Daily Archives: January 28, 2020

New Packs in New Eden Still Selling Skill Points

Just about seven months ago a controversy got stirred up about a new Starter Pack for EVE Online because it was selling one million skill points for the low, low price of five dollars.

The reasonably priced packs… we’re talking about the one on the left

This seemed very much against the grain of a statement from CCP in a past dev blog about the nature of skill points in the game:

It’s very important to note here that this means all the skillpoints available to buy on the market in EVE will have originated on other characters where they were trained at the normal rate.  Player driven economies are key to EVE design and we want you to decide the value of traded skillpoints while we make sure there is one single mechanism that brings new skillpoints in to the system – training.

Here were packs with a million skill points, two skill injectors worth, being generated out of thin air and sold for cash.

CCP was quick to point out that players could only buy the starter pack once per account, though the math of getting a million skill points for five dollars even once was pretty compelling.  As I calculated out, for a veteran player who was only getting 150K skill points out an injector, this was like getting seven large skill injectors for five bucks.  An unbeatable deal, and there was even a bit of a rush to go buy the things due to that value.

The rush was also due to CCP responding to protests the next day in a dev blog in which they promised to do something about the starter pack.

And then they did nothing for seven months.  I was going to put up a post every month that the starter pack was still available, but I only did that once.  The crowd had moved on… there was the Blackout and the Drifter attacks and the cyno nerfs hitting after that, driving players out of space much more effectively than just breaking their word again about selling skill points.

Time passed.

Earlier today CCP posted an announcement about new “value” packs for capsuleers and I am happy to announce that you can no longer have access to a one-time straight up buy of one million skill points for five dollars.

Instead, you now have access to a one-time straight up buy of 250K skill points for ten dollars.  Or twenty-three dollars.  Or fifty dollars.  Or ninety dollars.

Admittedly, a much less appealing deal.  I don’t think people will be rushing out to grab that in the numbers that ran after the starter pack seven months ago.

But yes, the new range of “value” packs, which come in Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels, all include 250K skill points.

The January 2020 Value Pack Selection

If you are only interested in skill points… and frankly aside from PLEX or Omega time there is little else of value in these packs… the best deal is the ten dollar Bronze Pack.

The Bronze Happy Meal

60 PLEX won’t buy you much in game, though I suppose you can just sell it for ISK.

Oddly, if you are looking for value for money, the more expensive packages might be better deals, depending on what you want out of them.

The four packs are:

  • Bronze – $9.99
    • 60 PLEX (~$2.50)
    • Cosmetic outfit
    • 4 frigate SKINs
    • 250K SP
  • Silver – $22.99
    • 30 Days of Omega ($15)
    • 110 PLEX ($5)
    • 4 destroyer SKINs
    • 250K SP
  • Gold – $49.99
    • 60 Days of Omega ($30)
    • 500 PLEX ($15 or $20)
    • Vedmak SKIN
    • 250K SP
  • Platinum – $89.99
    • 90 Days of Omega ($45)
    • 1500 PLEX ($45)
    • Drekavec SKIN
    • 250K SP

The only things of value, in my opinion, are skill points, Omega time, and PLEX, and the latter two are the items you can buy, and likely do, buy from CCP.  So you can look at the amount of PLEX and Omega time you get as an off-set to the price paid for the pack.

For example, with the Bronze pack 60 PLEX is about two fifty… you cannot buy it in increments that small… so the offset price of the pack is about $7.49 for that 250K of skill points.

In the Silver pack we get into Omega time and PLEX increments we can work with.  We’ll give Omega time its highest value, $15 a month, and you can get 110 PLEX for five dollars, so that gives you $20 of value in the Silver pack, meaning you’re paying about three bucks for the 250K SP.

With the Gold pack things start to get interesting.  60 days of Omega is $30, and 500 PLEX is worth a month of game time, so another $15.  But to buy 500 PLEX costs $20, so you could value it that way as well.  So the offset is $45 to $50, making the 250K SP somewhere between $5 and the few cents I glossed over to get even numbers.

Finally, the Platinum pack gets you 90 days of Omega for a $45 value and 1500 PLEX, which in game time is another $45, meaning that you can get something close to $90 of value out of a $90 purchase and have your 250K skill points on top of that.

The thing is, you can only do it once.  All of the new packs are one per account.

That assumes you want to do it at all.  I am not convinced.  I don’t need the 250K of skill points… CCP just gave me that many last weekend for just logging in… I am not burning for some PLEX and I’ll buy my Omega time the old fashioned way I think.

