Monday, September 12, 2016

Dirty Deeds

There's been a decent amount of concern over on the Eve Forums that the F2P option will fill the server not with new players, but with existing players making HiSec travel even more dangerous with a swag of ganking alts that cost them nothing to train. It's a fair argument too, when you look at the capabilities of a Gallente Alpha Clone in a gank Catalyst destroyer.

In the past I've organised a few gank ops in and around Osmon with my Corporation mates targeting Marauders and other Faction Battleships. For the most part we weren't too fussy and didn't scan our targets to see if they were using expensive modules, we just wanted to piss in someone's cornflakes. Of course, being HiSec, we got our fair share of very shiney kill mails and made the experience ISK positive very comfortably. I don't recall the exact numbers, but I seem to remember the initial outlay for about thirty fitted gank Cataylsts cost about 300 million ISK and the returns were several times that number, not to mention the "luls" that you just can't put a number on.

It's also fair to assume that HiSec suicide ganking isn't typically the domain of people new to the Eve universe, so the concerns being voiced are certainly justified. New players, bless their unjaded, idealistic souls, are ignorant to the the cunty tactics that are employed every day in New Eden.

That said, does it make any difference at all to a bitter vet if the game is F2P?  Unlikely. We still have skills we want to train, advancements we want to make and to be able to enjoy those skills to the best of our abilities. What F2P does enable is those players who, for whatever reason, aren't able to maintain a subscription, maintain a useful presence.

More importantly, it's an entirely legitimate way to make a living. In a previous posts I wrote about ratting as a good option for an Alpha Clone player, but suicide ganking, if you can manage good target selection, would do the job just fine. Anyone with the intent could easily make enough ISK to buy a PLEX every month. If it has to be at the expense of another player then so be it, I say. Just think of it as an Eve Survival Tax. If you want Eve to survive, you need these guys to subscribe.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

You Jammy Bastard

Continuing on with the theme of useful Alpha Clone pilots, I'm turning my attention to eWar. Specifically, ECM and Sensor Damps as Tracking Disruptors and Target Painters aren't even nearly as widely used. You could make an argument for an Arbitrator as a Energy Neutralizing loadout, but it'll be fragile as fuck and get primaried off the field in nothing flat. At least with ECM or Damps you can actually force your quarry to disengage almost instantly and use range to your advantage.

The frigate options are probably not worth discussing at length, it's not rocket science how to fit them and they're very squishy in a fire fight, so yeah, I'll leave that to your imagination. When it comes to the Cruiser hull options of the Blackbird and Celestis however, things are looking up.

The Blackbird has long been the go-to poverty pack, throw away eWar boat of Eve and is as hated today as it's ever been, consistently seeing it called primary the moment it appears. Frankly, if you're rocking ECM, expect to be shot at and probably trolled in local. That's your lot in life. The key is to surviving the initial contact long enough to land your jams and disrupt their own eWar so your DPS boats can deal some damage. Sometimes it goes great, sometimes not. But even with a shitty Alpha clone pilot, you can be that guy. That really, really annoying guy.

Compared to a max skilled Falcon pilot, it's not terribly impressive. Your range is only about 36km's but you have a whopping 41km's of falloff to retreat into. But where it's really let down compared to a well skilled pilot is in the jam strength, roughly one third the strength of a Falcon, depending on how you fit it. Which of course means you have to overheat your jams before landing and pick on Tech 1 ships for the most part. You'll need a fair degree of good fortune to jam out anything Tech II or Tech III, so know your limits. With the prop mod off you can keep your jams going for about seven minutes which is probably about 6 minutes longer than you'll live, so you may as well just keep that MWD running and pull as much range as you can. The 23K or so of EHP you have might just buy you an extra minute, you never know, right?

The Celestis, I think, is a better option. Not only are they not so universally despised as the ECM Ships, they've got a full wing of medium drones to send out and deal a little damage. In much the same style as the Blackbird above, the guns are for decoration more than anything, a little self defence from a tackle frigate that gets too close, that's about it. The value is in the damps though and the whole fit is geared around putting as much sensor disruption on the field as possible.

Sensor damps are so useful in so many roles and it's a big reason why I prefer them to ECM, other than the obvious one of not being reflexively shot at by literally everyone. Do you have a problem with a kiting Orthrus? Damps. Falcon jamming everyone from 50km's? Damps. Logistics wing staying out of reach? Damps. Pretty much anything? Damps. Damps. Damps. Jack of all trades eWar and with a useful, if not impressive, 29K of EHP.

