Fast Times with Boat in Fade

If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Deklein is gone.  I have a Harpy, a Burst, and a Scimitar left in a couple of stations up there, ships I dropped off in out of the way places.  But that does not mean that things have been quiet.

If you have been listening to The Mittani on The Meta Show, and given the rage in chat some of you just can’t help yourselves I guess, you have heard that The Imperium is picking its battles, fighting where it can win.  The target for that has been Fade, where Pandemic Horde has set up shop.  If they have came to the North seeking fights, we have obliged them.  In addition, we have also taken back a few systems in the region.

Fade - April 25, 2016

Fade – April 25, 2016

Fade, once entirely conquered by the Moneybadgers, has eight systems controlled by The Imperium as of this point.  We may not hold them for long, but now they have to come back and retake them.

A large part of this attack on PH has been led by Dabigredboat who has been leading fleets of bombers and coordinating with interceptor gangs to keep the horde busy while racking up a large number of kills, putting GSF at the top of the list over at zKillboard.

zKillboar Lists - April 25, 2016

zKillboard Lists – April 25, 2016

While I have been hearing about the exploits of Dabigredboat, or Boat, or DBRB, I wasn’t able to get into one of his fleets until Sunday.  The ping showed up announcing that he wanted to try something new.  Leaving behind his stealth bombers and interceptors, Cormorants were the ship of the day and he would be handing out 100 for free to those who joined his fleet.

Free ships got a response and he actually had to get 30 more together to hand out and, once the pre-op nonsense and confusion was resolved, we undocked our fleet.  No logi, no links, a couple of support ships, and a whole lot of Cormorants.

Cormorants undock

Cormorants undock

I actually splurged and bought a skin for my Cormorant, the Guristas 30-Day version, which somebody thoughtfully stocked in our staging system.

Guristas Cormorant Sking

Guristas Cormorant Skin

Then it was off to the usual destination for DBRB this past week, O1Y-ED in Fade.

It was another fine example of DBRB in action.  He is loud and excitable.  He gets frustrated quickly when people makes mistakes, but that passes as quickly as it shows up.  And clearly enjoys taking advantage of the enemy when they make a mistake.  We rolled up on our target, the staging station for PH.

Aptly named or not?

Aptly named or not?

DBRB has the area around the station well bookmarked, so we began what would become a routine over the next two hours of warping, aligning, and warping off again while looking for a tactical advantage.

The horde however, wasn’t sure what to do about us for a bit.  We were able to knock off a few ships around the station, the best probably being a Vargur that apparently felt he could tank a bunch of Cormorants.  That loss alone was probably worth more than our entire fleet.

We did get a couple of small surges where the pattern for the afternoon seemed to get set.  Horde seemed set to headshot DBRB at every opportunity, and he ended up losing four Cormorants during our time in system.  However they never managed to pod him and so he was able to re-ship… somebody in fleet would jump out of their Cormorant and DBRB would take it and continue to lead us in the fight.

Eventually PH got together a Ferox fleet and started to chase us around in that.  That was not a winning proposition for us, so we warped around them for a while… occasionally hitting a lone Ferox that wandered off from the pack…  until they tired of that.  We remained trailing our coats within site of their station.

Cormorants still there...

Cormorants still there…

Then it was time to come after us with frigates and destroyers, which is when the kill mails began to pour in for us.  There were a couple of points where we landed in amongst a PH formation and took down targets as fast as we could lock and shoot.  The battle report I was looking at after the fight showed we had racked up more than 500 kills during our visit. However, it kept updating after that and the total now appears to be beyond 600 kills.

O1Y-ED Report

O1Y-ED Report

Not all of those kills were ours.  There was another group zipping around hitting PH.  But not all of those deaths were ours either.  Still, out time there added greatly to the total of kills in the system over the preceding 24 hour period.

The most effective response to us came from a few intrepid stealth bomber pilots who managed to score hits now and again.  For a while there we were able to catch bombers or warp away in time… except for people who were not aligned as instructed.  Towards the end though we got caught a couple of times.  When we finally turned for home I had taken a few hits and was about halfway through my armor.

Shield regeneration kept me going!

Shield regeneration kept me going!

So my ship was looking a bit chewed up when I arrived back in Saranen.

Armor damage on the Cormorant

Armor damage on the Cormorant

Of course, my ship had some additional markings as well.

Kill marks

Kill marks

I think those are two “5 kill” round-up marks on the ship, though I am a little confused on the whole count, as I only got 7 final blows during the fight.  This was a handout ship however, so maybe it had three kills on it already?  I didn’t check before the fight and I *think* I can see marks on the side in one of the screen shots above that might be the same marks… so I might be looking in the wrong spot.

