Tuesday, May 29, 2012

AT X : Participating teams

Not-so breaking news!

Over the weekend the random draw and auctions took place, setting the stage with the 64 teams competing in ATX. Congrats to all entrants that made it.

Sucks if you didn't. I will be going over this list to review some of my lesser known teams and be reaching out to their Alliance leaders and CEO's to find out more information about them.

1. WHY so Seri0Us
2. Out of Sight
3. The Veyr Collective
4. RED Overlord
5. Fatal Ascension
6. No Holes Barred
7. Perihelion Alliance
8. Exodus.
9. Babylon 5..
10. RAZOR Alliance
11. Dark Taboo
12. Raiden.
13. The Kadeshi
14. Heretic Nation
15. Kill it with fire
16. Brick Squad
17. Pure Madness.
18. Suddenly Spaceships
19. The Space Police
20. Test Alliance Please Ignore
21. Against ALL Authorities
22. Red vs. Blue
23. Mildly Intoxicated
24. HUN Reloaded
25. Dystopia Alliance
26. Exiled Ones
27. Northern Coalition.
28. The Gorgon Empire
29. Manifest Destiny
30. ROMANIAN Legion
31. Alpha Volley Union
32. Elysian Empire
33. Verge of Collapse 
34. Gypsy band 
35. R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N 
36. Agony Empire 
37. Sleeper Social Club 
38. Team Liquid 
39. Black Legion. 
40. Pandemic Legion 
41. Rote Kapelle 
42. The Ronin 
43. Solar Fleet 
44. Percussive Pizza Time Diplomacy 
45. DarkSide. 
46. Dirt Nap Squad 
47. Choke Point 
48. Goonswarm 
49. The G0dfathers 
50. The Fourth District 
51. Lone Star Partners 
52. Dead Terrorists 
53. Ev0ke 
54. Nulli Secunda 
55. Tribal Conclave 
56. Shadow Cartel
57. Capital Punishment. 
58. Bruderschaft der Pilger 
59. Get Off My Lawn 
60. Wormholes Holders 
61. Fluffeh Bunneh Murder Squad 
62. NOIR Mercenary Group 
64. Curatoes Veritatis Alliance

Once again good luck, and get practicing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

ATX - Matches down Memory Lane.

Here's some of the most exciting fights that I can remember in AT history. Stretching back to AT1 and up to current...

AT1, this alliance tournament featured very different rules and a very different atmosphere in Eve at that time. It also generated, what is for me, the most memorable fights in AT history, and overall because of the scarcity of any video's from these fights, probably some of the least talked about.

During the first AT we saw the beginnings of sayings that are now heard every AT, "hero" this and "hero" that. The first hero, was the "hero" Tempest. And this is her story.

Aegis Militia matched up in the first round against one of the early favorites, a then powerful Mercenary Coalition. Each side could field one of each type of ship, 1 BS, 1 Cruiser, and 1 frigate. None of the current fancy options were really viable back then in 2005, and the whole idea of an Alliance tournament was fresh and new. Not to mention they didn't have the viewing experience we currently have, NOR the classes of ships we have.

In any case, MC and AM took the field, and an epic battle took place. The tempest of AM, led the charge into the teeth of the Megathron-led MC team taking punishing damage and all looked lost, but the tempest was sporting a strange fit, NOS (before the nos fix) and cruise missiles. Somehow it just kept repping back, dropping as low as 1% structure but staying alive each time.

Now one of the reasons this fight is so rare to hear about, besides it being in 2005, is that footage from back then is, for the most part lost unless it was hosted on Eve-files, or cross uploaded there sometime later. I thought I kept a copy of this fight around on my computer but I haven't been able to find it thus far.

Sadly that leaves this fight little more than mythical status, other than the known outcome, AM beating MC by the narrowest margin. Even the eve wiki doesn't have the schedule for the first alliance tournament... And nobody I reached out to retained footage from that battle. :sadface::

The more famous "hero" of AT1, was the hero Eagle, more famous, but not better. Now I really wish that I could find footage on this one as well since I just barely remember the fight, let alone the participants. In short, Logistics ships had not yet been buffed and were largely useless, however cross tanking between ships was common, and in this fight, it was looking to not even be close.

