Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gate-camp metagaming - Part 1

Over the almost two years that i've been in Highsec, gate-camp tactics have evolved considerably.  A lot of Nullsec players look down on Highsec gate-camps as requiring less skill due to the fact that they tend to be much more alt-heavy, but I would argue that players who try to compare to validate their own playstyle over others based on perceived "skill" are being insecure.  The fact remains that it doesn't really matter what you do in EVE as long as you do it well and in terms of the gate-camping the only thing that matters is how much you catch compared to how much gets away.  Am I saying that being a pro at gate-camping makes you an ~elite~ PVPer?  Not at all, in fact its one of the more laid back forms of PVP in EVE.  I'm just pointing out that trying to compare one style to another is useless and there isn't really any universal skill metric in EVE that defines what makes one player better than another.  Some of the best small gang or solo PVPers couldn't FC their way out of a large fleet fight to save their life and visa versa.

Static vs Dynamic
With that out of the way let me begin.  There are two types of gate-camps, static and dynamic.  An example of a static gatecamp in nullsec would be drag bubbles setup inline with the various system gates with a light dictor to catch targets jumping in, usually with cloaky recons and fast ships that can GTFO if there is a hotdrop.  A dynamic gate-camp would be similar except instead of anchoring bubbles you would use a cloaked dictor in drag bubble position that would decloak and drop a bubble at your desired range whenever something jumps in system.  Dynamic gate-camps aren't as common since they go against the casual nature of the gate-camp, but are useful when operating in hostile space because you can go into active and passive mode at will making it much harder to counter via intel channels and roaming gangs that take your bubbles down.  Think of it as the AFK cloaky version of a gate-camp.  

Static gate-camps tend to have more of a "catch ALL the things!" mentality, where dynamic gate-camps are much more selective and while you might not catch small stuff like shuttles and noobships, you're more likely to catch things that matter.  Anyone who has ever been on a static gate-camp in any security space can attest that unless its a heavily trafficked pipe with large amounts of stupid, the kills you get tend to dry up once your gate-camp gets made.

In highsec, while most gate-camps can probably be considered static by definition, you have the ability to move around and change the pipes and chokepoints you camp rather easily.  This means as long as you have scouts and are proactive, you can move around throughout the day based on who transits where based on timezone.  Additionally, you run can dynamic gate-camps by hiding in side systems or wormholes.  In fact, if you're particularly motivated to probe down wormholes, Highsec-to-Highsec wormholes allow you to essentially camp two places at once or approach an enemy gangs from an unscouted direction.  The amount of things you can kill is only limited to how many alts you have and how willing you are to scout.  There are really only a few set routes that people can take through empire and as a result if you are willing to spend the time you can capitalize on this, which brings me to my next point.

Routing and Traffic
The entire point of gate-camps is to catch people while they're traveling.  In nullsec, this usually means empire entry points, jump bridge chokepoints, and heavily trafficked pipes.  Changing where you camp on the fly isn't really an option because if you're blue to the rest of the area, the places you can camp are limited to hostile entry points, so theres no real point camping a friendly jump bridge connection.  Likewise, if you're operating in hostile territory, you have to deal with dodging reds. 

Highsec traffic on the other hand tends to be between trade hubs and nullsec entry points.  In Highsec, you can move much more freely, so its possible to camp multiple pipes at the same time if you have scouts far enough down that you can move to intercept a slow moving battleship, although this takes a fairly decent knowledge of empire autopilot routes and the willingness to scout.  How much you kill is really only limited to how much you're willing to work and how many alt eyes you have.  For example, if you're motivated enough, you can camp all connections going in and out of Jita, although most people are content to camp a single pipe.  

This is one of the reasons I personally enjoy Highsec.  I find it interesting how you're able to take a much more proactive role in getting kills through good scouting rather than just waiting for idiots to leeroy into your bubble.  I enjoy the fact that you have a much bigger playground in terms of systems and regions such that having an intimate knowledge of auto-pilot routes, gate distances, and side systems can give you a distinct advantage over those who don't know such things.  To me catching targets in highsec is like an elaborate game of chess, and in that regard, I prefer the mental stimulation over the adrenaline rush that other PVP areas in EVE provide.

