Life in EvE: Grumpypants #eveonline

"Okay, the new ship fittings are up in the Corporate Database," I say, trying not to roll my eyes at the grandiose name for what amounts to a shared spreadsheet only CB and I -- the entire 'corporation' -- can access. "Can you see em now?"

"No." CB's answer comes too quickly, so I wait for a full ten-count. "Yes. Now I can."

"Outstanding. That's the fitting for all the frigs, DDs, and cruisers we're likely to need."

"What the shit is a 'Grumpypants'?"

"A bellicose fitting I'm playing around wi -- wait, why is that up there? That shouldn't..." I start poking at the file settings.


I shrug. "It's a bellicose."

"You named it Grumpypants."

"It's a bellicose."

His sigh is the sort of thing people usually reserve for Jita scammers and telemarketers. "What are we doing?"

"Dunno." I sweep the vHUD fitting screens to the side and look past my balcony to the hangar. "Take some plexes back from Empress Jan-jan?"

"Sure. Flying what?"

"Grab your Incursus."

"That... is a lot of lasers." CBs voice is tense which, given the number of ships currently trying to melt our tiny frigates into slag, I can understand.

"Doesn't matter if they can't track us," I reply, then clear my throat for the familiar mantra. "Armor is fleeting..."

"Very fleeting, if they ever hit us," he mutters.

"... speed is life," I finish. "Besides, we could lose both these ships at this point and the TLF will compensate us, and then some."

"The money's... not terrible," CB admits. It's been several hours, and we've spent the time roaming from the Essence region, into The Citadel, then back to Sinq Laison and into the The Bleak Lands, trying to get a sense of both the Amarr-Minmatar and Caldari-Gallente warzones. Technically, only one of them was our problem, but as Gallente and Matar are each allies in the other's conflict, we must effectively face both enemies, and want to understand the territory as well as we can. In that time, we'd recaptured several Caldari and Amarr minor complexes and both chased and been chased around completely unfamiliar areas of New Eden.

By our definition, a pretty good time.

Our comms chime with another message from the TLF, confirming uplink from the now-captured complex the two of us were just leaving.

"I think I'm going to get some rack time," CB says.

"Sounds good," I reply, though I've no intention of sleeping just yet. "Back home?"

"Just going to hit a deep orbit out here and sleep in the pod."

"Don't get blown up."


I kill the comms and head back for our high-sec "corporate office" in Sinq Laison -- another grand name for a somewhat less than impressive reality -- station residential quarters with the bed taken out, replaced with a desk, and our corp logo stenciled on the door. The balcony decant followed by a hot shower is as much ritual as hygiene, and I drop behind the desk and check my to-do list feeling relaxed, if not rested.

"Blue prints," I mutter to Aura, who responds with a wide vHUD inventory of recently-arrived ship designs, optimized in ways I can barely follow. Someone had been busy out in the wormhole lab.

"Thanks, Bre," I murmur.

"Command not recognized."

"Wasn't talking to you," I grunt. "Queue manufacturing jobs." I tap the open air, lighting up three of the schematics. "Merlin. Thrasher. Ten each. Arbitrator on-deck for tomorrow."

"Confirmed. First project will complete in five hours, seventeen minutes."

"That'll do." I push my seat back, pull a jacket over me like a blanket, and prop my feet up on the desk. "Wake me when they're done cooking."


Life in EvE: Evaluating Faction Warfare #eveonline

"I'm not sure about this," CB muttered, slowly rotating his glass on the table between us.

"You don't have to be sure about it," I said. "You're not doing it. I'm the one --"

"Yeah, well..." he cut in. "I've been thinking about it too."

I raised an eyebrow. "Really."

"Yeah." His expression, concealed behind his mirrored glasses, was typically unreadable. "It's nice to set up in a wormhole and say 'fuck you' to the rest of the world --"

"Dunno if 'nice' is quite how I'd put it." I murmured.

"But sometimes," he continued, as though I hadn't spoken, "I wouldn't mind shooting someone when it's more important than 'Get off our lawn.'"

"Yeah..." My eyes wandered to the small exterior viewport -- a luxury in anyone's general quarters, even on a Gallente station. The angle was good, displaying part of the nearby aqua nebula of the Essence Region and, behind it and further distant, the clenched red fist of Heimatar. "Yeah."

CB shook himself and straightened in his chair, rubbing at the cable contacts on the back of his neck. "You said they pay any capsuleers that sign up?"

"For capturing enemy complexes or taking out war target vessels, yeah." I replied. "And there's always special missions, if you're inclined." He gave me a look that spoke volumes even with his glasses on, and I chuckled. "Right. So no missions." I poked a handheld where I'd been taking notes. "Payouts look like they're on a sliding scale -- if we're winning, there's more money to go around. If we're aren't..." I shrugged.

CB tossed back the rest of his drink and stood, heading for my already-plundered mini-bar. "Just tell me if we'll make enough to cover ammo."


As I said, I don't have a problem with losing ships, and you really do have to lose some to learn stuff, but at the same time I don't want to just chuck ISK down the toilet -- if I can get my education on a budget, then that's going to make me even more relaxed about diving into a fight.

The interesting thing about the Faction War system is that it (apparently) revolves around the capturing (offensively or defensively) of "complexes" out in the low-sec space that acts as the buffer between warring factions. These complexes come in a number of flavors and (more importantly) sizes, and are basically locked to certain ships classes. The 'minor' complexes can - for instance - only be entered by basic tech 1 frigates, tech 1 destroyers, and the tech1-but-slightly-better "navy" frigates. These complexes need to be run to take over a system, and they can only be run by these cheap little ships, which means you are not just allowed but actually encouraged to fly cheap stuff that doesn't hurt that bad to lose. Nice. I've never really felt that a ship that costs five times as much to buy is actually five times as fun to fly, so the chance to fly a lot of the cheap stuff appeals to me, especially since those ships are currently getting rebalanced and in some cases dramatically changed in the near future.

Also, since those complexes are locked to certain ship classes, they become a really good place to engage an opponent, because while he might bring in backup, what he's not going to do is drop four battlecruisers on your little frigate, because they can't get inside the complex. You might end up fighting outnumbered, but at least you won't be the guy that brings a knife to a gun fight.

And pretty much everything you do in Faction Warfare (missions, capturing plexes, and even just blowing up an opponent's ship) earns you Loyalty points with your faction, all of which can be cashed in for valuable stuff that you can either use yourself or turn around and sell on the market for a decent profit. I'm not sure on the ratios of Loyalty Points to ISK, but the range seems to go from "meh" (for the guys who don't control much of the warzone) to "OMG this is Wormhole/Incursion-level income."

In short, you're flying cheap, fun ships and getting paid well enough to keep flying them pretty much indefinitely.

"What ships do I need to fit out?" CB asked, returning to the table with five miniature bottles and one large glass. "Should I go get the Vagabond?"

"Vaga? Oh, hell no." I spun my handheld around and slide it over to him, snagging one of the bottles for myself before it disappeared into his tumbler.

A small frown formed above his glasses. "What the hell's a Bellicose?"

"Original hull they designed the Rapier from."