Edit: Those are the kill marks, the kill marks are located here:

7 kill marks in a neat row

7 kill marks in a neat row

Anyway, I got home safe with the remains of the fleet and repaired the ship for next time.  DBRB let us keep the ships for now.  We shall see if I can get out with it again and add to its kills.

Overall though it was one of the best fleets I have been on in a while and a prime example of what happens when Boat is let loose in the right situation.

Deklein Falls, Goon Splinter Groups Double

The last system in the Deklein region, homeland of the Goonswarm Federation for more than five years fell during the wee hours of the morning.

Deklein - April 25, 2016

Deklein – April 25, 2016

Deklein joins Branch, Tenal, and Tribute as regions completely lost by The Imperium.  Fighting continues is Fade, Pure Blind, and Vale of the Silent.

Meanwhile, Darius JOHNSON, former Goon leader, former CCP dev, and former TMC contributor, has announced his return to the game, decrying ally alienating decisions made by the current GSF/TMC leadership and heaping scorn on the pubbies that make up the coalition as a whole, and the alliance specifically.  He says he doesn’t want to fight The Imperium, but he doesn’t want to associate with it either.  He just wants to make a home for “true Goons,” of which he estimates there are about 200 in the whole coalition.  Getting those 200 to flock to his banner would boost the numbers in his new corporation, Ten Dollar Bond, to nearly 250 pilots.  With that he says he has a plan to rescue their assets in Deklein.

Ten Dollar Bond

Ten Dollar Bond

I am told that idea doesn’t sit well with another Something Awful splinter group in New Eden, The Greater Goon, part of the Clockwork Pineapple alliance, which joined forces with the Moneybadger Coalition to attack The Imperium.

The Greater Goon

The Greater Goon

We shall see how well they and their 80 members do against Darius JOHNSON’s handpicked 46 to win the hearts and minds of “true Goons” in New Eden.  Not being a “true Goon” (though I paid my $10 to SA back in 2008) neither side is likely to see me as anything but a target.

Google Tells Me Nearly All Games are Dead

There is a game you can play with Google… well, there are probably many, but this is one of them… where you enter the name of something, followed by “is” to see what pre-filled search suggestions come up.  These results are driven by what people have searched for previously.

As I was playing this game the other night instead of doing something important, I began to notice a trend in my searches.  It seemed like Google was declaring most everything dead.

Sure, sometimes that was apt.

GSAbeVigodais

Abe Vigoda, after being reported dead by mistake on multiple occasions over the years, does indeed now sleep with the fishes, having passed earlier this year.

And sometimes the result wasn’t so spot on:

GSObamais

I’m pretty sure somebody would have mentioned if he was dead… or a mack daddy.

I decided to see if that trend held for video games on my side bar.  First on the list was, of course, EVE Online:

GSEVEis

Given that “EVE is dying…” is practically an meme at this point, that wasn’t too surprising.

Likewise, EverQuest, at 17 years of age got a similar result:

GSEQis

At least it wasn’t both “dead” and “dying” I suppose.  Of course, that last item lead me to World of Warcraft:

GSWoWis

Three of those aren’t so good, “dead,” “dying,” and “boring.”  Even EVE Online didn’t get “boring” as a top result.  That lead to a series of other titles, all of which at least got dead as a result:

GSGW2is

GSLOTROis

GSRiftis

GSWildStaris

I had a whole run there where “dead” wasn’t just a result, but the top result.  Then I started branching out from MMOs:

GSSCis

GSTF2is

I finally hit a game where “dead” wasn’t the top result, though I am not sure that was a good thing:

GSStarCis

Even Minecraft got “dead” as a result, though at least it was in fourth position, which was practically an endorsement at this point:

GSMinecraftIs

Hey, “awesome” came before “dead!”

Landmark was odd, but I think it suffers from having a generic name:

GSLandmarkis

Still, I think “dead” might be in there just for it.

Then, finally, I hit a game that wasn’t dead:

GSLOLis

League of Legends is only “dying,” not “dead.”  Also, it is “gay,” which I think says more about the demographic that is searching for things about it.  Still, it is doing better than Heroes of the Storm:

GSHotSis

“Dead,” “dying,” “bad,” and “free!”

Then at last, I hit a search where “dead” wasn’t even a result:

GSHearthis

I’m not sure Hearthstone was really winning with that draw.  I mean sure, “dead” wasn’t on the list, but the rest was hardly an endorsement.

CSM 11 Announced – Xenuria Wins at Last

This morning as part of the EVE Online keynote at Fanfest, CCP Seagull announced the members of the 11th Council of Stellar Management.

CSM11_logo

Turnout was reported as low for the elections, which clearly benefited organized groups.

