Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Maths of Hole Rolling

Collapsing wormholes by exceeding their transiting mass limits is something most Wormhole residents can't exist without. It's an essential tool for helping you to find new content that your current chain doesn't offer, or providing security to your PvE fleet when grinding for Sleeper ISK. Traditionally, Battleships and Orcas have been the go to ship for this job because of their large mass, but the introduction of the Higgs rigs recently has made other options viable also.

The key downfall of using Higgs rigged Battleships is their exposure to danger. They are painfully slow to get back to the wormhole once you've jumped and easy fodder for anyone who may be stalking you. Just yesterday we witnessed Spectraliz vapourize three Higgs rigged Megathrons in one fell swoop when the owners tried to roll away their connection to them. Under such circumstances, alternatives are needed. We've used disposable options like Ruptures and Vexors as they can still get about 130K tonnage but they are still painfully slow and easily intercepted. So it was from a foe that we took note of rolling Proteus' as Trinkets has covered previously here. It's a doctrine we've used to great success, rolling connections from right under hostile noses and using it to disrupt the jump maths of people rolling holes we didn't want them to. Which brings me to last night.

After dispatching a Navy Omen in one of our static connections we were assaulted with all kinds of abuse from the pilot in local chat. He clearly wasn't happy with us and was going to spend his time spewing abuse whenever we transited his region of space. Eventually he had a friend log on and that's when we were surprised to see a pair of Victoreux Luxury Yachts turn up on the connection between our two systems and jump through. They then promptly cloaked and warped off before warping back and jumping through again. They were rolling the hole with them, it seemed. When you stop to think about it for a moment it's a pretty good option. With a Higgs rig and a 100MN Afterburner you can get 120K of tonnage, it's invulnerable to bubbles, it's covert and it's very fast to align. Moreover, it's very skill point friendly so almost anyone in your corporation can fly one effectively and it costs a whole lot less than a Tech III Cruiser. The only drawback however, is its 30 cubic metre cargo hold. You can't get a depot in there and it takes some fitting gymnastics to make it happen, so if you get rolled out of your hole you're going to have to self destruct your Yacht and your pod. So that became our plan.

After several attempts to catch them and failing miserably, we decided to put two rolling Legions through the connection once they had jumped into our system and warped away. We then sat cloaked on the hole, hoping to slam the door shut on them with ships that were much fatter than they had probably anticipated. It ended up working a little too well, on their last pass into our system the Wormhole collapsed, leaving our Legions in their system and their Yachts in ours. But as was suspected, they didn't have the ability to refit and probe their way out so it wasn't long before we saw two Yacht wrecks and two corpses on D-Scan. Op success!

In future, perhaps modify your fit somewhat so you can get out of a jam. Like this one I prepared earlier...

[Victorieux Luxury Rolling Yacht]

Reactor Control Unit II
Expanded Cargohold II
Expanded Cargohold II
Expanded Cargohold II

100MN Y-S8 Compact Afterburner

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II

Medium Higgs Anchor I
Medium Ancillary Current Router II
Medium Ancillary Current Router II

Mobile Depot x1
Core Probe Launcher II x 1
Sisters Core Scanner Probe x 8

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bait & Catch

In W-Space, effective baiting is often the difference between getting a fight and getting blue balled. At Buggery over the last year or so we've had great success with the Nereus, but it's become more famous as bait now than a Maller. So we switched it up to the Sigil which, whilst probably not quite as effective, still generates pretty amazing shield regeneration. Generally recognised as a nooby hauler, it frequently gets the cloaky hunter exposed, as this Pilgrim pilot will attest. In case you're curious, this is how we fit it:

[Sigil, Masterbaiter]

Damage Control II
Shield Power Relay II
Shield Power Relay II
Shield Power Relay II
Shield Power Relay II
Shield Power Relay II

Large Shield Extender II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Warp Scrambler II

Medium Diminishing Power System Drain I
Small 'Knave' Energy Drain

Medium Core Defense Field Purger I
Medium Core Defense Field Purger I
Medium Core Defense Field Purger I

The small Nos will keep your scram on even if you're neuted dry and the medium helps to keep the hardeners going under similar circumstances. It's no use solo, of course, the Nereus is still king for that, but it's great for luring out cloaky campers.

