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Siphon Extortion – Working as Intended April 15, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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Our alliance chief sent out a pastebin over coms the other day featuring a “nice towers, shame if something happened to them” extortion approach.  (Name replaced with SG for “some guy,” which is his approximate level of notoriety.)

SG > 250 mil a week and i leave tnt towers alone.
SG > Will save you lots of money...
SG > hmm...  or i could just go all out on you guys.
SG > But let us negtiate. how much are you willing 
     to pay for peace of mind, not having to check 
     towers every day

The whole thing went on and on with lots of threats and bluster and claims that TNT is the laughing stock of the CFC… a position I always thought FA… or maybe SMA… held.  But whatever.

This bit of comedy was enabled by the addition of small deployable structures in Rubicon, specifically the mobile siphon unit.

Mobile Siphon Unit deployed

Mobile Siphon Unit deployed

I sort of felt that the mobile siphon unit showed up a bit late in the EVE Online timeline.  Imagine how much use they would have gotten back in the days when “moon goo” was a primary source of income?  Instead siphons ended up on the scene over two months after even the Goons decided to join the null sec slumlord trend and launched the Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere.  That, plus the Brothers of Tangra and Northern Associates renter space now represents more than 900 systems (over a quarter of null, which clocked in at 3,524 systems the last I heard)  and colors a pretty large swath of null sec space on the influence map.

Null Sec - April 14, 2014

Null Sec – April 14, 2014

Moons still get mined though, and they do provide income.  And money drives conflict, so this extortion attempt was born.

We were, naturally enough, not buying what this guy was selling.  Hell, we get a reward when we find siphons on our moons.  Seed more of them, I’ll start looking in earnest.  I could always use a bit of extra ISK.  Add in the fact that he is in the Mordu’s Angels noob feeder corp… we’re actively fighting them right now according to the recent CEO update… and it seemed unlikely to succeed from the get go.  Giving your foes money when you do not have to is rank foolishness.

Such is life in EVE Online.

Lasers at Last April 10, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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I might be coming out of my EVE Online malaise… a bit.  Aside from corp day ice mining, I haven’t really logged on to do anything in the game aside from update skill queues.  And I even let that slip at one point.

Oh myBut as the binge in Azeroth has tapered off some… more on that later… I have begun to turn back to null sec space.  I still have ships and such scattered all over the southeast part of space.  I have no idea what I will do about that.  Getting down to Curse… or back out again… has a new element of danger now that the Marmite Collective has us war dec’d.  And the ships are not terribly valuable.  A couple of Dominixes that are no longer part of a fleet doctrine since the great drone assist nerf finally dropped with Rubicon 1.3.

Domis in a green sky on the way to battle

Once proud space potatoes are now all docked up

I still have the Domi I flew at B-R5RB sitting in the station there, along with a jump clone.  I will probably just give that one an appropriate name and leave it be.

And I have ships and jump clones at other key places in the EVE universe.  I am ready to jump to the action at a moments notice… if my jump clone isn’t on cool down already.  I have Baltech fleet Megathrons most everywhere.

Our backbone since Fountain

Our backbone since Fountain

As it turns out, I might not even have to jump all over EVE.  According to the latest CEO Update, we have a nice little skirmish going on up in Deklein.  So there is that.

But what has really piqued my interest and gotten me to log back in is the opportunity to fly a new ship… a new ship with lasers!

Yes, I am goofy in that regard.  I have flown in fleet doctrines that have use missiles, and railguns, and projectile weapons, and drones in just about every variation so far.  But I haven’t done anything with lasers.  But now the Apocalypse battleship is part of the Baltech fleet doctrine… which I guess means that the fleet doctrine info-graphic needs to be updated.  Anyway, they are in high demand, as our current foes run with Ishtars, which are pretty much immune Megathrons, as was pointed out to us in the update.

So, of course, I ran out and bought one off contract.

Loafing about in VFK

Loafing about in VFK

I was only mildly surprised that I had all the skills needed to fly the doctrine fit.  During a lull last year I put a bunch of training time into lasers knowing that one day they would come back into fashion and wanting to be ready for once, rather than doing my usual catch-up routine.  I immediately took the Apoc out to belt to shoot some rats… because lasers.

No, really, lasers!

No, really, lasers!

I will need to grab some more crystals so I can have ~colors~ on demand.  The white of multi-freq is a bit dull.

Straight lines converge

Straight lines converge

So now I am keen to go press F1 for real and watch lasers bloom… or fly… or whatever lasers do… lase I guess.  So far I have only managed to sit on a titan for half an hour with my new ship.  Hey, it was good for a participation link… and I am awfully shy of those lately.  But I hope to see some action soon.  Because lasers!

Echoes and Repercussions from the Battle at B-R5RB February 3, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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So the big battle at B-R5RB is a week in the rear view mirror at this point I thought I would try to tie together a bunch of things that came from the event into one post, with a lot of links out to people who probably know what they are talking about… at least relative to me.

So, in no real order, what came to mind…

New Players

I always go on about how much these sorts of events mean to CCP, that the press coverage of such battles really do more for the game than almost anything else that goes on inside New Eden.  And this time around we have some real, tangible proof of what the impact can be.

Players were already noting a boost in new characters being created post-battle.  But this weekend even CCP had to make some adjustments because of the influx.

Tidi in the new player zone is a problem CCP probably likes to see.  Now, how many of those free trials will turn into actual subscriptions once they find out what EVE Online is really like… that is the question.  It can be quite a gap from seeing huge titans duking it out in an epic battle to flying your Ibis through the tutorial.  And even out in null sec, there can be long waits between such battles.

Any post that claims to share everything you need to know inevitably barely scratches the surface.

Will this new influx amount to anything?  Is this the next generation of capsuleers entering New Eden?  Or will the game continue to eat its young?  Will the harsh realities of the game be too much?  Maybe that new New Player FAQ will help.

