Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The 60/40 Problem

If you were in a coma and are not Steven Seagal (you'd be doing a training montage about now, lifting rocks in the mountains) you would have heard about the brouhaha which was the Hyperion update.

I think that 6 weeks later, the verdict is definitely in: Hyperion has put wormholes into a coma. This post will discuss why Hyperion, and changes elsewhere, are killing wormholes.

The problem with wormholes has always been that, as a PVPer, you suffer a lot of bullshit in the corporate, social, logistical arena in order to enjoy (if you can) the purer form of cloak and dagger hunting you can get via the removal of Local.

As a farmer or carebear, you suffer all of the above in return, arguably, for greater returns on your efforts. I say arguably, because there is a lot of debate about whether the rewards justify the risks and impediments.

Going back to the beginning, CCP believed that no one would live in wormholes permanently, and admitted they were surprised to find out people were resourceful, OCD and tenacious enough to make it work, to even thrive and to solve the problems of wormhole life, isolation and even (best as can) the godawful POS security swiss cheese problems. But here we are, October 2014, and CCP has had to deal with reality.

The problem is, as always, Fozzie. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to be an analystical, fact-based person putting opinions onto the forums when updates to your game are put on with 2 weeks of comment before launch, and see absolutely nothing sensible come back from the Devs in regards to all the reasoned feedback. I mean, yes, people sperged nerd rage on the forums, but in amongst that was a lot of carefully thought out commentary which was duly ignored and buried. No, I lie, we had CCP Falcon come and douche-assault the forums like a fucking ass clown, and then CCP decided to deploy the ISD to bulk lock the wormhole forum to the point that there were 2 solid pages of locked threads just because they didn't like the bad PR.

Well, here's a secret CCP - that is itself worse PR, and a direct insult to the people who pay and play your game. In fact, I am surprised that it's not on gaming review sites as a textbook example of how not to handle negative feedback from your player base. This probably damaged their currency with the wormhole residents prior to Hyperion and has certainly made many reassess their game style and choices and move out. After all, if you are going to be actively fucked over, move to where the CSM and Devs all play - Goonswarm.

Now, to the grist of the issue. Has wormhole activity fallen by the wayside? For that we would ideally love to see these supposed 'metrics' which Fozzie is going to use to monitor the state of wormholes (in between preparing to fuck over nullsec, i doubt he cares or has time). However, we must look at a few parameters: nanoribbon prices, Tengu prices, and PVP.

PVP we can use a series of the largest of wormhole alliances extant in August 2014 to illustrate the point. There's five broad categories:
  1. Victims and farmers (99% of corps) eg; BRAWLS DEEP,
  2. PVP entities who cannot field enough orcas to rage roll and who aren't getting PVP due to lack of targets; their killboards are tailing down since July (eg; Team Pizza, illusion of Solitude, Low Class).
  3. People who have dealt with the rage rolling problem via having enough spare toons to run masses of orcas at holes and instaflip them (Quantum Explosion); their killboards are tailing down since July
  4. People who just use wormholes as a gateway to nullsec or lowsec (Hard Knocks, Lazerhawks, Ixtab, Sleeper Social Club, D) 
  5. People who have given up (Blood Union, Rolled Out) and moved elsewhere.
 The predator/prey dynamic in wormholes is that you need prey in order to survive as a predator. We don't expect lions to stick around the Serengeti when the wildebeest have moved on, eating grass and being herded by the maasai. Likewise, prey items are exceedingly rare in w-space because it has become a place inhabited by alts in alt corps (many nulltards run alt corps in wormhole space), ISBoxers in ISBox alliances and corporations (SSC, for example), and carebears who do sites once a week.

The carebears and prey items have learned two things. Number one, and the prime lesson, is that there simply is not enough money to make in wormholes to support a recurrent existence of farming. There's 0-3 sites per day spawning in any wormhole, which are worth sweet fuck all to more than one meatbod (and even then, if you plex at least one account, all income goes towards this). For a larger corporation, you need to move up to C5 space eventually to make any money or enough money for all players. Again, it's safer and more efficient to run organised Site night activities weekly than try to do it any other way.

