Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Spice Must Flow!

What do you do when your source for isk suddenly dries up?  How long do you go before adapting?

With Repercussus’ move to Goonswarm, we had the inevitable adjustment period while we all move our ships to exactly the right place, find new homes for everything we do on a regular basis, and generally find ourselves a nice groove.  This happens at both the corp and individual levels.

It hasn't been hard to find PvP content.  RP is stepping up even further to keep the content flowing for the corp, and GSF is great at providing a range of options even during a relatively dull time (wars winding down, holidays, etc.).  Logistics take a little longer as our logi pilots learn the new routes and danger spots, but it’s still flowing pretty well.

But, for me, my isk has generally come from cosmic signature ratting.  Lots of scanning practice (which has a clear PvP application) and high-yield time actually spent ratting.  But we’ve gone from an alliance of 3,000 to an alliance of 12,000, and the time zone focus has shifted to our TZ from the EUTZ, meaning there are a lot of competitors for those sigs.  So many, in fact, that it’s not viable any more.

I’m sitting on a good pile of isk, but dropping 5 billion on three months’ game time for two accounts throws into sharp relief the fact that I’m going to need to create some new revenue streams within the next year or face a significant cut in my net worth.

Monday, December 29, 2014

What the Heck is Going On in WH Space?

Every year, one of our awesome Repercussus pilots put on the “12 Ganks of Christmas”, a holiday event that actively encourages RP pilots to go into WH space, find targets, and arrange for their abrupt return to kspace.  A successful catch nets the prober an isk bounty, and the acclaim of his corporation.

As you could expect, this gives a PvP corp like Repercussus some focus to our murdering ways.  We base out of Tamo, a low-sec system that affords excellent wormhole connection opportunities.  Plus, our pilots have been very eager to explore those WH connections this year.  When I’ve personally logged in, I find that most of the connections are already scouted.  So, we’re definitely exploring our chains very well.

And yet, we’re struggling to fill those twelve ganks (instances, not ships).  It’s definitely not from a lack of effort, but rather a dearth of WH residency, at least among those we’ve found.  And it’s not a matter of the enemy seeing us and safing up.  Rather, we aren’t finding any ships or wrecks on dscan.  If space had tumbleweeds, we’d have quite the collection.  We even joked about starting a WH corp so we could farm it for kills every so often.

So, my question to the community is… is this normal now for WH space?  I remember WHs being filled with pilots, but is this no longer the case?  Or did we just get very unlucky?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Special Thanks to Daciana Caliente

Merry Christmas to everyone!

I wanted to take a brief moment to thank one pilot in particular for an unsolicited, surprise gift when I logged in today: a brand new shiny Confessor from Daciana Caliente.

Thank you very much!  It's sincerely appreciated!  You, madam, are a classy lady.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ripples In a Pond

Ed Note: So, it seems that a lot of what I predicted ended up being true.  I wrote this post earlier today, before CCP’s adjustments to their proposed changes, which reduced some of the resists.  Rather than redo the whole post, I’ve decided to just post it in full.

Let me begin this post by stating that I generally don’t read the forum discussions about rebalances before posting my comments here.  I try to form my opinions first based on my own play style and how proposed changes affect it, then move into thinking about others and what it all means for them.

This comes from my native subjectivity – I don’t believe there is an objective truth for meaning.  So, why waste your time trying to come up with the “single best solution” in a detached, objective way?  Every solution , even “successful”, every “right” needs to be tied to an objective, a perspective, or an agenda.  When some says to you, “This is right!” you should ask yourself, “For whom?”  If you hear, “This is correct!”, ask “In what circumstances?”

So, I’m going to write about what matters most to me… whether the recon changes will make my gameplay more fun.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Did I Say “Eww, Rebalance”?

As my Five Ships post may have indicated, I’m quite fond of a certain ship in particular, and a certain class of ship in general.  That ship, of course, is the Rapier.  Dual-webbed, I get 400 dps out of mine.  I love it.  I have three of them, one in each major staging area.  I love recons.  I love the Curse.  I really want to love the Lachesis, if I could only get some decent dps out of it.

So, I’m not gonna lie… I feel like CCP gave me an additional Christmas present with the announcement that the January Proteus expansion is going to include a recon rebalance.

This. Is. Awesome.

Let’s go right for the heart of the matter.  Combat recons (Curse, Arazu, Rook, Huginn) are all getting dscan immunity.  That’s right… for most circumstances in k-space, no warning about a combat recon about to land on you until it’s too late.  Can you imagine the tears and carnage incoming from ships as useful as recons becoming even more common and dangerous?

In an entirely unrelated occurrence, Curses jumped in price by 33% today.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Dreamed Last Night

In many cases, you only know how you’ll react in a PvP situation when you’re upon it.  Sure, you can debate and analyze what you’d do in different situations, but not until we have only one second to analyze the situation and react do we know how quickly and efficiently we can process information and arrive at a conclusion.

Whether it’s the right conclusion depends on your “player age”, of course.  If you’re new at the game, you’ll most likely make the wrong decision.  As you play for longer, you gain experience and can react more appropriately.

There are some ways to speed up the learning process.  One of them is to spend a lot of time in the game, PvPing as much as possible.  Players who play for 8 hours a day will learn faster than players who spend 2 hours a day, but this isn’t as big of an advantage as you’d think.  We all benefit from having a little time to mull over our actions, and sometimes playing non-stop can cause you to miss some of that reflection time.  You can’t replay old fights over in your head if you’re too busy engaging in the next one.

And reflection is benefited greatly by Fraps.  Seriously… get Fraps and record all your fights.  You’ll notice things in the replay you missed during the fight itself – maybe as small as the alignment of your enemy to bigger things like how the way he approached secretly gave away how he was fit.  After all, you’re not only learning tactics when you go over your fights, but you’re improving which information you choose to focus on amid all of the data streaming at you during a fight.  Your eyes can only focus on one thing at a time, and you also have to learn where the most important info is likely to be coming from.

For me, I found a very rare occurrence that also taught me something.  Last night, I dreamed about Sugar Kyle.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I Didn't See That Coming

This will be a short one, but I wanted to share two events I didn’t see coming.

The first… the Rhea patch introduced Eve players to Thera, a system that CCP wanted to be the “Mos Eisley of Eve”, which would attract all sorts of seedy sorts to conduct illegal business and serve as a type of central hub for the wormhole community.

This system is a WH system.  Suffice to say, I was shocked – Shocked! – to discover that the first thing Eve players did was turn it into a giant killing field with 40 billion isk in destruction within the first 24 hours.

I was floored.  I was surprised beyond measure that such fine, upstanding citizens of the galaxy would resort to base devastation at the drop of the hat.  I mean, it’s not like null-sec is like th… err… I mean it’s not like WH space is… well… but low-sec doesn’t see…

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lessons: A Beautiful Death

There’s nothing quite as liberating as taking a ship, setting off in a random direction, and flying until you lose it.  Sometimes, you’re in for an early night.  Sometimes, you finally shut off the computer, lost in some distant corner of Eve having found no one willing to give you a beautiful death. 

