Monthly Archives: July 2013

We Bid Adieu to Another Steam Summer Sale

In the end, it is difficult to find anything directly negative to say about Steam and their annual Summer sale.  Complaining that something isn’t discounted enough tends to ring a bit hollow.

SteamSummerSale2013

Sure, I was a bit bemused at the Brave New World expansion for Civilization V going on sale just two days after it launched.  Valve seemed a somewhat embarrassed about that as well.

But lots of things were on sale.  Literally everything on my wishlist was marked down at least 25%.  The fact that I did not purchase everything on my wishlist probably says something about the nature of my wishes.

Towards the end of the sale, while chatting with Gaff, I did end up purchasing two games.

I picked up Chivalry: Medieval Warfare for $6.24, a price it seemed to hit three or four times during the sale.  In the end, I am glad it was that cheap if only because it is practically impossible to play the game with my trackball.  Two key attacks require using the scroll wheel, which means removing my fingers from the trackball mid-fight, so I can either aim my attack or make my attack, but not both.

I managed to struggle through the initial tutorial, but the guy who attacks you immediately afterwards killed me so easily due to my fumbling with the balance of aim and attack that I quit the game.  I need to steal my gaming mouse back from my daughter if I want to play this.

In the last hours of the sale, I decided that being just one dollar from my target price shouldn’t stop me from buying The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.  And then I opted for the deluxe edition, which was more expensive.  Go team logic!  Given that it was at the top of their sales chart at the end, a lot of people were with me on that one.

My experience with Skyrim, limited though it might be, was much better.  While combat is similar to Chivalry, I did not need the scroll wheel and I was able to zoom out into a third person view, which years of MMOs has trained me to use, and which made me feel more comfortable and situationally aware.

I got through the opening scenes, followed my fellow prisoners in escape, fell off of the tower and ended up following the sympathetic guard, which at least Yahtzee seemed to think might not be the brightest of plans.  Sympathetic or not, his lot was just about to lop my head off, no?  Anyway, now I am dressed like him and running around in some tunnels.  I would have gotten further, but it was time for dinner.

Probably the most amusing and/or embarrassing time during the sale was when Gaff was trying to get me to buy things he just purchased on the theory that we might play them together.  It turned out that I had purchased most of them already in past Steam sales, yet had not played any of them.  The argument against buying anything new during the sale, certainly.

I did get him to not buy the Train Simulator 2013, which was marked down something crazy, like 95%.  They want you to be able to buy their thousands of dollars of DLC.  I repeated the list of cons from one of my posts about the game, and the fact that the game pauses when you tab out was a deal killer.

At the end of the sale my Steam profile level remained exactly the same, helping to reinforce my complete lack of understanding as to what it means.

Only level 4

Still only level 4

I played some games during the sale.  I played a lot of Civilization V, which earned me some Steam trading cards.  So I have some of those.  Again, not sure what they do or why I should care, but I am armed with some now.

So here we are, at what must be one of the quietest times for the Steam sales team.  Who buys something the day after the big Steam Summer Sale?  Yes, they still have a couple of items on sale.  Something is discounted at all times.  But after so many things were marked down, it is almost a let down to look at the store now.

And, of course, what this has really done is taken our training to not buy anything except during the big sales.  I certainly got the big rolled-up newspaper over the nose for pre-ordering Brave New World for only a small discount when it was marked down even further just two days after launch.  Way to go Steam.

Do you feel the same way?  Do you have a pile of unplayed games due to such Steam sales?  Will you wait for the big Steam sales rather than purchasing in between?  Have they trained you yet?

And how many more days until the big Steam Holiday Sale?

Tinker Dice – Not Much Time Left

About 28 days ago I posted about Tesh and his Tinker Dice Kickstarter campaign.  Since the campaign was set to run for 30 days, that means there is not much time left to pledge.

Tinker Dice

Tinker Dice

And pledge you must if you want a set of these dice.  The campaign started off strong, as they tend to do, with a flurry of pledges.  However, things began to languish in early July and the project now sits at 40% of the requested funding level.  Projects often finish off with a last minute rush of pledges, and the last day of a campaign can be as strong as the first.  However, there is a long ways to go for this one, and without some momentum it seems doomed to founder shy of its target.

