Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Death of Cicero

There was a stretch last night when I worried that I really screwed up.

Every week, I post a "Fit of the Week".  They're a regular feature that I started quite literally from blog day one to make sure I kept in the habit of blogging.  You regulars can laugh now.  Still, they're fun posts to write.  I like writing about how I use spaceships and it's fun to examine my own motivations for fitting ships the way that I do.  They're also terrific "gateway" posts that introduce people to my blog and my writing style.  For example, for a several month stretch early this summer, one of the most common Google searches that led people to my blog was "L4 mission Raven".

Still, they're not what I would call popular posts.  They don't get a lot of hits and they don't generate a lot of comments.

...unless I screw up.  ;-)

I'm not going to post to the two FOTWs that generated comment storms because frankly, I don't want to relive them.  But occasionally I'll say something in a FOTW post that people come out of the woodwork to tell me means I'm a bad person.  On one occasion, I had to post a flat-out retraction of something I'd said in a FOTW post the day before.  ;-)  So, when six or eight comments came in about yesterday's L1 mission Thrasher fit in the first few hours, I was sure I'd screwed something up.

First off, one comment flat out accused me of trolling.  So let me answer this one right now: virtually nothing on this blog is intended as a troll.  When I write something, I'm serious about it.  Sure, I'll occasionally post something controversial to try to stir up discussion and try to get people thinking.  The most recent example was my "Call of the wild" post about Clarion Call 3.  But even that wasn't intended as a troll, but as a direct critique of that video.

In retrospect, it would have been fun to post a troll on the death day of Cicero, the world's first troll, but alas, I didn't think of it.  So, no, it wasn't a troll.  In fact, I'll make a promise right now: no FOTW is intended as a troll.  Every one of them represents a ship that I've flown sometime in my EVE career and found useful for its purpose.  If I don't know how to fly a ship, I don't post a FOTW about it.  That Thrasher was no exception.

The next most common complaint is that I'd priced a so-called "beginner" ship out of the reach of beginners.  This confused and worried me, because while I didn't have that Thrasher in EFT when I wrote the post, I do have that ship in one of my character's hangars.  I rebuilt it in EFT from memory and posted it.  When the comments about its cost started coming in, I quickly got into game, found the Thrasher still in one of that character's hangars, and checked its actual fit against what I'd posted.  And my memory was mostly accurate.  The missile launcher I actually had fit was a TE-2100 instead of an Arbalest, and the AB was a B-Type instead of a C-Type (I've updated the post to reflect this).  Otherwise, what I posted yesterday and what I had in my hangar was the same.

As I said in the post, I own one of these ships, fit just that way, used just the way I talked about in the post.  I did indeed put my 8-year-old niece in command of it last Christmas.  I've had it for a long, long time, since the beginning of that character's EVE career.

So had I priced it out of reach of beginners?  Had those arties escalated to 14 million each at some point and I'd missed it?  I wasn't looking forward to posting another retraction.  I scrambled to check... and found that, no, the prices of those mods wasn't at all out of reach.  As of this morning, the entire fit -- minus the AB -- sells for between 18 and 25 million ISK.  The arties are the most expensive part, yes, but it's less than 2 million each for them.  This isn't at all unreasonable for a dedicated mission ship that isn't expected to die.  The dead-space afterburner (if you buy it) adds another 10 million, and while granted, that will seem like a lot of money for one mod early in one's career, I talked a lot of newbies into buying one of these excellent ABs for various purposes when I trained newbies in Sturmgrenadier.(1)  The advantages that this AB affords are quickly obvious to even the most noobish EVE player.

Is 18 to 25 million too expensive for a newbie?  Again, I'd argue that it's not.  I tried the new version of the new player experience not long after it was introduced last year, and you'd be surprised at how good it is.  You'd be even more surprised at how lucrative it is.  At the end of two hours, I had a large pile of free ships, a large pile of free skill books, and something like 15 or 20 million ISK.  For the first month of EVE play, the game now pours ISK at you, and you have literally nothing to spend it on except ship upgrades for your first couple of L1 ships or your first mining ship.  It's only starting around the three month mark that EVE tries to financially strangle you in your crib.(2)  ;-)

I'd even argue that we're all trained as gamers to apply our initial money quickly to these sorts of upgrades, if they're available.  Once Diablo III drops, how many of us will be doing everything in our power to find those last few gold to buy 10% more damage for our main demon-killing weapons?  Upgrading one's money-maker is a time-honored gaming tradition, and EVE mission ships are no exception.  I'll have more to say about this in a dedicated future post, but doing so is even a good investment, since the ISK spent on these upgrades isn't lost.  High-meta gear holds its value quite well and can be easily sold when it's no longer needed.

Finally, I want to make the same comment about this ship that I made about that long-ago missioning Raven.  My mission fits are going to be idealized "aim for this" kind of ships.  But there's nothing saying you can't downgrade this piece or that piece if you can't afford it or can't use it yet and I often say in FOTW posts that you should.  I tag a lot of my PvE ships "end-game" ships for this reason.  This ship was intended to be a little bit less end-game, but it's still a worthy goal.  If you can't afford Scout artillery, fit Prototype.  If you can't afford Prototype, fit Carbine.

But I wouldn't do that, because you lose almost 15% of your DPS by doing so.  The Scouts are expensive, and worth it.  And I'd make the same argument about the ship as a whole.

