Archive for the ‘Out of Game’ Category

Pumpkins

October 31st, 2013
Out of Game

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My entry into this years Battleclinic Pumpkin Competition:

along side my Fiancee’s one (which is better imo)

Tablet eve 4G eddition (9 Months on)

Nine months ago I received my Windows 8 tablet (Acer Iconia W700) and immediately installed eve on it to test if I would be able to play. The result was my review of how eve played on a tablet and furthermore if it was a viable platform for playing games like eve “mobile”. The conclusion I came to then was that the tablet did successfully run eve, but that the touch interface was both aesthetically and technically challenging to use. Now that I have had the tablet for 9 months, I’ve decided to give an update on this, and discuss the honest usage I have gotten out of the tablet, and if my opinions on it for gaming (and eve in particular) have changed.

Let’s start with the broader stroke of windows gaming and the touch interface. A lot of games quite simply are not designed to be used with a tablet. Almost all of the games I own on steam either don’t work with a touch interface (requiring two pokes to click, similar to eve), or require more than just a left mouse Button to play. Some, such as Civilisation V and don’t starve work just fine out of the box, others are tolerable such as Revenge of the Titans or The Walking dead. Some require a keyboard and mouse such as Kerbal space program. Because of this I have purchased a Microsoft Wedge Keyboard and Arc Touch mouse (IMO the best travel kit on the market at the moment, despite the mouse taking up my one USB slot)

[Edit: during the process of editing this document the small USB dongle which connects to the Arc Mouse received a bump and has subsequently stopped working. This is a great pity as apart from the silly Wifi dongle the mouse is pretty much a perfect travel mouse. However because it used up an entire USB port, and now its discovered weakness (destruction of a 50p dongle ruins an otherwise working £50 mouse), I can’t say that I will be purchasing a second one).]

With these connected the tablet works just like a laptop would, but with more flexibility for where you place your K/M on the crowded commuter trains mine sees its most usage on. In the near future there is some software coming out which looks set to change this: Gameplay Gesture Works, but we shall reserve judgement on that for when its released.

This said, I rarely play steam games on the move these days, preferring to peruse my extensive list of RSS feeds on the go using NextGen Reader. This is where the windows tablets flexibility kicks in, on the train I tend to use it much like an android tablet, reading articles, perusing reddit, or playing the odd game from the Windows Store. But when it arrives at work the workout begins. Firstly I have several OneNote folders set up for various needs in the business, along with a good handful of Spreadsheets and Word documents. In customer requirements meetings, I can hook into the intranet and demo functionality, or remote onto my virtual development box and make minor changes to my code. When lunch time rolls around, I fire up eve and pop online to update my buy and sell orders, as well as organise my PI structure. Because the corporate network blocks eve, this is done over a Galaxy S4 configured as a portable 4G hotspot, it takes seconds to turn on and off, and the speed is plenty fast enough for eve, and I’m yet to have any connection issues.

Once my eve time is finished I boot up steam and spend a 20 mins or so in my current lunch hour game. This ranges from things like System Shock 2, through Mirrors edge all the way up into Skyrim. Lunchtime over its back to the grind, until I get home. There the tablet is hooked up as a 5th screen for the computer using Synergy. Here it gets used for stats tracking, or as a map for my roams in Faction warfare (using Dotlan’s Radar function).

For any one especially interested in playing eve over a 3/4G connections I can tell you that it uses far less data then you might expect. I found that is uses around 0.3mb per minute of light play (defined as flying about in a hauler, updating the market and doing PI, all in a relatively quiet system). I’m not sure I would want to attend fleets on it, or do anything of high-risk, but that is more my healthy paranoia of allowing technology to factor into the risk reward ratio of eve than any instability record. If there were a move op say when I was out of the house, I would certainly consider moving using the tablet.

So is it perfect? Simple answer is no. For a start I would like to see a tablet with a proper graphics card in it. Also if I were buying again right now, I would want a tablet with a Wacom Bamboo pen as an input option (taking notes at work would be quicker). Furthermore I am very surprised that very few tablets have a built in 3/4G modem which I could slot my sim into for mobile internet, but this is something I hope will be fixed with the next generation.