When Repercussus moved to Goonswarm, I had to guess what ships I’d used in each staging system.  I joined a few GSF squads, we had our staging system, our new home, a ratting system, and RP’s low-sec home, all of which I needed to stock with ratting, scanning, solo roaming, and small-gang ships.  Fortunately, no one supplies staging systems quite like Goonswarm, so I knew I could buy any doctrine ships on-site.

Suffice to say, I got some wrong, and had to fly back and forth manually flying the expensive ones to their new homes.  I was left with 7 Tristans and a Vexor that simply weren’t worth the time it’d take to reposition them.

So, of course, I had to lose them spectacularly.

Monday, December 8, 2014

“Optimal” Deconstructed

A few bloggers have posted well-thought responses to my article about boosting retention of new players.  I advised new players to get out of high-sec and join a player corp to start making the social connections that are so important to the narratives in Eve. 

The contentious part was in me saying they shouldn’t jump right into solo play, but should play with others initially.  A couple bloggers took exception to my use of “optimal” in the context of that position.  Sugar Kyle mentioned that she tends to be somewhat contrarian to anything she perceives as dictating the “right” way to do anything.  TurAmarth mentioned that solo play, or playing “the wrong way”, is something he truly enjoys.

So that got me thinking about “optimal” as it’s used in Eve.  And in looking into it, I realized that a lot of players and bloggers tend to use “optimal” as a way to say “best” without sounding so overtly arrogant, as if they know THE RIGHT WAY to play Eve and that all other ways are wrong, wrong, wrong.  But that’s not what optimal really means, and that’s not how I’m using it here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It’s Awful Lonely In Here…

I recently posted an article about what new players should know before starting their life in New Eden.  It generated a lot of responses from the community, a lot of which were extremely positive.  I can’t call it universal acclaim because of my warning that newbies shouldn’t try to play Eve solo when starting out.

A lot of solo players took umbrage at that.  The most complete reaction came from Eve Hermit, who wrote a counterpoint about the virtue of solo play.  It’s a quick read and makes several defenses of solo play, all of which support the general idea that it’s quite possible to play the game solo and be very happy with it.

And this is all absolutely valid, and completely true.  Solo play is a great thing in Eve (it’s also the best form of PvP).

Yet… diving into Eve with an intention of playing solo from the start is not an optimal way to approach the game for the first time.

Friday, November 28, 2014

What Newbies Need to Know About Eve

After reading a lot of the comments on Reddit and seeing a lot of new players come into the game, I wanted to share a few insights that will help set new players’ expectations and set them on a path to success very quickly.

I’ll give full-disclosure here.  I want you to stay long-term.  I want you to love this game as much as I do.  That’s my only agenda here.  It’s a pretty mild agenda, in fact.  Ultimately, your experience with the game will determine if you stay.  But starting the game with a compatible frame of mind will definitely help.

So I aim to provide.

#1: You Will Lose Ships

You’ll lose ships in high-sec (ganks, as we call them, when you had no interest in PvPing and were in the safest area of space).  You’ll lose ships in PvP.  You’ll do your best and you’ll lose ships.  Sometimes, you’ll go up against people who have a half-dozen implants and fleet boosts, all of which make them very, very hard to kill.  Any player can be killed in any ship anywhere, provided that his attackers are willing to sacrifice enough ships and want to kill him badly enough.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Eve 101: This Is Eve

This post is coming out a long while after the release of the This Is Eve trailer.  Sure, I posted my initial reaction, but I wanted to see how things develop a bit before moving beyond the, “Fuck, yeah!” moment we all experience when that pipebomb succeeds, and again when the bombing run hits its target perfectly.

I also wanted to see how it resonated with viewers a bit before deciding which direction to take this post.  Namely, whether the discussion would extend beyond, “That’s awesome,” into “Where do I sign up?”

But, we’ve been seeing a lot of new account creation.  First off, welcome.  This blog is about getting new players into PvP by making it a little less nebulous and making them a little more familiar with the concepts.  There are a lot of things new players need to learn for themselves (manual piloting, how important that extra 50 m/s of speed really is for the way you fly, the specific way you have to fly to maintain transversal to survive against multiple targets or larger targets), the types of things for which “seeing it done” just isn’t good enough.  For that, you need to be in space.

But there are a lot of other things about the game that you can learn right away.  A lot of those are about framing your expectations and understanding the reality of a game, not just the marketing hype or ideal parts.

A few bloggers have been writing about how the “This Is Eve” trailer isn’t Eve… it’s just the best parts.  Yes, it’s the best parts, but it’s also an absolutely accurate depiction of Eve.  The passion, the thrill, the exhilaration, that’s all 100% true.  And there is a whole lot of preparation that builds up to those thrilling moments.  For every one of those battles, those scenarios, there were hours of buying ship modules, fitting those ships to suit your taste, flying around to find the fight, and setting up the battle itself – not to mention all of the experience and training that teaches all the pilots involved to know what to do.

But it’s this very preparation that makes it all worthwhile.  I used to play multiplayer Counterstrike, a game with absolutely zero preparation required.  The death matches were, individually, meaningless, since I knew I could just wait until the next match to fight again.  I didn’t have to do anything special, just sit there and wait.  I wasn’t invested in Counterstrike.  It was bubblegum I could chew or spit out at leisure.

Eve is Thanksgiving dinner back in 1621.  You have to hunt your own food and cook it (fitting ships, moving them to your alliance’s staging system), you need to message your neighbors to attend (fleet form-up and sorting, travel), you need to carefully orchestrate the dishes in sequence (the tactical maneuvers during operation itself, including scouting), and you need to eat politely so as not to offend the natives (the battle itself).  And that’s all after sailing half-way around the world with like-minded people (joining a corp, deploying).  It’s complicated.

And that’s what makes it so intensely satisfying.  Eve players feel genuine dopamine rushes during battles.  My heart still beats fast when I’m in a 1v1… and it’s the same whether I’m in a 6-mil-isk Incursus or an 800-mil-isk battle Tengu.  That feeling doesn’t scale; it starts with a rush and doesn’t let up.

But it doesn’t happen with me for other games.  The slow-build is a direct cause of that rush, the sense that everything you planned for or waited for is coming to fruition.  That’s what causes the Bomber’s Bar to cheer deafeningly on comms when they hit their target, or what causes Rooks and Kings to be so delighted at their pipebomb.

And pipebombing and bombing runs, along with BLOPS gangs, are the LEAST engaging of PvP, in my opinion!  It only gets better.

So don’t let anyone discourage you by saying, “That’s not Eve…”  It is.  It absolutely is.  Losing ships HURTS, and it’s exactly this pain that makes your success so much sweeter.  You can’t have a game with no lows, and only highs; if you don’t have the risk of painful, frustrating losses, you also deny yourself the delights of abject success.

