Thursday, 31 July 2014

Ishtarisis Cure

Finally this anomaly is going to be addressed by some HAC tweaks. Whatever that means.

I stated my case as to why EVE is currently Ishtars Online;
The drone assist feature existed in EVE for years. The meta of the game did not favor it because, to whit,
1) DDA's did not exist for the vast majority of this time, restricting the Ishtar to around the 500-550 DPS range. Adding DDA's now sees a shield Ishtar reach 600-650 DPS, though 750DPS was achieved before Crius.
2) The Ishtar used to be too hard to fit, with too little CPU relegating it to special-purpose ratting fits, where it eked out an existence in nullsec tanking Sanctums. With the DDA introduction it got a tweak of CPU. This was further addressed by the addition of CPU rigs in the short term. Then the HAC rebalance of Rubicon gave it the CPU it needed to finally fit everything it wanted.
4) The Ishtar could never be cap stable with a MWD. It wasn't much of a threat when it would or grind to a stop after 45 seconds, which prevented it orbiting its sentries forever.
5) The Ishtar used to have the same MWD sig bloom handicap as every other ship. its sig was so bloated (especially shield fit) that it would just get alpha'd off the field
6) The Ishtar was also a mite slower than it is now.
7) Geckos also did not exist for brawler work.

The HAC de-re-balance which is proposed will help. Right now Bouncer optimal without Omnis of any kind is 78+45km; afterwards it will be less. This is good. Dropping the ishtar's base speed by a few m/s will reduce it to more manageable (i.e. catchable) levels for small gang PVP but won't really address its use in fleet fights.

The problem remains the ability to dish 650 DPS to 80km with impunity from EWAR. Yes, you may be damped or ECM'ed but your drones keep firing regardless. It's a feature of drones which is handy, that they auto-aggress and keep attacking even if you are jammed or surprised. However, in the case of drone assign, it gets broken. Your drones keep changing targets, as instructed, regardless of whether your ship is jammed. All it requires is that the target setter is not jammed. This prevents the use of ECM to wash drones off en masse.

The solution, arguably, is fairly simple. Make the Target Spectrum Breaker able to be fitted to any ship, not just a battleship. For a start, a TSB is useless against anything except alpha fleet; a drone assign meta only really needs a couple of ships to target you and yet you take DPS from a whole wing.

Secondly, make the TSB scripted, with a script that allows you to target it at an enemy drone boat and knock out its drone controls, using the same ECM mechanic as normal ECM. it wouldn't prevent you from shooting normally, using EWAR, or maintaining a lock.

What this will do is allow individual ships to wash drone DPS off themselves, and indeed others in their fleet. You can then effectively counter sentry doctrines,  and indeed the Gurista ships with their uber drones of doom, without firstly destroying the drones in one shot, or preventing the targeted ship from doing something.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

POS Nomenclature

So you have a POS, and it is in a wormhole. leaving aside the fact you don't want to get yourself trapped out and lose the shit due to this, your only real threats are you leaving a vulnerability open or setting it up to fail.

Operation Hufflepuff was an attempt we made last weekend, at great laborious effort and much gnawing of fingernails, to bait out carriers. They were new to wormhole space, being a nullsec PVP corp fallen a little upon hard times, looking to re-ISK and rebuild, living in a C3 with a lowsec static. The capitals were sitting in an Amarr large with a full retard hardener set (82.5% omni) with 280M EHP. This is known as a dullstar or shitlord castle. No way were we going to do that to troll a fight, so other options were needed.

We set up the bait POS (Medium Gallente, 8 blasters, 20 damps), poked POCOs during their prime time, and all we got was tumbleweeds and a desultory mail informing us if we wanted the carriers we could buy them and the POCOs for a knock-down price. Assuming we let the guy in. Which explained why tumbleweeds. So now we wait (with alts) for their POS to de-fuel, and see what loot fairy gives us. Success!

