Friday, 30 November 2012

The Mystical Beast Escapes

My militia is pushing Metropolis hard this week, ahead of the hyperspace bypass that CCP is putting in between Isbrabata and Siseide and Eszur and wherever. It isn't hard to get 25 guys in a fleet shlepping about a timer, and boredom can quicjkly ensue, especially when everyone has been drinking.

It is however not just drunken ornery Militia men whose ears perk up and battlechubbies throb when you spot a Tengu soloing C3's. Tengus like that are invariably pimped carebear chariots, and everyone loves a good pimped T3 kill. It is a mythical creature, like a vodyanoi, a unicorn, a jackalope.

Like fantastical creatures, one must not approach brutishly. One needs to approach them most carefully, silently in fact, with great respect. They frighten easily, and like a yeti or bigfooot, once scared they wwill be gone, forever.

The other part of the equation is just sheer uncaring mathematics. A Cheetah of Doom costs 50-70M, fiitted. For a 3 billion ISK Tengu gank, I will hero tackle them, and die proudly, knowing I will be well on the right side of the ISK war.

This was made abundantly clear to the 25 guys in fleet, who were all in T1, T2 frigates, with a few pimped pirate frigates. Not all of use will make it; we'll be going in hot against a Tengu and 2 sleeper battleships. You may not make it, but you will die gloriously. Keeping point, overheating everything, and dying like champions is the order. Everyone understood, as we circled the wormhole from Eszur like a ravenous school of shark babies. Well, I thought everyone understood it.

I saw the Tengu aligned to planet 6; I got the only other bomber with a point to warp to P6 at zero to tackle him in case the Cheetah of Dom missed the initial tackle. I mean, you have 5 seconds to get point and the guy is aligned - but when he kills a BS you decloak and bump, and it can work. You then die terribly, but its all part of the awesome. So, we have a bomber on backup at the Tengu's pounce.

I get decloaked by a missile, a few seconds too early. I call for the bomber to get ready, as the Tengu bails immediately.I warp to P6 at zero, hoping to land first and get point, hoping the Tengu didn't warp to one of the 23 moons, the POCO.

I land, miss point by half a second, 5km away. And then the bomber decloaks as I've landed on him at zero. I'm flabbergasted. What the fuck was not made abundantly clear? Decloak, get point, hero tackle, die - i certainly will be.

So, the mythical animal melts into the forest and is gone. The magic is broken. It would have been that dude's first loss. If it had been a BUGRY guy, and not a militia scrub, we'd have handed him his first loss, and a fucking good one. Alas, twas not to be.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fixing Battleships: CIWS

Following on from the previous diatribe, and having had discussions with Alliance and Militia blokes, who all tended to agree with my conclusions that battleships really are just giant punching bags most of the time, the discussions revolved around mechanisms for improving BS performance as a major asset on the battlefield. As discussed before, MJD mobility - akin to a cheat/hax super awesome teleport - isn't addressing the ability to actually defend yourself as a BS or deal damage.

We call these big fat punching bags battleships, but realistically the sniper battlecruisers (aka "tier 3") have BS guns and BS damage, so the actual Battleships in EVE today are essentially tier 3 battlecruisers with a tank, which are far slower, worse on scan resolution. This is totally unlike the battleships of the early 20th century. These vessels were designed around overwhelming offense, packed with the best protection against like-calibre weaponry, and sported secondary weaponry to deal with the support fleet. EVE's battleships are unlike this at all, they are slow, realtively indifferently-protected behemoths which put their entire combat role on one class of weapon system, which is useful mostly against only one class of vessel.

So how do you make battleships in EVE more like battleships should be? Well, they should have Utility, Protection, Defense in Depth, and Overwhelming Offense.

One of the virtues of BS's which I didn't really expound upon, and which Cruack rightly pointed out, was the BS's abundance of slots, giving it much more flexibility than smaller craft. The problem is, that aside from failfitting it with medium guns, there's really not many ways you can utilise the abundance of slots without foregoing actual improvement in ability for niche abilities or degrading combat performance totally.

Take a Tempest, 8 high slots, 6 gun slots. You have 2 utility highs you can put torp/cruise, capacitor warfare, smartbombs, RR's, energy transfers, cloaks into without compromising battle performance overmuch. Same for the Domi, Scorpion, Phoon. But the rest, you get 8 slots and 7 or 8 turret slots and, aside from the neut-torp Rokh, foregoing weaponry to gain utility leads you to basically get a utility BS. ie; instead of gimping your Maelstrom, just shield fit a Tempest if you want utility highs.