Eve is a game that enables both.  And that is praiseworthy.  Don’t quit the game because of a loss.  The more it hurts, the more you should recognize how rare it is for a game to instill that sort of investment among its players.  Eve players are passionate maniacs.  You can’t have passion without something to be passionate ABOUT.

Eve isn’t WoW.  Eve MATTERS in a very real sense to its players.  We take Internet Spaceships very seriously.  We cherish them because they represent time, effort, sometimes money, and always a lot of love.  And to care about a game that much is a truly rare thing.

Eve is the passion that the players feel amid their greatest achievements and dismal failures.  It inspires people to alarm-clock early morning ops.  It inspires people like Rixx Javix to create beautiful art.  It inspires bloggers like me to spend our time thinking and writing about Eve in the spare time when we can’t play.

This is Eve.

Come play with us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Have To Agree

In case you don't follow him, Rixx Javix shared his opinion about the new Eve trailer.

I have to agree, mate.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Wife's Opinion About Our Move Op...

In the world of jump fatigue, moving RP's assets from Tenal to Deklein isn't just a matter of catching a couple cynos anymore.  No, moving assets even two regions away is now a harrowing, white-knuckled excursion where your ship is slower than the rotation of the planets around the suns of New Eden.

Plus - and here's a tip for you - when your capital fleet lands on a gate, chances are very good that you'll bounce off of at least one of your fleetmates.  I ended up 15 km off a gate after I was a bit late jumping.  So that's an added bit of fun.  Always "jump" instead of "warp" when warping in a capital fleet.  Doing the alternative causes a hilarious* mistake.

* Not really hilarious at all.

But more importantly, moving a single capital on your own is a colossally stupid move.  So stupid, in fact, that all capital pilots are now beholden to move ops, else they take a tremendous set of risks going gate-to-gate.  Such a high risk, in fact, that it simply isn't done anymore.  I sure as heck wasn't going to.

At least, that's my opinion on the new Eve.  You simply have to make the move op, or you're SOL.  My wife, however, has another opinion, which she considerately shares below:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Repercussus Says Goodbye

So it didn’t take long for that story to break… Yeah, that’s my corp, Repercussus.  One of our CEOs also happened to be one of the Razor Troika.  Another high-ranking member happened to be one of the two Military Directors.

There’s a lot of speculation about what this all means.  The article itself says it’s “confirmed” that “The reason for the move is unhappiness over the current state of affairs in RZR and dissatisfaction with the organizational structure as a whole.”  This is patently untrue.  The author of the article has stated before that he’s a friend of Dograzor, a member of Razor leadership, and it’s possible he conflated RP with Razor.  No one from RP was approached by the author.

Fortunately, I was already planning a post about our move.  I try to be very honest about how I view the game, who my character is, and what my biases might be.  In that interest, my readers deserve to know if/when my affiliation changes.

So, let me put the matter to rest.  I’m not leadership, but I was one of the most vocal members of the “Leave Razor” camp within RP (I know… me, vocal?).  And this is why.

Monday, November 10, 2014

200K and Counting

Another brief one (Yes, I’m going to get to the big news of the week for Repercussus, I swear…)…

This weekend, I surpassed 200,000 visits.  That represents an accelerating increase from how long it took me to hit 100,000, and I owe it all to my readers.  Thank you very much.  I don’t ask that you agree with me all the time, but come at me honestly and I’ll treasure you forever.

As a reminder, please know that I don’t make any money off of this blog.  I won’t ask for donations, I won’t include ads (when I’m able to control it; blogger may add them without my knowledge).  I do this blog because I love the game.

Between 100k and 200k, I started being syndicated on EveNews24.  Bobmon approached me and asked if I’d be interested.  It’s worth noting that I was in the CFC, and he still chose to include me.  I really appreciate that, as EveNews24 lets me reach an audience I’d otherwise not be able to.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Here a Clone, There a Clone…

This will be a short post.  On the o7 show, CCP announced the end of medical clone upgrade costs.  And, apparently, some people lost their minds.  Reddit has a few posts about it, and has a feature article explaining why this change is a good thing.

I have to laugh at the very idea that someone, somewhere, is upset about removing the costs to upgraded medical clones.  It’s a stupid cost added into the game that serves no purpose but to discourage older players from PvPing in as many situations.  Who wants to risk their 150-million SP clone while trying to solo a Sabre, for instance?  Answer?  Not as many as I’d like to see.  Killing that ship just isn’t worth the cost of losing implants, your ship, and the cost to re-up your clone.

This change serves to remove an annoying PvP tax, and it should have died a traitor’s death five years ago.  Good job to CCP to remove this brake from the PvP vehicle.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Great Mission Statement Challenge

On my post about culture and tempo, one of my readers asked what I’d write if I was tasked with writing Razor’s mission statement.  Challenge accepted!

A mission statement is nothing more than a summary of an organization’s vision.  What are they trying to do?  How do they go about it?  What do they value?  Since it’s written by the organization itself, it’s heavily idealized and subject to propaganda.  Sometimes, the organization falls short of that mission statement, but that’s okay, so long as it’s clear that they operate according to it most of the time.

I’m not a part of Razor leadership, so I have no control over policy or direction.  But I’ve been in Razor, through three different corporations, for nearly three years.  In that time, I’ve heard a lot about what Razor “is” and what Razor values from both leadership and its members.  Based on that experience, here’s what I’d write if tasked with distilling those opinions down to a simple statement:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Greyscale Fawkes' Day

Remember, remember, the fourth of November,The Blue Doughnut treason and plot.I know of no reason the Blue Doughnut treasonShould ever be forgot.

Let’s all take a moment to crack open a beer and give props to our dead coalitions (a bit premature, but here’s hoping!).  Phoebe will drastically limit force projection, reduce the risk of hot drops in low, and make null alliances much more interested in poking through wormholes, all of which will hopefully result in improved content for everyone!

And let’s give a moment’s prayer that CCP acts more swiftly on “blue doughnut” emergence in the future.  I think they’ve got this one right; more of the same, please…

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Setting the Tempo

It’s musical chair time, people!  Phoebe is a week away, and every commentator is in the throes of tracking and predicting what each alliance is / should be doing.  Right now, folks are curious what Black Legion is going to do.  Will they attack the CFC in Fountain or… attack the CFC in Venal?  N3 seems determined to teach the CFC a lesson (I’ll be curious to see how that goes).

A lot of it is simple propaganda and sabre-rattling you’d expect from the null-sec alliances, but it’d be a mistake to assume there’s nothing to learn from this posturing.

And that lesson would be tempo.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

All Along the Watchtower

“All along the watchtower, princes kept the view.  While all the women came and went, barefoot servants too.  Outside in the cold distance, a wildcat did growl.  Two riders were approaching and the wind began to howl.” - The venerable Mr. Hendrix

Oh, how I do love this new six-week release cycle.  No longer do we need to anticipate changes months in advance.  Almost as soon as they’re announced, we’re quickly in the planning process.

