Sunday 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas New Eden

Have a lovely time over the holidays and don't forget to claim your present from CCP!

Wednesday 19 October 2016

The in-game economic effect of the ban on gambling sites in Eve Online

Last week the Eve Online community received the rather sensational news that in-game gambling would be banned as from next month. To TMC this was a vindication of their recently-discovered principles against corrupting the innocent youth of our online community (and may have had something to do with losing all their space to a casino-funded war). At Crossing Zebras editor-in-chief Niden was initially appalled but then Dunk chimed in with a more common sense reponse.

A lot has been said about the loss of sponsorship from various community sites but so far not much thought has been expressed about the rather seismic changes to the economic paradigm that generated all that spare revenue.

Here's my theory: gambling players generally pay for their gambles by selling plex.

Not entirely, no doubt there are some exceptions but the ways people grind cash in this game are long, a little tedious and intensely focused around isk per hour optimisation. If you spend 10 hours ratting at 100m isk/hour it's not economically rational to gamble it away and ratters and miners are highly steered towards economic rationality. If you trade on the markets why gamble on a third party site and lose when your main gameplay is gambling in Eve and winning?

However if you're cash rich and just want to make long boring waits on a titan or black ops bridger more exciting then splash some dollars pounds or euros and have a better time while you're waiting for content.

Next we know that gambling revenues have been huge, so large that the biggest richest coalition in nullsec was steamrolled by the economic power of the IWI bankers.

So a lot of "whales" are now no longer able to play the way they like to.

These players will respond in several ways. Some will alt tab or use a second monitor to entertain themselves during those times they would have been gambling. Some will buy the plexes and use them in-game to lose expensively fit soloing ships to gate camps. Some will just carry on playing an Eve that seems a bit duller but proves a lot cheaper. Some may leave entirely.

So we will see a lot less players selling plex.

In addition the launch of Eve's new free to play system will bring a lot of players, particularly teenagers, drawn by the idea that they can join for free and earn enough isk to subscribe. Overwhelmingly the free players will not be plex buyers (if they had the money they'd be subscribers) but an additional pressure on the plex supply.

Plexes are going to get expensive.

Another effect is that there will be more players in space.

As people seek isk in-game by running missions and anoms, mining etc and they're in many cases not all that experienced we're going to find tons of targets on our roams and hotdrops. I specialise in FCing small fast roaming gangs and I can't wait!

Puff... sub runs out in 3 hours.... puff.... puff

I think as a game design point CCP needs to find a method for whales to spend their money that isn't skins. Skins are only entertaining to a point, once you have a good collection you stop caring about new ones and the novelties worn off, people very rarely comment on other people's skin. (The exception seems to be my blue Nightmare which always attracts comments when Waffles fly our Dreamfleet comp).

What do you guys think the economic fallout from the Eula changes will be?

Thursday 29 September 2016

A Waffle supporter's guide to the AT


Do you like Waffles?

This year, in Alliance Tournament XIV, Waffles begin our quest with a truly tough game against the excellent Tuskers.

The AT schedule is here.

Player calculated brackets here.

Waffles are match 9 in the second system so we should be playing at 14.40 on Saturday 1st October against Tuskers.

If we win we will play another match on Saturday at 19.00 against the winner of Rote Kapelle v Dreamfleet.

If we win that we play next at 19.40 on Sunday 2nd October against the best team from MC., Castabouts, Brothers in Arms or Paisti.

If we beat Tuskers then lose to Rote/Dream, we play the winner of #63 which will probably be RONIN v Free Gates at 17.00 on Sunday 2nd October. Winning that would make us play again that same evening at 20.00 against the winner of the second best team from MC., Castabouts, Brothers in Arms or Paisti versus the third best of End of Life, Agony, PIXEL, and Templis.

If we lose to Tuskers we play the loser of Dream Fleet v Rote Kapelle at 13.20 on Sunday 2nd October.

Winning that would see us play the second best team from RONIN, Red v Blue, Samurai Soul'd Out, Free Gates Coalition at 16.20 on Sunday 2nd October.

Winning that would see us play again on the Sunday, at 19.40 against the winner of  second best of End of Life, Agony, PIXEL, and Templis versus third best from MC., Castabouts, Brothers in Arms or Paisti.

We'll hopefully have a busy weekend and may even survive into Day 3 on Saturday 8th October. I know we'll do our very best, in gladiatorial tradition, to entertain you with our blood.

Catch it on Eve_NT Twitch this weekend and wish us luck. If you want to bet Eve-Bet offers a pretty decent service here. 

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Eve_NT - after action report

Eve_NT occurred last weekend.


I drove up on the Friday, allowing plenty of time which was just as well because the M1 motorway sucks on a Friday. I stayed in the Holiday Inn at Castle Bridge Road and happened on it by luck just as I was entering Nottingham and wondering where to go. I had a brief nap then got a cab into town.

Antenna has a foyer area, a large bar room and upstairs some smaller rooms. I spent most of my time in the big room.

Friday night I tried to find my corp mate White Orchid but he wasn't there yet. Still at least I was in possibly the only bar in town where I could walk up to groups of strangers asking "White Orchid?" and not get thumped.

I did meet a whole host of Eve players from GalMil, Corvus from CalMil, from Provi, from the Rekking Crew and the tourminati including Bei, Nashh and Suitonia. I was also delighted to find several Pandemic Horde members there including some of their leading tournament players Catatonic Dawn, Taston Thorne and Brett Thomas Thomas.

We received some bling for turning up - I got a rather snazzy Eve_NT T-shirt a voucher for a plex and a voucher for 100m isk eve-bet credit.

There was an idea to get people playing boardgames but despite the best efforts of the genial Tiberius Stargazer I don't think anyone did, preferring to chat about Eve.

Rules and ship fits for the next day's tournament were announced: it was to be pirate cruiser plus either navy ewar frigate or assault frigate to make a team of two. All the standard ships of those classes were available and the fits were T2 with T1 drones.

I called it a night so I'd be well rested for the next day.


Despite the early night I overslept, waking just after 11am. I took the time to get cleaned up and feel fresh then got a cab in. It's probably walking distance for most people but I have a minor disability.

I met White Orchid who's great fun and we promptly started plotting and planning for the tourney. I looked for my playing partner but didn't find him.

We were up third and took Ashimmu and Retribution against Vigilant and - I think - Enyo. We warped  in at 30 and I misplayed the match start. I underestimated the Vigi's burst speed. I moved sideways with MWD unheated while the Vigi rushed me. I didn't get my first web on until he was at 15km (my web range was 26km) and failed to stop him from coasting into his web range and once he got me webbed my pulse lasers would be no match for his blasters. My poor playing partner, Abraxas, who was new to pvp and who I'd tried to quickly help but only confused more was still trying to figure out how to lock up the bad guys when I told him I was dead and we'd lost. It's a short and brutal format very suitable for resolving large numbers of competitive matches.

White Orchid was up next and he won to the sound of my loud cheering, carrying the honor of Waffles forward to the next round.

The tournament was displayed really well with a large screen and several smaller screens and we spent the next hour or so watching matches. White Orchid got eliminated in round 2 despite the removal of the oppressive Vigilant from the format. (I maintain that Gallente rush is beatable - it's very strong however against anything less than perfect piloting).

