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Large fleets, impressive but stagnant?

While I was at Fanfest I had the fortune to actually be seated on the front row during the ship balancing round tables, watching the interaction between CCP fozzie, CCP Rise and CCP Ytterbium, was great, each of them are very different people with differing opinions, the three of them together I feel are going to give us the most well thought out ship balancing I think eve has seen.
The Grid

The Grid

I could go on for some time about the many topics that came up but one particular area interested me: Fleet Boosters. I should say from the outset that I am pro boosting ships being on grid, I feel that no role should be so dull or easy that it should be done effectively afk. I suspect this will get me flack from the many people who like to fight solo (even though they are fighting with at least two ships); I even enjoy flying solo myself, but Eve at its heart is a mmo, if you want to fly solo that’s great, but in general flying with friends is what makes this good game great.

That personal opinion aside one of the ideas that was floated was that boosting ships could be changed so that they effectively boost ships within a sphere around them (kind of like a hictor bubble), this would mean that the pilots of these ships would require actual flying skills to place themselves in the correct places and large fleets may even require multiple boosting ships, it would also mean that your average grunt would need to check their position relevant to the boosters as well as the logistics.
This to me sounds like if it was implemented that we may actually end up in much more dynamic mobile fleets where actual flying skill would be needed. It would mean that highly skilled pilots (or budding pilots) would be able to aspire to roles within fleets that could make or break an engagement, reliant on their flying skills.
This however started my evil mind turning and led me to have a conversation with the CCP devs after the meeting finished and here I will outline where my evil thoughts went…
Boosting Radiance Ships? Maybe not...

Boosting Radiance Ships? Maybe not…

As some people who have read my posts before may have noticed I do not understand why most random events in eve are positives, some of the most interesting stories are about when an unforeseen event has occurred and how people have managed (or not) to cope with them. All this talk of ships creating bubbles of “ship boosts” had me wondering, would it not be fair to have ships that do the opposite?

My thought was if CCP want more people flying command ships and for it to be a much more active and responsive role then surely the obvious way to make this happen was for there to be something for them to have to actively counter? At the moment there is a class of ships post tiercide that only has a single ship in it: The Battleship disruption line, and in it the scorpion. This currently has a bonus to ECM burst modules, what if this ship was changed to create a Hic like bubble of effect around it with an ECM effect and balanced against  sensor strength boosting command ships? Suddenly you would have pilots of these two ships attempting to counter each others effects, the command ship defensively while the disruptor would be attempting to fly his ship so he didn’t impact his own fleet but not so far forward he was out of range of his own support, suddenly fleet and even individual positioning within a fleet become more complex, dynamic, responsive and even rewarding of flying skill, not just skill points.
At this point you can expand on the idea, if you stick with current racial ewars then a how about an area effect tracking disrupting Amarr ship? A area effect sensor damping Galente ship? ( think of the effect on logi) How about an area effect target painting Minmatar? (that could mess with AHacs).
I think that if you gave people the opportunity to fly these ships that could negatively impact enemy fleets you would actually reward pilots with the experience and ability to fly well with a whole new class of ships that would really bring something new to fleet combat and that would then have the knock on effect of making command ships much more interesting, responsive and fleet combat much more dynamic. Each Disrupting ship would require a different command ship to counter.
And this idea carries on again, currently bombers have only two forms of ewar covered “lockbreaker” and “void” seems to me that some are missing here but I think you can all follow that idea on to a logical conclusion, I suppose here is the point to say what the devs had to say about the suggestion.

Press F1 for help

The idea was met I feel with guarded interest and support, it appears that the main issue that is holding up what they want to do with command ships (and by effect potential disruption ships) is a system issue. Currently bubbles are a problem, interdiction bubbles work because when a ship attempts to enter warp a single check is made by that ship “am I in a bubble?” if the answer is yes warp fails. currently ecm burst, lockbreaker and void bombs send out a single pulse and ships in the area are effected once. The problem with what they want to do with “boost bubbles” is that the server would need to know which ships at any given time were being effected by positive (or even negative) effects from one moment to the next and as fleets get larger the number of checks on this gets larger as well and can rapidly become a large resource hog, it is something they are looking at a solution for apparently but they could not say anymore at this time.

Personally I am very pleased that they are even looking in this direction and I am hopeful that they will find an elegant solution so that soon we will see much more interesting fleets flying in elegant shoals of death responding to each other in much more dynamic ways than the current “everyone anchor on x at 10km, follow targets and hit f1 in time. I can but hope. [Editors note: even worse. “Every one stop your ships and assign drones to XXXXX”]

Mini games in Eve’s future?

As some of you will now have seen from Fanfest the idea of compact “mini games” is coming to our gaming
universe, at the moment it will be confined to exploration but I think this small “toe dip” into the murky waters of “mini gaming” is the tip of what could be some pretty big changes. It reminded me of a proposition I put forward some years ago on the eve-o forums that was also mini game based and I thought I would post it here for interest and maybe to spark debate. Shown below is the post in pretty much it’s original form……

