Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Playing in Small Increments

For the past six years, work and family have absorbed most of my time, and relaxation activities fell into the gaps. More often than not, I’d either have to drop them or cut into sleep to enjoy them. Physically, it’s amazing how much getting the proper amount of sleep can change you. I’m a lot more clear-headed, am yawning a lot less, and am generally a lot more pleasant to be around. It’s amazing how easy it is to miss gradual changes.

The past month has been a busy one, preparing for Christmas with two kids, finishing out the year at work, and enjoying some time gaming, albeit much less than before. Whereas previously I’d spend a little time before bed each night playing, for the past month and a half, I’ve only snatched an hour here and there.

That said, I’ve quite rarely been playing Eve. Oh, sure, I’ve been playing the heck out of Skyrim, and after the Steam sale, I’ve been enjoying Total War: Attila and Stellaris. The reasons for that shift really speak to some of the long-term challenges Eve has faced.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


It may have come to your attention that I haven’t posted anything since November 4, more than two weeks ago. Even for me, this is quite a gap.

For the past six years, I’ve played Eve pretty regularly, logging in usually a little bit every day. In that time, nearly everything has changed in my life. I have a lot more real-life concerns that need my attention, and put bluntly, I was mortgaging myself my giving up sleep to maintain the same level of engagement with the game. Most nights, I’d be looking at 6.5 hours of sleep if I was lucky. That was a choice.

But, I can’t really justify that choice anymore. While a component relates to the game itself, the bigger part is the realization that this pace doesn’t really suit what I want and what really matters.

Friday, November 4, 2016

FC Lessons: Jumping the Gun

Friday night, I noticed that no one had pinged for a fleet yet, so I imported some Comets and Merlins right in the middle of Black Rise and sent out a ping. 7 people showed up – honestly not bad considering no one could plan their schedules around it and NC. had fleets earlier in the day that saw a lot of people clone jump to alliance staging.

I’m sure the ship selection probably raised a few eyebrows. My initial plan was to fly only the armor Comets, but I had space in my Occator’s hold and decided to fill it with some ships I might use solo or on another fleet. The Comets were MWD fit and the Merlins were AB fit, but in most cases we were fighting on the button of FW plexes anyways, right in scram range.

This was one of those pre-planning mistakes you can make that dramatically affects the success of a fleet. I didn’t expect to go through as many ships as we did during the night, but I should have planned better for the possibility by sticking to one – either MWD or AB – in case we got into a mixed fleet situation.

Suffice to say, it wasn’t the only mistake that happened that night.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Regional Local

This week during Eve Vegas, CCP expressed their long-held displeasure with local as an intel tool, but that they weren’t ready to launch a comprehensive change to the mechanics.

At the core of the problem is a need to communicate with people in the same system that doesn’t also announce the presence of new pilots entering that system. Some players simply advocate wormhole local, in which players don’t show up until they speak, but CCP has been resistant to this in the past for all areas of space, and I tend to think this would take something special away from wormhole space.

At the same time, CCP expressed a general dissatisfaction with the ease of null ratting isk generation and the speed of level 5 mission blitzing. In both cases, a new pilot entering local is a cause for concern, albeit much more so for null ratting. I don’t think the payouts are the problem as much as the early warning detection local provides; when you feel incredibly safe, it’s very easy to earn isk in null, perhaps too easy.

So, let’s kill two birds with one stone: Regional Local.

Monday, October 31, 2016

FC Lessons: My First Roam, Gallente-Strong

A few weeks ago, I ran my first full, pre-planned corp fleet with a defined doctrine. Compared to my first roam, this was a wholly different kettle of fish. In the first place, we had about three times the number of pilots, but beyond that, we weren’t doing a kitchen sink fleet.

Instead, we were flying armor Comets with Navitas logi. It took me a long time to come up with exactly the right doctrine to use. I knew I wanted to keep our options open, and a lot of our Friday night roams involved novice FW complexes. It wouldn’t due to fly anything but T1 frigates; a mixed fleet would work for nullsec, but we’d more often than not find ourselves unable to field our full strength and be easily prone to being split up.

But, my ships needed some survivability. A Comet is ideally suited to hull-tanking, but one of my corpmates shared a nice armor fit that benefited from logi. So, I quickly added a logi to the doctrine. The Navitas could field a decent tank for a T1 frigate logi. Gotta love those Gallente for survivability.

At first, I considered bringing a tackler ship as well, but quickly discarded the idea. Any T1 tackle ship I considered performed less effectively at the task than the Comets. Why overcomplicate things?

It ended up being a good decision, and a good night.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ascension Delayed

The Ascension expansion – there’s so much in this update that it certainly deserves the title, compared to “update” – as been delayed by a week to November 15. From those who have been testing out some of the new features on Sisi, it sounds like there are still plenty of bugs to work out, but I’m not certain which yet.

So, alpha clones won’t hit for an extra week. An extra week for corporations to prepare, PLEX prices to rise, the injector market to get ready for a sudden increase in demand, and CCP marketing to fret over the level of success they can expect.

Will alpha clones cause an influx of players? Even two weeks before launch, I still can’t say. To read Reddit, a lot of players are intrigued by the possibilities. Will that translate into an actual increase of players in game? And if so, how many?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

When Should You Let Your Kids Play Eve?

I try to stay connected with Eve when I travel and can’t actually log in. I’ll check my alliance forums, our corp Discord, update Evenova, read through Reddit, and check zkill for activity. We all have a few minutes here or there to stay informed, and when you’re unable to log in, those snippets of info are like water to a man in the desert.

This week, I read a comment on Reddit about how a man and his son would use Eve lingo in the real world. That got me thinking about the background of that kind of situation.

At first, I thought about how very few people are really suited to playing Eve. It’s an unforgiving game that doesn’t protect you either from the wickedness of other people or the consequences of your actions. Rather, it rubs your face in both. Most people aren’t made with stern enough stuff to endure that for entertainment. On the one hand, I’d deem it a sign of good parenting that his son enjoys Eve enough to not only play it, but internalize the lingo. To me, that reflects well on his parenting.

On the other hand, he lets his son play Eve. That’s just not right on so many levels. This really is a twisted game, with the full display of humanity on display.

So, is he a great or a terrible dad? At what age is it okay to let your kids play Eve?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Searching for Salvation in All The Wrong Places

I am an American. This background influences my perspective on events. This is going to be important later on, so I wanted to lay this fact down right from the get-go.

You see, a lot of things need to be said regarding some of the very concerning commentary emerging out of the Eve casino ban. Frankly, I’m somewhat disgusted by some of the attitudes I’m seeing.

I debated on whether I should post this article, but in the end, I decided I had to, because it isn’t as much about an American perspective as it is about how we perceive Eve. And that most assuredly relates to the game we all love.

There are two kind of people in the world: those who meet resistance and choose to strengthen themselves, and those who run to others to save them.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Meet and Greet with Rixx Javix

There are no Eve players who live near me. My brother-in-law played just long enough to spark my interest in the game, but he quit quite a few years ago, leaving me all on my own. I keep tossing out "o/" and "stay frosty" on the chance that someone might recognize it, but so far, I haven't had anyone bite.

I don't enjoy work travel, but when my schedule does require it, I always try to see if I'm heading somewhere with Eve friends to meet up. So far, I've been able to do this once, with Aetius and kamaroune from RP. Good fun was had by all, and the bar owners had to kick us out at the end of the night.

I really want to make my way to Fanfest or Eve Vegas, though, as soon as my girls are old enough to endure us being potentially stuck several hours (or another country) away and unable to come home immediately. But regional meet-ups are definitely a possibility.

Earlier this year, Rixx and his wife hosted Steel City Eve in Pittsburgh, my old hometown. I wasn't able to swing it, and I was really disappointed. This weekend, we were in for some family visits, and Rixx and I met up over drinks last night.

It's easy for Eve players to assume a certain persona when they play. For many, Eve is an escape from real life.l I've known more than one player who expressed that while real life forces him to be polite, he can release it all in Eve. The vast majority of Eve players - even the scammers, pirates, and awoxers - are completely normal, well-adjusted people. The reverse can also be true - seemingly normal folks can be downright frightening in person.

It's always interesting to meet another writer. Our material is text, and generally speaking, a person's writing style and speaking style differ quite a bit. I, for instance, tend to think in a cloud, not a straight line, so I tend to be all over the place as I talk. But when I sit down and write, it's much more linear (most of the time).

