Sunday, January 17, 2016

SMA “Fading” Away, or Aiming for the “Clouds”?

Okay, okay, puns aside… recently, TISHU has been spending a lot of time in Fade camping SMA systems and providing a Darwinian service to Space Monkey Alliance, one of the CFC alliances.

The official reason the alliance is doing this is because of a contract. I’ve been highly engaged with this campaign.  I came down in a Stratios from a secondary base I have up in Venal, with the intention of reshipping into something more appropriate and aligned with the corp doctrines and kinds of fights they were hoping to get. That was on January first, and I’m still going strong with that little Strat that could. In fact, I’ve seen a few more Strats in fleet. It’s a versatile ship, and once I finally die I’ll probably share that fit I’ve been so successful with.

And successful, it has been. I’ve racked up 43 kills since I deployed to Fade, with no losses (I did lose Vexor in Syndicate to a gate camp, but that was beforehand). Nearly all of those kills were with less than 10 pilots on the mail, and fifteen were solo. It’s been a good time, and I’ve been dedicated exclusively to the effort.

Why am I so engaged with this campaign?  On a personal level, it aligns with my own thoughts recently. The whole purpose of this blog is to encourage players to learn to PvP – not to achieve some meaningless metric, but to appreciate the challenge of competing against another human, and in so doing to improve yourself.

Ideally, I’d love for a reader to choose to take the hard path after reading this blog, to grow and emerge as the next elite solo pilot. You’re not going to learn that by exclusively reading me, but I’d be content if I opened a few people up to the prospect of thinking critically about their decision-making and reactive process in PvP, skills that can also port over to the real world quite easily.

I try very hard not to be a hypocrite. That urge led me to leave the golden fields of unlimited isk in the CFC because it no longer aligned with my thinking. It may take me a little time to come around (with a little help from dramatic mechanic changes that shed light on some facets I didn’t agree with), but I get there eventually. So with all that said and armed with a desire to liberate people from thinking pap-based PvP is all that’s out there, I’ve thrown myself into this contract.

Ideally, I want one of two things to happen as a result of our pressure.  Hopefully, SMA leadership will develop an effective counter that demonstrates they care about their members and that they can take control of their space – two things that will signal to all members of SMA that they don’t need to be a meat shield for a coalition. Hopefully, this renaissance of individual, corp, and alliance pride will no longer align with being a subservient participant following orders, and that we see them grow some initiative.

Or, members will realize that modern null-sec places them in the role of victim, that their leadership is unable to cope with a simple camping threat, and they decide to leave for another, more compelling corp or alliance option.

Both results are equally acceptable. TISHU’s presence in Fade is a furnace that will either expose the weakness in the material – causing it to crack – or they’ll be tempered, stronger, and aware that they don’t need to hide behind blues to provide meaningful content to their members.

Regardless, TISHU has offered a challenge to SMA – both the members individually and the leadership at large – and the way they choose to react with be incredibly telling.

Will leadership take on this challenge and work towards a solution, protecting its members and their ratting space from a camping threat?  If they can, SMA will prove it can be an effective force. If not, it’ll fail in a critical purpose of its existence that draws members to it: providing safe ratting space for members.

Will members learn to rat safely and effectively with hostiles in system, travel safely and scouted, and learn to cope with threats rather than simply avoiding them? Or will they continue to make the same mistakes, turn their backs on the PvP needs that secure their PvE space, and prove all the worst rumors and insults said about the null ratter?

We’ll see. But SMA has been presented with a challenge that offers both opportunity and risk. Right now, it’s safe to say they aren’t up to the challenge, based on the lack of any real response or effort to overcome our attacks. They can form large fleets, but true power in null-sec has become the ability to deny an alliance use of their space, rather than conquering it.

SMA has the ability to rise up and improve themselves so they can cope with a threat like this. But, will they?


  1. that's cute, camping ratters is what you call pvp

    1. Not typically, no. But when it's against the only superpower remaining, a hotdrop is inevitable, and the art and skill lies in doing your work while avoiding those traps.

      Plus, the CFC has absolutely no right to complain about anyone doing anything to them. They've weaponized boredom, blobbed, and terrorized folk enough that they've ceded the right to complaint.

      And to SMA's credit, we really aren't seeing great complaints. They tend to recognize it's part of the game, part of the cost of owning sov.

  2. SMA had ISK ratio in 2015 equal to NPC corp. You noble posting about tempering them is hypocritical. You know that they have no chance and they will be slaughtered.

