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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

KOTW: Beware the gate camp

For Kill of the Week, I have to go with one that made me smile.

An alliance-mate pointed me to this one.  This one is fun for a number of reasons.

First, where it happened.  P-H5IY is one of the most remote systems in all of New Eden.  It's at the far end of a dead-end pocket ending in a -1.00 system, one jump out from that system.  That dead-end pocket is in Cobalt Edge, which is in the far upper northeastern portion of the New Eden map.  The closest major market is Jita.  Jita is 41 jumps away.

Bring a lunch.  ;-)

Obviously, the pilot involved felt that his freighter was perfectly safe in such a remote area.  With an alt parked in the station system one jump off, he can keep an eye out for any potential dangers.  Thus, no need to scout a freighter through null-sec, right?  There was only one problem: there was an active incursion in that constellation.  Those that know the implications of that are starting to laugh right now.  For the rest, allow me to explain.

Unlike high-sec incursions, in low- and null-sec, incursion rats sometimes camp the gates.  That would be bad enough.  But lots of times, they camp the gates with pretty sizable fleets (I've seen as many as ten Sansha ships, including three battleships!).  And lots of times, several of those ships are warp-scrambling ships.  For reference, here's the full list of incursion warp scramblers:
  • Tama Cerebellum, Schmaeel Medulla, Sansha's Nation Commander (FR)
  • Arnon Epithalamus, Auga Hypophysis (CR)
  • Deltolle Tegmentum, Outuni Mesen (BS)
Tamas and Deltolles are particularly prevalent in "incursion gate-camps."  That means that if you enter an incursed constellation in null- or low-sec, you have a chance of getting scrammed.  And once you're scrammed by the incursion gate-camping rats, the rest of the Sansha gate-camp will tear you up just as effectively as any PvP gate-camp.  For this reason, a lot of low- and null-sec roaming fleets try to avoid incursed constellations out there.  It's a giant pain in the butt to deal with: if there are warp-scrambling incursion rats on jump-in, the fleet has to align to the out-gate.  Then you have to kill all the potential scramblers before the fleet can warp off.  If the incursion fleet is on the fleet's out-gate, then the fleet probably can't sit on that gate for very long and will have to move on.

Incurions are giant annoyances to PvP fleets in low- and null-sec.

But of course, this pilot had to know this constellation was under an incursion.  Which means that he didn't realize that some incursion rats gate-camp, and some of the gate-camping incursion rats have warp scramblers.  Now he knows, and so do you.  ;-)  That's the second and third funny things about this kill-mail: he got scrammed by rats.  And his freighter probably lasted all of about 10 or 15 seconds under the incursion gate-camp.  He had just enough time to realize what was happening before he died.

So here we have a freighter, flying unscouted through an incursion constellation.  Which brings us to the fourth funny thing about this kill-mail: it seems to have a lot of this pilot's possessions on board, including an Orca and a Devoter.  I think I would have taken the time to scout that, even through a "safe" constellation, wouldn't you?

And finally, the final thing that's amusing about this kill-mail: there are no humans on it, and the pilot of this freighter either left his corp and his alliance 16 hours after it happened.  Unless the pilot himself logged it to eve-kill, that means his former CEO or a former corp Director did.  Most likely, this would be done with the intent to shame him.

Mission accomplished.

Friday, June 29, 2012

AT9 Qualifiers, looking back

What follows is quoted in full from a post I made to the Rote Kapelle forums some months back, when Rote first started their theory-crafting for the qualifying stages.  It's probably safe enough to go ahead and make public now.  ;-)

If you haven't really paid attention to the work that goes into building Alliance Tournament fleet comps, let me assure you that a lot of thought goes into this process.  There are nearly endless discussions, arguments, and comparisons.  And once a team settles down into a comp that they feel has some promise, then follows endless, endless tweaking to get that comp just so.  And of course, once you have a comp you like, you have to guard it jealously against spies as best you can.

So this should give those of you who haven't really plugged into this process some insight into what goes into it.  This post was of course only one of many, many posts on the Rote boards about the qualifying matches...  Enjoy!


I took some time today to go through the results of the AT9 qualifying matches.  The results are below.

I've categorized the results into wins and losses, and from there, into comps that I thought were winners and losers.  I've done my best to combine like-minded comps together, and also done my best to judge whether a comp was a winner or a loser by the quality of the opposition that it beat or lost to.  If two comps were markedly different, yet both relied on 1 Tier2 and 2 Tier1 BCs and were flown the same, I grouped them together, whether they were shield or armor comps.  Likewise, if two comps were reliant on bombers, I just called bombers bombers and had done with it regardless of exact types.

Some various notes:
  • 2 @ Tengu and 3 @ Tengu comps were risky.  Against strong teams and weak teams, once you sat down in either of these comps, you had a 50% chance of winning across 29 matches.  These two comps had a combined record of 15W, 14L.
  • Sleipnirs were unlucky, and I can't quite figure out why.  But any comp that relied on Sleipnirs for its main DPS was also either a roll of the dice or a loser.
  • In what seems to be the same way, comps that relied on Machs for their main DPS were also risky, probably because these pilots so often rely on their Snakes and didn't have them for AT9.
  • Nobody did a really heavy e-war comp in the AT9 qualifiers, unfortunately, so I can't really judge how well this comp would do.
  • Drakes were extremely unlucky.  If you relied on Drakes for your DPS, you probably lost, even if you were putting them into comps that otherwise did well (such as 1 Tier2 BC, 2 Tier1 BC).
  • Teams that had more ships did better than teams that had fewer.
  • Battleship comps generally did very poorly, unless that battleship was a Tempest or a Widow.
  • I didn't include the results of four or five matches which were either clearly LOL comps or were Hail Mary comps with very few points.  In the latter case, I didn't include the opponents of these Hail Mary comps since I couldn't judge how they did against real opposition.
  • That said, pretty much every Hail Mary comp lost.
  • Where I listed a team as a "mixed loser" despite winning a match or a "mixed winner" despite losing, it's because I judged their opposition was particularly weak or strong, depending.  You'll have to base your judgment on that on your opinion of my ability to judge such things.
Hopefully, this information will be useful to the theory-crafters among you.

Clear winners:
  • 7W, 0L: 3 @ Brutix, 2 @ Prophecy   OR   3 @ Cyclone, 2 @ Brutix   OR   Other 5 @ Tier1 BC variations
  • 6W, 1L: 1 @ Hurricane, 2 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Keres, 1 @ Scimitar   OR   Same thing with armor   OR   With any other frigate

Mixed winners:
  • 7W, 5L: 3 @ Tengu, 1 @ Thrasher   (one loss to 5 Tier1 BCs, one loss because 2 @ Tengu, 1 @ Proteus)
  • 2W, 0L: 2 @ Sacrilege, 1 @ Brutix, 1 @ Thrasher, 1 @ Guardian
  • 3W, 1L: 2 @ Machariel, 2 @ Sabre, 1 @ Thrasher  (one W vs weak team)
  • 2W, 1L: 1 @ Tempest, 2 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Scimitar   OR   1 @ Tempest, 3 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Thrasher
  • 1W, 0L: 3 @ Hurricane, 2 @ Kitsune
  • 1W, 0L: 2 @ Myrmidon, 1 @ Prophecy, 1 @ Thrasher, 1 @ Oneiros
  • 1W, 0L: 2 @ Proteus, 1 @ Thrasher, 1 @ Daredevil, 1 @ Onieros
  • 1W, 0L: 1 @ Loki, 1 @ Sleipnir, 2 @ Sabre, 1 @ Scimitar
  • 1W, 0L: 1 @ Proteus, 1 @ Ishtar, 2 @ Ishkur, 1 @ Curse
  • 1W, 0L: 1 @ Typhoon, 1 @ Curse, 1 @ Keres, 1 @ Thrasher, 1 @ Guardian
  • 1W, 0L: 2 @ Rattlesnake, 2 @ Daredevil
  • 1W, 0L: 1 @ Nightmare, 1 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Stiletto, 1 @ Dramiel, 1 @ Basilisk
  • 1W, 0L: 1 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Curse, 1 @ Rook, 1 @ Cormorant, 1 @ Scimitar
  • 1W, 1L: 3 @ Proteus, 1 @ Thrasher
  • 0W, 1L: 1 @ Vigilant, 3 @ Thorax, 1 @ Guardian

Roll the dice:
  • 8W, 9L: 2 @ Tengu, 2 @ Sabre, 1 @ Scimitar   OR   2 @ Loki, 2 @ Sabre, 1 @ Scimitar (esp. this and this)
  • 5W, 5L: 2 @ Sleipnir, 2 @ Sabre, 1 @ Scimitar

Mixed losers:
  • 1W, 2L: 1 @ Sleipnir, 2 @ Hurricane, 2 @ Dramiel   OR   1 @ Sleipnir, 3 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Dramiel   OR   w/Scimitar
  • 1W, 0L: 1 @ Machariel, 1 @ Rook, 1 @ Dramiel, 1 @ Oneiros
  • 1W, 0L: 1 @ Widow, 1 @ Tengu, 2 @ Cormorant, 1 @ Basilisk
  • 1W, 0L: 1 @ Widow, 2 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Scimitar
  • 1W, 0L: 2 @ Vagabond, 1 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Thrasher, 1 @ Scimitar
  • 0W, 1L: 2 @ Dominix, 2 @ Kitsune, 1 @ Hookbill
  • 0W, 1L: 3 @ Bomber, 1 @ Keres, 1 @ Oneiros
  • 0W, 1L: 3 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Arbitrator, 1 @ Scimitar
  • 0W, 1L: 3 @ Gila, 2 @ Daredevil
  • 0W, 1L: 1 @ Tengu, 2 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Gila
  • 0W, 1L: 2 @ Hurricane, 1 @ Rupture, 1 @ Daredevil, 1 @ Oneiros
  • 0W, 1L: 2 @ Rook, 1 @ Lachesis, 2 @ Dramiel
  • 0W, 1L: 1 @ Megathron, 1 @ Myrmidon, 1 @ Brutix, 1 @ Oneiros