Yesterday, I received my first dread, a close-range Naglfar I’ve named toothpick.  It’s a pretty little ship that’s pretty much staying in my hangar in Tenal for now.  I want to bring it to the front lines in the FAZOR (cute name, by the way, to whoever thought of it) deployment, but in my heart I know it’d just have to come on back in two weeks when the madness begins.

And the reason for the impending madness, of course, is Phoebe and the end of force projection.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Let's All Prognosticate!

First off... shame on you, potty mind!  I said "prognosticate".

In the last of my, “What does it all mean?” posts about the Phoebe jump changes and the effects it will have on null-sec, I’m going to indulge in a bit of fortune telling.  I’m going to peer through the veil of time and bring you, dear readers, golden morsels of delightful insight from the future.


That pretty much means I’m gonna make wild guesses about how things are going to be in the final state of the world.  This is wildly convenient for me, since it’s easy to make rock-solid predictions about Change Set #1 in the long-term when Change Sets #2 & #3 will be influencing the game well before these long-term states exist.  So, basically, I have nothing to lose and can’t be proven wrong by talking about a future that won't exist.  Wee!

Yeah, pretty much this is all for fun, so take it with a whole damn salt lick, not just a grain.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pause. Contemplate. Repeat.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will have noticed that I sort of fell silent just as null-sec started vibrating with ramifications of the jump changes.  I live in null-sec… I should be talking about this, right?

Only… I’m not sure how I feel about this.  Or, rather, I’m not sure which side of me is going to win out in the long-run.  I’m deeply conflicted about the effects these changes will have on null-sec.

The practical side of me recognizes the problem that an apex supercap force (yes, I am using that term, and yes, I do think it’s valid) has on all levels of PvP.  The mere existence of that threat changes the game in very negative ways.  And ultimately, I do believe supercaps need to have a valuable, but limited, purpose.  Cutting the jump range on them is a perfectly valid method of accomplishing that.

But that raises its own issue.  Groups like NC. and PL rely on that supercap strength to hold their space.  When you nerf that force – effectively locking it in place for a long while – you expose them to the problems of blobbing.  And no one wants blobbing to become an apex force again.  I imagine discussions in the CSM about the issue of supercap proliferation and coaltions went something along the lines of, “CFC CSM: Nerf supercaps!”  “N3/PL CSM: Nerf blobs!”  So CCP naturally decided, “Nerf everything!”

After all, that’s what we’re looking at here.  When the original changes came down, there’s a reason the CFC freaked out: making jump bridges cause jump fatigue renders the CFC’s blob capability less effective.  And when CCP modified it to allow jump freighters more range, there’s a reason N3 & PL freaked out: it allows subcaps to be moved more effectively, giving the CFC a bit of an advantage again. I get that now… I didn’t understand that first.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

(Don’t) Play Among the Stars

Or, “Fly me to the moon, ‘cause that’s pretty much all the further we can go.”

I haven’t written about the jump drive changes recently on this blog, but I’ve certainly been actively posting on reddit, the Eve-O forums, and in comments of various fellow bloggers.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these changes, and while my opinions on them really haven’t changed much, I do understand now what my objections, in general, are.

I’m decidedly against these changes, but not for the reasons many have stated.  My objection doesn’t come as much from the play style that’s being sacrificed – jumping capital+ gangs all over the place is a horrible, horrible thing and needs to die a brutal death.  Over on Crossing Zebras, Niden put out an article explaining how wonderful it will be to not have to fear hotdropophobia.  That’s definitely a good effect.

But we can’t confuse the existence of positive outcomes with the appropriateness of a change.  Just because it leads to some positive things doesn’t mean a change is good.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My Sov Null Solution

In my last post, I spoke about how the Null-Sec Statement was a demonstration of “dogs and cats dancing together” to make a point about the importance of CCP taking this opportunity for a soup-to-nuts change to sov mechanics instead of simply slapping a bandage on it and calling it a day.  I don’t believe CCP has the wiggle room to get it wrong out of the gate and slowly fix it (maybe).  The null-sec membership base is already plummeting.

To be quite honest, I really didn’t expect anyone to take out of the Null-Sec Statement (or my post!) that the “solutions” proposed were complete and sufficient.  I interpreted them as general concerns, not fixes.  Because, you know, they aren’t a complete fix.  Just enacting those three points wouldn’t fix null-sec.

Alice Karjovic called me out in corp TS and thought I was endorsing the statement in full, as a complete and sufficient solution.  Not so, but if a writer is misunderstood, it’s the fault of the writer.   So here’s my list of solutions to the null-sec problem, to be clear.  I talked about this in the context of drawing players from high-sec to null-sec last November.  This time, I’m talking about fixing the mechanics themselves.

Don’t worry.  Scroll down to “Summary” for the TL;DR.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Empyrean Declaration

Today, the leaders of the majority of sov null-sec got together and issued a brief, but poignant statement about the state of sovereignty.  In it, they lay out three key points, which can be easily translated to the following:

Continued null-sec ownership should be based upon utilization of space.  Each null-sec entity is, theoretically, a separate sovereign “nation”, if you will, with its own culture and civilization.  Essentially, they recognize that that a civilization consists of what it does, not what it owns.

Null-sec should be less secure.  By adding NPC space all around them, they’re begging for additional content closer to home.  NPC space can’t be tamed, and the fact that all of these entities signed on to it is telling as to what they and their members want out of the game.

Null-sec systems should be able to sustain a large number of players. Does it make sense that an entire star system can only sustain a handful of players under Dominion mechanics?  Of course not!  It’s important to note that the request wasn’t for more moon minerals in this space, but rather the ability for players to earn isk in this space.

Most importantly, this statement was signed by the leaders of Goonswarm, NC., Nulli Secunda, PL, Brave, Test, FCON, The Bastion, INIT, TNT, Razor (“The Troika” refers to the three elected leaders – including one of my CEOs, Troyd –not a specific character, BTW), CO2, Executive Outcomes, FA, Fweddit, LAWN, SMA, The Kadeshi, Darkness., Pasta, HONOR, and xxDeath.  It was also co-signed by 8 sitting CSM members.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

B0TLRD and Stagnation

A corpmate and I were involved in a discussion about the state of null-sec, and the topic of B0TLRD came up recently.  For those of you who aren’t aware, in a nutshell B0TLRD is an agreement between the CFC and Pandemic Legion that neither will interfere with sov or POS structures of the other in a laundry list of claimed systems, nor camp or otherwise disrupt each others’ rental empires to any great extent (roams are okay, gatecamps are okay, but no cloaky camps that shut down entire systems for hours on end), nor move fleets of a size that could constitute a sov threat.

Effectively B0TLRD removes risk from about 2/3 of the galaxy for the CFC coalition and PL alliance.  Note the phrasing of that… I’ll get to that later.

My corpmate made the following comment:
“Tal I have to disagree with the B0TLRD accords being the source of stagnation [in null-sec].  It's much, MUCH bigger than that.  B0TLORD protects our space, as well as BOT's space.. and that's it.  It keeps both CFC and PL from engaging each other, as well as hotdropping each other in their own space.  It does *NOT* Protect PL's allies (N3 or their renters).”
I suspect a number of people share the same opinion, and on the surface, it seems to be an accurate one.  But I respectfully disagree with it.  B0TLRD is a huge cause of stagnation, and I believe it’s directly responsible for the malaise, unsubs, and migration from sov entities currently affecting null-sec.