The ancient post

Idea 1: Copying is the sincerest flattery…
Mass effect 2 style probing mini game using a audio/ visual queue as you hover over a asteroid representation to find the best areas of the asteroid to hit with your mining lasers. if you choose poorly (or not at all in the case of afk miners) you get a poorer yield (mining skills could improve the accuracy of the audio/ visual queue or the resolution you could scan at maybe). You could also have the rare “ultra dense” drops show as a special anomaly on this that you may miss if you do not check thoroughly) If you have not played mass effect 2 there are loads of vids on youtube of the probing mechanic but my forum foo is weak and I cant make a working linky. Sad face.
Idea 2: use a similar mechanic already in place….
How about the “heat map” from PI also becomes audio and is adapted to be used on asteroids to again show relative potential yield areas with the same “if you choose poorly (or not at all in the case of afk miners) you get a poorer yield mechanism I mentioned above. Obviously the visual heat map will need to be robust enough or the colour scale changeable to allow for visual impairment. Also as with PI you could simulate resource depletion so it rewards people interacting more and finding the best mining laser site at any given time. Skills can effect the audio/visual representation in a way similar to PI and through properly exploring the asteroids you may find the “super duper dense officer
mining equivalent” that an afk miner will not further rewarding people actually actively mining.
Possible fall out of proposed mining “improvements”
Okay those are 2 ideas that someone elsewhere may have already had but I didn’t spot (sorry if this is the case and its not intended as an offence) but what could be the result of making mining better through a “mini game mechanic”?
As is already known people like to min max where possible, by adding a new element to the equation to take concentration you run the risk of not spotting other things (like that hostile that just came into system or the new belt rats etc). I am not actually saying this is a bad thing (I am actually a null sec raider and would love more chance that a miner may not spot my entry into local but I feel this mini game idea, due to concentration required to attain the best results will actually help keep the “risk/reward” mechanic in place.
Also on the subject of min maxing fits I had a random idea, why are asteroids only a resource? why not make them the trigger for rat spawns or even have them shoot back? using the two potential mechanics listed above how about not having all finds positive?
While were at it why are asteroids “only” positive? You could have some asteroid anomalies that are negative, for example…
1. You accidentally spooked a hidden pirate hideout and they boil out of hiding to protect their hideaway (maybe handled as simply as a player generated belt spawn)
2. The asteroid actually has camouflaged weapon emplacements and starts shooting at you itself and you must now incapacitate the defenses or even leave its vicinity if you cannot.
3. There is a pocket of explosive minerals/ gas/ compounds, the asteroid goes off like a smart bomb.
Hell go wild people, I am sure others can come up with cool alternative asteroid anomalies both positive and negative.
The mechanic of system sec status could be used to govern the likely hood of these “negative and positive anomalies” and the severity when they occur and skills could help you spot these special anomalies more easily and avoid them or not as required. This will add an element of balance into people fitting there mining ships as they have to consider if they can survive a potential “negative anomaly” which again helps the risk/reward mechanic.

Some final thoughts

As I said this is a post I made some years ago, the thing that worries me though is that is one area that even with the re balance of the mining ships there has been no iteration off, a rarity in Eve these days, I actually spoke with CCP greyscale at Fanfest about the “why are all “anomalies” positive idea, can we have some negative ones and he sounded genuinely interested so who knows maybe in the near future we may be hearing about actually interesting “once when I was mining” stories that don’t involve a mass smart bomb gank, who knows?

To T2 or not to T2?

A T2 ship

A question we are being asked a lot is “Are T2 modules  needed for faction warfare?” So I thought I would write a brief post to answer that as honestly as I could.

The simple truth is that higher skills will always help, they make guns hit harder, modules work quicker and actions use less cap; all things that are useful, but, and this is the important bit, there are many cases where the actual cost in fitting a T2 module is not worth it. Because of this a great many ship fits will use high meta items due to lower fitting requirements and superior overheating profiles.
The are very few cases where T2 modules genuinely add extra functionality not matchable by T1 (meta 3 or 4) counterparts. The only place you genuinely get something unique is weapon systems due to the T2 ammo and increased damage or range these offer.
All other T2 modules come with significant negatives in the form of fitting requirements and/or poor overheat characteristics (they often burning out very quickly). There are negatives to using the high meta T1 items as well, this is eve after all, and eve is all about making choices. Often the high meta items can be expensive, this is why you need to approach ship fitting itself with quite a bit of thought. Its a good idea to decide how much you want to spend first; a 7 Mil DCU isn’t worth it on a sub 1M frigate.
When you do theory craft your own fits I would recommend using a fitting tool to come up with a ship fitting that does what you want then look at the market to see if those parts are available at a reasonable price, if not go back to the fitting tool to find alternative modules, eveHQ has a good “Show meta Variations”  button for this very purpose. But remember to check the market before you discover the lynchpin module on your ship costs 120M.
Designing entire fits using a fitting tool before you start buying modules will often save you time and money long term over just buying modules as you go along and let you spot places where you can save or use extra fitting space to achieve more efficient and/or cheaper fits.
Unfortunately no short guide can cover every T2 module and explain when the excessive fitting costs of fitting a T2 module over a T1M3/4 become worth it, that will often be a personal calculation based on how much CPU or Grid you have left on the ship as well as the ISK in your wallet. But as long as you stick to eve’s golden rule “don’t fly what you cannot afford to lose” every time you fly a newly designed ship you will get more feeling for the relative merits of different modules for different situations. In fact I would argue there is a sense of achievement on using a well thought out yet cheaply fit ship to achieve your aims all of itself, over just throwing all T2 modules on and flying off into a gate camp.

Lets go fly a kite!


The original “Lets go fly a kite song” from Mary Poppins

As I threatened here is a hopefully not to long post about kiting I will write this blog with a view toward Faction Warfare but these tactics will also work in most PVP as long as you adapt it to your particular situation. Kiting is a skirmish tactic that often allows you greater potential to run away if things have not gone your way or even to take on greater numbers through use of superior agility and positioning.
[Editors note: I suggested that all reading this post do so in the awful fake cockney accent of Dick Van Dyke: Cor Blimy marie poppinsa”]


 So what is “kiting”?
“Kitting” is using range and superior positioning to mitigate your opponents damage while still deploying your damage. For the benefit of this post I will discuss 2 “kitting” tactics, these are:
“Outside web” range Kiting.
“Within web” range Kiting.
The difference in these tactics is important as failure to fly correctly for your fit and tactic will generally lead to a rapid death.
“Outside Web” kiting.
First I will concentrate on a current classic “outside web” range kiting fit that is being used to great effect in faction Warfare. This is a little ship that I have blogged about in the past, the now quite excellent condor! This I shall call the “Roman Makeev” for a pilot that fly’s this fit regularly to great results.
Condor


3x Light Missile Launcher II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
2x Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I

Ballistic Control System II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

2x Small Auxiliary Thrusters I
Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I