All that ended up remaining on the field was a single Eagle. Somehow this hero eagle managed to down two ships, ending up the victor of the match, coining the first real use of the phrase "hero eagle."

(In a stunning display of eve-searchyness, I have found the video for the original hero-eagle fight from AT1!

Download from eve files was working for me last night, the link is here. Watched it last night and made me remember just how different eve and the tourney was back then)

Next up is one of the most famous if not THE most famous, and easily the most publicized match in the history of the AT. That would be the famous 10 man thorax Star Fraction gang vs the, until then, undefeated, 3 time champs Band of Brothers.

Let me set the stage a little bit. Band of Brothers had some incredible success with the early tournaments. They won the first three and were making another strong showing in their previous matches of AT4 to the round of 16 against Star Fraction, who had made it this far, scratching through despite a loss in a group stage.

Band of Brothers fielded an extremely effective setup, possibly having yet to lose a ship, up to this point. It's weakness, if it had any, was it's complexity. It required close coordination, range control, and ECCM to operate effectively. Something that a more basic setup could take advantage of. Star Fraction was a heavy underdog coming into the fight... while BoB looked poised for another championship.

Now not all the commentary is correct in the video, SF didn't receive the winning tactic from an outside source, this was a fit that was proposed pre-tourney by one of the leaders of the team. Trust me, he's in my Alliance and he emphasizes it every time this match is brought up. Or sometimes just at random, Seriously, we get it, we get it....


You'd think I would want to include a fight I was actually in, and I want to, but honestly the fight in the replays doesn't do justice to just how on a knife's edge I spent the entire right, balancing webs, guns, drones, neuts, injecting, trying to peel t3's off our guardian all against the AAA setup in AT8. So... Instead I have been trying to find other good matches.

Here we see one of the group stage matches from AT9, a nail biter down to the end, and for my money one of the best matches of AT9. One one side you have a isk heavy setup from Circle, fielding three mach's and as a commentator pointed out, a low isk setup from Razor. What happens is an unexpected slug fest in the middle of the arena, more importantly, it remains exciting, though it went all the way to time. This kind of back and forth battle will be limited further with the new 10 minute time limits set on the matches this AT.

There are tons more good fights out there, but are nearly as memorable (to me) as these four.

Next up: Reviewing some previous AT setups with my trusty formula!

Monday, May 21, 2012

ATX - How to: evaluate AT setups

7 ways I use to evaluate effective vs non-effective setups for the Alliance tournament. I meant to get this out sooner, but it's been rough and this post turned into quite the novel. Excuse the lack of handy pictures, I didn't want to delay this post further but looking for nice images, maybe later...

1. Field control

Now when I say this, there are a variety of effective means of field control, I lump them all together, here. By field control I mean, ability to dictate combat ranges on the field. Since the AT arena, is limited in size, to a sphere who's radius is 125km from the center-point, and there is now inter-arena warping allowed, this aspect of any fit plays a large role.

Viable field control methods-
Speed - not just straight line speed, but the agility to stay inside of the arena, while remaining outside the reach of your opponents. AB fit ships tend to use mobility as a form of tank as well. I'll call this being "slippery."

Webs and Scrams - These are more traditional methods of field control. Indeed, they are quite effective. Webs obviously slow a ship down from 50-90% depending on the ships employing them, and scrams stop the MWD's of other ships, slowing them down significantly.

Now obviously, some ships get bonus to range and strength of webs and range of scrams, but no ships gets a bonus to both. I think that's what we would call overpowered. However, this is also where light tackle in a setup becomes important, the ability to land a web and a scram on a target, anchoring it in place to allow for a more precise execution of the target, well, that is something that is important.

In short -
Field control is the ability of a setup to maintain range, or dictate the range it wants to be in effectively. Through the use of webs, scrams, and speed to maintain and or close the distance into your weapons effective range, while dictating to the other team the range they will be fighting at.

Field control also takes into account where on the field you land your team. Are logistics coming in at distance, is your fleet clustered in a ball, do you have your tackle in the front or back, range control dictating ranges from where on the field.


