June 18, 2017

Mind Clashing over Theomachy

I've been listening to Mind Clash ever since it started being syndicated on the Crossing Zebras RSS feed.  So when I logged into Theomachy and saw Kael Decadence had an open invite for an informal little team, I joined right in.  When it was all said and done Kael was kind enough to invite me onto the Mind Clash podcast, so you can hear our thoughts on Theomacy in Episode 40.

The Theomachy team put in a huge amount of work here, and CCP has really stepped it up with the Thunderdome server.  We were actually there for Theomachy at the same time as other folks were practicing for the AT, so there was probably extra load than it was designed for as well.  Unlike SiSi, Thunderdome is not replicated off of Tranquility.  Your account is there, but none of your characters and assets.  So the first thing you do is create your character and use a command to grant yourself all Vs in everything.  That meant that Theomachy had a wide range - had they chosen to there could have even been Titans on field.  However, it sounds like they'd experimented with capitals and up before and kept it toned down.

Since you can spawn anything, there was also some question about whether or not they could enforce the rule of having no implants and boosters.  When we first logged in it sounded like that rule might be waived, so I spawned myself a full high-grade Snake set with a bundle of other +6% implants just in case.  It turned out that they were able to handle that, so we all ripped out implants back out.  Talk about feeling rich for a little while.

Basically they had us all Titan bridge to a target system, set our medical clones there, and then podded us to remove implants.  There was a bit of a hold up as it turned out the Titan didn't have the right isotopes handy, so the overall event was running quite a bit late.  All these are learning lessons that the Theomachy team is taking to heart, so I have confidence things will run even better next time.

When you arrive in system in your pod and the event starts, you dive towards the empty ships and try to grab one.  I did have a bit of a glitch when I first arrived - regardless of what ship I got into, my HUD remained stuck on pod.  I received permission from the organizers to log out and log in, and after that I was all good.

And after this I didn't take any more screenshots because I got wrapped up in actually flying and not dying (bad blogger!)  You can see the recording twitch streams (Meerdudd and Kael Decadence).

I wasn't sure if the ships were going to be crazy fits or not, but all of the ones I got into seemed generally reasonable.  I ended up in a string of destroyers and cruisers for a while, which was good for zipping around but with so many pilots on field it is pretty likely that one of them that just blap you in you're in a frigate (especially given RLMLs).  For a while I got into a Exequror, which was a good complement to Meerdudd and Kael being in battleships, but one of the other groups probably decided it was too good a complement and primaried me.  A solo Exeq running an overheated Ancil doesn't last too long, even at full AB speed.

For our comms: Meerdudd and Kael were streaming and I was able to speak to them through their Discord.  However, I could only hear them through their twitch stream.  That meant there was a delay between when I heard them and when I could reply.  It was maybe only 30-60 seconds or something, but it felt like forever.  It meant I had to anticipate their calls, or just join in late.

I was surprised how often I was able to reship, even when there were bubbles around.  People were probably much more wrapped up in their individual combats in large part.  If you go into Theomachy thinking "I probably won't last 10 minutes" you'll be surprised.  It's great fun and for a good run to.  I'd recommend trying to get into the largest ship you can, as speed doesn't end up really playing well in such a large mob scene.  It's no surprise that the winners were all in Marauders last I saw.

Eventually I did head back to reship and got caught in a bubble and podded.  It felt like a good end to the whole thing after a long series of fights.  I'd highly recommend it, so look out for it next year.

May 25, 2017

Hype for a Roam

I managed to catch a Kirith Kodachi Sunday night roam, which often doesn't happen just because of RL scheduling.  I logged on after the fleet had already departed, so when I heard it was dessies and down I fumbled around my hangar and pulled out a Wolf.  It was a terrible choice for a fleet, even one that only had a single frigate logi, but even moreso when I realized it was pretty much all armor ships.  The Wolf... really not so much.

After a couple empty systems we found a Moa, killed it, and then found a much blingier Moa... killed it.  A couple frigates were in the wrong place at the wrong time, a Talos (no, double webs weren't enough to slow down small targets), and a Stork.  The Stork was a challenge because he was burned way out in a medium plex, and Open Graves had to run him down and get a scram on him to slow him down enough for me to get my arties on him. Or perhaps more importantly, get a scram on him without dying.

Have I mentioned the new stars are pretty?

Anyway, then we went on and found a Hurricane and buddies.  I remember seeing people trying to use double-web Hurricanes to fight small-hull gangs, but this wasn't that successful (and only had a single web).

The real capstone of the night through was when a wild Hyperion appeared.  The triple-rep held out pretty nicely, and people were starting to talk about whether they had any big ships nearby, but apparently he just plain ran out of cap boosters.  Kudos to Nyaruko Wu for bringing the Hype out to play - there were GFs in local and it sounded like he brought it out knowing it would die.

