Monday, October 31, 2011

Persistence Pays Off - For Us

It began as I logged into Comms while running my Planet Goo business and heard the rumblings of some activity with Stealth Bombers in Null.  So needless to say, the restarting of extractors could wait and I quickly logged on to my combat character in Null.

I guess to start I should mention that I love Stealth Bombers.  I mean I downright Love these little beasts.  I assume it is a side effect of living so long in a Wormhole, where stealth is king, and bombs are Queen.  To top it off, I get great satisfaction watching people in the Stealth Bomber when I know they are going to die, and they don’t yet.

So I log in, jump into the Purifier, and head off for the target system.

As I am warping to the system, I hear on Comms there is a Command Ship in a site with wrecks.  Oh Sweet Lord of Eve, let it be true.

As I hang on the last gate to avoid another +1 spooking the prey, I hear our fleet has grown to 3 Stealth Bombers and a Falcon.  We all figured if it was a trap we were willing to lose 3 SB’s for a shot at a Command Ship, but we were fairly certain this was not a trap.

Our scout lands on grid with the Nighthawk and confirms he is just merrily ratting away.  The order is given to assemble on grid, so I jump and warp to 10km off the lead scout.  Sure enough, the Nighthawk is finishing a site with Fighter escort.  I am sure he felt with Fighters he was more than safe enough to handle the 4 reds in system.

When we confirm all 4 cloakies are in position, the order was given to launch the attack.  With the unknown of where everyone was, we decided against bombs and went straight for the torps. 

The initial volleys hit their target and the shields made no effort to recover.  The Falcon pilot happily reported the target was jammed, and the SB’s proceeded to pound the target into submission, which didn’t take long.  A look at the KB later confirmed the buffer fit.  We waited on grid for any response and covered the SB looting the wreck.  We then warped to safes and warped back in at range to look for the response from his almost 20 friends in local.  Nothing came.

As we waited on grid for something, anything, to happen we received notice on Comms from our scout watching their station that our friend had undocked in a Raven.  “He is aligning towards you” quickly followed. 

With the Command Ship kill already under our belt we were playing with house money at this point so we held on the field and waited for our friend to arrive in another ship.  He did not disappoint as he landed on grid with his Raven about 20km off my position.

I quickly confirmed everyone was in place, and satisfied we were ready, I uncloaked, primed the Warp Disruptor and Torps, and locked the Raven.  Again the Falcon pilot reported the target was jammed.
As the Raven melted, a Manticore uncloaked about 60km off me, locked me and started to launch torps.  About the same time the Fighters reappeared on the scene.  My Neocom screeched at me as my shields melted and armor started to vaporize.  I aligned quickly and hit the warp button to my safe.  I landed and continued to listen to the situation as a drake and another ship landed to aid their friend. 

The order was given to warp to safes, and about that time I suddenly had a fleet of fighters land on me.  I was not happy to see them, but as I warped to a second safe I was happy I had pulled them off the field.  I remembered to cloak this time.

The fog of war played in here as we did not know if we had succeeded in the kill of the raven or not.  As we warped back in at 100km we saw the Raven wreck, but we never did get a Killmail for it.  On the shame.
So we were sure the night was done and the fourth SB on the field was lamenting his bad luck at missing the fight and our scout on the station had left to find other targets.  I guess the target also thought the night was over, because after about 5 to 10 minutes, in warps a Cormorant.

We laughed, got into position and proceeded to dispatch the cormorant in plenty of time before they could “spring the trap” again.  As the Calvary arrived, we were all in warp to safes and laughing in Comms at the persistence of these people.

Now we are sure they have learned their lesson and are not stupid enough to try again to trap our merry little gang of SB’s (which has grown to 5 now), but our scout (now back on their station) reports a Pilgrim undocking.  Say it isn’t so Joe.  Guess Forrest was right, “Stupid is as Stupid Does”.

Sure enough, the Pilgrim lands on grid.  One of our SB’s is fit to hit from almost 80km and we decide to let him fire a couple of volleys from that range and see what happens.  The rest of us closed to within point range.  Nothing happens except the Pilgrim starts to bleed shields. 