Rumour has it CCP is going to split Black Ops battleships into two classes, much like Recons. A covert ops cloakable, cloaky-flying weak EWAR-enhanced one, and a tankier (presumably jump capable) DPS machine. But what does tanky mean these days, when cruisers are going from 12-18K EHP to 24-35K EHP (and Maller, of course, a bait brick at ~50K)? Battlecruiser EHP, leaving aside the tier 3's which rely on range and speed as tank, is between 50K and 80K, with a Drake bricked up to 110K EHP.

Battleships, when not bait brick cynos, are between 80-120K. This is looking fairly light on these days. Active tanks on ASB Maelstroms are pushing 3K or more, and no one bothers with Hyperions and active armour because of this. But we won't get into that debate here, except to say that a 1K active tank is bare minimum, as you can get that out of an XLASB fit cruiser.

I think it shouldn't be hard to buffer a BS to 90K and give it a decent active tank at the same time. This will require CCP to really look into the whole tanking mechanism and balance it. But my prediction? Bricked-up BS tanks will start pushing 180-200K.

Defense in Depth
Battleships of old had a set of main guns (14 to 18 inches) and a set of secondary dual purpose guns (4 to 6 inches). The dual-purpose guns would defend against aircraft and small surface threats (destroyers and the like). Then, when aircraft came to the fore, you stacked on dozens of small-calibre AA guns.

The battleship in EVE has a drone bay as a defence against small threats. These days, people have figured out that the only drones of any real threat to a frigate are Warriors, and they cannot even catch half the interceptor T1 frigates these days. Neuts are another defence, but heavy neut cycle times are too slow and frigate cap recharges too fast to efficiently break a scram unless you get lucky and land a neuting cycle on the scram clicking over. Smartbombs, when large, are OK at clearing off drones, but not clearing off tacklers unless they are attempting to orbit at 500m - and even then, active tanks now exceed the 40DPS of a lone smartbomb comfortably. In fact, an Incursus can tank a flight of Warrior IIs comfortably, so most BS's don't have adequate defense in depth.

Overwhelming offence
Thoraxes are now pushing 700 DPS out, Catalysts do 500. Most cruisers will be between 350 and 450. Tier 3 BC's, 800-1300 DPS. Some battlecruisers are looking weaksauce, eg, the Ferox at 450 DPS is pathetic, and the Prophecy is just a joke. The Cyclone, buffer-gank fit will do 680-720 DPS con habanero, but dual XL-ASB fit you drop to 475-550 DPS and rely on broken tanking and attrition. Battleships sit in the 850-1200 DPS camp. This is good on paper, but as discussed before, applying all that DPS to targets which are getting faster, getting boosts, getting utility isn't so easy. Without rehashing it all, the damage application part of the formula needs looking at, because you have zero chance to hit, eg, a Dramiel or Cynabal, let alone drive it off.

We discussed a few solutions to the above last night, keeping in mind that this is a holistic approach, if you fix a lack of defence in depth you remove the lack of offence via circumventing the poor damage application. You may never have an effective resolution to a pimped boosted Cynabal, but that is a different argument and potentially resolved by a MJD anyway.

My preferred solution would be to look at the high slot philosophy of battleships to solve utility and defense in depth, as tank can be addressed most easily by tweaking raw shield or armour hitpoints and resistance profiles, as well as ship bonuses such as repair amounts, etc. Given this is all midslot and lowslot tradeoffs, the only way to affect defence in depth is to add tank in lowslots for armour BS, or EWAR midslots for armour BS, which leaves shield BS up shit creek due to lack of EWAR capabilities which would be at the expense of tank. Thus we should leave well enough alone and concentrate on high slots.

To my mind, we should visit the Marauder model as standard for battleships; 2 to 4 gun or missile hardpoints with 100% damage bonus, to give you 4 to 8 effective turrets - 4 for a Domi, 6 for a Pest, 8 for top of the line BSs. You would then get between 1 and 4 high slot utility slots to work in your defensive and utility options, which would be broken down into;
  • Capacitor warfare (neuts, nosferatu)
  • Point defense module
  • Remote repair modules
  • Area of effect weaponry
  • Drone buffs
  • Odds and sods (cyno generators, portals and the like)
Point Defense Modules
This I think is the key; a racial-specific module which, unlike a smartbomb, is not area of effect, but is an automated close in defence system. Think CIWS, Iron Dome, etc. Caldari would get some form of rocket-spewing shit, Minmatar would get an autocannon, Amar would get some laser wall, and Gallente some rapid-fire ion blaster module.

