In Like a Lion

... a creepy, stalker lion who takes almost ten minutes easing up on a laser gazelle.

Where's yer links now, buddy?
And with that, bed.

Ending the Month with a Bang

... actually sort of a series of explosions.

Mine, unfortunately.

I really need to stop diving into "1v1" fights with Amamake pirates running link alts.

Actually, I'm not going to complain (much): I was actually involved in more kills this month than in any previous time playing Eve. 154 might not seem like much to some folks, it's pretty fine for me.

I participated in a number of fleets this month, which certainly accounts for the high total (in 67% of the fights, I was flying an interceptor of some kind), but at the same time I did manage to get some solo and small gang stuff in (30 kills either solo or with a group of 6 or fewer pilots/NPCs involved).

Actually, things on this front were wildly erratic - I was generally either in fleets of 20 or more... or solo. :P I really need to find some pilots to fly with on weeknights.

The pirate thing is more and more appealing.
I wonder how many pilots went pirate simply to have more people to shoot at?

I flew at least fifteen different hulls (pretty sure a couple Maledictions never showed up because they died before tasting blood), and while the ratio is WILDLY skewed toward interceptors, I still got more than one kill in ten other types of ships.

The only ship that I lost more of than I killed? Electronic Attack Ships! (This is exciting because it means Interceptors have been kicked out of this coveted position for the first time in well over a year. I'm bad at something new!)

Things to do In March
I think I'm going to spend some time stalking explorers. That seems like it could be very amusing.

In addition, I think I'll spend some time flying with Spectre Fleet, and some of the players I knew from back in the wormhole are logging back in and talking Incursions, which I can easily participate in with my carrier/logi alt.

Mostly, though, I'm just going to try to get more small fights and go down guns blazing. Those kinds of fights haven't been going my way that last few days, but I've got 25 slashers ready to sacrifice their bodies for the cause.


Always Tomorrow

Scribbled down while scouting for Redemption Road today. With apologies to Mike Reed.
My pilot's safe within his pod.
Emperyean, immortal god.

No mortal troubles, bills to pay.
Just stars and space, no night or day.

My mind is backed up on hard disk.
My heart beats faster when at risk.

No scram, no web, no point, no bubble,
can touch my ship or cause me trouble.

I fly from Doril to VOL-MI
And from there off to HED-GP.

Untroubled, laughing, loving it.
No bombs, lost hulls, or fatal fits.

No MWDs have yet burned out.
We haven't lost too many scouts.

Flying frigates, dessies, dictors
Shooting cruisers, missing ceptors.

Unharmed, unruffled, innocent.
No sec loss here. (Well, a little bit.)

Log out and sleep. Another roam
is passed in ease. We made it home.

No horrors here, no sudden gank.
No waking up in a pod goo tank.

No slip from victory into sorrow.
But there's always tomorrow.
Always tomorrow.


Playing Catch Up

So, just for the sake of argument, let's say you've been on a break from Eve for awhile. This happens.

Now, either because you've been reminded of the kind of destructive drama Eve generates, or you want to fly spaceships again, or you want your character's name carved on a rock in Iceland, you're back, and you're getting ready to undock.
I mean, it's Eve, right? How much could have changed?
Hang on, cowboy. I've got some explaining to do.

The Wayback

Because I'm lazy, I'm not going to go too far back. Let's say the last three expansions: Inferno, Retribution, and Odyssey.

Here we go...

1. Everything looks better.
Space is prettier, autopilot routes paint a lovely path in space (on your HUD), warping is cooler, gate jumps are way cooler, pretty much all the ships in the game have got a "v3" sexification, as have the stations. Hell, even super capitol wrecks look better. On top of that, missile animations are better, as are misses... when stuff is shooting at your ship.

2. There aren't any bad ships anymore.
Okay, that's not exactly true - the Caldari dreadnought and the capital-weapon-sized missile weapons are still terrible, and no one really seems to know what to do with the thanatos carrier's bonuses, but besides that? No, everything else is pretty much great.

All that stuff you remember where each ship class is broken into different tiers of effectiveness? That's all gone now.

