Tuesday 24 December 2013

TEST returns to Null Sec

Well I certainly picked an interesting time to join TEST.

TEST alliance has thrown in with EMP to help open a second front in the big null sec war. Let's have a recap of that war so far.

TEST and EMP battlecruisers shooting a GENTS POS

A collection of Russian alliances with Black Legion started a war against N3 and PL in the Catch/Immensea/Curse area in the South. The CFC announced, rather tongue in cheek, that they would be "honorable third parties" but actually staged an optional deployment in support of the Black Russian coalition.

It was expected to be something of a cakewalk, especially when the CFC escalated to full war mode.

PL and N3 managed to hold the opposition by shipping up, using almost exclusively T3 strategic cruisers and slowcat carrier blobs, escalating to titans and supercaps at the drop of a hat. This is a new development in the Eve meta and their opponents have announced they will be countering it with a Naglfar long range alpha strike Dreadnought blob although they have yet to have success with this doctrine in an actual battle.

While all this was going on some CFC alliances (Gents, FCON and CO2) made opportunistic attacks on Droneland sovereignty. EMP, fed up of tidi fights in the South (and perhaps not rich enough to live with the expensive doctrines fielded there by their allies) moved north to counter and did so successfully. The CFC alliances withdrew and deployed down to the main CFC blob with some relief.

EMP bullishly announced on Saturday that they would be invading Gents space. Gents' initial reaction is reported to be indifference, regarding the threat as minor.

TEST announced on Sunday that we would be supporting EMP in this operation. We have been given access to EMP fleets and communications and some of us spent the evening melting GENTs POSes pretty much unopposed. There were a couple of very inept bombing runs but most of the bombers died and they didn't kill anything.

The question posed now is how serious is the EMP/Test threat to the CFC flank?

I think the answer is moderately.

It's not going to be an amazingly aggressive assault on the Vale simply because CFC has local supercap dominance. If the TEMP coalition were to use Dreads then the CFC could escalate to Supers and PL and N3 would be unlikely to be able to rush north and save us. So it's a matter of how much we can destroy with Oracle and Brutix fleets.

It probably will need some CFC elements to be deployed to face us. The handful of bombers and gate gankers we saw tonight were utterly ineffective and there's a lot of enthusiasm in both TEST and EMP. However pulling an alliance out of the south would crucially weaken the Omegafleet Naglfar doctrine which only works with a large number of Naglfars to achieve alpha after taking a few losses. Nor is there any prospect for the CFC of wrapping up the southern war fast then moving back north.

In the Fountain war we saw the CFC pull out some amazing metagame moves - such as the infiltration of Test logistics and the dropping of sov in hundreds of N3 renter systems. I think we're going to see Mittens once more reaching for his bag of dirty tricks.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Test Alliance Best Alliance

I've rejoined Test Alliance.

I had a hard choice a few months ago when my corp left Test, choosing to go with them to Dronelands. So it was fairly natural on leaving my corp to hook up again with my old friends in Test.

I joined a corp called Rubella Solaris. They have a history of faction warfare, having started off in Fweddit. They (in fact make that we) are one of the most active corps in Test.

It's very busy and there's a lot of gangs which was what I was missing. I've run a couple of frigate fleets just defensive plexing in FW and I've been on some other fleets including a new specialty: ratter hunting interceptor gangs.

It's something of a golden age for Test. With no sov we don't seem to be using caps or supercaps or even the larger subcaps so if you like flying frigs, as I do, it's great fun.

I'm using two main ships - a Stiletto for our interceptor roams and Merlins for faction war. The loyalty points are flooding in so I may upgrade my standard FW ship from Merlins to Hookbills.

So what lies ahead? Well leadership are doing their usual things of dropping heavy hints about plans in motion (which truth be told can be a bit annoying because invariably after a week of ** IT'S HAPPENING ** there's something underwhelming at the end if it all).

If anyone wants to join us, there should be fun times ahead. Currently I think TEST may be the best alliance in the game for people who like frig pvp gangs, as they're generally pretty good, newbie friendly and a ton of fun. It's also pretty good isk-making.

Monday 16 December 2013

Eve: looking for people to shoot

After Test lost the Fountain War my corp drifted into renting and I drifted with them. After a while I realised I didn't like ratting drones (they drop no loot, have no escalations worth doing and no faction versions) and I didn't like mining much. I do enjoy PI and have some PI alts still with my old corp SEDNA which is growing into a busy and bustling renter corp for people who do enjoy the playstyle.

So here I am, back in the noob corp, pondering my options.

I'm not alone. A handful of other SEDNA people also have left at the same time, all basically looking for action.

So what are our options?

Nullsec looks very exciting with the CFC announcing yesterday that they would be going all in to support the Russians and Black Legion in their war against N3 and PL. Somewhat to everyone's surprise, PL/N3 have been doing amazingly well in that war, dealing with being out-numbered by shipping up to T3s and capital ships.

Faction War is also very tempting with us having done quite a lot of small gang stuff during our time with SEDNA. And if I may say, we're quite good at it now.

We went on a roam last night with numbers ranging from 4 to 6, in tech 1 frigates and bagged a rich haul of kills: 2 cruisers, a jaguar, 2 Fed Comets, 3 destroyers, 6 frigates and 3 noob ship cynos. I lost one Merlin worth about 8 million isk.

If we do enter FW we'll probably enter for Caldari as the Caldari Gallente sectors seem much more target rich. There's also perhaps the possibilility of rejoining Test but I'm more keen on this than my friends.

I think I'd like to get back into FCing again, and more than just a handful of people. It's very nice to have made friends from previous adventures so I have options that will see hopefully me hooking up again with old comrades in arms.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Hearthstone: Liking the new patch

One of the things the latest build of Hearthstone features is the ability to go for longer in arenas. It's now possible to get 12 wins on an arena run.

Who said warriors were underpowered?

That's enough gold for another couple of arena runs!

And the pack wasn't bad either!

Friday 6 December 2013

Priest deck still unbeaten - just!

Can you see what's wrong with this picture?

< Scroll down for the answer>

OK, he has 19 damage on the table and I have 16 life. But the title of this post is Priest deck still unbeaten.

Yup, he attacked my creatures instead of going for the face.

There's some credit to the deck, he'd just fought off a wall of dangerous creatures and I'd got a 6/6 and a 6/10 within two turns so he may have been a bit focused on the danger. Also the awesome power of Geblin the engineer - he'd just (very luckily) buffed the Berserker so I think my opponent may have been a bit confused.

It was a useful learning experience for me - I should have cleared the board with Holy Nova instead of playing the engineer the turn before. I failed to anticipate the shaman's deck, Bloodlust is standard and I should have anticipated it.

Hearthstone: The gentle art of stealing a deck idea

I talked last time about stealing people's ideas and if I wasn't convincing I hope CCP Rise was. After all if you wanted to build a car you'd steal the wheel idea rather than trying to re-invent it wouldn't you?

Tournament decklists give us the decks of top players with decks that have survived trials by fire to win. So they're a great place to start. Team liquid is a good source - here are the decklists from the third TL open. Blizzcon's Hearthstone Invitational was spectacular and memorable and you may want to look at the decklists from there too although those are older and, I believe, not quite so tested against tournament opponents.

I wanted a Priest deck just now for my daily quest so I chose to steal SpecialistSC's Mystyle deck from TL Open 3.

However my problem was that I'm not a "whale" so I needed to analyse the cards I didn't own and select suitable replacements.

By rarity the deck is:
18 free
1 common
7 rares
4 legendaries

Even though I'm missing a lot of the high end stuff there's a lot of the deck that is free so anyone can take this deck and adapt it.

Let's look at the cards I'm missing:
Leeroy Jenkins
Sylvanas Windrunner
Argent Commander (1)
Holy Fire (1)
Ragnaros the Firelord

OK, that's not too bad I own 22/30. Let's see what I can swap in:

Mass Dispel for Thoughtsteal - similar cost, trades card advantage for a sometimes useful effect. This is a choice I'm not sure about and I may change it for something else after a few games.