Contrasting this to K-space, in highsec you have Incursions (buffed to be 23..75/7 now, with no despawn) and level 4 missions. I make more money running missions weekly for sec status than I do in w-space. In lowsec you have missions, incursions if you wish, and most importantly Mordus anoms and data and relic sites. The latter can provide 100M ISK for an hour's work, and now loot bukkake is gone, it is actually efficient to churn past crap cans and get alll your rewards.

Nullsec, you have alll the above (missions in some NPC areas, ofc) plus wall to wall anoms. AFKtars are the way to go, till your 6 alt accounts glitch the system and get vaped, according to sources. And yes, with more than 5 carrier toons in system now, you can get competition or face 13M bounty ticks versus 18M bounty ticks, but the point is that this is better ISK/hr and far more reliable and soloable, with near zero logistical hassles, so wormholes can't compete as a place to actively live.

Therefore, ISK rewards really do need to be buffed in low-class wormholes in order to make wormholes attractive destinations for people to live for more than a weekly site night or grindfest. Considering the llack of Local, it would actually encourage more interaction to have near limitless sites to grind - you'd have people make a calculation and figure it was financially viable to hump sites for hours every day even accounting for possible losses.

Instead, we have barriers to interaction being implemented, namely the mass spawn crap. Truly, it has doubled the length of time required for a hole to be rolled, which as alluded to before, isn't a big deal if you have 4 Orca pilots able to warp to a hole, all jump through, and come back in an organised fashion. If you lack the numbers, rolling to reinvigorate an EOL chain or one filled with dead, deserted systems, is just too hard.

Therefore, 60% of wormholes have active players. 40% are completely empty, maybe with logged off Orcas and alts living from a depot no one bothers probing down to start a 48 hour timer on.

The conceern I have with alll of this is that if wormhole space becomes a space full of alts and POS AFKing bears who have no valid reason to leave their POS, then numbers will continue to drop and the space will become essentially dead. Without possibilities of PVP, PVPers will leave, with a few holddouts and soloers staying behind to compete with ISBoxers they can't hope to manage solo.

This is a real possibility - so I wonder if CCP Fozzie will take another 6 months, like he did with the Ishtar, before deciding to act? I doubt it - I reckon it'll be even longer. Which is forcing me to conclude that we are at that tipping point where anyone who wants to play the game for more than an hour a week has to go to k-space and deal with all the drawbacks of Local and stations and gay hotdrops.

over to you, Fozzie you fucktard.

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Ammo Run

From time to time a woman plays EVE with us. She is quite casual about it, and has been gone from the game for a good 12 months, but she came back recently and her weird high-pitched voice without its manly baritone has been ululating into our ears over TS3. She is resident in highsec mostly, and not a massive PVPer.

Nevertheless, and despite having wasted a large amount of SP's on science, marketing and corporate management, I still cannot fly a Procurer and Winter can. So I got her to fly to jita, fit up a bait Procurer, and she came through a 6 deep chain to proceed with the baiting of a pair of alts running a crappy medium industrial tower in a C2 with C2/LS.

I'd been watching them for about 30-45 minutes, and noted they had just finished a mining op of their own and had finished running their compression array. One guy was in a Bestower, the other guy was dicking about his chain in an Astero. There was a Q003 gayhole out to Flame Bridge rental space where 3 Vindis'and a Rattler were punching Hubs, and I did consider that we might go out with a bunch of Enyo's for a crack at one of them, but since you can't bring any decent logistical options in frigate hulls, I thought "Fuck you Fozzie." and gave that up. Thus the plan for the day's pew pew fell back to bait Procurers.

We had another noob who had said he could do bait procurer, but wasn't very communicative, so what I assumed was a commitment to come out with it turned out to be a vague suggestion and he was in fact running gas to Jita for sale when Winter went into an ore belt.

