Sunday, July 13, 2014

Five Months Later...

I was just really getting into Space Engineers, I think it stands a good chance of ranking in the top three of my 'Games that are kind of like Minecraft including Minecraft' list. The other one is Seven Days to Die, both of them lots of fun but in very different ways. Too bad this is an Eve blog and I have Eve things on my mind! 
Last Monday I was convinced to come play a little Eve after many months away. Amarr had just started their most recent push to take the long time Minmatar home system of Huola. Within minuets of patching and logging in, I was fleeted up and headed out to fight. 
Amarr has tried to take Huola before. Most times it was some new group on the block thinking they could do it easily, other times it was yelled and shouted about but no real effort put in, and still other times we used an “assault" on Huola as a distraction to claim another system we wanted. Every time these attacks failed, the Minmatar claimed victory and clogged up the forums, blogs, militia chat, and twitter with claims of their ultimate superiority. Those of us in the loop just chuckled and laughed at them quietly. We knew that it was good propaganda to keep the average Minmatar happy, but that was good for us and our desire for fights. Myself and the leaders of another alliance who shall not be named went as far as quietly discouraging any plexing in Huola. The less they had to deplex their home, the more the Minmatar would possibly, maybe, once-in-awhile, leave and partake in pew-pew with us and ours. 
The Minmatar historically had four home systems: Dal, Auga, Arzad, and Huola. The first Amarr took was Dal. We remember it as the Dalamo. It took us over a month to finally get it due to those pesky Russians and their timezone. Weeks of mindless plexing and some good fights later, the resiliency of the Russians started to slip. Amarr forces pushed their advantage and took the system evicting hundreds of Minmatar who called Dal home. After it fell many of them moved Huola. 
Auga fell soon after to the likes of TMFED and Skunk Works who rather like that system. Many of the Minmatar occupants moved to Huola. 
Arzad was a blood bath for Amarrian Vengeance for a few weeks as Flyinghotpocket ground down the occupants will to live. Then the hammer fell in the form of a 100 man fleet one weekend finishing it off, evicting the Minmatar residents. Where did they go? Huola. 
Every time Amarr took a Minmatar home system they made Huola stronger. It is 'Fortress Huola', almost every single Minmatar corp or Alliance has a stake in its defense. 
When the offensive first started the Minmatar were basically caught off guard even though they knew about it in advance. They probably assumed it would be another light hearted effort that they could brush off. Then the system shot up 40% plus. Panic deplexing and calls to allies and friends went out. In the days since, the system has been repeated plexed down to 0% in the Russian and part of EU time zone and back up in others. The same thing happened in Dal and Arzad. 
I have no doubt the diehard Minmatar groups will keep fighting for every plex and deplexing whenever they can. The not-so-diehards will get bored and slowly drift back to whatever else they do in Eve. Huola will be a battle of attrition played out over weeks and possibly months if Amarr can muster the staying power to keep the pressure on. Eventually the Russians will crack like they did in Dal, if the Amarr can push them that hard for that long.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Dance

Faction War and small scale fleet combat in general is a different kind of PVP than most everything else in eve.  You are not fighting over an objective,  you are fighting for the sake of fighting. You build your fleet to counter an enemy fleet or pick something you think your enemy can and will fight.  Why?  Because you want to blow stuff up.

While we have had many good fights recently,  some lost some won,  I have gotten a bee in my bonnet about some of my enemies.  Before I get into specifics let me walk you through the making of a low sec small fleet engagement.

Normally your corporation/alliance/allies are hanging out talking about the latest internet cat sensation while a few try hards are out soloing. Maybe you have a person or two out scouting and they see something worthy of your time to fleet up and go kill. At this point you get some numbers, choose a ship size,  frantically search for that mod someone is missing that's never on market even though someone always needs it,  and then go looking for the fight.

They key thing here is bringing a fleet composition your opponent will fight but still gives you a decent chance of winning; if you and yours don't royally fuck something up.  This is the dance.  If you over ship the enemy runs and you don't get a fight.  You go too small and you get welped.  If you have a numbers advantage you ship smaller than the enemy.  If they have a numbers advantage you can go a little bigger,  but not too much bigger.  You have to look at things like logi,  ewar,  range,  and speed.  You do some quick math in your head and if you would fight you with what the enemy has you did it right.  If you wouldn’t fight you with what you have you failed and need to start over.
So back to my bee and bonnet issue.  Late Nite Alliance has been getting active once again. Over the summer their numbers dropped pretty drastically and we're no longer good for a fight. Since they are getting back into form our elite scouts and spies have once again been looking at them and seeing if getting a fight is possible. 