What the Press Likes to Cover

Another aspect of this whole thing is what gets the press to cover a big spaceship battle like B-R5RB.

Money.

Every headline I have seen in the mainstream press about the battle emphasizes the cost in real world money, usually US dollars.  And while I find the connection to be specious… you can buy PLEX and convert that into the in-game currency, but that doesn’t mean you can pretend that every unit of ISK in the game was so purchased… big numbers do grab attention.  But those numbers seemed to grow and morph.  Nosy Gamer has a post up looking at various permutations of the AP wire story that went out about the battle which ended up in many a local paper, including my own.  You should take a look, as the dollar range of headlines varied from $200K to $500K for dubious reasons.  And that doesn’t even include the since revised International Business Times story that pegged the cost of the battle at three quarters of a million dollars. (They ran another story that brought that number down to half a million.)

The best, and possibly most out of control, spin on this whole thing has to be the Taiwanese Animators video recreation of the event which indicates that sovereignty dropped in B-R5RB because a player’s credit card was rejected.

Because that is the way EVE Online works.  You have to setup a credit card terminal in your bedroom if you want to hold null sec sovereignty.  Maybe the most hilarious distortion of the game ever.  But that is a nice Avatar model they threw together on fly!

Meanwhile, the gaming press seemed much more subdued on the subject.  A big fight in EVE is worth a post, but not something to get worked up about.  Heck Massively, which purports to cover MMOs in general, and EVE Online in particular, didn’t even bother putting up a post until days after the battle.

On The Bandwagon

I found this ad to be amusing.  My browser is stuffed with cookies that flag me to get every EVE Online related banner ad at whatever site I visit, which is odd when you think about it.  Well, it is odd when you realized that it means that I end up getting ads for EVE Online just about everywhere.  Since I already play, that is unlikely to be worth anything to CCP.  But every once in a while somebody decides they want in on the EVE Online demographic.  Usually it is Wargaming.net, makers of World of Tanks.

And with all this talk about money in the press, another company saw an opportunity.

EntropiaUniverseAd_450

Entropia Universe would like you to come play their real money space game.

I know next to nothing about Entropia Universe outside of what Gary and Ryan mentioned about it on the Massively Online Gamer podcast when they tried it out several years back, but it does not exactly sound like the sort of game that would attract people who played EVE Online long enough to grow sick of it. (To me that means people who actually played for a while, not those who ended up hating right away.)

Oh, and the Entropia Universe people were involved in the Planet Michael idea.  I remember that as well.

Entropia Universe seems more akin to Second Life in purpose, though I am sure that fans of either would resent the comparison.  The focus is more on virtual world aspects with the ability to cash out real world money.  So you can see the correlation with current events at least.  All that talk of EVE Online in the press with real world dollar figures being tossed about is the obvious link.  I wonder how it will work out for them.

Now if Chris Roberts starts running “Sick of EVE Online?” ads, well, watch out.

The War

And what is going on with the war that spawned this battle?  Pandemic Legion is out of the war for now.  Nulli Secunda is pulling back to Detorid.  Insidious Empire is done with their side-show.  (Oh, and now NCDOT is out.) That isn’t the whole of the force opposing the Russians and the CFC, but they make up a big enough faction as to put the brakes on offensive operations by the N3 coalition for now.  There will be consolidation of sovereignty by the Russians as they expand into the region and N3 can make that annoying without much risk.

And then what?  Will the Russians be satisfied with another region of sovereignty, or will they want to drive into Insmother and the heart of the once mighty Russian drone region empire with its capital at the emotionally significant system, C-J6MT?  Red Alliance lost that to SOLAR Fleet almost two years back in another of those giant null sec battles.  It traded hands again before becoming a part of the current NCDOT renter holdings.

So there is potentially more drama left to come.

The Future of Null Sec Battles

Now that we have had the biggest super capital battle ever, what happens next?

Jester, ever fond of absolutes and military analogies, likens B-R5RB to the battle of the Philippine Sea, the largest naval carrier battle ever seen.  He draws the parallel between US dominance in aircraft carriers after that and CFC dominance in titans.  No more big super capital battles ever is Jester’s pronouncement.  This was the last war in null sec.  The CFC… which is to say the Goons… own it now.  We’re done there, pack it up and lets move on to more interesting things.

I have to wonder if there isn’t a bit of wishful thinking in his estimation.  EVE Online is a complex game and there are many things players can get immersed in.  But null Sec politics commands the lions share of the attention outside of the game, which has built up no small amount of resentment.  I am sure there would be a lot of people happy to see null sec become a literal big blue doughnut, and thus garnering no further external attention, while at the same time decrying the lack of conflict in null sec.  We see something like that every time there is a lull in null.

And Jester’s analogy, like all analogies, falls apart when examined too closely.  To start with, there is a matter of details.

PL alone is clearly better off than the Imperial Japanese Navy was back in 1944.

It isn’t clear at all that the CFC has, or will ever have, the sort of dominance that the United States enjoys in aircraft carriers.  N3 has yet to be crushed and Pandemic Legion is off rebuilding a new force.  And then there are the lessons of the cold war and how a continental power like the Soviet Union planned to deal with the aircraft carriers of the United States, which has traditionally been a maritime power.

The Soviet response was a mass of smaller weapons, especially cruise missiles, to take out the very expensive and limited US carriers.  Soviet naval design favored ships that bristled with weapons that frequently had no reloads.  The idea was to get into range, fire the lot, and prepare to die, tactics that sound vaguely like those that the CFC used when they were entering null sec back in the day.  Doctrines change to suit the forces you have and what your foes are using… and what CCP has recently nerfed. (Woe is the poor Drake.)

So Jester could be correct in the long term, but at this juncture he is just guessing… or projecting wishes… or something.