Ordinarily, solo Procurer equals bait. Two procurers might be bait. 3-10 Procurers is not bait. Therefore, I instructed our female victim to be to pull out all the stops. Aside from not renaming her Procurer, she spat out a jet can and renamed it for the time she launched it. Got right into the mining.

Sure enough, the guy in the Astero warped off to her belt, then came back to POS, hopped in a Sabre and bubbled her up. The plan was to let the Procurer kill the Sabre, let him reship into something bigger when he got angreh, and then drop the Stratios, Proteus and my own Astero on them.

The Sabre, however, managed to pop all the Procurer's drones, due to Winter not being experienced enough to yank them in. However, his first bubble dissipated and wasn't replaced. The guy in the bestower then hopped in an Orca, waited a few seconds, then hopped in the bestower again and warped to the ore belt.


It was about this time that Winter reported her shields at 30%, which was our cue to drop on top of the Sabre. So I decloaked my Astero, pointed the bestower and killed them both.

This was when we discovered the Bestower had 47 warp disruption probes and 5000 Barrage in its cargo. Clearly our mate in the Sabre had only had one bubble and one clip of ammo in his ship when he went in to shoost the Procurer and was getting an ammo delivery.

It takes all sorts I guess.

Shoulda brought a Hoarder.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Operation Smurf Puncher

Let me tell you a tale.

Darth Bex found his way into a C1 one day. He was looking for the company of men. It was a lonely old night and no one was in there. There was a True Sansha Large control tower, and a force field. Ordinarily not what man-seeking people with butt ugly avatars look for on a lonely Wednesday night.

However, Darth Bex noted that this POS had 6 ship maintenance arrays and 6 corporate hangar arrays, and its guns were in fact hybrids. It had six Dread Guristas Stasis Webifier Batteries, which were pretty damn neat pieces of kit. it had six scrams. They had left a glaring EM and Thermal hole in the shields due to lack of hardeners, and with off-spec guns the DPS was going to be anaemic at best.  Not even a sole neut. It was owned by some Russians, who seemed active enough.

It was FOKX Mining, who we knew also have a presence higher up the food chain in C4's

Laziness on my behalf and fuck all else going on in w-space inclined me to let Bex run this one, and so Operation Smurf Puncher was launched. The maths were done, such as they were, consisting of an instruction for Pulse Oracles, Guardians and Sentry Drone  ships (VNI's, Ishtars, Prophecies). The batphone was called, and an ISBoxing Goon answered with 7 Prophecies. We managed to field a couple of Ishtars, and 4 Oracles and 2 Guardians for the reinforce.

The RF assault itself took about 4 or 5 hours, delayed funnily enough by some fuckhead losing his Golem.

Normally, you pick an off TZ to assault a POS, to avoid POS gunners shitting in your weeties. This wasn't an option, and we did want to get a fight (good or not) so we ponied up and got into it. The Russians signed on and they tried busting our Guardians, then the Oracles, and finally concentrated on popping drones on the sentry fleet. So we eneded up running 8 reps on a Garde II for about 40 minutes, cycling it from 5% armour to 90% armour the whole time, with 2% hull left. It was quite a bizarre fight.

It went swimmingly enough, with the reinforce camp relatively low-key due to the Russians (actually, Serbians it turns out, which are like Diet Russians) keeping more or less to AU TZ hours. The guys, midway through defending the rape cage itself, got jumped by some Ishtars and lost a couple of ships.

I also missed a lot of the "action" due to IRL commitments which centred around beer (the Perth player gathering via Eve Down Under), more beer (a party later that night) and I even managed to miss the denoument due to another party for my neighbour's 60th (champagne this time).

The butcher's bill.

In the end, the Serbs elected to self destruct, big surprise. They SD'ed a Moros, Archon, Sin, Domi, Armageddon, Orca, 2 Legions, 2 Hulks, a shitload of haulers, a Cruor.

