2013-05-06

Life in Eve: Pretty Good Weekend

Like most ten-year-olds, EVE celebrated its birthday on the nearest weekend (just past), rather than the actual date (today), in order to maximize the fun.

I'm pretty glad they did.

My mom-in-law's in town, the kids had a cool brass concert to go to, I'm wrapping up a bunch of MFA projects at the moment, and had a book review go up at the Mittani -- all of which meant that while I was at my computer a lot this weekend, it wasn't as often as it might have been, and I wasn't always logged into the game.

But I tried.

Saturday was the Tuskers third Frigate Free For all, which was extremely conveniently located all of one jump away from one of our lowsec staging systems. I brought over one ship (a super-long-range Atron that lived a lot longer than I expected), and after that I made use of the prefit ships provided by the Tuskers for the event, trying my best to fly ships from every faction, and as many different kinds as I could. Some of the prefit ships were a little kooky (or shamefully short of ammo), but they were all fun in their own way (probably the most fun was a microwarpdrive + blaster fit Incursus), it was SO NICE to just dock up and say "give me something Gallente" and just get it, and I had a ball, as did the other pilots from our corp who joined in.  A couple mis-clicks cost me a few decimal points of security status, but I'll live.

I could only stay for about one-sixth of the event's duration due to aforementioned kid's brass concert, so I left my corp mates to the carnage and headed out.

(You know: CCP really needs to make it easier to get into a new ship after you lose one. For a lot of pilots, it isn't the loss of a ship that's the problem: it's the pain in the ass logistics of getting together the parts and assembling a new one. Even if you pre-fit a bunch of ships to be ready for whatever happens, all you're really doing is time-shifting that preparation effort, and you always end up with ships you never fly.  Some way to click on a saved fitting and say "Give me one of these, purchased from THIS station, and already assembled. Go!" I can't help but think that would make it easier for people to jump into space and take a fight.)

After the concert, I found out the FFA was still going on, having upgraded to destroyers in my absence, so I ran over to our staging station and picked up a sniping catalyst that has been gathering dust in my hangar and flew around sniping at random stuff, which unexpectedly led to a fun 1v1 fight between me and someone from Black Rebel Rifter Club, above a lonely moon on the edge of the system. Good fight, and I called a personal end to the event with that.

Final tally: due to my limited participation, "only" racked up 60 kills and 14 ship losses. Two of my corp mates made the top 25 killers for the event (one in the top ten), and our corporation registered 252 kills (including a Thanatos carrier) and 49 cheap-o losses. So much fun.

Saturday night, I decided to take the advice of someone from the EVE303 google group (Eve players in Denver) and did a long haul across enemy territory to HED-GP, a null-sec system where "things happen." I noticed a lot of pilots from Bombers Bar in the system, and as I'm known to them, I joined their fleet and spent a little time plinking at various TEST pilots and trying to save as many tactical bookmarks as I could. (Meanwhile, back in our normal stomping grounds, Meg and Sthaz took part in massacring a pirate Battlecruiser fleet, so probably I selected the wrong activity for the night. Oh well.) I left the bomber in a station over in that area, in case I feel the need to terrorize TESTies again, and headed home.

Sunday was a big day, with lots of activities planned around New Eden to celebrate the game's ten year anniversary. The big one was the Flight of 1000 Rifters, in which Marlona Sky arranged to sacrifice a super-carrier to whatever pilots showed up to take the ship down.

Red vs. Blue planned to be there, and started up the day with an early roam/ship move once the location of the event was announced -- I joined their fleet simply to have a couple hundred allies in the impending brawl. Having flown in the Free For All the day before, I wanted to make sure I'd have more than enough ships on hand, and risked a cheap hauler to bring twenty executioners into the just-announced system, then hopped into an Ares interceptor to join the RvB gang on a roam to kill time until the 1000 Rifters event.

After a bit of meandering, the fleet managed to intercept a CCP Developer Fleet that was flying around in brand new Gnosis battlecruisers (prize ships given out to pilots for the 10th year anniversary). Many, many ships exploded, and honestly I'm not as happy about the CCP devs I got to shoot as I am about this ship loss.

