Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Theomachy: Battle of the Gods

In a game dominated by drones, it all ended with missiles.

With wrecks littering the arena, all that remained were a Drake, a Caracal Navy Issue, and a Caracal that was outclassed and hoping to slip unnoticed for as long as possible.

Each ship tested out their enemies and each other’s piloting abilities.  The Caracal was the least threat, but held the most power in the situation.  Both the CNI and Drakes pilots were eyeing each other up, realizing that their stiffest challenge would be each other.  They were natural enemies, with victory laying on the opposite side of one of their wrecks.  But the Caracal was the wild card.  Which side would he support?

In the end, it didn’t matter.  The Caracal fell quickly, leaving only the faction cruiser and the battlecruiser.  On the surface, it seemed like an easy fight.  There was no need to remain in point range for this battle… for all intents and purposes, only two ships in the whole universe existed, fated to engage in this fatal dance to determine the lone survivor after four hours.

It was a classic battle more suited to 2009 than 2015.  The Caracal Navy Issue had been crafted into a killing machine.  The designer had called it a “hunter fit”, with T2 rigs and modules.  After a day of troll-fits and empty hulls, it seemed like the perfect weapon for a 1v1 for the prize.  This was a ship meant to strike hard and fast, and give an opponent no time to recover.

His opponent was fit with meta-0 missile launchers and shield recharges to maximize the Drake’s passive regen.  His dps was laughably pathetic by any standard.  To win, he’d have to outlast his enemy.  It wasn’t the fit he’d have chosen to win a tournament in a 1v1 battle.  If he had a choice… if any of them had a choice all day…

Slowly, painfully, and – to the viewers – thrillingly, the final battle contained no opportunity for retreat, and no disengaging.  And the relentlessly predictable dps of missiles and shield regen rates gave an inescapable result.  The Caracal Navy Issue exploded in a crash of color.  The Drake was still king, if even just for a moment.  But the Caracal Navy Issue pilot, Dan Radermaker, still earned a Barghest and 18 PLEX for earning second place.

Second place out of over two hundred.

Not bad for “the best Eve event” he had ever been a part of.  He had never been more excited to lose.  “CCP themselves would have had a hard time organizing something so engaging.”

Theomachy: Battle of the Gods

The event Dan Radermaker and hundreds of other pilots signed up for was Theomachy, a PvP arena battle hosted last August by the corporation Repercussus on the Singularity server.  This year’s event takes place on August 8.  The contest spans four hours, and has very simple rules, with a host of surprises built in.  All pilots begin in their pods and, like The Hunger Games, have to scramble to one of seven caches of ship hulls, which are replenished throughout the event.  Losing a ship doesn’t put you out of the contest, though.  If you’re quick with the warp command, you can rush to another ship and board it to get back into the battle.

“Theomachy is constantly throwing new things at players and forcing them to adapt,” says Riela Tanal, the event organizer.  “Most fights in Eve, you either gank or are blobbed.  But with this event, we’re constantly throwing new things at players and putting them out of their comfort zone.”

Those “new things” start with the ship fits themselves.  Ships span the gamut of all classes, and most fit meta modules.  “We want people to be able to fly as many varieties of ships as possible without being too limited by skill; that’s why most of the ships will be T1 fit,” says Riela Tanal.  “You never know whose going to get which ship, so we have to keep plenty of options for younger players.”

Indeed, ship fitting is the first area where Theomachy organizers throw players for a loop.  While many of the fits are T1 fit, a few contain T2 modules, and some even have officer-fit modules on them.  But far more exciting – both to the players and the organizers – are the “troll fits”.  The organizers choose one hull for each ship type to butcher horribly.  You may get a Drake with an armor fit, or you may find yourself sitting in a Hurricane with offline pulse lasers and a full rack of SEBOs.  And a lucky break, such as finding a ship with T2 weapons, is usually offset by some other fitting decision, like having no propulsion module.  Some hulls are completely unfit.

Injecting Chaos and Inspiring Innovation

The organizers throw a lot of other challenges in front of players, too.  One of the emergent game play features plaguing PvP in Eve at large is the preponderance of blobs.  Grouping with fifteen or twenty other folks is usually safer than fighting alone.  Indeed, in last year’s event, this same tendency happened.  With over two hundred players fighting it out, some players clumped together for safety.  “I didn’t really plan anything going in,” says Dan Radermaker.  “I managed to find a few people to hang around with in a small gang.  I think the small size of the gang was key to our success as we didn’t attract as much attention from the overseers.”

The overseers Radermaker mentions are another way the organizers injected a little chaos into the event to challenge players.  Brave Newbies formed a 40-man fleet and streamed their perspective of the event.  At various points, they erected bubbles gleaned from loot cans around the ship caches and were killing pilots as they warped towards the caches to reship.

But the event organizers from Repercussus anticipated this kind of fleeting and incorporated overseers into the event.  These overseers were small gangs of Repercussus players who traveled around in T2-fleet doctrines with the express purpose of disrupting and weakening organized fleets.  In the case of Brave, an overseer fleet complete with logistics would warp to the Brave fleet and set to work attacking them, prioritizing the targets that would best weaken the gang’s ability to function.

