Windows 10, ZMud, and Other Options

Having gotten the new system up and running and most everything transferred over, it was time to start looking into what was working and what was not.

Some things I opted to install over from scratch anyway.  The Zinstall transfer utility copied things to the matching drives on the new system, but since I had a small SSD there, meant really for Windows, the page file, and whatever absolutely HAD to go on the C drive, that meant some software I wanted on the new, 1TB SSD would need a fresh install.  World of Warcraft and EVE Online were the primary candidates for that.

WoW was, of course, easy.  It installed, found my settings, and got on with life.  EVE Online though… well, I got it going, but the profile options it gave me all seemed to be very old.  I was only really worried about my overview settings, and now I have something that is at least a year old, from the point when you could only have six overview tabs.  But at least the settings were basically there, I just have to remember to go in and check the box for ship types that were added since that time when I pull up a pre-set.

Other things could just live where they were placed, so long as they ran.  So, for example, Steam and all my games from that live on the 3TB D drive.  The same with an assortment of other MMOs that I do not play currently.  Most seemed to work, though the copy process seemed to have broken things from Daybreak.  EverQuest and EverQuest II won’t run, erroring out when the launcher comes up.  Such is life.

And then there were the oddball things.  I have dragged a lot of stuff forward from computer to computer over the years.  I’ve dug out stuff from the late 80s when sorting through archived directories.  Most of that is made up of documents.  I think there are a couple in there that I might have copied from my Apple //e to my MacSE way back in the day.

But there are some old apps that I have carried forward or acquired.  There is a copy of Civilization II – Gold Edition that I had to pick up on eBay when I moved to Win7 64-bit and found that support for 16-bit executables, like my original copy of Civ II, wasn’t a thing.

And then there is ZMud, which has been around for a while.

ZMud – Version 7.21 from October 2005

I have been running a copy of ZMud since the late 1990s.  Back when I was working on Macintosh products a friend at Apple got me the Windows compatibility card so I could run Windows in a window and ZMud in that.  It was such a giant leap ahead of the terminal emulator I was running on the Mac.

Later, when Apple looked to be dying and Michael Dell was suggesting that the company ought to liquidate and give the money to the investors and having Mac experience on your resume was just slightly better than McDonald’s, I managed to find a spot in a company that enterprise software on Windows NT based mostly on my experience with telephony, modems, and ISDN.

Since I prefer to have the same setup at home as the office, I too moved over to Windows, and have been there ever since.  And so I could run ZMud natively.  Since I was playing TorilMUD as my main game, I invested a lot of time in customizing ZMud with triggers and shortcuts and aliases and such.

But most of the value in the client was in the maps.  When I do posts about zones and such in TorilMUD you can see screen shots of the maps.

Kobold Village – Surface Map

In a MUD you cannot “see” the terrain, you can only see what is in the room with you and the exits.  It can be hard to keep your orientation, especially when a wily zone designer doesn’t stick to an absolute perfect grid.  And while long experience with some zones means I have some paths memorized, a lot of my ability to get around in the world of TorilMUD depends on those maps.

So you can imagine the sick feeling I had when ZMud wouldn’t run on the new system.

Okay, I knew it wouldn’t run straight out of the box.  It is from a different era of computing.  But I had fixed it up and gotten it running before, the last time being less than a year back.  All I had to do was set it to run as Administrator and set the compatibility profile for Windows XP SP2 and I ought to have been set.

But then it still wouldn’t run.  It was throwing MDAC, or Microsoft Data Access Components, errors.  That was a different problem altogether.

ZMud keeps its maps and its character database in what we used to call the Microsoft Jet Database format.  That, too, is some pretty ancient technology and has long since been superseded in the Microsoft lineup, but the backward compatibility used to always be there.

Database problems are not my area of expertise.  I am the person they make the GUI admin tool for.  But I figured somebody else must have had this problem before, so started the Google trek to find a solution.  A few hours and several utilities later however, things did not look good.  I went to bed thinking all that data was lost.

However, something I did seemed to have done the trick and the one final shut down and boot made it take effect, because when I resumed the next day the client launched and I was able to log in.

Still, I feel I am on borrowed time with ZMud.  While I managed to get the MDAC error solved by whatever means, it still doesn’t launch correctly every time.  I suspect there is some conflict that comes with another app loads a particular DLL, though I have to narrow that down.  It does seem to run if I do a reboot and launch it first.

Zugg came out with a replacement for ZMud called CMud, which itself is now more than a decade old.  I have tried to move over to it, as you’re supposed to be able to transition your data from ZMud, however I have not been successful with that on a few attempts over the years.