Despite these minor issues, I am still immensely pleased with this tablet, and it gets a great amount of use every day.

Fly a spaceship, in a plane,

Hark

Intent and the letter

This post is a bit of a ramble and quite a long way out of current Flame of the Month topics. I’m not a huge fan of jumping directly into hot topics which are generating flames. I prefer to wait until the embers die down because only then can you see the heart of the issue. I believe that this leads to a better view of the heart of the issue, certainly in the long term.

 

Back when I used to Dungeon Master for a Tiny and short lived D&D group the concept of “The Intent and the Letter” was very important to me. You see, like every D&D group we had “that guy”. That guy was always trying to subvert his way around the campaign rules, to bend everything to his advantage, he strictly followed the letter of the law, but blindly ignored its intent.

 

At Fanfest 2013 Myself Arian and Lore played the Conquests board game. During the game, myself and Arian got caught up in a cold war of troop escalation on a massive scale. As a result of our border posturing, Lore began to run away with the game. To try and counteract this myself and Arian forged a temporary Alliance. The terms were simple: We agreed not to directly attack each other, and that no further troops would be placed into any system which bordered the others territory. During the following few years of the game, myself and Arian began steamrolling through Lore’s territories attempting to stop him from finding the last piece needed for victory (we ultimately failed in this). However during the process I, without thinking, placed a large number of troops in a region; with the intent of attacking the bordering region belonging to Lore. Strictly I had broken the terms of my Alliance with Arian, as the region also bordered one of his. Lore noticed this breach and pointed it out. However Arian, clearly seeing my intent elected to excuse this breach of contract and the Treaties held strong. I had broken the letter of the law, but the not the Intent.

 

These are simple small scale examples of how the Intent and the Letter differ from each other in terms of Rules and regulations. They are clear and concise in a way that large scale real world examples are not. Suppose during that game we had been, instead of people, a committee. Suppose that the game actually took a few years to play, and that during that time old members of the comities left the game, and new ones joined. Would I still have been excused my breach?

 

At this stage I am sure you have realised that this post is about the TOS changes made to eve a little while back. I don’t necessarily have any issues with the actions of CCP during this minor controversy, but I do have issue with a continuing pattern concerning the rules of this game. CCP seems to have been writing the rule of the law, but telling us that we should not worry about breaking it so long as we follow its intent. A prime example of this is the “cache scraping” rules. “Technically”,  CCP says “Cache scraping is against the TOS. But don’t worry we won’t do anything unless you do something really bad”. To me this is a terrible way to write rules. How can we the players define what really bad is? Clearly botting is on that list, clearly (for now) eve central is not. But the line in the middle is as clear a mud. Indeed I doubt that even CCP knows where that line lies, until some unfortunate player crosses it. Furthermore, how do we know that in five years’ time CCP won’t be under the steer of different people, who suddenly will hand out ban to previously “innocent” users of cache scraping, pointing at the rules and saying “we made it clear from the start!”?

 

“You see that apple?” says god “The rules of this garden are that you do not eat that apple. But actually if you eat it for a good reasons, that’s ok. I mean, if you run out of food or something, you can totally eat that apple (as long as you do it in a good way), and I probably won’t do anything, although I might change my mind at some point on this one…”

 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is some kind of conspiracy to subvert eve into a soft play venue, if CCP wanted to do that, they wouldn’t need to be subtle about it. Let us not forget that letter or Intent notwithstanding, CCP has the same power over eve that a dictator holds over their citizens. The law is laid down to help the people know down which path survival lays, but if the man with the moustache decides you’re for the chop, no rule book will save you.

 

My worry is that CCP is accidentally laying a path that will in the future lead to hell: funnily enough I believe that CCPs use of intent rather than letter is pure (or atleast innocent). I suspect that they simply don’t know any better way to deal with “grey” activities in the game, and so have elected to use intent as a way to govern on a case by case basis. Intent however is not solid enough to stand the tides of time. So my issue stands on two fronts: firstly that verbal contracts are not worth the paper they are written on (yes CCP has assured us in writing on the forums, but you have to wonder why they haven’t just what’s on the forums in the TOS? Legal wording not withstanding). Because the assurance is unofficial, and not in a clear format, it will lose value over time.

