23 February 2015

An Evening of Agony

Agony Unleashed have been running monthly public roams for some time now. I had not managed to make it on of these roams so when an evemail arrived last weekend announcing the February roam I started making plans. First of all I forwarded on the mail to my entire alliance to try and draw more of us from our wormholes; the best experiences you have in EVE are the ones you can share with friends and talk about later. I attracted two more Zeroites to come on the roam with me - Kennesaw and Epigene. The three of us made our way to Stacmon with our destroyers of choice: a Thrasher for Kennesaw; a Catalyst for Epigene; and a Serpentis Catalyst for myself. I also had three spares available for the inevitable loss of ships I expected to occur.

Getting everyone into the fleet was quick and efficient and before long we had a fleet of around 55 pilots ready to head out. We were introduced to our FC for the night, Itkovian Beddict, and we set off for Dastryns to pick up our fleet mates afflicted with low sec-status. With our first jump into lowsec time was taken to remind everyone how to follow orders - anchoring on the FC, burning to get in position, and aligning ready for warping as a single unit. It was while practicing these maneuvers that the FC uttered the quote of the night - "Is... is that a Drake?!". It really was a Drake but I'm fairly certain it was a troll-Drake as the pilot didn't take much persuading to reship to a Destroyer lest he be left behind to die.

With the amusement and practice out of the way we set route for Vestouve and were on our way. Very quickly we ran into a Suddenly Spaceships Battlecruiser gang in Aunsou. To my shock, delight and amazement we engaged and killed 10 of their ships, including two T1 logi. We then killed another pair of Ishtars from another corp who wandered a little to close to us. The battle report is more than a little confused. With much excitement and rejoicing over what just happened we headed back to Stacmon so those who lost their ships could get new ones. Only half an hour into the roam and we had killed over a billion ISK with our Destroyer fleet. Superb!

After everyone had reshipped we set back out on the same path towards Vestouve. This time we made it all the way there before one of the scouts called in tackle on a Nightmare. Could we really take that with our fleet? Turns out we probably could have but that Nightmare burned away from us at almost 2000 m/s. That speed was just with an afterburner fit! I had no idea they could go that fast. Once he burned out of tackle range he warped off to a station and an Archon undocked in place of the Nightmare. Attempting to kill that would be pointless so we moved on and into nullsec.

We didn't have to go far to get properly engaged for fight number two. This time we found a cruiser gang and buoyed with the knowledge of how the Battlecruisers faired against us I knew how this was probably going to go. We engaged and took out a further five ships including a taste 600 Mil Orthus. It was at this point I realised my 1600 rounds of Spike ammo were dangerously low. I had never expected to live this long so didn't want to load too much ammo destined to simply appear on a killmail. Sadly we didn't encounter anybody else willing to take us on for a fight and I managed to restock my ammo on a brief cross-hisec jump we made. It turned out I needn't have worried as our final prowl around lowsec yielded us no targets willing to engage us.

My many thanks go out to Agony Unleashed for organising these regular NPSI roams. Also thanks to Itkovian Beddict for being a great FC. Thanks to the people scouting for him too, they were awesome. If you are interested in dipping your toes deeper into PvP (and you really should) you would do a lot worse than joining the in-game mailing list 'AGONY PVP UNI' and watching for an email announcing the next one. Rumour was it should be in the middle of March.

16 February 2015

Sore Winners

I logged in on Friday night to the wonderful words - "site running Domi in the new 3a1". Who could possibly turn down an opportunity like that? The few of us who were on scrambled for something appropriate but before we could get ourselves sorted the Domi cleared the site, warped back to his POS, and got into a scanning boat. Our target was evidentally paying enough attention to notice the new sig we created in his system. We figured the game was up and shipped down to something more appropriate for killing a scanning frigate. If we couldn't kill his Domi the least we could do was kill him, send him to k-space, then run his sites. Time passed and we discussed exactly how many of the sigs he hadn't scanned before starting his PvE session. More time passed and we started to think the chap had maybe died at his keyboard. Eventually he appeared uncloaked at range from the hole to our home. I speculated that the uncloakedness was a ploy to bait people into prematurely attacking him before he jumped into our hole to check it out. What happened next was surprising.

