Sunday, 7 October 2018

The curious case of the PL spy

"Spies are ubiquitous" ~ Absence of Substance 2018. 
Comment made in relation to null blocks spying and backroom deals.  Specifically in relation to the Goons/GOTG peace deal.

"What?  A PL spy?  Who are you kidding?  We ain't got nothing worth spying on...?"  ~ Absence of Substance 2018

Comment made scarcely a week after the one above when a credible source revealed that Schneckt had a PL spy in our midst.

Yes dear reader as unlikely as it seems Sckneckt has been spied upon.  The information comes from a very credible source and I have no reason to doubt the veracity of it.  What none of us understand is the why...

As explained before, at Schneckt we don't take ourselves too seriously.

We have no CTA's.  We don't have any titans or supers.  We are such a small corp that we don't threaten anybody or anything of any size.

When we ping for fleets for important stuff such as defending a citadel we can maybe get 15 Schneckt guys in fleet.

Generally, when we are outnumbered or outmatched and clearly can't defend a citadel, we just shoot at it ourselves to get on the kill mail - yes, we do that - count the number of Schneckts on that kill mail.  It is after all just a 3 bil Astra right?

Further more our player base has such a diverse range of SP that a lot of the time our "newer" players (a fair percentage of those in corp) cannot even field a battleship or a HAC.

In truth what we do best is running sh#t fits in solo/micro gangs in and around FW space.  Some would argue we don't even do that well - we lose 2 ships for every 3 we kill.

In light of that it would maybe, at a stretch have made sense to find an Amarr militia spy in our corp.  We have however quit FW so even that motivation, scant as it was is now null and void..

What does not however in any way shape or form make sense is for an entity like PL to even know of our existence much less spy on us?

Maybe it is just my naivete and there is something I don't see.  Maybe it was a mistake from PL.  Maybe it is something else entirely.  Whatever the case, I am really curious to know...

If you are in PL and happen to read this, would you please help my perplexed self out?

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Effort shock and the Big Wheel(s).

Effort shock as far as I know is a lesser known (unfortunately) term that was coined by David Wong the editor of cracked. 

Beware that the site has its share of weird s...tuff and is not for every one.  I can however recommend the editorial on Effort shock

For those who only have time for the answers the term relates to the fact that doing anything worthwhile takes effort.  So far so ho hum, BUT David Wong then goes and does a stellar job in pointing out that not merely does it take effort, but normally it takes SO MUCH MORE effort to accomplish something, than we had ever dreamed it would.

Ok Absence... so you read slightly unhinged material and being rather obtuse, strive to palm of what many readers regard to be everyday and mundane, as profundity... How does this relate to EVE?

Image result for eve online learning curve memeIn every way of course...

EVE is a fabulous game with a very infamous learning curve.  To get better takes time, effort and deliberate practice.

At every junction one has to actively make an effort to step up to the next level. 

In the early days time was the only way in which to progress in terms of SP. 

Even though SP can now be bought, in practical terms players have to somehow earn it - be it in game ISK for injectors, plex or real life effort to acquire money to exchange or plex/injectors - nothing is free.

The learning curve does not only relate to SP - the real learning curve is in player skill.  And knowledge.

Want to get into frigate pvp?  Learning curve.  Step up to destroyers?  Learning curve.  Cruisers...?  Yes learning curve.  Low sec? Null sec?  Small gang?  Nano?

The learning curve is not limited to PVP of course - PVE has it too.  PI and reactions?  Manufacturing?  Research?  Even mining has its own can of worms.

As per David Wong the surprise is not that effort is involved but how much more effort is involved in stepping up to the next endeavour. 

Now this is not a lament - on the contrary - this level of effort is in actual fact that makes this game worth playing - to the extent that I sometimes wonder whether long term EVE players are not victims of the sunk cost fallacy

TL;DR;  The sunk cost fallacy is the notion that (in the EVE context) players continue playing the game merely because of hours and dollars already committed, when most of the enjoyment in the game itself has passed.

Ok, Absence so you really have to make an effort to achieve the bare basics in the game... but surely everything is not about you...?

Ah dear reader, indeed it is not.  Today's missive in actual fact is about the Big wheels.  The enablers and the content creators.

In your authors' corp there are a few individuals that do an enormous amount of work that often goes unnoticed and is mostly under appreciated. 