Clear losers:
  • 0W, 2L: 2 @ Sleipnir, 2 @ Blackbird, 1 @ Cormorant   OR   2 @ Sleipnir, 1 @ Kitsune, 1 @ Scimitar
  • 0W, 2L: 2 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Prophecy, 1 @ Curse, 1 @ Bomber   OR   2 @ Drake, 2 @ Bomber, 1 @ Scimitar
  • 0W, 2L: 1 @ Huginn, 1 @ Rook, 2 @ Bomber, 1 @ Scimitar   OR   2 @ Curse, 2 @ Bomber, 1 @ Scimitar
  • 0W, 2L: 3 @ Drake, 1 @ Caracal, 1 @ Flycatcher   OR   Other 3 @ Drake comp
  • 0W, 2L: 1 @ Drake, 2 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Daredevil, 1 @ Scimitar   OR   Same thing with armor
  • 0W, 2L: 2 @ Drake, 2 @ Ferox, 1 @ Hawk   OR   Same thing with armor
  • 0W, 2L: 2 @ Machariel, 2 @ Dramiel
  • 0W, 2L: 1 @ Typhoon, 2 @ Hurricane, 1 @ Thrasher, 1 @ Dramiel
  • 1W, 3L: 2 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Curse, 1 @ Keres, 1 @ Scimitar   OR   Same thing with any other frig
  • 1W, 3L: 2 @ Marauder, 1 @ Thrasher, 1 @ Scimitar   OR   Same thing with 1 @ Marauder, 1 @ Loki
  • 1W, 1L: 1 @ Rook, 1 @ Brutix, 1 @ Cyclone, 1 @ Kitsune, 1 @ Guardian   OR   2 @ Rook, 1 @ Thorax, 1 @ Ishkur, 1 @ Oneiros
  • 0W, 1L: 1 @ Eos, 2 @ Myrmidon, 1 @ Kitsune, 1 @ Griffin
  • 0W, 1L: 2 @ Ishtar, 1 @ Thorax, 1 @ Ishkur, 1 @ Guardian
  • 0W, 1L: 1 @ Cyclone, 2 @ Cerberus, 1 @ Rook
  • 0W, 1L: 1 @ Claymore, 2 @ Rupture, 1 @ Bomber, 1 @ Scimitar
  • 0W, 1L: 1 @ Tengu, 1 @ Cynabal, 1 @ Blackbird, 1 @ Celestis, 1 @ Hookbill  (WTF)

Game on

So, Alliance Tournament X starts this weekend.  And if you look closely at the Rote Kapelle squad on Sunday, you might notice someone familiar flying with them.  I'm a bit nervous, but it's the good pre-conflict nervous that settles down into focus once the game starts.  I flew with the Rote team all through the "Syndicate Alliance Tournament" back in February without screwing up.  So hopefully I won't make too many mistakes...  ;-)

As I've mentioned a couple of times, blog posting has been down around here a bit because of all the time I've put into our AT practice sessions in various ways.  One of those ways was analysis of last year's results, so I'll start sharing some of that work here as the tournament progresses.  I'm not much of a theory-crafter myself, but I've got pretty good skills in terms of fitting and comp "autopsies" to tell you what works and doesn't work.  It's sort of reverse theory-crafting.

We're told the CSM helped with the random draw for the pre-qualifying matches during the May/June Summit.  Unfortunately, CCP only saw fit to release the first weekend's schedule so far so we don't know what the second weekend is going to look like yet.  Still, there should be some interesting fights during this first weekend.

These are some particular ones I myself am looking forward to, with who I think will win them in bold.

On Day 1 (June 30):
  • 15:20 Solar Fleet vs. Dead Terrorists.  Dead Terrorists were clearly at their peak in 2010, when they were an annoyance to Against ALL Authorities and various Russians.  Last year, the alliance seemed to fail-cascade, but they've reincorporated this year, focusing more on low-sec small gang fights.  It'll be interesting to see how they do.
  • 16:20 Hun Reloaded vs. Perihelion Alliance.  This one promises to just be goofy.  Perihelion never seems to bring a normal comp if they can bring something off-the-wall instead.
  • 16:40 Babylon 5.. vs. Nulli Secunda.  Should be a curb-stomp.  But should also be a fun-to-watch curb-stomp.
  • 18:40 Darkside vs. RAZOR Alliance.  This will easily be the best fight of the first weekend.  Both Darkside and RAZOR made the semi-finals last year (they were in fact the two teams facing Hydra and... er... Hydra).  Darkside is scarier than they seem to get credit for.  They were the true second-place finishers in AT9 as far as I'm concerned.
  • 20:00 Goonswarm Federation vs. Brick Squad.  It'll be very interesting to see if Brick brings some variation of their vaunted Oracle gang to this match, perhaps three Oracles and three tackle frigs, or two Oracles and an Oneiros with the frigates?  Brick are pretty damn good in small set-piece battles so I think they have the advantage here regardless.

On Day 2 (July 1):
  • 16:00 Dystopia Alliance vs. Pandemic Legion.  Should be another curb-stomp.  But it will be interesting to see if PL brings something straight-forward, if they try to "wow the crowd" (and throw off analysis) a bit with something unusual.  They might very well hold back a bit.
  • 17:00 The RONIN vs. Dirt Nap Squad.  This one should be entertainingly bad, sort of like a girl-on-girl slap-fight in a bad reality show or 80s movie.  Both of these alliances have definitely over-estimated their own competence.(1)  The loss-mails should be a wonder to behold, particularly on the DNS side.
  • 18:40 Rote Kapelle vs PERCUSSIVE PIZZA TIME DIPLOMACY.  OK, maybe this one's only interesting to me.  ;-)
  • 20:40 The G0dfathers vs. Test Alliance Please Ignore.  I expect this to be the most one-sided match of the first weekend, likely surpassing even the PL match above.

A few general comments are in order, too.

The new six-person matches allow up to four ships of a give type.  I think this was probably a mistake, but it's a mistake that's going to be taken advantage of by a lot of teams.  Expect to see a lot of homogenous fleet make-ups.  Probably, we'll see larger groups of smaller ships such as Assault Ships (which don't cost enough points this year, IMO).  Tier 3 BCs with their heavy DPS will also be very big.

On the reverse side, though, expect to see a lot of use of the new Ancillary Shield Booster mod.  This first iteration of it is clearly over-powered.(2)  A lot of teams will be taking advantage of that.  So this is going to be the "shield AT" with many fewer armor-based set-ups than last year.  That's kind of fitting, considering the prizes are Caldari ships.  But one result of this in the six-man matches is that they might be a little bit dull to watch.  There may not be enough DPS on some teams to crack ASB tanks, particularly ASB tanks supplemented by a Scimitar.

Expect to see a lot of qualifying matches go the full ten minutes for this reason.  Expect to see a surprising number of matches end with a lot of ships still on the field for this reason.  But it ironically won't be as big of a deal in the 12-man matches, because 12 ships put out a hell of a lot more DPS than six.  The ASBs won't be as big of a factor because of that.  But CCP might see the impact of the ASBs in the qualifiers, over-react, and ban them in the group stage.  I hope not, but they might.

Finally, hopefully this will be the last year that cruisers are less-than-useful in the AT.  A choice between four Cyclones or Feroxes for 40 points or five T1 cruisers for 40 points is no choice at all.  Even though five T1 cruisers plus one tier 1 BC with a link is a natural six-man, 50-point team, don't expect to see any such teams.  Or if you do see them, expect them to lose pretty badly.  Hopefully, the re-balancing of cruisers will take care of this for AT11.

Here's to some good fights and some good fun!

(1) I say that with all love, Trebor.  <3  ;-)
(2) Yes it is.  When you have to compare a T1 module to a dead-space module to find something comparable, it's over-powered.

Week in the Life: Ishukone

So, a little unintended bug has been fixed today.

A week ago, when the new clothing items hit the NeX (more on them at some point), there was one mixed in there that was a little unusual.  It's called the Men's 'Sterling' Dress Shirt (Ishukone Special Edition).  This was previously an exceptionally rare item, with perhaps a few dozen in total circulation in EVE.  The only way you got one was to buy a package that CCP made available several months ago that included 13 PLEXes.

And of course, once such an exceptionally rare item hits the EVE market place, its price in ISK is set based on supply and demand.  With such an insanely limited supply, the price started at about 400 million ISK and had been steadily rising for the last several months, peaking at 2.2 billion ISK.

For a shirt.

So I expect you can imagine my surprise when I noticed that one of the new items in the NeX appeared to be this very same shirt, listed for 500 AUR, or about $2.50 U.S.  I looked again, and sure enough.  Definitely the same item.  Checking the Jita market, I was amused to notice that the previously 2.2 billion ISK shirt now appeared to be selling for 60 million ISK.  And needless to say, some of the people that owned the super-rare item raged pretty hard about it.  Rather amused and not wanting to spend my own stash of (free) AUR, I bought a couple on the Jita market and socked them away as a curiosity.  And I didn't think very much of it.

Until today... when I notice with a great deal of interest that the Ishukone shirt is no longer available on the NeX for any price.

