October 20, 2014

POCO Defense Fight AAR: Returning to the FC Seat

Currently Suddenly Spaceships is deployed to the Cloud Ring region for a contract. We're acting as the PvP wing for a group out there, and we've been here for several weeks now. It's been fairly boring at times (we basically chased everyone out of the contract area for a week or so and no one undocked. Thankfully they've been slightly more active since then, but it definitely slowed down a lot after we started working), and it's been pretty exciting at times. Like last night.

We got word a few hours beforehand that there were going to be some POCOs coming out of reinforcement in NM-OEA. One of our interceptor roams saw the timers and marked it down in Fleet-up's handy timer tool.

I login about 40 minutes before the first timer comes out and put a fleet up. Our employer tells me that they were reinforced by roughly 20 people in mostly battleships, so I choose Sacrileges as our fleet comp. I'm comfortable in them and I trust their tanking ability, and hopefully their neuts would turn a fight if they bring something similar again. I'm worried though because I'm getting reports that FA and RAZOR are coming along. While I'm getting the fleet organized I'm trying to find a replacement FC; I didn't want to jump back into FCing on this operation since it had been so long. I literally hadn't FCd in six months or more. Lioso Cadelanne takes the fleet and moves us to NM-OEA with 5 Sacrileges, roughly 5 Guardians, and support ships of random types: Pilgrims, a Brutix Navy Issue, a Vexor, some interceptors etc. The employer couldn't field similar ships to us, but we had a core group that we trusted; the employer was just along for the ride.

We begin our presence in NM-OEA by sitting on the POCO being repped when a scout reports quite a few tech 3 battlecruisers, interceptors, a Huginn, a Blackbird, and a Sabre coming in from the only gate, 33FN-P. Lioso moves us to the gate and soon enough we're bubbled. The Sabre jumps out and Lioso has us burn away. The tech 3 battlecruisers come in and the fight begins.

Lioso gets primaried at the very early stages and warps out alive, handing FC back over to me. I begin calling primaries, starting with their tackle. We down the Taranis and Sabre in quick succession. Unbeknownst to me at the time was that we had lost three non-alliance pilots who weren't broadcasting for reps. Directly after their losses we were able to kill two more Maledictions (as well as a2B ISK pod. I don't even remember what this guy was in.), making it difficult for them to hold anyone down. I think this was one of the primary reasons we were able to come away with a win; their damage wasn't applied very effectively to our primary fleet of Sacrileges.

I noticed that a large portion of their Scimitars were right on top of our Sacrileges. I checked with Isabela Valentine, was our logistics anchor, if our reps were holding and got confirmation (again, we weren't aware that blues were dying without broadcasting). I called tackle on them and began to ignore the battlecruisers who didn't seem to be putting much damage on us. We took out two of their Scimitars. It was at this point I believe they warped off the field.

They warped back in, however, and practically right on top of us. We started to chew through their battlecruisers one after another, dropping four in a row. One of our Sacrilege pilots, Adorable Rage, got hit hard here and was just outside of rep range. This was almost certainly my fault. The field was very scattered, and while I feel like I was making good target calling choices, in retrospect I don't think I handled fleet ranges very well.

All the while the Blackbird was being somewhat annoying. At one point all of the logistics were jammed out. Regardless, we continued to plow through their Scythes and Scimitars before they finally gave us the field. A few of them stayed on grid out of range and I had the fleet begin to align out towards the sun to try and get a warp in on a nearby wreck. Arkentantix CarpeNoctem went in for the tackle but perhaps didn't realize we weren't close enough to warp directly to him. Unfortunately he was out of rep range as well and died. Before we could get a warp in on that cluster of ships, they warped off. They gave us GFs in local and began to disperse.

We returned to the POCO to guard it and another blue died on the gate in a Cormorant.

In the end, all of the POCOs were repaired and our employer was very pleased. They all had a great time it seemed and really enjoyed the fight. We only lost two members of Suddenly Spaceships, which I suppose is a silver lining.

It felt good to FC again. It's truly been a long time. I'll be working on ways to improve my coordination between the logistics and myself in the future. I really think we should have saved Adorable if I had paid a bit more attention.

You can see all of the kills and losses here.

And from just Suddenly Spaceships' point of view here.
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October 19, 2014

What Happened to Our Backbones?

This used to be a common catchphrase among the players of EVE Online. Now it's a nearly forgotten relic of a bygone era. Rather than harden up, work with changes that are coming, whether you like it or not, people run around crying that the sky is falling and they're taking all 12 of their super accounts with them!