I'll say this about the Dev fleet (led by, I'm assuming, CCP Fozzie): they had good target discipline. I was locked, targeted, and then single-volleyed off the field at the precise moment one of the Devs managed to pull my into a hard turn that slowed my Ares down juuuust enough to hit. POP goes the interceptor.

Once we got done shooting devs (I logged a shameful number of CCP kills in a rookie frigate I picked up after losing the Ares), it was time to get to the supercarrier killing.

How to sum this up:

  • Pretty cool.

  • 2300 people in system.

  • OMG so much lag.

  • Frigate Free For All: brought 1 ship, used 14. Thousand Rifter event: brought 20 ships, used 1. Oops. (Also: now I need to move ~20 frigates back out to somewhere more useful.)


This is how Eve players light a birthday cake. (The time dilation lag left people lots of time to take screenshots.)


Most of the shooting wasn't really directed at the supercarrier as much as the other pilots (in true Eve style), so many many ships exploded, none of which were mine (surprisingly).

Somewhere in there, Eve set a new record for concurrent connected players, just north of 65 thousand players.

I'm glad I did the 1000 Rifters event, but it was not nearly as fun (thanks to time dilation and unavoidable lag) as the (admittedly smaller, with "only" 300 pilots) Free For All the day before.

Logged out, played with the kids, wrote some more of my final paper, watched Doctor Who, and saw an email from CB that we had some visitors to the wormhole. No one was in comms when I logged in, but I spotted a few unfamiliar ships on scan. After about 15 minutes of stalking, I found a Noctis salvaging ship sucking up wrecks in a Sleeper site, and watched as his four battlecruiser bodyguards warped out and left him all alone.

Welcome to the Wormhole. Watch that first step.


Ooops. I crept up on the Noctis in a stealthy little Tengu strategic cruiser named (of course) Bad Penny, and a half-dozen volleys later I had a dead ship, a hold full of sleeper loot, and a nice little bow with which to wrap up the weekend.

Happy Birthday, Eve Online. Here's to the second decade.

2013-05-01

Life in Eve: Illustrated Thought for the Day

There is no way to conduct corp recruitment in Eve without it coming off slightly creepy.

Life in Eve: April Fools

April got off to a rocky start, so I wasn't really sure how things would look as the month wrapped up. Let's review.

After a really, really excellent March, our hunger for good, challenging fun led us to take a lot of fights we probably should have avoided. Adrenaline withdrawal had set in, and the junkies did not react well. One week into April, we'd racked up about a third of the losses we had all through March, and one-twentieth of the wins. Ouch.

It wasn't, in my opinion, that we were flying any worse, but we were making poor decisions, often fueled by desperation for some action. Everyone has nights like that in Eve, I think, but in this case we had about eight days of it, and it had gotten a little ridiculous. Familiarity had bred too much contempt, I suppose -- it seemed the (vanishingly few) Amarr-held systems were full of nothing but off-grid fleet boosters, up-shipping nonsense, or (most often) pilots who simply wouldn't engage.

Our long roams looking for something to fight were exercises in frustration.


In short, we felt we knew the enemy's standard ploys and found them tiresome.

A change of scenery was called for. New territory, new faces, different pirates to shoot. Tuskers and Black Rebel Rifter Club active in the area -- generally always a plus. Gallente loyalty points to earn. More familiarity with the whole war, and basically doubles the space we can effectively roam.

Battlefrogs are go.


Everyone seemed to agree, and off we went. Carriers were unlimbered, beacons were lit, and the HMS Marmoset set out for the "other front" in the war.

Things went moderately well. Probably at least two weeks were chewed up trying to figure out where the best options lay in terms of good opponents, but we slowly managed to pull ourselves out of the hole we'd gotten into.

There were also some cultural shifts to deal with.

  • Gallente seem to think actually capturing vulnerable systems is too much work, and are content to sit at a relatively weak level of war zone control, earning decidedly 'meh' levels of LP for their efforts, when they could easily upgrade.

