Saturday 30 January 2016

BB71: Dear Santa. Thank you for all the presents!

A blog banter is a shared topic for bloggers to share their views about a controversial topic. BB71 goes as follows:

Too Many Ships Spoil the Sandpit?

We all like important internet spaceships right? The more spaceships the better right? Or are we getting too many to be easily to remember them all. A Mastodon on scan? That the hell is that and what does it do? Oh! Never mind!

Are we getting too many ships. Is it too complicated to remember them all and what their traits are? Do FC's these days need an encyclopedic knowledge of ship types unless they want their fleet to DIAF. With more and more ships being released each year will we ever reach "too many" or do you think there can never be too many important internet spaceship types?

Source: Blog Banter 71 - Too Many Ships Spoil the Sandpit?

You'll find a bunch of very good articles listed there from many of Eve's bloggers and, if you feel it's time you entered the discussion, start up a blog and post your thoughts, a blog banter is a good place for a new blogger to start.

This Banter seems to be seeing a general consensus that lots of ship complexity is a good thing although some bloggers admit to being rather befuddled by all the ships. Still you can be both befuddled by the complexity and still think it's a good part of the game.

For me the multiple ship types is part of what makes Eve an amazingly fun game. As a FC not only do I have to decide which ship type to fly (actually that's usually from quite a short list because for various operational reasons I like to fly the standardised doctrine fits from my corp) but also I have to assess support ships and I have to recognise and decipher an opponent's battle plan from the ships he has on field.

I'm going to use the rest of this post to talk about FC decision making and to show how Eve's rich range of ship types play into making that a complex and fascinating game with a high upside for mastery.

So a couple of nights ago I take a gang out. I decide to take Vexors for operational reasons - we had just deployed and an importer had earlier announced that he'd stuck a load of Vexors and Ospreys up on contract. I think it is a hallmark of a competent FC that he/she can run a fleet that isn't their own personal special snowflake brew, it's a trap for FCs to EFT some amazing fit and try to run that every fleet. So Vexors it is, not perhaps the strongest modern fleet comp but they apply well and kite well for cruisers.

Support is a key aspect of any fleet - how many Logi, how many Scouts, any special role ships. I would have loved a boosher but there wasn't one available so my support was 2 scouting Inties and 4 Logi cruisers.

We headed up the pipe towards Delve, passing a nullbear system which we shotgunned for a mining barge kill. Shotgunning systems in Vexors? One works with what one has. And it was in fact one of our inties that caught the miner.

As we neared Delve scouts reported a couple of cruisers, a couple of Canes and a Scimi. This is where I made a mistake.

A Scimitar is an expensive T2 logistics cruiser. In nullsec people don't usually fly them alone because the ship is much worse without anyone to rep it. This is generally true of all logistics because they don't rep themselves - if a gang has one logi then when we shoot the logi there are zero logi repping it. if a gang has two logi then when we shoot one they have one logi repping it etc. N minus one.

Hey ho I thought, a slightly smaller number of slightly higher quality ships, game on, let's brawl.

Then I made my second mistake. Numbers in Local chat increased as we jumped into them and started fighting and in my multitasking I missed this key indicator. Sure enough the rest of their 30 strong gang arrived on grid and I realised I'd made a complete cock up of this.

3 or 4 cruisers died, plus when I extracted we lost another on the way out. Not my best fleet.

Knowledge of ship types should have signalled me to get better intel and be more cautious. A Scimi? OK where's his friends? If I'd had one of my Inties check 2 systems ahead it would have found the rest of the gang and my group of a dozen cruisers would have tried to evade rather than taking the fight.

Later that evening I ran another fleet. This one worked out differently. I won this fight, it actually turned out to be a bit of a turkey shoot.

A gang had come, as gangs do, to the Pandemic Horde staging system in A2- in Querious. Ever see *Return of the Living Dead* where the zombie, after eating a policeman's brain, picks up the police radio and says "Send more cops?" That's what A2- is like these days. Please feel free to visit :)

I was planning to surprise them so I had my guys in Svipuls docked up, waiting for Horde to engage them. I knew that they might run so I had chosen my comp for the mobility and fighting power of the Svipul which I thought would do well against Battlecruisers. In fact when Horde undocked 30 Talwars they bizarrely decided to run. We undocked and, with our newbean friends, chased them to the outgate. They shed various members on the way, a Prophecy was tackled on our undock which I ignored, we killed a Blackbird on the outgate.

Here's where the difference between our type of ships and their type of ships really mattered.

I knew that even after a 60 second time-out due to our aggression we still had a great chance of catching the slow aligning, slow warping battlecruisers.

We caught them two jumps away in Ashmarir and belatedly they decided to take the fight. We lost one ship early then our Deacon logi - a new ship introduced in December - managed to stabilise us and we stopped losing ships. We killed a bunch of cruisers and battlecruisers while only losing the one ship. I was being backseated by an expert FC from PL who advised me to primary the Blackbirds first - a ship that can cause disruption out of all relation to its tankiness. Horde piled in in Talwars and helped us but frankly the battle was won. What was useful was that the opposing FC, despairing of killing our low sig high resist ships - Svipuls and Deacons - switched to the Horde Talwars and killed half a dozen of them, staying longer on field which was great for us as we were chewing through Battlecruisers. Thanks my Horde friends for your sacrifice!

I belatedly realised after the fight that perhaps I could have killed even more by deaggressing then chasing, depending on what route they took we could possibly have caught stragglers in another couple of jumps for what would have been basically free battlecruiser kills.

So this example tells us a lot about ship types. Which ships work well in which context. The Battlecruiser fleet lacked effective paints and webs so we could get away with running small sig low hit point ships against it because the application of the weapons would be poor. The usefulness of the new Tech 2 logi frigate - it's just tanky enough to hold where Inquisitors would not have been. The advantage of high warp speed. The correct order in which to choose primaries against a kitchen sink fleet.

That's the complexity that makes Eve Hard to Master. The old Blizzard mantra of Easy to Learn Hard to Master is a good indicator of an enjoyable game that will endure replaying over and over and the complex arsenal of different ships adds greatly to the Hard to Master side of the equation.

Does ship complexity penalise the Easy to Learn part? I think only if you are a FC or a soloer and those are clearly hard paths for players to take and they're not paths played by the majority of Eve players. So Eve offers plenty of Easy to Learn avenues while including features that make it Hard to Master for those who seek a difficult challenge. And that's the key to what makes this a superb game.

In conclusion ship complexity is a great part of Eve and adds depth to the game. It's definitely what can be considered "good complexity" as opposed to say things being complex because the UI is so confusing. It doesn't hurt new players as they don't need to know but some players will be drawn to paths that require us to learn ship types because we like and seek deep gameplay.


  1. nice going as an FC. I am in the imperium, but really a fight is a fight right? Good thinking on the sivpuls they are great ships. Recently my wife and I have gone out in jackdaws....I love Tactical destroyers!!

    1. Yeah absolutely.

      Come down to Querious with Reavers and fight us!