Tuesday 26 December 2017

Endless Legend: Drakken playthrough. Turns 1-10

So I started a new game just now. I'm playing the Drakken faction, mutated dragonspawn with a wisdom/diplomatic flavour.

I set everything to normal/average except the game difficulty which I set to Serious.

Here's my start:

I'm in the corner of my starting province. No anomalies (moleholls on the map) are available so far in my start province but two are next door and one is excellent: Wizard Stone adds 2 production, 6 science and 10 happiness. The other anom is Escaped Specimens which adds 2 food and 4 dust. So quite nicely rounded as well as being big numbers. It's in an awkward spot in the corner of the region so I'll need to scout it before I decide.

Let's talk about how the tile FIDSI, the resource numbers are calculated. Usually it's 3 per tile with the terrain type determining the type. Eg forest gives food and production. Anomalies usually add 6 on top of that. And certain races get bonuses on certain terrain for the Drakken we get +2 science and +3 influence on terrain that holds a ruin.

This is what it looks like on the map in fidsi view.

Here it is scouted, still in turn 1.

My scout revealed another anomaly 2 hexes to the east of the ones we saw before, making it an even better spot as our first district will add those resources. I'm going to settle the spot with the Escaped  Specimens anomaly for 10 food, 10 production, 8 science, 4 dust and 10 happiness. 32 on the 4 basic resources is strong. It will not get there till turn 2 but well worth the sacrifice.

Turn 2.

Here's what it looks like settled:

I have only 5 adjacent hexes in this province which is a shame but I have room to add 4 districts to the south and east which will upgrade the city centre. It's a starting city I'm happy with.

My units have taken a village quest and two ruins. One gave me a quest I won't do the other gave me 30 dust.

My next decision making concerns my hero. With my starting hero I usually go either general (focus on combat stats) or scout (focus on ruin exploring, speed and vision). I'm going general with this guy as his class skill tree supports that better. Occasionally it's worth going for city governor with your start hero but not in this case.

Next I want to plan out my deed strategy.

Visionary leader: pacify 8 villages. I probably won't do it with this guy. If I were to go all in for this I'd build an early unit or two so I could win fights without needing to pause for healing and I don't want to focus my city on that early, I'd rather build it up.

Wealth Harvester: be the first to gather 30 units of a luxury resource. Another one I'm not going to beeline for but I'll happily accept if I get there. This might have suited me if I'd set up my city in my start location as there was a wine resource nearby. The reward for this is not fantastic.

Civilisation Builder: Be the first to build the Museum of Auriga. This I am all-in on. Many times the AI doesn't go for this, either because it lacks resources or because it does something else with them. It's not easy to get 5 titanium and 5 glasssteel early on so that's now my main job. I may be able to get them from village quests or ruins.

Turn 3:

I move my hero to a village, check its quest no way I'm paying them 8 titanium, so I enter combat. To maximise the amount of stuff my starter army can get done I hide my proper units at the back on hold position and let the nearby militia reinforce in and get hammered.

My militia took a bit of a battering but my roving army finished just fine.

I realised in the fight that I'd forgotten to give my infantry units armour so I'll grab a couple of ruins then head back to my province to retrofit them. It will also let me use the militia for a couple more fights (they'll reinforce into any fight within 4 (or is it 5?) hexes of the city.

My hero levels and I start working up his class tree, Tactician.

Turn 5

I hit a ruins and get 10 Emeralds. I'll hold them for now because the Drakken version of the deed requires you to stockpile 30. It would be a shame if I used these ones then later got 20 from somewhere.

Turn 6.

My city finishes its Founder's Memorial and my population rises to 2. This is pretty slow, the price of missing a turn then settling a food 10 industry 10 city spot. The spot had other things going for it but the price is this slow start. I queue a Mill, then should have Seed storage ready for when the Mill is done.

I check a ruin and it gives me a quest. The quest is to colonise a region and the reward is 15 glassteel. I like the sound of that. I decide to build a Settler before I build my Seed storage. The Settler turns off food generation while you build it so the seeds wouldn't do anything so I may as well build him first. Also Settlers built in the first era are cheaper. I edit my Settler design to give him a movement trinket.

I now just need to source some Titanium to start building the Museum of Auriga. I've discovered a region that has a desposit so I could make a second settler to settle that but that's my worst option. I have an undiscovered resource in the province I made my first city in so I will go and explore to see what that is (please be Titanium). Failing that hopefully I'll get lucky with a quest or parlay.

Turn 7. Walking through forests. Urggh. I upgrade my units but don't have enough money to buy them all movement trinkets.

Turn 8. Hit a ruin. 30 dust. Just enough to outfit my infantry with movement speed. I discover the region's resource. It's not Titanium, boo! It's Gold, a luxury which is ok but not impactful now. I queue the specialised harvesters in the Research window.

Turn 9. Main stack still struggling through forest. 2 movement points per tile means my speed 5 stack moves 2 hexes. Blerggh. A skyfin scout from a nearby NPC empire checks out my capital.

