Category Archives: EVE Online

A Feast for Ravens

Down in Queirious, we seemed to be starting off weekend on the back foot.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the Reavers had been driven back to our one staging system by Darkness and their allies, our gains made during the Delve conquest retaken.

Foothold in Querious

Foothold in Querious

And as I logged in for the op the other night, things looked somewhat grim.  Darkness had our staging system SBU’d, our main POS was reinforced, and we were there to try and hold them off as the timer ticked down.

Timer on Education

Timer on Education Friday night

That we were not able to hold the region was no real surprise.  Reavers are not a large group.  Operations are often just 20-30 pilots flying away from where the enemy is to hit them where they are not, shooting their SBUs, dropping our own, reinforcing towers, dropping siphons, and generally being pests that fade away when confronted.

But we are in a time of transition.  Alliances and coalitions in null sec are shifting about, often hunkering down, in anticipation of the sovereignty changes coming this summer.  The Imperium is inwardly focused, setting up the Seven Regions to be defensible under the coming new reality.  As such, there isn’t a lot of combat ops going on, and there certainly isn’t any large deployment of campaign of conquest to take part in.

In this situation, the Reavers were still hanging out down south.  Our leader, Asher Elias, said that if we could get better numbers, we could start getting into fights with Darkness, as their numbers were not all that huge.  So a new round of Reavers recruiting went out, this time with the promise of doing something more that just shooting structures.  Even The Mittani was out pinging on Jabber about Reavers getting fights that were big enough to be interesting, but small enough to not bring on time dilation.

We also end up getting some support down south thanks to convenient wormholes allowing fleets from Deklein to pop in for an evening.  And so it was that even as we seemed to be on the brink, with our system vulnerable, we were able to take the fight to the enemy.  Basically, that first evening, we got numbers early and were able to go camp the undock of their station in I1Y-IU.

Reavers on the move

Reavers on the move

On their undock we were able to hold our own and convince them to give up after a couple of brief exchanges. (Battle report, which I got from today’s null sec update) I even got my recently reactivated alt out and into an Ishtar, where he got a few kills thanks to the ongoing magic of drone assist.  I assigned his drones to assist Asher, anchored him up, and then went back to flying Wilhelm in his Basilisk.  Suddenly my alt, who I had trained up for combat at one point, had some kills.

We were then able to head back to ED-L9T and rep out POS, shoot the hostile SBU, and then cover the dropping of our own to secure the system.

Fun times.  But Asher had a further treat in store for us.  He announced a new Reavers doctrine.  In addition to Ishtars and Vexors and Crucifiers, we would also be flying Ravens.

This was the fleet doctrine I had been waiting for.  I had all those Raven and cruise missile skills trained up way back in 2008.  Now I would get to use them.  I even had a couple of Raven hulls sitting around in Amarr space, left over from level 4 missions way back in the day, ready to be re-purposed.  I got the fit, loaded them up, and set out for our staging system Wilhelm and my alt each flying one.

Ravens arriving in ED-L9T

Ravens arriving in ED-L9T

And while demand for Ravens was high… contracts for them kept selling out almost immediately… our logistical team was able to keep importing them so that we were able to form up our first Raven fleet.  The operation was a moment of opportunity, as Darkness was away.  Pizza had baited them to another system some jumps away and then put up bubbles on every gate on the route back home, so Darkness was mired for some time.

This allowed us to SBU their staging system and reinforce their station, setting the shield timer.

That was great fun, but I think most of the time was spent being great big nerds and talking about our new toys.  Watching the smoke trails of missiles hitting the station or the simply unfamiliar shape of and old school battleship was the highlight of the evening.

Missile exhaust trails

Missile exhaust trails. That big white ship is a Nestor.

The only opposition we faced was a bomber pilot who tried to hit us a couple of times.  That let us try out the smart bombs we all had fit, as used correctly those can kill incoming bombs.

Smart bombs active

Smart bombs activated

We missed the first bomb, but intercepted the second one.  Unfortunately, we also managed to kill a couple of our own frigates that were standing in close to the battleships, which was hilarious at the time.

Once we set the shield timer, killed the repair and fitting services, and discovered that there was no infrastructure hub in the system to shoot, Asher sent the small ships off to the gate for home, then had the battleships align to the gate.  We were going to land 100km off the gate, at which point Asher told us to activate our micro jump drives. (Lore behind MJDs) This would lets us experience another aspect of the doctrine.  As we landed, we activated the drives.

MJDs lighting up

MJDs lighting up

However, as we landed, some ships started bumping each other, changing their alignment.  This cascaded until the moment the drives were about to engage.

