The Nintendo Switch Announced

Nintendo finally gave us a real peek at their new console, formerly referred to as “NX.”  Its official name is Switch and looks like this:

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo has previously said that this unit is no meant to be a direct replacement for the 3DS and Wii U product lines.  Instead the Switch looks like it is meant to fill roles currently taken by both.  As shown it has a dock that lets you hook it up to your TV in the traditional living room console fashion.  But it can be removed from the dock, which reveals a small high definition display.

The controllers are… um… they seem to have many roles in the Switch universe… and a silly name… Joy-Con controllers.   From the press release:

Gaming springs into action by removing detachable Joy-Con controllers from either side of Nintendo Switch. One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand; two players can each take one; or multiple Joy-Con can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options. They can easily click back into place or be slipped into a Joy-Con Grip accessory, mirroring a more traditional controller. Or, if preferred, the gamer can select an optional Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to use instead of the Joy-Con controllers.

Given how small the controllers look… something that matters when you have giant mitts like mine… I am happy that other controllers will be available.

Another item that sticks out from the press release is the idea of Switch users being able to bring their units together to form up a local mulitplayer network.

Furthermore, it is possible for numerous people to bring their Nintendo Switch systems together to enjoy local multiplayer face-to-face competition.

The return of the LAN party?

Of course, Nintendo has many fanciful visions of people using the Switch, carrying it from place to place, and never being without it… ever… in the video that accompanied today’s announcement.

Friends calling you to come to their roof top party?  Now you can bring your video game obsession with you!

Of course, for me, the big question is, “What does this mean for Pokemon?!?!?!”

Console play isn’t really much of a thing at our house.  We got many hours on the Wii back when my daughter was in grade school, but now it just sits and collects dust, while the PlayStation 3 has been primarily a Blu-Ray playing and video streaming device over its five year life in our living room.  So I never gave a thought to buying an XBox One, PlayStation 4, or Wii U.

The only console I do play is the Nintendo 3DS, and that is pretty much just for Pokemon.  So if the Switch is going to get the main line Pokemon RPG games at some point, then I might have to look into the system.  In the video they show the Switch taking a cartridge, ever the delivery vehicle for Pokemon games.

53 seconds into the video, a cartridge is inserted

53 seconds into the video, a cartridge is inserted

Of course, that may never happen.  Despite Nintendo’s statement about the NX, now Switch, not being a direct replacement for either 3DS or Wii U, it sure feels more like a Wii U replacement than anything else.  It is a living room device for use on the TV, even when mobile the screen looks a bit big to be pocketable, and the video shows people playing Splatoon, one of the few hits on the Wii U.

Meanwhile, as the Wii U has languished, the 3DS line remains a good seller, seeing a significant boost in sales over the summer has Pokemon Go seemed to stir interest in the “real” Pokemon games, the core RPG titles available on the 3DS.  And, of course, the next installment in the core Pokemon RPG series is due out next month on the 3DS platform.  No need to hurry any transition for that line.

The flip side of that is Nintendo’s long standing tradition of supporting games from the previous console generation.  Without an optical drive, that isn’t going to happen for Wii U titles.  Of course, that might be the whole point of saying it is not a direct replacement.  It is a replacement for the Wii U, but it isn’t going to play any of your Wii U games.  Given how PlayStation and XBox backward compatibility has been handled… and the slow sales of the Wii U… this might not hurt Nintendo all that much.  Still, you can see how this might be a… heh… switch for them.  Ahem… anyway… no more motion controllers and no touch screen.  And no mention of VR.

And that is about all we know.  The press release has a list of developers who have signed up to support the Switch, but as we have seen in the past, studios saying they are going to support a platform fully and getting them to actually do it are two different things entirely.  You can watch the Zero Punctuation episode from a couple weeks back about the Capcom 5 to see how Nintendo has been screwed on that front before.  Other than that, we have the video, the press release, and the promised date of March 2017.

The date in block letters on a red background to emphasize it is a date

The date in block letters on a red background to emphasize it is a date

Meanwhile, the video game sites are jumping all over this and picking apart every nuance of what has been show (like the fact that Splatoon players have pants on the Switch version) so I expect the Wikipedia entry on the unit to get a lot of edits and updates over the next few days.

So the Switch is coming in a few months, so people can start building up a supply of headline puns playing on the unit’s name.

