Thursday, September 27, 2012

The best FW fix evar!

Onto the fun idea part.  While there's no way that a feature this complex could ever make it onto the Winter patch, here goes anyways.

The LP farming element of FW is something that will always exist as long as its extremely profitable and a PVE mechanic.  As much as we want it to not be this, it will be this.  So lets run with it.

  • System ownership is given to individual alliances or corporations.
  • Having ownership means that you can set an LP tax for all the plexes run in that system with varying tax rates, similar to POCOs.
  • A total reverse of what we have now.  You only recieve LP for plexing in a system friendly to your own militia.
  • Running a plex of the opposing militia, gives your alliance/corp VP which is how you take over a system.
  • Once the total VP reaches a certain point, the ihub becomes vulnerable and the system is rewarded to whoever got the most VP total.
  • Defensive plexing removes VP, starting with the oldest VP and whoever it was tied to first.
  • Defensive plexing can only be done by the group that owns the system and gives a limited payout.
  • Tier rewards are tied into constellation control.  For a 5 system constellation, I need to own and upgrade all to 5, to unlock Tier 5.
  • The tier rewards for each constellation are independent.  If I own all 5 systems in constellation A, but only 3 in constellation B, then constellation A will give tier 5 LP payouts and B will give tier 3 payouts.
  • Each constellation has a mission hub system which is unlocked based on tier control and can also be taxed.
  • Only corps and alliances can take part in this.
What this does is create a sense of system ownership.  It incentivizes people not being in a NPC corp.  You have a real reason to defend and attack systems other than staging ones as well as ways to provoke fights.  Just because your militia holds less space doesn't mean you can't carve out a niche that is worthwhile.  It also spreads people out and makes the entire warzone worth living and being in.  More people have a reason to move into lowsec.

Suddenly you have a situation where people are invested in defending their plexes and fighting over them. If one side has tons of farmers, nobody cares because they're not shaping the warzone.  Meanwhile, the losing side actually gets more targets.  The amount of space you hold is directly related to how much you can defend.

Other than the fact that its fairly complex and probably will never be a reality, I think it has a lot of positives.  What are your thoughts?  Would it at least be a positive direction?

EDIT: I want to clarify that this is just a random post that formed while writing another post.  It no doubt has a lot of holes in terms of being anything remotely resembling a fleshed out idea and i'm not necessarily proposing that this is a direction that would be good for the Winter, but the idea of creating lowsec slum lording is an interesting vision for lowsec.  Similar to what the Molden Heath pirates have done with their POCO cartel, but with in-game mechanics.

Factional Warfare, the not so sandbox

The more I think about it, the more I begin to think that the reward scaling for plexes should either be minimal or removed completely, while creating some unique rewards for the "winning" faction.

I think we're starting to see how much both sides need each other for PVP to happen.  As fun as it is to punch one side in the face and be the distinct "winner" the Minmatar need to see new faces join and stay in the Amarr, just as much as the Amarr need the Minmatar for the same thing.

This is where winning in factional warfare differs from the nullsec sandbox.  In nullsec, regardless of tech, the "winning" conditions are defined entirely by the players in it.  Lose all your space?  Can't handle Goons? Getting throttled? NBD. Pick from any of the following:

  • Move to NPC Nullsec
  • Begin a new campaign against someone else.
  • Take over another region to live in
  • Find friends to help you push back
  • Go fight someone you can handle
  • Come to an agreement with your aggressor as a pet or ally
  • Farm ISK in FW before going back (lol)
  • Live in Providence and put stations everywhere

People that move to nullsec, generally stay in nullsec.  Wherein factional warfare, people write it off as a meh feature and never try it again.  In FW, your only real options are to leave FW or base out of the warzone.

You have tons of options so that even though you're in a "losing" situation as long as you don't failcascade from internal issues, you can insulate yourself from the constant feeling of being throttled and retain your membership and activity.  Being in a truly losing situation doesn't have to last any longer than you want it to.  Even wormholes have it.  If i'm in a WH corp and we get kicked out of our C5, we can downgrade to a smaller hole or find another C5 and keep making ISK and PVPing.  Its not like the only two choices you have are take the wormhole back over so you can run sites and PVP in the meantime or leave wormholes completely.

Factional warfare has none of that.  In fact, its the only place in EVE where you have a perpetual "loser".  You're either on the winning team or you're on a losing team.  Victory conditions are entirely pre-defined by CCP and so are the rewards.  You either have the numbers to push your ENTIRE warzone AND hold it, or you don't.

Even longtime Amarr FW corp WBR, that defined their winning conditions differently finding their enjoyment and "victory" conditions, from smallgang triage action realized that there is no point to being Amarr or even in FW, when they can just use their Minmatar alts.

Your side is either making bank or the other side is making bank and you have alts on the other side you're cashing in on.

CCP wants the LP reward to be the primary conflict driving factor of Factional Warfare, but in regards to actually creating and driving conflict, it has failed.  People's PVP habits and actual contestation of systems has reverted largely back to pre-Inferno where PVP happens for PVP's sake.  If you need ISK, you're either on the winning side or you have an alt on the other side.

The problem with the design choice of having new players join the losing side for PVP and the winning side for ISK is that the losing side needs ISK just as much as the winning side needs new people joining for PVP.    You need new PVPers joining both sides to keep things fresh.  Amarr need people joining their side for their own reasons just as much as the Minmatar need players joining Amarr so they have new targets.

Currently you have a situation where when enough new PVPers sign up for the losing side so they're not outnumbered in PVP, the action becomes stale due to the winning side being too outnumbered to fight and no one else to go mess with.  Then new players  leave due to a lack of PVP and because the make LP aspect of FW they heard about wasn't there either, so the losing side never really "comes back".

CCP doesn't want an elastic system, since they want everything to be open sandbox like the rest of EVE, but the hard truth is that under the current mechanics, there isn't much sandbox about FW compared to the rest of EVE.  Factional warfare is artificially small compared to the rest of EVE which is why I think that more elasticity is important.

I think that any sort of de-incentivization for the losing side is a terrible idea and stagnates growth to FW as a whole.   It shouldn't be any harder for the losing side to mount a comeback, than it is for the winning side to maintain their advantage.  Barring an exodus from the winning side, the losing side's ability to come back is directly related to it's ability to recruit and retain new members.  When joining the losing side means you don't get to enjoy any of the new rewards other than PVP, the amount of time new players are willing to try the feature without tasting any reward isn't more than a couple months at best.  Usually at that point, they leave FW altogether and just make alts in the winning faction.

Even with the new system, this is unlikely to change.  Running plexes really sucks and as much as groups would like to have loyalty to their faction, the only people who run plexes for the intrinsic value of factional loyalty regardless of profitability are people like Muad, Damar, Sasawong, and Poetic Stanziel's arch-nemesis Phobos Eversor, who I would argue are a significant minority.  Because of this, willingness to run plexes, especially among new players, are directly related to their profitability.  When trading factional loyalty and plexing for the opposing side means you're making 50b as opposed to 5b, it should be obvious what people will pick.

In short, the disparity of "winning" and "losing" in FW rewards is ultimately bad for FW's longterm growth.  Where the disparity goes wrong is anyone who joins a winning side gets the reward regardless of contribution.  Meanwhile, anyone who joins the losing side inherit the negatives of a situation they had nothing to do with creating.

People are worried about having a situation where nobody cares whether or not they win or lose, but you kind of already have that now because of this.  Everyone piggybacks off the winning side on alts, so it doesn't matter who's winning in terms of rewards.  Azual Skoll, kind of touches on it here.

Fights will be happen for the sake of fights.  People that join for PVP only plex for the sake of PVP it will get them fights so I really don't think removing the large disparity will have a negative net impact.  At the very least it won't make people as a whole not care about system control any less than it does now.

Does the underdog actually offer more appealing PVP opportunities?