 

Secondly, I believe that the TOS, just as with real law, should give the people it controls a clear definition of right and wrong. It should be designed to deal with 99% of cases, and then intent should be used to govern the 1% which fall in the grey area. This way everyone knows where they stand. Unfortunately, the cache scraping change (and shortly I suspect the impersonation changes) govern 80-90% by the intent, and 10-20% by the letter. If tomorrow I were to come up with an ingenious method of using Cache scraping to make Trillions of ISK, without automating my play, where would that fall? Ask 10 players and get 10 answers, ask 10 GMs and get 10 answers. The dice rolls.

 

Fly like a space lawyer

 

Hark

The August Blues

Another month rolls by and yet again my in-game participation has reached a new low. With only 24 hours of gaming time registered this last month, and minimal amounts of that invested in eve. Believe me when I say that this is not a reflection of my attitude towards eve, I am chomping at the bit for some in game action. Considering that I was away for a week of this month on holiday, and just before that got engaged, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of game time.

 

So what have I gotten up to? Well at the start of the month I jumped into my carrier for two flash opps, both of which turned out to be Blue balls, pretty much a colossal waste of 40k of Isotopes, but hey, it’s on the companies money right? Since then we returned to our traditional low sec home, and then onwards to the fights happening down in Delve and Querious. Sadly the second move happened on the same day I was flying to the Czech republic. As the indication was that the deployment was only for a week (which was the same length as my holiday), I decided on my return to stay in lowsec and await the next deployment. Typically that was a week ago, and there is still no sign of the return. Pretty soon I will just bite the bullet and move our solo, no doubt just in time for the move opp back to be posted *sigh*.

 

The trader has been my busiest character this month as I would really like to increase my personal wealth to the point where buy I could purchase a Super Carrier (not that does not in any way incline that I want to, just that it’s a good frame of reference to work buy). I am allready Space Middleclass bordering upper-middle class if you include all my non-reselling commodities (i.e. ships I fly). However I would like to solidify my position in the Upper Middle with liquid assets only. This means raising More cash per day, and this spending more time on my trader and industrial characters. So far I estimate that my average day across all of my accounts I estimate that I earn around 60m per day meaning that at the moment, it will take me around 2 years to reach my goal. I am hoping that my rapidly maturing Industry character might go some way to shortening that projection.

 

This also been a good month for starting long term plans, with an alt starting the long train towards a jump freighter, and another running for a dread sitting alt. My mains skill plan however has been derailed twice and moved about once. The first change of plans was because of my poor fleet attendance. Previously while hanging out in lowsec (and indeed on deployment), there have been a short tonne of BLOPS fleets, so far to shear cost of the things (and the fact they are not covered by SRP) have put me off investing. However a few weeks ago, in a fit of desperation I decided to bite the bullet, in the hopes it might increase my chance of actually getting on an opp in my short periods of “online”. The second disruption was for Informorph Syncronizing, a dreaded Charisma skill, which will allow me to spend more time in a +5 clone while I am at work. The final rejigger was simply reprioritising skills which might help with future doctrines.

 

In Dirties news, Arian has started investigating Live Streaming, and we hope to be bringing you some streams of Dirties Drunken Roams in the near future. But were still ironing out some of the details for that one. Needless to say I might actually need to have some playtime for that, but then next month doesn’t look quite as bad as the last one. Here is hoping any way.