Now there are a range of slightly different flavours on this fit due to peoples fitting skills/ flying preference but the basic premiss is the same, the aim of this ship is to make turret based ships cry, the double tracking disrupter mean you can make their range about as far as they can spit, or there tracking so poor they couldn’t hit the station they were undocking from. Combine this with a speed somewhere in the region of 4km/s and your never being closer than around 20km and you have a ship that slowly plinks away and kills all those Merlins etc I love so much.
Naturally it has counters, tracking disrupters do not help against drones or other missile users and if someone gets a web or scram on it it near insta-pops but this ship is cheap! Tech 1 variants represent a great way for newer players to get involved. As long as you choose your fights and battleground it should see you through and it generally has the speed to run if your target is not something you wish to take on, just keep using dscan. This is very much a skirmish ship and will teach you a lot about maintaining range, which is great as the next tactic needs and builds on that. 
“Inside Web” kiting.
This is the more dangerous and some would say cooler big brother to “outside web” kiting  mentioned above. would this read better as “With this tactic you aim to control range to a much finer degree, holding you ship in an engagement envelope either under or outside of your opponents optimal range”, often your aiming to be between 7km and 9km away from your opponent. With this being an envelope of only 2000m you can understand why this takes more control to achieve. But why do you want to be at such a particular range? well it’s because at that range you minimize the effective dps of close range brawlers using blasters, autocannons and pulse lasers, while still deploying higher damage than most “outside” web range kiters.

As an example of a ship for this style of combat I shall use another common Faction Warfare fit.  

Caldari Navy Hookbill


3x Rocket Launcher II

Experimental 1MN Afterburner I
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I
Ballistic Control System II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
2x Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer

This ship is not as cheap as the condor though still not expensive if you are in the Caldari Faction as 10,000lp, a merlin hull with a Caldari AI nexus chip and you have a new Hookbill hull!
This ship has far higher dps and ehp than the condor while still keeping a tracking disruptor which allows you to further mitigate turret based damage. Again their are variants of this ship based on personal fitting skills and or flying preference, but the basic premise remains the same, control range, mitigate incoming damage and deploy your own damage.
As with the condor this can be countered by drones and or other missile users but unlike the condor being scram webbed yourself is not an instant death sentence as you will be doing the same back and this is a pretty quick ship meaning most things that can out-fight it can’t keep hold of it. Its nastiest counter is getting neuted but then this is the case for many tactics.
So how do I kite?
Just burning directly at your opponent on orbit will often bring you too close and get you scram webbed before your orbit can stabilize. Actually getting in range requires careful manual flying at an angle to your opponents direction of travel. Getting your approach angle correct will require practice to make perfect but your main aim is to make sure your angle of approach will not take you within 17/18km of your opponent when you are using “outside web” kiting. With “inside web” kiting this is not such a worry as you will be using your own scram and web.

Once you have got your tackle engaged you need to watch your range like a Hawk (pun intended), often just hitting orbit is not enough. you will want to set your “keep at range” button to the limit of your tackle range (scram or point) and your orbit right in the middle of the range your optimal. Your opponent is not likely to want to let you dictate range. A good opponent will try to close range or even run away by using rapid course changes and even overheating propulsion modules, be ready for this.
If your range drops rapidly you may wish to use keep at range or manually fly away and maybe even overheat your prop mod.

If your range increases rapidly you may wish to hit approach or manually fly toward the opponent and again maybe even overheat your prop mod, be careful though, you do not want to close within range of any webs or scrams you do not wish to be caught by.

As you can see, range control is the most critical part of this tactic. Getting this wrong can often spell disaster, a good example would be warping into a plex and being scrammed and webbed before you are able to pull your range; so choosing when and who to fight is of paramount importance. It is also worth mentioning that where possible you need to keep your transversal velocity (the speed you are travelling relative to the angle of travel of your target) as high as possible to further reduce the opponents opportunity to land clean hits (but not effecting your missiles). Orbit can do this but often with practice you can do this while manually flying. you can further decrease their ability to hit with your tracking disruptor….
How do I Use a tracking disruptor?
Which script you use in your tracking disruptor will depend on the situation you are in.
“Outside web” Kiting
If your in a 1v1 at 20km from an enemy frigate you probably want to be using range scripts this will mean their guns cannot reach you. Against a cruiser or above tracking scripts give those medium or above size guns a really hard time tracking you.
“Inside web” kiting.
In a 1v1 against a close range frigate brawler pull range and use a range script, against pretty much all else close in and use a tracking script to reduce their guns ability track and hit you.
There will be exceptions but only experience will be able to teach you those, get out there and get fighting! 
Wait no love for Turrets?
Both these fits are missile centric, this does not mean that kiting cannot be used by turret based ships. I chose missiles as they do not suffer from tracking issues (or indeed from tracking disruptors) and as such they are much easier to deploy the dps and require less skill in mitigating your targets transversal as such they are a good platform for people new to these tactics.
This said kiting turret ships are still very viable, you just have to choose your battles well and fly better. Example kiting ships would be Atron, Executioner, Slasher etc and fits for those are commonly available (just ask in militia chat) If there is more demand I may devote a further post to them specifically.
Happy Kiting!

Faction Warfare, pvp for great profit?

So you may have read Hark’s feelings on Faction warfare and I agree with his findings but as has been mentioned in other blog posts I am notoriously bad at pve and earning isk, I have a terrible habit of loosing interest and…. oh something sparkly! Does it explode?

Anyway I had been looking at faction war from a distance for a while as a way I might actually be able to make use the potential risk of pvp (which I welcome) to help me spend more time isk making. In fact if i kill a ship from an opposing faction I get LP for it! This sounded as close to isk earning nirvana as I was likely to get, so with this in mind I jumped in two footed with my standard nullsec fits, you know the ones, MWD (no PVP without MWD) point and then tank and spank….. I got curb stomped……

I lost frigates and cruisers in rapid succession and when I had lost enough for relatively little gain I finally stopped and tried to analyze why. Looking into the mirror is never a kind experience. I realised I had made some pretty fundamental errors and had failed entirely to adapt to the new environment and its nuances. I had subconsciously bought with me a null sec mentality to combat. With this sobering thought I took a step back and looked at the mechanics of the battlefield I found myself in and started again.

