Thursday, 1 October 2015

TV: Orphan Black

I try to stick to MMO discussion here but I wanted to mention this particularly fine TV show.

Orphan Black is a dark funny contemporary sci fi show about human cloning. Because of the weirdness of the TV industry I've found a lot of people haven't heard of it as it's not particularly well promoted, especially in the USA.

It's a first class TV series, on a par with Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones.

Season 1 and 2 are currently available on UK Netflix.

Season 3 is available for about a month on the BBC iplayer.

If you have access it's definitely one to catch if you like TV drama shows.

Here's a trailer:

Thursday, 24 September 2015

My first day in Faction Warfare with Brave.

With much love and fond farewells I left Kite Co yesterday and joined Peaceful.....erm..... Feely Wotsits or whatever our new FW standings grinder corp is called (seriously the most forgettable name ever).

Yomato licked us into shape then handed the reins over to me and I took us offensive plexing. Oplexing is 65% about fighting and 35% about ticking over the timers to win capture points, the captures provide a nice stream of passive income when what we're actually doing is chatting and d scanning for customers.

I did a couple of hours last night with a gang that varied from about 2 to 6 active pilots. Each fight has a fair chance someone will die so we based out of Oshaima which has a good route to nearby Jita, is right near a load of very hot gallente systems has a market stocked by RvB who live there (as do our FW trailblazers, Kill Them With Kindness) and has the plus point that the police aren't constantly threatening to kill us.

We had a very good fight where we killed a jackdaw, thorax and something else and later an exciting assault on TMC streamer Lazarus Telraven where we all died heroically. We actually got his Thorax to half hull but being a dishonorabu goon he just had to batphone PL and was saved by Elise in a Vexor.

Today I soloed for a few hours while pretending to half ass some work and discovered I've become very rusty at frigate pvp in the plexes. There's a specific sequence you have to do as a brawler when a kiter comes in on you: preheat, set tackle mods flashy, approach, lock and I used to have it down pat but I messed it up this afternoon and lost 3 fights to kitey tristans. I cheered myself up by winning one against a Punisher though.

Then other people in the corp came alive and we got a gang going again. The place is so content mad I actually looked for quieter systems so we could secure a few lp before I welped us.

Our first action was a fight against a t1 hauler which was brutally beating up poor Yomato. Turns out he's not very good at fitting Hookbills as even with 3 of us dirty blobbing it it was still able to murderise him. Never come between a Badger and its goo!

We took a brave fight in Onatoh, we knew they were slightly outmuscling us but it's better to fight than to keep running off until you're sure. (interesting discussion btw on Asher's podcast about how no one in nullsec wants to have an even fight any more so it's not all roses there like some people are saying). We killed a thorax and nearly got another one before we all died. - 4 frigs, welp #1

We did some plexing, made some LP then took on another fight, this time against some posh faction frigs. We got a slicer for a few cheap frigs and a hookbill. Welp #2

We carried on exploring the zone and oplexing as the evening started getting busier and busier. CalMil took the crucial system of Heydelieles someone told me so it was a real ants nest around this corner of the zone with the Frogs knowing that we're poised to knock over the next lily leaf. It puts adding points to the silver control bar into perspective knowing that corps like Aideron Robotics could lose their home with us doing a bit to help that along.

We hooked up with a CalMil fleet trying to take a plex in Fliet with expensive ships. As we were in cheapass brawlers it made sense for us to sit on the beacon looking for scrams while the rich kids swagged about in their garmurs etc.

Gallente tried to pick us off with cormorants but we were too good and all of us made it past a camp they put on the novice plex. Gallente couldn't allow us to capture this so they reshipped into incursus, navitas and... wait, what's this???... a griffin. Caldari supremacy tacitly acknowledged!

in they came and meat shield did what meat shield does. We scrammed and killed a logi frig, then another, then that was it for me, turns out being in a ship that fights at 1000m does not a long life guarantee in frig brawls.

The others clung on and brawled a bit more with line fleet members very competently managing the fight until we died. Dunno what happened to our Caldari friends after we died - probably warped off and polished their killboards. Ho hum, the life of a peasant in a Merlin.

