War – what is it good for

I’ve been on the receiving end of a few dozen War Declarations during my time playing EVE. I expect it is a relatively low number considering.

Some were strategic – coinciding with attacks on Null Sec homes, making resupply and escape more difficult. Some were personal, triggered by in or out of game slights or history. Most were from Hi-Sec Pirates looking for easy kills.

In all but a few singular instances, the Corporation and Alliance Leadership told pilots to stop undocking in Hi-Sec, and to only use out of Corp Alts there. Indeed, the PVP pilots said the same. It was not worth trying to pin down experienced Hi-Sec Pirates as they knew every trick and game mechanic to avoid any sort of fair fight.

Inevitably you ended up playing the game less while the war lasted.

Most losses during these wars were from the ignorant, lazy or the dumb. Some never read their EVE mail or the Corporation Forum, some gambled they would get away with risky behaviour, quite a number died in the last 24 hours as they mistook “The War is ending” message for “The war has ended”.

I have traditionally found it interesting in an abstract way. I’ve appreciated the strategic nature if it has accompanied an invasion. I’ve found it a small challenge to resupply using Alts, or to find something else to do while docked or out of Hi-Sec.

When I moved to concentrate on solo play, I went through a period where I looked for a Corporation to War Dec. This was for the interest of trying something different. I did lots of research, but I could not bring myself to grief any of the likely targets I identified.

Another time, after someone unnecessarily annoyed me in game, I went through the process of looking to hire Mercenaries to War Dec their corporation. Again, this was out of interest to try something different. I did lots of research, but every likely Mercenary organisation I approached turned out to be abstruse and dubious to deal with. In the end I placed a bounty on the Corporation and left it at that.

The only time during my solo play my own Corporation / Alliance has had a War Dec is when a newish group of players wanted to take my Player Owned Custom Offices. I couldn’t do much to stop them, but I planned to keep the War Dec running for an extended period to try and give them some sort of consequence. While I had not lived near my POCO’s for a long time, I was still known to some of the locals. They noticed one of the POCO being shot at, and off their own back hired Mercenaries against the attackers.

This was the first time I found a War Dec had enhanced my game and provided particularly interesting / cool content, and I in effect did not fight it.

While I have never lost any assets to a War Declaration, I have tended to lose game time. They usually resulted in my logging in less. In my experience I’ve found very few players who remark on having any sort of fun from being declared war on.

Some might exclaim that with each War Dec I should have gone out and tried to bring the fight to the attackers.  Ignoring the fact I was generally ordered not to, the statistics CCP has been throwing about of late suggest at the folly of that idea. On average more than a 100 Defender ships die to each Attacker loss. The “Fun” of that situation is backed up by metrics that confirm  pilots play less when under War Dec, and some continue to play less and quit.

So, we have a combative mechanism which is not fun for most defenders, causes them to play less and for some to quit the game, and has on average no real consequence for most attackers.

I can understand CCP’s recent focus on this mechanic – although I don’t understand why it has taken them so long.

I’ve been reading lots of comments from players and organisations on the other side of the spectrum – those who are constantly declaring war on others. I am undoubtedly prejudiced against the attackers, and the tone of their voices in my head as I read their words is not particularly flattering.  With that in mind – a common thread is that without War Dec’s continuing in a similar fashion, the flood of untouchable resources would cause the entire EVE economy to collapse.  Low and Null Sec Alliances would collapse – because no one would want to move out of Hi-Sec to join them.  Changing the system would make a mockery of calling it a Sandpit game.  Some comments were defiant – they would work out how to game any new system anyway, or would seek in game retribution against CCP.  Unsurprisingly there is a lot of victim blaming.  Given attackers have been one sidedly winning in this area of the game for a long time, I expect it has been a lot of fun for them and they are disinclined to see that reduced.

So, what is CCP to do?

I think there definitely needs to be a War Declaration Mechanic – it is logical in the combative environment of EVE. CCP does however need to try and stem the flow of players quitting the game prematurely due to the mechanism, make it more difficult to cheat the system, and somehow re-balance it.

I am not actually a real fan of the initial change – no War Dec’s for Corporations without any structures in space. It seems to me by letting people protect themselves by not involving themselves as deeply in the game, you risk having them become less interested in and reward by the game long term.

Frankly I don’t have anything near an answer to what CCP should do. I do know most of what I have heard from defenders or attackers has been self-serving and not seemingly healthy in the long term.