The faction warfare “why-do-I-suck-so-bad!” soul search

Now the basic mechanics of plexing have been outlined by Hark in his previous post but I will outline the most important points again…

Different Plex sizes inhibit certain classes of ship from entering.

Another key mechanic of these plex’s is that in all but “large” plex’s they are only accessible via an acceleration gate that deposits you within 5km of a beacon within the plex. This is a choke point through which any ship entering the plex must pass. Large Plex’s operate diffirently and can be warped into at range but for the basis of my current combat this difference is not one I regularily use.

Now because of these key mechanics and your use of dscan (Which Hark did a guide to in his previous post) you can choose which fights you wish to take on. As a result if you are the person inside the plex you can also choose the range at which you wish to engage, this opportunity is often key to who will win the resulting engagement.

So with this re-evaluation of my battleground I went back to one of my favorite ships, the Merlin and decided how I wanted to fight. As there is nothing I like better than smashing things to pieces with overwhelming firepower, so blasters would be perfect. As I will be choosing the initial engagement range ( I would be sat slap bang on the warp in beacon waiting for people to come in)) I would not have the usual issue of having to get into range, YAY!

In fact my main issue would be keeping people where I want them (i,e, at my optimal), so I needed a fit that would allow me to control range as much as possible so I could effectively deliver my dps, as such my choices had to be very different from the usual null sec frigate fits that are mainly about being as quick as possible (MWD) so you can get the tackle (point) and wait for your friends to make them dead.

Now I realised I needed fits that reflected that my targets would be coming to me and I wanted to keep them there so I need a scram to turn off any mwd, a web to slow them down from running away and make them an easier tracked target, and an afterburner to help me dictate range. After these choices everything else has to be to maximize dps and survivability.

With this my redesigned brawling Merlin was created:

3x Light Neutron Blaster II
Experimental 1MN Afterburner
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Warp Scrambler II
Medium Shield Extender II

Damage Control II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

2 Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer

This ship also had the great side effect of having enough dps to kill the npc’s in medium sites meaning that if I found myself logged in at a quiet time, I could do the larger sites for those tasty bigger rewards. So long as it worked in the way I had theory crafted I might have the ship I was after, the only way to find out would be to try it.

Proof of the pudding….

And you know what happened? I didn’t get all that much combat. I think my choice of frigate may have contributed to this. You see in faction warfare circles the Merlin seems to be building up a pretty good reputation. In all honesty the Galente part of me is a little sad to realise that currently the premier T1 blaster frigate in eve is probably Caldari! That aside though, when combat did occur I noticed an immediate change in my fortunes; as long as I stuck to my game plan, I started winning; Incursus, Tristan, other Merlins, all began falling before my (overheated) guns. I have not won every fight, but I was finding that often even if the fight wasn’t going my way the range control of my fit allowed me to get away safely, in fact one escape was actually more fun than some of my fights just due to the angry tears displayed in local after I warped out. I don’t think the guy had thought his fit through, he had an amazing (for a frigate) tank but no ability to control range and thus had failed to make a efficient and effective PVP fit (i.e. stopping my escape).

So my faith in my fit and tactics started to increase and my wallet began to grow from the time I was spending in plex’s waiting for fights. I started taking more risks as my little ship had paid for itself many, many times over. Just as I started feeling this way, a Dramiel appeared on scan. I have flown these little beasts personally and I know just how nasty then can be, but my confidence was high and the plex I was in had only 1 minute 30 left to run so I thought “well he’s gonna be at 0, why not give it a go….”

So I overloaded my guns and waited for him to come in. When he arrives I lock him, scram and web on, start pounding on his shields, he doesn’t seem to be able to pull range…. I think I have him…. I think…. almost….Blammo!

I got him and still had my armour  But at this point I nearly made a fatal error, I had failed to notice another hostile had turned up in local, thankfully my brawl with Dramiel had carried me way off the warp in. While I was looting the wreck and linking the kill in militia chat a Talwar (which according to the dramiel pilot had warped to the wrong plex!) warped into the plex and opened fire on me. I entered warp after a few volleys from him with 28% structure left (I have no idea what his fit was but his missiles hurt). This near loss was a rude awakening but did not dim the elation. This one kill pretty much made the previous weeks plexing worth it too me, but the fact I am actually making good isk while getting these sorts of fights is the icing on the cake!

This kill is also a special one for me as it showed me I had finally adapted to my new circumstances, to create a “faction warfare” mentality. You see the Dramiel was set up very much like I would have done with a “null sec” mentality. The Dramiel’s fitting is all about closing range for initial tackle and then holding on long enough for supporting dps. This mindset is further supported by the presence of dps backup in the form of his friend in the talwar. Unfortunately his fitting had as a result sacrificed its own ability to effectively control range when webbed. As I had now specialized my fitting for Faction Warfare I was able to use the factors in the plex to kill one of the deadliest ships in New Eden one on one.

Since this fight I have even taken more risky fights…like this one.

but again due to the choke point/Early warning nature of the plex system; as long as I am paying attention I have the final say in which fights I am willing to take. As a result when t2 frigs or destroyers turn up I have plenty of time to leave and it is at this point that I found another nuance of faction warfare I was not expecting.

Maturity in eve?

The Majority of fights I have had so far have actually been with low sec neutrals, not other faction warfare pilots. When a fight has obviously not been winnable for me I have often said so in local and wished them good hunting and the amazing bit? Generally this isn’t greeted by smack! In fact more often than not I have been told “I wouldn’t take that fight either” and “good hunting to you too”, there have been exceptions but in the main I have found the locals to actually be quite friendly and even engage in fitting and tactics discussions  in local, occasionally even linking fits freely. For me this is quite the revelation and a great reflection on this sub section of the community.

So is this eve Nirvana?

Well its not far off and it is one of the better communities I have had the chance to try: it is not perfect however. I still feel the plex system while good needs more iteration: At the moment, if you are alone you can find yourself waiting for a 20 minute timer to wind down with little else to do than troll militia chat. Its a little to close to mining in that respect for me, but I can put up with that for the community and the fights! There are blobs, but these are an exception and generally only catch you if you not paying attention. I think the potential improvements are a topic for another post as this one is already a bit long, I may also post about kiting fits as well if there seems to be demand for it.

