Sunday, February 28, 2010

You Can All Let Me Go Now: Tackling in Eve Online

In Eve Online, brand new players can play an important role in player vs. player fights by learning how to tackle. The Eve University tackling guide describes tackling as "The art of immobilizing the opponent in a way that said ship is unable to move." If a ship can't move, whether the pilot has been playing for 3 days or 3 years, the ship will eventually die.

I took the Tackling 101 class yesterday and learned that tackling is just a little more than targeting a ship and clicking on a tackling module. Here are some of the highlights.

Mid-slots: The most important equipment for a tackling frigate is in the mid slots. In order of importance, the equipment is speed modules, warp scramblers/disrupters, and webifiers. Speed modules are needed in order to catch up to a ship in order to tackle it if it is out of range. In this case, speed really can kill. Eve University recommends microwarp drives in its standard tackling fittings but Agony Unleashed likes afterburners. Each one has its uses, although if I'm camping a Minmatar station or a system stargate I can see why afterburners would be preferred. Afterburners use less cap and can't be shut down by the enemy's warp scramblers, enabling a frigate to speed tank. I think the micro-warp drives would shine in deep space battles covering hundreds of kilometers, though.

Warp disruptor and warp scramblers both have their uses. The warp disruptor has a range of 20/24 km, which should cover the jump diameter of most system stargates. The constellation and regional gates can still be a problem for one ship to cover by itself. One of the drawbacks of the warp disruptor is that it only has 1 point of warp scramble strength and ships using an inertia stabilizer or having a built-in inertia stabilizer like deep space transports and the Skiff have a warp strength over 1. So that is where the warp scrambler comes into the picture. The warp scrambler has a warp scramble strength of 2, but gets the extra point at the expense of its range, which is only 7.5 km. But on the plus side, the warp scrambler also disables the micro-warp drive of the target and uses less capacitor to initially activate. Eve University prefers the warp disruptor on its tackling frigates, probably because with so many new pilots Unista fleets have a much higher than average percentage of tacklers.

Webifiers are relegated to third in importance because not all of the tackling frigates have 3 mid slots. The Punisher, the Amarr tackling frigate, only has two, which is nice because we Minmatar pilots love to speed tank. Also, the mis-use of a webifier can actually lead to the target getting away. If the web is applied, the target's top speed is reduced, thus allowing the target to achieve warp faster. The rule is, first scramble/disrupt, then web.

Low slots: Low slots are used for going FAST. The two modules to put in the slots are Overdrive Injectors and Nanofiber Internal Structures. Both use no CPU or power so they are almost a no-brainer for a ship that needs to go really fast.

High slots: The basic message was, "these are not important." Basically the role of the tackler is to disable the enemy, anything else is just icing on the cake.

We then had a practical exercise involving practicing tackling in a regular fight, around stargates ala gate camps, and stations. The title of this post came from what the instructor would say whenever it was time to move to a new section of the practical exercise. The entire class took approximately 90 minutes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Van Hemlock 90: The Agony Unleashed Episode

Over the weekend I listened to Van Hemlock #90, in which I got to hear Tim’s impressions of the Agony Unleashed PvP course in Eve Online. Not too long ago, one of Agony Unleashed’s PvP instructors (and now member of the CSM) Teadaze gave a lecture about PvP to Eve University and I was eager to hear the opinions of someone who went through the class and put those principles into action.

First, hearing that the class was four hours of classroom and four hours of practical exercise seemed about normal from what I’ve seen in the Uni. The Uni has a lot of classes like Tackling 101, Electronic Warfare 101 and Fleet Movement 101 that it sounded like the Agony Unleashed crew combined into their weekend instruction. I heard Tim mention something about transversal in a previous podcast so I’m guessing the instructors also went into some of the basics like optimal and falloff. I just wonder if the law of autocannons was discussed.

I think the best part of the podcast was when Tim described the practical exercise, which was a roam through null sec. I knew this was going to be eventful when Tim said he was flying a Griffin. As anyone who has watched Clear Skies knows, no one likes ECM.

Listening to Tim talk about his adventures made me think of the fleets I’ve been on. We’ve had a bit more firepower with cruisers and battlecruisers making up part of the fleet, but the Agony Unleashed roam sounded a lot like the famous Eve University blobs that roam through low-sec. Except we bring a lot more electronic warfare ships with us. Only 5 Griffins? People actually make up fleets like that? Oh well, it was a class, so you can’t have everything.

One of the things I enjoyed most was hearing at the end of the podcast that Tim was looking forward to PvP in the future. I agree with Tim that being part of a fleet makes it less scary. And to be part of a fleet getting a lot of quality PvP a player needs to be part of a good corporation, or at least involved in faction warfare.