My Slackening Pace in the Broken Isles

I made it through the main quest lines of Stormheim over the weekend.  It actually seemed to go by pretty quickly, with a diversion into hell for a bit.

The management explaining how we were not leaving

The management explaining how we were not leaving

Finishing the main quest lines got me the achievement which I assume will count towards unlocking flying in the Broken Isles at some future date.

Another off the list

Another off the list

That wrapped up my initial clockwise run through the initial four zones of WoW Legion.

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

Starting at 7 and working my way around the clock

That still leaves me with Suramar and the Broken Shore to tackle… I guess… and whatever else the expansion offers at level 110.  But, while I have been enjoying the quest lines and such, I haven’t been feeling any real drive to finish them up.  I could have finished up Stormheim a couple weeks back had I a mind to do so.  I was finishing up Highmountain about three weeks back.

I was even starting to fall off when it game to those last couple of shipyard missions from the Draenor garrison.  I let almost all of last week go by without even logging in to do that or collect hexweave for bags.  Again, I got back to it over the weekend, and even got two of the final three achievements I was shooting for.

Earned me the title "Captain"

Earned me the title “Captain”

Meanwhile, I still have a pile of level 100 characters that haven’t really done much of anything.  Vikund is 110, but there are five more characters sitting around PLUS there is that level 100 boost that I have yet to use.  I have not dove into Legion the way I did into Warlords of Draenor, though the design of Legion seems to be as much to blame as anything when it comes to alts.

That level 100 boost badge just sits there

That level 100 boost badge just sits there

So, I started down the path that I often follow when the main thread of the game isn’t holding me.  I started looking for something from past releases that I missed which I could go back and work on for a bit.  I ran down the now very long list of faction reputations in my character sheet, looking for somebody I could bump up to exalted.

Deep down I found that I still had a number of factions still available for work from the Burning Crusade era.  Honor Hold was deep into revered, so I decided to start with that.  I think I had been working on that previously, then lost interest and went elsewhere.  To get that running meant heading to Outland to run Shattered Halls.  Being just a five person instance, that went pretty quickly.  I did not get a ton of faction from it, but enough that I only need a couple more runs to hit revered.

That having gone quickly, I looked at what else was on the list and came upon the Violet Eye faction, which was barely into friendly territory.  I had to go look that faction up and found that to boost it you had to go run through Karazhan.  Over at WoW Head the comments said that a full run through the old raid instance was worth about 10K faction for a full clear, which sounded good.  It wouldn’t take that many runs to boost up the Violet Eye then.

Of course the trick is that you have to actually find your way through Karazhan to do this.

I never went to Karazhan back in the day, and can only recall going there once… maybe during Cataclysm… and getting pretty thoroughly lost. (We also tried to go visit at one point in the distant past, but found you needed a key back then.)  Or, not lost, because I always ended up back at the front door, but unable to move find my way beyond the first couple of areas.

If you have been there, you know that Karazhan is a large, sprawling raid instance, the sort of “just got carried away” thing that Blizzard just doesn’t do much anymore.

Anyway, with nothing else on my list to do and no ops running in New Eden, I headed to Karazhan to start exploring.

The last time I went there were no in-instance maps, which probably explains my lack of progress.  There are now maps in the instance, and while they don’t exactly hold you by the hand and direct you forward, you at least get a hint as to where connections to other areas might be as well as getting the various bosses marked on the map.

Found Moroes in the Banquet Hall

Found Moroes in the Banquet Hall

And so I have managed to stumble through the place, exploring, killing large groups of mobs for faction, collecting items for transmog (Maybe something from Burning Crusade looks good?), and occasionally getting a surprise drop.

A pet! I didn't even know about that.

A pet! I didn’t even know about that.

So that has given me something to do, though because it is a raid I cannot log in and run through every night.  The lockout timer keeps me away for a few days.  I’ll be finished with Honor Hold rep much more quickly.

However, I did wonder if I was going be able to finish my Violet Eye faction run.  A change is coming next week, one that features Karazhan.

Recycling content is generally good

Recycling content is generally good

In the past changes to old instances, such as Onyxia, have meant that the old versions have gone away.  The patch notes I have seen for the public test realm seem to indicate that this will not be the case with Karazhan, the the update will just add an additional instance that will take place within the old raid zone.  But it isn’t clear to me how that will affect just walking in the front door of the place once 7.1 hits.

