Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Blob

Much of my time time last weekend was taken up by watching the Eve Alliance Tournament VIII. It's the first Alliance Tournament I've been able to watch live and I found it hugely enjoyable. The video quality was great, the majority of the commentating was informative and the matches themselves showcased some spectacular ships and piloting. If you missed any of it the matches should be appearing on Youtube.

I feel like I've learnt quite a lot from both the matches themselves and the commentary to help me when I PvP also. But there is one thing about the whole Tournament that is quintessentially not what Eve is about:

The Alliance Tournament is fair...

... Eve isn't fair.

In fact the first rule of Eve PvP should be that it is not fair. You won't get the same number of ships as you have to fight against. You won't get a pre-arranged battleground. You won't have a list of rules to comply with. There are no rules against bringing as many people as you can, piloting whatever ship you like and podding people wherever you can.

Of course anybody that has played Eve even a short amount should have already realised this unfairness. But despite this, Eve players still moan and whinge about it. All over the forums fly the constant accusations of Eve players that the fights they engage in weren't fair. And, blurted out incessantly is the warcry of the ship-less forum poster, 'We were blobbed'.

'Blobbing' somebody in Eve is simply destroying someone's ship with what appears to them to be an overwhelming and over-reactionary force. For example, bringing ten pilots to take down one enemy ship, or bringing a Carrier to destroy one Battlecruiser.

Personally, I find it a bit annoying when people are accused of 'blobbing' as if it is a bad thing; as if, somehow, a fight in Eve is only legitimate if the odds are balanced. People should realise that any fighter, including themselves, will take whatever steps they can to ensure the odds are in their favour.

What about, you might ask, those amazing pilots that go into fights one against four? Surely the odds aren't in their favour? Well, here's the secret, they are. Amazing PvP pilots calculate odds based on their own skill. They are amazing because they know how to twist our idea of a heavily one-sided fight into an amazing victory. Maybe it is true that the skillful pilot is more than equal to you and your three friends. The truth of it is, everybody that loses a ship got 'blobbed' in some fashion, even if it doesn't appear so initially.

Whether it is by numbers, ships, or skill - everybody gets blobbed and blobs in return. The only exception to this being, of course, the Eve Alliance Tournament.

So, my conclusions from this rant:

1. Stop moaning, Eve isn't fair.
2. Rejoice! Because the Eve Alliance Tournament is!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Where Are My Wormholes CCP?

Just yesterday I lost a Minmatar Blockade Runner ship, a Prowler, to a Nullsec gatecamp. In total I lost around 400 million isk, which is a fairly large sum. In order to deflect accountability for this mistake from myself and attempt to stem the guilt for producing such a horrible dent in our killboard stats, I've decided to blame CCP for this tragedy.

To explain, I live in a patch off Nullsec where there isn't a very well-stocked market. So I rely on Highsec market hubs to re-supply all my needs. To reach these hubs I try and always use wormholes which are, arguably, a lot safer than attempting to traverse the perils of Nullsec and Lowsec. I will scan down a wormhole in my Nullsec home and continue scanning to try and find a route through to Highsec. I can then use this path to bring back to Nullsec anything I particularly require.

So how did I manage to get caught in a Transport ship in a Nullsec gatecamp? Well, for around four days the pocket of seven Nullsec systems that I call home hasn't contained one single wormhole. This, despite the fact that at least one of the systems has been upgraded with the Quantum Flux Generator, a sovereignty upgrade that is meant to increase the chances of a wormhole apprearing in the system. This lack of wormholes caught me at a bad time and forced me to attempt the more dangerous route to Highsec, and I got unlucky.

Maybe the lack of wormhole spawns in the systems is also just a result of being unlucky, but I'm inclined to feel that the Quantum Flux Generator is not doing its job properly and is not attracting as many wormholes as it should be doing. For this reason I feel justified in blaming CCP for my loss.

