Thursday, October 12, 2017

I am the Alpha and the Omega

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt have realized I've been absent from New Eden for a few months now. It's not that I don't still love the game, the time investment is what's killing me. Conversely, it's the immersion and time investment which stops me abandoning it all together. I've simply invested way too much time to completely walk away. Quite the dichotomy. As such, just before going into Alpha state I put up 200 odd market orders which, to my surprise, stayed active and kept ISK trickling in despite being unsubscribed. I've had a third account training Alpha skills, too. In about a week he'll have gone as far as CCP will allow so it was with some surprise that I saw what CCP plans regarding Alphas before the end of the year.

Currently, unsubscribed Alpha players can only amass around five million skill points; come December that number will explode to about twenty. Twenty million skill points makes a pretty competent sub capital pilot. By that stage of your training you should have high level core skills, gunnery and ships competencies that will make you an asset to any fleet. A fully Tech II fit Battlecruiser, and lets face it - they are the current meta, should be well within your reach. Sure, those 100 million SP bitter vets will out DPS you ever so slightly, but not enough for it to count for much in a small gang or fleet engagement. There is a catch, of course. You can't progress past five million SP without buying a month of Omega time and I guess that's fair enough. Once new players get a taste of that sweet 2x training modifier I'm sure there are many who will continue to buy time. It's just a sound business decision from that perspective. Personally however, I'm more interested in how this will affect me directly.

During my current hiatus I've been entirely uninvolved with Holesale Operations other than selling my corp mates stuff in the home system. It's not that I'm unwilling to respond to pings for content, it's that I'm unable. I simply have no ships that my characters can fly in the home system that will be of any benefit to the fleet and I'm sure as Bob not going to drop a PLEX on the chance of content. All of that looks about to change. Whilst I expect I'll have to modify certain fits slightly, there's a strong likely hood that our vaunted Hurricane Fleet Issue Artillery doctrine will be entirely possible for an Alpha pilot to field, not to mention various eWar Battleships. Most notably, the Bhaalgorn. Further to that, Gilas, Ashimmus and Cynabals are all well and truly on the cards, as are their frigate counterparts.

For obvious reasons then, I'm a big fan of this change. Not only will it stimulate the real world and virtual economies, it will likely bring a lot of bitter vets out of retirement from time to time and even give Corporations a reserve force to call upon in times of need that wouldn't have been nearly as effective in the past as it soon will be.

The downsides I really do struggle to see. I've seen speculation that an Alpha will be able to run level 4 missions all day and accumulate ISK without the need for a subscription, but who really does that anyway? It sounds even more dull than mining to me. Which leads me to the next obvious objection, swarms of Alpha mining barges clearing belts and melting the mineral market. But really, how bad could it get? It's not like one person can log in more than one Alpha at a time. Even if you had multiple PCs set up and exploited your way around the one Alpha limit, I'm fine with it, frankly. Cheaper minerals means cheaper ships and more miners means more targets. That just sounds like a target rich environment. Bring. It. On.

But I'm curious to know if you can think of a downside to this change?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sibling Rivalry

Let me tell you a story of two brothers. The older of the two formed a Corporation a few years ago, built it up, settled a C4 Wormhole system and created a large asset base from which to enjoy his little slice of the Eve Universe. However, a year or so ago duty called and the older brother had to leave for Marine training and left the corporation in the hands of his most trusted Eve friend and probably closest living relative, his brother. In his absence his brother and his right hand man proceeded to strip the absentee of his roles and all of his assets. Cheers bro? Now, I don't have a brother, but if I did I could see something like that happening. No doubt the perpetrator thought it was pretty damn funny, too. The victim, whilst a good sport about it all, made it quite clear to his younger sibling that his time would come.

Today was that day, and Holesale were the executors.

The older brother advised our leadership that his sibling rival had just deployed a Fortizar to house their many capital ships in the C4, a Fortizar he was confident was paid for with borrowed funds, no less. On hand for the anchoring timer would be a Thanatos, Chimera and the little brother's pride and joy Nidhoggur, and it was right in the middle of the dead zone for active members, that being the AU TZ. As such, the fleet we formed was less than ideal. Minimal logistics, very little tackle and everyone else in DPS. Our go-to doctrine of late has been the Sleipnir/Hurricane Fleet Issue Artillery one and it would serve us well once again, but with only a dozen or so of us, it would take a while to grind down even one Carrier, never mind three.

Landing on the Fortizar as it became vulnerable we were promptly engaged by the trio of carriers. Our swarm of drones was barely able to pause the Fortizar timer and for at least half an hour we played de-fanging games, killing off wave after wave of fighters. To be sure, the carriers had some early success, popping a few of the lighter tanked ships in fleet, but the tip of the spear remained impervious to the incoming assault and eventually we had the fighters all but subdued. Focus first turned to the younger brother and his prized Nidhoggur, one he was very boastful of because of its collection of kill marks. But without a support fleet there was little he could do to stem the tide of artillery and Carriers being largely buffer fit these days, he was facing an inevitable end. Once dispatched he was sent back to HiSec via the express route and the Thanatos, also shield tanked, was next on the menu. The Chimera followed soon after and the Fortizar was the big fat cherry on top of the cake. Twenty Billion ISK destroyed for less than 1 billion in losses. Not a bad day at the office and justice for a jilted older brother.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Brain Drain

So I want to talk about implants. From scanning to boosting to fitting to skilling and performance, there's few aspects of the EVE Universe that aren't directly affected by their use. Both of my main characters are now beyond 150 million skill points so their need for fitting implants has long since waned. That's not to say there aren't instances where I could put a 5% powergrid or CPU implant to use, but I greatly prefer not to.

