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...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Go buy a ship

Former EVE Online blogger, now legit game journalist Mat Westhrope has started covering Star Citizen, and over the weekend, he covered a little fund-raising event they did over the weekend.  Go read his article, which is concise and well-written and worth your time.  I'll wait.

There's two things going on here.

First, there's the fund-raising aspect; Star Citizen has been crowd-sourced from the very beginning, of course.  But in the weeks since the official crowd-sourcing was closed, there have been periodic requests for additional funding, usually attached to promises of additional features if the additional funding is secured.  The good news is that this has allowed the Star Citizen developers to nearly double their funding even since the official crowd-sourcing was closed down some months ago.  But on the not so good end, the constant requests for additional funding are becoming a little bit off-putting.

Hell, I'm a self-confessed Chris Roberts fan-boy and this stuff is starting to put me off.  ;-)

It also raises the uncomfortable specter of privilege within what will be the Star Citizen universe.  Something that has always aggravated me about EVE Online is the sense among the "played since beta" set that the game somehow belongs to them and the rest of us are fundamentally unworthy to play it somehow.  Entitlement disease always frustrates me and some EVE players have it pretty bad.  And these sorts of "buy a special ship!" fund-raisers threaten to bring that disease into Star Citizen as well.  I found this quote -- from one of the purchasers -- particularly off-putting:
I bought one because I wanted to support RSI, which is all your doing in the end. There are now 300 people with LTI corvettes. 200 of which are dumbed down "civilian" versions of them which costed 25% more, which is fine by me.
So there are 100 smart people, and 200 dumb people.  Thanks for that.  That really makes me want to jump into a game with you.

The second thing that bugs me a bit is this:
Thankfully, these significant real money investments are at least protected. Each purchase comes with LifeTime Insurance (LTI) which will ensure that the vessel will always be replaced if destroyed or stolen.
OK.  Not every game is EVE Online, where something once destroyed stays destroyed.  And honestly, I wasn't expecting Star Citizen to follow this pattern.  But this LTI thing takes things just a little too far, in my opinion.  I suddenly had this vision of having one of these ships and naming it Prometheus's Liver, which in the legend regrew every morning after a vulture tore it out the night before.  Does that mean that one of these 300 people can somehow contrive to have their precious ship "stolen" every single day or every single week (for a hefty fee, of course), only to have it returned to their hands?

In short, does that mean the rest of us might get the occasional sniff of the smart person ship?

Yeah, I've gotta say that's a little off-putting to me as well.  This game isn't even out yet and there are already haves and have-nots, already those who are investing the game with a pay-to-win culture.  In a word: ugh.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tournament experience

As I write this, Rote Kapelle's first tournament match of AT11 is less than three weeks away.

Long-time readers are going to be used to this by now: during the run-up to the tourney, output around here is going to slow down because I spend a lot of my spare time practicing with my AT team instead of outlining blog posts.  It kind of works out this year because the EVE summer slump seems a bit more pronounced this year than previous years.  Unless you're off in Fountain somewhere, EVE feels pretty quiet right now.  So other than the war, there's less to write about.  And I don't know all that much about the war.

I'm not the only one involved in tourney practice, either.  Tournament practice sever Duality is spiking to between 120 and 200 people every weekend right now, and it'll probably get even busier after the first week.  And of course for me, it's even more pronounced because not only do I have tournament practice, I have CSM stuff to spend time on this year.  More about that tomorrow, but this week was particularly busy.

As I get more practice in this year and as the Rote Kapelle team practices with other teams, I personally have the impression that AT11 is going to favor tourney teams that have a lot of tournament experience.  In particular, I think EVE players that have remained active in the New Eden Open and the Syndicate Competitive League are going to have an advantage.  There are soooo many new ships, rebalanced ships, and altered metas that it's going to take a lot of experience to react to all the changes.  You -- or at the very least your team captains -- are going to have to know those changes right off.  If you look across the field at the Vexor Navy Issues facing you and you have to scramble to EFT or an EVE client to be reminded what their bonuses are(1), I don't think you're going to last very long.

Similarly, I think we're going to see the same effect we saw last year with a few very tough fleet compositions that teams will have to work hard to discover and implement counters for.  Teams that work well together, have a lot of practice, and are willing to jump right back on Duality after matches to test their favorite comps against the new metas they see in action will get into the finals weekend.  Those that treat tourney practice casually will be watching the finals weekend.

Net result for the blog: until Rote is knocked out of the tournament or wins the tournament, I'm going to be spending as much time as I can helping my team practice.  Sorry about that.  ;-)  And as usual, once the tourney gets going, a lot of the posts around here are likely to be tourney-focused: my thoughts on each weekend's matches, the strong comps I see, the good teams, et cetera et cetera.  Those of you that are as into the tournament scene as I am will love it, the rest of you... well...  I promise I'll do my best to mix some other stuff in as I can.

One final note: the Rote Kapelle tournament ad for this year is essentially done, and I personally think it's really clever!  Our alliance got a lot of kudos for last year's ad and I got a kick out of the one from the year before, too.  This year follows the same sort of style: off-beat, irreverent, no Skrillex, and a minimum of 1.2 second cuts.  ;-)  I'll post a link to it as soon as it's public.

(1) Basically, a super-charged Vexor featuring both the standard Vexor's 10% per level drone damage bonuses and the ability to launch five Sentries, as well as a nasty drone tracking bonus.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy enough

OK!  CCP Rise has heard our pleas about the work done on the T1 industrials and has released a second version.  You can read all about it on the EVE Online forums.

The initial good stuff: every hauler now has a role; there are no worthless or useless haulers.  In particular, I'm pleased to see that several haulers -- notably the Iteron IV -- received specialty bays.  If you're flying Orcas or freighters or whatever, you might not see the point to these bays but my eye is on the newer players that are most often in these T1 haulers.  And what I see is a brand new EVE player on EVE day one being able to train Gallente Industrial II and haul 50k of ore or ice back to station every couple of minutes during big mining ops.

Make no mistake: this is a good thing.  I can remember a lot of days early in my EVE career that this would have been incredibly handy.

Each race still has one max cargo hauler and one quick hauler and yes, that's a tiny bit disappointing.  But I'll live with it for now, particularly since there's been more effort to give each of the eight haulers in this group somewhat more distinct roles.  For the quick haulers, I'm particularly pleased at the Iteron's drone bay (something I argued for based on player feedback in the first thread) and the Badger's base cargo bay.  I think we're going to see some interesting combat fits from the first and it's great that the first hauler that most EVE players fly will be a worthwhile choice right into their career mid-points.  That's a nice step forward.  I'll also be interested to play around with the Wreathe; I think it's going to be a nice go-to ship for low- and mid-level Distribution missions.

All four of these ships have pretty decent "Catalyst numbers" which is going to make them hard to gank, and most have the grid and the slot layout to fit both a MWD and a pretty nice tank.  I think you for-profit gankers should look at them really closely as your "scoop loot and run back to gate" ship.  Which one will be preferred for this work?  I suspect it'll be the Wreathe.  It seems to have the best mix of base HP, mid-slots, speed, and grid for fitting a tank.

For the big haulers, the max velocity bonus is traditionally used to assist with "slow-boating"... the process of using auto-pilot to move low value cargoes from place to place.  All four of the specialty haulers also retain this bonus.  So hauler ganks should continue to be quite common, even easy since almost all of these ships have received nerfs to effective tank.  But there isn't a lot of differentiation between these four ships now.  The funniest will be battle Badger IIs, now apparently sporting both a turret and a launcher, though fitting is going to be tricky.

The specialty haulers will be fun to experiment with.  You can probably blame me for the increase in Hoarder unpackaged size, by the way.  I pointed out to Rise that a Rorq carrying four of them would be able to carry 406,000m3 of citadel torps, just the thing for you mineral compressors out there.  So yeah, sorry about that... but no, no I'm not.  Even with this change, I suspect that a lot of carrier and Rorq pilots will keep a packaged Hoarder nearby.  I'll be one of them.  The ability to carry 50 to 60 thousand cubic meters of ammunition when needed will be hard to resist.

The best thing about the specialty haulers being Gallente and Minmatar is that you can train both Gallente Industrial and Minmatar Industrial to Level II and get the bulk of the benefit of the specialty haulers.  So there's reason to cross-train, but you don't have to let cross-training consume you.