My own theory is closer to my “joking, but not as much as you might guess” post comparing the three great null sec blocs to the state of the world in Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four, where conflict is eternal and each side knows that its own internal structure depends on perpetual war with the others.

Eternal War

Eternal War

Borders might be pushed this way and that.  Wars might erupt over resources, as happened in the Fountain War last year.  But each of the three blocs knows that to win outright contains the seeds of self-destruction.  In that world, the CFC will not press its victory and will allow the foes to rebuild so they remain a threat against which to rail.  Not only have we always been at war with Eastasia, we must always be at war with Eastasia… or we might just stop logging in.

Then there is the CCP factor.  As noted earlier in this post, the publicity from such battles is a clear win for the game and the company.  The mere idea that there might be no more such great battles must surely horrify everybody in Iceland from Hilmar on down.  So you can bet that they will turn knobs, twist dials, and otherwise try to shake things up as best they can should null sec settle into a peaceful renter economy, plagued only by occasional raids by the barbarians from empire space.

Who knows, maybe that whole countdown to Wednesday thing has some relation to all of this?

Or, you can take even that a step further, strap on the tinfoil hat, and run with the CCP interference idea as Abbath Egdald has in his great conspiracy post about the battle at B-R5RB.  Maybe CCP won’t need to change anything because they are already directing the battle anyway!

Plenty of food for thought on this.

Titanomachy

Finally, there is the monument to the most expensive battle in EVE Online history (so far), the Titanomachy.  Named for the 10 year struggle in Greek mythology, it sits out at the site of the battle now.

TitanomachyAlert

Stuck out in null sec, in B-R5RB, far from any sort of “safe” space in New Eden, and in a dead end system way off the main travel routes, it might not get as many visitors as it deserves.  But should you be able to get out there, it is something your should pull off the road to see.  Over at EVE Travel there is a nice guide to the site that you should take a minute to read.

Since I ended up marooned in the system after the battle, I was able to hang around for a few days until the memorial was put in place.  The plaque includes a listing of all 74 pilots who lost titans in the battle.

Start of the list...

Start of the list…

I also have some screen shots from the memorial after the cut, plus a whole pile of additional screen shots from the battle at B-R5RB over on my other blog.

(more…)

Into a Wine-Dark Immensea January 30, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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The big battle at B-R5RB continues to cause ripples in the war.  The first bit of new that came down after I got home from work was that we are moving staging systems.  We will be bidding farewell to G-0Q86 and all of its lack of charm.  There seems to be universal relief at that.

We will be heading to a CFC owned system deep in the Immensea region.  On the bright side, being in the midst of hostile systems, will ensure that there is plenty of action.

On the down side, the logistics of getting myself and some ships there may be a challenge.  Part of that is because I cannot get back to G-0Q86 in Curse directly, as I am still stuck with my Domi in B-R5RB.  That is actually further into Immensea that our new staging system, yet still far enough away, and with enough hostile systems in between, as to make it very unlikely that I could just fly there using jump gates.

The Situation in Immensea

The Situation in Immensea

Sure, it looks like Nulli Secunda (S2N, or the green systems, on the map) is pulling out of Immensea, but that will likely mean more hostile activity and more danger in the short term.

So it is looking like I have to take a jump clone out of B-R5RB.  But I do not have one back in Curse, because I do not have standing with the NPCs who own the station so I couldn’t dump one there before we headed out for the big op, something I would normally do.  So I have to jump to one of the clones I have scattered about New Eden.  I am glad I trained up so I can have 9 jump clones.

The temptation is to jump back to Deklein, the home I haven’t seen in ages at this point, grab my carrier, which has sat in station since the day I bought it, and try to fly it down to G-0Q86.  Then I could load up my ships and make the jump to the new staging system.   That last bit is the easy part.  Getting down to G-0Q86 is the tricky bit.  I need three station stops in low sec with somebody there to light a cyno at each.  So that will take a bit of doing.

In the mean time, I did manage to contract my backup Domi to my alt, who was able to take it on a convoy to the new staging system.  So I have a Domi waiting for me there.

Getting out of G-0Q86

Getting out of G-0Q86

If needs be, I can fly down in an stealth bomber or an interceptor… isn’t that how I always get down to Curse and beyond… and link up with my Domi that way.  But I have a small pile of ships to deal with in Curse still and Immensea is a step or two further away from where I will have to start.  Everything in EVE Online can be an adventure though.  You just have to accept that you’re going to lose your ship, and then if you happen to get through okay, it feels like a win.

Addendum: And it sounds like Pandemic Legion will be leaving the war in the south in exchange for being allowed to extract assets from B-R5RB.

B-R5RB by the Numbers – CCP Dev Blog Details the Fight January 29, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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The big fight on Monday is over, but the analysis continues.  CCP, ever the heroes when it comes to providing details about EVE Online, has weighed in with a Dev Blog Post about the Bloodbath at B-R5RB.

You should read it.  It has charts, graphs, a narrative, talk about technical impacts and time dilation, and all sorts of fun stuff about the battle.  This is why we love CCP.

An Avatar doomsday strikes home

An Avatar doomsday strikes home

As a tease, and so I have the numbers to hand going forward, here are some of the details:

  • Around 21 hours of total fighting
  • 7,548 unique characters belonging to those two coalitions participated in the overall battle (i.e. landed on at least one killmail).  6,058 participated directly in the B-R5RB system with 2,670 in system at max
  • This wasn’t the largest single battle in terms of numbers of participants in system at once. That record still belongs to the battle for 6VDT-H, which reached 4,070 pilots in system.
  • 717 unique player Corporations
  • 55 unique player Alliances
  • Titans losses – 75 (74 in system, one on its way to the fight) N3/PL lost 59 titans and CFC/DTF lost 16 titans
  • Titan losses by type: Gallente Erebus – 37, Amarr Avatar – 25, Minmatar Ragnarok – 13, Caldari Leviathan – 0
  • Supercarrier Losses – 13 (12 in system, one as it tried to escape the system)
  • Dreadnought Losses– 370 (356 in system, 14 in connected skirmishes as both sides attempted to stop the other from bringing reinforcements)
  • Carrier Losses – 123 (109 in system, 14 in connected skirmishes as both sides attempted to stop the other from bringing reinforcements)
  • Approximately 775 doomsdays were fired, which is about 24% of all the doomsdays fired in the last two years inclusive. The Battle for HED-GP, which preceded this one in the Halloween War, had about 200 doomsdays.
  • Estimated economic impact: 11 TRILLION ISK.