The estimated losses, including the tower and what dropped (2.3B, plus the Nighthawk and 480M in faction webs), were 17.5B in hulls and POS crap. Not too bad, really.  They logged out their Rorqual.

So we jacked up a trap POS. Bex decided to not do it properly, and put a tractor, SMA, CHA and fluffed putting enough guns on it. So Brawls Deep farmed the SMA, CHA and tractor.

Smurfs successfully punched.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Helicopter Dicking

There is a thing in wormholes mostly, though I have seen an example or two in lowsec, of jacking up a tower and leaving the shield offline, and leaving out an SMA, CHA, and often a ship or two as bait. You coat the thing in guns and dissys and webs (and  sometimes a neut) and put a tractor unit on field. The ships you leave on field, you fill their lows with cargo expanders and fill their holds, then turn off or using a depot you unfit the lows, so the hull is overloaded. If someone jumps in the ship to steal it, they cannot warp until they jettison cargo, by which time they are dead. Your prey are people who check d-scan for POSs without forcefields and come to farm the candy; their candy ends up in the tractor.

There's been a few guys from SWIFT who have lost pimp ships to these trap POSs. You can often farm the ships left on field, with bombers, and farm the tractors too, if you are pissed off for instance that your 650M ISK Loki has got blowed up.

Anyway, End of Life has a trap POS in their wormhole. I saw it, saw it was a trap POS and decided to farm their crap for lols. So I set up a warp-in 200km off the POS and grabbed my Golem which was nearby, and began shooting the tractor they'd left on field. It took 4 strafing runs.

The POS had something like 50 online small faction pulses and beams and a neut. The neut was, actually, the major problem as it capped me out and forced me to MJD away and GTFO.

On the 4th strafing run, sadly, i got tackled by some bombers, and lost the Golem. I guess I should have used a Raven, or maybe a Naga. Oh wells, space pixels got blown up.

The loss comes down to, firstly, a bit of bad luck. The tractor was left with 2% hull on the third run. Secondly, it comes down to me propensity to push the boundaries of what's achievable. I realistically out to have given up after the first run, due to the close shave it was and the neut pressure.

It's not like a typed our POS password into local like a pillock.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Flights of the Planet Dollaz 3

I returned from a 2 week opal digging excursion to settle back in to a bit of PVP. I spent a few hours probing around the chain, to little reward. Wormholes are pretty deserted right now, thanks to the changes, which anyone can see via checking the price of nanoribbons (up from 3.7M to 4.1M).

I found my way into a C2 and saw a Heron probing. He said hello in Local, and I struck up a conversation where it turned out he had spotted a Tengu in the hole, and was it me? The guy was a 4 week old nub, and asked what he could do to make money in wormholes, my answer of course being "not much". He advised me to watch ut for the Tengu as it was "a tech 3 ship".

Thanks, guy.

I informed him I was going to kill it with my hauler. He of course didn't believe me. So in goes the alt and warps to planet 2 POCO,seeking companionship from a Tengu. Within 20 seconds, a Stratios decloaks at 10km and neuts the Nereus flat and drops Geckos and the battle begins.

Ordinarily, I try not to engage neut boats or drone boats, and this was both. Neut boats cap you out and turn the Invulnerability Field off, and drone boats such as Ishtars, Vexor Iavy Issue and Stratios carry drones, which track far too well vs a shield tanked bloatbarge. So I was thinking I'd be cactus inside of 20 seconds.

5 minutes later, after dipping into armour a few times (y u no FRAPS, TF?), I've disposed of a Gecko (hehehe), the Stratios is in half armour (hehehe) and he's capped himself out fruitlessly by alpha neuting me, and my nosferatu is keeping my Invul and tackle working intermittently, enough to keep him on field and tank him. I've finally got enough spare attention to begin reshipping TF into my Absolution 2 wormholes away.

Then the peanut gallery starts up.