(1) They were fantastic for the mission-salvaging destroyers of the time, for instance.  This was before the Noctis and before MWDs could be used in mission pockets.

(2) Mostly with skill books.  Note to self: write a detailed post about the costs of beginner skill books.


  1. The problem is, you're expecting a new pilot to know the difference between Carbine and Prototype and Scout; to even know what the Meta Levels ARE.

    No tutorial teaches this. The meta levels are buried at the bottom of the info screen, where most sane people would assume the least-important information is at. (Don't get me started on the miserable layout of the info screen, or how the Optimal and Falloff ranges are so far from one another that you can't get them to display on the readout at the same time.)

    New players don't understand the meta-game with new guns. They only know that the ones you're directing them to cost 2 million isk a pop.

    And then you direct them to an afterburner that -- for some arcane reason they have NO CHANCE of knowing -- is NOT available on the market where everything else is, but on some OTHER market that (for another arcane reason) doesn't work like the other one. At all.

    It isn't just the fit that's beyond a new player -- it's the pile of knowledge you assume they'll have.

    Explaining the meta-levels to new players -- the ridiculous complexity; the fact that (just off the top of my head) Scout is the best kind of Projectile artillery, but the worst kind of Hybrid rail -- has made two of new people I've brought into the game throw up their hands and unsubscribe.

    Can people learn it? Of course.

    Do they need that crap piled on top of their 'to learn' list as soon as their out of their tutorial? Does it make the game seem remotely accessible? Does it make the game seem in any way more fun? No.

    Does the idea of sinking every isk they have at the end of their tutorial into a single destroyer in ANY WAY compatible with EvE's Rule 0?

    Only fly what you can afford to lose.

    They cannot. Afford. To. Lose. That. Ship.

    It's a fine build, but not for it's stated purpose.

  2. Hm. That's a couple of interesting points.

  3. I agree with DoyceT about this ship violating the first 4 rules of Eve.

    Im playing this game for 3 months and still remember the loss of my first catalyst,i was kinda devasteted that evening even though I knew it could and would happen. And mine was way worse equppied than yours.(Which is why I lost it, that and lack of preparation).

    Losing a 25m ship, even if i could have afforded it, would have spelt the end of my eve career right then.

    I also lacked the understanding what many modules did, so I would have had no idea what to replace or downgrade. And fiddling with it was not my first priority anyway.

    The tutorials tell you a bit about contracts so I would have known how to aquire that AB. Not that I would have felt good flying around with this thing in my pocket or my ship.

  4. "They cannot. Afford. To. Lose. That. Ship."

    Don't worry about teaching them that Jester, I know of a fine group of players that see at as their role - nay their duty - to ensure all carebears learn this important philosophy at least once in their career :)

  5. Not really.

    Your fit was fine albeit expensive. Any noobs with half a brain would have been inspired and spent a few enjoyable minutes/hours googling meta and dead space mods. You know, that's kinda part of the fun of the game.

    Keep posting fits and let the tldr-tards and people without a clue fade away. For every idiot that posts criticism there are a hundred that gained from it and left no trace.

  6. "Your fit was fine albeit expensive. Any noobs with half a brain would have been inspired and spent a few enjoyable minutes/hours googling meta and dead space mods. You know, that's kinda part of the fun of the game."

    A thousand times this. Not that things couldn't/shouldn't be streamlined and simplified to some degree, but part of the fun of Eve for many of us was the depth and learning curve (yep, I said it, I love the learning curve in Eve).

  7. I agree to keep posting the most optimal fits out there. I see no reason to hold peoples hand in an out of game resource such as a blog like yours. If they found your blog, they usually have enough common sense to research other options for modules available.

    If its too hard for people figure something out when pointed in a general direction, they dont need to be a part of EVE. If they want hand holding, there's a ton of other MMOs that cater to that playstyle.


  8. The new player experience throws money at you in a way that L1 and L2 missions do not. Sure, you can afford to *buy* that fit once you've done all the tutorials and earned a free destroyer in the mix, but you can't afford to *replace* it unless you keep running tutorial series.

    Once you get to the missions where you are earning enough to replace that destroyer, you're running missions which will eat that destroyer alive.

    Good for mindless fun running L1 and L2 missions, sure. That fitting is an end-goal, along the same lines as officer-fit marauders continuing to grind L4 missions because that player doesn't know any other way of funding their PLEX each month.

  9. Okay. As a person that not that long ago was very, very new to EVE, I have to say that your fit was pretty damn silly. Not because of any questions about difficulty of understanding metas and such - I would, personally, like to imagine that newbies aren't necessarily DUMB - but because of the cost of the thing.

    When 18-25 million could get them a higher damage cruiser whilst spending less and thus easily hopping into L2 missions, progressing to L3?

    Yes, your fit was ridiculous. The idea of ASKING a newbie to spend that much on LEVEL ONE missions, the most mind-numbingly boring versions of a slew of mind numbing boredom, the area that gives barely more ISK reward per time spent then picking your nose, was dumb.

    "Most Optimal" is a very subjective thing, and trying to have a most optimal, ridiculously expensive (compared to a newbie's actual coin) ship for the easiest thing in the game is pretty silly.

    It is by far most optimal, enjoyment and coin wise, to practically outright ignore the level ones, go for the Sisters of Eve arc, and get yourself into a cruiser. Even at far lower outfitting levels as far as shiny metas and deadspace gear, it'll still be a happier boat for missioning.


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