Of course there are some go-to clones for certain jobs. I have a mid grade slave clone for armour fleets and several boosting clones with mindlink implants to maximise my boosting effects, there's even a mid grade crystal clone somewhere that I've almost never used. Indeed, when shield slave sets happen I'll probably have one of those, too. The reality is however, that I almost only ever have a couple of +5 training implants in. In my early days, sure, I used 3% CPU implants all the time but since fitting isn't really an issue any more I avoid creating ship fits that would require it. I simply can't be assed constantly swapping clones to suit the ship I need to fly at that moment. So when it was suggested to me that I shouldn't ever fly my capitals without a full set of Genolutions in, I balked. If I can't fit it or fly it without Genolutions I simply won't fit it or fly it. I've lost a handful of capitals over the journey and I can't think of a single instance where those implants would've made any difference to the outcome. They were always situations that saw me heavily outnumbered or under supported, and the most recent one is a shining example.

I log on most mornings to reset my PI network. As I'm now a part of a predominantly US TZ Corporation, it's their prime time. I jump on TeamSpeak as I'm bringing up my networks and suddenly get hailed by the FC on duty asking if I had a Dreadnaught on hand with High Angle Weapons. As I had just recently acquired a Phoenix in that very configuration I replied in the affirmative. I was quickly advised to get in fleet and undock. Now, I don't normally like to get into a fight with zero intel, but I'm a good soldier and ISK isn't an issue so I did as I was asked. My lumbering behemoth shifted free of its tethers, slowly meandering into space from the confines of the Fortizar that was its home. Still weary from sleep, I immediately saw via D-Scan that a fight was underway. The tag of the enemy ships was familiar but didn't immediately strike me until just after I had activated warp. It was Lazerhawks. I didn't cancel warp however, I put faith in my FC that he knew what he was doing and the Moros that was beside me entered warp with my Phoenix alongside.

Landing on the field we were badly positioned. Alarm bells are already ringing in my head. I wasn't going to enter siege with their fleet and my supporting fleet over sixty kilometres away, I couldn't even hit targets at that range. Instead I aligned back to my Fortizar and advised the FC of our poor warp in. I warped back to the Fortizar and, with 20/20 hindsight, can safely say that's where I should have stayed. But again, being the good soldier I asked if I was still needed and a rather alarmed voice came back in the affirmative and that I should warp to zero. Make no mistake, my gut was telling me this was a gratuitous mistake, the tone of the voices on TeamSpeak told the tale of a battle that wasn't going well and even with High Angle Weapons, if I was unsupported I would have little chance of survival. But I followed orders, landed on field, entered siege and went to work.

Well, within about half a siege cycle my support fleet was dead or had fled. I was alone on field with a Moros some fifty kilometres away and a swathe of Sleipnirs and Scimitars, all with nefarious intent. It was clear how this was going to end unless a minor miracle somehow coalesced to save us. Despite my Corporation mates best efforts, such a save never came. We had just moved into our new home and were still dealing with the logistical nightmare of having enough doctrine ships on hand. So first the Moros went down and then the fleet converged on my Phoenix and whilst I was able to deal with the incoming DPS without difficulty, I was burning through cap charges to do it. I could've carried far more charges it's true to say, but I still had a job to get to, so the death of my Dreadnaught wasn't just inevitable, it was timely.

Which brings me to my point. No amount of Genolutions or any other implant for that matter would've changed my fate and in regards to Capital losses, it has always been that way in my experience. I can certainly see the benefit in regards to sub caps, the extra buffer that can be manipulated is vital to catch repairs in time but, in Wormhole space at least, I won't be flying implant dependant capitals any time soon. But I'm curious to hear your input, especially in regards to capital ships. I've had little to do with Force Auxiliaries and I can certainly understand how implants for capacitor management may be invaluable, but are they absolutely vital?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Come out and Play

Holesale Operations don't have many blues, but those they do have are cherished allies. So when a hostile force set up to evict one of them, you can bet Holesale will form up to defend their home like it's their own. Ch3ss have long been close allies, always keen for a fight, so when a combined force from Ember Sands, Temporary Insanity and Scary Wormhole People threatened their home, we answered the call.

The initial assault went poorly for the defenders, losing some Capitals along with a large chunk of their and our SubCap fleet. Unfortunately it was a fight I missed due to work commitments, but I made sure to be on today to engage the hostile Astrahus and the inevitable defence fleet that would accompany it. I made my way to the target system overnight with a Guardian and a Scout Tengu, I almost never combat dual box, checked timers and called it a night, ready for what would follow in the morning.

