Friday, 22 January 2010

The Drill!

Lately, I have been running numerous missions for my recently acquantained agent. Scheenins has been a quite system and to be honest I didn't bother much for the attacks on the miners or the proceedings of the nearby pirate corps and alliances. Apart from the infrequent participation in gangs roaming the low sec, or camping stations in high sec, my everyday schedule involved the death of numerous NPC piloted ships.

However this day I wanted to put a break to this repeated pattern, so when a corp and alliance mate told us that some pirates were camping the nearby Stacmon gate, into Ostingele system, a low sec to high sec space gate, I left my agent for a while to take part in an attempt to lift the embargo. Sadly, by the time I had reached Stacmon, the thin gate camp had been lifted by the pirates and there were no immediate targets to attack to. However, my corp mate, capable at spotting stuff in space through his probe skills, located a Navy Issue Scorpion, relaxing to its safe spot. This same N.I. Scorpion was seen to be piloted by a pirate, thus making it a twice as juice target for us. We gave once more the call to arms, to gather the force to take down this ship, which is well know of its tanking abilities. We were almost ready, to attack, as my corp mate had resolved a convenient warp in point for us near the target, when the alliance comm channel was set on fire!

Apparently a POS owned by a corp in the alliance, in low sec, was attacked by some unknown at that moment force! A call to arms for all available pilots to gather at Stacmon in order to defend our POS was issued, so our small fleet's priority had to be sifted by attacking the N.I Scorpion to more important issues. The fleet gathered in sort time and our high alliance numbers made it possible to prepare a formidable force. However, before we would lead such a fleet into its possible diminish, we had to gather some intel about the force attacking our POS. Thus, various collaborators, that didn't wear our alliance colors, went into the POS's system to get us an assessment of the tactical situation. It quickly came clear that the attack was not a prepared one. A rather small force took some shots at our POS's modules and then - what a mistake - hide to its own POS shields to wait for the Global Criminal Countdown timer to go by.

Although the attackers posed a small danger for our alliance operations in the area, their actions of defiance of our authority couldn't go unanswered! The decision was taken immediately! Switch the goal of the fleet from a defending one to an offensive. Hit hard their POS, and get it removed from the system once and for all! When everyone was ready, the FC, took the fleet on the move. The few high sec systems between our current position and the entry to the low sec area were quickly traveled by our heavy BS gang. Upon arriving the first low sec gate, special care was taken to scout ahead for possible pirate camps, though at the same time we didn't want to delay the reply to our attackers actions.  A few jumps after and we were ready to attack the enemy POS.

Since this was  a big Gallente Tower, with guns and neutralization batteries protecting it, we had to ask the contribution of our capital ships fleet to make our work easier. The defenders, managed to catch a few of our pilots unprepared and so we endured two Raven losses. They were, sadly, shield tanked and that made them easy preys to the gunners of the POS and their concentrated fires. No matter of their efforts to defend, our heavy guns outnumbered and killed theirs. The POS's fate was decided at that point. After a few more minutes it entered into reinforced state ... allowing to the defenders to prepare better for our final attack that would send their POS into oblivion. For us it was time to take a break, relax and prepare for the final leg of this payback operation, 16 hours later.

After this wait period passed, and - what the planet side inhabitants call - a new day had come, we were ready to attack the POS and blow it up! I had to start late as various things required my attention into the station, but when I joined, the fleet had already been eating the armor of the undefended POS. Its owners seemed to have surrendered to the idea of its distraction. Our fleet didn't care! With or without defenders, this metal construction would soon be a scrap! A few minutes after my arrival at the POS location I was engulfed into a bright light ... the sign of the end of life of another POS.

The next hour passed with us repairing and unanchoring all the modules, guns and facility structures the owners had anchored to their POS. These would surely add some income to the alliance coffers or just be used in some of our future POSs. We all left after everything was collected and CONCORD had cleared their records of our illegal actions. Sadly the will of the enemies was so weak that our war had been retracted immediately after we had the POS down to its 50% shield the night of our first attack. An hour that the CONCORD rules would allow us to attack the enemies, was too short to bring us some more kills. Our reaction was once more swift and harsh ... the enemies had to pay for their actions and they did!

Thursday, 31 December 2009

The WH Hit

I always wanted to get inside an unknown system through a wormhole (WH) and get a kill or two. Never had managed to organize this before though. This opportunity arrived a few weeks ago ...

One of my associates had find a WH. He had jumped into it, hopping to stare at a strange environment and curious of what the residents would be like. They came to be of the mining type. They also had some POSs set up for the ease of logistic and for their protection. He communicated me with his findings and that made me think of the opportunity I had! Hastily, in order to not lose this, I flown my Arazu reckon class ship at the known entry system. While I did so, I communicated my associate's findings to my alliance mates. Although it has been a very tiresome day, reaching to its end, a lot of them reacted to my call. We assembled a fleet and they started flying towards the rendezvous system.