I was recently reading an article on about the upcoming winter changes for factional warfare.  One of the things that got mentioned is how pilots will be motivated to join the underdog rather than the winning side for the appeal of having more targets.
Things are in the works to promote pilots not just joining the side holding more systems for obvious, economic reasons.  Rather, as PVP is promoted more and more, having more targets becomes increasingly an appealing draw for new pilots.  Less orbit the button, more shooting people in the face is always a good thing in Eve.
Everytime I hear this, I cringe.  Not because the thought of having more targets doesn't sound appealing, but because its a false generalization.  More targets doesn't always imply more or better PVP opportunities.  You can have an overwhelming number of  difficult targets that pick their fights wisely and experience much less PVP than fighting against a smaller pool of easier targets that die repeatedly.

When discussing factional warfare you quite frequently hear that people will join the losing side for the fights and the PVP, since they'll have more targets to shoot at.  Meanwhile, new people will join the winning side of the ISK.  This has been stated as a design choice by CCP regarding factional warfare.

Whats the problem then?  The problem is this design choice completely misses the mark in regard to the implications it cultivates.  It implies that the underdog has a uniquely inherent benefit to their faction, when as long as both sides have people still willing to fight you can join either side for the PVP, and find it.  In fact, according to this graph, taken from Susan's FW site if you want kills instead of targets, you should join the winning side.  If you look at the last few weeks of data, you notice that the dominant militias are getting twice the weekly kills, despite having fewer targets. 

NOTE: Keep in mind that there is a 2-month data gap between July-September, so the actual numbers in between could vary wildly from where the line graph implies they would be.

The point i'm trying to make is that number of targets doesn't always mean more PVP and its bad logic to build game mechanics around that assumption, especially when its treated as a unique incentive.  Its partially why CCP's war dec price scaling where you pay more ISK for more targets misses the mark.  Just because Goonswarm offers more "potential" targets, the actual number and rotation of active targets in highsec might be much lower than you would get from a nullsec alliance half their size.

If CCP doesn't plan on incentivizing the underdog side with something more than the the promise of more targets, FW will continue down its slow path to stagnation.  People will continue to join the underdog for the promise of targets, and then shortly leave when they realize despite having more targets they're getting as many kills, nor are they getting ISK either.  Who would pick targets over ISK and kills, especially when the entire point of having more targets is having more kills?

Finally, lets look at how the upcoming changes will impact the warzone.  One of the goals for the Winter expansion is to reduce the amount of farming that happens and force plexers to accept the possibility of combat rather than simply run away the second someone lands inside their plex.  Assuming this works as intended, who is actually getting more targets in this scenario?  Whatever side is already dominant, since they're the ones with more space for farmers to farm in.  Assuming the status quo doesn't change much come winter, this means the Minmatar and Caldari, as they shoot each other's LP farmers.  Feature working as intended?  Hopefully not.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Short Change Heroes

Hands has done an excellent job giving the community virtually direct ears to CCP.  How much CCP actually listens to us and Hands, still has yet to be seen, but in terms of opening up the dialogue between the two parties, at this stage of the game anyone who denies that the lines of communication haven't been opened up successfully is just spewing propaganda.  The same goes for Alekseyev Karrde.  I still have my fair share of criticisms of this CSM in terms of overall visibility, being overly reactive and defensive as of late, and the image of feeling out of touch with the community as a whole.  I've said this a million times, and I will continue saying this a million times until the record gets set straight, Alek and Hands have both done excellent jobs of interfacing with their respective communities.  Still despite this, I can't help but have the impression that the CSM as a whole is a bit out of touch with the community.  Ironically, a lot of this image comes from personal observations surrounding Hands and Alek themselves compared to the public perception.  I think a lot of it stems from the fact that despite doing a good job at the things they were specifically elected for, they're losing touch with the blogging communities who have historically been some of their biggest supporters and are much more reactive then they should or have any reason to be.  When you really look at it, I think that a lot of this stems from the issues within the CSM as a whole and is representative of the frustrating situation and unhappiness stemming from the other representatives either straight up not caring, or drawing the line of how much time they're willing to commit to a volunteer position.

Fast forward back to the CSM Summit.  Seleene specifically calls out Alekseyev Karrde in his followup blog post for being extremely hardworking and on top of his game regarding the mechanics the fixes to post-Inferno war decs.  This was directly the result of the work he was doing with the community.  Needless to say, many of us figured that amount of time and willingness to interact he gave us was what most CSM members were doing.  It makes me wonder if he stood out at the summit that much to Seleene, how inactive and unmotivated has the rest of the CSM been?

First, let me share with you my perspective on Alek's CSM activity.

After being elected to the CSM, Alek headed up a focus group that was created and moderated by Iam Widdershins of PRONS.  While, this wasn't a publically advertised group on the forums, public personalities and directors of every major and minor established highsec war dec group was included with the free ability to invite additional people as they saw fit.  Even the God Squad dickbags were extended an invite.  If a group wasn't there, it was because their chose not to take part in discussion.  Some might decry that this was not made available or public to whoever wanted to show up, but I don't think it needs to be.  While it may not carry the same visibility, you get a lot more done in a focus group than you do in a town hall setting where lots of people talk, but few people actually say anything.

Alek did a good job of communicating our concerns to CCP, while also letting us know CCP's viewpoints on certain issues which helped us shape our dialogue in a useful way for CCP to digest.  Pretty much every single dev blog you saw prior to Inferno's release and a month after regarding changes to game mechanics was a direct response to concerns that we had brought up to Alek.  In fact, we saw more of our own words in those dev blogs than we did CCP's.

While the Inferno war dec release ended up being the death knell for all of the major highsec groups, this was more due to CCP wanting to kill the Privateer model no matter what and the fact that without a Crimewatch release to rejuvenate highsec, it just kept going down the path of neut logi stagnation, hardly things you can fault Alek for.  I doubt that without Alek there, CCP would have taken much longer fixing the ally system and with how bad it's initial release was, I doubt even with players posting on the EVE-O forums in the features section, it would have only gotten half the fixes it did.

Prior to the summit, he made sure we had given him a list of all of our key concerns to be brought up via the mailing list that had been setup.  This allowed us to make sure we had gotten everything we wanted heard on the list and gave us something to directly compare with what we saw in the CSM minutes.  Ironically, most of us left highsec before the minutes were released due to the aforementioned reasons, but he did a solid job of bringing up our listed concerns to CCP.  Following the summit, without breaking the NDA, he immediately let us know his impression of how things went and a very rough timeframe on when we could expect fixes and tweaks.  Regardless of anyone's impression of him as an individual or EVE player, I don't think anyone could have done a better job.

Fast forward to back to the present where you have Alek unable to name more than two groups he's talked to within the community when Ripard asks him what he's done.  Granted, Ripard's started out by asking why he hadn't contacted Rote Kapelle and asked him to name ten small gang groups he has been in touch with, but I still couldn't help but wonder why he didn't mention the war dec round table which would have been the perfect answer, not a single time during that podcast.  

The entire podcast, I wondered why instead of accepting that they could be doing certain things better and presenting positive things they had done, the three CSM members were defensive and combative.  This was a disturbing trend which I noticed starting in the voting reform thread by Trebor, where the CSM spent more time defending itself and counter-attacking Goons than actually addressing the occasional legitimate criticisms that were brought up.  Then, Two Step has a townhall and manages to upset the entire lower class wormhole community.  Something is seriously wrong with this CSM as a whole, when the two most important delegates in regards to the Inferno and upcoming winter patches, Alek and Hands, who are doing everything they should and need to regarding community representation thus far, unnecessarily put on their crap hat, showing high levels of frustration and combativeness when they should be calmly sitting back on of a relative pile of smug.  

I'm totally serious.  They've done enough within the confines of their areas of expertise/responsibility and have enough people willing to vouch for them that they could have easily said, "Yo dawg, we've handled our shizzle and da peeps is happy.  If Trebor badposts, thats on him.  If the rest of the CSM doesn't want to blog, or update, or even do anything, thats on them.  We might be on the CSM together, but its an unpaid position and it doesn't matter what mandates Seleene lays down, if someone doesn't want to do it, theres nothing that can be done about it unless someone else has the time or is willing to take on the extra work."

