Thursday, November 28, 2013

What I’m Thankful For

Between botched CCP events and mechanics changes (and everyone can find something to complain about with every change), discussion about Eve in recent months has been filled with cries of “the end is nigh!”  With the American holiday of Thanksgiving happening today, it seems only fair I use this post to talk about the things in Eve that make it an experience to remember.

So here is a list of things I’m thankful for.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This Is No Time For a Nerf Bat!

I’ve been away for a while, probably a combination both of RL and the psychological effect of training a 36-day skill (JDC V, one of the nastiest practical skills).

During that time, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Rubicon changes in general, as well as the paradigm-shifting interceptor changes in particular.  In general, I still hold to my opinion that Rubicon’s changes are not that impressive, though they are significant.  I have yet to see a ghost site, and while I appreciate attempts to make PvE more interesting, I really feel like they phoned this patch in.

Yes, mobile siphons are going to be annoying for all the major blocs and may result in significant null sec changes in a “death by a thousand cuts” way, but the change itself seems a relatively simple one.  And mobile depots are an interesting addition, too.  Once they add in the T3 refitting in space,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Observations on Rubicon Interceptors

Well, as anyone who has been playing the game since Tuesday is aware, interceptors are all the rage now.  Early adopters like Black Legion have begun experimenting with Crow fleets with Sabre support.

Incidentally, I was flat-out wrong when I suggested CCP would purge all charges with the Rubicon expansion.  I saw at least one Sabre launch a whole series of bubbles, a fun trick each pre-Rubicon fitted Sabre can do once before having to reload.  They were having a little fun with it, making what appeared to be skid marks in space.  My 10-bubble Sabre is sitting in my hangar until I really need it.

On Tuesday afternoon, I watched them practice with the new mechanics in Doril.  In particular, I noticed that they spend some time setting up bookmarks and practicing warping to various locations.  No longer can an Interceptor simply warp to a station, be caught by his gang’s bubble, and tackle a

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tidi is Why I’m Not an Environmentalist

With the Rubicon patch, the Internet is ablaze with chatter about benefits, consequences, raging, and trolling about the various features.  This post is not about Rubicon.  Briefly, I’ll say I’m not really impressed with Rubicon as an “expansion”, since expansions, in my mind, are supposed to shift paradigms regarding the experience.  Rubicon would make a great patch, though, as it makes tweaks here and there, changes some things, etc.  But an expansion?  I don’t feel very expanded.

That said, I do want to talk about something I read on Eve News 24 about the mobile siphon units.  Not them themselves… they’re the most interesting thing in Rubicon (but, again, not “expansion”-worthy).  Look down in the comments, and you find a discussion about why Tidi is so terrible, which is silly.

The argument they use is something like this, “Tidi sucks.  It strengthened nodes so fleet fights of 1000 pilots could happen without causing crashes, but it did it so well that now we have fleet fights of 3000 pilots.  And now the nodes are still crashing, so tidi didn’t work.  Now the blocs are bigger, and that sucks!  Screw tidi!”

Monday, November 18, 2013

What Are You Trying to Do?

It’s the most basic question in Eve, but for some reason, folks tend to forget about it when they head out to PvP.  Too often, I see people trying to chase a Cynabal out of their space in an armor cruiser (it’s not fast enough).  Or an assault frigate hunting ratting Tengus solo (can’t do enough damage).  Or a gate camp that contains only one tackler, with the rest DPS ships (if your tackler gets popped…).

Or even a Sabre or bomber in low-sec.

The list of stupid things is endless.  While sole of them are obvious, some of them are less so.  A lot of times, people take excellent ships to do wholly inappropriate things with them.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lessons: Know When to Fold ‘Em

We’ve all been there.  After a few hours of roaming without seeing so much as the ionized vapor of an engine trail, you finally catch what appears to be a perfectly innocent little target on grid with you.  Maybe it’s a Loki on a gate that aggresses you, or an Ibis sitting innocently in space, just doing nothing.  All of a sudden, you find that your victim isn’t quite as alone as you thought, and you’re neck-deep in trouble.  So, you try to de-aggress.

I’ve said before that what defines a winning poker player is not how big they win, but how small they lose, and that the same is true in Eve.  After all, you can’t get kills #2, 3, and 4 of the night if you die killing your first ship.

This is where situational awareness comes in, particularly when you’re in a situation where you can successfully escape, such as on a gate or station.  Let me give you three instances in which an aggressed ship successfully de-aggressed in time to survive to fight another day.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What’s In My Hangar – Pre-Rubicon Edition

Over at Jester’s Trek, Ripard Teg posts every year listing the ships sitting in his hangar.  He uses it to track changes in fleet doctrines, fittings, and functions over time, particularly as a result of expansions and rebalances.  I thought it was such a good idea, I’ve decided to steal it.