I had missed the first of the small  room presentations  (from CCP) but went upstairs to see the CSM presentation. For the most part it didn't tell us anything we don't already know: the CSM communicates with CCP on various platforms, the current group is less dysfunctional than previous groups, PL is good at heckling). I did get a very interesting answer when I asked about Alpha clone players. Jin'taan doesn't consider them his constituency and isn't planning to reach out to them or represent them other than by responding to forum posts on the CSM section of the Eve O forums. Doesn't seem terribly democratic - imagine Alpha representation will be an issue in the future.

The next presentation was by RocketX on the operations of the Rekking Crew. They live in Derelik and track down and kill supers. Victims of their own success they've tried branching out to do different things including an AT ship hunt that bagged a Fiend and a partnership with a Molden Heath alliance which gave them opportunities to respond to batphone requests. They've never lost a fight involving supers and have killed 100 supers. Impressive stuff. Equally impressive was the Pikachu costume Rocket wore to give his talk.

I skipped the next talk (on Valkyrie by General Stargazer). I also declined to check out a games room they had with Gunjack and Valkyrie in. I'm mildly interested but was in more of an Eve mood.

I went downstairs and watched the quarter finals of the tournament. Got something to eat - a Halloumi sandwich. I didn't know what Halloumi was but it's cheese and was served with chilli sauce in kebab style with little skewers. Pretty tasty.

I met more Eve players including a bunch from Zebra Corp who had been in The Bastion at the same time as me, some guys from Blades of Grass with whom I shared Hero Coalition roots and some people I shoot at in low sec. It's a small universe when one is a much-travelled space whore.

I was also working on and discussing an idea I have for a new player friendly tournament experience and it was good to get feedback - some of it supportive, some strongly opposed.

The tournament narrowed to 2 close fought semis with some really excellent piloting on display.

Then there were some charity things. All day long Nashh's wife had been patiently selling raffle tickets for a charity that is working to build a nature sanctuary in Montserrat. That raised nearly £1000 so Nashh offered 10 plexes to whoever bought the ticket taking it to £1000. I tried to game it and was one ticket off, seeing the person in front of me buy two tickets, miss out, then buy two more and win the ten plex.

There was a charity auction. An odd looking device that seems to be part lamp part air freshener and which looks like it was stolen from a Doctor Who set was sold for some absurd number of plex in a fiercely competitive auction. The proceeds will go to Care 4 Kids.

Meanwhile Brett Thomas Thomas had been clearing up on some of the various Beat the Master video game challenges that were dotted around the venue, swaggering up to our table 18 plex richer and with a huge grin.

The tournament resumed and the team with 2 guys from Lumpy won in a meta now dominated by Cynabals. They were then split up, given the dubious assistance of random very drunk CSMers and Rhiload triumphed to the delight of his temporary team mate Jin'taan who showed what a master politician he is by milking the credit despite dying in the first fifteen seconds.

Next was an exhibition match players v CCP which allowed Bei and Nashh the chance to show what good players they are.

At this point in the evening the music got louder and I was feeling the effect of 4 bottles of Magners so I decided to say my goodbyes. I got into a good conversation with CCP Goliath who did his best to convince me to go to Iceland (and I'm tempted) and who was supportive of my idea for a grass roots tournament.

The last person I said bye to was Nashh who really was everywhere this weekend and did a great job as organiser.


There was a breakfast meet in a video games bar but I chose to get an early start on my journey home instead, making very good time on the empty roads of pre-6am M1.

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Home again!

One aspect of flying with a serious group is that sometimes it's best not to talk too much. Waffles has been on away from home and I've waited till we got back to start talking about it in public.

Waffles has been on deployment for a couple of months, moving to help shore up Stainwagon against the Vanguard coalition. We were hired by a mystery client (I'm not being evasive - I don't know) and fought besides Infamous and Soviet Union against Triumvirate initially, although they were reinforced by Xdeath who deployed south to help them and FCON who bandwagoned on to the winning side.

Although we made a decent fight of it for a couple of weeks we were overwhelmed by the other side's numbers once they had all their pieces in place. Our staging system was headshot and we extricated very smoothly. Our allies coped with losing rather less well with Infamous falling apart in a storm of bitterness which has been well documented on reddit.

The campaign included some glorious strat ops with us passing 100 in fleet (pretty good for a 350 person corp), some stealthy entosising and a lot of roams. I fc-ed a few fleets, generally successfully except for a nanocruiser fleet where I bit off more than I should have and suffered a few expensive losses trying to out-fly a much bigger fleet. I also aided other FCs with anchoring and stuff like that.

In addition to our war front we also picked on Provi and the Volition Cult a fair bit, culminating with  the spectacular explosion of a VOLT Fortizar.

We've also been practicing our Alliance Tournament setups extensively.

I really like entosis ops but not many in Waffles do so the general mood is one of euphoria as we jump our carriers the long boring route  back home.

Black Rise is about to become very bloody.

Monday 27 June 2016

Brexit: how Game of Thrones can help explain what just happened

There's a very interesting series of Youtube videos that teach leadership using Game of Thrones examples. Here's his take on the persuasive leader: Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion is effective because he finds out what people care about then offers it to them.

The outstanding persuaders of the Brexit campaign were Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Rupert Murdoch. 2 ex-public school very rich men and a billionaire.

The notable persuaded demographic was the "Left Behind." In this video Matthew Goodwin explains who these disenfranchised voters are and why they are drawn to the radical Right. Briefly these are older blue collar working men who lack the skills for a modern career.

The interesting thing about the Leave campaign is how effectively they offered British people, particularly the disenfranchised Left Behind group, what they wanted. The key themes are "ordinary British people" v foreigners, skillfully muddling fear of radical Islamic murderers with immigration from ordinary European citizens; "taking back control" - a key theme in the lives of the economically disadvantaged Left Behind; and support for the NHS - a primary concern for older voters. And a strong appeal to patriotism which saw Leave supporters decking themselves in Union Jacks or England flags, conflating the referendum with the football tournament that's happening just now.

And as for Murdoch along with reasons to vote Leave he gives the British people Game of Thrones and the Premier League - the man knows precisely what people want.

Now let's go back to the Game of Thrones videos. This one is about how the Starks always manage to make people to betray them. They never pay attention to what other people want and take it for granted that other people will respond the way they do.

And this runs so very true for the Remain campaign. They offered dry economic facts and statistics which might be persuasive to a Westminster technocrat but are unappealing to a population that has been bullshitted with statistics for decades. They reminded people how well the economy is doing which might be appealing to politicians driving their Range Rovers around London but has no appeal to Leave voters some of whom have said in interviews that they chose Leave because they don't see how things can possibly get any worse. Remember over half a million Britons use Food Banks.

The people who fronted the Remain side were awful. Cameron and Osborne who are associated with the austerity that has made so many voters feel poorer. Corbyn's heart wasn't in it. Rich businessmen urging people to vote In was disastrous because those people symbolise the winners and losers situation that the Left Behind feel they're in. The Bosses were asking the Workers to support the status quo. Both sides were led by very wealthy men - one side downplayed that and appeared relatable and ordinary; one side smugged about how prosperous economic union was making them and showed the voters graphs.


Chaos is a ladder.

The one positive to come out of this fiasco is that the information politicians need to build us a better country, so that in time we can repair the damage we just did to the rest of the world, has been brought into sharp relief. It's a wake up call for politicians, activists and ordinary citizens who want to influence policy - find out what people want and how to offer it to them. It's actually a good thing that the losers of the last few decades have had a chance to say "Hey! We're not happy.". This MP gets it. Let this be the last time someone talks to their MP then thinks

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

What's next for the North?