Am I completely happy?  No.  I don't get the fast hauler also being the tanky hauler; I would have split those roles into two distinct haulers.  I still don't care for the fact that every race has one max cargo hauler and one quick hauler; I would have split that up a bit more, too and given each race distinct choices.  I'm uneasy about the only viable way to tank a hauler continuing to be shield-tanking; that seems to me to put the Amarr haulers at a distinct disadvantage.  And I would have liked to have seen a few more interesting bonuses, like a tractor beam velocity instead of a velocity bonus on the specialty ore hauler, for instance.  So I'm not completely happy.

But I'm happy enough.  For now.

Every hauler will now do something interesting.  And CCP Seagull has made it clear enough that big changes for industry-minded players are coming, something that Rise pointed out too.  As that happens, over time, we as players (and your CSM representatives, of course) can argue for a few more tweaks here and there.  Which is a good thing I guess, because Rise is clearly wanting to move on to other things...
...please don't expect version 3, I have to get on with my life at some point
Hee!  OK, then.  On that note, Rise, I have some suggestions as to what should be next.  ;-)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Don't do anything stupid

This one is yet again kind of philosophical, but something that I've been thinking about.

Five or six times a month, EVE players send me KOTW candidates that are essentially EVE players being frightfully dumb.  And from time to time, I have indeed featured these kinds of losses.  But I look into the whys a little bit first before I do, looking at character history or trying to understand if there's a reason for what they did.  And from time to time, I've held off featuring this or that kill because I talked to the person and they really just didn't understand how to play this game.  This is something that's in the nature of EVE: there's little documentation and only very few player guides, particularly about specific "dos" and "don'ts".

I got an e-mail this past week from someone who wanted to thank me for all of the guides that I'd written over the years, but told me that he was nevertheless unsubscribing from the game.  He just didn't feel like he was getting the hang of it, and felt like he was continuously making mistakes that were getting him trolled by corp-mates.  I got the impression that there was a straw that had broken the camel's back, but he didn't tell me what that was.  But honestly, he didn't have to because I could understand and sympathize with his situation.

There are few among us that haven't done something frightfully dumb in EVE Online.

And lots of times, I think it's because we simply don't realize why what we're doing is wrong.  Evidence to the contrary, very few people log into this game intending to do something stupid.  Sure, there are guides to playing EVE, but most of EVE knowledge comes down to experience.  And until you have that experience or encounter a situation and have it explained to you what you should do and how you should do it... how are you going to know?

This is something that I've felt myself from time to time, and the more I think about it, the more I think it's actually more of an issue after you've been playing EVE for several years.  When you first start out, the mistakes you can make are comparatively small.  Perhaps you can get a ship destroyed because you didn't know how to fly it, or because you forgot (or didn't know) to watch Local.  Perhaps your PvE group takes a few more minutes to tackle an incursion because you didn't know how to apply your DPS properly.  Perhaps your small gang loses a fight instead of winning it because your ship didn't contribute to the fight in the right way.  But the level of mistakes you can make in early EVE play is relatively minor and forgettable.  And these mistakes are generally avoidable: a good teaching organization like EVE University can see you safely past them.

Then, as you play for a few years, the potential down-sides of your mistakes become bigger: you can whelp a sub-cap fleet because the intel you provide is poor or because you're an inexperienced FC.  You can lose a capital ship by jumping it to a cyno you shouldn't have.  You can lose an expensive PvE ship or a hauler to gankers because you didn't understand the mechanics of how ganks work.  Even though you're more experienced at the game and should know more, any gap in your knowledge can have a correspondingly larger and more memorable effect.  Worse still, there's no corp in EVE that will teach you ways to avoid mistakes at this level.

At the highest level of play, when you're supposed to be the most experienced, that's when you can make the biggest, stupidest mistakes of all.  You can fail to realize that your alliance bills won't be paid this month, resulting in the loss of sovereignty over dozens of systems.  You can lose a corporation's nest egg or an alliance's sovereignty to a badly-researched corp thief.  You can jump a titan to a far-flung system instead of bridging a fleet there.  You can whelp whole super-cap fleets.

And at every level, these mistakes can be unintentional or accidental... or can happen simply because you don't understand this or that undocumented game mechanic.  When it's the latter, don't expect much sympathy from CCP.  They've shown from time to time that even losses -- even massive losses -- resulting from a misunderstanding of how game mechanics work are your fault, not theirs.  And these gaps in an EVE player's knowledge are both invisible and inevitable.  I can't tell you how many times over the years that I've said "Huh, I didn't know that" when some esoteric EVE mechanic is explained to me.

The more you think you know everything there is to know about EVE, the more likely you are to do something unforgivably stupid... because you're in a position to.

The funniest thing of all about this?  Getting educated about how EVE Online works?  That's your responsibility.  While lots of people in this game will be quick to point at you, laugh, and tell you how stupid you are, almost nobody in this game will explain why you're being stupid.  Now that I've had the opportunity to chat with EVE Online developers in an informal setting, I can tell you that this philosophy goes all the way up to that level.  More experienced players will rarely educate you because the successful do not want competition.  EVE developers will rarely educate you because -- I think, anyway -- they're concerned that knowledge given will be knowledge exploited.

In this way, EVE Online is kind of a game of chance: you have to hope that someone else makes that stupid mistake before you do, preferably in a position where you can hear about it, learn from it, and learn why it was stupid... without it being you that it happens to.  You're essentially playing this game hoping every day that you're not going to end up being an object lesson for someone else.  The lucky ones get to keep playing.

So... yeah.  That player that's unsubbing because he didn't realize why something he did was unforgivably dumb?  I can definitely sympathize.  EVE is a harsh, cold, dark universe, blah blah blah.  Don't do anything stupid, OK?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fit of the Week: Minigame Buzzard and Heron

I promised one more weird FOTW before going head on into battleships for a couple of months, and here it is:

[Buzzard, Minigame]
Warp Core Stabilizer II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Data Analyzer II
Relic Analyzer II
Scan Rangefinding Array I
Scan Pinpointing Array I

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Sisters Core Probe Launcher, Sisters Core Scanner Probe
Salvager II

Small Emission Scope Sharpener I
Small Memetic Algorithm Bank I

As far as I can see, this ship and fit are about optimal for the job of wandering the landscape of New Eden looking for and completing the new hacking mini-game sites, whether they're relic sites or data sites.  In either situation, with good skills, this ship has a virus coherence of 120 and a virus strength of 40.  As long as you're careful, that will flatten pretty much any mini-game site you come across.  Go ahead and use the T1 mini-game modules until you can use T2, but keep in mind that you'll be sacrificing a good bit of coherence and strength without both the T2 modules and the skills to back them up.

If you like, fit a Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher instead of the Core Probe Launcher.  However, if you do so you're going to need both Covert Ops V skill and you're going to have to off-line the modules that you're not using.  Of the Data Analyzer, Relic Analyzers, and Salvager, you'll only be able to on-line one at a time.  Honestly, the Core Probe Launcher is probably good enough for what you're going to be doing.  The Salvager is mostly there in case you run into a juicy wreck in your travels.

EDIT (27/Jun/2013): Several players made one additional (quite good!) suggestion: trade the Scan Rangefinding Array for a cargo scanner.  This will allow you to get a sneak peek of what is going to be in the "lootsplosion" and change your strategy as to which cans you're going to go after accordingly.  This page has very useful information on what types of loot go with what types of mini-cans!

And you'll be traveling a lot from system to system, using the probe launcher to lock down sites.  A covert ops with two Gravitational Capacitor rigs and a pilot with typical skills has a scan strength of about 130.  This one has to make do with about 115 with equal skills.  But that will be good enough to scan down virtually any relic or data site that you come across.  You can sacrifice the mini-game rigs for "grav caps" if you like but keep in mind that you'll be sacrificing +10 virus coherence by doing so.  If you're a good at scanning, keep the coherence.  If you're really good at the mini-game, go for the grav caps.

Your align time is six seconds which is a touch risky for null-sec but if you run into a serious camp, just crash back to gate and take your wanderings elsewhere.  You can cut it to five seconds by trading the warp core stab for a Nanofiber Internal Structure, but the "stab" provides a nice bit of insurance.  If you're pointed while you're distracted by the mini-game (by a bomber or other frigate, say), you'll have the option to warp off as long as you're not scrammed.