Yet, I'm happy to report that not only are Rixx Javix and his wife completely normal people, but they seem to be exactly as their online personas suggest. Quite the pair of genuine, friendly people! At the end of a long, tiring day, they were good people to spend some time with having drinks.

Suffice it to say, I encourage you folks to try to meet as many fellow players as possible. It's always interesting to see that these other players aren't just real people with real personalities, but also pretty cool people to hang out with. I think I'm going to try to do this again.

And, I'm looking forward to Steel City Eve last year.

Rixx Javix and Talvorian Dex

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Eve Gambling Is Gone, But It Isn't Evil

The announcement of changes to the Eve end-user licensing agreement came down today, and the big story is the banning of isk gambling sites. Eve-bet, IWantIsk, etc. are all going to be going away as of Ascension.

Well, not quite, IWI and another group I've honestly never heard of are being fully banned as of today, with all assets confiscated. Both of them were involved in widespread RMT operations, apparently.

For the rest, though, finish up your bets and cash out. It's over, folks.

This has sparked a lot of discussion already among the blogging community, and I have to say I'm disturbed by the turn of some of these arguments. For instance, Wilhelm Arcturus of The Ancient Gaming Noob and member of former CFC alliance TNT referred to Eve gambling site revenue as "ill-gotten gains".

In considering it, you've got to separate the way isk is generated from how it's spent. I'm not sure I understand how a house cut of isk gambling is ill-gotten in and of itself.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Jump Ranges to 7 ly, Boys!

As of a few minutes ago, CCP Larkin announced a pretty badly needed change to jump ranges that will be hitting in the November Ascension expansion. With this change, carriers will have a maximum range of 7 ly (two more than currently) and supers will be able to travel to 6 ly. While that doesn't seem like a particularly big deal to non-capital pilots, try plugging a few routes into jumpplanner and you'll see how important it is. Quite often on long routes, you can end up with the response, "No route is possible" taking only cyno jumps.

Within the post, CCP Larkin stated that the company's goals are to:

  • Reintroduce a natural path for capital combat to escalate.
  • Differentiate the power projection of Capitals and Sub-Capitals.
  • Allow alternative logistics and force projection paths into space that is currently very difficult to access.
  • Open up chokepoints and allow jump paths to be a little less predictable.

While this change will be almost universally praised by capital-capable pilots, will it achieve those goals, and are those goals even worthy?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Am I Starting to Like PvE?

In my last post, I talked about taking a few moderate risks to get a ratting carrier into the dronelands. My goal wasn’t just to earn isk, though that is a nice side effect. Rather, I wanted to become more comfortable with flying a carrier and comfortable with the fighter controls. While I’ve been able to fly capitals for a few years now, I really haven’t used them often in combat. Most of my experience with them came in the form of POS repairing.

But now that I’m in system and settling down to actually use the carrier, it’s quite profitable, in more ways than one. In some ways, it’s a bit different than I expected.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Wormholes, Gates, and Risking It All

Recently, I shared some musings about the constant risk/reward decisions occurring inside the heads of every Eve player every day. While sometimes it's not worth the risk to try to go through the Nourvukaiken/Tama gate in a hauler, other times, you just need to take that risk.

A week ago, I moved a character into a dedicated ratting corp, with the intention of doing a little carrier ratting to generate isk. My reasons for this weren't purely economic, though. I tend to be very nervous about cosmic anomalies; the fact that anyone can warp to them makes me a bit skittish. While carriers are capable of holding their own against subcaps now - something not true in the days between carriers being able to field light drones and the new squadron fighter mechanics - I've grown up on stories and experiences killing ratting carriers, and that kind of lesson doesn't quickly go away.

One of my corpmates, Alice Karjovic, won me over by suggesting that carrier ratting is quite different than it used to be. No longer is it the afk activity it used to be. In fact, he was pretty adamant that it's a good way to become familiar with the new fighter control mechanics, and actually serves as good training for carrier PvP. I'm very inexperienced with using capitals, so it sounded like a good thing to try to gain a little practice in a safer (yet still exposed) way.

But, first, I needed to get a carrier in the ratting system.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Propaganda: Basic Reactions

Balancing equations has never been easier, thanks to the Reddit comments of our friends in Circle of Two!

When balancing equations, don't skimp on the salt.

Enjoy the war, and study for Chem 101 at the same time.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Random Encounters

Eve is a social game, at its core. At the most basic level, having more people allows you to accomplish bigger goals, like taking down larger targets or completing more difficult missions or sites. Some aspects of the game simply aren't possible without multiple players, like supercap production, incursions, or carrier ratting. Others aren't viable - moon mining and PI are far easier and more profitable with multiple players.

When it comes to PvP, more players always makes it easier. Sometimes, that's not a good thing, like when you're specifically trying to fight outnumbered to stretch yourself. But in some situations and against some enemies, it's prudent and useful.

While most people offer the advice to join a player-run corporation so you have a group of people to talk to in game, that advice is usually offered more to ensure long-term engagement than to occupy each play session. The simple fact is, joining a corporation isn't enough. Nor is it enough to have a certain corp size.

The real factor you should be looking for is how many mains your corp has in the same place.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Beautiful Thing to Behold

I remember the first time I ever saw a Titan. It was very early in my career as a Roving Guns pilot in Razor. We landed on it in our Drakes (yeah, back then!) and got ready to bridge into a fight.

This was back in the times when bumping titans was a serious problem and FCs would rage for years about knocking it out of the POS. It was in the time of the black screen of death that sometimes happened when you loaded grid. That problem was always made worse by multiple pilots jumping at once, making a titan bridge a serious concern for those of us with lower-end PCs. After any jump, you might have found yourself dropped, only to log back in all alone.

Only a few weeks after seeing that first titan, I participated in my first two Titan kills, an Avatar and an Erebus in Venal, of all places. This was back when Titans weren’t used that often. They were utterly helpless when caught by themselves, and rarely traveled, or were even used that much in combat.

In the interim, though, I’ve participated in a wide number of move ops, but until Citadels, supers and titans had to be parked in POSes, and were often moved on their own, separate from capital and subcap fleets. While I might pass an occasional titan in transit, it was infrequent.

That all changed today, and I've got the evidence to prove it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Don't Ever Try to Sell Capitals

Two days ago, I faced the unenviable discovery that my alliance had changed its priorities, and no one had bothered to tell me. I found myself about two months behind the meta, holding onto ships I didn't need any longer.

Now, this happens all the time, of course. Doctrines change and ships become obsolete. This time, though, the problem was the kind of ships. We weren't talking about a few frigates here.

This is how things typically go when you decommission a doctrine. You somehow get your ship to Jita (typically contracting or hauling it), you repackage it, and sell the components on the market for either whatever you can get, or you set up sell orders to move it at the optimal price, if you don't need the isk quickly. Then, you pick up the new ship and make your way (or ship it) back to your staging. 

Of course, there are complications. Maybe you're deployed in deep null with camps along the way, and you need to use a courier service and alliance contracts. Or maybe you want to repurpose the ship and just need a few modules to retrofit it. I've certainly done that more than once. In the latter case, that involves inventorying what you have and what you need. There's nothing more annoying that going through the effort of hauling modules in only to realize you forgot to bring the T2 rig that makes the whole fit work.

But with capitals? It's a giant headache.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Gotta Catch 'em All

The Purity of the Throne event has been run for the past seven days. While I missed the first five due to vacation, over the past couple, I’ve been running a few of the sites.

Well, more than a few.

I’m not really a collector of novelty items. Sure, I have a bionic arm on Talvorian, and I injected any freebie skins we received over time. But other than that, I’ve bought exactly one skin, the Police Pursuit Comet Skin. And that one was purchased only because it’s pretty awesome to pull people over in lowsec (ie. kill them) while flying around in a ship painted like a police cruiser.

In fact, generally speaking, I’m offended by CCP’s strategy regarding skins. In my mind, they’re far too expensive for what you receive. I think it’d make more sense (in-game reason) and demonstrate much better customer respect (out-of-game reason) for a skin to be equally applicable to every ship that shares the same hull profile (so, a skin could be useable on Merlins, Hawks, Harpies, and Worms, for instance). I can’t really think of a reason beyond the desire to squeeze every cent out of players for having it the way it is.