We have for instance a website, slack channel and team speak that is all organised and hosted by an individual. At his own cost and in his own time.

In game we have a free jump freighting service that would move our ships from Jita/Hek/Rens to the warzone manned by 3 or 4 people. 

For those that do not know, this takes a 10Bil ISK ship and every single trip involves risk to that ship. 

Also often forgotten is the 40mil ISK or so for jump fuel for every trip.  The time involved, the need for an extra account (or accounts) with cyno characters.

We have corp doctrines and in some instances ships belonging to the corp (bought and paid for by selfless members - we have a 0% tax rate). 

Ships and fits that were researched and fit for purpose.  Shipped and staged (or moved via carrier jumps to the new staging point). 

In a recent citadel defence in excess of 20 battleships with associated command booster/webbing/tackle ships belonging to the corp were issued - no cost to the line members and losses accrue to the corp. 

We are speaking many, many billions of ISK here in addition to the effort to organise this little get together.

The common thread in all these endeavours seem to be that they invariably involve mostly the same people.  People that I expect are hovering on the edge of burnout at the moment given the levels of citadel defence fleets we had to field in the last little bit.

Bear in mind that these are busy people with real life jobs, hopes and dreams - in addition to their EVE lives.... 

From the perspective of someone like myself that can barely get himself into a not too sh#t fit frigate to run a novice plex, this type of thing leaves me in awe - I am under no illusions - there is no way I would be able to do this.

A corp like ours with a number of new players, alpha players and witless older players like myself simply cannot exist without enablers and content creators like these. 

Our corp is also not unique in this - the theme repeats in most other corps and even alliances - reliance on a couple of key individuals is such that whole corps/alliances have closed down or fail-cascaded  when one or more of these big wheels left.

Sometimes someone else steps up and life continues, sometimes the line members just move on.  Few players function without the prime movers (you get exceptions like truly solo players).

Absence is your corp in trouble...?

A dear reader no, not that I am aware of...

What I am however aware of, is that creating content is hard - much much harder than most of us realise.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

FW: A venerable tsunami of farmers.

Long standing veterans of faction warfare are used to the ebb and flow in the warzone.  One faction will be on top and after a while things will change and the opposing faction will be on top...  

And so it goes.
"damn they plex so much they can't even keep up with the bashing"
~ Meo Fafard

The Minmatar militia went from majority control of the warzone in December 2017 to "only" 28 systems (out of 71) in Minmatar control currently.  

What's more, at the time of writing no fewer than 7 systems are vulnerable and likely to be flipped soon (see table below).

7 Systems happens to be 10% of the total war zone and a quarter of what Minmil currently control.

Even the most casual of observers would find that a spectacular decline - or rise - if your vantage point is from an Amarr militia perspective.

Indeed dear reader, looking at the table below one might be forgiven for wondering what in the world happened to Minmil?  Another civil war?  (No).  They went into hibernation?  (No).  Their morale was crushed because the likes of me joined their cause?  (No.  Ermmm... well maybe, but I don't think so). 

Well what about the other side of the equation?  Did the Amarr do anything special?  (No).  FCON joined Caldari milita? (Maybe, but not directly).  Suitonia's project is paying off?  (Don't know, according to zkill the guy spends most of his time in 0.0, and credit where credit is due, the momentum started swinging towards the Amarr long before this group showed up).

Now any and all of the above obviously contribute in some way shape or form, but the real reason for the very rapid swing in fortunes is farmers.  Farmers?  Yes.  Farmers.

Farmers are the nicest people

As a relative newcomer to faction warfare I have to admit I never realised the extend to which the farmers influenced the war zone.  

Whilst Minmil controlled the war zone I also did not notice many farmers as I don't warp in on blues in plexes.  

Since the swing in fortunes, boy have we been inundated by streams and streams of warp stabbed farmers.

Your author killed two of them and was rewarded with the nice comments in the image to the left (by no means an uncommon occurrence - both the killing of stabbed farmers and the insults) .

A cursory look at zkill tells the sad sad story of Demone DED, Demone1 DED and Demone2 DED:

This particular person has three farmer accounts and by the looks of it farmers are universally despised as zkill shows they are killed by Minmatar militia, Amarr militia, as well as the local pirates in the area.