I think that the reason those two respond so poorly to criticism that the CSM isn't doing anything and can't even think to point out the things they are actually doing or have done successfully already is because they're frustrated as fuck about the internal situation within the CSM. They know they're doing all they can and the CSM is still receiving a fair share of criticism.  There's a lot of dead weight on the CSM and Alek and Hands can't say that the reason you don't see more out of the CSM as a whole is because they're the only ones actually doing shit and already have a full plate covering for other people as it is, no matter how much they want to say this.  They can't reply to Ripard that the reason more CSM members aren't using their blogs to update the community on happenings is because the other guys aren't doing anything to begin with.  I am starting to think that the time they spent discussing being able to remove CSM candidates for inactivity during the summit was in response to more than just Darius III.

The fact is, in the face of the questions they're being asked, they feel like they can't defend themselves as individuals without throwing the other CSM members under the bus.  Likewise, they struggle defending the CSM as a group because there are genuine feelings of frustration at the lack of effort by other members and they feel bitterness that as the few active CSM members they're the ones that are coming under fire for the inactivity of the rest.  In essence, they're dodging one bullet only to step in front of another.  Anyone who has ever been on a group project with complete dead weight that could care less knows what i'm talking about.

Ultimately, the real issue facing the CSM is growing pains as they evolve from being a vanity position to a group that CCP actually listens to.  In the past, the CSM could take up as much or as little time as you wanted with little impact.  After CSM5, they actually became stakeholders and with that an actual effort requirement was born.  The problem now is the CSM responsibilities have grown considerably, while only half of the delegates get to receive the only reward, the Iceland trip.  They're still unpaid volunteers expected to do what more or less is a full-time job in terms of commitment.   Since nobody is paid, people will only do as much work as they feel like.  CCP even refused their request that there be a minimum activity level to serve on the CSM.  This means Seleene's only tool as chair to influence people to want to spend their free time on CSM responsibilities is persuasion and whenever he plays nice guy and someone comes up short he's left holding the check.  The fact that The Mittani was retired and could treat the CSM Chair like a full time job probably had more to do with his success than anything else and everyone got used to that level of effort.  I'm sure that he put in way more time on the CSM than any of us realized or he will ever publically admit, which helped alleviate the impact of non-contributors on the CSM.

Anyways, i'm not really happy with how the visible and active CSM members are responding to the current situation and its frustrating watching them become less and less likeable as time progresses.    They really need to take a deep breath and take a different approach because they're not doing themselves any favours in the public eye right now.  I honestly don't have a problem with them throwing people under the bus as long its justified, then moving on.  As long as people see 13 people on a "unified" CSM, they'll expect the results of 13 people and will be upset when all they get is the work of 5.  When that happens, guess who comes under fire and has to deal with the consequences.  Protip: its not the 8 that aren't doing anything.  If the CSM wants to be transparent about what they're doing, they also need to be transparent about what they're capable of doing and details of what each individual person's responsibilities are so the public can judge who is doing their job successfully on their own.

One final thought, Ripard suggests more town halls and posting more on the EVE-O forums about what they've been doing or have planned.  I'm not entirely convinced this is the best approach.  Two Step did a wormhole townhall and judging by the negative reaction, it was clear that was the first time he had brought up his wormhole concerns to the community at large.  Next, Trebor made his post of derp on the EVE-O forums and the universally negative response made it clear that was the first time the public had seen that.  Replace their names with CCP ______ on the forum post or the town hall meeting and you have eerie flashbacks of how CCP used to operate.  On the other hand, you have Alek and Hands' approaches, which don't have the built in visibility, but are significantly more effective because despite they allow for players to help fill in the gaps as things go along so by the time an idea is fleshed out, it has a very player like feel in a CCP digestible package.  

The ball is in the CSM's court.  They can keep responding defensively to criticism or they can start doing things to change and improve upon the current situation.  In the grand scheme of things there's plenty of time left.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

RIP Vile Rat

I never had any interactions with Vile Rat, but seeing the community reaction was extremely touching. In-game, I have friends in the CFC, but i'm not a CFC supporter.   Still, seeing the emotional toll his death has had on my friends within the CFC, I felt inspired to make a video as a show of support.

It speaks magnitudes of Vile Rat that despite being a Goon, in death he has reminded the entire community, if only temporarily, that there is always a real person behind the computer screen.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quote of the Week: Poetic Stanziel's CSM8 Run Is In Full Swing

I'm going to blatantly plagiarize a page out of Poetic Stanziel's blog here, and do a quote of the week. 
even though I don't do a quote of the week column. Hell, I may never do one of these again. Ready? 
Here goes.

So, I want to talk about Poetic's CSM narrative. The narrative where he runs the Council down as 
pseudo-subtly and as often as possible, claiming that the CSM should be finding ways to get new 
players to vote, players that would likely vote for him. He does this because he wants to be on the 
CSM. He's desperate for a position on the council. That desperation drips from every anti-CSM7 post 
he writes.

Ever since he lost his whoring Enyo, ever since he decided not to run for CSM7 through an 
exceptionally long-drawn out series of posts against Kelduum, through all of that he still wants in the 
club. He craves the hell out of it. The caveat is that he won't run unless he feels he's guaranteed to win a
 seat (a natural response, I suppose).

The gameplan? Make CSM7 appear incompetent to the job they were elected for, nothing more than 
corporate stooges and mouthpieces of CCP, or only occupied with their own in-game interests (the 1% 
against the 99%.) The end result should be that there's no better man for the CSM than Poetic Stanziel
. He would, of course, think different, would act different, and we would hail him as the Mark Cuban of 
Internet Spaceships. One of us will appear on a show he created to celebrate his re-invention of 
everything that is Council of Stellar Management.

My fun with hyperbole over, what is Poetic Stanziel saying about voting reform today?
If CSM5 representation proves to be similar to CSM7's, would you agree that CSM6's representative profile is indeed the outlier? And if you agree with that, would you then agree that voting reform is unnecessary?
 What does the CSM5 think of CSM7? They don't think anything about it. Full stop.

But that is not the narrative that will get Poetic elected. So, straight out of left field, he writes:
I have a strong feeling that CSM6 is actually the outlier, and that 10 nullsec representatives on a single CSM is not the norm.
Where did that nugget come from? Nothing in any research he has posted leads to that damning 
conclusion. Exactly how did his inference making machine spit out this startling, revelatory realization?

We've been reading Poetic's CSM7 rhetoric for the last couple months. Expect much more from Poetic 
as the year winds down, and as the CSM8 campaign season winds up. The more he writes about his 
perception of the CSM7, the more comments and evemails he receives from his Fweddit fanbase: 
"You've got my CSM8 vote! o7o7o7o7o7 m8m8m8m8 HAZZZEEEEENERDSSS!!!!" This girds him 
towards his goal.

There's the possibility Poetic might be a great CSM member. But the way he's going about it ... ugh!

The weirdest month of EVE I've ever experienced

Things have been slow in my alliance as of late.  To be honest, things have been slow for our coalition as a whole.  We joined Caldari for a change of pace, hoping for a fresh warzone, and the chance to make some ISK as well.  When we first made the switch, morale was really high and we were looking forward to teaming up with new Caldari friends to fight the Gallente.

What we stumbled into, I can't help but reflect upon as being a weird, albeit enlightening experience.  Having Amarr as our only FW experience, many of us didn't really know what to expect and looking at the Caldari's success at pushing their warzone hard against the Gallente, I think I speak for everyone when I say we were expecting something several steps up from our Amarr experience in terms of organization and militia ability.

Good lord were we ever wrong.

Everything you hear about the Caldari militia being filled with loads of drama is completely true.

Today, Fweddit and Moar Tears got kicked out of BolsterBomb's Caldari militia leadership channel with no  reason why.  Then, Rina got mailed this gem.