For lowsec being dead and all it was a pretty action-packed roam.  Thanks to Kirith Kodachi for leading it out!

May 8, 2017

Content Drivers big and small

There have been some great new content-driving events coming in Eve Online lately. Two of them are driven by things that came straight from CCP announcements at FanFest. Notably the Blood Raider engineering complex and the promise of the blueprints that will come from it's destruction. The second is the player outposts being turned into faction Fortizars as they are removed. The third content comes from player origins and embodies the sandbox that is Eve. Outside of this, we all keep looking for our own content too.

There have been plenty of people speculating on how the Blood Raider event sites being in Imperium controlled space might lead other people to invade that space. PL/NC of course comes to mind for just about everyone as the only force that is actually big enough to threaten the Imperium in their new home. It seems unlikely that all of the groups that came together for World War Bee could be gathered together with this motivation.  For many the point was made when the Imperium crumpled, and for others it was a once-in-a-lifetime event that simply doesn't feel the same when repeated. I don't know much about the great power balance between PL/NC forces compared to the Imperium but it seems unlikely that even PL/NC would truly be able to shake loose the Goons hold on that space. It seems far more likely that they will threaten to hot drop an operation on these Blood Raider sites but not leave any truly lasting impact. In the end it will then be a question of how efficiently the Imperium can farm these sites, but there's going to be a significant learning curve it seems.

The conversion of players outposts is an unexpected value proposition for content, but one that people started running the numbers on as soon as mentioned at FanFest. The spectulation is that these faction citadels will be greatly in demand and thus whoever holds control of them at the flip point will be able to pack them up, move them to market, and resell them for a tidy profit. I have heard one quote of 12T ISK for all of the outposts in Providence, for instance, but there's obviously a lot of speculation behind those numbers given that final stats haven't been released yet. But the promise is enough to make some people start eyeing their favorite starmap.

That ISK making opportunity may be at least part of what is behind the third content source that we are seeing right now. The Anime War, as it has been dubbed is truly player generated content. For the origins of this "war" all you need to do is travel to reddit, though I've linked above to the PCGamer article because it's impressive that it's gotten attention from beyond the silly world of reddit. But the bottom line is that Provi Block and their allies have been attacked by PL and fam perhaps because for the eventual ownership of the outpost mentioned above. Whether or not that is the cause is almost irrelevant in the sense that it is something that has captured the players' imagination. For such a diehard group of nerds as we Eve players are, a battle over freedom for anime (or freedom from anime) just makes sense.

In my smaller corner of cluster the Gallente Militia have moved on to attempt to invade the Amarr side of factional warfare. This is pretty much entirely because the Caldari suddenly disappeared from the war in any effective sense. When I last found that my interest in Eve was waning I took a vacation in my Stratios. I came back because there was of the sudden rush of the Caldari against our war zone, and I felt motivated to help defend my friends at arms in the militia. Now as I look at how things are moving in terms of content it seems unlikely that should I go on another vacation there will be a new content source such as that to pull me back. I also found that it was difficult to find individual targets for a solo roamer, or perhaps I just didn't look long enough and enough places. This may also mean that I just need to bring an alt, even if not well-trained, to help me take slightly riskier odds when in strange places. As much as the wars in Providence sound like they could be fun i'm not sure if being the in +1 number of a nightmare fleet would really be that much more motivating. It also seems like most of the content there is concentrated in the European time zone.

The good news is that heading into what could be a quiet period in the game we are seeing content coming from both CCP and from the players themselves. What I need to figure out for myself is where I could get into content, or if I need to make a stronger attempt at generating my own content. With the currently limited amount of time I spend in game I would need to have a means to get to content that fit that budgeting of my time. The alternative is something that plenty of Eve players do, but I have not yet done myself, which is to take a break for these warm summer months and let my other hobbies have more of my time. If I follow that path certainly know Eve will never be too far away since discord and other channels will always be there.  You can logoff, but you can never leave...

(Most of this article was "written" by voice-to-text on my phone, which led to some hilarious and hard to recognize changes.  If there are any still left, my apologies.  See also "for action for desires", and "set Adele")

April 23, 2017

Looking back on Fanfest, with lots of pictures

Fanfest was a great experience.  It's one thing to hear people say that every Eve player should get to Fanfest or one of the other big events, but it is another thing to be there are surrounded by all of your fellow Eve players.

Kyonoke Inquest propaganda postings
Inquest attendees hard at work puzzling through the data

I was particularly impressed with the Kyonoke Inquest event, but I won't say more here since I wrote three articles about it for Crossing Zebras. (Will Eve Players RP?, Op Success?, and Wrap-up).  I even got a chance to talk about it on my first podcast appearance ever, Crossing Zebras 68: Fanfest.