I wasn't the only person that noticed, either.  As you can see, there appear to be some 150-odd more Ishukone shirts in circulation this week than there were last week.  Guess some of you noticed the same thing I did and spent some of your hard-earned AUR on them.  To two of you... whomever you are... thanks.  ;-)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nothing unreal exists

One other topic came up pretty frequently during the Fatal Ascension deployment to Syndicate that I thought was pretty interesting.  But it will need a little introducing before I can really explain it.

An important fact to remember about EVE's Syndicate region is that it's made up of 15 little pockets of between four and ten systems each.  Ten out of 15 of these pockets are easily-defended dead-end pockets.  If someone gets too aggressive in "your" pocket, it's a pretty easy matter to trap them inside.  That's one of the reasons I made the case back in January about how much more aggressively an alliance living in Syndicate "holds sov" than an alliance that actually holds sov.

Syndicate-dwellers live in the region, and if you come by, you'll see us living there.  And when we go out looking for PvP, we don't have to go far at all.  Many of the pockets have corps or alliances living there, and very few of us have positive standings set with anyone else.  A 20-jump roam there-and-back through eastern Syndicate will bring you into contact with three or four different unaffiliated groups, depending on time zone.

But if you don't know that, you might not realize that in this way, Syndicate is unusual.  In most of the 0.0 regions in EVE, the dwellers are friendly with each other.  Again, I'll use the CFC as an example, specifically the Pure Blind region.  The sovereignty map shows four groups living there (including FA), but all four are friendly with the others.  They don't engage in PvP with each other, and cooperate.  They have to go to other regions to find PvP.

A lot of FA players apparently didn't make this distinction, and just naturally assumed that since their region is a mass of groups friendly to each other, our region must be the same.  They acted as if they were fighting a nebulous "Syndicate alliance"... which of course didn't exist.  Hell, we didn't even share intel about FA movements.  Sure, Syndicate-dwellers might temp-blue for a special occasion or fleet fight, such as the pasting FA took from the combined Rooks and Kings/Agony Unleashed gang.  But that isn't the norm and other than that one occurrence, didn't happen here.

Nevertheless, it was fun to see FA members talk to Rote Kapelle members about how many of "our" POSes had been killed.  The correct answer is that zero Rote POSes were killed.  The ones FA killed had nothing to do with us, or indeed with any Syndicate-dweller except the actual alliance that owned the POS.

In the larger sense, it was equally fun to watch FA swing wildly at the "Syndicate alliance" phantom in terms of fleet sizes.  When their Wyvern self-destructed, there were 100 FA members docked up in the same system, likely more than enough to save it.  But that was early in the deployment, when FA was sure that the "Syndicate alliance" would form up to fall on any super-cap or capital fleet launched to save their tackled Wyvern.  It also took them quite a while to realize that the "Syndicate alliance" wasn't going to form up a 150 man Abaddon fleet to contest their alpha fleet actions.  ;-)

And finally, it was also fun to listen to FA smack-talk that obviously nobody living in Syndicate was any good, because if we were "good", we'd obviously be holding sov somewhere, natch.

Anyway, just a topic that I found kind of amusing.  Sov-holders, I realize that independent small-gang corps and alliances have been hunted to extinction where you live.  But outside of sov space there's still a few of us around.  Just... you know... FYI.

Finally and incidentally, if you're in a smaller corp or alliance looking to make that jump yourselves, several really nice pockets in Syndicate are currently unoccupied.  We've had a bit of an exodus from the region lately, which means those pockets are now wide open to new corps or alliances looking to try 0.0.  A pretty nifty unoccupied "starter pocket" is the 59H-0G constellation.  It has a low-sec exit, four dead-end systems for bearing or PI, four cloning stations all with safe undocks, and an ice belt.  Most of west Syndicate is also completely open.  And of course, the region remains the capital of small-gang low-commitment PvP.  Just something to think about for those of you out there thinking about it.  You know who you are.

Fit of the Week: Gank Talos

I'm in a pretty direct sort of mood, so let's go with something really straight-forward this week:

[Talos, Gank Talos]
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Tracking Enhancer II

Experimental 10MN MicroWarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction

Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L

Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Hybrid Burst Aerator II

Warrior II x5

This ship is not subtle.  It hurts things.

That's really all it does well, but it does that really, really well.  The combination of eight heavy blasters and the MFSs allow you to put out anywhere from 850 to 1200 DPS depending on the ammo you use.  Null ammo is particularly favored out to point range but if you want to bear down on something big and slow, Void ammo is devastating.  The two TEs give Void ammo 0.07 tracking, which is about double that of a 650mm Artillery Hurricane and 2/3 that of a 425mm AutoCannon Hurricane.  And with Caldari Navy Antimatter loaded instead, your tracking rises to 0.105... just under that of the 425s.  But 425s can't do a thousand DPS and the Talos can.

Like I said, this ship hurts things.

That's why I tend to just double down and go with a tech 2 Hybrid Burst rig to increase the rate of fire.  It adds about a hundred DPS to your total, which is pretty substantial.  It's worth the extra ISK, in my opinion.  But if you like, you can go with an Anti-EM rig or a third CDFE instead.

The other reason I don't bother is because of how tier 3s fit like this are intended to be flown.  You can't really stand and fight.  Taloses are hit-and-run raiders, able to do massive DPS and then equally able to clear the field in a hurry.  Even with no nano fit, the Talos does 2200m/s on an overheated MWD.  And there's pretty much no reason ever not to run the MWD overheated.  Carry at least 200 Nanite Repair Paste in cargo and don't be stingy.  Remember to fit the MWD between the two meta LSEs and you'll find you can overheat safely for a good long while.  Your tank is pretty well non-existent so your only real defense is to run away and then burn down things that try to chase you.

That said, the Talos is the only tier 3 BC with a drone bay, and you can supplement your GTFO capabilities by carrying e-war drones instead of damage drones.  I usually don't bother.  If I'm flying a Talos, I don't have any intention of being that subtle.  There are lots of cases of Taloses simply volleying badly-flown tackling frigates off them.  That tracking bonus is just killer and is the main reason why the Talos is so much better than the very similar Naga.  Feel free to carry a Synth Drop in cargo just to make things that much more insulting to potential tacklers.

The other thing that the Talos does really well is belt rat, by the way.  Doing so is a good way to get a feel for your combat ranges and when you can and can't maintain transversal under MWD.  Consider it practice for the real thing.

Go forth and inflict some pain!

All Fits of the Week are intended as general guidelines only.  You may not have the skills needed for this exact fit.  If you do not, feel free to adjust the fit to suit to meet your skills, including using meta 3 guns and "best named" defenses and e-war.  Ships can also be adjusted to use faction or dead-space modules depending on the budget of the pilot flying it.  Each FOTW is intended as a general guide to introduce you to concepts that will help you fit and to fly that particular type of ship more aggressively and well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Fair warning: this will probably the last post around here that talks about Global Agenda.  After putting out a well-received update to the game last fall, HiRez seems content to let the game go into maintenance mode from here on out.  I haven't heard about any further updates expected, though of course HiRez will be more than happy to take your money if you want to play it.  No, their energy and effort is pretty clearly going into the new Tribes: Ascend F2P MMO.

The fact that the Tribes forum has almost three times as many posts as the GA forum seems to both reinforce that decision and confirm the wisdom of it.  Tribes: Ascend utterly failed to hook me, though, so I myself will be looking for another casual play MMO.

In the meantime, I'd like to briefly chat about a very smart move on HiRez's part, and how I think that smart move may be adapted into EVE Online.  Let's start with the latter.

As EVE players know, the last of the major v3 graphical releases was completed this week.  As part of that update, the Minmatar and Minnie-based ships have now been updated.  After some mild complaints from players, the textures for the ships for the other three major races have also been lightened somewhat.  That said, they are still very dark.  As an example, here's what the Amarr Guardian used to look like:

And here's what it looks like now:

Yes, I'm being facetious.  ;-)  The new Guardian is actually somewhat darker than that.

Nearly without exception, the new textures are dark, dark, dark.  Even ships that have previously reveled in their colors such as the Apoc (known for the longest time as the "golden banana" and still referred to as being "golden" in its text description) have been toned far down.  The Apoc can now only barely boast of being bronze.  Gold is a thing of the past.

As I've mentioned here before, EVE is a dark universe, blah blah blah.  Get that.  But these changes seem to take things to too-literal extremes.  The new Broadsword texture, as an example, isn't dark.  It's black.  Virtually the entire ship is unrelieved black from stem to stern, with only a bit of grey to break up the monotony.  It's like a flying charcoal briquette.  One imagines the manufacturing process:
Minmatar One: OK, construction of Broadsword 1135 is complete.  What's next?
Minmatar Two: Now we spray on this brown ablative paste the eggheads came up with.  It's an advanced Nomex-Technetium composite that mitigates heat damage and under laser fire, ablates into crystalline clouds surrounding the ship to dissipate and deflect EM damage.
Minmatar One: As my grandfather used to say, "cool".  What after that?
Minmatar Two: Then we take the ship out and set it on fire for at least twenty minutes.  The manual recommends either an unshielded entry into an oxygen atmosphere planet or a close approach to a G5 type star.
Minmatar One: What?  That don't make no kinda sense.
Minmatar Two: Shut up and do it.
Minmatar One: I thought slavery was a thing of the past.
At which point, violence ensues.

Even more than simply darkening the textures, though, the ship texture colors are also being desaturated.  Any bright colors are being washed out and dimmed, with the result that what color is present is made less vibrant.

