Saturday, July 27, 2013

AT XI - First weekend over, start of second.

Second weekend of ATXI
What a beautiful thing!

This year my coverage of ATXI certainly has been slower than last year. Let me recap the highlights- The first weekend went well, almost as if CCP has been practicing in the offseason. The HUD and commentary continues to impress, most notably the improvement of CCP Dolan's commentary overall, but he might need to take pointers from, SCL commentator, Seldarine for funny one liners.

After the advent of banning over the course of the last year, I have to say my mindset has alreayd changed to favor banning style matches, despite my last years hate against he mechanic, though many things have changed since that banning mechanic was thought of. I am already bored of the set-piece matches of the first weekend! Strange how quickly I have adapted to the banning meta-game and the extra layer of complexity it adds. Obviously strong setups will be banned by most teams now in some form or another. I expect the Dominix trio to be the hardest hit, but with other options out there for the trio of drone boats, creative alternatives including Ishtars, Gila, Navy Issue Vexors, Sin's or even Armageddon Swarms, I don't think we have seen the last of Drone heavy setups.

The double elimination bracket is also working well, making each match more important and actually worth watching. I'll be the first to admit that not every match was a joy to watch, and good teams, especially those teams that competed in the SCL are doing remarkably well. Now is it because these teams got extra practice via the SCL? Or is it because of the excellent pilots on each team? It's an interesting question, one that might never be answered fully.

***Obligatory Rote cheerleading***

As a member of Rote Kapelle I have to admit that I am looking forward to our rematch with last years champions, Verge of Collapse on Saturday. They put us out of the tourney last year as well and I get the feeling that this will be this years Rote vs Pandemic Legion moment(hopefully with the same outcome, but that's yet to be determined). So far it appears as if both Rote and Verge have been on near auto-pilot, Showcasing effective fleet comps and dismantling opponents with record speed, and minimal losses. It's a testament to the teams and captains that their fits and pilots are performing this well.


As for the second weekend, I expect to see even more disparity between teams that have dealt with banning before (SCL teams and NEO teams) vice those that have not.

Here is the meta game as I see it for banning. Right now most tournament teams know the strength of the Dominix setup, or even Drone setups in general, it could be a key setup, if not the king setup for this year. Because of this, in the second weekend, I am expecting to see an early trend towards bans of Dominix due in part to their popularity in the first weekend and their obvious strengths.

Here is where bans get interesting, not to mention an effort in double think. A competent team captain will recognize that a Dominix/Drone setup will likely be banned and plan another group of setups without including obvious drone ships or perhaps unexpected drone setups. Alternative ships are aplenty, as there are multiple ships that can field 5 heavy drones, and with only a two ship ban, not all the setups can be removed. Just to name a few: Gila, Ishtar, and Rattlesnake, not to forget setups that could a mix of support drones and still do respectable damage or EWAR. So then the shoe is on the other foot, as a team captain, do you waste a ban on a strong ship that might not even be a potential opponent, or do you use the ban to focus on another strong setup like cruise missile fielding ships, Sleipnir rush, Machariels… Or is there an as yet unseen  "Dominix Killer" setup and then purposefully not ban Dominix just in the hopes of engaging them?

I think Captains new to the banning meta will tend to ban Dominix, and other drone bans, while more aggressive, maybe even brash, captains will ban other setups and try to cajole opponents to take the field in a Domi setup.

Some other strong setups I don't think we will see the end of are cruise missile based setups with their recent buff, as well as a continued use of the always strong Minmatar(sleipnir) rush, Vindicator, Kronos, and Machariel based teams.

As we have seen in previous tournaments, weapon systems with the highest native resistance to in game EWAR get the most use.

Drones - Immune to tracking disruptors (for the most part), highly resistant to sensor damps as drones can be aggressed by damps being active on their ship, same for ECM, and only helped by Target painters

Missiles - Immune to tracking disruptors (still waiting for that TD change), FOF can be used to some effect against heavy sensor damps, but strong native lock ranges of Caldari ships, and stronger sensor strength make Sensor damps less effective overall and depending on the setup can be negated by sensor boosters, and missile based platforms often have the extra mids to use 1-2 sensor boosters while retaining effectiveness. ECM can also be spoofed by FoF missiles though it remains fairly effective.

Blasters - Sensor damps aren't all that effective against short ranged blasters…. is what you would think if you were not thinking, but really with the scan res script loaded, damps can make and effective break, forcing bigger ships to take 30-40 or even out to a minute + before they can lock and apply DPS. Tracking disruption is devastating to blasters for obvious reasons. While ECM remains as effective as always.

