December 26, 2022

"Contract" Update: On the Frontlines of Hallanen


As I stated before, Noir. has been trying to flip Hallanen from Caldari to Gallente control. We originally hoped to flip it while it was still a Rearguard system. This was important to us for two reasons:

  1. Hallenen is a midpoint system that Gallente can use to access the region with capital ships
  2. If accomplished, we'd have made history by flipping the first Rearguard system ever. 

Because of the Christmas break, we failed to accomplish the second goal. I, along with many others, have been flying a lot less in the last week. Personally I traveled out of state for a week. I did have a laptop that was capable of playing EVE, but I forgot to bring a mouse and I didn't like the idea of trying to PvP on a trackpad. Not to mention my family was demanding so much of my attention!

So while Noir.'s playtime was much reduced, the Snuffed Out character who was using the system to manufacture a few Moros Navy Issues began to push back. He chatted amiably with a few of the corp members while he tried to deplex the system and drop Propaganda Structures of his own to reduce our advantage. He let us know he lived in western China and was happy to play 12-16 hours at a time with his 6 to 10 alts to ensure we weren't able to flip it before his ships were done manufacturing because he didn't want to pay the extra taxes after putting so much LP into the IHUB.

And he certainly did.

For half a day or more, every day, this guy and his alts would stick together and plex away. He ended up reducing our relative advantage to something like 20% by dropping Caldari Propaganda Structures of his own constantly, too. He must have spent upwards of 10B ISK on Propaganda Structures alone.Of course, even with so many alts, he refused to fight just warping out of any complex we tried to aggress him in. His game plan wasn't to stand toe to toe, just to delay. And with our reduced numbers of four or five at most, he could do that as long as he wanted.

We did end up getting a fight out of him once. 

But in the end it didn't matter. It became clear over the weekend that Hikkonen would flip relatively easily if we gave it a nudge. Noir. pilot Zia Marsa Hiba rallied a few fleets and we managed to wrest Hikkonen from Caldari control on Boxing Day. That caused Hallanen to turn into a Frontline all on its own since Hikkonen is next door.

The Snuffed Out character managed to finish his build and placed a Fortizar called "Long Live China" so he could more easily move his dreadnoughts out. It would have been nice to flip it before his manufacturing completed just to foil all the effort he had put in, but since it wasn't really the goal, I'm ok with it! The guy was pretty nice.

So now the mission continues, to flip Hallanen. We're nearly there, and if we can continue to reduce the Caldari advantage that the Snuffed pilot had built up, I won't be surprised if we do it the day after I post this.

After we accomplish our goal, I don't know what we'll do. In the immediate term, stay in Faction Warfare since it's still the holidays, but I wouldn't be surprised if we ship out sometime in January. Regardless, I've been having a lot of fun and will definitely be doing some more of this on another character. With the Amarr Navy, of course.

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December 25, 2022

Noir.'s Secret Santa - 2022

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! I hope 2023 brings good fortune, happy memories, and a green killboard!

Noir. held a Secret Santa this year and I received a Nergal! This is a new ship to me, introduced in the Invasion expansion from 2019 - two years after I stopped playing. It's a Tech II Assault Frigate that seems to excel at brawling. The ship bonuses are:

Assault Frigates bonuses (per skill level):
7.5% bonus to Light Entropic Disintegrator maximum range
20% bonus to Light Entropic Disintegrator maximum damage multiplier bonus

Precursor Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
5% bonus to Light Entropic Disintegrator damage
4% bonus to all armor resistances

Role Bonus:
50% reduction in Microwarpdrive signature radius penalty
• Can fit Assault Damage Controls
50% reduced Energy Neutralizer capacitor need
50% reduced Remote Armor Repairer capacitor need
50% reduced Smart Bomb capacitor need
100% bonus to Remote Armor Repairer range

The fit I've been given is below and looks like it'll focus on sticking on top of your target and staying alive long enough for your damage to scale up with the dual armor reps. I wonder how big a target this ship could theoretically kill. Wit the microwarpdrive signature reduction, could it sig tank a battlecruiser? Could it outpace a battlecruiser's active tank?