Should the War Declaration fee go straight onto the bounty of the Attacker?

Do you allow the defenders to pay an amount matching the war declaration fee to Concord, as a bribe to invalidate the war?

Should the war declaration fee be on a sliding scale – the more you pay, the more damage the attacker is able to inflict? Once the damage limit is reached, the war is declared over. This might encourage the defenders to fight back as there is a ceiling to the losses they can expect.

Should the defenders be able to invalidate the war if they manage to kill 1 or more of the attackers?

Should there be other ways for the defenders to impact the duration of the War Declaration? If the attackers don’t inflict any damage in a 24-hour period, the War duration is reduced by a day? (Easily gamed by spies letting themselves be killed.) Maybe if the defenders mine a certain amount of Ore, or visit a certain number of systems, or run a certain number of missions in a 24-hour period (based on the number of pilots in the Corporation), can they reduce the War duration by a day?  Repeat this and it might end up going for 4 days instead of 7, or there will be 3 days of safety at the end of the week before the Attacker can extend the war.

Do you bring in a level of match making – where SP totals and player counts need to be similar between attacker and defenders (coinciding with major changes to neutral boosting and remote assistance and the like)?

Do you change the War Declaration mechanism so that while Concord reprisals are stopped, the attackers still get suspect flags?

The obligatory question – how might War Decs be made to work for the Solo player like me?

Now don’t cry and carry on – I’ve put no effort into these ideas AT ALL, and I don’t care to defend or debate the results of 30 seconds of brain storming. I’m saying we will need to have a fresh and out of left field conversation about this.  Historically the Attackers have been derisive of conversations about changes to War Dec’s – harden the F up, cry baby cry, yay for more salty tears, stupid F’up Carebears.  The Defenders have tended to complain.  This time there will be change – and if neither the Attackers and Defenders engage productively in the conversation, they are going to get an outcome they will not be happy with.

I hope CCP get it right, although I won’t be holding my breath.

 

Damavik – PVE Thoughts

The role of the Damavik is obviously slanted towards solo and small gang PVP, so I didn’t hold out a lot of hope that it would work well in PVE.

I did like its utility slots. I have a preference towards “Jack of All Trades” fits and the Damavik turned out to be reasonably versatile.

The latest version of my fit is as follows:

[Damavik, PVE Play]

Coreli A-Type Small Armor Repairer
True Sansha Adaptive Nano Plating
Entropic Radiation Sink II

1MN Afterburner II
Sensor Booster II, ECCM Script
Small Cap Battery II

Light Entropic Disintegrator II, Mystic S
Salvager II
Core Probe Launcher II, Sisters Core Scanner Probe

Small Capacitor Control Circuit II
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump II
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Hobgoblin II x2
Hobgoblin II x3

 

 

One area I felt I needed to spend ISK on was the tank. If you can keep the speed up and kill your opponents quickly, the tank is almost a non-issue. Get stuck awkwardly on a structure or get a couple unlucky wrecking shots, and suddenly the situation can get uncomfortable. You don’t have much of a buffer.

Some of my earlier versions of the fit used more faction modules, but everything ended up working adequately with cheaper T2 modules.

The speed under Afterburner is good, it is CAP comfortable to fly, and it is nice having the extra defence against ECM. (Although I found it was still getting jammed by the Gurista’s too frequently for my liking.)

My thoughts on the Disintegrator are mostly unchanged. The tracking is great, the cycle time short, it holds plenty of ammo and the range options through ammo switching is reasonable. It quickly obliterates most of what you come up against in High Sec Combat Anomalies and Level 1 and 2 missions. It can be rather good for zerging content.

There are a couple buts though. The ammo is currently relatively expensive to use, and the progressive increase in damage over time is not as effectual as I had assumed. It is a ship that you are constantly having to keep moving, and while you never seem to miss, this traversal around your targets mean that you don’t get the smashing and wrecking shots where the damage output really shows.

To be frank – keeping my eye on the Log messages as I played, I thought the progressive damage increase must have been bugged. I ended up shooting at some structures – one example of which you can see below (Frigate sized Disintegrator against a Cargo Rig):

Here against a stationery target you can clearly see the increased damage. Against moving targets however, you just don’t feel that damage through the Glances, Grazes and Hits.

While testing I ran several more of the level 2 Recon missions against Gurista Pirates. With slight changes to tactics I managed to kill the Battlecruisers ok, but again I could not manage to break the tank of the NPC Elite Cruisers and had to swap ships.

