Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hunting Guristas (Unlike what we do every day...)

I felt the subtitle was necessary, as far too many folk hunt Guristas like it's their job already. And, honestly, if you define your job as something you do specifically because you need to earn money, then yes, it actually is our jobs.

But not, I'm talking about the Guristas Hunt, perhaps the least originally named special event of recent history (particularly after the Crimson Harvest and Frostline, the former of which was just... chilling). That said, it seems like the same folks who brought us the T3D development meta had an influence here. Crimson Harvest was wildly popular because of the amazing rewards, just like Confessors and Svipuls. Frostline was a bit lackluster because of the poor rewards (Hecate), and Guristas Hunt appears to be shaping up like the Jackdaw, good in niche situations.

In reality, it reflects well on CCP that their first offering of each was so wildly overpowered. It shows that they really want to give players something good, and initially err on the side of extravagance. They pull back too far, and sling back in the other direction.

But with Guristas Hunt, it seems they've provided some interesting, and while the rewards aren't insanely wonderful, they are worthwhile.

Perhaps what I find most interesting about the event is how it draws players into lowsec. While the Detention sites are available in any space, the loot they drop is pretty awful. You can get some Quafe Zero, which is useful for gatecamping and beating all your friends on alpha doctrines (like Tornadoes). The rest of the loot is pretty meaningless... a Bantam skin (who flies Bantams anyways?) and some avatar coats. Woo. Hoo. /sarcasm.

However, that's not the case in the Transportation sites in lowsec. In those sites, battleship rats can pinata into geckos, Aurum, and Gila and Worm BPCs. Add to that the fact that the Transportation sites have Moa rats, rather than the smaller sig radius Ospreys in the Detention sites. Ironically, that means the Transportation sites are easier. To survive against unwelcome guests horning in on your site, you really should be flying a ship like a Gila with rapid lights, and the Gurista rats with Moa hulls are much easier to hot with your medium drones than the Osprey hulls.

And, by and large, we're seeing Eve players respond in kind. The easier-to-clear Transportation sites are being run quickly, while the less lucrative Detention sites are lingering in systems for a long while. In my Tamo pocket, for instance, the systems are just lousy with Detention sites, but the Transportation ones are cleared quickly. Eve players have spoken; Detention sites are the rally points of the Guristas Hunt, while Transportation sites are the forsaken hubs.

We've seen some interesting consequences as a result of this event, though, particularly on the markets. With GH being only the second time CCP has added geckos to the gameworld, it's no wonder that pre-event the marketing for geckos tanked to about 1/3 their value. Lest you shed a tear for gecko investors, though, it seems pretty clear that gecko drops are a rare thing, even in the Transportation sites, and the market has rebounded nicely. Last I checked, a gecko was still going for 69 mil.  The flow int othe market is a trickle, not a flood. That's a nice degree of restraint from CCP.

At the same time, it seems like players aren't as willing to be bloodthirsty for these sites as they were for Crimson Harvest. I've only had one ship warp in on me while running a site, and it was an alliance mate. I'm not exactly shy about running sites in local, either. I feel a little silly for fitting a point, a web, and flying with EM missiles loaded, actually.

The sites are actually an interesting mix of difficulty. While the first room is filled with T1 rats that die quickly to even the mildest of volleys (a single Gila drone was killing each), the second room is more difficult, mostly because we've been trained so well to kinetic tanking Guristas, and these ones shoot thermal damage pretty much exclusively. But the cruisers themselves have low signature radii, which makes light missiles a better option than heavy missiles.

And with that fact, CCP may have have hit upon a good tactic for size-targeting event sites like these. Do you want larger ships running them? Give the rats a good tank and a large signature radius to encourage cruise missiles. Want to keep players using smaller ships? Reduce the sig radius so it's not efficient to fire heavies or heavy assaults at them.

Sure, you'll have players like me who fly a Tengu or Gila in those sites, but in doing so, I either have a) to fire my rapid lights at the rats to maximize clearing speed, which leaves me with potentially empty launchers and a 35-second reload time if someone were to attack me, or b) using drones exclusively and saving my launchers for potential interlopers, which reduces my clearing speed. That's a nice choice to face, and directly speaks to risk vs. reward.