Failure to find a "goodfite" from the last lot has us looking around, 2009-11 style, for the next bunch of twats to harass. Maybe it will be part of the Foo empire, maybe ROC alliance. Maybe, though, we will skip properly death-starred Dread Gurista Large POS and go for a DG Medium, with pimp torp and cruise batteries (six) and ECM (eight) and a glaring explosive resist hole.

I did the maths. The target POS with it's explosive hole has 22.5M EHP before reinforce. It's in a C2 Magnetar, so 1200 DPS sentry Domi's are a thing. The torps will do, at best, 300 DPS. And the EM modules actually will protect the siege fleet against anyone dumb enough to YOLO onto the top of them. Ten sentry Domis or Istars shooting into the explosive hole will RF the POS in 2 hours, leaving us plenty of time on a weekend to camp for shinies and shitlords.

The dichotomy between these two example POSs has caused me to reconsider the BUGRY POS a little. I've always preferred a small guns and assloads of dampstar setup, having seen our domi ball assfucked by one of them before. Seriously, it was a terrible experience to be routed by a small Amarr POS with one POS gunner. This is still a valid POS setup but relies on a gunner being available to focus the guns and switch them around fast enough to overwhelm the foe.

The better option may in fact be the dullstar route of adding so many EHP it becomes literally a fucking joke to attack the POS.

And for the record;
Deathstar - a POS, typically Minmatar or Amarr, definitely Large, set up for max DPS, ECMs and  dissies. Strengths - huge potential DPS and variety of ECM defences force a large attacking force to be used. Active POS gunners can concentrate withering fire to overwhelm logi. Vulnerabilities - being in low or nullsec or a Magnetar, capitals of any sort.
Dickstar - a POS, typically Caldari large, with overloaded amounts of ECM, ideally to make the attacking fleet unable to target. Strengths - cheapness, simplicity, and ECM saturation making it impossible for logi to work. Vulnerabilities - drone boats, Marauders, off timezone attacks.
Dampstar - a POS, typically Large, with an unfeasible amount of damps (40++), unfeasible amount of small guns (loaded with long range ammo) and token ECM. Strengths include impossibility of enemy logi operating effectively under damp saturation (60s lock times @ 9km ftw) and clustering of enemies within 9km of guns for efficient bomb defence. Vulnerabilites mostly centre around off-timezone attacks.
Dullstar - a POS, always large and best a Faction tower, with full retard hardener setup, and unfeasibly large amount of EHP. Strengths - scaling-up of effectiveness of defensive logistics. Boredom factor is immense. Weaknesses - no guns will see you rapecaged. Lack of ability to run hardeners and maintain services (manufacturing, etc).

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Economics of ISBoxer and Ham Shaving

There have been a few threads on the EVE-O forums about the use of ISBoxer, notably complaints about, to whit;
  • A guy running 10 nightmares and effectively soloing Incursions
  • A guy running 2 x Nestor, 24 x Ishtars and soloing C5 sites
  • Various complaints about PVPers in FW (Admiral Hayes, etc)
There haven't yet been complaints about, to whit;
  •  32ofMany
  • Unimatrix
  • Various other mass-botters utilising ISBoxer for mining
  • The PL fucktard who ISBoxes supercaps (criticising this is taboo)
I have already stated the business case for CCP to eliminate these people from the game and make it a bannable offence, mostly to refute the argument "if someone wants to pay up 24 accounts, then CCP won't knock it out because that's 24 subs worth of money".

Sure. Makes sense, if CCP are fucking dullards.

i guess this post comes after a discussion of the issue after Crius launched. This patch was to "fix"or at least "update" industry in EVE. The complaints about ISBoxer are rising at the moment because the program is becoming more prevalent, but it is also just a random happenstance that complaints are peaking during an economic update to EVE. However, the impact on EVE is far from just a very few people making dickheads of themselves once a fortnight in C5's by dying in their Ishtars.

