Monthly Archives: January 2023

January in Review

The Site

It was a bit of an erratic month.  For the past year or so I’ve been trucking along with about 500 page views per day with an occasional spike if somebody links an old post on Reddit or something.  I had a couple of those days this month,

January 16th was amusing

(I made a 666 reference in the last January in review as well.  This isn’t going to be a running bit.)

However, as the month wore on traffic started to taper off noticeably.  While I am sure Bing no longer completely embargoing me helped a bit, Google seemed to be giving me the cold shoulder in the back half of January with traffic from there dropping 20%.  Given that the bulk of my traffic is from Google, that has an impact on my stats.

Overall though, the core of traffic, which is about 200 views a day from direct sources, remained about the same.  So my daily traffic is generally 200 + Google + other search engines and social media + random links on Reddit.

In other items, for no good reason aside from inertia… well, and the fact that I know the day I stop the counter goes back to zero… I carried on with my posting streak and this is now the 1,039th day in a row.  At some point the madness will end.

One Year Ago

Microsoft said they were going to buy Activision Blizzard for 69 billion dollars.  That was kind of a surprise.  Blizzard also announced an unannounced survival game.  And then Sony said they were going to buy Bungie for 3 billion dollars, which was all kind of odd because Microsoft used to own Bungie.  I don’t know.

It is hardly a January unless I open up with some sort of predictions post.  That and the end of the Steam Winter Sale are practically constants in the universe.

I also reviewed what I played in 2021 and looked forward into 2022.  World of Tanks also told me how I did there in 2021, which wasn’t very well.

Harry Potter Wizards Unite shut down.

Square Enix said they were all in on crypto, something they doubled down on a year later.  They seemed convinced some people would trade fun for earnings potential… or scam potential if we’re talking about crypto.

Daybreak put out roadmaps for EverQuest and EverQuest II… and stuck to them!  There was also a community resource council being set up for EverQuest.  Over in EQII I had hit the level cap in Visions of Vertovia.

I was playing Pokemon Shining Pearl on the Switch Lite.  I managed to catch Palkia and then went on to fight the Pokemon League.

Then there was Forza Horizon 4 with a controller on my PC.

I was also fiddling around with Stellaris once more.  Judging from the month in review play time numbers, I actually spent some time with it.

The instance group was still in New World, seeking out salt and other crafting goods.  We were also trying to get to the Starstone Barrows.

Then there was the whole EVE Online + Doctor Who cross-over event in New Eden, which seemed a very strange venture.  The event kicked off with some fanfare.  There were definitely a series of steps to get to shooting the promised Daleks.

Out in Null Sec The Army of Mango Alliance messed up their attempt to back their way into Imperium membership.  That led to blowing up their Keepstar after letting it run out of fuel, so it dumped all the contents out like a giant loot pinata.

Also Progodlegend stepped down from CSM16 and CCP was having problems with the December MER, summed up in a bullet points post.  CCP eventually dropped the MERs with some new measurements near the end of the month.

Somebody asked how many games people had spent at least 500 hours playing.  I had a list for that one.  Being old helps.

Venture Beat, our top source of cypto hype news, held a metaverse summit, where much was said… and I tried to explain how garbage crypto really is.

There was my five books of 2021.  I did some headlines from the mail bag.

And I summed up some of our binge watching during the holidays and then a few more shows we watched in the new year.

Five Years Ago

There were the usual predictions and outlook and Steam Winter Sale posts for the year.  I am consistent, you have to give me that.

Satan was speaking to us about lockboxes.

played Anarchy Online for a few hours.

There was Trogday.

I was looking into the Legion expansion in World of Warcraft for the new year.

Blizzard gave us four more bag slots… if we had our account security setup correctly.  A year later that little notification about the bag slots still comes up every once in a while.

I was on to pet battles again, collecting themleveling them up, and looking into the Celestial Tournament.

Blizzard also gave us a target season (summer) for Battle for Azeroth and opened up pre-orders.

In EVE Online the January update moved the Agent Finder fully into The Agency.

But the big news in New Eden was brewing in the system 9-4PR2.  Pandemic Horde was anchoring a Keepstar there and the hype for the battle over it built pretty fast.  Dubbed the “Million Dollar Battle” in advance, it didn’t quite get there, though there were over 6,000 players in the system at one point.  INN spent time reviewing the whole thing.  Still, it was good enough for a Guinness Book World Record. (Yeah, that was in April, but I figured I would tie the whole event together here.)

I moved all of my games and data from my old Nintendo 3DS XL to a new 2DS XL.

In a bullet points post I was on about the Age of Empires remaster, which you could only get through the Microsoft store, Rift Prime plans, legendary Pokemon, the cost of making video games, and how BitCoin miners were buying up all the video cards.

And, finally, I was kind of bummed because, in this age of streaming, if you want to see recent movie releases at home, disks were still the most reliable method for the price… short of pirating the movies, of course.

Ten Years Ago

Firefly Universe Online.  Was that a hoax or not?  I still don’t know.  And does the acronym FUO seem mildly obscene?

Wizardry Online joined the SOE stable while Pirates of the Burning Sea was sent packing.  Who is laughing now?

We got our full group together in Rift and did our first instance of the year, dying at least 100 times combined.  This lead to a side post about bosses and gimmicks and what makes a challenge.

In World of Tanks the instance group was scooting around. We even created our own little clan.  Potshot and I were totally going French.

In EVE Online, after a sudden burst of war fever died down, there was a surprise battle where more than 2,500 ships clashed in Asakai when CFC FC Dabigredboat led a supercap fleet in to rescue a stray titan.  The battle was so big that CCP did a Dev Blog about it.  Meanwhile, we were to be denied LEGO Rifters.

The DUST 514 open beta was officially open.  I never ended up bombing anything from orbit.

Path of Exile went into full open beta as well.

Krono made its way from EverQuest II to EverQuest while I was wondering what people were spending their Station Cash on.

I was musing about MUDs again, and vendors who wouldn’t simply buy any crap you had for sale and dead rats.

There was a list of 20 games that defined the Apple II.  That remains an evergreen traffic generator.

And I wrote out my yearly list.  This time it was goals, mostly because I was on vacation when I was supposed to be writing it.

Fifteen Years Ago

I started off with a helping of silly predictions.

