Life in EvE: A Funny Way to Say Hello

Another virtual screen snapped to life in front of me, automatically arranging itself among the flickering three dimensional headshots of Em, Dirk, CB, and the pilot we'd started calling Geed.

"Guys," Geed said, "This is Zen."

"Hi... umm..." the new pilot's eyes tracked left, right, up and down, taking in our images on his own in-pod display. "What's... going on?"

I grinned. "Let me get you up to speed, Zen." I pointed at one of the other displays. "About an hour ago, Em and Geed had a bit of a tussle."

"A... tussle."

"With bullets and missiles and explosions," I explained, "which is kind of how we say hello out here, I guess." I smiled. "Once that was done, they started talking."

"As you do," Em said.

"You do?" Zen asked.

Dirk shrugged. "Sometimes."

"Anyway," I continued, "we've been mostly swapping stories and explaining how things work in the war zone -- the missions and objectives and such -- we're part of the Tribal Liberation Force. Geed seemed pretty keen on the whole thing and he mentioned his friend might be as well."

"Meaning you," Geed muttered.

"Nice." Zen hesitated. "Does that mean you need to blow up one of my ships too?"

"Not today."

"Excellent." His face went deadpan. "When it comes time, maybe just shoot Geed again. He likes it."

"Well," Em murmured. "He came in looking for a fight, and stuck it out. That's definitely what you need out here. I kind of overthink it sometimes."

"I just shoot what they tell me," Dirk added, as unnervingly cheerful as always.

"That's an approach I understand," Zen said. "Not sure I get how the whole war zone thing actually works, but I make a pretty good blunt instrument."

"There's some good folks in our alliance," Em said. "They like explaining everything." His eyes flickered my direction. "Especially Ty."

"Especially me," I agreed. "You can hardly shut me up."

Veteran combat pilots, ready to share their knowledge and experience.

"So..." Zen glanced in Geed's basic direction. "I take you guys have been talking about us joining you?"

"A bit," I admitted, aware that surprise news could easily shut down his interest.

"I've been reading their recruitment page," Geed added.

Em's eyebrow rose. "We have one of those?"

"Yes." I managed an affronted expression. "We absolutely do. It part of my job as the... person who does things like that."


"Right. That." I tipped my head, frowning, then turned to Geed. "... what's it say again?"

Geed's eyes tracked left to right, below the line of his display. "It says you're gonna punch me."

"OH! Now I -- well, hold on." I squinted, remembering the CONCORD form I'd had to fill out. "I doesn't say that exactly."

"'Our recruitment policy:'" Geed read aloud, "'Only trust people you can physically punch.'"

"Right," I said. "And we can't physically punch you, so we won't entirely trust you."

"I don't even trust Ty," CB muttered, "and I've known him twenty years."

"Exactly." I grinned, turning back to Geed. "But that doesn't mean we can't shoot some Amarr together."

So... yeah. It appears we're recruiting a little bit. Merry Christmas.

Time for a roam.


Life in EvE: "I'm not a Pirate."

A few nights ago, members of the militia had banded together to work on retaking an Amarr-held system in the warzone. This was a pretty big undertaking, and to pull it off in a relatively short timeframe required round the clock participation; it wouldn't be enough for our US-timezone-heavy alliance to do it, because any Amarr active in EU and Aussie areas would just undo our work.

So the fleet is a mix of lots of different corps and alliances, with lots of different countries represented. It's fair to say we all have a slightly different way of looking at how life in the warzone works.

This eventually led to an enlightening conversation.

As we're capturing yet another complex in the enemy system, recon reported a fairly good-sized fleet coming in, but they aren't Amarr -- it's a gang of pilots under the Ivy League banner -- graduates of Eve University who like to slum out in low- and null-sec space from time to time.

Sure enough, they headed for the complex, jumped in, and started shooting. I'm left with a bit of a problem.

None of them were viable targets for me.

They weren't outlaws, they weren't in faction warfare, we don't have a secondary war declared with them, and they haven't suddenly been flagged as criminals or "suspects" for engaging our fleet, because they're only shooting those pilots on the field who are outlaws and, thus, legal targets for the technically law-abiding Ivy Leaguers.

Luckily, two things happened: first, the support ships in the Ivy League fleet started repairing their fleet mates, which flagged them as part of a legal 'limited engagement' that I'm somehow part of and, second, our fleet commander called those same pilots our primary targets. It's like two great tastes that explode when put together.

Long story short, we stomp the other fleet pretty handily. Go us.

Later, I commented that for those of us in the fleet who actually care about our security status, it's handy -- if a bit silly -- that the guys supporting the enemy fleet became viable targets for repairing the combatants, even if the combatants themselves never did.

"Just shoot everyone," says the FC. "If you're living in Low-sec space and you aren't an outlaw, you're doing it wrong."

"I'm fighting a war," I replied. "I'm not a fucking pirate."

So... What Can You Shoot, You Pansy?

One of the things that was added in the most recent expansion was the idea of a "Safety" that, like a gun safety, generally keeps you from doing anything that's too terribly stupid without a bit of forethought. The basic settings for the safety are:

  • Green: The game won't let you do anything that would cause you to be flagged Suspect, which in turn lets anyone at all in the game legally shoot at you until the flag wears off in 15 minutes. Not coincidentally, this safety setting also prevents many of the actions that lower your overall security standing.

  • Yellow: The game will let you do things that will flag you Suspect, but won't let you do anything that would flag you Criminal. This means you can do stuff that will allow player retaliation, but you won't pick up that flag that will cause CONCORD to instantly destroy you if you wander into High Security space with the flag active.

  • Red: You can do anything, anywhere, and damn the consequences.

It may surprise you to learn that you can (if you want) take part in Faction Warfare full-bore without ever switching your Safety off of green.1 That's how I've chosen to roll, most of the time.2 Here are a list of my viable targets:

War Targets (Faction War) - This one is kind of obvious. If the target is part of the opposing forces in the war, you can do whatever you like to each other. If it's gold and shiny, you are hereby encouraged to shoot it.
War Targets (Declared War) - This is more of a specialized thing, as it shows up for any member of a group for which your corp or alliance have a privately declared, CONCORD-approved war active. Otherwise, it's exactly the same as a faction warfare target.
Outlaws - This has nothing to do with wars of any kind -- the target simply has such a bad security rating that any and all pilots in New Eden are encouraged to make them explode, and may do so wherever they like.
Criminals - This may seem a bit redundant with Outlaw, but the distinction is important: An Outlaw's standing makes them a perpetual target, while someone with a Criminal flag has earned it due to a specific action, and the flag will drop off in 15 minutes or less. Pretty much the only thing in low-sec that will give you a Criminal flag is destroying the pod of a non-wartarget.
Suspects - Like the Criminal flag, a Suspect flag has earned it due to a specific action, and the flag will drop off in 15 minutes or less. Unlike the Criminal flag, there are quite a lot of actions in Low-sec that will give you this flag -- the short list includes attacking non-wartarget ships (not pods) and looting containers or wrecks owned by someone else. This is useful to law-abiding Faction Warfare guys if some non-Outlaw neutral attacks some non-Outlaw militia member - you'll see the stranger pick up a Suspect flag, and know that he's become a viable target for retaliation.
Limited Engagement Participant - Of all the flags, this one is the most opaque to me, with the most obscure and possibly goofy mechanics. The basic idea is that it's supposed to allow you to shoot back when someone you wouldn't normally be able to attack starts shooting at you. It's also been set up to flag anyone who helps someone you're engaged with, such as someone repairing your opponent. If that were all that happened, it would be pretty simple, but what I'm seeing in practice is where the weirdness creeps in.

For instance: I'm in a fleet with Pilot A. Pilot Z (who normally isn't a legal target) shoots Pilot A. Pilot A is now in a limited engagement with Pilot Z, but I am not -- I still have no legal targets. Pilot Y starts repping Pilot Z, joins the limited engagement with Pilot A, and is also flagged as being in a limited engagement with me, even though I still can't legally shoot Pilot Z, and haven't done anything to help Pilot A.

I mean, I'm not complaining, because it gives me a legal target, but... what?
Kill Right Available - This is another slightly odd one. The pilot with this tag has, at some point in the past, done something that has given another pilot "kill rights" on that pilot. Typically, this means they either blew up a ship or pod in high-sec, or killed a pilot's pod in low-sec. Kill rights mean that if you get on the same combat grid as that pilot, you can 'activate' the the kill right, which makes that pilot a legal target for anyone for the next fifteen minutes -- kill rights now basically deputize the victim pilot for the purpose of dishing out single-serve retribution. In turn, the "kill right available" flag shows up because the pilot who 'owns' kill rights has made them publicly available -- meaning anyone can activate them. SO: the pilot with this tag isn't a legal target, but he can be made one.

So: that's the stuff you can shoot legally, and thus preserve your law-abiding security status.

I'm not a pirate, so this matters to me. Maybe it will to you, too.

1 - Granted, this isn't saying much; you can leave it green in null-sec or wormhole space too; it doesn't affect those areas in the least.

2 - When we were ousted from Faction Warfare for a couple days, I fought in one battle against the Amarr in which I had to "go yellow" to engage called targets, and I did, because it was necessary for the war. In all the other fights, the Amarr conveniently engaged me first or were Outlaw enough I could shoot them regardless.


Life in Eve: Too Busy to Write about Being Busy

“There's really nothing quite like someone's wanting you dead to make you want to go on living.”

The remarkable thing thing about being cast out of the war (albeit temporarily) was the amount of activity it roused out of the alliance. Fleets departed from our stations on an hourly basis, and those that weren't shooting piles of bullets at the enemy were busy shipping piles into the local market to keep everyone flying and firing. It was really something, and although I think everyone would have been happier if we hadn't had to deal with the all the red-tape and technicalities that caused the problem in the first place, it was gratifying to see how well we pulled together.

But with all that going on, there hadn't been much time for broad strategies and big-picture thinking. Once things were sorted out and we were back on the side of the angels, we took a look around to see how things stood.

It wasn't pretty.

We'd managed to defend our home system reasonably well even though we hadn't had any official means of working directly with the militia, but beyond that our home constellation looked like the bottom of a bomb crater. The Amarr hadn't managed to capture any of the local systems, but several were dangerously destabilized, and the big push to hold our ground when we'd been at a severe disadvantage left our pilots tapped out and exhausted now that it was time to rebuild.

