Monday, December 26, 2016

Stranger Things

No, not the TV show. But this is one of the stranger things I've seen in Eve. In the endless pursuit of satisfying Bob's demands for tributes one comes to expect exploration frigates for the most part. There was, of course, the Nestor recently and whilst unexpected, it is at least purposed for the task. Imagine my surprise when D-Scan returned a Noctis, however.

I've seen an exploration Noctis once before and by seen, I mean vapourized. But we just happened to catch it on a Wormhole, not see it in it's un-natural habitat, scanning for sites. Now at least I have a screen shot to verify this rare beast exists, dropping into my system from HiSec and proceeding to burn 100+ km's off the connection, uncloaked, whilst probing the system.

I dispatched him, of course, and Bob was pleased. Another frozen husk to throw on His Holy pile.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Best Laid Plans

My tenants have expressed an interest in conducting research, invention and manufacturing in the Class 1 Wormhole we occupy and, like the good Landlord, I thought it was high time I install a Raitaru so they may conduct their business. The trickiest part of the new Citadel structures is their anchoring timer. Twenty four hours seems like a life time when you're putting down a one billion ISK structure so it's wise to take certain precautions. In keeping with that I waited until all transient connections and the static had de-spawned and made a point of not warping to the new HiSec connection, just to keep it unspawned also. I then went about cleaning system. All Relic, Data, Gas and Combat sites cleared leaving just one signature in system, deterring any would be explorers from looking or sticking around too long.

Roughly one minute prior to Downtime I anchored the Raitaru 1,000 kilometres from my existing Astrahus, the docking bays facing each other directly. Now I just have to hope that no new connections spawn in the next 24 hours.

Whilst the chances of that happening were slim, it does happen. Alas, quite the opposite happened to me. Shortly after downtime I had transient connections from a Class 5, Class 6 and NullSec, followed shortly after by a Class 3 also. The chances of requiring a defence fleet have suddenly sky rocketed. It was an eventuality I was prepared for so Siggy was updated with all relevant connections and a mail was sent to the defenders. Gear up.

But nothing came of it. Despite a lot of activity in system over Christmas eve not a single person showed up to coat hanger the deployment. I'm just going to hazard a guess that people haven't got their overviews updated with these structures yet and it went un-noticed on D-Scan. Either way, it went off without a hitch and now I have another structure to defend.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Getting the Band Back Together

The usual suspects are coming together. It seems like all of the old crew are coalescing to reform the next iteration of the Prolapse Alliance. Trigger Warnings is that new iteration and I'm climbing aboard for the luls and gudfights. We're getting the band back together.

It begs the question, of course. What is the catalyst for the recent burst in activity in EVE Online? New players and old are returning out of the clear blue sky. I'm sure Alpha clones are playing a part but that's most likely just helping to seed the player base for the future, not bring back bitter vets into activity. Could you seriously come back to the game with 100 million skill points and just stick to T1 cruisers and below? No, me either. I'd re-sub.

I've really only been back playing seriously for a week but the difference is tangible. In all areas of space there is increased player activity. Even the barrens of wormhole space have seen an up tick. More explorers, more ratters and, as expected, more hunters. I think the big changes are in NullSec and LowSec, however. The changes to Carriers and Rorquals have been an amazing shift. In days gone by a ratting Carrier wasn't easy to find and was even harder to catch. Rorqual kills rarely happened at all because they so rarely left a POS, Dreadnaughts were an easy kill for a group of sub caps. Now Carriers are way too powerful to not use for ratting, the ISK per hour potential is enormous. The same goes for Rorquals. You can mine more efficiently than ever before and the Panic Module means surviving a hot drop is a reality. Dreadnaughts can be one man wrecking machines in the right hands. I've already seen that with Bomber's Bar this week. Ratting carriers everywhere, Rorquals in space and hunters keen to try their luck.

Well played CCP, you've breathed new life into our game.

