Monthly Archives: November 2016

EverQuest Launches Empires of Kunark

After decades if slumber, Imperator Tsaph Katta awakens and vows to reform the Combine Empire – the progenitors of much of the human race – by any means necessary. He will lead them into a renewed age of prosperity. Tsaph Katta focuses on rebuilding the coalition between the races of Norrath in order to cement his place in the annals of history as The Great Unifier. But not all are ready to bend to the will of Katta and his allies, least of all the current inhabitants of Kunark. Will a unified Norrath prevail, or will the Combine’s arrival in Kunark lead to a war of catastrophic proportions. Find out in Empires of Kunark, EverQuest’s 23rd expansion!

-EverQuest Empires of Kunark promo text

The fourth new expansion this week (following Minecraft, EVE Online, and EverQuest II), which went live yesterday, is the Empires of Kunark expansion for EverQuest, the 23rd expansion for the game.

Everybody loves Kunark

Everybody loves Kunark

This is a nostalgia play by Daybreak as it returns to the setting of one of the most fondly remembered expansions, Ruins of Kunark.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

It has actually taken them a while to get back to Kunark, given that the first expansion came out back in April of 2000.  I think they’ve done pirate themed expansions twice since then.

Anyway, without a site like EQ2 Wire covering EverQuest, I do not have as expansive a list of new features to steal as I did with yesterday’s post.  I have to make do with the official site, which isn’t always as helpful as you might imagine.  The latest item in the News section on the forums is an announcement that Daybreak branded game cards are coming, game cards which have since been discontinued.

From what I can glean, the expansion is the standard fare of new things to do with no rise in the level cap.

  • 7 Expansion Zones
  • New Quests and Missions
  • 8 New Raids
  • 24 New Collections
  • Familiar Key Ring – Access to your familiars in one easy location! Store up to 10 familiars per character, with the ability to buy additional slots to handle all of your familiar storage.

And, as with the previous day’s EverQuest II expansion, Empires of Kunark is available at various prices, depending on your need for fluff.

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

I loved Kunark and all, but is any form of Kunark worth $140?

Unlike the EQII return to Kunark however, I am not at all tempted to pick up Empires of Kunark.  I follow EverQuest mostly out of a sense of nostalgia these days.  I haven’t played it in any serious way since the release of the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, when Skronk and I set out to relive old times… which we did for about 30 levels and then SOE got hacked, everything was down for a couple of weeks, and then we never really went back.

That was actually a good time… really, about as successful a nostalgia tour as you could probably get for us…  but if you scroll back through the Fippy Darkpaw tag on the blog, it was also over five years ago, and every attempt I have made at the game since has ended very quickly.  I am over playing EverQuest I think, preferring to just watch it from a distance these days.  But nostalgia remains a draw for others.  Look at this snip of the game’s server status, which looks about the same every time I check it.

Not so many servers as the old days

Not so many servers as the old days

The most popular servers are Phinigel, the true box nostalgia server, Ragefire, the progression server before before Phinigel, and Firiona Vie, the RP server where all the cool kids hang out and actually have a community.  I am actually a bit surprised that the Fippy Darkpaw server, and its sibling Vulak’Aerr, are still around.  I have lost track of where they stand, but they must be getting close to current after more than five years, at which point it would probably make sense to just roll them into a live server, as they did with the first round of progression servers, The Combine and The Sleeper, years ago.

Hell, with the zone spawning tech they put in for Ragefire and Phinigel, they could probably merge a few of those live servers together as well… maybe a lot of those live servers.

Still, I am happy to see that it is still alive and well enough to be getting expansions.  That it is still there lets me imagine now and again that we might someday form another group and return to old Norrath for one final adventure.  We certainly don’t seem to be in danger of getting a new Norrath anytime soon.

Kunark Ascending Goes Live in Norrath

Norrath remains in danger from Lanys T’Vyl and her pursuit of power! It is up to you to keep Lanys T’Vyl from acquiring the third and final Chaos Stone. Return to Kunark to stop Lanys from ushering in a new age of power. Will you stand against the Tenets of Hate? Adventures await you in Kunark Ascending, EverQuest II’s 13th expansion!