But instead of annually, I’m going to look at my hangar just before every expansion.  Immediately after an expansion, my hangar tends to change rapidly and chaotically, but after a few months, it’s usually pretty settled.  With Rubicon about three weeks away, I figure now’s as good a time as any to commemorate my ships for Odyssey.

So, without further ado…

Monday, November 11, 2013

What is Elite PvP?

“Oh, God, is this sov bloc scrub really gonna talk about elite PvP?”

Yes, yes he is.  Sharpen your spears, boys.

Elite PvP… you always think you’re elite, but everyone else can think of several reasons why you aren’t.  Ever since the tragedy in Doril during the live event, people have re-opened the discussion about elite PvP.  I’ve seen a couple reddit posts about this, too.  Is it possible to come to a consensus about what elite PvP is?  Probably not.  But I play Eve, so I’ve already shown a willingness for self-abuse.

First, realize this: I’m not talking about FCing.  I’m talking about individual tactical piloting skills of the average player, not the meta strategies of fleet commanders.  You can have an elite fleet commander leading a bunch of scrubs, and you can have a fleet of wonderful elite PvPers without any FC at all.  The two are not casually related.

I’m not an elite PvPer, but I strive to be.  I need to improve a whole lot and gain more experience in a wider variety of situations.  But what exactly am I striving for?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Razor Alliance Welcomes You to Null-sec!

Step 1: Announce a battle.

Step 2: Have a battle on the way to the battle.  (all of those losses were suffered against PL when we warped to attack their navy apoc fleet).

To set the record straight, I know of no devs who are in Razor, and we didn’t receive advance notice.  Razor has been deployed in Doril for about two months now, and it was pure coincidence that CCP’s event ran right through our warzone.

But, Razor was the first null-sec alliance on the field, camping the Sendaya gate in Zealots to take out anything that jumped through.  Goons came in with a sentry doctrine, probably to prove yet again that drone assist needs a nerf.  In fact, the only frustrating thing for us about the whole day was when the Goons were stealing our kills by assigning drones to a fast-locking target caller!

At first, it was a trickle.  Then the whole fleet came out.  By that point, PL, NC., Darkness, and many, many more null-sec alliances were on the field, and we were all popping anything shiney that came through the gate.  T3s, navy and pirate ships, T2 battlecruisers… it was an orgy of destruction.  And

KW-I6T Disappointments and CCP Marketing

First off, yes, I was involved in the KW-I6T battle, coming in for the last four hours (covered at and EveNews24).  I’m not going to talk about the reasons behind it or the way the battle developed, but I do want to talk about experience-related issues.

Basically, the node appeared not to be reinforced, even though the battle was planned and major battles occurred at the same time of day for the past few days.  Lag was reminiscent of the pre-tidi times – and tidi itself was maxed the entire time.  At one point, I had a 5 minute delay between entering a command and it being accepted by the server. 

Let me give you one example of the experience.  Razor heard EMP was suffering problems with cash flow, so we figured that for every EMP carrier we destroyed, there was a chance we wouldn’t see that pilot in a carrier again for a long while.  We primaried one of their Archons and watched it drop to 73% armor… then stay there for 10 minutes.  None of us saw any changes in the Archon, and the reason ended up being because we were all desynched – our commands hitting the server.  I watched my guns keep 11 charges for ten cycles.  Only by unlocking and relocking the Archon – a process that took 10 minutes – did we see he had dipped to 11% structure, but during the 10 minutes when our turret fire commands weren’t being accepted, he caught reps.  He would have died if not for the horrible lag. 

Then CCP started punting clusters and trying to work their magic to speed up the node.  Myself and nearly every other player was kicked at least once – including the Titan pilot who was at the center of the whole fight, but he remained in space since he was bubbled.  Once I logged back in, the server seemed more responsive… for about ten minutes.  My command-delay was up to 26 minutes when the node finally crashed, disconnecting everyone in system.

After that, PL actively pinged its membership NOT to log back in.  Given how long the fight took and the lack of reinforcements, it’s safe to say PL saved their capital fleet – and several supercaps, including the Titan – because CCP is incapable of keeping its game running.  And it’s not the first time, either.

I have to credit CCP with trying to fix the node on the fly.  I really do appreciate that effort.  But they can’t rely on their on-call staff to fix problems that poor planning caused.  It’s unfair to those employees.  I have no doubt that those employees did everything they could.

But CCP needs to understand the frustration this causes.  As it stands, flying a Titan is perfectly safe… just crash the game by range-pinging for as many pilots as possible to enter system.  Hell, you can even invite them to shoot you.  It’d make no difference.