So we went from a five dollar starter pack that was a really attractive deal that caused a good amount of outrage to a set of less attractive deals… that still have the stigma of selling skill points.

I don’t know.  I get that CCP needs to make money and these “value” packs are a way to boost income and that, due to the nature of the game itself, they walk a fine line in trying to offer something of value versus breaking the game and outraging the core fan base.  And skill points are a bit of a hot button issue for many players.  But what else is CCP going to throw in there?  Ships?  Already trained skills? (This certificate good for Amarr cruiser IV)  Even more cosmetics?

Meanwhile, there is that Best SKINs of 2019 pack for fifty dollars that contains nothing like any of what I would consider the best SKINs, for ships I don’t fly, all priced well beyond a point I would pay.  For fifty dollars straight up cash I want something like the whole Purity of the Throne Amarr SKIN sub-cap collection or all of the Caldari Ghostbird sub-cap SKINs.  But that might just be me.

Anyway, people are disappointed that CCP is still selling skill points, but the outrage seems weaker this time.  Either this isn’t as bad or we’re all just worn still out after a summer of outrage.  Or both.

The Armory and the Library

After our diversion into Strangelthorn Vale for a couple of levels last week, we were ready for a return bout in the armory in Scarlet Monastery.  We had given it a shot once before and had come up short.  But this past weekend our lineup was a little stronger.

  • Viniki – level 36 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 36 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 36 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 36 gnome mage

Moronae was actually only level 35 when we logged in on Sunday, but he was just a bubble shy of level and we were slow getting started, so he ran out, got his level, trained up, and got back to Southshore for the expedition.

Once again we set off for a run across Hillsbrad and around the Undercity to get to the Scarlet Monastery complex.

Ula, having been drinking, fell behind… she is back under the tree beside the road

I think we are actually getting to be high enough level now that we could run out to the flight point in the Western Plaguelands, get that, and run to the instance from there.  I tried it solo at level 34 and got the flight point, but going from there to Tirisfal Glades was another story.

So we made the trot and the swim and the trot, Skronk deftly avoiding the outpost along the way that got use killed previously until we made it to the ground.

Past the meeting stone

We pushed on in and were once again getting unexpected adds in the foyer of the place.  We just can’t help ourselves.  But we did press on and opened the door to the armory.

There are just a bunch of mobs hanging out here

From there things went pretty smoothly.  While we were still at or below the level of most of the mobs, our aggro radius was reduced enough that we were not getting in over our head with comedic regularity.

Starting off with the first few mobs

We pulled through the courtyard and archery range without issue and carried on into the heart of the armory itself.

The armory layout

Our only real problem going in were the various walkers that pace through the instance.  We could mark them, call them out, time things to avoid them, yet somehow always managed to have them land in the middle of a fight by accident.

Still, we have the bandwidth for a single add, though things did get hairy now and again.  We also managed to get past the pair of groups by the fireworks, which was where we fell last round.  Everybody knew there was two groups and we pulled each group well back so as to avoid an accidental proximity pull.

Past that it was around the corner and up the final hallway to Herod’s door.

Herod’s door is locked.  I am not sure why.  It uses the same key as the door that locks you out of the instance.  I guess it keeps people from sneaking in past that door and getting to the final boss unless they have the key from Doan next door.

But we had the key… I said that already, didn’t I… and went on in to behold Herod.

Yup, that’s him

Ula had read about the fight aloud to us.  Herod does a special spin attack which everybody has to get clear of, but otherwise it is a standup fight.  Ula and Skronk stood on the stairs above the fight while Moronae and jumped down to mix it up with Herod.

The spinning attack, announced by the same shout of “Blades of Light,” were more surprising in their frequency rather than their ferocity.  When he goes into spin mode everybody just hangs back out of the way… he is immune to damage while it is going on… and waits for the fight to start back up again.

There he goes, spinning again

The main off-script moment was when he suddenly ran after Skronk.  Skronk was standing back and hitting him at range with his wand between heals, and the combo of the two was enough to pull Herod in his direction, which was a bit unexpected.  I taunted Herod off of him on the second try (he resisted the first), but I had to chase him down as he ran off right after he was done with a round of spins and I was out of range.

Skronk did not die, though it was close.  It was almost time to shout “combat ress!” yet again.

Herod finally went down after eight or so rounds of spinning. [Edit: Ula’s video below shows 10 spins.]  At that point Skronk and Ula jumped down from their perch and we all braced ourselves for the onslaught of the Scarlet Trainees.

Here comes the chorus line

The whole trainee chorus line ran in and down around the stairs and I braced myself for a struggle… having forgotten that they have about the same hit points as a soap bubble.  Skronk and Ula did a couple of AOE attacks and they were gone.