One client out there I want to take a look into is Mudlet.  It looks a little more modern, but more importantly it looks like there is a path that allows you to move your ZMud maps and such into it.

And, if nothing else, TorilMUD has actually added some level of in-game maps.

The new map in the Hive of the Manscorpions

For now though I am setup again with ZMud so I can finish off a few more posts about zones I want to remember.

More Titans Die at the Final X47L-Q Keepstar Timer

But not as many as before.

If the battle report I cooked up sufficiently reflects reality, a total of 20 titans were lost, down from the 56 destroyed last fight, with the split being 1 lost from attackers and 19 of the defenders titans being destroyed, along with the Keepstar itself.  The battle report shows 2 attacking titans lost, but zKillboard doesn’t show an Avatar being lost by Wotan Oden, so something still needs to catch up.  So it might be 21 titans down, with 2 lost by the attackers.

This, as I mentioned yesterday, all kicked off before I was even thinking about lunch at the office, but I brought my iPad along to stick in the corner of my desk to keep an eye on the battle.

Over in front of my phone, which never rings…

I do have to say that INN knew what data incoming views wanted to know with their overlay.  They had a counter for titans, supers, and specials destroyed, another for the local count, a count down clock for the timer itself and, once the fight started, a display showing the percentage of hull hit points left on the Keepstar.

Aside from the kill counter being a bit confusing… I assumed it was counting attacker and defenders blown up, but it was counting how many ships the attackers and defenders had blown up… that was all I needed running silently at the office.

Anyway, due to the above confusion about the counter I was wondering how the defenders lost a titan before the counter even finished.

Almost fifteen minutes left to go and already a titan down

But it was the defenders who manager to kill a GSF Erebus that was likely bumped, ended up exposed and blown up.

Then the fight actually kicked off and the counter began a lopsided swing towards the attackers.  Later on I heard that one of the things learned from the first fight was positioning.  To deal with the titans on the Keepstar, able to safely tether up quickly after a doomsday kill, Asher positioned our titans at the extreme edge of doomsday range.  That meant of the defenders, who were all over the Keepstar, only some of them would be in range to take a shot.  Unable to bring all weapons to bear on every target they were denied kills.

The attackers, both larger in numbers and grouped up in a tighter ball, had no similar issue and quickly started dispatching vulnerable defending titans one after another.

And then the DDoS attacks started, hitting Imperium coms, forcing the attackers to use text channels to coordinate targets as well as the EVE Online login server.

The usual “Well, of course X did this…” accusations flew, as always from people who have no special insight into the issue, but this attack didn’t help either side.  It imperiled the ability of the attackers to blow up the Keepstar and effectively ended their titan kill streak, while the defenders were unable to bring in additional titans they had staged nearby.  Leadership of both coalitions were unhappy with this state of affairs.

CCP Falcon got on the INN stream to talk about the situation.  The stream itself was dropped from the fight several times.

Back live with CCP Falcon speaking

CCP Falcon gave more information about the state of the servers as well as speaking about why the client end crashes on its own during such big fight, the latter often related to the client trying to allocate more memory than it can access.  This is something that won’t happen nearly as often once a 64-bit client is available, something Falcon said we ought to have within a year. (Until then this post on Reddit can help you avoid that sort of crash.)

All of which happened while I was still at my desk at work.

When I finally headed out the Keepstar was still up, but it was destroyed in the half hour it took me to get home.

On arriving home I logged in my alt, pre-positioned in X47L-Q in a cloaky ship, and warped on grid to see what I could see.  The Keepstar was gone, but the attacking titan fleet still appeared to all be on grid in the bubbles meant to keep them from warping off if they disconnected.

A mighty mass of titans

A directional scan I did of the area showed 466 titans, 322 force auxiliaries, and 191 super carriers.

A closer look at that titan blob shows the smaller capitals mixed in with them.

Zoomed in some on the blob

The area around where the Keepstar was located was still clearly staked out with its own array of bubbles.

Around where the Keepstar was

While there appear to be still some ships there, including several titans, those are all ghosts, either safely logged off or destroyed, but still showing up in space and on overviews due to some sort of server malfunction under the stress of load.  You could not target them, though that didn’t keep every new person who showed up from thinking they could get on one last titan kill.

That titan is a mirage

The wrecks though, they were still there and some enterprising pilots were off to try and harvest some of the loot on field.

An Initiative Mercenaries Rorqual looking to loot

While the battle was over there was still clean up to be done.  A fresh Baltec fleet was called in 6RCQ-V to help cover the returning capitals as well as collect up stragglers and those disconnected earlier in order to get everybody home.  We were bridged to the mid-point Fortizar, where titans were already beginning to collect.