And that is what has been bringing Global Agenda to mind recently.  In GA, you play a pretty standard armored space marine.  You are initially given a default armor, which can be replaced with new types.  It also has "dye slots."  There are five tiers of dye available for those slots which can be used to dye three different parts of the armor or weapon textures: base color, details, "glow", and so forth.  The default (free) dyes are very unsaturated blues and greys.  The tier 1 dyes are available in many colors, but color saturation and gloss is greatly reduced.  A tier 1 black, for instance, is not really much more than medium grey.  Tier 2 is satin black, tier 3 is deep flat black, tier 4 is deep gloss black.  The other colors work the same way.  A tier 4 red dye is far more vibrant than a tier 1 red.

At tier 5, additional effects are added: tiger stripes, polka dots, background images, and so forth.  And tier 5 dyes are always, always eye-popping and highly individual.

And each dye tier, of course, is correspondingly more expensive in either in-game money or MT money.  Some tier 5 dyes are only available through micro-transactions.  The custom armors operate in a similar structure, with expensive custom armors showing off the high-tier dyes to their best effect and less expensive armors offering only simple surfaces.  So naturally, as you progress through the game, most players will choose to express their individuality with interesting color and armor choices.

But none of it has any in-game impact whatsoever.  You get absolutely no benefit from using highly vibrant custom dyes.  In fact, doing so is a disadvantage on some PvP maps because you become more visible.  A lot of GA players would keep two dye sets: their public out-of-battle or PvE dye set of highly vibrant tier 4 and 5 colors, and a much more muted camouflage PvP set based around drab tier 1 and 2 dyes.  But again, the game didn't care if you used the default armor in the default colors; your weapons, defenses, and abilities worked just the same.

It kind of makes me wonder if CCP is going the same direction for EVE.

We all know that customizable ship skins are coming sooner or later.  And it's a pretty damn good bet that when they do hit, Aurum will be a factor.  I don't think it's any coincidence that additional clothing was added in the latest Inferno release, nor do I think the price points for some of those items are a coincidence.  I'll have more to say about that later.  But with the v3 ship skins in place and the fact that guns now pick up ship colors, it doesn't seem like much of a step to add player-selectable skins available for purchase next.

And if those skins happen to offer more vibrant colors than what's currently available, will players have any basis for complaint?  After all, you won't have to use them and they won't confer in-game advantage.  And you did say that you didn't mind CCP adding micro-transactions for EVE as long as they were for cosmetic changes only...

But if you don't, you'll be flying a desaturated Guardian that has lost its cheerful bright red-and-gold color scheme, or a charcoal briquette Broadsword that you can barely see when you zoom in.  In short, I could be completely wrong.  But it sure seems like CCP is skewing the odds to their favor that once customizable skins are available, you'll want to use them.

Magic trick

From the text of a petition I just submitted:
Weird one.

I was in the process of dragging three stacks of items from a can in one of my corporate hangars to the corporate hangar itself.  The three stacks were:
* 1000 Quantum Microprocessors
* 155-odd R.A.M. Electronics
* 7160 Transmitters
I selected all three, dragged them from the "Invention" can in my corp PRODUCTION hangar, to the PRODUCTION hangar itself.  Then I clicked the PRODUCTION hangar.

The Quantum Microprocessors are there, having arrived after being dragged safely.  The other two stacks are apparently not.  All three stacks were dragged with the same mouse movement.

I ran an API pull on corporate assets looking for the two missing stacks and it reports that both stacks are in the PRODUCTION hangar (CorpSAG6)... only they're not.

Ummm... help?
Still a few bugs in the Unified Inventory.

EDIT (28/Jun/2012): The two missing stacks reappeared after downtime this morning, after disappearing into the Bermuda Triangle for 24 hours or so.  Now to wait on a response to the petition.  I expect that'll happen around 6 July...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Successful failure

Well, that didn't take long.

After one last battle, Fatal Ascension is calling a halt to their Syndicate deployment:
I made an un-popular last call to instead hit Syndicate for a moon purge. Our goals were simple, to tighten up fleet compositions, get some skirmish FC’s to step up and coordinate logistics for long term deployments. All of these goals have been met, with varying success. Overall, the deployment has put us in a ready stance to do just about anything we’d like and has boosted our confidence enough to push forward with our bros in the north to shit all over the entire southern block starting with Delve.
As a result, I and the other residents of Syndicate can wave our handkerchiefs as FA cynos out between now and the weekend.

Now granted, it was amusing for me to make fun of the FA deployment here last week.  And no, their efficiency still isn't all that great.  The last large fight and a couple of others have pushed it over 40%.  But it was helped along a lot by both the occasional derp and the fact that FA pilot markie1994 whored on a huge number of FA Tempest KMs in that last fight, presumably with "smart" bombs.  FA is leaving Syndicate with many fewer ships than they arrived with, and when they pull out it's a good bet they'll swiftly lose whatever moons they managed to pick up.

So, on paper, the deployment was a failure.  Other than the obvious morale issue, why try to spin it as a success?

Because the deployment was a success.

Yeah, it technically was.  This gets into a matter of perspectives and points of view, though.  And it may be hard to plug your brain into the proper mind-set, but here goes.

The CFC, which is made up of the Goons and those friendly to them, is a huge organization with a lot of moving parts.  But it has a lot of non-moving parts to it, too.  One of the reasons the NC fell was because of complacency brought about by having things too easy for too long.  It was tempting for a lot of members of NC corps to treat null-sec as just another place to bear.  A lot of people joined the NC just so they could bear; the PvP part was irrelevant or an annoyance.  Such members would ignore fleets and ignore deployments if they could.  Hell, they'd positively welcome deployments because that meant that most of the pilots would be gone from their home space resulting in less competition for the bear sites.

The longer the things stay stagnant, the more the CFC alliances and corps will have to fight the same tendency in their members.  I've noted before that Goons in particular are in serious danger of becoming the very thing that they hated for so long.

One of the ways the CFC breaks up the monotony is with internal competition.  When a major deployment does happen, there's a lot of scrutiny paid to which corps participate and which do not, and which corps bring the requested fleet comps, ships, and FCs to the deployments and which do not.  And the winners are rewarded, oh my yes are they rewarded.  Those that contribute well are given title over valuable moons and more valuable space in which to live.  Those that sit out deployments or participate in only a lack-luster way are passed over when the spoils of war are split... or they are pushed out of the CFC entirely.

Between major deployments, CFC alliances are strongly encouraged to partake in their own mini-deployments, and that's exactly what we saw here from FA.  The purpose to these sorts of deployments is to demonstrate the ability to operate independently, with one's own fleet comps, ships and FCs.  It's a lucky alliance that can run a mini-deployment and then immediately jump into a major deployment.  Even if both are on-paper failures, the fact that good participation, good fleet actions, and independent operation was shown will put that alliance in good stead during the next round of distribution of moons, space, and assets.

That's why this deployment was a success from the FA perspective.  Even if they didn't achieve any tactical goals (they didn't), they achieved some strategic ones.  They've demonstrated that they can move hundreds of ships and a dozen or so supers safely, they've demonstrated they can form up something approaching an independent, somewhat coherent alpha fleet doctrine, and they've demonstrated that they can use that doctrine to smack down towers and (theoretically, at least) take territory in the next sov war.  And they've demonstrated that once deployed, they can occasionally harass the locals as well as try to push them out.

If they can keep it up, all of this will stand them in good stead in Delve.

Even beyond this, though, it's instructive to consider the perspective of the individual FA pilot.  The bulk of FA pilots will come out of this deployment feeling pretty damn good.  When I get smack-talked by FA pilots around Syndicate, they don't know that they lost.  And again, from their perspective, they didn't.  We'll use FA pilots dirk boos and JAY WRIGHT as examples.  dirk has had no major losses during the Syndicate campaign and has racked up 250+ kills so far in June.  JAY has lost a Tempest (which will no doubt be reimbursed) but has put more than 400 kills on the board during the month.

Granted, in both cases, the majority of those kills are POS mods.  But in a couple of months, nobody's going to know or care.  I'm sure both of them feel pretty damn good about this deployment.  Sure, both of them lost ships.  But they'll get some reimbursement ISK and in the meantime, both had as many or nearly as many KMs in a month as they've ever had.  And that's how things are for most FA pilots.

I chose dirk as an example specifically because he passed Ripard's number of kills this month.  I myself have been very busy (for me), with 84 kills so far in June (none of them POS mods).  dirk has nearly triple what I have.

Who is to say which of us spent their time more profitably?

So yeah, the deployment was a failure on paper, but that's the only place it was a failure.  For the alliance leadership and for the individual pilots, I have no doubt they consider the Syndicate deployment a success, and time and treasure well-spent.

I'll have a bit more to say about this topic later in the week, because there's one more perspective that's been interesting about this FA visitation to Syndicate.  But this post is already quite long enough.  Just wanted to wish our new pet overlords good success in Delve and I for one will be sorry to see you go.  ;-)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Quote of the Week: It hurts!

I've been far too busy the last week with Rote Kapelle preparations for the Alliance Tournament (which starts this week) to do all the reading that I normally do.  As a result, I feel like doing something completely off the wall for the QOTW since I finally saw Prometheus over the weekend, too.

Here's the QOTW itself, which is more or less spoiler-free:
The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.
One of the characters in Prometheus is obsessed with the movie Lawrence of Arabia, which is probably a pretty obscure flick for most EVE players.  So even though you've probably seen Prometheus, you probably haven't seen LoA so you might not understand the subtext of this scene or how it relates to the movie as a whole.  Interestingly enough though, the subtext also has some applications to EVE.