Lightspawn for Leeroy Jenkins. It's a solid card, not quite the bomb that Leeroy is but it often functions as a full 5/5 or even better.

Stampeding Kodo for Abomination. Abom is intended to stall rush decks with lots of small creatures and the kodo does this too.

Gurubashi Berserker for Sylvanas. This card can be fantastic in priest decks because you can kill smaller things then heal it for a wildly escalating enrage bonus. I've seen these hit 17 attack in the arena. It synergies so well with the Priest class abillity, in fact it may even be a better pick than the legendary SpecialistSC chose.

Gelbin Mekkatorque for Argent Commander. Good solid creature with crazy inventions, some of which are really strong, especially if you have board control. Plus I don't know what all his inventions do and I like seeing new ones! You get this guy if you spend any money at all in Beta.

2 Sunwalkers for the Holy Fire and the Ragnaros. Very solid creature, it's a defensive version of the much admired Argent Commander.

Temple Enforcer for Ysera. Very powerful card with all sorts of synergies. It's great if it buffs the Lightspawn or the Berserker.

My guiding principle here was to go for the same mana cost (although I don't own anything good close to Ysera's mana cost) and, if possible, similar utility. When adapting a deck it's important to look for synergies and make sure you appreciate any combos you may be breaking. Fortunately here the cards I don't have are just strong cards but not particularly synergy cards, in fact the chargers possibly synergise worse with the priest's healing ability.

Here's the final deck I came up with. I made it to do my daily, 2 games later it's got 2 wins.The best moment was when the mind visions stole Ragnaros and Mind Control. He played Ragnaros, I played Ragnaros and it randomly blew up his Ragnaros. He then stole my Ragnaros and I used his Mind  Control to take it back and kill him.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Moby Hearthstone: the hunt for the Great White Whales

People who write about games call those players of free-to-play games who spend really big "whales." These players are traditionally viewed as a small minority of the player base who finance the game for everyone else by spending so big. Typically they may constitute a tiny fraction of the player base, around 1%.

I suspect Hearthstone will far exceed this proportion because partly due to its design and partly due to emergent factors it's going to attract a lot of players who spend really big.

Carson63000 made this comment here a few days ago:

"The problem I see with Hearthstone's business model is that it just doesn't seem very worthwhile to spend a small amount of money. I feel like it pushes you to either play completely F2P or to spend a fair amount of cash."

There's a lot to what he says, in particular I think Hearthstone will be very successful at persuading some of its players to spend very heavily.

If a player researches Hearthstone he or she is likely to be drawn to the e-sports scene and the various streams of top players. There's at least one fully professional Hearthstone player already and the game's not even out of closed beta.

This is going to be highly aspirational for a lot of people - what job could be better for a gamer than playing games all day? But the truth of the matter is only a tiny handful of players will be able to reach those heights, in fact a statistically insignificant number set against the number of players and prospective players. It's possibly less than one in a million.

This tournament will pay out $4800 in prize money.

Now the game does a lot to encourage people to over-estimate themselves and it will draw from World of Warcraft which strongly encourages people to over-estimate themselves even in pvp.

Hearthstone has a strong luck element - a great player might play his deck with no mistakes and still lose to a worse player who can string together 5 turns without cockups after drawing a great hand. Now that has several psychological effects. First anyone half-decent can beat anyone else in the game, even the top top players. So people are going to win a match against Kripparian or Trump and think "wow, I could be a top player, I'm better than that guy!" (They're not, they just got lucky).

The luck element compresses people's win ratio. A really really good player, infinite in arena, will have a 75+% win ratio. Now if you have a 70% win ratio you're actually much worse but it looks close doesn't it? 70 is quite a similar number to 75.

It's going to be even more opaque to people coming from World of Warcraft. In WoW pvp it's very easy to be a god among men - all it takes is time and picking a particular priority. The pvp gear makes you much much stronger against players who don't have it - they're basically free kills. And many people in WoW battlegrounds don't focus on being top killer, they try to take map objectives, run around with the flag, etc. Plus if you were in a pre-made you'll have gotten used to massacring random pug groups. All of that means you may have been insanely flattered by WoW rewarding you constantly for your pvp success and may still be completely mediocre. Top killer in a battleground seems like a measure of success but it's not really a measure of skill at all.

People who believe they have a chance to be a top Hearthstone player are going to be inclined to spend lots of money. There are two ways to be competitive: you either follow the meta or you set the meta. To follow the meta you will only have to craft the popular cards. Defender of Argus is a rare that gets used in a great many tournament decks so someone following the meta might make that. But there are lots of rares you'll not see ever used - they're underpowered or too niche.

If you want to set the meta you need to have almost all the cards. You'll be doing things like making a secrets deck and testing it - which would need several rares and epics which, once you'd discovered secrets aren't really good you'd never use again. But you need a large collection so you can keep experimenting with obscure combos.

The killer is that there's no trading. In a paper card game you could trade for those secrets cards, they them, then swap them for something else. In Hearthstone the only thing you can do with them is disenchant them but that would be a bad idea anyway because you then wouldn't be able to test the secrets meta in a new expansion.

My advice is to follow Eve developer and former pro poker player CCP Rise's words of wisdom: don't innovate, steal then iterate. That talk really should be required watching for anyone who wants to be a top competitive player in any game.

I didn't do this with my murloc deck but I did with my next deck idea. I moved up a bracket in Constructed play yesterday and suddenly my warlock murloc deck stopped farming me easy wins. So I looked around for a deck to steal and came upon SpecialistSC's Special Tactics Aggro Mage guide. I was missing about 7 of the cards so I just substituted in cards that seem good. It rocks, I'm now winning in One Star Masters more than I lose.

I think goal setting is going to be very important in Hearthstone. I played Magic: The Gathering when it first came out at a very high level - I won two national tournaments, playing the final on a stage in front of halls full of people. But during the year I played Magic I spent about £5000 on it, to play at that level I felt I needed a full set of all the cards so I could experiment with deck ideas. I don't regret that year, it was an awesome experience but when I accidentally lost my decks in a pub while drunk I wasn't sorry to say goodbye to MtG. And I think I would have regretted it had I spent £5000 and not won - what's more I didn't realise how much I was spending at the time, it was only afterwards I added it all up and realised how much I'd spent.

In Hearthstone I've spent £60 to kickstart myself once but I'm not really intending to spend more money. I didn't fancy playing completely free. A game takes about 10 minutes and if you win 50% then 6 games per hour will pay 10 gold, equivalent to about 10p (£0.10). That's a horrible grind rate - people mock players who make $1 an hour in other games but Hearthstone is one of the least rewarding in terms of real cash value. I also wanted to be a decent arena player so that £60 buys me 40 arena starts which is enough for a lot of practice.

But be careful - if you don't set yourselves limit you may find it very easy to spend a lot of money on Hearthstone without really realising it and the game will encourage you to think there may be professionalism and real money just around the corner if you only had a slightly better collection....

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Hearthstone: Arena running

It's the dream of hearthstone players to "go infinite", to be able to win so often in the arena that the gold you win pays for the entry fee and you can play arena for free as much as you like.

Arena is a bit tricky at first, my first attempt as drafting a deck was awful, almost everything cost 4 mana and I didn't glance at the graph at the bottom of the screen until after I'd picked all the cards.

I think though that I'm beginning to get the hang of it:

You can't quite see all the cards in that picture, I also have an Archmage Antonidas and a pyroblast.

In fairness I'm not infinite yet: my recent results are 4-3, 8-2, 3-3, 3-3, 7-3 and 8-0. Still feels pretty exciting to be doing well after only a week.

Eagle-eyed readers may spot that this damn game is keeping me up far too late!

Hearthstone: get started with a Murloc Warlock deck!

One of the first goals of a new Hearthstone player should be to make yourself an effective Constructed deck. I recommend the Warlock Murloc deck.

A match "Amnesia" will want to forget.

The first thing in is its favour is this: it's very very cheap to make.