Logging in several hours before the timer we spent our time bringing the fleet together, rolling connections for a favourable one whilst coordinating with our friends. Maintaining strict hole control was our top priority, we couldn't have the significant Sleipnir/Hurricane/Scimitar fleet that had logged off in system getting in additional reinforcements, especially since they had so convincingly bested us the day before. The Wormhole PvP channel was alive with talk about us, so it was fair to assume they were trying to bring in some back up and, having spent some time in that channel, I know they have no shortage of willing Bomber pilots on hand, a doctrine that would oppose ours very efficiently. Our weapon of choice being artillery Machariels backed up with Guardian logistic support and a variety of sensor damping eWar. It was hoped that the extra buffer provided by the armour tanked battleships could give our logistics ships a better opportunity to land repairs and the high alpha damage deem their logistics irrelevant. Keeping a very tight formation to counter the effectiveness of a Command Destroyer trying to "boosh" us off grid would make us a delicious target for a bombing run.

Leading up to the timer the enemy were scarcely spotted. Their fleet remained logged off at a safe and my Scout Tengu had the dubious task of reporting their log in as we had managed to scan it before they were off grid. I had no idea how close to their location my bookmark was and burning off in any particular direction could end up disasterous so I just punted on the fact that whoever made the bookmark had some labelled it correctly as a scout position and I wasn't at zero.

Two minutes before the Astrahus was vulnerable the enemy fleet logged on. I suddenly found my Tengu in close proximity to Sleipnirs, Hurricanes and Scimitars, exiting warp all around me. I held my nerve as as Sabre passed within ten clicks, most of the remainder of the fleet were over sixty away. I called the intel and we waited in our position, 25 kilometres off of their Astrahus, inviting them to engage us.

My PvP Logistics experience is limited but I focused hard on my broadcast list and reiterated time and again to call for armour if yellow boxed, the high alpha may be too much for even our brick Machariels. As the enemy fleet landed, primaries were called, drones were sent to the Astrahus and our Fleet Commander was quickly calling targets. The first thing I noticed.... SO. MUCH. ALPHA. Despite calling for early broadcasts they didn't always come, often locking up friendlies in low armour. By the time our repairs were landing they were gone and podding their way home. That happened more times than I cared for but for the most part we held the field. Which is the frustrating part of flying logistics, you really have no clue how the battle is going. As it turns out, it was going well. We held our ground, drove off the aggressing fleet and destroyed the hostile Citadel. The Ch3ss home was saved; for now at least.

Post battle there was some talk that Ch3ss were targeted to draw out Holesale. I don't know how much of that is bullshit, may be it's true, maybe it isn't, but all in all it was a damn good fight that gave me new respect for our logistics wing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tengu Dynasty

When I first started solo hunting in low class wormholes some seven years ago, a Covert Ops, Interdiction Nullified, HAM Tengu was my go-to. It had a credible tank but suffered with just 400 odd DPS and poor damage application. I can recall with some embarrassment my efforts to kill a lone Buzzard, going through more missiles than I care to remember only just managing to overcome his passive shield regeneration. The Proteus was a significant step up in regards to DPS but again damage application was an issue with the poor tracking of Heavy Neutron Blasters. Then came the Stratios and in recent years it has been the weapon of choice for covert hunters everywhere. I suppose the smart bombing Proteus should get a mention here, but it is highly specialised and clearly suited to killing small ships only.

Now everything has changed. The Tech III Cruiser rebalance has seen many doctrines reimagined and many small gang staples, like the armour Jamgu, entirely abandoned. Moreover, boosting Strategic Cruisers are again viable as they're not limited to just boosting, they can have significant utility in any small gang. We've seen the Loki as the clear winner, able to fit over sized shield booster, propulsion modification and capacitor battery all at the same time. It makes it very hard to pin down, neut out or out damage its local shield repair. Engage them with caution. That said, you have to invest a significant amount of ISK to do all of that, so the rewards for destroying one will be significant. Moreover, only the significantly wealthy will choose to engage in PvP with them, so you shouldn't seem them in tremendous numbers, especially when just trying to PLEX your account is close to a full time job these days.

The challenge faced by our Wormhole group has been to develop a doctrine from the new T3 Cruisers that had the right balance of DPS, survivability and utility but at an affordable ISK investment so everyone can get involved. As wormholers, Covert Ops ships are always important, the fact that using a Covert Ops Tech III Cruiser means you no longer have to get by with meager DPS is a delightful bonus. For OpSec reasons I'm not going to share the specific fits of our fleet doctrine, but let's just say it's rich with Tengus.

Covert Ops Fleet Composition.

DPS: HAM Tengu, buffer shield tank, 900+ DPS heated.
ECM: ECM Tengu. buffer shield tank, 600+ DPS, 3 x Multi spec ECM
LINKS: Boosting Tengu, buffer shield tank, shield/skirmish links, 4 x dead space medium remote shield transporters.

Now here's where it gets tricky for the enemy. They all look virtually identical. I pity the FC who has to call primaries when he has no clue which Tengu is doing the most damage, providing the logistics or engaging in eWar. It's no longer a matter of just saying "Primary the Falcon/Jamgu" as, unless the FC is being directly jammed by the offending ship, he will have no clue which is which.

The doctrine is still being developed so I'm sure there will be changes made as limitations are discovered, but if you see a swarm of Tengus uncloak in a wormhole near you I advise you to run, Forest, run.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dead as Disco

There's a lot of activity about with the changes to Tech III Strategic Cruisers coming next month and whilst I agree they were in need of some serious overhauls to make Recons and Heavy Assault Cruisers more relevant, I couldn't help but be more than a little concerned about my most beloved of Strategic Cruisers, Night Fever.