I was bemoaning my inability to be a fan boy and parrying claims that PvE players were going to ruin Warhammer Online.

There were some pictures from my daughter’s LEGO birthday party.  Those seem to get linked on Pintrest quite often.

Then, with Tabula Rasa dead to me since open beta, I started wondering if there was any hope at all for a Science Fiction MMORPG.  This ended up being one of my most responded to posts of the time.  Plus, in addition to all the comments, PotshotTipaLemegeton, Gooney, and even Massively following up with response posts. This post still gets a lot of views every month. (And yes, I do think there is hope, I just don’t know when we’ll get what we’re looking for.)

And, along with that, I wrote about five LEGO Video Games I would like to see made.  And a few of those ended up getting made.  Imagine!

Then there was the start of the run-up to Pirates of the Burning Sea which, among other things, required me to invest in a new router as well as reviewing how to pick a server in a new game.  The latter was from a time when we assumed servers would stay crowded like they did in WoW.

In World of Warcraft the Saturday night instance group was hitting ScholomanceDire Maul West and Scholomance again as part of the Paladin mount quest, Stratholme, then Dire Maul West once more for the Warlock mount quest, and then Scholomance for the third and final time to get all the epic mounts straight.  By then we were all level 60 which meant we could head  to the Outlands only a year after The Burning Crusade shipped!

In EVE Online, after spending millions of ISK, I managed my first Tech II Blueprint, then I couldn’t afford to build it. Ah, life in New Eden.  I also got my standing past 8.0 with the Caldari Navy and spent time hauling trash.

And, finally, in Lord of the Rings Online I was able to pick up my Bree Pony, the 2007 holiday gift to founders.

Twenty Years Ago

The game now known as Entropia Universe launches.  Riding the virtual world craze and being early on monetizing digital goods, it set some world records for most expensive virtual items.  It is also the title you should bring up when some Web3 blockchain bozo starts talking about how they have revolutionary ideas about ownership in the metaverse.  Entropia Universe is, from what I have heard, a crap game, which both tells you what you should expect from Web3 ideas and also that they are not anything new.

Thirty Five Years Ago

Electronic Arts launches Wasteland which holds a special place in my own gaming timeline as it is the last title I bought for my Apple //e.

Also, Tetris arrived in North America.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. Honest Game Trailers does Pokemon Violet and Scarlet
  4. Flight in Pre-Patch Outland
  5. Making the Grey Pit in Valheim
  6. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  7. The EverQuest Team Expands on their UI Engine Roadmap Update
  8. Stuck in the Gym in Pokemon Go
  9. Corpse Spam in Stormwind
  10. New Eden and China
  11. CCP Lets EVE Online Players with Multiple Accounts Subscribe Secondary Accounts at a Lower Price
  12. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor

Search Terms of the Month

my character has no server new world select world
[You and me both friend]

palmont police department (world)
[feeling some need for speed?]

star wars empire guild name generator
[Vader’s Fist?]

gay games emulator
[I see this every month, and they never find it here]

Game Time by ManicTime

I ended up playing three titles in January.  I also ended up spending half as much time playing games as I did in December.  The holidays were over and the new year was busy.

  • WoW Classic – 57.58%
  • EVE Online – 39.98%
  • LEGO Star Wars – 2.44%

There was something of a resurgence of time in New Eden.  I probably did the most things there.  As I always say, I spend so much of my time playing EVE Online tabbed out of the game that it never really gets tracked properly.

EVE Online

Kind of a lively month in New Eden for me.  I was in four good fights, there was some null sec political news, I made some ISK, and did some exploring.  On the combat side of things I was on more kill mails this past month than I was in any three months of 2022 combined.  The collapse of FI.RE in the face of the Pandemic Horde onslaught got us some political drama and speculation about who will live in that space: Will it be left fallow for new groups or become tributaries to PanFam?  And I went to Pochven.  Twice.  Which means I have been there three times now.

LEGO Star Wars

I meant to play a lot more of this than I did.  The problem, really, seems to be the heavy focus commitment it needs as a game.  The thing about MMOs, and especially EVE, is that despite there being no pause button, they are pretty interruptible.  I can listen to a podcast when I am just running quests or doing tasks in WoW Classic.  I can get up and go to the bathroom in a tidi fleet fight in EVE and not be too worried about what I’ll miss.  In fact, I am serious that ManicTime doesn’t capture how much time I spend playing EVE because I spend so much of that time tabbed out of the game looking at intel and reference material about the game.  LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga needs my hands on the controller and me focused on it alone.

Pokemon Go

The hunt for Vivillon dominated the month, with my wife and I both looking for new friends to fill out the list of 18 zones required to catch them all.

  • Level: 43 (21% of the way to 44 in xp, 1 of 4 tasks complete)
  • Pokedex status: 750 (+4) caught, 767 (+3) seen
  • Mega Evolutions obtained: 21 of 30
  • Pokemon I want: All the other Vivillons it seems
  • Current buddy: High Plains Vivillon

WoW Classic

We were a bit slow getting back into things after the holidays, but did get through Drak’Tharon and into Violet Hold.  And then the Lunar Festival came along and we spent a couple of weekends chasing achievements for that.  We still have one blocker between us and the meta achievement and title, but I will get to that tomorrow I think.


I did managed to keep on riding.  I even did some pretty long rides.  Occasionally I get in the groove and go beyond my minimum quota.

  • Level – 18 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 1,493 miles (+94 miles)
  • Elevation climbed – 57,838 (+3,429 feet)
  • Calories burned – 46,834 (+3,694)

Coming Up

“Is it February already?” said all the old people like myself, as they seem to at the end of every month.

What will we get next month?

February is the butt end of winter, at least in California.  We’ve had a bunch of rain, we might get a bit more, but it will return to warmer temperatures here near the coast.

As for gaming… I guess we’ll move from lunar new year to Valentine’s Day related events.  And we’ll get some abbreviated earnings statement from Activision Blizzard.  But I am not sure what else is coming.  No big new releases for me in any case, so I guess I’ll carry on with the same stuff as before.

The Imperium Begins Buying Back War Bonds

The echoes of World War Bee (or Beeitnam, if you prefer) continue to reverberate throughout null sec.  No matter what you thought about it or any of the participants or who won, its influence continues to influence events.  The roots of the recent evacuation of FI.RE, one time PAPI member coalition, from the southeast can no doubt traced back to the war and how it fell out in the end.