In summation.

Faction Warfare can be great fun with the opportunity to make good money, there are more lucrative revenue streams but none with the same potential for some quite excellent pvp. If your wondering about trying it go for it, really what have you got to loose? If you don’t get pvp you earn money, if you get a fight doesn’t matter: got pvp!

From <http://extra-vehicular.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=88&action=edit>

PVE content/ mission shake up idea

As many of you do not know me and how horrifically bad I am at all forms of PVE you may not realise the irony of me writing about PVE at all. My interest in eve pretty much begins and ends with blowing living things up, occasionally I have toyed with other bits of this wonderful sandbox but never for very long before the call off blowing people up becomes the be all and end all of my eve life again.

But this is not the case in every game I have played and Harks previous post touched on something that struck a chord with me, one of my bug bears with current missions is the monotony of; dock, choose mission, travel to mission, do mission, travel back to dock, receive reward, rinse repeat ad nauseam. From the point of view of a systems analysis a lot of those steps seem redundant especially in some high future with instantaneous communications (even if you read the books the agents rarely meet the pod pilots in person).
To me it makes more sense if, as Hark eluded to, missions ran more like the “heart quests” in Guild Wars 2, however I would like to take this further towards another source of inspiration: Rift. In Rift you would get “Rifts” spawn at random in the game zones and you could then step into them and attempt to close them by defeating waves of enemies. If you did especially well and killed the waves fast enough or met some particular requirement of that rift you would get bonus waves, this could be achieved by doing this content as a group, or to a lesser extent perfecting your character. The bonus stages of course, that got progressively harder, granted progressively better loot.

I wonder if a similar mechanic would not fit well within the eve world, we already have incursions which could roughly compare to “world events” in other MMO’s but I think a riftesque system could work very well in eve working something like this:

Enter new system

Click a hud/Neocom button which sends out a request for jobs in the system. This checks why you have standings with in the system, and if they have any work.

You are contacted by the systems agent with coordinates for a mission (a possibility here to have an attacking factions give counter missions).

You warp to the area and start face-rolling the F keys.

The missing begins spawning waves of enemy each escalating in difficulty, roughly equivalent to the waves number in mission difficulty (wave 1 = lvl 1, wave 2 = lvl2).

Each wave has a count down timer, which if exceeded ends the mission, this means the player skills at choosing targets at correct range, minimising transversal, reaction times, etc are actually important.

If you get to a high stage and the time runs out that wave will attempt to warp out, encouraging PvE players to learn and use PvP skills in PvE content (getting points on valuable targets). On the other hand if the player finds them selves overwhelmed by the mission, they will need to develop the PvP centric skill of getting the fuck out of dodge (e.g. killing points, using range etc). [Hark] further to this, why not give each wave a single faction rat  (keeping the overall wave value the same) which attempts to warp away and de-spawn if attacked

Once the mission ends, either by you warping out or by you failing to complete a stage in time, you are given your loyalty point and cash reward based on ships killed and stage attained. If you wish another mission hit the button again and get ready to warp to a new location.

The benefits of this is that the missions themselves will actually scale to the ability of the player, and/or the size of the group, in both difficulty and reward. It also means “afk-ing” missions or botting will not return the rewards that skilled play and groups can, in fact if groups fling more PvP orientated group fits it means they could get to very high stages and, when the mission overwhelm them,

This idea itself can even scale. [Hark] why stop at level 4? if the mission has more than one ship in it, allow it to go up-to 8 waves and give the players a reward for actually working together. If the site could be procedurally generated, why have a hard limit on waves? New players could judge the level of a corporation by their max wave completion level.

It could run the way I just mentioned in high sec, but how about low and null or even faction war?

In low sec you could hit the find mission button and have a mission generated for the faction you have standing for, but if someone has standing for the faction you are against why not have them given the mission to stop you? This may have great application for faction war and lead to more opportunities for solo and small gang warfare PvP.

In null this could be part of the sov mechanic, Ripard teg wrote an interesting post on his blog recently, in it he outlines and idea for PvE missions actually conducted in null to effect sov, well if his idea and mine were put together we could have enemy gangs fighting over these missions sov holders trying to escalate the waves, and attackers trying to kill them, maybe even gangs warping in multiple times to try and interrupt others progression or even wholesale force them out and take over the progression! (I actually used to do this in enemy held areas in Rift, I would sneak in and watch from outside a rift until what I felt was the optimum time to dive in and kill the rift runner and then complete the rift for its rewards myself, it was a hell of a buzz and would regularly lead to me being chased out of areas or corpse camped, but it was, most importantly, fun!

I am sure there are other ways to improve or change this basic idea and I invite other people to comment and add to it, but to me it seems to address a lot of my main issues with PvE. Travel time, monotony, lack of skill reward, lack of reason to group up, lack of training for later potential content etc, botting and AFK’ing missions, etc, what do you think?

Condor: Now a true prey bird…..

Pre Patch

Let’s not mince words here; pre patch this ship was horrible, it lacked the ability to even fit its slots fully, you basically ended up with a ship that could fit a MWD (which emptied your capacitor in under 50secs), and a point and that was it, you could race very fast at the target and point it but if it looked at you with a slight squint you leveled up into a pod. It was not ideal to say the least. [Hark: I think the length of this paragraph is Arians way of saying “It was so shit I didn’t fly it more than just a few times pre-patch”]

Post Patch

Here are the changes that were made to the Condor:

Frigate skill bonuses: +10% to rocket, light missile velocity and +5% damage to rocket, light missile damage per level (new)
Role bonus: 80% reduction in Propulsion Jamming systems activation cost (new)
Slot layout: 4 H (+1), 4 M (+2), 2 L (+1), 0 turrets (-1), 3 launchers (+1)
Fittings: 40 PWG (+15), 185 CPU (+85)
Defence (shields / armour / hull) : 400 (+126) / 250 (+24) / 250 (+55)
Capacitor (amount / recharge rate / cap per second): 300 (+144) / 150 s (+32.81) / 2 (+0.67)
Mobility (max velocity / agility / mass / align time): 400 (-4) / 2.9 (-0.28) / 1100000 (-85000) / 2.99s
Drones (bandwidth / bay): 0 / 0
Targeting (max targeting range / Scan Resolution / Max Locked targets): 32.5km (+7.5) / 880 (+245) / 4
Sensor strength: 9 Gravimetric (+1)
Signature radius: 33 (-4)
Cargo capacity: 130 (-20)