I'll probably keep this in the hangar for a while until I feel more comfortable flying again. I've been really inspired by some of the new guys to the corp, in particular Jake Syntax and Zia Marsa Hiba. I need to get out there in some frigates and learn how to fight solo more comfortably, something I've never really enjoyed. But I think it'll be the fastest way to shake the rust off and get back into the FC seat, which I do enjoy.

Anyway, thanks to my Secret Santa! I'm very much looking forward to flying this ship and I hope I can do her worthy. Any suggestions on a good name?

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December 21, 2022

Contract Update: Void breaker Industries Wormhole Defense

Credit Jake Syntax

Mercenary contracts take a lot of time and effort to set up. There's negotiations that occur before the contract is agreed upon. Acting upon the contract itself is only part of the job; you have to make sure expectations are set for the employer. You also have to make sure that the employer's demands will be met. Then you have to prepare the logistics. This can be relatively simple (perhaps the contract is just a POS bash in hi-sec), or it can require a lot of preparation and forethought to ensure a deployment over many months goes smoothly. 

Other times contracts come quickly, with very little time for preparations. Such is the case of Void Breaker Industries request for help on Reddit. They required help the same day, albeit 20 hours later. I saw the thread once it was a few hours old and noticed a comment recommending our corp. I guess that means we're doing something right! I posted this thread in the alliance discord with the comment "good to see we're getting shout outs in random eve threads. Unless this is one of y'all haha". Turns out it wasn't one of us.

I don't know if JohnnyAngel420 reached out to Alek or if he reached out after seeing the thread in our discord, but regardless we were officially contracted at 4:30pm EST, about three hours before the operation.

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December 19, 2022

"Contract" Update: Make Hallenen a Helipad

Noir. continues its offensive with Gallente Militia Faction Warfare even after the paid contract expired a couple of months ago. The corp wanted to stay here because the Uprising update really has been super fun. I wasn't playing yet when we were actively on contract for Galmil, so I don't know the details. Post-contract, Alek created a new goal for us focusing on Hallenen.

At the time, Hallenen was a Rearguard system. From Calmil's perspective, it was an out of the way, relatively pointless system. Traffic didn't pass through it due to its geographic location and pilots wouldn't spend their time inside it because the rewards were too low for plexing due to being a rearguard system. For all intents and purposes, Hallenen is not worth any effort. 

Except for one thing: it's a mid point for Gallente capital ships. 

As a rearguard system, Gallente pilots can't dock in the station and that was the only problem. So the goal was simple: flip Hallenen. We were hoping to do it under the noses of Caldari. As I mentioned, traffic rarely passed through Hallenen on the way to frontline systems or trade hubs so we were hopeful that few wandering eyes would notice us, and the ones that did perhaps wouldn't realize what was happening.

The Uprising patch brought a few changes with it. I've already mentioned the terms 'rearguard' and 'frontline' which relate to where on the battlefield a certain system is. Additionally, there are new structures that effect the 'advantage' of a system. The more advantage your side has, the more points each plex gives you, allowing you to flip a system faster.

We started our campaign by raising the advantage in the system using the new propaganda structures. Quickly we had reached 10% advantage for Galmil. We also placed a large tower in the system so we could more easily reship and store our ships upon logging off since the station was closed to us. 

One of the new changes from Uprising is that rearguard systems spawn a specific site called Operation Centers. Opposing factions can scan these sites down and receive an item which can be turned in with LP to receive a propaganda structure or listening outpost which effects the advantage of the system. While we did our normal plexing to increase the contested state, we also would regularly check for Operation Centers to help us raise the advantage too.

The work was fairly boring over the next few weeks. Caldari Militia rarely entered the system and when they did it was usually just to pass through. We kept raising the advantage, eventually reaching 50% and were able to raise the contested state to the high 40%. Things were progressing according to plan, until something we hadn't anticipated occurred! Pynekastoh was flipped from Caldari control to Gallente. Pynekastoh is two jumps away from Hallenen with one Caldari system in between. That means Pynekastoh remains a frontline system, the neighboring Hikkoken system in between Hallenen and Pynekastoh turns into a frontline system, and Hallen turns into a Command Operations system from a Rearguard system. 