Instead, there are now fairly well defined roles for ships, and many of the ship sizes have representatives of each type.
  • Combat
  • Ewar/Disruption
  • Support
  • Exploration
  • Mining
Combat ships have, additionally, been broken into two different types:
  • Heavy tanked, heavy hitting, slower. (Combat ships)
  • Lighter tanked, lower damage, faster. (Attack ships)
And, especially with Combat, Disruption, and Support ships, since they're all supposed to be equally useful, they are all pretty much comparable (assuming you're not doing something stupid with them). 

This means that a lot of ships you'd have probably never seen in space before (Navitas, Augoror, Burst, Stabber, Atron, kestrel, Bellicose, and dozens more) are now all over the place, and some of the ships you're familiar with are different, but still good in new ways (Dominix has gotten very tough and tanky, Armageddon is a neut+drone boat, thorax isn't as tough, but got much faster and kitey, Vexor got much tougher, Maller is useful, Minmatar and Amarr discovered they like missile systems way more than we thought).

It's also expanded gameplay that was once only really seen in tech2 and large null-sec fleets - logistic-support in even quite small frigate gangs is a thing, for example, and logistics support for cruiser gangs is (in general) normal, because it's so damned good.

Oh, and there are new ships, like four new destroyers focused on the 'other weapon system' for each race, which means a couple missile and a couple drone-based destroyers. So much fun.
It's easy to get excited.
In short, the ships that used to be go-to options in each class are still there (rifters, thrashers, ruptures, et cetera) and they're still good, but they aren't the only option in their class - they're one option out of forty.

And that's just the tech1 stuff. Interceptors are now immune to warp bubbles, making them great for getting around null-sec. Blockade runners can't have their cargo scanned anymore (though orcas can, now) and move almost as fast as interceptors. Interdictors got a nice overhaul. Marauders got the ability to basically go into siege mode, which makes them great mission runner and pretty scary PvP ships, if you don't care about ISK at all.

3. There Aren't Any Bad Weapon Systems, Either.
A new executioner frigate prepares to undock.
Well, except capital-sized-missiles. Otherwise, no: none of them are really bad anymore, if used correctly. This is a combination of tweaks to the systems themselves and adjustments to the ships using them so that they aren't working directly against the way a weapon system needs to be used (blaster ships need to be fast enough to close range - who knew?!?).

4. Warp Speeds Matter.
In short, small fast ships are WAY faster than other ship types, and anything bigger than a cruiser got slower than you're used to. Interceptors (really, any frigates, not to mention some of the faster haulers like blockade runners) can give a Battleship a 20 second head start and still beat them through warp to the next gate.

5. All this stuff changed the definition of "what works."
Before Inferno, battlecruisers ruled most small PvP conflicts, whether in known space or wormholes. Hell, for that matter they were pretty great at PvE in a lot of cases.

Between cruisers getting a buff, frigates getting much faster, battleships getting tougher, and many weapons systems getting a balance pass, and their relative cost, the dominance of battlecruisers is a fading memory. You still see them, but no more than you'd expect for the cost, and in PvP they tend to be the first target called, because it's a quick way to weaken your opponent. Instead of "null-ammo blaster talos", you see rail thorax (which you can fit 5 of for the cost of one talos); instead of drakes, you see caracals, and no one laughs.

Ironically, this happened about the same time that the Empires released brand-new navy-faction battlecruisers for the first time. They're nice, but... yeah. Bad timing, really.

6. New interfaces, new activities, and stuff got easier to do and train
Scanning with probes - the whole interface - is so much easier than it used to be. You can manage the whole thing with your mouse and never touching the keyboard at all. 

Exploration sites (relic and data sites) have little mini-games built in that make things a bit more interesting (and also make it kind of difficult to notice when someone's sneaking up on you).

Lots of skills got easier to get into (thermodynamics, carriers, orcas).

7. Lots of industry stuff changed
I dunno much about this, but ores got tweaked, ice got rarer in high-sec, better grade in low-sec, more valuable in general, and harvestable in way less time. There are guys who make all their money living in lowsec as industrial/research/exploration guys with zero PvP - that's a thing that works now.

Are you ready, pilot?


The Bear Joke

So: this guy.

I'm talking to that tristan pilot, here. Gakz. I'm talking you.