Adding to the fun: the attacking forces kept on coming, which kept us distracted and disorganized -- it was hard work to get stable again, and easy to go out on a simple roam around the war zone, looking for a brawl. The result was predictable: lots of fights that got us nothing, and not much done to get our house in order.

"Death is the only god that comes when you call."

Our corp, with a slightly higher number of "seasoned" pilots per-capita, were (I'm proud to say) one of those groups who stayed in Eugidi to rebuild and shore up defenses while the big exciting fleets rolled out into the rest of the war zone. No regrets, here: it was our decision to stick to home defense, and I'm happy to say it paid off in its own way; as our pack of ex-wormholers figured out the ins and outs of our new home, we started winning a few fights of our own... then a few dozen. Then more. No grand melees, true, but hard-fought brawls that determined who would take control of complexes in the constellation -- which way the scales would tip.

Small fights? Maybe. We'll still cost the enemy billions, but we'll do it by destroying a couple hundred ships, rather than one, and that's fine by me. New/old ships... New/old tactics...

It's a hell of a good time to be flying.


Life in Eve: Many Judgements

"So are we still locked out of the war?" CB asked, his voice slightly tinny.

I rubbed my eyes. This wasn't the conversation I'd hoped to have -- I wanted to talk about what ships to set up, and quickly follow that by getting into those ships and using them against the Amarr.

But that wasn't happening.

"Yes," I said, pitching my voice to carry to the speaker on my desk. "Due to the problems with one of the corps in the alliance --"

"Which one?" That was Em, his voice snapping with the same mix of irritation and head-shaking bemusement I felt.

"Doesn't matter," I said, not wanting to start pointing fingers. "Anyway, due to some issues they've had with the Minmatar Republic, the TLF rescinded official recognition our whole alliance's legal participation in the war, which means CONCORD will treat any hostilities we take in the region as criminal or at the very least suspect." I sounded like I was reciting from memory, because I was -- I'd read and re-read the message from Alliance Command more than a few times in the last day.

"So..." Shan's voice was calm and quiet. "If we fight any of the big fleets right now, with all those 'illegal' targets..."

"We're going to be outlaws in our own high-security space in less time than it takes to tell it," I finished the thought. "Yeah."

"I'm borderline already," Shan observed, "from that last thing."

"I know," I said. "No one has to fly if they don't want to."

"I want to," Em said, "and I'll take the hits to my sec status if it's a fight worth taking, but this..." I could easily imagine him shaking his head in disgust. "This is taking the lashes for someone else's fuck-up. That's..." He let it drop. I knew what he would say, in any case -- this was all ground we'd covered. "How long til it gets sorted out?"

"Twenty-four hours," I said, willing myself to believe it. "TLF is sorted out, and they've filed their retraction with CONCORD, but with all their red tape -- twenty-four hours."

"Then I'll see you then," he said, and his comm cut.

I let the silence linger. Shan filled it. "I'm going to move some ships," he murmured, "while there's time."

I raised my head and nodded, though he couldn't see me. "Sounds good," I replied, and he was gone.

"What are you gonna do?" CB asked, after a few seconds.

What did I want? A chance to find out what was right and a chance to act on it! I laughed. Who is ever granted the first, let alone the second of these? A workable approximation of truth, then. That would be enough... And a chance to swing my blade a few times in the right direction.

I shook my head, fingering the page edges of the book I held. "Not sure yet. Get back to me?"

"Right. Later."


I was many things -- some of them objectively 'bad' -- but I wasn't an outlaw or a pirate.

Not yet, came the thought, and I scowled.

Technically, nothing in the fight had changed. The Amarr were still the Amarr -- still slavers, still the reason we'd joined this war.

But to think of those in the safer parts of New Eden reacting not to me, but the warning ahead of me wherever I went -- to see those I fought for cringing away -- it was a bitter pill.

War criminal.

I stood up to get away from the thought, moving across the room and dropping on the couch, my book in hand. A comfort, just then; despite all the religious and philosophical texts out there, it was this book -- obscure, rare, and older than the New Eden Gate -- that I turned to for the best, most unflinching advice on how to live as an immortal with few allies I could trust.

I might have told her that I do not recognize rules when my life is at stake, or that I do not consider war a game. I could have said a great number of things, but if she did not know them already or did not choose to understand them, they would not have made a bit of difference. Besides, her feelings were already plain.

So I simply said one of the great rite truths: “There is generally more than one side to a story.”

I didn't read. I hardly needed to -- I'd been back and forth through the text so often I could quote long passages verbatim. I knew what it would tell me -- what, put into my position, the story's protagonist would do.

It came down to one thing: Why did I fight?

Was the war just another accomplishment to tick off a list? Another laurel wreath and a few more medals? Another business opportunity? Another way to call myself a hero? If so, I must walk a line that kept my fine clothing clean and my shoes polished.


It wasn't about why; it was about who. Who was I fighting for?

That question was easier to answer. Plainer. Cleaner.

In the mirrors of many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I am a part of the evil which exists to oppose other evils; on that Great Day (of which prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe), on that day when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses.

But until then, I shall not wash my hands nor let them hang useless.

I left the book on the couch and headed for the hangar.

CB was waiting by the entrance.

"You heading out there?" I asked, not entirely able to conceal my surprise.

He nodded, his expression hidden behind his ever-present glasses. "Just waiting for you to sort your shit out."

... my hands are the color of blood.

Yesterday, Isbrabata was the most violent system in all of New Eden. Over 300 ships turned to scrap.

But we held.


Life in Eve: Quote of the Day

"I find mining to be an incredibly relaxing thing to do after work. It's like fishing without waking up early. Or cold. But the beer, the beer is the same." (source)

I'm not much of a miner, but I own five of these things already.

Life in Eve: Got a joke for you...

How does a "roleplay-oriented, pro-Minmatar, faction warfare alliance" that has been dealing with the game's alliance mechanics for EIGHT YEARS end up in a situation where they get kicked out of the war because their collective standings with the Minmatar are too low?

Except I'm not fucking laughing.

I'm taking a day off, I guess. Fuck.


Life in Eve: Getting Ready for Retribution

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the Eugidi constellation, but after we recaptured Floseswin, we called a few days of rest to mess around with more casual roaming, running some missions for the TLF, and getting prepped for upcoming ship changes this week. It's really a pretty huge expansion, revamping so many ships that currently don't see any kind of use on the game. Over 40 updated ships, about 30 of which are never currently flown -- in essence, this quadruples the number of viable ship options people will have, which is just... huge. It's huge.

Anyway, like many of my fellow corp leaders, I burn a couple days with CB, tracking down some of the soon-to-be-useful ship hulls and (as much as I can) refitting them in ways that don't work right now but WILL work in a few days, then moving them to the war zone. This process takes a LOT of hauling, so I beg Berke to dust off his rarely used freighter to save me some pain. Thoraxes getting faster. Stabbers and Mallers suddenly not terrible. Arbitrators... man, I can't wait for the arbitrators. Or Kestrels. Or Exequrors. Or Bellicoses. Bellicoseses. Bellicosi. Whatever. It almost makes the hours spent fitting and moving prepped ships worth it.


Still, shipping contracts are complete for the finalized ships and I actually find I've got a little time to... you know... fly around in space. I do that, heading toward the now mostly unused corporate office near Egglehende to work out moving the last of our corp resources to our current system. As I'm flying through Dal, one of my alliance mates hails me, asking if I'm in a combat worthy ship.

What? Why? Why are you asking? Is something going on? What's going on? Lemme see!

I still have a few frigates in a local hangar, so I get into one and ask what's going on.

He's apparently spotted a Slasher hanging around outside one of the minor complexes in system. He suggests he try to pin it down, and I come in and actually blow it up, since he's really not built for such things in his fleet interceptor. Sounds like a good plan to me.

"It might cascade," he says, "but whatever."

I don't ask what he means, and I suppose I probably should have.

I warp to him, but the affects around the warp acceleration gate pulls me off course and I land next to the structure and right on top of the Slasher.

Wait... that's not the Slasher, that's ANOTHER slasher -- that's the slasher's buddy. The first slasher is about 30 kilometers away and closing fast.

My own ship (an Imperial Navy Slicer I liberated from the Amarr) doesn't like being so close to the enemy, (who now has not one but two webs on me), so I overheat my microwarpdrive and pull range JUST before the second Slasher gets close enough to cause me heartache.

I go to work on my first target, battling his shield booster with pulse lasers -- it's a slow battle, but one I know I'll when when the shield booster runs out of charges. In fact, it would be almost boring if it weren't for the maneuvering battle required to maintain proper range with the first target while keeping away from the second slasher, who's trying to get close enough to shut down my drives. It's complicated. (There's another enemy ship nearby, but he's wasting time chasing the interceptor that first started this thing, so he's not an issue.)

Then the Incursus lands right next to us and comes after me.

Just as the 2nd slicer gets a web on me. No bueno.

Now I know what the other guy meant when he said things might Cascade.

Once again, I overheat my microwarpdrive (a touchy piece of machinery that does NOT like to be driven beyond factory specifications) and try to pull out of the 2nd slicer's range. It's working, but slowly.

Then, a wonderful thing happens. Just as I'm about to break out of the web of Slasher #2, my main target decides to try to get close enough to hit me with his short range autocannons. I break the webs and quickly pull away, but he continues to try to catch up to me, which pulls him into straight-line pursuit right behind me. As far as my targeting computer is concerned, he might as well be standing still.

The Slasher explodes, and the pilot's pod warps free. His friends decide this is a sign of how things will go, and both vacate the field.

Which is good, because I just completely burnt my microwarpdrive out. Oops.

I limp back to station to repair, my mate (who didn't get a shot on anyone) picks over the wreck, and I get to enjoy a completely unexpected adrenaline rush after a long day of hauling and logistics.

All in all, pretty good day.


Life in Eve: BOUSes? I don't believe they exist...

Woo-hoo! November insanity coming to a close! Our little faction warfare corp has joined an established FW alliance! I seem to have an exclamation point surplus I need to run through!

After some administrative tedium in the new home system, I set out in a cruiser fleet with JR at the helm, heading to the system of Aset, where our cunning plan is to sweep into an enemy Complex and start capturing it in the hopes of a proper fight.