That is just scratching the surface of what CCP has posted.  Meanwhile, a few other numbers have bubbled up.

So they still have a lot of capital ships to spend in the war… unless, of course, a lot of them in the station at B-R5RB, the loss of which is what set off the battle.

Something missing from all of this that I would love to read: The diplomatic conversation between Nulli Secunda, which dropped the ball on the sov bill and set off the fight, and PL/NC, who were the hardest hit by the fight, at least when ISK is used as a measurement.

Addendum: The Mittani has a good companion post up about the battle that goes into ship costs and sovereignty and other details with an aim to making them understandable.

Eastasia Routed at B-R5RB! 70+ Titans Down! January 28, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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(Today’s title is a reference to a post about null sec I wrote last week, in case you’re going, ‘Huh?”)

What to say about the fight at B-R5RB?

It was a battle to eclipse Asakai, the capital ship engagement that took place exactly one year before.

It was one of those events that demonstrates the scale of the possible in EVE Online in terms of players involved and resources consumed as well as the time frames required.

The first notification that a fight might be going down was broadcast about 8am PST yesterday when it was reported over at The Mittani that sovereignty dropped on the system B-R5RB after down time.  Nulli Secunda forgot to pay their recurring sovereignty bill (you get a reminder and it pretty much adds up to pressing a button) and so they lost the system.

They set about restoring their sovereignty while Russian and CFC units started poking around to investigate what was going on in what Pandemic Legion and other N3 forces had been using as a staging system for operations in the war in the south east.

If what I heard on coms last night was correct, Lazrus Telraven took the command decision for the CFC to go “all in” on contesting the system.  The fight was on.

I’m going all in.  Get here.

-Lazrus Telraven, convo with Mister Vee

I was at work, done with my morning tea and busy poking away at test application.  These things always seem to start on Euro time while I am at the office.

I checked Twitter throughout the day as EVE-Kill, which tweets every expensive ship loss, and ever super capital makes that grade, called out the losses one by one.  If you want to know when something big is going down in New Eden, that is a Twitter account to follow.

Titan kills kept getting reported all day long as capital fleets piled into the system.  Several live streams were up.  When I finally got home, I checked into the Pandemic Legion stream to see what they were saying.

Pandemic Legion Live from B-R

Pandemic Legion Live from B-R

They were reporting 20 Russian/CFC titans down for 38 N3 titan losses with less than 2,000 people in system.  There was a call for a Dominix fleet about then, so I logged in and joined up.  However, we were left hanging in a POS for quite a while before being dismissed.  There was nobody available to bridge us anywhere, all the titans online were engaged in the fight.  I logged back off and went and had dinner with the family, then watched the Sherlock that got recorded Sunday night.  The wedding episode.  Fun stuff.

After that and a bit of cleaning up I headed back to my computer.  By this point the Pandemic Legion stream had stopped counting losses.

Wait, what?

Wait, what?

When I shoved off earlier it sounded like the fight might be winding down.  There was loose talk about extracting our forces, some of whom had been on for nearly 12 hours at that point.  There was also a call for reinforcements for the Dominix fleet I had left earlier.  A titan had been found to move us around and the fleet had been sent out eventually.  I got back into my Domi and out with some other reinforcements (eluding the Dirt Nap Squad camp in our own staging system) only to be sent off to a system a few jumps from the main fight in order to shoot structures.

Joy.  A structure shoot during the biggest event in a long time.

We were there to try and draw off some of the capital ships that were assisting N3 in the big fight.  This had apparently worked a couple of times previously.  Carriers had been dropped on Domis, or so I was told.   But by the time I was out with the fleet N3 had lost interest in what we were doing.  Eventually Reagalan, our FC, decided that the venture was fruitless and arranged a bridge back to G-0 for us.  The fleet was standing down.

But that was only for a short break.  A new fleet went up on Lyris.  The Mittani himself got on coms to tell us we would be bridging into the fight in B-R5RB.  We were to refit out Domis to have four energy neutralizers in our high slots and get on the titan.  Our job was to drain the capacitors of hostile titans so that their repair modules would cease to function, making them easier to kill.  We were not to launch drones.  Nobody wanted to crash the system at this point… nobody on our side anyway… while there were still at least a dozen titans on the field to kill.

After a short wait, the bridge went up.

And then there was a much longer wait in the warp tunnel to B-R5RB.

Reports were that the system was responding much better than it had been earlier in the day.  Modules were responding to commands within a few seconds and things were generally working.  But time dilation was still at 10% and updates in the UI were sketchy at best.  So riding the bridge into system took quite a while.  I spent 15 minutes in limbo, from the point I selected the “jump through” option to when I was actually up and systems systems functioning in B-R5RB.  Somewhere along the way the system lost track of me and warped me off to a safe spot, so that when I finally loaded I had to endure what I would call a Zeno’s Paradox warp, where the distance to the final destination kept dropping in half, but never seemed to want to finish.  I think I was down to 122 meters until warp bubble collapse before the system finally decided I was there.

And then I was on grid amongst the battle of titans.  The field was a mass of warp disruption bubbles and giant ships.  There were titans strewn about, as the N3 ships were trying to move out of the bubbles to escape.  But each was pinned down.  Meanwhile, hundreds of super carriers, carriers, and dreadnoughts hung about the field, secondary targets when compared to the big fish.  My screen shots are in a gallery after the cut at the end of this post, but they do not do the fight justice.  It was like no other fight I have been in.