A Prophecy of Murder in G95F-H

Less than a day in our new home at 4-EP12 and we are already out exploring our new neighborhood.

Actually, somebody had already been out and about in the neighborhood, as we had a tower in one of the systems, G95F-H.  On the DOTLAN map that system looks fairly distant, being 8 jumps away and in another constellation.  But in the actual shape of space within the game, it is much closer, within range of a titan bridge from 4-EP12.

Using the in-game map

Using the in-game map

It is hard to tell with the thumbnail, but expanded you can see the two system.  Along the top of the map are the familiar string of systems leading back to the edge of the region and the J5A system.  (Edit: Here is a much better jump map from DOTLAN’s navigation planner.)

The Jump - With Systems Visible

The Jump – With Systems Visible

Anyway, the tower in G95F-H had been put into reinforce and intel had it that TEST was going to come out to try and finish the job. So the call went out for Baltec fleet.

The "How To" of Baltec Fleet

The “How To” of Baltec Fleet

We ended up with two fleets, one under Vily and one under Mister Vee.  Gaff and I and a couple of other corp mates actually ended up in Mister Vee’s fleet together.

As has become the natural order of things, just the strain of the two fleets undocking put the system in 10% time dilation.  If I were to write my friendly and helpful CSM representative about something, it would be the way that such transitions drag the system down.  It is one thing when we are fighting in a huge battle and there is a lot of flying hardware to track.  But a couple hundred people undocking ought not to push the system to its limits.  Null sec issues, I know.

Mister Vee got us all on the titan and, except for a couple of people who brought Tempest Fleet Issue battleships to the party… and who were asked to trade them out for something more appropriate, which included The Mittani coming into coms to say that such ships would not be reimbursed as they were not part of the doctrine… we seemed to have our act together.

We bridged out and warped to the tower, where Mister Vee had us spread out and orbit it just outside of the range of the shield, so we looked like we were sailing around on a crystal sphere.  The timer on the tower showed just a few minutes left.

The Countdown

The Countdown

Spread out and waiting, the word came that the elusive Prophecy fleet, which left us waiting just the other day, was on its way.  As the timer neared zero, a cyno was lit and hostiles began filling up local.  The timer finished, the tower came out of reinforce, and Mister Vee said, “Here they come.”

They landed on grid.  They were bubbled up.  And they were murdered.

Take a look at the battle summary over at dog-net.org. (Edit: Battle Summary is back, but you can still see the raw data at this report at eve-kill.net.)  Here is the key table.  Blue is TEST and ally loses, red is CFC losses, capsules are not included in the ship total at the top.

G95_DogNetKillSummary

We outnumbered them, 470 to 284.  We out gunned them, with a large battleship force facing battlecruisers and bombers.  And, frankly, we out fought them.  They laid alongside us to duke it out, got bubbled, and paid the price.  Their attempts to use the crazy drone capabilities of the Prophecy (drone link augmentors and drone damage amplifiers were part of their standard fit, so I assume they were going to assign all drones to assist the FC ala Jester’s Techno Chicken fit description) did not come to fruition.  Meanwhile the Megathrons were chewing them up to the point that I turned auto repeat off on my guns, as one broadside per target was generally enough.  Of course, if the odds are against you, your fleet doctrine might not be your problem.

If you look at the full report, you will see that it was pretty much just TEST and Tribal Band facing us.  If that is how they manage without their allies, I am going to have to go along with Kirith Kodachi’s estimate that TEST is screwed.  We filled up two fleets and had to turn people away.  Getting participation isn’t an issue for us at the moment.  My main problem during the battle was locking and firing at targets before the were destroyed.  Even Mister Vee sounded a bit nonplussed about the ease of our victory.

102 Prophecy and 24 Hurricane battlecruisers destroyed.  Mister Vee had us “fofofo” in local.

We fofofo

We fofofo

The “fofofo” tradition goes back to the days of Ultima Online according to the Goon wiki, from which I stole these pictures.

Let us "fofofo"

Let us “fofofo”

Why we actually do it is still a bit murky, but who am I to gainsay such a tradition?

And then, as the enemy that remained withdrew, several carriers jumped in to rep the tower.  Finally, a titan jumped in to bridge us back to 4-EP.  All in all, a great event for padding kill totals for us, but what must have been something of a morale breaker for TEST.