-Kunark Ascending promo text

Next on this week’s list of new arrivals (and the second to derive a title from the root word “ascend”) is Kunark Ascending, the 13th expansion for EverQuest II (plus 4 adventure packs along the way as well), which landed yesterday, close to the game’s 12th birthday.

Launched November 15, 2016

Launched November 15, 2016

As the name indicates, the expansion returns to one of the “classic” locations in Norrath, the island of Kunark, which was the setting for the first EverQuest expansion, Ruins of Kunark, more than 16 years ago.

The expansion gets you the following:

  • 1 New Overland Zone
  • 12 New Heroic zones
  • 1 Challenge Heroic Zone
  • 8 New Solo Zones
  • 4 New Advanced Solo Zones
  • 6 New Raid Zones
  • More than 50 New Solo and Heroic Quests
  • More than 65 New Collection Quests
  • 4 New Archetypal Epic 2.0 Quest Lines
  • 4 New Ascension Classes
  • New Wardrobe Function
  • New Mercenary Gear Feature
  • Level 100 Character Boost
  • Access to All Previous Expansions

I borrowed most of that list from the top of the EQ2 Wire Kunark Ascending FAQ which goes into the features of the expansion in great detail. (Feldon also has the expansion deployment patch notes available as well.)  You should at least browse that if the expansion interests you.

I was actually considering purchasing the expansion due to the level 100 character boost and my current disinterest in the WoW Legion expansion.  The character boost would vault me into the current content at least, though there is no doubt some complexity in that.  Plus I would have to figure out which character to boost, since I used the free level 95 character boost they were handing out a while ago on what I would consider my “main” character already.  Would be a bit silly to use the new boost to jump him just five levels.  And then there is the question as to whether my disinterest in WoW at the moment is just WoW or would it apply to any fantasy MMORPG.  Some days you just don’t want to don your tabard and go swing a sword in any fantasy world.

Still, it is there and waiting, level 100 boost included, should I want to join in.  The expansion comes in the usual three levels of excess, with a 10% discount if you are an all access subscriber… and if you’re serious enough about the game to buy the expansion I have to figure you’re down for all access as well.

Premium packages available for premium prices

Premium packages available for premium prices

The standard edition will be enough for me when the time comes.

There is also a launch trailer, if you need that to tempt you.

Meanwhile, a couple of bloggers have already dipped their toes into Kunark Ascending.

Ascension Login Trials

I went through last night and made sure the four EVE Online accounts I have all had their email addresses verified.  I managed to assign each one a different email address, but the verification links all went through okay.

Today, however, upon arriving home, I have only been able to get into two of those accounts.  Fortunately, Wilhelm was one of them.  He got logged in and was given the message about being an Omega Clone.

Omega means being able to do all the things

Omega means being able to do all the things

I also got a glimpse of the new character sheet.

Just over three days until he can fit Tech II triage

Just over three days until he can fit Tech II triage

Dealing with skills is a little bit… well… fiddly now.  Every time you mouse over something an info window springs into view, sometimes just where you don’t want it to be.  But at least you don’t have to turn the queue on and off again to clone jump any more.  Or so I’ve been told.

I was also able to get an alt up and going.  Verification code arrived via email, no problem.

But the other two accounts, neither of them got their code, despite the fact that both of them got their verification links in the mail just the night before.  Probably not coincidentally, both of those accounts have a Yahoo email address, a legacy of past times.  I wouldn’t make a new Yahoo email address on a dare these days, as everything they touch just turns to shit.

Anyway, that is where I stand.  Two accounts good, two accounts somewhere in the weeds.  Going to the CCP site and trying to do account recovery also yielded no email response.  Nothing in the spam folder, no response visible at all.  So either there is a problem sending to Yahoo accounts or Yahoo is eating the email responses somewhere along the way.

Ascension Day in EVE Online

It is the day, the day the Ascension expansion hits EVE Online.

Today is one of those dividing points, a time when everything changes, a point from which will be reckoned a brand new era in New Eden.  For many long time subscribers, everything before today is now history, and everything after will be the new shit that ruined the game the grand experiment that changed the universe.

Coming in November

It’s here, it is finally here!

