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...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Distant voices

All of this stuff was going to be in the junk drawer but suddenly I realized, a lot of what was going in the junk drawer this month was things that I found interesting in other blogs that I read.  So let's do another "distant voices" post since I haven't done one of those in a while.  Each paragraph represents an EVE-related blog or website I found interesting this month...

I only spotted this post from Scram Web this month, but it's really really interesting if you're into tournament flying the way I am.  It's a comparison chart of the point values of Alliance Tournament ships for the last five Alliance Tournaments.  In particular, it's interesting to me to watch Navy Faction Battleship point values drop along with T1 cruiser values as other ships are buffed around them.  Let's just say I don't expect either of those trends to continue.  And it'll be quite interesting to see the performance of this first Marauder rebalance in the next tournament...

One more Poetic Stanziel post to point to, this little diatribe about the CSM.  It's yet another "the CSM is useless" post from him, which wasn't exactly a rare occurrence in his writing.  The thing I found funny about this post right before he irrelevanced himself with RMT is that he took the level of communication that I'm providing to you about CSM activities and found a way to make it negative!  Well then, I guess I'll just keep my opinions of what CCP tells me to myself... not.

This one, from Interstellar Privateer, was really fascinating stuff.  The post digs into the background and lore of EVE to explain why the new Sisters of EVE ships are named what they are.  If you're at all interested in EVE lore, go read this post.  It's fantastic work, the kind of stuff I wish I could write.  Sadly, I don't know the lore well enough to...

Not exactly a blog, as such, but EVE Radio sent out a plea for additional listener support of their activities.  Again, this one was actually published in September, but I just noticed it this month.  This is something that I urge you to help with if you can.  The services that EVE Radio provides the community are valuable and often overlooked.  This is the sort of link that should be shared around far and wide.

I'd never heard of the Newbie Blogger Initiative until this month, but it's a really good idea!  There's all sorts of interesting information available for people who are thinking about starting an MMO blog but aren't sure of the basics: what to write about, style, language, stats, goals, even an article about naming your blog.  Really good stuff, all around!  There's also an attached forum.  Lots of people ask me about starting a blog and I've never been able to come up with particularly good information about the subject -- this one kind of happened by accident and serendipity.  So here's some concrete information for you if you've been thinking about it.

Neville Smit of EVE University doesn't write very often, but what he does write is usually very interesting.  Sooner or later, he's going to make the Infrequent but Important list off to the right.  It's just that he's too irregular even for that list.  ;-)  But this post, about how to improve and expand the hacking mini-game, I thought was very interesting when it was posted last month.  I alllllmost brought it up then, but the CSM had already been briefed about ghost sites then and I was afraid anything I wrote about it then might inadvertently cause me to break NDA.  Now that ghost sites are public, read Neville's post with that in mind and I think he's on to some really interesting ideas...

Not exactly a blog -- more of a technology site -- is the DRK Industry Tracker.  I am becoming a big big fan of this site... so many interesting capabilities!  I've added it to the Must Visit Websites off to the right.  I find the Reprocess tool a particularly valuable resource, but most of what's here is pretty damn handy.

Last but not least, I've finally gotten around to updating my list of EVE Podcasts.  You'll find the latest ones I'm listening to regularly or semi-regularly off to the right.  The one link I can't figure out how to make work properly is the Podside one.  Podside is actually up to episode 148 and quite frankly more often than not I listen to them from podbay.  Anyone know how I can fix my link?

Whew!  That cleaned out quite a bit of the junk drawer.  Let's see what's left.

Fit of the Week: Anti-frig Algos

Let's wrap up anti-frig month with one that's about three-quarters serious, one quarter troll.  We've all heard that destroyers are supposed to be anti-frigate platforms, right?  The problem is that a lot of the super-tough self-rep solo frigs can eat destroyers for lunch.  So when you encounter destroyers, you tend to encounter them in medium- to large-size wolf-packs of Talwars, Thrashers, or this ridiculous little boat:

[Algos, Anti-frigate]
Co-Processor II
400mm Reinforced Steel Plates II
Drone Damage Amplifier II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Sensor Booster II, Targeting Range Script

Drone Link Augmentor II
Drone Link Augmentor I
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Small Processor Overclocking Unit I
Small Trimark Armor Pump I
Small Trimark Armor Pump I

Hobgoblin II x5
Valkyrie II x2
Hobgoblin II x3

Like the light missile Talwar, this is a "stand off" destroyer.  In a fleet, you can lock out to about 90km and thanks to the two DLAs (downgrade the T2 one to T1 if you're having CPU problems), you can reach out with drones that far.  As a result if you have any sort of tackle support at all, you can field a medium-size group of these little nightmares all of which are able to send flights of fast drones out to 90km away from the fleet.  Under normal circumstances, you'll use a flight of Hobgoblins.  But against slower, tougher targets, you can launch the mixed set of Valkyries and Hobgoblins for slightly increased DPS.

Put 15 of these Algoses in the air and the target will be surrounded by 75 drones.  Unless he's packing some good-size smartbombs, that's gonna hurt just about anything.  Will this tactic get you yelled at?  You betcha!  You'll be called all sorts of names.  But it's fun and it's hard to counter with anything short of a full-on sniper fleet... which are out of fashion right now.

For even more fun, give four or five people in the fleet target painters instead of that point.  In a big fight, instruct the fleet to assist their drones to someone carrying a TP.  Then as with all drone assist tactics, the FC doesn't even need to call targets; he can just TP things until they die and switch all the fleet's DPS to a new target inhumanly fast.  When the fight starts, everyone burns away from the enemy with overheated MWDs at about 1800m/s and either assists their drones to the FC or engages them on called targets.  In this context the point I've fitted to this model really should be superfluous; feel free to trade it for pretty much whatever sort of e-war you like.

If you really want to be yelled at, have everyone fit a random racial jammer or a sensor dampener...

Meanwhile, the rest of the ship is incredibly cheap, almost throw-away.  You're fitting just enough tank not to be routinely blapped.  Bring a couple of logistics frigates if you want or more likely, an Exequror.  The logi will either be able to hold you up or it won't.  You should be well outside of point range of some targets.  If you start taking damage, warp off.  A 400mm plate provides about 8200 EHP with admittedly low explosive resists (trade one trimark for an anti-explosive pump if you're concerned).  But with any sort of destroyer fleet, I've joked in Rote Kapelle fleets that the best tank is a good stockpile of these things somewhere close that you can reship into.  Destroyer gangs are intended for quick LOL-worthy kills, not endurance or staying power.  And remember your tackle!  You're going to need something with a bonused long point, probably a Lachesis or two, and a Rapier along for the ride wouldn't hurt either.

Obviously, these things are just about useless in low-sec unless you can shape a fight off a gate or a station.  But during war-decs or in null-sec, you can have a lot of fun with this tactic.  I'm seeing these being used for this more and more often.

Have fun!

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, October 30, 2013

If you're gonna do something dumb

I'm going to make this quick.

Sometimes, I feel like Youtube is built on the premise of "if you're gonna do something dumb, why not videotape it."  So many of its more entertaining videos are built around people doing crazy, stupid, or flat-out illegal things.  Sometimes those things go viral and suddenly people become famous for all the wrong reasons.  But particularly when you're doing something illegal, why would you need video proof?  And if you needed video proof, why oh why oh why would you upload the video proof to the Internet?

And that brings me to Poetic Stanziel.  A minute or so after I publish this post, I'm going to be removing him from the list of blogs on the right side of the screen, but I thought I'd point to the truly genius-level post that prompted it.  Here it is, in which Poetic Stanziel advertises that he's clearly way smarter than CCP and he RMT'ed all of his PLEXes from the sale of his assets including his main.  At this point, he declares he has nothing but contempt for CCP and for EVE Online's players.  Go give it a read.

EDIT (1/Nov/2013): The blog post in question, in which the author brags of selling a large number of PLEXes for $1300 U.S., has been deleted.  You can view the graphic version of it here and the text version of it here.

Now, there's not a lot in this piece that isn't flavored with wrong, but there's two particular wrongs that I'd like to focus on:
  1. Poe has no idea whatsoever how EVE's database works; and,
  2. he seems to think that CCP is filled to the brim with dumb people.
And again, I'm gonna make this quick, but let's look at both of these.

Here's what Poe says about the first thing:
Now CCP can correct me if I'm wrong, this is only supposition, but I think items are only directly attached to players if they are a top-level item. Items inside ships and containers are lower-level items. If you place an item in a container, that item's owner is the container. The container's owner is the player. So anything in a container is directly owned by that container and indirectly owned by the container's owner (the player.) The container is the top-level object, anything inside the container are low-level objects.

I think CCP, perhaps due to the way their database is structured, only looks for top-level malfeasance.
And this is so ridiculously wrong that all I can do is shake my head in wonder.  Ten minutes spent with JEVEassets would convince anyone that this "supposition" is not only wrong, but is freakishly wrong.  But Poe apparently blithely proceeded on it.