Not much else to say about this one, so let's cover its T1 equivalent:

[Heron, Minigame]
Warp Core Stabilizer II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Relic Analyzer II
Data Analyzer II
Scan Pinpointing Array I
Scan Rangefinding Array I

Prototype Cloaking Device I
Sisters Core Probe Launcher, Sisters Core Scanner Probe
Salvager II

Small Emission Scope Sharpener I
Small Memetic Algorithm Bank I
[empty rig slot]

Hornet EC-300 x3
Hornet EC-300 x3
Warrior II x1

The Heron has three advantages over the Buzzard:
  • it aligns quicker thanks to the nano;
  • it's significantly cheaper; and,
  • in extremis, it carries some drones.
The Heron also has three disadvantages:
  • it can't warp cloaked;
  • its scan strength is lower (about 105 with good skills, versus 115); and,
  • its virus strength is lower at 35, versus 40 (though coherence is the same).
That last is a somewhat significant draw-back, particularly against some tough null-sec sites.  The Heron also has a more minor fourth advantage: it carries about double the cargo of the Buzzard, so if you come upon the site of a major battle, you'll be able to carry away more loot.  The Buzzard also has a very minor fourth advantage: it's slightly tankier thanks to higher HP values, which might save you if you're tackled by a frig or a bomber while aligning to try and warp off.

In either case, you can boost virus coherence another five points with either the Hacking implant, HC-905, or the Archaeology implant, the AC-905.  You can't have both, sorry.  The EY-1005 implant, previously useful to reduce module cycle times, is no longer particularly useful to the hacking mini-game.

Happy hacking!

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.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Breaking the law

This one is kind of amusing and philosophical.

Malcanis's Law states that
"Whenever a mechanics change is proposed on behalf of 'new players', that change is always to the overwhelming advantage of richer, older players."
These days, I'm on CSM8 with that very same Malcanis.  Over the last couple of expansions, it's been increasingly clear to me that CCP might very well be trying to break that law.  The tricky part comes with that descriptive phrase "overwhelming advantage."

Now, breaking Malcanis's Law isn't necessarily new.  This past January, Malcanis himself came up with three possible areas in which CCP had developed the game in such a way as to try to break his law.  And I'm not sure I agree with them, particularly the second one he mentions, the re-balancing of frigates into capable PvP platforms.  To my mind, frigates are the most difficult ships to fly correctly in PvP, and benefit hugely from large numbers of skill points into a wide variety of support skills.  When you've got two ships duking it out with only a few thousand EHP, even 10 or 15 DPS difference between the ships or a couple dozen meters per second can be the margin between victory and defeat.

But he mentions two other possibilities, the changes to NPE that were implemented late last year with Retribution, and the removal of the Learning skills and yes, I'd say that both of those changes broke Malcanis's Law at least to an extent.

The question I had was have a lot of the more recent changes to the game done so as well?

I've already made an argument that a lot of the features of Retribution and Odyssey are aimed much more at newer players than older players.  Bounty hunting was one example I listed where the advantage seemed to swing in favor of newer players.  While to an experienced player, ten or twenty million ISK for blowing up a player like myself with a relatively high bounty is something you might not even notice, to a new player that's a pretty good windfall.  And in Odyssey, there are at least two features -- the Gnosis and changes in support of the new exploration sites -- that it can be argued break Malcanis's Law, particularly if you focus on that "overwhelming advantage" phrase.

When I talked about the Gnosis, I mentioned its most interesting feature: it requires almost no skills to fly, and it gives you its maximum bonuses right from the moment you can put a drone in the drone bay and some medium weapons in the highs.  In addition, it's a ship that is remarkably easy to fit.  Unless you're doing something unusual, you don't really have to compromise very much at all to fit whatever you like.  Flying the ship a time or two myself as a veteran, I am underwhelmed with its performance.  With my skills, it has a poor tank and poor DPS... when compared to alternative ships that I can fly instead as a veteran player.

But a newer player wouldn't be able to tank a combat BC or a cruiser the way I can, nor would they necessarily be able to optimize a fit to overwhelm the DPS of a Gnosis.  So whereas I might prefer a much cheaper Omen (say), a new player might prefer a Gnosis that while more expensive, allows him to match what I can do... particularly in PvE.

So it's a ship that's aimed at newer players that doesn't give veterans like myself an overwhelming advantage.  We get some advantage, yes: I can tweak the fit a bit harder than a new player can, and I can passively armor tank it if I care to and get more EHP out of it than a newer player can with the same fitting.  But the advantage isn't overwhelming.

Ditto the new exploration mechanics.  A couple of my alliance-mates had the good fortune of killing this Imicus in our home system the other day, running data sites with his custom-fit ship.  A newer player was flying the ship, and yet had almost 150 million ISK in his T1 frigate's cargo hold from running the sites.  I don't know about you, but I don't recall making 150 million ISK in a few hours as a newer player.  Sure, I could do it today in an incursion fleet, or running hubs or sanctums, or perhaps some L4 missions in low-sec, or a half-dozen other ways.  But it would require a hell of a lot more skill and up-front expense than a five million ISK Imicus fit.

And again, I can beat his fit here and there with a properly fit covert ops ship, and get a few more percent on my virus strength and the like, a bit more survivability against gate camps with a cloak... but is it an overwhelming advantage?  I think not.

I'm not sure I have a point here.  As with a lot of my more philosophical posts, they don't necessarily have points I'm driving toward.  Hell, I brought up these very examples to Malcanis himself and he was inclined to argue with me a bit.  Maybe he's right.  Maybe I'm right.  But it sure is interesting that the latest additions to EVE can be looked at in this manner, don't you think?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kill of the Week: Let's go mining

So, yeah.  Let's go with this:

Know what Machariels are really good at?  Hint: it's not mining.  Now I'm not gonna say I've never flown a mining battleship because... ummm... thatwouldbealie.  ::coughs::  I know I'm a care bear.  Shut up.  But I did it in a nice conservative mining Rokh.  At one time it did the job well enough, particularly if you swept up small rocks in the wakes of three or four mining barges.  At that time it was a better miner than a Retriever, took almost no mining skills to train up to, allowed combat pilots to help in a big mining op, and provided some additional drone DPS to clear rats.

But you didn't use a Machariel to do it.  And you certainly didn't use a Machariel to mine high-sec scrap minerals.  In my opinion, this awox was perfectly justified.

EDIT (25/Jun/2013): Duh, this Machariel didn't die in null-sec as I originally reported.  I regret the error.

Honorable mention goes to this little ball of amusement.  What's a man to do when he's -8.7 sec status and there are sec status tags for sale in Jita?  What is he to do if he wants to repair his sec status with said tags?  Go to a high-sec market system himself, of course.  Buy the tags he needs, load them into a noob ship and set a course for the closest low-sec CONCORD station where he can turn them in-- wait, why is everyone locking me?

Fight of the week was the latest brawl between TEST and Goons.  TMC has the full story on this one, and you can basically call it Asakai Mark II in the sense that it was completely unintended.  A TEST titan, usually a bit cheeky, misjudged his jump distance, decloaked when he shouldn't have, and got himself tackled by Black Legion.  From there, Goons managed to take over the tackle on the titan and called in their dread fleet, which immediately knocked TiDi down to 10%.  Though this sometimes causes TiDi in other close by systems, sometimes a funny thing happens to the rest of the universe when TiDi drops so low: nothing at all.  That meant that while 3ZTV-V, the system with the titan, was 10% TiDi'ed, surrounding systems were not which allowed more and more and more TEST and PL reinforcements to come in and turn what was supposed to be a super gank into a super brawl.

Not intending for this to happen and with no real contingency, the Goons came out on the losing side in a big way, dropping 30-odd capital ships on the floor.  Whoops!  And the TEST titan didn't die.  Double whoops!  That brings us to...

Number of dead super-caps last week: 1

That's right.  Just one this past week, this mostly travel-fit Kadeshi Hel killed in Aridia by Pandemic Legion.  It's a fairly safe bet that this Hel was on its way to Fountain to help out N3... who are technically kinda on PL's side?  I think?  It's so hard to tell with PL.  But if that was the case, apparently the diplomats hadn't quite settled it yet.  One of the comments:
Wasn't blue, shot it vOv
Yeah, that about sums it up.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

CSM8 Status update: Week seven

Kind of a mixed week for me on CSM8 this week.  While the rest of the CSM was extremely busy, I myself had a mid-week business trip that kept me away from a couple of CSM-related duties.

After the Town Hall of last Sunday, Mike Azariah and myself appeared on Alekseyev Karrde's Declarations of War pod-cast, and had a really interesting discussion!  As you can imagine, the topics ranged all over the place from CSM election mechanics to communications to the release of Odyssey to our initial impressions of the job.  Ali Aras will be joining Alek as his co-host on the pod-cast going forward, and this was both her first opportunity in that role and of course as a member of CSM8 herself, she was very much involved in the discussion! 