Lets take the Nightmare guy. Ten Nightmares, ten accounts, booster toon somewhere no doubt. Each site takes 10 minutes, each toon makes 10M. That's 1.5B an hour, or 5 hours of game time to PLEX all ten accounts with a spare to PLEX the booster. That's 99 shares in Incursion sites no ne else can take, because this shit is competitive. only the gang with the highest DPS gets the payout, so people won't compete with this one guy. If he runs for 5 hours a week, he's cleared 6B profit a month after affording his PLEX. If he's as much of a neckbeard as most people and churns 40 hours a week of game play he'll be raking in billions. But who cares? The people who can't run Incursions because he out-competes them. The people whose PLEX prices go up.

The guy (Verisimilidude) who runs 26 accounts in C5 space. Not quite as direct competition, but the rewards are equally as high by comparison. If he finds a quite C5 with 30 sites - which is quite possible - he can clear them in a couple of hours. Even without cap escalations, that is a hell of a lot of blue poo and ISK fountaining into the economy and 26 PLEX per month he will buy, driving the price up. With perfect drone assign you would be mad to attack his fleet, as 24 Ishtar alpha would be horrendous to face.

The ice miners, 32ofmany and Unimatrix. I've seen them dunk a whole hisec ice belt inside of 5 minutes. 32ofmany even has a 10 man security squad of sniper oracles and has expanded the number of accounts to account for the reduced yields of Skiffs. Which he uses after some guys smartbombed his fleet and totalled 40 Mackinaws. So he is presumably PLEXing 32 accounts or more, and crowding out the small guys who want to try their dab hands at ice mining. Problem is, ice belts aren't permanent in the system so if you are happily mining away and it gets blitzed, you have to haul arse to the next system or wait. 32ofMany just hauls arse in perfect ISBoxer unison, his in-screen macro program coordinating his fleet's movements like the Borg. Is it right to discourage people from mining by having one guy essentially solo rape Genesis' ice belt systems?

Belt miners, too, can suffer from dedicated abusers of ISBoxer, who can easily clear whole systems of belts. Sure, they supply plenty of raw material to the market, but they are taking advantage of a rent. When you dominate an economic position to the extent that you can dictate the terms of the system, and gain income simply from this domination, it is termed an economic rent.

EVE is full of such rent-seekers and rent-holders (and the CSM clearly is there to just entrench the rents). The whole T2 production chain is a rent-seeking edifice of breathtaking simplicity. The big Blue Donut controls the supply, and since there's no oversight body to even tax them (beyond ISK taxes on production jobs) they just dictate prices and everyone suffers.

This flows through to their demand for supers. The rent they get from R64 and R32 moons allows them to not only set up whole alliances to supply minerals for supercap production but to crowd out other consumers. Supercap proliferation can be traced directly to inflation of costs in subcaps in hisec and Empire space, because the mineral supply is finite (linked to miner activity) so the end-use of minerals is determined by wealth. Unlimited wealth comes from rents, and from botting and, these days, from ISBoxer abuse in the three most lucrative domains of EVE - incursions, wormholes and ice mining.

The Crius expansion, I'm not very much across all the minute details. All I know is that it's basically going to increase the already hot inflation in EVE, and is an attempt to force Industry out of high security space by making competition rice-based and not slot-based. This may work, but it's not an answer to inflationary pressures, as the ISK sinks aren't that huge.

MUDflation hasn't been a huge problem in EVE as transactional taxes shave the ham (it's bona fide economic jargon, look it up) every time an item changes hands. However, blue poo supply and Incursions are pouring money into EVE ever faster. Wormholes are getting dramatically safer, to the point Verisimilidude can exist, to the point all the N3 guys have alts in C5 farming corps, who all have detente about the "no-siege"policy. ISBoxing Naga gangs could equally be used to flip Sanctums in Nullsec inside 2 minutes, and with near-instant anomaly respawns this would be a huge fountain of ISK.

Meanwhile miners aren't more efficient, refining is less efficient (constraining supply and forcing up prices), manufacturing in safe space is more costly, and getting your shit to market more risky, thanks to the risk of ISBoxing Tornado gangs blapping your freighter perfectly which all adds more cost - especially via JF.