The second bit, though, is even more entertaining.  The problem with Poe's PLEX sale is that people have known for a while now generally where Poe lives.  And the only way to sell that number of PLEXes he's talking about in that kind of magnitude is on eBay.  And there are only so many illegal PLEX sales on eBay.  And there are only so many people who live in the country that Poe lives in selling PLEXes on eBay.  And it wasn't that hard for three separate people to contact me, point to the very same eBay account, and say, "you know, I think this is Poe."

So that eBay account has been passed along to CCP.  It has the dates and times of multiple PLEX sales, and has correlating dates and times of the positive comments left by those who purchased the PLEXes, presumably after they received them that can be used with a fair degree of accuracy to determine the source and destination of the PLEXes.

Poe still has one media EVE account... he's said so.  I don't have any inside facts, but I think we can guess what's gonna happen to it.  And if you were dumb enough to buy PLEXes on eBay -- particularly these PLEXes? -- chances are pretty good you're going to see your wallet drain to negative numbers.

If you're gonna do something dumb...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Serpentis Prison Camp

Other than trying out the hacking mini-game enough times to get a budding case of carpal tunnel syndrome and the occasional belt ratting to build up sec status after various low-sec misadventures, it's been about a year since I've done EVE's PvE.  Come to think of it, other than the summer summit and the occasional CSM8 campaign question, it's been about a year since I've thought about EVE's PvE.

But it seems fairly public now that we're going to see more PvE improvements in EVE's future, and the upcoming ghost sites have me thinking about the topic again.  So when a scannable site that I hadn't done before -- Serpentis Prison Camp -- appeared in Rote Kapelle's home system, I decided to dust off the old PvE ships and give it a spin.  As with the last couple of times I did this, the rules remained the same.  My ships of choice were two more or less identical active-rep after-burning HML Tengus, old school with small reppers cycling as fast as my home's electrical meter.  Because I could, I looked up the site on EVE's wiki and found it to be an 8/10 with a very easy-sounding set of targets.  And in I went, with occasional glances at local and a d-scanner running to check for anything warping in my direction.

My overall impressions of EVE PvE haven't changed: it's not engaging and it's not difficult.  I would judge this site to be easier than the last three I ran last year.  Call it a 6.5 on a scale of 1 to 10, about the same as a moderate Level 4 mission, Gone Berserk, say.  The wiki's description of the site was quite accurate and at no point were either of my Tengus in any danger whatsoever.  In room three, I got a Shadow Serpentis Grand Admiral spawn which was easier to kill than the room's Vice Admiral and dropped a Shadow Serpentis Neutron Blaster Cannon and a Shadow Serpentis Magnetic Field Stabilizer.

Unlike other Serpentis sites, missile towers were kept to a minimum and there were only a few stasis towers in the last room.  The last room was the only part of the exercise that elicited any reaction from me whatsoever, a "huh" when I realized I was surrounded by six or seven groups of the highly inaccurate Serpentis rail ships, about 65 rats in total.  This time, I didn't even bother try kiting them.  I just set up camp around the room's final structure and orbited.  There were only six scramming/webbing frigates and I made very short work of them with T1 missiles, then was faced with endless waves of destroyers and frigates each of which exploded in a single volley.

Meanwhile, the screen looked like a fireworks display as pretty much everything on the field "misses you completely" and "misses you completely" and "misses you completely."  If I were the Serpentis, I would be embarrassed at my team's gunnery.  Also unlike previous Serpentis sites, sensor damps also proved no trouble at all; I've encountered more effective damping from Guardian frigates in my home system's asteroid belts.

The site's major annoyance was it's final challenge: a structure equipped with very thin shields, very thin armor, and acres of structure.  That was compounded with armor and shield reps that effectively cancelled out 1000 DPS or so.  My two Tengus weren't quite up to the challenge.  They could gradually reduce the structure but after a full volley of Fury missiles from both ships I judged that the number of missiles needed to do the job would be unacceptably high.  I went back to station, traded in my Tengus for a pair of high-damage battleships, one shield-tanking Vindicator and one armor-tanking Armageddon Navy Issue.  The final structure would occasionally launch a high volley torpedo and once the BSs landed on field, the Vindicator drew the station's ire in its entirety but even without any sort of active rep its shields dropped to about 85% and stayed there.

The two battleships were a lot more satisfactory about pushing through the active reps and popped the structure in about four or five minutes.  The trip through the various acceleration gates took longer.

I've never been particularly lucky at site loot drops and this case was no exception: nothing except the 21st Tier Overseer's Effects, worth about 80 million.  My two faction drops were worth another 200, and the site itself was worth about 45 in bounties.

Again for interest's sake, I salvaged the three final rooms to find the exercise wasn't worth my time: about 20 million in assorted low-end loot, a lot of that concentrated in the 8 million or so in T2 salvage from the single Shadow Serpentis wreck.  Still, the new mobile tractor deployables would almost certainly make the exercise worth it come Rubicon.  But you'll need three of them, one to anchor in each of the site's three rooms.  If I ever do this site again after Rubicon drops, I'll remember to bring some along.

The next day, I was entertained by the notion that Clockwork Pineapple ran the last room of this same site with a T1 cruiser gang supported by T1 logi.  Of course they got much better loot than I.  I've just never been all that lucky... ah well.

At this point I think I've run all of the scannable sites available to me in Syndicate at least once so this is likely to be the last post in this series until I either join another alliance or Rote Kapelle moves to another region.  ;-)  Or at least, until the ghost sites start appearing.(1)

(1) As I was wrapping up editing on this post, I realized the name of this post -- like many of the things that I write -- has a double meaning.  It could be the name of the site... or it could be a metaphor for Syndicate itself...

Monday, October 28, 2013

CSM8 Status Report: Week twenty-five

First up, the minutes status:

Of 25 total sessions:
  • I've written six sessions (Introduction, Sales and Marketing, Team Kuromaku, Team Game of Drones, NDA Project Three, Hilmar);
  • Trebor Daehdoow has written five sessions (PvE, CSM as Stakeholder, Security, Future Plans, Team True Grit);
  • Ali Aras has written four session (EVE Economy, In-Class Homework Assignment, User Interface, NDA Project Two);
  • mynnna has written three sessions (Reasonable Things, Team Superfriends, Team Five-0);
  • Mike Azariah has written two sessions (Art, DUST 514 Link);
  • Mangala Solaris has written one session (Language Support and the CSM);
  • James Arget has written one session (Launcher); and,
  • Chitsa Jason has written one session (State of Balance).
There are two sessions without minutes, one of which might end up being permanently NDA'ed:
  • Project One, which is still heavily NDA'ed; and,
  • EVE Valkryrie (being worked on by Ali Aras). 
And Ali tells me that she's just about done with the Valkyrie session.  When the seven people chosen for the summer summit went to Iceland, there was only one Oculus Rift HD prototype there at the time.  Therefore, only one of us could "try" Valkyrie.  The rest of us in Iceland pretty much insisted that Ali do the Valkyrie session minutes because she was the one selected to try it out.  ;-)  But overall, you may now begin pestering CCP Dolan with the "where are the minutes?" questions.  And he has told us that he's running hither and thither getting approvals for them.  So soon(tm).

One point of order, though: I want to express appreciation toward CSM8 Chair Trebor Daehdoow.  He's done a really terrific job of being the first set of eyes on every set of minutes that we've worked on.  He's definitely CSM8's Chief Editor, making sure nothing gets missed and the language and writing stays consistent throughout so much as possible.

Speaking of soon(tm), as they have promised, CCP has also been working on the next response to the SOMERblink RMT situation.  The CSM has been keeping a very close eye on this and we expect to do everything we can to help CCP with their response to this.  They are very definitely taking this situation seriously.

We had two meetings this past week: one our standard weekly stake-holder meeting with Team Five-0, and a meeting with CCP Seagull to begin laying the groundwork for the winter summit and what CCP will be asking for our feedback on.  We were really pleased with Team Five-0's progress as they complete their objectives for Rubicon.  And as you can imagine, that second meeting was really interesting!  We can definitely see the chess pieces moving around as Seagull builds toward her vision of space colonization.  There are a few things we had questions about and the meeting went the full hour with a lot of back and forth dialogue.  Really good stuff!  I'm particularly impressed with how open Seagull feels she can be with us: she's trusting us with a lot of information, knowing that we'll give her and her team honest feedback while keeping our collective mouths shut.  Sorry about that.  ;-)

Two CSM members who have been less than active the last couple of months stepped up and let us know that real-life situations that have been keeping them from their EVE-related duties have eased off.  We should now expect to hear a lot more from them in the coming months.  Out of respect, I'm not going to name names.  If you've been paying attention to these weekly updates, you can probably guess with a good deal of accuracy who I'm talking about.

The private section of the forums was pretty quiet this past week: with the teams heads down finishing their features and pulling their feedback directly from player threads, there's less for the CSM to do on that front.  There's the occasional quick question on Skype from some teams, but that's been it.  That said, I'm really liking the relaxed vibe I'm getting from the devs as we approach the finish line.  They clearly feel good about the work and how it's going!

Finally, I have a pretty good idea when the next town hall is going to happen but I want to chat with Neville Smit and DJ Wiggles first and make sure they can continue to assist us with this next one.  Expect an announcement very soon for that.

