Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Eve: Thanks and good luck to Kil2

Kil2 has been one of the most worth listening to members of the Eve community for some time. He has a Youtube channel, a Live stream (and helped a great deal putting Live Eve streaming on the map), podcasted, commented at the Alliance Tournament and more. Even more importantly he has flown the flag for solo pvp, the idea that you don't need to sit in a blob to pvp that you can just grab hold of your courage, take out a ship and go find fights.

I'm delighted to report that he's joining CCP as a developer. This guy has a great understanding of the fun of Eve pvp and will be a huge asset to the dev team there.

I wish him all the best in his new job and hope he enjoys living in Iceland. Oh and pretty please CCP, let the archive stuff stay up please - it is still some of the best information available for players who want to learn more about pvp.

DUST514: A fumble-fingered noobie returns!

I spent the weekend staying with a friend who has just got back into DUST. He's in one of the top corps in the world, is consistently top scorer every match and is generally awesome. His corp is so good I can't even think about joining him there. Still I had a great time fumbling my way around and even - gasp! - murdering people occasionally in straight fights.

Travel to exotic places, meet interesting people and kill them!

Some background: I'm terrible at shooters. Not terrible in the way that some Eve alliances use it as insulating propaganda masking solid but unexceptional competence. Really terrible - I skipped that whole part of my education. The PS3 I bought a few months back to play DUST on is the first console I've owned.

I'm very cackhanded with the controller. I have to look at it to see where the buttons I should press are and sometimes forget which button does what. I even manage to forget which button makes it shoot despite its being intuitively designed so that the trigger on the controller is the button where you put what in real life would be your trigger finger.

Despite that I managed to shoot a few people. My worse stats were around 0 kills 10 deaths but my best which I repeated a few times was around 5 kills/5 deaths.

Now it is possible to use a mouse and keyboard and no doubt I'll switch to that and never look back in due course. A simple plug and play mouse and keyboard are apparently fine.

What surprised me was how much fun I had despite being rubbish.

The highlight of the weekend was a game we invented called Bonk! To play Bonk! simply summon an armoured car, find people to run over and as you run them over say out loud: "Bonk!" It's hugely fun! In one match he ran 14 people over. No sooner than one bad guy would smear himself across our windscreen than another would foolishly step out into the middle of the road and try shooting. It was glorious although he wasn't able to repeat such a marvellous performance in later attempts.

For most of the weekend we alternated, taking turns on his PS3. I tried out a little of everything, having gone in with the idea that the relatively immobile gameplay style of the sniper would suit my inept PS3 skills.

Sniping didn't really work for me. When you snipe you're trying to pick off very tiny dots a long way away. Plus it's quite easy when you don't know the maps to pick what you think is a great spot then realise after a boring 5 minutes that you're guarding the back end of nowhere and you'll never have people turn up and let you shoot them. Plus I did a lot of bumping into bad guys at close range while looking for a suitable perch which was always a free kill to them.

I tried medic. On the face of it medic should be good - it should be easier to shoot your thingy at people who aren't killing you than ones who are. In practice repairing people is really hard as they run away from you all the time, focusing on your patient gets you killed when your patient runs into a big gang of bad guys and the revive option is an exercise in frustration as you spend 30 seconds moving over to a person only to have them release and respawn just as you get close. No one expects to get revives in a match which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I tried pistol. Apparently it's quite effective if you shoot someone in the head. I never killed anyone with a pistol. For those of us at the stage where getting the gun pointed at the bad guy at all is a major achievement specific body locations fall into the category of You've Gotta Be Kidding. Next!

I tried heavy machine gun and heavy armour. Now that's a playstyle that's much easier for me. The gun has a nice big circle so if you're pointing at the bad guy you don't need to be perfect to hit. And the armour is just survivable enough that some even fights where they shoot you for the same time as you shoot them turn out as a win for you.

So that's the one I'll be sticking with.

After the weekend I came home and started what turned out to be the download from hell. Initial estimate was 1110 minutes. Like most downloads that's just for one part of a multi-part process. In the end it took over 24 hours to get into game which appalled me but which is apparently standard for a console download.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Eve: cashing in on armour changes

I decided just this once to break my normal omerta regarding money-making opportunities and talk in depth about how to make money off CCP Fozzie's announcement regarding armour changes.

The first thing we need to consider is Will this fly? Will this be popular with players, will we see lots of people trying out ships based on these changes.

It's hard to be sure but I think the answer is yes. I read the Eve post at the Something Awful forums and (they tend to forget the forum is public) one of the Goons mentioned their new armour doctrine a few days ago. So the Goons are already on the bandwagon and that means that at least the rest of the CFC will follow, if not the majority of nullsec.

I think it will also be popular with small gang pvpers and soloers. The triple rep Myrmidon already has a fearsome reputation, it will become stellar with the new changes just as Hurricanes and Drakes get further nerfed. A note on nerfs - most people don't like flying nerfed ships even if they are in balance with the power of other ships. People get a feel for how, say, a Cane should fly and the next generation of Hurricanes will perform well below what veteran pilots of the ship feel entitled to. So expect to see people leaving their old stalwarts in the hangars to try out armour tanked ships.

