May 30, 2014

Kronos and LowSec Lotteries

I read through the omnibus Kronos devblog and was pretty impressed.  I think when you hear about features in bits and pieces it makes the release seem smaller, and that's something that CCP will definitely have to contend with in the new 6-week iteration schedule.  I definitely get the feeling that CCP is thinking about lowsec more, even if it is just to throw some random elements our way.

Low-Sec Lotteries

I think Kirith Kodachi summed it up well: "What's up with all the low-sec lotteries being added lately?" I think the answer is that CCP has realized there is more player interest in lowsec than they thought.  The addition of at least three CSMs from lowsec probably helped substantially.  So the kind of things we're seeing in lowsec are also things they can do quickly - adding more wormholes is a prime example.  I wouldn't be surprised if the drops in the belts and the new exploration sites were originally intended to be in the Mordu's Legion home space, but instead were broadened to all of lowsec.

Mordu's Legion - Exploration Riches and Targets

Not covered directly in the Kronos overview devblog was the recent one on the new Exploration sites. So there are some new Guristas hacking sites, which will have info you can sell to Mordu (assuming you can make it though the CFC gatecamps). Once enough people have done that we'll see the Besieged Covert Research Facility which the devblog really talks up.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but it sounds like they're setting up the Beseiged site to be really tough.  I'm hoping that means "must bring friends" tough.  That would bring the team-play aspect in that we keep hearing is missing from PVE content (other than Incursions).  And as a low-sec resident I would like that - both to encourage corpmates to get together to run a site in our area, and to provide more targets for us to hunt.

With these exploration sites plus the belt rats, I'm wondering if it might make even more sense for a solo lowsec hunter to be a ship that carries probes.

Other Kronos

I'm looking forward to the new rebalance on the pirate ships, and I'm curious to see if we'll see the wave of hull-tanked Gallente that I'm hearing theory-crafting about.  If the MMJDs bring BCs back to the field then I'll consider that a win I suppose.  And the drones.

I'm looking forward to the different options for drones.  I expect Amarr drones will be popular for the EM damage.  I'm curious whether the prices will be imbalanced in the short term though.

We'll see.  I'll be unable to play June 3rd, so I'll have at least a day's lag to hear how things are going before I get in there.

May 16, 2014

PVP Lessons from my 10 year old

I've been mulling one an idea for Eve PVP for a while, but I think my 10 year old clinched it for me last night.  So I'm going to start this story with Minecraft and bragging on my son, but trust me I'm going to bring it back to Eve.

My son plays a PVP Minecraft minigame on a site called Mineplex.  I bet some of you know more about it than I do, but the relevant part here is that you have many possible monsters you can play.  Some of these you only can choose if you're a paid member (an "Ultra").  My son hasn't done this, so he's limited to a less powerful set.  A match is four players, all against all though of course people end up teaming as part of their strategy.  Last night he was very excited - he had won a match against one Normal and two Ultra players.  My first thought was that I was glad that "pay to win" wasn't too dominant and he was able to overcome that - he's definitely been getting better and better from what I see over his shoulder.  But what caught my brain was his explanation: "That's because I only play the Creeper, so I've gotten really good at it."

Hangar full of Mediocre
A while back I had decided that I wanted to learn to kite, since I've mostly been a brawler in Eve starting from my blaster-fed Gallente roots.  But what have I done to accomplish that?  Filled my hangar with Stabber, Slasher, Retribution, Omen, Rifter - all sorts of things.  Plus I keep jumping into my trusty Thorax.  I have to wonder if I'm filling my brain with mediocre skills because I keep swapping ships.  Yes, the general kiting ideas should apply to most of those, but I bet they accomplish them in different ways and with different patterns that I'm not letting settle into my brain.  By contrast I think about a corpmate who is almost always in a Slicer (though she recently has branched out), or the recent video compilation of Marlona Sky working Battle Nereus magic.

Lose 20 Rifters
Standard advice to new PVPers is to "Lose 20 Rifters" (or insert your racial favorite here).  I thought of that mostly as just getting to learn PVP in general, but it also means you're really getting to know that ship.  You can extend that up to other ships, as the excellent blog series "Punisher Plan" did by moving up to T2.  I've kinda done this with my Thorax - I've gotten into a lot of brawls solo in my Thorax, as well as used it for tag-ratting.

Too predictable?
I do worry a bit about being too predictable.  That someone will see me in system and pull me up on their favorite killboard and see that I'm most likely to be in a particular ship.  Honestly though, that's probably the least of my concerns.

Too boring?
Will I get bored with focusing on one ship?  Maybe, though if I can come up with a ship that is flexible enough to do tag-ratting or some other activities when the PVP situation is quiet then perhaps I can mix up the action while continuing to build the patterns of the ship up in my head.

So I think I'm going to take a hard look at what all is in my hangar.  Is there one ship I can focus on for a month, perhaps?  A pair of ships with some similar characteristics?  Maybe I should learn something from my ten year old.