Suffice to say Demone* is not the only stabbed farmer in the war zone.

To this end the news from fanfest about stabs being disallowed in plexes in the future is most welcome.  Certainly a step in the right direction but due to the sheer  number of farmers I am of the opinion it will not matter much - for any one of these kills the toon in question probably ran 10 or more plexes before he got caught.  

Such is the nature of the LP payouts that a player will "earn" enough LP completing even a single novice plex to pay for 10 or more of these ships at 600k ISK each.

It is also worth noting that these farmer alts can be very low SP alts - and this is the reason why so many systems are vulnerable and not flipped.  By-enlarge farmer alts don't have the SP to be worth anything in an I-hub bash.  Nor does an I-hub bash directly provide any ISK.

What exactly the answer to this farmer problem is, I do not know.  Indeed one would surmise that had there been easy answers CCP would simply enact them. 

There are a couple of suggestions from the self same suitonia on his CSM election forum.  There are other people on other forums that also have opinions.  For the time being your author has neither the time nor the energy (or the wherewithal) to come up with solutions himself and will simply play the ball as it lies.

In his corporation, Schneckt corp members are warned to not be overly concerned with the state of the war zone and systems - no doubt by seasoned veterans that has seen this before.  Schneckt is but a small corp and it simply does not serve to burn oneself out for this purpose. 

Against these numbers of farmers there is not much that we as a corp can do.  We also had a citadel to defend (more on this in the future) and some other adventures in the offing (also possibly more of this in the future)...

In the mean time we concentrate in plexing Lamaa (where we live) down.  We are under no illusions that we would hold it under any sort of sustained pressure - no, purely as a driver of conflict and for the time being, a small source of pride...

As always we try to have fun.  See you in the war zone!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


During my latest job search one of the recurring requirements in order to be a good corp member was "an independent, reliable source of ISK".

Sadly, by this (and many other) measure(s), your author is not a good corp member.  He has no "independent, reliable" source of income.  For him generating ISK tends to be ad hoc - i.e. when he's broke.  Because he is prone to PvE burnout he also tends to only farm ISK until he is barely not broke any more.

A casual query in corp revealed various "good", some even "great" corpies with lucrative income sources.

One has an alt corp in a wormhole.  Another manufactures rigs.  We have a builder of capitals.  Yet another has an army of alts doing PI.  All of these endeavours take a bit of time, skill and toil -  virtues distinctly lacking in your authors' persona.

To be honest the most tempting source of ISK  was suggested by a corp mate who claims to find 500 or so plex "lying on the floor of his hangar" every now and then - i.e. put there by his credit card.

Tempting, but as explained before I have an unfortunate moral aversion to this.

Of course with great amounts laziness and small amounts of creativity the commensurate adjustment to expectations and quality of life soon follows.

Whereas the aforementioned "good" corpies can fly "decent" ships and maintain losses of 3 to 5 Billion ISK a month, your author cannot.

He makes do with somewhat less "decent" ships and have to contain his losses.

Still even at his level he has to raise 500 million to 1 Billion ISK per month.

ISK generation follows the course of least resistance, which in the faction warfare context this means "selling" loyalty points from FW missions.

There is a nice guide on FW missions published by the Crossing Zebra's website.  In it that author - Gorski Car outlines how he runs batches of 10 FW missions in around 90 minutes.

Of course I am no Gorski Car and the same loop of 10 faction warfare missions takes me closer to three hours.

In addition Gorski seemingly has the luxury of running missions only when Minmatar is at Tier 4 or 5. Sadly waiting for an advantageous tier is not an option when you are broke.

Running missions and obtaining loyalty points is only part of the story.  LP has to be converted into items which in turn has to be sold on the market - (read: more time and effort).

One gets roughly 50k LP per mission and normally get a conversion rate of around 1000 ISK per LP - so I have to run between 10 and 20 missions in a month to sustain this level of activity.  Five to 10 hours a month of missions/hauling/market transacting.

Image result for paradox meme
This happens to be the absolute minimum amount of ISK to maintain this level of involvement (T1 frigates in novice plexes).  This is ok, and it happens to still be fun for a noob like me, but I cannot help but think longer term this will need to stagnation and falling into just another rut.

The consequence is that ISK generation has to be upped in some way shape or form.