Free to play has come.  CCP has opened the door and invited everybody in without a cover charge or a two drink minimum.  And seriously, this can be a game where two drinks often aren’t even enough… literally or metaphorically.  Clones states are here.

We can split hairs over what *really* constitutes “free” in “free to play,” whether the restrictions on Alpha clones make this more of an unlimited trial or a bonafide free experience.  All I know is that you can make a character, fly in space, shoot people, and never be asked to pay a dime.  That sounds pretty damn free to me.

Well, you will be asked to pay a dime.  Many dimes.  In fact, I am pretty sure you will be pestered to do so incessantly.

Can't touch that!

Upgrade to Omega

It would be remiss of CCP to not throw some of that Candy Crush Saga-esque “Oh, you want more? Well pay up!” persuasion in the game.  But you will not be obligated in any way to do so.  You can choose, as I do with Candy Crush Saga, to look at free to play as challenge mode where anything you accomplish is all the sweeter because you did it the hard way.

If all Ascension had for us was free to play and things related to that, it would be a huge deal.  That alone could be the biggest thing in a long time for EVE Online, a game that thrives on having more players.

But that is not all that Ascension brings with it.  What is left would still be a super feature packed expansion even if the whole free to play thing was not part of the deal.  That list includes:

That is most of the list from the Updates page, but there are also the Patch Notes for the expansion, which include many smaller items going into this release.  And little, of any of this, is non-controversial.  EVE Online is like any MMORPG where every feature is somebody’s favorite so changing any feature pisses somebody off… and Ascension is changing some fairly substantial features.

But there it is, deployed already.

I am excited… but also a bit anxious.  There will be bugs… there is already a patch set to drop at the next downtime.  And then there is the whole New Player Experience, the fourth since I started playing the game.  It is a directed story line that gets players involved with the empires and their lore, different for each of the four empires.  That is a fairly radical departure from the opportunities system that was in place until today.

So, if you have been waiting to try EVE Online… erm… maybe wait for the weekend to jump in, once there have been a few post expansion fixes deployed.  Or just jump right in.  Sometimes a good bug can be a formative experience in a game.  But CCP wants you to come give it a try.  There are many things you can do with an Alpha clone.  I expect all groups catering to new players will have Alpha clone compatible doctrines.  I even have my own Alpha clone trained up.  His skill plan wrapped up yesterday (though I had already brought him out for a trial run), at which point I started on a second one.

Others are talking about Ascension naturally enough, and while the focus is on Alpha clones, there is a lot of other things in play today as I noted above.

Finally, it wouldn’t be EVE Online if there wasn’t a new song for a new expansion.

 

Map Art in Minecraft

It is one of those weeks where I already know what I will be writing about for four out of the five days.  Expansions or new titles with four games I cover regularly pretty much sets the tone here through Friday.  But today, today I can take a few minutes to return to Minecraft.

Actually, when it comes down to it, I could do five out of five posts this week about new updates, as the Minecraft 1.11 update, called the Exploration Update, is supposed to land today and, since we’re on Minecraft Realms, it will be part of our world as soon as it is ready.  There is a pile of stuff slated for the update… it is a big deal… but the only thing I can recall off-hand is the introduction of llamas.  (Which, true to life, spit.) So an actual post about that update will probably come next week unless I have a bunch of unexpected free time before the weekend.

Anyway, back to today’s post.

Our Minecraft server is still up and running.  I have a couple of projects on it that I have been pursuing in an extremely desultory fashion, and for a stretch I was the only one logging on.

Then Aaron started on his new project.

While there are paintings you can hang on the walls of your home in Minecraft, they are random, changing every time you put one up.  Something else you can hang on your walls are maps.

A corner in the map room

A corner Skronk’s map room

As I previously noted, Aaron took this to something of an extreme with his giant map room.

This time he decided to combine the ability to map and the desire to have art of his own making on his walls, the first step of which was to clear out a map-sized area of the world.

The empty map

The empty map

That is a cleared out area of the world exactly the size of an in-game map (8 x 8 in chunks or 128 x 128 in blocks) which now serves as the canvass on which he can work.

Our world, as a reminder, is set to survival mode, so there are no quick short cuts to obtaining materials for such projects.  You have to go out and collect them and transport them to where you want to use them.  And store them.  And manipulate them on the ground without the ability to fly.