Listen, I get it: you're a farmer. Yes. You're just there to get your LP and get paid. I accept that. I'm still going to try to kill you (because you're a farmer, and because you're Amarr), but I get it. Faction War Loyalty Points are good money. Even if you're on the losing side of the war, stuck at Tier 1, running one (five minute) level 4 mission will earn you ten times the LP (again, in 5 minutes) that a normal high-sec level 4 mission will earn you (in 1 to 2 hours of shooting red crosses), and you can do it in a cheapo bomber instead of a quarter billion isk battleship (or more). Even if the high-sec stuff could be done in five minutes, it's still one-tenth the payout, right? Right.

Hell, even at Tier 1, capturing a novice complex in a terribly equipped frigate (like the one you were flying, for example) will net you roughly 4 to 5 times as much LP as a level 4 high-sec mission, for ten minutes sitting around, one NPC frigate to kill, and the risk of getting shot at and losing a ship you could pay for with the ISK you find under the cushions of your space-couch.

I totally understand the desire to earn some LP.

I (conceptually, at least) understand the desire to avoid combat while earning said LP. Guys like you are everywhere in the war zones.

I do not understand the thing where you stupidly, stupidly go back to the same complex, over and over, convinced that I'll eventually give up trying to catch you. You're clearly a risk-averse individual; why stick around when you can just jump to some other system and do the same thing over there? Why get attached to that one complex?

I mean...

I tried for you in the firetail, and you warped off after I pointed you, just to show me that you had warp stabilizers on.

I flew several systems, reshipped to an astero, came back, and you were still there.

I got decloaked on the beacon, still managed to get a scram... and you warped off.

I find you again, in the same complex, after fitting TWO scrams. You see me (a cloaky class of ship) on d-scan, and suddenly I'm gone... and you just... sit there. And sit there.

Until I'm on top of you, and you die.

Good idea with the neut and finally putting drones on me, but come on. If you're so into running away, leave.

Or at least get your pod out.

Stuff like this happens, I start to wonder.

"You're not here for the hunting, are you, Frank?"

"Look, I trust you, it's just that I... well... no. No I don't."

Weekend. Nothing much going on. I start to click on the Faction Warfare link in the Neocon bar and get the Fleet Finder window by accident.

Lo and behold, there's a fleet up that isn't some random dude in Jita advertising mining. It's a faction warfare "frigs and dessies" roam.

I can do that. More to the point, I want to.

I join up, and they've got voice comms set up from right inside Eve, which is fast and convenient (once we get it set up correctly).

Geade logs in just as I join, and he comes along too.

The guy that's organized the thing is... fine.

No, really, he's fine. A little cautious. A little.

A little "assume every gate is held by a 14-man pirate instalock gate camp" cautious.

Maybe too cautious.

Also? Kind of obsessed with hunting pirates and neutrals instead of war targets, but whatever.

He can't get anything going with the pilots in the system where we're at and, apparently familiar with faction war but not, shall we say, recent events (the last two years) asks for suggestions on where to go.

I know where the action is happening, so I suggest a system, link it, and we start heading that way. Sort of. It takes us 30 minutes to get three jumps.

He asks for a scout. I'm in an armor-plated MWD long-range talwar with no point and I leap at the opportunity, because that's still an improvement.

Four jumps in 2 minutes. Three kills. Another jump. Another kill. Another three jumps, four more kills. Boom, boom boom. Move.

"I lost track of you guys," says the idiot who brought a typhoon and is about to lose it, three jumps behind us.

"Yeah..." I check d-scan and head for a gate that's about to get a few more wrecks around it. "I move fairly fast sometimes, so... umm... keep up, I guess." I lose track of the conversation for a second when a dragoon lands right next to me. "... warp to Ty. Everyone warp to Ty. Kill this idiot."

We have a medal we give out in the corp, for pilots who Warp to Ty and explode as a result. Everyone's earned that medal quite a few times. I don't tell anyone this until after the fight.

No one on our side exploded. There's a medal for that, too, but we don't give that one out as much.

A good night. The FC thanked me for taking over without asking so... op success?

"It's what I was hoping would happen," he said. "I just try to get things started."

Good for him. Wish there we more like him. Wish I was one of em.

Last night, Geade knows some guys who are going to do a roam. Asks me along, which is cool.

"What are you flying?" I ask, and they say Assault Frigates and Dessies.

"You can bring other stuff if you can't fly that, though."