History is not a series of discreet dates but a continuum of connected events.

So we’re back to talking about the war today because of an announcement that the Imperium has made over the last couple of weeks regarding the bonds it issued during the war.

The war was expensive, and all the more so at the end of 2020 and the beginning to 2021 when the Imperium was not just losing structures, but had been involved in the first battle at M2-XFE which saw about 250 titans destroyed, split about evenly between the PAPI and the Imperium, which represented something close to 30 trillion ISK destroyed in an evening.

The opening shots of the first battle of M2-XFE

The Imperium needed to replace those titans.

It also needed to buy quantum cores, the new addition to dockable Upwell structures that CCP added in order to combat proliferation and to incentivize the destruction of those player owned structures by making them not only more expensive, but but giving them a valuable guaranteed drop when they were blown up.

The Quantum Core Price List

All structures would require cores starting on January 12, 2021.

So the grind of war, the loss of titans, the need to core structures, along with the suppression of income with hostiles invading our space but an enormous amount of financial pressure on the coalition.  In order to cope with that, the Imperium chose to issue war bonds to keep any ISK liquidity issues at bay.

The coalition used the corporation shares system in the game to setup an offering with the following parameters.

  • Each share had a face value of 1 billion ISK
  • Each share would pay a dividend of 10% of the share’s value per year, paid in monthly installments due on the 1st of each month (8.33M per share per month)
  • Repurchase of a share by the coalition would be equal to its initial sale price
  • The alliance reserved the right to mature bonds and pay out the face value of shares at any time after the 12th payment, which was due on 1 January, 2022

Members were being asked to loan the coalition ISK in increments of 1 billion for a minimum of one year at a 10% interest rate.

At the time this was roundly mocked by our foes as a desperation move by the Imperium and those investing ISK were cast as suckers being fleeced by leadership who they suggested would simply take the ISK and run.

Within the Imperium the war bonds campaign was reported to be wildly successful.  I personally bought five shares and received my first dividend payment during the 31st week of the war.

War Bond Dividend #1 plus a 1.25 ISK test payment to check the system

On Wednesday of this week, February 1st, I will receive my 24th dividend payment, which will push the sum total of payments I have banked just past the 1 billion ISK mark.

I should do so well in the real world.

The success of the Imperium war bond campaign even inspired some of our foes to attempt similar offerings to bolster their finances in the face of CCP’s economic austerity plan for New Eden.

The war ended, having petered out over a year back.  Delve has been rebuilt and with CCP finally seeing sense and loosening up the ISK faucets again, there is a sense of prosperity in some quarters.  Even I have been out ratting some, feeling like it was worth my time to earn some ISK.

The Imperium too must be feeling more prosperous, because two weeks back it was announced that the coalition would begin to mature and buy back war bonds for their full face value.

The call went out on the weekly fireside to investors who had purchased a single share to step up and arrange to sell them back for 1 billion ISK each.  A week later that was expanded to investors who held two shares.  It was explained that the program would continue to expand to those who held more shares.

Sitting on five shares I suspect I will be able to get my initial investment back at some point.  Again, in a little over two years I will have turned 5 billion ISK into 6 billion ISK with no effort on my part.

I am not eager to get paid out.  I don’t need the ISK this minute and it will likely just sit in my wallet earning zero interest when I do get paid.  But I understand that the finance team might be keen to use a period of relative peace and prosperity to reduce the financial burden on the coalition.

Because, of course, we need to have everything as ready as possible for the next war… because there will no doubt be a next war at some point.

This is not exactly an exciting bit of EVE Online trivia.  Bonds and investments and dividends seem more like something part of the mundane real world rather than a futuristic internet spaceship games featuring immortal capsuleers fighting battles in the stars.  But it does speak to the complexity of the game, and the game’s economy, that there is a team in the Imperium that handles financial transactions like that.  This is somebody’s virtual space job.

And not being exciting, it isn’t something you’ll likely see written about very often.  I am curious how the bonds issued by other groups during the war turned out.  I’d like to which organizations kept to their commitments and who took the money and ran leaving investors in the lurch.

Another day in New Eden.

The Return of Bing?

I noticed something strange in my blog stats for this month.  I was getting some search engine traffic from Bing.

Those just showing up might think, “So what? Bing is the second largest search engine after Google with… um… 5% of the market to Google’s 85-90%”

And for a long stretch Bing, and the search engines that use Bing to deliver their results (I wrote a post about that), used to deliver a trickle of traffic to me.  But then back in June of 2022 something happened and Bing cut off the tap.  They seemed to have it in for all blogs on the domain.

Bing stats running into June 2022

On these charts, blue is impressions, using the scale on the right, and purple is actual clicks, which uses a scale one eighth the range.

And it wasn’t just “nobody is clicking on your link” or being a couple of pages into the rankings, I could literally not force Bing to find my blog.

I had a Bing console account and had fed it my site map and RSS feed data, so it wasn’t like they lost track of me.  I seemed to be on some wide blacklist of sites.

I did persist for a while.  I would return to the Bing console about once a month and re-submit my site map, and the console indicated they did in fact oblige my submission and crawled by site.  But traffic was not forthcoming.

But now, six months later… traffic has resumed.  I see traffic from Bing, and a couple of the sites that use Bing, like Duck Duck Go and Yahoo.

Which is nice.  I still don’t have the top search result for TAGN there, like I used to and as I still have with Google.

In fact, it is quite an effort to get Bing to cough up a link for my site even with some very directed search terms.  Typing in the full name of the blog into the search field yields what I can only describe as epic level avoidance.  Bing will send you to the Tumblr feed for my blog, my Twitter account, my YouTube channel, the Flipboard page for the blog, mentions of my blog on other sites (but not Massively OP, because both Google and Bing seem to have it in for Bree’s crew, though it does find links to the old AOL Massively site, now archived under the Engadget banner), links to sites that have scraped my content, and even the Blogger site I had been using as a hot backup of this site until If This Then That broke the connection somehow.

You have to work to find me.  But it is some progress I suppose.

Another 40 people made their way here so far in January because of it.

Bing comes alive in Jan 2023

Once again, blue is impressions and purple is clicks, and I cropped the left side scale for links in this time.