I'll be looking for more on the Kyonoke Inquest and its consequences from The Discourse.  The actors from The Company P really adapted well and held the whole things together.

While I'm an (amateur) photography buff, I didn't end up taking a huge number of pictures of FanFest itself, and left my DSLR in my room.  My new iPhone was pretty nice for the casual shooting through.  One little thing I did involved a tiny stuffed animal, Oorg, that my daughter sent with me to keep me company.  On impulse I asked a few people to pose with Oorg and the results were great.  I only wish I'd done more of it.

Max Singularity and retinue
(I should have gotten their names too)

Ariel (amongst other names)

Cyrillian Voth.  I love his puzzled look.
Of course there were panels and presentations to attend
And of course wherever you go there are Eve Players, including as you walk around Reykjavik.

I think that in the end the presence of the community is what draws a lot of players back to FanFest.  Going to The Laundromat Cafe and sitting down with Eve players, or if you're not feeling so sociable, perhaps you just smile at the shirts and badges that you recognize.  I'm not sure if you can get this kind of density of Eve players in the other events (Eve Vegas, Eve Nottingham, Eve Down Under, Eve Amersterdam, etc.) like you can in Iceland.  For me seeing Iceland was astounding as well, and I'm looking to bringing my family one of these days... preferably when I can manage to get in another Fanfest.  Whoever is reading this, I hope I can see you there some day as well.

(Sorry for the layout - Blogger isn't exactly a sophisticated image presentation system.)

March 24, 2017

Preparing for Iceland and Fanfest

So my time and Eve has been shortened lately. And it's going to be even shorter over the next week as I prepare the final details of visiting Iceland for FanFest.  Appropriately enough as I finish up writing this, CCP Falcon has posted the Eve Fanfest 2017 Megablog.  So let's talk about seeing Iceland, and not just the inside of the Harpa and nearby pubs during Fanfest.

I'm going to be arriving early so I can do some sightseeing around the beautiful country. I am an amateur photographer so I am very much looking forward to the fantastic geography that Iceland provides. Honestly, the beautiful images I've seen are intimidating - the place looks so beautiful I would hate to take photos that don't do service to it.  I'm not going to be trying to haul too much in the way of gear.  I think that the real trick for packing will be getting the tripod along without having to pay for another bag just for it. 

From Brittannica.com: Aurora borealis over the Snaefellsnes peninsula, western Iceland, March 2013
We'll be just at the end of the time period for aurora borealis, as I understand it, but it would be a nice bonus.

For all that I've heard about Iceland being well ... icy ... it amuses me that it is warmer there than it is in my home right now near Boston Massachusetts.  Of course I've also heard that the Iceland climate is highly variable so it's best to plan for it to be colder.  I can only imagine what the wind coming in off the North Atlantic is like.  I've heard some negative comments about tourists trying to hike over glaciers in their jeans certainly so I'll make sure to bring some heavier clothes and snow pants.  A layer of thermals sounds like a good plan too.  If it is so cold that thermals, flannel lined pants, and snowpants doesn't cut it then I probably shouldn't be outside anyway.

If you're considering getting some sightseeing in while you're at Fanfest, and not just the CCP scheduled Sisters of Eve tour, I'd recommend checking out the blog I Heart Reykjavik.  It has a nice sense of humor about it along with some very practical, non-salesy information.  There are a lot of options for seeing Reykjavik and Iceland, particularly since tourism has been a huge part of Iceland's recovery from the banking crash that practically took out the country.  Unfortunately it sounds like tourism has been so popular that there is a bit of backlash (see "Is Iceland Overcrowded with Tourists").  If you've ever lived in a tourist spot, you probably know how they feel.  So, my fellow Fanfest attendees, please represent yourself, your country, and Eve players by treating Iceland and it's people well while you're there!

I'll be arriving on Saturday 01 April (no joke!) and then leaving on Sunday 09 April.  I'll be renting a little 4x4 from Cars Iceland for the touring part of the vacation prior to Fanfest.  The first day I've got a walking tour of Reykjavik lined up with I Heart Reykjavik, and i'll be catching How To Become Icelandic at the Harpa at night, which sounds hillarious.  Then it's off to the south coast to Vik, then Hof (note: not the same as Höfn - made that mistake during planning at one point), and the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon.