As some where further away, my associate decided to lead one of my fleet mates, who was flying a second Arazu, into the WH. The rest of the fleet would enter the WH, when it had assembled into the high sec system that this hunt had started from. Sadly when that happened, we realized that the WH had just collapsed and there was no route into that unknown system from this high sec system.

My fleet mate and my associate started to scan again. They hoped to get another high sec exit from that unknown system that wouldn't be far from our current position. Although a pack of 8 probes were out travelling and probing for sites and exits, the miner in kept going on with her business. And while my associate was narrowing down an exit WH to a known system, my fleet mate was, having switched to combat probes, narrowing down the miner's position.

Luck sometimes is with our side! The exit WH lead to a known high sec system, just 15 jumps far from our current position, only going through a quite, as map showed us, low sec system. In the meantime, to make sure we wouldn't lose the target, I had switched to a Phobos class ship. The bubble deployed from the Heavy Heavy Interdictor would make sure nothing would escape before we had a chance to shoot it!

15 jumps later we were ready to meet with my associate at the entry WH into the unknown system. my fleet mate had, also, scanned down the miner's position and had been dully watching the movement on the POSs and the mining site. Sadly, there was not much to report back. A Raven class Battleship, seemed to have been powered down for the night at the POSs protective shield, and the only other moving ship was an Itteron Mark V hauler, which seemed to be flown by the miner herself.

The plan was simple. Get the Arazu at 10Kms from the miner, jump all the fleet into the WH, the Phobos first, and then the ships in ascending mass order, to get as many in before the WH collapses again, warp the Phobos on top of the Arazu, put on the warp disrupting field and call in everyone to have a bite at the kill. We were, also, hopping that the Raven crew would come into saving their mate's ship and get us an even nicer kill.

Plan was simple and thus easily executed. At its 99%. The damage output from the Phobos, Arazu and the most light ships that could warp in faster than the heavier, killed the Hulk mining vessel before everyone had a chance to register at its kill. It seemed that its captain was relaxing as well, because all the time we were shooting at her ship there was not even the smallest effort to retaliate. The 5 Hammerhead I drones, that were registered at the wreck's black box, never flown out against us. Maybe it was so obvious to her that the battle was lost that she never tried to avoid her sure fate. We made sure she wouldn't freeze at the cold space and send her back to her medical clone, and a warmer than a pod environment, I am sure!

After collecting the poor loot, and blowing up whatever we didn't want or could haul back due to our fighting ship's cargo restrictions, we flown back to the entry WH and jumped back to the known high sec system in a mass descending order, and of course leaving the probe capable ships for the end. When all the fleet and my associate were safe, we flown back to our home base, even more tired, but happy the way the fleet operated and the kill we had. I agree, a mining vessel is not a tough opponent, but tactics training can be done with anything, though explosions at the end of the training session make the participants more eager to learn :D

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Dominion Trailer!

In case you have missed it, there is a new trailer out regarding the new expansion that is about to hit the TQ servers in a few days (1st December). You can see it on CCP's Youtube channel  or download it straight from their site here.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Dominion?! Are we sure?

After the announcement of the upkeep costs for holding sovereignty in a system had been made, a lot of people brought up the exaggerated costs CCP had decided that would be logical for an entity to pay to have the ownership of one system. After hundreds of pages on the forums, CCP decided that they had clearly made a mistake. And in a swift movement they lowered the costs. But, in their effort to keep the people happy they went from the one end to the other end. From high costs they now went to low costs. Only 180 million ISK per system's sovereignty per month. And as with the previous costs estimation, again no good reason was given for the decision for the upkeep costs.

And before this storm settles down, they made sure to keep their forums busy of posts. They went and took back the major changes regarding the capital ships and introduced new ones, that according to the people, who use these ships, are totally useless and make no sense. They just show that the developer that took the decisions is not as knowledgeable with capital warfare as the guy who initially had planned the changes.

Although that I am neither knowledgeable enough myself to criticize the second change, I have to point out that, even that the first change looks to be for better, it actually might be for worse! The costs now been really small, won't push the bigger alliances to drop out of unused space and won't be forced to team up with smaller entities to keep their areas protected by the inevitable enemy roaming gangs. Thus the major goal of giving space to smaller entities and make them somehow necessary for the bigger alliances out there will not again be fulfilled. And although I understand that the exact balancing of such an action can not happen in vacuum, and hard evidences and raw data need to be collected from the actual server before adjusting the costs closer to a better level, I do see, combining the two changes and the recent history of EVE expansions releases, a bad trend. CCP seems to be pushing hard to achieve its two expansions releases per year.

