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...

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...


  1. This 8/10 is simple to fly with 2 Tengus, i need four reload cycles before the structure is going down in maybe 10 minutes and i never shoot the complete room, warping in with the first Tengu and bring the second one a little bit later in. Start shooting the scrams with javelin, fly around with an 10mn mwd fitted to kill the web towers, bring the ships in range to the structure and start shooting with rage up to the end and loot the container...

    But at the moment i think the loot table is broken or to many guys fly this sites, or what ever, i personaly fly this site 5 month in time and in the last month the loot was many times only the Overseer Effect and this is pain in the ass for me and sucks me!

    My tactic to let most of the NPC alive is helping me alive. Is nice to see when you get blob by other plex runners and stay in the last room with full aggro and the guys sitting in front of the last gate and cant coming in why they see no wrecks in there and cant tank the stage in there ^^

  2. "Still, the new mobile tractor deployables would almost certainly make the exercise worth it come Rubicon."

    Make sure you do it in the first few days of Rubicon. After that the market values for rat loot and salvage will plummet to new depths as the market becomes flooded.

    1. is what they said about the Noctis

  3. if you ask me, if you looted/salvaged everything, along with the bounties, it sounds like a nice income for a gang of 3 given the time/risk/reward trinity.

  4. I find it pretty interesting that you thought the final room was as easy as you did. If you don't kill the web towers and frigates fast enough it can kill a tengu, although it's much more of a risk running it solo, rather than dual-boxing it like you did. Also, the final station can be done solo with a ham tengu without too much trouble. IIRC it does enough volley damage that the reps become a non-issue. Additionally, you can make the station bug out and stop repping by warping off the target of its initial aggro. Warping off the new target will make it start repping again, and so on.

    1. With a small shield booster you gonna die... With a Large one it is pretty easy also solo.

  5. As a newer player (1 year), thats sounds like you made some great isk for the time. How long did the whole site take to complete minus the salvage?

    Also, you did this with 2 tengus! No wonder they were missing you so much...the tengu is the mother of ratting ships imo. You pretty much brought the best ships you could have tot he site...THEN you brought two faction BS to finish it.

    I found myself saying - must be nice to have two accounts that can both fly a tengu and both HAVE two tengus and two factions BS. Not for nothing - but I would be tickled pink to have spend the 3 or so hours to do that site and walk away with ~300m.

    No wonder you didnt find it engadgeing or difficult. You brought two toons with two of the best ships for the pve content. It took that other group a fleet to finish it....thats engadgeing and fun. But I also would love to be able to do these sites solo when a fleet is not around for some isk.

    1. 35 - 45 min. for complete, if you shoot all in the last room you need 45 min. with 2 Chars.

  6. After running C6 sleeper sites with the full 28 sleepless guardian escalation at once, any other form of PVE in EVE has been a monumental let down across the board.

    I wish CCP would do something to make PVE more engaging and thought provoking.

    1. a full 4 wave spawn?

      that must be enough to alpha loki's and give caps serious trouble

      warp at 0 with 5+ dreads or something?

    2. 2 archons, 8-9 moros, perfect armor and skirmish boosts. Entire escalation wave completed in just under 5 minutes.

  7. are there any plans for more iterations for PVE for Rubicon or in the future (actual plans)?
    Other then the ghost site that we are getting for Rubicon?

  8. "My overall impressions of EVE PvE haven't changed: it's not engaging and it's not difficult."

    Well, given that the PVE system hasn't seen an upgrade since forever, and that, thanks to power creep, the ships of today are much more powerful than they were when the sites were first designed... I don't see why you'd be surprised at all.

    Maybe PVE should get some major attention from the CSM?

    Perhaps, the lack of engaging PVE actually *is* the real root cause for CCP's inability to gain much traction in improving subscriber stats and revenue streams?

    Casual, non-PVP gaming does much bigger numbers these days than shooters. Certainly, DUST hasn't done much to improve CCP's bottom line.

    1. PvE is definitely a major focus of the CSM. Matter of fact, I'll mention just how major in my next update.

  9. All I can say is: EVE PvE needs more variety, more uncertainty.

    1. People say this, but when the content has too much uncertainty, it is avoided like the plague because it is too risky. The Blood Minor Annex is a good example. It has neuting cruisers, webbing, and warp scrambling frigs all upon warp-in. Make a mistake and you are dead. I find it quite engaging.

  10. Eve PVE just needs more content, esp at the higher end, like "raiding" content. Be cool to have tiered/flagging requirements for players to access the top content, unlike Incursions where anyone can fleet up.

    More endgageing pve would require more mechanics from the enemies, like AoEs, various ewar, scripts and rat behavior that unique and dynamic. Think the whole "step away from the lava", stand here, shoot the boss now, hold fire ect.

    Newer players DONT want to see more difficulty for the same old sites. Its time comsumeing enough today as a lower skilled pilot to make your isk while people like Rip who can take 2-boxed tengus to a site and clear it in no time!

  11. The problem is simply that players become more powerful over time with no real cap on that power.

    As a 3-month newbie, I find missions plenty challenging and engaging. I'm only doing level 3s, and they pose a reasonable threat to my cruiser. Going to a larger ship doesn't really help, since I don't have the skills to make it effective.

    This is a classic problem in MMOs, really. Experienced raiders in World Of Warcraft pretty much have the same issue - they blow through the raids within a month or two, and then are bored until the next raid is introduced, in which case the process repeats.

    And in that sense, CCP's focus on PvP has been a boon. One of the nice things about Eve is that there is very little content that's completely irrelevant to a new player, because most of it is designed for a new player. Attempting to design increasingly difficult high-end PvE missions may sound wise, but it could also enter CCP and players into a progression race that no one ultimately wins.

  12. "it's not engaging and it's not difficult."

    Flying two Tengu's and then deciding you needed a pair of faction ships to finish it.

    I suspect the site wasn't designed for a vet with this ability at his fingertips.

    Having said that, I wish the rats would notice if the ships engaging them were too strong, so they bug off into a later room, so as to increase the dps at that time. Or, if the ships included a logistics ships, to alter their fleet comp to work on either driving off or disrupting the effect of the logi so the other ships have to work harder. or bring points to hold ships in the room instead of letting them fly into later rooms.

    Simply put, the rats are not clever enough to be a challenge.

    I strongly suspect, though, that the people who spend their time milking sites (including incursion sites) don't want variability, don't want the rats to react to their fleet comp to make things harder, don't want escalations increasing difficulty without increasing payout for larger fleets.

    In short, the changes being considered to make PVE more 'fun' for players that want fun, will be hated/despised/derided by the folks that make their ISK grinding this missions who want to be able to comfortably complete missions/sites with the minimum of risk, minimum of human interactivity, minimum of time, and maximum of loot.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.