Sunday, 31 July 2011

Prime BFD: the dark art of murdering resource collectors

My main motive in Prime BFD is crafting. I've been thinking about life as a crafter in strategic terms and come to some conclusions:


Harvestables, my precious, precioussss harvesssstablessss.

By stuff I mean resources, which get pumped out of the ground by harvesters planted by members of all 3 factions all over the map and which in many cases will be collected by a solo and distracted player.

First off, how do I get my stuff without getting ganked

- I should play a class that's able to collect harvestables and get them to safety without getting ganked. We know a bit about "safety" from something Sanya told us regarding the auction house system, that it's accessed via the "mailbox". In other words if I reach a mailbox and post it to myself (or post it as an over-priced auction I can later cancel from a safe place) that let's me move stuff safely.

- I should be able to steal schematics from the other faction.

Now I want to play a Salent Antelis as my main but how am I going to manage the crafting? Well my main will be an armourtech which means I will need an alt to harvest with (or more than one alt). And surely that alt can be no other class than a Rogue type. Rogue types are the ones who get the ability to steal schematics and they also get stealth.

Let's have a look at the Salent Rogue-type: the Wraith. It has the following class skills:

Biofuse: A heal, becoming a group heal when maxxed.
Thrust: Probably a melee attack
Blast: Presumably a ranged attack
Cloak: stealth
Impair: the icon is a grappling hook, I'm guessing this is a snare
Carve: probably a melee attack
Phase Port: a short duration teleport, mentioned by Warren as a way of closing distance.
Slash: presumably a melee attack.
Exploding shot: presumably an aoe ranged attack.
Incapacitate: some kind of CC, the icon is rather humorously some poor chap going arse over tit over a tripwire.
Disarm: I expect this does just what it says.
Frenzy: I'm guessing a short duration dps buff.
Override: confirmed as the CC break skill that all classes get.
Sniper: ranged attack.
Analyze Enemy: I'd guess it allows for a more accurate version of the standard conning.

So as a harvestables carrier/schematic thief the 6 maxxed abilities should be:
Phase Port
plus two others, probably Impair and some kind of attack. Complete emphasis on escape and evasion. If Frenzy is a speed burst then that might be one to pick up too.

The main point of danger is at the machine emptying it decloaked. Anyone camping the machine will make their move. You can only cloak once per fight so if they start cloaked they can't recloak during combat and for a few seconds after but I can cloak. So it's important to Override any CC, Incapacitate them then Cloak, possibly phase porting first then Cloaking. Gearing is basically for stamina, I want the maximum survival time to get myself safe before one or multiple gankers manage to kill me and loot me.

It's likely that if you're collecting from harvesters in dangerous areas you will occasionally meet targets you can murder for their harvestables. This is a rather nice bonus. So that's a secondary consideration for this build - once he is maximised in effectiveness at sneaking in and out with stuff he can work up his assassination skills. It's always possible of course that any solo player harmlessly bumbling around his harvesters is in fact bait for an evil gang of invisible gankers.

An even more sneaky idea involves using a Human character. The game has a black market which may allow a certain amount of cross faction trading. The game does prohibit rolling on multiple factions with one account but they don't stop you playing more than one account. I could have a Salent main and alts plus on a second account have a Human Spy.

So possibly I could steal schematics with the Human from my own side and somehow get them across to my main. This would allow me to catch up rival armour techs who don't want to share. Since I play Salent I can see from looking at the auction house which Salent armour tech is able to make the Uber Helm of Uberness and /friend in these games usually allows one to track him down. Also having a Human alt tells me which Humans my Salent wraith alts should rob for their schematics and having a Salent character tells me which Salents my Human alt should be robbing.

Human Spies make amazing thieves because they have the ability to Disguise themselves as someone on a different faction. There's also an Interpret ability which I'm guessing is the ability to talk cross-faction. (You'd be a bit obvious if you couldn't talk). That's an utterly evil ability as you could do things like make a party of main + alt + noob harvester, take him round all his machines collecting his stuff as "bodyguards", go afk for a bio to see if he will too (people usually do) gank him with the spy while he's afk and steal his stuff, then come back and go "we beat them off but you died, is your stuff ok?" and walk back to town whistling innocently, listening to him whine, his stuff unnoticed in your alt's backpack.

Milder forms of metagaming may include intel on Human harvesters for our side to go gank, rumourmongering, dirty tricks on rival Salent crafters (mainly ganking their harvesters) and military intelligence. Best of all with a Human Spy alt I can infiltrate the Rodons and find out where their guys harvest too.

Hopefully whoever gets into Beta will have a chance to test this sort of metagaming as people will certainly ruthlessly exploit any weaknesses after the game goes Live.


  1. Stop it. You're making me want to play this game even more, which I didn't think was humanly possible.

  2. That second account thing just sounds like cheating to me. Do you not find that totally against the spirit of having factions in the first place?

  3. I suppose it comes from playing Eve.

    In Eve since the Goons burst on the scene in 2006, 3 years behind, and evened the playing field by ruthless metagaming everyone spies. Using disposable accounts. Multi accounts and even more extreme methods like proxy IP addresses are simply tools of the hardcore player.

    I'm also looking at it as a possible beta tester. I'd like the opportunity if I get into their beta to metagame the hell out of their system because people will inevitably do this when the game goes live.

    If I really just wanted to win at any cost I wouldn't be talking about it.

  4. Fair enough, I can see the EVE mindset now that you mention it. I don't think widespread metagaming makes a game more fun for me but I can see that for some the idea that there are literally no limits on what they can or should do if they're really competitive would be an added bonus.

  5. There are limits, and they are essentially defined by GM bans.

    For example Goon internal advice is not to scam in tutorial systems as CCP gets really protective of its new players and not to scam in the Recruitment channel. Interestingly the TEST alliance (a Goon-clone alliance) has recently been testing the waters by recruitment scamming in the Recruitment channel which has annoyed a lot of Goons.

    Is it more fun to metagame? As a tactical challenge it's interesting to brainstorm. I guess the key question is whether the social costs outweigh the fun of the tactical puzzle and the in-game advantage. That's a matter of taste. Is a game where everyone is mildly paranoid and you have to assume other player might steal more interesting than a relaxed fluffy game where everyone is nice? I think it probably is. It certainly is when the two playstyles clash - I know which side I'd like to be coming from.

  6. Well everyone would prefer to think of themselves as a wolf than a sheep. It sounds more macho for a start.

    But some types of multiplayer genre can't survive if a proportion of the player base wants to turn everything into a shooting war.

  7. Yes to both. Eve compartmentalises players hugely to get the dark metagame it wants without ruining life for the more laid back.

    The spying mainly happens in nullsec where only a small amount of the playerbase live.

    Corp theft happens to everyone but you learn not to leave too much in shared spaces. It's mainly a problem for players in wormholes as they do have to depend on shared spaces. There are ways around it - security clearances for different tabs, separate stations or even separate wormhole systems.

    Awoxing (infiltrating an enemy fleet to give them your numbers and location) usually doesn't last long before you get busted.

    And for most people as long as you stick to high sec and don't mind the occasional suicide gank if you afk autopilot with a hold full of shinies (and it's still profitable to afk trade despite such losses) then the game is solid and there's just a hint of occasional danger.

    I think Prime is probably one of the games that can cope with dark metagaming. It's being billed as a 3 faction pvp game in the DAOC tradition and that's it's main draw. I doubt those DAOC veterans are strangers to rolling characters on the other teams.