If you were going to fly 20 of one ship to learn kiting, what ship would it be?  I'm better trained to turrets, but I've started on missile skills recently.  T1 or T2 is fine.

May 12, 2014

How do you Asset Management?

We need dps and lots of it.  I run back to station and switch into my Brutix that has been awaiting this day.  That's when I realize I had previously stripped the Brutix down to its rigs and a DCU.  Can I refit it with what's in the hangar fast enough?  Pah, switch to the next best thing and undock.

Does this happen to you?  My life is pretty simple - most of my assets are in one station, and that's not a FW or null-sec station that could flip, so I'm sure those people have it even more complex.  So how do pilots who are more serious than me keep all this straight?  Here's what I'm trying to do, but I'd love to hear what others do.

The Simple Way - Don't buy what you don't need now.
I have a friend for whom this is simple.  I gather he keeps a very few ships and buys on demand in a hub when he loses a ship or wants something new.  The price for this is that he's constantly losing money on the sell and buy side, plus the time needed to fit something up.  But it fits his play style.  He also has a high enough security status to waltz into a major hub - something I no longer have.

Rename Unfit/Partially-fit Ships to ZZ-Bottom
No, not ZZ Top. I used to rename stripped ships to "Stripped."  But then they show up in the middle of my hangar list, and I lose track if they have rigs that dictate a purpose.  I'm now renaming them to "zz" plus function/hull name so they drop to the bottom of the hangar list.  For instance "zzBrawlRax" might be a Thorax I'd stripped to the rigs, but those rigs mean it should be rebuilt as a Brawler.  Note: this never happens because I'd never strip down a brawling Thorax - I always want 'em.

Keep a shopping list outside of the client
When I start to fit a ship and realize I'm missing a fitting then I immediately add it to a shopping list in a Google Doc.  This helps in case I want to ship things from my alt, especially since they can actually get into high-sec hub systems without the faction police getting all frisky.  I fit the ship as far as I can from my stores so I don't run into "one more thing" later, then rename it using the "zz" nomenclature and put it aside.

Groom in-game fittings
I recently went to fit a Tristan in a hurry and grabbed a likely looking named fit from the fitting panel in Eve.  Fortunately I looked at it twice because it was a two-missile / two-railgun Tristan from before the T1 frigate rebalancing pass.  Other than being amusing the only reason to have that in there is to mess me up later.  I've made a note for myself to go through my in game fittings and clean them up.  I don't have too many in there, so it should be decently quick.

Keep Must-Have Modules in stock
There are some modules that I try to always keep in stock - preferably double digit counts.  DCU IIs are an obvious one, and Light Neutron IIs used to be like that for me. I probably should move those to a Google Spreadsheet that pulls against the Eve API and link that to the shopping list.

No Containers
I used to use containers.  However, the fitting tool won't look into of containers, so you don't want to put anything fitting related inside of them.  Plus the first time you have to move home you'll regret those Station Containers.

So, what do you do for asset management in Eve?

May 10, 2014

Rifterlings vs. Candymen. Go!

For an extended weekend we're having an awox event here in the Point Blank Alliance.  Last night (for US Eastern values of night) we had an event where each side hid 6 MTUs in their home systems.  One side to defend, the other to try to destroy.  I'll give some highlights rather than a blow-by-blow, plus my usual Lessons Learned.  If you were watching Fintarue's stream you saw the whole thing unfold.

The Corps

The difference in the two corps stood out pretty strongly.  Rifterlings threw a lot of ships at the problem, with a limited amount of coordination.  Candymen had half the ships, but of a higher class and apparently actually with a plan.  I wasn't particularly sure how'd that go but I wasn't too confident.

Size versus Numbers

Candymen attacked us first, which was good since we were waffling around a bit.  We started out in armor frigates, a mix of T1 and AFs.  I was in a Rifter.  Candymen came in with something like Vexor x3, Prophecy x3, Dominix.  Ouch.  I had visions of drones wiping us off the field while neuts slapped down anyone going for the fast-close orbit.  We did manage to burn down a Vexor, but then had to retreat and reship to step up to cruisers.  The Vexor pilot had prepositioned an Exequror in our home station, so was back quick.  However, moving up to cruisers allowed us to take down their fleet.  You can really see the difference in the Dominix kill - our ships there now range from AF to T1 cruiser to a Ishtar.
Lessons Learned:
* 12 weaker ships still can have a lot more dps than 7 better ships.  The enemies had a RR tank comp, but we were able to target switch through it.
* Blasters and Overheat management.  I was very happy to manage my heat up to 95% damage at the end of the fight, and kept in the top 3 damage dealers on almost all kills.  I think I was helped there in that the RR meant they had to be close to each other, so when I switched from one target to another they were always in effective neutron blaster range.
* Jumped in the Thorax I had handy, which was active fit when the fleet called for buffer fit.  I have to keep home system better stocked.  If you're a courier contract pilot this means you're about to have more business.