I like how, if someone doesn't know you, they figure you just started playing three days ago. I can fly every sub-capital class in the game, so yes, I think I can manage to bring a destroyer if that's called for.

Actually, you know, I don't know these guys. I start hearing what people are bringing on their "Assault Frig and Destroyer" roam (Hookbill. Atron.) and instead of a destroyer, I'm suddenly thinking Assault Frigate. Let's say LONG range, because I'm really not sure I want to be in the middle of a furball with these strangers.


I mean, "trust but verify" is nice, as long as you're very good at verification, you know? I'm not, so... no. Rail harpy it is.

Then a guy with lots of opinions tells me my Harpy is faster and more agile than the Atron and Condor in the fleet. And is kind of a jackass about it. I let him chatter while he explains about his amazing, superior Jaguar. Cool story.

So we head for a VERY SPECIFIC system where the FC got a good fight the night before and is thus assured (despite no war targets nearby) the exact same thing will happen again. We set up and wait. It's like fishing.

I hate fishing.

I see Milton from the Rifterlings (former militia, turned pirates) jump into Local and we wave at each other in a separate channel we're both in. We get along, though we'll shoot at each other if the opportunity arises.

"Anything going on in this system, Ty?"

"Nah. Just trying to kick the Amarr in their hornet's nest."

"Nice. Hey, is that Jaguar part of your group?"



I think about this, and how if we don't get a fight, I'm going to be bored. "You can attack him if you want, though. I don't like him much."

"Oh! Well in THAT case..."

The local channel floods with Rifterlings, and we're all called back to one complex by the FC.

They have more guys, and pretty much all of them brought the same class of ships. At least they're organized.

Our FC doesn't run. He probably should have. The fight is on, lots of stuff explodes (most of it on our side).
As trust building goes, it is not a success.
I pop a few things and the FC is calling for a retreat, so I bail. Geade shows up at the safe right after me.

The Jag pilot is pissed. Lost his ship, and got podded on top of that. Whoops.

Milton keeps apologizing to me. I try to tell him it's okay, but it's hard to type when I'm laughing.

Yes, I would have laughed even if I'd died. I asked for the fight, after all. I'm calling it op success.

It's Eve, though, you know? Trust no one, including me.


Knocking Rust

The last quarter of 2013, both my personal and corp-level activity in Eve dropped off a little.

Maybe more than a little.
There's not really any problem there - these sorts of things tend to go in cycles, and with the exception of Geade, we were all on a pretty serious down-cycle, with good reasons (job, work, other work, kids, et cetera), mostly using Eve to play Skill Trainer Online.

I really got the itch to return to the game in January. There's truly no good reason for this - if anything, I've got more stuff going on now than I did before - but it's not as though my MMO habits have ever made a ton of sense.

Since I was feeling more than a little kludgy and slow, I decided to ramp things back up by tagging along on some of the public roams run by RvB and (as mentioned previously) Redemption Road. The basic idea was to remind myself where all the buttons were, while in situations that, unlike frigate brawls in FW, don't have a margin of error so slim you can't see it without scientific equipment.

That's pretty much how I worked my way through January, and wrapped up the month by joining in on Stay Frosty's Frigate Free For All. Tremendous fun, though after about the third hour of carnage, even I was feeling a little worn out.

I decided to wrap up the day of the FFA by doing something very low-key and easy - consolidating my stuff a bit with some logistics. The funny thing is that this led to one of my only solo fights and wins of the month, the Claw I already wrote about.

January looked like it would close out fairly quietly, but things never quite work out that way. A fairly large Minmatar Faction Warfare alliance decided to leave the system our corp was staging from (which we'd moved to only a few months ago in the middle of our downswing when our last home system collapsed) - news of the large group's departure spread quickly, and it didn't take long for the Amarr to swarm the now-under-defended system.

The last time we were forced to move, I seriously contemplated relocating to a section of space just outside the contested sections of the warzone, to avoid this sort of tomfoolery. Living in a wormhole for a couple years taught me serious levels of hatred for those 'special' moments in Eve when something happening in the game basically forces you to log in (despite previous plans) to keep from losing your stuff, and I wasn't enjoying the experience any more in known space than I did in Anoikis.

The FW system control mechanics sound cool and challenging on paper,
but are a less fun for small corps in practice.