So overall – the Damavik is a more plausible PVE ship than I thought it would be. Up against easier content it is quick and good fun. Once the content becomes a little more challenging for it however the tank does not inspire confidence, and the damage projection doesn’t live up to its paper promises.

Given the high cost to get into and fit one of these ships, it won’t replace my Confessor. I might keep it in my hanger for the occasional spin – but I am undecided on that just yet.

EVE VEGAS 2018 Ships and Balance

I was pottering around in EVE earlier when the notification for the live broadcast of the Ships and Balance presentation came up.

There wasn’t a huge amount in it for the way I play EVE, but it did have a few items I noted down.

The four new Triglavian ships were better explained. They will be the:

. Kikimora – Destroyer – Slots 2 high / 3 mid / 4 low – long range skirmisher
. Drekavac – Battlecruiser – Slots 4 high / 4 mid / 7 low – multiple flexible roles
. Rodiva – T1 Logi cruiser – too early for stats
. Zarmazd – T2 Logi cruiser – too early for stats or image

The Remote Repair Module will spool up in effectiveness like the Disintegrators work. That means the Triglavian Logistic Cruisers won’t be as good if switching targets for their reps. They will work better if they are pre-repairing priority targets, such as the FC.

What I had not realised was that CCP plan to keep adding a lot more Triglavian hulls.

CCP will also be releasing new Mutaplasmids for Damage Upgrade Modules and the Disintegrators.  This made the crowd – who have seemed really subdued in earlier presentations – cheer loudly.

It was also remarked that resources for building and flying the Triglavian hulls will be carefully looked at. The statistics show that the cost of the skills, hull and disintegrator mean the Damavik (Fridate) and Vedmak (Cruiser) are not being used as much as they would like. I concur with the costs being unbalanced to get into those ships.

The ECM update was discussed. Some of the buffs they are looking at is to increase the jam strength and range, reduce the signature of ECM ships, and increase fitting options for the Widow, Rook and Falcon. The idea is that they can tank better or have more rounded fits, now that their victims can shoot them.

I will say that I do appreciate being able to shoot at the NPC’s who happen to jam me.

EVE Vegas 2018 Opening

Without planning too – I spent a little bit of time watching or reading about the first day of EVE Vegas.

You can see the opening ceremony here (which I haven’t finished with yet):

Plus – there is also the keynote that you can find posted on EVE Online’s Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/eveonline/

A very short summary of the in game items I noted..

. There will be new Triglavian ships – a Destroyer, a Battlecruiser, a Logistic Cruiser, and one other I didn’t pick up properly

. New structures for Cyno Beacons, Cyno Jammers and player Jump Gates will be coming soon.  The Jump Gates will be able to be linked to Jump Gates of Alliances other than just your own.

. Abyssal Deadspace will get a co-op mode (run in a fleet of three frigates) and a Duel mode (a zone with a run down time for loot that another player might randomly join.  If that happens only one will be able to leave.)

. Currently the majority of Abyssal Space pilots are 4-5+ years old.

. From December War Dec’s will only be allowed if the Corp / Alliance has structures in space.  In the first part of 2019 there will be a new War Dec System.

. It has been found that 50% of all War Dec’s are generated by only 5 Corporations, and that the attackers kill on average more than 100 ships for every one they lose.  It was also mentioned in the CSM Summit meetings that CCP’s statics show defenders become less active in War Dec’s, and that this lack of activity can continue even after the war completes.

. There was also chat – again – about focusing a bit more on missions.

If I get a chance I will have a deeper think about some of these things from a solo point of view.

Roll-ing with the times

I went through my EVE blogroll today. I moved a lot of blogs from the active list to the quiet list. Blogs that had not posted about EVE for more than a year – or had stated they were done. It was a session of sad nostalgia, particularly when I hit blogs that had been deleted for good.

There are not many reliably active EVE blogs left that I follow.

I have tried finding new EVE blogs in recent years, but those that I thought had promise did not last for long.

I’m not of the view that blogging is dying. I see blog posts all the time, but now they tend to come in different formats. A series of tweets, long Facebook, LinkedIn or Reddit posts, the descriptions associated with a YouTube Video or Instagram Photo, syndicated articles on news sites and so on.

The content is still there, but the delivery has shifted.

The connection with the authors though tends to change in these new mediums. They can be more anonymous. They can be more disjointed. (You only see samples of the author’s narrative, and not the bigger picture a central blog can provide.) Sometimes they can be less about the content of the writing, and more about the celebrity of the writer.