We shall see.  While one battle does not make a war, TEST’s performance without its allies does not bode well for them.

As per usual, some pictures of the operation taken along the way.

4-EP12 – Moving To Fountain Proper

The word went out last night that the invasion of Fountain was taking a step forward.  The system J5A-IX that we fought so hard for more than a month back just made it to sovereignty level 3, which meant that a jump bridge could be laid down to connect that system to 4-EP12.

A jump bridge lets us avoid traveling through four systems with the accompanying jump gate, tidi, fleet coordination, and potential gate camp issues.  The route forward becomes B-D to J5A to 4-EP.  So the decision was made to have everybody redeploy to 4-EP12.

North Fountain - July 20, 2013

North Fountain – July 20, 2013

All of which meant it was moving day.  And, as things tend to go in EVE Online, I managed to accumulate quite a bit of stuff in our staging station in B-DBYQ.  Noticeably absent from my list of stuff was any sort of hauler.

Fortunately, the haul to 4-EP is short, unlike the deployment convoy route from Deklein.  Plus my pal Gaff happened to have his carrier available and was able to haul most of my ships over in a matter of minutes.  I flew the last couple of big ships myself.  Meanwhile, the jump freighter operations that serve the CFC jumped right into action and added 4-EP to their list of destinations.  So for a bit of ISK I was able to get all my ammo and supplies on the list for delivery to our new station.  I expect it will all be there tonight.

Six cynos lit at 4-EP12 Station

Six cynos lit at 4-EP12 Station

All of which puts the bulk of our forces right in the midst of Fountain.  A large number of systems are now just a single titan bridge away, while TEST and its allies are still in Karan in the low-sec region of Aridia, which requires them to use a titan bridge just to get to Fountain.  And while the map of Fountain at DOTLAN is not accurate when it comes to distances between systems, that does put the CFC a lot closer to potential fights than TEST.

The question is, how do things go from here?  Poetic Stanziel is asking if TEST ought to just give up now.  What does TEST have left in their bag at this point?

And Quiet Flows the ‘Thron

Last night I had a chunk of free time so I was hoping I might see some fleet action in Fountain.  I had Jabber up, I was logged into the game, I was ready.  I had ships outfitted for most of the popular doctrines, including a couple of new stealth bombers configured for siege fleet.

There had been some action since earlier in the week when I last checked in.  The CFC managed to take and hold 9-VO0Q, meaning that my map of North Fountain has to be expanded some to show TEST systems that are now on the front line.  So the war continues on.  The CFC now holds 11 of 115 systems, if that is your preferred metric for the war.

North Fountain - July 19, 2013

North Fountain – July 19, 2013

At the time, however, there was a whole lot of nothing going on.  So I put EVE Online in the background and resumed my latest game of Civilization V while I waited.

This time around I took up the banner of Venice, which has some interesting attributes.  It gets some boosts to trade and such, in keeping with the Venetian tradition.  But it also cannot create settlers.  As a civilization it has to grow by other means.  Conquest is one I suppose.  But you also get a “Merchant of Venice” great person every so often who is able to go buy off city states, which turns them into puppet regimes.

That can be a slow process however.

I also decided to go full on for a cultural victory in an attempt to learn how the culture and tourism changes worked.  It is not as easy or clear cut a path as it was before the expansion.  Tourism is a key way to spread your culture, and that is driven by how many great works and such your society has.  It is also driven by other aspects like open boarders, trade, and shared religion and ideology.

By the way, I want to reiterate what I said previously about liking where trade has gone with the new expansion.  In addition to commerce and science, it also spreads religion and plays into tourism.

I do not think I am going to get the culture victory this time around.  As I said, getting there is no longer a simple and direct path.  But it has lead to some interesting turns.  Arabia, for example, is complaining to me that all of its teens are wearing blue jeans and listening to Venetian popular music.

But the best moment was when Germany, who had been friendly up to that point, suddenly stabbed me in the back.  It went from open boarders, declarations of friendship, and trade caravans to the drums of war.  This was trouble, as Germany was the most largest and most aggressive empire and was probably peeved at me for failing to join it in its conquests.  I was technologically ahead of Germany and could hold out for a bit, but Bismark could overwhelm me.