But it was time to get to business.  We moved to the first titan on our list, bushy2, and began to neut him down.  Things went slowly.  We drained him and then watched the capital ships burn him down.  We moved on to Chris baileyy.  My capacitor and velocity read-outs in the UI stopped functioning.  We applied neuts as the next target was called, Mandrake Seriya.  Then it was Ryan Coolness, then Needa3, and then Maggy Lycander.  Doomsdays flared from our titans, burning down the drained targets as dreadnoughts and super carriers kept up a constant stream of fire.

In all, from the time I dropped into system to the point of the 6th kill more than two and a half hours had gone by.  It was now midnight my time and 16 hours had passed since the fight started to develop.  It was well past my weeknight bed time.  But what to do?  There was no way I was getting back to G-0 at that point, and I wasn’t keen to stay up until at least downtime, three hours hence.  So I just left myself logged in and following the fleet, turned off the monitor and hit the sack.  What the hell, I got on some titan kills.

When I checked in the morning, I had been logged out for downtime, but there was no kill mail for me, so I appeared to have survived.  My Domi is sitting in B-R5RB waiting for me to log in again.  But there are lots of ships in that state.  Our forces managed to kill the final N3 titan about 90 minutes after I went to bed and then started in on the super carriers until downtime.  And, in looking at the coalition broadcasts, there will be camping and mop-up operations going on for some time to try and catch N3 capital ships as they log back in to try and escape.

You can see the ebb and flow of the fight in the report from DOTLAN.

DOTLAN kills for the last 24 hours

DOTLAN kills for the key 20 hours

There was the initial rush, the mid-period when the system was at its slowest, then as things started to thin and the Russian/CFC forces started to get the upper hand, the kills increased until downtime, which is the red bar.  And then kills resumed.

Or kills tried to resume.  Today is also the Rubicon 1.1 patch, which appears to have broken any number of things.  There are reports of friendly stations shooting people and CONCORD issues and all sorts of fun things… because CCP.  We shall see which side all of that favors, if any.

And what does all this mean?   This wasn’t the biggest fight in terms of people involved or total ships killed, I think 6VDT-H still wins there, but it surely must be the most expensive fight in the history of the game.  CCP put up a coy tweet about the total titan losses.

That is 75 titans down in one day, each one of which cost at least 100 billion ISK.  Some of them were more than double that, when fit with officer modules.  I think, over the last seven years, I might have had a total of maybe 10-12 billion ISK all combined, so for me that is a staggering amount of destruction.  Call it at least a 7.5 trillion ISK day as an opening estimate.  I am sure CCP will roll out the stats as soon as they can.  In the mean time, they are in there with an offer to help rebuild!  Expect prices in Jita to go up on speculation alone.

As CCP_Fozzie asked, "Too soon?"

As CCP_Fozzie asked, “Too soon?”

And now the post-battle has begun, as people try to figure out what really happened in that 20 hour stretch in New Eden.  There will be lots of reports in the gaming press and even the mainstream press I am sure.  There will be a crazy, nothing to do with reality, dollar amount attached to the losses in this battle.  Some links so far:

Massively remains oddly absent from the list of sites covering this.  If I got all my news from them, I’d think it was just another ho-hum week in space.  Even my local paper is ahead of them.

As for what it means to the three big null sec coalitions… I don’t know.  I imagine that NC and Pandemic Legion have enough reserves that this won’t hurt them too badly in the long term.  They will rebuild.  In the shorter term, their ability to project power and drop supers onto fights has been diminished.  We will see how that plays out.

And for me, well, I am on six titan kill mails and I saw another giant battle.  Good enough for me!

Screen shot gallery after the cut.

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In Which We Have Always Been At War With Eastasia January 21, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Humor.
Tags: , , , ,
18 comments

The situation in null sec has been described as “the big blue donut,” in reference to all of the various levels of relationships between the alliances in zero-zero space.  The term is especially popular with EVE Online players who aren’t in null sec alliances, but who enjoy watching them fight each other and who grow bored when there is a lull in the fighting.  If we’re not fighting, they’re not happy.

EVE Online Big Blue Donut

Popular theory summed up in a simple image

Null sec is not only a marketing tool for CCP, it is also a great gladiatorial arena for much of New Eden.

The fact that the blue donut theory has been shown to be false by the almost constant stream of sovereignty level wars hasn’t stopped people from clinging to it as gospel truth.  Arguments go on about it being myth or reality.  So I am here to offer up an alternative theory that keeps some of the spirit of the blue donut, but which I feel describes the situation more accurately.

I give you the map.

Eternal War

Eternal War

The names are references to an obscure book you probably never read, but do represent the level of entrenchment that each of these power blocs represent.  There is Oceania, or the CFC in the north, so-name because I happen to live there and the rest of this parody won’t make sense unless I claim this as my home.  Plus we have a MiniLuv already.  Go us.

There Is Eastasia, or the N3 coalition, because they are in the east, so they can suck it.  Plus we have always been at war with them.  And there are the Russians, who get the geographically correct name of Eurasia.

Rather than a single blue donut, we have these three powers at war forever.  The wars flare up, the wars fade for a bit, but there is always pressure to strike at your potential foe lest they become too strong and pose a threat to your political philosophy.  War must also continue to keep each society going, to keep each pod pilot engaged and active.  The sense of null sec begins to take shape when viewed through this prism.

For example, you might look at the map and wonder why Eastasia and Eurasia haven’t teamed up to attack the physically larger Oceania.  The thing is, Oceania actually had to step in and ally with Eurasia as Eastasia had pressed Eurasia back to the point of near collapse.  It is in Oceania’s interest to keep the three way balance going.  It is also in Eastasia’s interest to do so, and so they have accepted Oceania’s entry into the war with barely a mutter.  All the better to keep Oceania engaged and to keep Eurasia alive.