Image from theplanetd.com

Wow, right?  All of these places are theoretically only two hours or so apart from one another on the highway.  (yeah, "the" singular highway)  However, there are so many cool things along the way that it's going to be slow forward progress really.  Add to that the possibility of weather issues.  Check out this google map of places to see on a southern route, courtesy of I Heart Reykjavik.  I'm really back and forth between a tendency to want to plan all my details of each place and playing it by ear.  The fact that work has been really busy has helped discourage me from too much overplanning though.

If you're planning on sightseeing prior to Fanfest, feel free to drop me a line.  I'm fully planning on enjoying doing this solo as a decompression prior to the chaos of Fanfest, but I'm all for sharing notes or getting together for a coffee / beer / brennivin.

March 13, 2017

CSM 12 - That snuck up on me

I'm not sure if the period from the opening of candidacy for CSM to the actual voting opening was any different this time, but it sure felt that way.  Most of that is how busy my RL has been, but it's also because my podcast feed wasn't full of CapStable interviews.  Crossing Zebras has taken a shot at it between Ashterothi's interviews and the Declaration of War panels (yes, the tags on CZ weren't consistently applied, so just look around), but it's definitely no replacement for the massive amount of work that the CapStable guys put into this in the past - and which probably burned them out from doing it again this time.  A big thanks to all of the media folks who got CSM interview information out there.

By the time I realized it was well underway I wasn't going to do my usual summary of the candidates (all 64 of them), particularly since information was spread over the meta.  I don't have as complete a picture of the candidates at all, but it's time to get that voting in.  I hate being under-informed about this, but I realized this was going to have to be a time-boxed exercise.  So here are my top five candidates - arguments are welcome and may sway my vote by the time I get around to plugging them into the interface.

Scylus Black: I'm glad to see him getting out the word about factional warfare.  Even if FW isn't coming up soon on the roadmap, having someone to advocate should help CCP understand the impact of their new features on FW.  Perhaps it will even help get FW on a  future roadmap.  I'll be at Fanfest, hoping to hear good news.

Steve Ronuken:  Look, does anyone ever doubt this guy should stay on CSM as long as he can stand it?  He's probably the one CSM everyone agrees on.

Commander Aze: I didn't rate him highly last time around, but he's stuck with it and has been improving his message.  I'm also feeling a lot of sympathy for the highsec folks, while feeling the nullsec bloc folks don't need my vote.

Jin'taan: The exception to that preceding sentence.  I've been hugely impressed by his work to improve the communication coming out of the CSM.  As a members of the Declarations of War podcast he has consistently asked candidates what they will do to make the CSM better.  This is the change in mindset that we need and I'm hoping he'll continue to help make happen.

Suitonia: He's clearly got a great understanding of the details of ships used in small gang work (which is where I like to play).  Having at least one such CSM is probably good, though it sounds like he's been able to make a lot of contributions via direct contact from CCP as well as the focus groups.  One note though - if you're going to link your blog from your candidate page, it's probably best if you've actually posted within the past twelve months.

After I get through those five I'm not really finding many other candidates on the list that compelling.  Maybe Vic Jefferson (3rd time running, not much new info from my negative review last time)?  Maybe Kalen Tsero (he wants to support lowsec but doesn't know FW mechanics and people?)  Who else am I missing?

March 3, 2017

BB80: Is it feasible to have a FW representative on CSM 12?

BB80 asks if CSM12 will be dominated by null-sec with no voice for hi-sec, low-sec, and WH players.  I think there’s a chance for low-sec this time around if FW can show that it pulls together and votes in a candidate such as Scylus Black. But how good is that chance?

CCP Seagull encourages you to get involved in CSM12 and put your name forward to be a Space-Politician. On his blog Neville Smit noted that CSM11 had done a good job with minimum of drama. However he said he’d not be covering CSM12 like he has in previous years as he sees no point. The power-blocs will vote on who they want and unless Steve Ronuken manages to get on CSM12 it is almost certainly going to have every seat taken by the big null-sec blocs.
Is Neville right? Is the CSM moving more and more into just a voice for 0.0? Is this a bad thing? Are the hi-sec, low-sec and WH players going to lose out badly or is it really not an issue as it's the same game? Could a totally null-sec dominated CSM 12 give a balanced voice for everyone?
I’d like to agree with Kirith that it is possible for a FW candidate to make it onto the CSM.  Let’s take a quick look at the numbers.  According to some analysis from Fuzzy Steve the threshold for getting on the CSM is at #voters divided by seats plus one, plus one.  If we have about the same number of voters as CSM 10 (i.e. before the big disappointment of that CSM), that threshold is about 3364. If we stay at the historically low number of voters that voted in CSM 11 then that threshold is about 2045. So how many Faction Warfare players are there that are engaged enough to vote?

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that if you’re in FW but you aren’t active enough to be considered an active PVPer by zkillboard, then you’re probably someone’s farming alt or not engaged enough to vote.