Let me explain.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lessons: Don't Do It All

In case you haven’t heard already, Razor recently deployed to Black Rise to practice our individual pilot skills in a small-gang environment (contrary to propaganda, we have not joined faction warfare – shame on you for believing self-identified propaganda!).  Right now, there are pretty much two areas of known space seeing a lot of action: the Provi/Catch region and the Black Rise area of faction warfare space.  Seeing that there are ~reasons~ the CFC won’t deploy to actually engage in a significant bloc war with N3 and PL (see what I did there?), the next best thing is to get the kind of great fun you can only get from small gang.

So far, we’ve been in Hallanen for about three days and a lot of our pilots have been making some ridiculous mistakes.  Many just aren’t very familiar with low-sec and faction warfare mechanics, and there’s bound to be a bit of a learning curve.  Nto to mention, we’re running smack-dab into the two diverging low-sec metas (cheap ships fit “oddly” and expensive doctrines to fight outnumbered).

It’s been an absolute delight.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Attaining Moderate Wealth

I do read the posts in the Brave Newbies subreddit, even though I feel a little strange posting in it as a non-member.  It’s a great place to find out what different kinds of players thinks about.  A comment made about my How to Fly a Dramiel post suggested that seeding markets and making isk in null is a lot harder than I make it out to be.

I know I’m not space-rich.  For that reason, I’ve never considered writing a “how I made my isk” article.  But, the topic was raised, and I wanted to go through how I made my isk, if only to show that it’s very possible to be comfortable, even without being ground-breaking or particularly smart.  If I can do it, anyone can.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Fly a Dramiel

There are a variety of ways to fit each ship in New Eden, and a lot of them are bad.  In this guide, I’ll show you the most popular way of flying the Dramiel, some of the pitfalls, and some of the considerations you should keep in mind.

What leads me to choose a particular ship for one of these guides?  It’s simple: I see a lot of people flying ridiculous fits that die ignobly.  Just because it’s a pirate frig doesn’t mean it’s good at everything.  Like my How to Fly a Curse and How to Fly a Cynabal guides, there are exceptions to what I put here.  But the vast majority of players will want to start with a more traditional fit before branching off to a fit meant for a very specific situation.

Also, please keep in mind that the setups I’m proposing are for solo or small gang usage.  You should never fly a Dramiel in a large fleet environment.  It’s stupid, and you will die. 

So, let’s jump into it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Brain Replacement Program

In a recent reddit comment thread, I hinted that it was only a matter of time before I cite Nietzsche in relation to Eve.  Congrats... we're there.

I love Nietzsche because he forces you to re-evaluate the basic foundation upon which you build constructs about the world.  In Will to Power, Nietzsche explains how the impetus – the driving force behind human creation and motivation – becomes blunted, soft, and idle when when we cease to look for meaning and definition within ourselves and we begin to look for an external source for meaning.  When “What do I feel?” is replaced with “What should I feel?” and “What do I desire?” is replaced with “What should I want?” the individual suffers and, in the process, reduces the species as a whole.

And SRP is a life-denying factor in a sov-null alliance that would send Nietzsche into a boiling rage.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lessons: Stealing From Your Opponents

It was a good vacation, and it provided me with exactly the relaxation we all need from time to time.  While I was gone, I missed several Razor victories in the Alliance Tournament, though I did get to see the last victory, a couple hours before they were knocked out.  I give all the team members a tremendous amount of credit.  It’s a hard task to put together a solid team, and they managed to win several victories, which is no small feat.

My Internet connection was very weak at the hotel, so I wasn’t able to commit to any strenuous PvP activities, but I did manage a few solo roams between bouts of weekend visitors during the week.  In so doing, I realized an important lesson about improving your flying.

I’ve written before about how you need to surprise your opponents in battle.  But what about when you happen to be the one surprised?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vacation and Burner Missions

So, I've been enjoying time with the family since the weekend down in Ocean City, MD (and all the beaches nearby, honestly).  My hotel Internet connection is spotty at best.  I haven't really been able to engage with Eve very much this vacation.

That can actually be a good thing, from time to time.  Every so often, we need to recharge our batteries and engage in something other than Eve.  We only know what we value when we notice it's absence, right?

But there is one area I'm interested in hearing more about: burner missions.  Has anyone tried them yet?  I personally hope they continue being developed in ways that bridge the gap between PvE and PvP.  Hopefully, they can encourage high-sec solo players to give the other areas of space a try.

I assure you that this desire is intended to drive the health of the game and in no way meant to boost the potential readership of a blog dedicated to PvP, and newer players in particular.

So, if you have any experience with the burner missions, send me a comment.  I'd love to get your thoughts on if they can help bridge that gap and - in and of themselves - how you find them.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Insert SOMERblink Pun Here

There have been a lot of articles talking about the SOMER Blink RMT situation, controlled shut-down, and subsequent ban of its founder. Here are just some of them: It Happens While You Blink, Somergate: Lend Me Your Voice, SOMERblink 2014: Closing the Doors, Somer’s Come and Gone, Final Verdict.

And that’s just some of them. Some of those are cute puns. Some of them are update articles with personal opinions on the scandal.

This is not one of those articles.

Quite frankly, this is a PvP blog, and I’m not terribly concerned about writing about RMT. I don’t quite understand all the ways people RMT; there are so many things related to this game to learn, I simply don’t have time to learn about risks I’m never going to take (and RMT is a game-ending risk).

Nor do I care very much whether a bunch of wannabe heroes lose the ability to post “promo blink” in alliance chat as if it’s something that matters to their alliance mates. Have I blinked before? Sure. I even tried it again during ATXII, and won two PLEX for a 400 mil investment. Happily, I cashed out immediately. It’s a fun addition to the game, and I suspect someone will start a similar service after buying the code from Somer (probably for RL currency, ironic…). It’s a nice ornament to the game, but the loss of blink doesn’t really impact my game much.

What I do want to talk about are some of the second- and third-order consequences. And these do affect PvP.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lessons: My Wife Fit a Ship

Some time ago, I wrote about the fun of playing Eve with my wife.  Her knowing about Eve and Eve mechanics has some hilarious side-effects.  For instance, when I was trying to explain a Marketing presentation I was putting together, I compared social media for our particular industry to a shield boost amplifier.  For a few months, she’s called targets for managing our children the same way ECM pilots coordinate (“Jam the baby, she’s painting with pudding.  I’ll primary the toddler.”).

After a particularly hard day with the kids (one screaming non-stop for no reason, the other one throwing tantrums because we threw away a plastic Dixie cup she grew attached to), she’s been known to say, “Today felt like TiDi.”  And when I’m roaming while we watch watch something like “So You Think You Can Dance”, she trolls me when she looks over and sees no modules beside my S/A/H/C wheel.  “Ha ha, you died again.”