Time and again, overseer fleets would suicide themselves into large, organized gangs to chase them off and destroy any bubbles on field, while through their deaths they replenished the supplies available to players.  Unlike other event participants, though, the overseers don’t pod their targets, and players were free to destroy them.  Inside these overseer wrecks were often large supplies of ammunition and nanite paste, giving the players who managed to kill them a significant benefit compared to their peers.

Yet despite the challenge, Brave thrived.  At one point, they used a laser-fit Tornado in the middle of a bubble as bait to catch desperate pilots.  Instead of being hampered by the troll fits, they used them to their advantage.  In one instance, they effectively leveraged Incursuses fit with warp core stabilizers – which severely penalize lock speed – and inertia stabilizers as kiting ships.  Flexibility and quick thinking gave them a strong showing despite the extra challenge of having to watch dscan and aligning to safety to dodge overseers.

Enhancements to This Year’s Event

For this year’s event, Riela Tanal explained that Repercussus was making some changes to the rules to enhance the fun further.  The first few minutes would see no mobile warp disruptors anchored and no pods destroyed, giving every player ample time to find a ship.  Plus, don’t look for interdictors, heavy interdictors, of ships capable of using a covert ops cloak within the arena, all of which would be overpowered in the limited arena.

The Singularity test server is the site of the event (here are instructions for downloading and setting up Singularity), partly for affordability – the cost of the ships in Tranquility prices would reach into the hundreds of billions – but also for operational reasons.  In order to participate, players will need to leave their corp on Singularity and join the corporation “Ludus Gallicus” in advance of the event.  Joining a common corporation allows Repercussus to use standings to ensure that players can quickly identify legitimate targets while keeping administrative pilots – such as referees, CCP employees, and those pilots seeding ships for player use – safe from attack.  While players are unwilling to leave their corporation on Tranquility, changes to Singularity are temporary and erased during CCP’s regular mirroring.

(Ed. Note: mirroring is the process by which CCP overwrites player data on Singularity to synchronize it with Tranquility.  This is why you may notice different assets, wallet levels, and even corporation membership on Singularity; it’s a snapshot of Tranquility from the time CCP last mirrored the server.  What happens on Singularity does not affect the main Tranquility server in any way.)

“We saw a lot of newer players participating last year, and we want to build on that success this year,” says Riela Tanal.  “A lot of our rule decisions and pre-event actions are meant to maximize engagement.”  In addition to fitting the ships with meta modules to ensure maximum accessibility, Repercussus will be sending Eve mails to all registrants providing baseline education about certain concepts like warp disruption bubbles and mechanics like being unable to board a ship that’s locked by another player.  “We want players to be able to focus on the fun of wrecking large numbers of ships, not feeling frustrated at game mechanics they’re unfamiliar with.”

Support from CCP

Theomachy wouldn’t be possible, of course, without considerable support from CCP.  In addition to providing advice on their learnings from previous events and arranging certain logistics, CCP Leeloo will be actively assisting with the event itself on August 8.  “This event is in the planning stage for 3-4 months before we announce it to the public,” Riela explains.  “CCP’s help is absolutely mandatory for us to even do Theomachy.”

But in addition to the essential support, CCP has gotten into the event in the past, as well.  Last year, Roland Cassidy, a Repercussus member with a penchant for Eve’s role-playing, assumed the role of a Guristas soldier in a Rattlesnake, infiltrating the contest and attacking players “for the honor of the Rabbit!”  CCP Falcon, not one to miss an opportunity to make a splash, started denouncing him in local chat and announced PLEX rewards on Tranquility for the player who landed the killing blow.

With CCP’s assistance comes certain reassurances for players.  Repercussus corporation members and their alts, for instance, are forbidden from participating to avoid any possible conflicts of interest.  And as there is no entry fee and all activity occurs on the Singularity test server, the organizers gain no benefit at all from player participation, eliminating the possibility of scamming or fraud.  Repercussus is leveraging third parties to verify the prizes.

Two Weeks Left

Far from its rudimentary start as a Repercussus-level battle royale, Theomachy has morphed into a unique PvP offering that leaves players more adaptive and more energized after participating than before.  “CCP would have a hard time organizing something so engaging,” says Dan Radermaker, last year’s second-place finisher.  “I will definitely be there this year!”

Theomachy will occur on August 8 on the Singularity test server.  Individuals interested in participating should sign up in advance by August 4.  Prior to August 4, you must download the Singularity test server and join the corporation “Ludus Gallicus”.  On the day of the event, players can type “/moveme” in local chat to be moved to the starting system, FD-MLJ, where further instructions will be provided in the channel, “Theomachy The Event”.  Participants can register and read all of the details on the Theomachy website.

In addition to multiple spot awards and prizes for up to 40th place, this year’s top prizes are:
First Place: 12 PLEX & a copy of the Eve Collector’s Edition
Second Place: 6 PLEX & a copy of Eve Universe: The Art of New EdenThird Place: 3 PLEX and a copy of True Stories from the First Decade

“Can I bring a Drake?”  No, my friend, but you can find one waiting for you at Theomachy.  You just need to fly it and, in the process, win billions worth of prizes.


  1. I can't believe I've never heard of this event before. Thanks for the post Tal! Signing up for this event right away! This is going to be fun :)

  2. Thanks for the post Tal, never heard about this before. I will be there, and I will be shooting Drakes on sight. All hail the mighty Hurricane (lets hope I'll find one)