The deck uses one legendary and you get that for free by doing one of the game's special unique quests. The quest is to collect one of each murloc (excepting the legendary which is the quest reward). Here's a list of the murlocs in the game, look at the symbol in the centre of each cards. Some have no symbol (free cards everyone gets), some there have a blue diamond (rares) and the Murloc Warleader has a purple diamond (epic). To get the legendary you only need to make one each of:
Murloc Tidecaller (100 dust)
Coldlight Oracle (100 dust)
Coldlight Seer (100 dust)
Murloc Warleader (400 dust).

I got this dust by doing the unique quest that gives you 95, by playing arenas and by ruthlessly disenchanting every common I gained for 5 dust each. I didn't really want to melt rares and epics because who knows if and when I'll ever find that card in a pack again. In the end I melted one rare that I really didn't think I'd ever play in any deck. But one can melt commons pretty freely except ones that go in the deck.

It's still a bit of a grind to get to 700 dust if you're free and if you're losing arenas you enter but it's much more achievable than most tournament winning decks because you don't have to craft the legendary.

Here's the deck by mana cost with card analysis:

0: 2 Soulfire. Really strong and sometimes just what is needed to take the last points of life.

1: 2 Blood Imp. Key card in the deck as we're using so many 1 toughness creatures.
    Power Overwhelming. Big creature removal/finisher.
    2 Void Walker. Strong 1 drop and protects the fragile murlocs.

2: 2 Loot hoarder. Filler, card draw drop which will hopefully pull a murloc card out for you.
    2 Novice Engineer. Filler.

3: Shadow Bolt. It's useful to have a little removal.

6: Argent Commander. Our plan B. He can rescue a game that's gone sour or help finish an opponent quickly. Feel free to use something else if you don't own this rare.

plus Old Murkeye and 16 of his friends, they can get ridiculously strong in large numbers.

Focus on board control and tempo, life tap a lot as you really need to chuck down cards in large numbers.

The best thing about this deck - you've almost always won or lost by turn 10.

Monday 2 December 2013

Hearthstone: how much money should you spend?

Hearthstone has 2 play modes and both of them can be played for free but many players will want to spend more more.

In Constructed mode you choose cards from your collection. It's perfectly possible to put together cards and make a perfectly reasonable deck. What's more the game's matchmaking system will rank you put you in with players of comparable power so all spending money will do is move you from a rank where you win half your games to a different, higher, rank where you win half your games. The main reason to invest real money if you mostly play Constructed is so you can try out different combinations.

To some extent you can build powerful decks even without investing. I decided that the first deck I would go for would be the warlock murloc deck. You get the legendary murloc for free if you get one of each of the other murlocs - it costs 700 dust to do this which is within reach of a starter player not spending any money. (I ruthlessly disenchanted my commons to get enough).

Still it's nice to have a more solid card collection and it's fun messing around with different deck styles and so on.

Constructed players can buy a pack for 100 gold or do an arena run which will normally pay a pack + 30 gold + a small amount of dust unless you have a good run (which isn't very likely if you don't practice arena intensively).

The other play mode is Arena. Arena charges an entry fee and awards you a pack of cards plus some random loot. The fee is either 150 gold or £1.49 ($1.99 in the USA). To finance yourself in gold you either need to be so successful in the arena that you usually win. This is known as "going infinite."

I'm going to be brutally honest - you probably won't be able to go infinite. Here's some data on gold prizes for arena runs, collected by redditor /u/chauchih. Note that 1-3, 2-3, 3-3 and 4-3 all pay about 30 gold - that's where most people will end up most of the time. In fact if everyone got average results we'd always get 3-3 runs - 3 wins 3 losses. With considerable random factors at play in arena Hearthstone most players will tend to the average. Chauchih notes his average is 66% and that's still not enough to go infinite. Top top players like Trump can go infinite, but even Trump has a win ratio around 74%. So all players are clustered by the game design towards the middle, and the middle pays 30 gold, maybe 50-100 gold if you're really doing well.

So for arena players you need to either pay real money or grind gold in Constructed mode and by doing daily quests. New players can take advantage of a ton of one-off quest rewards which will give you hundreds of gold, enough dust for a rare (more or less) and a couple of specific bonus cards - a parrot and a murloc.

The daily quests are very short and pay 40 gold, which is an arena entry every three and a half days. Grinding gold pays 10 gold per 3 wins, or 45 wins per arena entry. Of course in practice, if you're an average player, past the newbie bonus quests you'll get some gold from your arena results, some from the dailies and you won't have to grind such a large number of wins each time.

Now you will probably have to play 2 games per win. This is because it's a matchmaking system that sorts players into bands. If you were to be winning 75% of your games you'd be moved up to play against tougher opponents. So - unless you're in the top 1% and win all the time or the bottom 1% and lose all the time - you'll end up winning about 50% of your Constructed games.

You don't get any gold for arranged games against friends although they're a lot of fun.

Personally I put £60 on my bnet account, I also inherited £3 from the Diablo 3 real money auction house. So until they shut that down that's another way to play for your arena runs - you could grind in Diablo 3. I don't think that's much fun though or that there are many shoppers so I wouldn't recommend that.

I do caution people to think ahead and budget. It would be very very easy to pour money into this game without really realising it.

Good luck and have fun!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Hearthstone hearthstone hearthstone

A friend was kind enough to let me have a Hearthstone beta key so I've been playing this yesterday and today.

It's a very fun and original take on a collectible card game. It has a lot of tactics to it and I'm really enjoying it.

The game works by offering a balance between modes : you can either play with constructed decks that you make from your collection that reward gold or you can play an arena mode which costs you gold but builds your collection.

The arena is probably the playstyle that most players will prefer, with constructed being seen to some extent as a grind you have to do to pay for it. That said, playing constructed games is hardly monotonous, it just doesn't have the rewards of the other mode. It costs 150 gold to enter but rewards you with gold, cards and crafting dust proportionate to how successful your arena run is. If your record is better than 6-3 you'll usually cover the entrance fee with change, plus a pack of cards and maybe some crafting dust.

Setting aside the rewards both modes are just about evenly fun in my opinion. In crafted you have the process of creating and designing your own deck and of course the more cards you collect the more choice you have, to some extent the more power. In arena it's nice because the card choosing is pretty fun then you play everyone on a level playing field, determined by luck and skill, not the size of one's collection.

I started out doing the tutorial then some of the practice games against the AI. After a bit I decided I might as well play people and managed to go up several rankings even though I hadn't worked out how to unlock deck-building and was just using the starter decks. (You have to unlock every character class to construct decks and play arena games). There's a bunch of rewards for doing various quests and I managed to get to 450 gold from doing that. Then I went into the arena. You get a free go, the gold from newbie quests covers and 3 goes, and some good runs paid for some more. My best run was 8-3, most of my runs were 2-3 or 4-3. I'm pretty average starting out, by the relatively high standards of arena.

It's a ton of fun because there's so much to think about, without it being in any way hard to start. I don't think Blizzard have ever been so successful at achieving a game that is easy to play, hard to master.

Friday 22 November 2013

Everquest 2 revisited

Next up on my whistlestop tour of old favourites is Everquest 2.

EQ2 has changed a lot for a non-paying player. It used to be that half your bags would be redded out, inaccessible and the good drops cost you $1.50 to equip. It was offputting and you were put firmly in place as a second class citizen. That's all gone now, paying gives you the ability to sell on the Auction House and a small movement and cash buff.

Leveling feels distinctly quiet but not much more so that WoW. On the plus side it means one can collect lots of lucrative shinies.

Another striking new feature is the mercenary henchman you're allowed to take around. He's astonishing powerful relative to my rather mediocre solo quester, I'd guess he's designed for raid geared players. The healer is relatively sane, he just follows my monk around and keeps him healed and doesn't do much else. But the tanks, oh my lord. Look. here's the before and after for my level 73 Druid against a normal mob:


Turn melee on.
Start heroic opportunity
then perhaps melee and more dots and nukes.

After I recruited my merc:

Whack once

He really is that strong, I'm regularly seeing numbers like 15k fly up when he fights - my best attack is 4k.

Now this is where I feel I should moan about dumbing down but in truth I kinda like it like this. The appeal of EQ2 for me is that it's a game where I don't socialise at all and just entertain myself by watching the numbers creep along and looking at the pretty monsters.