Aaaaand I think that's it for now.  Well, other than this.  It's one of the last pages in the "Into The Second Decade" book included with the EVE Collector's Edition.  gg.

Kill of the Week: Capital letters

As I've mentioned on this blog a few times, there are a small number of capital ships in high-sec.  And every once in a while, one of them dies...

They're sort of white elephants, really.  If you ever manage to get one, you're not allowed to sell it or trade it.  You're gently discouraged by the GMs from undocking in it, and if you do undock, you're not allowed to do aggressive things with it.  There's a constant pressure on you to either jump the capital to low-sec or allow a GM to do it for you.  Other than mine with it, there isn't much you can do with one.

So during a war-dec, the pilot of this one decided to undock with it and play station games.  Now in low-sec, such things are aggravating.  In high-sec, they're pretty well intolerable.  Apparently the corp involved in the other end of the war-dec petitioned the tactic, and the GM pretty well told the pilot in question "OK, time to move this to low-sec or else."  So the pilot in question decided to suspect flag with the carrier instead.

You know?  I can respect that.  ;-)

Before I get to the fight of the week, let's do some honorable mentions.

This Naglfar kill is kind of instructive.  The fit doesn't mean the Nag was being a real man and hull-tanking.  It means that this Nag had a carrier nearby and was refitting like mad off the carrier as he died, trying to stave off the inevitable for a few more seconds, perhaps giving a friendly gang the chance to save him.  This sort of thing is going to happen a lot more often once Rubicon drops...

Over-priced mission boats continue to die every single week.  I really have a hard time believing the word hasn't gotten out about this.

Marlona Sky is the well-known master of killing people in embarrassing ways with haulers.  The Nereus makes this a hell of a lot easier, I suspect...

Before getting to the good stuff, here's one from Serenity, the Chinese EVE server, sent to me by CSM8 member mynnna.  He was amused that Tranquility isn't the only EVE server where you can encounter ratting carriers in Deklein...  I suspect the ones on TQ aren't fit quite this expensively, though.

One more I almost forgot: the days of smartbombing fleets of mining barges is not dead.  But a big pile of Mackinaws is...

Number of dead super-caps last week: 26

"Oh wow Jester, you're gonna be busy!" people have said to me a few times on weeks like this.  And I always respond "Nah, not really."  Big fights where supers get killed in large numbers are actually much easier for me than individual super ganks spaced out over the course of the week in ones and twos.  For those, I have to go out and try to talk to people about what happened... and usually they're extremely reluctant given that they just got smashed in the face.  Or the language barrier gets in the way.  Or they want to play a fun game of "troll the blogger" and see if I'll fall for some ludicrous story.

By comparison, a nice easy large scale battle where everyone knows what happened is much easier to deal with.

So this week, Black Legion lost 26 super-carriers to a well-executed trap set up by Pandemic Legion...

BL (or as they asked to be called this week, bl) have had a target painted on their back since their record-breaking super-cap gank this past July that included the slaying of one of the few Revenant super-carriers in the game.  Indeed, I was told that many people cried "For the Rev!" in Local as the trap was sprung.  As I said in my QOTW article, you can read about the details on the EN24 or TMC articles I've already linked to the full story.  But in this case, the trap started with this...

That's Makalu Zyra's Erebus, tackled next to a "hostile" POS.  This sort of pic is a common thing when you have a super tackled.  "Pics or it didn't happen!" applies to this situation as proof that circumstances are what you say they are.  BL fell for it, and began logging in its capital and super-capital fleet en masse.  What they didn't notice was that little bit of the picture circled in the upper left, indicating that the dictor pilot "tackling" the Erebus is on PL's Mumble server, using the Mumble overlay to stay in contact.

The rest is history.  Needless to say, this is a new record for supers lost in a single week since I started tracking such things 13 months ago.  No other supers died last week.  Hell, the only other things even vaguely expensive that were killed were a couple of jump freighters and this guy.

Oh, and while the main battle was going on, part of the PL capital fleet apparently missed its mid-point cyno and was stuck right where RAZOR Alliance could pounce on it with a dread fleet.  I hear that jumping eight or ten dreads within one jump of PL's active super-carrier fleet is a bad idea...

Congratulations on a stellar week to everyone involved in this super-sized super gank!  I can't help feeling a little sad about it, though.  This fight greatly reduces the chances of any sort of major super-cap battle going down in New Eden any time soon...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Picture of the week: I'd buy that for $5

For about 20 minutes today, from 2115 to 2135 EVE time, if you were in the U.S., you could use this link to do this:

Just in case you hear about it...

Decryptor conversion chart

Part of the changes for the Odyssey 1.0 expansion this summer was to rename all the decryptors used for the T2 invention process.  As time passes, those of us who do T2 manufacturing might find our notes for when to use this or that type of decryptor out of date.  Thus, this blog post to make sure those changes are immortalized somewhere easy to search for... at least for me if nothing else.  ;-)

Amarr Decryptors
  • Class Doctrine -> Occult Accelerant
  • War Strategon -> Occult Attainment
  • Circular Logic -> Occult Augmentation
  • Formation Layout -> Occult Process
  • Sacred Manifesto -> Occult Symmetry
Caldari Decryptors
  • Prototype Diagram -> Esoteric Accelerant
  • Installation Guide -> Esoteric Attainment
  • Interface Alignment Chart -> Esoteric Augmentation
  • Tuning Instructions -> Esoteric Process
  • User Manual -> Esoteric Symmetry
Gallente Decryptors
  • Test Reports -> Incognito Accelerant
  • Stolen Formulas -> Incognito Attainment
  • Symbiotic Figures -> Incognito Augmentation
  • Collision Measurements -> Incognito Process
  • Engagement Plan -> Incognito Symmetry
Minmatar Decryptors
  • Advanced Theories -> Cryptic Accelerant
  • Assembly Instructions -> Cryptic Attainment
  • Circuitry Schematics -> Cryptic Augmentation
  • Calibration Data -> Cryptic Process
  • Operation Handbook -> Cryptic Symmetry

Accelerant decryptors:
  • +20% chance of success, +1 max run, +2 ME, +5 PE
  • I find them useful for T2 ammunition, whose long production times are assisted by that +5 PE.
  • The Caldari one (Esoteric Accelerant) is useful for expensive shield rigging invention.
Attainment decryptors:
  • +80% chance of success, +4 max run, -1 ME, +2 PE
  • Also exist as Optimized [type] Attainments, with +90% chance of success, +2 max run, +1 ME, -1 PE.
Augmentation decryptors:
  • -40% chance of success, +9 max run, -2 ME, +1 PE
  • Also exist as Optimized [type] Augmentations, with a -10% chance of success, +7 max run, +2 ME, 0 PE.
  • These are useful for cheap item invention where quantity is more important than quality, small rig invention for instance.
Process decryptors:
  • +10% chance of success, 0 max run, +3 ME, +3 PE
  • These are most useful where you have particular expensive items feeding into the manufacturing process.
  • They used to be more or less required for trimark rigs and sentry drone augmentor rigs, but are now less so.
Symmetry decryptors:
  • +0% chance of success, +2 max run, +1 ME, +4 PE
  • Good generalized decryptor, useful where the +2 max run will defray the cost of the decryptor itself (spreadsheet it).
Parity decryptors: (new in Odyssey)
  • +50% chance of success, +3 max run, +1 ME, -1 PE
  • Another generalized decryptor, again useful where the max run bonus will defray its cost.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Worst in class 2013

How did I not think of this?  If I'm going to list my favorites, it only makes sense to list my least favorites as well.  So this will probably be a new part of the annual continuing tradition.  As with best in class, the faction ships will be regarded separately from the others and I will exclude tournament ships and limited edition ships.  Without further ado...