Anyway, I will have at least one more chance to run through it this weekend based on my current timer.  And while I wait for the timer to run down, Hallow’s End is upon us again so I can take the daily run at trying to get the mount drop.  Maybe this year I will get lucky!

Fighting the Blood Raider Menace or How I Rat

l have been meaning to write this for a while.  This isn’t any sort of guide on how to rat, but a checkpoint wherein I describe how I currently approach the task.  It is one of those posts that I wish I had written, say, yearly, just to see how things progressed.  I expect people will comment to tell me I am doing it wrong, which is welcome, if only so that others might learn from my mistakes.

If I had written this a year ago it would have been about fighting the Guristas menace.  But now we live in Delve and it is the Blood Raiders we seek to suppress.

Also, this post should not be confused with the Crimson Harvest event, which is kicking off today.  I only realized that was hitting today after I had written most of this, so the timing is coincidental.  But I’ll still use the Blood Raiders graphic from event.

Blood Raiders! Wooo!

Blood Raiders! Wooo!

My ratting ship of choice is the Ishtar, and I am still using the same hull I hauled down from the north in my carrier a couple of months back.  Or maybe I flew it down on its own.  I don’t remember off hand.  Anyway, I have since refit the modules and now run it with an armor tank rather than a shield tank as I did previously.

The main defensive modules on my Ishtar are a Reactive Armor Hardener, which nicely adapts to whatever damage type is being thrown at you (EM and thermal in the case of the Blood Raiders), a Medium Armor Repairer II, which keeps the armor belt on the ship repaired, and a 100MN afterburner that keeps the whole thing moving along fast enough to avoid fire without increasing the ship’s signature radius.  Most everything else fitted are modules to enhance drone range, speed, or damage.

Ratting, as I do it, consists of taking out anomalies in the system which I call home.  The term always conjures up the mental image of hunting asteroid belt rats back in the day.  Our home has an upgraded ihub and affords a range of targets when I open up the scanner.

What I see on the scanner

What I see on the scanner

There is a whole hierarchy of difficulty in anomalies, which you can read about over at EVE University.  Out of habit or tradition or whatever, I always run the local flavor of Forsaken Hubs.  Somebody (Gaff I think) once told me that they were the best effort to ISK value.  At one time they were very easy, because they spawned nothing smaller than a cruiser and never used tackle or ewar.  That got changed a while back, and now there are frigates that will point you.

Forsaken Hubs tend to be popular and if I find them all occupied I step up to Havens, which yield more ISK but are also more work.

When it is time to rat, I undock from the citadel and choose a Forsaken Hub from the list of Cosmic Anomalies.  I warp off to the one I have chosen… you can just right-click or click on the “warp to” button… with an overview up that shows blues.  If I land and see somebody else in the anomaly, I move off to another one.  If the anomaly is empty, has no wrecks, and shows the starting wave (which is always the same) I settle in to fight.

The broken orange crystal asteroid, the center piece of all forsaken hubs

The broken orange crystal asteroid, the center piece of all forsaken hubs

The first thing I do is make sure my hardeners are on.  Then I deploy my mobile tractor unit.  That will collect up all the wrecks and loot them for me.  After that is deploying I set myself to orbit the MTU at 25km and turn on the afterburner.  At about that point the Blood Raider ships are generally waking up to the fact that I have arrived and start targeting me.

This is where I sometimes forget to save the location of the MTU as a bookmark.  I will want to come back to that spot after the anomaly despawns and is no longer on the scanner.  So far I have only lost a single MTU because of this, but it is still an “Oh yeah, I need to do this!” part of the routine.  I also swap to the an overview that only shows hostiles, NPC or otherwise.

Once all the NPCs have me locked and are shooting at me (red boxed) I launch my drones and send them after one of the battleships.  Every so often the first wave will suddenly change its mind and target one of my Praetor II heavy drones and I have to call it back.  Once it is back in the drone bay fire generally resumes on me and I send out a replacement drone to join the fight.

The point of maximum incoming damage generally happens when my ship is motoring out to its orbital range.  Once in a while that happens in such a way that my path lines up with the hostile lasers and every shot is a hit and I have to change course.  But once I am out in my orbit and past about 750 m/s in velocity, most shots miss.

Lots of shots, not many hits on me

Lots of shots, not many hits on me

After that, the anomaly is pretty hands off.  The drones, set to group and be aggressive, just move from target to target blowing them off.  I will mention the drone settings if only because for the longest time I did not know they existed and used to have the “problem” of my drones running off and picking individual targets.  The “focus fire” option fixed that for the most part.