In my C3 Red Giant I've currently got someone trying to do the same thing to me, albeit poorly. It started off with a Hound and a Magnate. But the owner was careless and allowed me to spot his two ships even after I had rolled all exits. Clearly he was camping the system. I watch listed the Magnate pilot and two days later it was biomassed. Nothing suss! Sure enough, a couple of days later a four day old pilot in an Imicus just miraculously appeared in the system after all exits were rolled. I convo'd him to feel him out but he was sticking with his story, hastily jumping back in system when I tried to roll him out, just like any other lost noob would when faced with two Megathrons, right? Then yesterday, it was a Heron. Again only a few days old and again appearing in system from nowhere when the only way in or out was being observed. Just to add some fuel to the suss fire, he ran only one of three Data sites in system before logging at a safe.

It's safe to assume he's trying to draw out the Disco Inferno. My guess is he's in a Hound, perhaps a Stratios, perhaps both, waiting by his nooby scanner to get popped and putting a long point on the Proteus and grinding it down. It's a great plan and the Hound is the perfect ship for the job, so I'll give him credit for that. And let's be honest, the Proteus has survived far too long already, its time is due. But I'm not going to give it up to a 4 day old Heron anytime soon. You're going to have to do better than that.

Pro-tip to my would be camper: I'm working 60 hour weeks so don't bother on weekdays, I can't be arsed. =]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Opportunists, engage!

It's funny how intent gets twisted toward selfish gain. EVE magnifies this in so many ways, the latest examples of which have been great fun to observe and participate in.

CCP's latest attempt at content creation has been geared around the Blood Raider pirate faction. Having, by far, the coolest looking skins of any Pirate Faction in the EVE Universe, and possibly one of the most interesting back stories, anything that sees more Blood Raider presence is going to be welcome. Popping up across New Eden without warning, the combat sites that have spawned are immediately rewarding. Successful completion gets you the sexy looking Blood Raider skin for the already sexy looking Abaddon class Battleship and the chance of a 24 hour skill booster that gives you either +10 or +12 attributes to your training. If you're fortunate enough to have Biology trained to level 5, the booster doubles its life to 48 hours. They're proving a popular item selling for over 200 million ISK in many parts, even after the market settling from the initial rush. The Abaddon skins are cheap to buy if you've been unable to secure one, but it didn't stop some early birds trying to sell them for a couple of billion when they first arrived. The only negative has been the implementation. Initially the boosters weren't even working properly; CCP were reasonably quick to correct the error but it's still a pretty poor oversight.

With the boosters being so popular, we've been madly rolling connections looking for as many as we could find, finding a few vacant wormhole systems with as many as seven sites unattended. Some are seeking profit, others [like me] just interested in the training buff, but whatever the motives, we're clearly not alone in seeking them out. Which led us to a nice little fight...

One of our scouts had picked up on a couple of Prophecies that had just started on a site. Knowing they'd be through it very quickly, we formed up as fast as we could and pounced on them just as they started on a Sleeper Combat site. There were lots of sleepers on grid and the remote repair Prophecies were well enough set up that we really couldn't afford to primary their tractor unit, so the loot fairy would decide if we would get their booster or not. As it turned out, the loot fairy wasn't in the mood, keeping the booster for herself. It would have been a rather drawn out engagement without the Curse neuting out the buddy of the primary target. Without his reps landing the first Prophecy went down fast and the fate of the second was sealed.

Regardless, content was created, fights were had and EVE has become a little more interesting, at least for a while.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Playing the long game

I'm quite fond of shinies. Any time I've had the good fortune to scoop a faction or dead space module I take special care to squirrel it away for a rainy day. I tend not to use them very often if they're particularly shiney, any module worth over a hundred million ISK or so gets promptly sold off, but I always hold onto the stuff that looks worthless, for the most part.

I'm of course speaking of things like plating, small remote repairers and faction weapons. I don't see the point in selling them for next to nothing when there may come a day when that module becomes useful, even desirable.

It seems that day is fast approaching. Since the introduction of frigate sized wormholes it has been obvious that a glaring omission from gangs using these routes was a way to bring effective logistics ships with them. As it stands, frigate logi ships aren't bad, but they certainly aren't great, either. They're slow, have a poor resistance profile and are quite fragile. Invariably when a fight starts, they're the first cleared from the field of battle. In that instance it becomes obvious you'd have been better off just bringing eWar or DPS ships.

It's long been one of my favourite doctrines with Sudden Buggery to combine Enyos with Exequrors, so having a frigate wormhole capable logistics ship that doesn't instantly explode when someone looks at it sideways will be great for expanding the usefulness of that doctrine.

Hence, the announcement of Tech II Logistic Frigates recently is a very welcome one. Presumably with a strong resistance profile and the fitting flexibility to enable a reasonable buffer tank I'm sure they'll be widely adopted. If you've been reading my blog long enough you may remember I'd hoped that one of the functions of the Tech III Destroyers would fill this role, but I'm happy enough with this result, too.