Monday, May 21, 2012

TIL: The fitting window button is a Bantam.

Cross post from reddit, but this one was too good to pass up.  I honestly wonder what percentage of the EVE player base actually knew that it was a Bantam.  After all these years, I didn't even realize it was a ship.  Nice find.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last week of wars

14 active wars.  Thanks to all the guys who chipped in.  Apparently they nerfed Incursions pretty hard, so I might consider hunting some mission runners down like the good old days if I get the time.  I'm definitely going to keep my blog going, but I haven't decided yet if I want to discuss all the tactics we used to use to kill people in highsec or not, despite the fact that we'll be done with them.

Even though a lot of people reading this blog might be thinking "killing people in empire is easy and it takes no skill" the truth is the actual depth of the tactics that we use to hunt and kill people is much more advanced than they realize.  Let me know in comments if you would be interested in me writing about such things.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Goodbye to an era

CCP SoniClover released a devblog detailing the upcoming changes to war decs in Inferno earlier today and I can't help but feel bittersweet.  I want to start by saying that i'm pleased with the new cost scheme, i'm pleased with the fact that CCP listened, i'm pleased with the work the CSM did regarding the new changes.  CCP promised to make wars more meaningful and regardless of the changes to price, I think the simple change to corp hopping/dropping has a much bigger impact than the new prices and I genuinely hope it fosters more meaningful conflict in highsec. (to all the highsec bears complaining there is no opt out of PVP, well corp dropping was more of a free pass than many of you realized)

As far as Moar Tears goes, i'm excited for the future to see where we end up.  In the year that we've been around its been quite the journey.  As a 50 man alliance, we left our mark on Highsec to the tune of 2894.02B ISK, just a hair under 3 trillion ISK in damages.  By comparison, The 0rphanage has done 4 Trillion ISK in damages, but was around two full years to our one and has had 200+ members for most of its existence.  I think even if war decs weren't going to be touched at all in Inferno, we still would have ended up doing something else anyways.  With that being said, i'm sad to see the beloved Privateer model go.  With the scaling +50m per war dec in addition to the increased costs, theres no way that it will stay viable.  The price to dec 10 large alliances is going up from 2.7b ISK to put decs on 10 large alliances to 5b ISK.  What a lot of people don't realize is that even though we put up good killboard numbers as far as ISK destroyed each week, the loot drops we get are purely at the mercy of the loot fairy and more often than not end up being pretty bad and the past few months we've had to rely on donations to fund our wars.

I think that ultimately this change is for the better of highsec in that highsec wars had gotten stale, for example, Moar Tears as a whole has been stagnating due to boredom with war decs, still its been our bread and butter for so long that its a bit sad saying goodbye forever.  I hope that CCP continues on its path and is able to make mercenaries in EVE viable.  As it currently stands, when a highsec merc group is hired against a would be war dec group, there are two scenarios that pretty much always end up playing out.  Its a total draw with maybe 1-2 kills on each side in the case of the ~elite~ groups or the newly formed, less skilled, startups get roflstomped into oblivion and disband after a few weeks.

What I am curious to see is how groups that stay perpetually war decced (non-Privateer model) adapt to these changes.  While people may think that the cost to war dec is "cheap" in the grand scheme of things, being able to fund your wars with wars for an extended period of time might not be rocket science, but it still isn't the easymode that it always appears to be.  The addition of formal surrender conditions and mercenary hiring will be something to pay close attention to.

In closing, I think that a lot of us were on the fence about where CCP would go with the new war dec changes, but I think that with what we've seen so far CCP is very much on track and the state of EVE can generally be considered healthy.  I want to finish by saying that the work on war decs is far from over and while the corp hopping change closes a big hole, there are still many more that need to be filled.  I'm sure that there will be groups on both sides that manipulate holes on each side to create a system that works, but the key thing to watch is that CCP is good about maintaining the balance in regards to both sides.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Woohoo Podcast!!