So if we've answered the key initial question with yes then we now need to look at how these ships will be fit and which hulls will get used. It's also useful to look at what support ships will be needed. (NB: I'll only look at subcaps because I don't think these changes will affect capitals much).

Blob warfare - buffer armour tanked ships supported by logistics. These ships will benefit from increased speed and agility from the new Armour Upgrades skill and potentially increased speed and agility from the reduction of base mass on some plates.

The following ships have passive armour tanking bonuses:
Battlecruisers: Prophecy, Absolution, Damnation
Battleships: Abbadon
Cruisers: Maller, Sacrilege, Devoter, Phobos, Legion, Loki, Proteus
Frigates: Impairor, Punisher, Vengeance, Malediction,

Small gang/solo pvp - active armour tanking ships relying on local reps. These ships will benefit from increased speed due to the armour rig changes (self repair rigs will be the typical rig selection), better repairs, especially when overheating from the new module and rig. If a plate is fitted they will also benefit from the changes to plates.

The following ships have active armour tanking bonuses:
Battlecruisers: Brutix, Myrmidon, Astarte, Eos
Battleships:Hyperion, Paladin, Kronos
Cruisers: Legion, Proteus
Frigate: Incursus, Velator

Note: the Incursus ship bonus is being nerfed  but only because it would have been, in Fozzie's word, wtfbbqop. I have no doubt that we'll see a lot of people using Incursus to see how close to being op they are despite the minor nerf.


Increased use of armour ships means we will see a lot of people flying the various armour logistics:
T2: Guardian, Oneiros
T1 Cruiser: Exequror, Augoror
T1 Frigate: Inquisitor, Navitas

We are also likely to see people switch from Huginns and Lachesis to Arazus and Rapiers because the latter have an extra low slot which makes them better armour tankers. Webbing Lokis and point Proteuses are also options here.

The following modules are generally used for buffer tank:

1600mm meta 4 and meta 5 plates
400mm meta 4 and meta 5 plates
(Fozzie's words: The fact that nobody uses anything other than 1600mm and 400mm plates is why they are excluded from the bonus - my opinion: these will remain the most popular plates).
Damage Control IIs
Trimark rigs
to a lesser extent anti-explosive damage armour rigs.

The following modules will be popular for active armour tanking

The new ancillary armour repairers
Cap booster charges, regular and navy, size 50 and 150 only.
Ordinary armour repairers in dual and triple rep set ups. Mostly medium and large meta 4 or meta 5 or higher. I don't think frigate-sized dual rep is viable for grid reasons.
EANM IIs or tech 2 active armour hardeners.
Damage Control IIs
1600mm meta 4 and meta 5 plates
400mm meta 4 and meta 5 plates
Reactive Armour Hardeners
the new Nanobot overcharger rigs, auxiliary nanobot and nanobot accelerator rigs
I don't see people using resist rigs because of the speed penalty which makes them a lot worse than rep rigs in small gang warfare.

Armour rigs are made of the following salvage:
Armour plates
Contaminated Nanite Compound
Fried Interface Circuit

We'll see a rush at Jita and other large hubs for copies of the new rig blueprint so newer players may fancy a white knuckle ride in a fast frigate from wherever they get seeded at to Jita for a fast profit.

The new module BPCs will probably be seeded in explorable radar, magnetometric and combat sites making patch day a great day to go exploring.

The Brutix is undergoing tiericide changes which will see it cost more resources to build. So independent of all the reasons to invest in or build brutixes they will be worth more in the future anyway as the hull will contain more minerals. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see the ship at 80 million isk cheapest sell order at Jita within a month.

Conclusion: pretty much everything listed here is going to increase in price as will whatever they're made of. (Exception:trade in some of the T2 ships such as Paladins won't change much). I think the battlecruiser tiericide/armour tanking buff minipatch will be enough to move the mineral basket and will significantly push the prices of supply-restricted goods such as Fried Interface Circuits. We'll see smaller increases in the prices of amarr and gallente oriented modules such as blasters and lasers. We will see price increases in armour countering equipment like Nova missiles.

Now that I've written the post I want to throw up a load of buy orders and not publish the post :)

Or then again this could be manipulation...........

Eve economy: sources of information

After my somewhat flippant response last week I decided to take the trouble to talk about economic information in the Eve community. First some generalities.

Unlike pvp information which can often be bragging or the necessary sharing of mission-critical knowledge sharing information about the market in Eve is almost always detrimental to the seller. If I tell you that Cyclones are going up and it's true and you trust me then it hurts my opportunity to profit from the imminent spike because you're now getting in on the act too. It's the equivalent almost of showing you my hand in poker.

Because of this there's sometimes a lot of disinformation. If I'm buying up Cyclones just before they spike then by convincing you they're about to go down in price I can get you to dump the 20 Cyclones you own to my Buy order at a price far cheaper than the ships will cost in 3 weeks' time. So when researching Eve information always look gift horses in the mouth.