One of the burning questions for many Eve players is: Is the War over?

For The Imperium the answer is no, although some elements of the coalition have quietly ended the war on their own terms with 4 alliances having left, numerous corps and a steady bleed of about 250 individuals a week from the main Goon alliance.

Ratting statistics from CCP Quant and Croda show that ratting activity is back to pre-war levels which perhaps suggests that a number of the displaced Goons have found discreet ways to rat, perhaps using a Horde or Test alt to continue working the same space as before while maintaining a loyal Goon pvper in their lemonade factory hideout.

For the attackers however the war is over. Sure people will form to fight Goons and will form to defend space or assets  but the notion that we are at war is no longer true. Both KillahBee (PL) and Gobbins (PH) have stated that they consider the war over and as for Waffles we left the war zone over a month ago.

Inertia is a powerful force however and it's unlikely that PL will want to undertake the onerous chore of moving until after Alliance Tournament season which is expected to start any day now.

Nonetheless the forces holding The Imperium down will slowly lift and.... well, what will hppen next?

It will depend on Goon leadership - their choice will set the location and some of the participants for the next war. I  think it will be a reconquest of Deklein, the toughest option and the richest prize. If Goons were willing to settle for a lesser region surely they would have already deployed to take it.

The difficulty here is that the conquerors are in many cases now rather entrenched. If Deklein is attacked then the regions in front of it - Pure Blind and Fade - are likely to be attacked or to support Deklein anyway and regions further back - Branch Tribute and Vale contain ex-MBC members who have everything to lose if Goons can re-establish themselves as sov-holders. This is the rough force composition:

Deklein: Guardians of the Galaxy (approx 10k pilots).

Fade: Pandemic Horde (10k), French Brave (400).

Pure Blind: PBC (1k), MOA (1800), NC. (2750).

With the Imperium now at about 25k that means numbers are even against the residents of the regions directly in the path of a Deklein invasion.

So even if PL leave the Goons won't have a huge advantage, even against the locals now living there.

Let's add in the residents of ex-Imperium space nearby:

Branch Out of Sight (750).

Tribute: OSS (1350), MC. (800), CO2 (3500)

Vale: Test (7k)

This means even if the nomadic alliances leave, let's include MC. and NC. too the Imperium is still significantly out-numbered just by the new locals. I think this means the only chance Goons could have to win is if they use their supercap fleet and if they started doing that PL would be back before you could say "third party."

Something pretty seismic needs to happen for Goons to get back into the game and it's not simply waiting for PL to get bored, that alone isn't enough. A Goon/Test axis would make it interesting but it's time for the Goons' famous corps diplomatique to shine.

Meanwhile the future of nullsec is stalemate, until something game-changing happens like The Imperium going south or hiring PL as mercs or something even more unexpected. But I honestly think Goons will still be in Saranen at Christmas.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

An Eve for everyone: #1 the New Player Experience

In my last blog post I voiced a strongly worded objection to Neville Smit's influential Occupy New Eden post.

Let me be clear: I disagree with the method, not the goals. The Monoclegate player riots of 2011 saw CCP lay off 150 staff, saw alarmist articles about the company's over-extended financial position and a threat from The Mittani to take his people to a different game. Eve could have closed. Player rebellion is a nuclear option and one that once started is impossible to control.

But Neville's goals?

Broadly they're based, I think, on the feeling that CCP  has experienced some kind of "regulatory capture" where the influence and political shrewdness of the nullsec alliances has placed their concerns front and centre, to the detriment of the 85% of us who inhabit other parts of the sandbox.

I'm going to write a short series of articles exploring how we can make an Eve for everyone, no playstyle left behind.

Today: the New Player Experience.

So I started a new character and responded to what I saw on screen. I clicked through the opportunities until I got stuck. I got stuck at the opportunity that wants me to fit a low slot module. I didn't have a low slot module. I had been given no information about where I could get one. I couldn't progress to the next set of opportunities until I solved this one.

I decided to try killing a couple of rats to see if they dropped a module then realised I had no information about where the rats actually live. In games like Wow you walk out of town and the rats are just there. In Eve you undock and it's just you and a couple of other newbies there.

I "cheated" and used prior knowledge to warp to a combat anomaly where I killed several rats without getting a low slot module. So I "cheated" again and bought an armour repper off the market.

This is concerning.This is a clickout point, a point where an internet user loses interest, gives up and clicks away or alt tabs and does something else. Giving new people a task that appears to be essential but which is not solvable is disastrous.

With the opportunities chain unfinished I next went off to do Career Agents. In fact I'd forgotten how to find them and was told by helpful people in Rookie Help Chat to press F12.

These are clickout points 2 &3.

You can't finish the initial opportunities chain without going off  to do something else. I think a lot of people will want to finish what appears to be the tutorial before going off to do a completely different quest chain in a different area of space but in practice you have to. You can't, for example, complete the Fit a scan probe launcher to your ship opportunity when you're in a rookie ship in Duripant with no money. So broken quest chain is one clickout point.

The other is that you need to talk to people. In most other games the chat is where you call people names after you lose, or spam macros or generally crap in. Many people on starting a new game will minimise chat and never look at it again. For the game to require that you proactively ask the right question and then get helped by someone knowledgable is asking a hell of a lot and for many people this will be their clickout point.

On to the Career Agents. I actually think the agents are pretty good as quest chains, my concern is what they teach. After doing all 5 the only clearly viable way to make money appeared to be mining, Eve's dullest profession. Sure there's scanning down sites but most of those will be too tough for a newbie in an Atron, plus scanning is horrible with newbie skills even if you know how to do it. Those sites where with perfect probe positioning and lowest AU but it still won't get better than 99%: more clickout points. There's missions but the Career Agents don't point you to one nor show you how to use the Agent Finder. Plus the pay from missions is awful. I can go afk in the Venture with a day old character and come back to 1 million isk of minerals in the ore hold, why would I do some horrible level 1 mission for 20k? You're also set up with blueprints but so poor you need to do My time is free style mining to use them. One of the saddest things I saw in Rookie Help Chat was "where do I mine Kernite or Jaspet - I need some Nocxium for my  Career Agent quest." Props for the newbie for figuring out so much, and get it together Eve Online that you're giving people missions without the information needed to succeed.

I'll repeat: it's very bad game design if the new player experience game can't be solved without help from other people. Would it hurt to give the nearest systems with those ores in the mission briefing while reminding pilots to consider buying directly from the market? Maybe you could even give limited duration but unlimited "Civilian Ventures" so rookies could go mine in low sec,but get a new ship if they die.

Then I tried pvp. I went into a Novice plex, I got blobbed and killed, rip my poor frigate. The people who killed me convoed me and offered a corp invite so that was pretty nice.

I tried again but got killed 2 jumps in on the gate by a battlecruiser. As a newbie you're easy to tackle even in a frigate because it aligns a little slow.

This is my next clickout point. Although Eve is meant to be a pvp game there's no New Player pvp. Yes I'm aware Suitonia can beat people with 20  day characters but that's a very good pvper with a focused  skill plan. So for most new players the only option here is to join a corp you can't pvp without submitting to a whole host of rules and obligations that goes with joining a player corp. Even FW doesn't solve this - you're still going to be a free kill until someone helps you.