Which brings me back to the shinies. If Logistics frigates go down the same road as their cruiser counterparts and are able to fit over sized modules, I expect these dead space modules will be in high demand. I suspect that won't be the case, however. The medium remote repairers have a high fitting cost, even more than that of their tech II variants, which really restricts them to cruiser hulls. I expect it's the small dead space repairers which will really be popular and judging by market influences already, it certainly appears to be the case.

Better start putting some more time into 3/10 and 4/10 DEDs, I guess...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Murderous Reputation

There are some nice changes coming to the EVE Universe, both in terms of game play and aesthetics. The Tech II Logistic Frigates and Navy Faction eWar frigates seems to be all anyone is talking about but it wasn't what grabbed my attention immediately. For me, it was the announcement of kill markers on ships.

Much like the dog fighter aces of wars gone by, when you land the killing blow on an opposing combat vessel your ship will be adorned with a decal displaying your victory. It does come with a catch though, these markers are tied to the ship, not the character, so if the vessel is destroyed or repackaged, the markings are gone forever. Which got me thinking...

My Disco Proteus has gotten me more kills than I care to count. I don't get into killboard heroics and as such don't have my API uploaded on any killboards recording all of my successes and losses, but it must be close to a thousand. One kill almost always turns into two and my blood sacrifices to Bob have been plentiful. Now, I'm told CCP already have the kill logging in place so when this feature deploys it's fair to say my Proteus will be adorned with an unknown number of shiney new decals. I wonder what people would pay for that?

Obviously I couldn't repackage the ship and proving the contract I was selling to the prospective buyer was the actual Proteus in question would be difficult and open to scams. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd even sell it as I'm really quite fond of the old girl. But it does beg the question, what would people pay for a hull adorned with lots and lots of kill markers?

I'm tipping there will be glory hounds out there who'd pay plenty for the privilege.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pay to Learn

It's good to see CCP making meaningful progress towards limiting the appearance of an unclimbable mountain in regards to skill training. For those of us with a few years of constant training under our belts it's probably a little tough to remember just how frustrating the skills system is as a new player. It very much limits what you can do, where you can go and ultimately, who you interact with. I think that last point is the most important one of all.

As someone in the AU Timezone, I can tell you first hand that it's a daunting experience when you set off on your EVE journey. Initially drawn in by the aesthetics and a love of almost all things Sci-Fi, my first two attempts at EVE both lasted less than a week. In those days the tutorials were poor and I had literally no one to point me in the right direction. The third attempt stuck, but only because I got into it with a few friends from a Battlefield clan and together we made mistakes and had a laugh. The concept of the game and it's aesthetics draw you in, but it's these personal interactions that keep you playing EVE, in my opinion.

So now CCP have, at long last, seen fit to buff the skill point donation to new players. Personally I still don't think it's enough, but it's a good start. Moreover, the tutorials and interface to help you become accustomed to the EVE Universe really is top shelf. Along with the best character creator in the MMO world by a very wide margin, the new player must be positively mesmerized by just how slick this game looks. However, I still don't think enough is being done to get those players interacting with player controlled corporations and alliances.

The latest news is the ability to remap poorly chosen skills. I really love this idea. I mean, I spent way too long on mining and industry skills when I came into this game and there was a time during my early forays into PvP when I would have gladly traded them for more appropriate skills. That time has past now, I've gone past 100 million skill points on both of my main characters, but this is the sort of flexibility young pilots need to ensure they don't just table flip when they realise mining is ten kinds of boring and they can't fly an Ishtar for at least a month.

Judging by the head explosions going on at the EVE Online Forums over this proposal, it would appear that I am in the minority. I'm yet to read a cogent argument as to why it's such a bad idea, but the general consensus seems to be a very juvenile one. "I couldn't do that, why should they be able to?" It's an effective way to remove yourself from the discourse in a meaningful way.

I'm not going to pretend I care enough about the mechanics of how they actually bring about the change; I actually trust CCP to do this right. In the meantime, I think I'll grab some popcorn and just watch the fireworks. Instead of getting bogged down by this, let's think about ways to get more newbros into the corporations. It's all good and well to make the unclimbable mountain less daunting, but it's made much easier when the load is shared.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What's a D-Scan?

You really have to wonder what some people are thinking. I know when I'm ratting in W-Space I know exactly where every exit is and pay close attention to every signature that spawns. I'm not interested in being caught out whilst I'm making ISK so I take appropriate precautions. D-Scan is of course a pivotal tool to keeping your shiney ratting ship, too.