Our plan seems to be paying off: scouts report an Amarr fleet inbound from the southern part of the war zone. Sounds like they've got greater numbers than our armor gang (15 vs. 25 or so), but roughly the same basic ship composition.

Our opponents arrive in system in what looks like two groups -- maybe that's just some stragglers catching up. Combined by their delay (and a request in /local comms for a quick bathroom break from one of our slightly more drunk pilots), there's just enough time for a smaller friendly shield gang to slip into the complex with us and achieve optimal combat ranges, bringing our total friendly force in the complex to only a few less than the Amarr, who hit the gate and warp in. The fight is on!

Or at least I assume it is, as I'm immediately volleyed off the field and I have to run and get another ship.

All in all, though, it was a pretty good fight, and went on for so long that I was actually able to reship and make it back in time to take over target calling for the last few ships (all the real fleet commanders had been forced off the field by that point). In contrast to the last few fights I've been in, the group's discipline was really good -- which is to say everyone was actually shooting what the target-callers said to shoot. This sounds like a pretty basic thing, but for some reason it's been terribly DIFFICULT for us in the past, and everyone really pulled it together.

Also (and this may not sound like a good thing, but...) it wasn't clear until fairly near the end which side would eventually hold the field, and that made it a very engaging fight. Ultimately, we persevered. Early losses were managed, discipline continued even after our support ships were brought down, and we were left with a few pilots still standing at the end, going through the pockets of our comrades, looking for loose change. Good fight.

I, like Wesley, was quite surprised to discover my error.

Then it was time to reship (well, not for me: I'd done that already :P.)

The Amarr seemed ready to go at it again, but had a longer trek than we did to reship, so we were more than ready when scouts reported their return. Some of us had reshipped to battlecruisers, because... reasons, I guess. The Amarr had brought cruisers, however, and forced the size restriction by moving into a Minmatar Complex in Floseswin that wouldn't admit any of our larger ships.

(That is, incidentally, one of the faction warfare features I have a great, manly, hetero love toward. Moving on.)

Anyway, our battlecruiser pilots swapped down to similarly-sized stuff, and we charged.

Once again, our combat discipline was pretty solid. The Amarr targeted our fleet commanders almost immediately, so others had to step up and maintain order -- our armor fleet ran through at least five target callers throughout the fight. Despite our numerical advantage on this fight, the absence of support ships and warping into the complex right at our opponents' ideal ranges meant we were struggling at the outset, and (again) it wasn't clear who would hold the field.

And of course I got blapped off the field pretty quick.

Again, at least two of our pilots had time to lose a ship, deaggress, jump back to our staging system, reship, return, and finish the fight. LONG fight.

In fact, I feel I should say this: kudos to the Amarr pilots for really grinding it out to the bitter end. I'm positive that they could have called the fight a lot sooner and got more of their pilots away, but they chose to buckle down and go down swinging -- it made for a hell of a good fight, and a great 'coming back after a long month' night.

Salutes all around, you filthy slavers.


Life in Eve: Revised Minmatar/Amarr Warzone Map

New routes (Kurni/Isbrabata, Siseide/Eszur, Gulmorogod/Egmar) and some system rearrangement by me. Mission stations picked out by Poetic Stanziel previously.
Click to embiggen.


Life in Eve: Getting a Bad Feeling

So this is just a short post and, worse, it won't make much sense or difference to anyone unless you both play EvE and do stuff in Faction Warfare.

So here we go.

Fact one: The Amarr-Minmatar warzone is getting some new jump gates in December, meant to open up a lot of cut off systems and improve moment throughout the warzone.

Fact two: Despite the fact that it's currently a pain in the ass to offensively run complexes in enemy systems, the Amarr are hitting a couple Minmatar systems pretty damned hard, as if they would very much like to flip them to Amarr. I wonder why?

Let's go to the map!

Click to embiggen

Orange is current Amarr territory. The green lines are where the new gates are going to go. The systems circled in black are the ones the Amarr are hitting hard.

I'll let you chew that over.


Home a-Roam 4

The next few evenings are spent battening down the hatches for the upcoming November privations, resetting Planetary Interaction timers, and building a few Condors for a roam JR wants to try out.

Well, that and a bit of solo fun, which included a new Cormorant I'm trying out that managed to net me a few kills on its first flight. Definitely need to take that crazy looking ship out more in the future.

One dark spot on this solo flight was that I tried taking out a minor complex in enemy held territory, and found it entirely not worth the time. With only about half the changes to complexes currently in place, the massive fountain of ISK-production has been shut down -- which is a good thing -- at the cost of the sites being worth doing at all. That's fine, though: I'll take the benefits even if it means a month of avoiding plexes until the rest of the changes go in.

But enough about that -- I've got Condors to build for a skirmish fleet!

There's something fun and liberating about flying incredibly cheap ships that can hit targets from over fifty kilometers away, fly 4000 meters a second, and chase down pretty much anything. Adding to the fun of this roam is the fact that Em and Shan are coming along on one of JR's roams for the first time (Em in a custom Condor that matches his very deep missile skills, Shan in a Vigil with several target painters, because he's Minmatar to the bone).

We don't find any 'big' fights, but that's fine for our group, which is happier mauling and taking down smaller groups of larger game. The Condor is (now) a wonderfully versatile frigate, and we have a number of ship variations that leave our targets all but helpless to harm us, and our losses are few and far between.

Not so the enemy, as we rack up kills on an Arbitrator cruiser, Retribution assault frigate, Punisher frigate, a Daredevil pirate frigate fit with entirely too many expensive modules that did him no good at all and, finally, a Rifter and Rupture out shooting NPCs in asteroid belts. It was a fine conclusion to the evening, so JR calls it for the night and we head home.

Or so I thought.

"Okay guys, I'm going to head o-- oh, there's a Pilgrim on this gate."

"He cloaked."

"Can someone decloak -- hey! We decloaked him!"

"Eh, he's just going to jump the gate. He's won't aggress anyo--:

"He's aggressing!"

"Everyone warp to JR. Everyone warp to JR."

The fight took well over five minutes, partly due to the Force Recon Cruiser's tanking ability and partly because we had to work through most of his drones first (and in two cases, reship in mid fight), but eventually we took the ship down, netting us a great tech-2 cruiser kill to cap off the night, as well as -- effectively -- the month of October.

And how has that month been going?

Not bad! Em, Dirk, and Shan have jumped into the pool, and last night our little corporation broke 100 kills since joining the war against the evil Amarr slave lords. Our win-to-loss ratio corp-wide is better than I'd expected at this point in our learning curve, but far more importantly, not a single kill on the board is any kind of structure. I'm very happy about that -- it simplifies the issue a bit, but it's still a good indicator that I'm getting what I wanted out of this experiment.

Why the retrospective?

Per usual, my free time during November will be pretty sparse, and what I have will be mostly dedicated to family and friends close at hand. Now is the time on EvE when we schedule a lot of long, slow, annoying skill trains that I've been putting off. I can't complain about how October concluded, and I comfort myself with the thought that I'll come out on the other end of November with a sexy new expansion only days away. I'm sure I'll post a few things here and there (perhaps stories of the corp's adventures while I'm MIA), but for the most part all I can say is good hunting, and I'll see you soon.


Life in Eve: Home a-Roam 3

I'd intended to just pop in and check a few bits of to-do, but a quick greeting in comms leads to an invite into an ongoing fleet lead by several pilots I don't know, but flown in by several I do.

"Who's the new guy in my channel?" asks the FC. "Try?"

"It's Ty," one of the other pilots replies, before I can speak up. "He's got his own corp, but he flies with us a lot. He's good."


And that was that.

Not bad.

The doctrine for the fleet was "cruisers, with some fast tackle support." Normally, I'd bring tackle in that situation, but I was informed we already had plenty before I'd even proposed it, which left me looking over my cruiser options of which I had only a few, handy.

The problem with cruisers right now (at least for me) is that they're all going to get quite good in a little more than a month, so unless I know the ship in question is already about as good as it's going to get, I'm loathe to fly it right now. I don't mind losing ships (at all), but it bothers me to lose them simply because they aren't currently good and would have survived if I'd just waited a few weeks. All those kinds of ships are waiting for me (and December) in a market system hangar.

The only ships immediately handy include a Rupture and two Stabber Fleet Issues. The Rupture is currently set up for a weird remote-rep fit that I've somehow managed not to lose (and which is useless for the current roam), so I discount that. The SFI's are another story, as they are both (a) good ships and (b) not getting tweaked next month. The first of the two is a soloing-fit that wouldn't fare well against the damage a decent sized fleet would attract, so I settle on the second ship, much slower, but heavily tanked and ideal for survival in the face of withering incoming fire.

We wander the war zone for a while, but pickings are slim and what few ships we do snag are far too fast for my sleek, aerodynamic brick to chase down.

Finally (and, again, just like the previous two outings), we find ourselves near home, where most of the action has been happening lately. Scouts report a few ships locally, but in a complex too small to admit our cruisers. The FC glumly advises people to reship and hurry back. I speak up.

"I have lots of destroyers right here in system."

"How many?"

"At... least six."

"With guns?"

"Of course."

"... okay! New plan! Everyone send Ty some money and dock up at his station. We're going to steal his shit and kill some ships."

A few ISK transfers later and we're in warp to the complex in a fleet of Thrashers with suspiciously similar names. The targets warp away as we enter, and our rear guard reports enemies landing back at the entrance gate to the complex.

We can't warp directly back to the gate (one of the 'features' of a complex), so the FC orders us to 'bounce' out to an orbit around the sun, then back to the complex entrance. Imagine our surprise when we land on the sun and see an entirely different fleet waiting for us. They aren't war targets, but they seem perfectly willing to engage anyway, so let's call them nascent pirates.

This fight goes well -- we take out all their fleet, but the war targets that had been at the complex warp in and complicate matters, turning the whole thing into a grand melee. Pretty much everyone loses their shiny new destroyers, but the fight was a good one all around, and a fine way to end the evening.


Life in Eve: Home a-Roam 2

Friday's a strangely quiet night in the war zone, so I spent some time working out some new fittings for Caldari assault ships and interceptors. I don't get too far into this this, though, because some of the pilots I know are roaming around the zone and invite me along. I don't know what I should bring, exactly, so I settle on the condor I'd cobbled together the night before.