I visit a village and check its Parlay offer. No I don't want to pay you Glassteel. I'll happily accept 4 xp though. I then fight them. Yuck, it's tanks v tanks in forest (which gives a defence bonus). After 6 rounds I've battered one of them to death the other is still there and I'll have to go again next turn. That will be my second village pacified, somehow I don't think I'll get the deed for being the first to do 8.

Turn 10.

The city finishes its Mill. Up to 33 production now which is respectable. Excellent science and dust even without the buildings that help.

I attack the minotaur again. I decide to place my units back on high ground in forest so they'll get a terrain bonus and set my hero to healing a unit. On turn 5 I realise I may not get the kill. I frantically change orders to allout assault for the last turn but dammit, the minotaur survives with about 10 hit points. I'm an idiot, I had one job. Looks like my hero stack will be stuck there another turn.

After that he will head towards the village which is right next door to my city, clear that with the help of the city militia and pick up the first Settler. I think I shall settle the province with the Titanium in it first as I urgently need to get that tap turned on. It feels quite chancy whether I'll win the deed race. (After that deed I'll be going straight into a Second Age deed that requires 15 glassteel and 15 titanium).

Thursday 21 December 2017

Endless Legend: city tile progression

I've been playing some 4X games recently and my current favourite is Endless Legend. This came out in 2014 and at the time I didn't get too immersed as it was rather prone to crash on my elderly computer. 3 years of polish at their end and a couple of new computers at mine and it plays like a dream.

It's a very fun, very immersive, fantasy conquest game with a strong narrative quest driven story arc for each race that adds to the immersion.

There's several pieces of downloadable extra content but I've decided that can be my Christmas present to myself and I'll d/l them on Christmas morning.

This blog piece is looking at an aspect of the game that isn't very well explained and that I've put some thought into figuring out: city development.

Cities grow outwards as you play one tile at a time. Once a tile or the city centre becomes adjacent to 4 other tiles it becomes a level 2 district and gets significant bonuses. So there are a lot of concepts intertwined here and a geometric mini-game on top. It's at this point you should mentally review whether you want to continue reading?

Still here? Hi 5 my felllow nerd.

Here's a strategic view of an unsettled region called Hawyrd:

In this view we can see very clearly the little molehills that signify bonus resource tiles.  There are only three in this province and they're all near the watchtower in the North West. Also of note are the ruins which can't be built on. Other terrain features like resources and villages are fine to incorporate into your city. In fact placing your city on top of a resource is a good move as it will operate as an extractor. The same is true of placing a district on it. This saves you having to build an extractor separately and will often start the resource trickling in many turns before you would otherwise have been able to.

Now let's close in:

Pretty eh? My mouse is over the tile to the right with the light blue stalks on it, geysers. In the game they play a lovely animation of water continually spouting up then collapsing again. Also of note is the river to the south of us, a feature I'd missed on the strategic view. Rivers are pretty useful, they give extra food and certain resource producing buildings give more or require rivers.

Let's turn the resource (fidsi) numbers on:

Our anomalies (the three little molehills we saw on the strategic map) give us lots of science. I'm quite liking the hex that has the red spices on it. Taking it would turn spice production on and is adjacent to the Moss Pearls anomaly. Our first expansion can go north east and get us the right Geysers anomaly. Then south west gets us the two river tiles. After that we'd expand north west towards the final anomaly.

There's some discussion of what the optimal shape for a city is. I've heard people say triangles or tramlines but I don't think either is quite true.

Try not to laugh at my amateurish rendition of a hex map in paint:

1 = city centre.
2 = next 4 districts. Placing the 4th one levels your city centre to level 2.
3= levels 2 districts to level 2
4 = expands in a not-quite-triangular clump, It's not a triangle because the bottom corners would do nothing, They will not be enclosed to make a level 2 district nor will they enclose anything else. Starting from the bottom left placing the 4s gives us the following amount of level ups: 0, 0, 2, 0, 1, 2, 1 for 6 level ups from 7 districts placed. I think this is optimal.

What does that mean for our settlement of Hawyrd? Well, fast forward a few turns and I have a coloniser ready. Here's her view of the tile we're thinking about:

10+7+10+4 = 31. 31 resources plus a spice mine is a very respectable tile. I can mouseover the other tiles with the Build City button selected and compare but there's nothing better.

Plopping the city down there gives me this pop-up, basically telling me I got a free building.

Here's a city management view of our brand new city:

So the 7 hexes exploited produce 1+1+4+0+1+2 = 9 food. Our first expansion target is to the north west which will get us that rather nice 5 science 5 industry tile as well as the plateau tile with 1 food, 2 science 2 industry plus another tile left of that one.

And here it is:

Here's a close up of the city with 4 tiles built.

We're expanding to the west leaving the two eastern tiles blank. Behind the city you can see the geyser tile we're building out towards. On my Paint map this corresponds to having parts 1 and 2 of the city development complete.

