Sunday, 24 June 2012

Morning billions

The TF Effect is strong. This mornings, woke up at 6 a.m. due to evil bladder, found someone had respawned our C3 static to a nullsec hole, and probed it down. Jumped out to Deklein into a nest of ratters, who all cleared out.

Hit d-scan: 6 POS, 4 forcefields. One, at the closest planet, had an SMA and no field.

Five minutes for a swap to a throwaway Ferox (which, I shall note here, was stolen), and I candified the sweet, sweet pinata. The candy which fell out?

A faction-fit Machariel, no less.

Not bad ISK/hour. 2 billion for 45 minutes work including mopping up the hardeners.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Unknown Code

I have been in low-end wormholes since they came out in Apocrypha. I have seen the ups and downs of this segment of w-space, and watched third-hand the growth of the "big end of town" and the "pro" alliances and power blocs and seen their eliteness and, indeed, their elitism grow.

Today's w-space, as anyone who gets on to the EVE-O forum can discover, is dominated by a handful of corporations and alliance who are the undisputed tier one wormhole powers.The majority of these powers farm ISK in high-end w-space and get ridiculously rich via quad-cap escalating C5's, and seek out PVP with one another in what is known as a "Friendly Aggression Pact" or FAP, grown out of GF's on the Failheap Challenge community, and which is by default the inculcated culture of w-space. Or at least how they would like to see it. I'll call it the Unknown Code.

The way the Unknown Code goes, there are a few Commandments.
Thou Shalt Not Farm. You are making enough ISK to afford the shinies to risk in PVP and you should therefore not be risk-averse farmers of wormhole sites who POS up and don't bring the good fights. No one is against everyone getting space-rich, but as the -AAA- "control the C5/C3s constellation" push-back shows, wormholers don't like people presuming they can 'own' a system and extract rents.
Thou Shalt Fight. People may spawn into you and come poking for fights; the more you POS up and log off, the more you blueball your enemies, the more ikely it is that someone will force a fight on you, usually by sieging your POS.
Thou Shalt Not Blue. Given the power creep in high-end WH's where there are more caps per system than anywhere else in EVE (I shit you not) it is increasingly getting to the point where to force a fight, you need allies. But if everyone is an ally, you cannot fight. Hence the FAP; blue today, red tomorrow. See this thread for more infos on how Wormhole Coalitions are held by the community.
Thou Shalt Not (Really) Siege Out. This is less a hard rule than the others, but generally people seem to want to avoid crippling the other denizens of w-space with evictions, which can result in people ending back in k-space bankrupt, which results in people  giving up w-space. Oddly, since you need a siege to start a serious fight, this is kinda a bit wishy-washy.

Today, someone's forum alt complained about the predominance of massive T3 gangs roaming w-space looking to roflstomp a couple of site-running drakes into the ground. This of course, comes into the whole power creep issue going on in wormhole space. Whereas when Zebracakes first went off 45 guys in fleet was unheard of before, now you top 250 a side engagements.

It used to be that you could roll around with 2-4 guys anywhere, finding people in sites, having a bit of a gank here, a fight there, baiting people out and occasionally bagging a Tengu or a shiny Noctis full of loot. You would then have an Operation; find some target to candify, reinforce the POS for a weekend's camping and toast your marshmallows over the flames of their selfdestructing ships. This is getting harder all the time.

Firstly, this is because everyone has a batphone, and as the wormhole community has matured (hah), the relationships have become more entrenched and spiderlike. Of the top tier organisations, there are but a handful we haven't tangled with or worked with in the past.

Secondly, and oddly, it seems that the Powers are still, somehow, interested in being wormhole mercs, after the Narwhals model. This of course ends up with ridiculous, sky-high and extortionate bills being foisted off on people to protect their POSs and farms, justified because the Powers are going to bring 40+ fleets  of tech 3's, to shoot at some dudes. They want their risk covered, so nowadays contracts regularly top 10B ISK. It is getting fairly disproportionate and stupid, as Joes Bazooka rightly points out. It is also odd, because for elitist and elite PVPers, it is fairly tawdry to outnumber your foes 5:1 or more, and if you are worried about Siegeing Out as a Bad Thing, scalping multibillions of ISK is ridiculous. Fuck, they should pay BUGRY for generating the fucking content and events that keep them occupied.