Earlier in the week I took a corp fleet down to their home system.  We rolled mostly tech one frigs with a few faction in the mix.  Numbering around 15 strong I decided to set up in a medium plex just in case a lot of them were afk.  Doing so allowed them to bring cruisers,  this is like me letting the Minmatar lead the waltz,  or salsa,  or whatever kind of dance we had going.

Sure enough they bring cruisers.  But not just cruisers,  cruisers with logi.  I was about to have us warp out but figured,  why the hell not?  They staggered into the plex,  that was their tactic to get us to stay,  and the fight was on.  We ended up getting  a jam on their dual eccm Augs and killed both.  We killed another cruiser and a few frigs and dessys before we all were headed home in pods.  The fight was fast hard and fun.  We lost but we killed more than we should have by any means.  Battle report

But why did the Minmatar go cruisers?  They matched our numbers.  They had links in system and could reship in no time.  They had every single advantage in the fight but they still decided to over ship. I barely took that fight and I only did so because we all wanted a fight.  Most nights we would have left local trolling them about being scared of Punishers.  I gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe they wanted a cruiser fight so we reshipped and came back.  Late Nite docked up and logged off.

Some people will say it was good tactics for the Minmatar to bring what they did because I took the fight.  Not so.  They know I'm a fairly conservative FC who rarely welps a fleet even if it is just frigs.  I like to take good fights. They want easy kills and ganks.

Now I am told Late Nite will not fight our cruiser fleets because they can't beat our doctrine. They don't want to ask people to have a specific ship with a general fitting to use to fight us.  If it can't be beat with a mish mash of whatever they have in the hanger they won't fight.  How bloody stupid is that?  They have lived in the same system for years.  They are rich and fat from many tier 4 and 5 pushes yet they won't ask people to keep an armor cruiser laying around or an Aug?  They will tell you this is not their fighting style. That they are lone wolf solo and small gang elite. But they will sure as hell undock a fleet of faction battleships to fight a neutral gang before you can count to three.  Its not that they can't do it.  Its that they are scared to do it. 

This brings me to last night.  We did the whole bit.  Bullshitting on comms,  scouting around.  Found some active people to shoot at and picked a fleet comp.  Twenty people in eleven AF,  four logi frigs,  the rest t1 frigs.  We expected cruisers and we got them.  Late Nite brought ten cruisers, one HAC, and one Battle Cruiser.  They also brought a blackbird.  We had both danced the dance and the fight was on.  I would have fought either fleet with what we had brought.  But Late Nite must be scared of dancing. They cannot waltz or salsa.  They can't even tap their feet to the rhythm of a beat.  They had to call in back up.  Another 15 man fleet of Talwars and other such things spoiled the dance.  We left field soon after once again narrowly loosing the isk war.  Battle report

A Late Night member once blogged or said in local or whatever that “this is not pick and choose PVP”. Meaning we cannot show up in destroyers and expect them to fight us in destroyers every time. I don't think anyone especially myself ever expects that. What I expect is my opponent to dance the dance. We are not risking SOV worth billions in ratting or renters fee, we are not fighting over some super lucrative moon, we are where we are to pew. When your opponent forgets that, when they become so bitter and wrapped up with winning a fight at any cost that they would prefer to dock and play DOTA then risk a loss, well it kind of spoils the fun for everyone.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rambling and Cruisers

I have returned to the land of EVE online after a three month hiatus.  As I mentioned in a prior post my return to Eve and FCing is going to focus on PVP activities and not system control type things.  I have had some good fun in my short time back including a hilarious fight against an awoxing Caldari corp where we teamed up with Late Night Alliance,  a Minmatar group.

When you can cut out the bickering and squabbling over system control you tend to look upon your enemies in a better light.  You can give a GF in local,  win or lose, and really mean it.  That does not mean I'm going to suicide my people into a shitty situation just to get a brawl though,  I still have my standard of course :p.

I have been wanting to try some new things out for fleets.  Different doctrine ideas I have heard of or cooked up in my head.  Running armor cruiser fleets,  while extremely effective and cost efficient,  does tend to get boring.  But here I have a problem.  At one point I knew what most of my Alliance and allies could fly and what was available in their hangers.  Now it's more of a crap shoot.  I can tell people ahead of time to have xxx ships ready but It feels like a waste of isk and effort for them if they do get this specific ship with a specific fit then it sits for months before the opportunity to use it arises.  With many new pilots around,  many of them newer, it's almost impossible to get 10-20 people into specific fits or have the ships available for them to use.  If they can use it.