This was a bit of a problem because attention was suddenly more likely. But a bigger problem presented itself before we really needed to worry about Calmil. A member of Snuffed Out was apparently using the system as his industrial center and was worried about losing the bonuses he had paid into the iHub when we flipped the system. To help prevent that, Snuff decided to hit our tower with two Revelations, a Revelation Navy, a Naglfar, a Hel, and two Zirnitras alongside a few other structures in the area. We offered to pay the LP back into the iHub once flipped, but he wasn't interested.

The timer was pretty good, 8pm EST on a Saturday night. We knew we wouldn't be able to prevent the tower from dying but we hoped to make Snuff bleed and kill one of the dreadnaughts. The batphone went out but remained un-answered. Which is sad, because if just a few more people had shown up we likely would have been able to kill the Naglfar that showed up on Saturday.

We formed up in attack battle cruisers (reminding me how pretty the Oracle is) and bombers. The ABCs waited in the POS while the bombers were a few systems over ready to bridge in. The Naglfar landed and went into siege, which signaled the attack. We had the Naglfar to half shields and we were feeling pretty optimistic, but we didn't expect for the active tank! The Naglfar began to rep itself back up while his allies jumped in, consisting of three Zirnitras, a Revelation, four Machariels, and a Barghest. After that, we knew it was hopeless and began to disengage.

The tower died, of course, along with three Oracles (all flown by long-time Noir. members Ikeo, Greif Haken, and myself. Greif and I are both recently back to the game after a break of many years) and a handful of bombers. Sadly the tower shot at some of the blues, killing a few of the friendly bombers.

Nevertheless, the fight continues. The Snuff member is trying to deplex the system and drop listening outpost to reduce the advantage. He's in the Chinese TZ so it happens when most of us are asleep. We wake up and remove his work and add a bit more of our own. So far, he's losing the battle which is all that matters.

It's been a really fun campaign to flip this system, one that we'll continue until we complete. I'll finish this blog with some really great stats collated by Viz Talvanen. 

Fly dangerous o7

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December 4, 2022

Easing Back In

I'm having a lot of fun in EVE again, which I distinctly was not having in 2017 when I left the game. My playtime has still been a little hit and miss, we're selling our home so I've been doing a lot of cleaning and taking the dogs to the park while people go through our place. I wonder if staying at my computer for showings and blowing up spaceships would improve or decrease the listing price...

I was able to fly again yesterday in a tiny Hecate fleet with Laevateinn dual-boxing with an intercepter and FCing the fleet. Well, first I came out in a Condor to act as tackle with web but an Orthrus reminded me how dangerous they can be. I was burning away from any warp destination when they locked me, so when I started to take high damage, I wasn't able to turn around in time, so they were able to take me out before warp initiated. A good reminder. A sexy ship, too.

I came back in the Hecate, making our entire fleet Hecates until Greifhaken joined later in a Hawk. Nothing too crazy happened, although we skirmished with a comparatively large BRAVE fleet made of Omen Navy Issues and Augurors. They jumped into us a few times, forcing us off the gate. Finally we warped back onto a gate as they were leaving, timing it to catch some stragglers. We managed to nab one Augoror and his capsule

But the big prize was a Keres with a Dread Guristas Warp Disruptor and his High-grade Snake capsule.

We weren't able to get involved in either battlefield that was occurring that night and sadly I can't give a recap of how that shook out as I'm still trying to get a hang on reading the map and watching the warfront, but that's what I'll be trying be better at in the coming weeks.

These little updates are fun to post, it's good to spend some time to reflect on what I did in the game in a previous play session, but I hope to get a grasp on the wider "political" landscape (and when I say political, I don't mean nullsec bloc politics. Maybe meta is a better word, but anyway) and be able to talk about more big-picture topics. Obviously I'd love to get deeper into the world of the mercenary and see what that looks like on the grand stage too. So bear with me and I hope to bring you much more engaging topics of conversation.