First, it's instructive to explain the LoA scene itself.  It comes from a bit relatively early in the flick where we're establishing Lawrence's character.  The details aren't important.  But what is important is that Lawrence has a bar trick wherein he can slowly put out a lit match between his thumb and forefinger while showing no apparent discomfort at doing so.  Two other characters (including Potter) are amazed at the trick, but Potter thinks Lawrence is crazy.  Still, Potter can't resist trying to do the trick himself... and finds it extremely painful, says so, and asks what the trick to doing it is.  Lawrence responds with the quote above.

And throughout the rest of the flick, we see that as a running theme in Lawrence of Arabia: can Lawrence put aside his personal discomforts and sacrifice his own desires for a cause?  Initially, the answer is "no".  Later, that changes.

The next two paragraphs have minor Prometheus spoilers, so if you haven't yet seen the movie, you'll probably want to skip them and rejoin me lower down.  That said, if you haven't seen Prometheus yet, do.  The visuals alone are worth the price of admission (particularly in IMAX 3D) and the movie itself has a lot of interesting things to say.

Self-sacrifice is also a theme running through much of Prometheus, and all of the major characters can be measured based on their willingness to make sacrifices.  The very first scene and the penultimate scene both deal with great sacrifices.  Some characters are willing to make sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice.  Others initially aren't, but change their minds as the movie progresses.

And some in the movie make the ultimate sacrifice for the direct benefit of others.  The trick is not minding that it hurts.

Which brings us back to EVE.

When a fleet fight in EVE goes against you badly enough, the FC will throw out the "everyone get out" call.  At that point, 97% of the time things degenerate into an "every man for himself" with everyone trying to get their own ships out of harm's way by warping out, jumping through a nearby gate, or docking.  Still, about 3% of the time, there's a fourth option: being willing to sacrifice yourself so that some other ship can live.

Most often, this comes into play with e-war ships, Falcons, Rooks, and Curses most particularly.  There's absolutely nothing wrong in this situation with getting yourself out of trouble as quickly as possible.  But it's truly heroic to be able to leave at any moment and yet still sticking around long enough to make sure everyone else gets out, too.  If someone else is tackled, can you jam out or neut out the tacklers?  Alternately, if you have capital ships tackled, can you bring in neut battleships or Blackbirds to break the tackle?

And sometimes -- not often, but sometimes -- the proper decision is to sacrifice your own ship so that someone else or everyone else can make it out.

You don't have to be dumb about it.  Keeping a Falcon on field to break tackles on a few cruisers is not a good use of resources.  But throwing a neut battleship at a hictor or a smart-bombing battleship at a dictor to save a dreadnought, or hanging back in an insured T1 BC to kill tacklers chasing a more expensive HAC gang can turn you from a great EVE pilot into a hero.  And if you lose your own ship in the process, well, the trick is not minding that it hurts.

Anyway, I'm sure there were better, more EVE-related quotes this past week that I missed, but that's what I was thinking about over the weekend.  ;-)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kill of the Week: Steamrolled

Living in Syndicate as I do, I'm directly affected by the current Fatal Ascension road-trip into the region.  Nicknamed the "Syndicate Steamroll" by FA, the road-trip currently has a stated efficiency of around 36-40% depending on the day you check it.  And that efficiency doesn't count the FA Wyvern self-destructed early into the trip to prevent it from appearing on a kill-board.  More-or-less quote from FA about that loss: "He was the only one willing to fly it.  He's getting an Aeon to replace it."  True story.

One starts to think that perhaps FA should have specified which side of the steamroller they wanted to be on: the top or the bottom.

While FA has killed a large number of Syndicate POSs and taken over some relatively high-value moons (it's the only thing keeping their road-trip efficiency from being a lot lower), they've endured every sort of embarrassment imaginable.  They've lost major fleets to straight fights, bombing runs, and smart bombs.  They've lost a major capital ship fleet.  And they've lost any number of single-ship and small-gang engagements all over the region.  And of course, we in Rote have done what small things we can do to make their lives a burden to them.

They're coming by that 35-40% efficiency honestly.  The EN24 article estimates that they'll have to hold those moons for several years to pay for their losses.

That said, for my money, this is the Kill of the Week:

Flown correctly, it's nearly impossible to lose a Black Ops ship.  And hell, I know more than one Black Ops pilot that eschews tank entirely in favor of a few Warp Core Stabilizers just to make it even more impossible.  But very occasionally, you get a Blops pilot that does something dumb.  Like sitting decloaked in space for minutes at a time bridging bomber gangs around the region.  And not changing his safe spot after he does it.  And not keeping an escort nearby in case an embarrassingly small number of ships lands on him.  And not fitting decent jammers.  Or an acceptable fit of any kind.

I think you get the point.  ;-)

As I put it myself on EN24, Syndicate welcomes our new pet overlords with open arms.  Stay as long as you like, Fatal Ascension.

I've gone my whole EVE career to date without killing a Black Ops, but I've still got high hopes I might get in on such a steamroll in the next couple of weeks...

POTW: Best way to make ISK

Picture of the week honors goes to this:

Yeah.  That's 5000 +5 implants (at around 100 million ISK each) and 16000 +4 implants (at around 16 million ISK each).  Plus hundreds of blueprints for Minmatar Republic Fleet ships.  Plus, very incidentally, about 240,000 data cores (at between 100 and 200 thousand ISK each).  That's just in that one little graphic.

I might have somewhat understated the gains made by the people exploiting holes in the FW mechanics the other day.

Over here is Paul Clavet at My Loot, Your Tears explaining how he made between 200 and 500 million ISK per hour with week-old toons in T1 frigates.  My favorite line?  "These frigs didn’t even have to fit guns, since the sites were completed by proximity to the capture point."  Uhhh... OK.  That's some really good game design right there.  I assume it wasn't CCP's intent for week-old toons to be able to make between 200 and 500 million ISK per hour in unarmed T1 frigates, but who can say?

I'm really thinking I should have paid more attention to the proposed Inferno FW changes when I had the chance.  ;-)

It seems more and more often in the last couple of years, the best way to make ISK in EVE Online is to massively exploit holes in the game mechanics, and just keep quiet about it while you're doing it.  If you're not too greedy and months go by before CCP catches on to what you're doing, so much the better.  When AHARM did this exact thing in 2010, they were hugely and publicly punished for it.  It will be quite interesting to see how CCP responds to it this year.

Stand alone

Another quickie.  More like an aside, really.

Stuff like this is why I've only bought two stand-alone video games so far this year, and I didn't buy the PC versions of either of them.  I have not bought, nor will I buy Diablo III.  I don't care how fun it is.  I don't care how good it is.  I'm not going to support these business practices with my money, and that's that.

Put very simply, game designers: people are going to pirate your games and there's not a hell of a lot that you can do about it.  Chances are pretty good that anyone who would pirate your game would not have bought it anyway.  So, while you might think you're losing a sale, you're really not.  But in the meantime, as long as you treat legitimate customers like criminals, you're not getting a sale from me, either.

One of the two I have bought was Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.  I suppose I should go ahead and write a wrap-up post on that situation at some point.

I'm haven't bought Mass Effect 3 either, but that was for another, equally well-documented reason.  If that well-documented reason is fixed with an expansion pack, I might pick it up later in the year in a combined version that includes said expansion pack.

Overall, it's been a pretty disappointing year for stand-alone video games so far in my view, and E3 didn't make me all that excited for the rest of this year, either.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Arcade game

Just a quickie.

So, more and more information is leaking out into the public about DUST 514.  I'll have more to say about a certain E3 video in particular in the next few days.  In the meantime, I'm afraid I found the following quote very amusing, though not for the intended reason:
"We're still tuning prices - the costs will change according to the feedback we get on the beta - but I believe when I calculated it last, at its most high-end - if you assume that somebody came in and had to buy, with real-world money, the best gear for a serious throw down - it was like a 24-cent thing."
That's CCP Vice President of Art Morgan Godat, speaking to Eurogamer.

So let me make sure I have this right: DUST is basically an arcade game that I can play for a quarter per life?  Am I understanding you properly?  What is this, the 1980s?  ;-)

The DUST 514 "beta event" now starts "on or around 29 June".  I assume "beta event" still means "don't write about it unless it's public."  In particular, though, this is now public:
But people are already buying items with real-world money.
So expect me to have quite a lot to say about that...

Fight us maybe?

I think DavidKMagnus must have had about eight million skill points when he was accepted into Pandemic Legion, which rather famously has a 25 million minimum... and more realistically probably won't consider you seriously if you have less than 40 or 50.  There's also a rather onerous application process even before the interviews that are a part of life trying to join any null-sec alliance.

But DKM short-circuited all of that with a brilliant "arts and crafts" project.  And since then, he's one of PL's most famous (and most friendly) members, active on the forums, Twitter, and -- from time to time -- with new arts and crafts projects.

Here's his latest.  It takes a fairly common EVE meme from the last few weeks and formalizes it to professional, brilliant, and hysterical effect.  It's a bit repetitive, but then again, so is the source material.  ;-)

Rumor has it

So here's a fun one.  It started as a rumor over the last couple of days and as of this morning, is pretty much confirmed.

Over the weekend, I made a silly mistake in terms of some tech 2 rigs that I manufactured.  Intending to make some medium rigs of a particular type, I screwed up and made some small ones instead.  To protect the guilty (more on him in a second), I'll keep the exact rig name to myself.  After the run of a half dozen of these rigs was completed, I discovered my mistake, then groaned when I realized that it probably would be weeks before they sold.  Only one or two sold per week.  I was amused, however, to discover that I had created enough of this particular rig to be the majority owner of the rig type... in all of New Eden.  But rather than losing my sunk costs by reprocessing the rigs, I went ahead and shipped them to three different markets, listed them at a very nice profit for myself, and then forgot about them.  I figured I'd check in a couple of weeks to see if any sold.

