in space in 5 years!

As the new Destroyers, rebalanced Destroyers, and rebalanced cruisers hit the scene in Retribution, there will be a plethora of choice and it will take many months for the meta to settle down. Expect to not know what the hell you are facing on any given battle.

* * * * *

To sum it all up, there will be fewer pilots but less farming and the pilots that remain will be fighting out of a couple capital systems to engage the enemy in the no man's land between the capital systems and in many different ship types. But don't expect any more capital fights than we've seen in the past.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

That's the Ticket!

I missed my weekly Eve night last week due to my escape to play board games, and coupled with not being able to talk about a game I'm in the Closed Beta for due to the NDA (hint: I bought this joystick to enjoy it more), I found a lot of wind taken out of my sails.

Throw on top of that a busy long weekend due to Canadian Thanksgiving, two family dinners requiring two car rides, and general little child rearing of three hyper-energetic (and loud) monsters, I was pretty wiped when I logged in last night.

Can I do it, I asked myself? Can I get the motivation to fly again? IS THIS THE END?

I joined a fleet that was next door in Old Man Star running a plex. Apparently this fleet's raison d'etre was plexing. I wondered if I should go off on my own (or just give up and log off). We finished the plex and moved into Ladister to run another Major outpost.

IS THIS THE END OF KIRITH KODACHI!!?!?!?!

"Tusker in local."

My ears perk up, the haze clears, the senses sharpen. My eyes focus on local and I listen more closely as chattering on teamspeak gives way to intel.

"IK Thel in Arbitrator one hundred klicks off OMS gate, in line with station."

"Roger, warping."

"Point point, warp to me!"

I activate my warp drive and its 14 AUs away. The Arbitrator cruiser goes down fast to our little gang and I arrive just in time to lock and engage my weapons. I do no damage on the kill mail but the blood has started to flow.

Moments later, more intel. "Another Tusker, Naoru Kazon in local, looks like Hurricane." The heartbeat picks up. That name I recognize, he's one of the more proficient pilots in The Tuskers and most likely come to fight.

At the sun one of our gang made a tackle and we went in full force. I was right; the Hurricane was ready to fight and fight dirty. He was setup to fight and kill frigates (which was our fleet comp) and he tried to spread us out but we got multiple webs on him and started to go to work. Sensing he was doomed, he decided to go after me for some reason, probably because I went in early and hard. It was a close thing, but I exploded a second before the Hurricane did.

Ah yes, that's more like it.

I went back to base and got a Vagabond. The fleet caught and killed a couple more ships while I was in the Vaga but I didn't see any action as I covered a gate. Its all good, the blood was flowing now. I was

Later on I went back to Heydieles and saw a pirate Condor 100 klicks off station. I docked and grabbed my Dramiel, perfect for tuning up these upstarts who think the new Attack frigs are "all that". AS I undocked I saw him warp off to the static dungeon called an Abandoned Battlefield. I warped after and after I landed I gave chase. I was fast, but he was a good 700 meters per second faster. I was patiently giving chase, hoping he would try to come into range to fight me when two more Condors landed behind me. Two Condors I would consider engaging in my Dram, three was too much risk. I went back to station and got my Hurricane and rushed back, but they were gone.

I floated around for a little while longer. Then, as I was docking and preparing to log off I saw a war target who I knew was in a Cormorant from intel earlier in local chat. Engaging destroyers can be tricky as a properly fitted one can, well, destroy frigates. So I selected an Arty Thrasher and narrowed down on deep scan the Cormorant to the minor plex in system.

As I dropped out of warp on the plex gate I saw my three 'friends' in their Condors again. Before I could react two warped into the plex and one warped to the sun. After a moment pondering options and chances, I decided to warp to the sun and see if I could take out one Condor before his friends could arrive. At the sun I saw not only the Condor, but the other two Condors and the Cormorant.

Ah what the hell. CHARGE!

I decided to go down swinging at the Caldari foe (because, for the Federation and all that so I accelerated towards the Cormorant with guns blazing. I don't know if the Condors were winning the fight or not but my salvo finished the enemy off. I then blazed in a straight line hoping to drop the transversal of any pursuing Condors. That worked on one of the damaged Condors as one salvo popped him at 19 km away from me.