In addition to my inability to plunder the Highsec market, our corporation as a whole has been starved of wormhole PvE. Although we live in Nullsec, it is a key desire of the corp to exploit high level wormholes from our Nullsec base. Many days we have had plenty of people online and plenty of shiny ships ready to go, but no wormholes to raid!

This method of wormhole raiding from Nullsec is a legitimate interaction with wormholes that I think CCP should support. So I'm intending on gathering some evidence on the wormhole spawns in our pocket of Nullsec and examining the effect that the Quantum Flux Generator is having on spawns. I would be really interested if anybody else has any information to give on this as well. If I feel the effect granted is too small I might ask the CSM to present it to CCP as an issue that needs looking at.

But, moaning aside, wormholes can be exploited in a large variety of different ways and it would be really nice to have Nullsec wormhole raiding as one of these ways. It should be able to provide a viable source of activity and income for a small Nullsec corp, and I could definately use a little bit of that income right now.

Friday, 11 June 2010

How to Fit a Stealth Bomber

Lately I've been flying my Stealth Bomber quite a lot. Stealth Bombers can be very powerful ships, but they can also be frustrating ships to fly. You have the potential to unload a large amount of damage on a target, but in return you are paper-thin.

I thought today I might explain a few ways of fitting Stealth Bombers and explain how these fittings can be used. So here is a short guide to Stealth Bomber fitting.

1. Firstly fit a Covert Ops Cloaking Device II. This cloak is built specifically for your ship and you wouldn't be 'stealth' without it. Be warned that the Stealth Bomber has a larger recloaking timer than its Covert Ops cousin, so you may need to be a bit more careful about uncloaking.

2. Fit a Bomb Launcher I. Bombs are like untargeted missiles that, when fired, shoot the direction your ship is facing for 10 seconds, covering 30km before exploding. The explosion has a radius of 15km and anything in that radius will take damage depending on how large the signature radius of the ship is. Bombs are very unlikely to blow up any type of ship in one hit, but they can put a severe dent in a ships defences, or multiple bombers can be used to devastating affect. Bombs are a key part of being a Stealth Bomber but bear in mind they can only be used in Nullsec and wormhole space.

To launch a bomb at a target, find a position around 33km from them. Begin to approach them cloaked. When they are 30km away, de-cloak and launch the bomb. Then, either warp away or attempt to finish off the target with Torpedo missiles. Be careful not to stray into the explosion radius of your own bomb. The safest way to launch a bomb is for the target to be exactly between yourself and a warpable celestial object. This way you can launch a bomb and immediately enter into warp to avoid being tackled.

3. Fit 3 Siege Missile Launchers. Be warned that since Stealth Bombers have no tank to speak of, you must be very careful about choosing when to engage. Siege Missile Launchers can fire Torpedos, which do large amounts of damage to big, slow ships but may have difficulty hitting smaller, faster targets.

4. Fit a propulsion module. This can be either a MicroWarpdrive or an Afterburner. Generally a MicroWarpdrive will be a better choice, although there are some occasions when an Afterburner may come in handy. To give just one example, a Stealth Bomber can speed tank Medium POS Guns by perma-running an Afterburner. Whichever module you choose, it will be very handy to escape gate-camps or close distance with a target.

5. Fit utility Mid slots. The remaining mid slots on your Stealth Bomber can be fit with a range of modules. Most common is the Target Painter. The Target Painter boosts the Signature Radius of your target, making it a larger target for your torpedos, which, as a result, will hit for more damage.

Another option is to fit a Warp Disruptor. The Warp Disruptor will allow you to pin down the target, while you finish it off with your Torpedos. The range of the Warp Disruptor allows you to orbit from at least 20km away from the target, keeping you out of range of most Stasis Webifiers and Warp Scramblers.

The last general option for mid slots is to fit Capacitor modules. This could be a Capacitor Recharger to increase your cap stability or perhaps a Capacitor Booster to be able to run a MicroWarpdrive and Warp Disruptor for a little bit longer.