The module would act like a flight off drones set to aggressive. When activated, it would respond by attacking the first thing that attacks it, with an activation proximity of 10km and range of 10-15km. It would do around 100 DPS, enough to drop a frigate in 10-30 seconds, or a drone every couple of seconds. A pilot could also lock a target, eg, a tackler, and set the CIWS on it manually. Plus, of course, you could fit more than 1, up to 4, for overwhelming close-in defence. Fitting wise, it would have to be relatively expensive, similar to a smartbomb. After all, you are adding 100 DPS of drone and frigate pwning fire and forget.

Would this replace smartbombs? Not really. This is a mostly defensive weapon, although if you were humping an enemy in a blaster Hype, for instance, you could turn the CIWS on your enemy and add a hundred DPS, but versus one target only, whereas a smartbomb is theoretically an offensive weapon as well, which can hit everything within range.  It would also be effective in highsec BS fights, where you cannot dare set off a smartbomb due to CONCORDOKKEN; it would also potentially have some significant effect on hisec missions as it would be able to deal with tackling frigates quite effectively.

It wouldn't obsolete drones, either. Drones are an OK deterrent for battleships, but as said before, they really are not the ultimate in defense in depth, because most drones can't actually catch the frigates that are tackling you, and they are unresponsive and fickle.  At worst, you'd have Domis with 4 effective large guns, 4 CIWS, Ogre IIs, and DDA's out the arse. Currently it's 1100 DPS, and this would go to 1500 with 4 CIWS. Not much more ridiculous than a gank Talos, and balanced by fitting constraints you can impose on the CIWS.

The end result? Battleships would get 8 weapons of offense, which is plenty, and the ability to fit a defense in depth. Of course, combined with the MJD and a need to scram, your tacklers would be in for a rough ride. But that is the whole point - not being vulnerable to a permatackle kiting Dramiel who can lay low your drones in instants and kite you forever.

This would also be a valuable type off module for a capital ship, to supplement or replace a smartbomb, to destroy minor threats.

Introducing a CIWS for batttleships, and giving all battleships the utility highslot, would address a significant weakness in the capbilities of the ship class at the moment. With the MJD, target breaker, and a CIWS, the battleship would become supremely capable.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Megagay Drive

Call me a luddite curmudgeon, but the Micro Jump Drive seems to be a shit module thrown in to hotfix battleships which, aside from POS bashes and a few rare events, are now more or less totally obsoleted by just about everything. The MJD won't fix anything, and will break more things than it fixes.

The problem, as we should frame the problem in order to investigate the solution, is manifold but in my opinion it comes more down to the signal resolution of battleship weapons than any other facet. I say this because when you are unjammed by ECM, and you get assfucked by a single Legion, without even getting through his shield, you know something is wrong. This is repeatable with every type of strategic cruiser which is not covops fit, and many which are.

Note that in this instance, you aren't even addressing the whole "he's got faction resists!" line of thinking where you get brick Legions or brick Proteii with 150K EHP. You are talking here about the wake limiter sub with and AB fit, resulting in a sig radius that is frankly ridiculously low. Far too low for a battleship to apply its DPS to. Consider an Armageddon with Dual heavy Pulse II's (the smallest BS guns, sig resolution 400m) vs a wake-limited Proteus (168m). The nominal DPS of a gank Geddon (900) is halved even before transversal, tracking, etc. The Proteus suffers no such limitations. Orbit at 500m with webs on the BS, and your DPS doesn't improve. Web down a ow-sig T3 and your BS merely gets close to half of its paper DPS. Add tracking computers out the wazoo, still half.

This is without implants or off-grid boosters affecting the sig radius of the Proteus; you can get your sig down close to 50m with both.

