Author Archives: Wilhelm Arcturus

About Wilhelm Arcturus

I started playing online, multiplayer games in 1986. I expect to get the hang of it any time now.

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.  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 WP.com 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 WP.com 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.

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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.

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The LOTRO 2023 Roadmap – No Consoles, No UI Updates

The Daybreak thing now is to have an annual roadmap… and, to actually deliver on the roadmaps they publish.  I am very much in favor of that.  Not everything on a roadmap needs to be startling or new.  Sometimes a confirmation of the existing flow of events… like an annual content expansion… is comfort enough.

But if you’re waiting for a game to do something, like make their UI playable on higher resolution monitors, it also means that you get your disappointment up front and can write off another year of the game as unplayable.

And so it is with Lord of the Rings Online.  They put out a producer’s letter with a roadmap and I immediately went there to see if there was anything on the list that might make the game viable on my 34″ 3440 x 1440 monitor.

And the answer was “no,” no changes on that front at all are planned in 2023.

The LOTRO 2023 Roadmap

There is also no mention of a console version of the game, but I have made pretty clear that I felt that was a pipe dream fantasy that was never going to become reality.  But I did pin a bit of hope on the fact that if they WERE going to support consoles, they would have to at least make the game playable in 4K resolution, which might mean the PC client getting some benefit from that.

But it is not to be.  Not in 2023.

I get that they don’t have the resources that WoW has, that they can’t redo things that are working for most of their current players (and that even mentioning this in the forums gets a very hostile response from current players), and that they, above all, need to feed the content engine to keep their current players happy and spending money or the whole thing will fall over and die.

But I also know they have to keep the game viable for more modern configurations for it to survive.  They didn’t put in the effort to get the client to 64-bit for nothing.  Eventually making resolutions up to 4K viable for players is going to be a requirement for survival.

And it isn’t as though the team is unaware of this.  They they were looking into it back in 2016, but doing something is another matter it seems.  Also, its stable mate, EverQuest, is doing work on UI updates, so maybe the LOTRO team could get on board with this some time this decade.

I am happy that the game carries on, that it is getting updates and content and looks good for another year.  But I am bummed that it is literally unplayable for me as it stands.  The UI seemed poorly thought out in 2007 when the game launched… something I wrote about at the time… and it has not aged well.

Friday Bullet Points with World of Warcraft and the Lunar New Year

The lunar new year is upon us, or will be officially this Sunday.  And with that in mind there are a few things that have come up with WoW related, and not, to the celebrations.

  • Year of the Six Month Rabbit

It is the year of the rabbit… unless you’re Vietnamese, in which case we’re talking year of the cat… and Blizzard has a special mount to celebrate the year.  For just $25 you can get the Bright Foreseer mount… or, if you subscribe in six month billing cycles you get it as part of that package.

Year of the Rabbit in Azeroth

In addition, if you are playing Wrath of the Lich King Classic, you get the Hoplet bunny pet for being on the six month plan as well.

  • Lunar Festival 2023

Today is also the start of the Lunar Festival in Azeroth, a chance to seek out the elders scattered throughout Azeroth, earn some achievements, and even get an easy ride to that Moonglade flight point if you do not already have it.  It is in both retail and classic, so choose you’re lunar new year destination.

  • Wrath Classic Phase 2 is Live

Blizzard has launched Phase 2 of Wrath Classic, which for raiders means that Ulduar is live, and it even has a trailer.

For non-raiders like me, it means that the Argent Tournament is now live.  I’ve flown past the empty space where it lives a few times already, but now construction is under way and the tournament is open.

Approaching the Argent Tournament

This is where I spent a lot of time back during original Wrath, where I went exalted with all of the alliance factions, and where I picked up my favorite flying mount, the Argent Hippogryph.  It is my flying mount of choice in retail WoW to this day.

The Sun Was Cooperating For Once…

We shall see if we have the wherewithal to do any of that again.

The downside of Phase 2 is that is broke pretty much all of my addons.  Now I am waiting around to see which ones will get updated and which authors have wandered off to other games.  Always the hazard of addons and mods.

  • WoW Closed in China

Meanwhile, things are not so hot for WoW players in China at the dawn of the lunar new year.  We heard back in November that a deal between Blizzard and NetEase might not be forthcoming, a situation that has come to pass.  As I pointed out in yesterday’s post, NetEase has been very aggressive and confrontational when it comes to the Blizzard deal, blaming Blizzard for any fallout, heaping scorn on their attempts to get an extension, and distancing itself from any attempt for current WoW players ability to save their current player data declaring that Blizzard’s download toolset, used to archive player characters, may contain security risks and could lead to loss of virtual items.

None of this is good for WoW players in China, who are suffering due to friction.  I remain a bit surprised at NetEase’s behavior.  They clearly are not interested in any goodwill from their former customers.  But this performance may be as much a warning to its other Western partners that if they don’t get what they want they are prepared to go for a scorched earth policy as it is a strike against Activision Blizzard.

New Eden and China

One of the big aspects of EVE Online is that we all play together on one server.  The game needs a critical mass of players to keep the complex economy and the things that drive it going.  It enables play styles from the solo explorer to coalition level wars with battles that see thousands of people involved.

Except, of course, there isn’t ONE server, there are TWO servers.

There is Tranquility, or TQ, which serves most of the world’s population.

And then there is Serenity, the server in the People’s Republic of China.  It was kicked off in 2006 because China doesn’t like its citizens to be subjected to the corrosive influences of outside thought.  Words like “freedom” get the government ready to roll out the tanks.  As we have seen in Hong Kong over the last few years, political dissent is not allowed.