First, the Tengu pilot offers his help to the Stratios, since it's apparently taking too long to kill the Nereus. Then a third party insults the Stratios, keeping the Tengu cloaked, and sparking a short conversation about who will inevitably win.

My Abso is in warp to the Nereus to finish off the Stratios when his mate arrives in a Taranis, to blap my drones. The Stratios gets a cycle of neuts off, and my point drops just before I get backup with the Abso, so I swap the Nereus tackle to the Taranis and finish him off as the Stratios escapes in low armour.

I loot the field and bail. Taranis down, Stratios schooled hard.

Later, a corpmate borrows the Planet Dollaz and pretends to do PI, baiting out an Astero.

Same wormhole as the Taranis, a bit later, I've been baiting out the local guy in a Cynabal, and we see two Stratios and a cloaky Vaga (yeah, it's apparently a thing), scanning towards the B274. I deploy the Nereus again, doing a fake PI run, and eventually decide to just drop it 100km off the B. Instantly a Stratios and the Vaga decloak and burn straight for me. Stratios goes down, Vaga escapes.

Finally, the Planet Dollaz golden run ends. I found a pair of retrievers in an ore site in a C3, with several mates in the POS. We figure they are fairly carebearish so won't take well to us dropping actual combat ships on the Retrievers, but you never just go in to kill two things when you can bait out the rescue party. So of course it's the Nereus again.

I tackle both Retrievers, with a single scram. You do this by cycling the point on to whoever gets their velocity up to 80m/s, which cancels their warp. I've got one Retriever in hull when the rescue party arrives. First, a HML Drake which begins to tickle. Then a Cynabal, who lands seconds before the rape party arrives. I drop point on the Retriever and hard tackle the Cynabal. We then extricate ourselves, sans the Nereus, as another Drake, a Thorax, and battleship reships begin landing. 

So, we are down an 18M ISK hauler, for about 800M in kills. Not bad.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Operation Tin Roof

As explained in Jewish Bullshit Ninja previously, account hacks are a real threat in w-space. I made that blog post as a preamble to this one.

This all started as a typical lurking exercise out the O477 from our old residence. We saw a Raven on scan and deployed some bait procurers to see if he wanted to bite; he logged. But I saw a Geddon and an Iteron on scan momentarily, and swiftly tracked it down to a new signature, and saw an Astero jump out the U210.

I brought my Nereus over and jumped out the U210 and saw the Geddon. I of course immediately tackled it, and soon we had all piled through and ganked it. We then went into the new wormhole, which turned out to be a C5 Cat. We saw a few dreads on scan, at a safe it seemed, with 3 haulers.

I set Architeuthis Rex to combat probe them down and instrutcted him to point the haulers when he landed, and to cycle his points around them all to stop them warping. Instead he pointed a Naglfar, allowing the haulers to escape, and then the Nag exploded just as I landed ready to point it. It turned out the nag had been self-destructing, and indeed was sitting next to a second nag wreck.

Something odd was up. So we struck up a conversation with the nag pilot. He said he was in the process of looting the POS, and wished to secure safe passage for the last few haulers worth of stuff.  He also had a Nidhoggur to sell, and we could take all the ships he couldn't fly, and all the rest of the shit in the POS. he even offered to get one of our toons into that corp and give it roles, allowing us to unanchor and make offf with the POSs themselves, and all the gear, including an XLSMA, various advanced assembly arrays, etc. His price, 1.5B ISK.

We agreed to the deal, and Kal Toralen flipped into their corp and made a relatively hamfisted go of looting the POSs, as he wasn't familiar with corp and POS management crap and didn't understand what he needed to do to get everything looted swiftly.

I hopped in the Nid, scooped a hold full of T2 haulers, T2 frigates, fit up a probe and cloak and 6 stabs, filled the fuel bay with isotopes, warped out of the POS, and logged off; I would get the Nid out the next day via nullsec and an easy one jump to Vehan, to sell it for 1.1 billion. I sold the haulers for a further 450M, plus 640M in dread guns and capital modules looted from the wrecks.