What does this mean? Well, as everything in EVE is getting gankier and tankier (c.f. what's happened to frigates and cruisers) the advantage of a BS tank (100K) over a Frigate tank (used to be 3K, now 7) has halved. The gank discrepancy has halved, too, with Neutron catalysts pushing 700 overheated, 400 with a "tank". This has diluted the BS's preeminence as a tanky battlewagon that can command a small gang situation and take down enemies rapidly. Add to this increasing speeds - usually from off-grid boosting alts but nowadays from speed buffs to cruisers and frigates, and even if your enemy is MWDing about with sig bloat (yay 100% paper DPS!) the transversal/tracking problem comes to the fore, which allows kitey ships to avoid the DPS. Midslot proliferation has seen the Tracking Disruptor become ubiquitous when not replaced by the ASB - a terribly broken module.

So, it comes back to the solution. Do you want brawling battleships, or just sniping battleships (or, lets be honest, tier 3 BCs)? If you want brawling battleships to be able to hold their own versus faster, smaller-sig, TDing kitey enemies what do you do?

You add the Micro Jump Drive. After a 12s spool up, you teleport 100km forward in the direction of travel. You have +1 warp strength and are immune to bubbles. This of course, is fucking awesome, as you can't be help in place by one kitey ceptor.

The tactics are going to be interesting. Already people are waming up blaster Hyperion fleets 110km off gates, jumping to zero from a 100km pounce, and vaping their foes. People are sitting t 100km off gate sniping aligned to a celestial, MJD'ing to 200km just before being pointed, then warping to safety. People are warming up their massively warp-stabbed smartbomb BS, bombing, then clearig gate instantly.

The thing is, this isn't going to actually make battleships better. It will just make a few of them die on gate when they get scrammed (hooray for tackle), and the rest will become uber gay blink kiting punching bags. Get the drop on one, and it's fucked, absolutely fucked, even if it has an MJD. Get into a fight against something smaller than a MWDing battlecruiser, and you are going to suffer the same fate as before.

I wonder what other failure of a module CCP tried to make battleships better? Oh, right. The Target Spectrum Breaker AKA the SSuicide Disco Lottery ECM THat Never Breaks Every Lock.

Good game, CCP. Good game.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Never fear, the Stabber is here

I think CCP has a goal of creating one shit T1 cruiser per race. I think that since the Scythe has become OK, if you fit it a particular way and have all 5 skills, and certainly better than it was, the mantle of Minmatar's Worst Cruiser has to fall elsewhere. This now falls on the shoulders of the Stabber, as the Arby is now the Amarr's least favorite ship.

The virtue with the Stabber is its speed - the highest base of any cruiser and, truth be told, even faster than some AFs. It screams to be made into a cheapass Vagabond, what with uber rate of fire and falloff. My eyes got all goggly at the idea of kitey lolbuckets...and my e-peen got turgid at the looks of the thing. It is damn sexy.

The problem with the Stabber is, pending an update on PG and CPU available, it has a 4/2 gun/missile high slot layout, 4 mids, 4 lows. It can fit prop-point-2 slot shield tank, or plate-EANM-2 buff lowslot tank. You can even make a dualprop version of the vanilla Stabber. Sounds good, right?

You however run into one serious problem: lack of DPS, and tank. You can get 220's and T2 HAMs, and 327 DPS, with 15K buffer from a LSEII - but no DCU due to pathetic CPU. You can get a dualprop setup but DPS is below 280 and 16K buffer. You can shoehorn on an 800 plate, 435's and T2 HAMs for 357 DPS and MWD-web-TD and 16K buffer; hardly a great brawler, hardly a great kiter.

Perhaps the best role is to chase frigates. Duel-web MWD, medium repper, 180's and rockets - 11K EHp and 312DPS cold, but you can get moving at 3400m/s. But given a MSE Merlin will dish 200+ DPS and you'll be webbed yourself or scrammed...really, not much point.

Stabber, I am disappoint.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Lasers and Laziness

If one looks at Sudden Buggery's corp membership history on, it shows the corp peaking at 56 or 58. Mostly a half of this was alts, it being a wormhole corp after all. Then membership descends abruptly, due to Khanh'rhh running his successful campaign to assfuck the corp. The denoument of that saw us with 38 members, a half of which were alts.

The corp now numbers less than 20 members, and most of those are unsubbed, or alts, or both. Realistically, there's 6 active toons between 4 IRL people, with maybe a fifth guy who plays monthly.

I have considered, again, giving up and moving on. That is a whiny post for another day, and certainly it has been very difficult to recruit even noobs into BUGRY. Partly, I suspect, it is because people see the corp activity tailing off, or corp numbers tailing off. Our pub channel is deserted, which is never a good sign, either.