So Aaron had to build up some infrastructure around his cleared area, including lighting, storage, and a platform from which he could see his work.  Then, when that was in place, he began work on his first piece, something of great cultural significance to us all.

A portrait of the artist as cubist dream

A portrait of the artist as cubist dream

When he sent us this screen shot of his first work in progress, I had to grab a current copy of the world and render a new map so I could see just how big this area was in our world.  Once rendered, I zoomed in and saw his work pretty quickly.

Homer on the map

Homer on the map

While that bit isn’t very big relative to the area of the world we have explored, it is easily the most noticeable of our artifacts on the ground.  While we have some large buildings, if you look at the maps in the first screen shot at the top of the post, you can see that even some of our larger compounds take up just fractions of a map grid.

The only thing that compares for visibility is the 22km rail loop I completed back in June.  And even that blends into the map pretty well, looking like a few gray lines unless I change to a night render of the map, in which case the fact that it is fairly well lit causes those lines to stand out against the darkness.

Unfortunately, the map rendering in Minecraft appears to have a color palette that is somewhat limited compared to what the open world offers.  While Homer and his donut look clear and colorful in the world or my external map render, in the game he is less than magnificent.

Homer as Art

Homer as Art

Well, he still pretty good, but his dark muzzle, carefully colored by Aaron with yellow stained clay, got averaged out to be the same yellow as the rest of Homer.

As a proof of concept though, it seemed to go okay.  The next task for his is to setup a series of color swatches with different materials to see how they actually render on the map.  Then it will be on to the next masterpiece.

Victory in the Hoenn Region

As I noted in my Friday post, my plans for the weekend’s gaming revolved around Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.  With Pokemon Sun & Moon just a week away I wanted to at least get a bit of closure and finish off the main story line of the game.  To cut to the chase, I made it.

Champion of the Hoenn League

Champion of the Hoenn League

I ran down the Team Aqua story line, got the last two gym badges, made my way up Victory Road, and defeated the elite four and the previous Pokemon League Champion, Steven.

He was happy enough to see me

He was happy enough to see me

I didn’t even cheese through with high levels… much.  I did go grab a couple of level 50s I had from past download events.  There was a Typhlosion (to give me some fire power) from the Pokemon Bank incentive way back and a Serperior (rounding the started types with a plant Pokemon) from another special code event that joined my party.  But otherwise it was mostly the same crew I started off with.  I had my starter Pokemon, once a Mudkip and now a Swampert, and the shiny Bedlum from the launch event which evolved into a Metagross.  The Latias you pick up along the way, and a Ninjask I was mostly using to hold HMs, rounded out my party.  They were all in the high 50s/low 60s for the final challenge and had just enough of a skill spread that I decided to give them a run before I loaded up a team with level 100s to just roll over the end.

And I made it.  I used a lot of potions between battles, and the final match against Steven was an awkward Metagross vs. Metagross standoff for a bit while I revived Kipper the Swampert where he finished things off with the move earthquake.

This could have gone on for a long time...

This could have gone on for a long time… they had both just healed up again

And then it was time to roll the credits.  I actually sat and watched them all the way through, which was good because they actually inject scenes of you and your Pokemon along the way.  Then, at the end of the credits you get to fight one more battle.

May just won't take "No" for an answer

May just won’t take “No” for an answer

After that there is a teaser for some of the additional content and a closing graphic.

Pokemon life

Pokemon life

Of course, while I became champion, I am nowhere near actually finishing the game.  I bypassed a lot of optional content in my final sprint, I accidentally defeated Kygore before catching him, there are other legendary Pokemon to catch, the usual Pokedex to finish, and a whole series of post-victory items, including the Delta Episode story line.

I may get back to that at some point.  But playing over the weekend set me up with a taste for more, so when Pokemon Sun & Moon arrives on Friday I will be ready to go.

Weekend Plans in the Hoenn Region

Despite the main thread of any given Pokemon game being a solitary endeavor, part of the fun of playing Pokemon for me has been playing with my daughter.  As with much of gaming, having somebody to talk with and share the experience with enhances the whole experience.