So I searched the recruitment page in the corp window and found a list. My search criteria were fw, new player friendly and low sec. Joined their public channel, asked about joining and they said no because I was too new. Another clickout point.

So then: an Eve for everyone.

I think the NPE is a good example of how the game can go in the  wrong direction if player feedback is collected from the very loud passionate invested communities that attend Fanfest and the other player meets. Ask players at those events about starting Eve and they'll say Eve is awesome , the community is awesome, join a corp. Clearly it isn't awesome, in fact it's deeply flawed for new players and joining a corp is fraught with clickout points - maybe they want intrusive background checks, maybe you have to install software, maybe you have to change playstyle (eg always be on comms and in fleet), maybe someone's rude, maybe someone simply doesn't want to group up. This may be a good case of where "listening to the players" is bad for the game.

CCP Ghost told us about the millions of players who try Eve then immediately leave, my look at the game as new character showed me a bit about why. If you're a blogger and want to add your experience to this discussion roll a new character and tell us about your clickout points. Alternatively for people without blogs just post it on /r/eve or Eve O. Link  it in the comments.

Finally I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our newbie-friendly cousin, Pandemic Horde. To join them click the little speech bubble in the chat window to join a new channel and type Join Horde as the channel name. I don't think  you should have to join a corp to start Eve but should you choose to they're one of the best.

Thursday 5 May 2016

Neville Smit's Occupy campaign is bullshit, here's why

Over at his blog, Neville Smit has called for player uproar because of his view that new content is "mostly to the interests of players who operate in null security space."

I think this is simply a mistaken impression, a result of what CCP is hyping, not what CCP is doing.

Certainly in the trailer for the new Citadels it looked a lot cooler to be one of the wreckers rather than one of the builders. On top of that CCP's excellent staff band released a new number, "Bring on the wrecking machine."

Smit goes on to add: "It was my hope that CCP was going to turn more of their attention to enhancing game play options outside of null-sec."

Well, sir, how about a whole new type of space, that isn't null-sec?

 For the past two years CCP has worked on a grand project: player-built stargates. This isn't an addition to lowsec, hisec or nullsec. Like the Apocrypha expansion of 2009 this is a whole new type of space, different from anything we've seen before.

How's that for enhancing game play options outside of null sec? A whole new type of space.

In addition there are a lot of things happening that are huge enhancements for the game play of people all over New Eden. Citadels have caused a huge and lasting boost to the profits of miners and PI managers. There simply aren't the materials to meet the expected demand, a problem that will become more acute as more structures are added to the game. This is great news in particular for people who make P4s, which are traditionally concentrated in high sec. This is because P4s are equally profitable anywhere while extraction of P0s is much better in lower security systems.

In addition to the Citadels that support player organisations there's the new player-made stargates to be built, another huge industrial project.

For the first time Eve players destroyed more than they built. The April Monthly Economic Report shows Empire looking very healthy relative to nullsec: it has 4 of the top 5 mining regions (over 1 trillion isk worth mined in each); all 5 of the top producing regions, the top 5 regions for market value (dominated by Jita) and. in incursions, one of the highest isk/hour activities in the game.

Meanwhile in nullsec the safe and tamed North West has been burnt to the ground and is now an unrecognisable mosaic of interceptor gangs, broken POSes and new immigrants. The vast industry of The Imperium is broken allowing miners and industrialists in Empire to claim a larger share of the profits.

Low sec is flooded with content. 28,000 homeless people have moved in and are clumsily flying around trying to belt rat or do sites or fight the locals.

High sec is flooded with value - isk has become worth more, accounts are easier to plex, competition has been disrupted or destroyed, demand is up.

Now there was a time before when something similar happened, and I'd say for a similar root cause.

In 2011 outraged players shot the Jita monument in a player rebellion against the introduction of a cash shop monocle. This was ridiculous. Who gives a shit if someone puts on a cosmetic item? Monocles have now been in the game for 4 years and I couldn't name a player who has one - not because I don't interact with such but because I simply don't notice. No one does. It's negligible.

The reason players objected is from a kind of bad place: "he's getting something that I'm not." Reacting in a kneejerk way to something that really doesn't matter, that doesn't really affect you. So what if they put something in that isn't specifically for you that isn't all wrapped up in a bow in a parcel with your name on it bestowed on you with a thank you thank you thank you? Throughout its entire history Eve has worked on certain elements of the sandbox one at a time. When they worked on battleships it was not a slap in the face to anyone who does not fly a battleship.

Consider. One of the occupy Eve bloggers, Drackarn, explains his outrage by referring to the crimewatch round table. A few years ago we had a whole 6 months expansion devoted to Crimewatch, frankly an amazing amount of time for something that's really rather incidental. But CCP fixing that formed part of a greater whole, where they make the overall game better. The rest of us didn't riot when crimewatch was added even though it has zero affect in nullsec, in wormholes or on peaceful people in high sec.

It really feels to me, like the Monocle, that this is a vanity issue. Sure CCP have added a ton of things that improve PVE like burners and new drifter content, that improve industry like citadels and Crius but they didn't specifically yammer about it at Fanfest and now some poor entitled bloggers are feeling insufficiently pampered.

Everything on Neville's list of demands is something they are actively adding to the game if only he'd pay attention. NPE? They've just hired a new guy who gave a major presentation on it at the Keynote. Lore-based PVE exploration? They've been developing drifter content for a year with continual updates and new features. Variety in harvesting? They've just added new frigates designed for extracting resources from danger zones. He wants mercenary to become a viable career? Wake the fuck up, Neville, half the game is currently on mercenary contracts.

So here's my message to the "85%." Rant less, play more. The content you want is in the game and more is coming. So what if CCP has picked some other people in the community to fawn over and tell them how special they are. Get over yourselves. The road map is not for nullsec. The road map is new space, it's for whoever wants to go there when it's unveiled. Just play the damn game.

Sunday 1 May 2016

Rest in peace, John Bellicose.

A cyno vigil was held in game for former player John Bellicose who we lost to suicide 2 years ago.

Friday 29 April 2016

BB #74: Fanfest reveals the dragon's treasure

The Most Important Reveal at Fanfest Was......
So when this Blog Banter goes live Fanfest will be over. Hungover geeks from around the world will be departing Reykjavik after a five-day binge of important internet spaceships and partying. Whether you were there in person, watched the streams or read the dev blogs on your mobile hidden under your work desk there was probably something in there that gave you a "nerd-boner". What for you personally was the most important thing to come out of Fanfest 2016?

For me it was a reveal by CCP Quant that I believe shows the scale of the disaster that losing Deklein was for The Imperium.

The Wizard of Stats.

First have a look at what he says about null sec in his presentation during the Eve Keynote.

"And for opsec reasons we decided not to show you the top sov station."  (This has to be former Imperium capital YA0).

"However the top sov region holds 69 trillions." 

This is Deklein. Not only does the region hold what until a few weeks ago was null sec's busiest trade hub by a mile but also in nullsec most income is generated by ratting and Deklein is miles ahead. You can see on the Dotlan stats page Deklein has the most rat kills very comfortably for the year, despite ratting having come to an almost complete standstill during April.

On the 12th April I estimated there was 50 trillion isk worth of assets in YA0 station, a guess I'm feeling pretty happy with now. It's reasonable to suppose most of the region's assets are in the major trade hub.

To seal the idea that the Null sec region CCP Quant is referring to is indeed Deklein, see how he handles a question from the crowd:

Q: Which region?