Well, that went quickly

Boom!  We had done it.  And Herod had a nice treat for me, the Raging Berserker’s Helm, an upgrade from my current chapeau.  The only problem is that it requires level 37 and I was still just 36.  I would have to put it in my bag for later.

The helm

We took a few more screen shots then it was time for a break.

I swear somebody had their eyes close in almost every shot

I had to call in a Thai food order for my wife to pick up on the way home.  The Grammy’s were on later and we have a tradition of Thai or Chinese take out for awards shows.  Then Ula was away for a bit after I got back.  Then I went away for a bit.

All told we were away long enough for the instance to respawn almost fully.

The last hallway was empty for a while

We were going to fight our way out as we had another task to take care of in the Scarlet Monastery, and by the time we were rolling the first guy in the hallway before Herod had just popped, so we started with him.

After that we did a couple more careful pulls, though the next mobs up the hallway behind us respawned and Ula got them on a proximity pull.  But we managed to contain things… certain gnomish hats and and a dog whistle came into play… and won the fight.

The gut pile after the fight… hound just visible in the lower left

We moved forward to where the fireworks were and just as I pulled the next group a walker came up making the threesome a foursome.  A bit of a challenge, but we were still looking good.  And then the hound that had been summoned for the previous fight decided to run around the corner and pull the next group of three as well and suddenly it was seven on five, counting the dog, and the damn dog wasn’t keeping to the plan.  Moronae was the first to go down.

Moronae collapsing on the left

After that things fell apart.  I used whatever skills I had and managed to keep most of the group on me… but there is only so much mana in the world for healing and everybody on me meant I got pounded down eventually.  Then it was on to the casters.

Cloth tanking for the… well, not win I guess…

And so we wiped.

We ran back to the instance, Moronae and I going back into the armory because that made sense to us, while Ula and Skronk ran into the library to see if the game cared which of the instances you ran into.

The game does not care.  The revived just fine.  And they were there for a reason, with Moronae and I joining them momentarily to revive, buff up, and get ready to go.

But first a bit of food in the entry room

For her mage class quest we needed to go into the library to pick up a book.  Seems like a natural enough location to find one.  So we set out on another run through the library.  We were so close to having our act together.

Okay, maybe the wrong target, but we were good

For the first time ever we managed to clear out the opening hallway without an accidental proximity pull or walker wandering up.  Sure, it helped that we were all level 36 now, but we also had warmed up enough over the evening to be working pretty well.  So we moved on through the instance in search of the book.

We skipped Loksey.  His whistle summoned hounds have some issues to be worked out still.  We left the side rooms alone as well… again, levels meant no proximity pulls on those… and pressed on straight up the middle.  Along the way both Ula and Skronk hit level 37.

We made it to the book.  It is on a shelf at the start of the final hallway that leads to Arcanist Doan.  She grabbed it and was all set to go when I pointed out that Doan was really just a few mobs away and I was less than a bubble from 37.  So we pressed on to finish the instance.

I hit 37 in the last fight before we got to Doan, so was able to put it on.  I even turned off “hide helm” so everybody could see it.  Then we hit Doan, which went about the same way it did the last couple times.

Doan dead again

He dropped his staff… which the casters already had, so we did a roll-off and Viniki got it… and the cloth shoulders, which went to Ula.  That done, we had one last picture lineup.

Ula, dressed as Doan, and me with the new helm

So that is three wings of the Scarlet Monastery down.  Now about the fourth, the cathedral.  The bosses there are all level 42, so it would probably be good for us to hit at least 38 before giving it a serious run, which means doing some more experience.  We can run the armory some more… I wouldn’t mind, Herod has a few nice warrior items even if the armor will all be moot at level 40… or we can return to Stranglethorn Vale.  We have some quests left in the north end, and the quests at the south end are within our range as well now.  And it remains an easy-ish zone to get to, at least when compared to some of the alternatives.

We shall see.  Until then Viniki is working out with his new staff to raise his skill.

Beating on a Harvest Reaper for skill ups

You didn’t think I was going to just sell it, did you?  I think we should get one for Moronae as well so we can all have one in groups shots.

Addendum:  Ula has another great video up showing our run through the armory.

You should probably view it on YouTube at a larger resolution and higher quality level to get the full effect.  I think you can see us picking up the various walkers I mentioned as the video goes on.

The video also shows Herod doing his “Blades of Light” spin ten times, as well as the killing blow (in slomo) and the dispatching of the Scarlet Trainees.  The video ends there are does not show our subsequent demise.  Only the highlights!