Alek also tried to get me to reveal what might be coming in a theoretical Odyssey point release.  I guess he had this week in the "when will Ripard break the NDA?" pool.  ;-)  I resisted.  All in all, an interesting couple of hours!

Tuesday started my business trip, which was unfortunate because there was a follow-up meeting with CCP Seagull scheduled for that morning which I missed (I was driving to the airport).  Still, big kudos to Ali, Mangala Solaris, Chitsa Jason, and Mike who took excellent notes from which I could catch up.  I really want to emphasize how virtually every CSM member is heavily involved some aspect of the CSM's work so far!  This isn't always visible; though communications is my thing, it isn't for everyone.  But it's great to have the CSM's work-load spread out among so many people.  There's no dead weight; everyone's involved in something.  It also means that there's a lot going on!

In particular, CSM8 has two big projects that will be made public very soon.  Trebor Daehdoow is leading one (with a lot of input and participation from Mike and myself, plus several others), and James Arget is leading another (with a lot of input from just about everyone).  As soon those projects are made public and I can point you to them, I will do so.  But working on them took a good bit of our time this week and that was before CCP dropped a bit of a bomb on us on Thursday.

That was the day our stake-holder meetings started up again!  Unfortunately due to a miscommunication, very few people were actually present at the meeting.  It was implied to us after the release of Odyssey that we'd be notified when the stake-holder meetings would start up again, and I'm not sure it happened.  Again, I missed this meeting even though I was back home from my trip by then.  I don't feel bad; as I said, almost everyone else missed it, too.  Still -- and again -- the people who could make the meeting (notably Trebor and Sala Cameron) took really detailed notes for the rest of us.  That was good because the topic of the meeting was really broad in scope and is going to be a big job for this CSM.  Let's just say that Seagull has her own ideas about how involved the CSM should be and leave it at that for now.  I think she surprised even Trebor.  I'm hoping that we can go more public with this change of direction as the term goes on.

And all of this happened during a week when a good bit of CCP was on vacation either due to the summer vacation season starting any day now, or the Icelandic Independence Day I mentioned earlier in the week.  There was a lot going on despite that.  The next stake-holder meeting is scheduled for week nine and you can bet that we're not going to be surprised by it again!

During this one, Trebor was good enough to follow up on my "is the NDA under NDA?" question since I couldn't be there to do so, so that topic still isn't being dropped.  And of course as I already mentioned I've been very deeply involved in the T1 industrial re-balancing thread this past week.  This coming week, in addition to putting a lot of time into the projects I mentioned above, I'm going to see if I can kick-off the T2 invention/manufacturing round-table that I've been promising for the last couple of weeks.  I wanted to get the Town Hall out of the way before I got that rolling.

So, despite my business trip, I still managed to stay pretty busy this week, and so did the rest of CSM8.  Again, I'm so pleased how active all of this CSM's members are.  It makes sharing the load a hell of a lot easier!  More next Sunday.

Comment of the week: (Denial of) Income

One more bit about the war between the CFC and TEST.

Jokus Balim and an anonymous commenter both reminded me of a couple of points that I wanted to make about my post the other day about the current goings-on in Fountain.  Here's Jokus, responding to a TEST fan:
When you wrote that text, did you at any point consider that if [Goons] capture those moons they deny income to the former holder? Taking a moon doesn't just mean that you have more income now yourself. It also means that you deny your opponent income, too. How long will TEST be able to keep up?
The anonymous commenter added:
Keep in mind that in GSF's eyes, denying TEST income is just as important as having the income themselves, especially considering how much stuff GSF has tucked away for a rainy day. They can keep going on their reserves a lot better than TEST can, especially if you look at how TEST is fucking up the moon material market by dumping all their stock into buys in a "need cash now" move.
And both of these are really great points.

During their Windows hey-day while Bill Gates was Chairman at Microsoft, he once commented that he wanted to grow the company's cash reserves to the point where the company could operate normally even if absolutely no income was coming in for a whole year.  Now whether Goons can meet that standard or not, they were sitting on massive technetium and other income sources for years.  There's no doubt in my mind that they can and should have a massive strategic cash reserve.  TEST, meanwhile, has been rather famously been living a more "hand-to-mouth" existence that's basically fine in normal times.  But it isn't going to stand up long in time of war.

Now of course the Goons have had bigger losses in the war so far, including a pretty embarrassing cap fleet whelp just yesterday.  But they're in a position to keep fighting despite such losses whereas one gets the impression that one good solid knock-out punch might very well put TEST on the canvas.  The question, of course, is whether the Goons can land that punch.

In the meantime, every single moon that TEST is denied... no matter how it happens... no matter who takes it... no matter whether the Goons actually benefit from it or not... is a body blow to TEST that makes the likelihood of one solid punch knocking them out more likely.  For the purposes of the Goons for this particular war, denying TEST the income is just as good as having the income themselves.

Of course, if this turns out not to be the case and in the unlikely event Goons do run out of money, then a whole different set of questions will become relevant.  The original Northern Coalition also sat on a massive income hegemony for years.  But when they were subjected to a couple of solid knock-out punches, they claimed abject poverty and collapsed.  What happened to their reserve?  I don't think the question was ever answered and certainly the Goons were one of the groups that made fun of them for it afterward.  I'm sure it'd be amusing to the Goons's enemies to have the shoe on the other foot.

It's just -- you know -- not very likely.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

And in this corner

So, how'd you like to be a DUST 514 developer right now?  If I were one, I'd be sweating a little bit.

E3 is now over, and CCP had one really nice thing to smile about: EVR, the virtual reality EVE-based demo where you play as a carrier-based fighter pilot, was chosen as PC Gamer's "Game of E3".  Even though it isn't even a game, just a short demo.  That's certainly good news and hopefully will spur CCP to assign some formal resources to this game, which as I mentioned in my Fanfest wrap-up, I thought was incredible, and incredibly fun.  But the same article also spends a lot of time bitching about the other games at E3 that weren't so PC-friendly.

And that would be much of what got the remaining buzz at E3 this year: single- and multi-player shooters of all kinds.  It seems like every dev at E3 had one to show off.

The big one, of course, is Battlefield 4.  November might be a month that gives CCP the shakes for the next couple of years, with BF4 coming out this November and Star Citizen aiming for next November.  I've gotta say that BF4 looks pretty tasty, nowhere more so than Commander Mode.  This takes some game play from my favorite tactical shooter, the Ghost Recon series, and bumps it to a whole new level.  If you haven't watched the demonstration video, please do.  It's very much worth your time.

If there weren't some CCP devs taking extensive notes about this and eating their hearts out through a straw, there should have been.  This is fantastic game play, and from the demo video looks like it's going to be really well-implemented.  Big thumbs up to the developers.

Another that impresses me nearly as much is Titanfall.  I'm so impressed at how clean this game's interface looks.  It's functional and works well in a "everything you need, nothing you don't" way.  Information you need fades into few on your display when it's relevant, and fades out when it's no longer relevant.  That's really smart game design.  And the interface of the in-game mechs, or titans, is fantastic... completely immersive.  You get a sense of the scope of what you're driving without taking away from the game's inherent simplicity.  Again, this is a game CCP should be taking notes from.

Finally, the elephant in the room -- Destiny -- is also on the way, though apparently not as close as we were initially led to believe.  That one will be DUST's challenger next year rather than this one.  Assuming of course that DUST can beat or hold off these initial two challengers...

Was that a bell ringing I just heard?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Failure of imagination

I'm still deeply engaged in the discussion about rebalancing T1 industrial ships.  Now that CCP Rise has made public a lot of his concerns and objections to issues that I've raised privately, I've feel more comfortable making public my counter-concerns, which I've done on the EVE Online forums, but reproduce here as well:


I've Liked so many posts in this thread I've lost count.

I can understand Rise's position here.  He's saying, among other things,
  • "The haulers have never done anything particularly special before, why do they need to do special things now?"; and,
  • "If you wanted a max cargo hauler, you had to use an Itty V and nothing else; I'm giving you three other options."; and,
  • "For every other ship class, each race has exactly the same number of ships, why should it be different for haulers?"; and,
  • "This isn't the last word. We'll be revisiting the outcast haulers when we know what we want to do with the industry career long term."
I get all four of these points.  But right now, I have to say that I'm with the players that are a little frustrated with the lost potential here.  We see only two types of haulers because that's all it looks like we've been given: a fast tanky hauler for each race, and a max cargo hauler for each race.  Whereas even within the same slot of the same ship type for other ship classes, there's lots of racial variation.  If I sit in a disruption frigate, I can jam with one race, damp with another, track with a third, paint with a fourth.  Attack frigates have some that specialize in rockets, some that specialize in blasters, some that have to go in close, and some that specialize in kiting.