So that was #welp3 but each welp was a useful assault on an enemy that we inflicted pain to everytime.

All told I've spent about 8 hours of the last 24 doing FW and had really good fun. Of the 10 Merlins I brought down 8 are dead but I've got 7 kills and am the corp's top killer!

If other people in Brave want to be early adopters too come join us. And as for everyone else we'll see you in a couple of weeks when you can fly your Merlins and meatshield for us as we all swag around in our posh new Caldari Navy Hookbills. (Don't worry, you'll get enough LP for a Hookbill soon enough).

For people not in Brave join channel Brave Newbies and ask about the faction war corp, erm, Peaceful something something.

And for people who are frogs, watch out, the Newbies are coming!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

AAR: BRAVE Frigate Tournament, winner's perspective 2015/09/18

Mikal has decided to organise a regular frigate tournament and the first of them started last night.

I won with a rail Tristan fit. The tournament limits drones to Tech 1 only but even with T1 Drones the Tristan is still a very strong ship.

I designed my fit to be a little deceptive. While it applies from range reasonably effectively peak damage is from quite close (probably 9km using Antimatter is my best distance after taking tracking issues into account).

I played the Tristan by using a simple beginning of Keep at Range 30km and peppering them with Spike (30 dps). From there I'd assess whether they were comfortable with long range in which case I would move in, web them and switch to antimatter or Javelin high damage ammo or if they couldn't hit me at that range just sit there plinking away.

Here's my fit:

[Tristan, Tourney]

Damage Control II
Small Armor Repairer II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II

5MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 400

150mm Railgun II, Spike S
150mm Railgun II, Spike S
[empty high slot]

Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Processor Overclocking Unit I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Hobgoblin I x5

My first game was super close. I played Jozzer. He used a rail Incursus which was doing decent damage at 30km while laughing at my pitiful rail dps. I decided to rush in which led to a nasty close range brawl where we both overheated everything and just hoped. He blew up just seconds before I would have, giving me a win in very low structure.

Here's the bracket. Note that there's a mistake. After my match with Kal Nour his name was put forward but in fact he wasn't able to stay around for our game so I got a win in my second match by default and the name Kal Nour should read Callduron for round 3 onwards.

My next game was against Dsching who I consider to be a very strong player. It was Tristan v Tristan. I think however he misjudged his fit. He was running 2 armour reppers and a neut with no cap modules or rigs. I just don't think that can work. (By contrast I was running just one repper and still had a cap booster). I did my trademark plinking from 30km which forced him to send in his drones then I rushed in for a kill, keeping a little out of his optimal blaster range and got a pretty safe kill.

My next opinion was minion Kanjus who brought a very respectable light missile Kestrel. I moved to 30km to test how he played and BLAM: I got slammed halfway through my shields in the first volley. However missiles do the same dps close as they do far and with him having only an afterburner I had total range control. I moved in close, webbed him, used Javelin high damage close range ammo and overheated everything for another win, albeit not as comfortable as I would have liked. In fact I got the pvp shakes quite badly in this from the adrenalin rush and was physically shaking a lot. Really good fight, Minion.

And that was the end of the winner's bracket, I was the last remaining person with no losses yet. And so I watched a brutally competitive losers' bracket play out to decide who I would play in the final. I had the security blanket of knowing that if I played the final and lost it would go to a rematch between the same two finalists because of the double elimination rule - I couldn't be eliminated by a single loss, not even in the final.

The losers' bracket was superb with great skill being shown and a really diverse meta. Breachers, Executioners, Merlins, all kinds of ships in addition to the popular Tristans. The outstanding player was maydNNN who flew a very fast light missile Breacher. He faced quite a few opponents with drones and was simply too quick and skilful to even get touched by the lumbering T1 light drones. He won several matches by taking no damage and scoring some light damage on his opponent and getting the referee decision. He attracted some enthusiastic German support and went on to represent a strong German contingent of participants in the final against me.