Since we are still playing with house money, we decide to go for another kill.  We all uncloak and proceed to pound the Pilgrim.  Sure enough the scout at station reports a fleet of 4 BC’s and a Falcon undocking.  At the same time the Manticore uncloaks again at about 60km off the Pilgrim.

We all hold field long enough to kill the Pilgrim, and start to align to safes.  One of the pilots announces they have the Pod, and three of us hang around just long enough to launch a volley at the pod before hitting warp as his backup finally arrives on the scene.

We throw a few barbs in local about yet another fail trap, and we warp back in at range again.  But alas, the Pilgrim was their final attempt at trapping us.

They get at A for effort, and we get three ships and a Pod, with a fourth ship destroyed but never accounted for on the Killboard.  Not a bad night, for us.

And yes Carebears, I managed to reset my extractor heads too.

Fly Safe,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

POCO - CCP's Latest Idea

In case you live under a rock, don't follow the markets, don't own a POS, or don't do PI, here is the link to the latest from CCP on PI.

I am not going to rehash the details of the Dev Blog, since really if you are too lazy to read it, you are not going to care much about WTF I think of it either, but hey thanks for stopping by.  Before you stop reading I will just say Stealth Bombers are cool toys, but paper thin.

Okay, back to the indy talk.

We have now had 24-48 hours for the news to sink in, for the cost of POS fuels to skyrocket, and for mass hysteria to sink in.

So is turning over the Low Sec, Null Sec and W-Space PI Customs Offices to players a good thing, or a bad thing?

Well that depends a lot on who you ask.

I agree for Low Sec a lot will depend on the strategy the "controlling entities" use.  Are they going to look at this as a way to make some isk? or a way to shut all the ninja PI people out of business.  In an area supposedly still controlled by Concord (they do still have Gate Guns and shit) I find it interesting that they are allowing players to control a tax stream.  I am not sure it fits with the overall "story" of the game.  These areas in Low Sec are still part of one of the big 4 States.  Would Caldari business men really allow a small band of pilots to control a tax stream?  Why would Expert Distribution not jump at the chance to gain this tax stream for themselves?  Sure it sounds great, but I am not sure it fits the "story" of EVE.  Low Sec is where I would worry  the most about the implementation of the POCO.

NPC Null.  Even more fun.  This is an area where there are plenty of bored, pissed off people willing to shoot at anything to pass the time.  Personally, I would not spend much to setup a POCO in NPC Null.  I don't see how they last long in an area like this.

Sov Null.  Already has restrictions on doing PI.  The POCO will just be one more structure that needs to be built and installed to "upgrade" a system for renters and alliances.  Will provide a small boost in income for the major alliances.

W-Space - I think this is one area that will be interesting. Some people have said that not a lot of PI comes out of w-space.  I think they are trying to deter people from competing with their vast W-Space PI empires. I can easily justify the cost of the POCO's to continue to do PI in w-space, but it will increase the "value" of my system to me, which means I am more unwilling to move, and will mean I am more likely to invest in system defenses also.  I see a rise in the number of people/corps entrenching themselves into w-space.  More carriers in C1's, more presence in C2-C4's, more activity.  Either that or a reversal in w-space living like we saw when the price of ABC ores crashed.

The other thing with PI in a WH, if POS fuels continue to remain high, the cost of POS ownership in general will deter people from being in W-space, and put more and more value in w-space systems with proper PI to support a POS at a premium.

Time will tell if this is a good idea or a bad idea, but I am all for something that will:

Drive up PI costs
Deter people from doing PI
Allow me to better "control" access to planets in "my" system
Potentially make small to mid sized fleet battles happen around them

In the end, I think this will drive fuel prices higher (as we are already seeing), and will continue to move PI towards an alliance and corporate level.  I do not want to see PI ever become something that can be a Corp activity, especially the ability to move PI goods in the Customs Office between Corp Members, as I think that would absolutely kill the ability to disrupt PI operations.

Eventually, people will adapt and find ways to make Isk again with PI in areas they don't control.  If the POCO's do not drop any of the goods inside, I think people will eventually grow tired of messing with them for grins and giggles.