Their previous winter expansion was again a fail. Was advertised as the change that the marketeers and the industrials were looking for, since the release of EVE. But was doomed to be the release that brought a sub capital in empire space (Orca) and a useless alchemy mechanism that most didn't even use. No real tools, or content or support for the categories advertised to be the main focus of the expansion. To my eyes at that time it was like CCP was trying to just do what its contract was asking  for ... publish a winter expansion. And the fact that it was a self imposed contract didn't make sense to me. I mean, if you feel you can't do a good job and release a meaningful expansion, just go out with it sincerely and ask you players for more time and publish one expansion for this year. I find this to be better than break most of your users game in your effort to keep a marketing trick to pull more people for the Christmas period.

Moreover censoring posts on your forum, from users  that happen to disagree with the view you have for the game is gonna come back and bite you one day. CCP you have been a great game corp so far. Surely some of your, or your employees, actions, have been not so ... sincere. All corps have these kind of ups and downs. But coming out as a dictator, although we all recognize that this is your game and product, is not a good idea. After all a product without buyers and happy followers is not a good one ;)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Mistakes cost!

They usually cost in disappointment emotions. Some times they can have big costs. Life related costs. It was good that my series of mistakes did only impose money costs to me.

I am a Gallente certified pilot. Lately, feeling that I am reaching to a spot of high capability with my race's ships, I decided to train for the ships and guns of a new race. The selection was not easy. All races have something to offer, and all have a ship you would wish not to meet as an adversary on the combat field. After a lot of thought I decided it was the time to start training for Minmatar ships.

The first skills have finished and allow me to fit my cruiser and battlecruiser ships with a good armament and a descent tank. No, they are not as good as my Gallente ships' fittings, but this won't matter much in most of the fights I will enter. What I  really like about Minmatar ships is their capability to decide whether they want to stay on the fight or not. Gallente ones just go in a fight and they will either win or won't come out of it in a piece.

I like the cruisers ships for solo work. They are small enough, to evade in most cases in low sec, but not so small to have a very limited selection of targets. Thus my first selection of Minmatar ships was the Stabber. I took her out in as a part of an alliance gang. The outcome made me happy, with some kills and no loses (Fight's log) (at least stabber was still intact after the fight).

The next test was the solo work. I took her to a close-by low sec system. Usually I find some pirates wondering around there and with some luck I would find an easy target to test her solo capabilities. Flying Minmatar ships is very different to flying Galllente ones, so I didn't want to overestimate my capabilities and have an early disaster with the ship.

A bit of scanning revealed some targets. The most prominent was a rifter. It looked like it was also scanning and moving around to get a fix to something to attack. We warped around a few times, doing these early reconnaissance steps before we end into a deadly dance. That didn't take long to happen on one of the system's asteroid belts. When the red rifter (signal that the pilot was an outlaw) exited his warp tunnel, I gave the command to the ship to accelerate, get a distance from the enemy and lock down and disrupt his capability to warp out, leaving the field. That was at least my intention, but alas, looks like the rifter was faster and made all these before me. The worst part was that he had now shut down my micro-warp drive engines, leaving me with a puny boost. That is the worst thing to happen to a Minmatar ship, and especially a stabber.

Nevertheless I decided to try to take the rifter. At least go down fighting. I released my drone and activated my gun and missile turrets. The rifter pilot got some hits on his shields mainly due to my trusty warrior II combat robot. He was experienced enough to prioritize that as the main threat to his ship. I was busy enough to try to gain some range to activate my micro warp drive, that didn't see it going down. After that the damage on the small frig was a laugh. So I aligned towards a celestial object and tried to gain some range, while I was awaiting my ships destruction. At least I wouldn't lose my pod. In the fray of issuing command to gain range, I issued some commands for warping out of the field. And in my great surprise one of these commands succeeded. I was off ... away from the fight with only a drone lost.

Strange! This usually never happens. A good attacker makes it sure he keeps you pinned down till the bitter end. How the hell did I manage to avoid that end? Local channel chat enlightened me. According to my attacker his middle rack modules had been burned out, during his overheat attempt to make sure he had the upper hand of the engagement. Damn it, I just realized that I should have never warped out from this fight ...

Since I still had an intact ship, with just some modules lightly damaged  by overheating, I decided to stay inside the system. Maybe I could make the rifter to engage me again. Maybe this time I was faster with my reactions and I could keep the upper hand. Surely after a few jumps around the planets of the system, the rifter reappeared on my directional scanner. A few more jumps around the planets and we met up on a new field ... hovering over a blue giant planet. Round two!!!

This time I was 45Km away from my pray. I decide to close against him, and put my ship in an orbit of 12Km, so that my guns would still put out a good damage and my micro warp drive was safe from his disrupting modules. I approached in an angle to avoid overshooting as he had also issued a speedy approach to me. The distance closed down fast. And when in 15Km, I issued the orbit command. Alas once again he managed to drop in at 8km range, thus negating my micro warp drive operation. He was so sure of his soon to come win, that he contacted me over a private communications channel to negotiate my surrender.