I also used some Station Cash to buy myself a level 85. A Wizard in fact, with one of these super strong tank mercs. He's pretty good fun in a press button collect loot kind of way.

EQ2 for me is a game of alts and it does alting better than wow. The crafting is useful and much more fun than WoW's. Also once a crafter hits max level all the other characters on the account get a permanent 20% exp buff (similarly with adventure exp although I haven't got an adventurer up to max level yet). All the alts accumulate rest exp which is triple exp while it lasts and it lasts several levels. At the moment I'm taking it in turns to play them all slowly burning down the ridiculous quantities of rest exp that have built up in the year since I last played. I also have made myself a private guild just for me and my alts which I'm slowly pushing up towards the level when I can get a guild hall.

If you are looking for a MMO and want something along the lines of WoW I'd recommend EQ2 very strongly. It's never been more enjoyable and accessible.

Sunday 17 November 2013

World of Warcraft revisited

I've been feeling some pre-patch burnout in Eve so I've had a little look at several other games. WoW offers a free 10 day trial to former players so I activated that made a Panda Monk and played for a while.

The Pandas aren't as cringeworthy as I thought they would be. The intro movie features a badass mean kung fu panda ambushing a member of the Horde and the Alliance and taking them both on. He sticks to the shadows and has glowy red eyes. In game the asian themed starter area is rather charming with well-designed quests and a nice story. It takes you to level 10 after which new expansion content is off the table until high level (85? 90?).

Leveling up is speeded to such an extent that there's a real problem with quests going grey. I guess the style is to go to an area, do a handful of quests, a few dungeon runs, then delete all your quests and try a different area.

They've considerably streamlined the quests. Dungeon quest givers now stand at the entrance to the dungeon and the magnificent and confusing sprawl of some of the leveling areas like the Barrens have been drastically cut down and made easier to zip through without getting lost.

The economy is inflated out of all proportion to the starter areas. I think I had about 80 silver and I went to the auction house to see if there were any cheap bags. The cheapest was 55 gold. I knew enough though to pick two gathering professions and my light leather and peacebloom sells at the same ludicrious prices.

Overall the game didn't feel very changed since the last time I got bored of it. It's still a very very solid MMO and stands up well to most newer rivals.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Happy Guy Fawkes' Night!

It's Guy Fawkes' Night in England, a traditional night of celebration when we let off fireworks and light bonfires. It commemorates an attempt in 1605 to blow up our houses of parliament when our King was addressing it.

It's a somewhat ambiguous celebration. Originally the celebration was ordered to celebrate the escape of the King from assassination but over time Guy has attracted more and more sympathy and many modern English people see the festivities as an anarchist celebration that someone had the balls to have a go at our rulers.

Guido Fawkes: Hero or villain?

It got me thinking about why I quite like the idea of someone taking on our ruling government (in a somewhat abstract and sentimental way, in a real situation murder of our MPs and monarch would almost certainly see a military coup followed by a police state with people like me rounded up merely for mentioning the A word); why I like the notion of someone challenging government but I'm less happy with the notion of players challenging CCP.

There's a spectrum. At one end there's the state with its surveillance, military and police forces, rule of law, legislative powers, taxes. At the other end there's the person with whatever rights and freedoms we and our ancestors have managed to wrestle for ourselves. Because the state is so materially powerful it's important to limit the state's power and challenge it when it attempts to increase its reach. Because an individual is so powerless it's important that we defend the rights of other individuals to pursue their lives and business as they wish.

What about a company? Is a company a monolithic overmind that needs to be reigned back or is it a small frail entity that should be free to pursue its own direction without excessive criticism complaint and customer-organised direct action?

CCP is even wierder because there's the real/virtual split - in the game universe they have divine powers, conjuring anything they wish, banishing anyone from the universe they choose. But in the real world they're a small/medium business with a not particularly solid financial footing dependent on enthusiasm of hardworking and underpaid staff.

And that's why I'm uncomfortable with the level of player rebellion that's become normal in the Eve universe. Take, to pick an obvious example, CCP Fozzie. My impression is that in addition to doing a normal working day he's highly active on the CCP forums, on other areas of the Eve community like Reddit and Twitter, works longer hours than he's required to, and when he's not working he plays Eve or talks about Eve. To my amusement at a recent SCL even on the day when he wasn't scheduled to be there he was crawling under the desk fixing tech stuff. He even contacted a fan podcast recently and asked to appear so that he could correct a misunderstanding. The man eats lives and breathes Eve.

And he's not unusual - many people in CCP work hard and turn up to events and fanmeets outside their official work time. The games industry pays its people low compared to what people of their skills would get in mainstream businesses. Pays them low and works them hard. They run on enthusiasm, on passion for the hobby-turned-job.

Do we want to beat the enthusiasm out of Fozzie and his colleagues?

I don't have simple answers because it's a complex problem. TAGN made the very good point in comments on an earlier post of mine that Monoclegate wasn't simply about monocles, it was also a protest about the direction Eve was taking (off spaceships and towards walking in stations). Most Eve players are pretty glad they righted the ship so to speak, doing a lot more space focused game development, such as ship rebalancing and CCP Seagull's awesome space colonisation master plan.

But Monoclegate was also a crisis that revealed the company as horribly financially overextended, drove away a chunk of the playerbase and led directly to the laying off of 200 staff. Not many small businesses survive that kind of crisis. The company could have died.


Do I hate walking in stations so much that I'd rather have no Eve than the Eve we would have gotten had they stayed on the Incarna track? No, I certainly don't.

And if Eve does ever close down some day I think the unmanageable rebelliousness of the community may have something to do with it. Especially if it continues to escalate as players perceive they get rewarded for making ultimatums and protests and incorporate such behaviour into the Eve metagame, a way to win against rival players.

Be careful on Fireworks Night. Sometimes people have an accident with the fireworks and get very badly burned.

Friday 1 November 2013

War breaks out in Nullsec: N3/PL vs BL/Russians

confirmed Black Legion ping:
BROADCASTED MESSAGE from: elo_knight:::: we'll be going to war with n3 tomorrow so yea

News broke a few hours ago of a new major sov war in nullsec. A coalition of Black Legion, SOLAR and the DnD/-A- bloc (Stainwagon) has declared war on N3. The front line initially appears to be Catch/Immensea.

PL and N3 reacted to this news by attacking the -A- staging system at GE- and placing Sovereignty Blockade Units (SBUs).

There are already 3 pages of kills in GE-8JV for November and PL/N3 seem to be winning. The timing of the announcement was odd, BL declaring war at 1.00 when all his Russian allies were in bed.

The station is shield reinforced. The conflict is covered on TMC by Angry Moustache.

First blood - a bold strike deep into Catch aimed at taking -A-'s staging system.

The big question is whether and when the CFC might get involved.

Let's look at the background.

There's considerable rivalry between Black Legion and Pandemic Legion. Their roots as sovless mercenary/moon goo alliances, a vivid forum rivalry at Kugutsumen and a number of notable fights, including the killing of a Revenant supercap owned by PL by BL using a spy alt to set up the fight and recently the dunking of 26 BL supercaps after PL's Makalu Zarya faked getting his titan tackled.

There's an undying commitment by SOLAR to the drone regions underscored by the deadzoning of the R3PO station. This innovative tactic by PL has permanently trapped a large amount of SOLAR assets in their former staging system by use of a dummy alliance that denies docking to everyone.

-A- has something of a grudge too after PL spearheaded the HBC thrust into the South last year.

It also looks like some minor players may be involved - The Initiative, Walltreipers and Pizza are on the SOLAR blue list now.

So while there is good grounds for a war what is less clear is why there should be a war just at this moment. BL just lost 26 supers, a hell of a dent in their power. -A- and DnD have spent the last several months fighting their way out of Stain. Pandemic Legion is traditionally strong at this time of year after a lethargic summer (at least in sov terms - they won the Alliance Tournament) and N3 have had a long time to store up cash reserves.

