First Bounty in Venal

I managed a few firsts last night.

I got into my first fleet op of the year.  It seems that Black Legion is up for fights in Venal.  An operation got called, so I put down World of Tanks and joined the fleet.

It was also my first time taking out my tech II fit Rokh in an Alpha Fleet.  My Maelstrom is gone.

Rokhs and Maelstroms

Rokhs and Maelstroms

I managed to get on my first kill mail of the year when an interdictor got a good bubble up on Black Legion.

Black Legion warps in

Black Legion warps in

I probably would have gotten more than one kill, but for some reason I decided to shift-click to target for most of the fight… which meant I targeted nothing.  Control-click is what I wanted.  I figured that out in time to get one broadside in on a Tornado.  That did 9% of the damage though.

I did also get rounds down range on a bomber later on, but it was gone before my shots hit.  Enough to get on another kill mail. (There is a battle kill summary here.)

And during the fight I got my first bounty payout from the system that came in with Retribution.

Bounty time!

Bounty time!

I got a payout for kills just by being in the fleet.  It wasn’t a lot cash, maybe 100K ISK total.  But it was something.

Nothing terribly exciting in all of that, but it was my first time out in a while and my first kill mail since October.

First Peek at Retribution

I did get a chance to look at Retribution after letting download while watching a DVD and listening to my daughter complain that the internet was slow.  Maybe that is the answer to my hardware doldrums question.  Maybe I should look for a better internet service, if there is one.  You would think, living in Silicon Valley, I would have options, but last time I checked it was just the phone company and their lowest level of service available.

Anyway, the download finished and I was able to log in for a bit.

New Splash for Retribution

It wasn’t long enough to explore features with the depth that others have, but I got to poke at a few of the new things.  I had queued up a couple of before/after scenarios for just this occasion.

The first was the impact of the heavy missile nerf on my Tengu ratting ship.

Tengu missiles before Retribution

Tengu missiles before Retribution

113km range and 664.1 DPS before.

Tengu missiles after Retribution

Tengu missiles after Retribution

79km range and 629.5 DPS after.  Oh, and the print is bigger, never a bad thing for me, and it shows me the damage type of my ammo now.

That is a bigger range hit than I was expecting.  Basically, a 38% nerf in this situation.

Damage per second, on the other hand, was down just over 5%, which was less than I expected.

For my ratting purposes, this is pretty low impact.  Range is never an issue and the damage reduction won’t add a lot of time to clearing a site.  At least not enough that I feel the need to switch over to assault missiles before I have finished off my supply of heavies.

I haven’t looked to see how my fleet op Drake now performs, but I am again glad I spent a lot of the last couple of months investing in gunnery skills.

Then, of course, there are the circles.  That seemed to be one of the UI themes for Retribution, put everything in circles.  So my target list went from this row of squares:

Guristas are all squares

Guristas are all squares

To a row of circles:

Rounding out Guristas

Rounding out Guristas

The circles take a little more space across the top of my game window, and I have to look more closely to tell how much damage a target has take, though that last bit is something that will likely get better as I get used to the new UI.

And, of course, there more circles in space indicating the ships you have targeted.

Target meatballs

Target meatballs

They certainly makes targets more visible in space.  And, when combined with the new camera target tracking option, which shifts the camera to point in the direction of your currently selected target automatically, you can maintain better situational awareness when you need it.  I did not really need it for ratting however, and it started giving me a bit of motion sickness… something I do not usually suffer from… so I turned that off pretty quickly.

Finally, I was interested to see who would top the bounty list on the first night.  Neither individual nor corporation bounties listed anybody I recognized.  But for alliance bounties, our friends at Gentleman’s Agreement were at the top of the list.

Kill Gents, If You Please...

Kill Gents, If You Please…

Granted, this was the first night, and those bounties are probably pretty small at this point (I saw bigger for both single pilots and corps), and thus easily influenced by individuals.

But while I knew our allies in Gents were ever eager to get into fights, I figured that Goonswarm would be at the top of the CFC bounty list.  I am sure that will change over time.  But for now, Viva Gents!

I will be interested to see how the updated bounty system works out.  Will it give carebears a way to fight back?  Or will it turn into a more sophisticated griefing tool?