The major questions are still if people will look to these new POCO's to be an income source, or a way to lock down system.  I know in W-space, I would use them to lock down the access.

Fly Safe,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chumming the waters

From Wiki
Chumming is the practice of luring animals, usually fish and sharks, by throwing "chum" into the water.  Chum often consists of fish parts and blood, which attract fish, particularly sharks due to their keen sense of smell.

As related to EVE.
Chumming is the practice of luring pilots, usually large gangs, by throwing "chum" into the system.  Chum often consists of stupid pilots in expensive PVE ships or poorly run fleets, which attract large gangs, particularly those who know how to use Dotlan.

I remember a conversation I had in local with a group of pilots doing stupid things in really nice ships.  I basically was trying to get them to realize that their was a direct correlation between them repeatedly getting killed running havens in PVE fit ships and the large number of roaming gangs that came through our pocket every night.  I tried to get them to realize that they were in effect "Chumming the Waters" and drawing these incoming fleets, to the detriment of all in the pocket.  Alas, they could not see the correlation, and eventually they went back to running L4's in high sec since "they could not make any Isk losing ships every night".

With the shear amount of knowledge available to find "chummed systems", it is easy for gangs to see where the action is at and to head out looking for a good fight.

I can jump on DOTLAN and see every system in our area, how much ratting is going on, what times, and if ships have been killed.  A good FC can "sense" the blood in the water and find the action.

Recently, we were involved in a major engagement with probably 20-35 pilots on both sides of the fight.  The aftermath was a large spike in kills in a system.  Within an hour, roaming gangs from across the region were seen roaming our "waters" and resulted in a couple of very nice subcap encounters.

If this type of action is repeated for a week or so, the area will start to become know as a "feeding ground" and will draw fleets in from light-years around. 

Great for PvP, bad for making a productive location for Isk generation.

Just something to think about as you try to balance Isk generation and pew pew fun.

Fly Safe,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How to See Things Differently

This is not a discussion on the value of having a Positive Mental Attitude, or always seeing the glass "half full"

Its not a dissertation on the merits of Zen and meditation to achieve a more enlightened vision of the world.

I am talking about how you see when you sit down in front of your computer in your mother's basement.

The EVE world is a complicated one, and your portal into it (okay computer screen(s)) can provide a wealth of knowledge, or a web of confusion.  And how you see the world of EVE depends on one of the most important things in the game, your Overview. 

While there are a ton of in-game and RL skills that can determine your success and satisfaction with EVE, one of the most important is knowing how to setup Overviews, and the knowledge of what you want on it.  A mistake in setting up your Overview can lead to failure in combat, and is probably the number one thing you can do to be prepared as a pilot.

Let's look at a few situations.  

1) A small scale fleet encounter in an Asteroid Belt.  Lets say 15 people a side.  You warp in and have a crappy overview tab on.  All the sudden (well actually after about 5 seconds of lag for you computer to load it all)  there are 200 things on your overview with asteroids, friendly ships, enemy ships, NPC Ships, drones, customs offices, planets, stations, beacons.  The FC is calling primaries and you are trying to sort through this massive list to find them.  As you try to target, the list bounces as new friendlies arrive and you target a friendly ship instead.  By the time you get the primary finally targeted you manage to get off one shot before he pops.  You repeat this process a few times before you are finally targeted and start to go down.  Now you know you are going to die, so you scroll down to find something to warp your pod too.  You Pop, there is a station.  You select it and crap your pod is scrammed and you get to ride the white light express back to your medical clone.

2) You are ratting in a quiet system.  All the sudden a red ship appears on your overview.  You quickly call out on Comms "Red Drake on me, warp to Ben Affleck belt 6-2."  To which, someone replies, "System is Blue dude, WTF are you seeing."  And then you realize its just Ungolas, the alliance's local -9 pirate.  Embarrassed you dock up and go back to playing Hello Kitty Island Adventure.

3) You are quietly mining in W-space.  You are diligently pounding the D-Scan button, but you are tired of tall the crap on it and have the use active overview setting checked.  You never see the combat scanners before the Hound uncloaks and bombs you back to High Sec.