On the other hand the aggressors don't have readily conquerable sov at stake. Sure -A- could be forced out of Catch and back to Stain but they've shown time and again an ability to bounce back from that. Both BL and SOLAR have no sov except some renter space in Querious and a station or two up in CFC-dominated space. They may simply want to fight and don't mind risking their empires such as they are.

Or they could be hoping the CFC takes their side.

The tripod is not a particularly stable structure. Power in nullsec is divided up between N3/PL in the East, CFC in the West and the Russians in the South. By committing to a fight BL is effectively inviting the CFC to play kingmaker.

Of course with GE- already SBUed and the station reinforced we could see a staging system conquered and deadzoned while the CFC is still making up its mind.

It's entirely possible of course that the CFC will decline this invitation. It will be attractive to allow their rivals to deplete their warchests while they grow rich. I imagine the CFC will be divided on this issue with their finance people wanting to sit it out, at least for a while, while their hawks want to dive in and conquer.

With a new expansion only 16 days away this couldn't have been timed better for CCP - nullsec becoming interesting just as they launch an Expansion which may substantially change the feel of Eve war.

Friday 25 October 2013

The Somer of Revolution: 4000 headless chickens can't be wrong

"Gods, I wish I could walk away for the SOMERblink player-initiated controversy, but I can't." says Mabrick. And here am I likewise reluctantly plunging into this rabbithole.

Look, let me get one thing clear - I don't gamble, I've never "blinked" and I don't have any personal financial interest here. No one pays me isk to write, not even TMC or EN24 both of whom will take anyone with a keyboard and an Eve account.

I do however like Eve. A lot.

And it's because I like Eve that I don't wish to see the Eve dominated by this petulant "oh he got something I didn't" whining that the community is so addicted to.

It's destructive.

Whining about the monocle led to a crisis at CCP that saw 200 people laid off. Many companies fail to survive such turmoil, we're lucky we still have Eve after that. And why? Because "he gets to wear a monocle and I don't get one waa waa waa."

If you jumped on that bandwagon shame on you, you idiots almost killed CCP.

Fast forward to Scorpiongate. Some PR dude at CCP gave out some freebies. "Oh waa waa waa, I didn't get one, shoot the monument."

Sheeez. Big babies.

Now on to the latest controversy. Turns out that through a convoluted chain of kickbacks people who route trafffic to GTC sellers as affiliates can leverage Eve assets into real money. "Oh waa waa waa, I'm not getting any."

How about you get off your butt and inject some value into the sandbox?

Look I don't gamble and I think gambling is generally a way to part fools from their money (or isk as the case may be). But clearly there's a significant section of the community that loves it, which is why SOMER has so much isk to burn.

Let's go over that again - some people (probably not you) LOVE IT. The rest of us play elsewhere in the sandbox and aren't affected except being occasional beneficiaries of SOMER philanthropy. I doubt many people wish they'd never given Kil2 ships to fly around and solo with.

So either you are someone who likes gambling with Somerblink in which case you should consider the billions you spend to be money invested in entertaining yourself (and I think most of them do). Spending isk on a blink is not a level-headed investment in 1/20th of a Golem, it's money spent on fun. So those guys aren't losers, they spend isk and receive fun.

Or you are someone who doesn't play in which case the parting of the isk from SOMER's customers serves to make us richer - SOMER buys ships from us, sponsors events and helps keep the sandbox full of paying customers by entertaining people in a distinctive way, people who might otherwise get bored and quit.

No one was harmed in the making of this situation.

Until it became a drama.

Now we've had DNSBlack make a point of RMTing to show CCP they're in the wrong. There's a fair chance he'll get banned. So we have an incredibly invested player who's put a lot into the community at risk of never playing Eve again because of ? what? principle?

OK, let me tell you about principles. Here's one: THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

If you were raised in a Christian country as I imagine a lot of readers were you were raised with that principle. In fact as it's Old Testament it also pertains to Jews and Muslims.

Feel proud that your country stood up to Hitler? Feel sympathetic towards your country's war heroes?

Let's have another look at that principle: THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

It's pretty clear. It doesn't say don't kill but fighting Hitler's ok.

My point is principles always have to bend in the real world. No principle, and it's hard to find a principle more basic, more morally right that Thou Shalt Not Kill stands up to every situation. Of course it's alright to defend your family, your country. People who insist that it isn't don't generally survive to pass their folly down to succeeding generations (unless protected by people willing to kill). It's a mean old world and if a community of true pacifists arose some bastard would call round, kick their door in and take their lunch money.

So here we are in Eve, the community hysterical over someone getting something they didn't, people throwing themselves under trains in protest, the company having to make some kind of resolution out of this dog's breakfast of a situation.

Want to know what you should do?

Move on.

Nothing to see here.

The whole thing is stupid, and will be tragic if valuable people in the community like DNSBlack end up getting perma-banned. Which is a real possibility.

Now the people I'm really cross with are the sheep.

Look, we're all different. Some of us are narcissists, staring into the mirror, mirror, mirror am I the fairest in the land? Oh shit, someone else is fairer? And they got given an Ishukone Scorpion?? Outrage!

But that's them.

Just because those somewhat lunatic narcissists explode when another player gets given something they didn't get doesn't mean the rest of you have to follow their lead baaing. We had it with monocles, we had it with Scorpions, we are now having it with affiliate fees. Just stop mindlessly rabbling over something that doesn't affect you in the slightest because if you derail the game's development, if you bring the company down, then it will affect us.

Just move on.

Friday 18 October 2013

Ten fun things to do with a deployable siphon

CCP Soniclover has broken the sound barrier with a dev blog that has provoked a cacophony of wailing from some of Eve's richest players. All the fuss is about an innocuous looking box that sits outside someone else's POS drawing off valuable moon goo from moon harvesters and simple reactors.

Nom nom nom slurp $$$$ nom nom $$$$ ching!

Let's have a look at how we can have fun with this new toy.

1)  Evil Deathstar of Doom. Train up Starbase Defence Management, drop a syphon outside an idle moon harvester on a barren moon, name the siphon "Dyspro!" and wait for targets to roll up. A stealth bomber alt with a point will make sure no one escapes while your defences lock them up.

2) Bear Trap. Drop a cyno outside some nullbear's pos, get your gang on the blops a few jumps over, and watch it with your recon ship. When they rock up in a dusty Maelstrom to shoot it, light your covert cyno and get your crew back from League of Legends.

3) Patchday rush. Stockpile a load of mats before patchday then when the expansion goes live churn out dozens of siphons for your local trade hub at the super-inflated prices. Undercut the market frequently the price will rocket downwards but it should start out at least 5-10 times the mineral value of the module.
If the BPOs are seeded in dangerous space buying them there and moving them to trade hubs is incredibly lucrative (if you don't get caught and killed).

4) Patchday gankfest. We know the blueprints will be seeded in NPC stations. In some previous patches new BPOs have been seeded only in stations in dangerous space, for example Noctis and Venture BPOs were seeded in Outer Ring at the ORE stations. Hilarity may ensue if a big bunch of people unfamiliar with nullsec are trying to get hundreds of BPOs through your camp.

5) Cloaky Camp business as usual. A nullsec cloaky camp is usually done by a stealth bomber and often there's an intent to get kills. Usually people get safe when a neut comes into local but when the neut doesn't leave they often get desperate enough to go back to their regular activities. A stealth bomber with a damp can kill a battleship before the battleship can lock it up. If your main interest is another Eve account or another game it's very low risk to tab back in once in a while to see if targets have turned up. When you do this you learn the rythyms and lifestyles of the defenders - when they are active, when they log off and so on. Perfect for well-timed siphon operations. Now not only are you interdicting ratting and mining but you're also stealing moon goo. You can even, with a stealth bomber, blow up lone battleships or battlecruisers that come to deal with the siphon and get out before the pos defences point you. Overheat those torp launchers!

6) Watchlist the defenders. I keep the orange status in contacts for people I am actively targeting in my current operation. When I do a new operation I clear out all the -5 people and start watchlisting people from my new target. That way when I see an orange I know it's probably someone that is defending against my current op. So do this - drop a siphon, cloak off it, dislike the person who comes to blow it up in contacts with a note of which moon they're defending and add to watchlist. Eventually you have a list of people who will defend against siphoning with an easy to check list of whether they're logged in. Find a moon where all the people defending it are logged out, drop a siphon and collect in peace.