Which explains why Pokemon has tapered off for me.  Aside from a burst of time earlier this year playing Pokemon Blue, I haven’t really got out the 3DS for anything aside from the monthly distribution events.

My daughter also finds having people around her who play Pokemon stimulates her interest in the game, though for her that comes mostly from her peers at school.  In middle school her circle of friends had little or no interest in Pokemon, so she stopped playing and thus so did I.

So while we bought copies of the last major Pokemon release two years back, neither of us finished the game.

PokemonAlphaOmega_450

My daughter started the game, but then stopped just two gym badges in.  I kept going for a while, hoping to lure her back.  But she wasn’t interested, something that killed my interest, and so I left off after six gym badges.

Lately though my daughter, now in high school, has started hanging out with a happy group of friends who are into video games.  And while that has gotten her to play League of Legends (Lord help me) another game on the list is Pokemon.  One of her friends has been bugging her to finish up Pokemon Omega Ruby, to the point that she actually picked it up this week and has quickly caught up to me, with six gym badges and now just arriving in Lilycove City.

So, of course, I had to take up the 3DS as well to see if I could figure out where I left off.  The path though the Hoenn Region is a complicated.

Hoenn region revamped

Hoenn region

Fortunately, I bought the accompanying strategy guide available for the game, so I can follow that through and hopefully figure out where I should be headed after a long stay in Lilycove City.

And the goal for the weekend is to get through to the Elite Four and finish up the game.  The real question is how much do I want to cheese through the end?  Having downloaded all those legendary and mythical Pokemon this year, I have a small army of level 100 Pokemon that I can control once I get that 8th gym badge.  We shall see how I feel when I get there, but I would like to wrap the game up before next Friday when Pokemon Sun & Moon should arrive.

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Genesect Event and More

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Genesect.

Genesect - Steel and Bug type Pokemon

Genesect – Steel and Bug type Pokemon

Genesect was introduced as a special event Pokemon in the generation V games, Pokemon Black & White and Pokemon Black Version 2 & White Version 2.  Since then, the only way to get it into the generation VI games was via the Poke Transporter part of Pokemon Bank.  So if you missed it back then, now is your chance to get one.

In the US Genesect is being distributed through GameStop.  You have to go into a store to get a code for one, though when I went in early this week they did not have the official cards yet, just receipts printed out with codes and instructions.

That code has been used

That code has been used

I am going to have to  go back and get the real cards at some point.  I have collected all of them so far this year.

As before, the code on the card is only good for Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire on the Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL.

Now there is just one more special 20th anniversary download left this year:

  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network Event)

Meanwhile, we are just about a week away from the launch of Pokemon Sun & Moon, the latest entries in the core Pokemon RPG line of games.

Sun and Moon coming in November

Sun and Moon coming in November

Nintendo has been ramping up with some late reveals, such as the final evolved forms of the starter Pokemon.

An anime co-player, Thundercats, and Trump's anime wife

An anime co-player, Thundercats, and Trump’s anime wife

There is also information about rivals and opponents as well as legendary Pokemon over on the Pokemon Sun & Moon site now.

And on the Pokemon Go front, Niantic has rolled out their daily and weekly bonus feature for Pokestops.

Trainers,

We are excited to let you know that the new daily bonus feature is rolling out right now. The daily bonuses reward you with XP and Stardust for your first catch of the day, and XP and extra items for your first Photo Disc spin of the day at a PokéStop. You’ll get an even bigger bonus if you complete these actions seven days in a row!

To celebrate this feature, from November 7th to November 11th, you’ll find more Pokémon out in the world. Moreover, PokéStops will grant more items! Yes — this means more Great Balls, and for Trainers that are level 20 and above — more Ultra Balls!

Take advantage of it while you can and explore your neighborhoods with Pokémon GO!

The “more Pokemon out in the world” is really a thing currently.  I went out for a walk around our campus at work (we have six PokeStops on a half kilometer circuit) and it took me twice as long as usual because I was practically mugged by Pokemon.

I'm walking here!

I’m walking here!

There are lots out there, including some I had not seen in the wild before.  Also, I took that screen shot early, as three more Pokemon spawned about 15 seconds later.  And the item output from Pokestops has gone up quite a bit for me.