Drone Window Settings

Drone Window Settings

At this point I usually find something else to do while the anomaly runs.  I keep an eye on local and the intel channel and the health of my drones, just in case, as I work on bills or outline a blog post or go through screen shots or play a game on the iPad.  Last night I filled in my vote by mail ballot while running a forsaken hub.  It is not exciting game play and I cannot bring myself to do more than two anomalies at a sitting.  I get restless.  But if I have something else to work on, it is at least a lucrative side activity.

Our intel channel is quite active and the only time I haven’t had a lot of warning about somebody coming our way is when they came through a wormhole in our system.  I still have to click on the systems where hostiles are reported now and again to see how far away they are, but I am starting to learn the nearby systems.

When the waves with frigates come up I generally step in, target them, and make the drones kill them off first.  Then the rest of the wave runs by itself.

Drones take care of another NPC

Drones take care of another NPC

At the end I will have blown up ~40 ships.  The first few waves are consistent, the final couple seem to vary as the wreck count and the bounties paid out seem to fluctuate from one run to another.  The bounties totally up to about 25-28 million ISK per run.

I made this much ISK while voting

I made this much ISK while voting

Once the last NPC ship is down, I head back to the MTU and scoop in the cargo hold so I don’t forget it.  Then I load up whatever loot is left in the can that the MTU leave behind.  The Ishtar’s hold can sometimes carry all of the loot.  Even when it cannot, all that is left are usually a couple of larger items like smart bombs.

Then I warp back to the citadel and dock up.  If I have a damaged drone, I stay tethered a bit before docking to let the citadel repair it. (The repair progress doesn’t actually show, but when I go out again the drone is repaired.)  Once docked I take all the drops and move them into the cargo bay of the blockade runner I use to move loot so it doesn’t clutter up my hangar.  Then I swap over to my Noctis.

The Noctis

The Noctis

The Noctis is fit with salvage rigs and a full set of salvagers in the high slots.  I warp it off to the bookmark, as the anomaly has generally despawned by that point.  If I get the pop-up that indicates that it hasn’t, I usually hold off a minute or two and sit there tethered.  Etiquette as I was taught is to let your anomaly despawn before you go back to finish looting so as not to hold up the next spawn, as only so many of each anomaly can be present in the system at one time.

Once I arrive at the bookmark I pick up any remaining loot and then set about salvaging all of the wrecks that were piled up at the MTU.  I used to leave the MTU and all the loot for the Noctis to pick up, but then I kept forgetting to move the MTU back into the cargo hold of the Ishtar.  Coming up with a routine that minimizes errors is a priority for me.

Digging into the salvage

Digging into the salvage

Once the site has been swept clean, it is back to the citadel to drop the salvage and remaining loot in the blockade runner. (Also, it is surprisingly difficult to get all the salvagers running on individual wrecks then turn off the UI and take a decent screen shot before some of them have cycled and turned off.)

Eventually the blockade runner starts to fill up and I have to figure out what to do with all of the loot.  Back up in the north, when shipping to Jita was cheap, I used to send it all there to be sold.  Now with shipping being more than double the price, I pick through what to send to Jita and what to sell locally.  There are lots of low ball buy orders to ignore, but for things like salvage there are some that are competitive with Jita prices, so I sell locally.

Some things are just over saturated in Jita so the prices are depressed.  Propulsion modules seem to be a bit too common in Jita, so I tend to just list them all at our staging base where I get a much better price.  They sell out pretty quickly.  Other items get shipped back to Jita to be sold.  All told, the loot side of running an anomaly can generate almost as much as the bounty side of things, though getting that ISK is much more hands on.

That is my ratting routine, such that it is.  It isn’t nearly as lucrative as my selling skill injectors, something I can do from the safety of Jita 4-4, though that business makes ISK mostly because I don’t care about buying PLEX for that account.  I just buy skill extractors, pull skill points out every 8 days, and sell the injectors, pocketing 300+ million ISK in the process.  But ratting still puts some ISK in my pocket and is something I can do when I have other, real world things to do as well.

The Economy of New Eden Without Gambling

I don’t know the answer, but I want to ask the question; what happens to the economy now?