Standard ship classes:
  • Assault Ship: This title should go to the Amarr, where both options need some love.  Of the two, I think the Amarr/Retribution is the weaker one.  You have to do some fitting tricks to get it to actually be able to apply its on-paper DPS and even with that it has some major cap issues...
  • Battle Cruiser: In a class with a lot of really good ships, the Caldari/Ferox lags behind the rest.  Its two fitting choices have a ton of competition pushing on their niche.  I hear the Goons will be doing interesting things with it this year.  We'll see.
  • Battleship: CCP Rise will yell at me for saying so, but this one goes to the Gallente/Hyperion.  It only has a limited set of use cases.  I'm also not a fan of the Amarr/Apocalypse, though at least that one is pretty easy to get into as a PvE boat.
  • Black Ops: The Caldari/Widow kind of epitomizes all of the problems with Caldari PvP just now, the high CPU for missiles, the mixed-bag fitting options in the mids, the limited versatility, and the slllooowww... oh my Heavens, the slow.
  • Carrier: Some of the same problems plague the Caldari/Chimera.  I don't know whose bright idea making Capital Shield Boosters need 300 CPU was, but they need to be beaten.  The Chimera also lacks a solid fleet meta to form up around it.
  • Command Ship: This one's a tricky choice, but I think I would give it to the Caldari/Nighthawk right now.  It's hard to judge what this ship is supposed to be good at.  The Vulture has all its advantages and applies them better.
  • Covert Ops: This one goes to the Minmatar/Cheetah, but only just.  The Amarr/Anathema is nearly as bad, but that one at least looks bad-ass, has slightly better fitting options, and aligns just as fast.
  • Cruiser: There's 16 of these right now and none of them are bad!  They all have distinct strong points and there's really terrific balance between them.  But if I had to choose one, it would probably be the Caldari/Osprey.  Still, this has more to do with the Scythe's strengths than the Osprey's weaknesses.
  • Destroyer: The Caldari/Cormorant edges out the Amarr/Coercer for this spot.  It still makes an OK salvage destroyer, and is still fine for long-range pod-sniping, but it's not good for much else.
  • Dreadnought: Caldari/Phoenix.  It's so much worse than the other three it's basically EVE's flying joke.
  • EAF: The Gallente/Keres takes this one at the moment mostly because the others have such obvious strengths.
  • Frigate: The Minmatar/Vigil is currently the least useful, though the Amarr/Inquisitor and Gallente/Navitas are both amusingly pointless as well.
  • HAC: I'm going to keep standing on my soap-box saying Caldari/Eagle until such time as someone actually listens.  Why oh why was its utility high removed?
  • HIC: This definitely goes to a shield hictor, but which one?  I lean Minmatar/Broadsword, mostly because if its ridiculously lacking CPU and the fact the Onyx can match it for agility.
  • Interceptor: Until November 19, this one's a toss-up between the Amarr/Crusader and the Caldari/Raptor.  The "Craptor" at least has the tackle range bonus, so I'll give this pedestal to the Crusader.
  • Interdictor: This title goes to the Gallente/Eris, mostly because it's lacking any sort of fleet role.  It's a decent combat dictor, but is outmatched by the much superior Sabre.  As with the interceptors, the order is getting shuffled around in a few weeks.
  • Logistics: It's tough to find a good role for the Caldari/Basilisk right now that the Scimitar can't perform better in.  I'll grant it's quite good in PvE but you have to make a number of fitting compromises to make it work properly.  Still, the Basi gets the title mostly because the other three are better.
  • Marauder: Is there anything the Amarr/Paladin is really really good at?  OK, I can think of one thing: botters like it.  This is hardly a ringing endorsement.
  • Recon: I really like the concept of the Amarr/Pilgrim, but the execution is sub-standard at best.  It got some help this year with some interesting shield-based DDA comps but an ideal way of dealing with this ship's deficiencies this was not.  The Caldari/Rook also needs some help.  "It's a good tournament ship" is about the only nice thing you can say about that one.
  • Rookie Ship: The Amarr/Impairor takes this title, mostly because of the extra mod needed to use it as a free cyno ship.
  • Stealth Bomber: It's a close thing, but I think the Gallente/Nemesis takes this position, mostly because it's main advantage is looking bad-ass.  To actually fit the thing needs more compromises than even a bomber should demand.
  • Strat Cruiser: Tough one!  Not the Proteus.  Not the Tengu.  The Loki is too darned valuable.  Which gives this title to the Amarr/Legion by process of elimination.  Though various neut fits are really fun, the Legion suffers from being only a marginal improvement on the Sac/Zealot model out of proportion with its much greater expense.  It's also not as versatile as the other three.
  • Super Carrier: The Caldari/Wyvern suffers from a lot of the same drawbacks as its little brother and just doesn't bring any compelling advantages to the party.  When fit properly, it tanks like crazy I guess but that turns its advantage to "dying slow."
  • Titan: Similarly, the Caldari/Leviathan gets this title by process of elimination.

As with the "best of list" for faction ships, I'm going to split this into categories for Empire and non-Empire factions:
  • Empire Faction Battleship: Tough call!  Probably the Gallente/Megathron Navy Issue, but only just. The Kronos and the Vindicator are so exceptional that it's hard for the Navy Mega to compete.  Still, the Amarr/Armageddon Navy Issue needs some improving, too.
  • Non-Empire Faction Battleship: The Guristas/Rattlesnake is the only battleship class ship in EVE I have never flown.  And for now I can't think of a reason I ever will.
  • Faction Battle Cruiser: Easy call: the Minmatar/Hurricane Fleet Issue.  The ship's entire existence is a troll perpetrated by CCP Fozzie.
  • Empire Faction Cruiser: Like many categories, this one comes down to Amarr and Caldari entries, specifically the Amarr/Augoror Navy Issue and the Caldari/Osprey Navy Issue.  I'm going to give it to the Caldari ship; having both Caldari faction cruisers firing missiles was probably a mistake.
  • Non-Empire Faction Cruiser: My poor Sansha's Nation/Phantasm.  It's not that it's bad.  It's just that there are T1 cruisers that are better.
  • Empire Faction Frigate: As I said in the "Best of", I'd be hard-pressed to choose one of these that's bad, but if forced I'd probably choose the Caldari/Caldari Navy Hookbill.  It's both nicely tanky and nicely kitey, but doesn't put out a lot of damage.
  • Non-Empire Faction Frigate: Does anyone even own a Sansha's Nation/Succubus?  I literally cannot remember ever seeing one in space, and with good reason.  The Guristas/Worm is nearly as bad.

For non-combatants:
  • Exhumer: Kind of a tricky category, but the on that probably deserves this spot is the ORE/Hulk.  The Skiff at least has its enormous tank and quickness going for it.
  • Freighter: This one's a toss-up between the various ships that aren't Fenrirs.  I'm going to give it to the Gallente/Obelisk.  It's ugly, slow, and is tied for the Charon for the lowest align time, but at least the Charon holds 50k m3 more.
  • Industrial: The Gallente/Kryos is so useless as to be almost amusing... well, that's not fair.  It hauls tritanium like nobody's business.(1)  Put anything worth more into it though and you risk being ganked by a noobship.  I guess it's useful if you get a lot of null-sec hauler spawns... maybe?
  • Transport: Gallente/Occator.  When you first hear about this ship, you might be inclined to want one... until you sit in it and try to fly it somewhere.  An Orca aligns faster, warps nearly as fast, holds three times as much, and can tank harder.  And now the Orca is a hell of a lot easier to get into, too.

A little meaner than my "best of" list, but those are my choices for 2013.  It does kind of highlight some problem areas for the Caldari, with me picking thirteen of their ships for "worst of" in their class...

Anyone want to stand up for the rights of any of the ships I'm picking on?

(1) I wanted a POS fuel hauler that could also haul JB fuel.  Denied.

Best in class 2013

Something that's becoming an October tradition around here is my feeling for what represents the "best in class" ship for each ship class.  I've done it now in 2011 and 2012.  As with last year, we've got an expansion coming up soon that will probably change some of my answers, but this still feels like the right time of year to keep this tradition going.  Consider it likely that this will continue to be a once a year thing around here.

As with last year, the faction ships will be regarded separately from the others and I continue to exclude tournament ships and limited edition ships.  Without further ado...