But I mostly want to talk about the reasons people left after the asset theft.

One guy, who took 6 toons, was out of ISK. Somehow living in a C2 with C3, with decent PI, he was unable to make ISK. This is because he used to dual-box carriers in the C4 we used to inhabit, which had better PI. He claims he wants to PVP, but he's always too busy....running 12 toons of PI now. Its a full time job. He even moved back in to the C4 and bought the exact same caps that we built in there nearly 2 years ago, after they had passed through 2 sets of hands via nefarious means. He now runs C4's again and runs his own corp - but now cant be fucked playing.

Another guy took 3 toons on 3 accounts with him. He was the guy pushing for us to join Minmatar in Faction Warfare, and convinced me to do this despite everyone (aside from him) having ships in Amarr. So we took 2 weeks extra to sort that shit out. He claimed he had connections with guys in FW, he could hook us up. He was keen to do PVP. But, like the other guy, swiftly IRL got the better of him, he was sick of the game, it was too hard to log in for an hour and fly to Auga and shoot some dudes and log off. So now he's joined a wormhole alliance...and I've never seen him log on.

My bro quit the game entirely - handing out 45 billion in BPO's (mostly to the wrong people), ships (to the wrong people, though I got all the pimp BS's and some faction goodies), toons (to the wrong people) and ISK (to the right people, thankfully). He'd had it with the game and got fleeced/lost too much with the heist. He is now doing an MBA and moving on with his life.

Three guys, who are IRL friends, stuck with and joined in FW. But they are carebears. Too much a bunch of carebears, despite being up for roaming when I organise it. So the restrictions of FW, and the oddities like permacamps on Hek undock, didn't do well with guys who wanted to just make ISK and accumulate toys. I tried explaining how plexing was better ISK than level 4's, how lowsec wasn't that scary and they could even mine safely, with Rorq boosts, in lowsec, and make 80M/hr. No dice, they quit corp. We still play World of Tanks together, and I'm not bitter.

So, there you have it. We may see a few come back with Retribution, and a few of the unsubbed will re-sub. But aside from my brother and the carebears, it seems that either the asset heist and dramas associated with it lost them their trust in me, or they unreasonably expect from the game something it cannot give: push-button get-candy excitement.

I spend a fair amount of time trolling/trawling EVE-O. In game I interact with people. I form allegiances, join alliances, talk to people on public channels, join comms, join in fleets, FC, do what the FC says, sort my own shit out, and mentor, mentor, mentor. It all comes back round. The guys in my alliance, who are quite new and carebeary, mope about and when I come back from the bush, I make shit happen. I rattle batphones, turn over stones to find PVP, and shit goes down.

The lesson? You can only get something out of EVE if you put something back in. I would like the spare time to rebuild BUGRY, to get it to 10-20 active players again, FW or WH or both. I hope that I can do it - there's a lot of fun to be had, and I intend to have it.

Writ my butt.

We had Mittani call for a dude to kill himself and call for people to grief the dude till he necked himself. He had to resign the CSM leadership.

I just got accused of slander and libel for calling a dude a drama queen crybaby on EVE-O.

My space lawyers have been in touch and told me to drink better quality beer, exercise more, and stop laughing so much.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Derpcat Concept

Midslot proliferation seems to be the outcome of CCP Fozzie's balancing drive and tiercide. Consider the Omen;

[Omen, Derpcat]
1600mm Reinforced Steel Plates II
Reactor Control Unit II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Heat Sink II
Fourier Transform Tracking Program

Experimental 10MN MicroWarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
ECCM - Radar II

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Conflagration M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Conflagration M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Conflagration M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Conflagration M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Conflagration M

Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I

Hammerhead II x4

This fit does what every attack cruiser should. It is fast (1400m/s), it has respectable tank (35K EHP), decent DPS (450 cold), and thanks to the balancing, it can fit an ECCM to give it 36.8 (42.1OH) sensor strength. This is a significant buff, and mostly because having hardened sensor strength over double what it normally would means it will get jammed quite rarely, even by a Falcon.

This extends across quite a few of the buffed ships. ECCMs or other utility EWAR can be fitted in the midslots of almost anything, but especially cruisers. In small-gang warfare, the days of a Falcon permajamming everything may be coming to an end - because after all, what would you rather put in that midslot with no bonus? A TD. TD's help reduce incoming damage, but only if you aren't facing missile boats and only if you aren't jammed. Damps aren't effective for brawler setups, unbonused ECM is a joke/gamble, and TP's are worthless.