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November 30, 2022

Report: First Fleet Experience

 Apparently I spoke too soon. Despite thinking that I had left my mercenary ways behind, I've been sucked back in - as they say. I knew that I wanted to get into faction warfare this time around, that's what I had been sold on by my former Noir. friend Greif Haken after all. So when I received an invitation to Noir. from Alekseyev Karrde who told me they were neck-deep in faction warfare, I decided the best move was to just come home.

Noir. had just finished a contract for the Gallente faction and, after seeing how much fun faction warfare was, decided to stick around. I wish I could do a Contract Recap post for that contract. I came back too late for that, but I wanted to write a little about my first experience back. It was really fun, and it reminded me what I truly enjoy about EVE. 

Alek formed a fleet on a Monday night. After we all gathered, he laid out a plan (which I won't divulge most of). Part of the plan was just doing some testing on Propaganda Broadcast Structures and Listening Outposts. I'm assuming these are new items in the game. I'm pretty sure they are, anyway. Or maybe the mechanics of them had just changed, I don't know. But regardless, we wanted to test some interactions with them.

So we headed to a backline Caldari system, out of the way of traffic. We were mainly flying frigates. I was in a Tormentor, we had a few logi frigates. Maybe one cruiser, I forget. 

Give me some time to get back into the swing of things and I'll be able to remember the smaller details better! I'm struggling to recall ships by name at the moment. In space, I'm focusing on finding the right UI element and not dying. When I see a ship, I have to wrack my brain to recall what it does and place it in my Mental Threat Matrix. It's not second nature anymore, not by a long shot.

We discovered a few things in our testing which will be really valuable. For one, afterburners have a hard time keeping up with the NPC ships that come in after dropping these items. It's also not a great idea to drop two unless you can drop them simultaneously. When alternating the deployments of the structures, even by as little as 30 seconds, you create a situation where the NPCs are warping in almost constantly, which stops the timer. We may have been able to kill them quick enough in larger ships, but I think it's still probably better just to drop them either at the exact same time, or just do one at a time.

The Loyalty Point payout on dropping one of these is pretty good, too. 10,000 LP once the 10 minute timer is over. Once that timer expires, you get your LP, and you get either a bonus to your own faction's advantage or you reduce the enemy faction's advantage. 

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November 27, 2022

Once a Mercenary...

 As I've been contemplating my return to EVE Online, I have to believe my mercenary past is gone. If that's true, I need to determine a new path forward. EVE has always been a game about creating your own destiny, forging your own path. The fun of the game is what you make of it. It's not a coincidence that Dwarf Fortress and EVE share that infamous graph of difficulty.

What originally drew me into EVE was the idea that I could be a mercenary. That other players would pay money for me and my corpmates to do a job. That thread connected all of my activities for nearly a decade. You could string together all my memories and hang it on that gossamer of an idea: to be a mercenary.

So I know that if I'm going to give EVE the good 'ole college try again, I have to find another thread that can bind my game-time together. It's not enough for me to just play for the hell of it - I want my play to be meaningful (as meaningful as any game can be). EVE is unique in that it does seem to offer meaning. Your actions have consequences, and all that.

It's probably no surprise to anyone who has been playing EVE, or at least keeping up with it, that I'm returning partly because of what I'm hearing about Faction Warfare. So naturally it's where I'm going to try and focus my playtime and activity. I like fun as much as the next guy. But I'm going to have to create my own narrative out of that, which may be harder for me than the next guy. I've realized that I need to make stories out of my games, not only of the funny "you had to be there" moments but also stories that are pieces of an epic tale, piecemeal bits of a larger tapestry.

I don't want to be the king, but I want to be able to talk about how my role in the battle shaped the kingdom.

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November 26, 2022

Wow, SP Ain't Cheap

I haven't logged into EVE since 2017 when I finally realized that the game just wasn't what I wanted any longer. I always dreamed of regional, localized wars between smaller organizations. I dreamed of some silver bullet mechanic that would make it more arduous to maintain than it was worthwhile, but that certainly wasn't the direction EVE headed.

So, now I'm - for whatever reason - looking at playing again. And when I logged into my account I saw this image, offering me nearly 13m SP for approximately $300. Seems steep to me, but maybe it's worth it?

It would let me train a lot of skills I ripped out of my head before leaving...

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