A good market player needs to be able to read between the lines. Don't guess, deduce what will happen, put some capital where you think the profit will flow and learn from what happens. Playing the market well is all about learning the game. Other people might get away with specialising - we have to understand all of it: pvp, nullsec, faction war, suicide ganking and a host of other diverse gameplay styles.

There are four principle tides which move markets in Eve:

- the tide of change. Last Autumn mining barges were revamped by CCP and tech 1 barges had the amount of minerals used to make 1 changed. Retriever mining barges cost 5 million isk each in January 2012 and cost 29 million isk now. Most of the rise happened around August when the change was made public (by being altered on Sisi, the Test server). In this case the dev blog doesn't mention the manufacturing costs change. Changes by the developers are a very significant factor in the Eve market.

- the tide of play. Players in Eve tend to migrate towards the most lucrative gameplay feature (most lucrative after trading that is!). In 2011 it was incursions, in 2012 it was faction war. Making money off these migrations is a matter of understanding the feature they are following a little, understanding how most players will want to cash out and offering them a chance to cash out. For instance in Faction War pre-nerf there would be pushes to get to level 4 or 5 then a big cash out, mostly in implants. Most players were keen to sell to local purchasers if possible - there are a number of hazards for a predominantly pvp player getting 5000 +4 implants successfully sold at a major trade hub including being suicide ganked, being undercut and unfamiliarity with the methods for selling large volumes of stock. So these guys preferred to sell for 10 million or less locally rather than haul to Jita and sell for 14m or wait until now and offload at 22 million. To get good information about when these bonanzas occur the best method would have been to have an alt in faction war fighting for the Minmatar, ideally in a player corp where you'll be told when they need everyone for a big push. Inside knowledge of how your corporation buys items and sells items is extremely useful although in many cases it's possible to get information while still being an outsider. Eve Uni, for example, last time I checked were based in Aldrat so you're likely be able to make money selling Condors and Slashers in Aldrat because it's full of new players losing ships.

- the tide of war. Speaking of losing ships the biggest selling opportunity lies in following the fighting. Pandemic Legion have recently begun the invasion of the Dronelands, which is potentially the next big thing in null sec war. The nearest Empire stations are in Uemon, the nearest high sec stations are in Airaken. If this conflict grows we may see players looking to shop near the fight although this is far from certain as the fighting is quite near to Jita and most materiel will be sourced from there and moved by jump freighter. It's a pretty safe bet however that people will want ammo and replacement drones, particularly the ECM Hornet drones pvpers are so fond of. If the conflict does grow and more alliances join in then look at their killboards, see what they're losing and sell those ships with the modules rigs and ammo at Airaken. If you have an alt in one of the involved alliances then you can import straight to the staging system in nullsec and sell from there although you must be prepared for the station being captured by the enemy. Consider selling fitted ships on contract, consider also talking to people in the alliances that are fighting about supplying them - many will be delighted to encourage you. If you are trying to launch a system as a mini-hub it pays to be proactive. Less speculatively HED and Curse seem to be where most nullsec violence is currently happening.

- the tide of commerce. The market has its own behaviours. Often they are not related to anything that would explain why a price is rising or falling. I had to sell an officer mod recently - it was worth 3.9 bill when I started trying to sell it and for some reason supply out-stripped demand and the price kept falling. It went all the way down to 2.9 bill, I waited it out and eventually sold it for 3.4 bill. For no particular reason other than the luck of loot drops a module that normally only sees a couple in stock at Jita spiked up to about 8 being sold at once, then went down to 2 again. Commerce also sees distinctive shifts during the year and during a week. Generally production is steady and demand fluctuates. Weekends see lots of people log in and fight, stimulating prices. Expansions see many new players start and old players return stimulating demand. Any expansion that brings new ships or revamps old ships in ways exciting to the player base will see a mineral spike. There is also a lot of deliberate market speculation, players buying up stocks of something they feel will rise or that they feel they can push up. (Note that it's very easy to push a market. Put 1 item way over the buys or under the sells and often as not someone will 0.01 isk you with a large order fixing the new price).

So, where are the sources of economic information in Eve? Well they're everywhere. Every change, every conflict is also a market opportunity. Here are some specific sources:

CCP sources

In game features like the market history and the statistics shown on the starmap are very useful. Dotlan summaries many of these statistics in a helpful manner.

Dev blogs

Often the first indication of future change and the best way of anticipating the tide of change. Paying attention to official announcements can make you a great deal of easy money. Some dev blogs are economic articles that specifically explain an aspect of the economy.


The various Eve test servers are often the first chance players have to get a look at what exactly is changing.

Blue posts.

Sometimes devs just tell you market critical information. Here CCP Fozzie responds to Goon market gurus pumping him for information. Blue posts on the Features & Ideas Discussion board are particularly important.

CSM Minutes

The economy only got 4 pages this time around but there is some fairly detailed statistical information there. The minutes generally are a great source of information about future development and people may reveal forthcoming changes for the first time without really considering the market impact.