All that jump energy distorting space

All that jump energy distorting space

Micro jump drives jump you through space in the direction you are pointed when they go off.  So rather than all of us jumping straight to the gate, we all went off in a variety of directions in something of a MJD star burst pattern.  About three of us actually landed on the gate.  My alt was one of those who hit the gate, primarily because his skill level was so low, so his activated later than most.  I realized he couldn’t use MJDs just as we were about to undock, so bought the skill and started training it as we headed out.  I don’t think he had the skill up to 2 by the time we did the test.

We collected ourselves back on the gate and jumped through, headed for home. op success, as we certainly had a good time.

Getting the Ravens into combat though, that is going to be a more difficult nut to crack.  Occasionally we run into people who just don’t know what to think of us, like this Imperial Navy Slicer that we locked up at about 80km range and who thought he would just burn away from us.  With my skills, I can lock out to 150km and my missiles keep going to 220km.  He wasn’t pointed or webbed and a few volleys of cruise missiles caught him before he could out range them.  Again, hilarious.

Our fight with a Darkness T3 fleet however did not go so well.  They came to hit us while we were reinforcing a tower they had set up in our staging system.  When they arrived there was a period of warping around trying to gain advantage, but in the end when we got into engagement range, we had trouble breaking their tanks while they were able to whittle down a couple of our ships with every clash, often because somebody was slow aligning and didn’t get out when the rest of our fleet warped.

We eventually reshipped to Ishtars, at which point I jumped into a Basilisk and joined the logi force trying to keep people alive.  Then there was a report of a Darkness triage carrier in the system and we swapped back to Ravens again to hit that, though I stuck in with the Basi as we seemed to need as much logi as we could get.

I had some problems in the logi role when it came to the Ravens though.  At one point the Ravens lit their MJDs to jump into range of the enemy, which sort of left the Basilisks hanging in space by themselves, well out of rep range.  We were told to light our microwarp drives and overheat them to catch up.

Here is where I ran into problems, where I always seem to run into to problems.  I don’t know if it is me or the UI, but I cannot seem to reliably turn off the overheat option.  I clicked on the UI element to overheat my mid-slots, boosting my speed considerably, and I got the glowy green outlines on the modules indicating they were overheating, and I saw them taking damage.  But then I couldn’t seem to turn off the overheat options.  I clicked on the UI element again, and it seemed to take.  But then the modules were all glowing green again.  So I clicked it again.  And again. And then, soon enough, all of my mid-slot modules were burned out and I was a slow, easy target, my hardeners having all gone with the MWD.

This is not the first time this has happened happened to me.

And I felt all the more stupid because Arrendis, the logi anchor, said on coms not 30 seconds before this happened, “Don’t burn out your prop mods!”  So when he was asking why I was lagging behind I had to say that I burned out my prop mod because I am just that bad at EVE Online.  Oh the ignominy!

So I fell out of range as I tried to keep up my part of the cap chain and rep people as I went.  I just go lucky nobody targeted me.  As I fell too far back, I dropped out of the cap chain and warped to the station for a quick repair, but by the time I was able to undock again the fight was over and we were headed back to the station.  The battle clearly did not go our way, with us losing about seven times as much shipping when measured in ISK, with us losing a little over 8 billion ISK to their 1.5 billion ISK loss. (battle report, also a write up over at TMC)

Of course, over 40% of our loss value was tied up in three stupid-expensive ships; Arrendis’ Nestor, christmascaveman’s Barghest, and WhiteHalo117’s Raven Navy Issue were the high value targets of the evening.  (And, thanks to smart bombs, I got on the Raven Navy Issue kill.)

Still, we clearly need to work on that.  But even with the loss people were still excited about Ravens.  After ages with Ishtars, flying an old school battleship and using missiles is new and different.

Some more screen shots from the weekend.

Doing the Null Sec Shuffle

The pre-Fozzie Sov re-alignment of New Eden continues apace.  If you look at the Null Sec Player Influence Maps site you can see changes on the map daily.  Black Legion has taken a big chunk of Fountain, the Northern Associates rental empire has all but disappeared from the map, and, likewise, The Imperium’s Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere rental space is rapidly shrinking down to nothing.

Over at DOTLAN EVE Maps you can see various alliances swapping, gaining, or dropping sovereignty.  Even CCP’s lore focused videos from The Scope has commented on the changes and possible power vacuum in null sec as the empires align themselves.

Up in the north, in the seven regions of The Imperium, the sovereignty shuffle is well under way.  The Initiative has set up shop up in Tenal.  LAWN just took over sovereignty in the Vale of the Silent, while Bastion soaked up the rest of the region.  My own corp and alliance is slated to head south from our long held home in Deklein to the Tribute region, space we took back during the Tribute War in late 2012.  I was there for that!