But for all four races, I have a fast tanky hauler and a max cargo hauler and that's all.  There are color differences and shape differences, but they all do pretty much the same thing the same way.  That's why these players are frustrated, and why I'm among them.  We were wowed by all the new potential and all the new options when the other ship classes were rebalanced and were looking forward to some new options when this class was.  Zaxix put it nicely:
I certainly respect your opinion, Rise, but there is a group of true haulers in EVE, and what may be boring to you PvP types has been the focus of many an EVE career.
Rise has done great work so far as he's gone... but I feel like not a lot of imagination has been put into this compared to other ship classes because it's "boring."  It's hard to put our faith in an uncertain future for these ships because there's no telling when or if that uncertain future will ever come to pass, particularly with past evidence as a guide.

Thanks to everyone giving feedback on this!


Feel free to jump into the discussion if you care to...   My thanks to those of you that already have!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Remember your mission

As I've mentioned here a time or two, I'm a fan of table-top war games.  When playing them, particularly cooperatively with another player, a maxim I'm fond of repeating is "Remember your mission!"  It's a maxim that's easily applicable to most video games, particularly single and MMO shooters, RTS, and role-playing games.  It's even applicable to life sometimes.  Remember your mission.

If to accomplish your mission you can bypass an enemy stronghold, stealth past an encounter, or short-circuit a problem to ground, do so.  You don't have to get tied up in side issues unless you want to be.  Sure, sometimes killing every single bad guy is fun.  But if you've got a job to do and you'd just as soon get it done and you have the option to exchange slaughter for expediency, do it.  Remember your mission.  It's a favorite maxim of mine.

Which is why I'm kind of enjoying the exchange of propaganda during the current Fountain war, particularly over "who's winning."

The last week or so, TEST Alliance has been having a lot of fun in this war of propaganda.  There's a great scene in one of my favorite bad movies, The Patriot.  Mid-point through the flick, the American Revolution's southern front is not going well for the British.  The march north has been slowed to a halt by plucky American irregulars.  In between battles, General Lord Charles Cornwallis is bemoaning the fact that he is attending a ball in South Carolina when he feels he should be attending balls in North Carolina or Virginia.

This is TEST's propaganda view of The Mittani.

Cornwallis bitches to one of his subordinates, Colonel William Tavington, that his tactics are not having the desired effect.  Tavington is TEST's propaganda view of DBRB or some other CFC FC.  Pick one.  Meanwhile, TEST casts themselves in the plucky Mel Gibson role of Benjamin Martin, slipping behind CFC lines to inflict all sorts of hideousness on the evil British while we pubbies uninvolved in the war clap our hands and exclaim "Oh, fireworks!  Lovely!"...

"Sure," this line goes, "Goons have taken six or eight systems, but they're not winning fast enough, and we're bleeding them to death."  Et cetera.  It's nice propaganda.  It even came with an amusing "TEST perspective" article on TMC.  The article itself claimed TEST were slowing the Goon advance and even holding in place.  Meanwhile, the first letter of every paragraph in the article had a charming and funny message for Goon leadership published on their own news website.  So yeah, it's nice propaganda.  But is it true?

Meanwhile, when the invasion kicked off, while Mittens described it as a "land grab", he made it reasonably clear that the primary objective was capturing R64s...
Our finance team - the best in the game - tells me that in order for us to uphold our social programs, we must acquire more than fifty new R64s for the coalition.
Tonight we are invading Fountain. But we are not going to bother with stating a grievance or demonizing the defender - We are doing it because we need the region and its moons for our people and our friends.
Yet the hard fact is that we would not be going to war against TEST if they were living in Providence.
And indeed, now that the war has been running for two weeks, the latest Mittens update is rather giddy on the subject:
Despite my absence, we had taken the northern section of Fountain sov, captured 21+ TEST R64s, and did this in the face of an increasingly large hostile dogpile...
Look what gets listed first.  Of the 50 R64s the Goons want, they apparently already have 21+ of them.  And in case there's any question about the Goon mission here, check the bottom of that para:
...this for a "Moons only first, no sov" invasion plan.
In the entire update, the word "moon" comes up twenty times and no I'm not exaggerating.  When Mittens mentions capturing sov at all, he mentions it in the context of "this progress is too rapid, in my mind, and why do we have so many I-Hubs available anyway?"  He's practically dismissive.  Goons are capturing long-term income, long-term resources, and measuring their victory on this metric: increasing ISK over all.  TEST, meanwhile, seems to be measuring victory based on holding sov, which means they're measuring victory based on how much ISK they get to sink each month, ISK they're increasingly not going to be able to afford because of the income losses being inflicted on them on all sides.  When people ask me on pod-casts who I think is winning, this is why I invariably pick the Goons.

Remember your mission!  Propaganda aside, bribing of Black Legion aside, the occasional massive fleet or super welp aside, from a neutral outsider's perspective, it sure looks to me like one side in this war is following that maxim.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

QOTW: Mammoth response

CCP Rise has posted a new public thread about his ideas for T1 hauler balancing.

Please go over and read them.  It won't take long, and it's worth your time.  Read the post, then try to predict the thing that caused the most rage.  And yes, the CSM was consulted.  And the response of... ummm... some of the CSM was... ummm... what prompted Rise to write post #2.  Anyway, try to guess the thing many players jumped on first once these proposed changes went public.

It's that the Mammoth is proposed to lose its crown as the largest Minmatar hauler.

If you feel as strongly about this as... ummm... some CSM members do, please feel free to visit the thread in question and express your opinion.  In the meantime, though, enough players have done so that it prompted Rise to explain why the Mammoth was being downgraded.  Here's the explanation:
Why the Hoarder instead of the Mammoth? This basically comes down to art direction. At earlier stages in this rebalance we considered both removing some ships from the game, and also adding more. Part of that discussion led to art asking that we use the Hoarder rather than the Mammoth as one of the primary Minmatar industrials.
So, it's the art team's fault.  But that wasn't good enough for a number fo players who asked for an expanded answer.

So Rise got them one and it's the quote of the week:
About the Mammoth: I just checked in with Art briefly and they confirmed that they simply don't like the way the Mammoth looks. I'll point them to this thread and see what they have to say about your feedback =)
In other words, the Mammoth got a downgrade because the art team thinks it's ugly.  That's it.  That's the only reason.  Hee!  If you're on the art team, I think you should probably expect to receive 20 or 30 3D printed Mammoths come next Fanfest...

Anyway, if after reading Rise's post you have further concerns about the Mammoth or the other haulers and how they are being changed, you should express them.  You may rest assured I have expressed mine.

Fit of the week: Tanky HAM Gnosises

July and August are going to be battleship months at the FOTW.  Yes, I'm going to cover first my favorite rebalanced battleships, then my favorite rebalanced navy battleships.  After that, I might do the navy cruisers or frigates.  But before then, let's get a couple of odd ships out of the way.  First up, Gnosis.

[Gnosis, Armor HAM Tank]
Internal Force Field Array I
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Dark Blood Armor EM Hardener
Armor Explosive Hardener II
Armor Kinetic Hardener II
Armor Thermic Hardener II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Faint Warp Disruptor I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Phased Muon Sensor Disruptor I, Targeting Range Dampening Script
Phased Muon Sensor Disruptor I, Targeting Range Dampening Script
Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 400

Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I

Hammerhead II x5
Hornet EC-300 x5

[Gnosis, Shield HAMs]
Damage Control II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Co-Processor II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II

Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Heavy Assault Missile
Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I

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

Hornet EC-300 x5
Hammerhead II x5

The first thing to say about the Gnosis is that I think it's a more or less ideal low-level PvE ship for a variety of purposes.  Particularly for newer players, this thing cuts through low-level missions, belt ratting, killing the new sec status rats, even gas mining.  It's fast align time is the Gnosis's biggest advantage both for PvP and for PvE, but for PvE -- particularly higher-risk PvE in low-sec -- the Gnosis is ideal.  So sooner or later I'll post a PvE Gnosis fit.  But for today, PvP.