Standard ship classes:
  • Assault Ship: No change from last year; the Gallente/Enyo takes it.  It's fantastic in either shield or armor configurations, fast, tough, and hard-hitting.  The Caldari/Hawk continues to be the bridesmaid in this category with some wonderful defensive fittings.  The Gallente/Ishkur is also in the wings.
  • Battle Cruiser: The Gallente/Talos continues to hold this category thanks to its massive damage and damage projection combined with versatile fitting options.  There's a lot of ships nipping at the Talos's heels, though.  This is probably the most competitive category right now.
  • Battleship: Even before last year was over, the Gallente/Megathron pushed the Caldari/Rokh off this pedestal, but in my opinion was then itself pushed off the top spot by the Minmatar/Typhoon, with the Amarr/Armageddon as a reasonably close second.  MJD + Cruise Missiles + the Typhoon's natural agility make it an enormously fun ship to fly, and it's about to become even more stupid-good with the release of Rapid Heavy Missile Launchers in a few weeks.  The Geddon's versatility, meanwhile, grows on me more and more.
  • Black Ops: No change.  Amarr/Redeemer, for the DPS.  I'll be happy when the rebalance train passes through this station, though.
  • Carrier: The Amarr/Archon continues to hold this position handily.
  • Command Ship: The Command Ship rebalance pretty firmly pushed the Minmatar/Sleipnir off this pedestal to be replaced by the nightmarishly good Gallente/Eos.  The Eos's mix of strong tank, armor and skirmish links, and decent damage application even when link-fit vaulted it to the top tier of on-grid CSs.
  • Covert Ops: This remains the Caldari/Buzzard for versatility, and the hacking sites only strengthened its hold on the position.  No change.
  • Cruiser: If Battle Cruisers aren't the most competitive category, this one is.  There are so many lovely choices.  Overall, my pick for this year is the Amarr/Omen.  It's tough, versatile, hard-hitting, and great for both PvP and PvE.  The Caldari/Caracal, Gallente/Thorax, and Minmatar/Stabber are all nearly as good in their own ways, though.
  • Destroyer: The Minmatar/Talwar has shoved the Minmatar/Thrasher off the top spot and is currently holding off an attack from the Gallente/Algos... but only just.  Both are very fine ships.
  • Dreadnought: Gallente/Moros.  Still no contest.
  • EAF: It was the Amarr/Sentinel before Rubicon and will almost certainly continue to be the Amarr/Sentinel after Rubicon.  Still, the Minmatar/Hyena is growing on me.
  • Frigate: The Gallente/Incursus took this position after the hybrid buff and so far has kept it after last year's frigate rebalancing.  Still, there's no lack of competition.  These days, most frigates have strengths.
  • HAC: The Gallente/Ishtar continues to hold the top spot after this year's HAC rebalance.  There's almost nothing it's not good at.
  • HIC: The Amarr/Devoter continues to hold the top spot.
  • Interceptor: The Gallente/Taranis keeps this position for another three weeks or so.  After Rubicon, there's no telling which one I'm going to like the most.  There are soooo many interesting choices!
  • Interdictor: Likewise, the Minmatar/Sabre keeps this position until November 19.  After that, I'm sad to report that I think it's quite probable it will drop from 1st place to 4th.  But it had a really long good run in the top spot.
  • Logistics: All four ships in this class have struggled this year from competition from the T1 rep cruiser rebalance.  Last year, I chose the Minmatar/Scimitar, but only by the tiniest margin.  This year I think the Scythe is a good enough replacement for that one that the Gallente/Oneiros takes the top spot.  Not only is it great with friends, but there's a terrific viable ASB fit for single-logi fleet applications.
  • Marauder: The Minmatar/Vargur gets to keep this spot for a few more weeks.  After that, who knows?  This is the ship class I'll be watching most closely over the winter.
  • Recon: For three years now, this has been the hardest category for me to judge.  There are so many good choices and I'm biased about most of them.  Still, I continue to think the Caldari/Falcon remains the best of the eight, though the new sensor strength skills weakened its hold.  The Minmatar/Rapier is now a close second.
  • Rookie Ship: The Gallente/Velator continues to hold this spot, with the Caldari/Ibis still a close second thanks to its "LOL ewar noobfleet" capability.
  • Stealth Bomber: I'm looking forward to this rebalance.  Until it comes, I continue to favor the Caldari/Manticore for versatility, followed by the Minmatar/Hound.
  • Strat Cruiser: The hybrid buff, rail buff, and increasing importance of cloaky ratter hunters have caused the Gallente/Proteus to push the Caldari/Tengu off the top spot, though it's a very close thing.  The Tengu continues to be the king of this class for PvE.
  • Super Carrier: The Amarr/Aeon continues to hold the top spot in this category.  Its enormous tank and important super-cap fleet roles are tough to beat.
  • Titan: The Gallente/Erebus continues to hold this spot, in my opinion.

For faction ships, I'm going to split the categories in two this year for Empire and non-Empire factions:
  • Empire Faction Battleship: There are eight of these, and the best one is the Amarr/Apocalypse Navy Issue.  It's a terrific mix of tank, DPS, projection, and style.
  • Non-Empire Faction Battleship: For my money, the best in class is the Guardian Angel/Vindicator.  There are few roles it can't be applied to, and it excels in most of them.
  • Faction Battle Cruiser: A new ship class since last year!  Only four of these, but in my opinion the Gallente/Brutix Navy Issue is the best one.
  • Empire Faction Cruiser: No contest, the Minmatar/Scythe Fleet Issue, and if you'd told me before 2013's rebalances that I was gonna pick a split-weapon ship in any category, I would have laughed.  But this bad-ass little boat has made a believer out of me.
  • Non-Empire Faction Cruiser: The Blood Raider/Ashimmu was my choice last year, but this year's rail buff has allowed the Guardian Angel/Vigilant to supplant it.  But there's a white and red shadow on the horizon that's going to step to the top of the pedestal with both feet come November 19.
  • Empire Faction Frigate: There's only four of these and I'd be hard-pressed to choose a ship that's bad.  But overall I'd give a very slight edge to the Gallente/Federation Navy Comet.  The "cop car" has a great mix of damage, speed, and versatility, even if it no longer has its police light.
  • Non-Empire Faction Frigate: The Guardian Angel/Daredevil continues to be the one that scares me the most, though the Angel Cartel/Dramiel is catching back up thanks to some real innovations in high-end fittings this year.  The other three continue to lag behind, and badly.

For non-combatants:
  • Exhumer: No contest: the ORE/Mackinaw easily wrested this title from the Hulk last year and nothing's changed to alter that in 2013.
  • Freighter: The Minmatar/Fenrir was last year's winner thanks to the increasing importance of "quick freighters" and Nomad implants.  I think it's going to hold the title for another few months, then I think it's possible we'll see one of the others take it away as alignment speed becomes less important and warp speed becomes more so.  I think we're going to see a lot of Ascendancy freighter pilots.
  • Industrial: Gallente/Nereus.  The former Iteron wrests this title from the current Iteron Mark V.  The quick-aligning Nereus is fantastically adaptable and carries 5500m3 in a fitting that aligns in four seconds and tanks 26k EHP.  Alternately, you can put together a quite viable combat fit!
  • Transport: Gallente/Viator, with the Minmatar/Prowler as continuing runner-up.  No change from last year.  The Viator holds up to 10000m3, aligns just as quick as the competition, and looks great.  The Prowler's additional high slot is important but has fewer use cases.

Those are my choices for now.  But in a few weeks, we'll have new possibilities in the Interceptor, Electronic Attack Frigate, Interdictor, and Marauder categories.  In addition, it's a good bet that there will be a new title holder in the faction cruiser category as well...  But we'll see where things stand next year.  Most improved race  in 2013?  Hard to say!  But this year's losers are the Minmatar.  They got bumped out of a couple of key categories, but at least they're still ahead of the Caldari.

Tomorrow, an extension of this post I hadn't thought of until this year.

So, what did I get wrong?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Support the community

As I mentioned, I want to talk about EVE Vegas in the larger picture of What It All Means(tm)...

...but this is one of those speculative little posts that I write from time to time about CCP motivations.  Since being elected to the CSM, I've tried to be careful with these kinds of posts.  Of course since I'm on the CSM, I could just ask CCP's motivations about things.  But of course if anyone were to answer me, their answers would then fall under NDA and CCP would get to decide when and how those answers get communicated.  So instead from time to time it's more fun to speculate a little.

So that's all this is, OK?  It's speculation.  I'm allowed a few facts, of course.  Anything a CCP employee says in public -- at a Community presentation or round-table at EVE Vegas, for instance, or on the forums -- is fair game.  So let's start from there.

I was asked a really interesting question at EVE Vegas by a player, in essence: "Do you think EVE players shoot themselves in the foot by challenging CCP when they give things away to community organizers?"  I answered that in my experience, CCP takes player concerns seriously and in those few cases where those concerns are fueled by unjustified anger, the company tends to be very understanding and forgiving.  And when those concerns are justified, CCP has shown a history of listening.  Sometimes, getting them to listen requires fairly extraordinary efforts, but they do listen.

But let's come back to that.

It's been increasingly clear since Fanfest that CCP's Community team -- devastated by the October 2011 lay-offs, you'll remember -- has been very much revitalized.

At his Community Team presentation at EVE Vegas, CCP Guard had a little fun by showing off light-hearted pictures of members of the team, filling the screen with images two or three times over as each member's picture was overlaid on others.  Since Fanfest, we've seen the Community team do community spotlights, expand the roster of community fan-sites (and trim the inactive ones), work much more closely with player organizations and with the CSM, assist with more player-run events, and generally get much more involved with EVE players than at any time that I can remember since... since ever, really.

And now they're taking a much more direct interest in player gatherings, including making EVE Vegas tickets something that could be bought with PLEX and directly supporting the gathering with giveaways for the players that attended.  Guard also gave a long list of countries that the Community team hopes to help player gatherings thrive in.  Similar activities are happening within the DUST 514 Community team.

When you try something new and different that you haven't done before, you're of course vulnerable to making mistakes.  And now the Community Team has made what can only be regarded as a doozy of a mistake.  And here's the very same EVE player base that's benefited from their efforts jumping up and down on their backs and putting the team close to a siege mentality.

...and in the process, shutting down or delaying a lot of the plans that the Community Team had in play to help community organizations.  Guard also made it clear at the Community Team round-table that the entire team is heads down working the recent issues and will be rebuilding their plans from scratch before presenting them to the CSM and thence to the players.  In the process, I think it would be a little naive if you don't realize the plans for rewarding player organizations and gatherings will likely be scaled back.

That's where the question from the EVE player at the top of this post came from, and it was a good one.  Are EVE players shooting themselves in the collective foot?

Now do not get the impression that I'm using this line of thinking as some sort of justification for large in-game rewards for player organizations.  I've already shared my thoughts on that issue and those have not changed.  Nor does this mean I'm not taking the SOMER blink issues seriously and keeping an eye on CCP's response to it... I certainly am!  Think of this as a thought experiment.  The Community team is in a heads down reactive mode instead of a proactive mode.  They want to check their moves more before they make them.  Mostly that's a good thing and I support it.

But it also means a scaling back of the "crazy ambition" that CCP is trying to show this year in all of their endeavors.

One of the things that Guard brought up in the Community RT that I thought was very telling was that it was a conscious choice to profile Brave Newbies so early in their corp history.  "We're happy with how that turned out," Guard said a little blandly.  I should say he should be!  BNI's membership has grown by a factor of eight since they were profiled and they've become one of the largest corps in EVE Online.