Germany may be the land of crystal spun castles but sadly the final was no fairy story. I chased in to my opponent doing some light damage with spike as I approached and setting drones on him. Crucially I got a web on him which stopped him from doing his trademark kiting. However he scrammed me and was able to pull away using his mwd and got out of web range. I was a little slow reacting and he got to a good distance for him with the potential to apply very well from distance. Then he boundary violated ending what was turning into a close fought match, with possibly his advantage.

We were both pretty tired it being 2.30 am my time and 3.30 am his time. He had also had a long intense journey through the losers' bracket which I had been spared. So really I think I won by attrition.

Veteran tournament player that I am a win's a win and I'll happily take it. I won a Dramiel, free entry to the next tourney. In addition a prize had been donated of a fit up Cerberus but the player who got it decided to give it to the tourney winner so I got that as well.

Thanks to everyone who took part and to Mikal for organising it.

I hope a lot more people decide to give it a go next time, it's definitely worth 5 million isk to enter, amazing fun.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

How could Eve build up tournament play - the mini-leagues plan

I've been bitten by the tournament bug as have a lot of the players who tried tournament play for the first time in AT XIII. I'd love to play more as would members of my squad but the next tournament is a year off so instead we have nothing to do. Most AT squads simply disband at this stage.

For tournaments, for e-sport, to become a more significant part of Eve two things need to happen. Tournament play needs to be year round and it needs to be trivially accessible even to quite casual players.

Here's my proposal: the Eve Mini-Leagues.

Any alliance can enter one team and no more. Most AT rules apply such as the rules on collusion. When teams enter they are initially assigned a league based on order of entry. League size is up for discussion but we'll say 8 to start with. It probably should be a multiple of 4 so that a league can easily be used as the basis for knockout tournaments, notably the AT itself. League duration is a calendar month.

So month 1 and we get 21 alliances sign up. That's enough for 2 leagues of 8 with a waiting list of 5 teams. Each team has 7 possible matches to play over a month period - they don't have to play all of them but only get points from results. Say League 1 sees its weakest team only play 3 matches, losing 2 and winning 1. That team gets relegated to League 2 and the weakest team from League 2 gets relegated to the bottom of the waiting list with whoever's been on the waiting list longest taking their place.

If 7 matches a month seems too much we could do leagues of 4 which would also have the beneficial effect of reducing the waiting list. The problem with this is that it might make the top league just PL, Warlords Camel and whoever is about to get relegated.

A match is considered "played" if it conforms to tournament rules (based on latest AT rules), is not interrupted by a third party and a youtube link of the action is provided. I'm thinking that matches should be streamed or at least frapped because we want this to attract a viewer base and build a viewer base for the AT.

The unscannable zones added to sisi for the benefit of AT teams should be perfectly adequate to allow teams to play matches when hostile third parties are trying to screw them up.

The beneficial effects of this minileague system will be as follows:

- year round tournament gameplay which adds to the sandbox, the options to choose from for players.

- adds spice to alliance rivalries

- newbie and casual friendly as these are low stakes tournaments which can be infinitely extended to accomodate every alliance that wants in.

- a wonderful opportunity for streamers and people who make Eve content.

- the chance for Eve presenters and commentators to improve. The presentation of AT XIII was good but there's no question that it could be better and I think it would be if there were constant iteration and feedback throughout the year.

- an opportunity for Eve organisations like Eve Bet to gain publicity and traffic by sponsoring prizes.

- the building of an enthusiastic dedicated interesting following for Eve Sports.

I'm thinking this could be hooked in with current out of tournament gameplay like the player tournaments arranged at Eve events. Maybe at Eve Vegas PL might arrange to play a league match v Camel and that would be part of the event, with some of the team members playing in person at the event, hooking up with colleagues who can't attend. It might also fit with Eve-NT if the rules allowed for smaller sides format to be a legal way to play matches. (Or maybe the leagues could be 5-a-side, it's not a dealbreaker).

Is this a huge undertaking?

Not at all. People already scrim on sisi or run in-house tournaments, it's really just a formalisation of stuff players already do. The big change is that there's a competitive element to it and that matches will be streamed, broadcast and commentated on. (As a matter of fact we recorded our practice scrims when Brave prepared for AT XIII and those videos are very entertaining to watch).

