Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Epic" event idea by Rixx Javixx

In an attempt to give Rixx a true internet +1 for a great idea, I'm going to crosslink his great "event" idea that he posted over on his (wildly popular) blog, Eveoganda.

To link directly to his idea go here

Basically, an unknown object of alien origin flies through space, transiting past gates, or perhaps cynoing from system to system. Untargettable and hopefully still full of EHP (so smartbombers don't get all smarty-pants on them). ANYWAYS, this ship moves through the eve universe, an enigma, untouchable, and then takes up orbit around the Eve gate. And then what, well he doesn't go into it but something.

For today Rixx I think you've won at Eve.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Mittani... DOT COM

All right, I have to admit, I knew about this site yesterday, but the name alone turned me off from checking it out. I was worried it was just going to be another goon circle-jerk site, or worse, direct ramblings from The Mittani that are of little interest and even less content (to me).

However this morning I was looking around the Blogosphere and found that some other people had gone to the site and were giving it some good reviews. I decided that based off their reviews, I would at least give it a fair shot. Okay, maybe not so fair, but nothing could be worse than where Eve-News 24 went to.

The site is well put together, crisp and straight lined for ease of reading, and that is a nice change. Not dominated by ads or attempting to get my account details. In fact in reading one of the first posts up at the site, it became apparent that the site wasn't even setup by The Mittani, and was in fact created because he is such a "icon" one way or another in the Eve universe. I'm sure he doesn't mind to have a Eve online news site dedicated in his name.

The articles represented so far were solid pieces even if some of them covered previously trodden ground. A worthy addition to my RSS feed if nothing else...

And thus I found the site's main weakness, no RSS feed.

Now I know that 50+% of my readers come here via RSS so it's just a silly oversight needed to make the Mittani site that much better. Fortunately and probably wisely, the contact us button on the site works great and I was able to leave my feedback to add an RSS feed to the site post-haste. Until then, head on over their site, it's worth a read.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

ATX : Best (most memorable) matches of

Verge of Collapse ATX Champions

So I was beaten to the finish by Toterra of "Scram Web" but in the Olympic spirt, that doesn't mean I am not going to finish my post! His Five best fights are also quite a good selection.

Most Confusing for new viewers: 

This has to to go the match between Exodus. and Agony Empire in the final day. Agony brought a bait and switch setup that focuses on the nuances of ATX rules to be effective. The commentators do a great job of explaining the situation, but the simple breakdown was this. Agony's setup was based around a heavily tanked "bait" Basilisk, a logistics ship that would have usually provided extremely strong repair for the ships around it, however the real repair ship was a similarly hard-tanked Tengu fit with the logistics sub-system. This was the basis for a rare bait-and-switch gambit. The match teetered on the edge, but in combination with switching primaries and some pilots on the Exodus team noticing the shield transfers coming from the Tengu, the jig was up, and the t1 resists of the Ferox, most likely holding a shield resist link, was the first to fold, followed by the Tengu and a Gila literally seconds before the end of the match.

'Hard counters' produce unexpected results: 

HUN Reloaded had been cruising through the Alliance tournament showing off their Vargur chops like a honey badger. In fact they only came in a single setup that didn't revolve around the Vargur. I predicted in my bracketology that HUN would actually put Pandemic Legion out of the finals, and it looks like my bracket was at least right up until that point. Pandemic Legion had just debuted a new setup, one with three Widows. Now as most people know, the HUN's Vargur weakness, if they had one, was extremely low sensor strength. Pandemic Legion arrived with their Widow ECM setup, their hard counter to the Vargur. HUN just didn't let it happen, their tanks lasted through the jams of the widows and they managed to slowly make headway against the heavy ECM and tank of their opponents. In a match of patience and discipline, HUN was able to come out on top.

Short but sweet:

So many more than one match falls in this category, but really I think this particular match started off ATX in the right way. During the first day of qualifiers, Red V Blue was paired up against Get off My Lawn. It turned into one of the shortest and most brutal victories, claiming a record of the fastest win. The RvB team continued this fights tradition throughout the rest of their tourney bid.

Additionally, another quick and dirty match showed why even a single Vindicator was above there reproach of several Talos. Capital Punishment faced off vs Suddenly Spaceships. The matchup was really something that turned out to be a defining moment, both for the Vindicator's future in the Alliance tournament and the fate of Talos based setups.

This last fight I want to draw attention to was as Brutal as it was fun to watch, Once again it was Suddenly Spaceships, but this time vs Shadow Cartel. The Paladin heavy setup of Suddenly Spaceships faced off against a talos swarm, at first it looked like things might be going their way, but the Talos DPS was just too much, downing first one Paladin and then the other, only losing a pair of Talos in return. From there Shadow Cartel cleaned up the rest of the field.