I now plan my next expand. I have two good options. I can expand northwest and get the geyser tile which itself is worth 5 science and 6 industry or i can top the triangle which will give me 2 districts levelling up to level 2. Mouse over the Borough Streets building and the "extra level" part of the tooltip will show a level up gives 2 dust 2 science 2 influence and some fortification and happiness. It's at this point I compare the geyser tile with the alternative tile that would be picked up and discover that I'd missed an anomaly. Topping the triangle actually gives me an anomaly I hadn't noticed before, another Moss Pearls in addition to 2 level 2 districts. It's also a Watchtower hex so I'll get that for free too. That's a big play!

And here is the triangle (on the Paint sketch that's parts 1,2 and 3). As you see from the tooltip my city has some pretty nice tiles in it.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Thunderdome - the tournament practice test server

The news that several community CCP staff would be leaving CCP hit the tournament community hard because of the exceptional work that CCP Logibro had been doing on our behalf. Not least was the Thunderdome server - a test server with special features designed to support the special needs of tournament players. These are:

- protection from spies. Practices take place in a special arena that can't be accessed by third parties. Spying is still possible if you can get a character into an opponent's tournament practice squad but you can't simply take a cov ops and watch other teams practice.

- refereeing tool. The captain of a side has access to a special tool that allows him to teleport teams to the arena and which checks that fits are legal.

- restricted entry. Only people designated by their team captains have access, usually a tournament squad of around 15-50 people. This is reset from time to time. It was last reset after AT XV.

- all skills at V.

- all ships and modules available at nomimal costs (except titans I believe).

With the loss of Logibro it's been a bit up in the air what the future of this server is. Few tournament players want to go back to practicing on sisi. The loss of Thunderdome has also hurt player-run tournaments with the Anger Games being cancelled recently for this reason disappointing everyone involved.

I asked for access so that I can play with my new alliance (A Band Apart) and received some quite positive news from CCP Falcon.

CCP Falcon
Hi there,
Opening account access to Thunderdome is currently on hold, but will be available again in the coming weeks.
More details will be available on the community news feed once we've established how to continue to run the server going forward.
All the best,
CCP Falcon
EVE Universe Community Manager
EVE Online | EVE Valkyrie | EVE Gunjack
CCP Games hf.

Good news to have confirmation that CCP remains committed to providing us with Thunderdome and very good news that they expect it to be available in the coming weeks.

Sunday 5 November 2017

MTGO: Planning for the next release.

The release schedule for Magic is given here.

Rivals of Ixalan comes out January 19th 2018. We'll call that T.

T - 40 Leaked cards start to come out. In fact one card has already been leaked. This stage isn't really part of a systematic approach.

Approx T-21. Set is officially spoilered. We find out every card in the set. At this stage it's worth listing the Flash and Instant cards in a spreadsheet by colour and trying to learn them. You're a much more effective player if you know the implications of your opponent having one black mana open.

T-20 to T-14 Youtubers like Nizzahon and The Mana Leak evaluate the cards. I make a spreadsheet just listing the As and Bs as they evaluate the cards. My process when building a sealed deck is to pull all the As out then craft a strategy around playing them. These are likely to be the bombs. I won't always get them all to work, some cards don't splash well but I think this is a good place to start. Note these sites and the later Limited Resources are evaluating for draft, a faster format. So for Sealed I need to overrule their verdicts from time to time.

T-14 to T-6 Limited Resources release their set evaluation. I check if there are any more As and Bs that I don't have yet in my list from the other guys.

approx T-14 Loading Ready Run do their pre-pre-release show which is a good opportunity to see people play with the cards.

T-6 : the set launches. I think about whether I want to go to a shop and play MtG physically. Usually I don't go but I did enjoy the Hour of Devastation prerelease I went to at Dark Sphere in June.

T-4 MTGO prerelease. This is the opening of the gold mine. Right at the start the value of the cards one opens probably covers the cost of entrance so basically you're playing for free with all prizes as pure profit. Also many opponents are new to the format or rusty at Magic and make mistakes.

T-4 to approx T+30. Playing these games is amazingly effective and powerful tapering off over time. Each day the value of the cards opened decreases, the expertise of average opponents increases and the chances of getting a newbie opponent go down.

I think I didn't do enough Sealed this expansion and plan to really hammer the game in late January.

Monday 16 October 2017

MTGO: close season

As I explained in my last post, Magic Online is seasonal. I finished a league today and as I found that the entirety of the cards I opened, 6 packs worth 24 tickets unopened, sold for less than a ticket to the tradebots it's time to stop playing as the game is now uneconomic.

I could play on if I wanted to but with the opened cards being miniscule in value I'd need 6 wins per league consistently. I've gone 5-4 in my last game and 6-3 the one before that so I can't expect to do so. Without card sales propping up the prize value a 5-4 would cost about $5 and 4-5 would cost over $10 with 6-3 about break even. I've never gone 7-2.

I did 5 leagues of 9 games each this season all in the Friendly Sealed format. I never opted to pay for more cards to strengthen my deck. I went 6-3 or 5-4 every time making a substantial profit particularly on the early games when the cards were new.

I had a ton of fun, I really do like MTG as a game, but I'm quite happy to wait 3 months now till the next release then splurge again. Next time I'd like to get more leagues done in the first couple of weeks, it really does feel like collecting free money.