One of the other side effects is that she takes an interest in Eve, and in embarrassing me whenever possible.  I tolerate this because I love her.

Thus, the Roving Guinea Pig was born.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guest Post: Theomachy Event Summary

From time to time, I allow guest posters to share their thoughts on this blog. The topics generally revolve around PvP or – as in this case – important events in the Eve community.  My corporation, Repercussus, hosted a player-run event with several dozen billions worth of prizes up for grabs, called Theomachy on August 9th.  What follows is the event summary written primarily by Roland Cassidy and Riela Tanal of Repercusus, with editorial support from several members of the corporation.

Please note: Repercussus corporation members were forbidden from participating in this event in an effort to ensure an absence of favoritism.

Theomachy: “Battle of the Immortals”

Thus far one of the largest-scale, completely player-driven events in EVE Community history was conducted Saturday, August 9, 2014. After a grueling, explosion-filled 4 hours of battle royale on CCP's Singularity server, one pilot, James Ogeko, emerged victorious. For James’ efforts, he won a Barghest and 24 PLEX along with a special CCP prize. Read the details below to discover how James and many others earned such rich rewards and had so much fun doing it! As one prize winner said, “...[this was] literally the best time I know I will ever have in Eve!”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hyperion Wormhole Changes

As promised, I wanted to give a few thoughts about the new wormhole changes being launched in the Hyperion patch.

But first… CCP: can you please stop reusing the same names?  It’s really hard to have T3s and Tier 3s, Hyperion and Kronos the ships and Hyperion and Kronos the expansions… let’s be unique, shall we?

Anyways… There are a few changes which I think can safely pass without too much comment.  The adjustments to WH effects, for instance, will be quickly adapated to by the WH community – the only disruption we should see is a few lossmails from people who haven’t yet figured out exactly how much of an effect these changes will have.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hell Is Other People

I do a lot of philosophical thinking when I’m driving.  Recently, I was desperately trying to get to work on time (that’s a common theme, now that I think about it… too many late nights with Eve) and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get past the drivers who think the left lane is meant for cruising.  I’m not sure if it’s the same outside of the U.S., but here, it’s not.  The left lane is meant for passing and bursts of speed; if someone’s on your tail in the left lane, you’re doing it wrong.

I’d get behind one inconsiderate driver, then switch lanes and be stuck behind another.  This happened for 20 minutes.  Hell is other people, sometimes.

But in Eve, it’s exactly the opposite.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gevlon Pushes the Wormhole Safety Button

Gevlon Goblin put out another article today, this time talking about how the changes to WH space will be a positive thing for the gameworld.


Let’s get the “Damnit, Gevlon…” stuff out of the way.  Good writers who talk about Eve are up front and honest about their biases, and they call them out directly when they propose a change that benefits their perspective.  Personally, I’ve been pretty clear that I believe small gang PvP is the pinnacle of the Eve experience, since it blends both the social aspect and the thrill of having your actions influence the result.  When I propose changes that benefit this playstyle, I actively call it out, and I try not to propose changes that advance small gang at the expense of other play styles.  And I’ve certainly written about the virtues of the other playstyles, too.  Hell, the purpose of this blog is to make PvP more transparent to players making their first forays into PvP.

Gevlon makes no such effort to state his biases.  He’s a WoW player who uses charts and graphs to try to plot the optimal way to “win” a game.  He obviously applied this methodology to WoW, and he tries the same with Eve.  That, in itself, demonstrates that he just doesn’t get Eve.

He writes, “Because C4+ WH space is as far from the original design as it could be. It was meant to be a great unknown, where unexpected things happen, due to the random connections. This randomness was destroyed by the “ragerolling” process.”

Undermining Your Target's Will

As I was driving to work today, I had to make left turn without a traffic light, so I had to wait for a gap in the opposing traffic big enough for me to fit through.  A few cars down the line, I saw a gap coming.  As it approached, I think the car that was leaving the gap saw it too, and he began to speed up.  But, I was able to make it through in plenty of time.  Interestingly, the moment the other driver realized I’d be able to get through, he also slowed down; no need to speed if he can’t close the gap, right?  As I drove down the road towards work, I thought to myself, “Jerk.”

Or is that what happened?  It’s just as possible that I perceived him to speed up because that was my expectation – that somehow he’d change his behavior and I wouldn’t be able to get through, forcing me to wait at the turn for another gap; given that road, it could be five extra minutes, making me late.  And it’s just as possible that – as I made the turn and drove away down the side street – the changing angle at which I was viewing the other car only made it look like he was slowing down.  It’s very possible the other car didn’t care or even didn’t see that I was waiting to turn, and he kept his speed the same.  In that plausible case, the other driver’s jerky behavior was entirely in my head.

It has been long known (at least to anyone who isn’t an Idealist and subscribes to Platonian, Augustinian, or Kantian philosophy) that there is no objective reality.  We can never know the exact nature of a thing, or identify an unbiased account of something that happens, since human beings perceive the universe from a single perspective.  Even if we can gather multiple perspectives, we’re still bound by viewing them all through human eyes, which depend on a very subjective process of pattern-recognition and our eye’s biological structures and limitations.

This got me thinking about whether there was an opportunity to exploit this very human limitation in PvP in Eve.  Sure, we should all be trying to surprise opponents by unusual fittings that are meant to counter the ships that opponents would fly as hard counters; for instance, fitting a Tornado with medium autocannons and dual webs while acting like you’re trying to keep long range in order to catch tacklers.  But people build their own expectations into a fight, as well.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Search for an Anti-Frig Ship

No matter where you go, you’re bound to run into the blob.  You have to get used to this; Eve is an MMO, after all.  There are three kinds of blobs.  The first is the O/U blob – the overwhelming, unpredictable blob, in which you’re swarmed by an impossible-to-overcome blob of ships that either cynos in or jumps in from an adjacent system as you’re engaging an enemy 1v1.  This can happen any time, and by their natures are overwhelming.

The second category is the roaming swarm.  A single ship jumps into system and tackles your ratting carrier, only to be joined by fifty of his friends.  The solution?  Watch local, stay aligned, and get safe immediately.  Otherwise, enjoy the fireworks and pray they don’t have a bubbler.

The third category is the most interesting: the predictable blob.  In these situations, you’re roaming to an area of space where you know the residents will a) definitely come at you with superior numbers, and b) tend to fly the same ship(s) all the time.  Their behavior is predictable.  And in that predictability, you can overcome the blob and score some nice kills, possibly surviving, but definitely making it worth your visit.

Now, keep in mind that I’m talking about blobs in relation to solo PvP – genuine, true solo PvP without boosters or insane implants.  And a blob that a solo PvPer can overcome without that sort of “cheating” assistance is a gang of 2-4 players.  Your survivability is dependent upon recognizing the kinds of blobs that you can successful overcome.  If you allow yourself to be blobbed by hordes of Sleipnirs, you did something stupid or are facing an O/U blob (see point 1).  But you can reasonably expect to take down a couple assault frigates by yourself, and multiple T1 frigates on your own if you’re crafty.  Case in point (note the time on the other Razor guy in this BR… a whole 40 minutes earlier).