It is theoretically possible to fit some form of shield tank in the mid slots but in my opinion it is inadvisable. Any fight where a Stealth Bomber is taking enough damage to require a tank is definitely the wrong fight for a Stealth Bomber to be involved in. A Stealth Bombers job is either to pick off weak targets, or to get the job done so quickly that no retaliation is possible.

6. One option with the low slots is to fit for speed and agility. The best contender for this is the Nanofiber Internal Structure which gives a healthy mix of both. This will enable you to get yourself in good positions quicker and, if needed, escape faster.

You can also boost your damage output by using a Ballistic Control System. Note that this will only increase Torpedo damage, it will have no effect on Bomb damage.

It may also be necessary to use a Co-Processor in the lows to boost the CPU available, especially if you are using Tech II Siege Missile Launchers.

Lastly, it is also possible to fit a tank in the low slots, but again, I feel that this is just as inadvisible as it is for shield tanking.

7. Rigging is not especially important on Stealth Bombers. Feel free to cut the cost by avoiding them entirely. If you do want to use them, speed and agility rigs such as the Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I will be the most useful. If you wish to boost damage further you can also use missile rigs.

8. Grab some ammo. Each race has a bonus to a specific damage type, so make sure you take advantage of this. For example, my Minmatar Hound has a bonus to explosive damage, so I often use Bane Torpedos and Shrapnel Bombs. Be aware that bombs will explode other bombs if they are not the same type. So if you are flying with other Stealth Bombers, be sure to coordinate Bomb types before you fly.

Those are my key tips for fitting. Feel free to play around with them and see what you can come up with. The best test, of course is to fly them. If you have any different ideas on how to fit then please comment, I would really appreciate any good advice!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Go Forth And Conquer!

Today marks the start of the Eve planets coming to life and being used and abused as resource rich celestial objects begging to be exploited for isk gain. I'm talking about Planetary Interaction, a key part of the Tyrannis expansion, which is being launched today.

Planetary Interaction allows players to harvest the many planets of Eve and create vast industrial networks to produce some of the key items used by players ingame. It is a further step along the way to create a fully autonomous, player generated market.

Personally I really like Planetary Interaction as an addition to Eve and I'm really excited to see how it will be developed further. One small thing I should mention though.

I will not be taking part.

You won't find me rushing out to buy command centers or scanning planets to find a fantastic vein of precious minerals. That might sound a strange thing to say, given my support for Planetary Interaction, but it mirrors my viewpoint on a lot of the more industrial features of Eve as a whole.

Here's my take on it. I love the industrial side of the Eve universe. I love the fact that it has an almost entirely player-driven market. I love it that market hubs like Jita, Amarr and Rens are creations of the players rather than the choices of the developers. I love the concept of ships I fly having been created by someone, somewhere and having a history that I know nothing about. I love seeing Freighters moving vast quantities of goods around the universe. I love the sight of market orders continually under-cutting each other. I love the idea of huge spreadsheets tracking profit and squeezing every last isk possible out of consumers like me. And that's the key thing! Maybe you missed it, so I'll say it again in bold:

I am a consumer.

I'm the person that uses. I fly the ships that you took days to make. I shoot that ammo that you transported all across the galaxy. I accept your market-order that undercut your competition. I give you the isk that justifies the effort that you industrialists put in. Because of this, I'm afraid I will never be one of you.

I just prefer to fly space-ships. So while I am very proud of Eve market, while I love the concept, the idea, the vision behind it, I won't be the one doing it. It is the same for Planetary Interaction. I applaud the idea of tapping into those celestial isk-mines, but I won't be doing the dirty work myself. I suspect I'm not alone in my attitude to all things industrial in Eve.

So, industrialists of Eve, go forth and conquer! Spreadsheet like you've never spreadsheeted before! I don't wish that the development time had been spent elsewhere, neither do I envy you for your new feature that I will never use. Just be warned, that if I do happen to have a Planetary Command Center in my cargohold, it will most likely be the one I just looted from your wreck.