The other two, sensing perhaps a tougher prey than they could handle, warped off. I beamed. Not only did I get a couple killmails, I survived AND held the field.

God I love this game.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Neighbourhood Watch


A lot of people have covered the finer details of the new Crimewatch mechanics introduced in this dev blog here, and I was going to write a similar post about my opinions but then I gave up.

I just don't care.

Crimewatch will be a success if I don't have to think about it. It should just work. It should just be intuitive. It should be fair. And it should not be exploitable.

If Team Five-0 can accomplish that with visible flags and expiry timers, clear logical events, and solid programming code, I'm happy. If not, I'll raise a fuss until its fixed.

One thing about being in faction warfare is that most of the time the crimewatch stuff does not impede my playstyle because I'm either fighting the Caldari who I am at war with or pirates who are all filthy criminals with terrible sec statuses.

Gah. This funk I'm in is ruining my posting. Long weekend coming up, hopefully some Eve time Sunday night will improve my mood.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Swamped

I'm currently getting swamped by real life at home and work. Hence why no podcast and light posting.

I will have a post tomorrow, maybe even a podcast episode tonight. We'll see.


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Eve Online: Retribution = Most Boring Name Ever


I'll have more to say on the content of the expansion later (preview: I'm pleased so far) but I"m going to straight out say that when I heard that the name of the expansion was "Retribution" I audibly groaned.

So boring. So typical. I mean, I get the reason they are using it since they are making a new Bounty Hunter system / mechanic as central to this expansion ("I will get retribution for this act of violence!") but its a word that is overused in the sci fi and gaming genre.

Let's do a quick rundown of Expansion names:

Castor / The Second Genesis - The first is obviously an internal project name and the second is not bad for a first expansion to a game.

Exodus - Going for the Biblical theme, are we? Ok, it works for now.

Exodus: Red Moon Rising - Awesome name, still with the biblical theme.

Revelations I & II - Not as awesome. Still biblical but far more pop culture cliche.

Trinity - Clever use of word to indicate that this was originally called Revelations III. Forgiven since it brought in the new graphics engine.

Empyrean Age - Marks the first departure from biblical names and is a very original and awesome expansion name.

Quantum Rise - Proof that original does not mean awesome. A terrible name to a forgettable expansion. What does it even mean?!

Apocrypha - Best expansion name ever. Very relevant to the expansion content (it means "hidden" and this expansion introduced wormholes and sleepers) and totally badass when it rolls off the tongue.

Dominion - This one is OK, but a let down after Apocrypha. Side note: Canada used to be called the Dominion of Canada.

Tyrannis - I like this name a lot. Its relevant to the content (Planetary Inteaction which capsuleers are the tyrants over) and its original.

Incursion - This one, not so much. Its relevant, but not as original and fall flat for me.

Incarna - Love the name, even if the content was lacklustre.

Crucible - This was an awesome name. It was very meta as it refered to CCP itself forging a new direction rather than the major content of the expansion. And its very unique and original. Almost as good as Apocrypha.

Inferno - Middle of the road name. Has some sci fi connotations and relevant to the expansion content, but not original enough for me.

* * * * *

Instead of Retribution I would have prefered something like Retaliation, Vengeance, Justice, or Punishment. Oh well, water under the bridge. Next time, CCP, call me. I can help you out.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Battlestar Galactica: Still The Best Game Ever

Pegasus Expansion
It was that time of year again, time for the 5th Annual Andrew's Bachelor Party, or as my wife puts it, Geekfest 2012. For the third year in a row our main game we agreed to play was Battlestar Galactica, but this time using the Pegasus Expansion. Our first foray in BSG in 2010 can be read about here, and last year's edition can be read here.

Game #1 Battle Report

Sorry, no pictures this time. I was focused too much on the mind games.

There were five of us playing, the same five from the previous two years, so we went in knowing a lot about how each other would react. I picked Helo as my character for a chance to be Admiral or President, and due to the other player's picks I got to be Admiral for the first time I can recall. Yay nukes! Then the loyalty cards were dealt and I learned I was a Cylon. 

The game started with a lot of Cylon attacks and the Galactica and new expansion Pegasus ship took a lot of beatings from Basestar attacks. Humans were struggling and I was very happy inside. Then I made a mistake.