Total 3,936

Ouch on those numbers for the Minmatar.

So that’s not terribly promising.  We have enough people in Faction Warfare that if all of the active PVPers voted their #1 slot for the same FW candidate (such as Scylus Black) then they’d get on the CSM, assuming turnout numbers like CSM X.  On top of that, we have to discount those numbers by how many people in Faction Warfare are Alphas, and thus ineligible to vote.  If turnout was down to CSM 11 numbers, then we probably should discount our raw player counts for the same reason. We could hope that FW players have more than one active account (and thus more votes) but that may means they have more than one active PVPer in our counts as well. Those are some pretty big IFs.

That tells me that Scylus Black not only needs to make the rounds with all of the Factional Warfare corps, but also needs to broaden his pitch to include other lowsec residents (aka pirates).  The good news is that we in FW are already pretty well acquainted with them via the vigorous pew pew that happens every night.

But he’s got his work cut out for him.

January 20, 2017

Stratios Vacation: Part 2

When last we left the tale of my Stratios Vacation I had decided not to head home but instead to log off in Cloud Ring.  I logged back in and indeed the WH to Lasleinur is gone.  I did have a momentary panic because I hadn't reloaded my probe launcher before I logged, and it occurred to me that I might have left my probes out to expire.  The changes made a while back that auto-retrieve your probes means that it is probably hard to actually lose them nowadays, but just in case that's probably a good point for other explorers: make sure you have a spare set of core probes on board.  I probe down the new single new signature - it's one of those low sig sites, but by the time I get to 0.5 AU it comes up as a Gas Site.  Nevermind that.

Moving from system to system I found that the area was strikingly absent of signatures.  Enough that I wondered if the locals make a point of running/rolling them, though I can't imagine they can be bothered to roll wormholes in such space.  Eventually I find a Relic Site and actually successfully run it to find about 7M worth of material.  As I start to move to the next can someone enters local, so I aim away from the can, hit the MWD to get range and go for the cloak - just as a Helios lands, with the charming pilot name of "SpaceSlut 3000" - definitely classy.  Anyway, the key question was "did he see me?"  I circle back towards him under cloak.  He's 24km away, so quite a bit more than my scram.  And he's off before I can make any other decision.  Musta saw me.

I move on to the next system and find seven signatures waiting for me (see what I get for complaining?).  After a couple gas sites, my classy Helios pilot enters system, accompanied by a Stilletto.  Meta 0 core probes drop, and the Helios stays on scan.  Our SpaceSlut is apparently only four months old, and doesn't have cloaking skills yet.  But he (no, I can't imagine the player of such a character is female) does have a friend (or a main, as the Stilleto pilot is from 2010) that can keep an eye out for them.  Good combination, I'm not interested in trying my luck there.

So time to move on - which brings me into the region of Fade.  Hey, I can see Deklein from here!  As I come into system, there's another null resident I happened to be in system with.  Right as our charmingly named pilot comes back into system, he apparently gets nervous.
Is that for me or the classy pilot? Who knows.

I moved along and got to a much more populated system (8W-OSE).  As soon as I cleared the gate, I was greeted in local chat, along with a posted image

This is more like what I've heard of nullsec residents keeps an eye out for intruders, and probably a bit more attention than I'd like.  In a Stratios I expect I can clear most gatecamps but, there's always a risk of an instalocker or a spread of wrecks/cans.  I also have seen the same toon appear in system about 66% of the time after I enter, so I'm starting to wonder if that's chance or if he's keeping an eye on the neutral.

I double back towards Cloud Ring.  In warping through I notice warp disruption bubbles.  They aren't in quite the right place to block my warp, but it's a good reminder.  I moved on back and there doesn't appear to be any pursuit.  Things quiet down and empty out as a I move away, so I get to a safe and put out some probes to check out the signatures. In the middle of scanning local shows the arrival of a new pilot, so I hit d-scan and see a Gnosis.  A check on the new pilot shows that it's a new character, started about when Alpha pilots became possible.  Hmm, a Gnosis is a logical ship for taking on bigger rats or even scanning for an Alpha pilot... but it's also a very well known hull for baiting.

Okay, so d-scan down the Gnosis.  I'm trying to use the d-scan by range trick that I've heard people describe rather than the more intuitive angle-scan approach.  Basically if you go to 360 degree scan and start reducing your range, you'll probably find that there's only one celestial at the range where the target disappears.  If you go by angle you'll have to do the sector by angle and then reduce range.  In any case, if the Gnosis shows up at a belt or an Anom then I'm going for it I figure, counting on my better character skills compared to the greater size of the battlecruiser.  Instead, it turns up near a gate.  That's a flag, but I warp over under cloak to check it out.