For the uninitiated, she is my Smart Bombing Proteus that has netted me literally of hundreds of explorer frigate and pod kills over the journey, not to mention some pretty funny close calls from those who would see her demise. Despite their best efforts, she still lives today, although not getting nearly as much use as she has in the past.

So it was with some trepidation that I logged into the Singularity Test Server to play around with fittings and make sure my cloaked disco machine could still be of service to Bob. The reality however, is that it just can't happen, at least not as I have had it in the past. With some wrangling it is possible to get five large faction smart bombs on but I have to live without interdiction nullification, a propulsion module and a medium capacitor booster. Regrettably, that is too much of a sacrifice to make it viable any longer.

As horrible as that news is, there are silver linings. In my NullSec days I used to rat with a medium shield boosted HAM Tengu that I still have to this day. It hasn't fired a shot in over two years but it was a joy to use with its high mobility and in excess of 900 DPS output. Tanked for a specific damage type, it could handle all but the most severe sites and it made me a truck load of ISK when I was using it. For exercise, I thought I'd just make sure that I could still use it as I had and the good news that yes, it was still very comfortable in that role and just as effective. What I didn't expect is that I could make it Covert Ops and Interdiction Nullified too. The downside was going to be damage application in that set up, however. There just weren't enough mid slots for a target painter to assist the HAMS in hitting their target, so I opted for a Heavy Missile variant, allowing me to fit a large booster and a capacitor battery for neut resistance. The end result is pretty impressive.

650 DPS
10% shield boost per cycle [3.2 secs]
560 metres per second
Cap stable!

Carry around a depot with specific hardeners for the enemies you're facing and you have yourself a ship that can effectively rat in hostile space with impunity. No bubble camp can stop you unless you fuck up quite badly.

I'm sure there's someone out there who will come up with a better variant, I only spent about ten minutes on this fit, but it was pretty easy to do, so I encourage you all to log into Singularity and play around with the new fits yourselves. There's even some logistics bonuses that are certainly going to add a whole new level of versatility to these ships. The possibilities look very promising.

Fly safe o7

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Un-natural Habitat

Our most recent contract has been more protracted than most. For OpSec reasons I don't have all of the details, but our client has had quite enough of the Cavemen Alliance wreaking havoc on their favoured region of HiSec space, so much so that they were willing to part with a significant amount of ISK to have their Fortizar destroyed. Last weekend was dedicated to the Shield and Armour facets of the reinforcement and now a week later we assemble to finish the job. The beauty of Wormholes is that this sort of task is over in three days and there's no such thing as asset safety so the loot drops can be a very nice cherry on the pie, in HiSec it's a one week operation and there's little chance of securing any loot, but the contract and content ought to be loot enough.

As we have counted down the days our target has had a number of allies come to their aid so as we form up our high alpha fleet and coordinate with our own allies, the stage is well set for a battle of epic proportions. We make our way to our staging system and lay in wait behind a wormhole close to our target system as the timer ticks down. Our fleet composition of Sleipnirs, Hurricane Fleet Issues and Basilisks is designed around a hit and fade philosophy. We will strike targets of opportunity with 720mm Artillery fire and use our speed to withdraw before being overwhelmed. Whilst our 18 Artillery fit Battlecruisers were well buffered and capable of outstanding alpha, our logistics wing of just four Basilisks was concerning. The plan was to land after our allies in the hope that our Logistics wing wouldn't be high on the priority list. It was a vain hope and, in the end, bought them very little time.

Landing on grid moments after our allies the conflict was just kicking off. The defenders had formidable numbers, roughly thirty Rattlesnakes, fifteen Ospreys and a what seemed like and endless supply of Blackbirds, Griffins and various Tech I Cruisers. We immediately pulled to our optimal range and primaried their Vulture to get their boosts off the field. It was in low structure when the reps landed, saving it for a minute or so until the DPS was able to overcome the shield reps. From there it became our mission to wipe as much DPS off the field in quick order. Hurricanes were aplenty and were savaged by the high alpha artillery output. It was even uglier for the Blackbirds when they allowed themselves to become untethered, being instantly destroyed. As well as the battle was going for us, the same could not be said for our Basilisk wing. All four were quickly dispatched, leaving our fleet to fend for ourselves. The hit and fade tactics were employed with good effect and despite taking losses, we certainly inflicted more than we suffered.

The same could not be said for our allies however, for every ship we destroyed the enemy would quickly redeploy their pod to the nearby Azbel and re-ship. It was a shooting gallery but there were just too many ducks to shoot. The lack of interdiction in HiSec space was ultimately our undoing. Being unable to dictate terms and stop pods from escaping meant that the hive could just continue to swarm until we ran out ways to swat them away.

Eventually overcome, our allies could no longer sustain their own fleets so we withdrew, too. The after action report shows the defenders lost 130 ships for our combined losses of 38 ships. What looks like a resounding success on the face of it was actually a significant loss in terms of ISK, with our fleets suffering 22 billion ISK in losses compared to 10 billion. Moreover, the Fortizar survived, so the mission was ultimately unsuccessful. From a Holesale perspective however, we carried our weight, in both ledgers of ships killed and ISK damage inflicted we came out on top, further underscoring the effectiveness of the artillery shield doctrine.