For me that means moving a lot of stuff I have accumulated over the last four years.  It is amazing how much stuff starts to collect in you hangar.  So I took my reactivated alt account and set him up to be a cyno monkey and got out my Archon to move some ships down to Tribute.

Archon... landing too far from the station...

Archon… landing too far from the station…

Here is where the Phoebe expansion changes rankle a bit.  First there is jump fatigue and the jump activation timer, which means waiting between jumps in the carrier as well as effectively limiting the number of jumps I can make in an evening.  That part isn’t so bad.  I can wait.  And I don’t want to spend all night moving stuff in any case.

Jump Fatigue timer counting down...

Jump timer counting down…

But then there is the second part of the Phoebe change, which limited jump range of capital ships.  Pre-Phoebe, having trained up Jump Drive Calibration to 5, my Archon could have made the jump from our old staging to our new in one go.  Now, with the 5 light year cap, it is three jumps.  So there was a bit more work for me, getting my cyno placed and then jumping the carrier in and docking up in one station after another.  You adapt to the game at hand, and fortunately I was able to get most of the ships I wanted to bring south into the Archon for one run.

The rest of the ships were a bit scattered.  But I managed to get them down safe, including some of the fat targets.

A Notcis on the go is easy mean

A Notcis on the go is easy meat

Moving stuff down was a bit easier.  There is a convenient jump bridge that goes most of the way down and haulers get a break on the amount of jump fatigue incurred.

Heading down in a Crane

Heading down in a Crane

After I got myself setup in the new staging, I started trying to reel in some of the more scattered ships I have strewn about null sec, starting with that Harpy I left in Fountain.  We still hold the staging system at 4-EP12, but as I mentioned above, Black Legion has moved into the area in a big way.

The route out of Fountain is through Black Legion space now

The route out of Fountain is through Black Legion space now

I figured with the Harpy I had a chance making a run for home through their space.  So I undocked and took the direct route to B-DBYQ and Cloud Ring, where I could again use the jump bridge network to at least shorten my route home.

The last Harpy out of Fountain

The last Harpy out of Fountain

Fortunately, Black Legion seemed to have business elsewhere.  I zipped through the few systems, some very familiar to me still from the war two years back.

I remember fighting TEST here...

I remember fighting TEST here…

In Cloud Ring I picked up the jump bridge network as planned.  It was later in the evening on the West coast, so it seemed good odds that I would have a smooth trip from there, with just a few waits on jump activation timers before I could log off and let that Jump Fatigue wear off while I slept.

However, trouble found me where it often does, in  W-4NUU, a system I had to pass through on the route, and one that is adjacent to low sec, so which is easy for random people to camp.

I came through the gate into the system only to see a couple neutrals in local, which included a Garmur on the gate just waiting for me to break cloak.  Since I have found that my best odds in solo PvP drastically improve when I don’t fire my guns, I decided to just burn for the gate and head back the way I came.

As soon as I broke cloak and lit my afterburner the Garmur started locking me up.  He had me webbed and scrammed and was firing on me by the time I got into range of the gate, but that just meant I could jump through while he would have to wait a minute for his aggression timer to run down.  However, while he was shooting, his partner in crime uncloaked and declined to open fire, following me through the gate in an Ishtar.  Once through the gate and half a step ahead, I knew I could outrun the Ishtar.  I think he was just hoping to get lucky on the other side of the gate, that I might hang around.

Instead I headed for the alternate jump bridge route, which would actually bring me closer to our new alliance staging system.  However, there was an issue.  When you land on a jump bridge, you expect to see something like this:

A jump bridge module, ready to send you 5 ly down the road

A jump bridge module, ready to send you 5 ly down the road

Instead, when I landed at the POS on the alternate route, I found this.

A jump bridge still in its shipping container

A jump bridge module still in its shipping container

The jump bridge I was expecting to find was unanchored and just hanging in space in the box it came in, waiting for some good soul from GSOL to set it up… or take it away… one or the other.  So no jump bridge route down to Tribute.  Still, I wasn’t all that far from Deklein, so I just headed up and through fade, waving to the Space Monkeys as I passed through their staging system, and on into our old home.  One more ship back in the seven regions.

And while that was going on, there was a ping for a Reavers op.  Having used my jump clone recently, Wilhelm wasn’t going to be able to get down there.  But my alt was available, had a clone not too far away from our staging system in Querious, and could fly the Ishtar fit that the Reavers favor, so off he went.

The war down there has been carrying on, with Darkness taking back a bunch of systems.  But we still hold ED-L9T and have gone back to our more normal mode of operation, avoiding stand-up fights unless we have the numbers, docking up when we don’t, and shooting structures and setting timers whenever we can just to be annoying.

Foothold in Querious

Foothold in Querious

All that is more difficult without a second front to draw the enemy away, but we have cut deals with a number of the locals who got screwed over by N3, so we have some support.