 

Fly whenever you can,

 

Hark

 

 

May you live in Intresting Times

I’ve been on a little bit of a break of late from blogging. Funnily enough, it’s not the writing which has burnt me out (or the playing of eve), but instead the issues I am having with site speed and spam. The site is pretty close to where I want it to be at the moment look and feel wise, and the code is neat and tidy, scoring well on site speed tests. However despite this it seems to occasionally take an inordinate amount of time to load and that drive me crazy. All of my non eve playing free time went something like this:

  • Contact the host to ask why the site is slow
  • Host says its not slow
  • I explain it isn’t slow right now, but 5 minuet ago (when I was in the queue for support) it was.
  • Host points me at an optimisation guide
  • I politely thank them and disconnect
  • I follow the optimisation guide
  • The site is still slow
  • I contact support
  • Repeat ad nauseum

 

Couple that with the 5-10 spam comments we get per day which have to be manually marked and discarded (that better than it was at 10-30 per day) and you get blog burn out. After a few weeks solid of this just looking at the blog frankly depressed me. So I stopped. Sorry about that. To the few of you who have stuck around despite the sites slowness and my lack of posting: thanks, and I will improve, I promise. Life is still pretty busy for me, so I can’t promise an immediate turn around, but I will turn it around eventually.

 

Anyway nobody comes to an eve blog site to read about issues with blogs, so let’s talk a little about eve. Its been an oddly mixed month this month, with the Legion mostly on hold for the Tournament (that last match had me and my  fiancée the edge of our seats!). We did however launch on two campaigns one to defend our space and one to attack the former IRC alliance. Both of these attacks turned out to be the most boring deployments in my Nullsec career. First deploying to defend against the Solar Menace (who fucked off as soon as we turned up), then deploying to Cobalt Edge to fight with Rogue alliance who fucked off before we turned up. What the fun of kicking down sandcastles when all the kids have gone home? As Poetic Stanziel correctly points out, this hasn’t exactly been the most challenging deployment ever. As a result there have been literally no fleets for days, and a lot of the Legion who are not involved in uncontested structure grinds, or the tournament have been shacking up with Waffles to pass the time. Sadly this idea was only put to me a few days ago, just as we are (hopefully) kicking into gear again (just as I am about to go on holiday sigh). Still I managed to get a clone down to Waffle Space yesterday so no matter what I will be getting in on some fights in the coming month. I’ve also purchased a ridiculously expensive BLOPs with which to join in on fishing fleets, needless to say although I could replace it should I lose it, I don’t think I will be.

 

Outside of the Legion I have been a busy sole within eve, further expanding my PI empire to churn out 300m per month from the safety of empire. I have also been nurturing a new Industry toon so that I can experiment with making money through manufacturing, invention and research. So far it hasn’t exactly been a very profitable experience, but it has been a very interesting one. Certainly exploring manufacturing (which I have never done before) is rather like going back to being a newbi in eve. The mistakes I am making are certainly n00b errors (fyi cancelling a manufacturing job before it starts because you selected the wrong slot loses you all the minerals you shovelled in…). I am really enjoying the experience, but I am struggling to see where the profits are in building things. Certainly they must exist, because New Eden has no NPC manufacturers, yet wherever I look my best possible prices are too high. Is it just that miners don’t consider mineral costs and sell produce to low? Is it that a few people are making billions through PBO’s researched to perfection over years? Or am I just missing something in my calculations? Who knows, but I am having fun finding out. Certainly, you can expect to hear more about my manufacturing experiments in the near future.

 

Certainly I am very excited about Odyssey 1.1, and for the upcoming announcement on the Winter Expansion at Gamescon on the 24th. Once again my fingers are crossed for an iteration cycle on Sov.

 

Expect to see more posts from me soon, and one way or another I will get this site operating to my standards.

A month on the Tiles

I have to admit that this is going to be an interesting monthly update to write. This is because quite simply, I am having trouble remembering the first half of this month. Unfortunately this is not because of some alcohol induced coma, but instead because I have been so busy out of game, I just can’t remember that much of what I’ve been up to. P.s. a tip for anyone thinking of tiling a kitchen floor themselves: don’t.

 

That said I clearly have been playing games, with my raptor account scoring 140 hours played this month (an average of 5 hours per day). If I am honest through, that’s a dramatically inflated number, as I have been using my Tablet to run games in the background while I am at work; steam badge collection, for the use of. I think it’s fair enough to say that a good 20-40 hours of that time is this background running. Of that inflated 140 hours of games, I have managed to rack up 40 hours of eve, and 73 kills across all my accounts (working out at just under two kills an hour average).