For instance, in this post, I talk about going to fight a small group that I know will bring frigates, and likely be in the 2-3 pilot range.  My selection of a Sabre was, as it turned out, poor (after all, it died to an AF and an interceptor).  But what sort of ship WOULD work?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lessons: The Fighting Bears

With Razor based in Vale near Geminate, I’ve taken to roaming through Geminate to find ratters and travelers, hoping to find a good fight in the process.  However, the pickings tend to be slim in the USTZ, since X.I.X. is mostly EU or earlier.

Those targets I do find tend to be of the smarter variety.  I know Forsaken Hubs are the way to go, and many times I’ve warped to one only to find it 90% complete, but no target plugging away at red crosses.  The residents of Geminate are smart ratters, staying aligned and dropping what they’re doing to warp a safe POS when local gets a +1.

But, your most precious discovery, as a roamer, is when you find residents who don’t just safe up, but who actually switch to a PvP ship and come after you for the affront of entering their space.  Your heart skips a beat to find a viable target interested in a fight where you expected nothing but ganks or blobs.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Starting an Alt: Initial Skill Plan

Having started our PvP alt and begun training the first few skills needed to plug +4 implants in, you now have some decisions to make.  After all, by this point your skill queue is starting to wind down, and you need to start training the meat of your character.

To recap my assumptions for the previous article, I’m assuming:
  • That you are using four +4 implants as soon as possible after training Cybernetics (everything but Social Adaptation).
  • That this character is not your first character.
  • That you bought a PLEX to fund your new character’s skill book needs.  Ensuring that you don’t transfer isk between your main and your alt will open up a lot of awoxing, scamming, and espionage opportunities that wouldn’t be possible if your API shows sharing of isk between characters.
  • That you took my advice and have a firm goal in mind for this character.
  • That this character is intended as a PvP character.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Robert Frost, Good Fences, and Eve Renters

This is going to be more circumspect than many of my posts.  It touches in more than just Eve, but I promise that it does come around to Eve.  Bear with me.

Yesterday, a couple corp mates and I got into a very intense discussion about renters vs. PvE member corporations within Eve.  It was a very civil discussion – we were all clearly attacking ideas and not attacking each other personally – and we came to some common ground by the end of it, which is the sign of a great debate.

During this conversation, we agreed that it’s hypocritical for an alliance to be both contemptuous about PvE players and depend upon their efforts (via renter income) to fuel their own war machine.  In particular, we were talking about Razor and the CFC, but the sentiment that renters are scum holds similar sway throughout N3 and PL as well.  Basically, many players believe a player who states that he has no interest in protecting sov, PvP, or engaging in player combat of any kind has no place in null-sec.  This is foolish and hypocritical.

However, a position was also raised: that null-sec alliances should not allow renters on the one hand, then reject the possibility of put PvE corporations within their own alliance on the other.  This caused a lot of discussion back and forth.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What We Learned: Razor vs. Nulli

Last night during USTZ prime, Razor and Nulli Secunda tussled in a low-risk, but high-engagement null-sec fight in Geminate that was actually not only an enjoyable experience for the pilots involved, but resulted in some interesting lessons for the participants.

Wait… did I just say a null-sec engagement between alliances in major coalitions was… enjoyable? 

Indeed, I did.  While this fight was a bit thin on story, every battle needs a context, and context is the realm of “the narrative”.

The Context

While FCON was fighting XIX in Geminate, the rest of the CFC was politely asked to remain out of the conflict so FCON could test themselves in a deployment by themselves.  But, once FCON decided to leave, Razor swooped in to Geminate to stir the hornet’s nest a little and have a little fun.  Our goals for the campaign were limited to generating fleet battles, both spontaneously and through planned structure shoots.  We don’t really have an interest in holding sov, but if we do take some, we’ll keep it.  However, the success of the deployment will be judged more by how our FCs, scouts, and logistics teams conduct themselves than by taking sov.  Quite honestly, we’re not interested in sov far from Tenal.

But, we weren’t the only ones to deploy to Geminate.  A number of entities are floating around the area, including XIX, of course, as well as Nulli Secunda and Triumvirate.  Despite what’s being reported, the “EuroGoons” were not deployed, but rather Razor as a whole alliance.

We faced some questions going into this deployment, stemming from some instability within the alliance itself and whether the loss of TGRAD and hirr would signal the end of our problems or the beginning of them.  Some people suspected we were on the brink of a failcascade.  I shared that – from an internal perspective – it didn’t feel as if we were failing, even after TGRAD left the alliance.  But the question remained nonetheless.

All four groups were officially independent of each other, but Nulli had been helping XIX quite frequently against our fleets.  But it still provided a great opportunity for us to see how each group would perform when put into a difficult spot.  In the EU time zone, we had some mixed success, ranging from moderate victories to bloody noses.

The big wildcard was going to be the USTZ.  How well would we perform, given the fact that we’re traditionally the weaker time-zone within the alliance, and tend to be carried along with decisions, doctrines, and deployments that much more heavily affect the EUTZ.

In addition to these questions, the Eve community has leveled a lot of criticism at individual CFC alliances, suggesting that they can’t operate on their own without Goonswarm providing logistics for us.  Given Razor’s desire to run this deployment by ourselves – and the new necessity of doing so since the rest of the CFC is in the deep south – the truth of these concerns would be tested.  While our ability to run a deployment is based more on adaptability and being able to cope with the natural shifts of a campaign, kill reports would no doubt be scrutinized by armchair sky marshals, too.

Indeed, the Geminate situation is unique in that the CFC’s and N3’s second most-powerful member alliances are positioned to lock horns – Razor and Nulli.  How they perform against each other will no doubt be scrutinized by everyone interested in a knock-down war between the CFC and N3.

The Battle Itself

Nulli reinforced a tower in Razor’s staging system as a means of provoking a fight, and the timer came up at 02:00 Eve time on Friday morning – right in the USTZ’s prime Thursday play time.  For the first time in a long while, Razor was able to take the defender’s prerogative and wait while the enemy formed up.  We formed our Ishtar fleet by default, and stuck with the choice when we learned the enemy was flying Typhoons.

It’s worth mentioning that our FC group consisted of Med Lacroix, one of our newer FCs who did a fantastic job of keeping everyone informed about the intel on the enemy fleet.  He gave us general information that preserved op sec, but he did so in a way that kept everyone aware that a fight would happen, and projected timeline for when.  As it turned out, Nulli took longer to form than we planned, so we were sitting around for a good half-hour.

But, one member of our FC team did let slip that “we’re not using caps”, followed by an effort to downplay this comment (I believe that effort was, “Maybe I’m just saying that so the spies don’t think we’ll use capitals,” but that’s kind of weak).  As both sides clearly recognized that their comms were compromised, this comment was no doubt reported back to Nulli’s leadership.  Worth noting, for later.