I have been busy up north so I have been missing out on some of the bigger Reavers ops.  Last time I was down in Querious we got slaughtered, but recently we have had some wins with our allies down there.  I was a day late for our last big win, and that apparently but Darkness in a down mood as they declined to come out to play.  That was a shame because a group from Karma Fleet took a wormhole down to join in the fun.  They were all in frigate and were sent to go sit on the Darkness undock and taunt them while we went about our business.  We shot one of their towers, saved one of ours, and planned what to do next time around.  I have a few screen shots from that, though nothing terribly exciting.

And so the null sec churns and I fly all over the place as we all wait for the big sovereignty changes to finally hit.

One Hundred and Forty Million Skill Points

Months pass and the skill points continue to add up until, suddenly, it is time for another milestone post.  The skill point milestone story so far:

The ongoing attempt to have it all on one character continues.  I keep telling myself there will come a point where I will switch over and start training an alt, Wilhelm having finally trained up all of the skills he could possibly need.

Still not there yet, that’s for sure.

 Spaceship Cmd   36,330,616 (42 of 71)*
 Gunnery         13,915,745 (36 of 39)
 Leadership      12,803,000 (14 of 14)*
 Missiles        10,572,290 (21 of 24)*
 Drones           9,884,163 (19 of 21)*
 Navigation       9,660,314 (13 of 13)*
 Armor            6,899,137 (14 of 14)
 Engineering      5,974,395 (14 of 14)*
 Shields          5,645,390 (11 of 12)*
 Resc Processing  4,569,908 (22 of 28)
 Science          4,408,426 (21 of 39)
 Trade            3,271,765 (9 of 14)
 Electronic Sys   2,900,285 (6 of 15)*
 Targeting        2,306,195 (8 of 8)*
 Scanning         2,045,230 (7 of 7)* 
 Neural Enhance.  1,770,275 (5 of 8)* 
 Subsystems       1,320,000 (10 of 20) 
 Rigging          1,312,395 (10 of 10)* 
 Social           1,130,040 (5 of 9)* 
 Production       1,157,986 (5 of 12) 
 Corp Mgmt        1,108,784 (4 of 7) 
 Planet Mgmt        769,335 (5 of 5) 

 Total         ~140,000,000 (295 of 398)

My focus over the last 10 month or so has been to get my character able to be a booster, either on or off grid, for fleet ops.  That is why there has been a big boost in skill points under Leadership.

Damnation in a POS

Dreams of being an on-grid boost…

Last April, at the 120 million skill point mark, I sat at just over 2.4 million points in Leadership.  Now I am way up to 12.8 million skill points in that category.  I also trained up command ships for the on-grid boosting role in addition to already having all my Tengu skills up to 5 for off-grid boosting.  So I must be a totally excellent fleet booster and sign up for that role in every fleet possible, right?

Um, no.

I have yet to actually fly in the booster role for a number of reasons.  While I sort-of know how to fly the role, the only time they have been asking for boosters have been for important ops, and I’d like a practice run before an op is counting on me.  You also have to invest in the ship and some expensive implants up front and be in that clone with that ship handy and ready to go at the right location.  And, while command ships and on-grid boosting was still a thing when I started down this path, off-grid boost is now all there is.  You go to a safe spot, turn on your links, and keep hitting the directional scanner looking for probes, in case the enemy is trying to scan you down to kill you.  That sounds dull.  I like to be with the fleet so I can at least see what is going on.  Ever the tourist.

Having Wing Command trained up to 5 has helped out a few times at least.  There tends to be a need for that so fleets can be the full 255 pilots.

Otherwise I have spent my training time rounding out my skills, getting things that affect my ships up to level 5.  I got the two missing racial frigates, Minmatar and Gallente, up to level 5, so I can fly all the stealth bombers now.  I am currently training up the sensor compensation skills for each of the races, which explains why targeting got a boost in points this time around.  Targeting may be the first category where I have all the skills to 5, though it is admittedly a small category.

I do have quite a few skills at level 5 at this point.  My skill breakdown is now:

 Level 1  - 3
 Level 2  - 22
 Level 3  - 41
 Level 4  - 82
 Level 5  - 158

Meanwhile, I have been quite enjoying the fact that losing your pod is now pretty much a no-cost issue for me.  Aside from the potential fleet booster role and my training clone, my clones are all implant free, so there is no loss potential on that front.

I have a neural re-map coming up in June.  The last one I did I flattened out all my skills so that anything I trained would be equally fast… or slow.  This time around I think I will go back to being biased towards training ship and weapon skills at the expense of the social and leadership.  I am not sure I need to train into Fleet Command V, which would be all I have left under Leadership.