Gambling… at least third party gambling,.. will be leaving EVE Online come the Ascension expansion on November 8, 2016.  As I have said elsewhere, you can find the best telling of this tale over at The Nosy Gamer.

As you might have guessed by my own reaction to that announcement, the departure of gambling is fine by me.  I am not a fan of it in either real or virtual life.  Having a casino like IWI start throwing the weight of its ISK around in New Eden to broaden its power did nothing to warm me to gambling.

However, gambling sites have been part of the environment for a while now.  We know that their departure will have some minor impact on EVE Online related things outside of the game… streamers will no longer get an ISK stipend to advertise for casinos and sites like EN24 will have to find new advertisers (which they did almost immediately once Bobmon, the casino candidate on the CSM, stopped crying wolf)… but what about the New Eden economy?

The thing is, gambling does not create money.  It isn’t an ISK faucet.  If you look at CCP Quant’s monthly economic charts, there isn’t a line item for “gambling.”  Gambling in New Eden just serves as a conduit that moved ISK from the wallets of gamblers to the wallets of the various casinos, because in the long term, the house always wins.

And some of those casino wallets have been drained as the CCP security team confiscated RMT tainted ISK.

So this will actually end up with there being less ISK in the New Eden economy.  And while that ISK is measured in the trillions, it was idle in banker’s wallets so its absence probably won’t influence the market in Jita.  Certainly, some individuals whose wallets were found to be stuffed with dirty money were feeling the pinch once CCP removed that ISK, but that hit a very tiny slice of New Eden.  The average capsuleer should hardly notice the difference.

But then there is PLEX, which in its way made this whole casino business viable.

Current prices are around 800 million ISK in Jita

Current prices are around 1.2 billion ISK in Jita

I have heard on a number of occasions that some of the gamblers using the EVE Online casinos are just that; gamblers.  Which is to say, they were not EVE Online players.  Instead, they created EVE Online accounts, bought PLEX, sold it for ISK, and used the ISK in the casinos.

I do not doubt that this has actually happened, that somebody has bought PLEX just to gamble.  The only question in my mind is how prevalent this sort of things really is.  If this sort of thing was only a tiny minority of the people who used the EVE Online gambling sites, then the impact of the passing of gambling probably won’t hit the price of PLEX.

If those gambling for ISK were a significant factor in these casinos, if people were not simply tossing away their ratting and mining ISK but were buying PLEX to support their gambling habit, the end of the casinos could user in another spike in the price of PLEX. (And things with prices that are effectively pegged to the value of PLEX.)

Of course, as noted up at the top, the gambling sites officially go away with the launch of the Ascension expansion on November 8th.  That expansion introduces Alpha Clones, which will allow people to play EVE Online without a subscription fee.  This is CCP’s free to play move.

Should this see the initial success that such free to play gambits generally achieve… lots of people should come give the game a try, or come back to take a look… is CCP counting on them to take up the slack in PLEX purchases?  Is this why CCP waited until last week… just four weeks before the launch of the expansion… to move against IWI and ban people who, in some cases, they had banned earlier this year?

In a game where the economy is absolutely essential, where nobody can avoid it, I imagine CCP is trying to tread carefully.  But I still wonder where this will lead.

Meanwhile, as The Mittani and DBRB were smugging so hard I am surprised they didn’t injure themselves, I Want ISK has been vacillating between telling people that IWI 2.0 was never meant for New Eden and how they are removing lines of code that were part of the IWI 2.0 connection to EVE Online.  It sounds like they have decided to become a straight-up online casino.  I am sure that will end well.  And, finally, over at The Nosy Gamer there is a further look at the legal aspects of all of this and why CCP may have chosen to act.


Stabs takes a stab at what happens to the economy when gambling goes away.

Bhaalgorns to Fountain

About a month back in one of the weekly fireside chats, The Mittani promised us a new doctrine, a battleship doctrine.  About two weeks back, the doctrine was revealed.  It would be centered around a mix of Bhaalgorns and Abaddons.  Last night, after leaving some time for the supply chain to catch up, it was time to undock to doctrine for the first time.

Turnout wasn’t bad for an op called in the later USTZ and which had a parallel capital operation running at the same time.  We didn’t fill the fleet, but our number was well over 200.  I was going to grab an Abaddon… Bhaalgorns are cool, but they are also half a billion ISK and I like to let a doctrine settle down and become a standard before I invest that much ISK… but I was late to the market.  All the Abaddons had been bought out.  But that was okay, as the doctrine used the same logi fits for Oneiros and Guardians as our other armor doctrines, so I was able to pull out a Oneiros and join in.