We rolled into our new static C3 to find a T405 connection to a C4 Wolf Rayet system. Upon jumping in scouts reported a mobile tractor unit and a Paladin on D-Scan with wrecks but no combat signatures to be had. We assumed we'd probably just missed our chance so the combat probes went out in the hope he was a bit careless. Well, we found his site but upon landing he was leaving and the Relic site he was running had been fully completed. So back to probing we go, finding another Combat Data site in system which was dutifully bookmarked should he be so reckless as to not have seen our probes on scan. We left a scout in system and withdrew to let things cool for a bit.

Not ten minutes passed and our scout reports that the Paladin has just warped to the Data site, incredibly. We were a little thin on numbers so we formed up in my Pilgrim, an armour Svipul and a Heretic, the latter both fitted with scrams as we had witnessed him using a Micro Jump Drive earlier.

As he was finishing the first wave off we made our move, with the Heretic and Svipul providing initial tackle as the Pilgrim lumbered in. Our prey remained bastioned for at least a couple of minutes as we waited for the three medium neuts to do their work, all the while hoping he wasn't cap injected. The incoming DPS from the Sleepers was formidable and already had our Heretic in 30% armour but fortune smiled on us and they switched their attention back to the Paladin, allowing our bubbler to stay on grid to catch the all important pod. With the Paladin now neuted out from over use of his smart bombs and constant cap pressure he quickly went pop and was sent to HiSec via the express route shortly thereafter.

This is probably the gold standard for a Paladin running C4 sites solo these days. A little over blinged perhaps but you won't see me complaining. But it begs the question.

Do you even D-Scan, bro?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Force is Weak Sauce

It's been a long time between blogs. Bob's work has been on the back burner whilst I was dividing time between an hour intensive job and toying around with World of Warships for it's instant fun factor. Working for a living really does impede a disciple of Bob from carrying out His work, but I've managed to make a few sacrifices in His honour with the limited time I've had, the most amusing of which was this exploration Curse I stumbled upon in a neighbouring Wormhole.

The past week has been well and truly devoted to the open beta of Star Wars: Battlefront. It's something I and many of my friends have been eagerly awaiting as unashamed Star Wars nerds. The trailers have been spectacular and the prospect of a Battlefield 4 like experience but within the universe of Star Wars was something I was sure would see my POS run out of fuel from neglect. What you expect and what gets delivered however, are rarely the same.

The postives: 

It's utterly gorgeous and instantly fun. The models for the vehicles, infantry and scenery are all top shelf and very much in line with Star Wars canon. I often found myself just viewing the battlefield from range, watching the AT-ATs and AT-STs stomp through the snow and Tie fighters, X-Wings and and the like battle it out overhead. The ground is alive with red and green laser fire from all directions and it very much resembles the scene from the attack on the Hoth base in the Empire Strikes Back. It's the visuals more than anything that keep me going back.

Playing as Luke or Vader is a blast. Both are appropriately badass and have their strengths and weaknesses. I hate that they're on a timer but they are great fun to use.

The negatives:

I'll start with infantry. The gun play is pretty good for the most part but I am unable to understand why you're able to crouch and look down sights but still get no reward to accuracy for doing so. The result is a bunch of people left-right strafing and shooting from the hip like they're playing Unreal Tournament.

Air vehicles are Bob awful. As someone who sank way too many hours into the X-Wing series of games in years gone by I didn't expect that level of immersion, but this is less involved than Rogue Squadron was. It's very basic, unrewarding, awkward to use and ultimately ineffectual to the outcome of battle.

Ground vehicles aren't much better. I've known for a while that the AT-AT Walker would be on rails and I've made my peace with that. What's so disappointing is that if you're lucky enough to stumble upon a token that lets you control the weaponry of the beast, it only lasts 60 seconds before you're booted out. The AT-ST isn't much better. It initially feels a bit like the Battle Walkers of Battlefield 2142 but you're locked in a 3rd person view and the aiming reticle is inexplicably vague. Your shots never go where you think they'll go so you're forced to just stomp around and spam lasers, hoping for the best. The same applies to fixed emplacement turrets around the map. Horrible to aim with and they do little damage to vehicles anyway.

All that said and done, I'll probably drop the cash on this game but the way the game has been made, to make it really easy to jump into and do well from day one, has sealed its fate already when it comes to long term playability. For instant gratification it's great, but I think the modern gamer wants more than that, for the most part.