One has to appreciate the irony in the fact that in order to experience PvP to the full one has to embrace a system that mandates more PvE to generate ISK, and at the same time then encourages risk aversion to contain losses.

I cannot help but think this is why some people stoop to botting.  Tempting but not for me.

Just one more of life's great contradictions.

If you, dear reader happen to have a nice idea for easy ISK please let me know!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The disconnect

Image result for internet connection problems meme
Most Eve players have experienced the dreaded disconnect from time to time.  Even though we like to pretend in our little worlds that all our losses are due to this ill, the truth of the matter is that very few are.

In almost 10 years of playing EVE on and off your author has only ever lost one ship due to a disconnect.  A Tormentor that I warped to fight at a novice plex at 40km.  Right at that moment the disconnect happened. 

Of course I'm dead, but I restart the client and log in - only to have my pod that went into emergency warp land in the fray again...

As luck would have it all the scrams on grid were "busy" and the (empty) pod was reduced to half armor by a single glancing blow before I could warp it off again.

As far as disconnects go that was fairly ho-hum - spare a thought for someone disconnecting when flying his 2Billion ISK Blops.  Or his carrier, super carrier or titan (yes, they tell me it has happened).  Poor sods.

The most inopportune (and hilarious) disconnect that I have personally been privy to happened shortly after I had first joined Schneckt.  Our FC: Hilo (the name we call him by, unchanged to implicate the guilty empathise with the unfortunate).  Our ships: a bunch of cheap arty ruptures to test a doctrine.

We warp to a large plex at range (because sniping - duh) and sure enough there are a couple of ships on grid with an interceptor burning at us from 100km out.  The optimal on these arty ruptures is somewhere around 60km and the inty is fast approaching.

Hilo: "Align to citadel and lock inty.  LOCK ONLY!"... We do as he says

character image
Hilo: "Wait"... 90km

Hilo: "Wait"... 80km

Hilo: "Wait for it".... 70km

...   60km

...   50km

...   40km

Dafuq Hilo !!??? 

Staccato TS3 voice: "User in your channel timed out"... Hilo 

Of course by this time the inty is within scram range and our guns cannot track.  What's more the rest of the inty's fleet is now inbound.

Random fleet member: "We can't fight this in arty ships, warp to citadel and dock"... We sheepishly do so, leaving one of your members to die.

Staccato TS3 voice: "User joined your channel"... Hilo

Hilo: "Did we get him!?"...  Laughter!

C'est la vie.

Rasta Smokes In Elevator
HILO is in local bois!!!

P.S.  Hilo is a really funny guy and he likes to announce himself with this meme:

Monday, 16 October 2017

Finding Schneckt

Schneckt: Welcome to the wretched hive of villainy and scum...

Hive of villainy and scum!??

Absence what have you done?  Of all the corps in New Eden, all the opportunity that abounds, all the gates you may have jumped, THIS is what you come up with?  How on earth in space did this happen!!!?

Ahhh  Dear Reader I am glad you asked for finding a new corp is a venerable tale of trial and tribulation, fraught with perils and despair. There be wrong turns, scamsters, fraudsters and merely clueless recruiters and runners of corporations.

One man bands, do everything corporations, 2 day old corporations with aspirations to null sec, l33t pvp corporations, newbie corporations, oldbie corporations.... more corporations you can shake a Federation Navy Gamma Crystal light sabre at...

All of them declined your author's application diligently evaluated by your author and discarded one by one until by blind luck shear force of will and perseveration he stumbled onto the public chat room of Schneckt.

Now your author does not take himself too seriously when it comes to space ship games, so it was important that his corp also does not.

His old corp in null sec is going better than ever and would welcome him back, except that null sec really does not suit your authors game.  Don't get me wrong - I could have made it work, but the friction resulting from "making it work" tends to sap enthusiasm for playing the game.

Where recruitment and corporations are concerned, just about the only sage advice I can offer with any kind of sincerity is this:  Work out what your game is and then try and find the very best corporations that specialise in that game.

The two areas I identified was wormhole (WH) space and low sec pirate/Faction warfare (FW) space.
WH space was discarded as the general "feel" was that it required a bit more of a commitment to fleet up for pings, more doctrine ships, more participation requirements.   And they tend to be serious.

This left low sec and faction warfare... and Schneckt...