And then, one turn into the war, two German cities defected to my side causing Bismark to sue for peace, saying it was high time to end this horrible conflict..  The cities in question apparently preferred my ideological choice of Freedom over Bismark’s Order choice.  But that situation brought back memories of one of the things I liked about Civilization III.

All of which was interrupted by a call for a Megathron fleet.

Megathron, circa 2007, just because

TEST and pals were reported to be putting together a Prophecy fleet and we were called up to counter and/or murder them.  Or at least to keep them busy while a CFC capital fleet roamed Fountain putting things into reinforce states.

Prophecy, circa 2009

That is my latest screen shot of a Prophecy… at least the latest one I have taken.  I certainly did not get a chance to take any new screen shots of one.  But I am not sure it has changed as much as the Megathron has over the years.

Anyway, EVE was back in the foreground and full screen as we assembled and loaded the ammo and scripts as directed by our FC, Lazrus Telraven.  We jumped out of the B-DBYQ staging system and holed up in a POS in Fountain to wait.

And wait.

It was reported that TEST called off their fleet, then changed their mind, and then changed it again a couple more times.

So we sat on station in the POS as a ready reaction force.  I put EVE back in a window and pulled up Civ V again to continue my campaign there.  Laz talked people into playing what has become the favorite game of the CFC high command since it showed up on the Steam Summer Sale, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.  It is a first person shooter done up in the age of swords and armor… so if Diablo III in the first person perspective was on your to do list, here is an opportunity.   The game has popped up a couple of times during the sale for as low as six dollars.  I was tempted to join in, though it would have taken me longer to download the game from Steam than people ended up sitting around playing.  Maybe later.

So voice coms turned into cries of joy and pain and amazement as swords sang, arrows loosed, and heads rolled.  And fleet chat idled a bit, with occasional links to videos or more propaganda from the war, including one of my recent favorites.  I love the little Pandemic Legion logo on the bomb.

Literally North Korea

Literally North Korea

I am not sure that it needs the intro lines.  In fact, I think it works better without them.  But that is the way it is being spread about. (Some new TEST propaganda here.)

There were a couple more false alarms, reports of a TEST bomber fleet failing to catch the capital fleet, and some moving about the system to chase off a gate camp, but otherwise it was a quiet night for our fleet.

Eventually Laz gave us a participation link and flew us all back home to B-DBYQ.

Landing back on station in B-DBYQ

Stock footage of Megas landing at B-DBYQ station

We also serve, who only sit and play other games.

And so goes the war in Fountain on a Thursday night.

Quote of the Day – On Ruining Video Games

Microsoft backpedaled like an anarchist on a tandem bicycle

Robert Brockway, on Microsoft’s post-E3 change of heart

That quote sort of epitomizes why I go read Cracked.com on a regular basis.  It made me laugh.

I am not even sure if it makes sense as a metaphor.  I had to Google “anarchist” and “tandem bicycle” to see if there was some obscure reference with which I was unfamiliar.  The best I came up with was two French men on a bicycle.

TandemBikd

I suppose that is close enough.

But even as I am chuckling at such things, I get the suspicion at times that Cracked is really a cover to discuss serious issues under the cover of humor.  The quote above came from the article 4 New Video Game Realities that will Kill the Industry, which actually gets at the heart of a couple of things that bother me.

Of course, then they will have another absurd comic book villains article to throw me off the scent that they might have serious master plan.

On The iPad – DragonVale, Candy Crush Saga, and Constraints

I have maintained in the past the idea that it is often the difficult bits… the annoying, high effort, failure prone adventures… that end up being the good part of games.  We remember overcoming adversity, defying the odds, working hard (or just staying up late) to achieve a goal, or finally defeating a boss after far too many wipes.  Heck, even long journeys for dubious purposes and misread quests stick in my mind after years later.

Basically, I would put forth that it is the constraints that make the game, and that overcoming particularly onerous constraints are what make memorable moments in the longer term, even if they are frustrating at the time.

Which, as it turns out, is bad news for the makers of casual games when it comes to getting me to give them money.