This must be the bonus room

This must be the bonus room

So that is what is going on in the world of Pokemon at the moment.

Election Night in Fountain

He’ll sit here, and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ And nothing will happen.

-Harry Truman, on Eisenhower and the presidency

Just another Wednesday on a blog mostly about video games.

When I got home yesterday afternoon things seemed settled about the house.  My daughter was busy with something, hockey was starting on the TV, which would occupy my wife for a couple of hours, and a ping for a fleet had just come up on Jabber.  I figured it was a sign, and I logged into EVE Online and joined up.

We formed up an armor T3 fleet and by the time I was logging in there were threats that we were not going anywhere until there was more logistics support.  Fortunately that is what I generally fly… I don’t even own a doctrine Proteus or Legion… so it was into my medical white Guardian and into the fleet just in time for us to get going.

Guardians lolling about

Guardians lolling about, cap chain up

We rolled out with a capital fleet bobbling along ahead of us, turned north, passed through that long regional gate jump between ZXB-VC and Y-2ANO, and headed deep into Fountain where we have been fighting sparring with The-Culture off and on for the last couple of months.  It was a passage through history for me yet again, with system names in Fountain more familiar to me from past wars than my own current neighborhood in Delve.  I cannot, for example, go through KVN-36 without thinking about that doomed capital convoy op we ran way back when.

Holdings in the Southwest - Fountain, Delve, and Querious

Holdings in the Southwest – Fountain, Delve, and Querious

Our first destination was an Astrahus citadel of ours that The-Culture had been busy attacking over the past week.  It was coming down to its final timer and there seemed to be some likelihood that they would call in some help from the north to contest it.  A fight seemed possible and there were reports on coms that they had almost 100 people of there own in captials and ready to go.

We tethered up on the Astrahus and waited.  We were there early, so had to run down the timer before the event started, then sit through the whole fifteen minute exposure window.

Hanging off the Astrahus

Caps hanging off the Astrahus

However The-Culture wasn’t able to get a force together to contest the timer, so it ran out and the Astrahus was saved.

That left a couple hundred of us hanging about in Fountain, so the subcaps split off to go shoot a couple of towers The-Culture had in A-HZYL.  This took the evening from some sitting about waiting to a game of whack-a-mole for the logistics wing of the fleet.  Both of the towers had quite a few defense modules.  As nobody was there to direct them, they fired in their random sort of way which meant that people were calling for reps almost constantly as the automated guns changed targets at a maddening rate.

Meanwhile, The-Culture put together a small group of Artillery fit Claw interceptors (example fit from one we popped) who managed to warp in and pick off a few smaller ships (and one Legion) as we did our tower shoot.  I am not sure how they got the Legion, but they were able to alpha small ships (like B33R’s Bifrost) off the field in a single volley.

While The-Culture was big on defensive modules on their towers, they did not bother to put any strontium clathrates in them.  So rather than having to go through the multiple shoot routine of reinforcement mode, we were able to kill them right then and there.

That's right Pee-wee, the secret word is "Unstronted!"

That’s right Pee-wee, the secret word is “Unstronted!”

Fortunately the capital fleet sent us a few dreadnoughts to speed things up so the logi repping madness didn’t last as long as it could have.  We popped one tower and then a second.  After that we had to take the remaining modules offline and cover GSOL as they put up replacement in the place of the ones we just blew up.

A new tower going up!

A new tower going up!, old hardeners still in place

That left us with some time to kill, which we did in the usual way.  The FC, Thomas Lear, had logi start repping one of the fleet members… in this case fellow jacket pal Norrec Lafisques… and then had the rest of the fleet shoot him to see if they could break his tank.

Norrec as the focus while the tower goes online

Norrec as the focus while the tower goes online

However, but that time we had lost some fleet members… we were past the three hour mark… while logi was still strongly represented and all still awake after the tower, so we kept him alive without any fuss.

Once the towers were set, it was time to head home, shepherding the capitals and keeping together to avoid being picked off by the still lurking Claws of The-Culture.  That took a while, but eventually we made it back to the staging Keepstar and were able to call it a night.  We were rewarded with three participation links, which covers 75% of my minimum for the month.