The Bhaalgorns, being a Blood Raiders faction ship, naturally has the Blood Raiders style paint job.  And a skin of the same style for the Abaddon was part of a past event so was pretty readily available, so a number of pilots were able to match up.

Hanging on the Fortizar waiting to go

Hanging on the Fortizar waiting to go

The Oneiros needs a decent skin.  There are three available from CCP, but they all turn a mostly dark colored ship into a slightly different but mostly indistinguishable dark colored ship.  There isn’t even a Quafe skin for the Oneiros.  It needs something bright and shiny.  Gallente Problems.

The fleet’s destination was Fountain, to face The-Culture and assail their holdings in the region, with Asher getting the honor of leading the new fleet doctrine for its first run.

Going to Fountain always brings back memories of the Fountain War.  So many systems there bring back memories of events now three years gone. (A summary of my posts from the war here.)  It was also a time when I was very active and always flew in main fleet.

Of course, being in main fleet again reminded me of the downsides of being there.  It wasn’t horrible… often it was unintentionally funny to me… but after a long stretch of smaller fleets and my time in Reavers, it was chaotic coms and me thinking “Can you just shut up?” as people ran off at the mouth about unrelated items.  I tend to be very good at coms discipline and take it seriously, and when you get 200+ people together… more than that because the battleships were sharing coms with the capital fleet… there is always somebody who picks the wrong time to start talking.

The-Culture put out a fleet of Ishtars to oppose us at one point, but things were not in their favor and they withdrew that after a while, content to just harasses us with interdictors when they could.  The counter to this in our new doctrine is smart bombs.  Each of the Bhaalgorns was fit with a smart bomb, a weapon that shoots out a burst that hits anything within a limited radius of your ship, friend or foe.

This led to more unintentional comedy.

There is a joke that is not really a joke wherein one says, “Did he say jump?” when holding on a gate.  When everybody is there waiting for the word, just saying the word “jump” even in the sentence “Do not jump!” will cause some people to hit the button and go through the gate.  Everybody is hanging on, waiting for that one word and sometime they won’t process the context until after they have acted.

Well, having smart bombs on our shiny new doctrine ships seemed to end up with the same sort of thing, wherein any time somebody used the words “smart bomb” the Bhaalgorns would start lighting them off, even when those words were embedded in the phrase, “Will you stop using your fucking smart bombs!”

Did you say "smart bomb?"

Did you say “smart bomb?”

I am not sure if we killed any of our own that way, but small stuff had to get the hell away from the Bhaalgorns, everybody had their shields stripped away, and logi spent some time running armor reps to repair this self-inflicted damage.

Once the enemy Ishtar fleet retired, our job of covering the capital fleet left us chasing around various interdictors who were trying to bubble us and the capitals just to make everything go slower for us.  As part of that I got to watch one of our pilots in a command destroyer use that ships special AOE micro jump drive to “boosh” interdictor bubbles off of the fleet. (“Boosh” is the term of art for using that drive.)

The micro jump drive spinning up to boosh a bubble

The micro jump drive spinning up to boosh a bubble

This actually seemed to work pretty well, given that it takes a bit of skill as the pilot must align and time their jump to get things done right.  Only once did things go awry, when a bunch of us who had gotten out of a bubble by turning our prop mods on had the bubble dropped on us a while later.  At least it was off the capital ships.

As the op began to reach its conclusion, we met some of the capitals at one of The-Culture’s POSes where they were building capitals.

Prime Targets

Prime Targets

The tower was but into its reinforced state as we arrived, but the subcaps joined in to take care of some of the modules, especially the jump bridge array.  First we shot it until it was past shields and armor and into structure.

Shooting the jump bridge

Shooting the jump bridge

Then it was time for logi to rep the armor back up to half full.  We could have destroyed it, but then it would just take a couple guys about 30 minutes to drop a new one.  Left as it was, they would have to either destroy it… which would mean burning down through half armor and structure… or repair it… which would mean repping up from half armor and structure.

This is what is know as a “dick move” designed to cause the enemy the maximum amount of inconvenience.

We also knocked out a couple of faction modules they had on the POS.  Then, as we waited for the caps for form up and get on their way, we shot Thomas Lear in his Damnation, just to see how tough that command ship really was.  Then we set ourselves to shepherding the capitals back to Delve.  Once they were within range to jump back to their staging, we were released to burn home ourselves.