And then there is the final silly metric that I have been using throughout this series of posts, which is how long it would take me to train to fly a titan.  By the 130 million skill point post, simply flying one was down to two skills, so I changed that up to what it would take to fly a fully fit titan, specifically the Minmatar Ragnarok.

Free wheeling Ragnarok

Free wheeling Ragnarok

When I looked at that I was 130 days and 17 hours away from being able to lock myself away forever in a rusty, angular space coffin.  Super caps are like the Hotel California; you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.  Not that I will ever opt for that.  I am not yet that much of a bitter vet.

I did not expect that number to change, but then I found I had actually trained a few of the of the skills.  Astrometrics 5 was a big one, though I don’t remember exactly why I trained it.  And then I trained up Jump Portal Generation to 4 so I could operate a black ops battleship, in case we needed one out on a Reavers op.  That seemed important after our misadventure with hot dropping.  Those two skills combined pushed the titan timeline more than 17 days, knocking the number down to 113 days and 12 hours.  The biggest skill in that is still Capital Ships 5, which is close to 70 on its own.

Anyway, my skill training online adventure continues.  The next stop will be 150 million skill points, which I ought to hit around the new year.

The Doomed Convoy at KVN-36

The convoy ops for the final evacuation out of Fountain had been posted on the forums and broadcast multiple times daily on Jabber over the days preceding this past weekend.  Anybody who had been paying even the slightest amount of attention knew they were coming.  We were headed for home in the seven regions.

CFC / Imperium Space

CFC / Imperium Space

I mentioned having to get my stuff together last week.  Well all that warning was sufficient.  I managed to slip a couple of ships out and back to Deklein during the week, I moved the couple of ships I had in TEG-SD up to 4-EP12 (I put one Celestis up on contract cheap and somebody grabbed it pretty quick), and the night before the I got my main and alt accounts setup and in the two big remaining ships, a Dominix and a Megathron, ready for the move ops.

There were going to be three move ops on Saturday, at least from my time perspective.  One at 4:30am my time, one at noon my time, and one at 7:00pm my time (which is actually Sunday EVE Online time, since the game runs on UTC), each passing through the same set of systems to pick people up along the way, starting in Sakht and ending in B-DBYQ, hitting each of the staging systems in between, before heading along the most direct path home.

The purpose of a move op is to for a fleet massive enough that it won’t be viewed as a target of opportunity at gate camps and such.  ~200 ships makes for a tough nut to crack unless you plan for it.

I was tempted to try and get into the first move op.  I wasn’t going to get up at 4:30am, but I knew from past experience that move ops tend to be slow.  The idea isn’t just to get somewhere, but to get everybody in the op home safely.  That means you wait for people who disconnect or who get lost or who somehow fall a system or two behind.  It is a job more for a shepherd than a fleet commander.  And 4-EP12 is one of the last systems on the list, so I would have a lot of time before the op got there.

I also knew that our cats would wake me up at some point around 6am because they still don’t quite get the concept of “weekends” and get worried I might miss work if I am still in bed then.  And, true to form, our cat Rigby got on the bed and started meowing at me around 6am, waking me up.  I immediately… okay, maybe slowly… got up, walked down the hall to my office, booted up my computer, and got into EVE Online. However, things appeared to be moving apace for the early op, as they had already passed my system and were actually only a couple jumps from home, all in about 90 minutes.  Good speed for a move op and, I hoped, an indication of how things would go on the next op.

So it was back to bed for a bit more sleep.

I had warned my wife that there might be a two hour move op starting at noon our time, and she seemed to be okay with that.  There was an event going on in our local downtown area she wanted to go to, but it didn’t start until 2pm and ran into the evening.  Plenty of time.

Around 11:45am (18:45 UTC) I logged into EVE Online with both my accounts and started waiting for the fleet advert to appear.  I had things ready to go and decided, since I would spend a good part of the op just sitting and waiting for it to get to me, that I would take notes with time stamps, just in case this turned into a trail of tears op.

The classic Trail of Tears move op

The classic Trail of Tears move op

Game to blog, blog to game and all that.

So from this point forward, everything will be in reference to something I noted, with a time stamp in UTC.  I am also going to put in a cut here because of many words and a pile of screen shots.

Continue reading

The Loneliness of the Deep Space Entosis Pilot

As much as possible, the Entosis Link capture progress should reflect which group has effective military control of the grid.

CCP Fozzie, Summer 2015 Nullsec and Sov Status Report

As expected… and we did expect some revisions, didn’t we… CCP has taken in a lot of feedback on the proposed changes to null sec sovereignty capture/control mechanics the announced back in early March and has come up with some changes.  The focus is still on reducing the effort needed to take space nobody uses while giving systems that people live in a defensive advantage, so some of the changes are focused on aspects of that.

