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?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mercenaries, Pirates, Samurai, and Vikings

What is it about playing the spoiler that I love so much?

Generally speaking, my approach to PvP is pretty much "shoot all the things". I tend to care only if I'm in high-sec (I've lost a Proteus to Concord by accidentally killing a scanning Buzzard on the other side of a wormhole, not realizing it was a high-sec hole). And every time I try to boost my sec status up again, it's back down below -2.0 within a week or so.

A lot of folks are nervous about attacking targets on gates. For them, gate guns are a frightening prospect that will obliterate your ship in a couple shots. Part of that may come from the old gate gun mechanics, but I think most of it stems from the uncertainty of another opponent shooting at you. Risk aversion, and all that. On low-sec roams, I shake my head in surprise when PvPers - I mean really good ones, too - worry so much about gate guns when taking down a single target. And nearly every time I roam while I'm above -5.0, I pass a gatecamp that isn't willing to attack me on a gate.

All of that surprises me, though I honestly get it. Losing a ship is an expensive undertaking, and on top of that injury is the insult of having to source and import a new ship to replace it. But, we're conditioned to cultivate our killboards and assess skill in terms of killed/loss value. Our eyes bulge out by huge losses, and only some of us take the time to pull up the related kills and see how many opponents that huge loss took out before exploding.

It puts me in a strange position. On the one hand, the Eve roles I tend to fit into are "pirate" and "mercenary". But at the same time, I don't measure success according to the same benchmarks.

So what am I?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Lessons: It's Not How You Win, But How You Lose

In Star Trek lore, there's a psychological test cadets go through at Starfleet Academy called the Kobayashi Maru scenario. The basic premise simple. You're a starship captain, and your ship happens upon a distress call by the freighter Kobayashi Maru, which is under attack by Klingon birds-of-prey. No matter what you do, no matter what decisions you make, the simulation escalates the situation by introducing new threats and variables in pursuit of a true "no-win" scenario. You can respond to the distress call, or leave them to their fate. If you search for additional back-up in the area, your search will turn up dry. You can pretend to want to join in on the attack and claim to be a rogue starship captain, and other Starfleet vessels will attack you. If you attack the first ships, you may find they have an experimental shield you can't break through. There's no way to win.

The purpose, of course, is to see how a cadet will react to defeat, to constantly having one's efforts thwarted, and to being responsible for having a ship full of lives lost around you. After all, Starfleet doesn't need weak-willed officers on the command track.

There's a power to a no-win situation that we as humans recognize. Whether it's the Alamo, the idea of a "forlorn hope" company, the Song of Roland, the Charge of the Light Brigade, or the countless times in Lord of the Rings that individuals step into harm when it seems they have no hope of victory, we're deeply moved by the way people react when they face no hope.

In Eve, we see it all the time. You find yourself in a wholly untenable situation in which your ship is at mortal risk. It becomes obvious that you will lose that ship, but the way you lose it is a great test of how far you've come as a pilot.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Game for the Sith

In response to a comment on my last post, a player voiced a complaint I hear often about my perspective on Eve. For context, it’s pretty clear that I deem Eve to be a social, PvP-focused game, though recently I’ve expanded that definition of PvP to include more than simply ship combat, but the various ways Eve players thwart each other’s efforts.

The reader responded by citing several stats that show that more characters focus on PvE and industry activities than PvP, that more characters live in high-sec than all the other spaces combined, and by a very large margin, and that there are simply more activities that are non-PvP related – by a wide margin – than all others combined.

Here was my response:

Monday, May 2, 2016

Don't Occupy, Modify

Well, this is going to be awkward...

Neville Smit is a good writer, a great thinker, and a very dedicated Eve player. He also represents a style of Eve play that is quite different from mine. It's for all those reasons that I have him on my blogroll, read him regularly, and appreciate his insights.

I saw his recent post, Occupy New Eden, before he sent me a note asking for me to comment on it. I confess, I was already going to do so. It's a dense post that packs a lot of issues into a single manifesto. I must apologize for the length of my reply, but there's a lot in there to discuss. You're getting your pageview's worth today.

The tl;dr (for those of that persuasion) is that I agree with his suggestions, but not for anything resembling the same reasons. I also challenge some of his premises pretty fiercely.