Which, of course, is totally viable. I just don’t think it’s good customer service.

Regardless, it’s a moot point, since I’m not really the demographic for skins; I’ll never buy them because they’re far too expensive for me to adopt them regularly. In fact, I rarely even remember to put them on the ships I own them for. I’m just not built that way.

Nonetheless, I’m finding myself intrigued by the Purity of the Throne event. Really, the rewards are more akin to the Operation Frostline rewards – meager and without much inherent value – unlike the Blood Harvest event.

Yet, I’m consumed by this desire for nearly a whole set of Purity skins. As far as I can tell, it’s simply the fact that the white skins look awesome on Amarr ships. With all the other skins I’ve seen (again, with the exception of the Police Pursuit Comet), they’ve really just been variations of color combinations.

But these Purity skins are striking, bold, different. I’m finding myself not only fixated on getting the ones for ships I regularly fly, but even for ships I’ll never sit in. A Providence? Really? Gotta have it! I may even inject the Aeon and Avatar skins, even though I’ll never fly them with Talvorian.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What I'm Missing Most...

Over the past few days, the fam has been on vacation, and my access to anything Eve-related has been limited to the occasional read of Reddit and the odd update of Evanova. Beyond disappointment that my market orders have obviously been bettered (based on a wallet that hasn't been steadily increasing), I really haven't missed Eve that much.

I mean, sure, it's therapeutic to play at the end of the day, and that's not going to change. But, I've been by the beach, getting lots of good sleep, and not worrying about work in the slightest for the past three days. I don't really need pew therapy, do I? It's not really much of a surprise that I'm not missing playing.

But, amid the absence, it occurred to me that I really am missing parts of the game. I feel like I'm missing the story. Between Catiz's coronation coming, the Purity of the Throne events, and the new Scope video, I'm itching to get back and participate in some of the new lore developments.

When I had that thought, I stopped cold. It was immediately followed by another. The things that draw me to Eve are a lot more complex than I (and many people I've talked to) may first believe.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A New Kind of Incentive

In case you're not watching Reddit or the Eve announcements page closely, yesterday CCP announced a series of rewards they’ll be giving to subscribers who remain subscribed between now and the November expansion.

For those who do remain subscribed for this interval (a mere 2-3 months), they’ll receive a Gnosis (hope no one was investing in them…) and a shuttle, and one of the new Society of Conscious Thought destroyers (a guess, based on the available information)

The nature of this giveaway is not random. It’s a deliberate connection to Clone States and what CCP hopes will be an influx of new players through this program.

After all, both the Gnosis and the new destroyer (potentially named the Sunesis, which fits with the naming scheme started by the Gnosis) will be able to be flown by alpha clones.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

When the Risk is Too Much

Eve is a game about risk, of course. Every time you undock, you risk the destruction of your ship. For that reason, any good mentor will suggest that you shouldn't get too attached to your ships. Save your fits so you can recreate them when they die. Don't covet them. View them as the tools they are, not good friends.

And, try not to think about how many innocent crewmen die when your ship goes boom.

For that reason, everything we do goes into a cost/value analysis. Everyone does this, from the freshest newbro to the most grizzled, cutthroat veteran. Sure, the former may not have as much information feeding into that analysis and the veteran will tell you he flies recklessly even as he very carefully and automatically selects his fights, but they're asking themselves essentially the same question.

What are my chances?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Getting Meta about Clone States

The launch of an Eve free-to-play mode with Clone States has sent the player base into a fervor, spurred by the dual facets of excitement over having more people to shoot and anxiety over having more people shooting.

However, most of this buzz is focused around the level of the forest floor, not the wider view.

After all, CCP just announced a big change by allowing players to enter the gameworld without paying. This is a big deal. CCP is treating it like a big deal, with video blogs, a massive winback campaign sent to lapsed accounts, and a PR team working overtime to generate buzz about this change. Clearly, CCP wants people to take note. They’re doing everything they can to represent this as a big deal.

And that suggests a number of consequences.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Fear the Battle Venture!

On Friday night, I logged in to comms not really sure what to expect. While RP runs a Friday drunk roam (don’t let the name fool you; most of us are stone-sober, and it’s really a code phrase for low-sec roaming), we haven’t done it the past couple weeks, so I wasn’t sure what was happening.

The first comment I heard was, “X up if you need a Venture.”

Oh, God… what was I getting myself into?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Free-to-Play Mode: Not the End of the World... Maybe

CCP dropped a bombshell today with the announcement that they were introducing a free-to-play mode operating within the same universe as the rest of us play Eve. Before we all start biomassing or grabbing our pitchforks, let's dive into some of the consequences (including very good ones) and some essential modifications that will be needed.

First, let's dig into the details:

  • Subscribed accounts (ie. all of us playing today), will be considered "omega clones" and have the same full functionality.
  • Free-to-play accounts will be designated "alpha clones" and have severe limitations on sp use and training, capping out at around 5 million sp (an eligible skill list is included in the devblog).
  • Skill extraction will not be allowed for alpha clones.
  • Alpha clones will only be able to train the skills for their particular race (ie. Amarr characters can only train Amarr skills).
  • There is no current plan to limit concurrent logins between alpha and omega accounts, but CCP is going to look at this.
  • A subscribed account that lapses and becomes an alpha account will only be able to use skills on the alpha list; effectively, that other training is put in limbo and will not confer any bonuses until it's subscribed again.
  • Alpha clones will earn sp at a reduced rate compared to omega clones.

Suffice it to say, this is huge. But not, I suspect, as huge as people believe. In general, I think this change will be a net positive to the gameworld, if CCP makes some small adjustments.

Burying the Lead or Capitalizing on Fervor?

While I'm going to need some time to write my thoughts of Eve's new free-to-play mode, which was just announced today, I do want to take a moment to comment about the timing.

Suffice it to say, the timing is not coincidental, with the announcement of "alpha states", an in-game description for a method of accessing Eve on a limited, free-to-play basis, occurring mere days after a particularly controversial and long-desired change to command links. With the community worked up about one topic, CCP released info about a second, more controversial one.

This was a deliberate tactic, but its meaning depends on whether CCP feels the conversation about command links is a healthy, excited one or not. My guess is that they expected the change to command links to be well-received by the community, so they timed this F2P announcement to capitalize on it. As it turned out, I don't think the response was as favorable as they hoped. Time will tell whether this tactic supports or sabotages their efforts.

Nonetheless, the timing is interesting, and gives some insight into CCP's thinking.

More in a little while, after I've had a chance to collect my thoughts and write them down. Looks like my regularly scheduled posts are going to be bumped once again...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Boost Me Up, Bro!

Fleet boosts (links) are a challenging topic. As they stand right now, they're heavily broken because there's virtually no way a pilot can know if another ship is being linked before deciding to take a fight, nor is there any record of that fleet booster's participation in the fight. It's a largely silent mechanic.

Instead, a single ship sits alone in the depths of space, completely isolated from its fleet, providing a system-wide boost to all ships beneath it in the fleet structure. That fleet booster will never see either its fleet members or the enemy ships. Pretty much the only meaningful gameplay that ship needs to do is watch short scan for probes and incoming ships, and remaining aligned to quickly warp out to escape anyone trying to take it out. Its function is very similar to sitting at a safe and hoping you don't get probed down. For all intents and purposes, it's not playing the same game as anyone else in system. When attacking, by default you'll need a probing character with Virtue implants to be able to get a 100% lock on a halfway decent boosting fit.

And yet, links are viewed as absolutely essential to any well-run fleet. Even some individual and small-gang pilots (I use individual to refer to multiboxing individual pilots running multiple ships; they are not solo) will absolutely require links before undocking.

The demands of large fleets and small gangs are very different, and whether fleet boosts are present or absent affects each differently. In most large fleets, links help increase survivability, but not necessarily viability; they keep ships alive, but the fleet would operate similarly with or without links. In other cases - such as doctrines that rely on additional webbing range or glass cannon sniper fleets (Tornadoes, slippery pete Tengus) that need additional lock range - links are absolutely vital to effectively fly the doctrine. A slippery pete doctrine that operates within a Maelstrom fleet's lock range stands no chance, for instance.