A lot of ships hanging off that Fort

That Fortizar, and another not too far off, was the scene of a heavy interdictor massacre.  A fleet of HICs, as they are called, was sent in to delay the incoming fleets and ended up being slaughtered.

We moved on to X47L-Q where we picked up some subcaps that had been wandering around.  Then we were sent out to blow up wrecks, including the wreck of the Keepstar, in order to leave nothing of value on the battlefield.  Also on the list of things to blow up were friendly ships apparently adrift and not responding.  The only kill mail I was on for the battle was an allied Archon.  Again, we were not leaving anything behind, including free kills.

Then we headed back to the Tosche Station Fortizar and got a bridge back to the mid-point where we had to wait for 25 minutes due to jump fatigue.  While CCP cut back on those timers, jumping four times during a short period still leaves you with some down time.  So we got to sit and watch out bridging titan change the SKINs on his Ragnarok.

Maybe the prettiest

When the time finally came we jump we were out and able to dock up.  That was the end of the battle, with the current battle report numbers indicating that it cost the defenders about two trillion ISK.

Battle report not guaranteed 100% finished or accurate

The battle report has about 100 individuals from various third party groups, but their losses do not add up to much so I left them on the Imperium side of the chart.  Naturally, with this big of a fight the DOTLAN stats show X47L-Q as the most violent null sec system in the last 24 hours.

DOTLAN says…

Pure Blind got the top four spots.  The next two systems are on the way to X47, so are likely people getting blown up coming or going, while the final slot is our mid-point system where all those HICs died.

So that was that, the latest battle in the war of the Keepstars.  The war is not over.  There are certainly more citadels to assail, including the Circle of Two Keepstar in DW-T2I.  I don’t think the Imperium will be satisfied or think about turning for home until at least that has been destroyed.

Others who covered the battle:

X47L-Q Preliminaries at Tosche Station

The north has been simmering since last week’s titan destroying battle in X47L-Q.  That fight was just the penultimate round for the NCDot Keepstar in the system.  The armor timer was beaten, leaving open to opportunity to destroy the giant citadel today.

Preparations for what might be the final battle over the station have carried on since.  I mentioned an operation that we ran on Saturday to cover the deployment of a Fortizar in X47L-Q on the same grid as the Keepstar.  That set a three day timer before it would be set.

The wait for anchoring begins

The deployment timer for that came due last night and we formed up to cover it again, this time to see that it went online.  Two subcap fleets were called up, a Baltec fleet under Thomas Lear and a Cerberus fleet under Asher Elias.  I already had a Scimitar to fly logi for Cerbs from a fleet the night before, also to cover a citadel coming online, so I went with Asher’s fleet.

Minmatar Liberation Day SKIN on the Scimi

Both subcap fleets were bridged to a mid-point system early to wait on citadel until the timer hit.  The subcap fleets hung there with the capital fleet that was also called up.  We were serious about getting this Fortizar online, so there were titans, super carriers, and faxes out for the fleet.

I had an alt in X47L-Q cloaked up on grid with the Keepstar and our Fortizar in order to see what was going on.  Watching the system, it did not seem to be as active as one might expect if a battle were expected.  There were fewer than 150 people in the system, many of them Imperium pilots.  We had plenty of eyes on things.

The count in the system went up as the timer transition moved closer.  First Black Legion arrived with a fleet of Muninns led by Elo Knight, followed by NCDot and their own Muninn fleet.  Local moved above the 500 mark, and then the Fortizar anchored and began its 15 minute repair cycle.

Power Converters available soon

The locals put their Munnins in range of the Fortizar and opened up, pausing the timer easily enough.

Munnin mass flying about

But the cyno for us went up shortly and we jumped in, docked up, then undocked to get around the tether delay, the headed on out towards the Munnins.  The Baltecs were there as well, along with a bomber fleet under Dabigredboat and the capitals, so the Munnins withdrew after a short clash.  We moved back to the Fortizar to tether up and keep an eye on things.

Hanging on tether under the Fort, Keepstar in sight

Asher told us then that Zungen from Black Ops had decided to try and start anchoring another Fortizar, no doubt hoping that all eyes would remain locked on X47L-Q.  However the locals could see that we were serious, with caps on field, something they didn’t seem keen to counter at the moment, so the Black Legion fleet broke off and went to kill Zungen’s Fortizar.

At some point, as we hung on tether, a Minokawa force auxiliary of ours ended up on the Keepstar.  Asher had us align and we warped in to try and shepherd it to safety, but we arrived just in time for the Keepstar doomsday to hit.

Cerbs caught in the arc… also, Caroline’s star!