"Oh, that. I've got one of those..." he waved his hand in the direction of the outer hull of the station. "Somewhere." He scrolled down the list. "Jesus, it's all RvB roam stuff. Frigates and DDs and shit. This is what they fly?"

"Ninety percent of the time, yeah."

"Do we even need to buy anything for this?"

"Fittings," I admitted, "but the hulls? No. We have enough."

His eyebrow rose. "What's your definition of 'enough'?"

I reached over and scrolled the display all the way to the bottom tally. For a moment, he was silent, then he started uncapping tiny bottles.

"That's a lot of ships that need blowing up," he muttered. "Where do we need to move em?"

I smirked and took a drink. "We're already there."


One of my goals with the Life in Eve posts is to show people different parts of the game, and (maybe) encourage a new player to give it a try, or bring a veteran player back to check out the new features. I love wormholes, but I don't think I'd surprise anyone if I said that they are not in any way a good option for a new player.

Faction Warfare, by contrast, might be one of the best options for new players.

  • Easy-to-fly ships: I've already mentioned this in terms of cost, but from a training and skills point of view, this is also an appeal -- the backbone of faction warfare is made of tech1 frigates, destroyers, and cruisers, which are the first ships you learn how to fly in the game.

  • Easy to afford activity: You'll lose ships, but you'll make isk enough to afford those losses and then some. I ran into a pilots a few nights ago who was capturing complexes, solo, and making good money doing it -- he was a two-week old player.

  • Location, Location, Location: The low-sec areas where Faction Warfare takes place are, in general, only a few jumps away from the high-sec systems where new players get their basic training. This makes moving 'close' to the warzone very easy (even for new players, for whom moving a half-dozen frigates seems terribly daunting), and in many cases a complete non-issue.

"Alright," CB said, in that precise way he had when he was trying not to slur. "Doesn't sound like this will completely suck. When're you going to sign up?"

I looked at him and said nothing.

"You already signed up."

I nodded.

"Got any intel on what's going on out there? Where they need us?"

I reached up to the wall panel next to the table and flipped off the 'mute' option I'd tapped when he'd first shown up at my door.

"Siseide contested -- someone jump in a frig and stop that cap."

"Wartargets:  zealot and blackbird in Lamaa."

"Kourmonen system upgraded to Level 4."

"War targets still in Tararan?"
"On my way." 

We listened to the chatter for a few minutes. It didn't let up.

CB stood up and headed for the door.

"Where yah going?"

"Gonna suit up and go help," he said over his shoulder. "Besides, you're out of booze."

The door slid open, then closed, and it was just me and the radio chatter.

"Break break -- I've got a twenty-five-ship fleet in Eszur, looks like they're heading our way."

I looked at the screen, the mustering system flashing only a few jumps away.

"Ahh, hell with it," I muttered, and ran for the hangar balcony.


Maybe I'm being a bit bitchy about wormholes, but there are times when having to scan for an hour every evening before you can do something is... a little bit of a momentum killer. Every game needs something for those times when you just want to log in and do something right then, right now, and my first-blush impression is that Faction Warfare offers that for EvE players -- it may be one of the best examples of instant-on something-to-do that I've seen in the game so far, with options ranging from solo pvp, solo or small group complex running, to gang roams and full-on fleets.

Will it turn out to be everything it seems to be? I have no idea.

But I plan to find out.

For another "first impression" take on Faction Warfare, I highly recommend this essay on Eve Altruist. As usual, Azual delivers a fantastic breakdown of the subject.


Life in Eve: A Good Problem to Have #eveonline

I have way too many ships.

A part of that is sort of a collector habit: there are so many pretty ships in EvE, and I can fly them, so why not own one (or two, or ten) of each?

There's nothing inherently wrong with that; the problem arises when you get a ship and, having got it, refuse fly it, because you might lose it. This reminds me of something. Oh yeah...

Unwrap your toys and PLAY WITH THEM.

Now I'm know for a fact that for some players, collecting is the point. That's fine. It's a sandbox; play how you like.

But for me, collecting is NOT the point -- I want to get better at actually playing the game and exploring all the little nooks and crannies in the sandbox.

You know what everyone tells you to do when you ask how to get better at PvP?

"Get some ships, fly out to low- or null-sec, get in fights, blow up. Repeat."

This stings a little more in EvE than it does in, say, WoW, where you can learn about PvP quite effectively for no other real cost but time, and actually earn some flavor of currency even if you continually get your ass kicked. By contrast, if you're fighting and losing ships in EvE, the main 'gain' from the experience is knowledge and (if you're wired to enjoy it) fun -- in most any other respect, you're out of pocket for the loss of a ship.

But you know what? I am well insulated from the pain of that particular sting. Though I'm NOTHING compared to the real traders and money-makers in the game, I find myself able to drop several billion on a wormhole (including all the hardware, tower bits, upgrades, fuel, et cetera) and make it all back in short order, and that's just liquid assets -- I've easily got three to five times times that floating in hangars spread out all over New Eden (which, I shouldn't need to point out, is somewhere I typically spend very little time -- those ships are doing nothing but gathering space-dust).

I mean, seriously: how many ships do I really need when I can only fly one at a time?

Clearly, I need to blow some up. It's time to get some education.

I've been trying to get in fights in Syndicate (renowned for its small gang PvP) off and on for a few weeks months, but at the same time I don't want to get into stupid fights if I can avoid them, just for the sake of losing a ship. So I've spent more time learning how and when to GTFO and haven't really seen many explosions. (Except for when I jumped my Talos right into a seven-man gang landing on the far side of a warp gate. Oops.)

The most interesting thing about these activities has been in the systems between Stacmon (where I've left a number of ships for roams with RvB and Agony) and Syndicate -- it's all low-sec space, and thanks to the changes to the UI I've become aware of the fact that it's part of the Faction Warfare system in EvE, which has recently gotten a pretty big overhaul.

I mean, I guess it has. I don't really understand how Faction Warfare works now, or how it used to work, or... you know... how you do it. I try talking to some of the local NPC Faction Warfare agents, but they won't have anything to do with me since I'm not "part of the war effort".

So I do some reading.

And... maybe this is the solution I'm looking for.


Life in Eve: A Modest Proposal for ECM

So, I just thought of this, and maybe it's been proposed many times before; I don't know, but I've never heard it before, so I'm going to run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.

First, the current situation: ECM (Electronic Counter Measures, the specific brand of EWAR favored by the Caldari faction (and some pirates) is surprisingly un-fun. By that, I mean that it's surprising that CCP hasn't done something about it, given that pretty much anyone in the company will readily admit that it sucks, if you ask them directly -- they don't talk about it all the time (because generally you don't want to keep bringing up something bad that you're not doing anything about), but I doubt you'd find any developers who would waste two breaths actually defending the mechanic.

For those of you who don't play EvE, the basic idea with combat is that you have to acquire a 'target lock' on anyone you want to shoot, basically adding them to a finite list of viable targets from the list of all POSSIBLE targets. (There might be 30 guys nearby that you might shoot, but only maybe 3 to 7 that you CAN shoot, because you've locked them.) Similarly, you need to lock anyone you want to do anything beneficial to as well. Also, it's worth noting that the time it takes to lock ANYONE is (basically) an inverse of their ship's size relative to yours (little ships lock big ships really quickly, big ships lock little ships really slowly, et cetera).