Once the tower came out of reinforce, we undocked and warped to the POS so our logi could begin repping it while our Ishtars set up a defensive picket (which is a fancy way of saying we moved around a lot so we didn’t get bombed).  A few minutes later, we saw the cyno in system.

Med had prepared the field perfectly, sending interceptors to burn multiple bounces around the POS and provided clear instruction to seed cloaked dictors throughout the area.  One, in particular, was given the heroic job of warping to the cyno ship and trying to bubble the incoming fleet while killing the cyno ship, if possible. 

He died gloriously, but managed to bubble the enemy fleet and delay the fight for another four minutes.  It provided no real value in this engagement – we were ready for them – but it was a good practice for future situations in which a couple minutes could mean the difference between successfully engaging two separate fleets or allowing them to combine for overwhelming force.

Nulli’s typhoons landed 340 off our fleet, which warped to one of our bounce spots.  Shortly after, the Nulli fleet landed at zero and we began to fight each other.  Our numbers were about even, at around 75 each.

Apparently, Nulli FC progodlegend’s overview was set up incorrectly, so no HACs appeared on his overview.  As a result, he started calling our support ships as primary.  Med Lacroix was in a Thorax serving as anchor, and was consequently taken down almost immediately.

Fortunately, we had four other FCs in the fleet to support Med in one of his first major fleet fights, so new Razor Troika member Troyd23 rose up and began to command the fleet.  We began to pull range, but we had multiple Sabres keeping bubbles on us while Nulli burned towards our drones.  Nulli had hidden some smartbombing Typhoons in among their cruise Typhoons, so they began cutting into our drones, while we ordered those same drones to start taking out the Sabres that were following our fleet.  We lost a few Ishtars, our FC’s Thorax, our secondary anchor’s Ishtar, and a Scimitar, while Nulli lost one Typhoon and four Sabres, a solid isk win for Nulli.

Regrouping, we docked up to gather more drones.  Meanwhile, one of our FCs coordinated with a nearby Bastion frigate fleet.  Meanwhile, Med probed the enemy down, and we undocked and warped back into the fight just as Nulli lit a cyno and brought in jumped in 8 Dreads and 2 Archons to finish off the tower and assist their fleet.  The Bastion's fleet came in and killed the cyno ship, stranding an additional dozen or so capitals on the other side, cut off from their fleet.

We landed on field at a good range thanks to Med's warpin, and the results of this fight were quite different.  We were at a better range, allowing our drones to last longer before being smartbombed off the field.  Typhoon after Typhoon started to go down, as our replenished dictors kept the capitals bubbled.  

Why did Nulli jump the capitals in just then?  After their first victory, it appeared as if they had won the field, so they were trying to claim the spoils by finishing off the tower.  Presumably, they underestimated us, thinking we would disengage after a relatively low number of losses.  None of the capitals were smartbomb fit to clear away the drones, and without the typhoons being close enough to quickly take down all our drones, they were vulnerable.

As I worked my way through our targets (drone assist is for wimps), I saw at least one Nulli capital escape by jumping out.  The rest weren't so lucky.  With the typhoons going down quickly, Nulli disengaged, leaving the capitals to their fate, and we set to work killing the capitals, starting with the Archons before finishing off the dreads.

In the end, the butcher’s bill was to the tune of 34B (though it should be said that this report doesn’t include some of the early Ishtar kills Nulli racked up).  Without the capital fleet losses, the losses were still around 10B, a decisive win nonetheless.  One of my corp mates, Alice Karjovic, posted a battle video showing the second, decisive engagement.

The tower remained standing, but it would be a giant pain in the ass to repair, so we simply destroyed it ourselves and started over.

What Does It NOT Mean?

Now, before talking about why this fight, in particular, was important to us, I should explain the conclusions that a person should not draw.  Narrative can spin in all kinds of direction, but I can already see some of the comments that would be quite unfair and inaccurate.

First off, this fight says nothing about FCON’s experience in Geminate.  FCON was fighting XIX, not Nulli, and so any comparisons between Razor and Nulli’s fight versus FCON and XIX’s fighting is just ridiculous.  The situations are extremely different.  It’s obvious, but it’s worth saying.

Secondly, Nulli conducted themselves well, and competently.  Despite the result being what it was, the only questionable call was in dropping capitals into the fight.  Their typhoon fleet was sneaky (smartbombing and cruise mixed together to take on a drone-based enemy fleet) and was well-piloted.  By no stretch was Nulli incompetent or unskilled.  They knew what they were doing and implemented their plan.  Our good warp-in, strong target calling, and coordination with our own reinforcements - smaller ships instead of bigger ones - won the day, instead of Nulli's mistakes losing it for them.

This also doesn’t mean that the CFC “pwned” N3.  This wasn’t a fight between the CFC and N3.  Sure, The Bastion came in near the end, but their involvement only accelerated the inevitable, it didn’t tip the scales.  Further, Nulli brought guns to a knife fight (Capitals to a subcap fight) anyways.  All in all, the forces were pretty even, and the deciding factor was the tactics, not blobbing or trickery.

This battle has no impact on the meta game, either.  Sovereignty wasn’t at stake, and it has no bearing on the state of inter-coalition politics.  Yet there are a number of soft conclusions you can draw from this fight.

What It All Means

That said, what impressed me during the fight was the clarity of command and the smoothness of transition as our FC and first anchor died, then our second anchor was primaried.  Our secondary FC stepped in smoothly and kept the fight going.  Those kinds of transitions can be difficult at times, but our team was well-prepared.  Part of that had to do with them all being a part of RP and being familiar with each other, but our scouts, our tacklers, and our Sabres all worked together well, and they represented nearly every corporation in the alliance.

Likewise, Twenty Questions conducted themselves very well, too.  As the newest corp, this is their first Razor campaign.  So far, I’ve seen only good things from them… the timing of their tower reinforcement, their communication with the alliance and FC team, and their piloting on the field was all very slick and professional.

As I mentioned earlier, Razor’s USTZ is viewed as weaker than the EUTZ, but my personal unbiased *cough, cough* opinion is that some of the best solo and small-gang PvPers operate within our time zone, and it’s in USTZ when RP really shines.  The departure of TGRAD raised legitimate questions about how large of an effective fleet Razor could raise in USTZ… I think those questions were successfully answered yesterday.  Size-wise, we topped at 90 members (though, as I said, actual fleet size at the time of engagement was about 75), which is higher than any time in the past several months.

Moreover, this fleet demonstrated the viability of the support model championed by our new military directors, who have placed a heavy emphasis on the scout team, training new FCs, and providing resources and structures to help fleets run smoothly.  Given that we had problems with core fleet roles being targeted and destroyed, it was a perfect test of the system recently put in place to ensure there’s always another FC ready to step up and take over.  And I’d say that succeeded.

I’m proud of the USTZ.  A lot of my beliefs about their ability were borne out by yesterday’s fight against a competent, well-led enemy.  I like being right.

Oh, and having a correctly set-up overview matters.