As before, we really didn't need to travel far to find trouble. I'd only just reshipped and got on comms when word came of war targets right next door. A bit more recon showed us two destroyers in a major Minmatar complex, backed up by a shiny Vigilant-class cruiser, rare enough in the faction warfare scene that most of our pilots (many of whom are fairly new) were unfamiliar with the ship's advantages in camping a warp-in gate.

Despite the Vigilant, our FC (who, though he has faults, doesn't number timidity among them) decided he wanted to go after the fight anyway, figuring to storm the complex and trust to our many tech1 frigates to blot out the proverbial sun... or at least overwhelm the Vigilant's target system.

"He can't lock down all of us."

Our arrival was spotted, and all the ships bugged out as we entered the complex, but we waited, hoping they'd calm down and come back once they realized we weren't the vanguard of a larger force.

They did, and at least initially didn't hit us with any more ridiculously superior ships than they already had (those came later): the same two destroyers dropped back in with two more destroyer allies and the Vigilant.

"Not Almity," I called out on comms, before the FC could designate targets, remembering the mistakes made in the last week, calling him primary. "Anyone but Almity."

The FC took it in stride, called other targets, and had everyone hit the Vigilant with tracking disruptors and hope for the best.

The fight was nasty, brutish, and relatively short -- common for frigate brawls -- two of the destroyers went down, then our own frigates started to pay the price of facing far superior firepower. Despite the disruptors, the Vigilant was nearly one-shotting our ships, and the pilots we'd already unhorsed had warped off and were already returning... this time in an SFI and Cynabal cruiser. Time to leave.

No arguments from me, as a single shot from the Vigilant stripped my shields, armor, and melted half the ship's structure. I left the field trailing fire and smoke but (again) basically functional.

We couldn't have been said to have come out ahead for the fight, but to be honest the engagement was so fun no one really seemed to care. Since we'd barely left our home system, reshipping and repair for those pilots willing to stick around took little time, and before long our somewhat smaller fleet was back in space and poking around, which led in a fairly short order to another engagement with the surviving two destroyers from the previous tussle, this time without the support of a couple quarter-million-isk pirate cruisers.

It went about how you'd expect, and brought my unlikely Condor up to an unprecedented three-battle survival rate.


Life in Eve: Home a-Roam

These days, we hardly need to go anywhere to find a fight. Immediately next door, we have a long-established I.LAW Amarr corporation that seems (at least to me - not everyone agrees) predisposed to relatively even fights. One more jump and you're into the home staging system for Fweddit, which... has a lot of pilots. The same distance in the opposite direction (figuratively as well as literally) you'll find the Agony Unleashed, full of pilots for whom I have tremendous respect, and if all else fails there's notorious Amamake, filled to overflowing with pirate gangs.

None of that's to say that you'll always find the fight you're looking for -- it's currently kind of rough running around solo, because the half-complete changes to complexes discourage pilots from clearing them on their own -- but if you can find the pitch that the war zone is tuned to at the moment, things can be pretty cool.

Don't get me wrong - it can also be kind of brutal.

Thursday, JR ran up a flag for pilots interested in a remote-repair armor gang -- a concept that's only marginally workable at present but likely to be very effective in December -- the ship's are cheap(ish) so it's good training for when the tactic becomes (much) more effective.

We ran around for a very short roam (all of two system gates, I think) before JR got word of a nearby allied fleet trying to scare up a fight with Fweddit nearby. It seemed likely that either of our groups would be outmanned or outshipped by our opponents, but together...

We reformed as a single fleet and... well, all I'll say is that we got a fight. Not convinced it was the fight we wanted, exactly, but it was certainly a fight. In short, the other side outnumbered and outshipped us, despite our Voltron maneuver. Also, there is a regrettable tendency to call the most recognizable enemy fleet commanders primary. I've made the same mistake, which is why I spotted it now, and the fact that some of those pilots recognize this and play to it by making themselves particularly easy-to-reach targets in particularly hard-to-kill ships.

So we kind of wasted a whole lot of time killing one or two guys who were set up to take the pounding, while the other guys took us apart at their leisure.

Once this fight was done (my ship survived -- not sure how that happened), there was a long delay while JR and the other fleet's commander talked, and by the time it was done, most everyone was done waiting around and had taken off for the night. One pilot had tracked a group of war targets who were banging around in frigates and looking for a fight, however. We had five or six pilots still willing to fly, and dropped on them in orbit around a planet in similarly-sized ships.

Both sides were looking for a good fight, but the game itself was set to deny us -- something was seriously wrong with the local 'grid' -- it was so small that my Condor was actually running off grid from my target by simply orbiting him. Neither side could accomplish anything, so we disengaged and retreated.

By this point, however, all sides were feeling a little denied, so we basically agreed on a place to meet up and conclude our fight. This went pretty well for us, as we were able to take out all five of their ships, with two of ours still on the field (mine included, albeit ever-so-slightly on fire). Good fights all around, and we called it a night.


Life in Eve: Shake Shake Shake

It will surprise no one when I say that I'm not happy with the way some of the features in Faction Warfare in Eve work, and I'm looking forward to fixes proposed for December.


Most of dissatisfaction stems from the ways in which the system can be gamed for the sole purpose of making ISK.

Now, I don't have any problem with people making ISK. I don't have a problem with someone playing smart, or avoiding a senseless fight. I do have a problem with people who are clearly subverting a system. Take a new-player-friendly theater of activity called "faction warfare", set in "war zones", and tell me that the most common "new" players involved are ignoring all fights and fitting their ships to avoid all consequences of any activity they undertake in that theater, and I'll call those people bad names.

They're not being innovative or 'emergent' any more than a lamprey is an "outside the box thinker". They're just parasites, dragging down another fish.

Yes, I've tried to kill such pilots when I can. This also should surprise no one. As a rule, people don't view tapeworms as a life-enhancing feature.

So I was thrilled to find out that some of the Faction Warfare changes proposed for the December expansion were going to be implemented immediately, in an effort to kill off the worst of the demonstrably game-breaking behavior. If nothing else, it closed a hemorrhaging ISK faucet six weeks early, and that alone is worth it.

But there were other benefits.

Although not all the changes are in place, enough things changed in terms of system control and defensive and offensive "plexing" that it shook things up around the war zone. There were a lot more pilots flying around, a lot more fights happening, a lot more investment. I spotted the first Infrastructure Hub bashing fleet I've seen in, literally, months. Then another. Then response fleets. Then pirate fleets looking to start a fight with those fleets. It's easily the busiest I've seen the war zone in weeks, and that's with one of the largest enemy corporations in the area temporarily out of the action while they repaint Amarr logos over top the Caldari flare on their ships.

There's something to be said for changes to a system that alter the rules about what's good/bad, useful/useless behavior in a given theatre of activity in the game. The changes get people whining, but it also promotes a heightening level of participation and activity as people figure things out, take initial advantage, figure out optimal behaviors, implement them, and adapt to the meta-game shifting as a result.

It's a good argument for regular in-game events that shake things up simply for the sake of the shaking. Something as simple as Incursions actually spawning inside the war zone would throw a deep wrinkle into things, as would adding (or destroying) routes through the war zones.

I'm not saying change stuff just to change it, but if you can come up with cool reasons for tweaking the equations of success from time to time, it wakes people up.

Keep things moving to keep people interested.

I do a bit of defensive plexing at the start of the evening, to (a) get a sense of how the new loyalty point rewards for this activity will stack up in vulnerable systems (answer: well) and (b) try to move some vulnerable systems back toward stability before the Amarr can flip them to slaver-sovereignty.

JR is doing a "cheapfleet" roam of frigates and destroyers, and I hop into a Thrasher to join in, since (at least initially) I don't much feel like being an important cog in the machine -- mine will be the way of support and heavier DPS, not scouting and (thus) nigh second-in-command.

As he's done in the past, JR splits the fleet into two squads and two separate but linked voice comms channels, so we can roam independently in smaller, less-threatening groups, but call for backup if needed. He then puts newer pilots in as squad commands and eases himself into the back seat to let the training-by-fire commence.

My body is ready.

Squad 2 (of which I am a member) wanders somewhat, our FC seeming a bit a sea and unmotivated. The upside: Fel is with us (since I dragged him along) and getting some scouting practice, as he's in the fastest ship in our squad -- a speedy Atron attack frigate.

Our roam takes us by secondary routes to the system of Sahtogas. We send in Fel to scout and wait at the entry gate, directing him toward any open complexes, hoping to attract the attention of the fairly numerous war targets in system (who are often more inclined to doze inside stations until prodded).

Meanwhile, a war target drops on our gate and most of us open fire. I don't, because I suspect he's going to jump through the gate if things look serious. They do, and he does. I follow.

... and appear in the midst of a significantly larger fleet than my own, all war targets and all heading through the same gate but in the other direction to go after our guys. They apparently slipped down to the gate after Fel warped away. I try to give warning, but it comes too late for some and we lose a couple ships.

Meanwhile, Squad One is coming at Sahtogas from another direction, and tries to bait the same group of war targets into attacking. This works, but (again) the enemy fleet proves too strong for only half our group to manage, and we trade ships at a slightly disappointing 2:1 ratio.

With several pilots reshipping, the rest of us scattered, and our squad commander unaccountably silent, I announce I'm heading back to our original mustering system, where it will be easier for our returning pilots to link up. This initiative puts me in the lead and scouting ahead for the rest of the squad.

One jump short of our muster point (but conveniently near my home station) I spot a Naga battlecruiser in one of our local complexes. A quick reconnoiter puts him 190 klicks off the complex entry and (annoyingly) still able to shoot me, so I switch out of my Thrasher and into a Taranis interceptor to see if I can snag him.

No joy, as he runs when I start to close in, but our activity attracts the attention of a small gang of pirates from nearby, notorious Amamake. Again, I switch ships, this time to a Stabber Fleet Issue -- the Minmatar Navy's justifiably well-regarded "SFI" cruiser.

The pirates, having taken out one of our frigates, retreat to Amamake, but a scout locates them near planet six and I warp to their location, clearly looking for payback for the loss of our frigate (rageface). They seem inclined to take the fight, as their three assault frigates (two Wolves, one Hawk) look to be more than enough for the job I represent. The Hawk gets in too close to me, however, and with two webifiers and a warp scrambler on him, he's not going to be able to correct that error. I call the rest of the fleet in and the Hawk dies fairly quickly, while his allies scatter.