Retribution While I Slept

Last night before I went to bed I made sure I had a nice long skill set.  A reminder came out over Jabber as I was checking, suggesting that people have at least a 4 day long skill training session queued up.

I also jumped myself to a clone in empire space… just to limit any potential surprises.  Plus, that is where my implants are, all the better to hasten training during the expected down time.

The Retribution expansion was set to hit EVE Online, and the old hands can all recall a time where that could mean a long stretch offline.  While “what goes up must come down” might be a truism, there is abundant evidence in the IT world that what goes down may never come up again.

Retribution - It's Green!

Retribution – It’s Green!

But I woke up this morning to find the expansion deployed and the game back up again.

Way to go CCP!  Look at you, an expansion deployed in just a few hours!

Now we only need the hot fixes for the inevitable issues and we will be good to go.

And so we have Retribution, the 18th “free” expansion for EVE Online.

I also like that CCP has to call out “free” every time them mention an expansion, as though there was a set of circumstances where they could charge for their expansions.  By charging, they would have to ensure that people could play without them, which doesn’t really seem viable in a sandbox where the players must drive the content.  Sure, CCP could cordon off things like factional warfare or wormhole space with a price tag, but why would they ever want to?  They are not really analogous to theme park “new zones” style expansions.  They are tools for the players to make fun.

So expansions in EVE are there to keep us subscribed by adding or enhancing those tools, not to try and wrench a little extra money out of us.  And Retribution is a prime example of the type.  Retribution features:

Not all of that is listed on the expansion page.  Oddly enough, CCP doesn’t like bragging about nerfs, so those are relegated to the patch notes.

There is a little bit in there for everybody, both good and bad.

The agony of defeat.

I am interested in the UI changes, since I contend that the original AI was conceived by somebody who wanted to punish players for daring to play their game.  Of course, those used to the old ways will grumble.  But there is some absolute good on the list. As I mentioned before, visible timers for things like aggression are a win all around.

I like some of the Crimewatch changes.  High sec space still won’t be safe, but it will be unsafe in new and interesting ways over time I bet, as players figure out the “never intended” aspects of the update.  In something of an irony, the Retribution trailer plays up the bounty hunting aspect of the expansion.

Yet bounty hunting has never really been effective in the game so far as I can tell.  It has always been too easy to just have a friend or an alt blow you up in a cheap ship, collect the bounty, and laugh at the system.  I am not sure how that has changed, but I also don’t pay much attention to that part of the game.  All in all, I think I preferred the silly Retribution ‘In Development” video which featured, among other things, what may be the only 1979 Mazda 929L in Iceland. (I used to pride myself on my ability to identify cars, a skill which peaked for me right around 1979.)

The ship rebalancing, new destroyers, and the new ORE frigate do not really touch me.  The only sub-battle cruiser ship I fly regularly is the Tengu, and I only rat in that.  And even the AI change won’t touch me, since I tend to do that solo or with Gaff, who flies an even better fit Tengu than my own, so AI switching targets doesn’t really mean anything.

The heavy missile nerf may sting.

  • Base flight time reduced by 35% (to 6.5 seconds) for tech1 variants
  • Base velocity increased by 14.6% (to 4300m/s)
  • Damage has been decreased by 10% (rounded to closest digit)
  • Explosion radius increased by 12%

I can launch heavy missiles from my Drake at ranges beyond my ability to target, so I can get people running away.  And my Tengu can put them out to 113km from my ship.  Or it could.  Damage is getting chopped, ability to harm smaller targets is taking a hit (explosion radius), and range is down 25%.  Jester went through all of the changes a while back, so you can read about this in more depth if you like.

On the plus side, the penalties for tech II missiles have been removed, so those are more viable in fleets.

Still, I am glad I just finished up my training plan to fly a tech II fit CFC fleet Rokh, which represented a large investment in gunnery skill points.  I don’t know that the day of the Drake is over.  It still has a mighty shield tank.  But how to use them as a fleet doctrine sounds like it will have to change again.

Anyway, I am sure by this weekend there will be a lot more opinions about what the changes really mean to players.  But first, we have to patch.  1.5GB?  Okay, maybe there was a good reason to put a long skill into the training queue after all.  I live in the land of slow DSL.

What do you think is good… or bad… about Retribution?

Retribution and Burning Jita

You remember the Burn Jita event, right?

A little over six months ago… well… this happened.