The two servers ran in parallel, though with very different stories.  That players craft the tales of New Eden was never so evident than when comparing the two servers.  On both servers, null sec saw titanic battles between factions.  While TQ saw wars that never led to total victory, that would just realign the traditional three pole structure of the balance of power where two groups might unite against the third, but they were never quite enough to win a total victory, things played out differently on Serenity.

On Serenity, one faction won.  The Pan-Intergalactic Business Community and its vassal alliances defeated their foes and established essentially single party rule over their version of New Eden.

Serenity null sec sovereignty – Jan 17, 2023

This turned a tide in the game.  At one point some groups, like the famous Rooks & Kings, had moved from TQ to Serenity… VPN and all that… because the two servers were not just separated by the Great Firewall of China, but had also diverged when it came to code and mechanics, with Serenity being behind.  Those who were not keen on the changes that had come to TQ moved to Serenity to relive the glory of the older mechanics.

But with the end of the war on Serenity, the tide of players flowed towards TQ, where new mechanics might vex, but the balance of the great powers had not devolved into a uni-polar situation.

I wrote about the last (as of this writing) Rooks & Kings video that documented the fall of Serenity and the movement of players to TQ, including Chinese players.  Once again, VPN comes to the rescue.

This came about at quite a fortuitous moment for TQ because online numbers were beginning to trend downward.  EVE Online reached its peak around 2013 with more than 500K subscribers world wide, including China, and had been trending downward since.

Players from China were not unknown on TQ up to that point.  And in late 2017 the sovereignty map for TQ shows Fraternity, an alliance made up of exiles on the losing side of the war for Serenity, already holding space in the southeast of null sec.

Null Sec Sovereignty – Sep 1, 2017

There are a lot of old and storied names on that map, scattered around in the configuration that they settled into once the dust from the Casino War died down.  If you click on that map to see it full size, you can find Fraternity at about 4:30, a violet patch just to the west of the purple of Triumvirate.

Compare that to a sovereignty map from this week.

Null Sec Sovereignty – Jan 17, 2023

On that map Fraternity now has a pretty big slice of the north of null sec and is a serious power.  Down in the southwest there is Dracarys, a member of the Imperium, who holds space in Querious and Catch.  And in the northeast there is the Pan-Intergalactic Business Community, a name which at least suggests Chinese influence, though its proximity to Fraternity, who should be its bitter enemy, suggest that it is using the name but otherwise is not affiliated with the Serenity version of that alliance.  My theory that it might be the remnants of the collapse of The Army of Mango Alliance and Ranger Regiment, two other Chinese null sec alliances, seems unfounded.

Anyway, the point is that Chinese alliances are a pretty big part of null sec, much more so than they were even five years ago, and that their arrival has probably helped forestall an even more drastic decline in the player count in the last few years.

So I felt that CCP announcing the addition of Simplified Chinese to the TQ client was at least a tacit admission as to the importance of our fellow capsuleers from mainland China.

Simplified Chinese went live with today’s update, along with the launch of Lunar New Year celebrations, including the usual round of login rewards.  More SKINs and skill points, I won’t say “no” to that.  From the Patch Notes.

Patch Notes For 2023-01-19.1

Features & Changes:

Events

  • To Celebrate the Lunar New Year, a special set of login rewards are now available to players who login from now until the end of January.
    • Rewards include themed SKINs, skillpoints, Wightstorm Boosters and fireworks. 🎇

Localization

  • Simplified Chinese is now available as a language option on Tranquility.

Seems straightforward.

The odd bit was that the patch notes from the day before were just a single line item:

Patch Notes For 2023-01-18.1

Features & Changes:

Technical

  • Added access restrictions to Tranquility from mainland China.

On the face of it, that seems like an odd contradiction.  On the one hand, adding Simplified Chinese to TQ seems like a welcoming gesture to mainland China, with ~1.4 billion people, and our fellow capsuleers who share the server with us.  (Yes, Singapore and Malaysia also use Simplified Chinese, so CCP benefits there as well, but population wise they are a small fraction of mainland China.)

On the other hand, what does “Added access restrictions to Tranquility from mainland China” even mean?

The problem is that patch not is short and cryptic in a way that wants to announce something without really saying what it means.

The automatic assumption by many over in r/eve is that the Chinese government required these additional restrictions, and that would certainly align with the general outlook it has about the west and western video games.

The follow on assumption is that this won’t affect Chinese players who use VPNs to connect to TQ.  They already needed to do this, so this shouldn’t have much of an impact, if any.

Those are reasonable assumptions and I certainly don’t have any information that would prove them false.  Only CCP and NetEase likely know what is up on that front, which brings me to an alternative theory.

CCP didn’t just put together a Simplified Chinese language update in their offices in Iceland.  As with their Japanese translation, they most certainly needed external help with that, and who more appropriate to do that than NetEase, their partner in China who runs the Serenity server.

NetEase has been in the news of late mostly due to their aggressive and confrontational relationship with Blizzard over World of Warcraft in China, a relationship that has very publicly fallen apart, with NetEase heaping both blame and scorn on Blizzard in the news.  WoW in China is not currently a thing and WoW players there are likely to have to start fresh if Blizz can find another partner.

Given that context, it wouldn’t surprise me if, as part of the deal to get a Simplified Chinese UI from NetEase, that they might demand that CCP… essentially stop stealing their customers.  Certainly the way NetEase has behaved in public lately is also sending a message to beware of crossing them.

Again, whether or not this will have any real impact on mainland Chinese players on TQ is yet to be seen.  We will just wait and watch and hope.

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