This story has played out before.  In the distant past, Eurasia help Oceania when the current version of Eastasia at the time went for all-out extermination of Oceania.  That was before all parties understood the need for each other to maintain the balance, when they might have truly believed they were different from each other rather than being shadowy reflections.

Each bloc is made up of a hierarchy which, while they might have different names, are essentially the same.  For Oceania the hierarchy looks like this:

The Happy Triangle

The Happy Triangle

At the top there is The Mittani.  He exists as the personification of Oceania and doesn’t even have to fly in space in order to lead.  He actively led a war of conquest while banned from the game.  Some say he may not actually exit, but simply be an amalgam of the members of the next level, the Inner Leadership.

The Inner Leadership sets the goals and agenda of Oceania.  They are the only ones fully in “the know” as to why we are at war and what the real purpose of each campaign is.  Did we really fight TEST for a bunch of moons, or was it a purge to preserve the political orthodoxy of null sec?  Sure, Eastasia kept TEST going for a bit just to inflict pain on Oceania, but in the end they knew where their interests lay.  TEST had to go.

The Inner Leadership is also the group that benefits from all of the RMT riches that Spiny Norman keeps going on about.  The Inner Leadership lives in relative luxury compared to the rank and file.

Finally, the Inner Leadership maintains cordial relations with the leaders of the other two blocs and conducts trade and treaty talks in the midst of any wars.  The spice must flow.

Next is the Tactical Leadership.  These are the corp leaders, pet alliance leaders, people with Wing Command V trained who are are allowed to backseat drive on ops, Fleet Commanders who aren’t allowed to FC capital ships (except Dabigredboat), and others in minor to middling leadership positions.  They rally the troops, get numbers to show up for ops, spread the word on doctrine and, most importantly, enforce orthodoxy through propaganda and the mandatory two minutes of hate before each op. (I love the SirMolle part.)  They are the ones who remind the masses that riches are spread about based on fleet participation, that the war is for moons or honor or whatever, that N3 is literally Band of Brothers, and that Oceania has always had rental space.  There is some debate amongst outsiders as to whether they actually believe these things when they are saying them or not.  Doublethink is complicated and not easy to comprehend unless one is immersed in it.

Below the Tactical Leadership is the highest tier of the masses, the pilots who have managed to train Leadership V and can thus occupy squad leader positions in fleets.  They are not allowed to do anything special and get no benefits, but they are occasionally praised as giant fleet operations could not get off the ground if nobody could take squad leadership.  They are like, to quote Tom Lehrer, corporals without portfolio.  This is me, so I might be biased about the level of importance.

Then there are the proles… erm… the pods.  They are fed wartime propaganda, are encourage to hate the enemy (with whom, as I noted, the Inner Leadership is actually friendly), driven to train for a constantly changing set of fleet doctrines so that they never feel like they have “caught up,” and who are told to group their guns or assign their drones, to target only what is broadcast, to form up on their designated anchor ship, and to otherwise follow the directions of their Fleet Commander and press F1 when required.  Oceania provides them ships at a slight markup and pays a sum out for any ship lost during a fleet operation in order to keep participation numbers up in a sort of “Space Communism” or “GoonSoc” that provides the minimum necessary to keep its pod soldiers in the game.

GoonSoc Doubleplusgood

GoonSoc Doubleplusgood

And then, somewhere below all of that, there are the renters that the blocs use to fund their empires.  But they hardly count.  They are resources to be fought over and have shown that they will pay rent to whoever controls their space… and sometimes to people who don’t even hold their sovereignty at the moment, just to ensure a smooth transition.

The other two blocs have similar hierarchies tailored to match their own philosophies, Neo-Tsarism for Eurasia and CapFleet Worship in Eastasia.

And so it goes in null sec, where war is eternal and provides jobs, resource destruction, entertainment, and marketing value for many.

Well, war would be eternal if the nodes were up to it.  But that is another story.

The Malthusian Trap of HED-GP January 20, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , ,
6 comments

I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock Saturday morning.  I had just enough time to get up, start up my computer, and get into one of the fleets headed for the battle over the timer in the system HED-GP.

Instead, I went back to sleep while something like 4,000 ships converged on that system in the Catch region.

I was tempted to go along.  I was in the staging system and I had ships ready. And I think it is pretty obvious by now that I don’t mind going on a big event like this, even if it has fiasco painted on the side in large neon letters.  But I stayed in bed while many of my comrades in arms… or foes… took up the battle cry.

The fleets clashed, and the result was a system lost and a great big red spot on the recent kills map of New Eden.

The red spot in Catch

The red spot in Catch

Kill charts from DOTLAN

Kill charts from DOTLAN

Like many others, I watched from the outside as the battle was streamed.  Twitter was alight with updates.  And on Jabber updates and calls for pilots, first to get into the system and then to cover the extraction of capital ships, went on for 10 hours.  EVE Online did not handle the battle… gracefully.

Null sec blocs are in a Malthusian Trap of sorts.  The performance improvements done by CCP back in 2012 allowed fleet engagements to be bigger.  And so they got bigger as the null sec blocs engaged in their own version of the race to the sea, with each side adding allies and piling on with more ships in order to win the important fights.

Up through the war in Fountain, which culminated in the giant battle at 6VDT-H, things held together.  There were warning signs however.  CCP fumbling the node management at Z9PP-H and just the general behavior at the peak of the 6VDT-H fight indicated that we were nearing another limit.

Waiting on 6VDT-H station

Waiting on 6VDT-H station

But since then, big fights have pushed nodes beyond their limits.  Nodes dying, or behaving badly, have become the norm.  The null sec blocs have expanded their operations to consume whatever extra room time dilation offered.  The spirit of Malthus is no doubt laughing happily that he has been proven right yet again.