Thus, I can see armour cruiser gangs, with ECCM hardening, becoming incredibly important in FW. You will have your shield-nano gangs which have a chance of just burning away from the enemy and its falcon/BB alt, but for slower armour ships you may as well fit an ECCM and just burn the ECM down.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Musings of an EFT Samurai

Based on EFT 2.16 with Retribution build (the validity of which is of course subject to change), I have a few opinions which I am sure other EFT Warriors will take and meet in the ring. Specific fits would be too bloaty to copy up here.

Logi frigs:
These appear well balanced. You will have 4-6K EHP, every one is able to fit 3 x RR's and can be made to run between 2 to 12 minutes with cap which is plenty for frig combat.
Inquisitor - ECCM for 24 sensor strength, 6.1K EHP and 2m cap life.
Navitas - 4.8K EHP, ECCM for 27 sensor strength, 5m cap life.
Burst - 5.6K EHP MSEII fit, Ladar backup array for 16.6 sensor strength, capstable with small cap booster
Bantam - 6.3K EHP, gravi backup for 22 sensor strength, 2m 42s with small cap booster

Logi cruisers:
Overall these seem good, and I have assumed T1 logi drones because hardly anyone is going to train T2's. The armour T1 logi cruisers come out far in front with an extra 6-8K EHP. MWD fits in all cases are a nightmare and not capstable.

Augoror seems decent; 24K EHP, 4 x T2 Medium RRs, ECCM, AB and utility midslot. Capstable with a cap buddy inbound medium energy transfer. Rep output 277 armour HP/s.

Execquror is excellent. 800 T2 plate, trimarks gives 26.7K EHP, ECCM, AB, utility midslot, capstable with 3 T2 reps. Rep amount 208 armour hp/s + 24/s from T1 med logi drones.

Osprey seems good. 4 x T2 medium reps, capstable with some CPRs, rigs and cap recharger and cap buddy. 18K EHP, so mildly vulnerable to alpha.  277 shield HP/s rep output.

Scythe seems OK, but has too much PG and not enough CPU to fit things easily. 18K EHP with LSE II and Invul II, but 60 PG spare and no productive way to use it. Rep output 208 shield HP/s + 24 HP/s from T1 medium logi drones. This is very much sub-par.

The Scythe and Execquror will struggle to find a place I feel as their rep output is anaemic - you may as well bring another DPS ship.

Example, 6 vs 6 gang of cruisers. If you face 6 x 400 DPS cruisers (which seems the average) that is 2400 DPS. A single T1 logi cruiser repping 242-272 armour hp/s at 70% resists - which would be good for T1 cruisers - is 800-900 DPS tank projected onto the enemy. So you will need 2 logi cruisers - thus the Augoror or Osprey working in tandem - to come close to fully tanking even an average gang of average T1 cruisers.

I would say you would need to team your solo T1 logi with a BB to reduce the DPS on the field enough to make your single logi do its job well in such a scenario. However, midslot proliferation has allowed my EFT-warrioring to get, eg, Omens doing 450DPS with MWD and scram and 35K EHP...and an ECCM. It seems that utility slots are proliferating and tanks are improving as well, and this will lead to a wider variety of EWAR on the field. Since BBs and other dishonour boats are already so popular, this midslot availability really leads me to think ECCM is the preferred choice; after all as a DPS ship you are useless when jammed.

Secondly, since armour has greater base resists, you would be best off rolling an Execquror, which gets the utility mid for, as an example, projected ECCM or remote SeBo or a dampener. The Scythe, being unable to be MWD fit with a cap booster without seriously horrendous CPU issues requiring drastic fitting module bloat, is going to be basically worthless in fast-moving shield gangs, as either it caps out nearly instantly, can't run a MWD and one repper capstable (ie; pointless), or is AB fit and can't maneuver.

This is a sad state of affairs for the Matari pilots hoping to roll Bellicose/Stabber kiting nano gangs on training wheels. You'll have to double-down on a Scimitar to give your gang logi options.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Doctrines 2: Cheapcat Concept

If I may recap, the area of Faction Warfare is mostly small gang PVP, so Doctrines aren't really either neccessary or useful. FW people are split into two types: the ancient veterans like Sasawong, who have as many SPs as Methuselah and can fly anything and likely afford anything; then there are the noobs who are poorer, lower in wet skills (ie; experience) as well as hard skills (ie; SP's), and unable to fly everything. An example of this is a fair few of my current Alliance, who haven't been PVPing solid for 3 years and don't have +90M SPs and the ability to fly every subcap aside from industrials.