A: You all know that (laughs).

I'm glad that we have this information because the official Goon line from Mittens et al has been that everyone had plenty of notice and got all their stuff out. Clearly this wasn't the case at all.

Thursday 14 April 2016

A quick MBC entosis primer

A couple of points about taking sov in Deklein in the current state of play.

  • 2 entosisers isn't enough. You need 3-4 minimum. We did a timer the other day which went like this: we did 2 nodes, then 2 more, then 2 more, then 5 naturally regenerated. Making us +1 for 90 minutes work. Which sucked.
  • use a googledoc spreadsheet to track nodes and coordinate ships. Columns are system - node number - expiry time - entosiser. Eg: VFK - G58 - 07.56 - Callduron.
  • It's important to catch the older nodes that are about to expire so have your inty pilot direct traffic so entosisers don't waste time (eg by warping to a node someone else is doing).
  • Goons will send Swordfleet. 25-100 inties. With our small numbers we've mostly used destroyers. Most junior FCs won't commit their inties against 10 svipuls. In fact I've watched them bail when I was expecting them to come in and murder us. (It was 90 v 9 and I decided to take the fight because fuck goons but to our amazement they bailed).
  • Goons may send Caracals. Against 60 or so cruisers my small gangs just run away leaving the entosiser to die. It's very difficult for them to get a fleet like this all the way up from Saranen without attracting hunters so just chill in a freeport for 10-15 mins and it will probably be dead or gone.
  • The entosis ship needs tank, eccm, the entosis link and at least 50 stront. Anti-inty combat ability is nice too.
  • Other entosisers are helping you so work with them for ihub, tcu and initial station timers. For final station timers the game mechanics pit you against each other so agree who will get it and don't work against each other.
(Feel free to steal this for internal forums).

Eve after the war.

It's perhaps a little early but I thought it would be interesting to look ahead to Eve after the war.

I think the fall of VFK and YA0 on Friday, which seems utterly inevitable now, will mark the end of an era. The Age of Superpowers will end, the new age will be - The Age of Mercenaries.

Many of the most powerful alliances in the game are all very open to working on contract - PL, TISHU, MC. Fozzie sov strongly supports the mercenary playstyle where groups of highly incentivised people can devastate larger groups of more casual players. Huge accumulations of wealth have left a number of individuals trillionaires. Some of these trillionaires are ousted bitter Goons who may well be in the market for purchasing a little payback.

So we will be seeing a balkanised nullsec where local conflicts often get decided by the interventions of mercenaries on contract. After all why lose all your space worth hundreds of billions to you when for a reasonable fee you can make the other guy lose all his space?

The MBC is comprised of a mix of people who are happy staking a claim on a map and growing rich off their land such as Test and Snuffbox and people who prefer to work on contract, pvping while others worry about things like ticks and taxes, such as Mercenary Coalition.

So let's look at how things will shake up after the war:

The Mercenaries

This is simple, such groups will go where the contracts are and in-between contracts will ramble around the galaxy making themselves a nuisance. Expect to see rich banker/industrial types start to drive a lot of Eve. People like Eep, Gevlon and Goon trillionaires like Aryth, Mynnna and Weaselior will direct most of us towards people they feel angry with. (I say like Gevlon but sadly not Gevlon himself as that player has decided to move on from Eve and look for new challenges in another game).

The Allies

The low sec people, the small gangers, the various people like NPSI Spectre Fleet will move on to new content. There's just not much to fight here - we're not supposed to shoot each other because it's meant to be all v Goons and the Goons are either hiding or bringing 90 interceptors which isn't all that entertaining to fight. There's already minor tensions and standings issues, someone from MOA got rather cross with us this morning. I've lost almost as many ships to "friendlies" as I have to The Imperium. I think we'll all be quite glad to get back to the clarity of NBSI with hardly anyone blue.

The Sov-holders will settle in. Test have the choice of Deklein or Vale. Personally I think they should take Deklein but Vily sounded quite committed to Vale on the Jeffraider show this morning. Pandemic Horde will have 2 campuses: Fade and Querious and may close one down, whichever seems the less entertaining. MC and CO2 seem quite happy in Tribute although I believe MC will always prioritise contracts over ratting sov. The grr Goons veterans MOA and OOS will probably hold a few constellations and there's enough space over for new alliances to move in and squabble for space. TRI PL and NC. will probably not take sov but at this point can do more or less what they like, and will probably start laying deep plans for tomorrow's metagame.

The Imperium

Enemies of the Imperium focus on the Mittani and Sion and say "how can people trust those awful men?" The directorship is not The Imperium, The Imperium is the community of players who like and trust and rely on each other in ties going back over a decade.

I think Goons is basically broken until there's regime change.

The recent decisions have been terrible. The Kickstarter, the Viceroy programme, the decision to abandon Vale (which effectively knocked two of their own alliances out of the war). The baffling decision to "cheap out" on this war. They've defended the most lucrative space in the game with frigates and Hurricanes. The brain drain.


Next Mittens has been doubling down on bad decisions.

Look, here's roughly how the Goons could have got themselves out of this mess. Appease as many people as possible - the IWI guys would have gone away if exRiver had eaten a bag of candy dicks on stream. Silly but get it over with and get back to business. Alternatively they could have kicked SMA, an alliance they've ended up losing anyway.

PL have always had a door open to Goon diplomacy, maybe something could have been negotiated.

Enemies, most of whom aren't getting SRPed could have been overwhelmed by strong doctrines which trade isk efficiently, T3 cruisers, battleships etc. Lots of people who are invading are individually poor but we're not losing many ships so we're able to keep going.

Mercs could have been hired. It's worked pretty well for the other side.

NB the Goons are the richest players in the game, totally eclipsing the people funding their enemies. They have multiple individual trillionaires.

So here's a plan: regime change, mend diplomatic breaches, stop actively trying to be hated, move to NPC Delve and wreck the neighbours until it's safe to take sov there. That would put them in striking distance of two of the main MBC enemies - The Culture and Pandemic Horde - while the move would see most of the MBC not bother to follow them provided we stop getting wound up by someone promising to hunt us forever and drive us sobbing out of Eve.

The other plan, the plan Mittens has outlined as the future of the MBC is just utterly painful, so much more painful for his own members than for the people it's meant to hurt. Never have sov, never settle, keep fighting the entire universe. It's a plan designed for an epic narrative that's more about page hits and book deals than about protecting the interest of the people he leads.

While they go down that path they will shed people. People joined the Imperium for a certain playstyle - an extreme hardcore style where you live in low sec and wreck people with awoxing, fast raids and permanent pvp is such a switch. It's more hardcore than even dedicated pvp corps like Waffles and utterly unsuited to the member base. Plus the declarations that everyone in the MBC will be hunted down one by one and utterly destroyed mean that the MBC will in a sense never break up.

See the MBC isn't really a coalition. We share no doctrines or comms and coordination is minimal. We're just a bunch of people who shoot at almost everyone and who have organically accepted we should not shoot each other while there's Goons to kill or Goon stuff to burn. I still get gate camped but if I tell them I'm entosising they let me go. We don't need to be in a coalition to prioritise Goon targets and that will happen so long as Mittens keeps promising to destroy us.

So for me regime change in the Imperium is inevitable and the interim, months of pain and internal strife in low sec while everyone farms them isn't that important.

After the interim new Goon leadership will, I think strike out for sov. It will be a more diplomatic, less domineering Goonswarm, probably just a single alliance rather than a coalition.