 

I also had the great pleasure of a weeklong visit from fellow dirties members Arian Blade and a weekend visit from Lore Solo. We took the opportunity to run some awesome group roams thought faction warfare experimenting with some crazy fun frigate fits. We are going to try and expand these roams, and make them a regular feature. Who knows, maybe you’ll see some reports on here of what we get up to at some point.

 

In-between laying tiles, I have been enjoying a lot of Dust, especially working on the triple XP event over the last weekend. I’ve had a great time overall, but I am still severally disappointed by the low level of investment I’ve been able to make. I have also developed a distinct hatred of Death Taxies, to the point where by I just won’t talk about them in this update for fear of a fevered rant. Needless to say I find them… aggravating.

 

Back on the eve front, the Dirties group has also been experimenting with some new ways of working together to make money. So far things are looking positive, with us making a few Hundred Million for just a few hours’ work. To me its highlighted once again just how much eve makes us invest in our accounts and characters. Although this new plan is in its infant stages, eventually it is going to require some skill training before we can take it to the next level. I have always been one of life’s “planners”, and eve tickles that itch like nothing else. Spending time planning something which is going to take a few months, then walking it through the stages, to perfection… It’s a feel good factor for me. Mind you, you may have already gathered that from my Attribute optimisation post. Anyway, well see if we can talk about those plans at a later date, for now it’s all opsec and jazz.

 

Site wise I have also been doing some *fun* changes. If you visited over the last few days, you might have noticed that the site has been changing its clothes more than a Eurovision song Contest host. I wish it were for good reasons, but recently I have been un able to ignore the extremely slow load times (please tell me it’s not in my mind, and that readers are getting this as well). So far I think I have narrowed it down to just a few possibilities, and the site is currently running in “Cut down” mode, so that I can test my theories. Sadly being the main contributor to this site, and also being its sole administrator does mean that I sometimes have to pick between writing new content for you guys to read, and updating/optimising and generally administrating this site. Sadly that has resulted in a slowdown of posts in the last few weeks. We’ll just have to hope this is still just the initial overhead to get this site running on its own.

 

Anyway, I’m back to trying to get more fleets again, as I have been lacking in my destruction duties for the last couple of weeks. I doubt that ill manage that to any serious capacity until I have finished my work in the kitchen.

 

Fly with sore knees,

 

Hark

eveblogs: The hero we need or the hero we deserve?

Yesterday (02/07/2013) eveblogs.net opened its doors to the community as the new hub for eve blogs.  Eveblogs is a blogging platform similar to what evepress used to be, allowing users to host blogs and blog feeds all under one roof.

 

I think it’s a great idea to create a centralised feed of blogs (ala evebloggers) I also think it’s a good idea to create community features for that nexus such as forums, groups and categories . All of these are brilliant ways to strengthen a community, and encourage cross group discussions. Brilliant, I hope it goes well.

 

However, one sure way to not help a community to come together, is to divide it from the start. Eveblogs, has decided to make a clear and precise divide between “internal” and “external” blogs. Internal blogs being ones created as a subdomain of eveblogs.net, and external being sites like this, which can feed their content through eveblogs.net such as www.eveblogs.net/tours/. I believe that Alexia has pure intentions building this service, but I feel the effort might end up hurting those it sets out to help (more on this in the next paragraph). You can’t work to bring a community together by slapping “insider” and “outsider” labels on people and treating them differently. It is true that Alexia (the sites owner) has posted on the internal forums that this subdivision will be removed and I truly hope it happens.

 

There is also the small matter of the disadvantage to the bloggers themselves. Writing and maintaining a blog is hard work. Thankfully CCP is one of the few companies who recognises this and, reward bloggers us with an excellent fansite program. My gut feeling is that sub sites to eveblogs will not be eligible to become fan sites, much in the same way that off the three writers here, only I receive the fansite bonus (don’t worry I reimburse my heroic writing friends). This is going to come across as a direct attack on eveblogs (which it is not intended as), but anyone who registers to blog with them, as opposed to another free service such as blogger, or wordpress is a fool, who will likely loss out on all the rewards of being an eve fansite. I will retract that statement as soon as I see evidence that CCP will treat each sub blog of eveblogs as its own fansite. I doubt this will ever be the case because www.eveblogs.net/tours is just as different from www.eveblogs.net/extrv as www.extra-vehicular.com/author/Harkconnan and www.extra-vehicular.com/author/arian-blade.