If you haven't had the chance to check it out, the fine folks at Ten EVEning News were kind enough to have Alek and I on for a podcast from the Save Jita side which can be found here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Save Jita - A weekend in review

In case you missed my post on EN24, here is the weekend review for Save Jita from the Moar Tears perspective that I wrote.


First off, I would like to begin by saying thank you to everyone who came out to help. While Team Save Jita primarily made up of Moar Tears and Noir. pilots didn’t “Save Jita”, we were successful in being part of an important narrative. Save Jita/Burn Jita showed what makes EVE unique from any other MMO and anyone who can look back and say “I was there” making pixels explode should consider whatever they did a success. In particular, Moar Tears’ success was showing that despite having the highest ever efficiency from a major highsec war dec alliance, we’re not afraid to fight targets that can shoot back and are willing to engage despite being largely outnumbered. While most highsec groups are afraid to undock if it means they might lose ships, we took heavy losses and kept fighting anyways. Not a single fuck was given, we just reshipped and kept doing what we do best, making pixels in highsec explode. Meanwhile, Noir. returned to their roots of flying extremely lethal, high-efficiency, hit and run skirmish gangs. They also showed the strength of their Noir. Academy training program, which particularly shined.

Goonswarm and friends, showed how a large group of players can throw an event which rocks the entire universe. On the other hand, Save Jita showed the value in giving small numbers the ability to impact much larger alliances, something the new war dec price changes would take away. While Team Save Jita didn’t stop the CFC by any means, we were successful in keeping Jita from being an AFK turkey shoot for them, scoring over 22b in kills. We made them dock-up and reship into Drakes whenever we could, forced them to fit tanks and range scripts on their suigank Tornados, and punished anyone who wasn’t paying attention.

While Noir. already wrote up excellent battle reports from the Save Jita side for the first two days, here are some Moar tears perspectives from each day.

Day 1

For most of the highsec guys, this was our first experience fighting under heavy time dialation and we grossly underestimated how significantly it shapes a fight. We undocked our Abaddon fleet with the intent to ninja several of their stragglers who were still sitting on the station without logistics. Unfortunately, the maxed out time dialation allowed people remaining on the station to warp off immediately while their main fleet warped back and it was hard to judge deaggro timing with the tidi so we lost a quarter of our 12 man fleet. Derp derp. Still, no complaints from our side as it was an extremely fun, albeit long fight.

Day 2

Server performance was much better. Noir. setup camp on the Jita gate inside Perimeter and killed off anything that was unfortunate to jump through. Meanwhile, Moar Tears FC VIT0 C0RLE0NE chose to operate directly inside of Jita running sniper Tier 3 fleets designed to hit outside of the CFC’s Tornado suigank Tornado’s range. The hit and run tactics worked brilliantly and forced the CFC to modify their Tornado fits in addition to mixing in Naga/Talos anti-sniper support. We pushed our engagement range even further out and kept ganking them taking minor losses to people warping directly to celestials instead of safespots. Finally the CFC changed up their tactics by actively probing out the perches we were using to rally and after a few close calls we decided operating Jita had gotten a little too hot so we took a break and moved to Perimeter where the Noir. guys had setup.

Next, -A- brought in an armor Oracle gang which was mainly supported by Noir. with their ranged Hornet shield gang. Some Moar Tears guys reshipped into Oracles as well, while the rest of the Highsec Coalition forces brought whatever they could that fit the best into the combined fleet doctrines. There are not enough facepalms in the world to effectively express what happened next. Right when we were about to jump into Jita to fuckup Goons, the two AD0PT pilots that were with us engaged a war target Oracle, which belonged to an En Garde pilot. When -A- Oneiroses started repping the Oracle, they reported on joint comms that their war target was getting reps and asked if we could give them any. Fucking terrible and many of us have the feeling this is why -A- was reluctant to coordinate with us for the rest of the event. This pilot should feel bad and I hope he skills his character in-game.