Alliances will be able to declare a capital system which will get a defensive bonus, as such systems tend to be staging systems that see a lot of activity, so nobody in their right mind rats or mines in them regularly.  There has also been some tinkering with the time zone and defensive rating mechanics as well as some work on the UI.

Activity Defense Multiplier

Activity Defense Multiplier

But for me, the interesting bit was how they plan to handle the Entosis Link module in the field.  The Entosis Link module is the magic dingus, the focus, the veritable Schwerpunkt of Fozzie Sov.

Much fun was had after this module was announced, imagining it being fit on an interceptor to troll sovereignty or on a carrier made indestructible via a web of triage support.  The system looked prime to be gamed.

CCP took all that feedback and laid down the following restrictions for the Entosis Link module:

  • High Slot module with a limit of one per ship
  • Requires a target lock on the structure to have any impact
  • While the module is active, your ship is unable to cloak, warp, dock, jump or receive remote assistance. There is no way to get rid of the module penalties early except for losing your ship
  • The first cycle of the module is always a “warmup cycle” and has no impact. If you lose lock or the module is disabled for any reason, you’ll need to go through that warmup cycle again before you can continue exerting any influence over the structure
  • Other than that warmup cycle, the cycle time of the module does not impact how long it takes to capture a structure. Once you’re past the warmup cycle all that matters is that your module stays active
  • Capital ships have a role penalty that increases the module cycle time by 5x
  • Consumes Strontium Clathrates as fuel for each cycle

The the links themselves have their own parameters.

T1 Entosis Link

  • +250,000kg mass when online
  • 5 Minute Cycle Time
  • 25km range

T2 Entosis Link

  • +1,000,000kg mass when online
  • 2 Minute Cycle Time
  • 250km range

So that quote up at the top of the post looks to be a true statement, because once you activate the Entosis Link module you can’t run, you can’t hide, and you can’t get any help/heals, so the grid around the structure becomes a space born game of… and forgive me for using the term of art from my childhood… smear the queer, with every hostile ship in the system aware that you are in the staring role.

And you have to stay alive anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes depending on the various factor of defense and what not.

I am keen to see how this evolves as an operational art and what ships will end up being the module carriers and what counter tactics will evolve.  For example, it seems like a determined defender, even if driven of the structure grid, could sacrifice some electronic warfare ships to break the target lock of the ship carrying the Entosis Link module just to make like miserable for the attackers.

Anyway, we will see how this works out soon, though not as soon as expected.  The newt round of sovereignty updates will be spread across two releases, the first being the Carnyx expansion on June 2, followed by the Aegis expansion on July 7.

As for how things will work during that interim period between the two… well… I read the words, understood their individual meanings and how they came together to form coherent sentences, but I am pretty sure I don’t understand the reality of how sov will work during most of June and the first week of July.

Meanwhile, move operations continue as The Imperium withdraws within its new borders.  Some groups are still out and about, including the Reavers down in Querious.  But I suspect that we’ll be spending a chunk of may re-arranging who goes where in the seven regions.

Twelve Years a Clone

EVE Online turns twelve years old today, which is a ripe old age for an MMO.  By the time a decade rolls by for a lot of games in the MMO genre they have often been superseded by a sequel (Guild Wars), have become niche interests for a nostalgic few (Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot), have been put into maintenance-only mode (Asheron’s Call), have become a small fan supported project to tinker with (Meridian 59, Saga of Ryzom), or have been just shut down outright (do I need a list?).

I remember a time when the idea of closing down an MMO seemed strange.  I’ve since been cured of that delusion.

And even many of those that have avoided completely falling off of the mainstream of MMOs for more than a decade feel their age.  EverQuest, which turned 16 back in March, is still a viable money maker for Daybreak, but it really feels old when you play.  Meanwhile, the big ten year anniversary plan for World of Warcraft, the undisputed leader of the MMO free world (or something), was to try to recapture 2007 by returning to Draenor.

Yeah, when you bring in a BILLION dollars of revenue annually, you tend to be shy about making radical changes to game play.  Even with all they have done the game still feels mostly like it did back in 2005 when I first started playing.  The details have changed, but the look and feel remains.

And then there is EVE Online, which still feels like it is finding its way to something, still bringing the game forward to what it should be, still making mistakes and then fixing them… though the fixing part is relatively new.  CCP itself views almost the first nine years of the game as the preliminaries to what they are trying to do now.

The Phases of CCP

The Phases of CCP – Mistakes made, but the jury is still out on lessons learned I think…

I wasn’t there for the early, early days of the game.  No beta, no crude early graphics for me.