We don't need much from CCP although we'd like this to become a supported element of the game, just as gas mining or high sec ganking is.

Success would be driven by how many people get involved but in my opinion there's a huge hunger for the tournament playstyle, that hunger is highest - pardoxically - at the end of the AT when no one really does any tournament stuff.

Benefits for Eve

E Sports are a hobby and like any hobby they are part of people's lives. You can't really have Eve Sport as a hobby when it's only on 3 weeks a year. If you could watch tournament play all year round then people would get into it and stay into it as their appreciation and understanding of small nuances of piloting skill grows.

People like watching gaming streams so they can improve. With good commentary streamed or youtube league matches would show off the skills of some of the best players in the game, all pushing each other to excel by competing.

It adds stickiness to Eve Online as a whole as alliances and pilots work out grudges on the grid and trigger new vendettas.

People like the soccer world cup because they can relate to it. At one time Pele was a scruffy kid kicking a can around the street. Set up tournaments so that anyone can try it and the people that tried it are more receptive and enthusiastic about the main event because they can picture themselves in the finals making the critical plays. The AT will be a much bigger deal if we become a tournament-playing community instead of leaving it as a once-a-year perk for a handful of elite players.

People will be drawn into Eve because of the Eve Sports buzz.

New players can be steered towards socialisation, risk and fun by the addition of a new Opportunity - join an alliance and play a league match for them.

Constant iteration on the tournament "little things" that would over time create a much better project.

An Eve sport element to the game that is integrated into regular production instead of being something that staff have to come in on their weekends to make work. Because work would happen throughout the year there would be a lot less "crunch" during the three weeks of the actual AT for CCP staff.

Potentially the leagues could provide a qualification system for the AT that generates a better and more conpetitive strucure than simply drawing competitors out of a hat. (I think it really hurt Eve Sports that alliances like Goons - the largest alliance in the game - had no stake in this year's AT because they got unlucky in the random draw).

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Brave strikes back

From Capri's address to Black Legion we learn that one of the most divisive moments was when Elo formed a CTA fleet to retake Y-2ANO. We learn from the Soundcloud (Capri's @ 10.50) that this CTA ended disastrously and caused deep and divisive drama after Elo arranged it then failed to show up to his own op.

Apparently this mayhem was the result of the actions of a single mischievious interceptor pilot.


I think that's the first alliance I've killed, pity it doesn't show up on my killboard.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Alliance Tournament - what tier is your alliance?

AT commentator Chessur stirred some controversy this weekend when he referred to a team as "lower tier."

He quite often comes out with things that sound rather arrogant and trigger people but I think his notion of tiers is spot on.

Eve's finest.

Here's my take on the tiers in the current Tournament community:

Top tier: PL, Camel, Warlords of the Deep (Hydra).

At this tier the teams have probably the best pilots in terms of execution and skillful piloting. Every pilot has a job to do and is expert at it - for instance a guy who flies assault frigates will do the same general thing, like screening, match after match. These teams are ludicrously rich (Elise mentioned that the PL AT fund stands at 7 trillion isk) and generally put in more work than anyone else. They are also aspirational - when Gentleman's Agreement alliance closed down their best pilot and team captain, Bluemelon, was picked up by Warlords. There's a continuous drift of outstanding players from lower tier teams into these alliances. These teams invent most of the setups everyone else uses, they define the meta.

Second tier: Nulli, Shadow Cartel, Tuskers, Exodus, etc

We had the pleasure of scrimming with Shadow Cartel as part of our tournament preparations and they really felt different class. Teams at this level are dedicated AT veterans with a genuine chance to upset one of the big boys. They may occasionally field AT prize ships. In AT X Verge of Collapse, a second tier team, won the tournament outright - the core of that side though is now with Triumvirate.

At this level there are no bad pilots in the teams and they perform consistently against lower tier opposition.

Pilot quality is what puts an AT squad into this tier. For instance take The Tuskers. Last year the guy in their Maulus, arguably the easiest ship to fly with the lowest skill point requirements was Iddo Cohagen. It's also low points value. This player has his own youtube channel and blog, where you can see that he's an outstanding pvper. To have someone this good in your most minor ship shows how strong this team is on all 12 places. That's what makes a team Tier 2.