The Gnosis is orbiting the gate at range and I don't recognize the turrets definitively, but they look like they might be Rapid Lights, which would be good for dispatching light tackle.  The lazy wide orbit of a gate only seems to make sense as bait to me, so I warp away rather than try my luck.  If he had gone to the belt nearest the gate and shot a rat I might have gone for it, and the way I've see Gnosis set for bait I bet he could have tanked me until his buddies showed up.  The only trick might have been whether he could have kept tackle.  Given that I had a scram and neuts I would have been in range to be scrammed and webbed down, and if the Gnosis had a cap booster then it could have kept point on me despite the neuts.  But no.

Instead, I check out the signatures.  This area is feeling pretty responsive to neutral presence, and not terribly interesting for solo hunting, so when I find a wormhole to a C5 I decide to move on in.  That leads to a C2.  Googling shows someone on the forums once lived here and then was trying to buy a path back after accidentally rolling themself out.  The C2 has a static C4 and static high, so that could be interesting.  I log off here for the night, figuring I can use this as a good point to find something new next time I log in.

Good night, sweet wormhole! Good night, cloaked Proteus!

January 16, 2017

Fanfest 2017 Ticket Contest

Are you thinking about Fanfest 2017, but you haven't gotten tickets yet?  Let me help you make up your mind.  CCP has given fansites an extra ticket to give away, so here goes.  The contest is simple: comment on this post about what you like to see in Eve fansite blogs (as opposed to full-blown media sites like CZ, EN24, IN, etc).  I'd appreciate it if you can point out if my blog here has ever covered what you want, but if you're just honest and say "I never read your blog until this contest" then that's fine too.

I'll choose a random comment that fits that description on Friday and have CCP send you the ticket. Make sure you include some way for me to contact me in your post!

CCP legalese-type notes: Tickets are only for admission for Fanfest itself. This ticket does not include any extra events that require separate tickets, and CCP is not offering to pay for your hotel or flights. CCP will not be able to send goodie bags to those that can’t attend in person.

On that last point, I'd be pretty annoyed if the winner of the ticket didn't go, so please don't enter if you don't think there's a decent chance you'll go.  To help incentize that, I'll throw in a free drink for the contest winner if we can get together at some point during Fanfest.

Good luck!

January 11, 2017

Stratios Vacation: Part 1

On New Year's Day I decided it was time for something a little different - particularly since the family is away visiting my wife's best friend.  A change of pace from the usual FW play, though as I noted in the last blog there certainly has been a good bit of content there lately.  So I packed up a Stratios and headed out into the great unknown.  This entry (and some coming up) will be the tale of how that little vacation went.  I'm also going to try to get back to my "Lessons Learned" bit that I used to include regularly in the blog.

Note: I'm trying some things I'm decidedly not an expert at, so don't try this at home kids!  Oh, and advice on what I did wrong is quite welcome.

Setting Out. I decided not to post the fit right off the bat since as of this moment the hull hasn't been lost and I'm not good enough at this game to give up too much info.  The general plan though is that I want to be able to PVP when the opportunity arises, but I have a mobile depot to swap things out.  I even have relic and data analyzers in the cargo, though the last time I did hacking was back when the cans would spew out all over the place.  I figure there's a very good chance this Stratios is going to die, so insurance is bought and it's time to undock!

Probing: I always use the pinpoint pattern.  As far as I know you would only use the spread pattern if you're trying to quickly figure out how many items of interest are in the area, without immediate need to resolve them to 100% and warp.  Perhaps the combat probe experts might have something more to say about that.  Another trick that newer folks might not know is that sites/WHs are always going to be within 4 AU of a planetary body, so you can save a pass at 8 AU in many cases where the red sphere of uncertainty is off-center of that planet.

I see a corpmate has already found and bookmarked a wormhole to a C3 right here in Suj, but there's also another WH sig that hasn't been investigated, so I scan that down and warp to 20 km, which is my usual safe distance to be able to check it out without being so close as to bump into someone (or the WH) and lose cloak, but still be within range to burn in and go through a WH easily enough.  It's a lowsec hole, so that sounds like potential fun.

Lasleinur (0.2, Metropolis, Minmatar held).  There are 7 in local, and I'm seeing frigs and dessies on d-scan.  I don't want to get caught up in a fight with a bunch of those.  There are 10 signatures, so I start working them down, looking only for WHs as this system is too busy to try hacking or a combat site.  My general practice is that if I scan down a WH I'll warp to it to check it out while I move the probes on to the next sig.  I forgot I had left myself cloaked off a C6 hole, and then got a surprise when I heard the wormhole splash sound.  I panicked for a moment that I'd been decloaked as I switched back from the probing window just in time to see it was a Cheetah passing through and I was still cloaked.