We try for one of the Wolves, but our chosen target it too fast -- only one ship (Fel's Atron) can keep up with him, and can't slow the Wolf down enough for anyone else to catch up -- he finally manages to slingshot Fel and slip away.

JR is... shall we say... nonplussed by the fact that only one of our small ships has bothered to fit a microwarpdrive, even though he specifically said everyone should have one.

I try to pull another fight in Amamake while the rest of the fleet slips back to neighboring systems, but the pirates jump in after them before anything else develops. This works out, as we're able to snag and kill the Wolf who had previously escaped.

I drop back to repair the SFI, and scouts report another group on the gate in Amamake, so I head back in to try to make something happen. I can't track them down, but that proves to be wasted effort: I drop on them accidentally after giving up my search and warping back to the out-gate. Pirate pilots in an Atron frigate, Jaguar assault frigate, Rupture cruiser, and Zealot heavy assault cruiser circle me, but none seem eager to engage, since it will mean that the mean, nasty pirates will be targeted by the stargate's defensive sentries for attacking a squeaky-clean citizen like myself.

With my backup ready, I start things off by popping the Atron, then we all turn attention to the Rupture, who tears away and leads us well off the gate before we pull him down and take out the ship. The kill takes some time, however, and by then he has backup inbound. They manage to catch me as the Rupture... ruptures, and my heroic SFI goes down while the rest of the fleet escapes. (Luckily, I have a dozen replacements at the ready, and more reasons than ever to fly them. Great ship.)

The fleet swaps around ships a bit, and Matt calls us into an enemy-held system nearby, where we miss a Firetail frigate but catch and kill yet another Wolf, trading a Taranis to a Cynabal cruiser in the process, at which point JR takes off for the night, and I follow suit.

A good night, if a bit directionless and disorganized at the start -- it felt good to head out into the war zone and actually find pilots looking for a fight.


Life in Eve: For the Tears?

Forgive me, Gor, but this one was too good to leave in e-mail.
Wait... so choosing be smart in Eve and only engage in fights that you can win or walk away from is a bad thing? Eve PVP is so much about the tears.... If all these Eve players want less risk adverse behavior, decrease the (ship) death penalty.  Oh but then PVP wouldn't be so much fun, cause I didn't ruin the other guys day.

I don't mind someone being careful, but when you get together to spend an evening shooting other people and the guy in charge won't take a fight -- ANY fight -- because it doesn't look like a sure win? That guy just wasted my night, because I want to shoot something -- that's what I set aside my night to do. I wouldn't have undocked if I didn't accept some risk, and if I didn't want the risk, I'd play Wizard101.

The guys that piss me off in the war zone are the guys who are ostensibly part of faction warfare, but who fly around in frigates with no guns on and a ship optimized to make money and ignore the actual war. That bugs the crap out of me, and I make it a hobby to blow them up when I can.

It's really not about the tears.

I can't speak for everyone, but I don't do it for the tears -- I very much doubt there are any, because that guy probably make 4 or 5 billion isk in the last week -- I do it because these guys are crapping all over the area of the game I'm playing in, and I have the means to kick some sand in their face, which I want to do because this particular activity in Eve -- for which I have sacrificed time, ISK, and the companionship of good friends who'd rather not join me -- is being ruined by these greedy little stains.

Do I do this to miners in high-sec? Or industrialists? Or traders? Of course not! They're doing what they do; they're not subverting anything. That guy in the hookbill is turning an arena for a certain kind of play into a lame money-dispenser -- paved the park and put up a Qwik-e-mart -- and I look on it the same way I look on guys who can-flip and ninja-salvage in high-sec: I'll kill 'em if I can.

This is tangential, but I don't think they should decrease the death penalty to allay risk adverse behavior, because honestly the main thing that makes EvE fights exciting (they aren't, normally) is the risk to your OWN ship). These guys that pussyfoot around, trying for a perfect 100-0 record... it just seems to me that they miss the point. The whole thing is more fun if you have some skin in the game.

No, I don't care about causing tears, but I do care about caring about the fight. If four guys want to use some ECM so their four frigates can take on a Cynabal and have a chance of winning, fine. I can even stand to be one of those guys, because I don't see that we've negated risk and made the whole fight pointless. If fourteen guys bring two Falcons on every roam and only take on groups of 8 or fewer pilots so they can guarantee none of their opponents can fight back... yeah. No. I get why they're playing, but that's no more "my" version of Eve than 1% margin trading in Jita.

I just can't see how it's fun.

I'm not going to suicide into a fight for no purpose -- but (for example) I stayed in the fight a few nights ago because I thought we could pull out a win, or at least a draw, and that (plus the adrenaline) was worth it.

An hour after I killed that Hookbill pilot, this happened -- and I was just as happy about it, because I actually found someone in a complex who wanted to fight.

These days, that's like finding the only other guy at a gaming convention who actually came to play.


Life in Eve: Education

Last night, our little two-man faction warfare corporation tripled in size, and I led a small roam/introductory tour into the wilds of the war zone. Four pilots (myself, Em, Shan, and newly-recruited Fel) flying the very best in cheap and disposable combat spacecraft (an Incursus, Atron, and two Slashers).

Preparatory documents, FAQs, links, and useful maps had all been assembled and then sent out. Shopping had been done (including a splurge on a pile of inexplicably under-priced frigates that netted use close to two-hundred slashers). Questions had been asked and answered.

Nothing left to do but head out and learn to explode.

I had a path in mind, and sent us at best speed through Sinq Laison to Audaerne and, from there, into the Eugidi constellation, which is a kind of rat's nest of systems well behind the front lines, popular with risk-adverse war targets and (by contrast) conflict-hungry pirates looking for a fight. All in all, it's a pretty good group of systems to visit if you want to familiarize yourself with the 'plex mechanics, possibly catch a fleeing enemy, and maybe even get something like an viable fight.

Emphasis on maybe. As it turned out, once we chased off a few timid Merlin frigates with Cynabal backup, the only action to be found lay with a trio of pirates I'd run into in the past. They decided to meet our four frigates with three destroyers (and more backup lurking in the wings); we decided the fight wasn't for us. In leaving the constellation, we managed to draw one far enough away from his friends to cost him any nearby backup, but he remained wary enough to escape through a gate jump without losing his Thrasher. Ahh well.

From there, we headed south toward Dal, pausing here and there to check out likely-looking complexes for enemies, but arrived at our destination without anything exciting coming of it and docked up for a few minutes to rub our eyes and repair a bit of damage from overheated afterburners.

I returned after the brief break feeling more than a little restless. It's been well over a week since I've had a proper fight (the last roam I was on had me sitting in a support cruiser, which is fun but doesn't involve much in the way of direct violence), and after two hours of cat-and-mouse work with no payout, I just wanted a face to shoot.

"We're going to jump over to Siseide," I said, naming a neighboring system with a lot of violent activity showing on the map, and a known home system for a few Amarr loyalists. "See if we can't stir something up."

The system's population was a weird mix of Minmatar and Amarr forces when we arrived, but as I split us into smaller groups to scout around (as I had been doing all night, to give everyone a turn at hanging their ass out in the wind to get shot at), most of our nominal allies departed toward Auga.

Em headed for one of the open Amarr complexes, I went for the minor one on the far side of the system, and landed nearly on top of a Slasher like my own, who immediately jumped the gate into the complex and invited me to follow him in. I called my fleet mates to me and charged in, but he saw my backup arriving and beat a retreat.

Once the other three had arrived, I had Shan start capturing the complex. This wasn't a wholly empty activity; Siseide was the first system we'd entered all night that was actually held by the Amarr, so it was our first chance to actually capture an enemy complex, as opposed to defend our own, and I wanted them to get a sense of what that was like.

In any case, we didn't stick with that for long, as it was clear the locals (all veteran members of a long-running faction warfare corporation) were putting together a response to our intrusion. The first to land on the gate and jump in was a Thrasher, but his friends seemed further behind, and I thought the odds were good that if we hit him hard when he entered, we could take his ship before the rest arrived.

My nebulous plan solidified when I realized the lead pilot it was Almity, one of the better known fleet commanders for the Amarr.

Things seemed to be going well, despite Em and Shan calling out enemy ships closing in: the enemy thrasher's shields were dropping with comforting speed, and the heavy hitting but traditionally thinly-tanked ship looked close to death.

Then we punched through to the ship's armor, and all progress just... stopped.

"Armor tanked?" I wondered aloud. "Who armor tanks a Thrasher?"

The answer, apparently, is "Well-known enemy fleet commanders who expect to be called primary and use that tendency to act as effective bait."

Four other Amarr pilots landed on us while we tried to take the Thrasher out. I should have called an evacuation (I was the only one held at that point), but I wanted at least one kill, even leavened with our own ship losses, and kept us in the fight long enough for Almity's companions to catch hold of both Shan and Em as well.

All in all it was a fine, tasty bait they set for us, and I bit with everything I had. Lesson learned, and well-played by the Amarr pilots. Hats off.

"I missed the whole thing!" moaned one of the Amarr pilots in local comms.

"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll get another chance," I quipped.

"I hope so, man," he replied. "They say you were actually fit for PvP and willing to fight. Good show!"

We retreated and reshipped (I've got several dozen appropriate ships scattered around the the area), but by then it was getting more than a little late, so we called it for the night, with plans for more shenanigans in the days to come.

Maybe not the auspicious beginning I might have hoped for (not helped by the fact that my decision-making was colored my just wanting any kind of fight -- the whole thing left me happy with the results even though we lost), but a start nonetheless and with lots of things to learn from the engagement.

Early this morning, Agony pilots came swarming through the system while I fiddled with a few ships in the hangar, and one of their pilots (whom I know from various roams and training classes) tossed me a greeting.

"I heard you decided to put up a decent fight last night, instead of running," she said. "Very cool."

"Thanks," I said, and meant it -- enemies they may be, but it's nice to earn a little recognition, even if it's for blowing up. Funny, though, that the news of an inconsequential frigate brawl spread even that far.

How sad is it that the simple act of taking a fight with no gimmicks and no bullshit is cause for comment, compliment, and small celebration (twice!) by your opponents, though you sit in the midst of zone focused on war, and a game focused on PvP? It makes me understand Rote Kapelle's current goal.