ECM basically is a magical beam that you hit a ship with and, if you hit them use it on them (it always hits), and you're within your optimal range (which is quite far) and they haven't fit any special modules that lower your odds (which isn't incredibly common in most cases), you have about a 99.9% chance of completely clearing their "target lock" list and (further) making them unable to add anyone back to their list until you deign to stop using the ECM on them. (Some particularly skilled practiced ECM pilots will actually let their ECM lapse on a target, use it on another target for a cycle, then reapply it to the first target just as they're about done reacquiring their target locks, thus jamming even more targets than they'd normally be able to, so just because you aren't jammed right now doesn't mean you won't soon become jammed again.

Anyway, this sucks. Most people will agree that it sucks to get hit with ECM, because it means you can't do much of anything during the fight (after 35+ years, EvE has basically reintroduced the generally shittiness of the the original DnD Sleep spell), but my personal opinion is that -- if your goal with PvP is to have an exciting fight[1] -- it sucks for you even if it's working on your side, because it makes the fight boring. Anyone can shoot targets that can't shoot back -- there are a number of activities in EvE like that. What I'm saying is that ECM basically turns PvP into mining.

So, most anyone you ask will agree that ECM sucks, and yet nothing changes, probably because no one can think of a solution that doesn't break the mechanic too far in the other direction (a mistake they've already made with other EWAR systems); ECM is ridiculously powerful right now, but because it's chance-based and thus potentially 'streaky', it's hard to fiddle with it without making it totally useless.

And You Think You Have it Figured Out, Genius?

The idea came to me while I was messing around with the new Ancillary Shield Boosters (which, if you haven't, you should check out). Basically, the idea behind the ASB is that they've combined a Shield Booster (repairs your shields in mid-combat) and a Capacitor Booster (think a high-tech power potion that restores your capacitor and requires you carry around a cargo hold full of 'ammo' for the module) into one new module: a shield repair unit that only runs if it has "cap boosters" to run on, which repairs a bit more shield than a typical shield booster, but has a finite power supply and (this is a big deal) takes a full minute to reload before it can be restarted.

(Those of you playing other MMOs may recognize it as a potion cooldown, if you're so inclined to make the comparison.)

Now, obviously, if you want to run your ship with a sort of "continual repair" kind of tactic, this module won't work well by itself -- a minute of downtime out of every two minutes won't cut it.

But you CAN use two. It's hard to fit, but it can be done. The basic idea is that you run one, then start the second one as you begin reloading the first, and keep going back and forth like that, with an 'oh shit' option to run both at the same time for about 50 seconds of tanking glory.

Yeah... see, I said "50 seconds", not "1 minute", didn't I?

See, the diabolical thing about the ASBs is that a full load of cap booster ammo will keep the booster running for 50 seconds, but it takes a full minute to reload, so sooner or later you're going to hit a gap where -- even with two ASBs -- one will run empty while the other is still reloading. Fun! Also, if it were somehow applied to offensive modules, it introduces a EvE-like version of diminishing returns for repeatedly applying the same effect to the same target over and over (a common mechanic in any MMO with a lot of this kind of 'crowd control').

And I got to thinking about reloading gaps. And about ECM.

So How About This:

You get rid of the magical beams of ECM in five magical flavors (one for each faction, plus the "multispectrum"), and replace them with ECM missiles in five magical flavors that hit their target and jam the target for let's say 20 seconds[2]. Maybe these missiles launch out of special mid-slot modules, or (more likely) they launch out of regular missile launchers. Either way, the ECM-specialized boats gets some kind of bonus to them -- probably a combination of fire rate and missile flight duration (longer range).

One thing you could then do is play with fire rates. Maybe (and this is just a random idea) the launchers loaded with these things only fire every 40 seconds or so. So, on an unbonused ship, you can jam your target for 20 seconds, force him to reacquire targets for x-seconds, and have to deal with x-seconds of pain until that next missile loads and you can jam him again. Or, you can cycle two alternating launchers on him. Or, use a specialized boat that narrows the margin between effective jam time and the rate of fire.

There are obviously things to address with this (such as ECM-emitting drones, which basically become just ECM multispectrum missiles with more fuel and a virtual intelligence), but that's the basic idea.

In the short amount of time I've thought about it, this seems to introduce some interesting features into ECM warfare:

  • ECM retains the nigh-perfect jam rate, provided you can keep missiles cycling on a target. Easy if there are only a few targets, but with the difficulty of keeping multiple targets jammed scaling up far more quickly than it currently does.

  • Unless you're getting hammered with ECM missiles from one very skilled pilot or multiple pilots, you're going to start seeing more small windows of opportunity where you can actually do something during a fight. A skilled and prepared pilot (read: not me) can use those windows to accomplish some surprising things.

  • ECCM remains viable as a way to resist the effects of the missiles, but ...

  • OMG there's actually a use for those Defender Missiles that no one uses! A Falcon just decloaked on your Hurricane? Quickly reload your two 'utility' missile bays, swapping out normal offensive missiles with Defenders, providing a new (chance based) line of defense against the incoming ECM missile, potentially blowing it up before it gets to you!

  • Smaller ships, which are currently jammed quite easily, might actually stand a chance of outrunning ECM missiles long enough to do the ECM ship some harm or (and this would be cool) their speed might reduce the strength of the ECM pulse in the same way it currently reduces normal incoming missile damage, providing a third bit of defense for faster ships.

Hell, come to that, if you simply set the fire rate to 20 seconds with a 20 second rate of fire (base), but made the strength of the ECM from the missiles work the same was as normal missile damage (adjusted up by attacking ship type and relevant pilot skills, adjusted DOWN by defender skills, and possibly ship size and speed), that ALONE would rebalance ECM quite a bit, without crippling it.

Anyway, lots of ideas here. I don't think of this as a solution so much as a collective brainstorm, so... thoughts?

Life in a Wormhole: Trying for a Good Fight #eveonline

CB reports that we have a Nighthawk command ship and a... Caracal cruiser? Running sleeper anomalies?

Really? A caracal? That's... weird.

Everyone besides CB who is online and can fight (Bre, Tira) is currently out of the hole running errands (Bre's retrieving her Crow interceptor from the corporate office, and Tira's moving resources -- we've given up on waiting til the hole is totally secure for running logistics, because if we do we'll never get anything done), but CB hollers out into the interwebs and Em and Dirk log in. Much ship shuffling ensues, with CB getting the worst of it as he's sent for an interdictor, then an interceptor, then a battlecruiser, et cetera et cetera. Dirk gets in his hurricane and sticks with it, as does Em in her Onyx heavy interdictor.