The current member alliances will either get "widotted" - folded into the big Goons alliance - or will depart like SMA CO2 and now FCON. INIT will definitely stay independent, they've always had minimal dependence on the coalition. TNT, LAWN, EXE and RAZOR are not, I think viable. If they're smart they'll widot themselves into an alliance that isn't hated like FCON. If they're mulishly loyal they'll widot into Goons where they'll have a tough year but will never not be an interesting part of Eve's rich political tapestry.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

World War Bee: The Deklein Front

Deklein is in a somewhat odd place at the moment. The people who live there are waiting for the axe to fall and putting up quite a spirited defence against the lead elements of the MBC.

There's no doubt that the main thing blunting the edge of our assault is simply the vast amount of space needing to be absorbed. 6 regions outside Deklein are basically being mopped up which takes a lot of manpower.

The Mittani's decision to move all the defensive timers to AU TZ, otherwise known as Fuck You TZ, hurts participation in the capture events on both sides. From the attacker's perspective the Goons are desperately stretched at that time. This morning I freeported DKUK station with a tiny Waffles gang with help from CO2 friends while the Imperium was more concerned with contesting critical Pure Blind timers. Hat tip to the determined Bastion pilot in a Crow who was determined to contest it but eventually conceded that he couldn't do much without backup.

However later on a small combined MOA and Waffles force was shut down by a comparatively strong showing by The Imperium for the DKUK ihub timer (40 strong Caracal fleet plus a separate fleet of 20). A later attempt by me to ninja a timer in a bad ADM system solo was dealt with peremptorily by Danish Goons who blew up my entosis alt then chased my main all the way to Pure Blind.

Ratting has ground almost to a halt in Deklein, jeopardising the crucial ADMs which make the region hard to assault. Yesterday I toured Deklein in interceptors, finding that each system had someone from Pandemic Horde in, enthusiastically typing rubbish into Local chat and trying to engage the sullen Goons docked in their stations.

Tomorrow sees a set of timers for the critical system of YA0. I estimate there's around 50 trillion isk of assets in that station. Tomorrow morning my time (and Eve time) there will be assaults first on the ihub, then on the TCU, then finally to freeport the station. If the station is successfully freeported the final timer will come out Friday morning and the prospect of the richest trade hub in nullsec falling to its enemies may become fact.

What can you do to help?

Come to YA0 tomorrow and Friday. The headshot is lined up, let's not miss.

Fight in Deklein. In WW2 the panzer columns drove around their enemies to the more vulnerable rear areas, cutting troops off from support and gaining massive territory as fast as the tanks could trundle through the countryside. There's no need to mop up in Branch and Fade when the alliances that live there have gone (unless you're more worried about your friends seizing space than about defeating Goons).  Don't get bogged down, push forward, move staging systems closer to the front and let's get the job done.

Support timer events. When things come out of reinforced mode we need to win as many of these timers as possible. This link shows the Deklein timers.

Make new timers. Refer to Dotlan's ADM filter to see which systems have low ADMs. The lower the ADM the wider the timer window. For example X-Z at 2.6 ADM is vulnerable from 03.32 to 10.27. Americans can make timers in their evenings, Europeans can make timers in our mornings.

Turn off station services, especially cloning. As the Goons try to evac their stuff they rely on cynos to move capital ships and particularly Jump Freighters around. You can entosis station services at any time.

Kill cynos. Don't forget to loot or blow up the wreck.

Shut down ratting and mining. Don't let them push the ADMs up.  One system in the Testagram managed 3341 rat kills in the last 24 hours. Come on Test where are you? Don't you want your ancestral home back?

Good hunting everyone! We're nearing the finish line.

Monday 11 April 2016

VFK by...... today!

The critical ihub at ancestral Goons homeland system of VFK was destroyed just now, crippling the defences of the famous solar system.

Horde formed a fleet to take VFK, in fact the fleet was even named VFK BY TODAY. The FC then led us in a circular dance, while a 100 man Goon Hurricane fleet stalked us. We dragged them down to the key gateway system of EC- which was also contested this morning. There we entosised for a while as we were ahead of the Goon 'canes.

Meanwhile other allies took VFK with the canes too far south to affect the outcome. Chasing the obvious Horde fleet had pulled them out of position. We held on in EC- against a massively superior force playing cat and mouse before finally the Horde FC decided to go out in a blaze of glory. Not long after superior allied forces came down from the north, perhaps to keep the contest for EC- open and to avenge another fleet of Horde Thrashers.

If you're a newbie industrialist you should be able to make some decent money mass producing the Minmatar Destroyer. I doubt it will be the last fleet to be sacrificed in this conflict.

Sunday 10 April 2016

V-Day Fade


Saturday 9 April 2016

What's in a name?

In British slang "willy" means penis. Thus when a cutesy American movie about a killer whale arrived here people found the inadvertent double entendres hilarious. People went to the cinemas in droves to laugh at the accidentally hilarious film.

With that in mind consider the new Imperium fleet doctrine: Snatch Fleet.

And then remember what "snatch" means in British slang (NSFW).

Friday 8 April 2016

AAR: The Great Goon headshot

(Editor's note: this is an internal document written as an After Action Report for Pandemic Horde who were kind enough to let me take a fleet out and try something ridiculously ambitious. I'm told that Pandemic Horde is recruiting and that you can find out more in in-game channel Join Horde).

Today we tried to headshot Goons. You know, those Bee guys.

Goons have a capital, nullsec's Jita, the bustling trade hub of YA0. I estimate there's around 50 trillion isk worth of assets there. Losing it would be an utter disaster, collapsing confidence in the lying Goon leadership and trapping these assets, possibly for years. The ratters would have nowhere to shop for ammo, nowhere to buy new ships, complex T2 and T3 manufacturing chains would be broken by the inability to buy critical subcomponents. Deklein would grind to a halt.

YA0: nullsec's busiest trade hub

8 Pandemic Horde heroes set out from Okagaiken on a mission for glory, our weapon the mighty Cormorant class destroyer, our mission to win the war in one dramatic stroke.

We burned up into Deklein losing a couple of stragglers not far out of Okagaiken. Sorry for not waiting, we had to reach the target before the vulnerability window ended.

We got into YA0 and started entosising and camping the station. A carrier came out to take a look but decided we were scary and docked back up. We were reinforced by a small waffles svipul gang. We murdered a couple of ships on the undock including a limited edition Gnosis battlecruiser. Just became more limited he he.

The entosis module completed its warmup mode and started conquering Deklein's mercantile jewel. 39 minutes. They slowly ticked by.

A large and seemingly very angry Goon caracal gang landed on us. In the words of Jennifer Lawrence "Oh Hell NO!" I bounced us to a planet, then we extracted without loss but for the stuck entosis ship.

JLaw's assessment of our engagement viability

We headed back nonchalantly, having stuck our head into the bee's nest, taken a huge poo on their lawn, then sauntered out whistling.

We'll be back

After all we have a name for the station once we conquer it, once we trap 50 trillion worth of CFC assets and cause their coalition to dissolve in tears.
YAO ain't gettin your stuff back    Refinery (40%), Cloning, Repair, Factory     Minmatar Service Outpost

Big thanks to everyone who came especially Reapered who wants to do it again every day from now on.