For small gang work, links can often mean the difference between using and not using a given ship. many kiting ships, for instance, rely on a speed advantage - often coupled with implants - to maintain range, and without it, they simply wouldn't have a role. Links also provide a meaningful advantage when facing the blob; without links, the solo pilot doesn't stand a chance, so no fight happens.

It's a thorny problem. And CCP has decided to tackle it. Finally.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Colonizing the 30-Minute Session

I’ve been playing a lot of Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO as the kids call it) in the last month or so. Trading really has freed up the time I used to spend ratting in Eve. Really, you can’t ask for two games that are more different than CS and Eve.

Where Eve is all about making your own path and creating opportunities and goals, CS spoon-feeds you one of four or five possible routes on every map and clear objectives. Save the hostages, or plant the bomb. That’s it. There isn’t anything more complicated than that.

Counter Strike is all about a single skill, twitch reflexes. You need to be able to line up a shot and fire as fast as possible. It’s based on physical reaction time, so it’s a much more difficult skill to acquire. Eve, on the other hand, requires many skills that are much easier to perfect. The challenge comes from applying them when you see that yellow box appear around your target. Success in Eve requires a much more difficult skill to acquire: contextual decision-making. It’s borne from situational awareness, something that most games don’t need.

As a result, it takes a lot longer to become proficient. You’re not teaching your hands to do things, you’re teaching your brain to work a different way. It requires commitment over months or years. And each play session of Eve requires significant time. It can often take half an hour or more just to get to your destination. Form-ups may take half an hour again. And then you need to make your way home. It’s unlikely that an op will go faster than two hours from start to finish. It consumes an evening entirely.

And that’s Eve’s main problem.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Lessons: It's Not About Whether You Lose…

Recently, I’ve been trying out a new roaming system that involves Valeria in a fast-warping interceptor with Talvorian in a wicked neuting Vexor Navy Issue. It requires me to multibox, something that’s definitely outside my wheelhouse. But, that’s kind of the point, to get out of my comfort zone and stretch myself.

Originally, my goal with the setup was to use it to catch ratters more efficiently. I’ve often entered system and managed to pinpoint my targets in my Stratios, only to miss them by a few seconds. I wash hoping a fast-warping interceptor might be fast enough to pin them down and survive long enough for my back-up to kill them. I really haven’t gotten that chance; though I’ve flown the setup three times, I haven’t managed to find any ratters to test it against.

That’s not to say I’ve come up empty, though. While the planned engagements haven’t done well, it has performed admirably in surprised PvP situations, particularly against blobs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Remembrance and Idealism

Lately, there's been a lot of talk about Dominion sov and Aegis sov. Caprisunkraftfoods, a former alliance-mate and veteran of Black Legion and TISHU, shared some concerns about where Eve is headed. His concerns are incredibly valid, and demonstrate an awareness about the fundamental nature of conflict within the game. I share his concerns, for instance, about industrial citadels, and agree that I don't want POSes to be completely overridden by citadels.

Another former alliance-mate and fellow writer, Seraph Basarab (leaving out the Roman numerals) countered with his own perspective. In his write-up, he widens the focus conveyed within Capri's write-up to show that the story isn't as narrowly focused as one might think. His arguments are all incredibly reasonable.

Though both of them are in TISHU, they have some different interpretations about gameplay, the trajectory of Eve, and the general quality of recent changes. Both of them are right, and that fact alone reveals the complexity of what CCP is trying to accomplish. The simple fact is that yes, CCP has blindly followed their roadmap while completely ignoring player warnings about the inevitable results. This can have terrible consequences if they do everything they intend to do. Yet, the changes they have made to date have a lot of positive results to the game, as Seraph points out. I don't blame Capri for his lack of faith; that position is well-supported by recent rebalances. But nor is Seraph wrong in seeing the positives.

This discussion, though, has spawned a lot of conversation, though, and through that conversation, I've seen a lot of poorly constructed arguments, filled with fallacies that need to be addressed. This piece isn't an attempt to refute either Capri or Seraph, but rather to unpack and deflate some misconceptions and deliberate tricks being used by those supporting the both of them.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Nothing Whatsoever Happened in SH1-6P Yesterday...

...well, unless you count the destruction of 1.4 trillion isk worth of ships, including a handful of titans. Take a look at that battle report. Then scroll down. And down, and down. Then, you might hit the end of the list of titans who participated.

And who said Eve was bereft of reasons to fight?

The interesting thing was that this fight emerged over a CSAA that had been reinforced a couple days before. In a remarkably brilliant example of "I knew there was a reason CO2 wasn't annihilated", CO2 sounded the alarm and mustered their new allies against NC. and PL. Escalation followed escalation until we had a knock-down brawl that lasted several hours and wiped out a bunch of isk. It was the very best kind of battle... an impromptu one. I doubt many expected it to escalate as far as it did. A good time was had by all.

Well, almost everyone. Within the first minute of the fight, I found myself being yellow-boxed by the entire Snuff Box Nightmare fleet. I immediately broadcasted for armor reps, but I was dead before my logi even locked me. MintyRoadkill helped escort me to staging a couple minutes later. I only managed to get on the first two kills before I went down. Sad panda. So, I can't give much more on what happened since I was out so quickly, but a good summary can be found here.

But regardless of my own kill count, it was a good night for the good guys, and NC. lost only 71 bil. A good trade any day!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hangar Clean-out

I've moved around quite a bit over the past year, going from the north to Vestouve to 6VDT in Fountain to a couple locations in Pure Blind. My secondary staging moved too, out of and back to Tamo. Each time, I've loaded up my carriers or (more recently) dreads, sold off my excess ships, and moved on.

Suffice it to say, my 2016 hangar snapshot at the end of December is likely to look quite different from my 2015 version. Chiefly, it's going to have many fewer ships, as I found myself diversifying for diversity's sake. Never a good idea on the wallet. But, at a more basic level, I need to limit myself to two dreads' worth of ships now.

I tend to be very slow in giving up on a ship, a class, or a type of flying. I'll fit out a ship, and even if I don't fly it often, I'll keep it in my Tamo hangar for years. But now, I'm finally getting around to cutting the cord and removing some of these ships. Some of them are "old girlfriends" that I absolutely love. But, the meta moves on, and it doesn't do to keep the dead weight of ships eclipsed in every way by other options. There are times to fly with your heart (Friday night sink roams), but most of the time, if you want kills solo or in a small gang, you need to be smart about what you fly.

A few recently haven't made the cut, and were carted off to Jita to be sold.

Monday, August 15, 2016

There Is a Reason After All

My corp owns a C6 wormhole, though we’re part of a null-sec alliance. We do that sort of thing; while we all PvP, we each dabble in other areas of the game. Some of us like to do industry, some rat, some do PI, some market trade, and some of us run wormhole sites to earn isk. It makes for a well-balanced group.

We recently dropped an astrahus in our wormhole, so I was eager to get some ships in there. I occasionally scan down WH chains to find targets to kill, and I figured that basing that clone out of the wormhole with my hunting ships made more sense than waiting for a good connection in our null system. Go where the fish are, right?

I had my first ship – a Proteus that could scan down future connections to k-space for stocking a few more vessels – and three separate times, I headed to our connection only to find that the static hole had closed before I could arrive. Finally, on the fourth day, I managed to each the hole. I was ready to clone jump back to known space, happy to have successfully inserted a clone in my destination.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Knowledge Gaps

Eve is a game of horizons. You can play for years, skilling towards becoming the perfect pilot for a specific ship. Just when you reach that goal, you find yourself keenly aware of your limitations. So, you need to train for the next one, and the next.

For my part, I wanted to learn to be a good solo and small gang PvPer, so my first priority was to play “catch up” by topping off all the basic fitting and competency skills (shield, armor, etc.), then top off my cruiser/medium-and-below spaceship command and weapon skills. Only after that did I start working on capital skills.

Now, Talvorian is sitting pretty well, able to fly all carriers and dreads, as well as T2 siege. In fact, that’s been the case for about a year now, though I rarely fly capitals.

You see, capital warfare has always been beyond the next horizon for me. I can sit in them, I can follow commands, but I really just don’t “get” them yet. With my schedule of availability, I’m hit or miss for large capital fleets, and there were always other kinds of gameplay I needed to practice more.