Dev interaction

Interaction with informed people will often give information about the game. CCP have Fanfest and a variety of social gatherings such as pubmeets, CCP developers often chat on Twitter and so on. Developers being interviewed on podcasts will often give indications about where the game is going. There are worse investments in Eve than buying a developer a pint of beer!

Player blogs

MoxNix is a market trader who uses alts with full Trade skills in each of the largest high sec hubs. His blog has a teaching focus and is probably the only pure Trade-oriented Eve blog written by someone with a solid market knowledge (in the sense that every article is a market article).

Gevlon is a former WoW marketeer who transitioned to Eve trading with spectacular success. If you look past the rather irritating style there's a wealth of information from a trader who is both extremely good at making money and very open about his methods. He's currently obsessed with extorting high sec ice miners, but his once per week business report is interesting and you can go back a few months to find lots of posts explaining his business.

Blake is a large volume ship producer supplying null sec alliances and is profoundly expert.

Ardent Defender is a well-informed trader/industrialist.

Mabrick is an industrialist/PI blogger.

Jester is Eve's most prolific blogger with a good understanding of the entire game. His economic posts are infrequent but sound.

Kiger Wulf is transitioning from a "My time is free" industrialist into a solid market player and one can learn a lot from his journey.

One also sees quite a lot of trade blogs run on the premise I gave my alt 100m and wanted to see how I did building up a trade empire. These invariably fizzle after a few weeks.

I do occasionally talk about the market here but not all that often. I'm a poker player who prefers to keep his cards close to his chest. Perhaps more useful is that I always think about the market so if I write about, say, removing Local I'll be looking at economic ramifications that other bloggers may not have thought of. So while I'm not a market blog Stabbed Up is still a useful site for economically-oriented players to read.

News sites

The Mittani.com This is the better of the two major Eve news sites for market players as there are sometimes well-informed analytical articles. Be careful with this site as some of the articles include dishonest attempts to gull you. For example this interview by Powers on freighter suicide ganking is an expert analysis by a seasoned Miniluv veteran but draws an entirely misleading conclusion that it is better to pilot a fat freighter with billions of isk of stuff in through Uedama than use a (then unscannable) Orca. Wonder how many suckers took his advice then got blown up! For all that there's some good information here.

EN24 is a solid news site but doesn't have analytical articles on the economy.

Guide sites

There are a number of great specialist Eve sites out there. Google works well to find them but here are some of my favourites:

Eve Guides

ISK: The Guide

Ten Ton Hammer. Famous for The Mittani's column the site also includes many very good How To guides


Two places on the official forums are particularly important:

Market Discussions This is a weird place where nothing is what it first seems. Be very careful of the various IPOs - most of them are ponzi schemes waiting to happen. Also be careful of posts naming a product such as Robotics - the sky's the limit! as they are usually dishonest posts put up by people wanting to sell you over-priced Robotics just before a slump. However this isn't always true and when this forum is accurate it's often deeply illuminating. Akita T's famous post Technetium - The sky's the limit was the first clue anyone had that Tech was broken. So this is a very important forum to read although for god's sake don't blindly follow advice until you have a really good understanding.

Features & Ideas Discussion. The blue posts tell you about upcoming changes.

Places like Failheap and Kugu can be good for tracking null sec developments but they rarely discuss industry or the economy per se.


I don't think anyone currently podcasting has a sound grasp of Eve's economy. Please comment and let me know if I'm wrong.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Eve market blogs

I’m with Jester. There are no market blogs in Eve. Any new players reading here and wondering what to do in this glorious sandbox should note the following path to fame and fortune:

- sell plex (grinding sucks)

- pvp all day every day. If you get blown up you can see on the killboard it was only like 20p. Just sell a plex and you can buy a hundred of them.

- dump loot quickly. There’s always at least a 0.01 isk sell order for just about anything and you lose more money than you make transporting it off for a better price

- never train Trade skills. SP wasted there lowers your dps

- patch day is the best day to buy new ships because you can get them when they’re brand new and everyone will say “wow, that ship is cool”

Now excuse me, I have an isk mountain to roll on.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Eve: wheee! I'm top

Probably won't last long but I've hit top place on Blue's killboard for the month!

Now just 10.5 thousand more kills and I can get top place on all time kills.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Eve: 250km POS defences

I've decided I probably won't experiment with killing POSes for now as my friends aren't really ready for it. We're going to find our feet doing pvp roams in T1 frigates and cruisers before we take on anything too advanced. I do think I could solo a lot of POSes but I wouldn't beat what most people can bring to the timer solo.

I'm going to explain why I could (or anyone can) solo many POSes by looking at the POS modules that can function at extreme range. There's not many.

Part of this is due to the odd POS mechanics. A POS defensive module is sited outside the POS shield (except for hardeners which modify the tower). However the range of the module is measured from the tower. This means that if you have a correct sniping perch you can shoot a module at 250 km which is still at least 35 km from the tower and your perch is actually 285km from the tower. Ravens, Nagas, and Apocs can all shoot POS modules while effectively outside the 250km range. This makes Energy neut batteries, which have precisely 250 km range, useless against a properly placed POS sniping fleet.