Whilst it was a great fight, HiSec leaves a sour taste. I'll not turn down an opportunity for an engagement like that again, but I'd far prefer it to be in Anoikis next time. I think Bob would, too.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rattle and Um...?

When a scout calls out that he's found ten Rattlesnakes, three Nestors and a Damnation in a C5 Sleeper site there is an instant up tick of activity on comms. When the scout calls out that the connection is via a frigate hole there is a few moments of confused silence.

This conundrum faced us this evening, in the depths of the AU TZ and without strong representation online. Pings went out over Discord to get as many able hands on deck as possible whilst we speculated just how we might contend with this high DPS blob of Faction Battleships. A little research showed that this particular multi boxer had fallen foul of raiders before, but judging by the Dreadnaughts on the battle report, that raiding party wasn't faced with the problem we are. It was speculated that kiting Beam Laser Confessors with Logistics support would do the job but the numbers online meant we were unlikely to out perform their remote repair abilities. Sure, we could throw in a couple of Kitsune's and jam out the Nestors, but that's two pilots that aren't in a Deacon or a Confessor to provide the fatal blow.

In the end we settled on a bombing run. We would warp in a Sabre at zero that would be very unlikely to get out alive and fire two salvos of bombs from the nine Stealth Bombers we could muster for the assault. Any more than eight bombers at once and the bombs are rendered ineffective, so one squad of seven and another of two would make their runs about seven seconds apart. Once the bombs were fired all bombers would align out to a celestial of their choosing and continue firing torpedoes at the predetermined target. In this case we decided that a Rattlesnake kill was positively ghetto, so we picked out a Nestor to be the centre of our attention. With the plan laid out we moved into position and ordered the Sabre through to his inevitable demise.

The bombers jumped through  moments after the Sabre and initiated warp to their bombing bookmark as the Sabre was landing among the Battleships. Now alerted, the target quickly engaged the sacrificial tackle and dispatched him as the bombers were uncloaking and dropping their bombs. I aligned also, uncloaked and locked my target, painting the Nestor and releasing my torpedoes but holding fire on the bomb launcher as I slowly counted to seven. Bombs away! I immediately aligned out as the first wave of bombs exploded, sending our target Nestor into about 40% armour. The last two bombs hit and our nine bombers stayed on grid as long as they weren't yellow boxed. I was, unfortunately, high on the target list and was quickly in low armour, forcing me off the field after only two or three volleys, but enough of our pilots were able to remain on grid to finish the Nestor and make their escape without loss.

The bubble expired and the fleet warped off, in their haste leaving eleven Geckos floating in the void. As luck would have it, we had targeted the pilot that was salvaging and storing all of the blue loot too, turning what may have been a 1.5 Billion ISK loss into about 3.7 Billion according to zKillboard. All told, we got away with around 1.4 Billion ISK in loot & Geckos for the loss of a Sabre, a satisfactory trade I think you'll agree. ;)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Obsessive Compulsive D-Scan

I'll admit it, I have mild OCD, and not just in regards to D-Scan. In my personal life I'm a bit of a neat freak. My office desk is always well squared away and I have to suppress my rage when someone leaves a coffee cup or some other arbitrary item where it's not meant to be. I'm not the sort of guy who checks if the oven is off or the door is locked over and over again, I just like things to be right. As a compulsive D-Scanner, I have the same issues in W-Space. It annoys me when I see secure containers left floating in a POS or Mobile Depots or Warp Bubbles just left to de-spawn with time. So you can imagine my annoyance at seeing Eve-Scout Enclave Rescue Containers scattered all around Anoikis.

I mean, I get the premise. They're like the St Bernard dogs of W-Space, helping clumsy explorers to scan their way out of a system they were unprepared to enter. It's a noble cause but there's nothing noble about W-Space. At least, not in my experience. Which is why I take it upon myself to find these containers and blow them to dust. Giving clumsy explorers an easy way out of my hunting domain is bad for business, not to mention the annoying twitch I develop when I see them on D-Scan.

Imagine my delight then when I spotted an Imicus probing in a nearby system that belonged to Eve-Scout Enclave, just after I had blown the moth balls off of Night Fever. As the saying goes, prior preparation prevents poor performance. I had already scanned all of the exploration sites so it was only a matter of re-shipping into Night Fever and laying in wait.

Just before down time he obliged me. I savoured the moment and allowed him to get to the last can before bathing the space trash leaving transient in Bob's Holy Fire. Scooping his lifeless husk, I warped to a safe for down time.

Logging in immediately after a very short down time I was pretty close to just heading home and calling it a night until I noticed probes on scan again. So again I laid in wait with my forelegs on the trip wires, a trapdoor spider awaiting it's next meal. Sure enough, another Imicus lands and to my amusement, it is also from the Eve-Scout Enclave. Another cleansing was had and another corpse for ritualistic sacrifice was collected for Bob's glory.

I feel like that's a win for the good guys... or the bad guys, it depends on your perspective I suppose. At least they won't be leaving their cans in that system today.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

Our current siege in coming to an end with the target Corporation removing all the assets they could and no longer attempting to defend their system. It means the arduous work of cleaning out a swathe of control towers and customs offices is ahead of us so this evening was dedicated to that cause. With everything of import reinforced we were working on an undefended Gallente tower when an activation on our NullSec connection triggered excited calls on comms and the fleet redeploying to the connection. It was a pair of Dominix class Battleships looking to roll the connection away as some of our number had been poking about in there earlier. We were able to destroy one whilst the other escaped, but the NullSec connection remained intact. With no hint of the conflict escalating, we returned to our work.