Time dilation was a good idea, but it did also contain within it the seeds of its own demise.  Yes, we can harp on about drone assist and how that has sped up the problem.  Both sides have been profligate in their use of drones and show no sign of cutting back.  But I am pretty sure that if CCP turned off all drones in the game tomorrow that it would not buy us all that much time before we started hitting the node barrier again.  Time dilation slows down the area of the fight, but allows the rest of space to solider on at normal speed, so the ability for alliances to pile on while a fight is still in progress has been greatly enhanced.

And pile on we have.

Asakai, already a year old in EVE lore, was a prime example.  The allure of getting on a titan kill mail put pilots in motion all across New Eden.  Back in November there was the Long Guy Fawkes Day, where I was in a fleet that pretty much crossed half of space to arrive in time for the fight.  And crash the node.  And we have carried on, with node crashes, or at least performance degradation to the point of the game being unplayable, becoming more common as battles become giant pile-on affairs.

And so CCP sits in the middle, having tried to make things better, but ending up with nearly the same problems they had two years back, compounded by a few new twists.  The forums seem full of people either indignant that CCP hasn’t fixed this yet or very smug because they knew this was how things had to end up.

So CCP is in a bind.  If there was an easy fix, they would have done it already.  There are a couple band-aids they could apply.

Nerfing drone assist was on many lips even before this fight.  I am not sure how much that would change things for N3, which favors capital ships in general and carriers specifically.  They will still use drones either way.

They could put population caps on systems, as they have done with Jita.  Of course, that would just lead to both sides rushing to pre-fill contested systems in advance of timers.

Or they could just tell the null sec blocs to “suck it” for now.  Null sec players aren’t any sort of majority in the game.  But then CCP loves to use those big fights and changing colors on the sovereignty map for publicity.  Your low sec gate camp, your wormhole fight, your factional warfare gains, they do not get covered by the BBC.   Big fights in null sec get coverage.  And I am sure CCP is loathe to let go of that publicity.

So I suspect CCP will spend a lot of cycles looking into the problem, which will take time and pull people away from other potential features, which in turn will make nobody happy in the short term.

Posts with actual details or observations about the battle at HED-GP:

The Long Wait for the NS2L-4 Incursion Fleet December 27, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , ,
3 comments

Another moment of opportunity.  I missed a fleet call early in the evening, but happened to sit down at my computer just as a broadcast went out from Reagalan for a Harpy fleet with the hook:

This is going to be funny . . . Seriously, join this fleet, if it gets 100 dudes there’s gonna be something hilarious, Hilariously hilarious.

Hilarious works.  The time in-game happened to be 03:37 when the message went out.

I logged in and realized I didn’t have a Harpy handy.  No problem, there were a bunch up on contract, so I just bought one, jumped in it, insured it… since hilarious pretty much requires bloodshed… and sat waiting for the word to undock.  Finally, Rudazara gave the word to undock and warp to the titan that would bridge us out.  I popped out of the station with about 100 other Harpies and warped to the person indicated in fleet, only to realize, just as I entered warp, that all of the modules on this fresh Harpy were offline.  Somebody else mentioned the same thing in coms, so it was a quick U-turn for a couple of us back to the station to quickly online everything.  Then back out to the titan for a short wait until the bridge went up.

Bridge up for Harpy Fleet

Bridge up for Harpy Fleet

Things moved along and inside of 25 minutes we had formed up, bridged out, and were sitting on a gate out in Immensea waiting for the word on what was going to happen.

And we waited.  And waited.

Eventually Reagalan passed along the word that we had intel that an N3 fleet consisting of Domis, Ishtars, Onerioses, and Guardians, was running an incursion in NS2L-4 and that we were there to catch them after they finished up.

Only they were not finishing up very quickly.  The command site they were doing was taking a lot longer than anybody seemed to think it should.

Eventually we poked our nose into the system and even took the warp gate into the first area of the site to see what was going on.  Then we moved over to an adjacent system with the plan to catch them leaving when they were done… whenever that was.

We formed up on the anchor and flew around the gate waiting for something to happen.

Finally, just past the 90 minute mark since the call went out for the fleet, we moved back into range of the gate to NS2L-4 and held.  Then Rudazara gave us the word and we jumped in, interdictors heading to the hostiles to bubble them up.  We were warped to the action and started targeting the hostile logistics.  And the same time a Black Legion Zealot fleet jumped in as well and started tearing into the N3 fleet as well.  Then it was just a matter of shooting the targets as they were called.

There were, of course, issue.  The EVE-kill related kills list is a mess because we ended up shooting Black Legion and they ended up shooting at us on occasion, so the sides are completely intermingled.  I tried to clean it up using the Battle Summary Doctor. (I think I got that mostly right.  I know the big names, but I am rubbish when it comes to the smaller alliances.)  That summary shows we ended up popping more than twice as many ships as we lost… 49 killed for 20 of ours down… and that we lost some relatively inexpensive ships compared to what we killed.  I will call that a clear win.

And then it was time for a swift retreat.  We headed back to G-0Q86 via gates, avoiding any retribution (and the potential gaze of Black Legion now that our cooperative operation was over), only running into a drag bubble one just one jump out from our base, which caught a couple of people before the sole proprietor of the bubble was chased off.

In the end it was a long wait, but a fair ration of kills pays for a lot of hanging about on gates.  Most of an expensive incursion fleet killed, hilarious indeed.

And the usual share of snap shots from the battle after the cut.

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Drone Assist Slaughter at BW-WJ2 December 23, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , , ,
6 comments

I have been shirking my responsibilities in EVE Online of late.  With the return to Azeroth and the sudden burst of enthusiasm from the instance group I have been allocating most of my gaming time to World of Warcraft.