Ah EWAR, never is one thing so anger inspiring. EWAR of any kind is an essential part of most AT setups. Especially in later rounds where fleet sizes will be more than 5-6 pilots and damage mitigation will become increasingly important.

When one speaks of EWAR in Eve, usually it is in reference to ECM modules so we will start there.

ECM - Caldari based EWAR, and un-arguably the most used EWAR, and to make it even better or worse, it only gets stronger when coupled with other methods of EWAR. ECM is either an area affect model, the burst, that has a chance to disrupt target locks in that area, while directed ECM, the more traditional variant, is directed at a single target and has a chance to disrupt their ability to lock for up to 18 seconds. Now ECM also comes with some very widely used drones the EC- series drones, with 300's being the smallest and most used and the 900's being the largest and least used.

In the tourney right off the bat, one cannot know the drones each side is fielding. But once a swarm of ECM drones is launched, their impact is always felt. Just the light drones, in a big enough swarm, can completely jam out a target, even one with ECCM fit.

Sensor dampners - On TQ proper, aka not in the AT they are one of the least used types of EWAR because of some heavy nerfs and the general use of ECM on TQ overshadows them. When used in conjunction with ECM, their effects become even stronger, and more frustrating.

Sensor damps reduce lock range, or signal strength, making it take longer to lock any targets, or both, if not scripted. When used with ECM, this can lead to a period of time that even though a target it not jammed out by ECM, their ship is unable to lock anything before the next jam lands. Often called cycle-jamming.

In the Alliance tournament, Sensor damps are much more heavily used because they effectively and easily provide for both a little bit of field control, by driving down your opponents lock range, forcing them closer together, or closer to your fleet, or by preventing logistics from being able to lock and repair before your fleet's DPS can kill off or at least damage past saving, the intended target.

Tracking disruptors - On a kind of love and hate scale, these things easily bounce between the two when used in the Alliance tournament. On one hand they are incredibly effective vs turret based ships, by reducing tracking or optimal/falloff of the turrets. When faced against missile ships, they are utterly useless, having no effect at all. With TD changes coming in inferno, there has been talk about TD's messing with missile explosion velocity and ranges.

If this change makes it through then I expect to see far more TD's fielded then ever before since this would be a huge buff to their ability. Currently, a Curse or two loaded down with Neuts and tracking disruptors can easily change the tide of a turret based battle, be it against capless weapons like autocannon or cap dependent weapons like Hybrid or lasers. They will be an even better part of a AT comp if they can also gain the ability to shut down or at least disable missile based DPS.

Last and least we have Target Painters - The basic function of this ewar module is to increase the signature size of it's target. No over-all target painters are one of the least used ewar, both in TQ and during the Alliance tournament. They aren't really something who's effect can be overlooked.

Energy Neutralizers/nos - Not traditionally considered "EWAR" but falls nicely under this category during the AT than it would anywhere else. Neuts and nos are also a form of field control, but really you are effecting a targets ability to take any action, be it fire their guns, actively tank, or even MWD freely around the arena.

Increased signature size means that missiles can hit harder, guns appear to track better and hit for more solid strikes on target. Especially against ships that focus on the use of signature tanking for their logistics ships. Just one or two target painters can increase the size of the Logi enough that it's tank will be unable to sustain the damage applied to it by missile or even drones.

Bottom line about EWAR:
How much/how many EWAR modules or possible slots for EWAR does a setup have? If they have ships dedicated for a specific type of EWAR module, how many of those ships are present and are they complementary types of EWAR (ECM and Damps) or stand alone (Target Painters and Tracking Disruptors).

This rating fits in closely with my ratings for section 6 and 7.

3. EWAR resistance

Obviously this is the resistance to any of the modules above. Specific planning is usually includes sensor boosters to combat Damps, but most often includes the use of Racial specific, on board ECCM or remote ECCM to prevent jamming. Let it be a testament to the effectiveness of ECM that even though near every fit in use for the tourney, especially heavy DPS, and Logistics ships will have at least a ECCM module, that ECM is still so effective and widely used.

Truth be told there are few counters for Target painters, besides using an Afterburner and fitting to keep your signature radius low, but those are things that one should already be doing if you are signature and or speed tanking.