CSM member Ripard Teg posted his opinions about this whole situation, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree.  CCP promotes the game through player-run events like Asakai and KW-I6T.  They get press for these events, and that press generates buzz that has no doubt resulted in new subscriptions.  They use these events – which are entirely player-generated – to profit.  They build an expectation that Eve Online can deliver these sorts of events.

Which it can’t.  CCP proved that again in KW-I6T.  It’s false advertising as the game currently stands

Terrorizing Lowsec

I’ve stated before that there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as small gang PvP.  It combines the coordination of fleet combat with the emphasis on player skill that solo PvP requires.  Those kinds of fleets tend to be looser and more social.  They offer the best chance to get kills, too.  Gangs of 10-15 don’t scare potential targets as much as fleets of 50 do.

Quite simply, if you want a fight, go in a small gang.

One of the corporations in my alliance, Repercussus, runs a weekly small gang roam every Friday night.  The composition usually changes, but this week they ran assault frigs, and I joined them.  Being in assault frigs, the objective was to catch folks in FW sites and running missions – anything away from gate guns.  I brought a Dramiel for some speed (I’ll probably write a quick guide on how to fly – and survive in – a dual-prop Dramiel in the near future).

Did I mention it was a drunk roam?  As with many things in this world, sometimes, a little alcohol can sooth the nerves.  Our minds are cluttered places, and a little buzz can actually help your flying by clearing all the extra junk out of them.  It forces you to live in the moment, and that can be a very good thing for Eve.

Our roam began much as assault frigate roams do… moving quickly while searching for targets.  Individual members would go off and check various FW plexes for targets, using dscan to pinpoint possible locations.  It’s very much a “swarm of bees” situation.

I joined late, so the fleet had already taken down a Deimos earlier in the night.  My first engagement was when one of our pilots caught a Tempest Fleet Issue on the gate of a medium FW site and called in the cavalry.  We were all orbiting at around 7 km in case of smart bombs.  As we got it down to about half shields, a Cyclone arrived to “save” it.  We switched to killing all the drones, then took the Cyclone and TFI out. 

It was a long fight – about five minutes – and at one point my close orbit against the Cyclone took me to about 30 km out from the TFI.  He saw my distance and began to lock me, but I was able to recover transversal as I closed range again.  It was a close call made because I was focusing too much on a ship that I didn’t need to worry about. Orbiting the Cyclone was irrelevant with his missiles.  Lesson #1: keep transversal against the more deadly target.

About an hour later, we entered our second engagement, which consisted of a fight in a small FW site against a Kitsune, Incursus, and Hawk.  I pulled the duty of engaging the Kitsune, and managed to get my drones on him before he perma-jammed me.  Ultimately, those drones forced him from the field, but we had enough dps to kill the Hawk and Incursus easily.  I feel like it was a missed opportunity… a couple more points and we could have taken that all of them down.  I honestly don’t understand why the Incursus and Hawk remained for the fight… they were vastly outnumbered, but they flew well enough to last longer than they had a right to expect, perhaps 3 minutes or so against our entire fleet.  Well done!

But, I made up for the Kitsune getting away by catching a Brutix at the sun a few jumps away.  He was about 40-50 away from me, so I had to burn towards him quickly before he could escape – in a Dramiel, that’s about 5 km/s.  Naturally, this brought me into web range.  But – since I was dual-prop fit, even webbed and scrammed, I was still going 600 m/s until I escaped web range.  I was never below 90% shields.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lessons: Low-Sec Tengus and Suspect Timers

In the Reddit comments to my recent suggestion to add pockets to null-sec within which pilots don’t show up in local, a few players scoffed at the idea that roamers hunting miners either a) never generate defense fleets to chase them off, or b) run away from the slightest resistance.

I can personally attest that every roamer in Razor space generates at least a few people willing to hunt them down, simply for the affront of believing they could travel or – gasp! – plex in our space.  Generally, these infiltrators are killed if they’re not flying cloaky ships, and about half the time if they are.  We take defending our space very seriously.

And we’re obviously not the only ones.  Already, I’ve written about one situation in which I both a) hunted ratters to generate response fleets, and b) fought them when they arrived.  In that case, I expected to face smaller gangs and was surprised by the number, but I could have even survived after getting a couple kills (assuming I had the chance to warp out, which I believe I did).  For this post, the point is that the defenders did respond to my incursion exactly as I hoped, and it generated content for both of us (ie. I didn’t run).

I think it’s safe to say that in the regard of “defending your space” and chasing outsiders away, if people do it, they’ll do it anywhere: WH, null-sec, or low-sec space.  After all, it touches on the same sentiment in players, the desire to defend what you believe to be yours.  Having sov is irrelevant to “ownership”.  Just ask low-sec corps or NPC null corps in Syndicate.