During the whole fleet any discussion of politics was banned.  Politics is generally one of the forbidden topics on fleet ops, but given it was election night it was being strictly enforced.  So there were not any updates while I was playing EVE Online during that gap of time.  Before the fleet started I had looked at Google’s election coverage and the real time live forecast that the New York Times had put together on their web site.  So when I looked as the fleet was kicking off, every indicator said Clinton was going to win.  The needles were all deep in Clinton territory and Trump had faint hope.  When The fleet was done… well… things had changed as indicated by this chart which I clipped from their site.

What a difference a fleet makes

What a difference a fleet makes

I think the fleet actually started about a half hour earlier now that I think about it, but you get the picture.  And while I wasn’t completely news free during the fleet… I checked Twitter and saw a few indicators come up… the radical shift was still a bit of a surprise.

My daughter, actually paying close attention to a presidential election for the first time, was disturbed by the apparent outcome.  I had to reassure her that the system is designed to suppress drastic change.  The government is slow and inefficient on purpose.  It is a feature.  Just as Harry Truman noted about Eisenhower I would note about Trump.  Being the President isn’t like the military, or like a business, where you just tell people to do things and they happen.  It is frustrating when you think something should be done.  President Obama couldn’t even close Guantanamo Bay, a 2008 campaign promise, over two terms.  But it pays back when something you don’t want is proposed.

The apocalypse isn’t upon us.  I’ve seen bigger mandates and grander ambitions ground down by the wheels of government.  Even that Republican congress answers to their constituencies first… or maybe it is lobbyists first, I forget… while the President is somewhere way down the list.  And that will all get tossed in the air in again in two years.

We’ll see what happens.  But as Scarlett O’Hara sagely noted, tomorrow is another day.

Following in the Footsteps of Vegas Alpha

At EVE Vegas one of the presentations was from CCP Rise.  Ostensibly it was about the new clone states, but it was really about his own experiment in-game playing a clone with only the skill set that an Alpha clone will be allowed come the Ascension expansion.  It was a great presentation in an goofy sort of way and I enjoyed it immensely.  You can watch it here if you like.

CCP Rise’s basic plan was to create an Alpha clone skilled character and see what he could do with it in real fights on Tranquility.  And so the character Vegas Alpha was born.  You can see his combat record over at zKillboard.  He set out to kill a Svipul and managed to do that and more.

In watching the presentation, I was particularly interested in his fit for the Gallente Thorax cruiser.  It is hull tanked, which seems like an interestingly deceptive choice.  When somebody is shooting you and the blow through your shields and armor, they are unlikely to suddenly spook and run away when they hit structure.  But that is where the bulk of the hit points are on this fit.  So I stored that fit away to play with another day.  Here it is in EFT format if you like.

[Thorax, Vegas Alpha]

Damage Control II
Reinforced Bulkheads II
Reinforced Bulkheads II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

50MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive
Fleeting Compact Stasis Webifier
Fleeting Compact Stasis Webifier
Initiated Compact Warp Scrambler

Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M
Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M
Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M
Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M
Modal Ion Particle Accelerator I, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge M

Medium Transverse Bulkhead I
Medium Transverse Bulkhead I
Medium Transverse Bulkhead I

Acolyte I x5

That is maybe the third ship fitting I have posted in ten years.  The drones are different, but you can change that out if you like.

On Saturday night I was sitting around.  My wife was watching hockey, my daughter playing online with her friends, so I had some free time but no plan.  I wasn’t feeling like WoW, I’d already played enough Stellaris for the week, and there were not any fleets going in EVE Online, so I was just sitting there wondering what to do.  I decided to go fit up a few Thoraxes.

As I mentioned previously, I have a Gallente character that I have been training up to have all of the Alpha clone skills available to him.  Enter Reynaldo Fabulous again.  As of Saturday night he was still a couple of skills shy of a full Alpha loadout, but he was close.  Close enough that I sent him some ISK from my main so he could get out of his implant clone, fit five Thoraxes, and go on an adventure.  I undocked, set a course for Saranen, the only low sec system that sprang to mind, and headed that way.

Thorax away!

Thorax away!