From: BolsterBomb
Sent: 2012.09.09 20:02
To: Rina Kondur,
Several of the CEOs felt that Fedwitt was not contributing anything to the group. We hadnt seen any Fedwitt show up for fleets and when you announced that you would be going down to minni space it felt clear that you guys were here for the isk and nothing more. Since there are no plexes up here the natural thing would be for you guys to go into Minni space and stay caldari for isk. Your mail even mentioned you would be back for the t5 dump. Based on the activity level you guys brough as well as what is perceived we felt it best to remove you from the channel.

This mail was in response to a mail that Rina sent Bolster letting him know that we were going back down to Amarr space because the PVP on the Caldari/Gallente side was a bit slow and when they needed help flipping ihubs or upgrading systems for a cashout they would return in order to remain helpful.  Getting kicked from the channel itself isn't really that big of a deal since not much value came from being in it anyways.  It was mostly where Bolster whined about always being primaried and the other groups tinfoil hatted about the Gallente spy metagame.  The notable thing, however, is the realization that maybe all that crap you read on the EVE-O forums about the Caldari militia is actually true.  Apparently, most planning happened on a secret mailing list we were never invited to but found out because Shriven89 of Tactical Knightmare told me they had a TS3 meeting, that he only found out about by accident from some Trifectas who are the de facto leaders within the Caldari militia, but since they're primarily EU TZ we don't have much contact with them.  I'm mostly puzzled that if they had contribution quotas that were so important to them, why they never mentioned any of this to us.

Unfortunately, this is where you start to see the awkward paranoia and drama llamas that permeate the entire atmosphere of the Caldari militia.  Odd assumptions about motivations that couldn't be further from the truth are made without actually talking to any of the people involved.  Bolster hilariously mentions coming back for the T5 dump as being a negative thing and acts like they just want to leech off of their work, when it was completely the opposite and primarily meant to be a goodwill gesture to show that Fweddit didn't want to be T5 freeloaders and were willing to contribute LP for upgrades and ships to bash ihubs when the time came.

The accusations that we're leaving because there are no more plexes to run in Caldari space so we're going to Minmatar space to plex since we only care about ISK is even more laughable.  We're leaving is because the amount of PVP that happens on the Caldari/Gallente front that doesn't involve hotdrops or gangs with tons of logi is terrible.  Last month, in Minmatar space, my 30 man alliance had more kills total than 252 man alliance, Happy Endings, and Bolster's own 33 man corp combined.  This month, we have 34 total and have found more even fights against local pirates than Gal mil, but hey Bolster and friends think we're going back for the plexing.  I guess that just shows the Caldari carebear mentality.  *shrug*

The accusation of activity level is an interesting one, because low activity is actually why we're moving back down to Minmatar space.  The mail addresses Fweddit, but considering that we got kicked too, i'm including our perspective.  The reason that our activity levels within their fleets had been low is because to be brutally honest, their fleets were fucking awful.

In the beginning, we went on several calmil fleets.  Most of the time, the Gallente wouldn't fight us without massive reshipping.  However, we eventually learned, the problem wasn't the Gallente upshipping, rather how the Caldari repeatedly responded to it.  All factions play the upshipping game, but on the Amarr/Minmatar front, both sides tended to respond properly to over-upshipping by blueballing appropriately and setting the precedent that if you want a fight, bring something the other side can handle.  However, on the Caldari/Gallente front, the unwritten rules of "bring too much, don't get a fight" didn't apply because regardless of what the Gallente brought, the Caldari would usually just get impatient and welp whatever they had into the Gallente fleets because they wanted to fight.

I remember the first BolsterBomb fleet I went on.  We were in an 18 man armor cruiser and after flying around unable to get the Gallente to fight us he got impatient and had the fleet go GCC on a neutral gang of 4 Ravens and 1 Maelstrom all dual X-L ASB fit.  With gate gun aggro, in armor cruisers, it was no surprise that we lost half the gang.  Bolster kept switching targets trying to find a BS whose tank was breakable, but since they were ASB fit that just gave them time to reload.  He also had us anchor the fleet on him even though we were a close range armor brawling gang.

After this fiasco, we all went and docked up in station to wait out our GCC when a 7 man Gallente BC gang came into system, which comprised of 6 Drakes and a Hurricane.  At this point, we had maybe 9 or so guys left.  Tired of being blueballed, Bolster wanted to engage them, but we told him that was a horrible idea.  First of all, like I mentioned earlier, giving your opponents fights when they are upshipped that much more than you leads to them never shipping down since they know they don't have to because you'll fight them anyways.  Secondly,  armor cruisers against almost equal numbers in shield BCs is just a facepalmingly matchup.  Best case scenario, we nab a single BC jumping through a gate and manage to kill him before losing the entire fleet.  More likely scenario, they just kite us and we don't kill anything.  After like 3-4 minutes of almost all of us telling him this was an absolutely stupid idea, he decided not to engage.

I wish I could say that our other Caldari militia fleet experiences were much better, but they weren't.  The following video is pretty consistent with the level of FCing that we experienced flying with the Caldari militia, so while we didn't tell people not to join their fleets, we didn't exactly push people to join them.

And so we tried flying our own fleets.  BC Hastings from privs had some awesome drunken gate camps that always got kills.  However, whenever we took out roaming fleets, we could never find fights because the Gallente would always upship hard, and while we waited for them ship back down by sitting in a plex, they would just ignore us and kill some Caldari BC gang that was desperate for a fight despite being horribly outgunned, totally ruining our chances of getting them to ship down.  

Why bother shipping down into cruisers or dessies and fighting in a plex when you have idiots like this derping around.   We tried getting things across to Caldari groups that instead of complaining about the Gallente upshipping, they need to be more organized or deny the Gallente kills when they upship too hard, but the Caldari new guard was usually too busy high fiving itself over being awesome at PVE or being ultra-paranoid about Gallente spies that these cries largely fell on deaf ears.

I can't help but say that i'm leaving the situation a bit perplexed.   In our time in Caldari space, things went from good, to slow, to just downright weird, fast.  The amount of ego flying around the Caldari militia is tremendous.  The schism between old/new guard and paranoia about spies is just as bad as you hear publicly.  I will be the first to admit, that miscalculations were made regarding the switch, but looking back, the situation we joined into was something that I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined and if you went back in time and told me this story I would have just laughed.

It will be interesting to see where things will ultimately end up from here.  We're somewhat back to square one in regards to having the same groups to shoot at each night, which kinda sucks, but at least that still means more than there is on the Caldari side of things and we get to fly with our Amarr friends again.  I miss the days when we first joined FW and everyone had a blast before we realized how silly the mechanics actually were.  Lately, some of my guys, including myself, have been missing war decs quite a bit, although i'm not sure how many kills that you can get out of them these days and I don't think they'll ever be quite as enjoyable as they were in the past.  I miss the cap and freighter kills especially.  There's a sense of coming home in our return to the Amarr warzone, but factional warfare itself still doesn't feel like home and i'm not sure it ever will.

I am beginning to feel like the EVE universe is shrinking.  The more iterations and additions we get to the various aspects of the game, the more constrained they become.  Inferno brought about iterations to war decs, an ally system, new UI, corp hopping changes, but the war dec price changes, forced pretty much all the organized war dec groups into different areas of the game.  Factional warfare got a huge buff, but while before you had the freedom to choose between casual PVP or caring about the warzone for RP reasons, it's now a farmers paradise that tries, but fails at combining casual PVP and meaningful warzone control.  I suppose its just the natural progression of iterations, and while these changes ultimately are "fixes" that move the game mechanics forward, I can't help but feel like within the inherent nature of gaining more game mechanics, we're losing the freedom to truly create our own content and playing a more and more scripted experience.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Numbers are meaningless when they don't come from CCP Diagoras

I've had a lot of thoughts regarding FW mechanics lately.  Pages upon pages of unfinished material going back to when Amarr cashed out.  Maybe one day i'll actually be able to finish them, but in the meantime I give you this post.  Since sometimes its easier to respond to someone else's thoughts rather than start your own from scratch, here is a follow up regarding a post Susan Black made.  While she is very capable at discussing game mechanics, she tends to be incapable of doing this without injecting the conversation with heavy bias against the opposing faction, so just do your best to ignore it.