The iconic Rifter hasn't changed much

The iconic Rifter hasn’t changed much, the UI though…

I first heard about EVE Online back when the first bloom of EverQuest II had faded and we faced the first great exodus from our guild.  People who left… and who bothered to leave a forwarding address… were mostly headed either off to World of Warcraft or back to EverQuest.  But one old TorilMUD player, whose name escapes me now, said he was off to a game called EVE Online.  That was the first time I had heard the game mentioned.  He said something about spaceships, but I never followed up on it.  I was still committed to EQII, the game having not hit its low point for me yet.

EVE Online did not come up again in my world until more than a year later, when I started listening to the VirginWorlds podcast.  Brent (who I just saw in EVE Online on Monday night, so he lives still and might even be MMO-ing as well) mentioned EVE Online and its unique nature, problems, and challenges frequently, as did Ryan and Gary from the Massively Online Gamer podcast. (And Ryan ended up working for CCP at one point, so we just keep closing the loop here.)

That talk got me to actually try the game, which looked like this when I started in August 2006.  Witness me foundering in the long gone tutorial of the day.  And then my first post-tutorial mission was “Worlds Collide!”  Not really viable in an Ibis.  But I persisted… for a while.

EVE as I found it

EVE as I found it… I meant to upload the one with the UI on…

The game didn’t stick for more than a few months.  I left… and then like so many EVE players, I came back and did something different.  Then I got bored with that and left again.  Then I came back and found something else.  What to do in EVE Online is a pretty open question.  There is a myriad of different paths and you can mix and match or alter any of them to fit your mood.

And the paths can be very different.  Rixx Javix and I both theoretically fly in harms way in potentially hostile space expecting to get shot at on the far side of every gate.  But his game is bizarro world different than mine.  For example, he goes on about warp core stabilizers all the time and those aren’t even a thing in my world, while my fear of warp disruption bubbles doesn’t play into his low sec view of the game.

Sometimes these different aspects of the game can be hilarious.  I have seen long time, hardcore null sec vets get nervous flying into empire space.  They don’t know the rules.  Being in high sec with all those damn neutrals makes a null vet very nervous.   Plus you can’t just shoot people without consequence.

And here, at the twelve year mark, long after most viable MMOs seem to have plateaued and hit a formula that keeps its core happy and subscribed… regular content heavy expansions, with more levels, more dungeons, more raids, more shiny things… CCP is proposing radical changes to the way things work in my part of space.

Going through a phase

Heading to Phase 2

I poured out twelve hundred words yesterday about how I have to pack up and move a bunch of crap across a couple regions because the updates coming next month are going to change how the world works in null sec.  If I had been writing about doing that much lifting and carrying in a game like WoW, I probably would have been annoyed.  But moving crap is part of EVE, as I said at the top of that post, and if you cannot accept that is part of what makes the game what it is… well, it might not be for you.

But beyond just accepting that as the way things are in New Eden, I am actually excited about what it portends.  When the next update drops, it will be a new world in null sec… a new, chaotic, probably broken, likely full of exploits new world… but a new world none the less, which will bring its own forms of excitement and comedy and bitching and drudgery.  CCP will be both praised and cursed, often in the same breath.  Then we’ll all figure it out, the most egregious problems will be addressed, and a new dynamic will be born.

EVE Online is a strange mix of the traditional MMO values, which is often heavy on nostalgia and incremental improvements and N+1 changes, and its own sort of chaotic ability to shake things up, piss people off, and still keep going.

So here we are at year twelve and CCP is still… well… figuring things out, for lack of a better phrase.  And, as happens on these occasions, CCP has some gifts for those currently subscribed, something that always makes a few people angry.

CCP maps out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain

CCP maps out the anger and resentment nodes in the capsuleer brain, then triggers them

The implants that CCP is giving out, which I won’t use because my ship will get blown up, I will get podded, and I will lose them, apparently crashed the market and I who needs another jacket… unless you’re some sort of space roleplay dress up freak.  Who is that over the top?  Hrmm… Amarr Victor I guess.

So happy twelfth birthday to New Eden.  Things have changed a lot over the years.

Rifter and Harpy in warp

More recent Rifter and Harpy hulls warping off

I look forward to seeing how the game continues to evolve.

Traveling Home and the Contraction of Empire

I think it says something about the nature of EVE Online that I end up writing about move operations as often as I do.  Essentially, there is no magic bank or mail system in New Eden that will deliver your stuff.  If you need stuff moved you have to haul it yourself or hire somebody else to do it for you.

And so it is that I sit with a pile of ships and supplies to move this month.  By the time the June expansion drops, which will bring the next changes to how null sec sovereignty, The Imperium plans to be sorted out and ready to defend its smaller territory.