When CSM8 was at the summer summit, during several of the sessions, we brain-stormed ways to get players more involved in some of the aspects of EVE's community.  How could CCP encourage players to assist with things like new player development or training, player guides or the EVEolopedia, or introducing more new players to corps that will make them long-term members of the New Eden universe?  And of course the idea of rewarding players that take these actions came up.  That falls right in the Community team's wheelhouse.

CCP wants to sponsor more player gatherings, and EVE Vegas has shown how it can be done, and done right.  CCP wants to sponsor more player tournaments and events, and Syndicate Competitive League is one model for how it can be done.  CCP wants more community fan-sites and more community spotlights, and those they've profiled have been successful.

And right now all of that is on hold, and I think that's a real shame.  Again, I'm not defending the mistakes that have been made... this is just a thought experiment, remember!  But the question remains: are EVE players shooting themselves in the foot?  I think it's worth thinking about.

Fit of the Week: Shield Muninn

It's rare that I go to the same race two weeks in a row, and even more rare that I feature a ship only six weeks or so after featuring it previously.  But when I did Muninns a few weeks ago, I caught hell for not including a shield fit, and it does seem very appropriate to feature Black Legion's Muninn in a month when I'm talking about ships that are made to kill frigates.  So, in honor of Black Legion losing some four dozen of these ships in the recent super-carrier massacre, let's talk about a shield Muninn.

[Muninn, Black Legion Muninn]
Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Tracking Enhancer II

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

720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP M
720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP M
720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP M
720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP M
720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Small 'Vehemence' Shockwave Charge

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

Hornet EC-300 x5

The short version of dicussing this fit is to point back to last week's artillery Hurricane because the two ships have many commonalities.  Like that Cane, this Muninn relies on volley damage to sweep smaller targets off the field.  In the hands of a good pilot, the volley off each of these ships is 3200-3300 to overheated and bonused point range, with quite decent tracking.  As with the Cane, you'll be firing Republic Fleet EMP, Fusion, or Phased Plasma in most cases to maximize volley damage, and you'll want to carry some form of Drop booster to emphasize that volley damage against smaller targets.

But it's a good idea to carry a variety of ammo, most particularly included Depleted Uranium because of the tracking bonus of that particular ammo, plus small amounts of Quake and Tremor.  That said, you need not overdo it.  Since you're firing artillery guns, carrying something between 500 and 1000 rounds of each type of ammo will be sufficient for all but the longest fleet battles.

Given the two ships put out roughly equal volley, the primary advantages of the Hurricane fit are cost, lock speed, and 13% higher volley.  The primary advantages of this Muninn are tank, resistance, and speed.  Particularly in a shield resistance bonused fleet, the Muninn tank is quite good and like most Minmatar ships the small signature is an advantage.  Tank is a bit over 35k EHP before heat and the Muninn responds reasonably well under reps.  The small smart bomb is defensive and intended to clear ECM drones when used in medium to large numbers by grouped Muninns.  Drones are the decision of the FC, but ECM drones in large numbers will make life painful for both frigates/destroyers and the repair ships they may drag with them.

As a HAC, the Muninn is much quicker than the Cane at about 1700m/s before bonuses or implants and receives the HAC warp speed bonus.

In the case of the super-carrier fight, a fleet of these Muninns was brought in primarily to clear the interdictors that PL/N3 had brought to the party.  Dictors are obviously destroyer hulls rather than frigates; that only made the Muninns more effective against them.  Word has it by the time the fight was over, 47 out of the 50 dictors that PL had pre-staged for the fight were dead: the Muninns made a hash of them.  It certainly ably demonstrates the efficiency of medium artillery against smaller targets!  But to protect the dictors, the Muninns were given priority target status by N3's sub-cap fleet.  As I mentioned, during the fight BL lost nearly 50 of these ships.

The same advice I gave for the Cane applies to this ship in a larger fight:
If you get into an actual fight in this ship, your proper position is well behind the bulk of your fleet, screening for either friendly logistics or friendly e-war.  When I'm flying this kind of volley ship, I personally find it useful to sort the Overview by transversal velocity.  Anything that drops to the neighborhood of 200m/s or so is worth taking a pot-shot at.  This will most often happen when an inexperienced tackler turns and burns directly at you or whatever you're screening.
But unlike the Cane, the Muninn's decent performance under reps means you can engage a bit more aggressively if you like as long as you keep the tracking of artillery in mind as you do it.

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.

CSM8 Status report: Week twenty-four

Where are the minutes?  Well, here's where we stand.

Of 25 total sessions:
  • I've written six sessions (Introduction, Sales and Marketing, Team Kuromaku, Team Game of Drones, NDA Project Three, Hilmar);
  • Trebor Daehdoow has written five sessions (PvE, CSM as Stakeholder, Security, Future Plans, Team True Grit);
  • Ali Aras has written four session (EVE Economy, In-Class Homework Assignment, User Interface, NDA Project Two);
  • mynnna has written three sessions (Reasonable Things, Team Superfriends, Team Five-0);
  • Mike Azariah has written two sessions (Art, DUST 514 Link);
  • Mangala Solaris has written one session (Language Support and the CSM); and,
  • James Arget has written one session (Launcher).
There are three sessions without minutes, one of which might end up being permanently NDA'ed:
  • State of Balance (being worked on by Chitsa Jason);
  • Projects One, which is still heavily NDA'ed; and,
  • EVE Valkryrie (being worked on by Ali Aras). 
In short, at this point CSM8 considers our work on the minutes essentially done, other than pestering Chitsa and Ali to finish their bits.  The Project One and Two sessions may never get written because so much of them deals with things that won't be released until the summer 2014 expansion.  As a result, if they were written much of them would end up reading like "CCP Fozzie then covered a series of subjects which are currently under NDA.  The CSM agreed with three of them, then asked for more information on two," et cetera.  It wouldn't make for very interesting reading, I'm afraid.

EDIT 24/Oct/2013: I have updated the list above to include two more summit sessions completed by Ali Aras.  First, the EVE Economy ended up being two sessions, the second of which was about an NDA'ed in-class homework assignment.  I'm not sure if it will ultimately end up getting NDA'ed, but I'll count it for now.  Second, she completed minutes on NDA Project Two.  The inclusion of the homework assignment technically means there were 25 sessions, not 24.  Thanks for the update, Ali!

I did go ahead and write a set of minutes for Project Three though, partially so I could say I wrote more of the minutes than Trebor (hee!) and partially because I do think CCP will announce this project sooner or later and I'm very very excited about it.  Even if I have to wait a while, I'll probably ask in due course to get those minutes released.  Trebor will probably get back at me by writing minutes for Project One or something under the same conditions.  ;-)

Speaking of Trebor, he wrote a couple of really good things that you should go out and read about the SOMER blink situation, one I describe as a good post and one that he literally described as a "shit post".  The latter is funnier.  The former makes better points and I quote his points in full:
  • This issue is not going to be resolved quickly. The problem was a long time in the making, and it will be months in the resolution, if for no other reason than there are significant legal issues CCP has to take into consideration. Furthermore, a quick resolution is unlikely to be one you will like.
  • Raging and repeating your position at every opportunity is not constructive, and actively hurts your argument. All it does is sh*t up the thread, and drown out other voices. If you want to be taken seriously, you want to encourage broad discussion. Threads that have a high percentage of posts by a small number of posters are not taken seriously by anyone.
  • The reason for the surveys -- both CSMs and CCPs -- is to gather more data from more members of the community. CSM needs that data in order to make the best possible arguments on your behalf; "the data says" is a better argument than "the opinion of my ass is".
Yes, yes, and yes.  I agree with all three of these points.

The situation with SOMER blink continues to be a topic of heavy discussions between CCP and the CSM, and is one of the main reasons why the minutes are being delayed.  Every member of the Community team including CCP Dolan are very much heads down on this matter.  However, that said, I did remind him that he is the only member of that team that can get the minutes out and he assured me he'd do everything he could to get the first block of them released as soon as possible.

In addition to myself, Mangala Solaris and Kesper North were at EVE Vegas this past weekend (one of the reasons this post is a couple of days later than it normally is).  While there, we all got ample opportunities to talk face-to-face with a large percentage of the 350 attendees.  For those of you that joined us there, thank you!  And I got to meet both Mangala and Kesper for the first time myself.  I mentioned to the organizers that if I'm on CSM9 next year (far from decided, obviously) then I'd be willing to either give a talk or run a round table at EVE Vegas next year about the CSM.  And if I'm not, I'll see what I can do to convince those who are on CSM9 to do so.

We're about at the point when I wanted to have the next CSM Town Hall meeting and I'm going to go ahead and start to work with Neville Smit and DJ Wiggles to schedule something.  Even if we don't have minutes to point to yet (although I dearly hope we do), it makes very good sense to meet with all of you in an open session and let you air your concerns about the SOMER blink giveaways and other matters.  First though, I want to chat with Ali Aras some more because she had some very good ideas about the Q&A portion of the meeting and I want to chat with her about them.  So look for that to be scheduled soon.