7) Other people's siphons. The professional thief is a business-minded individual and one way to succeed in business is by controlling your costs. So why put yourself to the expense and labour of setting up siphons when you can just use other people's? A recon ship is great for lighting covert cynos to bring your blockade runners in to collect other people's moon goo. An interceptor is even quicker and can check entire systems for deployables with a single pulse of its core scan probe.

Shit dude - just act natural....

8) Economic warfare. You don't even need to collect the goo - just siphon someone's goo and watch their spreadsheets start smouldering at the edges as even if they take the goo back they lose 20%.

9) Anyone for a roam? Roaming nullsec in fast ships is going to be enormous fun as in addition to the buff to the amount of ground you can cover nullsec is going to be full of halfbaked defenders in kitchen sink ships trying to catch blockade runners. To add to the fun you should be able to catch a few halfbaked blockade runners. To add to the profit add a blockade runner or agility industrial (eg Sigil, Badger) to your fast gang.

10) Play the market. Now might be a good time to find some nice quiet moon material market and start discreetly stockpiling it. I have a feeling moon goo prices are on the way up!

Wednesday 16 October 2013

BB #50 Goons Inc welcome you to High Sec (tm, pat pending)

Matt Westhorpe tactfully pointed out an omission in my previous BB# 50 post. There I was wracking my brains for something about the Rubicon expansion that would "cast a die" that would throw the fate of the universe into a new direction and I rather missed the elephant in the room.

What changes forever on November 19th?

High sec becomes conquerable for the first time ever.

Sure it's only POCOs and you have to manage the wardec mechanics and so on. But if this is the direction CCP are taking Eve it's a fundamental fundamental upheaval in the game universe.

So what if CCP intend over the next 5 years to privatise EVERYTHING in high sec? POCOs, Concord, faction police, research slots, market fees?

It's what Maggie would have wanted.

It's possible although almost certainly it will be within much sharper parameters than more dangerous space. We won't, I think, see any dead-zoning (the practice of assigning a captured station to a 2 man dummy alliance that locks access then never logs on so that none of the assets in the station can be retrieved by spies or remote market trading).

Let's have a look at how individual elements in high sec might work as private concerns.

First, I don't think all elements will necessarily be conquerable. It would make a lot more sense if player politicing, similar to what we see in the CSM elections is used. Equally auctions might be used to privatise elements of the high sec infrastructure.

So if the manufacturing slots of the Caldari Steel corporation are privatised then the most logical method might be to auction them, station by station to the highest bidder. The winner of the auction then acquires the right to set fees and collect income. As it is high sec we may well see some limit, so griefing players can't buy up all the material research slots and set them to a billion isk per hour.

For religious and political organisations elections make more sense. The CSM has developed some expertise at CCP on election management, there's a certain elegance to feeding that know-how back into the game. One day we may see a Wright transferable vote to decide whether Mynnna or Chribba should be God-Emperor of the Amarr!

Policing is an interesting one. For years the perceived wisdom in MMO design was that player policing doesn't work. It was tried enthusiastically in Ultima Online but the "reds" always held an initiative advantage: waiting all day in case someone commits a crime is boring. However with Crimewatch Eve got closer to a properly effective punishment system - bounties and kill rights really do make life more dangerous for people who attract them. It's not a huge stretch to imagine an extension to Crimewatch that flags suspects for police attention, player police.

Now what about the quiet, introspective, high sec player who just wants to do his own thing without being disturbed. Frankly he's shit outta luck. CCP Soundwave was very clear at Fanfest that players should be able to dick with other players, that we are all content for each other even if we don't want to be. That's quite extreme to my mind especially since the demographics of Eve, once you get past the loud shouty drunk people who dominate Fanfest and Evemeet actually has a high proportion of quiet introspective insulated players who simply have no idea about CSMs or Goons or any of this other Eve hardcore jargon and are essentially playing solo.

So if we do go down the path of opening up high sec to the vicissitudes of the space-powerful then expect it to be done over a long time and with kid gloves. But is it possible that Eve could be gently nudged that way step by step over a 5 year period?


Monday 14 October 2013

BB #50: The die is cast

What's in a name?

For an Eve expansion rather a lot, they think long and hard about finding a name that works on multiple levels - lore, publicity, new player attraction and most of all inspiring and guiding the current players.

Eve's upcoming expansion is called Rubicon and launches on November 19th.

So what's in this name?

Rubicon recalls one of the greatest changes in world history, the moment Julius Caesar committed to changing the world-dominating Roman civilisation from a Republic into an Empire. "Alea iacta est" he said, "the die is cast" the great gamble committed to and the world forever changed. (Hatip: Noizy).

On the face of it it seems an odd and perhaps even overblown word to use in the context of the promised Rubicon changes. Much of the changes seem routine, they're adding a couple of new ships, tinkering with the stats on some underpowered ship classes, pretty much like every expansion.

What's revolutionary about Rubicon? What will change Eve forever?

The answer could be nothing, it's just a meaningless buzzword that sounds cool and perhaps will usher in a wave of cool Roman sounding names like Eve: Imperium and Eve: Casus Belli and so on.

But I don't think so.

I think it's going to be one of those moments, as insignificant seeming at the time as stepping across a stream, that we look back on and go, that was when Eve changed.

There are two key elements that pave the way towards a new New Eden.

First is the warp acceleration change. Smaller, higher tech ships will move faster. This radically changes the playing field in pvp and offers a huge threat to pve and mining activities in dangerous space. But more it's a change in the balance of power between the have and the have-nots. At the moment the people who project power across the galaxy are supercap owners. With this change subcap pilots can threaten faraway regions - an interceptor gang that might roam 30 jumps away today will be able to cover 90 jumps in about the same time when Rubicon is live.

Next is the start of what seems likely to be a wide range of deployable structures. We may even in time see the phasing out of POSes, not by their deletion, but by the availability of deployables that do the same job better. The deployables also serve the goal of adding range to subcaps. Note this isn't an advantage being added that supers will get excited about - they can already refit and carry plenty of cargo - it's a shift towards subcap supremacy.

So that's where I think the grand plan for Eve is going, the change that is coming - we're moving towards a sov conquest game that isn't dominated by a few hundred pilots with very expensive ships, that isn't settled by acres of passive nullbears who pos up when threatened, but one which is opened up to the slings and arrows of a thousand voracious roamers.

And maybe some day down the line, in 5 years time, we'll look back and say Rubicon, that's when the game changed forever.

Saturday 12 October 2013

Soloing in a frigate

I just had a really nice solo fight.

I entered http://evemaps.dotlan.net/map/Black_Rise/Rakapas#sec, warped to a safe near the sun and D-scanned. Few things about. Narrowed scan to 5% and pointed the camera at a small plex and found an incursus. I was in a tormentor.

I warped in and activated, picking up another incursus on D-scan (mid range 360 degree, 1.4 AU). Ho hum, win some lose some, what the hell give it a go.

Killed the first one while the other one sat on the gate for a bit dithering. He came in just as I was finishing off the first one. He then hit me quite hard and I was in structure and started using my AAR. We had about a 5 minute repping contest then he must have run outta cap charges or something and couldn't keep going. He tried killing a drone but I recalled it then launched it again after he lost interest.


I realised after the fight that I had overheated my guns to 98% wrecked! I also had 40% structure left and had used all of my 24 nanite paste in my AAR. That was cutting it close!

The reason I won was because I could completely control range with web and scram. So I sat at 6km and shot them with Scorch.

This low sec small scale stuff is very good fun and very good training. If you're interested in getting involved join SEDNA PUBLIC or watch Saiyon's stream

Thursday 10 October 2013

Nine days of pvp

It's been a highly entertaining October so far for me vis-a-vis Eve pvp.

A corp-mate, Saiyon, has been doing streaming via Twitch TV. His channel is well worth a look - even when I'm not on!