Of course, this blobbing and power-creep drives further rounds of consolidation and convergence; it drives wormhle space into being like nullsec with shinier ships, no local, and a longer build-up than joining a roam on a friday night. The majority of the people joining the Powers these days are fame-seekers who get their jollies by joining the big boys to get in on the big, exciting fights...and while some of them certainly now results in two things.

Firstly, the minimum buy-in for low-end w-space is rapidly approaching T3's for everyone, up from Drake minimum. Even BUGRY is having trouble avoiding this conclusion, and it isn't sitting comfortably with me, because it is going to chop out at least half the membership from even being able to think about participating, and certainly stops them from trying their own hand at PVP diving wormholes. More widely, it will soon flow on to detering anyone from flying anything else, and this will impact on noobs entering w-space.

Secondly, the minimum activity level and dedication required for even low-end w-space is swiftly rising. You can't any longer avoid having 6+ guys in fleet including Falcon alt, maybe a T3 booster alt. This means that, because everyone expects a minimum half dozen T3's to emerge from the shadows, no one in their right mind is going to come out of POS to fight unless they can guarantee their have batphone coverage or some advantage.

This then flows down into needing to force the issue with POS sieges and POCO trolling (a conclusion I came to a while ago, actually). Sadly, as the wormhole coalition thread shows, the way the Powers are going these days, the responses to this swiftly become disproportionate.

Don't get me wrong, the Unknown Code beats nullsec faggoty politics hands-down, as there's no mass embezzlement (except by Phil Exon on Temnava...a ransom they don't advertise in their pub channel), no stupid NAPs, no monopolisation of resources like tech moons. But there is unreasoning elitism and unreasonable expectations and less good fights - just bigger ganks.

My advice, if anyone's listening? Proportionality. If you enjoy PVP, as you all profess to doing, then take a leaf from BUGRY's playbook, and be proportionate. Roll RR AF gangs on lone Drakes; its still effectively a gank, but its a gank which takes effort. Troll POSs, get fights, then leave the residents alone with their smoking stront bays. Stop being mercs - you are the CFC or AAA of w-space - concentrate on the good fights, and leave the exploitative merc work to a new generation of risk-averse blobbers.

Monday, 4 June 2012

D-scan for fun and profit

The humble directional scanner is perhaps the least understood, least utilised, and far and away the greatest tool for PVP and moneymaking known to EVE. Well, it should be, but obviously 90% of people are shit at it, 9% are average, and there's the 1% like me who are guns at it and reap the rewards.

The directional scanner is a barely functional tool. The angle slider is clunky, the angles are arbitrary and can't be customised, you often have no idea in normal overview or solar system map exactly whre your cone of scanning is pointing, and the range is selectable only by typing a number in a dialog box. If CCP improved this part of the UI in any fashion, it would be a revelation for people in k-space as well as w-space. Nevertheless, if you have your shit down, you can get pew pew and bulk wads of ISK.

There are a couple of ways to get bulk ISK. This is only an incomplete list.

Firstly, you have to understand the little tickybox named "Use current overview settings". If you have set up your overview properly for PVP, you should have all the non-essential clutter of space filtered out. This should include a variety of things like POS modules, drones, wrecks, etcetera. Normally you won't see them and don't want them cluttering shit up because it makes it hard to spot threats inbound, such as combat probes or HICtors. No matter what the situation or where you are, always do a d-scan with overview settings off. You'd be amazed what you can find.

In nullsec, you will often find abandoned fighter drones. At 25-30M ISK a piece, if say a nyx has been scared out of a complex by some attack, and the drones don't warp back to the ship before he logs out, often they sit in space for ever. They can be found via combat probing (you have to set up a filter for drones to make this easy) and looted with a hauler. I scooped 12 Einherji last night; 250M ISK.