The other thing people want to do it get into something bigger than a cruiser from time to time.  Pre Inferno battle cruisers were the ships of choice.  Around the third of the cost of a Battleship they had the damage,  tank, utility,  and most importantly,  versatility.  If I was running a brawling armor fleet made of Harbingers,  Hurricanes,  and Brutix but all you had was a Drake?  Sure come along just warp in at range and start that missile spam!  The only reason people used a cruiser was because they were new and didn't have a BC yet.

I have gotten to use BC's a few times since my return and they are still a blast.  Even using T1 logi, BC's put out enough DPS and they get hit hard enough to make a fight interesting unless your bring way to much logi with you.  But then you're not even looking for a fight are you?

Today while browsing the Eve forums I noticed a post about PVP becoming too expensive and that is really where I got the motivation and idea to blog.  You can read the post,  it's mostly trolling the OP but what Eve online forums post isn't?

Your back?  OK,  I'll continue.
When I first started flying full T2 fit Harbingers around two and a half years ago they cost about 60 million isk,  today they are approaching 100 million isk.  An Abaddon went from 250 million to 335 million.  That is quiet the increase if you ask me.  Is it an unsustainable amount of isk?  Well actually it is for most players.  Low sec has very limited isk making opportunities. Smaller corps and alliances don't have ship replacement programs.

We do have the income available to us through FW but how the system is currently set up you have to plex an insane amount to pay for a few BS loses if your side is down in T2 or lower.  If the PVP landscape was that of a few years ago where pirate and militia groups roamed low sec in battleships and battle cruisers I honestly don't think pilots could sustain the losses incurred without other forms of income.  I lost four Harbingers one weekend on the Huola Kourm gate pre Inferno.  They were good fights and not stupid losses,  fleets fights.  Today that would be 400 million isk.  That's a LOT of plexing most people just don't have the time for if they want to have any life and still do some pvp.

So today we run cruisers.  We have logi to minimize losses.  We scout better.  We don't blind jump that gate if we can avoid it.  While we desire to fly bigger ships more often the risk involved in doing so limits the opportunities I have to tell people to ship up.  FW and low sec in general has turned into the land of the cruiser and down and that kind of makes me sad.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Overdue Update

For those who don't know I've been on a pretty lengthy Eve break. The reasons behind my leave of absence are quite varied. With both of my parents being diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other(they are both on the mend now) I had some IRL srs things to deal with and stressing over internet space ships was not on my priority list.

In addition to that Amarr had finished a rather large war zone push. I ended up Fcing/planning/coordinating way more of that than I should have. Shalee asked me to help take one system in the back of Metro to keep the Minmatar from getting a medal and I agreed. Our offensive went so well we kept the ball rolling and with the Amarr Militia working like a well oiled machine(for once)we rolled on finishing up with the capture of Arzad.

Arzad was kind of the proverbial straw for me. I've said it a million times but I will say it again, I care not for war zone control. The weekend we took Arzad I woke up to find the offensive pretty much stalled. Iron Oxide was dug in hard and ripping the split attacking forces to pieces. I took over the Fweddit fleet and merged in a few other fleets to blob IO into docking up. The fleet swelled to over 100 people and at that point you are not FCing, you are babysitting. The combat was non existent. The Minmatar tried to take advantage of people not listening or paying attention. Getting ganks in new plexes before I could have the right number of people in the right ships in a plex.

There is no glory in blobbing a system. Many systems we took that way were hollow victories. Earlier in the year we fought over Dal for almost a month. That victory was sweet, but that was the exception. The majority of systems I have help take were either blob fest or “didn't want that system”.

So I took a break. I played Kerbal Space Command, Minecraft, Sins of a Solar Empire, and hell I even played Lemmings. Anything BUT Eve. I've enjoyed my time off only logging in to talk to people and load skills. I was still on comms talking to my friends and playing other games with them.

Today I bought the motorcycle I've been pondering on for almost a year. I have plans to ride down Highway One, see the Red Woods, maybe take a trip down to Yosemite. But as I told Shalee today, I may end up back in Eve before too long. When I got home I checked the forums and saw this . I went from thinking about playing Eve to hating Eve again. It was like a light switch being flipped in my head.