"It would then be logical to predict that in this scenario (with equal plexing numbers) that the Minmatar would flip systems much, much faster than the Amarr.  Since the plexers are condensed in only the 12 systems, these systems would reach vulnerability faster.

However, looking back on the events in the weeks and months following Inferno, we see that this did not happen. In fact, during some points of the war, the Amarr flipped systems faster than the Minmatar, reaching at one point, +7 more systems then the 12 they originally went into Inferno with.

There could be a few reasons for this:

1. Once the Minmatar reached a smaller number of systems, it became more difficult, since the Amarr pvpers were also condensed in this area. However, this would not explain the Amarr surpassing original Inferno system numbers.

2. The Amarr could have coordinated their plexers within specific systems. This seems especially unlikely, as the Amarr admit themselves to not having particularly stellar coordination. Also, it’s somewhat a stretch to think that an LP farmer would care much (or even know) about their militia’s particular objectives."

While the Amarr were able to outplex the Minmatar and take more systems for this brief period of time, what Susan fails to mention, is that immediately upon reaching the peak of 19 systems, the Minmatar captured 4 systems that single weekend and a remaining 10 or so in the following week, easily recapturing systems at least twice the rate it took the Amarr to capture them.  This is where one of the biggest impacts of farmers truly come into play.  Farmers exert almost constant plexing pressure against a militia in addition to dedicated militia pilots, so without farmers of your own you are essentially fighting a 2v1 battle.  They also cover plexing in time zones that aren't peak for your non-farm alt groups.  It was during this time as we were losing our space, before we broke the Minmatar farming alts of their dependence on Amarr space, that I remember flying through The Bleak Lands during very late US TZ and commonly seeing Minmatar farming alts argue over plexes as they suddenly had to adjust to less Amarr plex real estate for the first time.

In retrospect, as much as people want to criticize the strategy of immediately flipping systems, the truth is, the gratification of seeing your warzone move was what kept people logging in, since it gave new players to FW a sense of purpose.  Unfortunately, even that enthusiasm wore off when these new players were left with a sense of having "useless" LP due to the ridiculous LP store tiering and when we switched to the "better" strategy of getting lots of systems vulnerable to spike your tier, people stopped logging on due to a lack of purpose.  In fact, I think the only reason so many people stuck around and didn't just quit, was because we had gotten word Nulli was joining in a few weeks.

"We are left then, with the possibility that perhaps the Amarr, in fact, plexed more than the Minmatar in the months following Inferno. Not, as many believe, the other way around."

This one makes me chuckle.  According to the VP numbers, people enlisted in the Amarr militia did in fact plex more in Minmatar space, than the other way around in the months following Inferno.  The problem with this statement is lumping "the Amarr" in with Nulli Secunda, a group who joined specifically to farm after the Amarr warzone effort had largely gone stagnant, pretty much did their own thing, and farmed the hell out of already vulnerable systems, which still gives VP and skews the overall numbers when making a direct comparison.

Currently Gallente are beating the Caldari in regards to VP, if you look at just the numbers you would think that the reason the Gallente are pushing back against the Caldari so hard is because they're simply more willing to put in the hard plexing work.  This could be true, but only partially.  What the raw numbers don't take into account is that Caldari VP numbers simply must go down due to having less systems.  All of the Caldari farmers have moved to Minmatar space and as the Gallente consolidate systems, the remaining ones they do own become more dangerous to plex in for Caldari.  Meanwhile, its a well known fact that due to no reward most groups don't defensive plex.  I would really love to see how much of the Gallente push back against the Caldari is purely Gallente and how much of it is Minmatar.

If we could see the numbers of how many VP for offensive plexing in Caldari space are earned by Gallente and how many are earned by Minmatar since Inferno, it could perhaps be useful to quantify how many Minmatar farmers there are.  Of course, it wouldn't really be useful unless you scaled it by weeks, since in the beginning most Minmatar farmers farmed in Amarr space, and the numbers are going to shift based on the Cal/Gal warzone itself so looking at the average isn't going to show any magnitude.  Actually running with this point, it would be great if we could see breakdowns on a weekly basis the spread in offensive and defensive VP for each militia against directly opposing militias as well as allied militias.

"When I checked the stats this morning, we are at Amarr – 10.28 million, and Minmatar – 10.27.
This means that between the time that Inferno went live and now, the Amarr have earned around 1.68 million VP, whereas the Minmatar have earned around 1.44 million VP."

In a completely closed system where you no longer gain VP once a system reaches vulnerable, the number of VP earned between each faction should theoretically remain the same over a large enough time scale with several warzone flips.  The only time that these numbers become skewed is when alts in a diagonal opposing militia run offensive plexes or a side plexes heavily past the vulnerable state.  While we don't know the exact numbers, we do know that most recently for Amarr, Nulli and other farmers plexed systems heavily past the vulnerable mark, so its not suprising that since Inferno the Amarr have plexed more VP than the Minmatar.

In short, without more accompanying data, VP is a completely useless stat.

She also brought up some of CCP Soundwave's thoughts regarding the warzone.

"According to the data, there isn’t any evidence that one
side is steamrolling the other in terms of activity or kill success."

This isn't suprising at all, since he mentioned "data" rather than looking at the situation at large with actual context taken into acount.  The PVP numbers on the Amarr/Minmatar front were relatively even at least US TZ prior to the Great Exodus, and any sort of VP discrepancies were totally thrown off by Nulli Secunda.  Like I said earlier, VP is a pretty much useless longterm stat.  Its like trying to infer how a sporting event went by simply looking at the box score on yahoo.


I want to finish up this post by making it clear that i'm not trying to take away from the Minmatar's success, they've done an excellent job taking advantage of all the tools at their disposal.  The abundance of old guard players was and has been a definite advantage. However, I do feel that moving forward with game mechanics discussion, it would be folly to dis-include the role of farming alts on warzone control.

My closing thoughts.

1) After the Amarr had gone down to 3 systems, there were two tier 5 cashouts, the first one being entirely funded by the general militia.  This means there was enough farmers to necessitate and complete a tier 5 cashout, twice.  Prior to Nulli joining it was not uncommon for Minmatar militia chat to outnumber Amarr militia chat 2:1.  I would really love to see CCP's numbers on the number of players who had joined Minmatar FW after Inferno who have cashed out over 1m LP with less than 15 FW kills against the other militia.

2) A lot of people seem to be under the impression that farming alts have little impact on the warzone because they only farm in already vulnerable backwater systems.  Well let me ask who got that system to vulnerable in the first place?  Probably a farming alt, and 30 hrs of plexing that a farming alt does is 30 hrs of plexing that an actual FW person doesn't have to, allowing them to focus on systems that matter.

3) LP farmers are about maximizing ISK/hr, meaning they farm more than a traditional FW player other than perhaps a sasawong.  They farm wherever they have the least resistance, which doesn't have to mean backwater systems, since a stronghold during EU TZ can become a ghost town during US TZ.  Unlike traditional FW players, LP farmers don't take PVP breaks from their farming.  Also, as long as they farm away from PVP hot spots or staging systems, the only real limiting factor on how many plexes they can complete generally tends to be other farmers.

4) When coming up with new game mechanics, LP farmers who are in it for the ISK will always take the path of least resistance, always.  This is something that needs to be considered, but before we can consider this we need to be able to accept that farming alts do in fact have an impact on the warzone.  While I think that a lot of the upcoming changes will help the farming issue, as long as its more lucrative to run plexes solo than run Incursions or wormholes, there will be people doing it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Not-so Amarr Victor

Today the Minmatar took over Kamela, the system that marked the line in the sand since Inferno hit. I congratulate, the Minmatar for taking it, however, the circumstances under it's fall is a bit disappointing.  Within 24 hours of Moar Tears and Fweddit leaving the Amarr militia, Kourmonen fell.  Kamela fell within 24 hours of long-time FW alliance Lost Obsession leaving.  Apparently, Agony Empire attempted to mount a defense, but being new to faction warfare with no real backup, the results were pretty much expected.