While CB is shuffling ships, the Nighthawk and Caracal (who have been remarkably unconcerned about this activity) decide they're done with the site they're running and warp back to the wormhole, only to be snagged by Em's interdiction bubble. The two ship's land quite far from one another, and Dirk has to choose between the expensive but distant Nighthawk, versus the cheap Caracal that basically landed right on top of him. He goes for the Caracal, which pops quickly, followed by the pilot's pod -- both before CB can get back to the fight from the tower (a recurring problem: finds a target and ends up in mid-ship swap and missing out on the actual fight). The nighthawk gets clear of the interdiction bubble and warps away before either Hurricane can close, waits a few minutes, then warps back down to the hole and overheats his propulsion to power through the bubble and get out of the wormhole. Boo.

We assume that's it, but the Nighthawk surprises everyone by jumping back in for a second to scold our pilots for killing and podding the caracal pilot, because "he's a brand new player."

Maybe don't bring him into a wormhole, then?

It seems likely the system will remain quiet after that, but looks can be deceiving, as Shan later reports visitors in the hole via an incoming connection from another wormhole, and more than a few -- by the time I get where I can do any good, he and Em have spotted a Legion strategic cruiser, two Tengus, a Loki, and a Proteus jumping in and out of the system, all but the Legion apparently capable of cloaking up. That seems like most of the ships likely to be around (given their kill record), but it's hard to tell, since we weren't around to watch the entrance from the moment it opened.

We're a little short on manpower, but between the lot of us we figure we've got about six pilots to take a shot at the obvious Legion baitship sitting on the high-sec hole. Given that we probably need some kind of force multiplier for this, we go with four combat ships (three battlecruisers (two Hurricanes and a Harbinger), and a Dominix battleship), supplemented with a couple of Falcon force recon ships to try to cut down their incoming damage by jamming some of their target locks. We could just as easily have gone with logistics instead (and I'd generally prefer to do so over Falcons, as I find the ECM mechanics in the game to be poorly balanced and generally boring and un-fun for both sides of the fight), but we have several people multi-boxing, and generally that's a lot easier to do when one of them is in a Falcon rather than some kind of repair ship.

Anyway, we warp down to the Legion, which we expect to be heavily tanked, and aren't really surprised to be proven right, but our ships actually manage to get the strategic cruiser into low armor before his friends arrive. Things are looking pretty good for a decent brawl.

Until we see how many friends there are.

Yes, the two tengus, Loki, and Proteus strategic cruisers are there, but they're accompanied by a Drake and Hurricane battlecruiser, a Vindicator battleship (a real brute of a ship that flourishes in the short ranges at which we're engaged), and (most disappointing) 2 basilisk logistics ships to keep them all on the field.

In short, there's little chance we'll be able to beat the rep cycles of two dedicated logistics ships with our four combat ships, certainly not before their eight combat ships take us out, and especially not since Em seems to be unable to lock anything on the field (a malfunction with her Covert Ops cloak that prevents her from locking anything), and Bre's falcon was called primary target straight away and forced off the field in flames.

We manage to drill into the opponents' Legion and Hurricane structure, but two or three of us are in structure as well and have to jump out of the hole or explode for no good reason. We're joined on that side of the hole by both of the (now flaming) ships from the other side and, with the eyes of CONCORD ever watchful, exchange nothing more than a "good fight" comment in local and a few comments about the way the fight went, then warp off to the nearest station to repair.

It was a good fight, but frustrating for a couple of reasons.

  • I hate multiboxing in PvP, and I'm not doing it anymore. It doesn't increase our effectiveness nearly as much as it hurts us.

  • That was a lot of ships to leave cloaked up in our system in hopes of an ambush. They had to have been in there for hours. Good planning and dedicated work on their part, but I guess in the same situation I'd have... done something different. More and more, Wormhole PvP feels like "using expensive ships to get cheap kills." I'd be lying if I didn't admit it was frustrating.

The next day, the guys decide to go on a wormhole roam of our own, and I, Dirk, Em, and CB suit up in stealthy ships to explore the constellation of systems connected to ours through the class four. It's good practice, and a good way to kill a couple-three hours, but our timing is off -- it seems we've only just missed activity in every system we visit (and there are more than a few, as we map from our class 2 into the class 4, a class 3, a second class 4, a third class 5, and a class 5 wormhole, all disappointingly quiet (despite VERY recent signs of violence), and annoyingly full of scan signatures that are not more wormholes.

All in all, its good practice with no payoff. Everyone else takes off, and I wrap up by slipping through through the class 3's high-sec connection and thence back to The Syndicate, where at least if (when) I jump through six systems and don't find anyone to fight, it doesn't take nearly as long.

Life in Eve: Placid Exploration #eveonline

The wormhole system is compromised once again, with a Buzzard cov-ops frigate buzzing around. This isn't really a problem, except that it leaves us a bit less likely to undertake certain activities we might have considered, swapping the plan for hunting the sneaky ship around. The pilot has a respectable combat record, but we're unable to pin him down to test his skill, so it's mostly just wasted time on our part.

I watch a long line of PI-managing pilots (PI-lots) log in, then out, and once my bodyguarding is done, head back to the Placid Region of known space for an an experiment in exploration.

Scanning is not really a big problem for me, as I live in a wormhole and pretty much have to scan before I pull my pants on in the morning, then scan down a bowl of cereal, scan to find my car keys -- you get the point; wormholes are scan-tastic.

Scanning isn't de rigueur in known space, but it can be profitable. To that end, I've move Anja, my Ishtar heavy assault cruiser, over to our second corporate office and refit the ship into Swiss Army Knife Mode -- a configuration in which the ship can weather the vagaries of low- and null-sec space, scan down profitable anomalies, defeat the NPC enemies therein, and then extract the valuable goodies from those sites. In order to manage this, I have to settle for being a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none, but ultimately I like the end result. Here's what we've got:

[Ishtar, Ajna the Explorer]
Beta Reactor Control: Shield Power Relay I
Beta Reactor Control: Shield Power Relay I
Beta Reactor Control: Shield Power Relay I
Beta Reactor Control: Shield Power Relay I
Beta Reactor Control: Shield Power Relay I

Thermic Dissipation Amplifier II
Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II
Analyzer I
Codebreaker I

200mm Prototype Gauss Gun, Antimatter Charge M
Small Tractor Beam I
Salvager I
Sisters Core Probe Launcher, Sisters Core Scanner Probe I
Prototype Cloaking Device I

Medium Core Defense Field Purger I
Medium Core Defense Field Purger I

Warrior II x5
Garde I x5
Hammerhead II x5
Vespa EC-600 x5
Medium Armor Maintenance Bot I x5
Hobgoblin II x5

And just a few notes:

  • Obviously, with only one gun on to get aggression from the NPCs, all of the damage from the ship comes in the form of drones, which is no surprise on the drone-heavy ship. Like the rest of the ship, the drones are meant to handle (or at least try to handle) most any situation.

  • The tank on this ship is a passive regen fit, optimized for kinetic and thermal damage, which is fine, as I'll be operating mostly in Placid, Syndicate, and Cloud Ring, where that kind of damage is prevalent. Other regions would require tweaking the tank.

  • The tractor beam, salvager, Analyzer, and Codebreaker are all for reaping profits from sites, once they're clear (or sometimes while I'm clearing them).