(right here I wrote a rant about FW mechanics, how I can't be bothered caring. I cut it out because it put a sour taste in even my mouth)

If I do come back to Eve I never see myself leading 100 man fleets again. I don't see myself dropping dreads on the Huola gate. I think those days are behind me. I truly believe I have reached the top of my game as an FC. I was never a great FC, I was just good enough. People like Pinky and Rina made me better than I was. Maybe someday soon the Minmatar will get to bitch about an Almity fleet again, but there is a good chance its going to be a hell of a lot smaller in numbers and ship size!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Common Question then Things

One of our newer members asked a very telling question yesterday on comms. “Do the minmatar always run from a fair fight?” he wondered. The answer came back sounding like a group of Gregorian monks chanting in perfect harmony. “Yes”.

Sure, there are a select few Minmatar who are down for a 1v1 or 2v2 but most scamper away at the first sign of someone on their plex gate. I wish I could record the nightly sounds of disappointment on comms after some Minmatar destroyer ran from a rifter. I wish I could record the confusion in peoples voice when they explain how they wanted to “suicide” into a 3v1 fight to see if they could get a kill, maybe two, but instead the Minmatar warped out and left system. I would take these recordings and force the talking heads on the Minmatar side to listen to them every time they blogged or tweeted.

Now that the pendulum that is war zone control has swung back to the Minmatar side it's even worse. Last night, and I'm not exaggerating here, five Minmatar in frigs, dessys, and one cruiser ran from one destroyer. As we did a little corp dessy roam we got smack talked in local for um, pvping....

Phoenix Raid Yaken > getting a shit ton of LP. how are your LP gain going?
Kimsemus > disregard LP, acquire kills
Phoenix Raid Yaken > I value money


Now that I've gotten that out of my system lets get down to business. I have the pleasure of FCing probably one of the best low sec corps in Eve. Over the last year and a half we have gotten pilots from other Amarr corps, null sec alliances, and noobs looking for their first kills. Many of these pilots have stuck around and blessed us with their experience and superb piloting. We use forums and in game channels to find pilots but we also use something else, something special. Combat has to be one of the best recruiting tools in eve. We have had dozens of pilots look into joining us after we killed them.

We have never been elitists assholes. After we kill someone, if they convo me I'll take it and talk to them and offer GF's. A lot of times, if they are new they have questions about what happened I will answer them honestly or help them with fitting. Sometimes they will ask if we are recruiting and I will point them at Shalee. Sure, I could troll them and lie about what happened but whats the point in that? Even if they are not interested in joining us I would rather have them not get discouraged and quit eve, its just more pvp for us if they come back. Hopefully with friends.

The pay off is fights like this . We were out on our roam last night and jumped into Ardar. The Minmatar were set up in a medium plex with a Pilgrim and Falcon presumably set up at range. With them having three cruisers, two recons and five dessy and down ships I expected a hard fight. It was not. But let me tell you what should have happened first.

  1. Falcon jam put jams on all the thrashers. Over heated even off race jams will land on a lot of them
  2. The Pilgrim neuts out both Coercers
  3. Both Thorax’s and the Rupture were dual web fit. Dessy killers. Follow primary and kill
  4. Win the fight

None of that happened. Instead they spread damage and stacked jams. What we did was very crafty and maybe a even a little underhanded. I will do my best to explain it but it may take up a lot of your time.

  1. Spread points
  2. Follow Primary
  3. Kill

If your paying attention you can see how this all comes together(if you disregard my opening rant). We do things as a corp. We get new people in and help them out. They learn to solo and to fleet or hone their already excellent skills. We kill shit.

Finally a hearty congratulations to last weekends Corporation Tournament winners

First Place-V1triol
Second Place-Baialein
Third Place-Katerina

FFA winner Durr(really? Who puts a neut on THAT??????)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How not to do it

Until recently the FW blogosphere was rather quiet. I had not posted in almost two months, other blogs I follow were also quiet. I'm sure the holidays and vacations kept some away, but I believe the silence had more to do with a relatively quiet warzone.

After the Retribution changes and new and exciting fights that were had there was just not much to talk about. Sure Amarr took a bunch of systems and knocked the Minmatar down to tier 1 for awhile but besides that there was nothing to report. My corp and our allies settled into some nice small gang/solo pvp. I stopped running larger more focused fleets due to lack of targets.

We found ourselves shipping and fleeting up as needed. Things like Eve Uni or some other larger fleets strolling into our area would let us dust off our armor cruisers/BC/BS fleets and have some proper organized fun. With UK folding and LNA no longer the power house they once were our focus had to change to keep the fun rolling in.

Having the ability to put out a ping and get 50+ in fleet at a moments notice is a great thing, as long as you have something to fight. The sad thing is the US TZ Minmatar do have the numbers they need to counter us. They just don't have the organization needed.