In addition range modifiers effect gun batteries and pretty much every site recommends high damage close range ammo like EMP or Fusion.

Here are the effective ranges of POS defensive modules measured from the tower. Bear in mind our fleet will be at least 285 km away. I'm assuming that modules are matched to the towers that give bonuses to them.

Amarr Control Tower
50% bonus to Energy Sentry Optimal Range
25% bonus to Energy Sentry Damage

Frequency crystals have a -50% range bonus with close range high damage ammo, 60% range bonus with long range ammo

Large Beam Laser 562.5km optimal, 100 km falloff
Medium Beam Laser 420.75km optimal, 75km falloff
Small Beam Laser 281.25 km optimal, 50 km falloff

Large Pulse Laser 159.75km optimal, 28km falloff
Medium Pulse Laser  119.25km optimal, 21 km falloff
Small Pulse Laser 78.75km optimal, 14km falloff

Caldari Control Tower
25% bonus to Missile Battery Rate of Fire
50% bonus to Missile Velocity
-75% bonus to ECM Jammer Battery Target Cycling Speed

ECM Jammer batteries 200 km optimal, 100 km falloff
Citadel Torpedo Battery 472.5km
Cruise Missile Battery 562.5 km
Torpedo Battery 168.75 km

Note: missile batteries are rarely used as defence because the batteries don't work after the tower is reinforced.

Gallente Control Tower
25% bonus to Hybrid Sentry Damage

Hybrids have a -50% range bonus with close range high damage ammo, 60% range bonus with long range ammo

Large Blaster Battery 21km optimal, 35km falloff
Medium Blaster Battery 16km optimal, 26km falloff
Small Blaster Battery 10km optimal, 17km falloff

Large Railgun Battery 300km optimal, 150 km falloff
Medium Railgun Battery 225km optimal, 112km falloff
Small Railgun Battery 150km optimal, 75km falloff

Minmatar Control Tower:
50% bonus to Projectile Sentry Optimal Range
50% bonus to Projectile Sentry Fall Off Range
25% bonus to Projectile Sentry RoF

Projectiles have a -50% range bonus with close range high damage ammo, 60% range bonus with long range ammo

Large Artillery Battery 450km optimal,  408.75km falloff
Medium Artillery Battery 420.75km optimal, 307.5km falloff
Small Artillery Battery 281.25km optimal, 210km falloff

Large Autocannon Battery 31.5km optimal, 106.875km falloff
Medium Autocannon Battery 22.5km optimal, 78.75km falloff
Small Autocannon Battery 15.75km optimal, 52.5km falloff

Not bonused by tower type:

Sensor Dampening Battery 150 km optimal, 150 km falloff
Stasis Webification Battery 150 km optimal
Warp Disruption Battery 150 km optimal
Warp Scrambling Battery 75 km optimal
Energy Neutralizing Battery 150 km optimal

So let's see: what can hit us at 285km range

Large Beam lasers with close range ammo (assuming Amarr tower)
Medium and Small Beam lasers with medium or long range ammo (assuming Amarr tower)
Large Pulse lasers with long range ammo (assuming Amarr tower)
Medium and Small Pulse lasers can't hit us
ECM jammers are 57.5% effective
Citadel and Cruise missile batteries
Torpedo batteries can't hit us.
Blaster batteries can't hit us.
Large railguns with medium or long range ammo can hit us.
Large railguns with close range ammo can just barely hit us near the limits of falloff.
Medium  and small railguns with medium ammo can hit us in falloff
Medium and small rails with long range ammo can hit us.
Medium and small rails with short range ammo can't hit us.
Large and medium autocannon batteries with long range ammo can hit us in falloff (assuming Minmatar tower)
Otherwise autocannon batteries can't hit us.
Large and medium artillery batteries can hit us (in falloff if close range ammo loaded). (assuming Minmatar tower)
Small artillery batteries loaded with short range ammo can only just hit us in deep falloff (assuming Minmatar tower)
Otherwise small arty batteries can hit us (assuming Minmatar tower)
Sensor dampening batteries are 55% effective
Neuts, webs and scrams can't hit us.

Conclusion. There aren't that many defences with adequate range to defend against long range assaults, particularly as many players prefer to load close range high damage ammo. Missile batteries have ample range but are rarely used because they offline if the tower is incapped. Plus they're vulnerable to sig tanking. Many large batteries are also vulnerable to sig tanking and will be rarely used outside of nullsec because they're meant for shooting capitals. The only ewar that reaches are damps and ecm which can possibly be countered by using FoF missiles. Alteratively some alts or friends in noobships can orbit your Raven to draw ewar.

In many cases testing a POS will be a simple matter of checking if it has close range ammo loaded. If they are using short range ammo then it's only really artillery that's both commonly used and dangerous. As many towers aren't Minmatar towers with medium artillery that's a lot of towers that will be completely vulnerable to long range assault if close range ammo is used. It would be quite interesting to test afterburner Nagas maintaining traversal against artillery batteries which have a reputation for tracking poorly. In any event logistics ships could sit 50-70km behind the dps ships and be safe against most towers.