DragonVale

I have several games on my iPad that are there for my daughter.  I leave them alone and she plays them.  DragonVale is… or was… on that list.  One of her friends was playing it so she wanted to try it.  My first glance review of the game was “FarmVille by another name.”

DragonVale

DragonVale

Instead of growing crops, you are running a dragon zoo where you can breed new and different types of dragons.  The constraints are the typical time and currency.  It takes time to build or upgrade habitats as well as to breed the dragons.  And then there are the three currencies, gold, food and gems.

Food isn’t really a currency I suppose.  It costs gold to grow and is required to raise the level of the dragons you breed which, in turn, increase the amount of gold they bring in over time.  But it feels like a currency.

Gold is the easy, in-game currency that you buy most thing with, from paving stones to the floating islands that make up your dragon exhibit.  You earn this over time by just having dragons on display, though you have to open the game and collect it from time to time, as each dragon habitat

And then there are gems.  Gems are the constraint removal currency.  When a new, limited time dragon comes out, you can spend time trying to breed it, or just buy the egg outright for gems.  If that breeding cycles is 48 hours long, you can skip it for just 1 gem per hour.  And the top tier habitats, which hold the most dragons and gold, can only be purchased with gems.

All of which would have remained unknown to me had my daughter not come to me asking if she could buy some gems.

Gems! They Cost Money!

Gems! They Cost Money!

My immediate answer was “no,” after which I asked why she wanted them.

She explained that there was a limited time dragon she wanted, but since I am notorious for hogging the iPad, she was afraid time would run out before she was able to finally breed the dragon.  This lead to some negotiations which ended up me becoming the day-to-day manager of DragonVale while she was the owner/CEO.

She set policy, which was basically about what dragons to breed and how (usually helped along by web.) along with handling all of the cosmetic work.  I would make it part of my daily routine to click on habitats to collect gold, breed dragons as specified, exchange gifts with her friends (one of the ways you can earn gems in game), and a couple of other routine items, all of which generally takes about a minute to do maybe three times a day.

That left us with a game we both played and which we could discuss and make plans around without spending any money.  And the constraints drive that.

More Gemstone Dragons Please!

More Gemstone Dragons Please!

For example, gems remain in short supply for us primarily because the top tier habitat for each dragon type can only be purchased with gems.  However, the benefits… they are able to store more gold, increasing the time to full, thus allowing you to collect less frequently without “wasting” time with a full habitat as well as the ability to hold more dragons, allowing an increase in your overall population… were such that I convinced her to embark on a slow but continuous plan of habitat upgrade.  I would keep 50 gems in reserve, in case something we had to have came up, but would spend anything beyond that on the upgrades, which were 25 gems each.  We earn, depending on friends and the whims of a mini-game, between 2 and 10 gems a day.  We had a couple dozen habitats to upgrade, so this was truly a long term plan.  We are only about three quarters done at this point.

And the upgraded habitats themselves take up more space, leading to a park-wide layout redesign of paths and decorations.

Our "High Value"Dragon Island

Our “High Value”Dragon Island

All of which has made the game… well… an actual, long term game for us.

Unfortunately for Backflip Studios, it only maintains that status so long as we don’t give them any money.  Sorry guys.

Double Rainbow Dragon Pukes Rainbows!

Double Rainbow Dragon Pukes Rainbows!

Still, people do give them money.  On visiting the dragon park of on of my daughter’s friends, I noticed that she had a lot more rare dragons than we did as well as more than 800 gems in her inventory.  So clearly somebody is paying our way in the game.

Candy Crush Saga

I only found out about Candy Crush Saga because I heard people complaining about it.  Always the best endorsement of a game, right?

I would describe it as something of a Bejeweled clone, and apparently it is huge.  The Facebook version is one of the biggest game there, having eclipsed the once mighty Zynga on all fronts.  There are versions now for iOS and Android.  I have even seen ads for it on TV, and not just during the 3am Tom Vu time slot.

It is a classic “social” game in the odious Zynga style with a huge number of constraints which can only be bypassed by paying money or recruiting your friends by polluting their wall with posts.

Or by just waiting.

You only get so many losses before you have to stop playing, pay, or prostitute yourself.  And the game sets you up to lose with some pretty hard levels… though you can also pay your way out of not losing with extra turns, time, or other bonuses.  The game has absolutely no shame in hitting you up for money to get yourself out of a tight spot.