In the end, we'd settled on staying inside the war zone, and were now paying the price with another last-minute shift of assets via carrier. I was done with that sort of surprise relocation, so moved the corp assets to a quiet system near the war zone and several markets - a situtation I liked so much I even moved my alts into the general area.

There were a few unexpected benefits of the move, most notably the fact that it brought us closer to a couple areas through which I've always enjoyed roaming, and the new locale brought me some interesting fights - some challenging and some less so - notably the hookbill pilot I mentioned last week, who reshipped into the exact same terrible fit the next day.

Part of the reason the nearby systems have been so fruitful is because of the current ridiculous civil war raging within the ranks of the Minmatar militia. I don't want to get into the reasons given by either side - the basic situation is that one large, fairly new-to-the-war group got shirty, and seventeen other groups declared war on them so they could all shoot each other without tanking their standings with the militia itself.

During the chaos, wily little Amarr pilots are sneaking into the 'civil war' area and conducting their complex-capturing activities right under the noses of enemies too busy shooting at each other to notice.

I, ignoring the civil war drama entirely, have enjoyed quite a few fun fights by focusing on the people who thought they were getting away with something. Probably the most enjoyable kill that came out of that was a triple warp-core-stabilized tristan that I managed to sneak up on and double-scram tackle with my cloaky Astero frigate.

Got the pod, too.
Most recently, I've sort of fallen into running fleets a couple of times on small faction warfare roams, both of which were surprisingly successful (not counting the idiot who brought a Typhoon on a destroyer/frigate roam).

I've also inexplicably gotten invites from no less than three pirate groups who want my to bring my corp into their groups, and thus double our number of viable targets.

I won't lie: it's tempting (partly because there are more than a few members of my own militia I'd like to shoot), but when it comes down to it, I'm still a Faction War guy at heart - it may be completely meaningless effort, but I enjoy picking a side and fighting for it, come hell or high water, and I'll keep doing it til it stops being fun

It's nice to be back in the swing of things.


Marketing Department

I occasionally put together frigates and destroyers and list them on contract to the corp, basically at cost.

My corp mates have dubbed these little nodes of affordable, pre-fit murder wagons "Tys R Us" stores (since all the ships are still named "Ty Delaney's [whatever]" when they get them.*

This in turn has led to lots of poorly-'shopped advertising.

(* All offers void in Amarr space. Some parts and modules gently-used, factory refurbished.)



Inspired by today's comic at softerworld.com.

It's none of my business, but...

I'm certainly not the best pilot in Eve. I have it on good authority that I'm not even among the top ten thousand.

Top twenty thousand, even. Fine.

Still, there are times when I feel I've got some expertise to share.

Over the last couple days, I've had the opportunity to send the following evemail, twice.


Subject: It's none of my business, but...
From: Ty Delaney
Sent: 2014.02.05 06:59

If you're going to fly hookbills at extremely close range, you really should consider rockets instead of light missile launchers. Rockets are a shorter range, harder hitting, and a slightly easier-to-fit weapon system for missile frigates.

If you switch in rocket launchers, you shouldn't need so many CPU and Powergrid fittings and rigs (certainly not three), which should make the whole ship work better for you. You might even be able to fit a medium shield extender instead of a small.

Oh, I almost forgot, probably use an afterburner instead of a microwarpdrive if you're going to fight at close range on the complex warp-ins.


I mean... yeah, fine, I'm giving advice to the enemy. Yes. Also, the crap they have to do to make this terrible fitting fit means his ship costs fifty percent more than a properly fit ship with better modules, so that looks nice on the killboard.

But this guy numbers his ships, and the number at the end of his clever little ship name is climbing pretty quickly. Dude's going to stop playing if keeps getting curbstomped all the time, and then who will I fight?

(I did get a sweet little 1v1 later that partially* restored my faith in people's ability to fit a decent hookbill. He still died, but that's another post for another day.)


The Funny Thing About the Eternal War

I've been participating in Faction Warfare in Eve for awhile now. Certainly not as long as some, but over a year and a half, at least.

And maybe I'm not so swift on the uptake. Maybe I just don't see things that are staring right at me, but lately? Lately, I've noticed some pretty odd things.