The problem with all this? Firstly, is this game pay-to-win? You only need to pay a certain amount, to train or buy your toons. You can multi-PLEX train 3 toons on the one account to the ship and fitting of choice. Just use EVEmon, you can figure it out, then go and do it. If the cost is met by a store of in-game cash, you can basically pay $9.95 a month and spend 16 hours a week Incursioning per breeder account. In 6 months, you Power Of Two the shit out of things, spend a bit more transferring out your toons, install ISBoxer, and you've won at EVE. Without a huge amount of effort you can work from home ISBox mining with 16 toons on one screen while doing whatever it is you do on another. Pay to win.

Secondly, this is all horribly inflationary. The majority of people want to sign in, pew pew, and sign out before their wife bashes their ear. Massive competition for PLEX from ISBoxer alts who game the system drives PLEX prices up. ISK fountains and rent-seeking moon goo going toward supercap proliferation drives up mineral prices. If the PLEX price rises slower than mineral prices, then it becomes less cost-effective for people to pay for PLEX instead of ratting in-game. Indeed, if Cyclones are now pushing 50M, that's an hour of high-efficiency ratting to afford a fucking BC you can lose inside 2 minutes of PVP.

What's the endgame of EVE? Is it a burnout of ideas leading to stagnation and sluggish gameplay and a slow death of boredom? Or is it going to be the death of casual members and noobs entering a game, finding the old order entrenched politically and financially in a cartel system between ISBoxing pro-gamer miners feeding minerals to the rent-seeking nulltard overlords, leaving the noobs to realise after a month or two in-game they can never earn enough money for a Cyclone, let alone a battleship?

Crius simplified Industry. CCP now needs to fix the rent-seeking moon goo system, despite the CSM and the old guard, for the good of the game. CCP needs to quash ISBoxer before it is the only way to get ahead in the game. CCP needs to make mining and industry more effective, and rebalance Incursions down and up the risk in w-space, reducing ISK fountains. Oh, and getting rid of the Accountancy skill, too, would shave the ham even thicker.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Natalia's welcome to corp

You can blame me for Johnny Twelvebore. You're welcome.

The BUGRY business model and value proposition may not be entirely self-evident to everyone. So let me just lay it out for you by showing what happens in your first week of Sudden Buggery.

Natalia Raholan joined Sudden Buggery on the 16th July. The toon has 2 losses and zero kills and 8M SP's total, 2.5M of which were in refining, and 750K in mining barges.

An example Harby fit Natalia linked to us upon joining was dual-tanked, had beams and pulses, and was not what I would call survivable. This is not unusual for people who just join up to do the easy stuff with mates in hisec - low-intensity activities like mining, missioning, etc, and not shown the ropes by anyone.

We sorted out a training queue for her, directed where the next month or so of training ought to go, got him familiar with the bookmarks, the comms, got a Prophecy fit sorted out as best we could...and got interrupted halfway through by intelligence of a Mackinaw and a Tengu in our new O477. So Natalia found his way in and sat on the hole, and within 4 hours of joining corp had a Tengu kill.

A few days passed, and then our newest player is involved in a Paladin gank, and the slaying of a smartbombing Rokh in Aunenen.

Within a week, we've trained our new member to be across Siggy, wormhole basics, got him used to losing a couple of ships and got him a killboard which is off to an amazing start. True, not a lot of this is his own work, but that's not the role of someone who is learning what takes years to do properly.

The real value of Sudden Buggery, to newer players at least, is thus the fact the corp and allies are there to take someone and expand their appreciation for what's possible in EVE. You do not need millions of SP's or millions of ISK (let alone billions) to play the game. You need a modicum of deication and the ability to get over the trepidation at taking the first step into wormholes.

It's harder work than high security space, but the rewards are greater, and so if the value for money for your subscription (or the hours you put into playing so you don't need to pay).

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Siege Logistics

How do you siege a wormhole with a non-hisec entrance? Specifically, how do you get your staging POS into the system, stage your dudes, etcetera?