But the game itself is cute and light and fun in that Bejeweled sort of way and the constraints make progress in the game all the more satisfying.  I think I spent five days on a really tough level in the high 30’s. I would just lose until I ran out of plays, then go away until they regenerated.

No More Plays!

No More Plays!

There are occasional gates where you have to pay, post to Facebook, or pass three special levels.  But you can only do one of the levels per day, so you are locked out of progress for at least three days.

Come Back Tomorrow!

Come Back Tomorrow!

And yet, saying “no” to the constant “pay to win” offers, makes me feel all warm inside, like a Christian that has said “no” to the temptations of Satan.  And I continue to make progress, slowly but surely.

Now stuck at... level 59!

Now stuck at… level 59!

Which, I am going to guess, was not the designers intention.

Constraints Make The Game… for me

Which I am sure all says more about me than game design in general, but which does illustrate one of the problems I have with the free to play concept.  The constraints that are in there to make you want to pay money actually work as a deterrent towards me paying money, as the only thing the money would do is relieve me of actually playing the game.

Which makes me feel odd, because I wouldn’t mind rewarding the designer… I just don’t want to remove the constraints that make the game interesting.   And, really, that is the only path they have left me.

Well, I actually don’t feel odd when it comes to Candy Crush Saga.  They rub the “pay” button in my face so often that I have made it one of my missions in life to play their game without paying them.  But I think you get my point.

Notes from Another Steam Summer Sale

We are already more than half way through the annual Steam Summer Sale and… I haven’t bought a single game so far.

SteamSummerSale2013

I did get a free game however.

I noted in a comment on my post about the Civilization V expansion Brave New World that Steam had put it up as a sale item just two days after it released, which I didn’t think was all that cool.  I pre-ordered the expansion, which knocked three bucks off the price, only to find that I could have saved six dollars more if I had waited two additional days.  I am fine paying the day-one price for something I want, but cutting the price on day three is just going to train me not to buy anything new on Steam.

Well, Steam apparently didn’t think the price cut was all that cool in hindsight and decided to make it up to those who pre-ordered.  They didn’t feel bad enough to give me the six dollars, but they gave me a copy of Civilization IV.

Steam tries to make up

Steam tries to make up

I already own Civilization IV, though I couldn’t tell you where the disks were if pressed.  And, when it comes down to it, if I want to play a Civ game, Civ IV is probably in fourth place behind Civ V, Civ II, and Alpha Centauri.  But I suppose it was a decent gesture and I can always give it to somebody else on Steam.

But that isn’t why I haven’t bought any games yet.

And it certainly isn’t because of any negative reaction I might be having to their new Steam Trading Cards thing.  I don’t understand it really.  But it serves as neither an incentive nor a deterrent when it comes to purchased.  I am not going to buy stuff just to get a virtual trading card or to level myself up.

Only level 4

Only level 4

I probably did end up voting a few more times than I might have in their polls because of this.

And price should be no object.  The sales are great and I have been tempted to purchase a number of titles.

For example, like Harbinger Zero, I have been eying Skyrim, having set a mental price threshold of $20 at which point I have told myself I will buy it.  And, as he wrote, the fact that the Steam sale price fell just shy of that goal… I can have Skyrim for $21 right now… has ostensibly kept me from pulling the trigger on that deal.

However, I suspect that even at the $20 mark, I still might pass it by like so many other deals on the service.

I just think I might be sated when it comes to games at the moment.

I am happily playing Lord of the Rings Online and Civilization V while waiting for fleets in EVE Online.  And I already have a backlog of games that I want to play should those pale.  Steam says I have 77 games, and I probably play five of them on any sort of regular basis.

Still, I look at the Steam site a couple of times a day, just to see what sales are going.

Have you grabbed anything good yet?

Forty Days in Fountain

Here we are.  The war in Fountain kicked off about forty days ago.  Surely somebody must be winning the war by now, right?

The CFC has been able to maintain its foothold in the northern end of the region, with all of the outlying systems that were essentially handed to the CFC having been taken by TEST.  TEST got those back but was unable to hold onto EI-O0O and Z9PP-H.  And the fighting seems to be focused on 9-VO0Q now.  Plus, TEST was unable to push back the sovereignty update on 4-EP12, so the CFC can now utilize infrastructure elements like a cyno jammer or a jump bridge terminus in that system.