All of these situations could have a much different result with proper Overview Settings.

1) You arrive on the scene with a proper PvP overview and see nothing but the enemy fleet laid out in front of you.  You easily follow the FC's commands of primary and deal significant damage to each ship as it melts under you guns.  You find the secondary and already have him targeted, losing no time in switching targets.  

2) You have your overview filters properly set and you see an alliance drake warp into your belt.  You crack a joke on Comms about mouth breathing WOW players, get a few chuckles and continue to make some isk.

3) You see the Combat Probes on D-Scan and are able to get your butt back to the POS in time. 

And in each situation, only a change in your Overview makes all the difference.

So why is it that so many people have neglected such a basic thing as the overview?

1) It is not obvious.  You can get away with having a bad overview probably 95% of the time.  You have time to click the object in space, or do something else to get the Overview the way you want it.  It is seldom a "life or death" situation.

2) It is your overview.  No one else ever sees it.  We share ship setups, we see kill boards of fits, we notice when a pilot doesn't follow orders, or someone shoots the wrong target.  No one but you ever sees your overview.

3) It is boring to work on.  Why spend an hour working on Overview when I can rat, mine, scan, roam, gate camp, play the market, do PI etc etc.  Setting up a good set of Overviews is just boring.

4) It is hard to know what you don't know.  How are you supposed to know you need a drones tab before going into a battle with a carrier?  How are you supposed to know a logistics pilot needs a separate set of Overview settings than a DPS pilot?  Like most things in EVE there is scant information, and how to properly setup Overview Tabs is just another area that people struggle to figure out.

So I encourage everyone, if you do not have a good set of saved Overview Tabs, seek out the information from someone who does.  Get them to explain filters and brackets and tabs and saving and ....

The next time you warp into a fleet encounter you will be happy you spent the time to see things differently.

Fly Safe,

Friday, October 7, 2011

If Dogs Played EVE

I know from being on Comms that a lot of EVE players are also animal lovers, or at least animal toleraters.

So I thought I would take some snapshots of some dogs. and labs to be specific, and discuss what type of players they would be if they played EVE.

First up.

Our Industrialist dog.  His slightly sad look from getting his Tech 2 Rigged Hulk ganked the same week he went 0 for 10 on Falcon invention gives him away.  His ears hang low from being so tired after having to take down his High Sec Pos for the third time on last 6 weeks due to another stinking War Dec.  His keen eyes are still somewhat bright at the thought of Drake prices rising slightly netting him a better profit on his latest mineral haul.

Expert at flying an Orca, Freighter, Hulk and Inty V.

Our Second Dog.

Our PvE dog.  Note the intense stare, the thorough concentration on the spawn coming from his left.  He has obviously read Eve-Survival and knows this is where the action is coming from.  The perked up ears an sign of his attention to the task at hand - shooting a ton of Red Crosses.  He knows all the chain ratting rules.  This dog is a serious force to be reckoned with for sure.

Expert at flying Golum, CNR, Paladin and Damnation

Our Third Dog.

Our Exploration dog.  The thirst to find things, the inquisitive stare, the ears slightly cocked at attention to the slightest sound.  This dog is definitely versed in scanning, hacking, analyzing, salvaging, and probably even running Incursions.  He seeks to find things in systems where other simply fly through.  The challenge of locating that 6/10 plex keeps him scanning from system to system.

Expert at Covert Ops, Tengu and Legion.

Our Final Dog.

Our PvP pilot.  Nuff Said.

Fly Safe,

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Time Dilation and Contraction

No I am not talking about CCP's potential answer to Server Lag.

I spent almost 5 hours online last night in several groups of people discussing everything from leadership structures, low versus null ship fittings and tactics, courier contracts and other "exciting" topics. It seemed like no more than an hour or so from 9 to almost 1am.   At 12:45, I gave myself "a few more minutes".  I finally got to bed about 1:50am.

Now force me to spend 5 hours in a meeting discussing my own employers corporate structure, the benefits of our new equipment versus existing, shipping systems, and other "exciting" topics and I am sure it would be a snooze fest and seem like 12 hours.