I didn't have an ideal ship for POS Bashing on hand, so I brought my Artillery fit Sleipnir along to provide those dank shield boosts for our Rattlesnakes. For the better part of an hour we continued our work unmolested and undisturbed. We were in a pretty lazy mood, as POS bashing tends to do to you, so we didn't notice the Flycatcher until it landed amongst our fleet. It immeidately started dropping bubbles on the Rattlesnakes that were about 20 kilometres from me. With an optimal range of about 50 kilometres I immediately began burning away so he wouldn't be able to get under my guns, and that's when the Stealth Bombers uncloaked. D-Scan showed a Vindicator, Megathron, Brutix and Stratios also inbound and whilst the FC was calling primaries and other members were scrambling into Basilisks, I decided the best thing I could do would be to clear the Bomber DPS from the field in short order. In the space of half a dozen volleys three bombers went pop, two were forced to withdraw and the active tanked Flycatcher also got alpha'd off the field. Switching fire now to the Stratios it was soon in low armour and withdrawing but the Rattlesnakes were having a hard time with the combined DPS of the Vindicator, Megathron and Brutix. Soon our first Rattlesnake was destroyed and a second was in low armour, then structure and then the Basilisk shield reps landed. With hardeners and reps overheated the two Basilisk were just able to out repair the combined incoming damage, had there been bombers on the field it would've ended very differently.

With the survivability of the gang secured the aggressors dropped like dominoes, their active tanks being horribly inadequate to deal with the incoming fire. All told, it was a 1.9 Billion ISK group of kills for the loss of one 600m ISK Rattlenake. Not a bad trade and a nice initiation for my brand new Sleipnir, bagging herself four kill marks in the process. Gotta love those 720mm Howitzers.  =]

What is my friendship worth?

There's a saying in EVE that "The best ship is the friendship." It seems at odds with a game that is infamous for the sort of skullduggery that would land a person behind bars in the real world. As a community, we practically celebrate it. There was the giant ponzi scheme a couple of years ago that saw an ISK investment service run away with trillions all the way down to the common corporation thief who perhaps gets more roles than he should have and makes off with a few billion in ships and BPO's. It's not like CCP discourage this behaviour either, their 'Causality' trailer from way back in 2003 is testament to that. Then of course there are the ever present scams that proliferate the HiSec trade hubs, catching out unsuspecting or far too trusting noobs and vets and liberating them of their ISK.

It's all treated like it's good sport, but when does the line get crossed?

Well, I believe this is a prime example of taking it a step too far. The tl;dr version is that this individual, who has a long history of underhanded behaviour, decided he would try to infiltrate a LowSec PvP Cartel who famously fly Alliance Tournament ships from day to day. The scarcity of these ships puts an enormous value on them, many of them worth hundreds of billions of ISK. Over a period of around one and a half years he gained their trust and earned their friendship, all the while knowing he would betray both of those things when the opportunity came up. The opportunity came and he took it, discarding what seems like must've been a genuine friendship for virtual currency. The victims of the theft in this instance took it very well, despite one of them losing a prized possession with over 400 killmarks on it. As one of them stated in the Reddit thread...

"I'm more sad about losing our friendship and future fun together than some spacepixels."

So what value, if any, do you place on the friendship of those you game with. Personally, I don't think there's a number for which I'd betray a friend. To be able to do so and sleep at night seems somewhat sociopathic, but I'm interested to hear from others out there. Could you betray an online friendship for virtual currency?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Crumbling Alliance?

The battle for J120455 rages on despite an early victory for the group calling themselves Wormhole NATO. Despite publicaly declaring on Reddit that they had halted an eviction, the truth was quite far from the claim. Holesale, as the invasion force, had already secured the destruction of two Astrahus Citadels before the loss of their own Fortizar and whilst that was a grievous loss, the mission remains unchanged and assets remain in system.

Our target, perhaps confident in their new friends, proceeded to reinforce the Astrahus and two Raitaru Citadels Holesale still had in system. However, there would be no mistakes with the reinforcement timer this time. With a strong turnout present, some thirty pilots converged on the Astrahus to defend the timer. Learning from mistakes made in the past the fleet had moved from the HAM Armour doctrine that was overwhelmed last time around for a more mobile, high alpha damage fleet consisting of Gilas, Hurricane Fleet Issue Battlecruisers, a handful of Basilisk Logisitics cruisers and four Sleipnir Command ships. The hope was that the high alpha damage output of the fleet would be able to overcome a fleet of greater numbers by destroying ships before their logistics cruisers could save them.

Inviting the fight, we left an entrance wide open in system. It was watched, of course, and we had prior knowledge of what was heading our way. As it turns out, what was heading our way was a pretty decent counter to what we were fielding. A fleet of HAM Cerberus Heavy Assault Cruisers backed up by a seven strong wing of Scimitar Logisitics cruisers and a couple of Bifrost Command Destroyers. Those destroyers were there to split our logistics wing from our fleet and would be a high priority when they landed on the field of battle.