So last week Tuesday he streamed and we went out in frigates looking for kills. We were both in gank Merlins, one of my favourite low sec pvp frigates. The beauty of the Merlin is that it's very easy to fly and involves less microing than active tanking ships. It supports a great tank with Medium Shield Extender while offering over 200 dps which is extremely high by frigate standards.

Here's my fit - they don't always win!

First fight of the night was with some poor soul who had just started. I think it may have been his first pvp fight. He and a friend decided to come in to us, tristan and breacher against 2 merlins and melted superfast.

After a bit we started getting stalked by someone and after following us several systems he jumped in on us as we engaged a Punisher. Fortunately we beat both of them. Almost certainly this was our first occasion that we were stream sniped, someone watching Saiyon's stream and using it to hunt us.

It wasn't going to be the last time.

Shortly after we spotted a Vengeance. A Vengeance is a tough T2 frigate and fair game for us. Even with suspicions that he might have backup it's worth taking a shot because we do enough damage we might kill it before it gets help.

Turned out he was too tough for us, almost certainly getting link bonuses, even before his 3 Vengeance friends warped in.

Then we got stream sniped. By a friendly!

We'd encountered a Falcon a couple of systems back, had a brush with a Wolf from his corp and run away. It turned out he jammed both sides in that fight but I'd thought he'd helped his Wolf against us.

He joined the Vengeance fight firmly on our side and started jamming out Vengeances. With our gank Merlins we burned through 3 of them before the last escaped, utterly powerless. Turned out they were shiny spider repping Vengeances with Corelli A mods, victims of the social randomness of Eve that people just jump into fights. Still fantastic for us - not many people kill 3 deadspace fit Vengeances with a pair of Merlins!

We got to murder a few more people with the utterly unfair advantage of a Falcon. Great ships. The power of being able to decloak and jam a small gang out almost entirely is astonishingly strong in small gang pvp.

After Saiyon went to bed I carried on with another pilot, Caedes, and we got more nice kills. It's very possible and very fun to kill T2 and faction frigates with cheap T1 frigates costing less than 10 million isk - we got a total of 5 assault frigate kills and 2 faction frigate kills over the night, some but not all Falcon-assisted.

After a break of a couple of days we went roaming in Cyclones last Saturday. I got a SFI to aggress me on a station and my colleagues warped in and finished him off while I tanked both station guns and the SFI using dual ASBs, surviving in structure as he died. The frigate pvp we've been doing has been very useful practice for picking up skills - I wouldn't have managed the ASBs as well if I'd not got a lot of practice using a dual ASB Breacher a couple of weeks ago.

It was a nice change to fly battlecruisers after a lot of frigate piloting, they feel so powerful.

Saturday night was the Crossing Zebras FFA organised by Xander Phoena and Mangala Solaris. I freigtered down a bunch of merlins and condors. Speaking cynically the smart thing to do in FFAs is kite and snipe but it's more in the spirit to brawl, I set myself up with both options.

The FFA was staged in Asakai, sadly without random lost titans this time but still a fun place. The local low sec residents are Talons of Blood and they did a great job of vigorously opposing our trespass. Indeed first act was to bust a TALON gatecamp on the nearest highsec exit which Mangala adeptly FCed. My trusty Condor got a point on a Navy Exequror, a very shiny kill to start the night and I traded several condors and merlins for a bunch more kills. I got into a couple of solo frig duels with an Executioner and a Kestrel which I won narrowly and got rather schooled by an amazingly fast Tristan. There was plenty of bigger stuff to help kill including a rather daft Typhoon who was smartbombing 50km off the plex gate. Most of the event was spent inside FW plexes to shut out all of the people who had turned up to escalate the event - there was a random Prophecy gang which seemed to have forgotten to invite any logis and a very professional looking Sacrilege gang that no one wanted to take on plus the constantly reshipping and ferocious Talon gangs.

Plus we shot each other of course! I got to add to my celebrity kill collection by bagging both of my hosts and also - slightly to my embarassment - I discovered afterwards I'd snagged three Twostep kills. Poor Twostep. We shoot you because we love you <3 p="">
Sunday night Saiyon streamed again and we continued our streak of killing faction frigates with Merlins. It really feels like the Blaster is the dominant weapon in this format. If you fly in low sec pvp you either have to be using Blasters or you have to be controlling them with either webs or neuts. There's no weapon that can trade damage with a blaster and with our tactics of entering these plexes and sitting on the beacon at zero we catch most people before they can pull range. Three of us normally means 3 webs which means our primary is going to be at optimal for us. The Merlins and Incursuses are great ships for gangs of 2-4 frigates.

Tuesday we went out and streamed again, with more people from SEDNA getting involved. The stream has been great for encouraging people to come fly with us. We're getting loads of kills and we have a good banter. We also give out kills, we certainly make enough mistakes and take enough foolish risks that people watching our stream and hunting us or people just out hunting anyway are finding us very engageable.

If you want to fly with us we stage from Vullat, normally fly tech 1 frigates with T2 mods and if you hang in SEDNA PUBLIC (in-game channel) and ask to come along we can invite you to the public area of our Teamspeak and you may get to see yourself on the stream!

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Crossing Zebras Community FFA – 5th October

Heads up people who like shooting other people. Or even if you haven't tried it much and think you'd like to give it a go. On Saturday it's the Crossing Zebras FFA and it sounds like everyone is welcome.

I'll be there, hopefully with some colleagues from SEDNA. It's always particularly nice to shoot people you know (as The Ancient Gaming Noob noted at 6VDT after he blew up my Zealot, just after I in turn had blown up Poetic Stanziel).

If you're not sure what to bring here's a cheap Merlin fit I've been using tonight. I actually had three of them blown up but they did pretty well for themselves (5 assault frigate kills and a hookbill plus some T1 frigs).

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Report and very short interviews from the London Eve meet

As always it's a great pleasure to go along to these Eve meets and chat to fellow players. There were three of us from SEDNA which was fantastic - maybe next time we'll get some T-shirts done.

At the very back of the room we see Saiyon (next to CCP Falcon's right ear) and Mrs Saiyon (next to his left ear)

This time I and a friend also interviewed some players, just asking two questions:

What is best in Eve?
What will change for you in Rubicon?

I'm very grateful to the enthusiasm of the people we asked and especially indebted to Vel who helped me by doing a load of interviewing (including interviewing Chribba while having no idea he was someone Eve-famous!)

Apologies in advance to anyone who's name I mangle - you can ask for a correction in the comments.

Saiyon  Sedna

What is best in Eve? Solo kills
What will change for you in Rubicon? SOE ships

Amber Sedna

What is best in Eve? Diversity
What will change for you in Rubicon? being able to steal with siphons


What is best in Eve? knowing that you can always go to a scarier place
What will change for you in Rubicon? might play more

Priete  Future Corps

What is best in Eve? The players
What will change for you in Rubicon? Not seeing much special

Arnulf Ogonkoya Radiant
What is best in Eve? Interesting people
What will change for you in Rubicon? The deployables, the depot.

Kituran Curaunsi

What is best in Eve? The Sandbox
What will change for you in Rubicon? Might fly Marauders

Ezek Price  Wrecking Shots

What is best in Eve?  that it's meant to be played cruelly
What will change for you in Rubicon? siphon

Kaish8  Origin

What is best in Eve? The kills
What will change for you in Rubicon? pvp based on deployables

Andromeda Puttra  ex-Golden Scimitar

What is best in Eve? pvp, awoxing
What will change for you in Rubicon? SOE ships

Kiliu  Amodynamicspowercontrolcop

What is best in Eve? The community
What will change for you in Rubicon? The depot

 Tiberius  Trifectus Syn.