Bing also says that it is sending more people my way that tells me about, but web stats not matching up is pretty much a way of life on the internet.  You can only really compare stats from the same source using the same methodology… like the EVE Online monthly economic report.

A far cry from the 500 people directed my way by Bing and its associates in January of last year, but we take what we can get.  I’ll keep resubmitting my feed… which is what somebody recommended… once a month until morale improves.

A Lunch Time Keepstar Kill in R-ARKN

Sometimes things just line up.

It was about 15 minutes before I could in good conscience start taking lunch, even on a Friday, when I saw the first ping about a fleet forming to go and blow up a Keepstar.  I wanted go blow up a Keepstar.  I always want to go see structures blow up.  But I have gained a no doubt undeserved reputation as a solid worker who doesn’t slack off such that I feel the need to reinforce that illusion by not disappearing for lunch at 11:15 am.

Oh well.  I can’t be there for all of them.  And it isn’t like there haven’t been a lot of Keepstar kills in the last few years.  We’re long past the days when I managed to be on more than half of those kill mails.

A while late there was a call for a second fleet, but I figured they would be off before I could break away.  I was also pairing with another team member and didn’t really have an excuse to drop off.  Then a little past 11:30 am she had to drop off and I immediately turned to my home computer, a 90 degree turn of the chair from my work setup, and logged into EVE Online to see if any of the fleets… a third had been called by this point… were around or had any room left.

I jumped into the third fleet, which was the Imperium’s Stormbringer doctrine.  But then I thought about how long a Keepstar shoot can go and figured I had better fly in something I could dock up or safe up somewhere without missing.  A Stormbringer is a pricey ride and I only had one hanging around in my hangar.

I dropped that fleet to see if I could get in the Eagle fleet.  I have half a dozen Eagles sitting in my hangar, war surplus, and if I had to dock one of those up in an NPC station far from home because I had to get back to work, that would be no real loss.

Then I was in the fleet, led by AcidF, hanging around waiting for us to get going then, because these sort of ops get called early.  I had no idea how far we might have to travel, but I had some time now.  And then the order to undock was given and the destination announced in fleet chat:  R-ARKN.

That wasn’t very far at all.  It was also the location of the great loot pinata structure shoot a year back with the Army of Mango Alliance debacle.  I had been on a Keepstar kill mail in that system before.

Taking the Eye of Terror Ansiblex highway eastward, it was just nine jumps to Esoteria and the destination, thanks to our new allies in Sigma Grindset who have set up shop in Paragon Soul.  So we were there pretty quickly.  And on arrival I could see that the timer for the Keepstar didn’t have long to count down.

The WR0NG Keepstar and not the wrong Keepstar

We got ourselves into position and lolled about a bit while waiting the final minutes before the timer finished its run and we could begin to shoot the structure.

Waiting for the timer at a safe distance

At first I thought we might be getting in on a FI.RE coalition structure timers, but we were outside of their old zone of influence.  This Keepstar belonged to What Could Possibly Go Wr0ng, a member of what was the Cockroach Coalition down south, some tolerated unaligned groups living in space that was otherwise not considered prime real estate.

Indeed, what could?

I wasn’t sure why we were after them, but we were there and setup and ready to go with three fleets when the timer ended.  We got in closer and started shooting.

Fleet’s arrayed about the Keepstar

You can see the warp formations in use there as we closed up in the wall position, spreading ships out the avoid being easy, clustered targets for the structure to throw bombs at.

I was interested to see if anybody else would show up to the shoot.  We were in the middle of some contested space, so it was possible that some FI.RE remnants or Pandemic Horde might wander in on the whole thing.  But aside from a couple of individuals, it was mostly just us in the system.  I think the Stormbringers were counting on some hostiles to show up, their thing being to bounce lightning off of ten targets.  They had to make due with the standup fighters from the Keepstar.

Strombringers getting up to whatever they were doing

The shoot was otherwise uneventful.  Sure, the PDS zapped some droned and bombs flew and fighters were launched, but for the most part we all say around cycling our guns to keep the damage inbound.  The fact that nobody was around to fight with on grid and that we capped out at under a thousand characters in the system meant that tidi stayed manageable, speeding up the whole thing.

Eventually, as the remaining hull counted down, we got in close to cover the drop of the quantum core, that bit that CCP added to dockable Upwell structures which became mandatory about two years back.  That is a 30 billion ISK item that is required to power up a Keepstar and which is a guaranteed drop.  We were all up close as the Keepstar blew up.

Another one blows up

You can see the defensive bubbles near the center of the model to guard against somebody swooping in and making off with the core.

The kill mail showed 854 involved parties.

We hung around for a bit to cover GSOL doing their thing, then the three fleets started their move back to Delve.

Taking the Ansiblex highway home

It was during the trip home we got a bit of story time about what we had been up to.  Apparently WR0NG had made a deal to sell the Keepstar to Pandemic Horde. (Edit: Reference here)  We found out about the deal, because everybody has spies everywhere, and put a stop to it by removing the structure.

I mentioned earlier in the week in the post about FI.RE’s flight from the southeast that there was a possibility of friction as Pandemic Horde and the Imperium began to butt up against each other along a common boarder.  I suspect this won’t be the last structure we go after on the periphery of our holdings.

Meanwhile, we got back home to 1DQ1-A with some time to spare so I could make myself a sandwich and actually had some lunch during my lunch break.

The Search for Vivillon

My wife and I are kind of late to the party on this.  We depend on a friend of ours to keep us up to date on Pokemon Go, but she wasn’t up on this one… or was holding out on us maybe.

While my wife and I play Pokemon Go regularly, I don’t follow the news of it as closely as I do, say, EVE Online.  So my first hint that something was going on was when I noticed people on my friend’s list were saving a lot of my daily gifts as postcards, a little used feature of the game up until this point… so far as I can tell anyway.

I ignored this for a bit, thinking it odd but whatever… however, when in persisted for a couple of weeks I went out to look it up and found out we had completely blown by the Vivillon launch back in December and Niantic’s plan for it.

Vivillon, which also happens to occupy position #666 in the national pokedex, is a seventh generation Pokemon that came in with Pokemon Sun & Moon and is one of those
“gotta catch em all” specials that doesn’t just have a couple of evolutions, but also comes in 20 different color variations.  I forget how they worked that in Sun & Moon, but I am sure the online trading post was hot with exchanges across the world to get the versions people were missing.