You can imagine my surprise when every single one of them sold out in all three markets in less than 36 hours.

You can imagine my greater surprise when -- curious as to whether I should make more of them -- I found that they had all been re-listed in Jita.  For 20 times the price I had sold them for.

As you may know, the new Unified Inventory screen has a feature wherein it tells you an approximate value of the things in the particular Inventory area you're looking at.  This is a very handy feature on a macro scale: I can throw a hauler full of stuff into my Viator and see at a glance how much I'm risking to a suicide gank.  On a micro level, though, the values that this system reports are all but useless.  For instance, when carrying a small load of Nanite Repair Paste, the system reported its value as 100 million ISK... about double its true value.

It turns out that some prices were being manipulated for a very specific objective.

When the new faction warfare changes were introduced in Inferno, Hans Jagerblitzen of all people asked if I was going to weigh in on them in my blog.  I teased him about it ("You want me to write about this?"), then told him no, I didn't know enough about FW any more to comment intelligently on the changes.  But one change that did intrigue me was the fact that FW participants earn LP based on the value of things that they kill belonging to the opposing faction.  This sounded a bit like getting paid to PvP, something that EVE PvPers have been asking for for... oh... probably about nine-and-a-half years now.

But the kill values and the Unified Inventory values, it turns out, are one and the same.  People were being paid greatly inflated LP for kills based on these numbers.

And EVE players being EVE players, a group of them took this to absurd lengths.

You can read more about this at the relevant post on the EVE-O forums, but I'll summarize.  Upon discovering this, the people involved in this little scam immediately loaded freighters full of high-end minerals, and assigned the characters piloting those freighters to FW on one side.  Then they assigned a second alt to the opposing faction.  They undocked the freighter, single-handedly blew it up with their own alt, and then reaped the benefits of those LP... often tens or hundreds of millions of FW LP.

Once they had those LP in hand, the LP were assigned to FW systems (Minmatar in this case), and upgraded them to their maximum levels.  Unlike sov, there doesn't seem to be a timer for this.  The benefits were immediate.  Among other things, this gives faction members massive discounts on items purchased at the respective faction LP store.  Items like, say, Tempest Fleet Issues.

Due to the still somewhat-inflated value of some minerals, it turns out that you could actually make a profit on this benefit alone!  Kill your own stuff, "converting ISK to LP at the rate of 1390 ISK per LP."  Then immediately sell the items bought with the resulting LP... for about 2000 ISK per LP.

Thankfully, CCP caught this exploit pretty quickly and patched it: cargo would no longer be included in the value of a ship destroyed.  Back to the drawing board.

That brings us... you guessed it... to modules.  The perpetrators of this little scam learned that by manipulating the in-game price of little-used modules and implants, they could increase the value of those items in the Unified Inventory to absolutely absurd levels.  Then all that remained was fitting those modules to a FW ship, plugging those implants in, and then putting the ship and clone to the sword at the hands of one of their alts in the opposing faction.

So many LP were apparently earned by this method that the perpetrators were worried that their alts would crack the 2 billion limit that is the largest number that can be represented by a signed 32-bit integer in the EVE Online code itself.

Anyway, CCP Guard posted this in the in-game news section this morning:
reported by: CCP Guard | 2012-06-21 T11:16:05Z

Dearest Market-Interested Space Tycoons,

At downtime today we made an adjustment to the average price of some items in order to curb a situation whereby the average price of an item could be manipulated in order to create a disparity between the value of an item in Isk and its value in Loyalty Point payouts. There will be additional changes in how this system works in the future. We will be monitoring for attempted manipulation of the LP market and will reverse any proceeds deemed to have been obtained through manipulative means. We are watching you. Don't be That Guy.
Or, alternately, you can Be That Guy and make tens of billions of ISK, I guess.  It'll be interesting to see if the actual ISK gained through this little exploit will be reversed, or just the LP.  What of the items?  Will they disappear into the ether?

I think I'm getting a pretty good idea why Inferno 1.1 was delayed...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fit of the Week: Roaming Rapier

The dice came up "Minmatar PvP" this week and while I was trying to decide what to use and while looking through past FOTWs, I realized I've never done a Rapier FOTW.  That's a major oversight, particularly given how much I fly Rapiers myself, so let's rectify that right now.

[Rapier, Roaming Rapier]
Damage Control II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Overdrive Injector System II

Experimental 10MN MicroWarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Federation Navy Stasis Webifier
Federation Navy Stasis Webifier
Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Medium Energy Neutralizer II
Cynosural Field Generator I
Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher, Sisters Combat Scanner Probe I

Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

Hornet EC-300 x5
Warrior II x3

Cloaky Recons in roaming gangs are best used in utility roles.  Since their DPS is so sub-par, there's often not all that much point to fitting more than a single token gun on them.  And I often fit no guns at all on my roaming cloaky Recons.  There are all sorts of interesting utility highs that can be used instead as long as your FC understands that you're not there for DPS, you're there for the webs.

The webs are the heart of a good Rapier and since you're fast, agile, and cloaky, you should go ahead and use the best webs that you can.  In a Rapier, faction webs actually make your ship less likely to die since the great range bonus on the Rapier means that you can operate at much longer (and therefore, harder to kill) ranges.  Fed Navy webs give you an unbonused web range of 56km at Recon V.  A Claymore pushes that out to 74, and a Loki to the insane range of 85km... and all of those numbers are before overheating.  Have a Loki along and overheat one web and that web operates at a range of almost 108km!

If you don't go for faction webs, ironically you're going to be much less safe since you're going to have to fly a lot closer to the enemy fleet in order to be effective.  A good Recon pilot operates at the edge of the battle.  Recons are so squishy that any Rapier that gets at all close is going to find itself the opposing fleet's primary pretty quick.  So... yeah.  Spring for the faction webs if you can at all afford it.

Everything else gets fitted around the webs.  Double LSE, double CDFE will supplement the Rapier's thin tank.  If you're not expected to ever tackle close, replace the point with an Adaptive Invul instead which has the same fitting requirements.  MicroWarpdrive, double nano, plus an Overdrive Injector complete the escape and evasion nature of the Rapier and pushes your Rapier to speeds of between 2100 and 2700m/s before heat, depending on what type of links you have along.  That combined with your long-range webs will allow you to easily outrun pretty much anything that tries to tackle you.

If you're going to be gate-camping instead of roaming, a Signal Amplifier II or two in the lows will do wonders for your lock speed.  Still, a better solution is to have one of your fleet-mates provide you with a Remote Sensor Booster link or two instead.  Ships crashing back to gate are a big issue for gate-camps, and the Rapier's webs can keep that attempted gate-crash from being successful if you can get locked on quickly enough.

Hornet ECs provide your final GTFO option, and a trio of Warrior IIs give you something to assist to the fleet's interceptors.  That will both allow you to participate in more kill reports and give friendly inties just a bit more oomph.  Alternately, in a skirmish fleet, assist your drones to your fleet's anti-tacklers, notably any Vagabonds you have along.  You can safely operate at between 50-80km or more from the fleet's targets.  Meanwhile, your anti-tackle will probably be at 30-40km so that assist will keep your drones in your control range while at the same time making the anti-tackler's job easier.

That brings me to the high slots.  After the Covert Ops cloak, what do you fit?  I've provided some typical examples.  Virtually all of my cloaky recons fit an Expanded Probe Launcher.  They're extremely useful for driving people off their safe-spots.  Even if you're the worst prober in the world, putting a few Sisters Combat Scanner Probes on people's directional scanner will often make them panic and do something dumb.  And if you're a decent prober, you might even add to the kill tally this way.(1)

I like a Medium Neut for an additional GTFO option.  Occasionally, you'll have the bad luck of an inty or a frigate or two managing to warp directly to you.  The Medium Neut allows you to deal with this problem decisively.  And if I don't have to carry a cyno or covert cyno, I fit a pair of Medium Neuts.  Still, some FCs will want you to fit a cyno for a variety of reasons, from capital escalation to direct scouting of the fleet with your Recon followed by a Titan bridge...

All in all, Rapiers are fun, fast, agile, and versatile.  They provide a fleet-critical role, require skill to pilot, and flown well directly add to the fleet's kill tally.  What's not to love?

(1) This, incidentally, is why my Rapier has a point.  ;-)

All Fits of the Week are intended as general guidelines only.  You may not have the skills needed for this exact fit.  If you do not, feel free to adjust the fit to suit to meet your skills, including using meta 3 guns and "best named" defenses and e-war.  Ships can also be adjusted to use faction or dead-space modules depending on the budget of the pilot flying it.  Each FOTW is intended as a general guide to introduce you to concepts that will help you fit and to fly that particular type of ship more aggressively and well.

What about blob?

Several times a month now, I'm asked about the blobbing problem.  How does EVE fix its blobbing problem?

Fair warning: my perspective on this is not going to be what you think.  But before I give it, let me reiterate that I am a champion for small-gang play in this game.  Small-gang play is my first love in EVE, and it's slowly being strangled.  While part of Gentlemen's Club, I directly experienced what it was like to be a small gang in the path of a blob.  It ain't fun.  After joining Get Off My Lawn, I directly experienced what it's like to be part of a blob.  It also isn't fun, though for different reasons.