After he, presumably, bookmarked our wormhole connection he didn't jump though to see who had opened it. Instead he went back to his POS, got in his Domi and started running another site. Caught slightly off-guard we fled back to our POS to reship once more and formed up ready to take the second bite at this giant flying space-potato. First on grid was our Eris to gain initial tackle with a bubble. The Eris didn't make it away and when our Onyx landed the Domi pilot decided to make the most of his situation by also podding the Eris pilot. With that out of his system the Domi died and we spent so long enough discussing if we should ransom the pilot that he self destructed his pod.

With the initial excitement over we settled down to scan the constellation and get our podded pilot and one other corpie back home. This went fairly straight forward and as our pilots headed towards the entrance I hung out in our 3a1 looking for signs of life from any of our victim's friends (likely alts in a five man corp). At the same time I also piloted my hauler to the entrance system with a selection of PvP ships to replace my terribly dwindling supply. Everything was quiet in our constellation until someone noticed scanning probes in our home hole. I warped back just in time to join in the fight against a random tengu which had appeared from out of nowhere. He teased us for a while with his massive shield tank - repeatedly boosting from 50% back up to 100% shield - before jumping out of our hole and warping away. I shipped back to my cloaky Proteus as it was the highest dps ships I had at the time and we awaited his return.

As we waited we took time to find out where he came from. Oh yeah, a new sig in our home system. Almost certainly this Tengu was over-tanked and baiting us in for all his friends to turn up. Sure enough the Tengu waited out his polarisation timer and jumped back into us. We had a scout jump into their hole to see exactly what was awaiting us. Our scout reporting "There's a whole shit load of ships in here waiting to jump in" confirmed our suspicions. Never not take bait is a phrase I picked up from another blogger and it definitely applied now. We went in; we took bait; bait jumped back to the 3a1; we followed knowing bait's friends would now block the route home; we still couldn't break bait's tank. Damnit...

With 8% of my armour left I had to bow out from the fight and take my chances warping back to a POS. Miraculously I managed to get away and so did everyone else. We lost the fight hands down but didn't lose a single ship we had on field. And so the butt-hurt crap began in local:

Admiral Synergy > fucking pussies
Evan Roc > pussies
Admiral Synergy > might as well just self destruct your ships
Evan Roc > lame kid , lame
Admiral Synergy > All you illusion of solitude guys are the same
Admiral Synergy > Run for the POS as soon as there's more than 1 ship on grid
Admiral Synergy > 7 t3's vs 1 tengu..... Yeah, you sure had me......
Oreamnos Amric > dude, seriously? You just outnumbered us and kicked our arses.
Admiral Synergy > You have minimum 8 pilots and this is your home wormhole.
Admiral Synergy > We have 7 in fleet......
Admiral Synergy > You really suck at shit talking.
Admiral Synergy > So, you going to fight or not?
Oreamnos Amric > you suck at wining a fight
Admiral Synergy > You outnumbered us and this is your home wormhole so you can reship... AND YOU RAN.
Oreamnos Amric > you let us go
Oreamnos Amric > you fought us, we lost. you didn't hold points.
From my point of view it was an evenly matched fight in numbers but they had a massive advantage in fleet composition. There was a Tengu and Loki we were fighting in 3a1 but they also had a whole load of neuts and ewar awaiting inside our hole. We were all ragtag as we usually are. To say I was surprised to get away when I jumped home is to understate my emotions somewhat. I was totally stumped when I found out we suffered no losses at all. I'll never understand how that is even possible. Given their numbers and our numbers we should have lost at least one ship. So my thanks go to Admiral Synergy and his friends at Awakened Ones. We like to fight even if we're not that great at it. We tend to take fights as long as there's a vague possibility we might win. There's no dishonour in leaving a fight you already lost. We should have lost several of our ships in that fight but you were wonderful and let us disengage with ease. Next time though, win with a bit more grace. It's more becoming of you.