So, I see a lot of good things being tested by CCP here. Signature size and it's effect on clearing speed, the blend of PvP and PvE that they incorporated successfully in Crimson Harvest, and sig-tanking rats that create trade-offs, particularly in light of the risk of a sudden PvP situation emerging.

While the rewards are slim in reality - Geckos, aurum, and BPCs are dropping much less frequently than the top-line loot dropped in Crimson Harvest - the possibility of them keeps players running these sites. That's a nice touch, and has gotten a number of players to try these sites. For the space-rich, they likely aren't worth the effort to run them, and so much the better; it leaves more room for younger players.

That, ultimately, is who these kinds of events are targeting. PvE tends to be a "gateway" experience. It's most similar to other kinds of MMOs, is suited to a more casual and individual experience, and serves to entertain players while they're still exploring everything Eve can provide. It's a huge part of CCP's retention problem. And these events can really resonate with new players... provided that the bittervets don't dominate them and crowd them out. Valuable rewards dropping infrequently and rats that require smaller weapon systems are good ways to help target those events to the people who would enjoy them most.

I, for one, will be curious to see the post-mortem analysis of the Hunt event CCP will hopefully release.


  1. Very good analysis. I am surprised with the ammo/rat selection as it has given the player something off formual to think about.

  2. Very good analysis. I appreciate CCP switching things up with ammo/ship selection. It is off formula that gives the player something to think about.

  3. It's a cheap Skinners box tactic used commonly by many shitty games out there. I always took pride in the fact that EVE never resorted to such cheap tactics.

    1. I've heard this argument used before, closely tied to conversation about nostalgia for the way Eve used to do things - with the implication that the new way of doing things is inferior and a sell-out.

      The simple fact, though, is that what got Eve here isn't working anymore. Changes are necessary for the state of the game as it is. Even the players who started Eve have moved on, grown, and evolved. They've developed new tactics that render old "status quos" untenable.

      Ultimately, folks generally agree that Eve needs new players, and needs them to stay with the game. Eve of the past doesn't do that anymore; those players who it appeals to have tried it, loved it, and moved on. The base has to broaden a bit to bring in the next tier of player, too.

      Eve has to adapt or die.

    2. Couldn't disagree with this sentiment any more. The old tactics have served Eve for many years without a hiccup. The reason its on the slump because they switched to new ones that don't appeal to or work in Eve. Copying other games won't help us, it will only lead to ruin.

      Just look at the history, Incarna was a big shake up that made us realize that CCP completely changed their relationship towards players and EVE. We mended those issues and recovered with high hopes but over the next few years it became blatantly obvious that CCP never really learned the lessons from Incarna.

      It's not about maintaining the status quo of the game mechanics. It's about adhering to the principles and attitudes that defined Eve. Everything changes with time, everyone understands that, but change does not equal progress. Change will happen regardless, it takes effort and commitment to ensure that progress happens.

  4. These sites are pants. The drops just aren't worth the effort.

  5. The AI behaves differently from the previous iterations of the concept. Previously I could enter one of the sites, in a BC MMDJ away then pick them off. Now they rapidly cover the 100km and begin orbiting. Been messing around with a grappler fitted BS - its working ok so far.

  6. I got a Worm BPC from a Detention Facility.

    Also I get what you are saying about options with ship size but these sites compared to Gauntlets and Frostline are actually hard in small ships, I flew frigs in both previously with no issues.

    My C2 omni tanking frigs Harpy/Hawk could barely hold tank and didn't have enough DPS to clear them quickly. Only frigs I can think of like Devil or Enyo with higher DPS probably couldn't tank it.

    My tank fit Hecate with heavy thermal and kinetic resists struggled to tank the sites and I mismanaged cap and lost it.

    I think given they hit out at long range and speed and sig tanking reduces the missile damage but doesn't avoid it makes small ships non viable unless in numbers, seems to be cruiser and up really.

  7. Jackdaw clears out the Detention sites just fine, but yeah, the rewards in highsec/0.0 aren't really worth the time investment there (for me). Not sure about Transport sites; I suspect Jackdaw may work for them too but haven't tested.