Now I'm not going to pretend these are good options, they're serviceable, at best. The point is to give your F2P members a sense of value to the fleet. Give them a taste of what PvP is like, pretty soon they'll get the hunger to fly some of the shiney shit you take on roams and before you know it you've got a useful guy in your Corporation that was just making up the numbers before. It's what you want, it's what CCP wants and hell, isn't more people to shoot at what we all want?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Turning Shit into Clay

I'm a big fan of Eve going free to play. They've got a tremendous mechanism in place to sustain their income over and above that of subscriptions and considering how many of the long term players can sustain themselves without paying a subscription, anything that brings more people to the universe is a good thing.

If you've been reading my blog a while you know I play World of Warships quite a lot, too. My affection for it has a lot to do with my time in the Navy but had it not been free to play I probably would never have tried it. Since being cast under its spell I've spent money on it for several premium ships and I'll continue to do so as long as War Gaming continue to deliver a great product. There are those in the community that are proud of the fact that they haven't spent a dollar on it and I understand there are circumstances where it might be difficult for some, but really, I see them as free loaders. If the developer has made something you enjoy, the honourable thing to do would be to reward them for it. That said, it's a reality in World of Warships and it will no doubt be a reality in Eve, too. The question is, how do you get the most out of your F2P members?

In PvP scenarios, five million skill points doesn't give you a lot of options. Whilst you may have the skills to fly a Navy Cruiser, you're far from efficient in it and a liability to your fleet. Being able to put out enough DPS, apply it to your target efficiently, sustain the incoming damage and manage your capacitor levels just isn't effective in a cruiser hull with only the five million skills points in the captain's skull. So what use are they?

A well put together fleet has several arms. You have your scouts, followed by your damage dealers who are ably backed up by the logistics wing; but all of those are jobs for well skilled pilots. What remains is fast tackle and eWar. I'll save the eWar discussion for another time as it's significantly more involved than fast tackle. So let's talk Tier 1 interceptors.

Survivability isn't high on the agenda here. It's more about landing on the target your scout has found, tackling it so it can't warp away and lasting long enoough for the heavy hitters to land on field, secure secondary tackle and maybe just warp out before being popped. You can't disregard tank, of course, but with limited skill points to play with it's more about speed and evasive maneuvering. As your survival rate isn't high, you must keep the fittings very cost effective also.

The obvious choice, for me at least, is the Condor. It has long been one of my favourite T1 frigates for it's outrageous speed and ability to apply its damage at long ranges. It is the poor man's interceptor and, I believe, fills the role as Alpha Tackle better than any other race.

Very fast, able to reach 4,400 m/s with overheat, able to apply [miserly] damage to target whilst kiting, a 24 km point, and nimble enough to chase down almost anything that isn't an Interceptor. You could of course swap out the Thermal Amplifier for a Target Painter, but it's a drain on Capacitor and you really don't want your foot off the throttle in this ship. Importantly, it's also entirely disposable, you could have a hundred of these occupying your shared ships hangar and not even give a damn. Now the several Alpha clone pilots in your fleet are no longer a liability, but an integral part of the success of your gang. Keep pilots engaged with roles like that and you never know, they might even pony up for a subscription.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Alpha Rat

With the introduction of Alpha Clone States in November I got to thinking how one might utilize the limited skills available to the best effect. The obvious choices are exploration frigates going for that dank Relic site loot or Ventures filling HiSec mining belts, but I'm talking about maximum results on minimum skills. I think, all things considered, that living can best be made by ratting.

Probably some of the lowest risk, highest earning potential with ratting comes from either HiSec DED sites or Class 1 Wormhole Sleeper sites. The HiSec ones can be a bit hit and miss but the loot drops can be outrageously good. In Guristas infested areas the Scout Outpost is rated as a 4/10 but can easily be handled in a Tier 1 cruiser and if it drops a C-Type Invulnerability field, well, that's several hundred million ISK for about 5 minutes work. The wormhole sites are less lucrative but a lot more reliable. Each site in a Class 1 wormhole will pay out + or - 25 Million ISK and it's relatively low risk, albeit much more dangerous than HiSec.

Having established your method of F2P Eve ISK farming, how best to execute it? I initially thought a Caldari Navy Caracal with meta Heavy Missile Launchers would be the best option. With a passive tank and great reach it could kite high damage NPCs and act much like a passive drake, admittedly with less damage potential. Which is where I stalled. Even with three Ballistic Controls and Faction missiles the DPS was a miserly 270. That'd be OK for HiSec I suppose, but it won't cut it in W-Space if you're solo. The Navy Vexor was another strong contender but being limited to medium faction drones, especially considering the Sleeper's affinity for munching on them, makes it a HiSec only option also. Which drew me to the Omen Navy Issue.

