Its about time

March 31, 2010

The long anticipated war between the north and south has finally begun. Or at least begins officially Thursday, with corresponding propaganda, logistics, skirmishes and smack already in full swing. Personally, I think much drama and node crashing will ensue, probably mixed with a few epic capital turkey shoots (more like epic fail). Ultimately I think the SC is just too large, too many pilots, for the NC to have not be ground down, at least in the medium term. Long term though, the NC plan of re-emerging from NPC space seems to make sense; we’ll see. I think it silly to speculate on what things will look when the war is over before its even started.

I’m not personally involved in the conflict, although, I am quite entertained by all the drama, and benefit substantially from a financial perspective as I fund most of my PVP with invention, manufacturing, and a few reaction poses. Ultimately, I’m just rooting for much destruction on both sides. As I’ve written previously, I think we’ve been in a bit of a deflationary period, with supply exceeding demand, since shortly after Dominion. The new war should swing the balance back, driving both higher demand and lower supply, and therefore higher prices and margins for mfg. That said, today’s Dev blog on upcoming changes to the insurance and mineral systems certainly throws a huge uncertainty factor into the equation. I agree with many of those giving feedback on the forums – I think this is a huge change, or set of changes, that directly impacts every player in the game, as well as the overall economy, so I hope they’ve thought this through.

My time in game has been mixed of late. Since forming our new corp, NEAT0, my friends and I have been flying around, shooting what we can in the Villasen / W-4 Cloud Ring area, while also trying to rat our sec stat up. Sec stat’s a serious grind, but I’m finally around -1.6 – cleared for all high sec with a little buffer to spare. I realized that my time as a Pirate somehow damaged my standings with the Caldari State, barring me from accessing R&D agents who have quite a few datacores sitting around, so I had to grind L3/4 missions for a couple of days to get those back as well. WOW did that suck – I forgot how utterly un-fun high sec missions are. At least when ratting or plexing you have (1) more risk, from either NPCs or hostiles and (2) more reward, from faction spawns, etc, to keep things interesting. I don’t see how anyone can run L3/4 for their primary isk, its just so utterly boring, with just enough variation that you can’t completely do it mindlessly, but no where near enough to qualify as interesting.

Now NEAT0 has joined the Caldari Militia. We’ll see how that goes. We joined for several reasons. First, simply moar reds. Second, potential recruiting – we can fly with various pilots and potentially recruit some that show talent and potential. Third, just to try something new for a bit. And last, access to FW missions, which, despite the nerf are still fairly lucrative. However, the reality of the Caldari is that, other than a few solid corps that mostly do their own thing and keep to themselves, the militia is terrible. Really, really bad. Much worse than I remember it being when I first joined, although that might simply be (1) a product of how much I’ve learned and grown over the last year and half in 0.0 and pirating and (2) many of the competent Caldari pilots left to head to 0.0. So, our reasoning for joining might not be very sound: moar reds doesn’t really matter that much as we shoot them anyways, war target or not, and its very, very blobby in the FW pipe; recruiting is looking fairly bleak; and it doesn’t really feel very new – it feels old, like my first days PVPing nearly 2 years ago.

Time will tell. Starting to feel a bit of burn out setting in. Too many things going on, moving, ratting sec up, FCing, mfg, invention, reaction poses, moon mining, recruiting, blogging. Too much. Time to scale back, at least until I can build up a bit more of an isk cushion. My various isk making operations did not seem to be churning out the money I expected them to, to the point where I’m starting to bump up against my 500M minimum buffer quite frequently. Turns out that the price depression going on was leaving me with a lot of money tied up in stuff I hadn’t sold yet, or working capital. Rising demand should help clear this bottleneck, and when I finally decided ‘screw this, I’m liquidating, now’ on a decent amount of it, I realized I had about 3B of working capital and extra stuff for market sitting around. Time to sell and get back to more fun, pew, and laughs.

Good luck to both the NC and the SC. And CCP for that matter. Give those hamsters some serious combat boosters!


Alliance Tourney VIII

March 18, 2010

Alliance Tournament 8 has been announced. Actually announced a week ago, but as I won’t be taking part, I hadn’t had a chance to read the updates and forums on the rules until now. This is the dev blog announcing the tourney, by CCP Claw, and here are the alliance tourney forums , with a lot more info on rules changes and clarifications.

Overall it looks to me like they’re going with what worked well, and just making some tweaks to keep things fresh – Alliance Tournament VII was excellent, imho. Biggest changes look like:

1) Flagships – 0.o shiney faction fit goodness. Coupled with the faction ship upgrades, this could be interesting. They’ve restricted the tanking mods, which is a darn good thing. I’m very curious to see how this works out. The obvious guess is a lot of tank stalemates between rattlesnakes, but we’ll see. There are some very crafty dudes out there who I’m sure will come up with fascinating flagships, and since their fits are published, we can all see them. Calling it now, GHSC will field a battle iteron flagship.

2) Increase identical ship limit from 2 to 3. Not a particularly big deal, less diversity, but more tactically concentrated options.

3) Improving the selection process from reserved slots from previous years plus random drawing, to reserved, auction and random. Of course accompanied by whines of ‘but people shouldn’t be able to just buy their way in’ – why not? The big guys should be in this tourney, not the random ‘look at me, I have an alliance you’ve never heard of too’. That said, I do think they should try to move away from random altogether. Maybe move toward a qualification round – have reserved slots, auctioned slots, and then a single elimination play-in weekend 2-4 weeks in advance of the main tourney for all others. This will bias toward the better PVP entities – which is the exact point.