It's very simple to test whether a tower can defend itself at range. Just park an alt in a noobship at 285km and sit still. See if the tower can kill you. If it can't you're probably ok to bring in snipers.

There are also some interesting lessons for tower builders here. First, your long range defences are for long range defence - be careful not to use high damage ammo. ECMs are really good although perhaps fof missiles counter them. (Can't imagine there's many other people flying around Eve shooting towers with fofs though). You could probably make life hard for fof users by anchoring lots of secure containers in front of your defences. The bonuses really help, try to fit guns that suit your tower's bonuses. And finally if the grid is extended then an active tower defender can shoot out to ridiculous ranges - with long range ammo a large artillery battery can hit anything closer than 2028 km.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Eve: an evil little frigate

I came up with this design after a few days playing in RvB. I'm quite excited about it as I think it could be super fun.

The art of war is deception they say.

Most Eve players vaguely know what a Crucifier is. It's some ewar frigate. Tracking disruption as it happens. And most Eve players deal with ewar frigates by chasing them down and blowing them up.

You can reinforce the notion that this is the correct thing to do by tracking disrupting someone from 100 km (110 km if you have Leadership V bonus).

And of course it's utterly the wrong thing to do for a great many ships.

This thing is small fast and screws with tracking. So if chased down by a Merlin, hell even a Vagabond, it can stop them from hitting. It scrams and webs so if it can get to 10 km range (usually by pretending to run away then suddenly doubling back) it can stop the other ship escaping. And with its drones out it does a hell of a lot of damage for a frigate. Certainly enough to kill a cruiser or a buffer tanked battleship.

So it's an ewar frigate that is also a tackler trap!

It's not perfect. It's weak against missiles. It has very low effective hit points so a lucky shot might alpha it if you lack transversal velocity.

But it's cheap. useful in both its roles and I'm sure that a lot of people will get suckered by this little fellow, especially on boring gate camps. I've used Blasters but you can use any small close range guns. It also scales, You could go out with 5 of these and be dangerous to a lot of much bigger ships.

Eve: long range POS bash Apoc

It took me some time to come up with an Amarr fit that would work well against POSes out to 250km. The only standard T1 ship that gets an optimal range bonus with large lasers is the Apocalypse. But the stats just didn't seem that good first time I tried to build a fit.

I've had another go, this time using faction mods for the crucial range boosting mid slots. With Leadership V bonuses this targets to 249 km and optimal is 244 km plus 42 falloff. I didn't look into drugs or implants but it should be possible to cheaply get this to 249+ optimal with synth drugs or a 3% implant. It's cap stable and does 401 dps at that range. Not as powerful as the Raven but ammo is much easier to manage.

Eve: reasons to kill POSes

I got some short sharp doses of common sense in response to my last post in which I announced I wanted to attack a wormhole POS so I'd like to talk this evening about why attacking POSes interests me as a gameplay style.

First, POSes have some peculiar vulnerabilities that make them weak against certain tactics. The 250 km Raven can ignore most of the modules including the warp disruption batteries which makes an unmanned POS unable to kill you (unless it has insane alpha). Stealth bombers can ignore many POS guns simply because the guns can't track them and could orbit the POS at 50 firing torpedos and kill it that way if the pos lacks webs. The presence of the vulnerabilities brings out the theorycrafter in me.

Next POSes often guard pretty valuable resources. They can be on sources of valuable moon goo such as Technetium. I actually found a Tech moon pos today which was all short range guns, so soloable (eventually) in a Raven! More realistically they can be looking after low end minerals like Cobalt or Platinum which are still highly profitable.

Even if you can't hold the moon after you kill its POS the loot drop can make killing it worth it. Once you kill a POS you can kill the POS modules and what's inside them drops out. We killed a Neo moon in Esoteria and the silo dropped about 500 million isk worth of Neo. Research POSes in station systems generally have all the BPOs in the station but in non-station systems could be a loot bonanza, dropping highly valuable BPOs. The SMA could be full of ships. The CHA might have all kinds of goodies. And silos will have moon goo or drugs or whatever else they've been making.

The owners of the POS may respond to your threat with a bribe. Note to the community: I accept and honour bribes once agreed.

People quite often make mistakes with POSes. They forget to put stront in, allow the POS to run out of fuel, don't load the guns, mess up the settings so that the POS guns don't shoot back.

Not everyone can drop everything to make a short notice in-game appointment to save their POS. What are you doing 41 hours from now? Well if someone reinforces your fully stronted POS you are either playing Eve or losing your POS, that's what you're doing 41 hours from now. I'm definitely considering August, Christmas and thanksgiving pos bashes against random pos owners because the owner might be away on holiday.