Projectile turrets - share many of the same weaknesses of blasters in respect to Sensor damps, but add a bit of range so now range scripts effect their locks as well, preventing effective kiting from minmatar auto cannons or artillery. Tracking disruption are similarly effective against Projectile turrets, while of course ECM retains it's effectiveness.

Railguns - Often forgotten are effected like artillery by the various forms of ECM, With a bit more range than blasters, they are susceptible to both range and lock time scripts. Tracking disruptors can easily kill their effective DPS similar to their effect on any turret based weapon system.

Lasers - Also suffer from the effects of EWAR on a more level scale. That is they operate in short to mid ranges (pulse) and mid to long range (Scorch pulse, and beams). Sensor damps can limit their engagement envelopes by preventing locks in all but a close range battle or preventing timely locks. Tracking disruptors are great at removing Lasers from the fight, removing their ability to dominate at range and track in close.

Clearly it can be said that Missiles and drones, two weapon systems that might be slightly less used in PvP in eve proper, get the EWAR advantage in a tournament setting.

The stage is set for some epic battles this weekend with another quarter of the overall competition sure to be eliminated by Monday morning. As always Eve-bet and Monocle Madness continue to provide outlets for those of the better persuasion, and are worth a look if you are interested. I prefer Monocle madness, but both are excellent avenues.

Expect especially hard gambling around some of the following matches:

Verge of Collapse vs Rote Kapelle
Late night vs TEST
Hyrda vs Inappropriate footwork
PL vs Agony - Two tournament heavyweights here fighting it out. Should be great.
Outbreak. vs CO2
CVA vs Perihelion
Heretics vs Pizza

(To name just a few)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Eve Overview Improvements

The tide of the battle is turning. Hostile ships are crumbling, the battle is turning in your favor. It's the breaking point in the battle where a smart FC on the losing side tries to get as many ships out alive as possible, understanding defeat. Calls to spread points fly across fleet chat, secure as many kills as possible, stop those hostiles from escaping. Garbled 'I have a point on the dr---' or 'point ca--' fill fleet comms, it's utter chaos, and more than 3/4 of the remaining enemy fleet makes it to warp despite being in scramble and disruptor range from more then enough points to do a full lock-down. It's sometimes followed by muted silence and then utter amazement on how in the hell all those ships got out.

'Must have all been fitting stabs' - Chuckles follow that. But the FC isn't happy, there were more kills out there, but it doesn't matter now.

"Spread points"

This is thee most ambiguous command in the Eve FC's dictionary, this basically means, put points on everything in range, top value stuff first, to secure the most expensive kills. In reality, it's left up to fleet members to look at the tactical situation and figure out what to put their point on. In reality, while the blingy t2 cruiser might always get pointed, it gets 10 points while everything else gets none.

What I mean to say is -

I guess all of this is a long route to get to the simple point. Unlike in countless other MMO's where current effects on a target are called out by status indicators under the mob or player. In Eve we only have a system where we show our modules and their effects on the target. I think the UI team should take a close look and figure out a way to indicate if a target is being jammed already, if he already has a TD on him, and more importantly, is there a point on that guy?

Too much detail could cause a huge amount of clutter on the UI, but just a few indicators could be important. Something like a single icon or a nested icon showing how many of each module type is active on a target would be hugely useful, not just in a "Spread Points" scenario, but also in a pitched battle where ewar teams are doing their best to spread their trade around the entire enemy fleet.

To implement, it would be hard to represent these items without adding a lot of clutter to the UI, but I would like to see perhaps "ghost" images of a warp scrambler icon or EWAR icon under the target if someone else is already engaging that target with EWAR or whatever. In my opinion gun icons would be ridiculous in almost any non-solo battle, but the ewar and warp scrambler icons would actually be very useful.

Imagine if you were able to tell at a glance what one of your targets had or didn't have points on them. Spread points would no longer end up with all but the most doomed targets escaping. Flow of pointing would be a different meta, allowing FC's undedicated the command "Tackle on primary" and instead allow the fleet members to coordinate points on their own.

Warp bubbles could have their own icon or just show as a warp scramble effect on targets inside the bubble. (for you 0.0 readers who don't worry about tackle unless they are in a dictor/hictor). Let's keep moving forward with a better, more intuitive, UI.