 

 

Despite these harsh words, I still support Alexia in the effort, I love the idea of a Reddit style “Hot Post” list (where popular posts rise to the top of the list). I love the idea of a blog community nexus where people can comment and contribute in a central location. I really hope that this effort takes this somewhat rough launch review on the nose, and rises from the ashes into a new pillar of our community. I do however feel that Alexia might be a little misguided: we don’t need someone to create a community, we already have one, a very strong one in fact. What we could use is someone who is willing to expend effort to enhance that community, and to give it tools to get even strong. Eveblogs could just be that tool.

You say goodbye, and I say hello

Ok fair warning here, this post contains a lot of numbers and statistics. You know what they say about statistics right? This is all purely my own opinion (as always), and despite having numbers nothing in this post is concrete, just opinion. So with that out of the way, let’s go.

One of the most surprisingly interesting lectures at Fanfest was the “Retribution Roundup”. As a member of a (very small) SCRUM team, and having done extensive training in SCRUM with Microsoft, I found CCP a very interesting case study of SCRUM and its application within business. But that’s not what this is about. No today I want to try to dissect and extrapolate some of the numbers we got told during this presentation and apply them to another source of opinion.

Why? Retribution is a very important expansion, because it is, in CCP’s opinion (and in terms of numbers), the most successful expansion for eve yet. This means that in the near future, CCP are going to be working to replicate and refine the recipe which produced Retribution, to replicate its success in future expansion planning. Thus by looking at what made up Retribution, we can see what broad categories we might find in future expansions (and this does match with odyssey).

We know from the Roundup slides that retribution contained ~1500 Story points (~1700 minus ~ 200 which never made it to release). We also know how many story points each of the major parts of the expansion took:

  1. Combat overlay 95 points
  2. New ships 118 points
  3. Bounty hunting (main feature) 134 points
  4. Ship Balancing 154 points
  5. Crime watch system 264 points

Which adds up 765 SP leaving 725 for all the other features (labelled as 6. in the rest of this post). Now SP doesn’t equate directly to the size or value of the product, but instead to the amount of effort put into it. If we categories the sections we come out with the following:

  • ~6% of effort will go into UI improvements
  • ~8% of effort will go into New Ships
  • ~9% of effort will go into revamping old professions (or main features)
  • ~18% of effort will go into revamping old code
  • ~10% of effort will go into ship rebalancing
  • ~49% of effort will go into all other minor features
wtf?

wtf?

But that’s just effort, and only shows what CCP could be working on (effort), and not what we will see as players (value). It’s also true that CCP might be measuring the recipe using perceived value rather than the effort it took.

So let’s extract that for a second, using the CSM 7 development strategy as a basis for valuation. In this report the CSM defined features as a balance of Shiny vs. Iteration (new vs. repair). So let’s define the retribution features the same (again this is my opinion) using the same numbers/order as I did in my first list:

  1. 80% Iterative 20% Shine
  2. 100% Shine
  3. 80% Iterative 20% Shine
  4. 100% Iterative
  5. 100% Iterative
  6. 58% Iterative 42% Shine

This gives the whole release a balance of 70% Iterative and 30% Shine. This figure can be used to compare the CSM’s advice to CCP’s current “recipe”. This requires further extrapolation, taking CSM7’s definition of players (and their wants  in terms of a Shine to Iteration ratio as defined in the document:

  • Potentials — people who have never or only briefly subscribed. (90% Shiny, 10% Iteration)
  • Newbies — players with less than a year in the game. (70% Shiny, 30% Iteration)
  • Veterans — players with more than a year in the game. (10% Shiny, 90% Iteration)
  • Bittervets — unsubscribed veterans. (50% Shiny, 50% Iteration)

Just using this would assume that CSM7 believed there are equal numbers of each type of players, which obviously there are not. So instead, to get an idea of the ratio which CSM7 believes the player base consists of (or at least how much we should pander to each), we can look at the next section of the document. In this CSM7 define 5 pillars of an expansion, which are tailored to each placate at least two of the previously defined categories of players.