Day 3/Day 4

We continued scoring kills wherever we could and had great success busting up safe spots. Goonswarm numbers overall had tapered off greatly from the first Day. Highsec forces were able to consistently field a 20-30 man fleet, throughout all time zones. As the weekend went on, we found ourselves fustratingly being just under the threshold of having the fleet numbers to break their logi in a stand-up fight, however, our fleets did successfully dock up their Tornados on several occasions and made them ship into Drake fleets. Also, our skirmish tactics resulted in them changing their fits and continually attempting to bait us, which was rewarding to know we were impacting them enough to force their attention.

Double Tap./Godsquad – Double Tap. completely no showed except for a single person on day 1. God Squad, on the other hand at least had one person each day join the joint efforts, although the rest of their alliance decided they wanted to derp around independently by undocking and redocking battleships on the undock. Very disappointing and we could have done some amazing things with the combined 25 man BS gangs with 10-15 logistics ships i’ve seen these guys bring.
Veyr Collective/Ex-Snatch Victory Guys/CWT Mercs/AD0PT – These guys had a good showing throughout the weekend despite having limited numbers. Much thanks to them for coming out and these guys definitely deserve props for showing up. Individual shoutouts: Pitboss, Ts5p, Luke Hartelse, Potamus Jenkins, Latheth, MercenaryBlue.
THORN Alliance – On Sunday something hilarious happened. THORN Syndicate put in a war dec against Goonswarm which got bugged becuase they formed an alliance after putting the war dec in. As a result, the war dec never transferred to the alliance and neither side could shoot each other without Concord intervention. However, one of the Goonswarm Scimitars managed to pick up aggro, and the THORN Alliance guys began harassing it. A Goonswarm fleet led by DBRB thinking they could all legally shoot the rest of the THORN Alliance proceeded to go GCC with several Drakes on a THORN Tornado. lawl.
RvB/The Aurora Shadow – In my opinion, these guys were the biggest losers of the entire event in the fact that they chose to remain neutral. The Jita thunderdome would have been the perfect kind of event for a group like RvB to participate in and was arguably lots of fun for everyone involved. Their choosing to whore onto killmails of people already GCC had no positive impact whatsoever for the groups actually fighting and from what I saw their efforts were half-hearted at best. While, EVE-University wouldn’t have been able to help even if they wanted to due to their status as TEST pets, RvB denied a lot of their members a potentially amazing weekend and would have honestly been a tipping factor if they had chosen to participate.

Closing thoughts

I don’t think anyone on the Save Jita side expected to stop Goons completely. Like in the movie 300, our narrative was showing that regardless of how outnumbered you may be, there is virtue to be had in undocking your ship and for us it meant killing 22b+ for the weekend. Props to Mittani’s propaganda machine for continually underscoring disinformation on how CFC forces would be primarily bringing alts to Jita in the lead-up to the actual event and our how war decs would be useless. While this ended up being far from reality and many of us on the Highsec side saw it for what it was, I think it definitely diffused attention to our efforts enough that many people who were on the fence about helping, decided not to. The forces they brought to Jita were not unbeatable and had all of the highsec groups actually banded together and flown under a unified fleet doctrine, the behemoth of a player event that was Burn Jita could have actually been stopped.

This weekend showed how much fun you can have PVPing without supercapitals and titan bridges everywhere. I genuinely hope with the upcoming war dec changes CCP realizes the value of Highsec being the last place where true small gang, limited party warfare can happen. For consideration, should the 500k per member war dec price changes go through, there literally wouldn’t be anything anyone could do about another Burn Jita, since the war dec against Goonswarm alone would be 4.3b ISK. Ultimately, I hope that this weekend showed CCP that its subscribers value player driven content/conflict and would rather be given tools to fight, than play an EVE where your best option to fight back is not logging in. Final props to everyone who took part in turning Jita into a thunderdome this weekend.

-Pinky Feldman