The fleet ran past the three hour mark and was a reminder of the ups and downs of being in main fleet.  Now a bunch of timers have been set in Fountain though, so main fleet will be returning soon to contest them.

Addendum: I missed to follow up op, but The-Cultre assembly arrays were destroyed.

Finding Ways to Help the Coalition

Okay, back to what was slated to be yesterday’s post before the big news dropped and I pushed this out to write a very quick… and perhaps a bit too smug… nod to a big change in New Eden.  Back to me being more like me, long winded and meandering.  At least that post has lots of links out to other posts on the topic, with varying points of view, perhaps its one redeeming point.

In the backwards way I sometimes look at the world, I tend to approach guilds and in-game organizations with the question, “What can I do for them?” rather than “What can they do for me?”  There is probably some self-esteem issue manifest in that, when my first thought is trying to figure out why a guild would want me.  Or maybe it is ego, thinking I might matter.

Or maybe I just know how my varied my interest and schedule can be.  Some weeks I have the time and I am all in, other times things are busy or I just can’t build up the interest.

So I often end up in little guilds or corps with a few friends, eschewing larger guilds and the greater opportunities they can sometimes afford.  Check out a post I did a few years back about guilds I’ve been in.  Never going to be a raider with those credentials.

Which sort of makes my time in the CFC/Imperium a bit of an oddity.  The corp I am in started on the usual path, with Gaff already in it and getting me to come along for the ride.  (Potshot was even in there for a bit during the Fountain War.)  The corp itself wasn’t big and largely flew in EUTZ, so I was sort of free to pursue whatever I wanted.

That didn’t leave me with a strong sense of corp identity… my corp CEO is going to read this too, sorry Hir… but there was a war going on at the time, which ended up making me identify more with the coalition than my corp.  It was the Winter war against White Noise and Raiden and I wanted to be useful to the coalition.

You can, of course, be useful just showing up to fill out the fleet numbers.  I was able to do that, especially when the main doctrine changed to Drake Fleet, a ship I had skilled up for long before I came to null sec.  And being counted in the fleet helped my corp and alliance.

But I felt like I needed to do more, and so began what is now an almost five year search for how best to be useful balanced with finding things I can actually build up some enthusiasm for doing.

The first and longest standing of those things I have gone after is being a logi pilot.  Since I didn’t need to train anything for Drake Fleet, I went after Logistics V and the ability to strap on all of the ships the accomplished space priest might choose to fly.  And flying logi remains my stock in trade for being useful.  I keep one for each fleet doctrine on hand… fortunately the coalition has tried to keep logi fits somewhat unified lately, so I don’t have too many in my hangar… and whenever logi comes up short or Arrendis pings for more logi, I try to fill that position.

Though some days I do just want to shoot something.  Especially when we fly a laser doctrine.  I rarely flew logi when we had an Apoc doctrine because I just enjoyed being part of the light show too much.  But I am mostly ready to fly logi in any fleet.  I have never quite gotten myself to the point of being the logi anchor… but I’ll play the healer most days of the week.  And I think I am reasonably good at it.

After I had logi trained up I started thinking about other roles I might take up.  There were times when I had to work on training for the main fleet doctrine… when Megathrons were the mainstay, I found I was lacking in gunnery skills, while a switch to armor doctrines showed up my long focus on shield skills.  But I found time to train towards new goals and side projects along the way.

One I went after a while back was fleet booster.  Aside from Fleet Command V, I have all the fleet boosting leadership skills trained all the way up.  And then I actually realized what being the booster actually meant… sitting alone, away from the battle, running links and hitting dscan to see if anybody is trying to probe you down.  I appreciate those who actually take on this task, but it sounds like the dullest assignment in the world and not the way I want to spend any fight.  (I do have hope for the boost changes coming with Ascension.  Maybe I will end up using those skill.)

I also trained up to fly interdictors, heavy interdictors, the Archon, the Naglfar, and probably a few other specialty ships that I never ended up flying.  I did buy the Archon, but I have never flown it in action, just using it to haul stuff now and again.  It was very handy in getting my stuff out of Tribute the day before the word went out to evacuate.  And, of course, it made the long trip down to Delve carrying a lot of my stuff.