So here is what we do: take each player group and their ratio of Shiny to Iteration, times their ratio by the number of times they are a benefactor of a pillar. Next add all of these ratios together and bring them back down to a % ratio. I won’t say that this is CSM7’s recommendation of what an expansion should contain (that would be putting words in their mouths), but I will say this is what I perceive as CSM7’s recommendation:

58% Iteration to 42% Shiny, a pretty even balance leaning slightly towards the veteran player (just like the CSM’s past and present :P). Interestingly CCP in Retribution has leaned even further towards the veteran player with the Retribution ratio of 70% Iteration and 30% Shiny.

So how does this match up to Odyssey then? Well I went through the bullet points listed on the Odyssey home page and gave them the same treatment, I came up the expansion ratio of 37% Iteration to 63% Shiny (which explains why Odyssey doesn’t blow my socks off). Quite a difference, and leaning this time towards the Newer and Potential players. How about if we consider the balance over the full year (i.e. the 12 month cycle the CSM referred too, albeit expecting more linking the two expansions together)… ok, quick time out here. I am doing all these sums in excel as I write this. I have not doctored these numbers, nor did I ever expect to get this result. I write this on the second to final edit run, and I am somewhat stunned:

If you take the last 12 months’ worth of expansions (Retribution & Odyssey), and look at my opinion of features released Shininess vs. Iteration using the methods described above you get: 58% Iteration to 42% Shiny… Exactly what I read the CSM’s recommended release balance to be.

Is it fair to consider the expansions together? Has CCP mixed up the recipe? Are they doing one expansion for vets and one for newbies? Am I talking out of my arse? Was CCP still trying to make it up to the Veteran players in Retribution for Incarna? Should we expect more New/Potential Player Expansions? All this and more, left for your too decided.

What do you think?

Fly like Disraeli,

Hark

EVE: Conquests (EVE the board game)

20130527_173843

It was the first day of Fan Fest 2013, we had just finished collecting our passes and picking our Quafe t-shirts when Hark runs off like a kid who’s had too much candy, he had spotted “EVE: Conquests” in the store. Hark has wanted “EVE: Conquests” for a long time, but due to the fact that if he had bought it from the “EVE Online” store it would have cost him more in shipping than to buy the game itself, he had restrained himself. So before fanfest had even ended, we found ourselves in a hotel room giving the game ago. As many of you will have seen the game set up in the “Games Hall” at fanfest: I would like to tell you a little something about the game:

EBG

EVE: Conquests is a strategy board game for 2-4 players set in the EVE Universe (It reminds me of “Risk: the game of global domination”), where the board is made up from regions in EVE Online connected together in the same way they are in game, the players choose to play as one of the four main races in EVE, as you should all well know they are the; Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, and Minmatar (We will skip over the fact that there’s a fifth race in EVE online, the Jove as it’s not in the board game)

In EVE: Conquests you can set the winning conditions for the game so as to try to control how long the game will last, but going by the few time we played the games will last around 2-3 hours when you know how to play, here’s the kicker though “knowing how to play”. The rulebook is a bit complicated; some say so complicated you need a PhD in rule book reading to understand it. But once you have figured it out the game is good fun, I shall try to summarise how to play.

First you pick your race (doesn’t make a difference which apart from preference) and you choose where to place your “HQ” station, this location can not be taken by any other player, you can then lay down 5 or 6 “unit tokens” (Not to be confused with Agent tokens, which are the same item placed in an enemies region!).

These can only be placed in a region which you currently neighbour). Don’t confuse Unit Tokens with Agent tokens, they are the same physical item, but a token in your territory is a Unit Token, but a token in enemy territory is an “Agent Token” (Did I mention the PhD?). To build an “Outpost” you have to control the region and have a token (agent or Unit) in all joining systems (outposts are very important, but we’ll get onto them next).