  • The cloak is for emergency AFKs and generally frustrating pilots trying to scan down my location. As I'm usually doing this when I'm in a casual mood and/or prone to interruptions, and ALWAYS when I'm operating solo, the ability to cloak is priceless, and the fact that I might be pulled away for long stretches while cloaked vastly increases the odds the other guy will get bored and move on before I get bored and try something stupid.

All in all, it looks pretty good, so I head into the shallow low-sec of Placid (an area that now broadcasts new and interesting information to my HUD about the state of the ongoing Caldari-Gallente war that (presumably) rages in the low-sec space between the two nations). Once I find a likely looking system, I deploy probes and set about the familiar task of scanning. Sites are quickly located, but my scanning has apparently prompted others to scan, and it quickly becomes obvious that someone is (ineptly) trying to scan down my location. Anja might be able to handle an ambush if pressed, but I'm not specifically looking for a fight, so I (perhaps ironically) head deeper into lawless space, crossing the regional boundary into The Syndicate.

Once again, I find a likely system and scan down a good site, then set to the work of cleaning it out, keeping an eye on the Feels-Like-Cheating-Window, also known as the Local Broadcast Channel, which tells me the moment anyone enters the system and reassures me that I am currently working alone and that an ambush without any warning at all is, literally, impossible. I'm visited periodically by inhabitants of the next system over, but between the early warning in Local, my habitual use of d-scan, their predictable use of probes, my cloaking module, and a willingness to watch My Little Pony on Netflix until they get bored, I'm safe as houses.


Life in a Wormhole: Life on the Freeway #eveonline

There are a lot of upsides to the kind of class two wormhole system we live in. Easy access to known space. Profitable planetary colonies. Readily available high(er)-profit wormhole content the next system over.

And a constant influx of traffic to pick a fight with. This new system of ours is a LOT busier than our old home, which had considerably less-useful exits.

This last feature can sometimes feel a little be less like a pro and more like a con. While random visitors from high-sec can be, at times, hilarious, the fact is that our persistent wormhole connections (to highsec and class four wormhole space) make us the perfect route for travelers from deeper, more dangerous wormhole systems trying to get to known space. As a result, when one of those kinds of holes connect to our class four, they tend to get REALLY active in our hole as they race for highsec to cash in weeks or months of loot and bring needed supplies back in. That's great for random hauler mugging, if they're idiots or unlucky, but depressingly few of those pilots hauling billions of isk worth of loot through our system are that dumb -- they move with stealth, scouts, and bodyguards.

As a result, when we've got traffic, we usually have a lot, and while that means we have something to do, it often isn't what we'd planned on. Bre's rumble with a nemesis, thorax, nighthawk, wolf, and drake marked the end of a day where we were trying to keep our eyes on our normal connection to high-sec and class four wormhole space, plus an additional two random, incoming connections from class four wormhole systems.

Today, those connections are gone, only be replaced with our two persistent connections and two random, incoming connections from high-sec, marking the third day running where we've had plenty of time to do stuff, only to see those plans sidelined while we watch for idiots sneaking into the system. Our only productive activity is hauling planetary products out to market ridiculously close to one of our many high-sec exits.

While out in the world, Ty puts together a passively-tanked Loki strategic cruiser designed to run sites in class four and higher wormholes. This comes following a number of conversations with the ceo of the alliance who used to make a habit of camping our old wormhole, as we've collectively been invited to come up to their home system and shoot some sleepers. I'm approaching this situation with some caution, and keeping our group involvement to a minimum (CB's suggestion -- testing the waters rather than jumping in headfirst, the way we did with the c6 corp), and in any case most of our 'main' pilots are still in the c6 corp itself, proving once again that their annoyance threshold is far higher than mine (obviously, or they'd never have put up with me for as long as they have, I think).

CB has also put together a passively-tanked sleeper shooter in the same vein as my own, though in his case it's a Tempest-class battleship, rather than a ridiculously expensive Loki (I'm not being THAT cautious after all, I guess). After putting it together, he notes that it is the first time he's been able to fit a battleship-class ship "properly" in every way: no corners cut, no modules included only so they can help other modules fit, a strong tech 2 tank, and tech 2 weaponry. There are certainly ways to get to this stage of character skill more quickly, but considering that CB and Ty rarely fly battleships and have both spent a lot of time cross-training the sub-battleship skills for virtually every faction and type of combat, it's not surprising that this milestone has taken as long as it has.

And in any case, it feels good.

CB isn't around in the evening, nor is anyone else (and even if they were, they'd been in another wormhole), so I head back out to known space and refit my Ishtar for a little project I've been toying with (null-sec scanning and exploration in The Syndicate and Cloud Ring regions), then call it an early night.


Life in a Wormhole: Caw Caw Bang #eveonline

The good news: I can log in!

The bad news: The next two days are a frustration of angry evemails about the C6 'siege' where nothing seems to be happening. The corp in the c6 abruptly joins an alliance for some assistance and protection, and the folks in that alliance... do not impress. Between guys who won't give me a bookmark so I can come back in and help, and other guys who mock me for not having a carrier alt logged out in the wormhole, I am more than a little bit done with all that idiocy. Since I have no ships stored in the c6, and little to no gear, I simply drop my roles and permissions in the corp and start my 24 hour timer leading to my quiet departure.

Meanwhile, stuff is happening back in the C2. It seems as though...

Hmm. I'll let Bre tell it.

So CB is bringing in a ship to hit our c4 sleepers and as he jumps back out in his pod to get his cheetah, reports a nemesis on the hole.

I reship into my crow and go orbit the hole but no one will fight me.

Then a Thorax warps in, drops light drones, and the Nemesis uncloaks.

I kind of fixate on the drones and kill them instead of the Nemesis. Four of them die (tech 2s) and the 'rax pulls the last one. The Nem warps off as I turn back on him (I should have just shot him -- the drones couldn't catch me), and the 'rax follows suit. Boo.

Anyway I orbit for awhile, knowing they're going to come back in with something better for killing me, and eventually they do. Yay.

A Wolf lands on the hole, but his shields are terrible and I put him into quarter-armor in about 10 seconds and he jumps out into highsec just as a Drake and Nighthawk land. I'm prepared to ignore their damage like I did with the last couple bomber fights, but somehow they REALLY hurt, so I tear ass for the wormhole and get out in half armor, then repair and warp back up to the hole.

I jump back in, and now they have a Broadsword, Nighthawk, and Drake.

I decloak, light my MWD and align to the tower. The broadsword puts his bubble up, but my MWD is overheated, and with the system's bonus to overheating I'm 130 km away by the time any of them even yellowbox me.

I forgot about the added damage from overheating, though. OUCH.

So get back to the tower and try to find some nanite paste. There's none in any of the folders anywhere. Crap.

So I try my drake. Nope. My buzzard. Nope. My Raven? No. Ty's Gila? YES! Finally! Why does he have paste in his PvE Gila? WHO CARES!

I know all that ship swapping has looked pretty silly on their scanners, and I know they're watching, so...