And what a change this made, personally I now feel this is the single ship that has come out the best in this round of changes. So many potential fits are now viable, for example here is a long range point fit with medium shield extender and medium ASB that I have been testing to destruction in RvB:

[Condor, range tackle]

3x Experimental TE-2100 Light Missile Launcher (Caldari Navy Scourge Light Missile)

Limited 1MN Microwarp drive I
Faint Warp Disruptor I
Medium Subordinate Screen Stabilizer I
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster (Cap Booster 50)

2x Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

2x Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I

With this fit I have been tackling Battlecruisers and Cruisers at range and either tanking their damage while my fleet kills them or running away (Brave sir robin style).

Another potential fit made possible by the patch is the following “Fleet” fitting, designed for pure tackle with Shield Logi support:

[Condor, gang tackle]

2x Small Diminishing Power System Drain I

Limited 1MN Microwarp drive I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Damage Control II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

2x Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I

Yeah a T1 tackler for gang tackling that does around 3.4kms before overheat. With resistance to neuting provided by 2 vamps (always run in sequence not together), once the tackle is made this little ship is a surprising pain to remove if supported by logi’s.

For other situations we can even make a dual Prop interceptor for thouse who like to go fast in ANY situation:

[Condor, dual prop]

Small Diminishing Power System Drain I

Limited 1MN Microwarp drive I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Limited 1MN Afterburner I

Damage Control II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

2x Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I

Under the AB this ship still moves at 1.2kms before overheat, whether this mitigates more damage than the previous invul fit would require more testing but you get the idea.

Post patch in summary

So many new fittings are now possible, both inside and outside scram range. All because of the following reasons:
The capacitor is now up to the job of supporting the mods needed to effectively tackle.
The MWD speed is now high enough; not only to tackle but even to coast out of range should the ship be scrambled.
A decent buffer (for a t1 frig) can now be fitted.
DPS is still low, though that was never going to be this ships role.
This ship is now a proper training ship on the way to interceptors!

All in all I feel this will be a great ship for people new to pvp to learn in cheaply and with a lot of fun, I have found it a hoot and I will continue to fly it and catch unsuspecting cruisers and above with it.

Harks Foot Note
Another interesting set of changes, and again I can see that the Condor has truly become a viable ship rather than what you fly when you need to auto pilot somewhere quickly. However I do disagree with Arian on one point: “personally I now feel this is the single ship that has come out the best in this round of changes” I believe that place has been taken by the Atron. As Arian hinted at in his post the Condor has developed by far and away the best fitting stats (seriously it’s ludicrous by comparison to the others), and it can now fit a pretty mean shield tank but the way in which CCP has implemented the Gallente Methodology in these new changes has simply made them the best Fast Tacklers. All the Fast Frigates (subjective term I know) can do at least 3.1k/s (The Slasher* is fastest @3.7 and the Atron is slowest @3.2K tanked), but I don’t think that a few hundreds difference actually matters. All the frigates can now fit a full complement of Tackle and Tank. But the difference lies in the Racial Methodology. We all know that the Gallente get the highest damage weapons with the worst range, and until now that has be an effective Nerf. However Fast Tackle is the one area where this methodology actually works. Because the Atron can do 3.1k/s the blaster range doesn’t matter anymore and suddenly you have a blaster touting damage machine all “up in yo-face” as the youf say. This is not to say that the other races aren’t good; far from it, all the new frigates (although I haven’t heard about the Slasher yet) do their jobs perfectly, it’s just that the Atron does it with an amazing Damage output. So far the hierarchy looks something like this:

Atron (see above) > Condor (fast and versatile) > Executioner (does it’s job but doesn’t excel anywhere)

We’ll just have to see where the Slasher lands in all of this. Still great changes all round, well done CCP.