Tracking disruptors can be mitigated to some extent by fitting tracking enhancers and the use of remote tracking links and tracking computers, but their effect is usually still strong enough that simply fitting those modules isn't enough.

Still, EWAR resistance is also an racial trait. Up until Inferno, if the change makes it, Missiles would not be effected by the use of tracking disruptors, much like recon ships who start with a very high base lock range are naturally resistant to the use of sensor damps. Caldari on the other hand have some of the highest base signal strength, and that makes Caldari ships less vulnerable to ECM as well.

One of the other tactics used would be to split your fleet between races, forcing hostile ECM to fit jammers for each race, and if they do not, then off-racial jams will have even less of a chance of successfully striking a target.

I've talked a lot about strengths vs EWAR, but what about weaknesses? Projectile and hybrid weapons suffer heavily from tracking disruptors, and while some classes of ships start with huge lock ranges, other ships start with smallish lock ranges, like logistics (80ish km) and can easily be damped down to force those ships to move closer or huddle.

In addition, Minmatar are the weakest race vs ECM, as their base sensor strengths are lowest across the board. Even off-racails have a higher change of "hitting" a minmatar target. Flying a single race setup more than once provides your opponents the chance to show up with all one racial ECM module, but doing it for the first time gives you a distinct advantage as any ECM vs your setup will be 1/4 more distributed between Racial and off racial jammers.

4. Number of ships/possible EHP of fielded ships

Historically, AT setups have varied in size, but one thing has remains true. The number of ships fielded tends to play a large part in determining who wins. There are many reasons why this is true, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

Last year, the setups with more ships, once we hit the 10 man stage, would usually win. Having more ships forces your opponents to spread tackle, divide their DPS, or rather attention on keeping track of where everything is. Provides built-in redundancy for most setups effectiveness, allowing more than a single or small group of ships to fill a role allows the loss of one or two of them means that your tackle, for instance, is now completely ineffective.

Having more ships on the field also speaks to being able to use more advanced tactics and to force your opponent to decide between similar ships in order to neutralize the effectiveness of your setup. Indeed it forces all of your opponents strengths to be spread out over a larger surface area. EWAR becomes less effective against more targets, Remote reps become more pronounced, gang and field bonuses make more of a difference. Everything just works better with more ships.

EHP is self-explanatory and one of the reasons that the tier 3 BC's add such an interesting element. Traditionally I would have said more EHP in a role is better, but now, with tier 3 BC's pumping out DPS like it's going out of style, EHP matters both less and more. All at the same time.

In the 6 man setups EHP still counts for more, since DPS arrayed against the setups will be lesser, so more EHP setups will last longer (duh) but also provide the ability to engage and use whatever the ship is fit for. Now in the 12 man setups, it gets tricky. Tier 3 BC heavy setups will be pushing 4-5k DPS, even high EHP setups with lower DPS will melt in the face of all that firepower. By melt I mean that amount of DPS can push completely through Logistics reps, even on the sturdiest targets. The only chance is to push enough DPS yourself to take out their DPS, or enough EWAR yourself to mitigate it, and allow your Logistics to cover the rest.

5. Field of fire (effective ranges of the setups)

Field of fire, basically meaning the range of the setups. Do they match, for instance, are some ships range fit while others are short range? While not always bad, if you have many of the same ship, for instance 4 oracles, and 2 are pulse fit and 2 are tach fit, the ships will not have the same engagement envelope and the tach fit setups will either need to be guarded by the pulse setups, or at least will have to sit back from the fight, and be effective at different ranges.

However, sometimes different ranged setups can be very complimentary, like for instance, Tach oracles and pulse harbingers, with some light tackle. The light tackle and the pulse harbs have enough EHP to hold tackle on their targets while getting fire support from the distant oracles(yes it is a bad example). This way the Harbs and light tackle hold the enemy setup off of the tach oracles and hopefully in their optimal range, allowing the Oracles to maximize their DPS at range.

6. Fleet continuity

Slightly different than an overall grade, this is how the fleet setup plays into it's own strengths, and how the ships are combined to limit it's weaknesses. This is where things like fielding a huginn with a short range fleet makes sense, or Bhaalgorns with cap warfare fleets, to add DPS. Bombers and the like with speedy Sleipnirs...