    The only question is which will happen:
    - They quit SMA
    - They quit EVE

    1. I disagree, Gevlon. While I don't typically view isk ratio as a valid measure, let's go with it. The 2015 numbers 1) represent aggregates, including copious numbers of new carebears added recently to swell their numbers for Fozziesov, and 2) a year that saw no trials or attacks to force them to improve. I've long felt that large fleet pvp teaches you only the basics and does nothing to craft you into an effective, intelligent pilot. Only PvP experiences in which your actions directly result in victory or death do that. SMA has had SMA history of that. They haven't been tested to this extent before, so we don't know how their individual pilots or common leadership will react.

      Unfortunately, based on that SOTA, I'm not convinced they're on the right track.

  3. If there's a human piloting the ship, it's PvP. Anonymous shit posting is cute, too.

  4. Oh boy, I think this is gonna be long... First things first though: I'm Jonathan Atruin, a FC for SMA and member of our Skyteam (alliance combat leadership for those unfamiliar with the term), so yes, I am very much biased.
    As a long time reader of this blog I do not always agree with Tal, but I have come to value his way of thinking and his critical analysis. I don't necessarily agree with the conclusions (I do have a very different playstyle), but most posts are based on a sound understanding of the situation and how it affects solo PvP in particular. In this post however, Tal himself says he tries very hard not to be a hypocrite, and then proceeds to be hypocritical for the rest of it.
    What do I mean by that?
    He judges SMA by his own Pvp-Focused standard.
    That is not necessarily a bad thing, though as a whole any entity will be judged and found wanting when held up to a standard they themselves never strove for. As an alliance we never had a focus on solo/small gang PvP (though of course some of our members enjoy it, even excel at it). We are not a leet fleet PvP alliance either, fielding Machariels or Sleipnirs or other high SP Doctrines (except for one T3 one).
    Instead, we are newbie friendly, maybe even to a fault. When i joined the alliance in May of last year we had 2000 members. Now we have broken 5000. And here is where a lot of people start screaming words like "bloated", "carebears", "trim the fat" and "filthy highsec miners go back to highsec". All of those apply. We have a LOT of miners. And ratters. And carebears. And Newbies (oh god, so so so many newbies). And a LOT of them don't know how to rat safely or how to travel in 0.0, and certainly not how to PvP. But that doesn't make them bad players. On the contrary, quite a few of them are extremly talented in what they do. Others have just started the game. But what a lot of people seem to forget is that this "fat" of carebears holds talent. A lot of it. Even for PvP.
    Talent needs to be discovered, taught and forged. We all know that, we all agree on that, and we all worry that if we don’t make the game appealing to new players sooner or later New Eden will die. We are certainly not the only alliance in this game that puts a lot of focus into that, a lot of big entities have started training corporations and alliances (Pandemic Horde, Northern Army etc). The big difference is that when we decide to take someone in that person becomes a Monkey. Not someone who might one day get the opportunity to be a Monkey, but a Monkey. One of us, a full and valued member of the alliance, regardless of his SP count.
    What I do agree with is the first sentence of the post: “providing a Darwinian service to Space Monkey Alliance”. That you do. And you know what? Our members are learning. Numbers of hotdrop deaths have been decreasing every day, people have gotten smarter about traveling and take better care when ratting/mining. Recruiters have certainly learned to take better care. This kind of trial by fire is essential to Eve, it is the very core of the game in my opinion. Enduring it, picking yourself back up after a setback, striving to do better next time: that is what counts as progress. Evolution.
    Let me give you an example: In May of 2015 I joined SMA, after playing a little over half a year first as a highsec mission runner and then as a lowsec pirate. I had a solid foundation of small gang PvP experience, but the one thing I always wanted to do I had never tried: I wanted to be a FC. SMA offered me that chance within weeks of joining. I became an alliance FC on June 5th, and 3 minutes after that I took out my first ever fleet. This happened:
    (Apparently this is TOO long. To be comtinued)

    1. (Ed. note: this comment is part one of two, even though both will appear in separate threads).

      As a point of order, being a "hypocrite" is to judge others by a standard other than you judge yourself. Post-FozzieSov, being a good CFC member no longer included being good at PvP individually, it became "cultivating the fields". That was contrary to my goals and how I judged myself, so I left the CFC. To stay would have been hypocritical, for I'd be espousing that my readers become individually skilled and try to imporve, while sitting in an alliance that encourages herd behavior and actively scorns small-gang skills (considering their attitude towards low-sec players).

      I believe players interested in PvP should strive to become the best PvPers they can. I don't believe that can be done in large fleets, and the fact that you can do everything right and still die in large fleets actively encourages lazy habits. I'm judging SMA by this same standard.

      Even TISHU's kills in Fade carry the risk of a hotdrop with every engagement, occur in heavily populated systems where reinforcements can come at any time, and are done with a very small force attacking a group many times larger. We're being predictable and can be countered at any moment. The skill lies in avoiding that fate.