We lost a couple of ships in the fleet, but the brunt fell on the Minokawa, which began to come apart.

A subcap explodes as the Minokawa begins to fail

A few of the locals in the NCDot Muninn fleet, which stayed behind, got in range to get on the kill.  We were able to return the favor by popping some of them, but the Minokawa exploded all the same, the Keepstar having done 99% of the work.

During that exchange the hostiles managed to headshot Asher, blowing up his Phantasm, despite logi getting reps on him right away.  We went to a backup anchor, The Pink Pansy, and shot a few more hostiles before everybody withdrew to their citadels to tether up.  Asher was able to reship into a Sleipnir and carried on leading the fleet from that.

Meanwhile, a few systems over, Zungen’s Fortizar was destroyed, so the locals got their success for the night.  Well, they got the Fortizar and slaughtered a host of bombers that flew over to try and defend the citadel.

When the repair timer on the Fortizar in X47L-Q finished up and the citadel was secure, the subcaps headed out to see if we could catch the hostiles from the other fight.

Subcaps smacking into a gate after using MWDs to get clear of a bubble

We ended up behind them, catching up with them on the gate in O-N8XZ, where a few shots were fired and a couple of ships exploded, but no decisive clash took place.

When that had peter we headed to one of our citadels to sit with the capitals while their jump timer cleared.

Sitting on another Fortizar, waiting to go home

When the capitals were ready to go they began jumping back to our Keepstar in 6RCQ-V.  We were bridged back as well and docked up.  The operation was over, lasting a little over 100 minutes from form up to dismissal.

Operationally, we accomplished what we set out to do.  We have a Fortizar on grid for the Keepstar final timer.  ISK-wise, we would have done very well had the second Fortizar not been dropped and lost along with so many bombers.  That cost us the ISK war according to the battle report I put together.

Battle Report across Three Systems

The numbers of players on the battle report are comparable, and the ISK war was in our favor in X47L-Q, even with the Minokawa loss.  But roping in all of the events across three systems seems like a more fair assessment of the evening.

All of which leaves us waiting for today’s events.  Before this post goes live… the joys of scheduled posts… fleets will have formed up and moved into the jump range or on grid in anticipation of the timer on the Keepstar running down.  A fight seems almost certain as there was a report at NER on Monday that Pandemic Legion, Pandemic Horde, and NCDot were moving capital ships away from the southern front and their war with TEST and towards the north and the coming Keepstar contest.

Before I am likely to even have considered lunch, the fight will have begun as the 30 minute repair timer begins.  Time dilation will likely keep any fight that occurs on the field long enough for me to get home from work and peek in… my alt is logged off in the system… and maybe even join a reinforcement fleet.

The question is really whether or not this will be another titan bloodbath.  Both sides no doubt learned from the last fight and nothing has changed since then, so it will be interesting to see how the two sides adapt to the situation.

Anyway, tomorrow’s post will be, at a minimum, the results of the fight.  I cannot cover the drama over this Keepstar and then not report the final result.

Summer Movie League – Silly Old Bear

Week ten of our Summer Fantasy Movie League is done and gone.

This week saw a match up between a new release and a title in its second week with the choices looking like this:

Christopher Robin        $513
Mission: Impossible      $512
The Spy who Dumped Me    $268
The Darkest Minds        $154
Mamma Mia 2              $136
The Equalizer 2          $126
Hotel Transylvania 3     $131
Teen Titans GO!          $93 
Ant-Man and the Wasp     $88
Incredibles 2            $76
Jurassic World           $70
Death of a Nation        $55
Skyscraper               $45
Eighth Grade             $32
The First Purge          $16

The pricing indicates that somebody at FML expected Christopher Robin to best Mission: Impossible, if only by a small amount. So for the top end anchors it depended on whether or not you believed FML or not.

I was not buying the FML line however, at least not at the start of the week. My Monday Hot Takes pick anchored on Mission: Impossible, followed up by six screens of The Incredibles 2, with the last slot taken up by Eight Grade.

And then it was something of a busy week and I spaced a bit on the movie front and forgot to change anything up before Thursday morning at 9am Pacific Time, when the TAGN League locked. So my Monday picks were also my Thursday picks.

Summer Movie League – My Week Ten Picks

Of course, about an hour later I realized that I had missed my window for change on the TAGN League, but figured I had better do some poking about for the Friday leagues. One thing that came up over at Box Office Mojo was that Eighth Grade was getting a much bigger theater expansion that was expected, going from 158 to almost 1,100, which made it suddenly look like a a shoe-in for best performer of the week.