Alternatively, if the setup scores poorly here, it's usually because the setup isn't maximizing potential cross strengths, or focusing too heavily in one area (DPS or EWAR or field control).

This also measures the complexity of the setup. Some setups are so complex to operate that they can be easily defeated if one thing goes wrong. See many many of the fights of AT8 for setups that were so complex that a single cog being removed made everything crumble. Easier setups, just like easier strategies, tend to stay intact in the heat of battle, and tend to survive under fire. Complex strategy that relies on your opponent doing and moving as you expect is out the window by the time you land on the field, everyone is nervous and people start losing ships.

7. Overall

Taking everything into account, this is the final score for the setup. This is a step further than just "fleet continuity," this takes more of the gut-feel of the setup and figures in my head as a "taking pilot skills" into account factor in here as well. Some fleet comps are so complicated that every though they score high in every area, they end up falling flat with one missed step by one person in the fleet.

Final words

These 7 items cover what I consider to be the meat of every setup, but short of "7. Overall" we don't really count much on pilot skill. Now in the Alliance tourney more than any other environment, the old eve idiom "you've already won and or lost by fit alone" holds very true. Saying that pilot skill does not play into the fights would be a incredible overstatement of the truth. Pilots that are used to being under pressure, used to dealing with nerves and fight effectively every time, in addition to having the near maxed skills, where every single percent advantage matters, that's the heart of the tournament. That extra 1% jam strength could be the difference between allowing your logi to live or to die. Capping out when repping, or the extra EHP provided by comp skills to 5 definitely play a role.

But that's not really speaking to pilot skill, but more pilot trained skills. Pilots who know when to turn, or how to maintain transversal, or minimize damage, keep range, fight in optimal, know when to risk their ships and when not to without having being told, or use of overheating and repairing. These are all skills that more elite pilots have, and more importantly, use, on a regular basis without the need to be told "overload" or "stay at range."

FC experience is key as well, in most of the Rote fleets, let alone alliance tournament teams, all the members have a solid understanding both of their fits, their fleet-mate fits, the structure of the fleet,  what's expected and at least and idea of how to take over target calling. Now magnify that time 10, or even 100 for the importance of each decision and you start to get the picture. A team can't rely on a single FC to manage the fleet, or any other single point of failure that can be alleviated. I find that most of these factors, short of an amazing World of Tanks-ish XVM algorithm taking in pilot skill, it's roughly impossible to discern. 

Next up, I will take a look at some previous successful fits and grade them using the scales above, in addition to scores, 1-10, with a overall score.

Friday, May 4, 2012

ATX - Reduced Time limits for matches

One fairly major change in the AT rules I forgot to cover in my initial post, match times have been reduced.

So previously each match lasted a full 15 minutes, but now that has been reduced to just 10 minutes.

Now I say "just" because 10 minutes seems like an awfully short amount of time to me. I remember many matches either going to "time" or close enough to it. Perhaps not in the qualifying rounds, but definitely during the finals. There were even instances of the match flipping on a dime in the final minutes, had those matches been shortened then that would never had happened.

I'm not sure what the driving motivation is behind shortening the matches, but it doesn't seem to make too much sense to me at least.

For clarification here are the exact words from the dev blog

"Match times have been reduced from 15 minutes to 10 minutes."

"Fights are limited to 10 minutes in pre-qualifying rounds and group stage, and to 10 minutes on the final day. If a fight reaches time, it will be stopped and whichever alliance has the higher total points value will be declared winner. See "Victory Conditions", below."

"Victory Conditions

  1. During a match, a team scores points for each enemy ship it kills, equal to the tournament points value of that ship. The team that has scored the most points at the conclusion of the match, or that destroys the entire opposing team, is the winner.
  2. If a team chooses to field less than 100 points, non-fielded points count towards the opponent's score.

  • This rule applies to the 50 point limit during Pre-Qualifying, not 100 points."
While CCP has upped the team sizes, they haven't given the teams more points, so they seem to be encouraging bigger, faster fights (more DPS on the field means more ships die faster) but then didn't give the teams any extra points to field any mass of high DPS ships save for 8 tier 3 BC. Sure, that's impressive DPS but then doesn't it just come down to who dies first every time, no tactics, no strategy, nothing other than DPS, easily mitigated DPS as well.... Seems like a poor tradeoff.