[17:31:41] Bre > A ha! Nanite repair paste. I knew there was some in here somewhere...
[17:31:52] Matt0 > we did wonder wtf you were doing :)
[17:32:05] Bre > I sometimes forget where we leave things :)
[17:32:08] Bre > my next move was going to be trading you replacement drones for some paste :)
[17:32:15] Larad > hehe
[17:32:26] Ikas > Lets just call it quits and be friends.. lol.
[17:32:34] Matt0 > and go kill the fuckers next door in that cloaky loki
[17:32:37] Bre > works for me. We have so many holes coming in here today it's like trying to direct traffic.
[17:33:09] Matt0 > yeah, you've got 2 c4's coming in, nightmare
[17:33:30] Matt0 > ps.. I hate ceptors :)
[17:33:39] Bre > I kinda love em :)
[17:33:55] Ikas > I can see why :)
[17:34:31] Larad > if only I had loaded precision missiles too rather then being an idiot
[17:35:06] Bre > I'm was surprised by how much the drake and nighhawk hurt! the bombers usually can't even hit me, so I got lazy.
[17:35:46] Bre > I should have gone after the bomber, but the drones made me nervous. no one had ever tried em on me before :)
[17:35:47] Matt0 > dont think the drake used them, these precision missiles are a bitch if you get in range though
[17:36:05] Bre > well, one of you guys lit me up pretty well :)
[17:36:41] Matt0 > ahh, well, retiring for a bit now. laters o/
[17:36:55] Bre > later. good luck with the loki

And that was the afternoon. I love this game.

So say we all.

Just as the evening is wrapping up, one of the guys from the C6 corp (the only one who hasn't been a complete pain in the ass) asks if I've been keeping up on the conversation in their Intel Channel.

I explain, politely, that since I've dropped roles and will be leaving the corp in (checks watch) 21 hours, I thought it best for everyone if I left their intel channel.

His response: "Oh."

CB's comment:


Life in a Wormhole: You Know What's Good? #eveonline

Game of Thrones. Now there's a good show. Ty's account is still disabled, and I can't get anyone to respond to my ticket, so let's go watch some more GoT...

The ISK investment in the C2 wormhole is now entirely paid off, so all POCO tax rates have been dropped down to "just enough for keep us in cheetos and gin" levels. Let the floodgates of industry open.

We also manage to get the last of the ice products we need into the tower so we can cook up our 2nd month's worth of backup fuel. Everything seems to be rolling right along.

Div, Clovis, and Bre run a couple sleeper sites, netting each pilot about 50 million isk for an hour of flying.

Yep. All in all, seems as though the c2 is going pretty well.

The C6 on the other hand, has a few problems. Apparently (according to my email box full of poorly spelled and non-punctuated messages) the system is "under siege", which is apparently panic-speak for "we saw an enemy dreadnought and a half-dozen battleships in the system, and then engaged a couple hurricanes with a handful of assault frigs and inexplicably died."

I'd like to help -- I truly would -- but since I can't log in I guess it will have to wait til tomorrow.


Life in a Wormhole: Back with Agony Empire #eveonline

Ty's out with Agony Empire for an interesting sort of seminar/roam, led by a fairly well-known low-sec 'pirate' who spends about 30 minutes answering questions about the ins and outs of lowsec PvP before leading us into Syndicate on cruiser composed mostly tech 1 cruisers. The fleet commander isn't terribly familiar with the area (he is a LOW-sec pirate, after all), so he lets his scouts indicate where there might be activity and focuses on keeping the fleet moving, baiting opponents into a fight with his... Loki?

To me, a tech three cruiser has a pretty hefty price tag to use as bait, but apparently the FC is alright with risk, and there's no arguing with the effectiveness of the tactic. More than a few groups engage, unwilling to give up the chance at a juicy kill, which gives us time to join in on the fun. We don't travel far, but stay active and get into a number of fun brawls. I find cruiser roams to be pretty enjoyable -- cheap enough that you're not terribly worried about your ship, but tough enough you actually have time to react when things start happening. Good stuff.

Unfortunately, my pleasure comes to an abrupt halt when Ty's account shuts down without warning or explanation. I try to figure out what's going on and log a petition with support, but after a few hours I give up and spend my free time watching Game of Thrones, which can hardly be seen as a bad thing.


Life in a Wormhole: Get Thee Back Into the Tempest #eveonline

Subtitle: "I Do Not Always Post Ship Fittings, But When I Do, They're Bad"

There's only one NPC-owned Customs Office in the system -- a planetary structure that the former occupants didn't convert to player ownership -- and its presence vexes me. Em and I have arranged a good time to destroy the structure and replace it with our own, and that time is now, or at least it's coming up really soon, and Bre is stressing about it.

While the customs office itself isn't a big deal, there is some other 'bashing' stuff coming up as well, and as a result, she's feeling the need for a decent high-damage PvP ship. The problem is that Bre is really quite specialized in a few things (frigates of every shape and size, EWAR, and missiles of all sizes), and none of her current ships really fit the bill. Anything bigger than a frigate and she's pretty much confined to Caldari ships (she's Gallente, but her missile skills put her in Caldari hulls most of the time), and while she picked up an armor-tanked Scorpion for a fleet awhile back, the ECM-platform lacks a little something in the DPS department -- namely, the "D".

Also, it's not really a ship that she flies very much; if there's a situation where ECM is called for, one of our many blackbirds are far cheaper to risk, and her Kitsunes boast more powerful jams. Robbed of its main purpose, it's only flown to kill unwanted wormholes, and really any battleship can do that.

So, in short, what she's looking for is a missile-based ship that will do good damage when a structure needs to blow up, and which serves a second role Bre's not already handling with some other ship she prefers -- which probably means "PvP DPS".

That doesn't leave a ton of options. Em points out that a Raven battleship does the structure bashing just fine, but it has a -- perhaps justifiable -- reputation as a poor PvP ship in any situation where it's likely to be used. Em explains that, fitted with cruise missiles, its damage is moderate but unimpressive. The range is good, but the travel time on the missiles means that a comparable ship from another race, fitted with turret-based weapons, will apply similar damage nigh-instantly, while the Raven needs ten or twenty seconds for each volley to finally get where it's going -- that's not attractive in many (any) PvP situations. You can go with high-damage Torpedoes, but while the damage is much better, the weapon system's short range (usually less than twenty kilometers) means the Raven has to get up close and personal, which puts it at a range where it can easily be swarmed by fast, small ships that can avoid much of the torpedo damage and tear the Raven apart bit by bit.

He makes some good points, but it occurs to me that the nature of PvP combat in wormholes provides us with a unique situation where the Raven's weaknesses can be negated, and maybe even turned into strengths. A bit of fiddling at the drafting board, and some good suggestions from Em, and we come up with the a design that Bre sells off her Scorpion to pick up and fit.

[Raven, Bashing and Hole Defense]
Reactor Control Unit II
Damage Control II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II

Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Large Shield Extender II
Warp Disruptor II
Prototype 100MN MicroWarpdrive I
Stasis Webifier II

Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Large EMP Smartbomb I
Heavy Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I

Hammerhead II x5
Warrior II x5

Even 'downgrading' from tech2 launchers to the Arbalest models, it's more than a bit of a tight fit (requiring both good fitting skills and Bre's Genolution-Core implants to work), but when it's all said and done she's happy with the results. Using plain old missiles on structure bashes, the DPS is in the 800s, and switching to faction torpedoes pushes the numbers just a skosh north of 1000.

