Monday, September 10, 2012

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.