Yesterday, I went on a fleet that had several of my corpmates multiboxing capitals, and it made me jealous. I wanted to do that. But, I have enough awareness to know I don’t have the “soft skills” to fly them. I completely missed the boat on the carrier changes; I read the patch notes of course, but I never previously flew carriers in combat situations, so I didn’t really take the time to understand what those changes meant.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Citadel Traps

I’m a big fan of gameplay that requires plays to do work to catch targets. Generally speaking, if Eve is about improving your skill and defeating a human opponent, using a cheap trick completely defeats the purpose.

That tends to be why I don’t really respect pilots who fly with boosting alts, particularly as they’re still of the off-grid variety. To me, that smacks of throwing money at a problem and pretending it’s skill. It’s certainly a viable, effective, and permitted tactic, but it’s not a very skillful one.

One of the tactics that fit into that category from the moment citadels deployed was dropping a citadel and drag bubbles in line with a gate to pop anyone who warped directly from gate to gate. From the safety of your citadel, you could kill everything with ease. It was a cheap tactic.

And, with the August patch, it’s no longer possible. Drag bubbles will now only catch ships if placed within 500 km of your warpto location (a gate, a planet, etc.)

What surprises me isn’t that Eve players chose to take advantage of this, or that CCP didn’t anticipate this application of the mechanic. It’s that it took this many months for the change to come. I mean, I can understand that it might require some development, and that citadel mechanics are new and prone to surprising effects when you change.

But in null-sec, a citadel-bubble combination is just ridiculous, and systems were lousy with them.

Regardless, it’s another one of those problems we can relegate to history and the “wow, that was really a thing?” category.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Restocking the Pond

For the past couple years, CCP has done a great job of providing overhauls to pretty much every key PvP mechanic in the game. Stations and POSes are being converted to Citadels, new ships were launched, and null sovereignty was completely redefined. It took a lot of work, and it changed a lot about one of the key selling points of the game: sovereignty by large player groups.

At the same time, we saw a group of bankers take down a coalition of alliances that many considered to be unstoppable. Many people, including myself, argued that the CFC would only fall as a result of internal rot. While that’s certainly true – key corps and players defected as a result of a delayed boredom – the catalyst was one banker stealing from another.

That’s right, a complaint between bankers led to the complete obliteration of an empire that had stood for over five years. What a time to be alive! Granted, the CFC didn’t really fight, as much as it sought to preserve as many of its supercap assets as possible for a future rebuild. There were some good fights, but not nearly as many as you’d expect.

And yet, what was the effect? PvPers absolutely loved it, and a lot of players joined groups like Spectre Fleet to participate in such a historical event, even if they had no reason to particularly hate the CFC. Alliances that had grown fat from years of ratting were ejected, replaced by many more smaller alliances. And, as a result, the CFC – what remains of it – decided to move to Delve, hopefully creating a new PvP hotspot in the process.

That’s all wonderful as far as results go. Yet, the average logged-in users declined yet again. More people are “winning” Eve by quitting. And Citadel clearly hasn’t generated the mass influx of new blood it intended.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

FC Lessons: Room for Improvement

Over the weekend, I ran my first small gang roam as FC with some corpmates. I've taken a few days to think it over before drawing some conclusions about how I did. While the tl;dr is that we lost two scouts, none of the main fleet (except one who did a silly thing - not taking responsibility for that one!) and killed a blue Worm who didn't stop shooting us. Not that great. But, it could have been much worse. The story behind it, though, is where the lessons lie.

NC. moved this past weekend, so there weren't many planned ops for the days immediately preceding it as folks gathered up their ships, divested what they didn't need, and prepared capitals and jump clone timing to convoy to our next home. With some help from corpmates (I heart you, Basta...) I was done a little early and wanted to have a little fun. So, I clonejumped to Tamo and started up a fleet.

After all, if the content isn't around, create the content, right?

Sparta was planning on solo roaming in the same general direction anyways, so he and four others came along. It was a good size gang, with everyone armor-tanked, an additional armor link ship, and a Cruor as a scout. I brought Talvorian in a Confessor as a second scout and Valeria in an Auguror Navy Issue to manage fleet warps and have on-field eyes for fights. With that, we headed out towards Tamo.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Theomachy: A Litmus Test Against the Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lessons: Try, Try Again

Universal axioms are rarely useful; in almost all cases (see what I did there...), the devil is in the details. Take, for instance, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." In certain cases, it just doesn't make sense to follow that advice. If you fail to kill a carrier with a single battleship, don't try again. Give up. It's foolish.  Or if, say, you aren't willing to inject, repurpose, or buy a neutral jump freighter pilot, don't fly jump freighters.

Yet, that's not to say the axiom is wholly worthless, because there are a lot of situations where slight differences in details can make a world of difference. Sometimes, victory or defeat comes down to a slight fitting change here or there, or knowing more about the habits of your target. In many cases, even the experience of losing once provides critical information you can use the next time to turn the tables.

One of those situations happened to me this weekend. In between hunting Goonswarm supercaps as they moved and killing a couple carriers that wanted to commit insurance fraud, I made two quick whaling trips to a nearby ratting system. During the first one, I tried to jump two Vexor Navy Issues, but it didn't go as planned.

The second trip ended much differently as a direct result of the lessons I learned, though.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Wherein My Galleon Capsizes

I've been playing Eve consistently for the past five years, and have spent all of that time in null-sec (I did start out in high-sec in the two years prior, but that was intermittent). I really should know some things that I clearly don't know.

Recently, I've undertaken to begin market seeding and contract stocking for NC. This is a new thing for me, and it involves a lot of learning. While you do need to mark up the costs from Jita prices, I don't want to gouge anyone, and have been pricing my contracts beneath the least expensive alternative as a way of letting the market dictate an appropraite markup. Really, if I want to make the most isk, then, the trick is in velocity, not margin. It's taken some time to understand which ships move the fastest, letting me reuse those contract slots and keep the stock flowing. I'd say I've done a good job at that.

But, there's one huge piece I'm not doing well. Case in point.

Yeah, that happened. I'm a terrible jump freighter pilot.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Third Hotspot?

For years, a very limited number of interesting things happened in nullsec. You essentially had two major empires, the CFC and the Russians, with Provibloc seemingly content with its modest region in Providence. But - largely, nothing of much importance happened in other regions of space. The whole south, for instance, was a vast renter wasteland.

Mind you, things happened. Empires lived there, they built up their space, and did all the things people do will null systems. But when you were planning a roam or deciding whether to roam around the systems near where your wormhole popped up, would you even really waste your time going through any other area of space? There was simply too much of nothing around.

And on top of that, Russian space outside of RUTZ was pretty well-known for being botland, filled with pilots who dock/safe up like clockwork when you entered local. I mean, ridiculously consistently, with - dare I say? - machine-like efficiency. It was kind of a dead zone for entertainment, despite the population.

Around each of those areas, you saw satellite activity pop up. the pirates moved there, and provided more targets for you to shoot. Both the owners and the pirates had to make isk and enjoy the content, so they tended to spread into the nearby FW areas, buoying the action there. You ended up with two main hotspots surrounded by opportunists and hunters. Two centers of content, if you will. But it was all made possible by the concentration of active players in the north.

And that's all about to change. Goonswarm is leaving the north.

Monday, July 18, 2016

BB77: The Network News Effect in Eve

Over at Sand, Cider, and Spaceships, Drackarn asked an interesting question as part of Blog Banter 77:
Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it's just another bout of summer "ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!"
I raised a few points on this topic with Ripard Teg (formerly of Jester Trek) on reddit, and this blog banter gives me an ideal opportunity to expound a little.

Generally speaking, this blog banter includes two sections. The first raises good questions, but the suggested problem in the second half takes us down the wrong path. Generally, I'd say Eve is just fine, and here's why.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

FC Lessons: Cool as Ice

My post discussing my desire to become a better FC has generated a lot of response, and for that, I thank you. One of my readers, the much-celebrated Jonathan Atruin, commented that one of the most critical tasks of an FC is to be heard with a calm voice at all stages of an engagement, regardless of the result.

The thinking behind this goes something like this. First, being an FC requires that your fleet members feel comfortable enough that you have a good understanding of the situation that they're willing to suspend their usual self-preservation instinct. In so doing, they do what will maximize the chances of the fleet succeeding, even if it means their own individual death. sometimes, a few more seconds of a ship remaining on grid can mean one extra volley, and one extra volley can mean a critical target explodes instead of catching reps. And if that's a critical enough target, the whole enemy fleet could unravel.