I was also coming around on Christopher Robin. Box Office Pro seemed to think it was going to be close between Christopher Robin and Mission: Impossible, so I flopped over to CR, put seven screens of Eighth Grade behind it, then removed one and replaced it with the highest value title that would fit, which turned out to be The Spy Who Dumped Me and copied that to all my remaining lineups.

My picking methodology exposed.

But I just couldn’t stick with CR and flipped back, replacing it with Mission: Impossible and called it closed just before the wire on Friday morning.

As it turned out my gut pick for Mission: Impossible was correct, giving me about $10 million over CR. My TAGN pick wasn’t perhaps what I would have gone with by Thursday, but it was anchored on Mission: Impossible as well and without bonuses the fact that I wasn’t all-in on Eighth Grade didn’t really matter.

The perfect pick for the week ended up being 1x Mission: Impossible, 1x The Equalizier 2, 3x Ant-Man and the Wasp, and 3x Eight Grade.

Summer Movie League – Week Ten Perfect Pick

Nobody in the league got the perfect pick this week.  The scores for the week ended up like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $71,097,943
  2. Wilhelm’s Abyssal Pocket Playhouse – $68,056,099
  3. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – $66,159,041
  4. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $65,268,895
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $64,376,188
  6. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $63,914,522
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $63,147,833
  8. I HAS BAD TASTE – $60,660,286
  9. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $58,689,526
  10. grannanj’s Cineplex – $56,781,124
  11. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $48,786,336
  12. Joanie’s Joint – $47,808,556
  13. Too Orangey For Crows – $46,688,999

I decided just to list people who made their pick on any given week, so that list may vary in size relative to the overall score, where I am listing everybody who hasn’t totally disappeared.

Goat got the top spot and, through much of the weekend looked like they had the perfect pick as well.  But come the final numbers a different lineup took the honors.  I managed second and wasn’t too far behind.

The top three all anchored on Mission: Impossible, but amongst the first eight there were people who anchored on Mama Mia 2 and Hotel Transylvania 3 who were competitive.

Those who anchored on Christopher Robin or The Spy Who Dumped Me fell to the back of the pack, with the poor performing The Darkest Minds acting as an extra anchor on a couple of people.

That left the overall scores for the season looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Abyssal Pocket Playhouse – $903,828,835
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $892,694,361
  3. I HAS BAD TASTE – $876,537,592
  4. Goat Water Picture Palace – $870,040,067
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $847,579,299
  6. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $825,583,341
  7. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $819,170,145
  8. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $817,537,519
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $801,307,407
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $782,565,597
  11. grannanj’s Cineplex – $781,282,567
  12. Too Orangey For Crows – $738,662,905
  13. Joanie’s Joint – $727,376,847
  14. Kraut Screens – $689,378,141
  15. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $641,653,028
  16. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema – $639,347,136
  17. aria82’s Cineplex – $605,936,381
  18. Skar’s Movies and Meat Pies – $586,269,435

Corr and I went on different paths for anchors, with Corr choosing Christopher Robin over Mission: Impossible, though at least in one league we had otherwise identical picks.  That put a little more daylight between Corr and I, though we are still close enough that either could end up ahead for the season.

Likewise, Isey in third place is not out of the running, nor is Goat with a couple more winning weeks.  But beyond the top four somebody has to win very big while the top four makes some extremely poor picks in order to win the season.

There are only four more weeks left, and week eleven has the following options:

The Meg                 $334
Mission: Impossible     $260
Christopher Robin       $177
Slender Man             $171
BlacKkKlansman          $84
The Spy who Dumped Me   $83
Dog Days                $69
Mamma Mia 2             $65
The Equalizer 2         $63
Hotel Transylvania 3    $62
Ant-Man and the Wasp    $52
The Darkest Minds       $38
Incredibles 2           $41
Teen Titans GO!         $31
Jurassic World          $29

This week we lose Skyscraper, The First Purge, Eighth Grade, and the unfortunate Death of a Nation off the list of options.

In their place we have The Meg, Slender Man, BlacKkKlansman, and the aptly named for this time of year Dog Days. Were are certainly in the dog days of summer around here.

The Meg is not, as I first thought, a movie version of The Mick. This is the sort of logical jump your brain makes when you leave reruns of The Simpsons running in the background on FX while you build up a new computer; the commercials seep into your brain. The title actually refers to the star of the movie, a 23 meter long prehistoric shark known as the Megalodon.

So, yes, it is a Jaws knock-off, with its twist being the shark is really, really big.  It is practically Jurassic Shark.