Good. Cry. Leave. EVE is not the game for you. I don't have any sympathy for you and I don't regret saying it. I'd rather play without you than have a slightly higher concurrent user number. You're no better than the "carebears" you claim superiority to. Go play a game where changes don't have any actual effect on the game, where players don't need to evolve with the universe.

Or, we can return to the players of old. The ones where pictures like this are made for. This is the mentality that made EVE infamous and wonderful. I don't have any desire to play with people who threaten to hold CCP hostage with their handful of subs whenever a change comes along that forces them to adapt.

To be fair, I've never been one of those players that distrusted everything CCP does, that thinks one CCP dev or the other is literally cancer. I'm an optimist by nature, and I have that same worldview of EVE. I think it's almost always moving in a positive direction, and the few times that it wasn't, I felt that CCP did bend its ears to our complaints and learned from it. No company is perfect, but CCP is one of the best. Now, let's harden the fuck up and play this great game. Or don't; Star Citizen awaits you.
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October 4, 2014

Phoebe and Mercenaries

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts. There really hasn't been a set of changes that are going to have an impact on mercenaries since the last time I did one - for Rubicon. But Phoebe is going to have an effect on everyone. So let's dive into what's been announced so far and what this will do to mercenaries in EVE.

Jump Changes

We'll jump right in and focus on the elephant in the room. This is going to effect pretty much everyone, at least because capital ships can move through gates. As a quick recap: 
  • jump drive ranges are limited to 5 light years for everything except Black Ops Battleships
  • jump fatigue will begin to create a larger time period between successive jumps with jump freighters having less consequences applied
  • Capitals will be able to take normal stargates
  • Medical clones can only be moved to stations you're docked in
Jump drive range and fatigue will have the largest effect on mercenaries at the first, most obvious level. Groups like us will be the hardest pressed since we operate in nullsec and we're one of - if not the most - mobile mercenary alliances in the game. We move multiple times per month on full deployments. I don't think anyone else can claim that. So how will this effect our day to day? Well, deployment operations are going to have to be planned well ahead of time. We're waiting for the final edition of these changes before we start creating our actual standard operating procedures, but initial thoughts are just that we'll have to take a longer amount of time for moving rather than handle everything in an hour or two. We'll also have to encourage our members without carriers to get one. Where before we could make back and forth trips, that isn't possible any more.

I have to admit I'm a little torn on this aspect of the changes. I like the effect this is going to have on the game's health, but I don't like that the gameplay encourages not playing. I've always said that, all the way back to my CSM campaign, that I want to encourage people to login. This doesn't really do that. We'll probably just jump, log off and wait, jump, log off and wait. Not fun, but it'll work.

The medical clone changes won't really effect us. We don't move around using medical clones anyway, and I doubt we'll notice the change.

Capitals being able to take normal gates is going to be a pandora's box. At the time of this posting, we're on a contract to keep traffic from moving through a particular pipe. Capitals aren't on the menu for this contract, but if they start taking gates that could change! Who knows how this is going to play out in the long run, but I think we're going to see a lot more capital ships in the wild, and that makes me excited.


Hitpoints and resistances on various sovereignty-related structures will be revisited, to balance out the reduced ability to use Supercarriers against them. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog on this.

That's a quote from Greyscale's dev blog. This is a tough one to make predictions on because we have such a small amount of information on. It's always been my hope that smaller organizations could compete in nullsec, and the massive HP amounts of the required structures barred most of those groups from playing independently.

This in and of itself probably won't have an effect on mercenaries. It may become possible for a group of our size (~200 people in the alliance) to take one of these structures down in a reasonable amount of time after the change, but I don't foresee anyone needing that in the near future. The need likely won't come until after all the other, as of now unannounced changes that will alter the way sovereignty mechanics work. Until that happens, nullsec's alliances and coalitions won't be altered much, although the jump changes may strain some smaller ties.

We should hope that these changes combined with the future mechanical changes will create an environment where people are working independently, hiring in help when they need it. That's the kind of game that would remain fun and dynamic for a long time. I like to think we're on the road there, as an optimist, and Phoebe is a good step - although not perfect - in that direction. CCP needs to really focus on the fun factor with their next changes. We shouldn't be encouraging people to log off rather than play. I don't think we'll see many people choose to take stargates over waiting out their jump fatigue.

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