We have Operation Hufflepuff kicking off this weekend, which without giving anything away, involves seeding a bait POS into a C3 with U210 lowsec static.  We have a (vague) fleet roster including half a dozen battleships, three Guardians, and a bunch of T3's as usual, and 135Km3 of bait POS to get in to an entrance which may land in some pretty inconvenient locations, like farthest Aridia or Amamake.

For large-scale PVP operations of this nature, inside or outside wormholes, logistics and organisation are key. So, what's the solution?

Consider SSC's siege of "Luxemburg" - the solution was covert rail-fit Proteus fleet BLOPsed to the Nullsec exit of the hole (probably with covert RR Proteus). An interesting choice, and it clearly worked even though the solution to the logistical challenges was lost in the wall-of-text explanation about how amazing SSC was to have Herr Bert con the victims.

The BLOPs solution is also, theoretically, doable for seeding in a bait POS. Nowadays, a totally lug-fit Blockade Runner can fit up to 13.8km3 (T2 rigged Prorator), which allows you to take mostly any POS module you wish, or indeed 3 EWAR batteries. A fleet of about a dozen or so blockade runners, a covert cyno, and a BLOPs BS can insert a POS into a wormhole anywhere in New Eden or Anoikis within minutes, undetectably. Depending on where your target hole is, how many people you have with the capability, and whether you can make the fuel and exit cyno work for you, this could be a very neat, quick solution. Seed the POS, make a return trip, and then BLOPs in a cloaky Proteus fleet to do the assault.

The second option is to jump freighter (or Black Frog) your POS kit and, perhaps, broken-down ship hulls to the staging system. We have previously used carriers to seed ships into target systems, sending the fleet members through lowsec to the target system in frigates (these days, ceptors) and cynoing a carrier on to the nearest station, whereupon the fleet boards its Guardian/T3 fleet and enters the hole. Depending on midpoints, this is an effective way of moving a fleet onto a U210 static. It is however very expensive to move a full POS Kit and seed the target wormhole using Black Frog. But cheaper than affording your own JF.

The other natural solution is to probe your way back to highsec via wormholes, and YOLO in via a chain. This isn't 100% reliable at any time, and is very time-consuming. The advantage is that, even if you were daft enough to attack a C1/Z060, you could at least get an Orca to the nullsec system it's connected to. The problem is, Orcas can only take 80km3 these days and are terribly slow.

The better solution are Deep Space Transports, which I discovered yesterday after spending hours moving my Orca firstly, to Amarr to buy the POS kit, and then to the highsec staging system 5 jumps from the then-entry of Painin Placid, then going to Dodixie to buy a Mastodon.

The Mastodon warps slightly faster than a hull-rigged Orca, and if you have Transport 5 skill, can take 62.500m3 in the Fleet hangar and up to 17,100m3 in the main hangar with a full lug fit and T2 rigs. It also costs 20% of an Orca and could tank if its MJD fails to get it out of the shit.

In fact, almost regardless of where your target hole is, you can take a full POS kit with as little as two DST's. You can obviously escort your DST's around lowsec annoyances with relative safety, and far faster than slowboating an Orca to the closest highsec, then having to haul it in anyway.

As for POS Kits, it depends what you are doing, but a typical staging POS is as little as 48,650m3 give or take (Small Amarr, 10 small pulse, 2 dissy, 4 EWAR, 1 week's fuel, stront, SMA and CHA) which is well within the capabilities of a single DST.

Solve these logistical challenges beforehand, and not only is it faster to get the POS kit ready (pre-buy and pre-load it into a DST), it is faster to get it to the hole, and that keeps the time spent on the operation to a minimum. Which, considering EVE is already a hugely time-intensive game, is always a Good Thing.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Holiday over!

I just spent three weeks in Sweden, and the last week getting back onto Aussie time, so EVE exploits have been less than usual. I'm hoping to sort out some of my FRAPS vids, after i sort out why my computer is performing so shit, and make some poasts.