Third tier: Test, Brave, KICK, Easily Excited, etc

Lacking the money and the pilots of the higher tier teams teams at this tier put in a lot of work to make the best of what's available to us. A lot of us practice in the Test open scrims on sisi - spying is a much lower concern because our setups and piloting maneouvres are usually generic rather than being anything ahead of the game. Teams at this level usually take a set up from a previous tournament, adapt it based on game changes since and maybe invent a set up or two, following obvious game changes like the missile buff and the introduction of T3 Destroyers. Skill points can be a big issue at this level - when we decided to field bombers we had several people frantically training up Torpedos IV (not the advanced skill, the specialisation, just the basic skill) so they wouldn't be totally underpowered. In general teams of this tier will put forth solid effective comps and our piloting will be inconsistent but sometimes very competent, showing the practice we've put in.


Fourth tier: Brothers in Arms, etc.

I don't want to point fingers at too many teams from this tier. In general this tier is the teams that haven't really prepared for the AT or for some reason can't. When we were matched against Brothers in Arms I did some research on them and drew 2 conclusions - they simply don't have enough people to play most effective comps and they were very inexpert at building tinkers. At the time I looked into them they only had 10 active pvpers including alts and all their AT pilots from their first two matches. They had fielded pretty poor tinker teams in both their matches somehow eeking out a win against an awful Waffles tinker. That's another example of a team beating a side from the tier above, imo, as Waffles despite being poor in the AT are actually a solid tournament side with a lot of experience who had put in a lot of work. (We scrimmed with them a few times on sisi). I feel that Brothers in Arms didn't know how to build a tinker as a tinker is built around a tengu permarunning an unloaded ASB while being flooded with cap by teammates, they used a cap regenerating tengu with minimal support from small cap transfers elsewhere in the team. It's a set up that simply can't produce enough tank.

Characteristics of a fourth tier team are - not enough pilots, using a setup that's unconventional and worse than standard set ups. Generally they're not prepared. After all the AT is open to anyone wanting to spend 5 plex and play a match or two so there will be teams in the tournament who just rock up on the day and give it a go.

The highest achieving fourth tier team was REVOLUTION. They had a great run even though they only used 9 pilots in their five matches and brought set-ups that were just random battleships with no logi. It says a lot about the individual skill of the players that they did well without any evidence that they had prepared for the AT. They beat Forsaken Federation (tier 4 imo), got annihilated by RONIN (tier 2), then beat a terribly disorganised Razor side (Tier 3 but having a nightmare day - it's believed they forgot to bring ammo) and then pulled out a genuinely excellent win against Northern Coalition. (tier 3) before getting beaten by Phoebe Freeport (Tier 3).


I think this is quite an interesting analysis. A lot of it is based on very subjective response - it just felt different to me when my scrim partner turned out to be Shadow Cartel than say Test.

I think it also points to the possibility that the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 is mostly resources and the difference between Tier 2 and Tier 3 is mostly pilot ability.

I think also it shows in detail why Chessur is justified in talking about "lower tier" teams.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Alliance tournament: Captain's Report stardate 2015.08.30

The Alliance Tournament finished on a high note with a superb day's matches culminating in a great final series that saw Warlords of the Deep worthy champions.

For Brave it's been a run to be proud of. We put in a lot of work on sisi, the Test server, with our practice partners. I'd particularly like to thank Test, PFR, CVA, Shadow Cartel, Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork, NC., Affirmative, Explicit, Waffles and Pandemic Horde for scrimming with us and making us feel very welcome. Most of these teams as well as us made it into the second weekend and three of them made it to the third weekend which shows how useful this form of preparation is for AT sides.

We finished up on Day 4 with 2 wins and 2 losses. Pretty respectable start for a first time team. Of the first timers I think only PFR and REVOLUTION went further than us.

Our first match was a squeaked out win with our tinker holding together for the full 10 minutes while squeezing in a Heretic kill. This beat Easily Excited a pretty competent AT team who themselves finished 2-2. Our inexperience showed - we had to play tinker because we had underestimated the time needed to fit up our ships and only had three comps ready and two of those were taken out by our opponent's oneiros/guardian ban.