"Sure," you might say, "but what about all those problems with PvP you mentioned?

Well, lets take a look at those.

PvP in a wormhole is a bit of a change from typical null- or low-sec combat, and a lot of the difference in range. In null-sec, you're likely fighting on a gate, at relatively long ranges -- two forces jumping through the same gate may be over 30 kilometers from each other and well outside the Raven's torp range. Wormholes, however, have a much smaller 'dump' area (8km) meaning that the target will never appear outside the Raven's effective range.

Also, this ship doesn't particularly mind being up close, especially in a wormhole environment. The tank is quite solid, and the web plus microwarpdrive should allow the ship to keep its targets where it wants them.

Smaller ships
We're addressing the 'small ship' problem in two ways, one environmental and one via the ship design.

Environmental: The simple fact of the matter is that small ships -- anything smaller than a battlecruiser -- is pretty rare to see in a wormhole, especially if you're talking about anyone jumping into the system to try their hand at shooting sleepers or assault a tower. Strategic cruisers are the exception, but in general tech 2 cruisers/destroyers/frigates are rare and often highly specialized, tech 1 versions are largely non-existent. Thus, between the ships commonly seen, the short range, and that web, the Raven shouldn't have too much trouble applying damage to the most common targets.

Design: But lets say we do have to deal with those smaller ships. First off, the Heavy Neutralizer is quite effective at shutting down the systems on smaller ships (including those pesky tech3 cruisers), and its effective range is longer than any other system on the ship -- enough to tag anyone fighting at short to even low-medium range. A single cycle will shut off everything on a frigate or destroyer, and 2 or 3 will ruin the day of most cruisers or battlecruisers. Pesky frigates will also find themselves with a face full of light drones, and if they venture too close, there's the AoE damage from the large smart bomb (which doubles as a defensive tool for killing enemy drones, and which -- in OUR wormhole -- fires out an extra two or three unexpected kilometers -- just enough to affect otherwise wary attackers.

Is it a perfect design? Not at all -- it would probably flail ineffectively and die in a lot of situations, but we're not taking into a lot of situations -- we're using it in a wormhole, in a couple specific situations that maximize its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses a bit.

In any case, Bre is happy with it, and jumps back into the system with Quothe fitted and kitted for the evening's bashing fun. The combined firepower of the battleship and a half-dozen tier 2 and tier 3 battlecruisers drops the customs office quickly. Ty, Em, and Dirk head out to known space to return to the c6, while Bre and CB stick around to handle their PI setups. Berke ducks out to known space as well, only to return a few minutes later with a Player Owned Customs Office and the required enhancements to get the thing running, all of which he anchors and assembles.

System assimilation: Complete.


Life in a Wormhole: Keeping the Shades Drawn #eveonline

I logged out in the class two last night, and our entrances are all closed, so the only vector for attack is someone who patiently logged out in the system to try to jump us when our guard is down. Possible (it's certainly happened before), but fairly unlikely. In any case, this is a good time to get chores done, and pilots come out of the woodwork to deal with the planetary interaction colonies.

I cover the many industrials warping hither and yon with a single combat scanning probe out, ignoring all current signatures and watching for new sigs and/or unknown ships. Coupled with my directional scanner to watch for the sudden appearance of an unlikely but not impossible system lurker, I feel pretty safe, and for once my feelings appear to be accurate.

P.I. done, Bre decides to shoot some sleepers on her own, so I leave the probe out and give her until its normal expiration timer (less than an hour) to enact her plan. She manages to clear three sites in that time, and while the loot is a bit low-average, it's still 40 or 50 million isk she'd otherwise not have. A good, if quiet, night.


Life in a Wormhole: Avoiding Incursions and Shooting Sleepers #eveonline

I wake up in the class six wormhole, but there's no one on, so I scan an exit to the adjacent class 1, and thence to high-sec.

What to do? I have a scimitar logistics ship appropriately fit for running Incursion sites, which might be fun and educational, but when I get to the closest one, it seems no one's running it. The current "focus" incursion is far away, and apparently the recent changes to the way Incursions work means that 'indy' incursion runners can't do very well running the off-brand incursion sites. Ah well. I start heading toward the other incursion when CB logs on, followed by a few other pilots. We debate options and settle on killing sleepers in our home system. (By which I mean the class two, since no one else from the class six is on.)

Sometimes, a promising-looking portal to another place doesn't turn out that well. So it seems to be with the Class Six.

We ship up and begin killing, with Bre watching exits and scanner readouts while Tira puts her perfect salvaging skills to work in the NSS Generous Donation. Berke hauls the loot out for us and returns in his Orca, Astropatamus. He hadn't originally intended to bring an Orca in, but when half the active pilots in the class two are technically part of another corp, the orca becomes the best (and, in fact, only) decent option for refitting or swapping ships in and out of the main hangar -- unlike the static tower installations, it can be set up as a mobile ship hangar for any pilot in the fleet to use, regardless of corporate affiliation. It makes the wrap-up for the evening, if not exactly easy, at least a bit less painful, and all the active pilots (regardless of corporation) bunk down in the class two for the night.

[Unrelated Thing: Charles de Lint wrote a blurb for my book! Holy crap!]


Life in a Wormhole: Fleet Ops #eveonline

CB and I are heading out of the hole for an "Amarr-themed" roam with Red vs. Blue. As a general rule of thumb, these things are a fine bit of fun (it's fun to listen to drunken Brits chatting over Mumble, at any rate), so I don't think I'll spend (much) time going over my complaints with how this (and other) roams ran. Instead, I thought I'd turn my frustration into something more productive by writing down some thoughts on what I consider good ideas when it comes to forming up and taking part in roams in EvE.

For the uninitiated (those who play MMOs, but not EvE), a roam is basically just forming up a fleet and sort of going on a patrol/prowl/hunt through the wilder areas of low-sec and null-sec space, with the hopes of finding that holy grail of EvE PvP play: the Good Fight. It's not unlike forming up for a raid in typical theme park MMO, in that you have an organized start time, a known agenda, and roles that need to be filled within the fleet, but (obviously) unlike it in that what you actually end up doing and what you end up fighting is a complete unknown until (or after) it happens.

Still, I've found that the basic "raid" mindset I developed in other MMOs serves me well here. Starting with the rank-and-file pilots in the fleet, I think there are a few good rules of thumb that will improve the experience for you and everyone else in the group.

If you're familiar with the somewhat cutthroat and "Harden the Fuck Up" attitude prevalent in EvE, it might be a surprise to learn that there's such a thing as good fleet etiquette. Let me assure you, there is. Every fleet and fleet commander is going to handle things differently -- some more casually, some more strict or even "hardcore" -- but I think I can say this fairly safely: if you observe these general guidelines, you'll do okay regardless of which kind of group you're flying with.

Be Prepared

Before you do anything else, make sure you're prepared to roam.