The Ethics of EVE

Ethical behaviour in EVE is largely accepted as being purely optional. There are those who take pride in their high ethical standards, even build successful business models upon it, and there are those who will corrupt your naivety in any way they can. I've been at both ends of the spectrum and I won't pretend I'm something I'm not. Generally speaking, if I'm generous to another player that isn't known to me, it's because I can see that they're new to the game and I don't want them to be deterred from playing. I really like to give advice when I can and encourage new players to try all aspects of the game; it's a large part of the reason that I write this blog.

It's not always how I saw it, of course. In my very early days of EVE I was a HiSec griefer, mercilessly attacking soft targets with my friends and reveling in it. In fairness, I was a new player myself so I didn't perceive any advantage over my quarry, I just saw them as sheep and I was the wolf. Then there were those times in LowSec when my friends and I would bump capitals away from the docking rings of stations, demand a ransom and then destroy their vessel regardless. Again, I justified it because our targets were from powerful NullSec blocs and a few billion extorted from their ISK train was only good for the game as a whole. Those on the rough end of the stick would invariably recover from their loss. Then there was the time I infiltrated an industrial corporation who had just moved into a low class wormhole. After only a couple of weeks I cleaned out everything they had in system and pulled down their tower. In more recent times I've coordinated HiSec ganks in and around Osmon on shiney PvE Marauders and Tengus. My point is, I've done some bad shit. Nothing particularly heinous, but I'm no angel either.

I've been on the receiving end of some low ethical standards too. I lived to tell the tale and most of the time you only have yourself to blame. Maybe you were too lazy, too trusting or just too stupid. You get gamed, you move on and get on with life.

The one that stays with me was an ANZAC Day roam shortly after the Tier 3 Battlecruisers were released. ANZAC Day is pretty sacred in Australia, especially as an ex-serviceman, and a roam through LowSec with about seventy other Aussies to celebrate the day promised a lot. It was also my first real introduction to Northern Coalition. They had infiltrated the fleet with the express purpose of intercepting it. I don't have a problem with that, we were after a good fight, but Northern Coalition had zero interest in a good fight. Our swarm of Battlecruisers was met by several Heavy Interdictors, webbing Lokis and more Archons and Abaddon Battleships than I could count. It was a turkey shoot. As I recall, our combined DPS managed to kill two sub-caps before we were defeated or withdrew. Worst of all, the fleet was less than an hour old. Now a similar thing seems to be happening with Pandemic Legion and Bomber's Bar. Twice this week they've infiltrated the fleet, waited for an opportune moment and used their spy as a warp in for smart bombing ships to kill the bombers.

To be clear, it's not the loss of a bunch of Bombers that anyone cares about. The great thing about Bombers Bar is that you can throw caution to the wind and the worst case scenario is that you lose a fitted bomber worth maybe 70 or 80 million ISK. What I hate seeing in this scenario is the endangerment of the public roam. They are a great content generator for the EVE Universe and they will survive the likes of Pandemic Legion. I do worry that those sort of tactics drive away players from trying content they might not otherwise have access to, however. For Pandemic Legion all it will achieve is to see their members black listed from a source of content they could otherwise enjoy. Sure, they'll have a belly laugh about how they bombed the bombers, maybe even dine out on the anger a little, but really they're just damaging their game.

Be a cunt, don't be a cunt, I don't really care. But don't fuck with public content generators, that's just bad for the game and in turn, bad for you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Never Not Nestor

In my efforts to appease the insatiable lust that Bob has for sacrifices I have seen some unusual choices by capsuleers looking to quickly hack Relic sites. Everything from a Svipul to a Curse and even a Noctis once, so I shouldn't be surprised when I see a Nestor jump into my system from HiSec, should I? I mean, it gets bonuses to hacking, after all. Still, I was pretty damn surprised to see it first land on my HiSec entry and then jump in, warp off and cloak up.

I keep a skeleton crew in my Astrahus because my activity levels have been low in recent times so coming up with a good counter to the Nestor wasn't easy with the choices I had on hand. I settled on the Triple rep Myrmidon in the end, with some back up from a neuting Vexor to off set the active armour tank my target is probably sporting.