After playing around with the various options, I've come to the conclusion that HAMs are the optimal weapon system for the PvP Gnosis.  They don't take cap (something the Gnosis struggles with), and they still do pretty well without a lot of low-slot damage modules (in case you want to armor tank).  Most of all, they combine decent damage with decent projection.  And that's critical for the Gnosis because the poor thing is terribly sllllooooowww.  The auto-cannon Gnosis struggles with range.  The pulse laser Gnosis struggles with cap.  The blaster Gnosis struggles with both.  And long range weapons are just disappointing with the Gnosis's relatively paltry ship bonus.  The advantage being that even the newest player gets that bonus.

A shorter range weapon like a HAM benefits from drones that are also relatively short range, so Hammerheads are a good fit for their damage, along with a flight of Hornet ECs because everyone loves to primary the Gnosis.  A set of EC drones will make it slightly more possible for you to extract your expensive battle cruiser if a fight starts to go against you.

So that leaves the question of shield or armor tank?  I've included options for both.  Of the two, I like the armor tank better.  The Gnosis has very low resists and is slow anyway, so there's really not much reason not to go ahead and armor tank it.  The base Gnosis fit with four armor hardeners and the meta plate has about an 80k EHP tank.  And it can be selectively overheated to about 100k, depending on the damage that you're taking.  You'll need one faction hardener to make the CPU work; choose the EM hardener because it's the cheapest.  That said, if you fit two faction hardeners, you can upgrade to a T2 Damage Control to assist the tank a bit more.

After a MWD and a point, you'll have four mid slots free.  With four active hardeners, I highly recommend a small cap booster.  This will give you some resistance to neuting because if someone neuts your hardeners off, you're in deep trouble.  A web is also advised so that if you actually catch something, you can hold it.  After that, you have two spare mids for e-war.  I like damps, but you can use any e-war that appeals to you.

The shield fit is similar, but obviously drops all of the mid slot options for its tank, which is about 70k EHP.  You can't selectively harden it the way you can the armor version, but heated, the tank increases to about 80k.  You're also susceptible to neuting.  You can sacrifice part of your tank to address this, but I don't recommend it!  Shield Gnosises already start pretty thin.  The advantage you pick up is about 100 more DPS and about 450m/s more speed.  Don't let it go to your head, though.  Any T1 cruiser can easily catch you or outrun you, as can virtually any other BC.

The advantage to the Gnosis is that lots of people want to shoot one.  ;-)  So chances are, stuff will be coming to tackle you.  It is for this reason that I recommend maximizing the tank.  The Gnosis makes a hell of a bait ship for a compatible fleet.  Just make sure that reps are ready and near by!  This is an expensive ship to lose.  Again, the major advantage a Gnosis gives you is lots of different kinds of fleets will trip over themselves to shoot at it.

In today's risk averse EVE, that's sometimes the best advantage a ship can give you...

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.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Attention CSM9 candidates

Just a quickie, but I keep forgetting to cover it, so I thought I'd cover it.

For those who haven't seen it yet, here are two files that show STV in operation during the CSM8 election.  The first covers the full 14 candidate selection.  The second covers the two candidate election to decide on the permanent seats:

I don't have a whole lot to say about these.  I mostly want to make sure they're available to those of you who might be interested, and to have them on the blog so that I can point to them next year as we approach the CSM9 elections.  Though we haven't talked to CCP about it yet, it seems very likely to me that STV will be a continuing feature in CSM elections for some time to come.  It certainly seems to have produced a more active, engaged CSM!

For me, two of the interesting candidates to watch in the first file are Chitsa Jason and James Arget.  Both start with about 1600 votes, virtually tied with Nathan Jameson.  What's interesting to me in terms of watching the algorithm run is both of these strong candidates apparently would have been elected whether STV was running or not.  But since they started in the 12th and 13th position respectively, neither has a chance to transfer any of their votes to other wormhole candidates.  But both they and Nathan pick up votes at each elimination, indicating all three had good but not overwhelming cross-candidate support.  It was touch-and-go to the very end which two out of the three would be on CSM8.

This was interesting to me because all of the wormhole candidates endorsed each other as slots two through five on their respective ballots.  And the CCP analysis of the way the STV system actually worked showed that those were the critical endorsement slots.  But the wormhole candidates couldn't really take advantage of this with candidates outside w-space.. they had nothing to negotiate with, no carrot that they could wave in front of a strong candidate to say "I will endorse you as my #2 or #3 slot if you will do the same for me."

Take-away: aligning yourself with people in your own bloc is fine, but if you don't also align yourself with strong candidates outside your bloc, you throw your chances of getting on the CSM down to random chance and the vagaries of the STV system.  Save an endorsement or two for people outside your bloc so that you can trade them for equal endorsements from these other candidates.

Compare and contrast with Malcanis.  Malcanis, also a strong candidate, actually started in a weaker position than all three of these wormhole candidates.  But Malcanis aligned himself early with several very strong candidates, endorsed them, and received equal endorsements in return.  These candidates, including myself, had a lot of down-tier votes to share and that combined with the broad support the strong candidates enjoyed, allowed more and more of these down-tier votes to filter down to Malcanis.

The take-away: for the CSM9 election, the best strategy is to have a strong base of support yourself, but also to align yourself with a broad spectrum of strong candidates who will support you with their down-tier endorsements.

You can see the same thing playing out in the second file, only this time I was the beneficiary.  Certainly, I started with a strong base of support.  But in the middle rounds, you can see Sort Dragon pulling within a hundred votes of pushing me out of the #2 spot.  But I also had aligned myself with several very strong candidates.  When they were eliminated -- particularly Ali Aras, Mangala Solaris, and Trebor Daehdoow -- that vaulted me well past Sort and to within 50 votes of taking the #1 slot from mynnna.

So, we see the same take-away.  Build a strong base of support for yourself, but align yourself with other strong candidates.

Anyway, just something of interest for those of you thinking about a run for CSM9.  And no, it's not too early.  If you're going to run, you should be paying attention to what we're up to, particularly around summit time, which is coming up...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kill of the Week: Lots of green supers

Pop quiz: you are plying your jump freighter through space when you are offered a duel by a character called "The Bumper".  What do you do?  Well, if you're this guy, you accept the duel and get bumped all over hell and gone while while being neuted into the ground and while a bunch of Catalysts help gank you.  gg, Goodtotem.  Perhaps some of you out there that aren't interested in dueling will turn on the auto-reject option now?  You'll find it in your [Esc] menu, Audio and Chat tab, right column.

Sometimes, you go to use your cloak and Microwarpdrive together and it goes terribly wrong.  Drugs are bad, m'kay?  Amusingly, had actually fit the fifth warp core stab, he would have gotten away.  To my knowledge, the maximum scram from two faction scrams is six.(1)

This Tengu just made me laugh.  I wonder if he realizes how many Tornados have to die to make that gank unprofitable?  It's a miracle if he got any flying time out of it at all.  Maybe he didn't.  It was one jump out of Jita, after all.

But for KOTW, I'm gonna go with this:

This one was featured on TMC as their "Awful Loss Of the Day" the day before yesterday.  Short version: an Amarr militia pilot apparently didn't realize that since the Faction Warfare changes a year or so ago, you can no longer dock at hostile low-sec faction stations.  While the pilot was trying to figure this out, a humble Atron pilot named Justari went into full man mode and tackled the Rev and started begging for help.  That took about ten minutes that the Amarr could have come in and driven off the tackle and apparently didn't.  Result: dead four billion ISK Rev.  Excellent tackle, Justari!

Number of dead super-caps last week: 7

That's somewhat more like it!

First up was this Nyx, lost in Tama to a PL gank squad.  Word on this one has it that the pilot was playing around with a smart-bombing battleship in that system (Tama is a haven for smart-bombing battleships) when he got it ganked.  He apparently decided to escalate.  Suddenly Devoter, suddenly cyno.  To the Nyx pilot's credit, he apparently almost had the hictor down but his extreme lack of tank on this... ummm... "fit" made this a ridiculously fast loss, so fast that some of the PL supers involved couldn't get on the mail.  Here's the video, which is fun:

That same day, about 12 hours later, Nulli Legio lost a pair of supers, this Erebus and this Nyx, also in low-sec while travel fit.  Where they were going, who knows, but they didn't get there.  There was only one guy in system at the time, but that one guy had two alts both in hictors.  So when he saw the cyno ship put up his cyno, he warped both hictors in and infini-pointed these two supers.  Two other Nyxes got away.  Meanwhile, he instructed his alliance mates to warp in in dreads.  Since both supers were travel-fit, they died quickly.  Excellent work from EVE player GeassCC, who made those kills happen!  EVE News 24 has the story.