Along the way I found a tiny, hard to scan signature.  When you're at 1AU and only 12% or so, it's something unusual.  If it had been a hole to a shattered WH system then I might have turned around and gone back to Suj to reship to check it out.  But instead, Relic Site. :(

I'm finding it distracting as corpmates post juicy kills on the corp channel, but I stick with it.  Time for a vacation, right, gotta stick to the plan.

My general practice is to decloak and reload the probe launcher as I'm burning for the wormhole, so that it's loaded when I come out the other side.  I wonder if that's what other people do?

U65-CN (-0.1, Cloud Ring).  I see this is listed as -0.01, which if I understand right means it's terrible for ratting and such. It does show 142 jumps in the last 24 hours, so I'm guessing people pass through it on their way elsewhere since it looks pipe-ish, but it's empty now. I kill some belt rats as I scan, as I can use the security bump. I'm at -6.3 and have been annoyed recently at that keeping me at a disadvantage with gate guns and out of travelling shallow highsec shortcuts.

Lets try hacking: Central Serpentis Sparking Transmitter. I fail hacking the first mainframe, and after failing the next datacom unit I decide either this one is too hard for me or I need to watch some videos on how to do hacking.  It feels like some things have changed since this first came out, and I'm not sure what. There are little numbers that appear in the nodes when you click on them, so there must be some data there I'm not getting.

I make up for it by shooting some rats in belts, though I was really hoping to find one of the special type of rat (like a Shadow Serpentis).  No luck though, and I come to realize that Wardens were a terrible choice of Sentry since their optimal is longer than my drone control range in this Stratios.

It's now an hour in and I certainly haven't been moving as fast as I could.  I'm pretty happy with trying out things here in null. Since this area of null looks like it could be good, I decide to duck back and get a better drone loadout to match the rats.

On my way, I get distracted by the fact that Lasleinur has a DED Security station. I've been meaning to trade tags for security status lately.  So, 48M ISK and many of my stored up tags later, I'm a reformed citizen, from -6.3 to -1.3.  Good enough to get me into highsec systems again.

Back to U65-CN, at least after I made myself some lunch

Lets try ratting. I refit for PVE and ran a small site (Serpentis Hidden Rally Point) while eating lunch.  Actually, it took longer to run the site than eat my lunch, hanging out at 50km or so with Gardes boosted by my Omnidirectional tuned for Optimal Range.  That's just inside one falloff, so then they charge towards optimal.  If I wanted to really rat I suppose I need to be ready to refit to three DDAs.  This is something I remember hating about rating like this.  It takes forever and just when you think you're done there is one more wave.  So eventually I said "forget this" and warped off.  Two people had come into the system and while I couldn't see them on d-scan, and there weren't any probes out, it could be easy enough for one of them to be approaching under cloak or in a recon.  So back to my safe, refit back for PvP and time to move on.

Except - there's a new signature showing.  I scan it down, and find it's a relic site.  Still in my PvP configuration, I head over to take a look at it.  As I arrive I hit d-scan and see core probes ... but I've already pulled mine.  The two people I'd seen in local earlier are gone and now there's a new person.  Hmm... what are the chances he'll want to come run this relic site and I can be waiting for him.  Still under cloak I slowboat to about 20km off of the cans and wait while I do other things around the house, peeking at the screen and hitting d-scan regularly to see if anything had changed. (Is this what Cloaky Bastard does?)

As I check back I see now there are combat probes out.  I double-check to make sure I didn't somehow bump something and lose my cloak (whew, all set).  But the combat probes tell me that that the local isn't happy with the intruder in space.  That works out okay since the family is just about home, so I move off to a safe and then safe-log.

No going home (yet): I didn't head back through the WHs to home station.  I expect that one of those WHs will be gone by the next time I log in, even if it's just later tonight.  Now that I've gotten my security status up, I feel better about wandering about without a way home.  It won't be that terribly hard to find a place to dock in lowsec or highsec and clone-jump back to Suj if there's something important I want to be a part of.  That wasn't really possible with my old security status.  Now as a Gallente FW member I'm not welcome in Amarr or Caldari space, so there is still a lot blocked off, but at least I can get into Gallente and Minmatar highsec.

The first session of the Stratios vacation hasn't resulted in any kills, and the ratting was not great from an ISK perspective (6.8M/tick) compared to what I hear of valuable null areas, but I'm enjoying the new space and trying to new things. There's no backup out here if things go wrong.

And maybe that's really part of the excitement of it, after all.