Surprisingly, the 130 - odd man fleet that engaged us last time was not to be seen. I don't know if it's because this fledgling alliance is already falling apart, but only Of Sound Mind made it to the party. As they entered system they immediately kited off the NullSec connection to around 80 km's range and dropped a bubble on the connection. Their hope was that we would warp to the Wormhole at range and get dragged into their bubble and their optimal range. It would be a catastrophic error to fall for such an obvious ploy and our FC was equal to the task, using a cloaked scout to get a more favourable warp in on the enemy fleet. What followed can be seen below.

The Battle report doesn't show about five of the Scimitars and three of the four Nightmare Battleships that took their place in the battle and even though we were slightly outnumbered, it was ultimately a pretty evenly matched contest. Our logistics chain deserve most of the credit with our fleet only losing the webbing Huginn, but not before he had sustained over 200,000 damage. The Of Sound Mind fleet probably lost the fight chiefly because they were unable to maintain the range required to avoid the incoming damage, had they been able to it may have been a very different result. At Holesale it has lifted spirits and steeled the resolve of all of those involved, any time you can inflict five billion ISK of damage for the loss of just one ship is a boost for morale. So the battle rages on and there will no doubt be more to report in the very near future.

Friday, May 12, 2017


My two mains have recently joined up with Holesale for some wormhole mercenary work and so far it's been a lot of fun. It's only been two weeks and in that time we've saved a C3 Alliance from a Jaded eviction, laid siege to a C2 we wanted for our own use & general skullduggery in the nether regions. I'll freely admit I did scant homework on the corporation I was joining but so far the leadership seem very active at creating content and poking a few bears here and there, so there's always something to do.

Had I done my homework I'd have still joined. It seems Holesale have gained a reputation amongst a certain fraternity in Anoikis who have taken to call themselves NATO [Native Anoikis Treaty Organisation]. NATO have taken it upon themselves to be the rescuers of W-Space, freely offering to defend PvP Alliances in low class systems from the menace that is Holesale, or apparently anyone else for that matter. Their train of thought is that evicting low class dwelling PvP organisations is bad for W-Space as it reduces the opportunities for small gang PvP that we all crave. At face value you could perhaps nod agreement at that, but you're not really thinking it through if you do.

Evictions create content. Allow me to give you some examples. A month ago my toons were in Alpha state, content to be untrained whilst the residents of my C1 wormhole conducted their PI operations and I had a steady trickle of ISK coming in. I had no intention of re-subbing anytime soon. I can say in hindsight that what transpired in my system was a blessing in disguise, dragging me from the complacent ether I was suspended in back to the cold, harsh reality of W-Space. I was informed by one of my tenants that a tower had been erected in system; when he then told me it belonged to Nosferatu Security Foundation I knew exactly what was about to transpire. I was prepared, of course, I only had a few Tech 1 Alpha clone fit ships in station and next to no assets. I was sure an eviction was only a matter of time, but the situation did cause me to resub my accounts with the PLEX I had left in HiSec so I could safely navigate my way out. That has led me to Holesale and suddenly I'm active in W-Space again, creating content or being the victim of it.

Then take the most recent conflict. Holesale leadership wanted to take control of a C2 system with a NullSec static for Black Ops. The fleet gathered, laid siege to system and two Astrahus Citadels were destroyed virtually unopposed, spraying almost 100 Billion ISK of ships and modules into space. A great haul, but there was more work to be done. A Fortizar was deployed to build some Capital class vessels so we could finish off the Death Star POS in system but those being laid siege to were allowed to make their escape. Pretty soon Bat Phones were ringing and our fleet was substantially outnumbered; our Fortizar was successfully sieged for three days straight, leading to the most recent battle you can see here.

Whilst the battle and the Fortizar was lost, good fights were had by all, content was created and we all live to fight another day. So how does one make a forum post like this, acting like they're are the heroes that W-Space needs, when in reality they're offering a service that is entirely redundant? The fact is, Holesale aren't just in the business of evicting people, we also save people from eviction. You just have to have the ISK to pay for the service.

Evictions create content. If you're a PvP Alliance and you get evicted from your system do you just wither and die? Disperse into HiSec and mine Veldspar? Or do you man the fuck up, assemble your forces and push back into the wild unknown? Of course you go back, even if it's just to say "Fuck You" to those that evicted you, because you know one day your time will come. You know one day you'll get your revenge, and you know that will be the sweetest victory you have ever tasted.

That's why I can't make sense of the "White Knights" that feel like they have an obligation to stifle content, but sometimes people just need to have a bad guy in their life to blame for all of the shitty things that happen to them. Hell, it's what got Trump elected. But that's OK; I'm quite comfortable being the bad guy, or at least part of the bad guy problem. Being universally disliked is pretty easy for someone who has spent twenty years selling second hand cars, this should be no different.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Bob's Reach is Infinite

As a Blood Priest of Bob the almighty there is no respite from service. There are countless heretics that do not know or even denounce His word and my duties as a Blood Priest do not cease when working on my less conspicuous characters.

Whilst working on my HiSec logistics on some non-combat characters I was surprised to see someone in local giving praise to a false prophet. I of course took the opportunity to correct this slight against Bob.

But this particular heathen would not be silenced, not only denying the undeniable, but also throwing down the gauntlet, choosing trial by fire to prove his point. Blood priests are all too familiar with such slights against the Almighty and even on a lesser character I would not be dissuaded from enforcing the Law of Bob.