I have a lot of thoughts and musings over the past month, so if this post wanders a bit, there's your disclaimer.  Right now, the pundits on both sides seem to be circling and weighing in on the situation.  I've noticed an interesting backlash against the former-Amarr's efforts now that we're gone.  The truth is, Nulli and the tier 4 push ultimately marked the end of the current Amarr militia, but not in the way that many people seem to think.  I think they just accelerated/delayed the inevitable, depending on how you want to look at it.

Prior to Nulli joining, things were pretty bad on our side and many stopped logging in due to the stagnation and boredom that was starting to settle over the Amarr militia.  When it was announced Nulli was joining, this was put off a bit and there was a small resurgence of hope.  Nulli ended up failing for a myriad of reasons, but at least many of us were able to cashout.  Many argue that Nulli's failure to spike tier 5 demoralized the Amarr militia into quitting, however, I would honestly argue that its not so much that their failure demoralized Amarr, rather their failure failed to boost Amarr morale.  Perhaps Nulli's biggest impact was showing just how dominant the Minmatar EU TZ was.

Regarding Lost Obsession, I find it amusing that so many people are pointing their fingers at them for their failure to do more.  The truth is, Lost Obsession's focus, at least since I joined FW, has been on capital warfare, something which doesn't really have much place in FW.  In fact, the fact that they held onto Kamela for long when nobody else was willing to defend, speaks wonders for their contributions to the warzone.  While they may not have been a leader within the militia, if any of us ever called on FG or Starconquerer for extra firepower, they always rallied what they could for us.  I find it interesting, that leaving FW ultimately changes little for them since they'll keep basing out of Kamela killing big stuff with their SOTF bros and farming LP on Minmatar alts.

The fact that we left due to lack of fights seems a bit counter-intuitive considering the Minmatar have more numbers, but the truth is, once groups get used to fighting each other, things tend to stagnate.  PIZZA, a primarily US TZ alliance, experienced this problem early on and they left for Gallente after a few weeks.  When Fweddit first joined the warzone, Minmatar would throw themselves at any Fweddit gang they could for cheap and easy kills.  As Fweddit gained SP, flying experience, and began winning fights that they should win versus losing horribly, they found it harder and harder to find fights, and their log-in numbers dropped and dropped.  Even though they still lost ships in droves, as they started to learn match-ups a bit better, many within the Minmatar were quick to label them as being risk averse.  I fully expect the same thing to happen to Agony Empire who recently joined for the Minmatar.  Sure they're getting fights now, and heralded as being the kind of pilots the Amarr need versus the bittervets that recently left, but I'm sure that will only last as long as they're willing to welp entire AHAC gangs fighting heavily outnumbered.  I looked at their killboard since they joined and its an absolute mess, looking similar to Nulli Secunda's.  Who wouldn't love fighting that?  What i'm sure will happen is that as Agony figures FW out, while learning their enemies tendencies, their K/D ratio will become better and better until the Minnies become more and more reluctant to engage at which point they'll get labeled bittervet, heaven forbid they have anything negative to say and become "whiners".

This whole attitude is ridiculously prevalent in EVE and is just plain silly.  I'm sure on both sides, whenever you have many small groups derping around, getting picked off by a single group, the winning side laughs and calls them disorganized, yet the second they form up into a competent counter fleet, they turn into blobbers.   I want to point out though, that not all Minnies feel this way, its mostly forum trolls and pundits.  Minmatar duder, Galdornae has a great article here which pretty much sums up all of my thoughts on this point.  I want to say that as a PVP group, I greatly respect Late Night Alliance, and their US TZ is extremely competent, which was also part of the problem.  You can only pull out trump cards so many times against a competent opponent, before the other side begins to predict them, and whether or not one side chooses to engage depends on how badly they've been winning or losing recently.  Also, what a lot of people aren't taking into account is the time zone difference.  During EU TZ, the Amarr were having difficulties getting together fleets that could take on any single one of the many EU TZ Minmatar groups.  While during the US TZ, you had the opposite situation.

 Things had kind of stagnated whilst fighting LNA to the point where, within Moar Tears we were having key members get bored and go inactive.  This wouldn't be a huge problem, but we're only a 25 or so man alliance (we have 5 alt toons in the holding alliance).  I imagine things were a bit different on the Minmatar side, since most of the PVP new blood was going into the Amarr side, so they had a steady influx of new people to shoot, but on the Amarr side, we didn't see many new faces outside of LNA sadly.  Ironically, around the time Nulli had even announced their joining the militia we had joked on comms that in order to win, all the Minmatar would have to do would stop fighting us until we got so bored we stopped logging on or quit the militia.  At the time, I actually pondered writing a blog post about this, but didn't because it would have been a bit asinine.  Still, looking back it makes me chuckle.

Regarding the topic of pundits, many of them are currently weighing in on the situation.  I want to say that the pundits on all sides make me facepalm.  These guys aren't in the leadership channels, these guys aren't leading the fleets, these guys aren't in charge of their alliances, half these guys aren't even in our militia, and most of these pundits spend more time having opinions on things than they spend logged in.  A lot of people, like Jade Constantine, seem to think we didn't correctly take advantage of Nulli's numbers, yet the brutal reality is that early on we had a good plan with great strategic goals involving Nulli, but when the time came to make these things happen, Nulli was off playing in nullsec, nowhere to be found in Amarr space.  Even Cearain gets it wrong occasionally, frustrated with our "decisions" or failure to make strategic goals at key junctions, without understanding that sometimes real life happens for people and that communication and coordinating militia is subject to the laws of reality.  Sometimes, you want to do something but key leaders go on two week long vacations during the summer (shame on them right?).  Sometimes, no matter what you do or how you approach someone, they simply have no interest in coordinating or working with you.  Sometimes, the best paper approach doesn't work because EVE is a game and people won't log in if they're not having fun.  These are all things that pundits don't pay attention to.  All in all, I think there were things that we could have done better, but I really think that we did the best with the tools we were given and I don't really have any regrets.

In fact, the only major thing I really would have done differently if I could go back and do it again, would be to start out in a militia other than Amarr.  I don't think Amarr is a good militia for new groups to FW wanting to make an impact on things and might be too much of a gauntlet.  New groups go in excited about being the underdog, but are quickly smashed down by the realities imposed on them by the game mechanics.  Likewise, new groups might be a bit too sensitive to morale issues, while most of the Minmatar are longtime FW players who are more desensitized to shifts in momentum through the years of ups and downs they've already endured.  I wonder how long it will be before Agony pilots begin to run low on ships/ISK and either pull out of the warzone or roll Minmatar farming alts.  I laugh at people who claim we're bad for wanting Tier 5 without the effort in going Caldari.  There's no honour in being poor 6 months from now because you failed to take advantage of the ISK printing press that is currently FW.  No matter how you slice it, filling your wallet with ISK now to make a push later, puts you in a far better long-term position than valiantly fighting a short-term uphill battle on fumes and being poor months from now.

Anyways, I want to congratulate the Minnies for their warzone push, I think it was well executed and they deserve their victory.  For us, it was a great opportunity to fly against some great pilots and hopefully we'll see them on the battlefield again someday.

Friday, August 17, 2012

You only live once (no regrets)

Today the YOLO Coalition was officially formed.  For those that don't know YOLO is short for the phrase "You only live once" some cheesy catchphrase used by maybe hipsters or rappers, i'm not really sure.  Either way, the YOLO Coalition currently consists of Fweddit and Moar Tears, although a few other groups have been invited.  Also, our merry band is not an elitist one, so if you're a group thats interested in joining and haven't been already asked, feel free to shoot me a mail, which you should probably do since we really haven't asked any other groups to join because we're bad at EVE.

Within the next 48 hours, Moar Tears will be pulling out of the Amarr militia.  Fweddit will be out after next downtime.  I fully expect to read Minmatar blog posts about how they won the warzone and we're demoralized or some similar nonsense.  The simple truth of the matter is, we're bored.  With Nulli pulling out the only real change to the Amarr's fortunes was that most of us finally got to cash out.  Unfortunately, this also means that the stagnation is likely to be a constant warzone feature on the Amarr/Minmatar front unless Winter introduces drastic changes.