CSM 11 looks like this:

The 11th Council of Stellar Management

The 11th Council of Stellar Management

The winners, ordered as presented, save for two exceptions:

  1. Mr Hyde113 – Pandemic Legion (Perm attendance seat)
  2. Aryth – Goonswarm Federation (Perm attendance seat)
  3. Steve Ronuken – Fuzzworks Enterprises
  4. Sullen Decimus – The Bastion
  5. The Judge – Circle-of-Two
  6. Fafer – Northern Coalition.
  7. NoobMan – Hard Knocks Citizens
  8. Jin’Taan – Curatores Veritatis Alliance
  9. Kyle Aparthos – TheDivision
  10. Innominate – Goonswarm Federation
  11. Bobmon – Pandemic Legion
  12. Nashh Kadavr – Pandemic Legion
  13. Xenuria – Goonswarm Federation
  14. Gorski Car – Pandemic Legion

So there are your new representatives… provided you’re in a null sec bloc in most cases.  As I said, a low voter turnout meant organized blocs won big.

For those of you keeping track, that GSF suggested ballot I mentioned back when the elections started ended up picking six winners, though clearly The Judge is a bitter victory on that front.

FCON Shows Up in Immensea

One headline from the litany of bad news for The Imperium last week was about Fidelas Constans, or FCON, leaving the coalition.  While they gave a general statement about seeking sovereignty somewhere else, no details were immediately forthcoming.

Down nearly 1,000 since last week

Down nearly 1,000 members since last week

Well, they have popped up on the sovereignty map already.

While the alliances that are part of the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition, including Darkness, The Methodical Alliance, Nerfed Alliance Go Away, and Blades of Grass are busy taking over some of the territory ceded by FCON (and Executive Outcomes) in Branch

Branch - April 19, 2016

Branch – April 19, 2016

…FCON is down in Immensea and Detroid attacking systems from those same alliances, with its flag already planted in a few places.

Immensea - April 19, 2016

Immensea – April 19, 2016

I doubt this is any sort of agreed upon exchange, especially since it looks like everybody besides TMA is contesting at least some of the timers down there.  However, if the GotG coalition is serious about setting up shop in Branch, it is going to be very difficult for them to hold onto territory down south in Immensea if FCON is determined to push into the area.  Of course, we’ll have to see how other residents in the area react to having new neighbors.

Immensea is a distant location for me, though I have been there a few times.  We never ended up in the region for Reavers, but there was a special deployment (including a long flight home), the Halloween war forward staging , and of course, the epic battle of B-R5RB.

The Last Good Day

There’s no way of knowing that your last good day is “Your Last Good Day.”  At the time, it is just another good day.

-Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars

Yes, I am going to take a quote from a movie based on a book about teens with cancer and try and apply it to video games.  I will take it as read that this makes me a horrible person and probably guilty of cultural appropriation or some other first world thought crime.  I even have a graphic just to seal the deal on my horrible nature.

Serious business...

Serious business…

Anyway, my daughter, who had read the book, insisted that the whole family go see the movie back when it was in the theater despite the fact that she knows that my wife will cry at anything sad or emotional on screen.  And tears were indeed shed as this sad and emotionally manipulative film ran on before us.

But what stuck with me, aside from the abuse of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and how much seeing this movie made watching Divergent difficult/amusing/distracting (Augustus is her brother! It is Luke and Leia all over again!), was the whole concept of there being a “last good day,” a high point in any endeavor, after which things are never quite that good again.

So, yeah, of course this applies to video games.

Well, at least to MMORPGs.  So maybe I can change that graphic.

A more general statement

A more general statement

I suppose I could make it more specific, or a version for each MMO I might play, but I think that is sufficient.  If you are dying to have one of your own, I made a background template, you just have to provide the text.  You’re on your own for the font.  I used one called “eraser dust” I found on the internet.

Anyway, that is all off the subject at hand, which is that of a last good day in an MMORPG.

There are MMOs where I can identify that last good day.  In Warhammer Online it was probably that one great keep battle we had before things went south for our group as the game emptied out.

In Rift it was no doubt some date not too long before the first expansion came out.  Everything was good, I played a character from each of the four base roles up to level cap, and then Storm Legion hit and changed the nature of the game for me.

For EverQuest it was likely to initial stages of the Fippy Darkpaw server, when Skronk and I were playing, the game was active with lots of low level players, and the whole thing felt… if not as good as day one back in 1999, then a reasonable facsimile of that time.  Certainly there was less crashing.

But those are all games I stopped playing.  Even EverQuest, for which I bubble with nostalgia, hasn’t really been a destination for me since Fippy Darkpaw.