Once you have a unit or an agent in all region connected to the one you plan on building an outpost in you now have to pick which type of outpost you wish to build, Logistics, Development or Production; and receive the equivalent resource token.

EBG turnsEBG Calendar

I should point out that the game does not follow a linear turn based rotation, oh no nothing that simple for EVE! Turns are decided by a calendar, on which each player has a Logistics, Development and production marker. Each of these Markers represents a different type of turn for the player, which when completed moves further around the calendar (an amount based on how upgraded the “resource” has been by the player using points resource tokens gained by building outposts).

This means that depending on how you upgrade your turns, you can sometimes get 3 “goes” in a row and then have to wait ages for your next turn or have each one of your turns spread out amongst the other players turns. This can also get tactical as you attempt to co-ordinate your defences and counter attacks with the optimal gaps in your opponent’s turns. During these turns you are can do different types of actions. For example a development turn will let you capture a new region or place an agent in enemy territory. Where as a production turn allows you to build units.

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As with EVE online you can fight over the control of the regions (albeit in the 4 main factions rather than the Capsular ones). These fights are determined by dice roll and the number of dice each player has is relates to the number of units each player has in the attacking and defending region, so if player 1 has 5 Units and player 2 has 4 Units they get a dice for each unit they have. There are three types of dice; attack, defence and tactics. Attack and defence are fairly self-explanatory (damage and mitigation) but tactics dice are a bit more interesting, they can be counted as either attack or defence depending on the player choice, so depending on the roll he might need more defence to protect his units or more attack to kill enemy units. To Offset this flexibility you will never get as many points on the dice using tactics as opposed to a dedicated defence or attack Dice. Attack dice are a d10 with Three Blanks, Three 1s, three 2s and a single 3 pointer. Defence Dice are d10’s with four Blanks, three 1’s and three 2’s. Tactics are also d10’s, but have five blanks, four 1’s and a single 2. To initiate an attack, the player must declare where is his attacking from and two (which must be adjacent regions), count up the Unit Tokens for each and decided on their dice.

However EVE wouldn’t be EVE without spy roll he might need more defence to protect his units or more attack to kill enemy units. To Offset this flexibility you will never get as many points on the dice using tactics as opposed to a dedicated defence or attack Dice. Attack dice are a d10 with Three Blanks, Three 1s, three 2s and a single 3 pointer. Defence Dice are d10’s with four Blanks, three 1’s and three 2’s. Tactics are also d10’s, but have five blanks, four 1’s and a single 2. To initiate an attack, the player must declare where is his attacking from and two (which must be adjacent regions), count up the Unit Tokens for each and decided on their dice.

Hark and Arian having a discussion on who will win the Amarr or the Minmatar, little did they know it was going to be Lore and the Caldari

Hark and Arian having a discussion on who will win the Amarr or the Minmatar, little did they know it was going to be Lore and the Caldari

As the final twist of complication in combat, players can use cards purchased with their Logistics turns to manipulate the outcome.’s and metagaming, so the player with the most agents in the enemies region picks his dice second, and can ask the other player either “how many attack dice are you going to use?”, “how many defence dice are you going to use?” or “how many tactical’s dice are you going to use?”. Giving him the chance to adjust his dice to counter his opponent. Every fleet needs a scout.

Now we get on to how to win the game, as I said at the start of the post you can set the winning conditions (I can’t remember all of them), the main way to win is to get points from capturing certain regions which are determined by 9 cards set up in a 3×3 grid; representing  a slice of the galaxy. Only 7 of the cards are showing at any one time and are captured by building an outpost on two of the indicated regions, in either a single row or column (represented by numbers and letters . you get the points shown on the two cards you capture towards your victory points total.

If you have managed to follow and understand that rambling and brief explanation of EVE: Conquests you are doing very well indeed. Certainly it took us a lot longer to get this far, and there are far more nuances and fringe case rules to learn yet. The game is fantastic and although it is complicated, it benefits from the complication rather than suffering it. Once your group has gotten the hang of it, it certainly provides a lot of interesting situations and tactics.

Hark looking longingly at the rule book hoping it would become more understandable

Hark looking longingly at the rule book hoping it would become more understandable