Dutifully, after a few minutes of sitting cloaked and probably surmising the coast was clear, the Nestor pilot began probing. Fortunately he knew what he was doing and didn't take all night to scan the six signatures in system and soon enough I had his position resolved at a Relic site, attempting to hack a can. I used my Astero to get in nice and close, called the Myrmidon in on top of the target and sent the Astero back to base to re-ship into the Vexor, if needed. Tackle went smoothly enough but I was making little headway through the Nestor's shields. Surely it's not shield tanked? Unsure that I had the cap boosters on hand to survive the engagement I called in the Vexor for some additional drone damage and neuting and it really was the factor that decided the fight. There's every chance I'd have run out of capacitor without it. The Nestor popped, the pod escaped and I surveyed the results.
One and a half billion ISK, not bad at all. As usual the loot fairy flipped me the bird but what she left behind wasn't all bad. I got three Geckos out of the deal and a Dead Space X-Type shield boost amplifier, I probably shouldn't bitch too loud. You have to question the use of a Nestor for such a job though, don't you? For less than a tenth of the cost an Astero will do the task just as well and with a whole lot better chance of escape. Herr Jefferson was a good sport about it, regardless. I hope to see him again sometime. :)

Back in the Service of Bob

Way back when Pirate Faction Data and Relic sites started appearing in W-space I used to spread Bob's love to all who would stumble upon the Class 2 Wormhole I called home. Using Night Fever as an instrument of His Divine Will, all visitors were bathed is His Holy Electromagnetic Glory and their frozen husks offered as tribute at the true centre of that system's star. Following the offering, a recitation of the Prayer of Bob would follow and, in keeping with tradition, Bob would soon see fit to lead another into my place of worship for ritualistic sacrifice. They were the halcyon days of low class wormhole systems.

With the passage of time however, the greed of the explorer waned, fewer and fewer chose to make a sacrifice to Bob and as a Blood Priest of the Almighty, I was left with little to do. With my attention being drawn elsewhere and the lion's share of explorers I encountered merely trying to bait Bob's Holy Instrument, I reluctantly decided to withdraw from active ministry.

Over the last twelve months much has changed in New Eden, most notably in regards to Alpha Clone States. It has seen an influx of old and new characters returning to active duty and, in keeping with finding ways to financially support active duty, explorers are returning to Anoikis. Although still not in active ministry, Bob is surely trying to tempt me. Over the last several days I have seen numerous incursions into my region and, for old time's sake, I have seen fit to demonstrate the power of Bob's love and the kill marks are racking up. But already it seems some have taken note.

Several pilots have fallen victim in recent days, none of them of note, all of them I suspect to be Alphas. Until today. A K162 connection from a Class 2 wormhole occupied by The Glory Holers may make for some interesting content. Before too long an Anathema is on scan and I patiently lay in wait for him, wondering if his greed will get the better of him. Before long he lands in the only Relic site in system and goes to work. Reflexively I align to his position and hit warp, getting de-cloaked as I land and immediately unleashing Bob's Divine Wind. As I align to a celestial and see D-Scan is clear, his ship and very soon his pod, explode in glorious fashion and Bob is pleased.

Reciting the prayer I clean up the mess and deposit the frozen husk in the depot atop my Astrahus Citadel. As a devotee of Bob's good work I need no proof of his existence, but for the heretics that remain unconvinced I present to you exhibit A. Just moments after the clean up a Drake is in system, probing and warping about. My suspicion level is high but the pilot gives no indication of being bait. Emboldened by Bob's deliverance I throw caution to the wind and engage regardless. I know there is another Anathema in system, probably watching the Drake, perhaps even coordinating with it, so I do my best to counter the prospect of a brick bait Drake by engaging with my Rook and applying additional damage from a Nemesis. It's very unlike me to dual box, but I leave my destiny in Bob's hands.