      I admire SMA and all the CFC alliances pulling people out of high-sec and giving them a first home. I don't believe anyone should stay in the CFC if they want to become really good at PvP, though.

  5. Long ass comment, part 2:

    Glorious Battlereport, right? The feedback I got from the Skyteam member that had recruited me was “Try again”, followed by a detailed analysis and feedback session of what I had done wrong. I tried again, and again, and again. And at some point a few months back someone apparently decided I had done something right somewhere, and I was promoted to Skyteam myself. Okay, end of fairytale, but here’s the morale of the story: This alliance took a chance on me. They saw that I was willing and eager to learn something, and they gave me the tools to do so. In a lot of ways, that is what we as an alliance are all about. We offer chances, opportunities, the surrounding to learn. We’re not the best at everything. But whatever you want to do in Eve, you can probably try it out with other Monkeys. And our enemies are a big part of that. It may sound weird, but I really have a fondness for WAFFLES because of this glorious whelp. They were the fire that forged me. Right now TISHU is doing the same. And honestly, that is the reason you haven’t heard a lot of complaining Tal. Like you said: we recognize it as part of the game, part of the learning process.
    How does this tie into this blog post? Easy. Tal judges SMA by a standard he himself (and other members of his alliance) only reached after years of playing, after years of being maybe newbies, maybe carebears, hell maybe even miners themselves. Some Monkeys are at that level themselves. Others aren’t. You can keep judging us by our solo/small gang responses against 30something BLOPS. But lets be honest for a moment: isn’t that somewhat hypocritical?

    1. I would argue it isn't. Talvorian was born this week in 2009. I wasted the first two years of my Eve life in high-sec. I wasted the next year and much of the next two in large fleets. Part of why I started this blog was to prevent people from wasting that time themselves.

      SMA is a good start. The people I've convo'd were awesome, and were eager to learn. I see a lot of potential in your members. I see a lot of potential in your corps. I see a lot of potential in the identity you've established for yourself as SMA.

      But that's potential. It's up to you whether you react to it well or not. FozzieSov almost demands that null alliances become better at small gang PvP. It makes cloaky campers a near-certainty for groups like the CFC. I'd even argue that the existence of the CFC is antiquated. I'd love to see SMA stand on its own, and I'm hoping for that result from you guys.

      I don't begrudge you your learning curve, your mistakes, or your inexperience. I do begrudge you hiding behind a coalition for safety, because doing so provides a safety net that teaches the wrong lessons.

      What you describe of SMA is that of a top-tier university. Let's call you the Harvard of Eve null-sec life. That's admirable, and I'd argue it's important.

      But to really understand something, you need to step out of the university and into the real world. That's when the lessons count, and where you really understand how things work.

      Keep in mind that more than half my kills were me personally attacking SMA targets. Last night, I got four with two other guys. The argument that they're all "30+ blops kills" isn't correct, and each kill is made possible by a player making a mistake they can learn from.

      It's time to graduate from the protection of big daddy CFC and stand on your own, monkeys! I have faith that you can do it.

  6. Did you waste those first two years, even though you obviously kept playing? Why is time that in retrospect could have been spent in your current preferred play style wasted if you didn't feel enough need to change it back then?

    I get that we all like to have the most fun we can, but your crusade on what is fun makes little sense in this light. Some people actually like being in hisec, the majority of EVE does in fact, and some like myself enjoy big fleets and don't care about elite solo pvp.

    So why, tell me, why is it so important that SMA learns to play your way? Can't you allow them to have fun in their ways? You tell them to grow up, but ignore the possibility that this is exactly what they've grown up too.

    1. A very good point. Not everyone has the same valuation. No doubt, some players don't have an interest in becoming skilled PvPers and are more interested in being part of a community, a group that builds something. They have that right.

      However, they didn't just join A null-sec group, they joined the dominant group, the CFC, and that says something about their valuation process. It means they want stability, good ratting space, SRP, to be the top dog in the game... all the things the CFC uniquely and specifically provides compared to all other groups.

      In short, they chose the easier path, not the harder one. And that's contrary to what I'd recommend for anyone who wants to become good at what they do. Comfort breeds complacency in all cases.

      Maybe you're okay with that, and want to enjoy your time. You may play Eve for a relaxing diversion, yet still want to participate in null-sec. That's cool. As some have said, TISHU becomes a temporary annoyance that will eventually go away.

      But my hope is that a crucible might kindle a fire for improvement within some players. Maybe it's one I'm helping to create. And if it can spark the hunger for improvement within even one player, it's all worth it.

      If that's not you, no problem. We can have our interactions, then part ways, and you can do your thing.

      But that doesn't mean I can't be against the complacency, stability, and "easy path" the CFC stands for these days, and seek to help people rise above it.