For those that need a refresher, the Amarr pretty much were forced to stop worrying about warzone control, since there is no incentive to hit lower tiers and recent history has shown that we can hit higher tiers without a nullsec alliance joining.  This means focusing on the PVP side of things, which for the Amarr US TZ means only really having Late Night Alliance, whom we tend to outnumber heavily during, to shoot at.  I'm not saying that they're not worthy opponents, the issue basically stems from the fact that they're not stupid, so only about half the nights they actually have enough guys to put together a fleet to fight us, the other nights, they stay docked and we stay bored since we don't really have anyone to shoot at.  Also, a lot of our guys would like to be able to roam and/or shoot people other than the same 10-15 dudes every night.  Since there's nothing meaningful we can do with warzone control, members of our coalition have been growing more and more bored until they stop logging in altogether.  This is obviously a problem that needed a solution.

So we formed the most badass coalition in the history of coalitions and are going to fuck shit up somewhere else. I believe a wise reddit philosopher once said, "this can only end well".  No regrets.

Reccomended reading:
Bob FromMarketing made a funny post about our coalition here.
Broetic Stanziel made a cool poster about it here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nullibros and the great tier 4 cashout

This post is part one in a post that I've been wanting to write for several weeks.  The issue I had was that many of the ideas were constantly evolving in my head and I think my previous attempts attempted to cover too much and ended up covering nothing.  Plus, oftentimes I found it more therapeutic to vent my frustrations at the game mechanics by blowing ships up rather than blogging about it.  This post will mostly focus on Nulli's recent foray into faction warfare and the follow-up will focus on game mechanics and some new insights they were able to help provide.

Nulli Secunda
The impact of Nulli Secunda, I have to say ended up being much less than we expected.  I think the time it took for them to grind standings killed a lot of their momentum, by the time they finally joined a couple weeks had been burned.  Then, they got to experience the harsh learning curve that is faction warfare.  Sadly, once they got the hang of things, they also realized just how boring of a grind that plexing warfare control is and with things picking up in Venal, their attention quickly shifted and redeploying to null became way more important than hitting Tier 5.  Had Nulli been able to get into the militia faster and stayed a little longer, I think they would have worn down the Minmatar's defensive plexing attempts, since winning the plexing war is one of rewards and boredom, but this never happened.

I think most of us are a bit disappointed, but not surprised with Nulli's overall impact and dedication.  For the first week they brought out impressive fleets, and quickly plexed up systems the Minmatar didn't care about, but after that they mostly disappeared from the warzone.  Its worth noting that before they joined, we got 19 systems plexed to vulnerable on our own and Nulli only brought that up to 40.  In the end, I think their only real impact was accelerating the inevitable by plexing vulnerable systems and bashing iHubs.  I for one am grateful for their help, and in retrospect, I think the issue was one of their attempt being something no one had ever tried before.  I think there were many lessons learned and if Nulli or another large group tries to do something similar it will go much smoother.

Taking Kourmonen
No propaganda twist here, we never really expected to take Kourmonen.  In the weeks leading up to our successful conquest of Kourmonen, Minmatar activity during US TZ had dropped off considerably and Metropolis pretty much dies at night in terms of activity.  Combined with station lockout, there's really no point doing much roaming to attempt to get a fight out of anyone other than Late Night.  Because of this, we started plexing Kourmonen in an attempt to get fights, however, once the weekend hit we found ourselves in a favourable position to actually take the system.

The Saturday that we actually took the system, Nulli was only present for maybe an hour of festivities.  They brought a 100 man frigate gang, obviously no one wanted to fight it, so they left.  The other 95% of the cap effort was primarily Moar Tears, Imperial Outlaws, Fweddit, Lost Obsession, The Arrow Project, and a handful of other corps/alliances.  By the time it was clear we were going to take the system, the Minmatar simply started moving assets into Huola, one jump away rather than try to defend the system.  As they were evaccing, I brought out my first smartbomb BS and got myself a Hands pod.  OP success!!!

Why Tier 5 Failed
Even though Nulli still has yet to leave, its unlikely at this point that we'll be able to hit Tier 5.  I don't think there's one overwhelming reason that stands out, rather a multitude of reasons.  Interestingly enough, while the Nulli experiment "failed" I think it gave us the chance to observe a lot of mechanics at work.

1) Lack of overall dedication.  I don't mean to disrespect Nulli Secunda by saying they didn't try at all, I think they meant well, but I simply don't think they expected the amount of resistance for the final 10 systems required to hit Tier 5.  By the time things had gotten to the point where only 10 systems were remaining and it was clear a more significant time investment would be required, Nulli had already given up and had shifted their priorities back to the action in Nullsec.  

Expanding on that point, the biggest issue with Nulli came in the form of failure follow through with commitments and plans we agreed on.  I think if the Amarr militia had just done our own thing from the beginning, we would have made much more overall progress.  Instead, we had repeated situations where Nulli would agree to support us in reaching certain strategic goals and we would plan our own efforts around this unified plan, only to find that when crunch time came around Nulli had disappeared to go fight in nullsec.  This essentially led to several weeks of wasted effort and time that could have been used much more productively.

2) Failure to change overall strategy.  This is just one of those hindsight things, but I think that until recently, pretty much everyone, Minmatar included, expected us to get enough systems to hit Tier 5 and flip them all in the same day.  Instead, over the past week, the warzone had pretty much settled at 40 vulnerable systems and any additional efforts to plex up got defensive plexed back down.  In retrospect, I think a partial answer to this stagnation would have been to flip the systems that we had in order to force plexers into non-vulnerable systems, make plexing in deep Metropolis easier by having stations to dock and stage in, and force the Minnies to take a more offensive stance rather than purely defensive.  However, I'm not convinced this alone would have changed things.  I think it would have helped, but I think the steadfast adherence to the original plan was due to Nulli expectations and promises that never really panned out.

3) Gallente gaining the upper hand over Caldari.  Immediately post-Inferno, the strategy of plexing in allied opposing militia's space wasn't well known.  The majority of Minmatar plexers plexed in Amarr space until we stopped actively contesting our warzone and dropped to 3 systems, which effectively forced Minmatar plexers into Caldari space.  At this time, the Caldari were dominating the Gallente, however, the large influx of Minmatar plexers slowly turned this around giving the Gallente the upper hand.  By the time Nulli joined, the Gallente owned tons of systems ripe for Amarr plex farmers and because people had realized Amarr could also plex Gallente space so we never really got the plex farmer push we were expecting.

4) European timezone and decentralization. I don't think we truly realized how dominant the Minmatar European time zone was in terms of numbers.  All it takes to defend a system is really a single corp/alliance living there with a dominant time zone.  We saw this on the Amarr side with Sahtogas as Black Watch Guard, an Australian corp, single-handedly was able to defensive plex down any efforts to take the system.

In the Metropolis theater, you pretty much saw this effect, but with 4-5 groups creating a stronghold of sorts.  While our European time zone is relatively weak, it can handle groups like Iron Oxide, Zombie Ninja Space Bears(awesome name), Spiritus Draconis, Ushra'Khan, and Electus Matari individually.  However, once you venture into Metropolis, not only are you fairly cut off from the majority of your miltia, the interlinking map layout makes it very easy for those groups to support each other while also being able to completely shut down access to the entire region on a single gate, ie: Eszur.

5) Chatgris and Qcats.  I gotta give a shout out to Chatgris and his crew here.  Qcats moved to the space around where Nulli was basing purely to farm Nulli kills and farm Nulli kills they did.  Many of us were hoping that over time Nulli would improve their small gang PVP skills and by the time they pushed towards the middle of the warzone they would have their tactics solidly down.  Instead, they kept feeding Qcats kills and giving them a reason to stay around.  Because of this, the reality is that Chatgris' crew slowed down Nulli's advance enough in the US TZ that by they hit the primary Euro opposition in the middle of the warzone, their initial enthusiasm was already gone and they never really quite got good at plexing (running away and not giving the enemy incentive to keep chasing them by giving PVP kills) despite being there for the LP and not for the PVP.