I’ve noticed that of the EVE bloggers I follow that are still active, many are more innocuous older generation types, with a tendency towards reasonableness and introspection. I am not sure if it is a sign of the type of person who is able to stick at this for so long, or a hint that the old style of blog it no longer fashionable.

Wilhem Arcturus has a player presentation at EVE Vegas this weekend called “A Call for EVE Bloggers in the Age of Social Media”. I hope it ends up on somewhere like YouTube, or he posts a summation on his Blog.  Likely an interesting topic to consider if you write or read EVE blogs.

X

After more than 1,800 battles in World of Warships I finally got my first Tier X Ship – the Japanese Cruiser Zao.

As I have remarked before, I generally only use a Ship until I get its first win of the day, then I move on to a different ship. This approach has slowed down my climb up the Tiers – levelling most of the hulls at the same time.

(It is also one of several reasons why my win-rate is poor. The primary reason is I am not particularly good at the game – but my approach means I play the ships I am poorer in more often than the ships I contribute better in.)

I hit a real hole at Tier VIII.

This is the best I can hope for – a mix of Tier VIII, IX and X 

I find myself – far more often than not – stuck playing in Tier X battles.

At first glance Tier VIII, IX and X ships can look relatively similar, but there are some key differences that make being in a Tier VIII ship against a higher Tier very uncomfortable.

If I compare the Tier VIII Japanese Cruiser Mogami against the Tier IX Ibuki and Tier X Zao.

The Mogami had 39,100 HP, the Ibuki 39,000, and the X Zao has 40,800. It would appear they basically are the same – but the Tier IX and X ships both have Repair Party Consumables, meaning they have the chance to restore some of their damage. They also both have progressively lower and better protected Citadels. It doesn’t matter how I angle my Mogami, bow or stern on citadel strikes are as common as flank citadels.

All three Japanese Cruisers use 203mm Main batteries. Again, it appears they are basically the same – but the range increases once configured for each tier from 15.8, to 19.2, to 21.3 km. The Zao also has 12 barrels against 10 at Tier VIII and IX and does better damage. The much more fragile Mogami has to be much closer to do less damage than the Zao.

The Ibuki and Zao also have the important sixth Upgrade slot over the Mogami’s five.

The Mogami and Ibuki have 4×4 Torpedo launcher tubes, with a range of 10km. The Ibuki’s Torpedoes are a little faster and do a bit more damage. The Zao has 4×5 Torpedo launcher tubes which do a bit more damage again and have an option for fast 76 knot Torpedoes with an 8km range, or slower 67 Knot Torpedoes with a 12km range that can be fired from stealth.

The biggest difference however is that your Tier X opponent’s rain down either more shells, or bigger shells on you. The ability to survive some knocks is vital. The Tier X Battleships are particularly ruinous. One straddle from a Battleship Salvo and my Mogami was often left with a sliver of health – dead the next time I risked showing myself. The Ibuki in part, the Zao more so, are easier and more forgiving to play than the Mogami in Top Tier Battles.

It got so demoralising I resorted to playing Tier V matches. It ended up being quicker and more enjoyable to pay a proportion of the Tier IX and X upgrades with Free XP instead of grinding through them at level.

My next Tier X ship will likely be the French Cruiser Henri IV.  That is my Tier IX Saint-Louis above, in which I am a fair way into grinding the required XP for its upgrade.

Playing with the Damavik

The Damavik is the (new-ish) Triglavian Frigate. After waiting for the October changes to the ship to go live (one low slot was moved to a mid slot) I finally sat down to start experimenting with fitting and flying it.

Obviously as a Carebear I am focused on finding if I can get a workable PVE setup, plus I wanted to see how the Entropic Disintegrator works.

Oddly is the answer to that last question.  The Disintegrator is very quick to switch targets and has great tracking, having no problem hitting opponents.  Against lower EHP stuff it is really quick and efficient at killing.  Running a level two mission however I found it could not break the tank of a T1 Battle-Cruiser Rat, even after giving it time to spool up to full damage.  It couldn’t scratch the T2 Cruiser Rats.  On paper the DPS exceeds many of my other small PVE ships, but in practise it doesn’t feel that effective against a tanked opponent.  More experimenting required.

It is a pity about the low slot moving to the mid slot.  For PVE I’d have preferred that change wasn’t implemented.