Now, I know what you're thinking, it looks pricey. And yeah, it is a bit on the spendy side, but not outrageously so. The faction beam lasers can be swapped out for the Meta 3 or 4 versions as needed and the same applies to the hardeners. But really, when you look at the stats of this ship with the clone that will be flying it, it needs all the help it can get.

The Important Stuff

Tank DPS: 115
Gun DPS: 316
Drone DPS: 100
Speed: 751 m/s
Capacitor: 44% stable

If you're not comfortable taking this into a high risk area it'll run level 3 combat missions comfortably too, not to mention the random pirate and drones sites that pop up in HiSec. But if you've got big balls and you know how to maintain a little hole security, I'm very confident it'll handle almost all Class 1 wormhole sites too, with the obvious exception of the Phased Catalyst Node and its litany of Sirius gun batteries. So if you see your corporation filling up with F2P scrubs that are bitching about their inability to earn enough income to buy the odd skill injector, maybe put them onto the Navy Omen, provided they were smart enough to select the chosen people for their preferred race.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Don't even try to be the good guy.

My activity of late, both in the blogosphere and in the EVE Universe has left much to be desired. I tried to find my Mojo again, I really did, but it just felt more like a job than entertainment. I guess that's what being a bitter vet is, isn't it? I can't really explain it, I love and hate this game all at the same time; it's like a drug habit I can't kick.

When I set up my little PI Farm in the Class 1 Wormhole the writing was on the wall. I knew that the daily log in to reset my extractions wouldn't last and, sure enough, I'm resetting every fortnight now. But that doesn't really pay the PLEX bill and my stash will exhaust itself in a little over a year without an income. I'm sure as hell not going to rat for it so I thought I may as well play Land Lord for a while.

This is probably one of the most convenient aspects of the Citadels. Allowing select individuals or corporations to come and go as they please makes life in W-Space more appealing to the casual player. If they could find someone with an open port, or at least negotiate docking rights, a mutually benefical arrangement could be made. I'm not the first to think of this, of course. There was the failed Oasis project recently that had promised much but probably over reached in the end. That individual made his Citadel a free port and really, if that's what you want, you need just go set up in Thera. At least those stations won't get exploded.

So I've taken a different tack. I've offered up docking rights and low tax PI in my system for pretty much anyone that wants it. I'm being selective about who gets the rights to dock, I really don't want PvP entities in there making life a misery for the industry or sleeper farming bears, they are a potential source of my income, after all. So  advertised in the Science & Industry sub forum and soon had a small Industrial Corporation setting up shop. Obligingly they're taking full advantage of the ample PI resources in system and I'm seeing a nice trickle of tax income flowing in. It won't make me rich, but with a few more people extracting it'll go a long way to making my subscription ISK neutral. As such, I've been canvassing pilots on the forums that have been asking for PI advice, you know, trying to be the good guy for a change, only to be met by this...

Now, I get that there are a lot of scams getting about and one has to be cautious, but what can I possibly have to gain from this? You have a HiSec static and secure storage and somehow it's a trap? I think Tisisan from Hard Knocks summed it up best.
"If you let billions of isk of PI stack up in a system with a HS static, youre an idiot. Honestly, its a really low risk offer given the cost of PI infrastructure (compared to site running, t3 production, other WH isk making stuff). Just don't be a lazy ****. Take the 2 minutes to scan out the HS and move your crap out every few days.
You know what IS risky? Setting up as solo citadel, investing a bil or two on pocos, with limited characters when you dont know jack about operating in wormhole space. Oh, and being a condescending **** to people trying to help you is a good way to get on the eviction list if you do actually move in to a hole solo."
I couldn't have said it any better. :) Oh, and if you want to take me up on the offer, join the in game channel "The Farm." [note the period at the end]

As an aside, I took Night Fever out for the first time in ages a few days ago. I didn't really intend to go hunting and was just idling 100 km's off of a connection when I noticed an Astero and Probes on D-Scan. I had all of the anomalies scanned out so I thought "Why the hell not?"

Dutifully, the little Astero scanned for a while, his ship appearing on scan every so often but never in an anomaly. So I waited, cloaked, 100km off of a Wormhole.

Next thing I know the Astero is on grid with me, coming out of warp very close to my position. How close? About 2,600 metres, that's how close. I quickly realised I wasn't imagining things, uncloaked, smashed F1 to F5 and the inevitable happened...

Bob is good.