Nullsec areas where people have been fighting over sov can be awash with goodies aside from fighter drones. It is always worth checking for POS guns orphaned from POSs. Often what will happen is a sov-grind fleet bulldozers their way through a constellation, reinforcing POSs in ten minutes flat, and they ignore the guns entirely. The POS's RF timer is added to some embezzling nullsec warlord's gogledocs excell sheet, the fleet comes back, pops the stick, nd everyone fucks off to go ratting. Some die-hard idiots, being screamed at by the XO not to nick a fucking thing, then spend hours hauling orphaned POS guns. But someone didn't update their bookmarks. Enter the intrepid d-scan professional with a wormhole connection to nullsec; my best haul was 850M of faction guns.

Thirdly, you have to understand that there are several POS modules which are simply too big and too expensive to blow up. This generally includes jump bridges - you need a freighter to haul them around, or a T2 rigged orca at minimum. Because they can cost 150-200M for the module, and 50M in jump fuel to move, and a fuckload of effort and headaches, people generally pop the POS from beneath them and they get left sitting around in space. I know of five, so far, just chilling at moons; I lack the resources to steal them (T2 rigged orcas...ffff) but it's break-even for the first orca and after that, it's gravy. Cyno jammers, cyno beacons and so on are also often worth nicking.

Then of course, you have offline POSs. If you are ntending to be a salvage professional in nullsec, your best pickings will happen about 2-3 weeks after a major shift in sov. People, as I said, are notoriously bad at d-scan. You may have put your foot on 32 systems in 3 weeks, but no ne knows where the POSs are, and they'll de-fuel rapidly, leaving their tasty gizzards for the vultures. My best haul was 1.5Bn in moon goo, nicked literally under the nose of my XO who was ratting in system, then moved to hisec via a wormhole the next day.

So. How do you get 20B ISK in assets? In my case, not much via PVE.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Culling The Herd

BUGRY went from 0 to 55 toons in 4 weeks - which obviously got us on the top 5 growth corps of eve-who and trollled us in a few obvious spais. These were rejected by our vetting process early on; Badubi being the only one who scored a kill, and even that was without actually joining corporation.

So, we settled in for a period of more steady growth, leaning on a few ex-members and friends to join up, and hiring the odd noob while we consolidated the new BUGRY 2.0 and settled in to the wormhole life again.

Inevitably, when you hire 30 meatbods, there's a few casualties you have to accept along the way. Even people joining a new corporation can be struck with family, IRL and work issues and go AFK. But that's fine, we have an IRL-first policy...provided you tell the management that IRL is eating your face.

Aside from that, we went through a bit of a cull of people (mostly ex-Soldiers of Industry toons brought on board by one guy) who just weren't fitting in with the corp, or displaying behaviour which was in keeping with what we actually need.

The main thing, to me, with members of a wormhole corp is that you have to want to work together as part of a team. This means that, for instance, if you are bored to death in the wormhole and too lazy to run sites, probe for ganks, or too stupid and lazy to organise with your corp-mates to force multiply, you will inevitably end up back in k-space doing k-space shit.

We had a few people like this. They ended up costing the corp 25 losses in a week in lowsec, welping ships and being terrible at PVP on average (a few kills were made), solo, in Tama of all places, because "the corp is boring"and "no one is online".

That's not an attitude which will get you far in wormholes. it certainly won't get you far anywhere except in RvB; so we booted these people, and the guys who were never on comms much, never signed in, never sent a mail saying "won't be on much for a month, busy with the 4 kids and the wife".

These are the things we really need to hear from people. IRL is fine; I often go out to the desert for weeks at a time, other guys do similar, but all of us communicate with each other either via mail, a forum post or on comms, and we all know what is happpening. if life eats your face, you need to go deal with shit, but it takes only 2 minutes to write a quick mail.

People who can't put in 2 minutes? They aren't going to do well in w-space. it also shows with who dies, gets trapped in far-off wormholes, and who logs on into rapecages.