In null sec the tides of politics see alliances fall out of favour and get reset from time to time. When they do it's always some time before their space gets reallocated to a different alliance, that alliance moves in and they start towering their moons. So I have it in mind that next time I play in null sec I'll maintain a list of who is occupying which friendly moon goo site. So if someone gets reset it's green light to reinforce any pos they haven't evacuated and tower any moon they have evacuated.

Most people kill POSes using sieged Dreads. There's some downsides to this. First the Dread is trapped there while in siege mode for a 10 minute cycle. So if you can't hold the field you lose your dread, and they're very expensive. Killing POSes with subcaps using T1 ammo is cheap, doesn't risk much and can offer very nice rewards. If I half expect defence I can deploy one Raven, dps while aligned and I'll probably escape if they try to gank me.

Another element to this is that POSes are meant to be conflict drivers. Turn up in a couple of Ravens and start blowing up someone's POS guns and you're almost guaranteed a fight at the next timer. Hell they may even scramble something and come right at you in dribs and drabs. So if I get to the point where I've FCing 20-30 people in T1 cruisers I may use POSes and Pocos as ways to force fights against people who would normally blueball us. I'd love to take my long range Caracals against some kitchen sink fleet that comes to defend random low sec plat moon.

So what of the ethics of all this? To me Eve is a pvp game. When you put stuff in space you consent to pvp. It's no crueller to beat someone in Eve than to beat someone in Chess. If someone gives you a game of chess do you refrain from taking their Rook because it might upset them? I'm not a griefer but I am a wargamer, have been since I was 5 and I really like Eve's warlike character.

So to summarise: I want to kill POSes because I like doing it, because I think it's a very fun group experience, because it teaches me how to beat POSes, and because it teaches me how to build POSes that are hard to kill. It generates all sorts of interesting political and metagame play. It helps that it's pretty rewarding too.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Eve: conquering a wormhole

Having left nullsec I'm having a blast in RvB but it's not generating the income I've grown accustomed to. While it's not actually cost very much (I've lost 3 frigates so far worth about 40 million total), I have accounts to plex and besides I just like being rich.

I need to get my PI going again. Preferably in a wormhole.

I have a few friends who are also interested so I've been thinking about taking one by conquest. My last hole was an unfashionable C1 with a null static - maybe we can do better this time. And since the good ones are nearly all taken we'll have to kill a POS.

A great many POSes are defended by gun batteries that simply don't reach far enough. A sniper ship can shoot from over 200 km and generally speaking the battery versions of close range guns (autocannons, pulse lasers and blasters) don't reach anywhere near that far. So there's a fair chance of finding a POS that we can kill with range in comparative safety.

Here are my designs for sniping POS killers. First the king of long range sniping ships: the Raven. Using cruise missiles which do their full damage at any range and which can be adjusted to suit the resistance hole this ship comfortably shoots the full 250 km which is the cap on how far a ship can target in Eve. The ship is designed to operate without enemy ships being present, if it gets tackled though there's a heavy neut. It's also designed to operate while being neuted and to tank against EM damage. Most artillery batteries will use EMP ammo and lasers also do EM damage. Tank against kinetic for rails. Cruise missiles have the advantage of being able to use FoF against POSes with damps.

For people who can't use missiles the other options are weaker. None of the guns operate comfortably at 250 km. Here's a Naga fit that comes close, also tanked against EM:

It's not possible to operate a Naga continuously while being neuted so this one will have to warp out from time to time if neuts are in place. Fortunately warp disruption batteries only reach out 150 km.

Anyone who can't fly either of these should bring pvp ships or simply fly around the pos in a noobship at 200 km to draw off neuts and damps.

One of the oddities of POS warfare is that the guns measure distance from the centre of the control tower. So if you place your bookmark right (ie so that ship to gun to tower is a straight line) then a ship 290km from the tower will be 250km from the gun. It may be necessary to prepare several bookmarks to get good angles from which to shoot guns placed at different spots. The extra distance will reduce damage from batteries that are shooting in their falloff range.

The Eve University site on POS warfare is excellent.

As always wormhole intel is crucial. By using Show Intel on the tower (or a poco) you get the corp from which you can get a list of members, add them to watch list and start your op when they aren't online.

Ultimately you're almost impossible to stop. You reinforce the tower when they're asleep. You get an appointment to kill the tower. You arrive at that appointment a couple of days later and check the watch list to see how many they are. Too many? Go to bed and let them repair their tower and put everything back. Wake up and reinforce it again. Rinse and repeat until you like the odds then bring a few friends and shoot the tower. They could hire mercenaries or bring in people you don't know about but if so just add those people to watch list too and go again when everyone is offline.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Eve: I got blown up!

My second day of playing in RvB and my Kestrel's run finally came to an end. It killed 60 ships and did a billion isk of damage. Not bad for a T1 frigate!


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Eve: my first day in RvB

I made a very conservative fit to start my RvB experience - a long range Kestrel. It does 75 dps at 83 km range. This means I can fight very safely in the T1 frigate and T1 cruiser fights that characterise my new corp - I'm simply too far off to be picked in an environment where generally people pick the closest and most fits are short to medium range.