But Jason Statham is the co-star, so I am going to guess that he catches the shark by going to its house, opening its front door a crack, ringing the doorbell then, when he sees the peephole darken, he kicks the door in, stunning the beast and proceeding to beat the shit out of it.  Also, there is a car chase.  I’d watch that on TV on a Friday night, but I am not sure I need to see it on the big screen.

Then there is Slender Man, which I thought was Slenderman, but I guess either usage is okay. Originating as a meme on Something Awful, the Slender Man has made it to the big screen, though it has been referenced in things from Minecraft to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The plot sums up as two girls investigating the disappearance of a friend who then end up being haunter by the Slender Man. That might sound familiar due to the 2014 case where two girls obsessed with Slender Man attempted to murder a friend to appease the made up horror. There is an HBO documentary about that.

BlacKkKlansman is Spike Lee film about the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department who sets out to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan to expose them for what they are.

And finally there is Dog Days, tagged as a comedy-drama, which follows four people and explores how their dogs influence their lives. It was directed by Dan Marino, who has been in many things over the years, but whom I mostly associate with the now 25 years in the past show The State.

I suppose you can tell by my descriptions that I am not excited for anything showing up this week, though I imagine that the internet fame of Slender Man, and the lack of recent summer horror films in the options, might make it exceed expectations.  But it is a real wild card, and the long range tracking for it has been trending down sharply, currently standing at about $15 million, but with a possible range as high as $25 million.

The Meg, which is expected to open on almost four thousand screens, is estimated to pull in almost $24 million for the weekend, while Dog Days is shooting for a modest $4 million and BlacKkKlansman has no revenue estimate at the moment, but should open on about 1,500 screens.

So my Monday Hot Takes league pick is a conservative one, going with 3x Mission: Impossible, 2x Equalizer 2, and 3x Teen Titans GO!.  But if the vibe for Slender Man picks up this week, I might swap to 5x Slender Man, 2x Ant-Man, and 1x The Incredibles 2 before the Thursday lock.  I think that is the “go for broke” play this week.

As always, the Thursday lock is less than 24 hours from when this post goes live, so make your picks soon!

The Battle for Azeroth Character Boost Question

Another one of those now traditional points of transition between expansion. I purchased Battle for Azeroth a while back, so I am wondering what I ought to do with that level 110 boost that comes with it.

Soon…

With Warlords of Draenor I boost a death knight to level 90 and with Legion I eventually ended up boosting a mage to level 100.

The death knight was a success and is one of the character that stands ready at level 110.

The mage… was less successful.

I mean, I guess it depends on how you define success. Said mage is also level 110, so clearly got some play time. But I found playing the mage not very fun and, while I got in there and got him his artifact weapon and all that, I eventually just used him for pet battles for a while until he hit level 110.

I also did that with both druids and my rogue. I played them more than the mage, but I found the druids under powered as feral and the combat spec rogue a little too squishy. The latter was a bit of a surprise as I had played him up to 100 towards the end of Warlords of Draenor, using the pre-Legion events to get him lined up for that expansion. (Remember that one time when pre-expansion events gave good experience?)

I mean, it may be just how the classes played out in Legion, but I really only enjoyed playing the heavily armored melee classes. Just jumping into the fray and beating on baddies was clearly my thing. The retribution pally was my main for the expansion, while I also did quite a bit with the death knight and a warrior.

The main exception to that was my hunter, always my primary alt. But hunters are special.

So given my experiences in Legion, what I enjoy, and that my ret pally seems even more badass in 8.0 than I expected (at least up until today’s patch nerf), my predilection is to boost something that is similar, or possibly the same, as the classes I enjoyed in Legion.

The first one I am thinking about is a monk. I have a 60-ish Panderan monk sitting around from back when we all made pandas because we could, but I never really got into it. I think he is only past 60 because of the Legion pre-expansion events. The upside of the monk is its paladin-like “be all the things” three specs. I would likely only go DPS, but that I could be a healer or a tank is something of a draw.

The downside is that by this point I really don’t have a good feel for monks as a class and, having felt let down by the way feral druids played in Legion, I do worry a bit about expending a boost on another leather wearing melee class.

The monk fits the model from the past, bringing a new class into the mix on the Alliance side. But with Battle for Azeroth I wonder if having a class I like on the Horde side of things might be a better plan.

For all the angst about the Horde vs. Alliance aspect of Battle for Azeroth,  It does sound like there might be significantly different paths for players on either side of the divide.  One of the disappointments with playing the opposite faction is discovering just how quickly both sides merge into essentially the same quest line.  It sounds like my Alliance characters will be heading to Kul Tiras, while the Horde side will be headed to Zandalar, and I don’t want to miss out on the Zandalari trolls.