We're still very busy with CCP on the Skype channels and in the private forums.  This week, yet another surprise feature for Rubicon was announced and there just might be one more coming that the CSM has taken a keen interest in since planning for Rubicon started.  And if you paid attention to the EVE Vegas presentations, you've already heard about Ghost sites and the new player-built(!) warp speed implants.

Finally, I keep forgetting to mention this, but James Arget continues to do a great job on the csm8.org website.  Go give it a visit.

That's all for now!  We're almost at the half-way point in our term!  The time is passing quicker than I thought it would...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quote of the Week: bl

Quote of the week goes to this gem from Elo Knight of Black Legion (sic):
:::: BROADCASTED MESSAGE from: elo_knight :::: subcaps only, our're flag is at half massed   plz refer to us as bl not BL as we have no capitals
Nice to hear that Black Legion is keeping a good sense of humor about their massive loss of 26 super-carriers last night.  Here's the TMC article, a reprint of an Elise Randolph battle report.  Here's the EVE News 24 article.  Obviously, I'll cover the fight briefly in my KOTW post on Monday.

In the meantime, here's a whole host of pretty pictures for you to enjoy and here's the butcher's bill, plus the picture that I think is my favorite out of the host...

More on this Monday.  I just liked the quote.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

EVE Vegas 2013

With the discussion of SOMER's participation out of the way, I want to cover EVE Vegas with a couple of posts, one giving my own impressions of the event in isolation, then a second post about the larger implications and What It All Means(tm).

First, this isn't intended to be day-by-day coverage of the event.  Sugar Kyle did a terrific job with that on her own Life in Low-sec blog and if you're looking for that, I urge you to go read her impressions.  She both did a better job covering the sessions in detail than I intend to and clearly had more time to attend them than I did.  ;-)  Instead, I'm going to focus on impressions: what was done well, what can be improved for next year, plus a few amusing stories.

EDIT 23/Oct/2013: Bah.  Why do I keep thinking of Sugar Kyle as a he?  Fixed, with apologies toward Sugar.

What was done well
First, the event was quite well-organized.  Running a large gathering is not easy!  The event planning staff at a venue can help quite a bit, but there's still a large amount of organizational work that has to be done.  In this case, the EVE Vegas staff should feel very pleased with themselves.  Everything presented the appearance of being well-run, quick, and professional.  Registration opened early and the line moved quite fast and never built up at any point.  The events were well organized and the event ran on time with few or no technical glitches that I could see.  So, from an infrastructure point of view, thumbs up!

Similarly, I never got the impression that anything was cheaply done or that corners were cut... quite the opposite, in fact!  The schedule and other printed material were good quality, as was the swag t-shirts, the swag bag itself, et cetera.  Water bottles and snacks were provided both days in the main hall, and there was water available in the round-table room as well.  The food and drink at the Saturday night party was excellent.  There's every reason to believe the ticket cost was spent making the event comfortable, fun, and memorable.

CCP seemed to be in charge of the PvP room, and it was outstanding: sixteen or so PS3s and monitors on one side for DUST 514, 10 PCs in the middle for EVE, six Oculus Rift HDs and the supporting hardware on the other side for Valkyrie.  The arrangement of the lines started out a little bit chaotic but sorted itself out in due course and all of the systems were pretty busy all weekend.  I myself got three runs at Valkyrie, two of them by arriving very soon after the PvP room opened both Saturday and Sunday.  The sizing was perfect: even at its peak, the Valkyrie line never seemed particularly onerous.

Instead of prizes for winning EVE matches in the PvP room, CCP Bro instituted a series of unknown "achievements" to win prizes, which were Steelseries-donated gaming keyboards, mice, headsets, and mouse pads.  The matches were all 5v5, with fixed ship fittings provided to CCP Fozzie by Duncan Tanner of HYDRA Reloaded and Elise Randolph of PL (plus additional members of both alliances) and the two sides were designated the "Hydra side" and the "PL side."  The fits were... interesting.  I myself received the first achievement: my team lost our first match with me flying a Osprey.  I did my job, stayed untackled, stayed alive, and repped my team as well as the five small reppers on my Osprey would allow.  When my teammates all died with me still alive, I turned my Osprey toward the edge of glory then stood up to congratulate my team-mates and the opposing team.  Bro approached and asked which chair I'd been sitting in and when I confirmed I was in the Osprey, he announced I'd won a gaming keyboard for getting the "first person to cross the edge of glory" achievement.  Hee!  Other (better) achievements were for things like logis saving their whole squad and the like.  But it made the competition fun.

The party at the end of Saturday night was quite well done and again, no expenses were spared.  The bar was open for about three hours or so, and the food was very good.  The music was a bit loud for my taste given that almost nobody was going to be dancing, but hey, it's sort of de rigueur at this sort of thing so I can understand why it was there.  Unlike Fanfest's Party at the Top of the World, though, there were very few quiet corners where an older guy like myself could hide out from the noise.  ;-)

Prizes were handed directly to people.  Compare and contrast to Fanfest prizes, which were to be shipped to the winners, some of which still haven't found their way to their owners.  There was a UPS store right outside the venue that would ship your prize home if you couldn't carry it home on the plane.

Improve next year
Many of the presentations were quite good: Fozzie and CCP Rise on the first day was quite good, CCP Guard and CCP Saberwing were fine, Rise's "Elite PvP, Vegas vs New Eden" was very cute, and I'm told the Goon Logistics presentation, the lore presentation, and the NASA presentation were interesting and well done (though I missed all three, the last one because I was waiting to be interviewed on EVE TV).  But a lot of presentations were not quite as good and there weren't enough of them.  So this is the biggest goal I'd express to the organizers for next year: more presentations, particularly player presentations.  Try to draw in more of the community: get streamers and pod-casters and bloggers to come out and to run a panel or perhaps even give a full presentation.  The round table room was paid for both Saturday and Sunday but was only used about half the time.

I was warned about this beforehand and it's quite true: your enjoyment of EVE Vegas will be based at least in part on your enjoyment of Las Vegas as a location and a casino as the venue.  If you're not a Vegas guy the way I am not, you'll be a little disappointed.  There isn't really enough going on to occupy an entire long weekend unless you take advantage of the locale.

This isn't really the fault of the organizers, but EVE Vegas is expensive.  It's $200 for a ticket, plus the hotel room, plus venue food, plus cab fare to and from the airport, plus the pub crawl ticket if you buy one means that you can fairly easily end up spending $1000 U.S. before your travel arrangements.  I myself was able to side-step a good bit of this because I drove to Las Vegas, parking is free, and I spurned the Rio itself for a much less expensive off-Strip hotel.  You can definitely see where the money is going, and the free ship model for all attendees and the other perks made it nice, but it's not a casual expense.  Hopefully this will improve as the event grows.

This is also not the fault of the organizers, but this year EVE Vegas was very cliquish.  If you weren't willing to step in front of people and introduce yourself or didn't come with a group, you might not have talked to very many people.  I myself went out of my way to try to introduce myself to people (and people came and introduced themselves to me, which was nice) when I was standing in line for things or just watching things and I probably ended up talking to about one hundred of the 350 attendees.  But I saw lots and lots of clustered groups, surrounded by not a few wallflowers at the edges.  Because of the concentrated venue, the off-site events, and the subsidiary activities provided at FF (a game table area, the EVE arcade game, vendor booths), players end up chit-chatting a lot more.

That brings me to my next suggestion: more subsidiary activities, and try to persuade some vendors to come.  I have no idea how much it would cost to add a third room to the proceedings for table-top gaming, chatting, writing, vendors, and maybe even a LAN party, but if it's at all reasonable it should be done.  One of the advantages of a player-run gathering (and I'll discuss this more tomorrow) is that such ad-hoc gathering areas are expected and welcome.  As for vendors, I'm not sure how feasible that is at EVE Vegas's current size, but it should be attempted.

Next year's venue: someplace with a public wireless network, please!

Just odd, or funny
At the Saturday night party, one guy was apparently paid to show up in a fighter pilot's uniform (for Valkyrie?) and two booth babes were hired to dress in Amarr and Gallente regalia.  It was... cute, I guess.  But I'm not sure it fit the event.

The organizers rented a pair of electric wheelchairs to make getting around easier for them -- the Rio venue is enormous with a lot of walking -- but by about an hour into the first day, CCP devs had appropriated both of them for racing.  They were having fun, I guess.  There's lots of cute pictures of Guard and Bro and CCP Tyr enjoying themselves on them.  One of them even made an appearance at the party and The Mittani drove it around the roof.

EDIT 23/Oct/2013: I'm told Bro and Tyr rented those themselves for fun.

It took me six tries to win my 5v5 PvP match, and two of my attempts were disrupted by -- believe it or not -- awoxers!  That's pretty ballsy, awoxing someone who is sitting right next to you.  ;-)  In one case, a PL-heavy team apparently slipped a guy onto my team to fly a Vexor.  He spent the match orbiting the edge of the arena, never launched drones, and never fired a shot until he was caught and killed.  He lamely claimed that he didn't know the match had started.  PL try-hards, don't ever change.