I'm becoming a lot better at baiting out the opponent's killer move and trumping it. I deliberately set up situations that might tempt him/her to use their best removal spell or combat trick when I have open mana and a counter card in my hand that will result in a 2 for 1 play. That's very satisfying.

Being self-analytical my psychology is quite weird. I have about 700 tickets, worth about $700. I only play when I think I'll come out ahead and I'm usually correct on that. So each season I end up richer. I can afford to play now and lose money simply because I've such a great stack of tickets. However I don't want to and it's hard to explain why. I really like the game, it makes no sense to have more tickets in the system than I will ever use. Logically I should just play on, losing about $5 per league (about 50c per match) because this wealth is useless unless I spend it. I have the unspent wealth to lose about 100 leagues even in the dry season. However I'm averse to. Loss aversion? Is this why real world billionaires keep piling up the billions when there's no longer anything left to buy? I just don't fancy the idea of playing what is essentially a gambling game now the odds are no longer in my favour even though I'm only risking meaningless game money. I believe Dan Ariely would consider me predictably irrational.

Well it is what it is. I have a new corp and a new adventure starting in Eve Online, time to shelve MtGO for the season.

Friday 13 October 2017

Magic the Gathering Online update and strategy

MTGO is a strange game for me because it's seasonal. I don't know if I've ever played a computer game so strongly seasonal. There's a best time to play it and times when playing it is economically challenging. I mean, you can play it but it costs more, you get beaten more and the thrill of novelty isn't there.

Here's how the game works and how I approach it. A new set is issued about 4 times a year. The set is available in physical form only over a weekend known as the Pre-Release weekend. Then the game is released online on the Monday.

That Monday and the days immediately after the game is full of casuals who only return at this particular time in the cycle as well as both casuals and veterans who don't know what the new cards do. In addition many of the new cards are highly sought after by people who play constructed.

These conditions (mediocre players and high card prices) degrade rapidly, hourly, and then continue to degrade more slowly over the life of a format. The people who are playing in a format's final week will tend to be the most dedicated players.

MTGO is an expensive game with that expense defrayed by prizes. Many formats also allow you to keep the cards you open which is another way to defray costs. It is a very good game, better than Hearthstone, because you can dick with the other player during their turn (or anticipate them dicking with you and trump them). It' can be supremely satisfying.

Players have a concept of Expected Value which is calculated from your win rate. This calculator allows us to work out whether we're likely to be ahead or behind.

A big part of mastering the economics is selecting the format. Draft tends to have stronger players than Sealed, Competitive tends to have stronger players than Friendly. I play Friendly Sealed which not only has the weakest players but also has the best EV at 50% per the calculator.

I'm a decent but not great MTG player. (Limited Rating 1708). By stacking the odds I'm able to come out ahead (known in the community as "going infinite").

Here's how I finished my last league, a set of Sealed games I went 6-3.

I'd very much recommend playing limited format MTGO and I hope this helps some of you find your feet. Beginner's guides are on the sidebar of the MTGO subreddit. 

The next Limited format starts in January so now would be a good time to pootle around for a couple of months learning the UI and the game mechanics and play some beginner games to prepare yourself for then.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Friday 18 August 2017

Albion Online: Crafting numbers

Crafting generic items is generally done at a loss. Currently using 4359 silver worth of pine planks to make a T4 bow will give you a bow that sells for about 3000 silver.

You also get some planks back:

Resource return by Location:

Black Zone crafting station

Private/guild island: 0% (35% with focus)

Caerleon or other major city: 15% (45% with focus)

Black zone city: 20% (48% with focus)

Food buffs:  

You can improve crafting speed and quality by using food. This is a huge buff and you should always do it.

Bean Salad: +33% speed and quality for 5 minutes.

Turnip Salad: +66% speed and quality for 5 minutes.

Potato Salad: +100% speed and quality for 5 minutes.


The higher a crafter's skills the more quality and focus cost efficiency they gain. Each item has 2 skills that boost these attributes, the two furthest out on its spoke of the Destiny Wheel.

The base skill, the skill unlocking your crafting tiers starting with Tier 4 gives
+0.3 bonus focus cost efficiency and +0.75 increase in quality to all the items it shows in its window.

The specialist skills give
+0.3 bonus focus cost efficiency and +0.75 increase in quality to all the items in its weapon group.
+2.5 bonus focus cost efficiency and +6 increase in quality to the specific weapon. The artifacts specialisation applies to all artifacts of the weapon group.

For example:

Callduron is specialising in making Warbows.

16/100 Bow Crafter gives +4.2 bonus cost efficiency and +12 increase in quality when crafting all bows.

9/100 Warbow Crafting Specialist gives +3.3 bonus focus cost efficiency and +6.75 increase in quality while crafting all bows. It also gives +22.5 bonus focus cost efficiency and +54 increase in quality when crafting warbows.

The other bow specialisms are at 0 so I get no bonuses from them.

Maximum possible skill bonuses are + 400 focus cost efficiency and +975 increase in quality.

Putting it all together:

Max resource return: 48% (crafting in the black zone with focus).