Just the other night we ran into a 50 man fleet shooting an I Hub. There was no LNA and only a few DL in local helping. I believe the problem boils down to elitists within the Minmatar Militia. When UK needed numbers they reached out to general Militia and neutral friends. Once in a great while LNA would even come help. Sadly those days appear to be gone.

LNA has treated the rest of their own Militia so poorly they have no one to turn to. When Amarr pushed Dal, a system where dozens if not hundreds of Minmatar lived, LNA couldn't be bothered to lift a finger and try to stop us. The Euro and Russian time zone Minmatar fought tooth and nail but when they needed help their call went unanswered.

There has always been a fundamental difference between groups like LNA and my friends. We have never been elitist awoxers. Looking back at our little war zone Amarr has always been inclusive. Predator Elite, Eran Mintor, myself, and many other FC's ran open fleets. We included people in our fun. "All you can bring is a punisher? Ok get in it and undock"

The Amarr Militia has always been much more open and welcoming to new people. It has been one of our greatest strengths. We grow pilots. More importantly we make lasting friendships. If I have learned anything from watching groups like LNA  rise then fall is this; Eve is a game but it's the people around you who make it worth playing. Treat your militia friends well and with respect and more often then not they will return the favor.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stop and Think

Last night I received an eve mail from a Minmatar FC that I respect more than a little. Earlier that night, after a little action it slowed down and I decided to watch some TV. When I hopped back on comms LNA had an RR AF fleet in Sis on the Egg gate and people wanted to fight them. I put a fleet up, asked for cruisers with webs, and because I have seen what RR AF's can do, some ECM. In a moments notice I had 25+ people in fleet. Since I was in Sis I warped to the gate, engaged the closest target and had the bulk of the fleet jump in. Points and webs were called, ships were jammed, stuff exploded. We looted the field and I stood the fleet down and went on my merry way.

I didn't think much of it until I got that mail. My Minmatar counterpart was not raging or chastising me about the fight, it was more of a reminder. If you always bring the hard counter people will avoid you. After fighting the Minmatar for such a very long time I know their habits as I'm sure they know mine. It's almost impossible to do anything in our little war zone without the other side knowing whats going on. I can clearly remember when I used to bring my fleets to Kourm area on a regular basis. At first i would sit around and see what came my way. Most times we died horribly as our opponents has time to see what we had, how we were fit, and bring the proper counter. The next stage was get in, get a kill or two maybe, and get gone before they could react. As I said before, if one the Minmatar saw me or one of mine they expected a gank and avoided us as they should till a proper fleet could form to counter, by then I would be gone.

Finally I just started avoiding the area unless I had a proper fleet with excellent intel. If I knew I could match numbers and ships we may have a go. If they couldn't match it was just us waving our e-penis around and some(mostly) good natured smack talk. Fighting LNA became more of a chore than enjoyment. The same people and the same ships in the same systems over and over. My corp and our group of friends started to do a lot more small gang stuff, random enemy's and random ships. I may go a few days at a time now without leading a large fleet from our home to spread havoc across the war zone and beyond. It seemed to me LNA was happy to do the same. Our war zone was split with Auga as the middle ground. From time to time they ventured our way or we went to them.

 A few months ago I took a destroyer fleet to Kourm looking for a fight. Once the Minmatar came out it was in a blob of SFI's that I wanted none of. A few people in fleet piped up in local and complained about bringing faction cruisers(with webs and tracking bonus no less) to kill a random mix of destroyers. One of the more vocal Minmatar(think blog here)informed us that this is not "pick and choose pvp" just because we are in destroyers does not mean they should oblige us and come fight in the same. We were on their turf and should expect to see such a reaction. I have thought about that from time to time. My response to their fleet in Sis last night was my own version of that.

I don't feel bad for bringing the appropriate fleet to counter the enemy. It's my understanding that I had a reputation for running away for a long time. I never saw it as running, more of me trying to be a smart FC. If I see a fight, and know we have no chance of winning why should I fight? Ships are not free, they take isk and time to replace. If I believe we have a chance at victory, or taking down as much as we will lose I take the fight no questions asked. I just want to be smart about it.

Learning to FC is one thing, earning peoples trust is another. I want pilots to think that when they fly with me, even though they may die, it will be worth it. In the end no one cares if they lost a ship as long as they had fun doing it. I told Shalee the other day nothing annoys me more than getting kited to death so when I solo I pick and chose my targets. I'll fight any AF or even a DD in my trusty thrasher and I'm ok with it if i lose. If I get caught by a 7k a sec hookbill that just orbits me at 25k for two min while he chips away at me i wont be happy on my pod ride home.

At the end of the day we all just want a good fight.