(New Eden map from DOTLAN)

CFC / Imperium Space

CFC / Imperium Space

The old CFC at its peak held a lot of space, and empire that ran from Tenal down to Period Basis, linked by a network of jump bridges that made moving a fleet of subcaps from one end to another a viable operation.  You couldn’t base out of Querious from Deklein and conduct a sustained offensive campaign on a whim.  There would still need to be a supply chain setup and replacement ships put on the market to keep operations going.  But for defense you could move from Deklein and be anywhere in the empire in an hour.

Then came the Phoebe expansion back in November, and with it came jump fatigue and the end of the ability to defend on all fronts.  That restricted the effective size of the empire and three regions in the south were sold off.

Phoebe certainly didn’t take offensive operations off the board, as we saw in Delve in April, an event that demonstrated how unwieldy holding large stretches of space could be The Imperium hit one front while paying PL and encouraging the Russians to hit another.  And after the conquest of Delve and parts of Querious The Imperium is pulling back, leaving our allies to hold on to the space they grabbed.  The Kadeshi are already retaking systems after having been cleared from the map on May first.

The newly christened Imperium has mostly pulled back up into Fountain.  A few stay behind groups are active to harass the former owners and to keep their reconquest from being completely unopposed in some areas, but otherwise the march north has begun.

But Fountain is just a waypoint on the road home, as it is being handed over or abandoned.  The Hero Coalition and Black Legion have both setup in the region and have begun to fight. (You can read about what is going on at the excellent Updates blog that covers null sec.)  We are holding a few key systems to facilitate our exit, but convoys out have already begun, convoys passing through Cloud Ring, also to be abandoned, to the new core of regions that will make up The Imperium; Tenal, Branch, Deklein, Fade, Pure Blind, Tribute, and The Vale of the Silent.

Of course, we’ve held Fountain for a while now and were told to pre-position ships there to cover the south of the empire, so I have a dozen ships in our long held staging system that I want to bring home.  Foolish me for following orders and actually staging ships there.  In practice all ops came out of Deklein and I rarely ever used any of the ships I held there… most of which aren’t even part of official doctrine any more.  So while I would like to be down in Querious with the Reavers (or engaging in other game shenanigans), I am over in Fountain planning my exit.  The big ships, the battleships, will have to wait for convoys.  I might have to activate my second account for a stretch just so I can fly two ships at a time.  (None of our freighter services are running out of Fountain any more, or I would just strip the ships, repackage everything, and ship it all back to Deklein… or Jita to sell.  Losing the rigs would be worth it, but no such luck.)

Other ships I should be able to slip out on my own.  For some reason half of my ships down there are stealth bombers of various fits, including a special Mister Vee fit that was required for a short period of time during the 2013 war in Fountain.  I did manage to slip a Scimitar into Imperium space last night.

Scimitar traveling home

Scimitar traveling home

I ran the route to Pure Blind in a stealth bomber first, then back in just a pod.  The route was clear both ways so I decided to risk the Scimi, and managed to get it home safe.

Of course “home” is a relative term.  They are docked up in Imperium space, and in systems held by my alliance, TNT, but other changes are coming.  There will be another big reorganization of alliances in order to spread forces around to hold the seven kingdoms regions of The Imperium.

This is, of course, causing some grumbling of its own.  We can be a very conservative bunch and the idea of giving up long held systems in which we have ratted and mined for ages (as long as five and a half years in the case of one system), rubs people the wrong way.  It means yet more moving and learning new places and figuring out where to rat and where to mine, all while wondering if the promised infrastructure that will improve true sec (which could make currently nonviable ratting/mining systems worthwhile) will make it in June or not.  The opinion of the leadership is that we need a much higher density of players in our space in order to hold it, which means every system possible needs to be viable.

And then there is a rumor about a pessimistic view of the upcoming changes, in that we aren’t even sure if we have enough players to hold the regions we have staked out.  The Bastion was added as an alliance a while back in order to give corps a home if their alliance folded up shop, in order to retain players.  Now there is a big drive to recruit more players.  Karma Fleet was a started, but other alliances in The Imperium are apparently looking for their at their own variations on that.  I don’t claim to know what is going to happen come the June expansion, but we certainly seem to be hunkering down should a storm blow in.

Meanwhile, we will see how the rest of the null sec map changes over the summer.  I don’t expect any of the old names to disappear… Against All Authorities, Ev0ke, and TEST all  just resurfaced yet again on the sov map recently… but will the those names be able to hold on to huge swathes of space they once held?

So it is off for home, though I am not sure which system will technically be “home” at this point.  In all likelihood I will spend more time which ever system becomes the staging system for The Imperium than any system held by my alliance or frequented by my corp.  But that won’t be much of a change from how things are now for me.  The chaos of the changes though, that could be something new and interesting.