Various other things got looted; about 800M in gases, isotopes, polymers. We unanchored an entire medium tower and all its guns (about 350M) and stole ten neut batteries off the main tower. Due to Kal Toralen's hamfistery we could have in fact looted a hell of a lot more in guns, but he turned to POS off and had to re-online it and didn't know how to strip the ammmo from the guns before trying to unanchor them. Likewise, the assembly arrays and XLSMA didn't get looted.

A few days passed and then the CEO of that corporation contacted me, and accused me of hacking one of his corp members accounts. I discussed it with him, and indeed, it appeared that the people involved in the heist (Securitas Protector, etc) had illegally accessed an account in his crporation. From what I understand, it was again either a roommate's account who had quit EVE, or a sibling of someone in the corporation. Either way, Adarnof petitioned it.

It seems CCP has learned from the mistakes of the Jewish Bullshit Ninja episode; my Nid didn't get yoinked, everyone in BUGRY and SWIFT who got their gear kept it, the culprit(s) got banned, and Adarnof got magic ISk in stead of CCP trying to trace down every single damn item which got nicked.

So that's how I temporarily owned a hacked Nidhoggur for a few days.

The evacuation commences

There has been a lot of discussion on the EVE-O forums in the Wormhole section about the impact of Fozzie's changes upon wormholes. I previously stated my position on these. People i have talked to are mostly against at least the frigate wormholes, fairly much annoyed but dealing with the mass-jump spawn distance changes, and ambivalent about the rest.

However, there is currently a huge churn in residents in w-space. This is just what I know of, as fact.

Empyre Encorporated moved out. They lost a couple of haulers who were about to scoop their Gallente large and Caldari large. But those towers are now in the possession of Sudden Buggery. Their co-inhabitants, T2 Cruiser Club, lost a bunch of loot pinata. All in all, evidence of people quitting w-space.

Sudden Buggery and Swift Angels Alliance moved out of our previous hole (called Acid Fairy Land) because it was a C2 Cataclysmic, and cats got raped in the changes. Needlessly I will point out. We mooved in to a C4 with N766/X877 to pursue better PVP.

Free Trade monopoly moved out of a C5 Cat. This was due to the changes, and also helped along by a corp thief and account hack (more details later). The corp seems disbanded, and either gone to k-space or merged into other entities.

Acquisition of Empire and Orphans of Eve moved recently, too. They now inhabit a C2 with Y683, up from O477. This was for more pew pew, and better ratting with Marauders. They aren't finding much ratting, due to hypothetical issues (unconfirmed by CCP) with site spawning mechanisms. They have their hole rolling method down, it's slow, annoying them, and increases the grid factor of w-space a lot.

Rolled Out is out. They are off in NPC Null abusing the Ishtar, which apparently got nerfed. I mean, drone traacking is lower, but at 90km with Bouncers its unnoticeable. Go figure.

Blood Union, I believe though haven't heard confirmed, is getting out. Their business model took a severe hit with the API nerf, and now the capital jump range nerf is too annoying for them. Take a look at their stats on zkillboard. They averaged 300 billion a month in ganks in 2013. The last two months they've only claimed 98 and 23 billion.

This will probably flow through to a similar decision from Quantum Explosion.  Being best budskis in w-space, their activities and killboard track similarly, and QUEX is showing signs of a severe drop-off in activity and success in the past 2 months.

I know Lazerhawks is grumbling, I've heard a few members saying they are leaving. There's been a rather abrupt reversal in numbers this month according to Dotlan's tracking of the corporation. It's no coincidence this tracks with the Hyperion changes. It's hard to tell if activity is down, so we will have to see, but the majority of their activity is lowsec now. Make of that what you will.

The point of this? Fozzie wants graphs, data, numbers. The verdict is coming in, and wormhole veterans are talking with their feet.