The first game that makes a 500v500 fight fun and viable is still in gaming's future.  EVE isn't it!  But if you want "epic fights", for now EVE is the only game in town.  It's the only game that's even trying to provide these super-large engagements.  So even though EVE is fundamentally flawed in this regard, you have no other choices.  We are in the Model T era of super-large MMO PvP fights.  There is only one model, in only one color.

Unfortunately though, the simple fact is that EVE does not and will never really support super-large fleet engagements.  The developers can try to wedge tools and UI kludges into the game to make such fights less painful.  The ability to lock targets directly from a broadcast is a good example.  But these are kludges built into a game that simply wasn't designed to support 500v500 fights.  It's like trying to get a human heart to pump oil.  It could probably do the job.  But it ain't ideal and never will be no matter how much the devs try.  EVE would have to be completely re-engineered to make a 500v500 fight fun and viable, much less a larger engagement.

For myself, that size fight simply takes pilot skill out of the equation.  When I play a game, I want to feel like I can be skillful at it... that my actions matter and make a difference.  When you're chosen at random to die to the alpha of 100 Maelstroms and nothing you can do alters the fact, that isn't fun for me.  So I despise blobbing and if the day comes when that's the only type of game play available in EVE, that will be the day I need a new primary MMO.

That's my perspective on blobbing.  Clear enough?  Because I'm probably about to annoy you.

How does EVE fix its blobbing problem?

The correct answer: What blobbing problem?  CCP doesn't see a blobbing problem in EVE, and they never will.  They like blobs.  Blobs make them money.  So whether you like them or not, CCP is motivated to cater to the blob.  Nothing anybody says is going to alter that fact in the slightest.  Anyone who is railing against the blob is doing nothing but shouting at the rain.  It's a waste of time, and it's really why I've never written about this topic before.

Hey!  You!  Put the keyboard down for a minute.  Don't yell at me, and don't throw things.  I'm just being practical, and accepting the inevitable here.  I'll explain.

As I've said several times before, CCP has done a lot of studies of its player base.  And it's found and made public that if they can get you to join a corp, and play the game for three years, after that you're statistically very unlikely to unsubscribe.  Therefore, they are highly motivated to get you to join a corp right off.  That's why the new player experience is geared the way it is, to directly point new players toward corp recruitment immediately after finishing the new tutorials.  That's also why the NPC tax rate was set how it was, to get you to join a non-NPC corp.

But it's not enough that you just join a corp.  You have to join the right corp.  You are being subtly or overtly encouraged to join a long-standing corp with a large base of members, or at the very least a corp that is part of an alliance.  After all, if you join a buddy's corp with 15 other members and your buddy stops playing EVE, you're probably also going to stop playing EVE too.  That's bad for CCP.  So they make it very easy for larger corps to grief smaller ones, but they also make it easy for corps to join alliances to try to avoid that.  If your corp is in an alliance, that's a larger base of potential friends that it will be harder to leave by quitting the game.  You're being subtly or overtly encouraged to join a big group, not a little one.

This is why alliances like Goonswarm and TEST are great for CCP, and country/culture-specific corps and alliances are even better.  These are groups that are tailor-made to recruit and retain new EVE players, and are very difficult to walk away from once you've joined them.  When people sing the praises of this kind of alliance, that's what they're singing the praises of: giving CCP a solid income base.

And it's also why, in any sort of conflict with smaller groups, CCP is always -- subconsciously, if nothing else -- going to take the blob's side.  That's where their bread is buttered.

This is also why EVE game design is always -- again subconsciously, if nothing else -- going to cater to the blob.  We've known for years now that the only counter to a large super-cap blob was a larger super-cap blob, the so-called "n+1 problem."  CCP hasn't designed a counter.  It's not in their best interests to.  It is in their best interests to encourage you to get a larger super-cap blob.  Even the Goons have surrendered to this idea after a brief flirtation with using tier 3 BCs to counter supers.  These days, the CFC super fleet is one of the biggest around.

Even micro-level changes to the game encourage blobbing.  Interdictor bubbles were recently changed so that they give a player 60 seconds of aggression regardless of other circumstances.  It used to be to aggress a dictor that launched a bubble, another player had to try to warp within the bubble.  This is no longer the case.  A dictor can launch a bubble in an entirely empty system and will still have 60 seconds aggression.  This had the impact of rendering most defensive bubbling techniques useless to a gang with only a single dictor.  Prior to the change, for instance, it was common for a dictor with a small gang being chased by a larger gang to launch a single bubble just off the gate, then burn to the gate and jump through.  The chasing gang would lose precious seconds landing at the edge of the bubble and having to burn through it to the gate.  A single dictor can't do that any more.

The solution?  n+1.  Bring another dictor.  One dictor defensively bubbles the gate, then gets safe and cloaks.  A second dictor stays with the fleet.

Was this change made to make fleets bring more dictors?  Probably not.  But it's subconscious changes like this that are driving the growth of blobs.

And as your opponents are encouraged by micro- and macro-level game changes to bring more and more and more ships to an engagement, you have little choice but to do the same, or die.  At the same time, we've got the parallel situation where ship fittings and fleet compositions are also becoming more and more standardized, with fewer mistakes being made.  Parallel to that, we've also got massive stagnation in the EVE universe with fewer large fights taking place over locations and resources that simply don't matter.  Sov fights have, for the moment at least, become a thing of the past.

But if you were going to try to crack sov, at this point, only the largest blob would have a chance at it.  That also subconsciously works to CCP's advantage.

In the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels, one character tells another about "devil grass."  In this series, one of the cultures in the books believes that devil grass -- which is useless, rampant, and chokes out any other plant life -- will eventually cover the world.  This culture believes that's how the world will end: covered in devil grass taller than a man.

Anyone who tells you what EVE's end game is is lying.  Everyone has a different idea of EVE's end game.  But I can tell you what EVE's end state will be.  It will be two identical 2500 ship fleets with identical fittings and identical fleet compositions fighting it out in a system over no particular goal or objective.  Only by the very loosest definition will it be an "epic fight".

But CCP will be happy.  What blobbing problem?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Skewed perspective

I apologize in advance: this post might seem a little bit disjointed.  It's really an attachment to a longer post that will be published later today.  Both continue my thinking about the war-dec system in EVE, and wars in EVE in general.  The longer post is my first swing on this blog at the n+1 problem in EVE, better known as the blob problem.  My take on that is not likely to be what you think.

But this post approaches these issues from a different direction.

In the post from CCP Soundwave that I referenced yesterday, he revealed an interesting perspective with regards to wars in EVE.  In short, CCP regards the ability to shoot people as a privilege.  He says (edited slightly):
War dec prices are determined by the value you get from them.  If you want to go to war with someone, a higher number of potential targets should be more expensive.  If you're a smaller alliance, this makes you a less attractive target...
These three sentences almost only make sense in backward-land, where everything is the reverse of reality.  But the thing to keep in mind is that this system is being designed by a lot of guys that don't really play this game, so their perspective on it is skewed.  EVE is not reality, because small countries don't declare war against big ones.  I haven't seen Iceland declare war on Russia lately because of the value conferred by being able to shoot a higher number of potential targets.

But of course in EVE, a smaller alliance can potentially be a powerful one.  If a small PvP-focused alliance declares war on a much larger care-bear alliance, then making that cost more makes perfect sense from this skewed perspective.  The "real world" version of this is an alternate universe where the Russians have no Navy, and Iceland's four or five coast guard cutters can raid Russia's merchant fleet with relative impunity.  There are certainly EVE alliances like that, and from the skewed perspective, the war-dec system and its cost model makes perfect sense.

But as far as I can tell, this type of war-dec are the only perspective for which it makes sense.

This is the same skewed perspective where:
  • The Mittani making a drunken bad joke about harassing an EVE player into a RL rash action during the Fanfest Alliance Panel is bad, but...
  • the very same Mittani causing Goonswarm to war-dec Issler Dainze's corp for the rest of her natural life is -- as Soundwave puts it in the same post -- a "social repercussion you've created" and is perfectly OK.
In this same skewed perspective, that also means that Goonswarm can declare war on as many small alliances as they care to at a ridiculously low cost.  But because of the way costs scale, it seems extremely unlikely to me that an EVE alliance of a thousand or more members is going to declare war on another one of equal size.  War-dec costs quickly become unsustainable.

Want to avoid most griefer war-decs?  Create or join a super-alliance of hundreds of high-sec corps with thousands of total members. Will griefers see the "value" in declaring war on such a super-alliance?  They might... in the skewed perspective of backward-land.  But I suspect they're just as likely to go looking for someone smaller, less risky, and cheaper.

Meanwhile, in this same skewed perspective, if you want to fight Goonswarm to get "value" out of a "higher number of potential targets", you can either:
  • declare war on the Goons at a cost of 500 million ISK...
  • or you can just wait until they declare war on someone, then ask to be the target's first or second ally for either free or ten million ISK.
And in that way, you get the very same "value" of "a higher number of potential targets"... for 2% of the cost.  But even if you're not the target's first or second ally, it's still cheaper to be the target's 7th ally then to actually declare war on Goons yourself.


I hate to put it in such stark terms, but the more I think about the new war-dec system, the less sense it makes to me.  It really is the product of a skewed perspective from backward-land.  And CCP's attempts to fix it are only making it worse.  The tools and UI around war declarations seem fine, but I think the process behind the tools needs to be scrapped and started again.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Quote of the Week: Fairness

Warning: bitter-vet posting ahead.