Pokemon Go is more “real time” than the core RPG series, lacking a Pokemon auction house of sorts.  So the plan was to make the various Vivillon versions available via gift exchanges.

When you get a gift from a friend you save it as a postcard… hence the behavior I noticed… and when you collect enough you get a Scatterbug that appears.  That is the larval state of the Vivillon and you need 125 candies to get it into its full splendor.

The trick is that the location of the postcard dictates which color variation of the Vivillon you end up with if you evolve that particular Scatterbug.  They even have a map that shows you where in the world you need to have friends send you gifts if you want that particular flavor of Vivillon.

Where to find Vivillon… sort of… also, no China, no Russia

You should probably click on that to see if full size.

The 18 variations of Vivillon that are currently available… they are holding two in reserve I guess… are the following locales:

  • Archipelago
  • Continental
  • Elegant
  • Garden
  • High Plains
  • Icy Snow
  • Jungle
  • Marine
  • Meadow
  • Modern
  • Monsoon
  • Ocean
  • Polar
  • River
  • Sandstorm
  • Savanna
  • Sun
  • Tundra

So now you don’t just need Pokemon Go friends around the world to help level you up or get regional raid targets, you also need them for Vivillon.

There is probably a Discord server somewhere that broker’s friendships to fill that obsessive need to collect them all.  I just haven’t looked yet.

Instead, I am making friends the old fashioned way… by hooking up with random strangers on the internet.  Or on Twitter, in my case.  But the internet has paid off so far and I have managed to get at least the base level Scatterbug for 11 of the 18 Vivillon variations.

My success so far

But that leaves me with 7 more to collect.. leaving aside the couple thousand Vivillon candy I’ll need to evolve the whole lot… for which I need to get at least one Scatterbug.

I am currently missing:

  • Garden
  • Icy Snow
  • Meadow
  • Ocean
  • River
  • Sandstorm
  • Sun

You’d think, being in California, I would have Sun covered… but we’re a High Plains area.  So I have to work on finding some friends in those areas. (My trainer code is 3216 2939 2424 if you happen to be in one of those places… or if you need some High Plains gifts.)

And, of course, I need more gifts to feed the maw of this mild Pokemon Go obsession.

First Peek into the Violet Hold

I’m doing a bit of catch up here, but that is fine.  The last time we left off with the instance group, we had done a run at Drak’Tharon Keep, finishing it off with just four of us… which meant we had to go back and do it again with the whole group.

The group lineup for the afternoon was as follows.

Today’s lineup

Amazingly, we somehow managed to forget almost everything we learned on the first run through Drak’Tharon Keep, so got to relearn a few things, like not standing in the summoned pool of black gunk or you’ll die.

I will contend that the first group of mobs after King Dredd is bugged.  The troll death knight doesn’t patrol like he is supposed to, so you get him and the four other mobs and the death knight heals them up and… we wiped.

Fergorin with the soul stone and the ress

But then after that he starts his patrol path and you can pull the group you started on, finish it off, then pull groups in reasonable numbers until you’ve made your way around to the final boss.

We managed to get through that fight without any major issues… I think it is just an easy fight despite the special mechanics… and were done and jumping down the platforms on the back side of the instance in about an hour.

Drak’Tharon done again

Which gave us some time to do something else.

Next on the list for dungeons was Violet Hold, which is back in Dalaran, so Ula spun up a portal and got us there.

This way to Dalaran

If we couldn’t remember our foibles in Drak’Tharon Keep even a week down the line, what were we going to remember about Violet Hold, an instance we hadn’t run since the summer of 2009?  That was a while ago.  (Also, looking back at that now,  I had forgotten that whole period of time when my client would crash whenever I was in Dalaran.)

The map of the city

Well, I did remember where to get the key, though I suspect that has come up more recently for some reason.  Anyway, the guy in the Violet Citadel across town will help you out.

You speak to him, get the quest, run over to the Violet Hold, talk to a guy outside there and you have the key.  Easy peasy.

After that though, we were a bit at sea… I felt like it was some sort of event, maybe a random boss order… but we weren’t going to look it up or anything.  We plunged right in.

And it was event, with waves… there was a counter at the top of the screen tracking them… and what seemed like a random boss every six ways.  We can do that.

We ran after the different portals that spawned one at a time, hitting the Portal Guardian and anything that came our way, keeping it together.  We made it through six waves and got a boss.  Moragg was coming for us.

Moragg unleashed

Moragg wasn’t a tough fight and when we brought him down he coughed up a nice set of shoulders for me, a pretty big upgrade compared to what I was wearing.

Shoulderplates of the Beholder

After that we carried on with the next wave… and then somebody was shouting something and everything despawned and the even was over.  We were kind of at a loss as to what happened, but Beanpole asked if those guys with the lasers attacking the door we came in through might have had something to do with it.

Oh yeah… up at the top of the screen, near the wave counter there was something about portal seal integrity, which was now at 0%.  A few more memories of the instance came into blurry focus.   I had seen a couple of mobs walk past us rather than attacking us.  Clearly that was bad.

So we stood there for a bit until we figured out how to start the whole thing over again.

Everybody escaped I guess… our bad

Once we got that sorted… the first NPC respawned eventually… we were back in business, this time with an eye out to keep any strays from getting to the door.

We got through the first six waves again and this time around… we got Moragg again.  Well, at least we knew him.  And he obliged by dropping the same set of plate shoulders.  Fergorin could have used them, but passed by mistake.  They went to Ula to disenchant.

We kept up with the next set of waves without too much effort, always on the look out for a sneak.  We managed to get ourselves to the next boss encounter, which was Ichoron.

Ichoron arrives… Moragg’s corpse is still hanging around…

Ichoron turned out to be a bit of a chore.  He has a mechanic where he disappears and a bunch of water elementals spawn, then he shows back up and if the elementals get to him they seemed to be healing him.  We were making headway, but it was slow going.  And that was when we found out that the waves were on a timer.

The next portal opened and some more mobs joined the fight while we were still struggling to burn Ichoron down.  Things were getting out of hand.

We managed to finally get Ichoron down, and I did a quick loot, which yielded yet another pair of plate shoulders, but these much better for Fergorin, our holy healing pally.