Additionally, in previous years, CCP has invited the winners and some level of the "runners up" back into the tournament... oh hell, CCP Loxy (best loxy) says it best... 

"In the past we have invited the top teams from the previous tournament directly, bypassing the qualifying stage to guarantee we have some of the best and most respected teams fighting in the final weekend. We have made the specific decision this year not to do this. All teams must go through the same process."

Guess they don't want 0utbreak and Genos getting an automatic bid this year. Predictable rage later on in the thread, I felt the same way when Rote made it to the finals one year, and we thought that got us a guaranteed spot the next year but then we still ended up having to enter both the auction and random draft. We made it in, but that was after a full year of expecting to be in without issue. The rage of the top teams is well placed, but ultimately I hope it will be fruitless.

In any case, also in that thread, Inferno changes will already be in place pre-tourney, including Tracking Disruptors effecting Missiles, launcher changes, etc...

Qualifiers will be streamed, possibly without commentators. It was identified as a must have after they didn't have it last year... They might get streaming audio from Eve Radio or NER side by side with the coverage to provide some commentator feedback.

Some "intertwined" alliances that might have been affected by the no alt alliance rules, for example Red v Blue alliances (Red Fed and Blue, oh who cares about blues?), will be allowed to enter as two separate alliances. If there are questions or concerns about an alliance you can email the AT team at evetv@ccpgames.com

Next up, I go over the components I use to rate AT setups.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

ATX - relevant ship changes

Well I was going to take a look at the point changes from yesterday's release of the AT X rules...

But I was beaten to the punch, and in much better fashion than I would have done it (I would just have compared it to last year, not all time, so nice work!

Instead I will move forward what I was going to talk tomorrow about.. today! It's like the future man;

Top three major changes to classes of ships that have undergone major overhaul since the last AT, or for that matter been introduced since the last AT.

1. Of course the Gallente changes head this list, only slightly above tier 3 BC's but we will get to them. Gallente ships, well blasters in specific received some major buffs to bring them more "in-line" with the other major weapon systems of each empire. In this buff, blasters and rails received, generally, less fitting requirements, a touch better tracking and better damage. Enhancing their reputation as up close brawlers by quite a large margin.

The impact of this change might be marginal though. Here is my thinking, even though the change is a big one, the actual impact is limited. AT fights have long been dominated by teams that can effectively control the range of the engagement. Hence the long standing affinity for Missiles and last year the Minmatar heavy setups.

Looking at the stats from the last tourney, that can be found here. I see that Minmatar really "led the way" with 700+ ships fielded that were minmatar hulls alone, not to mention the 108 Angel Cartel ships fielded, and the 425 Caldari hulls. Gallente were among the least fielded even when Serpentis(incorrectly labelled "Guardian Angel" in the stat site) are included in their ship totals. Amarr picked up the dead last also because of their lack of ability to effectively counter the speed and range control abilities of missiles and projectiles. As heavy armor tanks, even with amazing tracking, is not enough to base a fleet concept around, or at least one that could reliably kill the premier "Minmatar rush" setups from last year.

However, to argue against the hybrid changes being marginalized... there is one change that made quite a difference, the change to Null ammo. Penalties were removed and falloff was increased, suddenly large blasters with Null ammo could, in some fits, reach easily out to similar ranges as projectiles and, out-damage them in falloff while doing so. maybe we will see more large blaster armed ships, perhaps Shield Vindicators, Talos', Megathrons? Their extra range and DPS might swing the pendulum back in their favor.

2. Tier 3 BC's. Never before been in a AT, but as some (including the rational side of my brain) might argue, are they too flimsy to stand on their own in an Alliance tournament setting? Or (as the pewpewBOOM side of my brian counter argues) will their DPS projection and alpha set them up as the go-to platform in the 6 and 12 man setups?

I think it is unlikely we will see too many victorious 6 man setups around tier 3 BC's. Let's face it, with their current point value of 12 points, you can only field 4 before hitting 48 points. While four Tornado's or two nado's and two Oracle, or Talos or Naga or whatever, might be a scary site, would they be able to chew through the tanks of opposing setups fast enough, before their, little more than cruiser sized EHP, ended in a flashy explosions?