Best crafting speed buff: +100% from food

Crafting quality: up to +975 from skills, +100% from food (I don't know how those stack). Using focus also gives a quality bonus.

Bonus focus cost efficiency: up to +400 from skills.

The life of a high level crafter then will be a matter of passively collecting your 10k focus per day, then using it to make highly lucrative x.3 or x.2 items which will bring a small profit if you get a low quality or make mad bank if the RNG gods give you Outstanding or Masterpiece quality. Actually you can probably find items that you make small profits on even without focus.

This places two soft constraints on a hardcore crafter:

- it's a big waste to do anything else with your focus.

- it's a big waste to do anything else with your learning points.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Albion Online: Gear set management

Playing on with this very addictive MMO. I'm now Tier 5 in my gear which while nothing exciting is solidly mid-pack.

I've realised that it's all too easy to suffer excessive financial setback through mismanagement of gear. In fact I just found out the hard way.

I joined a ZvZ group which is a Zerg v Zerg group for some open world pvp. In ZvZ gear doesn't matter that much. If there are 10 of you and 3 of them you win, if there are 3 of you (because you got separated or over-enthusiastic) against 10 of them you lose. Gear will tip an even fight but that's a relatively unusual circumstance.

When I died I had a moderately expensive mount on me (a T5 Armoured Warhorse).  Just silly not to swap it out. The zerg moves rather slower than the speed of its slowest member and as a healer I'm not out flanking in exposed positions. I should just stick with the group on a cheap horse as all fighting will be done on foot. Anyway not a bank-breaker and lesson learned.

So it's about gearing on the cheap.

For me that's this build.

Add t3 or t4 riding horse and you're fine for supporting a zvz. Possilby a gathering tool if you think you're likely to make it home with more than the value of the tool.

It's probably not true for tanks. If you're going to charge boldly in you probably need decent survivability from gear quality.

But for healers and dps I think it's better to have more uptime (ie I can carry on past 3 deaths) than higher quality. (I died, sorry guys, got to go.)

I don't think the same is true of gathering unless you're consciously going into dangerous zones. I do most of my gathering in the black zones just outside our friendly town. For me to get ganked they would have to manage to sneak multiple people between me and the safe haven of our town. I have multiple escapes on the gear plus it's really hard to close quickly on someone in the very cluttered forest terrain.

Here's my gathering gear:

Horse is a Tier 5 Armoured Warhorse.

Here's my expedition/fame farming gear.

The boots are a little behind the other armour types as I realised late that I wanted to wear Assassin's boots at end game so they're in my fame-grinding set.

One final point about gear in relation to consumables. A lot of people skip food and potions. This is an error of analysis. If you are playing in a context that is quite likely to kill you then it's all consumable. There's no point cheaping out on consumables when you can just use cheap ones as everything is just going to be lost sooner or later anyway. When you die every half an hour, a hat is just a consumable that gives you some stats and the Ice Block ability for 30 mins.

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Albion Online: first fortnight

Albion Online launched about a month ago, the latest in a long line of games aiming to be a "fantasy Eve."

In Albion's case they seem to have struck closer to the mark than some of the previous attempts. There's a single shard server with a very interesting economy. There's a relationship between pvp, pve and crafting/gathering that's dynamic and engaging. We even have a Goon blob guild that is offending the elite pvpers.

If you want to know more about the basics then there's a ton of good beginner's guides on youtube.

I'm going to talk about my heavily sub-optimal start to the game.

Optimisation in this game is straightforward. Pick a thing, do it over and over. Dull but efficient.

I'm not wired that way so I've experimented with all kinds of things. I started as a Fire Mage, then turned into a Holy Priest simply by equipping a new staff. I can go back to being a Fire Mage at any time by equipping that weapon which is need.

Healing is fun in pvp and efficient in doing the game's pickup dungeons. I wait 30 seconds for a group as  healer compared to about 15-20 minutes if I do one as a fire mage.

I've also done lots of gathering with him.

I built a private island, then decided I'd put it in the wrong place and had to demolish it and start over. I'd definitely advise waiting a bit on the island until you're clear what you will be doing in the game.

I made a tank alt and a rogue alt. The classes are really fun and if you want to check out a different playstyle you just change your weapon.

Silver is incredibly impactful in the game and you can make alot of progress if you're wealthy.

The end game that I'm working towards is 5v5 pvp content. 5v5 fights are used to contest territory and the game world is a huge Risk map of conquerable zones. There are also special dungeons called Hellgates where you run a normal dungeon with mobs and bosses but the kicker is there's another 5 man party in there.

So far it's exceptionally fun, the only notable downside being a rather large amount of DDOS related downtime. Highly recommended and if you're an Eve player you may meet a lot of familiar names here.

Here's a video of some high level players having a laugh in a Hellgate.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

AT XV Villore Accords debrief

In Magic: The Gathering there's a concept of recognising when you're not the beat-down. You may have constructed your deck to get a fast start with plenty of cheap creatures aiming to finish an opponent quickly. However if your opponent has a similar deck and gets a better start you need to recognise that your usual aggressive tactics are wrong for this match and play defensively. You need to recognise you're not the beat-down.