Life in Eve: Prep

"Alright, Fel, if you feel like you understand the risks, and you're still interested, I'm glad to have you." I punched the virtual ACCEPT? button on my terminal and sat back in the chair in my quarters.

There was no reply from the overhead speakers to which I'd routed the caller's voice.

I waited, then: "Fel?"

"Umm. Yes. Sorry. I'm here." I could almost hear the other pilot shake himself. "I just... well, not to raise too many alarm bells or anything, but I'm a bit surprised you accepted me so soo -- umm. Quickly."

"Ahh." I thought about that a moment, letting my eyes drop to my hands, resting in my lap. "You know what CB said when I told him about your original message asking to join?"

"The first one? That was months ago."

"Yup." I cleared my throat, wanting to get the phrasing right. "He said: 'If he wants in the wormhole, fuck no. If he wants in the war zone, fuck it.'" More comms silence. "Don't take that personally..."

Fel's laughter came with a rush. "Are you kidding? I'm from a wormhole too -- paranoia, I understand; I practically tell the new pilots to fly in front of me when we go on ops."

I chuckled along with him, nodding. "Well, that's half of it, then. The other half... " I shrugged. "There's maybe three hundred million isk worth of ships and ship modules in our shared hangars. I only keep enough liquid ISK around to ensure that the station rental bills are paid automatically --" I cleared my throat -- "after a little mishap a few months back."

"Sure --"

"Point is," I interrupted, "you really can't do much harm down here in known space, because this corp's got no real assets to steal. Hell, even if you awox one of us for fun, we're only going to be out a cheap clone and a cheaper frigate. And frankly we could use another couple good pilots. Paranoia is fine, but new blood helps keep people awake."

"Well... okay then."

"Okay then," I repeated, letting a small smile creep into place. "Get some rack time. Odds are we'll be roaming tomorrow night, either with friends in cheap ships or acquaintances in expensive ones. Welcome to the asylum."

"Glad to be here," he replied, then cut comms.

I stared at the overhead speaker for a few seconds, my thoughts drifting, then popped up to a standing position, stretching one arm across my chest and rolling my neck on my shoulders as I walked out to the balcony overlooking the hangars. "No breaks today." I blinked. "Tonight. Whatever." My eyes itched, and I rubbed at them while I tapped the commands that would swing the Malediction into the launch bay. "Little more scouting to do before everyone gets here."

I'd been out of a ship for almost a week -- visiting the University of Caille to talk about, of all things, my writing -- apparently, as a combat pilot, I made a decent journalist. Since I'd gotten back, I'd done little more than scout new safes throughout the war zone and write a half-dozen briefings on the key systems and hot spots that a new pilot -- or at least a pilot unfamiliar with the War -- would want to know about.

I was itching for some actual combat, even a frustrating loss, but war targets would go unmolested tonight, at least by me; we had new pilots coming to join us, and I wanted everything as smooth as I could get it for the transition.

New pilots for the war. Old friends for the fleet.

"Aura, set course for Avenod. Let's map out some safes in the Eugidi cluster."

... before everyone gets here.

My voice sounded tired, even to me, but I could feel that same small smile creep back onto my face.
I practically jogged to the piloting pod.



Life in Eve: the Pants-on-Head Offensive #eveonline

While I've been playing just as much as ever, and writing about the new stuff coming in the expansion, I haven't felt compelled to write about actual events in game for a little while, simply because it's been pretty typical and straightforward shenanigans: small gang stuff every few nights, random solo stuff the rest of the time. Faction Warfare is a very interesting and sometimes frustrating environment; on one hand I feel as though I'd get more out of it if I were connected to some of the big established groups, but on the other hand there's direct evidence that Sturgeon's Revelation applies just as much to people as it does to anything else1, and I'm not sure I need to expose myself to that any more than I already am.2

Case in Point:

I went on a small gang roam last night, run by one of the really good guys I've run into -- someone who's a real pleasure to fly with and who always seems to have a fun fleet idea to try out.

Flying with him: a couple of his corp mates, and a cage of shit-flinging spider monkeys.

WTF am I hearing?

Now, normally, it's not that bad. The fleet members list was about the same as usual, but for whatever reason -- full moon, hormone imbalance, Ritalin shortage -- this ancillary group of pilots (from a corp unaffiliated with the FC) have been particularly sub-functional lately.

But I grit my teeth and bear it, because I want to try out this new idea the FC has. The last few roams, he's been asking for armor-tanked cruisers supported by a couple tech1 logistics ships (the exequror, which is currently a hairsbreadth above a joke setup, but receives a major facelift in a few months), and specifically asked if I could bring one of the support cruisers, which is a class of ship I'm well-skilled for and never really get a chance to fly.

Anyway: the evening didn't offer up a lot of viable opportunities. The nature of the ships we were flying (support cruisers with poor attributes, combat cruisers press-ganged into remote-repair setups) and our numbers (ranging from 6 to, at best, 10 or so) meant that our window of viable targets was a bit narrow -- potential opponents either warped away before we could get there, or seriously outnumbered us.

Still, we preserved, roaming around the war zone, looking for anything that would give us a good run.

(Side note: the tunnel vision that overcomes "healers" in any group activity is just as present in EvE as it is in any other MMO, at least in my experience. I couldn't name one system we flew through last night, aside from where we started and where we ended.)

After a slow hour or so, people were justifiably itching for a fight, and everyone was pretty happy when a scout (one of our spider-monkeys) excitedly announced he had a war target tackled. The current fleet commander called for jump and we warped to the fight.

Imagine my bemusement when the overview loaded, and all I saw were two different shades of purple on the list of nearby pilots: the purple of my fleetmates, and the purple of fellow members of my militia.

The scout (also a militia member) was shooting one of the pilots in that second group.

We're going to war!

Apparently, the spider monkeys had had some kind of friendly fire incident a few days earlier, resulting in a pilot from some other militia corporation losing a ship. Reparations were made, but in the end, the two corps decided to use the in-game system to declare war on each other, thus making each other valid war targets.

Let me repeat that (because I for damn sure needed it explained twice when I first heard it): faced with two different enemy militia to fight (whose pilot memberships collectively numbers a bit over fifteen thousand), these two groups within the same militia decided to start shooting each other over a 10 second friendly fire incident, some name-calling, and the loss of a single frigate.

I really don't think that is how one successfully conducts a war.

Please note the remarkable lack of SHOOTING EACH OTHER in the above photo.

Faced with this situation, I did what I'm supposed to do in a support ship, surrounded by friendly pilots taking fire: I locked up every ally I could and started repping anyone getting shot.

Yes, everyone.

Yes, the "other guys" too.

I figure we were already well into the realm of Pants-on-Head idiocy, so adding a little more ridiculous behavior could hardly hurt.3

Eventually, someone decided to shoot me. I'm honestly not sure which side. Maybe both.

Upside: I got a lot of good practice flying support, and the ship loss was amusingly cheap.

And, not for nothing, having an excuse to drop fleet afterwards (when the FC called it a night) was something of a blessed release.

1 - There's also a disturbing trend wherein the forces behind Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory manifest at such a high concentration in EvE that intelligent, well-spoken people who seem immune to this phenomena (while on Reddit, for example) turn into mouth-breathing frat boys the moment they log into the game and join a fleet. I'm embarrassed on their behalf.

2 - One of the nice things about wormholes? You are generally insulated from the 90%, except in small doses. Call that a plus. In faction warfare, I keep my local channel set so I only see who's in the system (not anything anyone's actually saying), and make liberal use of the 'block' chat function make other channels marginally useful.

3 - It's easy to poke fun, but you must be careful when casting stones; stuff easily as stupid happens with head-shaking frequency throughout the game. Usually, the result is a lot more costly (which either makes it more or less funny, depending on who you ask.)


Life in Eve: A Tour of the Bringing Solo Back Interview with CCP Fozzie #eveonline

I'm often on voice comms while playing Eve, and a lot of the discussion lately has been about the changes coming in the winter expansion.

One of the things I often bring up is the interview that CCP Fozzie did on the Bringing Solo Back podcast (Kil2 and Kovorix), but that gets kind of frustrating. I'll quote something interesting that Fozzie said, then someone says "where did you hear that?", I mention the podcast, and no one knows about it.

SO: if you are interested, you can find the podcast over here , but as it's fairly long (~90 minutes), I've provided a bit of a road map to the bits I thought were particularly informative.

DISCLAIMER: I don't have anything to do with the BSB podcast (other than as a devoted listener) -- I'm just doing this to spread the word, because I think it's hugely helpful in providing context about the changes coming in the winter expansion.


8:25 - The "training path" of the new support ships, leading to Logistics ships.
10:23 - A bit more on the process of ship revisions.
14:53 - The "flavors" of each race's ships -- "individuality" balanced against "every ship should be useful for something."
15:55 - "Some of the old 'racial flavor' things... kind of suck."
17:10 - "'Good fits' are often kind of similar." Some talk about differentiating ships in Eve by finding new niches for them, and where that's still a problem with redundancy (HACs versus tier3 BCs).


22:51 - The last three combat frigates: kestrel, tristan, breacher.
27:00 - Ewar frigates. (potential change to ECM coming in the expansion)
29:07 - Support (logistics) frigates.


37:35 - Small tweaks to current destroyers.
39:15 - The history of random silly numbers in various ship stats.
40:00 - The four new destroyers.

40:45 - DRONES
(really sort of a destroyer tangent that went crazy and became its own topic)

40:45 - Some discussion of drones as secondary weapon systems for Gallente and Amarr.
43:05 - The issue with putting missiles - especially short-range missile systems - on slow, heavily armored ships.
44:00 - Relevant Tangent: "Making active armor-tanking not be so slow."
46:00 - More on drones.

There is SOME implication (46:10 - he doesn't say it outright - I am INFERRING) that while the Amarr will use drones almost as much as Gallente for secondary damage, and have roomy drone bays, they won't have the BANDWIDTH of Gallente ships, who will be able to field beefier flights of drones. "I don't see us pushing heavy drones to Amarr hulls." Basically it sounds like "Light fast drones go with slow heavy Amarr ships, and bigger heavier drones with the (eventually) faster Gallente ships that can get in close and THEN release drones."

46:45 - Why drone speed bonuses are a problem.