I get a nice warp in on the Drake, apply tackle and cycle my two Caldari jams alternately, keeping him perma jammed for the most part. Meanwhile my Nemesis is unleashing Torpedoes on the target whilst keeping him painted, giving my Rook's Heavy Assault Missiles every chance to land for maximum effect. Appropriately the Drake is significantly well tanked, but his fate appears sealed. As he hits low armour the Anathema I had seen briefly on D-Scan earlier appears at very close range but I won't be distracted from my target just yet. I lock him to switch tackle as the opportunity arises and have my Nemesis switch his target painter to the smaller target. The Drake soon explodes and I turn my attention and drones to the Anathema that now has my Rook tackled. As expected, D-Scan is now filling with all manner of hostile vessels no doubt coming to prosecute my Rook. Unequipped to jam out the Anathema and make my escape I decided that I will, at the very least, take him with me. I align the Nemesis out but leave him on grid for as long as possible to help kill the surprisingly durable little frigate and it does eventually explode but not before back up tackle has arrived and my Rook succumbs to the overwhelming firepower focused upon it.

On closer examination of the Anathema it's clear what his purpose was. Fitted with a 400mm armour plate and specifically tanked to resist electromagnetic damage, this explorer was designed to resist Night Fever. It might have worked too, except that the pilot was from the same Corporation of the previous Anathema I had vapourized. Both Wingspan and That Cloaky Bastard have made far better fists of it and missed out, I wasn't about to fall for a somewhat ham fisted attempt. Not that I don't appreciate the effort though, I really do. Good fights, see you on the flip side. =]

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Bar Hound

On the way back to my HiSec staging area after yesterday's first day out with Bomber's Bar I take a gate and see a suspect Orca being attacked by a pair of Proteii [that's plural for Proteus :P] from Vendetta Mercenary Group. I seem to recall them being HiSec WarDec griefers but this Orca is flashing yellow, I can't ignore that. I set my kite up at 30 km's, damp his scan resolution so he can't send his drones after me and send my Nova Rage torpedoes to assist in the take down. I can only assume the Proteii were of the cloaky variety because they didn't seem to be doing a whole lot of damage and my little Hound that somehow survived the smart bombing debacle of earlier in the day had himself another billion ISK kill. I really must do this Bomber's Bar thing more often, it's getting me nice kills just by undocking!

Day two in Bomber's Bar and I'm joining a fleet that's been going for several hours with limited success. En route to the rally point, some twenty odd jumps through High and LowSec regions, the comms are electric as they try to take down a Rorqual being supported by a SubCap fleet. Despite losing six or eight bombers spirits are high as they've taken some high value targets down in the process, coming out in front of the ISK war to the tune of about a billion ISK. As they fall back to staging some pilots drop fleet, but already more are joining. It's a living, breathing animal with an insatiable blood lust and I'm just a little bit inspired to be a part of it.

With the element of surprise gone the connection to that particular region of NullSec is to be rolled away and a new one sought out. Bob was unkind during the rolling process, taking our scouts to several sparsely populated regions but we eventually hit pay dirt. The fleet of around forty Black Ops, Recons and Bombers laid in wait whilst the hunters did what they do best, simultaneously stumbling upon Carriers grinding for ISK. One group made warp before tackle could be laid but the second target was not so lucky. Sitting 350 km's from a POS forcefield with his fighters engaged at long range we jumped through the wormhole into Curse, waited for the bridge and jumped on our target. Now, I've been on a lot of Carrier kills in my time, but I've never seen one succumb to SubCaps so quickly before. I landed perhaps two, maybe three volleys, before this one popped, but I guess that's what happens when you don't take tanking seriously. A 2.5b ISK Nidhoggur is a pretty decent start.