Villore Accords met two close-range blaster set-ups in this tournament. We needed to kite, to minimise the time spent doing damage by the enemy blaster boats. We didn't get this.

Even, agonisingly, a situation developed in our second match where a whole bunch of enemy Brutixes etc were chasing but not catching a ship that was about 30km off them not doing any damage. All the pilot had to do was nothing - let his ship coast out towards the edge of the arena dragging the defanged enemy team behind him. Instead he decided to turn around and fly back into the happy wolfpack.

Now the key to this I think is practice. We practiced once or twice a week and our practices were not efficient in terms of matches played per time spent. I'd guess we were about 1.5 matches per hour which is not a lot when a match lasts at most ten minutes.

People were also getting tilted too easily in practices.

Let's now look at some positives. The practices and tournament games was very useful experience and we saw some sigificant  improvement in some players. I'd like to mention WubtheCook (our logi) and Malmar (frigate pilot) particularly. Ship fitting was  good (Ashley being a supremely gifted pyfa wizard) and doctrine theorycrafting was fine. It's the understanding of how the enemy's doctrine works that we didn't get and that's a very achievable goal for next year.

It was a ton of fun and I was very glad to be allowed to participate after I fell out with my former alliance just days before the cut-off.

Match 1: Villore Accords v United Federation of Conifers

Match 2: Villore Accords v SOLAR Fleet

Sunday 18 June 2017

AT XV: The Draw, Villore Accord perspective

Alliance Tournament XV will be held over the course of four consecutive weekends starting on Saturday July 29 with the grand finals taking place on August 20.

Following last weekend's Feeder rounds we now have the draw for the tournament.

Here are the teams placed into a Tournament Bracket Generator. Unofficial but should be correct.

For my alliance, Villore Accord, this means our first match is against United Federation of Conifers.

Match 1: United Federation of Conifers

This alliance is new to the tournament and afaik so too are the players. They are definitely paying attention though because when Apothne mentioned them on some obscure podcast they got in touch with him.

They seem to be a group of pvp focused players using a low class wormhole as a base to raid across New Eden, mostly nullsec targets. Generally using small ships.

Top 3 pilots: Rye Zero, Sholto Douglas, Nai Nesealc

Top 3 ships: Jackdaw, Ferox, Republic Fleet Firetail



eve who


Expected Mawderator  pun: it's a needle match.


 Match 2 will be against the  winner of SOLAR Fleet v Salt Farmers if we win or against the loser of that match if we lose. So let's examine these two.

Match 2: Either SOLAR Fleet

SOLAR Fleet are a major Russian alliance living in the Drone Regions. They have played in many ATs and almost always do badly.  They played Villore Accord last year and it was a strange match. VA warped in too close and seemed certain to be punished for it as SOLAR brought double  Vindicators.  SOLAR then managed to fly their Vindicators so  badly that they couldn't track and thus succeeded in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

SOLAR are very experienced with all types of ships up to and including titans. They  also have many years' worth of AT. They haven't been able to translate that into any AT success yet but maybe this could be their year to come  strong. I feel they're one FC short of becoming a solid team, perhaps Mactep needs to let someone else run the team.

Top 3 killers: Olaf Tarkka, elita force, Stine Hakkari

Top 3 ships: Cerberus, Stiletto, Rapier



eve who


Expected Mawderator pun: not a  stellar performance from SOLAR Fleet.

Match 2: Or Salt Farmers

Salt Farmers are a German low sec group based in Okkamon in Black Rise. Their killboard shows most of their kills come from gatecamping their whole system but they also run nightly roams.

Top 3 killers: Front242 Ellecon, Demoleon Delwargin, Scramma

Top 3 ships: Svipul, Kestrel, Jackdaw.



eve who


Expected Mawderator pun: Villore Accords farming salt as they send their opponents to the losers' bracket (I hope!) 

Match 3:

Win, Win, sees us play the most successful from Phoebe Freeport Republic, Ghost Legion. It's Only Pixels and Pen Is Out. I think Ghost Legion. which is based around Fafer and some other PL AT veterans is the most dangerous. They clinically despatched Phew 100-0 in the Feeders.

Win, Loss sees us play the winner of (loser of NC. v Razor) and (loser of Shadow Cartel and Of Sound Mind). Equally likely to be Razor, Shadow Cartel or Sound. Very unlikely to be NC.

Loss, Win sees us play the loser of SOLAR v Salt Farmers and beat them then play the loser of (NC.  v whoever wins the Shadow Cartel v Of Sound Mind match). I'd expect to play the more successful of Shadow Cartel and Sound.


Match 4:

I won't go through all the permutations but if we win our first three games we'll probably get a chance to knock Pandemic Legion down into the Losers' Bracket ;)

Saturday 27 May 2017

AT level up: A beginner's guide to Look At on opposing ships

I'll be doing a series of gameplay posts in the run up to AT XV that aim to explain a simple feature or technique that will help some people play better. I'm shamelessly borrowing the phrase "level up" from LRCast, a Magic: The Gathering podcast and community.

First is a guide on how to use Look At.