49:10 - CRUISERS

50:20 - "We really want tech1 ships to be viable and used a lot."
50:50 - How the relationship between new tech1 frigates and tech2 frigates demonstrates the kind of relationship and 'gap' CCP wants to see between all tech1 and tech2 versions of a ship.
52:14 - Attack Cruisers' new speeds (roughly a 20% increase in speed to the attack cruisers) & what will make Combat Cruisers attractive?


55:05 - "The places Amarr does well right now [...] is the battleships, so a lot of those kind of archetypes are the kind of things you'll see drop down [to smaller ships]."
58:00 - Adjusting beam weapons.


1:00:40 - "ASBs are definitely a balance issue, right now."
1:02:00 - "Greyscale is a champion for active-tanking (in PvP)."
1:02:50 - "Increasing the kinds of decisions that people can make [in Pvp] is a good thing."
1:05:25 - Back to ASB discussion.


1:07:00 - "Hitting [off-grid] boosting with a GIANT baseball bat."
1:08:15 - "What's wrong with links, by your evaluation?"
1:10:20 - "The idea with tech3s was always that they should be good generalists; they do a number of those things at the same time, but they shouldn't be as good as tech2 [ships]. The area where you see that working really well is EWAR. [...] That's where we would like see them when it comes to links."

1:11:26 - ECM




Life in Eve: Retribution is Coming #eveonline

So last night, I actually found myself online at the same time as Em, and we had time to talk about the changes coming up with "Retribution" -- the winter expansion. The upshot of that conversation was that a lot of the stuff that I'd categorized as "everybody know this is coming" was stuff that Em hadn't heard about yet.

So I figured I'd list out pretty much everything I'm aware of that's coming with Retribution. A few caveats:

  • I'm not going to talk about Crime Watch and the new Bounty system, because not much has been posted about it yet.

  • I'm going to be briefly summarize the changes, but this is still going to be a monster of a post. Can't be helped: there's a TON of stuff coming in this expansion.

Now then, let's get started:

Faction Warfare

  • WAR ZONE CONTROL - War zone control does not currently encourage players to hold space, only to upgrade Infrastructure-hubs when they need to buy stuff from the LP store (upgraded warzone control gives truly massive store discounts for the limited time the upgrade is in place). The upcoming change removes the  discounts, and modifies the amount of loyalty points you earn doing FW stuff instead.They're also going to make it harder to upgrade and downgrade the control in individual systems within the war zone, which should make whatever tier you're at more 'sticky'.There are a number of things they're putting in to make this happen, but basically offensively taking out offensive complexes won't 'bleed' the stability of a system's upgrades quite as hard (though it will still pay as well), defensively plexing in a contested system will actually reward you something other than standing, and guys can't just farm some system that's been stripped down to a totally vulnerable state for days on end -- vulnerable systems will give offensive plex-runners no payout at all.Opinion: Greed is a good motivator. This should encourage factions to actually keep and maintain desirable levels of zone control for the  LP bonus rather than just push to the max level for 40 minutes every couple weeks to 'cash out'. More zone control effort = more fights. The changes to the loyalty point payouts for offensive, defensive, and vulnerable-system plexing are very good -- see the other FW Complex Changes, below.

  • NEW SYSTEM UPGRADES - Current benefits from upgrading a system are a bit lame, especially in systems with no stations. The new iteration will, per level of upgrade in a system, add:

    • More manufacturing, copy, research, and invention slots in stations

    • Reduction in ship repair costs

    • Reduction in market taxes

    • Reduction in manufacturing times (this one is a pretty huge deal)

    • Reduction to starbase fuel cost (only happens twice, at tiers 3 and 5)

    • Able to anchor Cyno Jammer (only at tier 5 control of the system) to prevent getting an enemy capital ship fleet dropped on you. This is a special item and basically takes about 5 or 10 minutes to spool up, and lasts an hour.

  • FW COMPLEX CHANGES - there's a whole lot of changes to make it harder or outright impossible to ignore PvP in plexes. CCP wants these locations to be a good hot point for fights (anything to change things so every single fight isn't on a gate or a station is a good thing, in my opinion), and they're doing a lot of good stuff to make that happen.

    • The 'capture' beacon will be moved a lot closer to the entrance to the complex, so attackers don't have to first traverse 60 to 100 kilometers of empty space to get within range of their target.

    • All beacon capture ranges will be normalized to 30km.

    • Any hostile pilots or hostile NPCs inside the complex will prevent the capture timer from counting down, so if an enemy shows up, you need to kill 'em or drive them off.

    • They're adding a frigate-only complex, and reorganizing which ships can get into each of the four types of complexes, focusing on restrictions based strictly on size, not tech level of the ships.

    • Since complexes can't be captured if there are enemy NPCs active in the complex, you need to be able to kill them, though there will be fewer (only one active a time), so you can legitimately do this technically PvE activity with PvP-fit ships. (Also, they don't spawn if there's any PvP happening.) Also, the NPCs will be active-tanked to a level appropriate to their ships size, which means that there shouldn't be any more situations where a frigate is soloing a battlecruiser-class complex.Opinion: All in all, good changes; a hard counter to the no-gun, warp-away, risk-adverse, plex-farming bullshit going on right now.

Mission NPCs (including Faction Warfare NPCs)

All mission NPCs will get upgraded to the "sleeper AI", modified somewhat. That means that NPCs in all missions will switch targets based on threat (instead of just aggroing the first guy who warps into the site and sticking to him until killed). They will target drones less than Sleepers do and will, if possible, target ships of roughly the same class as themselves, provided such targets exist.

Opinion: The fact that supposedly hardcore EvE players are whining about NPCs finally obeying "threat" code that's been standard in MMOs for ten years makes me laugh. Harden the fuck up.

Many Ship Changes are Coming

Well over 40 ships are either being revamped, tweaked, or simply created from scratch. Starting from the smallest and working our way up...

Tech1 Exploration Frigates

These ships are, today, basically used as disposable ships for lighting Cynos, and that's about it. CCP wants to see them in their intended role: solo running of high-sec exploration sites throughout New Eden -- a great occupation for newer players -- or to support more advanced ships in low-sec, null-sec, or wormhole space. They're all getting bonuses to hacking, archaeology, and salvaging so you can use them to both probe and run the "mini-profession" sites. Their combat ability has been directed at drones (3 or 4 unbonused light drones) instead of weak weapon bonuses -- enough to kill the rats in high-sec sites (although a combat frig will clear them faster) -- fit a light active tank, drop drones, and kite.

Opinion: The only downside to these changes is that it makes all four the ships feel sort of... the same. That said, they should be good at what they're intended to do, and a good way for a new pilot to practice scanning and make some money. Now, if they'd just change the hull for the Imicus -- god that's a stupid-looking ship...

Tech1 EWar Frigates

Since these were formerly "low-tier" frigates, they're getting pretty significant buffs to make them 'as good as other frigates', while focusing on their given role. CCP's goal is to see these ships become commonly used by newer players to take useful roles in fleets of many different sizes. CCP has also said they expect to release them alongside some tweaks to certain ewar mechanics themselves (for instance, the Griffin getting another mid-slot for yet more ECM, but apparently ECM's getting tweaked so that it's going to balance out).

The Crucifier (Amarr) and Vigil (Minmatar) are being bonused towards longer-range disruption, while the Griffin (Caldari) and Maulus (Gallente) are more medium range oriented.  CCP has also said that some EWar was over-nerfed in the past (hello, Gallente) and will be looked at.

Tech1 Support Frigates -- Your first "healer" ship

One of the coolest things CCP is doing with this expansion is establish better 'training' paths for certain classes of ships -- you want to be the support/repair/buff guy? Well, you don't have to wait two months to finally fly a viable ship! You can start with Support Frigates, move to Support Cruisers, and then to the tech2 Logistics Cruisers that we all know.

Each race will be getting a tech one support frigate, bonused in remote repairing. (10% bonus to repair amount per level, 10% reduction in capacitor draw for reppers per level, and a flat 500% bonus to remote repair module ranges). They're also giving them more scan resolution across the board, cutting the cycle time of small remote armor and shield reps in half so that these ships can respond more quickly to the fast pace of frigate combat, and reducing the fitting requirements of these modules. These ships have a max rep range of 28.8km with Tech2 rep modules and are generally among the slowest of the tech one frigates.

The Support Frigates are generally created from the 'mining' frigates that no one ever uses for anything, ever. This is perhaps the trickiest part of the winter frigate rebalance, since CCP is creating an entirely new role for frigates in a fleet, and hopefully shaking up frigate and other small-gang combat quite a bit.

These ships are, by design, weaker for their size than Tech2 Logistics Ships. This reflects both the lower cost and Skill investment and the design goal that they add to current frigate warfare without eclipsing all the other ships in the lineup.

More Tech1 Combat Frigates

We've already seen the changes to the Merlin, Incursus, Rifter (not much change), Punisher, and Tormentor (the mini-Armageddon -- a design philosophy in which CCP acknowledges that the Amarr battleships are the best the Amarr has for PvP, so let's copy those designs in miniature). These last three round out the Combat Frigate lines to 8 ships, two for each race. All three tend to favor long-range combat.

The Kestrel, in contrast to the heavier-tanked, gun-toting Merlin, is the start of the Caldari training path for pure missile damage. It's going to do good damage with any type of missiles you can fit on it, with great range. It's also going to be quite a bit more fragile than the new Merlin, though tougher than the older version of itself. It's also getting a bit faster.

The Tristan is moving away from being a mix of missiles and guns, to being a mix of guns and drones. It will be able to field a full flight of light drones, with almost a full second flight of replacements or utility. It's guns are bonused for tracking, to deal with the fact that it will probably fit railguns over blasters (it has a nice bonus to targeting range). It's about as slow and tough as you remember. It's going to be a hell of a fun ship to bring on frigate roams.

Finally, the Breacher is another missile-boat. It gets an agnostic missile damage bonus, like the Kestrel, but (and I like this) it's second bonus is to shield repair amounts, making it a tiny, missile-tossing Cyclone. I approve.

New ORE Mining Frigate (Please name it the Chribba.)

Designed as an entry-level mining ship, this will replace the old mining frigates in the Industry Career Path tutorials. It has an outstanding mining output, capacitor, and mobility, with an astounding (for a frigate) ore hold of 5000 cubic meters. Its purpose is to be a fast hull capable of mining in hostile space (even if the current value of high-sec ore defeats this goal quite a bit). It also serves as an AMAZING gas harvester. With its inherent +2 warp core strength bonus, it should stand a fair chance of doing its job without being instantly tackled and killed.