And, honestly, it is easy enough to do that.  WoW, being the PvE solo-friendly world that it is, is always ready with something to do… so long as you are up for that sort of thing.  Interstellar space wars in EVE Online on the other hand do not necessarily work with your schedule.  Just because you have a block of time doesn’t mean that anything will be going on, and I hate to clone jump back to Deklein to rat or mine because that will lock me out of action in Curse for a 20 hour stretch.  So the last few weeks have been mostly about skill training and reading about battles I missed.

Finally on Sunday, with a chunk of free time, I decided I would drop into whatever fleet was announced, so long as I could get into an appropriate ship.  I was rewarded with a directorbot announcement almost immediately.

so I literally just woke up to find 500 people on mumble and shit happening, idk what shit but i wanna kill it. DOMIS on Reagalan – Op 1 – STRATOP – get in fleet let’s goooooooooooooo

Dominix fleet.  I had an appropriately fit Domi at our staging station in G-0Q86 (as well as an incorrectly fit one, which I have to fix at some point), so was able to join the fleet right away.  The situation, as described, sounded similar to the last fleet I actually flew out with, back at E-YJ8G nearly a month ago.  There were Slowcats on grid, things were bubbled, supers were arriving, and we were going to go add our weight to the fight.  Sounded like another node crash in progress to me, but what the hell.  Every fleet is its own story in New Eden.  We stacked up our potato fleet on the titan and waited for the bridge.

Dominix - The opposite of sleek

Dominix – Makes the Erebus look sleek

I am not sure where the actual capital fight went down.  We bridged out, and started to move in that direction until we made it to BW-WJ2.  At that point we held up as there was a report of a Nulli Secunda fleet laying in wait for us.  We sat for a while at the XVV-21 gate in BW-, aligned towards the S4-9DN gate waiting for the word as to whether we would go forward or retire.  Eventually the decision was made to turn around and head back as the route was going to be too hot.  Reagalan warped the fleet to a point in space not too far out so we could all turn around and warp directly to the XV gate.

However, some people missed the fleet warp and warped directly to the S4 gate instead.  The S4 gate had hostiles on both sides of it and it seemed sure that those we went there would be lost.  Some who warped there jumped through the gate into S4 in one of those “there is no situation so bad that you cannot make it worse” moves.  Reagalan, in a moment of compassion, decided to warp to the S4 gate to try and rescue those who had at least remained in system.  This was a 49 AU warp in 10% time dilation, in battleships, which is one of those “everybody is clear for a bio” times, as that takes a while.

As the gate came into view those landing first reported that the hostiles had apparently come through the gate and there was essentially a sizable cruiser fleet sitting, freshly arrived and embarrassingly far from the gate, just waiting for us to slaughter.  Rather than a rescue mission, Reagalan called for bubbles to trap the cruisers, for us to drop drones and assign them to him, and for everybody to start neuting any logistics so that reps would be unavailable to the hostiles.

The last 4K kilometers to the gate had to be the longest I have ever experienced.  When you are there, you see the bubbles up, you have instructions to follow, and targets are waiting to be destroyed, waiting for your ship to finish up its warp so you can start is like watching the kettle, waiting for it to boil.  The mere act of staring at it makes the whole experience seem to stretch out beyond all reason.

Eventually the universe relented.  I dropped out of warp, launched drones, assigned them, and then locked onto that one Onerios in the hostile fleet to apply my neuts in order to drain the energy from his capacitor.  Me and most everybody else in the fleet chose the same target.  I am sure his capacitor went dry pretty quickly… or as quickly as it could in 10% tidi.  The reddish beams in the picture below are energy neutralizers working on him.

He's still repping...

He’s still repping… or being repped

Slowly but surely Reagalan moved from target to target, popping one after another while our own logistics kept us all alive.  Ships that jumped through into S4 were able to come back and join the fleet in its slaughter.  The enemy fleet quickly decided that they needed to leave and began either heading towards the edge of the bubbles or towards the gate to jump out.  It became something of a scamble to hold and pop as many as we could.  Our one-sided battle began to wrap up as hostiles disappeared, either escaping or being destroyed.  A spike on the system graphs at DOTLAN marks our time there.

Our time in BW-WJ2

Our time in BW-WJ2

The EVE-Kill listing for the clash shows that we blew up quite a few ships.  37 cruisers and a smattering of other ships gone, along with a couple of golden pods.

We did not have much time to celebrate our victory though.  The word at that point was that a Nulli Secunda bomber fleet was headed our way to take us out.  We were told to pull in drones and align towards the XVV-21 gate.

During the fight I had managed to wander off my sentry drones, which are immobile when dropped, so went to move back towards them as we got set.  When moving the camera around for screen shots, clicking in space will sometimes set your ship in motion.  I did not realize that my drones were positioned in such a way that I would end up heading the opposite direction as everybody else in the fleet, which made me the idiot of the moment as people got mad at me for bumping them.  My camera was zoomed out far enough that I didn’t even notice my ship moving that way until people began complaining.  Still, I managed to scoop my drones and get aligned myself before Reagalan fleet warped us to the XV gate, so nobody was harmed by my transgression.

From there it was a race, with a pack of fat happy battleships running away from a fleet of stealth bombers looking to get in some hits of their own.  There were a couple of points where the hostiles were appearing through a jump gate as we were warping off to the next one.  That isn’t really a viable position for a stealth bomber, unless they want to chance taking their own bomb in the teeth.  We kept moving back through Catch to Derelik to Curse, where we were able to catch a bridge from an allied titan back to our starting point in G-0Q86.

The fleet stood down at that point, which was good as my chunk of free time was coming to an end.  Further fleets went out later, though so far as I heard there was no node crash because of too many drones in play.  And I did managed to get in a fleet and on the kill board for the month.  So mission accomplished there and I can tell my CEO I did something in December.

More snapshots of our trip to BW-WJ2 after the cut.

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