Regardless of changes, last year’s tourney was a lot of fun to watch and I’m very much looking forward to this year’s. Its always fun watching the best and brightest PVPers match wits and skill on a level playing field. PL has dominated the last two years – let’s see if they can defend their crown. AT8 is slated for June 5-6, 12-13, and 19-20.


Crickets

March 16, 2010

Does anybody think 0.0 has gotten really quiet? I realize that the lag issues have made fleet fights unpredictable, or utterly unplayable, particularly if it has unequal impact that strongly favors defenders / whoever was on-grid first. But wow, SHC and Kugu feel quiet, killboards seem a bit bereft of fleet fights. The only major conflict seems to be the SC bulldozing CVA out of Provi, plus the, arguably, smaller fight of the Sys-k and Stain dudes. Otherwise, seems awfully quiet, with just normal skirmishes, roams, and ganks. Point is, the wholesale destruction of fleets, caps, and supercaps seems to have stopped.

Am I wrong? Calm before a storm, or has Eve fundamentally changed, or just disgust with CCP winning every fleet fight putting a hold on territorial warfare? Seems quieter now than at any point in the last year or so. Maybe its just me.


Fixing Station Docking Games

March 9, 2010

Props to Letrange for bringing up a nice little tidbit from the CSM meeting minutes. The link in question is here, and the specific comments are:

‘Noah asked what the CSM thought of a feature where ships that were warp scrambled or under other module effect could not dock. This was received with mixed comments but it was pointed out that it would open up something which would give unfair ganks. Noah asked if it would change anything if you could get overview information before undocking. There were more mixed reviews about that and nothing conclusive came out of subsequent discussions. [The CSM, upon further reflection during the weekend, rallied behind the idea. See Saturday minutes for further information. Xhagen]’

I, like many in Eve, dislike station games and those who practice this as their version of PVP. While I’m all for people having the right to play however they want, imho ‘playing station games’ is largely a tactic of griefers to mess with the noobish and less powerful. It’s my hypothesis that nerfing station games by making it impossible for a warp scrammed ship to re-dock would greatly reduce high sec griefing, and potentially re-vitalize high sec warfare. A bit of background on station games:

– Station games are PVP on a station, usually in a heavily tanked ship which engages (typically unsuspecting) targets as they undock, where the aggressor has the element of surprise and counts on a large tank to allow him to de-aggress, aka wait out the 60 second aggression timer, and dock before a counter-attack can successfully finish him.
– This tactic is commonly used in high sec, low sec, and NPC space in 0.0.
– Commonly combined with alts for repping and / or sensor boosting. In low sec and NPC 0.0 this alt is often a carrier, whereas in high sec often a (neutral) repping alt in a logi cruiser or rr bs. Repping alts are highly effective, as repping an aggressed target is not considered aggression, so the alt has no timer and can redock immediately if threatened.
– Station games are generally not as big of an issue in 0.0, because it only affects NPC stations, and because of the greater resources of the harassed: more experience, larger counter-fleets with more dps, and snipah Titans that insta-pop carriers. Losing one carrier to a DD is enough to call it a day in my book. I saw a number of these killmails shortly after Dominion launched, likely enough to end the practice in 0.0. Plenty of station camping happens in 0.0, true, but not as much of the de-aggress docking games version.
– People will view this as a low sec pirate nerf. However, because of the common use of carriers, above, imho it is not. Why? First, because the carrier reps are so large, but, also because there is a much better tactic than de-aggressing – just place your ship into the ship hangar of the carrier and warp your pod away! No timer on hangaring your ship, so ta-da! The aggressors ship is instantly safe. My former corp mates do a ton of this, but I think it’s rather meh. Combine this with no Titan DD in low sec and you have safe carrier tactic (exploit?) – can anyone tell me why exactly they took the Titan headshot out of low sec??

Overall, I think this change would largely affect high sec griefers, and would be a positive change. This tactic is fairly easy to avoid by experienced, prepared characters, through alts and insta-undock bookmarks. However, younger characters are not familiar with these counters. As a result, this tactic is primarily used by high sec griefers to target noobs in an environment where the aggressor relies upon game mechanics to save them. Every tactic should have a counter, but high sec station games have very few.

Yes, this would increase the risk to certain ships as they undock, possibly resulting in more ganking – but I’m skeptical. Ganking on stations is very, very common today, and this would add far more risk to the gankers than the gankees, imho.

But, shouldn’t this really be aimed at those horrible low sec scum? Yes, low sec dwellers pwn noobs too, but the difference is its low sec, it’s very very clearly marked not safe. This change would affect low sec griefers as well, but they’re more comfortable with the risk and, fair or not, have the carrier escape option, so THIS change is more of a high sec one than low sec.

I’m also not arguing that high sec should be 100% safe – I’m all for war decs, suicide ganks, etc. Station games ruin high sec wars by turning the whole affair into ‘who has more alts and has more stamina for boring station camps’. Adding more risk and tactical options for both sides would be a good thing for high sec warfare.

This is not a ‘whine’ post. I live in low sec and 0.0. I’ve lived flashy for the last 8 months in game. I have numerous alts and station insta-undock bookmarks that allow me to easily avoid these tactics. I couldn’t care less if they don’t opt for changes here, as I find it easy to avoid, but I do think, as I’ve stated above, this is a tactic largely used in high sec to harass noobs. As a result, I think it’s a solid proposal and would add complexity and balance to the game.

Another juicy bit from CSM minutes – no more self destructing to avoid KMs?? Um, yes please! It sucks to work on killing a carrier for an hour, only to have him self-destruct to avoid a KM.

Lastly, go CSM!! Nice job touching on the biggest issues plaguing the game, from lag, to the 0.0 income imbalance, small but really annoying things like self destructing to avoid KMs, and finally adding in new features. Glad to see you guys are representing the player base well!!