For pilots to commit that fully to a fleet, they a) need to believe that their FC has a bigger understanding of what's happening than they do, and b) have faith that this understanding will result in a better chance of success than pilots doing their own thing. When things happen in an engagement and they don't hear the FC's voice, or when the FC sounds emotional and agitated, it erodes that trust that the FC is in control.

That's hard instinct for an FC to develop - understanding when communication is needed, even if nothing is happening. It starts with the FC understanding the likely reaction and motivations of his fleet, and responding to the unspoken desires.

Let me give you an example.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

That's Who I Want to Be

About a month ago, Repercussus left Violence of Action and joined NC. I was a little surprised. It's well known that NC. wants every player to have the ability to fly and live out of a capital. With some of RP's newer players, I wasn't sure it'd be a good fit.

But after a few weeks, I've been enjoying it so much that I've moved Talvorian back into RP. First impressions have been strong. On comms, pilots are cool and collected. The alliance flies the shiny ships that initially drew me to join TISHU last year, and has both the ability and interest in flying smaller doctrines. And when they do throw down, they do so with the support of PL and a robust capital SRP program. If I lose a dread, I can get back into the fight regardless of how much isk I have tied up. Suffice to say, I bought and fully decked out two Naglfars in the first week.

But that's honestly not what impressed me about NC. It's not the doctrines or the SRP, but rather the FC corps. These people know what they're doing.

And I've found myself increasingly wanting to be like them.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Making Trading Easier

A couple days ago, someone on reddit asked what sort of tools for Eve the community was asking for. At first, nothing came to mind, but after deciding to start up a trade empire (read: market stocking), I do have a suggestion after all.

Any time you do any trading, there are a few key things you want to know. What's your buy price? How fast are you likely to sell through your stock (allowing you to replenish and put that profit back to work as principle for the next round)? And, most importantly, how profitable is it for you?

Now, this last bit is actually quite difficult to calculate. To understand it, you need to know the price you buy at, the price you sell at, and the quantity moved. Now, if you're selling one item, that's not that difficult to keep track of. You can open up a spreadsheet and pull the data, then compare the results to see what you're making.

But what happens when you have a hundred different items selling piecemeal as you adjust your prices to reflect the competition? Your sell prices are all different? They're interspersed with other items, with restocks of items you sell through, etc. etc. Your wallet balance can't tell you if you're making money, since your profit is being fed back into your operation.

Plus, you may salvage or loot any number of additional items, rendering "Transactions" useless too.  You may be looting missions, looting wrecks from your kills, and repackaging and sellling ships you don't need anymore, creating a lot of mess.

At any given time, your wallet balance is an imprecise measure of your profitability.

So, if there are any enterprising individuals out there, I'd like to see a tool that allows you to track your market orders and calculate profit and loss over time, filtering out unrelated items. In an ideal world, you could customize which items you track, either by a clipboard pull/copy & paste or by tracking items sold on market order. If it pulled directly from the api this would be a tool I'd use every day.

I'm relatively new at trading as a profession. In the past, I've tracked perhaps ten items at a time, and the prospect of doing it with jump freighters, full fittings, modules, ammo, and implants is definitely going to require some additional thinking on my part.

I'd love to hear how other traders do it - not their items and routes, of course, but what tools do they consult every day to do their business? What's the first thing they do when they log in?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hearts in the Right Place

Assuredly, CCP has been putting effort in to improving the immersion and experience of Eve, and I have to appreciate that fact. Yet, despite this obvious work, I find myself less engaged with the game.

I understand what they're trying to do, of course: remind us of all the complex activity happening just beneath the surface. For instance, when we dock, the screen goes black, then it fires back up with us safely in our private berth, it's easy to lose track of the fact that we're just one ship within a massive structure, that so much is happening around us. The docking animation reminds us of this, and is a neat part of immersion.

Or, rather, it might be, if not for the jerky camera action that actually gives me vertigo. When I dock, I'm immediately looking to either a) repair my ship, b) move items between my ship cargo and hangar bay, or c) swap ships, all of which require my eyes to focus on the static cargo screen. But the docking animation being a side-angle pan really plays havoc with my equilibrium and makes me feel like I'm trying to throw a baseball onto a moving train.

It's an example of a great idea done just slightly wrong. Now, CCP's responding to this with an option to toggle off the effect, but to me, that falls in the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" approach. Why not just default the camera angle to face squarely at your oncoming ship, so you see it grow slightly bigger while the background behind it stays the same? The vertigo effect would be drastically minimized for those who want to get to station business, while players who do want to enjoy the effect can simply shift their camera angle. You're 90% of the way there, but that 10% means the difference between a sick stomach and a great change implementation.

For me, this sums up my recent experience with Eve... almost, but not quite.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Tips for Adjusting Overview Colors

The overview is the most vital means of interacting with Eve, and it's critical to get the right information you need in any given situation. As of the June 2016 patch, each character can have up to 8 overview tabs set up at a time, with an unlimited number of overview profiles.

These overview tabs are highly customizable, and I encourage you to spend a little time creating your own. Because you can import and export your whole overview set between characters, you only need Or, you can search for "Eve overview packs" to find some pre-made ones. I don't use any of them, though, so I can't recommend a good pack. I put together about two dozen of my own combinations, which I use for specific situations. My standing overview tabs are:

  • PvP: Despite the name, my first overview includes everything that could do damage to me or be relevant for PvP, including NPCs, bubbles, and basic warp-outs.
  • Reds + Gates: Includes only non-blue, non-fleet member ships and stargates. This tab is for when I'm in a fight or scanning for targets and don't want the extra clutter.
  • Fleet: One of the new tabs added since the 5-to-8 expansion, this tab includes only fleet members.
  • Loot: Wrecks and cargo containers; incidentally, my cargohold also has a filter for 5 mil+ loot.
  • Misc: Jack-of-all-trades overview tab, which I swap out as necessary with my niche presets.
  • Planet: The second of the new tabs, the planet tab used to be one of my "misc" profiles.
  • Belts: The third of the new tabs, also populated "misc" occasionally.
  • Probes+Bubbles: As my last tab, I can shift+tab to this one from my primary tab, "PvP" to quickly check the area for anything that might block my travel, including anchored and dictor bubbles.
I should also point out one overview profile I recommend everyone have: a "safety" profile. While this profile doesn't find its way onto a tab, it's my default scanning profile. This safety profile is identical to my "Reds +Gates" profile, but also includes both core and combat scanner probes. I can't over-state the value of this profile. While I started using it when I'd run cosmic signatures in hostile null space (to see both ships in dscan and any time they'd drop probes), I found it to be absolutely essential when going whaling as well. I didn't always have the luxury of dropping a mobile depot and swapping to an armor repairer in a completely empty system, and being able to see both probes and hostile ships at the same time was critical in preventing me from missing a probe scan cycle as I changed overview tabs. It saved me more than once.

But all of that would be highly confusing if not for one fun option: overview tab colors! After all, it's easy to forget which tab you're on, or what the different tabs are for. Eight tabs is a lot for the eye to capture, and it's a psychological fact that the maximum number of elements an average person can keep in their mind at once is 7. Some can manage more, some can manage fewer. Colors help break up the tabs. But, there's no easy way to set up color options.

Rather than reproduce the description of how to add color to your overview tabs, I'd prefer to refer you to the master reference at stackexchange.com. Follow this guide and you can sort your overview in a quick, meaningful way.

This is much easier to keep track of. If you don't like the colors indicated in the guide, you can choose any colors you want. Just reference a color code guide and change the field within the color tag.

Anyways, experiment and find something that works for you. But, with eight overview tabs to use, you shouldn't ever lose a ship - or an opportunity for a kill - because of fumbling for the right preset.

Good luck out there!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Post 400: A Refresh on the Mission

This post is my four hundredth post. Every time I hit a hundred, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking a moment to look back on the last hundred posts since the previous review. The prior ones are all listed here:

So, what to do this time?

This milestone comes a bit earlier than anticipated due to CCP pulling the Evelopedia in February. One of the sections I’d refer to normally was the cosmic signature guides, and rather than lose them forever, I copied, cleaned, and standardized the format of them on my own blog (you can reference all of them at the Cosmic Signature Page to the right).