Our next match was another disorganised one as we had to shuffle around command ship pilots at the last minute. In the confusion, despite agreeing we'd run the Sensor Integrity link to reduce ECM we forgot to put it on the command ship and got brutally punished for it by PFR's Scorpion. It was still a very close and thrilling match that could have gone either way for seven and a half minutes. We wished our practice partner, PFR, well while quietly kicking ourselves for lots of silly execution errors that caused the game to slip away.

In the second weekend our first match was against a rather little known alliance called Brothers in Arms. After researching them I became convinced they simply didn't have enough pilots to run anything but tinker. I banned tengu and loki forcing them into an inferior armour tinker and we produced an exceptionally fine performance with a somewhat gimmicky ultra high dps comp. Props to Yuri for coordinating a thrilling bombing run.

Bombers! Go go go!

Our next match was against another practice partner: the Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork. We had become convinced in discussion that teams weren't prepared for sentry drone comps which while nerfed from their pedestal of 2014 were still performing well in practice. "We've out-manouevred the meta," I smugly announced to the team as I handed out ships. Pride comes before a fall and our inexperience showed as we failed to realise that jams from the 2 blackbirds were causing our application to completely fail. We got hammered and reaction from outside was that drones were a terrible choice. I'm still not convinced that drones were a terrible choice - it was more our lack of understanding of the pieces we needed in place that let us down - jams on our frigates killed us. In any event our opponents brought a strong comp and executed perfectly, I think we may have been trying to be a little too clever. In a cruel twist of irony the Footwork captain told me afterwards that they only brought the Blackbirds because I banned out Svipuls. Doh! Too clever by half.

We've out-manoeuvred the meta!

I had three goals running Brave's AT squad.

1) Kelnon had asked me to put up a good performance even though we weren't expected to win a game. We surpassed this goal.

2) In addition I wanted to try to dispel the notion that AT is some elite thing for super high skill point players. We had a number of very young pilots - in fact the majority of our players started in 2013 or 2014.

3) I wanted to lay a foundation for future Brave AT entrances. We have most of our funding intact (we lost almost all of two comps plus we used a set of +3% implants/mindlinks every match). Cornak will in due course announce how much we have left. We have a solid core of institutional knowledge including an AT corp on sisi which has been the subject of many good-natured coups. This corp has our corp fittings and corp hangars full of practice versions of our AT ships. We have very animated AT forums, currently kindly hosted by KiteCo. And we have a lot of people with a deep understanding of how to prepare for a tournament.

And with that I'd like to announce that I'm stepping down as Captain. I've had an absolute blast running the AT squad and it's been wonderful playing so intensely with such a capable group of pilots. It was a ton of work though and I think next time I'd rather focus on my personal performance (which I wasn't very happy with) than have to worry about a hundred things at once.

I'd still like to allocate the prizes we won this time as agreed with my then boss, Kelnon. I intend to distribute our 20 skins and our plex prizes among the squad members who put the most effort into making us a success.

I'd very much recommend doing this to anyone who feels ready to step up. It's a tough demanding job that's thoroughly rewarding and fulfilling. It's probably more fun than anything I've ever done in gaming (and I played my first video game in the mid-70s). We'll put a post up in the SIGs section of the Brave forums for people who might be interested.

Newbie-herder wanted.

There's more than the Alliance Tournament. Test host their sisi scrims most of the year round although I believe they take a short break just now. CCP Logibro has announced an Amarr succession solo pvp tournament which this SIG could be of great assistance in helping Brave members practice and theorycraft. There's also player-run events like Eve_NT and so on so while it's a seasonal SIG and for much of the year there may not be a great deal going on I think it's best it keeps ticking over rather than shutting it down then having to start from scratch next June. Anyway all of that will be up to the next management team, not me.

Thanks to everyone in Brave who has taken an interest, come to a practice, donated isk or helped us in other ways. The AT SIG is a great credit to Brave and a source of new player interest and I hope we continue to have Tournament gameplay as an open and inclusive option that our members can choose to do.

See you on sisi!