Doctrines or Concepts therefore need to be somewhat less restricive than some of the popular ones. They also don't need to work only for 20+ guys like Drakeblob does (I mean, seriously, +20 fleets in FW are rare). However, with the looming introduction of cheap logi cruisers and cheap logi frigates, there's definitely going to be lots of actual small gangs rolling with 1-3+ of these ships, so it is time to discuss a tried and true Sudden Buggery specialty: Remote Rep (Assault) Frigates. I'll call it the Cheapcat Concept.

Cheapcat is based on, firstly, relatively defensive combat. Frigate RR even with the new logi frigates requires more control over the engagement than you would need for Hellcats, RR BS or any other RR (as I discuss on the logi frigate thread). This is because frigates are fragile so going up against a relatively equal group of frigates - kitchen sink or otherwise- you will likely lose people due to buffer overruns even with logi frigs on the field.

The typical shield Cheapcat gang would consist of;
X Merlins fit with MSE, AB, Web, Dissy and Rails, rigged for resists and buffer
X/2 Logi frigates, Preferably Bantams, fit with buffer/resist/AB and ECCM
X/2 EW frigates, either Griffins, Crucifiers or Maulus

Armour Cheapcat gangs would consist of;
X Punishers with MWD, Dissy, Web and 400mm plate with pulses with Scorch
X/2 Navitas with MWD and ECCM
X/2 Cruicifiers or Maulus

The key difference is that the shield frigs really will need AB sig tanking, whereas the tougher armour frigates will be able to shed a bit of shield but really will need the maneuverability to get within range and stop enemy frigs from ganking the logi frigates. The key is also going to be webbing down the enemy frigates to prevent them closing with the logi frigates which will be at less than 24km.

Done right, and in FW plexes, I think that these gang setups with the right ratios will do quite OK. Offensively, it won't be so easy unless you get the drop on an enemy.

Doctrines Part 1

I love the idea of doctrines. Doctrines give an organisation (read: alliance) a template of fittings to make their members (read: idiots) train into to form a coherent and logical fleet configuration. This fleet configuration does several things, and these are in no particular order;
- unifies the performance of the fleet in terms of align time, warp speed, agility, MWD speed, etc
- provides a unified tanking strategy (and yes, mantanking philosophies exist) so a single logi type will work
- unifies the damage method to provide a uniform range envelope, damage type, etcetera
- often also unifies a single type of ECM philosophy
- simplifies the FC's workload because he can take all the above and know what is going to happen when he gives commands
- simplifies the logistics of (nullsec) alliances especially if there's a ship replacement program

Doctrines have funny names like Hellcats, Thundercats, Slowcats, etcetera. They also have their own drawbacks, namely;
- players devolve all fitting knowledge to a uniform fit, and hence don't really actively learn why this fit was chosen for 2 nanos over one and a DCU, for example.
- the philosophies are often heavily predictable, which lends to making the work of spies easier. Know your enemies are rolling Hellcats? You know the doctrine, and what works best against it.
- players must either devote time to fitting in with the FC's pet doctrines with skill training and ISK expenditure, or risk wrath and ire or totally missing out. Primarily this has regularly been Amarr and Gallente toons who haven't trained Guardian or Lachesis. Or, in wormholes, T3 cruisers.

The fighting style of various doctrines (and the metagame behind them) also influences the fleet or gang's preferred place and style of combat. Generally you don't try taking alphafleets on jumping through a gate with AHACs. You don't take on a proper Firewall with Drake blob. Etc. This also requires everyone in fleet to understand the fighting concept they are going for, and I've seen enough people botch this and enough arguments from people who were dense and stubborn and argued about how to run AHACs (eg, the famous Shadoo brainfart) and were just fucking wrong.

Doctrines have their place, especially with limited resources and training and inexperienced players and toons, but they only really come into their own when the third component - player skill, experience, knowledge - is properly addressed. The problem is, you can watch an R&K epic video and see 40 guys vape 120, but getting that right yourself takes commitment from everyone. Plus derptards to shoot, lets be honest.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Truesec or truely null?

Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt, but I got myself stranded in nullsec again today, though like a true gentleman I ensured my fleet got home first, and left my covert cyno Arazu and Panther behind.

I was in 4NBN-9 way out the butthole of Catch. or wherever. It was quiet, I had nabbed a guy in an Abaddon via calculating how long he was taking to do his belts (5 minutes), and once I spotted a freshly tilled belt in farmville (p6 m4), left it 15 and warped the Arazu in to p6 m7. Bingo. Sometimes you really feel like you are on top of your game.

Then, of course, I got myself stuck out in null via a crummy K346 and had two practical choices: HED-GP, or going back via Querious, the only jump I couldn't do via cynoing the panther to the Arazu being to 49-U. Also, it would let me reset some market orders in ED-9LT on the way out. Either way, it was going to be semi-epic. Or so I thought.

When I was in Querious with NEM3SIS we had the 3-F to Efa gate sewn up tighter than a nun's undies. Our quivering carebears deeper in Querious would spot people trying to scuttle to Efa and we'd have bubbles on the Efa gate in 3-F faster than you could blub "CNR!" and we'd get most, if not all. We would then get trowelled by Red Alliance's High Venture Team guys, who were good. But then we got told to fuck off to Delve, and spent 2 months out there tilling the fields and shooting TEST. Eventually, when RA got ejected from the Russian conclave of drone mining, they were graciously allowed to take our sov in Delve.

By this time everyone was aware of the rumblings of drone poo being nerfed and the old oligopoly of the Russians was falling apart. It was fine when you had drone poo sorted. You'd have 2-4 bots in Thannies or even Nyxes in a fully pimped dead-end -1.0 system (and the drone region truesec was low) splatting drones, and a few bots hoovering up the poo. Then you need real people online to collate the poo into gigantic stacks of minerals in a hangar, someone to light a cyno for jump freighter taking it the 3 JF hops in to Lowsec, and then you trade, dump, contract, sell at a stupid price or otherwise launder the poo into ISK, which gets funnelled back up the chain of command and sold to dudes on EBay for roubles to keep the gulag owner in his BMW's and whores.

Or whatever; but this was the ecology, and the moment you take the drone poo out of the equation the whole power structure of the great drone farms falls apart as you don't have a need for 30 JF alts, the ISK flows directly into a toon's account and can't be lost by shuffling goods between toons in stations or POS hangars. And thus, RA ended up in Delve. Then TEST fucked them in the ass with Goons, and that was that.

What is the point of all this political history? Well, I got an Arazu and Panther out down the pipe which, in my day, would have required all the hijinks and safespots I had created way back when...but now? I honestly should have autopiloted it. I cross-jumped one Ishkur and breezed past one guy ratting in a Tengu. The place is deserted.

Now to my point. This is the problem with TEST/Goons, HBC, etcetera at the moment. There is nowhere for the noobs to go in nullsec aside from being a bitch of one of the big organisations. Apparently it's now the Initiative, whoever they are. They certainly aren't farming nor protecting their space, and why would you if there's nowhere to go for good fights? If all your good fights do is attract the bored blobs and you get nutpunched, you may as well cave or go rub nuts with PL in NPC Delve or Stain. But the big blobs are bored because they don't have anyone to nutpunch anymore - but this is because they aren't letting the ecology of nullsec grow the new crop. Maybe its a phase we are going through, as this was all said about the Russian blob before (and now, I guess, they are in w-space now they can't farm with titans).

I think the status quo needs tipping. The babylonians over-irrigated and fucked their land, and their empire fell. Or was it the Mesopotamians? Either way, environmental changes cause the collapse of empires, and the next in line for EVE is the cloud ring mining and upsetting the tech monopolies. Much is said about Goons and the tech monopolies and the evils it produces, but realistically there is an imperative for them to keep supply to make the money, and they have been good market participants, just like the Saudis. Regardless, there is more stagnation and less content and less of a nullsec ecology for three regions that 12 months ago were known as the Thunderdome. I put this down to power concentration, and it will be good for the game to upset the Tech Moon apple cart. Maybe this alone will fuck Goons, or TEST, or AAA.

Finally, my time in Faction Warfare shows the w-space model of shooting farmers and leaving PVPers in their holes is the way to play a game. In an MMO like EVE you need to give your foe a chance to pick himself up. if you win everything, you won't have a game to play. Which is just bad gaming.