* I cheated and looked before I read Arians review 😛

Battle of U930-A 17:15+

Calm before the storm.
Local is hovering at around 360, the vast majority of that is Solar and their allies, the Solar maelstrom fleet and -A- Tengu fleet are drawn up at range of the 4YO in gate waiting for the battle to begin, anticipation is high with relatively low key smack in local between Solar and there Allies and the XDeath coalition members already in local .(well to be honest most of the smack seen during the whole engagement would be be between -A- and PL but no one expects anything else.)
First Blood.
Advance warning had been given of hostile White Noise and XDeath Bomber ops in system with them filtering into system early in the main and although a few stragglers failed to make it in safely it was generally known a large number had successfully entered the system so it should not have come as a surprise when the -A- Tengu fleet once more came under a massed bomb run from white noise and XDeath at 17:47. While not as wildly successful as a previous run by white noise that wiped out a -A- Tengu fleet this run did succeed in killing 3 Tengu, 2 Cerberus and as will not surprise anyone a drake. (there is always a drake 🙂 )
This bomb run forced most of the -A- fleet off the gate briefly, but they rapidly returned in good order, first serious blood to XDeath and friends but this may have also have shown a repeated deficit in XDeath and friends coordination as this did not coincide with the conventional fleets jumping in as was expected. This failure to capitalise on the disruption caused and the lack of coordinate between different groups would impact the outcome of the battle and seems from observation of many of the battles of this war to be a regular flaw in XDeath and allies operations.
Instead of XDeath and friends jumping in now over the next few minutes a light smattering of pilots who were obviously incapable of not jumping through gates until told to would jump gate into U930-A from 4YO and be introduced to Darwinian theory at its harshest.
Battle is joined.
A full 23 minutes after the first bomb run at 18:10 the XDeath lead coalition finally jumps on mass through the 4YO gate into U930-A, Tidi takes effect (though this was a smooth transition that rapidly righted itself, well done CCP) as local swells from 360 to over 700. The game was on! After XDeath and white noise had taken the early initiative with there first bomb run they were conspicuously absent at this important moment.
This is a fault that can not be levelled at Solar and allies, as the gate in became flooded with XDeath and allies they were duly bubbled in place and multiple wings of Solar bombers de-cloaked and dropped their payloads into this target rich environment. As this engagement continued further rolling bomb runs would be conducted by Solar, Gypsy Band, Imperial Legion and allies, although few more ships appeared to actually be killed entirely by subsequent bomb runs the area damage of these runs must have caused considerable issues for Xdeath’s coalition logistics. Bubbles were kept on the gate for a long time and the fight continued at a frantic rate, A combined Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition. Fleet of sniper Tier 3 Battle-cruisers (Tidi cats) joined the fray and the XDeath coalition appeared to be fighting back against the superior Solar coalition positions off gate, much death on both sides as the high alpha of both sides fleets made a mockery of logistics. The PL/ NC. Fleet began to make its presence felt, skirting the edges of the fight and using their superior range and agility to pick there fights. Unfortunately this status quo was not to last.
At 18:17 Gypsy Band bombers uncloaked of the PL/NC. Fleet and dropped their payload, although PL and NC. attempted to escape they lost 9 Oracles, 2 Naga’s and a smattering of support (including a prober which may have impacted their later ability to get good warp ins though it would be expected and hoped that there would have been multiple prober’s in there fleet for just such a happening.)
By this point the battle was starting to become fragmented, with XDeath Coalition fleets attempting to get themselves out of the shooting gallery that was the 4YO gate, unfortunately due to effective bubbling this led to fleets becoming fragmented and getting killed piecemeal by The Solar coalition. The effective Solar Coalition bombing was still ongoing throughout in-spite of bubbles. At 18:27, 10 minutes after there first successful bomb run Gypsy band got another successful bomb run on the PL and NC. Fleet, this time 21 Oracles, 3 Naga’s, a Tornado, a Talos, a further bubbler and a large number of pods died in the conflagration.
By this point the battle was already effectively over and settled into small little fights as stragglers were picked off or escaped from system, The first SBU was destroyed by the Solar coalition at 18:55 less than 50 minutes after the XDeath coalition jumped into system.
In Summary.
In Summation the battle of U930-A was won convincingly by Solar and there allies, the system saved and a great deal more damage done to the XDeath lead coalition. Bombers again showed themselves to be a massive tactical asset when used effectively and in a coordinated fashion with other conventional forces, a trick Solar and Allies appear to be able to achieve more regularly than the XDeath lead coalition.
Here is a link to the Gypsy Band kill-board that shows a nicely effective time line of the battle.
http://killboard.gypsyband.ru/battle/b3457/#timeline
The ongoing war.
Anyone who believes this war will be over soon in favour of XDeath may need to re-analyse their sources as at the moment Moral in the Solar camp appears to be high and the XDeath coalition forces also fought hard from a poor position, whichever way this campaign goes it looks it will be giving those involved “good fights” for a while yet.

Super capitals again…(again and again……)