Battle for Azeroth map with the new islands

The trolls have the best architecture… “more spikes dammit!” is not their primary design philosophy… so I don’t want to miss out on that side of things.  So a Horde character seems like a good option for a boost.

While I already have a 110 druid there, I have been down on the druid thing for most of Legion. So another class is probably in order.

The primary one would be a Horde paladin. If a pally is/stays hot to trot for the Alliance, then it ought to be likewise for the Horde. That just leaves the question of which race? A blood elf feels like the right answer, but I also like tauren and could go either regular or Highmountain on that front.  Alas, the Nightborne don’t do the pally thing.

I could also go with a deathknight or a warrior on the Horde side to boost. The DK would have the advantage of starting at level 55, so I could just get up to 60 quickly enough, select a trade skill, then boost and get both the level and the trade skill up to 110. On the warrior side, I already have a Highmountain tauren warrior. I could boost him I suppose.

Moose on moose action outside Orgrimmar

An alternate Horde plan could be to go with a hunter. Again, a special class, and I have an Orc hunter that has been slowly leveling up over the years. I managed to get him to level 40 back in 2007 so he could have a mount.

Wolf mount doesn’t look happy

Things were different back then.  He sat neglected for quite a while and was likely the last hunter I had on my account that still had a quiver with ammunition in his inventory. I have dragged him out every so often just to do things on the Horde side. He is level 61 now, so would have the trade skill thing going for him like the DK. He even holds the Horde guild we put together back in 2005 or so.

But I have never really had a lot of affection for the Orcs, aside for that quest where you beat the napping peons in the starter area. I think I would be happier with another race.  Or at least the upright Orc model that has been promised.  That might help.

Anyway, I don’t need to get the boost decision set right away.  While Battle for Azeroth is just over six days away, since it launches in the US at 3pm Pacific Time on August 13th as part of the world-wide launch, I suspect that it will be a few days before things settle down and, once that happens, my Alliance paladin will be first over the top and into the new content.

Eventually though I will want to start in on alts and will want to see Zandalar, so it would be good to start getting any potential alt up to 60 for the trade skill boost benefit… if that is still a thing.  Given how much trade skills have changed, I had best read up on that to see if it is worth the effort.

Smaller Operations in the North

Between the big battles, like we saw at X47L-Q last week, there are thousands of smaller ops that undock to take care of business and look for fun and targets of opportunity.  Saturday night saw Asher Elias, the sky marshal who has been running huge multi-fleet operations with hundreds of super carriers and titans following his orders, able to return to smaller fleet ops as Reavers formed up Ishtars and undocked.

Once again leaving the station

He has business for us to attend to and we headed to X47L-Q.

There the first thing we did on entering the system was warp to a cyno on the NCDot Keepstar and pop the ship running it.  Sitting exposed right on the hostile structure, we quickly turned about and warped off, then headed back to a point on grid with it again.

On grid with the Keepstar as it counted down

We had a couple of things on our plate.  One was a matter of expedience.  While we were there and able to fly cover, a call went out to cap pilots who might still be stuck logged off on grid after last week’s battle letting them know that they had an opportunity to log in and jump out of system.  A few pilots too advantage of the opportunity.

Keepstar further back

However, our main task was to cover a new structure being dropped in the system.

Fortizar deploying

A Fortizar named Tosche Station was dropped and we were there to watch it for the 15 minute deployment timer, during which it was vulnerable to attack.  This was part of the change to Upwell structures that went in last last year.  They are now vulnerable for 15 minutes when first dropped and then for 15 minutes at the end of their anchoring sequence.  During that time they are both easy to shoot, as they are unfitted and cannot shoot back, and can be destroyed in a single fight.

However, save for a single Pandemic Horde Cormorant, none of the locals sought to interfere with the structure during that vulnerable time.  The structure made it through and began to anchor.  It was good for three days, after which it would be vulnerable again before coming online.

The longer anchoring timer

We shall see if the locals care to form up to keep it from going online to keep us from having a structure on grid with their Keepstar before the final fight for that kicks off.

After that Asher had us head out for another destination in a hurry.  We flew into Tribute, home of NCDot and Pandemic Legion, and through systems I remember both from living there are from the battles in them over the years, to M-OEE8.

There tackle had run ahead and pinned down some targets for us.  Arriving on grid we found two dreadnoughts, a Phoenix and a Revelation, as well as two Rorquals.  We went after the Phoenix first.

Phoenix under attack while a Rorqual sits in its PANIC bubble

Even as we got there one of the Rorquals had already set off its defensive PANIC module, a protective bubble meant to keep the ship alive for a while in order to let help form up and rescue it, before we had had the opportunity to shoot it.