The goal here was to find a fight and lose or, should I win, find another fight and so on until the ship got blown up.  The ship was insured, wasn’t that expensive, and what the hell, right?

This was, of course, pretty much opposite day for me, a bizarro world reversal of my usual intent when traveling alone in New Eden.  It is always work to not get into a fight, so actually getting into one ought to be easy, right?

Oh, the other side of the coin.

When I travel and don’t get caught I just think I’ve been lucky.  But here I was out in low sec on a Saturday night trying to find somebody, anybody to shoot at and not having any luck.  I was there to take the fight, any fight, it just wasn’t happening.  Sitting on gates, sitting on station undocks, going to anomalies, all came up dry.  Granted, I might have been less than patient, but trouble seems to find me when I am flying an industrial.

I wandered around from system to system, heading towards Okagaiken, another name I seem to remember, which got me into Black Rise and factional warfare.  I played with factional warfare for about two hours when it came out back in… wow, was that 2008… and haven’t really thought about it since.  But there were more people in these systems, so I thought I would see if I could catch somebody.

I first found a Kestrel sitting still in a site about 100km off from where I landed.  This being the best opportunity I had run across so far, I lit the MWD and headed towards him.  He didn’t seem to notice, though when I got about half way to him I saw that he was in LAWN, an Imperium alliance and started to wonder if I should shoot him or not.  Technically Reynaldo is in a non-Imperium corp, but the info page about that corp shows Wilhelm Arcturus as its founder, and shooting blues is frowned upon.  However, he woke up long before I got into range and warp off.  Decision averted.

So I started hitting other sites, looking for targets.  I actually got in range of a couple, like this guy.

Locking up Peon Neon

Locking up Peon Neon

Yeah, he was in a frigate and I was in a cruiser, but I was long past being picky.  That was actually my second go at him.  I warped into his site, he warped off, so I warped off, then I warped back to the site almost immediately and found him right back there again.  Cocky!  And I was almost on top of him so I was able to lock him up and throw all the goodies on him… and he shook off my tackle and warped away again.

I got some opportunity rewards for that, but no kill.

I did the things and got paid

I did the things and got paid

Oh, to feel the pain of being Rixx Javix, a hunter in a land of warp core stabilizers.

I had a couple more encounters like that before I got bored of the failed tackle routine.  I figured I was close to null sec at that point, I would take a gate there.  For sure somebody would shoot me in null sec.

Headed to Cloud Ring

Headed to Cloud Ring

I wandered through Cloud Ring, warping straight between gates, getting caught in unattended drag bubbles, motoring my way to gates, only once did I see another ship… an industrial who probably was cursing their ill luck but who got away safely before I could close.  Luck favored him rather than me in the end.

At this point I was past the two hour mark and was looking to resolve this in a fight sooner rather than later, so I set my course for DO6H-Q, that intersection between Fade, Deklein, and Pure Blind that is also, if I recall right, the capital system for Brave Newbies.  Somebody would be home there!

Traveling there was uneventful.  More unattended drag bubbles and empty systems.  I landed in DO6H-Q, but nobody was at the gate to greet me.  I warped around to a couple of locations only to come up empty, so I decided to go kick the hornet’s nest and warp to 100km off their station.

That got me some attention.  A small group landed on me, pretty much ensuring my doom, so I tried to pull range on them in the hope that I might be able to turn on one of my pursuers and finish them before they all piled on.  However, their tackle got on me pretty quick.  I closed with them and got him down to structure before I got hit with EWar and lost lock.  My drones were out and carried on the fight, but it wasn’t enough.  The ship exploded, followed shortly by my pod and I was quickly back in Jita where I started.  They got a little something for their evening, while I got an insurance payout and another opportunity bonus.

Death pays... at least the first time

Death pays… at least the first time

And that was that for my first Thorax run.  I have a few more handy, though I think the next time I give this a try I will go out earlier in the evening.  It was already late-ish USTZ when I started (PCU was ~20k), so maybe if I dial it back to late-ish EUTZ I won’t have to wander so far before I find somebody willing to blow me up.

Anyway, that was my Vegas Alpha inspired adventure, a clone that has since been biomassed.  Maybe someday Reynaldo will get a Svipul too.