As Admiral I am the one that takes two distance cards and secretly picks one to use for our jumps and the other on the bottom. As a hidden cylon, I used this to try and slow the Galactic down the first jump with a distance of 1, but for the second jump there was a distance 3 that cost two fuel and a population, a nasty card. I picked it and claimed the other card was much worse. 

However, Andrew, who has been the admiral a lot in previous games, called bullshit and used one of his President's quorum cards to allow him to check the top or bottom card of several decks, including the distance deck. UHOH! I crapped my pants as I realized what was coming, and like a deer in headlights I froze. Andrew looked, saw a much less costly distance card, and called me a Cylon. UNable to react I simply said nothing and started to plan my reveal. Bad :( What I should have done was said Andrew was full of crap and he was the fricking Cylon, and if I sold it well enough there could be enough doubt thrown on him to allow me to avoid the brig. Oh well.

To make matters worse, on a subsequent skill check where I had all but admitted I was a Cylon but not revealed, Brian put in a card to sabotage the skill check thinking I would put one in to sabotage as well, but the check revealed three red cards as sabotage. Since the random destiny deck could only contribute two and he was the only person that contributed with red cards, he was outed as well.

Forced into the Short Game Cylon rolls, we played our part with Brian going to the Ressurection ship to accumulate Super Crisis cards (new Pegasus rules) and me staying on Galactica and draining the human green and yellow cards in skill checks to get me into the brig. Eventually they got me there and I continued to sabotage from the brig until I was out of cards and then revealed myself to go to the cylon ressurection ship.

The Galactica was damaged and Brian and I let loose with as many Cylon raider and Basestar activations as possible and I used a super crisis to set the jump track back by two to the start. Faced with no pilots, Vipers, far from jump, five out of six damages, and on the verge of losing, the humans surrendered having not even reached New Caprica.

Game #2 Battle Report

In the second game I selected Apollo for the piloting and chance to be Admiral or President again, but got neither office as Gaius was in play (president) and Helana Cain AND William Adama were in play for Admiral. Sigh. Then I got my Loyalty card and saw I was a Cylon. AGAIN. And Brian was the other Cylon again! Double Sigh.

I decided this time to really play the long game and work to sow discord amoungst the humans. This was severely tested when early on a massive Cylon attack once again threatened the human with severe losses. Brian uses this time to expose himself as a Cylon to try and finish the game early. Metin, a human sitting between me and Brian tries to alleviate some pressure, but does not have the ability to use his special once-a-game power to jump the fleet blindly at a loss of two population and no choice in destination cards.

It comes to me and I have a choice: expose myself and try to drive the strike home, or assume the humans will get out regardless of my actions and play it straight to stay concealed. Metin and Andrew are talking while I think and it comes to light that Andrew suggests and Executive Order to allow Metin to make the jump. I know Andrew has a lot of those cards but I have one too so I decide to make myself look human by using mine to implement the blind jump (still losing two population in the effort anyways).

The wrinkle in my plan is the second loyalty phase where everyone comes under suspicion again anyways. We continue playing but no Cylon fleets show up before we get to New Caprica phase. Brian as a Cylon is trying to hinder as much as a revealed Cylon can but without any space phase and no ability to play super crisis cards, his hands are tied.

During this time Dave gets executed by a failed crisis check and as part of that process he shows all three (Gaius natch) of his Loyalty cards, showing all of them saying "You are not a Cylon" which I, as the hidden cylon, already knew. I used my considerable acting chops to act like I was mind-fucked and bought some doubt that I was the Cylon for a bit.

We get to the final space phase when Galactica (and Pegasus) comes back to save the colonists on New Caprica and I decide to make my move. With Dave and Metin in the Detention I am the only one in space in a Viper defending the colony ships launching from the surface from the Raiders. On my turn I dock the Viper, go to Communications, and order two colony ships to move: an empty one I send off and a population one I send into the teeth of the oncoming fleet (which prompty destroys it).

Revealed, the game goes quickly around the table but I never get another chance to do harm as the humans find ways to get the rest of the colony ships into space and order the jump before I can do more harm. Well played Humans.

* * * * *
Next year maybe I can be a human again for a change. In our group everyone has been a Cylon once in six games except Andrew, and I've only been a human once. 

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