Consensus "match that made the tourney"

Now I am not just over-hyping this match because it involved Rote Kapelle, this truly was one of those matches that the Alliance tournament can rest it's hat on. Pandemic Legion brought around 160 bil isk worth of ships and fittings including several Alliance Tournament prize ships up against the much cheaper Rote Kapelle DPS first setup that cost around 10 bil isk all told. The results were spectacular and you can tell from the reaction of the commentators involved that they wished this match had lasted just a bit longer, if only to see one of those shiny Malice's die.

The Culmination of 4 weekends:

Two teams fought their way to the end and something has to be said for the nature of their paths: HUN Reloaded beat (in just the final day) FEARLESS., followed by The G0dfathers, followed by Pandemic Legion. And that was just to MAKE it to the final match. Beating any one of those teams in a day would be hard work, beating all four before even getting to the finals? Herculean.

Verge of Collapse had just as difficult a path, beating Rote Kapelle, Mildly Intoxicated, and Exodus., just to show up in the finals. Now take me as some kind of fool, but I always tend to root for the team that puts my team out of the finals. Except for the Dallas Cowboys, but that's a different story entirely! To me the two teams in the final represent all the participating teams up to that point, everyone they have beaten and everyone that those people have beaten.

It all comes down to one final fight, and what a fight it was. Vargurs hadn't been denied yet, and HUN looked up to the challenge. Verge of Collapse had won massive battles on their path to the finals and were just as deserving of being there. Truly a memorable final match.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Art of looking back at old posts

Wow, I just realized that one of my most visited articles, The Art of The Vagabond is about 2 years 'out of date.' Well not really, as the basics of flying the Vaga and the fitting have not REALLY changed since then, but there are broken links in there and broken images so things are starting to look a bit dingy... Well that's all about to change as I revise and update the article and re-publish it to restore it's glory. I will also be looking at my other guide pages and updating them as the time presents itself.

Any suggestions for further guides I can provide would be nice, otherwise, as usual I promise to keep coming up with worthless crap that entertains me.



Or why the proposed gate gun change would be bad.

A few disclaimers...
1. I know the CCP is still in the design/engineering phase of the gate gun changes
2. I know that they are looking at the forum thread and responding in there (it's here)

The argument for changing the way gateguns work, is to increase their DPS/Volley and make gates and stations "safer" for commerce, potentially drawing more people into lowsec because they will not face immediate change of death on jump into their first lowsec system. This change is heralded by some as "needed" and "fixing a long standing issue." Because apparently CCP doesn't like gatecamps. Probably similar to the way they don't like station games.

Let me explain how monkeying with gate guns causes several very specific problems with current gameplay.

Let's just set a baseline, let's assume gate gun DPS and volley is now set to scale, for the first 1 minute on the gate Frigates can operate under gate gun fire, out to 2 minutes cruisers can operate under gate gun fire, out to 3 minutes BC's and out to four minutes battleships. By this I mean solo-tanking or light buffer tanks. By 6 minutes the gate guns are so intense that they start volley fire killing BC's and become very dangerous to non-logi supported Battleships. By 7 minutes even BS can't just hang around, and the only thing that could be left would be capitals. By 10 minutes a triage carrier would need to leave the field as well. This is some orders of magnitude less extreme than the CSM minutes proposed changes so I'll roll with this approximation. Gate gun ranges are the same, that is, they can hit out to 150km from the gate, but then stop. They fire at suspect flagged ships and red-flashy people with a sec status of below -5.01.

Let's get some other relevant background. As discussed in my earlier post and the associated links, the Crimewatch refactoring will allow a pilot to kill all the ships they want to and will end up at a maximum of -5.0, it will require pod-killing to drop below -5. Suspect flags will wear off with time and eventually drop, let's assume 5-15 minutes.

Back to gate guns, the assumption is that the changes will address gate camping. Now just spitballing, let me count the ways why it won't matter.

A. Inties will now be able to sit on gates, and instant tackle anyone coming through, currently that's not possible because frigate hulls get 2-4 shot right off the gate by gate guns. This change will let inties set right on top of the gate.
B. Tier 3 BC's will still be able to sit at 151km and alpha through anything their attendant inties can tackle. Scale this as needed per target, 
C. None of this will solve the current tech 3 remote sensor boosted (RSB) cruisers from siting on the gate, and waiting for likely targets. Maybe they become more selective, but this hardly stops the gate camp. Even more so in conjunction with other players sitting at range in tier 3 BC's or even in a nearby safe spot. Find and tackle a target, BC's warp in to help with the kill, everyone warps off, next tackle tech 3 takes the position, rinse and repeat.