What is best in Eve? Its depth: so much to do, so many difficult things to master
What will change for you in Rubicon? The new code for deployable structures will open up opportunities

Chribba  Other World Enterprises
More info here

What is best in Eve? Community
What will change for you in Rubicon? Warp acceleration (speed)

Rentonbl Altsl  Black Omega Security

What is best in Eve? The ability to do anything
What will change for you in Rubicon? my pvp prospects - for the better

Me Bad  Phoenix Society

What is best in Eve? Making people cry.
What will change for you in Rubicon? High sec PI rule change (more crying)

Minijoegann Resilience

What is best in Eve?  The Raven
What will change for you in Rubicon? Less play

Sn4keyes  Sacred Templars

What is best in Eve? The people
What will change for you in Rubicon? The ability to steal for my alliance

Det Resprox  TRIAD

What is best in Eve? Community and complexity
What will change for you in Rubicon? Nothing - only flies Caldari

Ugleb  Joturn Risi

What is best in Eve? Roleplay
What will change for you in Rubicon? not much

Sovari  TRIAD

What is best in Eve? Player involvement to drive future development

Cpt Plumb  Scope

What is best in Eve? Everything you do involves in some way interacting with other people and the game is so open it is created by the players around you.
What will change for you in Rubicon? How I as a specialist in pvp will torment large alliances

Mad Ani  (no alliance)
Mad Ani runs several alts operating hidden cameras in conflict zones in Eve and streaming them to twitch tv. His twitch stream is here.

What is best in Eve? The player base drives a fluid dynamic.
What will change for you in Rubicon? The new interceptor functionality will greatly help him to position camera alts and twitch integration may affect him significantly.

CM Tacitus  Ascendancy Nulli

What is best in Eve? Friendship makes a smaller world
What will change for you in Rubicon? T2 battleships will be more useful

Krackie  Segmentum Solar Nulli

What is best in Eve? Meta-game
What will change for you in Rubicon? Interceptor bubble immunity and warp fix, new ships

Ninja87 600  Segmentum Solar  Nulli

What is best in Eve? love T3 ships, Proteus for the win
What will change for you in Rubicon? training for a Kronos just for the pimp factor

CCP Maiden Steel
Very knowledgable and interesting gamesmaster, formerly a low sec pirate with Tuskers and Hellcats. Her twitter is here.

What is best in Eve? To kill people and collect their tears.
What will change for you in Rubicon? not much

DJ Maddog  Eve Radio

What is best in Eve? It's a different game compared to other games, it's not about leveling up.
What will change for you in Rubicon? Twitch integration, interceptors, warpability.

Jus_J4ck  Eve Radio

What is best in Eve? Community (he then left for champagne with said community)
What will change for you in Rubicon? a chance to go back in.

Chrispy Bacon/DJ Damage  Red Dawn Mercs

What is best in Eve? Development
What will change for you in Rubicon? nothing

Arline Key  PIE inc

What is best in Eve? Community and how devs talk and interact with us
What will change for you in Rubicon? Roleplay aspect which will definitely change with the reduction of Empire power over the capsuleer community.

Touji Sinstdar  Panda

What is best in Eve? Community
What will change for you in Rubicon? More suspects maybe?

Jared Reidel  Dark Rising

What is best in Eve? The fact that I don't have to log in all that often
What will change for you in Rubicon? I'll be able to carry my shit around.

Mitch Taylor  Dark Rising

What is best in Eve? Sandbox
What will change for you in Rubicon? Siphons and deployables

Donny Osmond  Eve protection agency

What is best in Eve? social side
What will change for you in Rubicon? dont know

Corina Reglaeius  Mindstar

What is best in Eve? social side, having a crack on comms.
What will change for you in Rubicon? don't know

Superkid  Mindstar

What is best in Eve? holding plexes open
What will change for you in Rubicon? being a carebear

Marcus Gord  Akva Vit
What is best in Eve? 'To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women!'

And last but not least:

Sort ("Do you know who I am?") Dragon  Resilience
Formerly Coalition Leader of HBC and TDS.

What is best in Eve? Alcohol
What will change for you in Rubicon? Alcohol

Big thanks to everyone who took part. Please note that names are as we were told them and there's at least one moment of metagaming in choice of name.

Thanks to CCP and Veto for their organisation of these events. We even have photos courtesy of Kiliv.

Saturday 28 September 2013

London Veto Eve meet Saturday 28th, all day, Goodmans Field Wetherspoons

Details and sign up thread here.

Look forward to seeing some of you there!

Thursday 26 September 2013

Eve's Winter Expansion: Rubicon

CCP's ever improving public relations team announced the date for the Winter Expansion and talked about the vision for it and some of the features.

It was broadcast live tonight on Twitch TV and will no doubt be on Youtube and/or CCP's Twitch archive in a day or two.

The presentation was hosted by CCP Guard and his first guest was CCP Seagull. She gave the overview, the broad perspective.

Over multiple expansions "we're going some place together" and it will be "beyond the bounds of the known universe." Words like colonisation and increased control over technologies and capsuleers gaining more power over the universe were mentioned.

"We're starting to question some of the rules that have governed Eve Online for a long time." A picture was shown which looked like a bunch of Badgers constructing a stargate. That's the long term vision, over multiple expansions.

This expansion will go live on November 19th and is called Rubicon. Rubicon of course was the start of Caesar's challenge to the Roman Republic.

The presentation then replaced CCP Seagull with CCP Rise and CCP Fozzie.

Customs Offices: players will be able to take over high sec customs offices. They will be able to set whatever tax rate they like. They are expecting large groups of players to fight over them. There are some very valuable sites - I personally have a bunch of manufacturing installations next door to Jita.

Personal deployable structures. This is a new set of structures, not based on the clunky old POS code. 4 new types of structures in Rubicon. All can be attacked and destroyed. Shooting them in high sec will not provoke Concord.

 Siphon Unit - steals resources from moon mining or reaction poses. Steals stuff over time and anyone can access it and take the resources. So it just sits outside the pos - very effective against people who don't pay much attention

Depot - storage and fitting. Drop it in space and refit your ship or stash loot.

Deployable automatic tractor beam and looting device.

Deployable short range cyno jammer (disposable, one use). 70-100km range. Won't stop covert cynos.

Warp acceleration changes. Ships that warp faster will enter warp faster. (Right now all ships accelerate at the same rate and most warps spend most of the time in acceleration/deceleration). Some adjustments will be made - generally small ships will warp faster and large ships will warp slower. T1 cruisers are used as the baseline. HACs and frigates should be able to catch battleships and so forth. "Interceptors will actually be able to intercept."

Ship balancing:

Marauder has already been announced. A new mode will be available giving ewar immunity and enhanced tanking called bastion mode. A gorgeous picture of a bastioned Kronos was shown. The ships will also get a role bonus to MJD cooldown.

Interceptors. In addition to the warp acceleration changes interceptors will get bubble immunity. Slight drop in hit points and small cargo bays will make it tricky to cyno fit them. (Thread on Features and Ideas promised by early next week).

Electronic Attack Frigates. Cap recharge and lock time to be improved. Double range on secondary ewar effects (points webs neuts). CSM loves them.

(Light) Dictors. Core role remains, warp acceleration changes will help them, they will be more balanced within the class (ie sabres won't be miles better). Bubble art is going to be reworked.

plus possibly more ships balanced if time allows.

New battleship missile launcher: Rapid Heavy Missile launcher. Battleship-ish dps with heavy missile effectiveness against small ships. "Looks great."

"The Raven's going to be super-awesome!"

New ships: Sisters of Eve faction ships.



Really nice concept art was shown. Mostly white with red highlights. Bonuses from Gallente and Amarr. Long deployment versatile combat ship. Drones and armour bonuses and exploration/hacking bonuses. Cov ops cloaks. Intended to be pvp viable.

Usability changes:

Certificate system to be completely replaced with a new cleaner system. Attached to a new concept called mastery. No longer need to be claimed.

New Interbus ship identification system. Shows you all the ships in Eve in a chart showing what you can fly and what might be good to train for. Ties in with the mastery system.

Character selection screen. Hint at extra functionality.

Twitch TV will be integrated into the Eve client.

Collector's Edition shipping 24th October.

Eve Vegas coming up, Guard Rise Fozzie Bro and Locksey will be going. Prizes, Eve Valkyrie in HD.

Eve Down Under end of Nov - Fozzie and Chribba going.

Gatherings published in their own subforum on the Eve boards.

CCP Fozzie mentioned that the interceptor bubble idea was stolen from a player.