The fleet quickly looted what there was of value and reformed not having to wait long before another scout finds a pair of Nidhoggurs engaged in ratting. Cyno up, through the bridge and finally the chance came to sling some focused void bombs at a target. His shield buffer was significant and the Falcons did a fine job of keeping the fighters off our backs. Eventually he succumbed however, quickly exploding once his shields were breached. With attention switching to his friend D-Scan began to light up, a rescue fleet was inbound. The call was made to clear the bubble and align out, the fleet comprised a large number of small ships that would tear through our bomber horde in short order if allowed to. As I had been preparing to make another bomb run I was well clear but I could see some of our number being positively pedestrian in their efforts to clear the warp bubble. That lack of urgency cost a few of them their ships, a Rapier and a pair of Bombers if I recall correctly, but it mattered not, the ISK war was, once again, well in hand.

Two Nidhoggurs and an Orca down for about six billion ISK, I think I like it at the bar. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Time to hit the bar.

With a week off from work before the Solstice I thought it was high time, after six years or so in the Eve Universe, that I hook up with Bomber's Bar. It's not something I can usually do as they operate well outside of my time zone but with little else to do with my days this week I could at least waste one day as a bomb lemming. I missed out on the shenanigans in M-O but 10% TiDi would've done my fucking head in anyway, so it's a blessing in disguise. Nonetheless, Bomber's Bar got some great publicity out of it having bombed a Machariel and Cerberus fleet to dust and as the public roam fleet coalesced it became clear I was going to be a part of a very large fleet.

Something like seventy bombers and various Black Ops, Recons and Blockade Runners formed up in HiSec whilst the hunters went looking for content. I was quickly reminded of my brief forays into NullSec as we sat waiting for a target to present itself for almost ninety minutes. Comms was rapidly deteriorating into bad jokes and piss pulling until a frantic voice called "Check check!". Comms went silent as the hunter called the target, a Rhea class Jump freighter well off a gate with a Widow escort. It smelled like bait but with 70+ bombers in fleet, who the fuck cares? The Cyno went up, a bridge was established and we all fell through the apeture onto our target. With the Rhea called primary and the Widow out of lock range the damage on the freighter was tremendous but the cavalry was landing. A Cynabal and a Hurricane were horribly under equipped and quickly called primary, driven off almost as quickly as they arrived so damage was resumed on the Rhea. It gloriously exploded and the pilot was liberated of about ten billion ISK worth of ship and loot. Meanwhile, our Arazu had managed to keep the Widow in place and when attention was turned to him he was dusted in efficient style. Two and a half billion more there to the kitty.

Much guffawing and slapping of backs ensued and I had to admit, I had a pretty big smile on my dial. Not so much for the kills themselves, but for the excited enthusiasm from some of the new breed who had never participated in such a take down. Some of them professed to literally shaking and one could barely form words. I do miss that feeling.

The fleet reformed on the BLOPS bridger and our hunter soon had another target. A Rorqual sitting about ten kilometres off of an outpost. With a devil may care attitude we immediately jumped on it, bumping as best we could and applying damage. It quickly activated its panic module and it was about this time we realised we had tackled a Rorqual in Pandemic Legion's main staging system. Oops.

A moment later a cyno is lit and no less than three Titans and a Supercarrier were on the field. Miraculously we all got out, but the fun wasn't over. Clearly outgunned we proceeded to make pests of ourselves, first nailing a Sabre on a Jump Bridge and then making another run on the Rorqual. Another Sabre landed and was quickly dispatched, but not before he got some bubbles down and the Titans landed again. A few of our number got caught but the casualties were light.

Cloaking up and reforming on the BLOPS again I got interrupted by my wife and warped off to a safe. Turns out she saved my little Hound as one of the fleet members had played turncoat, dropped fleet and provided a warp in for the Titans right on top of our BLOPS ships and bombers. I return to my desk to see my fleet mates scrambling to escape but very few did, brought undone by a Pandemic Legion turn coat.

The fleet was officially over, but the ISK war was easily won. If you can fly a bomber, do yourself a favour, hook up with Bomber's Bar and throw caution to the wind. Join the "Bombers Bar" in game channel and the "Bombers Bar ML" mailing list. You won't regret it.