One of the bouncers at the Saturday night party is taller than CCP Gargant (who recently took over as the tallest CCP employee).  Gargant was crushed.  It was quite a funny moment that I got to tease him about.

David Reid (CCP Pokethulu, CCP's Chief Marketing Officer) was there and gave a presentation that was half about expanding the sandbox of EVE to include DUST and Valkyrie, and half a pitch about making an impact on the universe.  He meant the EVE universe, of course: EVE is of course a game where in-game actions can resonate right across the entire game.  But it was hard not to tease him that his talk had convinced me to stop wasting my life with a make-believe space game and go make something of myself in the world.  He laughed.  Pokethulu is one of my top five favorite people in CCP.

And I think that about covers it.  All in all, I'm glad I went!  It was a fun event and it was great to meet way too many players to name here.  For those of you who were there, thanks for passing by and saying hello!  For those of you who didn't, maybe next year.  Tomorrow, a much shorter piece on how EVE Vegas might fit into the big picture.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kill of the Week: Vignettes of dumb

There were so many good candidates for KOTW this week that I decided not to pick just one.  Instead, here's a little vignette of lots and lots of bad ship fitting and piloting decisions that happened this week...

I dearly hope that Tengu kills like this one are a harbinger of things to come when inty fast warps arrive in Rubicon.

The loot fairy really liked this guy.

If you throw enough PLEXes at a ship to run incursions, couldn't you throw enough PLEXes into the character bazaar to also buy a character worthy of flying the incursion ship?  More to the point, couldn't you take that ISK and use it to buy something more fun than this Vindicator?

Same question for this guy's mission Rattlesnake.  T1 Ogres?  Really?

"Don't run missions while your high-sec corp is war-decced" is one of those unwritten rules of EVE.  Maybe it should be written down where this Golem pilot can read it.

I try not to highlight the dumb things that new players do in this game.  It's just not cool: maybe the guy has no idea what he's doing.  Maybe he can't find a corp that he likes that will teach him this game.  And I don't want to highlight the frustration this game can cause early career players.  But every once in a while I have to make an exception... like this Raven Navy Issue.  Cripes.

Three courtesy of Spaceship Samurai alliance and featured on Kugutsumen.  Here's a Rattlesnake fit that shall never be a FOTW, even should this blog exist 20 years from now.  Here's his alt in a Domi Navy Issue.  And here's a Goon that is somewhat confused about the difference between the Scorpion and the Scorpion Navy Issue.

One more from Kugutsumen, the famed ratting Rook.

And finally, another apparent "farewell to EVE" loss to report this week, this Nightmare.  Wow.

Number of dead super-caps last week: 2

Only two supers dead this week, both of them Nyxes.  First up was this Nyx lost in Feyth to a Darkness of Despair super fleet.  Call this standard super loss type number four: baited with carrier, tackled, suddenly supers.  It only took one dictor and one hictor to keep him bubbled, greatly helped by the fact that he was DDed twice and his ridiculously poor tank intended to hot-drop and align out of harm's way (thus the Inertia Stabs and MWD).  Didn't work this time.

The second Nyx was lost in low-sec and was fit similarly, only this time for missions rather than surprise hot-dropping.  It served him about as well.  A single hictor was sufficient to hold him in place for Black Legion.  There are no neuts fit on the Nyx; the high slots are devoted to keeping his fighters repped up during missions.  As a result, when the Remote ECCM failed him on its first attempt, this Nyx again died to a flock of supers and its very poor tank.

Finally, call this one a super-size loss with an all-or-nothing loot fairy decision.  The decision?  You get nothing!  You lose!  Good day, sir!

Sometimes that's a sad part of the vignette...

Ebb and flow

I've written twice before, both times in 2011, specifically about CCP's financial position.  In June of that year, looking at CCP financial statements, I predicted that they were going to run into serious trouble come October when their liquidity loan came due.  In October... well, I think every CCP watcher knows what happened to them in October, and if you don't you can go read about it.  It wasn't pretty.

If you're interested in some discussion of CCP financials, then go ahead and stay with me for a bit because I'm going to talk about them again.  But if you're not worried about it, feel free to skip to the next post.  tl;dr version: there's really not much to see here, and anyone telling you something different is wrong.

I wrote in those two pieces and in particular in the second one, businesses often maintain quarter-to-quarter liquidity through the use of short-term business loans.  There are various reasons having a large amount of cash on hand is not a good business strategy but the simplest reason is easy to understand: cash under your mattress is not out in the world making you more money.  You Christians out there may want to review the Parable of the Talents.

In an ideal business, you want to have enough cash on hand to maintain liquidity and pay your bills, with enough revenue coming in vis a vis your cost structure in to satisfy your investors.  As I covered in the October 2011 piece in particular, your investors issue you short term liquidity loans expecting a return on their investment and a sound financial strategy in place and being executed on.  If you can do these things, your investors can usually be persuaded to take their return as profit and then reissue you the loan for another period.

As I covered in 2011, at that time CCP appeared to be in danger of not having a good financial model to ensure a return on the investment of their investors, nor a solid cost structure relative to their revenue.  Their burn rate was entirely too high, resulting in a situation where they were in danger of running out of cash right when the loan came due.  Massive cost-cutting was the inevitable result.

Recently, CCP's most recent financial statements -- this time for 2012 and the first six months of 2013 -- have come to light.  I myself have had a copy of the first document for some time, reviewed it, was satisfied with what I saw, and went on with my life.  But in particular with the release of the June 2013 document, some bloggers and pod-casters out there are trying to make the case that CCP is again in financial trouble.  And as I said above, they're wrong.

Much of the focus is centered on the fact that in the first six months of 2013, CCP had higher operating expenses than in the same period in 2012.  And that's absolutely true: their burn rate is again spiking, with operating expenses some seven million U.S. dollars than in the same period last year.  In the same period, their revenue is also up, but only by about 4.5 million U.S. dollars.  There's also a good deal of attention being paid on $20 million U.S. in long-term financing and revolving credit liquidity loan that CCP took out this year, as well as another $20 million U.S. bond issuance last year at 7% interest per year with a maturity date of July 2017.  As a result of these loans, in June CCP had about $18 million cash on hand, plus access to the revolving credit facility for more cash if it's needed.

As I state above, there's nothing abnormal about any of this.  CCP is expanding so it's only natural to take out loans to finance these expansions.  They have the cash on hand to deal with monthly expenses, plus the line of credit to use to expand Valkyrie development if they choose to.  The key question: has CCP over-extended its financial position?  Are they in danger of having a liquidity problem?  Will they burn through all that money?

The answer in 2011 was "yes".  The answer in 2013 is "no", or at least "not for the foreseeable future."

The financial statements do show that CCP is running at a very slight loss right now, turned into a very slight profit through the use of tax credits they receive for operating businesses in the various locations in which they operate.  Counting these tax credits as putting the company in the black is perfectly valid: CCP remains profitable, though not as profitable as they were last year.  That's also consistent with the expansion they've been doing this year.

For a while about a decade ago, it was fashionable in the business world to refer to your lay-offs as "right-sizing": having the correct size staff and payroll structure to justify the costs of your payroll.  Businesses would justify lay-offs under the right-sizing banner until they learned that those laid off took absolutely no comfort from the business leaders laying off people to get the business to the right size.  That said, as a strategy it's still valid: businesses judge the size of their payroll expenses and set their staff sizes to match these projections.

And right now, CCP seems to be right in the sweet spot: their payroll expense feels very balanced in these financial statements.  Further, a finance guy looking at the statements would find a lot to be cheerful about.  During the period in question, CCP was in the run-up to the release of the Odyssey expansion, likely with the reduction in paid subscriptions that such periods always engender.  DUST was (and is) likely continuing to have revenue struggles.  World of Darkness and Valkyrie were (and are) not bringing in any revenue.  And yet with all of the expanding they were doing and even with CCP's revenue sources at relatively low ebb, the business still managed to break just about even.

This is good news: since expenses are unlikely to rise very much more, all things being equal, the only direction CCP can go here in terms of net profit is up.  It speaks of good overall financial management.

So all in all, there's therefore not all that much to be unhappy about.  We'll have to keep watching, of course.  CCP doesn't share financial information with the CSM so I have the same information you all have.  As I stated myself last month, Odyssey probably didn't do CCP too many favors on the subscription front but it's likely fair to say that was probably balanced by players taking advantage of dual character training.  That's not a sustainable revenue stream nor one that CCP should rely on -- it goes back to cannibalizing your existing customer base.  But overall, it's quite unlikely that CCP is in any immediate financial trouble.

To those of you who will bitch again that CCP should "dump DUST!" to save costs, I will say again that it would be irresponsible for CCP's C-suite executives to continue to rely on a single product to protect the livelihoods of the hundreds of families that depend on them.  Sticking with a single product, no matter how successful today, is long-term business suicide.  Even if DUST 514 continues to struggle, CCP can currently afford to continue to be patient.  In the meantime, they can hedge their bets with Valkyrie which I could easily see being a nice short-term burst money-maker, and a long-term money-maker if CCP can come up with a long-term wrapper for it.

So I go back to my tl;dr statement about CCP's finances: nothing to see here, move along.  If I see something that makes me think otherwise in future statements, I'll say so.