Next up, another pair, this time two CFC Nyxes, this Nyx from Fatal Ascension and this Nyx from Goonswarm, both lost during the 9R4-EJ fight on Thursday this week, and the first supers to fall to the CFC/TEST war that I'm aware of.  TMC has a video on this one, which happened as part of a larger brawl.  CFC sold these two supers pretty dearly, if the battle summary is to be believed!

Another Nyx died the next day, this one ratting fit from Red Alliance in Derelik low-sec.  EN24 again has the story... this one is kind of entertaining!  It's PURPLE HELMETED WARRIORS again, which again means scanning down a super's log-out spot.  But this time they came up with an amusing method to get the Nyx to log back in: they offered to buy the thing and asked to see the fit in chat.  Nyx pilot logs in so he can post the fit, logs back out and so doesn't see the noob-ship land next to him and shoot him with a Civilian Gatling Railgun to keep him aggressed.  The rest is just application of DPS.

Also Thursday was a second Erebus loss for Nulli Legio, again in Domain low-sec, this time to Shadow Cartel.  And again, EN24 has the story.  It's essentially not that different from the Nyx story, only this time the Erebus jumped into the cyno a few seconds before downtime.  By that time, a ship was already in warp to the cyno and show Shadow Cartel just set up rolling shifts to keep a cloaked hictor at the log-off spot.  After that, all that was required was patience.

Not a bad week, all things considered.  Would still like to see more supers dying in Fountain, though!

(1) Deep space transports have a +2 warp core strength, so they can shrug off two points of warp disruption or scrambling.  Four warp core stabs increases that by +4, to +6.  You need +1 warp core strength to warp.  Some warp scramblers, notably the Republic Fleet Warp Scrambler, have a -3 warp core strength.  So two of them against this ship would have prevented him warping.

Happy Icelandic independence day

The following post has very little to do with EVE.  But it's fun, so I thought I'd write it.

It's a holiday in Iceland today, the rough equivalent of Iceland's independence day.  On 17 June 1944, Iceland formally became a republic separated from Denmark with its own President.  This past weekend is also the anniversary of the United States formally choosing sides in World War II and becoming a belligerent on the side of the Allies by occupying a neutral country... the very same Iceland.  That happened 17 June 1941.  That's the day U.S. military forces became involved in World War II.

And you thought the United States entered World War II on 8 December 1941, or perhaps when a German U-Boat sank a U.S. ship on Halloween 1941.  Nope: the U.S. picked sides on 16 June 1941.  Yeah that's right kids, it's time for another "Jester Makes History Fun" post.

I've written a bit about the Phoney War, the period of World War II that started around October 1939 and went on for about six months.  A lot of historians date the end of the Phoney War to 10 May 1940, the day of the German invasion of France.  But it's arguable that it ended a month earlier, with the German invasions of Norway and Denmark on 9 April.  Virtually all of the Scandinavian countries declared neutrality when World War II broke out.  But during the Phoney War, both sides were looking at these neutral countries as potential allies, potential aggressors, sources of war materiel, or potential staging locations for enemy flanking forces.  So both sides were contemplating invading these neutral countries.

Germany's plan to invade Norway was called Operation Weserübung, the U.K.'s plan was called Plan R 4.  Germany wanted free access to Swedish iron ore through the ports of Norway, plus potential submarine bases with which to strike into the North Sea.  The British wanted to prevent that.  Germany struck first, on the 10th, but the British troop ships were scheduled to depart the night of the 9th.  Did they?  Britain has said again and again in various documents they did not, because invading neutral countries is bad, OK?  The Nuremberg trials said so.  The truth is we'll probably never know.  But let's just say ready British troops were remarkably close by when Norway called for aid against the German invasion and leave it at that.  ;-)

Norway fell, and then Denmark.  Germany then turned its eye toward Iceland.  U.S. "neutrality patrols" were already making life difficult for German U-boats in the waters of the North Atlantic.  Capturing Iceland would give them an important base from which to launch scout planes and fighters.  And although Germany felt they had the resources to capture Iceland, they doubted their own ability to hold it or resupply it, so the plan was dropped.  But by that time, this time, the U.K. struck first.

Britain invaded Iceland on 10 May 1940.  The Brits had requested permission to establish bases in Iceland and were denied due to Iceland's neutrality.  Nevertheless, the British went in anyway.  The Icelandic government protested but could do little... so the invaders were treated as guests and the invasion became a fait accompli.

That brings us to wily Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of the U.K.  Churchill was desperate to get the U.S. into the war.  President Franklin Roosevelt was sympathetic, but was facing an American populace that demanded the U.S. remain neutral.  Still, the two found a half-dozen ways for the U.S. to participate passively.  One was the aforementioned neutrality patrols, supposedly intended to keep track of all belligerents in the western hemisphere but really used to broadcast the location of German ships and U-boats in the clear so the Brits could intercept them.  Another was the "destroyers for bases" agreement in which the U.S. turned over 50 U.S. destroyers in exchange for leases on British naval bases in the Atlantic.  That happened in September 1940, and a second transfer of ships was done in May 1941 after Lend-Lease (the major way the U.S. participated) was enacted in March 1941.

So here's Winston Churchill.  He's got several thousand troops garrisoning Iceland, troops that he could desperately use to garrison Britain instead.  Of course, Iceland wasn't neutral at all by this time: it was being used as a base for British scout planes looking for German U-boats in the north Atlantic.  But he asked FDR if the U.S. could take over the Icelandic garrison "in the interests of protecting Iceland's neutrality." 

You gotta love Winston Churchill.

FDR agreed to this and on 16 June 1941, Britain handed control of Iceland to the U.S.  The next day, FDR ordered about 4000 U.S. Marines to Iceland, where they landed on 12 July, completing the U.S. invasion of a neutral country and freeing up the British troops to be shipped home.  By August, the Marines and U.S. Navy Seabees had built a small airbase at Keflavik, Iceland, one that they expanded throughout the war.  And that's the very same airport still in use in Iceland today.  Allied occupation forces remained in Iceland until 1946.  The Naval Air Station at the airport wasn't fully turned over to Iceland until 2006.

Because Iceland was still theoretically neutral, from July to December 1941, a German cargo plane could have flown from Norway to Iceland to New York City and picked up free goods from the U.S. Lend-Lease program.  The program technically would have allowed it: all belligerents on both sides were allowed to pick up U.S. materiel as long as they picked it up themselves and agreed to return the materiel at war's end.  Needless to say, the Germans didn't try.  In short, the U.S. handed Germany a flat provocation and casus belli to declare war and Germany didn't take the U.S. up on that, either.  The second occupation also became a fait accompli and one of Hitler's complaints about U.S. "neutrality" for the next several months.

So there you have it: the U.S. military got involved in World War II a good six months before you thought they did, thanks to the supposedly neutral United States of America stepping in to defend the territory of one of the aggressors in the war, condoning and supporting the invasion of another neutral country.

Hey, you!  In the back.  I said this post has almost nothing to do with EVE Online.

Happy Independence Day, Iceland!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

CSM8 status report: Week six

Things are picking back up for CSM8!

For me personally, the biggest piece of work was today's CSM8 Town Hall, which I'm pleased to report went off without any major hitches.  My sincere thanks again to Neville Smit of EVE University and DJ Wiggles of EVE Radio for their tremendous and valuable assistance!  I was pretty busy throughout the Town Hall.  In particular, I was extremely pleased at the number of questions!  There were so many questions for this first one, in fact, that we ended up not doing any live questions at all, but instead took all our questions from ones sent to me in advance and ones from the in-game channel "CSM Townhall".  That will be something we'll have to work on for future town halls.

You can find the more or less full list of questions that were asked and we tried to answer here.  We got to almost all of them.  Of course, if there are any questions that you didn't get to ask, please feel free to send them along to myself, in the EVE Online forum thread above, or to the CSM member of your choice and we'll do our best to get you some answers for them.  Present other than myself were CSM8 members Trebor Daehdoow, Ali Aras, Chitsa Jason, James Arget, Kovin, Mangala Solaris, Mike Azariah, mynnna, and Sala Cameron.

For those not able to attend today, DJ Wiggles has said that he'll be putting up a file that you'll be able to download and listen to very shortly.  I would expect it to appear in the recordings section for previous CSM Town Halls on the EVE Radio website.  Thanks again, Wiggles!  I'd also like to thank CCP Dolan, who was good enough to advertise the town hall in both the EVE website Announcements and in in-game news.  It was nice to see the event prominently advertised.

I expect the next town hall will be in the late August time frame or so, but keep an eye out here for the exact date.