Wars came and went.  The Fountain War was probably the peak of my fun being a line member in the main fleet.  After that my participation tapered off somewhat.  I logged on to make sure I was still showing the flag and being useful, but no more than that.  By sheer luck I happened to pick some of the more memorable battles to attend, including the last part of B-R5RB.

As my interest fell off I tried flying with the USTZ SIG called Freedom Squad.  That gave me something to do, but it tailed off itself, eventually being replaced with Reavers.  Reavers was new and interesting, flying in much smaller groups and living out of a POS in the middle of enemy space.  That meant new things for me to learn and new skills to train as Reavers quickly became my home in the game.  I haven’t been on every op, but I believe I have been on every deployment.

That went on until the great war in the north, the Casino War or World War Bee, the beginning of which are just about a year old at this point, as things began to heat up in Cloud Ring in what Noizy dubbed “The Kickstarter War” last November.  From that point until our retreat south in July was a time of almost continuous fighting for us.  Reaver deployments tapered off as we fought in the north in a wearing campaign that saw, among other things, a constant series of doctrine changes on our side as we sought a way to come to grips with the foe.

After that, there was the road south to Delve, the conquest of the region, and setting up a new home.  At first one could help out by just ratting or mining to help raise ADMs.  My trusty Ishtar, refit from fighting the Guristas menace in the north to the Blood Raider menace in the south, could engage in that.

Again, lasers are more fun than guns or missiles

Again, lasers are more fun than guns or missiles

Easy enough once the region was a bit secure and lucrative as well.

That ushered in a somewhat more normal rhythm to life in the coalition.  Reavers deployed again to our old stomping ground in Querious… now very close to hand… a staging system was set, jump bridges starting going up, a home defense system started working, with capitals ready to drop on any interlopers, and Delve became our new home

But more was needed and the word went out asking people to help out if they could.  The first involved scanning for wormholes.  We have a third party tracking system that lets you log in and uses CREST to map where you are so you can scan down wormholes, you just enter them and the connection gets recorded.

Having done scanning for a bit way back when wormholes were a new thing, I decided I could go after that.  I had trained up all the skills to at least four and in some cases five.  And I still had the ship I used to scan in back in… 2009.  It has been a while.

Buzzard from long ago... and the TNT logo

Buzzard from long ago… and the TNT logo

So I got out the ship, flew it to Amarr, stripped it, found a fit online I could use (here), bought the additional modules I needed along with probes, and set about trying to figure out how to scan again.

Fortunately, I found a video that got me back up to speed.


Soon I was scanning down cosmic signatures again… if not like a champ, than at least well enough to actually get the job done.

Found one!

Found one!

So now I have something to do when there is a bit of free time and no fleet ops going up.

There was also a request to start helping build up our own supply of raw materials in the region.  While Delve has its upsides, proximity to the Jita market is not one of them.  It is a long way to New Eden’s space WalMart, so there was a promise that if people went out and mined and such, various organizations would make sure that buy orders existed at decent rates so we wouldn’t have to ship stuff back to Jita to sell and industrialist wouldn’t have to ship stuff from Jita to make things.

Like SynCaine, I decided to give Planetary Interaction a try.  This was alleged to be low effort if done right, and I had trained all the skills up to four at some point in the past.

Of course, doing it “right” is an exercise left to the student to figure out.  I still haven’t found a decent tutorial that tells you exactly how to make things work.  I suspect that this is largely due to the usual abominable CCP UI choices.  Once you figure it out, it becomes natural and you forget you have to tell people how many clicks it really takes to setup a link and then a functioning route between two structures.

Eventually though, I did get something working.  As there were many barren planets to hand, several warnings about not working with gas planets, and encouragement to make parts used to create fuel blocks, I went into mechanical parts production.

Something setup on a barren planet

Something setup on a barren planet

So I just setup to harvest base metals and noble metals, refine them into reactive metals and precious metals, and then combine those into mechanical parts.  Every couple of days I check to make sure harvesting is running, and then when I am in the system I stop at each customs office, grab the output, and sell them to the buy order which also happens to be in our system.

Mechanical Parts sales

Mechanical Parts sales

It isn’t a huge amount of ISK, but it very low effort and the output is used locally to keep us running.

And so it goes.  I try to do my bit for the team.  All of which is a lot of words for a post that was originally just going to be “hey, I’m doing scanning and PI now.”  Like I said at the top, back to my rambling style.