    "Nous sommes trop fatigu├ęs," come the whispers. "Eet ees too hhhhard."

  • Running missions is much more challenging -- not impossible, but trickier. Basically, no one in the Gallente forces runs them, and honestly many of our own guys avoid them as well, as they are the quickest route to tanking personal standings with the Caldari to the point where (compounded with our anti-Amarr activities) pilots would be locked out of half of all known space even if they left the war.

  • Our opponent's ship selection is quite different than the Amarr we're used to. Assault Frigates are as thick as gnats. Someone is making a killing on selling Corax destroyers, I imagine. Caldari Navy Hookbills have always been a go-to ship for many pilots, but they are (perhaps understandably) everywhere in Caldari space, as are Condors.

  • Pirate presence and activity in this warzone is much higher.

  • Random visits from null-sec gangs is more common, as the Gallente-Caldari warzone has at least four connections to null-sec space, while the Minmatar-Amarr front has... zero.


Eventually (following another smaller move where we settled into more permanent digs), we found a hot pocket (heh) of Caldari resistance that seemed to suit us right down to the ground. It called for a fairly significant shift away from frigates and into destroyers, but we'd wanted to try that sort of thing out anyway. The tail end of April saw us back in the brisk business of explosions.

Corp Numbers


Our ship losses for April were down slightly from March and February, and the total and average value of the ships lost was lower, even though we've started flying larger classes of hulls. Our wins for the month didn't match the ridiculous totals we tallied up in March, but they beat February both in raw volume and value -- the first truly active "post Ushra'Khan" months. The rough, rough start of the month hurt us, and it took us awhile to find our feet in the new war zone, but we still ended up ~65% efficient for the month. Several pilots went inactive when we moved to the Gallente front, which affected our numbers slightly, but our active pilots certainly picked up the slack.

Solo kills were down a bit, which I attribute to a general unfamiliarity with the war zone and not knowing if an apparently solo opponent was actually solo or just bait, but started to pick up near the end of the month.

Top ships flown:

Friga -- wait what? Actually, the most-flown ship for April was a destroyer. We racked up almost three times the number of wins in a Talwar then we did in any other hull type, and five other destroyer hulls made the list as well, whereas in March we didn't (successfully) fly any.

Once again, escape pods made the Top 10 list for "ships flown by a pilot during a successful fight." I call this the "putting skin in the game" statistic.

How about me, personally?


My statistics pretty much mirror the corp. April was all right: not my best month, but easily in the top three. I lost a few more ships than I have in the previous two months, but at the same time April marks the third month in a row where the total ISK value of my lost ships has gone down. Overall, I pulled my all-time efficiency up.

I didn't fly quite as many different ships has I have in previous months, but I did vary a bit more in ship classes. Talwars topped the list, followed by Fed Navy Comets. I got wins in some other types of destroyers, one quite memorable fight in a Vexor cruiser, a couple in a Prophecy battlecruiser, and a single very special kill in stealth bomber that earned me both a bounty and a string of invective-filled evemails that culminated in this zinger:

"I hope you die of cancer."




And what about the War?

I've already talked about the differences between the Calliente war zone versus the Minmatar/Amarr, and why our old stomping grounds got a little bit too trampled to bring the fun. I still don't know if I love the new area, but we've got stuff to shoot at, and maybe some null-sec roams in our future, so we'll see how it goes.




Could this be you?


As a side note: if you're interested in trying this kind of gameplay out, drop me a comment. The corp has no assets, no bank account, and no intel worth the effort of a spy, so we're pretty welcoming to anyone interested in learning how to blow up, take some guys down with you, and have fun as you explode. So far, our 'new' recruits include former wormholers, ex null-bloc soldiers, people we've blown up and then recruited, and one random guy who opened comms with me as we flew through the system he was in and shouted "Please take me with you!"

Generally speaking, just don't be dick, don't talk in local, don't whine when your shit blows up, and we can talk.