Those are some healing shoulders

There wasn’t any time to celebrate that drop however, as another wave had showed up and we started losing people as we got blindsided by more mobs.

We wiped, but then there was the question of whether or not to jump back in, which you could do, or wait for things to end and start over.

We managed to pick wrong, but the afternoon had worn on by that point.  Once things had reset once more, we picked up our stuff and went back out to repair.  It was time for me to go, leaving the Violet Hold as yet unconquered.  But at least we ended up with some sense of how the instance runs.  We’ll see if we remember it when we get back there again!

December Ship Destruction in EVE Online

The EVE Online Monthly Economic Report includes a data dump of all the ships destroyed in that month, which is usually a data set I am too lazy to start digging through.  I tend to be satisfied with the ISK totals, which ran between 36.92 trillion and 38.8 trillion ISK in December, depending on which numbers you tally up.

EVE Online nerds harder

I could work up the formulas in Excel if I put my mind to it.  COUNTIF is my friend.  But I generally don’t care enough.  But this month I was playing around with Tableau, a data analysis tool, for work and wondered if it would sort things out for me… take that csv file and organize some nice summaries.  And, sure enough, it did.  I needed to poke at it for about 15 minutes to figure out what I was doing, but I managed to get it to cough up some data.

So I thought I would start with something easy.  How many ships and structures were destroyed in December?

415,796.  That is the total number.

Of course, 112,341 of those were capsules, which hardly count.  I mean, sure, some of them are expensive, full of implants and such.  But most are just the normal, 10K ISK a pop default units.

I remain glad that CCP got rid of capsule upgrades.

Likewise, there were 23,822 corvette losses, most of which were freebies and hardly worth accounting for.

So that leaves 279,633 ships, deployables, or structures that were blown up.

The top 20 destroyed, leaving out capsules and corvettes, were:

Frigate               71,295 25.50%
Cruiser               35,162 12.57%
Destroyer             32,535 11.63% 
Shuttle               15,881  5.68%
Combat Battlecruiser  13,212  4.72%
Mobile Tractor Unit   10,047  3.59%
Heavy Assault Cruiser 10,020  3.58%
Battleship             7,765  2.78%
Hauler                 7,749  2.77%
Interdictor            7,600  2.72%
Interceptor            6,638  2.37%
Assault Frigate        5,296  1.89%
Tactical Destroyer     4,261  1.52%
Mining Barge           4,092  1.46%
Strategic Cruiser      4,067  1.45%
Stealth Bomber         3,907  1.40%
Covert Ops             3,749  1.34%
Mobile Warp Disruptor  3,505  1.25%
Marauder               3,262  1.17%
Expedition Frigate     3,176  1.14%

Those total up to 253,219 ships or deployables blown up, or 91% of the total for December.

More than a quarter were frigates, which is no surprise I am sure.  Cruisers and destroyers add up to close to that number as well.  Down a couple more are mobile tractor units, beloved of ratters and mission runners, little deployables that haul in and loot all the wrecks in the site you are running.  There are players who just target those.  I did a bit of MTU hunting back in the day myself.

My MTU collecting wrecks in a forsaken hub

I suppose the only surprise in the top 20 is marauders.  Those are expensive, but being T2 battleships, with T2 materials depressed, I suppose they are that much more expensive than their T1 brethren anymore.

As for individual hull types lost, the top ten were:

Venture              11,277 4.03%
Mobile Tractor Unit   9,624 3.44%
Heron                 8,464 3.03%
Caracal               6,138 2.20%
Caldari Shuttle       5,232 1.87%
Ishtar                5,217 1.87%
Thrasher              4,813 1.72%
Stabber               4,387 1.57%
Tristan               4,271 1.53%
Vexor                 4,064 1.45%

Ventures are mining frigates, so count in that 71K frigate losses above.  But 1 in 7 of those were a Venture.

When it comes to capital ships, these were the losses in December:

Dreadnought             351 
Freighter               156 
Carrier                 143 
Force Auxiliary          88 
Capital Industrial Ship  67 
Jump Freighter           26 
Supercarrier             20 
Titan                     6

That is a few dreadnoughts.  Not exactly war time numbers otherwise, but there wasn’t much in the way of wars going on for most of December.

For structures the numbers were:

Customs Office      926
Athanor             272
Astrahus            193
Raitaru             106
Ansiblex Jump Gate   46
Fortizar             29
Tatara                9
Tenebrex Cyno Jammer  6
'Marginis' Fortizar   1
'Horizon' Fortizar    1

I went to the individual named list for those.  A couple of unreplaceable legacy station Fortizars on that list.

Then I was sort of interested in where things were being blown up.  We get the regional summary in the MER, but which systems were the most dangerous in December?  Here are the top 20 for total hull losses.

Jita         10,597 
Deepari       8,615 
Tama          6,758 
Aldranette    6,435 
Ahbazon       5,512 
Kourmonen     5,302 
Miroitem      4,868 
4-HWWF        4,607 
Sujarento     4,371 
Nagamanen     4,184 
F-NMX6        3,987 
Oicx          3,863 
Huola         3,661 
J111011       3,272 
Aunenen       3,251 
Hasmijaala    3,244 
Kamela        3,168 
H-PA29        3,104 
Uitra         2,792

I guess Jita is no surprise.  More people hang out there than any other system, and more people mean more kills.  It is also where war dec kill crews hang out, waiting for unwary war targets to undock.

But hull losses are not the only measure, so I pulled out the top 20 system based on value destroyed.

Jita             655,792,417,291 
Tama             299,788,005,609 
H-PA29           261,607,799,598 
Ahbazon          260,759,437,592 
1DQ1-A           229,569,075,143 
4-HWWF           218,299,175,054 
Miroitem         203,325,454,675 
TA3T-3           198,160,439,834 
F-NMX6           188,624,728,769 
Kourmonen        153,194,897,181 
Aunenen          149,169,376,918 
Aldranette       145,006,331,232 
J111011          143,186,537,391 
Sivala           137,777,830,149 
Kinakka          135,049,636,379 
J125101          131,145,192,638 
Egmar            126,026,434,303 
F7C-H0           111,313,563,703 
Misaba           111,206,036,052 
MJ-5F9           108,637,603,996

Jita remained on top, but H-PA29 rose up the ranks.  I was there for that battle back in December.  And coming to 1DQ1-A in Delve is a hazard it seems.

