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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Theomachy: A Litmus Test Against the Unknown

On this blog, I've talked about the value in putting yourself in unfamiliar scenarios and trying to fight your way out. True growth, after all, occurs after the unpredictable experiences. Recently, I caught a ratting VNI and found myself having to contend with reinforcements. It wasn't an ideal situation, and things didn't go as planned. But as the engagement progressed, I kept my head and carefully moved from target to target, clearing the field in the process.

That didn't happen in a vacuum.* In fact, the Talvorian Dex of two years ago would have panicked and fled. The Talvorian Dex of three years ago likely would have died. The battles that I took part in during the interim directly led to me surviving and succeeding this past week.

It can be expensive, though, learning those lessons. A quick look at my killboard shows about a trillion isk of destruction and around 41 billion in losses. Now, a sizable chunk of those losses were of fleet doctrine ships for which I received SRP reimbursement, but the cost of those lessons is still enormous.

As I learned, cost was a factor for me. I'd find myself feeling hesitant to take an engagement because of the cost of my ship. And while isk and skillpoints don't improve how you fly in and of themselves, they do unlock some possibilities that a pilot who works hard to improve can take advantage of... if you've the courage to try them.

That's why Theomachy, a player run event happening on August 27 on the Singularity test server, is the answer to all of your unspoken prayers.

Theomachy is a crazy event run by members of my corporation, Repercussus. Each of the hundreds of participant players starts with just their empty pod - no implants are allowed. As the buzzer sounds, they start a mad rush to find and board the best ships they can find, recover ammo canisters, and find implants and special mod packs - including mobile depots - to retrofit their vessels.

That all sounds pretty benign. Just find the best ship and board it, right? This is where it starts to get crazy. Some of the ships are gimmick-fit, some are fully unfitted, and some are faction fit. Some of the parts of the arena have mobile jump deployables and some are covered in bubbles. And then there's the event staff, who regularly fly through the arena killing any player ships they come across.

And - unlike other events like this in other games - you can shoot back. Kill the event players, loot their wrecks, and use the ammo, implants, and faction mods they drop to improve your own ship. And if you should explode, find another ship and charge back into the fray; the event team will regularly seed more ships.

You may find yourself flying a smartbomb Ibis, an artillery Maller, or a Machariel fit only with festival launchers. Or, you may land in a faction-fit Armageddon. You'll never know what you'll find until you board your prize. Players can team up or kill each other. Event fleets will warp in willy nilly. Just don't get podded.

For a player seeking to test herself against the unknown, Theomachy is the best possible opportunity. Just be prepared... if you continue to do well, it could last up to four hours.

I sat down with Riela Tanal, the player who not only conceived and organized each previous Theomachy (this is the third year), but works with CCP to line up GM assistance with various aspects of the game, to answer some questions about how this year's event differs from last year:

What's the structure of the event?
Riela Tanal: The rules and structure will be the same. You keep fighting – making use of whatever resources you can find – until you’re podded. Throughout the contest, different events – like event staff fleets attacking players – will disrupt the player combat.

How does it differ from last year?
Riela: One major change is that achievements will be made public instead of being secret, that way people know what they can aim for to earn prizes. They will not be made public till shortly before the event, since the prize pool is continually increasing with the number of sponsers. I also have geared more of the achievements towards solo skills to encourage that sort of gameplay instead of blobbing and clumping together. One major change is that Eve NT has offered to stream and provide commentary by players like Elise Randolph.

Are there any new twists to this year's event?
Riela: We have some special boons as we would call them people can earn that will drastically effect the event but I won't divulge those.

What did you learn from previous events?
Riela: Last year we learned we didn’t drop enough ships at the initial beacons in the beginning, so a bunch of people spent the first few minutes before podding was allowed just flying around in pods. That won’t be an issue this time. Hunters (event staff) will also completely ignore 1v1 and small gang fighting and focus slowly on the larger groups or people sitting at tacticals 250k off the beacons.

What prizes are available this year?
Riela: The prizes this year are a bit different, but anyone placing in the top 40 positions will receive a prize worth at least 100 million isk. As of right now, the top prize is worth a total value of more than 15 billion.

For a person participating for the first time, do you have any tips?
Riela: A few tips for survival based on footage of both events is that you can not get in a ship that is locked by someone else, so someone could prevent you instantly reshipping if they are about to kill you. Also, keep in mind that you can’t board a new ship if you have a weapons timer. Some of the bad fits might have something making them not so terrible like an implant set or some other surprises; a gimmick fit isn’t necessarily a wasted vessel. I would also recommend training some skills on Singularity, like fitting and rig skills, with the time you have before the event. I tailored all basic tech 1 fits for lower skilled players with the assumption of fitting skills being trained to 4 and all rig skills to 0, but having more is allways better. One important thing is that you CAN refit your ship if you find modules, there will be a refitting carrier at one of the arena beacons.

What brings you back year after year?
Riela: I get a lot of positive feedback from the event, a lot of people really enjoy the unrpedicatable nature of the arena. I get comments that basically tell me they look forward to this every single year or that they wish it ran more than once a year (spoiler… I’m working on that latter bit). It’s very satisfying to me!

***

One question that regularly comes up about Theomachy is why it's hosted on the test server rather than the main Tranquility server. While maintaining control of the event (and preventing other groups from interfering) is certainly a benefit, cost is another major factor. Thousands of ships are destroyed, and the price would cost in the hundreds of billions of isk on Tranquility. And, unlike Alliance Tournaments, where the cost for fitting ships is borne by the participants, the cost of Theomachy to participants is free.

And that, ultimately, is the reason why I highly recommend the event to anyone who wants to improve their PvP. Sure, the environment is one-of-a-kind, but it includes surprises, twists, and rapidly changing circumstances much as what you'd find in any PvP roam. Add to that the fact that you never know what ship you'll end up flying and it really is a nice - and free! - way to move out of your comfort zone to see what areas you've mastered and what skills you need to work on next.

So, consider signing up at the Theomachy site. You spend nothing but your time, and for that cost, you get to participate in a unique event that changes from year to year, beyond beyond anything you've ever experienced.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.


* Side note: Did you know that the New Eden cluster isn't, strictly speaking, a vacuum the way Newtonian space around Earth is? Consider: our ships need to exert constant thrust to maintain speed. In Newtonian space, once that thrust is expended, the ship would continue at the same speed. In New Eden, the ship slows down once that thrust is removed as a result of drag from the surrounding space. Crossing Zebras details another effect on our ships in New Eden that results from the nature of the warp core creating drag, as well. Nice way for CCP to shoehorn certain limitations into the universe!

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