Saturday 2 April 2016

A strategic overview of World War Bee

In Eve Online Empires are controlled by structures. There are three types of sovereignty structures thatcan be placed in a system to enhance ownership: a station (which can be conquered) a territorial claim unit, and an infrastructure hub or ihub. (The latter two are destroyed after being successfully attacked which creates a vacancy for an attacker to place a new one).

This video explains capturing and holding sovereignty structures in null sec space.

Defending one of these is hard work. This is why The Imperium, despite a resolute defence, is in so much trouble. To keep what they have they have to win every event. Saving some, while losing others, weakens their hold over their space.

In a normal sov war the attacker will make a couple of timers and the defender has time to organise an effort to win those timers. The Allies have made and continue to make so many timers that it's just not possible to contest them all.

The awesome Lucia Dennard has created a World War Bee section on her Timerboard site. Here's what it looks like at the moment:

So 120 separate capture events, each one requiring several more command nodes to be entosised  than the enemy can manage if contested.

Let's do a little roleplay now. Imagine you're the Imperium Sky Marshall. You have two bloc FCs currently online who can command any type of fleets (although escalation to a full commitment of titans requires the Coalition Leader's agreement), 5 Full FCs trusted with any sub cap and 15 Skirmish FCs (rookies who can command small gangs of frigates and destroyers). How do you spread your forces to protect everything?

Well, you can't. You don't have the manpower to do so and against the locust swarms you're only able to win here and there while losing ground somewhere.

Now let's consider the Empire that needs to be protected.

The heart of The Imperium is the Goons home region of Deklein. Vale of the Silent, 3 regions away, has already been abandoned. It's just too far.

The Imperium's main staging system is in the unconquerable low sec region of Lonetrek. On the one hand this is clever because just in case they lose all their sov space their stuff can't get trapped in a hostile station. On the other hand, as you can clearly see, it's far from the northern parts of their empire.

Making things worse is the fact that all of Venal and 2 crossroads constellations in the middle of Pure Blind are NPC Nullsec - unownable and currently infested with The Imperium's enemies.

Now to better understand null sec strategy we now need to go deeper into the game mechanics than the simple 2D map. Null sec strategy is heavily influenced by Light Years - units which determine the distance ships can be teleported. Capital ships can teleport, subcapital fleets can be teleported by titan bridges (or if they're all cloaky by Black Ops bridges) and can also use a special internal highway, a network of jump bridges that let defenders move more quickly within the borders of their empire.

Here's the range a titan can directly bridge fleets to from the main Imperium base at Saranen. That's fairly pitiful, barely half of a single region.

10 LY is a range that's still realistic, a titan bridge then either waiting out jump timers to grab a jump bridge or taking a few gates. Here's 10 LY from Saranen. That reaches everywhere in Pure Blind, most of Fade, half of Tribute and a small corner of Deklein.

That's not enough. Nowhere near enough.

So what's happening is that there's effectively a separate northern battlegroup, staging out of UQ9, formed by 3 alliances: Fcon, Razor and The Initiative.

And that group is losing badly. Currently most of Initiative space in Tenal has already been taken and about half of Razor's space is reinforced, likely to be lost in a couple of days. In a sov war as each alliance loses its territory the line membership becomes more concerned with securing personal assets than with forming for the collective defence. This is tremendously time-consuming. When I left The Bastion it took me 3 weeks to move and that was in peacetime! No wonder then that when Vale was abandoned the participation rates of Lawn and The Bastion dropped off a cliff.

So in the North, Tenal will fall soon and then Branch. The heart of the Empire, Deklein, is being encircled as if by some galactic Schlieffen Plan.

One of the creative ways that The Imperium Sky Team has come up with to cope with these enormous distances is a doctrine called Sword Fleet, based on fast warping interceptors. The problem with that is that Interceptors aren't very brawly. Still they work well in large numbers if the enemy splits up and isn't in anything especially tough.

Today one of the things the Allies have done is kill ihubs. When you kill an ihub the jump bridge associated with it stops working.

This is a map of The Imperium jump bridge network at the start of the war. Here it is in list form.

Now here's a map showing the structures currently in Pure Blind.

See the section near the top? A healthy sov system shows either T-I or T-I-S. In 3 of these systems the ihub has been killed by the attackers.

Actually, it's a lot worse than it looks because in systems where the ihub was killed and then replaced by the other side or where the TCU was killed the jump bridge is still snapped and unusable. The defensive superhighway is in tatters. Application of any force more powerful than a group of interceptors anywhere far from Saranen is becoming increasingly difficult.

So to sum it all up: The Imperium is going to lose, they know this and have planned for this which is why they base in low sec, defence will get more difficult by the day and they can't really begin to reconquer anything until whatever perfect storm of emotions made everyone else in the game decide to come and kick them in is resolved.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

A Golden Path for a Greedy Goblin

In Frank Herbert's Dune a revolutionary messiah conquers the Imperium and takes over the universe. In the sequels to Dune his son becomes immortal and rules as a God-Emperor, taking humanity on a delicate path between warlordism and anarchy, the sole true route towards a positive future.

My colleague in blogging, Gevlon Goblin, is in despair. Ironically at his moment of triumph - just yesterday I saw someone comment "Gevlon must be so happy."

Gevlon has leapt to the conclusion that PL has backed Goons into a corner as a bargaining chip, a way to secure for PL the prize of New Jita, an XL Citadel that gets adopted as the new player run market hub.

I do agree that a player run hub will begin replacing NPC hub trade when the Citadels patch hits at the end of April and NPC taxes rocket upwards.

I've seen some people state that they don't see why the hub would move. One word: plex. Since plex can be activated from anywhere and never need to be moved, they will get sold in the hub with 1% tax, not the hub with 6% tax. And once the plex economy moves, the rest will follow.

I don't agree that PL is plotting a high sec market hub, at least not on their mains, nor supported by the alliance as a whole (although individually I'm sure many people there make their money from trading and are keenly following developments and opportunities).

Here's my challenge to Gevlon:


He has the market knowledge to succeed. He has the mercenary contacts and killboard expertise to be able to hire effective high sec troops. He has a track record of achieving the remarkable.

We're seeing in the North that when it comes to getting shit done in Eve isk just works. The Grr Goons feeling helped - people were very willing to take the isk - but people were paid to kick it all off and are still getting paid. The amount of money Gevlon has given away over the last couple of years would pay for a spectacularly effective mercenary team and if they aren't enough Gevlon has the ability to grind out billions more to hire extra mercenaries.

Change is never a reason to quit. Change is an opportunity to make your enemies quit.

Good luck!

CFC crumbling

After Monday night's massive battle, dormant tensions within the CFC came to a head with three organisations deciding to abandon the coalition.

First and most significantly CO2, a Serbian-led alliance with a reputation for being above average at pvp. This comes from the top with leaders Gigx and Sebastian being famously ballsy about dropping their personal titans. The announcement was posted on reddit and has caused massive interest, peaking at #34 on /r/all.

Newbie friendly organisations need to brace themselves for a swarm of new players.

Following that Hole Violence, the Goons' wormhole corp, announced that it too would be abandoning the CFC. It seems legit, I know the author of the post Fix Lag from the Fountain War of 2013 and before that Kugu and F13.

Next Bovril, once the mining arm of Brave Newbies, decided that transitioning to The Bastion was pointless. They're joining OSS, one of the alliances leading the charge against the Coalition they are leaving.