January 5, 2017

Tale of Two Battles: Pilot Experience

So apparently I didn't post a blog in all of December.  Fortunately I've got some ideas lined up that should help me keep this moving in the new year.  I wasn't inactive for December though, and indeed there were two major battles I was in that I think provide an interesting compare and contrast.  This won't be a battle report though, so if you want to know about The Battle of Vey or the Battle of Vlillirier then you should read those linked articles.  This is about the experience of being a pilot in these two very different scenarios, and what that tells me about what I enjoy in Eve.

The Battle of Vey (18 Dec)

The motivation for Vey was largely that of denial - CHAOS was an enemy and they were putting down a Keepstar.  My corp (RDRAW) formed up Machariels, fit with Arty but as usual carrying full refits.  We bridged in and found the local count was 3000 plus and TiDi was in full effect pretty much as soon as we landed, as I recall.  Now I've fought in battles where TiDi kicked in before, but generally in lowsec we don't see TiDi pinned to the 10% level for a full engagement.  We're more likely to see TiDi kick in right as people undock or take a gate, or carry some smaller slowdown.  As plenty of people have reported, this made the battle progress slowly.  Before the "in my time" vets jump in, I completely agree that slow is better than broken, so I'm not quibbling with the mechanic of TiDi.

The other aspect was that we were coordinated with other fleets, with separate comms bridged by the FCs.  Comms discipline was good, which also meant it was pretty quiet.  It seemed pretty clear that our target caller was relaying the target selection made by others, which made the whole thing feel even more distant.  We'd all go guns quiet, then be given a target to lock and shoot.  We were teetering on the edge of being able to break enemy Machariels, so I'd guess that part of the limited information we were being given was so that spies couldn't relay the target so that their logi could get reps on before our alpha landed.  On our side, our logi reported that we were losing ships before they could lock the friendly.  We ended up withdrawing in good order, so my Machariel made it back home and my killboard had some nice enemy battleships lined up (though no final blows, so no killmarks).  If I had been primaried then losing the ship would have meant an end to the night, as smaller ships weren't useful and reshipping from that distance wasn't feasible, particularly given TiDi.

The experience as a pilot was much what I hear of the nullsec battle experience.  You anchor up, you wait for a target call, then press F1, then stare either at the target's armor swing down or out the window into the black night wondering what you've gotten yourself into and when you'll get to bed.  At least it was Saturday night (my time).

The Battle of Vlillirier (22-23 Dec)

The motivation for Vlillirier was fighting our side in Factional Warfare.  CalMil has been on a strong push (see The Rise of the State) and GalMil has frankly been divided, which is pretty much a mirror of the warzone from when I first joined up.  Word went out that Vlillirier was under siege, so get into empty capsules and go help out.  (spoiler: guess what part of that I failed to do.)

I won't get into the basics of factional warfare, but in short we were running fleets of let's say 10-50 in and out of the FW plexes.  Ships were cheap (if you brought your own) and plentiful (handed out by FCs).  System control is often attrition warfare where if your opponent sets up in T2 ships (such as assault frigates) a good option is to have everyone reship into glass-cannon Catalysts, enter the plex, and blow up as many ships as you can before they can take you down.  Often this may even be a "free fire" situation because the FC can't call the targets faster than you can kill them.  Alternatively you may be in longer-range ships and you anchor up and follow targets like a more traditional Eve Online fleet.  Your fleet will often split up into smaller groups to span across multiple plexes with those pilots having responsibility to call back intel and (to a limited degree) decide to stand and fight or flee when enemies appear on d-scan.

The experience as a pilot is generally rapid-fire.  Our FC was generally light-hearted and chatty, with comms swinging between something closer to "battle comms" and fairly open with newbies asking how to use modules or work the overall mechanics.  Die, reship, and possibly even jump back into the same plex.  The pilot has to be paying attention, but the costs of not paying attention aren't that high in terms of ISK or being removed from the fight.

So which would you pick?

It seems obvious, doesn't it?  This is why many of us fans of lowsec have trouble understanding the appeal of the "big nullsec fight."  I know there is smaller-gang roaming in null, but the headlines are the big fights.  Now I'd also expect that many of the nullsec fans would speak to how their fights have meaning, particularly when you've been part of an alliance and its community for a long time.  I get that.  I just can't see staying up until 2am in the morning hitting F1 every five minutes when someone tells me to.

At the same time, there are also plenty of times when the FW battles can be F1 centric.  There's plenty of trying to hold a plex in your solo frigate when you see a dozen destroyers appear on d-scan and you have no choice but to warp off.  As someone who isn't very good at solo (as my recent killboard will attest) I can't say that I'm that variety of FW hero.  But it sure seems that there is a readier opportunity for content in lowsec in general and FW in specific.

That said, I've decided to give something a bit new a try, which I'll cover in coming blog posts...