It would be a race for sure, but one that might not end well for the Tier 3 BC. I think that is reflected in their point cost, but the "they do a TON of DPS" side of me still hopes that they will have a chance. Four Talos will do around 4k dps up close, and I don't care who you are, that will dig through ships quickly. It's all just a matter of catching and pinning down the targets at hand, or loading up some of the afore mentioned tasty Null and going to town at range.

In all I think that Tier 3 BC setups will not be 100% effective, but then what is. They will see some victories and losses, but as usual it will depend on their matchups.

3. AF changes... Man, where to start? AF's got their big buff here since the last AT, and what a buff it was, more or less changing the way AF's are flown, fit and utilized. But back to the question, how is this going to affect the composition of setups in the Alliance tournament.

Now if I remember correctly, last year and the year before, the majority of AF's fielded were "Ishkur" class assault ships, in fact I would even say that if you added together all the AF's fielded other than the Ishkur there would still be more Ishkur's than the rest... (turns out I am right, 15 of 21 AF fielded in AT9 were Ishkur and 47 of 77 fielded in AT8 were Ishkur) I think we can all agree that the Ishkur was the go-to AF in previous alliance tournaments. This year, despite their buff they have kept their point value at 4! Think of it this way, if an AF based team is incredibly lucky, they can field 6 AF for 30 points and still have a shot at killing a 4 tier 3 BC setup with relative ease...

As support ships in small fleets AFs now really have a role in ATX. As a hard counter to tier 3 BC and to all large-weapon, no Neut fit BS in the 12 man sized fleets. Their relative low cost, means you can afford to fill out a lot of slots with AF's and for their point value they actually might now be more useful than the Genos inspired love for Stealth Bombers.

Incidentally, Bombers have fallen in popularity over the past two years, down from 135 used two years ago to just 68 last year. I'd attribute this, in large, to the buffs to minmatar weapons allowing distant Cane's and Sleipnirs to remove small ships from the battlefield quickly. Let's not forget that bombers are also 6 points and AF's four. With the higher player caps it seems to encourage the use of three AF vs two Bombers.

I can confidently say that AF's will be fielded more often. The MWD bonus seems to make them the better idea instead of paper thin Inties(3 points), and be more useful. AF's can now put out a decent amount of DPS(Enyo, Wolves, Retri, bharpy) without having to gimp the rest of their fittings too heavily and can, and do form a good tackle and sustained tackle platform to hold targets (like the tier 3 BC) in place for the rest of the fleet to catch up or just whittle down the ship on their own. They can also win 1v1s against the other side's light tackle.

Various other changes have been made as well, including changes to EAF, and a whole host of tweaks and touches done to other ships in the patches since the last AT, but these last three seem to be the most relevant.

I will review some of these changes and see if any will have a direct impact in another post. In the meantime;

See you in space.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

AT X Ruleset and Dates released

Wow, it's already that time of the year again. You know, where your alliance starts to see more bitter old vets showing up.... More time on Sisi than on TQ.

Ridiculous security measures around fits and training, fleet comps and idea's.

Yep, that's right, CCP has just released dates and the ruleset for AT X!


Okay, I'm a fool about the AT, I practice with my Alliance, try to support the team as I can, if not monetarily this season then by pissing off my wife to make practices. I mull brackets, post predictions, look at possible setups. Just 8 weeks to go, people better get started.

Notable changes from the dev blog from AT 9 to AT X,

6 vs 5 ship limit in the prelims. 50 points cap

12 vs 10 ship limit in the final qualifiers. 100 points remain though, so more ships, but no more points

Tier 3 BC's are worth 12 points, to Tier 2 BC's 13. That will fit for a maximum of four tier 3 BC's (48 points) for prelims. Four Talos' anyone?

No "ALT" Alliance teams. CCP plans to keep a lid on this practice to prevent the same Alliance winning twice as it were. Prevent a re-peat from last year, encourage better competition. Not sure this will fix the Outbreak vs GENOS problem from last year as they weren't really alt alliances of each-other. Just practiced together.

More rules breakdowns and AT fun to come!