At first I ignored his call. I decided to play this out and see if I could gain enough range and maybe he was again careless and burned out his modules once more. The fight was continuing ideally for him. Being the hunter now, he was more relaxed and he could watch the pressure his modules were getting. After a few minutes my shields were almost gone and I was about to start getting damage in armor. The fight was clearly lost for me. I accepted the private call. Waved and expected his terms. He asked a payment of 12 million ISK. I replied that 10 million were more acceptable for me. He agreed. I made the payment of trans-galactic bank channels and we both dropped our webs, warp disruption fields and deactivated our offensive modules. I was free to go. I warped out with intact ship and a bruised ego.

Mistakes cost! This time it was only ISK. Next time I better not allow mistakes to happen ...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Is EVE's Dominion expansion a good thing for small alliances?

My corp has been part of an alliance almost from day one. We have been in a "pet" alliance, in a low sec towards to its null sec space alliance, in a  have fun chill out alliance. All have been below 200-300 members at their peak. I would consider these small alliances, but with the new sov system's requirements they shouldn't be called alliances at all. They would rather be mega corps, if they want to be part of the new sov system.

Our current alliance is around 650 members. By a crude estimate of 20% of members been alts or inactive, that leaves around 500 active ones. This number of members would constitute a small to medium alliance  with the previous sov mechanism capable to hold a small part of null sec. But it seems we are still too small to do so with the new proposed system.

The costs upkeep dev blog has been anticipated for a long time now. And it finally hits the web, here. And then the downfall begins. Calculating the costs it leads to a bill of 900 millions per 30 days, just to hold the sov of the system. The cost is just for the sov related bills and the hub that will allow for future upgrades in order to make your system capable of supporting more pilots in it. The cost of the upgrades is not part of the above bill. Neither the cost of the necessary STOP, and FLAG structures to gain the sov at the beginning. And their costs are not small either. They say that they will be at the region of 50-500mils. The lowest end is sure small. But the upper end is surely not, for a small alliance.

"But wait ..." , I hear you cry out loud. "Can't a 500 members alliance produce close to 1 billion of income per month?" Well surely it can, but that can't be done through the upgrades and the ratting/mining of the system. And that to happen it requires on average a 10 times more income to be collectively produced by its members. You see more alliances/corps have a 10% tax. So only one tenth of the produced through ratting income is coming into the alliance's coffers. The rest ends to the members' wallets. And not wrongly if you ask me, but surely it doesn't help the cause of holding sov in a null sec system. And if you have to use moon mining and industrial POS then the costs of the upkeep of each system goes up without a reward big enough to make it a sane decision to even try to get a system.

Get the tax up and you kind of drive your pilots out of the alliance. Then they either return to NPC space or they team up to bigger alliances. All good and nice. Since they couldn't handle 0.0 space they shouldn't be out there. But those were exactly the base goals of the new expansion and the new sov system. To get people to leave NPC space and head to true null sec space, and to give the smaller alliances the space to operate there, by making the hold of underused space expensive for the bigger boys.

The space will be abandoned by the bigger alliances for sure. The costs and the returns won't make a reason for them to keep huge areas of systems that none utilizes. But the smaller alliances won't come to claim and fill this space. The cost and the reward won't make it better than lvl4 missioning in empire space or NPC owned null sec space.

Update: Looks like the posted upkeep costs created an "uproar" at the EVE pilots community. Thus after pages of comments - not always so polite - on EVE forums, the devs have stated that they will reconsider the costs. The diretion is to lower them, and at the moment the cost for just mainting sov in a system looks like it will be lowered from 900mils per month to just 180mils per month. This is a huge reduction and will really make the new expansion true to its goals. But untill the actual code hits TQ, we shouldn't get anything for granted. Not yet at least ...  

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Starting ... afresh!

Time flies fast they say.

A year went so fast and that I never realized my log missed it altogether. I will commit to keep logs at more frequent times from now on ... Or so I always say and end up to not write anything at all.

And don't take this the wrong way. Neuro has seen a lot this past year. One thing that EVE never lets you have, is to get bored. A new alliance, a move to 0.0 space for a third time (Syndicate area for whoever wonders), a removal from that alliance and that space, a second new alliance and many wars and fights in high sec empire and low sec space! Yes a very busy and active period. So busy that the time to record all these was so little, that nothing was put down.

But do not worry. EVE never lets you down. Never allows you to get bored! The more you look for a fight, for interesting stuff to do, the more frequently you will find them. And this time I will record the most important ones, for me at least, so that you all can read and have a laugh or learn something out of our experiences in space ...