When I left our wormhole to join faction warfare, things worked differently in terms of loyalty points and payouts. Everyone earned the same LP payments no matter what side you were on, but what those points were worth changed, moving up and down on a sliding scale. It didn't take long for the players to figure out that the thing to do was collect a big stash of points and then - if you were able - push that slider all the way to the most profitable end of the scale and cash out.

It became a thing. For the Minmatar in particular, "pushing to Tier 5" was a regular, pretty much bi-weekly event, and damn near the only thing anyone talked about on the militia comm channel.

"When's the next t5 push?"

God I got sick of seeing that.

CCP changed things up when it became glaringly obvious that the system was broken and having serious detrimental effects on the economy.

The way things work now, Loyalty Points are always worth the same amount, but you get paid more per militia-related task if your side in the war controls more of the war zone. Thus, was the balance somewhat restored; thus was the need for consistent war zone control reinforced; thus was the pendulum of the eternal war given another not-so-subtle shove.

With me so far? Okay.

A fair amount of time - I'm going to say about six months, but it may have been more like three - went by with the war zones basically acting the way you'd expect. The guys with guns would decide to go on the offensive, and systems would fall (or not) and war zone control would rise (or not). Eventually, boredom and/or inattention would set in for whoever was on top at the moment (or, in one memorable stretch, both sides would hit a mutually beneficial middle ground), and the other guys would swing things their direction for awhile.

Then a funny thing happened.

All of a sudden, without any sort of warning from spies or rumors from blogs, one of the war zones flipped, and flipped hard. And it stayed flipped for a good long time, despite fairly concentrated efforts to get it to flip back. The guys benefiting from the flip crowed a bit, profited a bit more than that, and that was that.

Then it flipped back.

Now this... this was a bit stranger. See, I was on the side of the war that benefited from that "flip back" and... I didn't hear a peep about it happening. 

There was no call to arms. No shouts for assistance or manpower. Nothing. On Monday, things we as bad as they had ever been, and by Friday we were at tier 4. All of which happened during time zones when a lot of active pilots were at work.

Everyone kind of collectively scratched their heads, but hey... time to make some Loyalty Points, right? Why complain?

And, over the last week or so, the war zone has flipped back.

Kind of.

This time, things look more than a little odd. 

The vast majority of Minmatar-held systems are sitting at either vulnerable or 99.9% contested. But... they aren't getting flipped (which requires a fleet of ships fly out to these systems and shoot the infrastructure hub for 20 or 30 minutes).

It's almost as if... bear with me on this... it's almost as if there's some group out there that, having made as much as they can off one faction's LP, wants that faction to 'go fallow' (to use - appropriately - a farming term) and has flipped a switch to do all the stuff necessary to flip the money-printing-machine on for the other faction... 

... but no one told the guys on that side of the war to go out and - you know - use their guns to flip the systems.

I mean, outside of one or two systems, the groups with whom I am familiar - the actual combatants on the Amarr side of the war - don't seem to care that those systems are vulnerable.

It's almost as if they had nothing to do with it, and don't have either the interest or, dare I say, the net manpower to flip all those systems, because they aren't the guys who set them up to fall in the first place. Sort of what happened the last time things flipped in our favor, but more so.

I mean, everyone knows there are farmers that just run the system to earn LP, right?

But everyone assumes that it works like this:

  • One faction gains the advantage.
  • Farmers switch sides.
  • Other faction gains the advantage.
  • Farmers switch sides.
Maybe it used to work that way, and it doesn't anymore.

Maybe the farmers realized it was more efficient to take control of which side of the scale was tipped.

Maybe we work for them now.

Maybe we don't. Maybe they've gotten to the point where they don't need the guys with guns at all.


You know what I don't see out in the war zone?

I don't see the plex-capturing pilots. There aren't more than a handful out there - nowhere near the numbers you'd need to drive so many systems to vulnerable so fast. At least, they aren't out there during US/UK active time zones.

Maybe... some other time zone? Maybe.

Maybe the groups "fighting" the war actually have somewhere close to zero percent influence on the state of the war zones. (At least in some cases because they're too busy shooting at each other.) Maybe the guys who figured out how to utterly game the old system figured out to game the new one, and were smart enough to keep it quiet this time.

Maybe the rest of us are just kids playing cops and robbers along the aisles that run between banks of humming machinery none of us either influence or understand.