The Importance of Perspective
When you're on the winning side its difficult to admit that there's anything wrong with the system.  An important thing to remember is that the Amarr experience is much different than the Minmatar one.  The Minmatar have been in a dominant position since Inferno and the status quo hasn't really changed since then.  The Caldari/Gallente front has see-sawed back and forth much more and as a result, both sides have had the opportunity to be on both sides of post-Inferno game mechanics and have a relatively balanced perspective.  Alternatively, its difficult for the Minmatar to understand our frustrations from a game mechanics perspective.

A good example that comes to light is the issues with the plexing system being totally disjointed from PVP.  From the Amarr perspective, there isn't much you can do in terms of warzone control since even if you sneak up on them with a cloaked stealth bomber, the plexer just gets in another cheap plexing frigate and keeps plexing or warps off and runs down other timers and you're lefting fighting a battle you'll never win.  On the other hand, the Minmatar have little to complain about because going after plexers yields them tons of PVP, most recently in the form of Nulli Secunda and previously in the form of Fweddit and pretty much any newcomer to Faction Warfare.

As a result, our assessments of game mechanics tend not to match up very well.  With the amount of factional pride present in FW, no one wants to admit that their success might also partially be favourable game mechanics.  I don't want to take away from the Minmatar's successes by saying that the only reason they're winning is because of game mechanics.  I just want to point out that when you're winning, you're less likely to notice things that are wrong with the system.  I think that many of us on both sides were hoping that Nulli would have a significant enough impact to create a situation where they would be able to experience some of our frustrations with the system, but I think this is very unlikely now and I expect only minor tweaks for the winter patch.  This is really unfortunate, since our CSM delegate Hands is on the Minmatar side and even though he attempts to hear as many viewpoints as he can, being able to experience things firsthand would have been a great evaluative opportunity.

Post-Nulli and Final Thoughts
Now that Nulli has gone back to nullsec, I fully expect things to settle back to the level of stagnation that they had prior to them joining.  I'm not going to deny that many of us in the Amarr militia were disappointed we were unable to hit Tier 5.  One thing that I found surprising, however, is the mixed responses to the near Tier 5 miss.  Many people feel angry at Nulli, others feel as if they've caused more long-term harm than good, while many of us were just happy to be able to cash out the LP we've accrued since Inferno.  I think the feeling among most leadership within the Amarr militia is that we're just glad that our people have been able to cash out on LP and hopefully bring some more interesting ships to fleets from here on out.

I doubt that there will be much defense of the massive warzone push.  Namely because not much in terms of the status quo was really broken while Nulli was here.  We never quite attracted the farmers en masse that we had hoped, and the ones that we did get just plexed in vulnerable systems or Gallente space.  None of the Minmatar staging areas were changed, so attempting to contest our warzone would likely end up in a situation similar to the first 6 weeks of Inferno. We actually started running plexing fleets the week prior to Nulli flipping in an attempt to get to Tier 5, but by the time that week was over our fleets were a fraction the size of the ones we started with and people just stopped logging on.  I think many of us, Minmatar included, were hoping this would be a catalyst needed to break the stagnation of the warzone, but in reality not enough has really changed to enable that.  Honestly, most of us within the new guard are just happy that we can go back to not caring about the warzone and back to focusing on PVP. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A passing thought

If you complain about Falcons ruining a small gang fight and everyone in your gang is packing a full flight of ECM drones, sorry but you're a hypocrite.

That is all.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The curse of ships i've never flown before..

So i'm not sure if anyone else has this problem, but whenever I fly a new hull that i've never used before there's a very good chance I will die in a horrible fire within 24 hrs of owning it, probably in it's first engagement.  Even if i've flown ships that are similar in it's class or fly similarly, by some unholy combination sheer dumb luck, extreme derpiness, and simply being bad at EVE, I manage to lose it.

Let me go over some of these losses.

I lost my first Legion. I literally owned this ship for less than 4 hours before losing it.  I decided to take it on a test run and camp the Josameto/Poinen pipe.  I made the mistake of playing in expensive toys after a patch day and for some reason my overview on one my alts got completely borked and stopped showing war targets that came through.  This dude came through in a Manticore from Jita once and he didn't appear on my overview so I tweaked some settings and verified it with my other alts who showed him on the way out and figured everything was fixed.  I have my WT tab's settings set to blink with a white background on my alt so its literally impossible for me to miss things coming through if my head is even remotely facing my monitor, even if i'm focused on something else.

Turns out it wasn't fixed.

The Manticore goes back to Jita and in the meantime a friend comes through in a Hurricane, which I engaged.  The Hurricane actually shows up on my alt's overview so i'm pretty sure things are fixed.  He pulled me 60km or so off gate as I beat him down and right when he was about to hit armor a Basilisk in the same corp as him jumped through the other side of the gate and started repping.  I made it maybe 15km away from the gate before I went down.  Had the Basi shown up on my alt's overview, I would have never gotten myself in that position, but it didn't, and thus a terrible trend started.

This loss happened when I was fighting on the R3-/Misaba regional gate.  This was my first ever Purifier and  I had owned it for maybe 2 hours before I lost it.  We were fighting a single Stabber Fleet issue with a few other bombers and a Recon.  Needless to say the SFI was damped and tracking disrupted to hell and back, and the situation was more or less under control.  I have a lot of seat time flying torp bombers, so I always fight pre-aligned and ready to cloak before I get targeted if the situation turns bad.  In fact, i'm probably one of the most cautious risk averse faggot stealth bomber pilots you'll ever meet.

Not this time.

A second SFI jumped in and literally decloaked 1,800m from me on a freaking regional gate.  Before my brain could process the information, I was locked, scrammed, and dead.

I owned this Lachesis for literally an hour before it died.  This was during the Burn/Save Jita event on the last day during pretty much the last organized fleet.  I had fleeted up with -A- and was on their comms in fleet with them for maybe 30 minutes when we warp to the back of Jita 4-4 from the Perimeter gate at zero.  As we're coming out of warp about to land, my Internet shuts off because my roomate had forgotten to pay the internet bill.  I checked eve-kill on my phone and was sad.

I had this little badboy for less than 30 minutes.  Was excited about my first ever Coercer so I decided to take it out for a spin.  I try to always fly scouted and this time was no different.  I'm also extremely cautious about timing and spacing of where my alt is because the last thing you want is to jump your alt through a gate and then make a long warp across a system only to find yourself landing with wartargets.

Thats pretty much what happened here.

Since there was an enemy fleet around, I decided to be super careful.  I jumped my alt through the other side of the gate to scout myself, the system was empty.  I jumped my alt back through and smashed d-scan which was clear.  We had just joined FW so I didn't have a proper set of on-grid gate safespots so my main was in a relatively close safespot, like 2-3 AU away from the gate and I initiated warp.  As my ship was coming out of it's warp tunnel and the gate grid had loaded, there was a 10 or so small gang of Dessies and Interceptors that was landing on the gate I was about to land on myself.  Managed to burn back to the gate once, but they were smart and held aggro on the other side so I pretty much died in a fire.

I bought and lost my first Pilgrim today.  Owned it for maybe 10 hours.  Decided to go on a vacation to Caldari space to kill some Minmatar farming alts.  Landed on a Major plex and went in to kill a Buzzard, who had high enough standings, the rats weren't shooting him.  I think to myself, "Ok, I can ninja a Buzzard before the rats take me down..." I manage to get point on him and align to a celestial behind the button, my drones are chewing through him, and my EVE client freezes.  It unfreezes in time for the insurance notification to pop up and then promptly freezes again.  Note to self: If you're playing EVE on a shitty laptop and trying to PVP, you probably shouldn't also be running a blu-ray rip in the background.  Oddly enough, this loss didn't generate a killmail.

tl:dr To quote a recent post on the Fweddit subreddit, "I am bad at EVE, but I don't feel bad."  Though, if you die to me, this probably means you should feel bad yourself.