I dutifully reshipped into a Tristan in full Quafe livery to defend the ideals of the Father of Anoikis and made my way to the rally point at the sun. Equipped with three energy neutralizers, an armour tank and tackle to manage range control I warped to the sun to see what gift Bob had brought me, so far from his natural habitat.

The fit is untested and, in hindsight, capacitor management was a handful. In future I'd probably drop two of the neuts for a pair of Nosferatu, but there was scant time for second guessing the fit.

I arrive at my destination to find a non compliant Moa fit with rail guns. I call him on his bluff and send him a duel invitation that he dutifully accepts and combat commences. Initially he enjoyed the range buffer he had, quickly dispatching the shields of my little frigate and sending his Acolyte drones after me, too. It hurt, no question, but three volleys were all he could land before I set an optimal orbit, applied tackle and outpaced the tracking of his guns. His two drones soon dispatched it was just a matter of wearing him down from there, pulsing my neuts from time to time to maintain my own capacitor until he finally succumbed. May Bob be with him.

Not a combat fit, no. But if I learned anything from my early days griefing industrialists in HiSec, it's that they seldom have a clue how to get the most out of their ship.

By his own admission that loss cost him about two thirds of his net worth and, as sad as that is, I'm not about to let the guy struggle to survive because he did not know of Bob. My fellow Blood Priests and I all donated to his cause so that he might bounce back and spread the good word.

Praise Bob!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

In the Service of Bob

After a well deserved vacation from the ministry I have returned to the service of Bob. Eager to try something new but still purge Anoikis of heretics, I have turned my hand to mercenary work. Fortunately, such responsibility provides ample time between contracts to purge the void of non-believers and an exceptional example presented itself, by the grace of Bob, to my fellow Blood Priests and I.

Bob the great provider had connected our chain to a NullSec region when a Viator was noticed transiting the void from NullSec to HiSec regions. It was noted that no prayer was spoken or Altar deployed and such transgressions cannot and will not be ignored. Dutifully, two Holy Instruments were on hand to punish the offender so he may know His Divine Wrath.

This would usually be the end of it, but this particular heretic would simply not accept his fate with honour. He chose instead to seek revenge upon Bob's hand, engaging the aforementioned priests with a Proteus and another filthy atheist in a Raven. Even with Bob on their side our devout believers could not sustain the withering barrage and calls for empirical evidence of His Divine Will so the call was made for a more sustained and pointed intervention.

The valourous Clergymen of Holesale, myself included, soon arrived at their position and forced them back into NullSec space. But escape would not be their fate and the brotherhood followed them through, unleashing a barrage of faith-fuelled vengeance upon them. They were soon dispatched from their blasphemous vessels and the prayer was recited so that all may know His scope.

Our work was not yet complete, however. Only moments later it became clear that these sinners were blind to even the clearest message bringing a Phoenix  class Dreadnaught and Nidhoggur class Carrier to the field of battle. These fools will now learn that servants of Bob are not so easily deterred.

Appropriate reinforcements came as we lectured the heathens on the foolishness of their ways and when their capacitors were bled as dry as their vapid souls, their vaunted Capital vessels suffered the same fate as their previous attempts to resist His Holy Word. As if this alone is not proof enough of Bob's good grace, one need only see the rewards left for his ministry when the Dreadnaught succumbed. What began as a routine interdiction of a lonely trucker became so much more, praise be unto Him.

Bob was clearly pleased.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Going Λlpha

When I had a few weeks off over the Christmas period I rediscovered my love for EVE. Without the time constraints of work and social commitments I was able to really enjoy the game again, go on some public roams and make some new e-friends. Accordingly, my blog exploded with activity too.

Sadly that time has passed and the reality of modern life means I just can't find the time for EVE any longer. I find myself logging in to reset my PI networks and little else, neither having the time or inclination to go hunting. So, for the first time in seven years, I'm going into Alpha clone state. As the situation is now I'm just PLEXing my account for training that may never be utilized and watching my ISK stocks dwindle for no good reason. It's by no means the end of course, I've got far too much time invested in EVE to say I'm walking away forever; but I honestly can't say when I'll be back in a serious manner.

I've had to make a few arrangements in my absence, giving one of my tenants defence and fuelling access for the citadels and moving out my bling fleet and replacing it with an Λlpha version. That was a surprisingly cost effective exercise, too. I've moved in fifteen ships that my Λlpha clone can fly, the only exceptions being a Gnosis and a Navy Osprey, and all up the investment was about 75 million ISK. Some of them aren't half bad, either. I can't say I'd be super confident in a fight, but I wouldn't be completely useless in a small gang situation either. The cruisers especially are pretty decent, all things considered. I especially like the Blaster Moa with an X-Large Ancillary Shield Booster set up. It still manages to crank out over 400 dps, there's no shame in that.

The one thing that's making this whole transition even easier is the EVE Mobile App. If you don't have it I really do recommend it. I get an immediate alert pop up on my phone when I receive an EVE Mail, so even if I'm not logging in and my Citadel is being sieged I can quickly and effectively be pinged out of game so I can form a defence fleet. If you don't have it, do yourself a favour. It's pretty damn handy.

Anyway, Bex signing out. For now.

Fly dangerous. o7