  • Is your ship fitted out in accordance with whatever style of fleet is going to be going out? A bunch of fast frigates will look sideways at your neutralizer-heavy, armor-tanked Dominix battleship, and a bunch of long range, skirmishing battlecruisers will have little use for your short-range, high-damage Brutix brawler.
  • Do you have enough of the right kinds of ammunition and other consumables, such as cap boosters or nanite repair paste? For roams, I usually don't bother with more than two or three reloads for each type of ammunition I'm bringing, and even then I'll probably lose my ship long before I run out even that small amount of ammo -- but make sure you HAVE the ammo -- nothing's more annoying than waiting on someone who just realized they don't have the long-range stuff they need for the skirmishing fleet they've joined.
  • Do you have appropriate skills for the ships and fitting you're flying? If not, consider a different ship. If you're flying with a fleet of armor-tanked heavy assault cruisers, and your armor skills are terrible or non-existant, you're going to have a bad time trying to force yourself into a ship you can't fly well -- there's always a need in any fleet for scouts or fast tacklers (neither of whom have a tank to speak of), so fly that instead, or simply realize you don't have the skills you need for that fleet and move on.

Is the answer to any of those questions "No"?

Then stop. You have other stuff to do before you take this thing any further.

Is the answer "not at this exact moment, but with some trips to my supply cache and some quick purchases on the market, I'll be ready", then DO THAT STUFF NOW. The time to get your ship properly kitted and fitted is BEFORE the scheduled start... all that stuff takes time. Maybe not much time, but it's not just your time you're taking -- multiply every minute you spend running round by the number of people in the fleet, waiting to get started. That's how much time you just wasted, and if you're sitting there reading this and saying "so what?" then you're bad, and you should feel bad.

Do the Homework

No, you're not the Fleet Commander (FC), but that doesn't mean you can't do a bit of reading on whatever region or regions you and your merry band are planning to prowl through, or that you can't improve your own performance by reviewing the common tactics used by whatever kind of fleet you're going to be flying in. In this, Google (plus some smart search querying) is your friend. Yes, the FC will assign people roles and call targets and make decisions about where you're going and when you hold up or keep moving, but understanding WHY he's doing that helps you have a better experience.

Start time is START Time

This is one both pilots and FCs could stand to remember. If the roam starts at 2pm, you should be in your ship and TOTALLY READY to undock at 2pm. Don't do a 'quick run to Jita' at 1:30. Sure, you can get there and back again in time, if nothing goes wrong and you have no delays.


Don't plan based on any kind of 'if', except for this one: "IF you can't get done with whatever other thing you're considering at LEAST fifteen minutes before fleet invites start going out, don't start it."

Can You Hear Me Now? Goooood.

I've heard people say that since it's just a basic roam, and they know the area, the FC, and their sihp, they can come along on the raid, just reading the fleet broadcasts, asking a question in the fleet text chat every so often, and doing their job, without using voice chat.

That's... sort of sad and adorable. Like a mentally handicapped puppy.

Here's the deal: your fleet is using some kind of voice chat. Period. If they aren't, they're going to die, and you should avoid flying with them. Find out what voice communication software your fleet is going to use and set it up ahead of time. (The in-game chat in EvE is quite servicable, but Ventrillo/TeamSpeak/Mumble are all common -- they're free downloads, easily customized, and generally dead simple to set up on the user side of things.)

Do you need a microphone? No. You don't have to talk, but you do have to be able to listen.

Now that we can talk to each other, STFU.

When the fleet commander talks, listen (or at least shut up so everyone else can hear). Ears open. Mouth shut. Don't be the person that has to have everything explained twice -- once beforehand, and once after everyone dies. Especially don't be the guy who wouldn't shut up long enough for everyone else to hear instructions properly.

(One of the downsides to the RvB roams is that I end up muting over half the fleet members, simply because they're generating too much noise to hear the signal.)

Understand that there is a time and a place for screwing around and/or socializing, even during a roam, but when the FC or some other person in a designated role calls for silence, give it to them, and do so immediately. Some fleets are very lax about who's talking when, some... aren't -- the easiest way to find out how your fleet operates is to shut the hell up and listen for awhile.

Limit AFKs

AFK. The roam killer. There are many good times to have extended AFKs -- a good FC will announce them ahead of time and keep them short. Communicate with others to check for when those scheduled AFKs are coming, and if at all possible avoid going AFK at other times -- it goes back to the fact that every minute you wasted is multiplied by all the people in the fleet.

Yes, there are absolutely times when you will have to go AFK. Absolutely. However, even in those cases, be respectful.

  • Announce yourself - don't just vanish.

  • Give a reason. We don't need to hear your life story, but say something. If you're going to be a long while ("my kid just set the dog on fire") say so.

  • Say when you'll be back. "One sec" is inaccurate and unlikely. Be realistic and if you have to estimate, estimate high.

  • Don't you DARE get upset if you go afk for ten minutes and come back to find that you've been replaced or (more likely) left behind. 10 minutes multiplied by the twenty-four other people is four wasted hours of collective time -- of COURSE they kept going. It's not personal, so don't make it personal.

Do Unto Others As Though They Were You

Stop for two seconds and consider your actions within the group -- if someone else was doing what you're doing right now (long AFKs, lack of prep, showing up late), would it annoy you?


Then knock it the fuck off.

For the FCs: This All Goes Double for You

  • Do the Homework -- nothing is more annoying and lame than a fleet commander who doesn't know where they're going, what kind of fight they're looking for, or what kind of roles they need to have filled. Figure this stuff out beforehand, and (as much as is ever possible) stick to that basic plan.
  • Start time is START Time -- Starting late is a great way to ensure that people stop taking you seriously before you're even out of the docking station.
  • Exercise good comms discipline -- I'll borrow from my teaching background and suggest you be a bit stricter than normal at the outset of a roam, and slowly relax down to whatever 'normal' is for you as the roam progresses. Comm discipline will deteriorate as time goes on, anyway, so it's best to aim high so that the result you actually get is acceptable.
  • Limit (and schedule) AFKs
  • When it comes to comms, don't be this guy. Don't be these guys, either. Think about how you sound, and strive to be someone you wouldn't mind following into a fight.

In addition to all of that, you have a few other things to worry about, but one of the main ones is:

Keep Moving

If I had a dollar for every time I sat for twenty minutes on a jump gate in a fleet of over forty guys while scouts try to find a single battleship in the next system over, the accumulated cash would pay for each of my EvE accounts, with money left over to play Somer.Blink. Yes, your job as FC is to find fights, but have a sense of proportion -- there is an easily deduced ratio between the amount of actual 'fight' a potential target will give your fleet, and the amount of time you should spend trying to get that fight. I say again: have a sense of proportion.

Now, not everyone had a bad time with this roam -- CB in particular enjoyed himself, but decided to leave when I had to take off for other commitments. It's too bad that he did, because on the way back out of Syndicate, he ran headlong into the Agony Empire fleet that was just entering the region for a roam of their own, and that marked the end of his beloved Prophecy, Angry Bird. His problems gave me just enough warning to get away and dock up, which let me take care of my other commitments and come back later to sneak my own (blaster fit) Prophecy back to Stacmon, where I dock up, clone-jump, and head back to the Class Six wormhole.