This is principally used by AT players to assess the opposing comp and determine how it will apply damage. This can often give crucial information to AT Fleet Commanders, for example you probably want to move in on a setup using long range weapons and move away from a comp using high damage close range weapons.

1. We will be using a third party Eve fan site called, rather charmingly, Caldari Pony Club.

2. It's slightly easier to have two screens. Possibly a PC and a phone may work. Alt-tabbing is ok if you can't set that up.

3. The time between when you first have intel on your opponents' comp and when the match starts is about 120 seconds. This is valuable time that you can use to gain small advantage if you use it well. Among other things checking their fits visually is a valuable use of this time.

4. Pick up your opponents on D scan and put the ship type you want to check into the Caldari Pony Club search with a weapon system it is bonused for.

5. In Eve Online, look At the ship you wish to check on one screen. On Caldari Pony Club look at the likely weapon types.

6: Example: Typhoon:

Cruise Missiles

Rapid Heavy Missile Launchers - not there so we'll look at RLMLs instead which should be pretty similar, if a bit less chunky.


In this example it's actually a little hard to tell Cruise from Torpedos when they're not firing but if you use the Fire All Turrets anination on Caldari Pony Club you will be able to confirm definitively early in the match when they start firing.

7. Example II: Vigilant.

The hull isn't in the drop down so we'll use Thorax, which is the  base hull, instead.


Blasters (we have to use small blasters as Heavy Neutron Cannons are not in the drop down.

8. Relay the information to the team. I recommend using fleet chat as the FC may need to explain tactics verbally during these critical seconds.

Summary: it's not perfect, sometimes the exact hull or weapon won't be in the list but there's enough visual information there that you should be able to be confident what class of weapons are on your opponents' ships.

Friday 26 May 2017

AT XV Feeder Rounds, June 10th-11th 2017

In just over two weeks we will see the AT Feeder Rounds and it promises to be a brutal affair of heartbreak and broken dreams.


56 teams will play on the Saturday with the winners gaining a place in the Alliance Tournament and the losers playing for a tiny handful of spots. I estimate that if you lose on the Saturday you have just 14% chance of getting through the losers' bracket of the Feeder Rounds.

There will be no seeding in the Feeder Rounds so the crucial first match could be against a strong well-experienced tournament team like Test or Shadow Cartel. And we will see some quite weak teams get through no doubt because they got drawn against someone weak or got lucky against an average team.

Hopefully Eve-NT will be streaming the games and commentating. I think it will be a tremendously exciting and dramatic day.

Many of the teams will be poorly prepared. The AT XV rules only came out a few days ago and 3 weeks isn't very long to adapt to a new meta. Most teams won't have done any practice until the AT was officially announced on 9th May. Some enthusiasts, notably Test, have been practicing since January.

The day one meta will be dominated, I think, by 1) comps that were good last year (like Floon Core), 2) comps abusing the re-introduction of T2 drones, probably featuring ishtars and gilas and 3) comps abusing the Serpentis discount, ie Vindicator comps. Veterans will be really advantaged because the new comps that will come in because of the rule changes are old familiar comps they've played against before. The drone comps dominated AT XI and AT XII and Vindicator comps are always around and generally don't do all that well.

I think the Vindicator comp in particular is a trap. When you scrim with other teams to practice it often does spectacularly well. On the day however captains are more cautious, players are more on their game and control is ubiquitous making it really hard to catch and blast incautiously positioned opposing ships.

Let's look at how Vindicators did last year in the AT's early stages:

Day One

Triumvirate v Galaxy Spiritus. TRI brought a garbage shield Hyperion set up and got out-performed by Galaxy's more conventional Vindi brawling comp. Vindi win.

Villore Accords v Solar Fleet. A weird match. Solar brought Vindis, Villore warped in unwisely close with our Mach Moa meta, Solar caught the opposing battleships and then threw the match by spectacularly bad piloting, orbiting the thing they were shooting with mwds on so they couldn't apply damage. Vindi loss.

The Solar Fleet piloting of the Vindicators ... is absolutely horrendous - Chessur.

Day two.

Triumvirate v Spaceship Samurai. Samurai unwisely warped to zero and discovered their opponents were in a heavy damage close range brawl comp. They got obliterated. Vindi win.

Brotherhood of Spacers v Lowsecnaya Sholupen. Spacers' Vindicator brawl comp just got out-brawled by Sleipnirs. Vindi loss.

Castabouts v Brothers in Arms. CAS brought double Vindicators but at the warp in their opponents Barghest comp was nicely placed at long range. However the Vindis trundled over and wrecked their opponents who inexplicably didn't really move away despite being in what appeared to be a kiting comp. Spectacularly poor positioning from BIA. Vindi win.

The R0nin v Agony Empire. R0nin brought Bhaal/Vindi pairing the overpowered webbing of their flagship Bhaal with the high close range damage of the Vindi. Agony initially went for the flaghorn and pushed it into dangerously low armour.. It was skillfully kept up by Deacons who piloted superbly, saving the critical ship long enough for the Vindi to lead an assault on an Agony fleet phoon, turning the match when it died. Vindi win


Except for the R0nin match where a Vindi was used in a highly synergistic set-up the Vindis relied on opponents being bad to win. Vindis even lost close range brawls in a couple of cases. When you scrim, Vindi comps seem amazing but they tend to disappoint when the stakes get real.