Once the collapse starts it's very difficult to stem and unless Mittens can conjure a miracle I think we'll see more defections over the coming week. Every individual, corp, and alliance in the coalition has to now be asking themselves "what's the best way to secure my future?"

Monday 28 March 2016

Can the CFC survive?

The war in the North is heating up and seems to be going really badly for the Imperium (CFC). They announced on Friday that they were evacuating the Vale of the Silent region. Lawn and The Bastion alliances will relocate to Saranen for pvp and throughout other hopefully safer space for their ratting and mining.

Reddit has exploded with an amazing propaganda campaign, mostly from the attackers but some CFC posters have joined in the fun. There has been such a flood of memes that /r/eve has had to add a propaganda filter for users who don't want to see it all.

A lot of the propaganda is celebratory in tone, gloating over a war seemingly already won. I don't think that's true at all, so let's look at how the CFC can defend itself.

To win a nullsec war you need to keep forming until the other side gets fed up. It's a contest of tenacity, although many other factors influence that tenacity. It's a lot easier to be tenacious if you're winning for example.

On one hand Goons and their friends may have an advantage here. They have a reputation for enduring such contests but that should be viewed with scepticism. Sure, the core group of Goons are tenacious but those guys are a tiny proportion of the 40k CFC population - it's people like Wilhelm the Ancient Gaming Noob who fleet up fairly casually but effectively and in massive numbers that determine the coalition's tenacity. The Imperium has attracted a lot of players who want to rat and mine in peace while driving away a lot of people who want to pvp such as myself and Talvorian Dex.

The Imperium needs to keep their Wilhelms, their casual players, enjoying themselves, not burned out and motivated to keep forming for fleets. It's not the core fanatics who will decide the outcome of this war, just as in a General Election it's the swing voters who matter.

Never mind the reputation then there are several other factors that help the Imperium be tenacious. Number one is that they live there - if they don't fight they face disaster while their attackers are generally doing so for fun or for mercenary contracts, contracts that alliances can simply allow to lapse if people are bored (as TISHU did recently). Generous SRP means that Imperium pilots can welp ships all day and be reimbursed and there's not really a worry about the Imperium running out of isk.

For the attackers we simply don't have so much invested. All of us are here for different reasons and many attackers are not particularly Grr Goons. In fact it's probably driving my friend Gevlon nuts that this existential threat to his arch-enemy's existence is headed up by PL who so often in the past have cut deals with Goons. We're not really a coalition at all, just a bunch of sharks drawn to blood in the water.

For the attackers to remain interested basically we need to keep winning and to keep being entertained. Some of the dafter comments from the Imperium pilots and leaders are great fodder for this as is the magnificent propaganda.

And here's where the Imperium has a real problem. They are bleeding, there are a lot of sharks and more sharks are being drawn by all the blood creating an upward spiral. While the attackers aren't blue to each other there's a general consensus to kill Imperium first, then perhaps shoot each other after.

In the Podside podcast they highlighted the fact that the Allies shoot each other as a crippling weakness. It's actually not. We're killers, we shoot everyone, that doesn't make you safe because there's lot of violence. It in fact means we're particularly dangerous when we are all pointed the same way because we live pvp, not just form up reluctantly if we're made to not rat for a bit.

So the way the Imperium could lose is if they keep losing fights while the Allies are enjoying themselves. The Allies are more fickle but are enjoying successes, the Imperium are tenacious but are going through the grinder.

Let's look at the military situation.

The Imperium has been focused on ratting for a long time and has subsidised capital and supercapital programmes for several years now. Looking at the stats for March so far Deklein is still top in nullsec for ratting kills with Branch not far behind. If we assume an average half a million isk per rat that means in March alone ratters in Deklein earned 5 trillion isk, 15% of which went to their alliance as taxes.

The wealth has allowed line members to get into supers and titans in large numbers. 2 years ago at the battle of B-R the forces of PL and NC. were roughly equivalent to the forces of the CFC. (The Russians fighting on the CFC side tipped the balance in that fight). Now after all this unchallenged income making it's pretty certain that the Imperium has a significantly larger titan fleet.

However if we're moving towards a major, decisive titan battle then the Allies could be augmented by all sorts of people who have supers but who didn't fight at B-R like Snuffbox and Test.

Formup for a titan battle isn't like other formups. If someone pings for tengus or machariels people don't really worry about the cost of the ship when deciding to join the fleet. With your titan you always think about risk and reimbursement. The 100 billion isk or so loss isn't really sustainable by a player - no one wants to have to rat for a year to replace a pvp ship that was lost because the FC goofed.

Of course SRP is promised but even there there's still a risk. Suppose the Imperium lose the titan fight. 100 dead titans. Approx 100 billion isk each. Now Mittens could spend 10 trillion isk reimbursing them all while his coalition disintegrates around him or he could take the money and run. In a way if they did lose a titan battle it would be rather pointless to reimburse everyone as at that point SRP would not save the coalition from being conquered.

It seems likely that a titan battle will come about if the war continues and also likely that it will prove decisive. So to understand the war we need to understand titans.

After the 2014 Phoebe patch titans are very limited in range. Here's a map showing where a titan can jump to from the Goon traditional home of VFK. 5 AU doesn't get you very far, it covers about half a region.

Now let's assume they can jump, wait out the orange fatigue then jump again and see where they can reach with a 10 AU range. Conveniently a Jump Freighter has that range so I'll use a JF for the Navigation tool but it's meant to represent two 5 AU titan jumps. Here's what 10 AU from VFK can reach.

Crucially it doesn't reach Branch, Tenal or most of Tribute. So the Allies can conquer those regions without a risk that a fight could be escalated all the way up to a B-R style titan battle. (The Imperium probably would not want to move its entire Titan fleet to one of these regions because if they did they leave the homelands wide open).

So this is probably the next phase of the war - an onslaught on the abandoned infrastructure of Vale as well as steady conquest of these three areas. I predict that Tenal will be abandoned within a week or two and that the next couple of months will see intense fighting in Branch and  Tribute while subcap gangs roam ever closer to the Imperium heartlands.

If the Imperium loses these regions then things get very difficult for them. They will have a coalition of people who want to rat packed into Deklein, Fade and Pure Blind protected by a titan blob. The capital changes coming in April make it so capitals of all sizes are more likely to die so we will probably see a significant rise in titan losses while at the same time subcap dominance is really difficult to achieve because of the sheer number of sharks in the water. We will also see many impromptu home defence fleets led by bad FCs (people who aren't really FCs at all) that rely on escalation to swing fights that have been misplayed. Normal nullsec precautions like don't rat if there's a neut in Local will have to be suspended. As the territory shrinks it becomes easier to cloaky camp every system.

If it gets to this point I think we will see the Allies win the tenacity battle at the subcap level. Individuals and corps who prioritise ratting will slip away.

For the Imperium to win they need to start winning fights and grinding down the enthusiasm of casual pvpers who come to shoot them because it's a laugh. They can also get a win handed to them if the Allies commit to a titan battle and lose it. But other than that I think they need a diplomatic coup of some kind. Maybe they will hire mercs themselves.

It's turning into a very interesting war.

Sunday 6 March 2016

FCing: Theory and Practice

A good FC studies ship types, weapon systems and tries to figure out the underlying maths of Eve to gain combat advantage. In our heads before we take the fleet out we may see the fleet in these terms:

Our angular velocity will utterly triumph over their poor tracking speed!

In practice however the engagement may turn out differently to what we expected:

You warped us WHERE????