The Phoenix went down, and then the Revelation, before we were able to get started on the more expensive Rorquals.  By that point the PANIC module had run down on the first one while the second one put its up after we poked it a bit.

Foreground Rorqual dying while the other is in PANIC in the background

After that, we raced off to M-OEE8, a system of legend and PL’s capital, complete with Keepstar.

During this some hostile interceptors showed up with a mind to rescue the remaining trapped caps, but they did not fare too well.  On warping in we were able to divert drones to them, killing a few as the others warped off.  After a couple runs at that they kept their distance, waiting for a target of opportunity.

When the first Rorqual was dispatched we motored over to the second and setup around it waiting for its PANIC bubble to fade.  When it went down we started in, but then were told to pull drones.  Jay Amazingness Thomas Lear had a Baltec fleet in the area and Asher wanted to let them come over to join in on the kill.

Baltec fleet firing on the Rorqual

That additional firepower made short work of the Rorqual and it exploded in the dramatic fashion to which we have become accustomed.

Rorqual goes boom!

All four of the capitals were in Rate My Ticks (ticker: WERMT), which is Pandemic Legion’s rental alliance.  Both PL and NCDot still generate income by renting space as their other sources of passive income have dried up.

We then cleaned up the deployed warp disruption bubbles that they had laid about to keep people from warping directly to them from the gates and then started to head back towards home, past more structures.

Tribute is full of structures

As we and the Baltec fleet moved back towards Pure Blind we were shadowed by the hostile interceptor fleet, which was waiting for a straggler or somebody who didn’t align so they could pick them off, as well as flashes of time dilation.  Pushing a couple of fleets through an otherwise quiet region is enough to tax a server that otherwise hasn’t been reinforced.

On the way back we stopped again in X47L-Q in order to clear off some drag bubbles from a POS that was setup as a trap.  We were able to clear the bubbles, though the affair kept the logi wing busy as the tower shot at people, constantly switching targets.

Extricating ourselves from the tower was a task in and of itself, as the warp disruption batteries kept hitting people as we aligned to warp out.  Asher asked if anybody was pointed before he warped, the heard an affirmative only after he had warped us, so we turned around and headed back to try and rescue those caught.  We lost an Ishtar that way before we finally got off grid.

We also lost the fleet Impairor.  One person who logged on to go with the fleet didn’t have anything handy besides a rookie corvette, so brought that along for the fleet.  It made it through, getting on all the capital kill mails.  However, it got blown up at the POS tower, though the kill mail shows that the pilot took the effort to fit it up to be useful.  Tackle corvette!

After that we headed back to our staging and stood down.  Not a bad fleet at all.  It is nice to get back into the smaller ops that Reavers do.

Asher said on The Open Comms show last Friday that our whole SIGs and squads campaign in the north owes its origin to Bigbilltheboss who, after the Hakonen deployment didn’t want to bring all his dreadnoughts back home to Delve. (We came back from that about a year ago at this point.) So setup shop to drop on the locals ratting and mining and found the fields to be rich in targets.  Then we, and BlackOps, and TNT, and Space Violence all ended up in the north, where we have been deployed since at least November.  A long and fruitful deployment it has been too, with a lot of small fleet actions.

But more big ops are coming.  We will have the Fortizar to defend on Tuesday and then the final timer for the NCDot Keepstar on Wednesday.  Expect CCP’s servers to be heavily taxed once again as we see if more titans die.

Rooks and Kings – First Light on the Fifth Day

It has been a while since we have had a new Rooks and Kings video, the last one being Message in a Bottle that saw them moving to the Serenity, the server that hosts the mainland China version of EVE Online. (There is a timeline of their videos on the Rooks and Kings site.)

There wars were fought, with battles between supercaps and titans of the like that we are only beginning to experience in the west on the Tranquility server.  The wars left the Pan-Intergalactic Business Community alliance, or PIBC, the dominant power in null sec, able to rule in a way that no western alliance has, as the influence maps make clear.

Serenity Server Null Sec Influence Map – August 3, 2018

This led directly to the migration of players from the Serenity server in China to the Tranquility server in the UK that serves the rest of the world.  This is the genesis of alliances like Fraternity and Ranger Regiment of the Winter Coalition as well as the P.L.A. corp in GSF.

The new Rooks and Kings documentary, First Light on the Fifth Day, follows the ascension of PIBC, the exodus of its foes, the battle for who represents China, and how the two servers still interconnect.

Available in 5K video, you can click through to watch it in high def on YouTube directly.

Rooks and Kings sent out an email blast to a variety of EVE Online related sites on Friday night, so you will like see this video all over.  Still worth reposting here for me to have my own context down the road.