That is a glimpse at an hour’s worth of destruction happening right on the 4-4 undock in Jita, the economic center of the EVE Online universe, in the middle of high security space.

Starting on April 27th, the Goons and their CFC allies set about to disrupt the heart of the EVE economy by suicide ganking freighters and other ships involved in commerce.

How many people even got this reference?

Anybody paying attention had plenty of advance notice.

Of course, few actually pay attention, but that is another story.

A Save Jita defense force was formed while others just planned to stay away from the system during the event.  The Save Jita forces declared was on the various CFC alliances.  This, in turn, prompted many CFC players not really interested in suicide ganking to come out and fight with the Save Jita forces.

Glorious mayhem ensued to the point that CCP put up a travel advisory on the launch screen.

click to enlarge

Freighters were blown up.  Gankers were blown up.  Opposing defense and ganker escort forces were blown up.  Random strangers were blown up.  That guy in the disco Bhaalgorn was blown up.  There was a frenzy of looting and salvaging.  You can see some wrecks being hit with 3-5 white salvage beams in that video.

Salvage Beam Frenzy

And everybody declared victory!

Though with even major news outlets covering the event, it was CCP that really seemed to come out on top.

It was a short, sharp event that gave a bunch of people something different to do over a weekend and something to argue about for the weeks surrounding it.  A classic EVE Online happening.

And at then end of things, The Mittani announced that we would be back to do it again some day.

But the CFC hasn’t been back.  Not yet, in any case.

There was the war in Delve to prosecute and, once we were home from that, the sovereignty grind in Tribute started and is only now petering out in The Vale of the Silent.  Sure, there has been some Goon ultra violence in high sec.  There has been a low key freighter ganking op going on for some time and a new Gallente ice interdiction campaign started up recently.  But neither of those are splashy, front page events.

And given the logistics of getting ready for an event like Burn Jita, it looks like the next EVE Online expansion, Retribution, will hit before any such event can be pulled off.

And part of Retribution is a Crimewatch update, which might shake things up in high sec space a little.

If not criminal, at least controversial

So the question here is, will the Crimewatch changes in Retribution impact a second Burn Jita event?

The short answer seems to be “no.”

Yes, you’re welcome for my wasting your time with all of that back story and build up.

But how can this be?  There was a freaking dev blog post that required not one but two giant charts to help explain the changes.  Jester has done a couple of posts just looking into the changes.  And did I mention the charts?  Like this one?

This is the one about getting flagged

The thing is, a lot of the changes are really just details, at least in this context.

We get new, visible timers, which I love.  But that doesn’t actually change anything.

Security status impacts happen when you initiate an unlawful attack rather than after you killed whoever, so you get penalized after you fail.  But if you’re already set on suicide ganking somebody, you’ve accept that your security status is going to take a hit, so who cares.

I suppose something could be said about getting flagged if you remote rep a criminal… but that generally isn’t how suicide ganking works.

There have been changes to the war dec mechanics which I haven’t even bothered to look into, but I would take it as read that war can still be declared and legitimate war targets remain legitimate targets where ever you find them, so only the visible meter showing your aggression timer changes there.

No, to my mind, the only thing that seems like it might change for a new Burn Jita event is looting.

You see, with the Retribution changes, if you loot a wreck which is not yours, you will be flagged as a “suspect” and open season for anybody who cares to take a shot at you.  Or so says the consequence chart.  And one of the things going on in the original Burn Jita event was a rush to loot the wrecks that were strewn about the 4-4 undock area.

So that change could make things interesting.

While there will be plenty of legitimate loot floating about, I am sure there will also be enough loot that belongs to individuals out there to get more than a few greedy grabbers flagged as suspects.  And then anybody can shoot them. This will, in turn, leave more potential bait loot on the field that can ensnare more looters.  And the cycle goes on.

This could bring a whole new group into the already crowded space in front of the Jita 4-4 undock.  A new level of hilarity could ensue as people learn about Retribution changes, and how everybody gets to shoot people with the suspect flag, the hard way.  And the hard way is always the EVE way.

At least that is how I see the Retribution changes impacting a second Burn Jita campaign.  But I am famous… in as much as I have any fame at all… for noticing tiny tangential details while failing to grasp the big picture.

So what am I missing?  How else will Retribution impact this sort of thing?