And, in having stopped, I can pick out the high point.  I can find that theoretical last good day… or week… or era… or event.  But that might change if I would… or, in some cases, could… go back and pick up the game again.  Probably not, but there is a non-zero chance of good days ahead.

This all came to mind because of a more current game.  Not EVE Online.  I made that graphic at the top for Rixx Javix a while back.  No, this all came about due to the the Legion expansion for World of Warcraft getting a ship date.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

Just in case your forgot that since yesterday

August 30, 2016 and the whole thing goes live, while at some date a couple weeks in advance of that there will be the pre-expansion patch that will have the warm-ups for the whole thing.

I am coming up on a year of not having been subscribed to WoW.  I have a two copies of the expansion pre-ordered for my daughter and I via Amazon.  But now that there is a date set and a timeline out before me.  I won’t be resubscribing today or tomorrow or next week, but at some point over the course of that timeline, between now and August 30th, there is a date at which I probably should subscribe and get back in the game and start getting warmed up to fight the Legion.

But the announcement of the date also made me question whether or not I really want to go back.  I do not feel a lot of enthusiasm for the expansion.  In large part that lack of enthusiasm is due to how Warlords of Draenor played out for me.  It wasn’t horrible, but it was dissatisfying, and garrisons carry the lions share of the burden on that front.  Dungeons were mediocre, mostly in how sparse they were, and the story line was mostly just okay, but garrisons were the anchor.

Garrisons failed to be the right thing for me on all fronts.  They were not optional, you had to do some garrison stuff if you wanted to play through the expansion.  And they were not housing, or at least did not have any aspect of housing that I wanted.  There was no way you could make the garrison really your own.  Meanwhile, they did exactly what Tom Chilton told us housing would do, back when he was saying they would never do housing, it took people out of the world and hid them away.

In my view, garrisons were basically the worst possible set of features, doing what Blizz said housing would do without any of the beneficial “sticky” features of housing that make people feel like they have a spot in the game that is uniquely their own.  I guess if I were to make a prediction now that Tom Chilton is saying that Blizz will never do a vanilla server, I might guess that they will end up doing some sort of special rules server that will satisfy neither fans of vanilla nor more recent lapsed players, at which point Tom can say, “I told you so.”

That is all my view of the expansion.  So when I think back in search of a “last good day,” which at this point I am likely conflating with a peak of enjoyment as opposed to saying every day thereafter was “bad,” I have to go back to Mists of Pandaria to find a real happy time… which is odd because I was pretty dismissive of MoP when it was announced and didn’t buy the expansion until nearly a year after it went live.  Meanwhile, Warlords of Draenor, with orcs as the bad guys yet again, that I was up for.

So perhaps missed or misplaced expectations were the real problem?

Nah, garrisons just sucked.

Anyway, as the quote at the top says, you can never know if that last good day is happening as it happens.  You can only identifying it in comparison to the days that come later.  The question is whether or not there is a peak of enjoyment waiting for me in WoW Legion or if I have simply had that last good day already.  I guess I have a few months to consider that, but I am feeling doubtful right now.

WoW Legion to Ship 22 Days Before Summer Ends

It looks like August 30, 2016 will be the ship date for the WoW Legion Expansion.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

WoW Legion; coming to a server near you

People have been asking the “when” question about the expansion since it was announced, myself included.  Look at the poll on that post.  I thought dates past July 2016 were not even worth mentioning.  Eventually we got the target window of summer, which using the calendar they have on the wall down in Anaheim, meant as late as September 21, 2016.

(Cue the inevitable comment about the dates for summer between the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer.)

Optimists felt that this left open the ability for Blizzard to ship the expansion with the Warcraft movie, which is set to hit theaters on June 10, 2016.  Others, myself included, were more inclined to believe that the release would come much closer to the end of summer.   Maybe not on the last day, but within a month would be about the norm for Blizz.

And now we have the date.  On the scale of between-expansion gaps, that puts WoW Legion at the faster end of things, with the average being about 719 days.

  • WoW Launch to The Burning Crusade – 784 days
  • The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King – 667 days
  • Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm – 754 days
  • Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria – 658 days
  • Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor – 778 days
  • Warlords of Draenor to Legion – 670 days

Of course, it isn’t the gap between expansions that hurts Blizz so much as the inevitable year long dry spell when no new content is introduced before the next expansion hits.

With the expansion date now out and about there are two additional things I am waiting to hear about.

The first is when the pre-launch patch is going to hit, as that usually ushers in the story and often includes limited time events.  True believers will resubscribe for that.

And the second is somebody complaining that Blizzard has deliberately chosen the date to mess up some other game’s launch.  It really isn’t a WoW expansion without that.