So the intended fix doesn't actually "fix" the problem at all, it just makes it easier for pirates to operate frigates close to the gates, for longer. Any AF can kill any industrial and easily tackle any battleship, battlecruiser, cruiser or destroyer that jumps into them. It becomes exactly like 0.0 entry choke points pre-dictors and large t2 bubbles.

Additional effects of this change.

Gate guns will now engage but not immediately destroy frigates, I've already outlined why this is bad, but at least frigates will be able to 'fight' on a gate now, and tackled people will just have to hope the frigate dies before backup arrives. This provides some "protection" from ebil pirates in Lowsec, supposedly unsafe space.

Large fleet fights of pirates vs anti-pirates or hell anyone non-faction warfare will cease entirely both on gate and on station. Why? Who is going to show up for a fight where 5-6 minutes into it past the initial agression, ships are just getting gate gun killed? This just re-enforces blobbing being good. ie, in order to engage on gate or on station; you need to have a decisive numbers advantage, so the fight will be decided before he gate guns start making a difference. It even reenforces the use of undocking carriers early in a fight to tip the balance decisively at the start of the fight vice the current "slow" escalation.

Roaming fights, or off gate fights will also die out pretty quickly, unless of course they are decisive engagements. For the same reason as stated above, it just will not be safe or smart to jump through and engage a target on the far side of a gate, as sometimes currently happens, especially not if your chosen target isn't red-flashy. The gate gun damage will scale to the point where all your opponent need do is keep you in place and let the gate guns do the rest of the work.


So while I think that the current idea lacks some finesse and some careful thought, what would a good suggestion for this?

If the goal is to truly eliminate gate camping in lowsec, which seems like a really bad idea, and completely "high-sec" driven, then that's not something I can even hint at a solution for.

If the goal is to improve gate guns to some useful measure, to deter all but the most organized gangs, then the following changes should be considered.

Gate guns need to have sleeper level AI. This means instead of slowly cycling from target to target, they identify weaker tanked ships, focus fire on Logistics and generally act smarter than a level 4 mission rat.

Gate gun damage needs to scale, and additionally needs to have "low level" and a "high level" cap. In continuing with sleepers, gate gun damage could scale dependent on the ship classes on the field. I think it's a bad idea for Frigates in general to get any extended time of "tankable" damage from gate guns, so the current gate gun damage is an acceptable "low level."

To that end if frigates are part of a fleet and engage something on a gate, the gate guns will instantly cycle to the frigates instead of first shooting at a more tanked, bigger target.

The "high level" should do at least 1k to 1100 DPS, with a volley in the range of a tempest with 1400mm's or like 9-12k. It should take around 10 minutes or so to slowly scale to that kind of damage. Don't eliminate a playstyle, just make it that much harder to tank, and that much smarter.

Additionally, gate guns should get buffed to be able to hit universally out to 250km, this way people can't just sit barely out of gate gun range and still be able to influence a fight on a gate. If you don't know the hard cap on lock range is 250km.

In short, gate guns need much more damage over time so they don't become a moot point in a fight, however, they need to scale slowly so they don't completely removing fighting from gateside and stationside as an option. It will be a tricky balance, and only achieved properly if CCP works with those players who have the most experience with gate guns.

Here's a little hint, it's not the people in the thread who live in highsec.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gategun-Gate aka CSM minutes

CSM - Council of Serious Minutes

Last week the CSM released 165 pages of meetings minutes for their already hilariously outdated meeting with CCP.(Okay okay, it was only a few months in coming) Some things discussed in the meetings were already in game, and naturally there was quite the ruckus when certain parts of the document were read, repeatedly, every what-way possible. There is an excellent summation of the minutes by a fellow blogger, Drackarn, here, he covers a bit of the same thing as I am going to focus on here, but also the rest of the 165 page monstrosity.

I am referring to the gate guns discussed on page 95. Prerequisite would be to watch the fanfest presentation on Crimewatch, specifically from 15:40 to about 25:00. This will explain what they mean for Suspect vs criminal flags. 