Repairing Lesson

I had gotten my Thrasher pretty shot up so it was down to something like 17% armor on a 400mm plate tank.  Plus when I overheated my guns I managed to leave them overheated a bit too long so the whole top rack was burnt out - that was a nice come-down compared to the overheat on the Thorax.  So I had a useless ship.  I was weighing whether to stay in fleet in hopes that the Candymen would target my hulk and waste fire on it, or run for repairs.  We had a momentary break so I announced I was ducking off and ran to the next system since I'd heard the Sosala station was camped.  Warp, Jump, Warp, Dock, Repair, Undock, Warp, Jump Fast Fast Fast.  See what I did wrong?

I warped back into the fleet and realized my top rack was offline.  If you totally burn out modules out and then repair them, you have to manually online them - preferably in station or else you'll need 95% cap.  So as we waited for the next align-warp call I started onlining the guns one by one as my cap recharged.  I fought that last battle at the wormhole with 3/7 guns, and did successfully draw fire again, so that part was useful at least.
Lesson Learned:
* It's always worth that second to make sure you really are repaired and online, drones in bay, ammo in cargo.

May 7, 2014

The Ishtar Effect or What's up with Incognito Process

Some topics all over - CSM9, What's up with Incognito Process Prices, and my absent April.  April was a terrible month for me in playing Eve.  Between work and vacation there wasn't much time there.  But now it is May and I'm hoping to turn that around, even if the first week hasn't been great yet.  On the plus side it has been very exciting out there in the meta game.

CSM 9 Elections
I'm thrilled to see Sugar Kyle, Steve Ronuken, and DJ FunkyBacon in particular for the lowsec side and generally happy with the overall list.  I do think that the CFC played a good game by not having mynnna high on their official ballot, knowing that non-block votes would be sufficient to keep him in place.  Yes, there are a lot of nullsec block reps there, but I think that honestly represents the voting groups.  If people in other areas don't like that then they need to actually get off their butts and vote - it sounds like W-space was the big example of that this time around, but we'll find out when the DevBlog comes out with the election data.

Internet Spaceship Explosions to Come
So I had only a single, solitary, lonely kill in April (and two losses).  I didn't have a lot of time, and less time to fleet (sometimes I had to be without headphones to hear if the kids were fighting or needed anything).  I swear I still don't have the feel for how people go so much solo roaming.  I ran something like 15-20 jumps one session, d-scanning plexes the whole way, and only managed to find one fight (which was a trap).  Meanwhile a corpmate rattled through maybe a dozen kills.  It's not that I was just one system behind him the whole way either - I made a point to go a different direction from the systems that were on the stream of his killmails.  And I was in a Comet, so I was able to enter all plex types while he was in an Enyo and thus couldn't get into Novice plexes.  Something I just need to keep learning from experience I guess.  Need more explosions!

One thing that should help turn around my May is that the Point Blank Alliance is about to kick off an awoxing event.  I think I'll need to make it a point to get in on a Fintarue killmail.  I only hope I have enough fittings in home station.  I expect - I hope - this will be an expensive weekend.  So if it is going to be expensive then I'd better get to my T2 ship production, but...

Ishtar Effect - What's up with Incognito Process and Gallente T2 ship invention
So check out your favorite region's price curve for Incognito Process - the price has doubled over the past month or so.  At first I thought perhaps that was because people were abandoning the hacking-exploration in droves due to the reduced payouts, but I see that the prices for the other Incognito decryptor types has not seen that curve.  Glancing at Eve Central I see that the Process type decryptors for the other factions (Occult, Esoteric, Cryptic) are running at less than half the price of the Incognito Process.

Now the decryptor is not a huge chunk of the price of a T2 cruiser, so rising from 2M to 4M isn't going to make a major change in a 180M Ishtar.  Still, I'm curious - and look at the price info on Ishtars - the price is being driven by Dodixie instead of Jita.  We're not seeing that with Deimos or Phobos.  The prices on the Gallente HACs (circa 180M) are also out of line compared to those of the Huginn, Muninn, or Zealot (all in the 150M or less category) - though the Cerberus is also in the 180M range (I hear the RLML Cerberus is a lot of fun).  Did everyone just see that price difference and decide to pile in on Gallente T2 ships?

One set of data that might support that is that the components used to make Gallente T2 ships have surged in price as well.  So perhaps more opportunistic manufacturers who don't build their own components are piling in, not wanting to get the researched BPOs and feeder materials needed to get those components going.

So for now I think I may let my newly built T2 ships sit in hangar and wait for the market to calm a bit.  I've noticed this one is a wild one - I'll see a total of 7 Deimos for sale in all of Sinq and then you jump to now where there is better than two dozen.

That also will fit well with a resolution to fly Jakob more and try to get more fights.  Wish me luck!

(and any advice about finding fights is very welcome)