Schneckt is a serious, not so serious corporation.  It is a corporation that favours doing and dying rather than being overly concerned with the killboard.  As explained in a prior post, the kill board at times look more like a fail board.

It is a corp with a solid core of older players and a number of eager newer ones.  It has logistics, LP buyouts, strategy, jokes, memes and fits (weird and wonderful ones) for just about every ship in the game.

Above all is the solid advice - low sec can be a fantastically underhanded and frustrating place that really exposes one to the seedy underbelly of so called "l33t" pvp. (more about this in future).

It is an environment where you can just as easily fly solo as fleet up.
In many ways our small corporation fleets are what null sec fleets are not.

It is not uncommon for a fleet to be formed, fulfil its purpose and be over in 3 minutes (clearing some opposing faction members out of a plex).  No wait, no forming up on the titan, no drama.  Get killed, meh thrasher, reship.  Need to step out?  Dock in station/citadel and do so.

The size of the corporation also means that everybody counts.  It is at Schneckt where your author for the first time flew logi (he had logi V trained for years and to his shame never before used it).

He flew frigates, destroyers, cruisers, battleships, logi (as in repping), logi (as in freighting), dps and tackle.  Many of these on a daily basis.

There's a lot to be said for mixing it up.

Mixing it up however does come with a learning curve.  In your authors case the ponderously slow mug mashing the keyboard struggles to keep up.  Still he lives and he learns and his sec status drops.

It is early days but so far the union with Schneckt suits your author to a T.  Schneckt likes bringing and taking the fights (caution propaganda!) - indeed we invite the opposing militia into our pub chat to enable us to arrange fleet fights more easily...  A very welcome change of pace indeed!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Frigate Fighting Oh-hoh-hoh-hoah

Long have your author been sceptical about the oft meted out council to keep to frigate hulls during one's initial forays into pvp.

Frigate fights tend to be short, sharp and brutal affairs.  Rare is the fight that exceeds even a minute.

Over before you know it.

Worse, blink and you might even miss the lesson to be learned from it...

As far as novice frigate fights go, just about the only redeemable feature is the cost.  Or at least it can be - there are some eye-watering-ly expensive fits on frigates.

If one can temper the impulse to bling out the ship it is entirely possible to buy and fit 100 T1 frigate hulls with T2 and meta modules (fitting issues is a thing!) for less than 1 billion isk.

Still a fair chunk of change, but plenty are the examples on zkill where the loss of a single ship exceed that number.

At least in this way you get 100 chances to learn that lesson.  And practice one needs.  As expounded in the previous missive of this blog, there is no substitute for doing.

Fighting in factionware plexes on the face of it has nothing to it.  I mean, you warp in, and well fight... right?


The typical fight for your author goes down like this:
1)Warp at 10 to the plex
2)Click gate to warp - might have to spam
3)Remember to overheat repper, guns (always overheat!)
4)Land in the plex and start targeting.
5)Target some more as your fist couple of attempts failed because you had yet to exit warp.
6)Now that the targeting process is running, start your prop mod and get to either
   i)Keep at range
   depending on your fit and what you're guessing your opponents' fit is and his positioning inside the plex.
7)Shoot, web, scram (of course you pre activated your guns, web, scram..?)
8)In between all this you have launched your drones and pressed F right?  Right?
9)Because you landed outside of 10km your web and scram did not engage and you have to activate them again.  Missed this?  Oh my...  kited to death I am.

Frigates tend to be very fragile.  My fits normally has somewhere between 3000 and 5000 EHP.   Typical damage tend to be 150 - 200 dps.  The combination of typical EHP and dps means every millisecond matters.

Your author would like to be able to report that he has the little procedure listed above down pat... Alas he cannot.  He loses more often than he wins.

Great are the number of times a defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory because he is ponderously slow.  Or forget to launch the drones, heat the guns, lose point or web... or ...

Still he lives learns and yearns for those (very) rare occasions where he does pull it all off to perfection.

Finally, because your author has a slight sadistic streak in him he leaves the readers with the gem below - a tune that is stuck in his head every time he warps to a plex.  Here's to hoping you too cannot get rid of it.  All.  Day.  Long.

    "Kung Fu Frigate Fighting"

    Everybody was Kung Fu Frigate Fighting          
    Those kids were fast as lightning
    In fact, it was a little bit frightening
    But they fought with expert timing