A couple of questions in particularly intrigued me.  pmchem asked if there has been any progress on the "brain in the box" project.  I had completely forgotten about this, but the intent was to completely revamp the way in which session changes are handled in the game.  Right now, it's a pretty laborious process involving essentially recreating your entire skill profile every time you hop into a new ship, which apparently applies every time you jump into a new system as well.  The idea behind "brain in a box" was to create a new server whose job it was to keep track of your skills profile and prevent this sort of time-consuming recreation.  The question was, had anything been done on this as part of the underlying mechanics of the new jump animation?  The answer is: I have no idea.  But it's such an interesting question that I'll ask when I get the opportunity.

The second question was essentially "should CSM members be stealing from EVE players or scamming them?" brought up in this thread on the EVE Online forums.  The funny thing about this question is that CSM members are in fact EVE players... all kinds of EVE players.  The Mittani's "super-cap escrow service" was fairly legendary, and became quite profitable for him when he was CSM6 chair.  As I've said before, it's not a play style that interests me personally but I don't particularly object to others doing it.  As with all things in EVE, let the buyer beware and if an offer sounds too good to be true, et cetera, et cetera.

Or of course I might say that if I intended to start a super-cap escrow service of my own.  ;-)

Lots of people have been good enough this week to send me their ideas for a new set of "little things."  The first thing I nearly always ask is "Where is your post on this in Features and Ideas?"  There are ideas that I'm going to champion, of course, but the fastest way to get the CSM's attention if you have a big idea is to put it up on the forums and let other EVE players take swings at it and find the holes.  Now that the work for the town hall is behind us, you're going to be hearing more about CSM8's plan for mining some of these ideas from you...

A lot of CSM8 members continue to be very busy with blogging, forum posts, and pod-casting.  Ali Aras is the new co-host for Alekeseyev Karrde's Declarations of War, and Mike Azariah and I will be appearing as guests on that pod-cast tomorrow night.

Our work with CCP is starting to ramp back up again as well.  We have our first post-Odyssey stake-holder meeting this week... early in the morning for me, of course.  Oh well.  We also continue to have really productive chats with CCP on Skype, and we're starting to hear about and be asked our opinions for various summer projects that devs are spinning up for.  Nothing that I can talk about yet, sadly.  I have been told that I can say that CCP is even now in the decision-making process for the features for the next expansion.  The vision from the December CSM Summit continues to be the road map for this.  We'll be learning more about it at the summer CSM Summit which is coming up soon(tm).

And finally, Rixx Javix at Evoganda came up with this little artwork:

Sadly, Ripard looks like he has face cancer.  ;-)  That's all for this week!

EDIT (17/Jun/2013): The original version of this post said that Chitsa came up with the CSM8 banner when it was really Rixx (should have known!).  I regret the error.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Bonus FOTW: Iteron Mark V

Oh, very well.  Damn, you people are pushy.

For less paranoid applications, the Itty V should be fit as just a really big blockade runner using the same rules I laid down for those, minus the warp core stab...

[Iteron Mark V, Less Paranoid]
Expanded Cargohold II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

10MN Afterburner II
Kinetic Deflection Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Medium Shield Extender II

Small Tractor Beam II
Salvager II

Medium Cargohold Optimization I
Medium Cargohold Optimization I
Medium Cargohold Optimization I

It holds about 13k of cargo with Gallente Industrial II, aligns in seven seconds, and tanks reasonably well against a casual gank.  If you feel like you're going to be the subject of a gank (you're seeing a lot of Catalysts or Thrashers heading toward you), overheat the whole mid-rack, then activate them all and use the afterburner to try to get back to the closest stargate before you die.

As with BRs, do not fit Inertia Stabilizers!  Align time rounds up.  Unless you are willing to fit five Interia Stabilizers to reduce your align time to six seconds, don't bother fitting even one.  But I pity you if you do that because it increases your sig to 320 meters.  At that sig, you'll be taking nearly full damage from large weapons.  Ouch.

Replace Nanofibers as needed with Expanded Cargoholds, keeping in mind that the first Nano you replace will increase your align time to eight seconds, and the third Nano you replace will increase it to nine seconds.  But your cargo capacity will increase and increase beyond any other hauler.

But nah, you desperate people aren't asking about the high-sec fit, are you.  You want the paranoid fit, right?  OK, here it is.

[Iteron Mark V, More Paranoid]
Expanded Cargohold II
Expanded Cargohold II
Expanded Cargohold II
Reactor Control Unit II
Reactor Control Unit II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Kinetic Deflection Amplifier II
EM Ward Amplifier II
Thermic Dissipation Amplifier II

Improved Cloaking Device II
[Empty High slot]

Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Medium Cargohold Optimization I
Medium Cargohold Optimization I

This takes some good skills to fit those RCU2s.  But you can get the exact same effect using either more T1 Reactor Control Units, or you can fit a pair of Navy Micro Auxiliary Power Cores and a 2-3% grid implant.  The critical thing you're trying to fit is that Microwarpdrive.  And if you don't have Shield Upgrades V, you may have to remove some of the mid slots.  Take them off from the bottom up (so remove the Thermic resists first) until you can fit everything, even if the "everything" you end up fitting is only the MWD and the cloak.  Those are the important bits.

In this configuration you can carry 18k m3 with Gallente Industrial II or 20k with Gallente Industrial V (less if you need to use T1 RCUs).  If you need to carry less cargo, remove the Expanded Cargoholds and replace them with Nanofiber Internal Structures to improve align time.

This is a ship that you will want to learn and practice the 10-second cloaked version of the insta-warp trick.  Here's my guide on it, and here's the Eveopedia's guide on it.  Practice it in high-sec until you've got it down to an art.  On the rare occasions I've flown this ship, I've set auto-repeat on the MWD to OFF, I've moved the cloak to F1 and the MWD to F2 and I use hot-keys for everything.  It takes some practice to build up the muscle memory to pull off an MWD-warp every time.  Once you've mastered it, you can fly this boat straight through a low-sec gate-camp, no problem.  Almost nobody will be on the ball enough to decloak you before you're away, and if you're at all concerned about it replace one EC with a Warp Core Stabilizer.  Blockade runners are obviously superior, of course, but if this is all you have...

Happy hauling!

Changing of the guild

Another quickie.  I'm officially moving Guild Wars 2 down to the "Departed MMOs" pile.

Don't get me wrong: GW2 is a fun game and I enjoyed the hell out of it.  I think it's going to remain for me the benchmark in describing games that manage their learning curve perfectly.  GW2 doesn't have a learning curve: it has a gentle uphill slope treadmill that guides you into the more and more challenging aspects of the game in a way that makes the game fun, and fun to learn.  It's a fantastic achievement, and something ArenaNet can and should be proud of.

In addition, I love its scope, grandeur, and wow factor.  The game is balanced beautifully, and has some of the best PvE I've ever experienced.  And it does a simply fantastic job of drawing players into low-level social interaction that feels fluid, dynamic, and unforced.  It has weaknesses too, of course.  The AI is not particularly good, and in places the difficulty scales up in an unintuitive fashion.  And the less said about gear and crafting, the better.

But all in all, I enjoyed my time in Tyria immensely.

Why quit?  Because at the end of the day, there's not much there there.  The game is broad, but not very deep.  As someone who's never played World of Warcraft, GW2 demonstrated to me the essence of the theme park game.  Theme parks are great, and I loves me a good roller coaster, or even a whole day of them.  But then the day passes and it's time to check your watch, gather up the kids, and go home.  For me, there needs to be something meaningful behind all the color and flash.  This is the major quality that GW2 lacks and its PvP game play proves unable to pick up the slack.  And while low-level social interaction is beautifully handled, at a higher level, GW2 drops the ball.

If you haven't played it, I do still recommend you pick up a copy.  It's worth some time to experience it and I suspect I'll still reference it here from time to time.  Hell, I might even revisit in a year or two to see what's changed.

So for a while, EVE is going to be my only MMO.  However, even with its flaws and a likelihood of being another theme park, I will be playing Elder Scrolls Online when it's released, and I'm also going to put a few dozen hours into World of Warships when that one comes out.  I could no more not play ESO than not breathe.  I'm such an Elder Scrolls fan-boy.  ;-)  And I'm also such a World War II naval nut that I'm definitely going to want to try out the new WoW.  But neither strike me as having any sort of deep game play and I doubt that either of them will claim my allegiance for long.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, it's been a tough year for MMO development!  On the other hand, multi-player shooters are looking to have a fantastic year, but that should probably be its own post, even if as another quickie.