The total of destruction in that data set only adds up to 26.55 trillion ISK, so once again the numbers in the MER data don’t match up.  But it is the only data we’re going to get I suppose.

Anyway, that kept me amused last night, so I thought I would make a blog post about it.  If you are interested in the data you can, of course, find it all in the download data package for the MER.  But I exported the discreet data sets I referenced above into comma separated text files (.txt extension, because doesn’t like .csv files), so if you want a closer look into that you can find them linked below.

Addendum – I had to move those files to pastebin because was only letting people access them if they were logged into the domain.

FI.RE in Flight! Complete Collapse in the Southeast!

I had just gotten around to writing about the fact that there was a war going on between Pandemic Horde and FI.RE coalition down in the southeast of null sec when the past weekend and now the war seems to have been decided.

For all of its outward bravado, both from its leader and its line members in r/eve, they clearly knew they were in trouble.  They had former allies, Pandemic Horde, attacking them headlong from the north and the a grudge holding Imperium on their western flank not only unlikely to help them out, but actively attacking them in some cases, which left them in an untenable situation.

They could have possibly turtled up and held a single constellation, or at least dragged their foes into an apocalyptic battle, the way the Imperium did in World War Bee, but it isn’t clear if they, as a coalition, have the sort of cohesion and bloody minded stubbornness to pull that off.

Between a rock and a hard place, they could have potentially reached out to Fraternity to join Winter Coalition, with whom they held space with in the southeast previously.  The problem is that PanFam space lies between FI.RE and Fraternity space.  That would have been a trail of tears, a trip of frightful losses to get past a hungry Pandemic Horde.

The other option was the B2 coalition in the northwest, made up of Brave, WE FORM BL0B, and a few other alliance, some of whom were neighbors until WWB shattered Legacy coalition.  But the trail there would be past the Imperium, a hazard all its own.

As it turns out, FI.RE had chosen B2 as a destination, and B2 came to the Imperium looking for passage.  In a world where almost all of null sec turned against us to wage WWB the Imperium has forged new relations.  B2, on our northern boarder, has become a group we can work with.  We are not allies, but we have cooperated with them against the Fraternity/PanFam Axis of the East at H-PA29 in Venal and just last week at Skarkon in Pochven, so we were apparently open to the idea.

On its side of the equation, FI.RE approached the Imperium and “made amends for past wrongs,” the details of which I am sure will come out at some point.  But I am sure it wasn’t cheap.  That allowed the Imperium to grant FI.RE egress from the southeast to join up with its new coalition mates.  A migration is in progress.

Null Sec Coalitions Map and the FI.RE exit route

They got a free pass through our space, but we aren’t helping them out otherwise.  Their structures and sovereignty are all going down.

That leaves the question as to what happens when they exit.  That is a set of eight regions in the southeast of null sec where the owners have run off.

I am sure Pandemic Horde will take some of that space to add to their rental empire.  But will they want to push their border right up against the Imperium?  I am not sure anybody would want to rent that close to the end of the Eye of Terror Ansiblex highway to become content for Goons, and I don’t think Horde is going to move itself down there to protect them.

Perhaps some smaller groups will become a buffer between the two powers.  Or maybe we’ll have Pandemic Horde on our doorstep.  We will have to see how this plays out.

Fortizar Fight in a Wine Dark Pochven

Pochven is the region created at the end of the Triglavian when 27 systems were ripped out of empire space, including Niarja, a key system in the old shape of high sec shipping.  There was a big fight over that system before it fell.

The map triangle

That is a nice logical map of Pochven.  Actually in the star map it is a little more confused.

The route between the stars in the new region

Pochven is like wormhole space, in that you cannot get there via gates and local chat only displays those who actively say something, and like null sec space in that it is a region with gates between its systems where there is no CONCORD or other empire space rules.

I’ve been to Pochven three times.  The first time was when the Triglavian change over took place.  It was the creation of Pochven.  I Ieft a character there in a ship that was blown up not too much later due to carelessness.

The second time was a few weeks back.  I was fiddling with the Imperium wormhole tracking app and was out in my Buzzard scanning down holes and just traveling around to see what I could find when I decided I wanted to see how to get to Pochven.  Most people use special filaments to get there, but I didn’t have any of those and thought I remember something about wormholes being used to get there.

I ended up finding the Pochven Entry Guide, a web site put together by a couple of people, including Debes Sparre (who has left a comment or two here and who I met in person at EVE Vegas) that helped guide me and my Buzzard into the region.

A Buzzard in Pochven

But I didn’t have anything to do there besides explore, so I left and found my way back to Delve via other wormhole connections.  I had learned I could get there, get back, and that the whole place was dark… much darker than null sec… and tinted red, just the way the Triglavians like it I guess.

And the third time, well that was last week and it was for a structure fight.  Pandemic Horde has a Fortizar in Skarkon, one of the Pochven systems, and a ping went out alerting us to be ready to go to a fight over the armor timer.

A Fortizar in the dark red space of Pochven

Pochven is also special in that you can’t drop structures there.  The only player structures in the region are legacy ones, deployed before Pochven was formed.  So killing this structure would be kind of a big deal.  So I was in for that sort of event.

We formed up in 1DQ1-A in Delve.  I ended up in Mike Flood’s fleet, which was our Sacrilege doctrine.  I nearly jumped out to join up when Asher put up a Stormbringer fleet, but decided to stick with the tough HACs.  (Also, they were asking people not to jump ship.)  So we had 250 people in fleet ready to go, we just had to get there.

Getting there was a task in and of itself.

The easiest way into Pochven is filaments, but you can’t filament a 250 ship fleet.  So we had to break up into fleets of 15 players each, fly off into a safe because you cannot be close to a structure or a celestial when you filament, and teleported into Pochven.  We landed in Senda, which happened to be where I ended up in my Buzzard a few weeks back.  Then the fleets had to reform and travel to Skarkon.

Sacs taking a Trig gate in Pochven

We were being joined by some other parties, like Brave and WE FORM BL0B, who were also keen to see if we could bring down Horde’s special Fortizar.  Because of this we had to be careful who we shot.  As it turned out, our FC would be calling enough targets to keep us busy so we didn’t have a lot of time to get into trouble shooting temporary allies by mistake.