North Fountain - July 16, 2013

North Fountain – July 16, 2013

And the war goes on.

All of the major parties involved say they are winning.  The last CFC update says that all is going according to plan. The N3 Coalition says they are all in (or they will burn).  And TEST… after apologizing for their simply awful live streamed alliance update… says they need donations but are still in and holding off the CFC.  The main wild card in this seems to be the Russians in the east.  They are purported to be done fighting amongst themselves and keen to reconquer territory lost.  However, they were not able to exploit the great S2N Citizens Alliance sovereignty drop in the face of of the N3 Coalition’s full attention.  So it isn’t clear to me how big of a distraction the Russians will end up being in the short term, as they clearly don’t want to make so much noise that N3 heads back to the east in force.

On the individual blogger front, Poetic Stanziel has been covering the war in greater detail than I can manage.  He seems to feel that the CFC cannot be stopped, at least not by external forces.  However, being in Fweddit, a CFC alliance, you could hardly be faulted for taking that with a grain of salt.

Perhaps more interesting… or less biased… or whatever… is Kirith Kodachi, an outsider in all of this. He was asking questions about the war and, after collecting answers from various sources (including Riverini at EVE News 24, who certainly is not in the CFC camp), came up with “TEST is screwed” as a result.  He has a few reasons for that, but the key one for me is participation.  Basically, as I said in the past, sov wars like this hinge on participation.  The side that stops showing up regularly loses, and indications at the moment are that TEST might be struggling on that front.

But as much as I would like to endorse his conclusion, I think we still have a ways to go before that moves from possible trend and annoyed allies to “fail cascade imminent,” and a lot could happen in the interim.

On the TEST side of things, there is Gevlon who, after having been previously kicked by TEST, was let back into the alliance in what has to be a prime example of “TEST needs ISK.”  He appears to be all aglow about how much the TEST rank and file have donated towards the war effort, the theme being “Beyond my wildest dreams!

Gevlon advances the notion that now that TEST has harnessed its carebears, it cannot be bankrupted and thus, cannot lose the war.  He compares this to the “Goon idea” that he claims despises carebears and which, according to the Gevlon world view, forced alliance members like Spacemonkey Alliance to purge carebears.

Unfortunately for his theory, he seems to have created that “Goon idea” out of wishful thinking and the perception that all Goons are alike.  Goons foster plenty of carebears in their ranks.  More likely he is seeing a purge of inactive members from corps within the alliance.

At the end of the war, presuming a CFC victory, the spoils, such as moon wealth and sovereignty, will be doled out to the various member alliances in the CFC based on participation rates in the war.  Inevitably this causes some alliances to purge inactive members.  My own corp did that at the start of the war, as there is some pressure within our alliance, TNT, to put up decent participation numbers.  So the inactive players went, though they were sent notification that they were welcome back if they started playing again.  To my knowledge, nobody in the CFC is purging carebears as a matter of policy.  But every time somebody sees a sudden change in numbers on DOTLAN, theories fly.  When the Goons did an inactive member purge a while back, there was an immediate “Goon fail cascade!” theme from some quarters based mostly on wishful thinking.

So while TEST might be able to get a handle on their financial issues via fundraising, I do not think that is necessarily the winning card.

Which, I suppose, brings us back to the map.

Everybody seems to like to point at the map to prove their point.  TEST and pals will say that the CFC invasion has failed as they only have those ten systems in the north of Fountain.  The CFC will happily point out that if you are in a defensive war, as TEST is, and the enemy is consolidating in your territory, you are not winning.  Pick the narrative you like best.

Things have certainly changed since I wrote about winning just ten days into the war.  Doctrines have been updated or changed.  Systems have changed hands.  Huge battles have occurred.  But it is still a day to day grind of timers and camps and time zones and line members just showing up for the small fleets that get most things done.  That  is what sustains the war.  While both sides are quick to identify weakness in the opposition, I do not think we are at the tipping point yet.

Addendum: Looks like 9-VO0Q got hot last night.  I couldn’t stay up for a 1am fight, but it looks like both sides got numbers and the CFC turned the system.