The Caldari Kestrel class missile frigate

It worked really well with me contributing to a number of fights and not dying yet. We had two battles which we won so it was hardly surprising that a distance and not especially significant ship didn't get picked on. We then had one which we lost. In this battle I got picked on a lot but as I was so far out I just warped off. I warped out twice in fact then warped back for a third go just as we were bailing. So all told very safe - I hadn't even bothered to align.

Then this morning lacking organised fights I did some skirmishing with a few other members of Blue Republic. We killed a Hurricane, I soloed an Atron (I had almost got him a short while before when he tried to tackle me) and a Drake (bizarrely pve fit with cloak).

Just before downtime Jagtor took charge and we had a good fight with Red. They were playing hard to get so we resorted to a prober. While the prober and the rest of the fleet were lining up the warp in I decided to play solo with the enemy fleet. I warped in at 300 km and burned toward them. I attracted the attention of a frigate and some ewar and started shooting the closest tackler. I aligned out. They took me to 75% shields and I warped out. Then I warped back to the gate at 0. I sat on the gate for a moment to let them start locking me then jumped and burned back to the gate. A Merlin followed me through and tried to tackle me. I'm not actually sure whether he aggressed - if he did he took himself out of the fight for a minute. Meanwhile our fleet had landed on their fleet quite close to the gate on the other side and started fighting. I jumped in. sized up an out route and burned off and started shooting the primaries. I got a few kills including two killing blows and didn't even get locked up (except by drones).

That's taken me up to about 16 kills and no losses for my first day.

So a good first day and a lot of fun. Sniper fits seem amazingly good in this kind of kitchen sink pvp. Good for the individual anyway perhaps less good for the fleet. The thing with snipers is if I'm at 70km doing 75 dps and my opposite number is at 2km doing 150 dps then their FLEET is doing more damage. So it's a somewhat selfish fit.

This is where doctrines can make the game more fun. If we're all in close range brawling ships we all share the hazards evenly. If we all get in snipers we deny them the easy kills and no one is asked to assume more risk while I'm off in relative safety. While I'm in RvB we won't be flying doctrine as I believe they always do kitchen sink but I'm keen to get back to it at some point.

I think the next fits I try will be more unselfish but even safer - target painting. But for now, after some refinements here's the kestrel fit:

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Eve: retreat from Null

Null sec is one of the most exciting areas of play in Eve and also one of the biggest churners of players. I decided to take a break from the politics, the cliquiness, the one-up-manship, the smug bigotry (we even made the front page of mittani.com as sexist idiots) and the negativity and have moved back to high sec for now.

I'm going to focus on pvp with Red v Blue with my main character, hopefully doing some pvp fleet commanding which I had a taste of out in null and which I really love doing. It will actually suit me better to learn the craft in a less loss averse situation than null sec pvp. Hopefully the RvB frigate pilots will tolerate me whelping the occasional fleet.

Moving all my alts was a massive logistical exercise and not one I'd like to repeat. I had 8 POSes, 15 characters, tons of ships and tons of loot all over three regions. Fortunately I was able to simply put most of the bulky stuff on the market rather than having to haul it all out or have it jump freightered.

I intend to go back to null one day but next time it will be just with my main, not with all the alts. Relocating is part of life in null sec, even if you're not getting your arse kicked. When you add to that a toxic community atmosphere which sees most players keep their heads down so it won't get bitten off it's simply not realistic to expect to be able to set up PI and manufacturing and have it churn out isk for years unmolested.

What did I like about null?

The sense of ownership is wonderful. Getting together to defend your corner of Eve is really good fun and really bonds people. Sadly we were asked not to do this on the grounds fighting people attracts more pvpers which was making our space hard to rat and mine in. I can see this argument and I'm sure that it's correct as far as it goes - I just would have personally preferred to be in an alliance which was down with being the good fights capital of Eve.

The huge fleets are amazing. I've actually been on a titan kill a couple of years ago which is an experience I'll always treasure. During this period with my most recent alliance the Honeybadger Coalition took the fight to -A- (pronounced triple A) and after a stalemate at 49- pushed on to drive them out of Catch. Some of the skill shown by our coalition FCs like Shadoo and Hedliner was utterly breathtaking as they would manoeuvre us around adeptly anticipating the opposing fleet. I also really like the chess game of fleet doctrines: drake fleet led to oracle fleet which beats it, tengu fleet led to foxcats and so on. I've heard large fleet FCing described as the best RTS you could possibly play, it's pretty good fun to be a Hydralisk too!

Most of the people are fantastic. Pretty much any null sec alliance will have people who have been playing for years who have great stories of Eve's past as well as raw newbies who are delighted and excited to get help. Even the management being annoying isn't that they're dicks, just that managing one of these entities is complicated stressful and incredibly difficult. Now that's frustrating to be on the receiving end of but doesn't make the people doing it evil, just a little out of their depth and not coping particularly well.

So all told it was a great Eve adventure but now I'm really looking forward to flying with Red V Blue (if they'll have me) and playing a simpler less high stakes game.