Also during this interval, I made some changes to the blog of a more technical nature. On the right, I’ve changed the listing for my most popular posts to reflect the past week’s trends, not all-time trends. A minor thing, but I’ve noticed my post reads evening out a bit.

And, I’ve cleaned up my blogroll recently, too. Ripard Teg recently bemoaned the lack of meaningful blogs on reddit, and while I disagree with his premise, I do admit to seeing a lot of old favorites going dark (although, none of those listed on my post 300 are among them!). Is it because the nature of Eve chews up and spits out writers, or does it simply represent the community moving beyond the need for daily “reporter” blogs? Something has changed, and only the niche blogs seem to endure anymore.

And that brings me to the purpose of this summary post. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Revamping ECM

With one more post before my 400th (and the typical "past 100" review), I thought I might as well raise another thorny problem. What to do about ECM?

Each race has its own special electronic warfare abilities, of course. For instance, the Gallente warp disruption ability was absolutely vital for many fleets - albeit not as much now with the Orthrus - particularly for any fleet that focuses tackle ability on only a couple ships. This powerful ability was paired with the relatively useless sensor dampening. With the Minmatar, target painting is nice, but rarely makes a difference in small gang or solo fights, whereas the webbing range can help dictate engagement range in a meaningful way.

Perhaps owing to their status as the oldest of the four current empires, the Amarr have the best and most useful advantages for small gang and solo, the neuting range, neuting amount, and tracking disruption bonuses. Those three abilities make the Curse and Pilgrim fearsome beasts, able to hold down, suck dry, and render impotent any turret or missiles ships (with missile disruptors). Really, they only need fear drone boats.

And then, there's the Caldari ECM, the bane of nearly any fleet, of any size. If the other ECM ships can be considered a force multiplier, ECM is really a force halver. For, unlike the other abilities that all diminish the combat or defensive capability of a ship or a fleet, ECM completely annihilates it.

Or, it doesn't. An ECM ship either entirely removes an enemy vessel for the fight for the length of its successful jam, or it has absolutely no effect. It's effectiveness is based purely on chance. Even good fitting techniques - fitting the right jams for the kind of ship you're facing - only increases or decreases that chance. Ultimately, random-number generation determines the success.

That fact alone put ECM on the rebalance block. So, what should we replace it with? I certainly can't say for certain, but there are a few options being suggested.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Flagships or Bodyguards?

At the expense of getting two posts out of a single topic (I'm totally shameless enough to do it), I figured a different take on the "flagship" concept (covered in this month's blog banter) deserved a second post.

The blog banter itself was a reaction to CCP's suggestion about adding a new class of ship to the game, a flagship, which would be highly durable and serve the purpose of allowing a pilot to stay on grid for a significant period of time, specifically to counter headshotting by the enemy fleet.

Suffice to say, this provoked a bit of discussion.

One reader in particular was skeptical about having a special ship class have permanent effects tied to it, and suggested an effect that would buff the FC's ship instead:
I'd have it be a more nebulous mechanic born out of the Fleet window which applies an effect much like a Links but to only one pilot. The real trouble is bracketing this effect to only occur in 'real' fights where headshotting is an issue.
This line of thinking tied in so perfectly with a comment my wife made that I wanted to explore it a bit further.

Friday, June 17, 2016

BB76 - Are Fleet Commanders Special?

This month's blog banter asked a compelling question, one that touches on the importance of content amplifiers within Eve:
At fanfest CCP Fozzie proposed a potential new ship class. Let’s call it the fleet commander’s flagship for now. This is to try and prevent “FC Headshotting” where the opposing fleet knows who the FC is and alpha’s them off the field leaving the rest of the fleet in confusion and disarray. Fozzie mentioned a ship with a great tank but no offensive abilities. Is this a good idea? Is FC head-shotting a legitimate tactic? If CCP do go down the route of a “flagship” how might this work? Also is a new ship the answer or is there another way of giving an FC the ability not to be assassinated 12 seconds into the fight without letting players exploit it?
Boy, this question only scratches the surface of the deeper issue beneath it. Too often, we as commentators choose to focus purely on raw numbers. How many players live in high-sec vs. null? What's out average PCU? What's your killboard efficiency?

We're taught to think with mathematical efficiency. In school, we're taught to quantify and substantiate with X number of proof points or number of paragraphs. And too often, we try to port this tendency over to rhetorical arguments as well.

Put simply, we make the mistake of believing that the purpose of the argument is to make the more logical argument. This, as anyone knows, is foolish. Logic has little to do with human nature and the current of human passion. And far more aspects of this game are based on emotion, perception, and narrative than any of these writers would like to believe.

Then again, maybe I'm more of an adherent to the German philosophers than they are. Our world is "will and idea" more than it is fact. Facts fail to capture all the really exciting parts of life that make it worth living, and very rarely does the optimal or ideal mathematical, factually predicted result occur.

And that's the foundation of my pretty strong position on this point.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Razor Leaves(ish) the Imperium

My in-game activity has been somewhat diminished over the past four weeks or so as the NHL playoffs came to an end. But now that they have ended - and successfully, with my Penguins winning the Cup! - I'm turning my attention back to Eve in a big way.

There are some groups in Eve I can't help but track based on fond memories. Alliances and corporations where I had a lot of great fun, but ultimately left for various reasons. Unlike when I was a member, I'm able to look at them a bit more honestly now and see them for their strengths and weaknesses... warts and all, as they say.

One of those groups is Razor Alliance, of whom I was a member for over two years. So, you can imagine that I was somewhat interested in the fact that they're leaving the Imperium. But thye are keeping blue status to "the Imperium" for the time being.

The first reddit posts announcing this departure didn't provide much more information than this, and my reaction was predictable. If you leave the Imperium but don't change your standings, you really haven't left. It's a cheap attempt to remove the target on your back without actually taking on any more risk. And the whole point of World War Bee was to smash a stable coalition to introduce more risk and more conflict into the game. Kill the "big blue doughnut" by smashing the entity most responsible for it.

Now, since then, more info came out in a soundcloud in which it became clear that the blue status would be short-term to help Razor extract its assets and ships from allied areas. And that's a very different animal than keeping permanent blue standing. This is a temporary status to help them disengage from coalition functions.

But, I had the inevitable person comment about unfair standards. And that just doesn't do to go unanswered.

Monday, June 13, 2016

This Is How You Succeed

On my latest post, a reader made a comment about the difficulty in applying the "lose 100 ships" theory to learning PvP:
Most players (most PEOPLE) have a low tolerance for failure. Add in the shame of a killboard and comments, as well as smacktalk in local, or taunting by alliance members, and you'll have people backing off from PVP entirely. You raise that threshhold and not give a crap what people think (including yourself!) then and ONLY then will you see results. Oh, yeah, expect to lose a billion or more before your first solo kill, most likely. Mainly because you wont find a solo player, just gank groups...and THEN you find that single pilot, he has to fight back and not run. THEN you have to WIN. Losing gains you experience but not knowledge; losing ships doesnt teach you what to do. It teaches you other people can beat you a lot.
I hear this argument a lot, and I wanted to decompress it a bit. I provided a quick response, but quickly realized I could put together a whole post in and of itself. There are a few things going on here:

  1. Players have a low tolerance for failure.
  2. Players don't want to be publicly shamed.
  3. Getting meaningful fights is difficult.
  4. Losing doesn't gain you knowledge, only that it's easy for you to lose.
At its heart, these four points speak to a very specific mentality that fulfills itself, one that is quite common these days. At its heart, it speaks to the fact that our society doesn't teach us how to either overcome adversity or how to learn.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Such a Small Thing, Such a Big Difference

I'm a big fan of the "lose a hundred ships" philosophy of learning to play Eve. Sure. you need to make sure you learn the right lessons from those 100 losses, but there's no better way to learn to PvP than to simultaneously lose your fear of loss and push the envelope to understand the different ways of flying and the counters to each style. A kiting frigate and a kiting cruiser face many of the same challenges - both when flying and when shooting it - and the lessons transfer pretty well.

Honestly, the biggest pain point to losing 100 ships is getting them to your staging system and fitting them all up. Sure, on occasion I complain about wanting to be able to haul my ships quickly, but generally speaking Red Frog does a great job of moving packaged ships to any high-sec system very cheaply, and a Viator can do the job of getting them into lowsec well enough once you get there.