When you get right down to it, there are only three types of science fiction genres.  They're best represented by three movie franchises that all got their starts in the late 70s, all classics in their genres.(1)  If you think about it, you'll probably agree that virtually all modern sci-fi follows one of these three genres:
  • Star Trek model.  Characters in Star Trek have control over their own destinies.  They are in complete control over the technology that they use.  While they can face dangerous situations, there's never any particular doubt about how events are going to play out.  The characters will eventually overcome all obstacles, and it will be through their own actions and control over the technology they have access to.  Other examples: most Marvel comic book movies.
  • Star Wars model.  Characters in Star Wars have the illusion of control over their own destinies and their technology.  Instead, the characters are driven along by plot, the technology services that plot, and the characters themselves are archetypes.  Things will get worse for these characters.  They will ultimately emerge victorious, but only after they're saved from disaster at the last moment by unexpected allies.  Other examples: the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, most DC comic book movies.
  • Alien model.  Characters in the Alien movies have no control over their situations or their technology.  Their situation starts bad and only gets worse, their actions are mostly irrelevant, and their technology will actively work against them.  While they will win short-term, temporary victories from time to time, the characters are ultimately doomed.  It's really only a question of how and when.  Other examples: most technological horror movies.
Guess which genre EVE Online follows.  I'll give you a hint: it ain't Star Trek or Star Wars.  ;-)

With that in mind, I present you with the Quote of the Week (edited slightly):
You're trying to add some measure of fairness into wars, which isn't really a design philosophy in EVE.  Why would I want to balance a fight?  That's never really been the goal in EVE and the war dec system wasn't built for that, either.
That's CCP Soundwave, responding to Jade Constantine's crusade against the war-dec system.  His whole post is amusing.  But really, this post isn't about that.

MMOs are still are relatively new thing in gaming, really only hitting in the last 15 years or so.  Parallel to that, there's been a lot of concern over the same time period about "balance" in game-play.  That one really hit the mass consciousness with the release of Starcraft, which was praised for having three different factions that played very differently and yet were still nicely balanced, one against the other.  Balance in game-play is about making all sides in a game fair for all of the players involved.

One of the ironies about being human is that when humans play games against each other, we expect those games to be fair.  We feel cheated if there isn't an equal chance of either side winning.  But in every other type of human conflict, we prefer a massive advantage for our own side.  Give a poker player four aces or a chess player five or six additional pieces, and humans will call that "cheating."  Give one side in a war or a financial negotiation a massive advantage and most of us will look on admiringly as their opponent is smited.

Soundwave just wanted to come by and remind us that "EVE is real" and is not a game, and therefore works the same way.  You won't have unexpected allies to come help you, and Heaven knows that the technology will be actively working against you, too.  You may win some short-term, temporary victories from time to time.

But ultimately, you're doomed.

(1) Yes, I know the history of Star Trek.  The movie franchise started in the 70s.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kill of the Week: Hysterikill

Oh, to be a happy Goonswarm member who never has to leave null-sec.  Goons live in 0.0.  Therefore high-sec war-decs and people who join Jade's little crusade so they can shoot at Goons in high-sec are irrelev-- owait.

If you believe the conspiracy theories(1), then this loss is what prompted the Goons to sperg to CCP that unlimited war allies uniting against them was unfair.

Anyway, needless to say this is a minor loss in the scheme of things for Goonswarm.  The kill itself is routine: a bit of moon-goo from OTEC tech moons on its way to market to feed the great reimbursement machine.  Nagas are a near-ideal platform with which to kill this JF.  As a result, I don't have much more to say about it... but I would have been remiss had I picked something else this week for KOTW.  Fantastic kill for the pilots involved, though!  My congratulations to them!

As a bit of filler, I'll offer this second JF kill, also killed by a small number of pilots (effectively, one):

Rumor has it this guy jumped his JF to a cyno lit at a "safe spot".  Because cyno locations are perfectly safe, right?  I dearly hope this story isn't true, but that's the rumor.  EVE needs more dumb people who play late at night US TZ so I can get a few kills like this.  Again, congrats to the pilot involved!

(1) Again, I don't.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hunters and pray

The discussion in my post the other day about the upcoming war-dec changes has been quite interesting!  Needless to say, I'm being called all sorts of names.  But I wouldn't be me if that wasn't happening, so I'm OK with it.  Matter of fact, I have to admit that I threw a few lines and phrases into the blog with the intent of stirring the pot a little.  One doesn't refer to Jade Constantine as a "folk hero" unless one wishes to tweak The Mittani's nose.  ;-)

That said, I got accused by Goons all the way up to Mittens himself of lying when I said Goons had been whining about the Jade Constantine mutual "foreverwar".  That was a ridiculous enough accusation that I just contented myself to point right back at the very threads Jade had started on the EVE-O forums and on FHC as evidence.

At that point, the Goon narrative changed to "OK, well, we weren't whining.  We were pointing out that Jade was exploiting a badly-designed game mechanic."  I guess I hardly need to explain why Goons of all people complaining about someone exploiting badly-designed game mechanics is a weaponized level of irony that could flatten whole cities.  Then Goons adjusted their tack slightly to "Jade was exploiting a badly-designed game mechanic, and we were looking forward to it!"  And that's where the narrative seems to be right now.

Now keep in mind, what Jade did was new in only one way: he made The Star Fraction's war with the Goons mutual.  In that way, he invoked the badly thought-out mutual war and surrender mechanics on the aggressor side of the equation.  I certainly recognize that there were dozens of corps getting themselves involved in dozens of war-decs that they previously weren't involved in.  But to my knowledge, Jade chaining himself to the Goon war-dec was the new tactic here and that's what I wrote about.  That, in fact, was why I called the post "Total war": it invoked the 20th century change in warfare around refocusing your entire economy toward belligerence.

"Dog-piling" (as it's started to be called) into a non-mutual war still leaves the aggressor in the driver's seat: they can end the war any time they like without surrendering, or any time the number of allies on the defender's side becomes too much.  All the aggressor has to do is stop paying the bill, and the war ends on their terms.  However, a mutual war-dec takes the aggressor out of the driver's seat.  In a curious way, it puts the defender in the position of power in the war.  The aggressor can no longer end the war whenever they like.  I like that... but the in-game mechanics still need a lot of work.

Anyway, the drama is still sweeping back and forth from the EVE-O forums to Failheap to the blogs and back.  I thought it would be interesting to focus on the takes of four other bloggers that have written about this lately.

I'm not sure how to describe the "sides" on this debate, so I'll just say on one "side" of this is an almost rabid post by Poetic Stanziel.  Poetic, for reference, is not war-dec'ed by the Goons at this time.  Poetic starts by using a rather Goon-like expression to indicate that anyone who believes that the changes CCP is making are a response to the Goon/Jade situation is dumb.  That, I do in fact agree with.(1)  The rest of the post is an interesting contradiction, though.  It first argues that anyone who draws a war-dec on themselves deserves the consequences of that, essentially arguing that unfairness is a building block of EVE.(2)

But then the post seems to argue that the ally system should be fair to professional EVE merc corps as well.  For them, I have to honestly say that I don't have a lot of pity.  As I've said on this blog before, if someone competes with you, beat them by being better... not by complaining you're being competed with.  Too many corps jumping into as defenders in war-decs?  Get hired by proving to be better than they are and by proving you have a track record of success during war-decs.  This ain't the first time CCP has thrown a giant monkey wrench into this or that corp's means of making ISK.  Hell, it isn't even the first time they've done it this year.

On the other "side" of the fence is an almost equally rabid post by Mord Fiddle over at Fiddler's Edge.  For reference, Mord is not war-dec'ed by the Goons at this time.  Mord's take lately is that Mittens is still smarting over being removed from the CSM and is lashing out at anyone that he perceives as a personal enemy.  I find it hard to argue with that, either.  But Mord does slip too far over into the conspiracy side of things.  Still this post and a post he wrote a few days ago about Mittens himself are well worth your time.

In the middle is this well-written post by Mabrick of Mabrick's Mumblings.(3)  For reference, Mabrick is war-dec'ed by the Goons at this time.  Mabrick does a really terrific job -- probably better than the job that I did -- of laying down the major benefit to the ally system.  It makes declaring war on someone an inherently risky act with consequences.  One of the perceived down-sides of the war-dec system that I referenced above is the perception that the aggressor has all of the power in the relationship.  In-war allies were intended to put at least some power in the hands of the defender.

Happily, the numbers for bringing in war allies are now out.  I was a little bit concerned to learn that bringing in additional allies will increase the cost on an exponential scale.  Being an aggressor multiple times only increases cost on a geometric scale, after all.  But the first ally is still free and the second, third, and fourth only cost 10,  20, and 40 million, respectively.  These are quite reasonable costs -- they could even be increased a bit in my view -- so I'm feeling better about the changes myself.  And Mabrick makes a good argument in his post for supporting the changes as well.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the take of Yuki 0nna at The White Rose Conventicle.  For reference, White Rose was war-dec'ed by the Goons.  I say "was" because Yuki 0nna has shut down WRC and has left EVE entirely.  So now nobody gets to read Yuki's take on it.  But I think Yuki's take on it is clear enough despite that.  Now granted, I wasn't Yuki's biggest fan... but WRC didn't deserve that.

Let's hope that nobody involved kills themselves, shall we?

EDIT (15/Jun/2012): The original version of this piece reported that Mord Fiddle's corp had been war-dec'ed by Goonswarm.  This was incorrect, and I regret the error.

(1) For the record, the Rolodex jab I made in my own post was, again, intended to tweak the collective Goon nose a little.
(2) I'll have more to say about this on Monday.
(3) It finally convinced me to pull the trigger and add him to my Must Read Blogs list.  You'll find him over there on the right.