Thursday 25 May 2017

Final thought on leaving Waffles

You know, it's not actually a dictatorship if people can vote with their feet.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

AT XV Rules: what's different


Collusion rules tightened up.

Sponsored by the Serpentis, points cost reduction to their ships. (AT XIV was sponsored by the Blood Raiders).

3 ship bans in matches played during the final 2 weekends (probably top 16).

T2 mobile combat drones allowed (eg Warrior II).

Strategic Cruisers are not allowed to fit remote repair modules.

Capacitor transmitter modules are once again allowed with a maximum of one per ship

Ship point costs

Pirate Battleship +2
  except Vindicator -1 and Bhaalgorn +4
Marauder +1
Navy Battleship +2
Black ops +1
Battleship +1
Logi cruiser +2
Recon -1
Battlecruiser -1
Tech 1 support cruiser +1
HAC -1
Pirate cruisers unchanged except Ashimmu +2, Vigilant -3
Tech 1 disruption cruiser (eg Blackbird) +1
Cruiser -1
Pirate frigates unchanged except Cruor +2, Daredevil -2

What we can expect to see more of:


What we can expect to see less of

Blood Raiders
Battleships, anything with a battleship hull
T1 & T2 Logi cruisers

Monday 15 May 2017

Crash landing

Full of beans, I rejoined Waffles 3 weeks ago and things seemed great. Then on Friday I had a rather wanky interview with a director. He told me that me rejoining just before the AT looked bad and that the directorate weren't sure I wasn't some sort of spy, and that they wanted me to show I was truly committed to the corp. Really odd, and rather unpleasant, a cross between a work disciplinary and a 12 year old kicking you out of his secret treehouse club. Not entirely sure what I was supposed to be spying on either as they hadn't done any AT practice and don't have any comps but hey ho, no point staying where I'm not wanted.

So 3 days before the AT cut-off I found myself without an alliance.

Luckily for me the first group I tried said yes. I'm now in GalMil alliance the Villore Accord. They're pretty connected with Crossing Zebras, with Niden and General Stargazer being long-time members who have relatively recently moved on and my new CEO Ash being on the writing staff. Specifically I'm in Foxholers, a C5 wormhole corp.

High end wormholes is one of the few things in Eve Online I haven't tried yet. It's a zone which has spawned some of the greatest videos in Eve such as Clarion Call 3, my all-time favourite. New corp seems pretty practiced, pretty aggressive. Should be fun.

They are also well-positioned for the Alliance Tournament, having managed to claw their way into the top 16 with a Moa/Machariel set-up last year. We will be entering as number 11 seeds and I hope I  can merit a spot in the team.

I'm quite glad to avoid the feeder rounds which I think will be brutal. I'll admit I'll enjoy watching Waffles, especially if they get beat ;)

Sunday 9 April 2017

Cantfeelmy Modules: an Alpha clone's story

So I've been thinking about the ewar side of Horde's strat ops and I've been looking into making a doctrine that would work well with newbies but which would still be fun at high levels. I've settled on the idea of very long range ewar frigs and so I rolled an Alpha to test it out.

16.45: Cantfeelmy Modules is born.
16.50 Plugged in first skill: Long Range Targeting. Tried to find my way out of the tutorial which starts new characters in a warp disruption field.
17.30 Finally got out of the newbie prison you start in by self-destructing. Set autopilot to Jita.
20.00 Logged back on, having sent over 50 million isk. Purchased 10 Crucifiers with fittings
I discovered that  Salvage Drones are unusable by alphas but the regular salvagers are just fine. In fact to sit in the ship I needed to train these skills:

Amarr Frigate I
Weapon Disruption I
Light Drone Operation I

So very quickly I was Crucifier ready, well under an hour to train those skills. I didn't optimise skill maps or use implants because I wanted to get a feel for how a newbie would fly this in his or her first week.

Tomorrow I'll try to get on a fleet with Horde and see if I can get on some killmails.

Thursday 6 April 2017

I'm back, New Eden!

I took a break from Eve because of some real life issues but now I'm back. (Not so coincidentally in time for AT season).

I started by appearing on Viciate's excellent new podcast, New Eden story time. The first few episodes have been an engrossing tale of wormhole violence. The story I told is the story of the 2013 Goon v Test Fountain War. That is due to be released on the Crossing Zebras site soon. (Normal price $150,000 - for you gentle readers absolutely free while stocks last!)

I'm in Pandemic Horde at the moment because, bless them, they're an uncritical accepting place for people who might be a bit distracted by real life. I hope though to move on soon as I'm ready for a more demanding playstyle again.

With Horde I've done some scouting, some ratting and fc-ed a fleet and backseated another fleet. I hope to do a couple more fleets before moving on.

Anyway see you soon both here on the blog and in a dark corner of space where no one can hear any cries for help ;)