With it's bonuses, the ship can do with two mining lasers what it would take any other ship five lasers to accomplish. This means that when gas harvesting, it's output as good as any gas-harvesting battlecruiser you care you name, with almost twice as much 'ore' cargo capacity for that gas.  Even without a propulsion mod, it can be built to be practically unscannable, cruise around at close to 500 meters per second, and align-to-warp in 2.5 seconds.

Oh, and it gets a flight of three light drones.

I will buy these things by the six-pack.

Existing Destroyers Rebalanced

CCP sees destroyers trading resilience and mobility for firepower. Existing destroyers are mostly fine as they are right now, but they are getting a few tweaks, notably the Coercer, which is in sad shape.

The Coercer is getting a second medium slot (finally!), losing a low in the process. It also got more CPU and Powergrid, so it can squeeze on the largest small lasers (once those weapon's fitting requirements are changed, see below).

The Cormorant swaps one medium out for a new low slot. Capacitor, agility, and signature radius were inconsistent with other Caldari ships and were adjusted.

The Thrasher and Catalyst were barely touched.

Four New Destroyers

The new destroyers keep the same role as existing hulls - anti-frigate platforms. However they use alternate weapon systems to reach that goal, which means drones and missiles. Next to the existing destroyers, they have slightly less mobility, more signature radius, less capacitor, but are a bit tougher, with better damage projection due to the weapon types they use. Price will be roughly the same as existing destroyers.

Amarr: The Amarr destroyer is designed to take down opposition through indirect means. It gets bonuses to drone damage and hit points, and 20% range bonus to energy vampire and neutralizer modules (which will take up some or all of its six turrets with small neuts that reach out to about 13 kilometers). It's basically sort of a mini-Curse. The damage is nothing special, but energy disruption ability plus drone control makes it, potentially, a real game changer in smaller fights. Like the Arbitrator, it has large bay of drones (able to field flights of five light drones at a time), giving it many options and utility choices.

Caldari: Missiles, missiles, missiles, missiles, that's what this hull is all about. It spams missiles from eight launchers at quite a long range, and boasts improved explosion velocity to catch those pesky annoying little orbiting frigates.

GallenteCombines both turret and drone damage. Will probably have five turrets bonused for tracking (railguns), with a single utility high slot. Damage is lower than a Catalyst, but much better damage projection (two full flights of lights in its drone bay) -- especially with drone damage amplifier changes.

Minmatar: This ship is unique among all Destroyers as it has a bonus that improves survivability - it is designed to zip around in the battlefield at high velocities (it gets a bonus that reduces its signature size when using a Microwarpdrive) while spewing missiles from its seven launchers. As a downside, it's less efficient at hitting fast moving targets at greater ranges, like the Caldari hull.

Weapon and Module Changes

There have been a bunch, and I'm going to summarize a lot, and probably forget many things. This is the stuff that seems to be attracting the most attention.


Light missiles and rockets got buffed. All larger short-range missile systems got buffed either directly, indirectly, or both. Heavy Missile Launchers got 'nerfed' so that they perform more in line with long-range weapon system -- compared to those weapon systems, they'll be second highest in DPS and volley damage once the changes go in. Several types of missile launchers got easier to fit. Tech2 missiles generally got buffed, though a few became less useful.


Smalls and medium lasers got easier to fit, and several got renamed to be less stupid. (No more small lasers named "medium" something.)


Medium artillery cannons got easier to fit, and some ships (Hurricane) got their powergrid adjusted down to compensate. (As I mentioned yesterday, this 'hurricane nerf' isn't much of one, though there may still be more changes coming.)

Drone Damage Amplifiers got easier to fit.

Ancillary Shield Boosters got nerfed down a bit, because they needed it. Basically, they have the same repair capacity, but they can't keep it going for nearly as long before they have to reload (and then die).

Ewar Cruisers

These are the Disruption cruisers, inexpensive ewar platforms. CCP is revamping the tech1 Ewar cruisers with similar goals to the Tech1 ewar frigates. Two are focused on pure ewar with range bonuses (Blackbird and Celestis) and two are more hybrid ewar/brawlers for small gangs (Arbitrator and Bellicose).

Arbitrator: Bonus to tracking disruptors and drone damage/hit points. Not many changes, as CCP sees this as a really good ship already. In general it got a bit tougher and the capacitor got buffed. It's got better weapon options now as well -- rather than trying to squeeze on unbonused energy neutralizers in an effort to be a poor-man's Pilgrim, the Arb pilot can run with two lasers and two missile launchers in its highs, if he wants to.

Blackbird: Bonus to ECM jam strength, optimal range, and falloff. Slightly better tank and capacitor. Now has a small drone bay. Ridiculous base targeting range (85km).

Celestis: Bonus to Sensor Damp effectiveness and optimal range. Big drone bay (two full flights of lights, or a flight of mediums) with the bandwidth to match. With the added drones and two(!) more low slots, it's even better at ignoring its intended role to triple-web-kill frigates.

Bellicose: Bonus to Target Painter effectiveness and Missile Launcher rate of fire (with four launchers). Complimentary bonuses! Amazing! Way more CPU for fitting. Better shields. Faster. I'll be having these.

Tech1 Support Cruisers

These are the tech1 remote repair ships designed to operate alongside or instead of Tech2 Logistics ships.
These ships continue the 'upgrade path' started with Support Frigates, which new players can follow all the way into T2 Logistics ships (or even carriers). These ships are weaker (both in reps and tank) than Tech2 versions, but they are designed to be capable in a mixed Tech1/Tech2 fleet, when what counts most is participation.

CCP Fozzie:
"If we've done our job right, then when a newer player shows up to your Armor fleet saying "I've got an Augoror, how can I help?" the FC will respond with "Join our logistics channel, the guys in there will get you set up with the cap chain and anchor", rather than "LOLN00B come back with a real ship."

These ships are very close to their Tech2 counterparts in range, speed, agility, cap chain ability, and cap stability. They should be able to hang out with a Logistics crew and do their thing, albeit at reduced effectiveness. They also rely more strongly on role bonuses than skill bonuses, so that they will continue to be viable even when your pilot doesn't have Cruiser 5. (Their repair range and cap chain ability remains basically the same no matter who's flying the ship.)

Also, as with the the Logi frigate balance pass, CCP adjusted the repair modules at the same time, reducing some fitting requirements significantly.
The downside for their cheapness and low skill requirements will mainly be rep amount (at best, two-thirds of a Tech2 Logistics ship), signature radius, sensor strength, and tank.

Basically, all four ships got:

  • A 15% bonus to either either Remote Armor Repair amount or Remote Shield boost, per level.

  • A 5% reduction in the capacitor use of the appropriate module (remote shield or armor reppers), per level.

  • A flat 1000% bonus to the range of the appropriate module (and to Energy Transfers, for the Augoror and Osprey).

In addition, the Osprey and Augoror get a flat 200% bonus to Energy Transfer Array transfer amount (welcome to the cap chain), while the Exequror and Scythe get a bonus to the repair amount of Logistics drones.

They all get a few more fitting slots, improved power grid or CPU (or both), buffed tank, buffed capacitor, and increased drone capacity. (The Exequror tops the charts on this, as it can field a full flight of bonused medium logi drones, while the Scythe has the weird bandwidth and drone bay values that Scimitar pilots should find familiar.)

Attack Cruisers

Somewhat more anticipated cruisers than Ewar and Support Cruisers. "Attack" cruisers are the faster and lighter of the fighting cruisers.

The gap between Attack and Combat cruisers mirror the gap in the frigate lines, although for cruisers the divide isn't as sharp. These ships do have less EHP than the Combat cruisers, but can still be tanked pretty well if you sacrifice some of your firepower.

These ships (the Omen, Caracal, Thorax, and Stabber) saw quite a bit of adjustment, though the really lame ones got more love.

Omen: Speaking of lame, boy did this guy get some love. Double-bonuses laser turrets. Another low slot. Improved powergrid and CPU. Roughly a 20% increase in mobility. Much better drone capacity.

Caracal: Excellent missile platform. Improved tank. Two more low slots. Much better powergrid and CPU. A nice fat boost to base speed.

Thorax: Probably adjusted the least of the group. Slight weaker tank, but a big boost to base speed, leaving it second only to the Stabber. A bit more CPU for fitting, another medium fitting slot, and that's about it.

Stabber: Poor stabber, how you've been mistreated all these years. How can we make it up to you? How about being the fastest attack cruiser by almost 20%? Bonused turrets with a falloff buff for better kiting? Another low and mid slot? Better tank?

Can't decide? Then you can have all of the above!

You still only get that one little light drone, though. No luck there. Sorry.

Combat Cruisers

Last but not least, the Combat Cruisers are designed as front line warships with both solid damage and good staying power. These ships got less dramatic changes than the others. The average tank of the set is only 2% higher than the average tank of the old "Tier 3" cruisers. Their main advantages over the other t1 cruisers are in tanking and a more robust capacitor.

Maller: No longer the useless, over-tanked, under-gunned bait ship! The maller gets a bonus to damage on its five laser turrets and a bonus to armor resists (rather than raw hit points, like the old version) (oops: got this confused with the Navy Augoror). A nice fat boost to powergrid should make fitting the medium turrets a lot easier, too. It picked up a chuck of base armor hit points, and also got about 25% faster.

Moa: Basically the shield version of the Maller, with a bonus to hybrid turrets and shield resistances. Doesn't look like much else changed on this ship, but I never got the sense that it was that weak -- just unspeakably ugly.

Vexor: If it ain't broke, dont' fix it. The vexor gets a bonus to both medium hybrid turret damage and drone hitpoints and damage. It loses the utility high slot, but gains both a mid-slot and low-slot, making it very versatile. The extra powergrid may even mean it can fit right-sized guns! Very solid tank (tons of structure hit points, because Gallente) and improved speed.

Rupture: If anything the Rupture was tweaked even less than the Vexor. One less high slot (why even bother making launchers an option), one more mid-slot (yay flexibility!). As with all minmatar, it's faster than the other ships in its class, and remains a great option.

... and I'm spent.