Intro and example
Hi there, I will be unknown to probably everyone who reads this, I have been playing this game since 2006 and have fought through a lot of eves history but as you can see I personally am a largely unknown pilot in a largely unknown alliance posting on a public forum asking you to spend some of your precious time reading my thoughts and to honestly discuss an issue that seems to be getting worse and worse. I fully expect to be flamed and belittled but in amongst it all I hope there will be some cogent thought and discussion.
Yesterday I was involved in an operation to kill a tackled Nyx, that’s awesome and the sort of thing we all log in for, my problem is what happened next, in the space of time it took for reinforcements to get to the tacklers location further super caps were being dropped without support to save this super carrier, essentially a handful of pilots were able to extricate 1 pilot from the clutches of a vastly outnumbering force.
Yes I know, old problem, HTFU, bring more bubbles etc, but I am looking at this as a failure of game mechanics and design. I thought recent changes were aimed to make supers more vulnerable, and maybe they are slightly more vulnerable now, but I think this situation and many similar proves they are still not balanced.
The saviours of the particular Nyx in my example were PL (though the Nyx was not) and this may not be a surprise to many, personally I have no problem that they turned up, they have made there reputation on being ready and capable of making rapid responses, my problem is that when faced with “friendly super tackled by numerous support fleet” that the response was “drop more supers” as opposed to “we need to deploy a support fleet to neutralize their support fleet”, something I am sure PL could have done if that was the most efficient response.
What I am saying is not that I have a problem with the super being saved, more that the way it was saved seems dreadfully imbalanced even after such a well publicised attempt to make them less OMGWTFBBQ at everything and give them a more dedicated role (kill caps and structures).
But old news is old, they have been this way for a while and the current well meant changes failed so what can be done so they are still good for their intended role but not the answer to all situations in sufficient numbers?
So what’s the problem?
Well we can argue that the problem is tracking this and sig radius that, and I will touch on that shortly but I feel there are other sides to this as well, currently the only way to hold onto them and put them in peril is with bubbles and focussed points, and with enough supers you can currently clear all bubbles in fairly short order so even though they have nerfed there hit points it is difficult to keep fleet deployed supers held long enough to make use of it.
I found a super being silly, but it got away….
I feel a mechanic already in the game but only used minimally should be expanded. Currently some ships (blockade runners) have an improved warp strength which can be improved by (uurrrggghhh!) warp core stabs. This means that you need multiple points to successfully tackle the target. A few reading this have probably already guessed where this is going but bear with me.
Eve has scalable mechanics in place to handle the behaviour of different ship types and modules like warp strength (under utilized but apparently working), E war (jury is out on if this is working but that is for another time) tracking and sig radius(wow now there is a can of worms, for the record I think the mechanic works but individual sig radius’ and weapon res need a rebalance but that is my opinion). If we have solid scalable mechanics in place for most ship behaviour why do we have a class of ship that is just blanket immune? Why not give super caps a stat for warp strength, sensor strength etc, by all means make it really high but I do not feel that any ship should be immune to an entire part of eve mechanics and tactics. Hard to do definitely, improbable maybe but not impossible. It makes entire areas of tactical and strategic choice null and void.
For my example here I will use warp disruption as an example, I agree, no single rifter should be able to point a titan (I saw this extreme example given by Selene in his blog with the phrase “No. Because of No. “) and I agree, but a fleet of rifters?
Y’know I think just maybe they should be able to point it and lets not fool ourselves here, its unlikely even a fleet of rifters is likely to be able to kill a titan any time soon (though for the record if you have deployed your super capital without support and this happens I would say you deserve to loose it, but again just me). So let me just come out and say it.
I think supers should loose there e war immunity and be given an actual warp strength like the rest of eve. A high one to be sure (that will need some pretty hefty balancing on sisi) I don’t think this should or would end the need for bubbles, on the contrary I think bubbles should also be given a warp disruption strength if they haven’t already (I vaguely remember it being 6 in the past but I could be dreaming and infinite point should also be given a actual disrupt strength). Bubbles will always be useful as there is no other way of sticking an entire fleet in place, I just do not think they should be the only way to stick supers in place.
To me it seems consistent with the aims and spirit of recent changes, in particular these “spiffy” new tier 3 BC’s that were supposedly aimed at cap killing and cheap rapid deployment fleet dps (and not high sec ganking 😉 ). This one change may make them able in sufficient numbers with sufficient skills to tackle and hold tackle on a super long enough to put the super in jeopardy or for reinforcements to arrive with further tackle.
I caught the super, then his mates happened….
well bad luck! Eve is a social game, boo hoo for you and HTFU!
Or maybe not…..
If “his friends” were a well equipped sub capital fleet that wiped your tackling fleet out then I am sorry, you just got outplayed, learn from it, if however as happened in my example he got away because a handful of his buddies cyno’d in in ships that are supposedly designed to kill other capitals and structures but still successfully blapped your fleet into submission that to me seems unbalanced as well.
I am not talking about realism here, we already live in an age where a guided missile can fly right up to the door of a bunker from a continent away. Realism has little to no place in games unless the game in question is a simulation, if you want realism you already have it, its called RL and a job, they are generally tedious but necessary to pay for your leisure time.
What I want is game balance. The potential solution I give above may go some way to solving this issue simply by making the number of tacklers that need to be cleared larger and thus more difficult to clear but I think it needs to be twinned with upholding “the web of death” as I see it (as opposed to Disney’s “circle of life”) but what do I mean by that?
The “web of death”
Roughly speaking my belief is….
Support excel at killing other support fleets and in sufficient numbers will kill capitals but are poor at structures
Carriers excel at supporting (repping) support fleets, cap fleets and structures while adding a certain amount of dps, a force multiplier if you will but not a force in and of themselves. (try telling that to rooks and kings)
Dreads excel at killing structures and well lead in sufficient numbers will kill other capitals but are poor against support fleets.
I feel Super capitals should…
Excel at killing other capitals, in sufficient numbers kill structures and be poor against support fleets.
But currently they are more like
Excel at killing other capitals, Excel at killing structures and in sufficient numbers will kill support fleets.
This seems unbalanced to me I feel there weapons need to be rebalanced to make them more ineffective against support vessels, again the actual balance would need to be made carefully, but I truly believe it is not there yet.
But this is all take take take…..
Yes it is and I fully understand why super pilots feel entitled to there pwn mobiles as they are, they currently represent a long term investment of time and resources to train for and acquire and once you have them you are also largely stuck to them with a character which means you actually now have reduced use of that character, you have literally skilled yourself into a corner and into a ship that you may not potentially be able to use very often, stopping you from being able to play the game in extreme cases.
That from a game balance, business and just plane common sense point of view makes little or no sense, if we are to make super capitals roles more defined and the ships more vulnerable and eve more balanced it must be done with support to allow the players effected to adapt to the new necessities.
That means there need to be easier ways to allow these pilots to get out of there shiny ship and into the support ships they may now need to be in. If this means station add-ons to allow super capital docking or more options for storage at pos’s then this needs to be facilitated. A true and lasting balancing of ships cannot just be about what you take away but also what you add to the mix to make more tactics and stratagems viable. Give the player base the tools to work it out, then it is for them to adapt (or die).
I swear I am nearly finished….
While were on about super capital immunity, we need to remove the super cap immunity to all warfare, it seems crazy to me that they are just plane immune for the same reasons listed on my arguments about warp disruption, I do think any sensor strength should be high enough to make random jams improbable but it seems to me that again the current situation is reducing tactical choice needlessly, do I think e war against super fleets should be effective? Probably not but it should be possible if you plan for it sufficiently.
Currently the e war mechanic (particularly drones) is broken and needs work and rebalance
but again I feel we need to be given the tools (once balanced) and then left to adapt (or die).
Final Words
At the moment eve is suffering because not enough is being blown up at high level, which means those with super cap fleets just attract more super caps with little risk of losses, we need more opportunity for them to die to well planned attacks or more likely poorly planned use, and we need more strategies to be viable to keep eve combat vibrant and attractive to new players so the community can grow and I feel that means that some of our shiny end game toys have to die more regularly and easily to players that are newer but only if they are well coordinated. The fallout of more dead super caps and more risk will hopefully be a more considered approach to alliance and coalition level deployment where if you have a given number of pilots you have to decide on relative numbers and percentages of support, cap and super cap fleet deployed.
So there you have it, the opinion of a pilot you never heard of from an alliance you never heard of with a history your not interested, an opinion you may agree with or not but I ask you to consider my point of view and respond with your own structured thoughts from your own experience. I am honestly interested in the views of fleet pilots, fc’s and through to people who plan campaign strategies.
Finally…
No I will not be running for the CSM
As a final comment, no this isn’t me trying to get a platform together for csm7, I again refer you to the “unknown pilot in an unknown alliance” comment (yes this is my main 😉 ). I have absolutely no interest in running for the CSM personally though I could see this discussion used by those who are, lets make our thoughts known.