Now the intent of the gate guns seems to be to deter warfare on gates in lowsec and added punch against criminals in high sec. The meat of their proposed change was the following two tidbits :
"Sentry guns will now shoot anyone with a criminal flag, suspect or otherwise."
"Sentry guns will also start with smaller amounts of damage, and ramp up with time. Ideal tuning will be to where triage carriers will die at around 4 1/2 minutes."
So if you had watched the Crimewatch presentation you will know that suspect means anyone doing a "misdemeanor" and a criminal is a person comitting a "felony." Without re-covering the entire presentation, let's just suffice it to say that this places flashy red pilots at risk, as well as current yellow pilots who engage in piracy in sight of the gate guns.

Now napkin math aside, let's just think about the level of firepower that the gate guns will have to scale to in order to force or kill a triaged carrier. Then think about the orders of magnitude less that would be required to kill a BS, or volley a BC off the field entirely. It's been pointed out a few times why this is such a bad idea, but let's sum the arguments against this.

At first glance, these new enhanced gate guns will make lowsec pirating on gates, camping gates or otherwise trying to fight on a gate, a pretty useless idea, instead of just limiting frigates from the fight you will start to see bigger classes of ships vollied off the field just by making your tank last a good few minutes.

I won't go too far into the explanation of how bad this is, but that's because several people already took care of that for me. Honestly I think that this response from the community was warranted, but seemed to miss a later summation by the team working on the gate guns. Who said:
"CCP Masterplan explains that this is where everything is at in the design process, that they're looking forward to working more on this as the Inferno stuff dies down"
 With this in mind, I still have hope, but am honestly a little disappointed by the CSM who didn't seem to have much to say at the time about it. Hans Jagerblitzen (Follow him on twitter where he is actually "active" here) was once again on the front lines of this, both as the accused and respondent to this fit of rage against this idea.

To his credit he was able to calm anyone who would listen, as well as some that didn't, and force a better summation into the notes via the forums. The indication there is CCP was/is/will be looking at this and it was indeed just a design idea and not yet a reality. I expect that some change to the gate gun system, made largely useless by the preponderance of swarms of t3 and tank battle cruisers with Logi support in lowsec, will be in place for the December release.

Related Posts : "A look at CCP's suggested gate gun changes" - Low Sec Lifestyle, by Sugar Kyle

Monday, August 6, 2012

Inferno 1.2 - Mining barges

Well so many people have covered this already that I feel like I am beating a bit of a dead horse, but it is something that I have been following with some interest.

Inferno 1.2 Patch notes

Specifically I wanted to look at the mining barge changes...

First a bit of a disclaimer: I haven't nor will I likely be running around in a destroyer ganking hulks or any other type of mining barge. I do appreciate the hard work those who play like that put in for the saving and conservation of our precious asteroid belts. Indeed I don't 'often' find myself mining, but I do feel the impact of minerals as they end up costing my pricey pvp habit to become even more pricey.

It seems that some of the inner workings of the balance thoughts for the new barges has been revealed and shared with the community through this devblog.

Now in looking at some of that information we can surmise that CCP has stayed largely true to their vision of what the three turreted mining hulls will be doing.

My impression is that the Skiff and the Procurer will be the tank heavy, dangerous space, solo mining poster-child. Now if only lowsec mining was worth a damn to entice people out there to do some procurer or Skiff mining! As a side effect of this buff these two ships will be massively difficult to gank, but the bigger tool theory does still apply, obviously the money spent will no longer be slanted so heavily in the favor of the ganker.

Next up are the middle class of mining barge, the Retriever and the Mackinaw, and what will probably still be less used than the Hulk/Covetor. These are going to be more solo-mining ships, with massive newly minted ore bays that will hold either equal to (Retriever) or more than (Mack) a jet-can. This should allow solo-miners to have the ability to mine peacefully in highsec, less worried about barge gankers and unworried about can flippers because they will not have to drop a can if they don't want to.

The Hulk and the Covetor retain the title of the biggest yield per hour, but now lead the way in both Ice and ore m3. However, they have the lowest EHP, and lowest ore hold, so really these ships should be used when mining in a group, preferably with a Orca or Rorqual on hand for support. Now I say "should be" because let's face it, it will always be about the isk hour, and when isk hour can be directly correlated to m3/hour.... then the Covetor and Hulk are still the masters of that domain. Jet can mining will still be a viable alternative for this pair of ships, but they will still provide the largest isk/risk conversion.
I think the biggest unaddressed problem with everything is that CCP spoke of a "mining" frigate. This would be from the ORE group, the same people that provide the current mining barges, but the important thing here is that the majority of current mining "ships" are being reclassified into combat frigs or combat cruisers. Some races, like the Amarr, don't have a single frigate with a mining yield or duration bonus.

CCP is hopefully aiming and releasing the mining frigate with one of their incremental updates sometime soon. I still want to see a locust swarm of these things moving through high and low sec.