Yet, until now, fitting was a giant pain in the ass.  Not anymore, ladies and gentlemen.  Bulkfitting is coming to Tranquility with the next patch. Now, you'll be able to plop 100 Tristans and their modules into your hangar, select bulkfitting, and end up with 100 fitted and named ships, all ready to go (after the server recovers from all that work, of course...).

Now, at first, you may think this isn't that big of a deal, but it's an absolute game changer for anyone who does alliance logistics, setting up all those ships for contract. Bulk fitting ships was tedious work that detracted from any engaging gameplay. You'd have to do it one at a time, laboriously flipping through multiple windows and dozens of mouseclicks to get uniform results quickly.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sometimes, You Have to Give Up

Sometimes, persistence yields benefits. We've all read those stories about players carefully stalking targets over the course of days or weeks, lining up the perfect opportunity. Titans and supers tend to be a target of these kinds of players, and through them we learn never to be predictable when we're flying "the thing". Some players afk cloak for hours on end until the residents relax long enough that they finally let their guard down and get caught.

But for each carefully researched and laid trap is that opportunity that just doesn't pan out.

What separates the "persistent" from the "stubborn"? In the end, doesn't it have to come down to likelihood? The persistent player reviews the situation and recognizes an opportunity that may be somewhat distant. The stubborn player clings to a hope not borne out in evidence.

That afk camper knows - as sure as the sun rises in the east - that the people she's camping will eventually shrug their shoulders and put out a bait ratter. She might respond to comments in local hours after they're made, just to reiterate that she's not sitting at her computer. After nothing happens to it, more pilots will start ratting, then they'll bring out the bling. It's a certainty.

That titan hunter can point to the habits of the target, knows its travel routes, knows active time periods, and has scouts ready to relay intel. Evidence. Fact.

Then, there's the other type. Yesterday, I came across a stubborn player whom I kind of felt bad for.

Monday, June 6, 2016


This was a strange weekend for me. Sure, I joined a few fleets and had the chance to get a few nice kills with our fleet as Test decided to shoot one of our citadels. You may have heard, but White Legion headed over to FDZ to have a little fun. The Tartoken/Saranen area was getting a little crowded.

Then, there was the adjustment to zkill, where I learned I'm 75% dangerous and 15% solo. At first, I was a little offended. Then I started seeing the stats from some of my corpmates, and realized that 15% is actually pretty good, considering I've been part of either low-sec small gang alliances or null-sec fleet alliances for the past five years. I'm actually pretty good with that, all things considered.

But really, the past week has been all about capitals. The buying, selling, fitting, and studying of them.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Enough with the False Parallels

I really like Wilhelm Arcturus' perspective on the game. He's a good writer, but recently, he parroted the latest talking point in the Imperium's increasingly desperate repertoire of attempted propaganda:
"In their effort to defeat us, our enemy has had to become us. As the CFC/Imperium had often been called Band of Brothers 2.0, the Moneybadgers have begun to look a bit like the Imperium 2.0."
This is an obvious propaganda point, and a pretty bad one at that. Why? Because it relies upon a false parallel that assumes the reader is foolish enough to believe all coalitions are the same. It's disingenuous, and it frustrates me to know end.

Here's a tip to those who resonate with this argument: the people shooting you aren't a coalition, despite the naming.

Let's consider the nature of the two groups being compared.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hunting Ratters, A Guide

In January, I spent a lot of time in CFC space (at the time) hunting ratters in my Stratios full-time. This was before my alliance, TISHU, deployed to start brutalizing SMA in Fade. At the time, one of my readers suggested I put together a guide about doing exactly that. I apologize for taking so long.

Now, it's worth noting that I'm probably not the best person to write this guide. Stunt Flores, for instance, is phenomenal at this kind of activity. Following his recent un-ban, he celebrated by killing over fifty pilots in a period of about two days. That's tremendous. But, I haven't seen him put one up; if he makes comments to this one, I'd be happy to append the post with his tips.

This post is going to focus on null-sec ratting, and it's going to start with the assumption that you're doing it solo; I'll get into some small-gang advice later on. I'm not going to talk about black-ops dropping, though, since that's really just an easier form of solo hunting.

So, let's start with a little psychology, move to the vital facts, and end with some tips.

Why do pilots rat in null-sec?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Lessons: Breaking Reps Through Trickery

Earlier this week, White Legion had one particular battle with the CFC and the MBC in the thunderdome known as Saranen. In this case, TISHU brought Machariels, Pandemic Legion brought Armageddons, White Legion brought slippery pete Tengus, and the CFC showed up in Hurricanes.

Now, as to what happened, Wilhelm Arcturus's write-up about the battle was incredibly detailed, so I'm not going to even attempt to do so again. Just go ahead and read that post for the full story.

Rather, I wanted to talk about one aspect of it in particular. Early on in the battle - at least from the White Legion perspective - we were having some trouble breaking the reps on the MBC fleets. In particular, we would target a TISHU Machariel, only for it to catch reps well before we could apply damage.

Now, part of it was because we were applying damage at 200 km. Yet, a pete Tengu is capable of projecting incredibly well without being able to be probed, which, of course, is crazy overpowered.

But the other part was the result of standard target calling behavior, and that's where our story begins.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Hey Guys, Let's Go Shoot Things"

A couple years ago, I decided to branch out and purchase my first "second PvP character" from the bazaar. While I've upgraded them over the years - selling the one I owned for a profit and buying a replacement for a discount - I saw the value in having a second character in a different corporation than Talvorian.

Each corporation or alliance bases out of the same station and uses the same group of FCs. They use the same doctrines, have the same strong time zones, and go after the same kinds of content. In the end, having multiple characters in the same corp means you get to go deeper in the same content.

I like variety. Part of me wants to help build something. Part of me just likes to get out there and shoot things. Jump clone timers mean you can't just keep swapping from location to location; you're locked into one kind of content per character per day most of the time, and certainly no more than two per day, assuming you schedule your JCs carefully.

But when you have two independent characters, you can really enjoy the variety Eve offers. I tended to keep one in sov null and another in lowsec - where I could resupply it easily and didn't have to worry about evaccing assets or using my main to carrier-jump resources in or out. About three months ago, I changed that up a little when I realized Valeria was fully cross-trained and support skilled through medium weapons and sentry drones.

I bought a dedicated ratting character to free her up. For the first time, I had two highly skilled PvP characters who were both a) free of the need to rat, and b) capital-capable. The second point can't be overlooked; a capital-capable pilot can be self-reliant for restocking and moving ships all across the map, and is much more attractive to any corp it wants to join.

Now, I just had to wait for that pesky war to slow down before I took advantage of it.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Praise the Skill, Not the Form

A family vacation chained on top of a work trip (one day in between) left little computer time this past week, but I did have the opportunity to read an interesting post by Eve Hermit. In it, he responds to JohnnyPew’s opinion on what real solo PvP is. If you’re interested in the nuances among different definitions of “solo”, both are worth listening to.

What is solo PvP? There are a few definitions people tend to use:
  1. A single pilot flying without any support of any kind.
  2. A single combat pilot doing damage and applying effects.
  3. A single human fighting without the assistance of others.
It may seem like a difference in terminology only, but the ramifications are significant. The second and third options open up the possibility of using link alts or scouts to give an advantage, while the third option covers multiboxers, like Zosius, the very skilled writer of Cloaky Bastard.

Really, the question of what “true solo PvP” is comes down to gloating rights, in the end. At what point do you have the right to link the kill in Bringing Solo Back without it being a sad attempt to make yourself feel accomplished? Let me give you a few scenarios to consider:
  1. You fly two characters at once, your dps ship and a covops scanner as a scout. You jump your scout in and see three ships on the other side. You wait until your scout sees a single ship vulnerable and jump in, killing the ship and moonwalking out before the other two arrive to assist their friend.
  2.  You fly with two characters, a link alt and a Merlin. Using your links, your Merlin kills a Federation Navy Comet in a novice FW plex.
  3.  You control four characters, a cloaky tackle Proteus and three remote rep Dominixes. Using your Proteus, you find a fleet of four Tengus running a site in a WH. You tackle a couple with your Proteus, warp in your Domis, and kill the two of them, while their two friends escape.
  4.  You fly a Garmur and kill a series of ten T1 frigates in FW plexes, most of which are fitted with T1 modules.
So, which of these scenarios earn you the right to feel proud of yourself?