So game time seems to be very contracted and work time very dilated.  Wonder if CCP can tap into that phenomenon to fix lag?

Fly Safe,
Mick Flaherty

Monday, October 3, 2011

What's in a Stat

It has been said many times that you can manipulate the data to eventually make it say what you want it to say.

PvP stats are no different.

As I ventured into Null with the last alliance, we had an ongoing discussion about PvP stats.  There seemed to be a camp that said "I pay my $15 a month, I make my Isk and if I want to fly x, and do y I will."  For x and y insert Rattlesnake and system defense, Nyx and mining op, Tengu and Ratting, etc etc.

The other camp was more like "We are judged by our Kill Board and if you can't maintain a positive efficiency there is no place for you in this alliance."

Its not hard to figure out who is in each camp, but the discussion (as well as several other events) led to a deep rift in the alliance that never really healed.

Now, my current alliance is facing the same conversation, and the camps are pretty much the same.

The stat everyone focuses on is Efficiency.  So what is Efficiency?  It is simply Isk Destroyed / (Isk Destroyed + Isk Lost).  It is meant to show how good a pilot is in combat, but it is flawed.

Sure in some cases its easy to see how Efficiency accurately reflects the pilot.  A guy that repeatedly gets ganked in High Sec in shiney ships and never kills anything will always be a boat anchor on him, his corp, and his alliance's efficiency.

But pilots can have a great efficiency in a battle and yet the corp and/or alliance can "lose the fight".  Several encounters recently have demonstrated this exact situation.

In one case, I jumped into my trust Cane and warped off to a Gate Camp where we were trying to catch some people jumping in assets for transfer to Null Sec.  We had almost caught a group of them before, but they had slipped the net.

So with much smack talking going on in local, we set up a "better" gate camp, probably 13-15 pilots.  So in jumps a force recon ship (read 150M isk kill), and we all proceed to light him up.  Then the Cyno gets lit and here comes the hot drop.  So we all scatter off the gate like cockroaches when the kitchen light turns on.  But a few of us are bound and determined to take the Force Recon ship down.  I am one of those, figuring my 50M Isk ship is worth losing to kill a 150M ship (75% efficiency for me baby).  Well the issue is a person in a 150M isk ship, a 200M Isk Ship and another 50M isk ship all decided the same thing.  So we lose 4 ships and get 1 kill (well 2 for me as I managed to alpha a stealth bomber on my way down).  End result - Alliance 20% ish Efficiency, Corp about 80% and Personal also about 80%.

So I come away looking "successful" since I maintained the 75% the alliance is looking for.  My corp looks good, but the alliance obviously lost the battle.  Many of the corps fared even better by getting early shots in on the Force Recon before fleeing the field (though without those that stayed behind they would not have).   Obviously some did not, as they lost 200M Isk for 150M destroyed. That is not terrible, but not the 75% we are looking for.

In a second encounter, we were working as a small group attacking a much bigger force in the area. They were not organized and we managed to get into a few skirmishes where we killed a Force Recon, 2 BC's and SB, all while losing only a SB.  Then we made a tactical error and engaged a bait BS on a gate.  Cyno lit, Sabre warps in and bubbles the gate, and we lose a couple Force Recons, BC and couple cruisers.  Since I missed the last encounter, but got in on 3 of the previous kills, I came out with 100%, my corp lost a Cruiser, so again very good 90%+ Efficiency.  But the Alliance came in at around 50% (until an hour or so later we killed 4 more of them with no losses).

So in the end how do we judge an Alliance, a Corp, or a pilot and their "prowess" in combat?  It takes a lot more than simply looking at one stat and saying "they have maintained a 80% combat efficiency, he must be good", and looking more indepth at the kills and loses.

A pilot that only flies in large groups, flies low value ships, gets on a lot of kills, but will never venture into "dangerous" situations might look good on paper, but is he really a good combat pilot?  But you also need to see if the Isk being flown in situations is justified.  Someone who always flies 200-400M isk ships regardless of the situation needs to be looked at too.

So in the end, no one stat is the be all, end all of evaluating PvP, but efficiency might be the best we have currently.

Fly Safe,