The timer counted down and we were soon pretty heavily engaged with Horde and their allies.  While they brought a lot of people to defend this valuable asset, they also called in friends, so it was a fairly large fight.  Of course, there being wormhole style local means I can’t tell you how many people were in the system at any given time, but the battle report, which I will link later, put the participant count at 1,485.

Sacs flying across the battlefield

For us it was quite a busy time.  The battle only lasted a couple of hours, which was a good thing on a weekday evening, but we made the most of it.  Mike led us against a Horde Sleipner fleet that seemed to pose the greatest risk to us.

Following the FC through the wine dark sky

We were locking up targets, firing a single volley, then moving on to the next, having enough firepower to pop ships that way.

We went on like that for quite a while, not sustaining much in losses as the many fleets on the field sought their own targets.  The Stormbringers seems to drawn more attention to us, being annoying pests with their bouncing lighting firepower and their expensive hulls.  Eventually though we attracted enough attention to start taking some hits.

A Sac blowing up in the middle of the formation

Horde has some bombers around and they lined up on us and hit us with electron bombs, which drained our capacitors, turning off our armor hardeners, our tracking disruptors (which we had been harassing the Horde Paladin fleet with), and our MWDs, which made us slower and more vulnerable.  Losses began to mount.

Another explosion in the fleet

The fleets were so intent on each other that we ignored the structure after a while, each side concentrating on blowing up ships.

In the end, the Fortizar repaired itself.  Horde won the armor timer.  Their structure was preserved this time around.

Meanwhile, we hit a point where the odds were growing against us.  Getting back into the fight was easy for our foes… or at least the ones that remembered to set their home in the Fortizar.  We had to make our way back from Delve.  And it was late and the objective had been decided, so people started calling it a night.

We set about trying to disengage, which can be a tricky thing to do.  Getting away can be fraught with danger, and I have been on fleets that have hazed a retreating foe, inflicting more losses every time they made a mistake.

With the help of some sacrificial interdictors, we managed to get some distance from the enemy and get ourselves to a rally point.

Gating away from the fight

Then came the chore of getting back home.  You can filament straight TO Pochven, but when you filament out you go where the filament takes you, which for us wasn’t going to be anywhere close to Delve.

I figured, but Buzzard bravado still lingering, that if somebody could just get us to the hole out of Senda I could find my way home.  But we had some exit filaments, which meant breaking up into 15 ship fleets again and finding the right system in Pochven for the optimum jump out.

Our group got out okay, though we were delayed because the FC left our filament in the station where it had been traded to him.  People were already forming up into groups, taking a path up through Cloud Ring to the Eye of Terror Ansiblex highway which would lead them home to Delve.

Feeling a bit left behind, I got out the Imperium wormhole tracking app again and found the that there was a Thera hole not too far away and another that would drop me in Aridia, not too far from home.  So I ran that route, in the main fleet but taking a different path.  That cut off enough jumps that I ended up catching up to them back in Delve as they were arriving.  I was home again, ship intact, only minus some ammunition and most of my drones.  That happens.

The fight was one of those battles that both sides enjoy, somewhat even in outcome, but with enough kills that everybody felt like they got a piece.  Somebody put together a battle report that separated out the two main parties from the third party locals who showed up.

Battle Report Header

The third parties are Team A, we are Team B, and the defenders Team C.   A pretty close fight.  I ended up on another 52 kill mails according to zKillboard.  Somebody also posted a video of the battle, if you want a closer look at the action from the PanFam side of things


After the fight Asher, who had led the fleet that set the timer initially, said we would be headed back.  So we shall see if I get into Pochven for a fourth time.


War in the East Once More

If you are a regular reader of r/eve you have no doubt no doubt noticed an uptick in alliance and coalition level propaganda, which is always one of the side effects of a null sec conflict.

FI.RE, a null sec coalition in the southeast of null sec centered on the once mighty Legion of xXDeathXx alliance, is under attack.

Null Sec Coalitions – Jan 21, 2023

If this sounds familiar, it might be because the Imperium took a couple of swings at FI.RE last year.  FI.RE had been letting their PAPI allies drop structures on the boarder the Imperium shared with FI.RE to use to harass Imperium space.  At first The Initiative and some local residents started on FI.RE, then Imperium SIGs and squads got involved, and then the whole Imperium.

Both sides claimed victory in those fights.  The Imperium blew up a bunch of structures and pushed deep into FI.RE space, but eventually fell back when FI.RE’s allies, notably Pandemic Horde, showed up in numbers to help defend their space, tilting the numbers against the Imperium.  So FI.RE claimed they drove off the Imperium and were able to retake a bunch of their space, while the Imperium got to point an a number of regions that were essentially burned down where FI.RE had to start from scratch again.

The usual null sec stalemate.  It is difficult to kill a corp or an alliance from the outside in EVE Online.   It requires an internal failure, demoralization or really poor leadership, for an organization to fall apart.  So FI.RE took back its space and carried on.

Then came the current war, and the propaganda line from FI.RE was that they sent the Imperium packing last year so they were ready for a new war.

The only problem is that the new foe is their former PAPI allies Pandemic Horde… that is the group that bailed them out when the Imperium came knocking.  And the Imperium isn’t going to take over Pandemic Horde’s role.  In fact, The Initiative has deployed some of its forces to take yet another swing at FI.RE as well.

So FI.RE looks like they are in a bit of a bind.  Maybe.

The question is how committed either of the attackers are to a goal of really going after FI.RE in any serious way.  On the one hand, both of the attackers started out deploying just SIG or squad level forces, which is usually the indication that it is more of a search for content than an actual invasion.

On the other hand, SIG and squad level actions, when they find success, often lead to more forces being deployed.  Things might have started small, but the propaganda escalation this week in r/eve seems to indicate that a nerve has been struck somewhere.

Just yesterday Pandemic Horde flooded the zone, inviting lots of people to some and kill a Legion of xXDeathXx Keepstar in Insmother.  (RAZOR Alliance, a FI.RE member, also lost a Keepstar, though it got caught in a freighter as they tried to sneak it away.)

This is a fight I am viewing from the sidelines, and r/eve can be a treacherous source of information when two sides are fighting a propaganda was along side their space battles.  But eventually zKillboard and DOTLAN will tell the tale.