6 February 2015

The futility of war

At it's heart EVE is a game of conflict. This ranges from the macro-scale of massive coalitions down to the micro-scale of little corporations who try to eke out their niche in New Eden. Ostensibly the heart of high security in empire-space provides a safe haven for the workers who provide the materials of conflict. In hisec industrial ships fly hither and thither packed full of the raw materials of construction or completed wares being hauled to market. Of course, these conceivably safe trade routes are nothing of the sort. Your wise and wary industrialist tempers his risk to the hands of the marauding gankers who occupy pinch-points on the most frequently trodden paths. Impatient or ill-advised industrialists may pack just enough value into their ships to tip the balance of risk/reward in the carefully manicured equations of these gankers. Doing so is an almost guaranteed death for the unlucky industrialist but those are the choices to be made and the risks to be taken. And there are wardecs...

A declaration of war, more commonly known as a wardec, is a means to temper the relative safety of hisec space. An essential strategy in any war is disruption of enemy supply lines. Without wardec mechanics any force in New Eden would be able to resupply indefinitely (well, until they ran out of ISK that is). From this point of view the wardec is an essential tool in New Eden life. A wrinkle in the mechanic is the ability for any corporation or alliance within EVE to declare war on any corporation or alliance they feel the desire to. No rhyme or reason is required. A token payment is offered up to have Concord turn a blind eye and weekly repeat payments extend the war into perpetuity. Strategies and objectives are irrelevant in these 'wars' initiated by these bored and wealth alts of nullbears. Just as they desire risk-free mining and ratting rights in the supposed dangerous regions of nullsec, they equally desire risk-free shooting of random pilots who are doing little more than restocking ship supplies in hisec. The phrase "war is meaningless" pales to insignificance when related to New Eden wars.

From the above it is pretty clear my alliance has been on the receiving end of a wardec. In fact we've received two wardecs in the past two days. In the real world this would be as a result of the breakdown of diplomacy but in New Eden nobody has a clue why we were selected for this honour. In the real world two forces would face off against each other to attack or defend strategic objectives in a series of battles. The outcome of the series of battles would determine the victor of said war. In New Eden at least one side (us) doesn't know what the objectives are. Only the aggressing corps can confirm the likely truth - there aren't any objectives. We could go and hunt those responsible for declaring war on us. Their killboard shows an almost exclusive habitation of Jita so finding them isn't tricky. Experience tells us if we take a force large enough to challenge them they will dock, likely to go play something else. For a total cost of almost quarter of a billion ISK, what's the point?

A long time ago when New Eden was half the age it is now a wardec meant time for me to play something else. Just prior to moving into wormholes I realised I could hang out in lowsec where the wardec corps were too scared to go. These days it makes little difference to me as I can be shot in space any minute of any day I'm online. A wardec makes little difference to the vast majority of my corp as they too can be shot every minute of any day they are online. The people it does negatively affect in my corp and alliance are the most active ones who like to spend time out of the hole running missions or incursions when the rest of us aren't around. The wardec means our most active pilots do something else. If all the targets of our brave aggressors are forced offline then the aggressors also log off and play something else. When you really think about it, the only real use of wardecs is to reduce active pilot numbers in New Eden. It is highly unlikely that this is in the best interests of EVEOnline so what is the fix?

I honestly wish I could answer my own question. The existence of a mechanic allowing corps to declare war on each other is essential for far-reaching real wars. How to temper abuse of said mechanic so it doesn't force pilots offline in the face of war which cannot be fought is the tricky part of the equation. Possibly some way for the aggressor to declare what their objectives are and define their success in the war based on those objectives is somewhere for CCP to focus on. Failure to achieve declared objectives during the war requiring reparations be paid to the defending corp would hopefully force potential attackers to pick interesting fights and go out searching for completion of those objectives. Surely that would be preferable to passively hugging the Jita 4-4 dock ring? That's got to be more boring than mining, right?

And my plans for these current wars? I'll be in Jita, Amarr and any other trade hubs I feel like. I'll be buying the ships, mods, ammo, POS fuel and anything else I want or need. I'll be doing all this in perfect safety. How? My hauler alt will take care of it all. No worries. No dramas. No wars.