I’ll copy Tim and Jon’s format and end with what I learned from listening to Van Hemlock #90. The first thing is that having a lot of skill points in Eve doesn’t necessarily mean you will beat someone with a lot less skill points. People say that, but listening to Tim, who most likely has millions more skill points than I do, talk about new things he learned that I already had learned does illustrate the point more clearly than anything else could. The second thing is that joining Eve University was a very good move. I already knew a lot of the information that Tim talked about. Okay, I had taken a two hour class on bookmarks the day before listening to the podcast. But I knew about Goonswarm’s Poseidon Project. And being in a place where everything either wants to learn or teach is a pretty good place.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Catching Up on TV Sci-Fi

Listening to Van Hemlock 88 really got me in the mood to watch Deep Space 9, my favorite of the Star Trek series. The only problem was that when I went looking for it, I couldn't find it. Instead, I found the remake of the 1970s series Battlestar Galactica and decided to pick up the mini-series and the first season since I had never seen it before. I did watch the original series when it first came out and I can safely say that the series is definitely put together differently. The difference that I had heard of was that Starbuck was now a woman, but after watching the mini-series, that wasn't the biggest difference. Oh no. The biggest difference I noticed was the character of Gaius Baltar. In the original series, Baltar was a count who sold out the human race in exchange for power. So far, Gaius Baltar is a genius who was conned by a beautiful blond Cylon who is now, literally, stuck in his head. How that is going to play out I'm dying to find out.

While watching the mini-series, I found myself thinking of Eve sometimes when looking at the fleet scenes. But the similarity that struck me the most was the explanation about how when the Cylon's human body died the personality matrix would be transported to another body. Sounded a lot like the way a pod pilot is transported back to the cloning vat when he is podded.

So instead of grinding faction towards getting a perfect refine last night, I watched BSG. Oh well, I didn't want all of the ore anyway.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Situation in Providence: Part 4

Here is my favorite part of ISD Falstaff Labron's 4 part series on the situation in Providence. I love happy endings. Although this being Eve Online, the story never really ends, does it?

The Providence War Part 4: The Return Of Unity
reported by ISD Falstaff Labron | 2010.02.15 11:10:27

9UY4-H, Providence - "Deliverance Reclaimed" outpost in 9UY4-H system fell to Ushra'Khan [UNITY] on the 08.02.112, with system sovereignty falling into their hands the following day. Ushra'Khan have been fighting Amarr loyalists Curatores Veritatis Alliance [CVA] in Providence for half a decade; they originally held sovereignty in the system which was home to their first outpost, "Unity Station" until it was conquered by CVA.

Ushra'Khan allied with Against ALL Authorities, who currently reside in Catch adjacent to Providence, after the losing their space in Providence in the so-called "Unity War" of 109 and joined AAA in their retributive invasion of Providence following incursions by Providence Holders into AAA space in Catch.

9UY4-H StationThe siege of 9UY4-H station lasted less than a week and on 08.02.112 the station fell to Ushra'Khan. UNITY are claimed by the Providence Holders as a major enemy of Amarr interests in New Eden. Sources among the Holder alliances of Providence claim 9UY4-H system is an important trade hub and of strategic value as a central location for most access routes to Empire space.

AAA was reported to have brought over 400 pilots to the siege, fielding several super-capital vessels.

Karn Mithralia of Ushra'Khan said that his alliance has waited a long time for this opportunity.

Regarding the invasion of AAA's systems in Catch, Karn expressed surprise at the turn of events. "CVA is usually cautious and skilled in strategic decision making. The timing of the war in Querious was perhaps coincidental, but regardless, it was obvious AAA would not walk over this [move] so close to [their] home systems."

"We have worked for near three years building our strength, undermining the enemy, breaking their Holders and throwing as much energy as we could into our allies wars so they would have reason to do the same for us.

"Nothing inspires Ushra'Khan to fight like the opportunity to fight slavers and their Holders. We were already fighting [alongside AAA], fully committed, are used to working together, have good [communication systems] in place, fleet discipline and knowledge of what to expect from each other. Yet even then we didn't expect to stand so soon once again in Unity Station; we knew our allies in AAA respected CVA's settlement efforts in Providence and expected some level of return to status quo, we hatched our plans to move on other weak points but then again things played to our favour."

Karn Mithralia considered ‘Amarrian hubris' to be the major factor that lead to CVA not backing down, which in turn lead to AAA and allies assaulting Providence with full strength.

AAA's other allies, Systematic Chaos were heavily involved in D-GTMI and 9UY4-H; "freespace" and transhumanist alliance Star Fraction are independently invading the space of CVA's allies Sev3rance in western Providence and ATLAS have sent roaming gangs into Providence to engage Holder forces.

Asked to comment on his alliance's plans for the conflict, Karn Mithralia first expressed his surprise at the lack of resistance when entering 9UY4-H and then added "We need to secure our hold, it's early since we have taken [only] one station. Providence is a highly-populated space. It is possible that CVA and their Holders will rally in Northern Providence about their home systems. And I have no doubt Sev3rance won't go down without a fight."

Aralis of CVA considers this capture as "more of a problem for them than for us", since the opposing forces are now left deep inside the Providence Holders territory and this exposes them to facilitated CVA offensive actions. Members of CVA continue to express confidence in public that Unity Station will return to its Amarrian name of Deliverance in due course, but Unity station provides a toe-hold not just for AAA but for Ushra'Khan's other allies in the anti-slavery and Minmatar loyalist movements. Aralis (executor of CVA) has stated that he is prepared for a long war - exactly the course it will take remains to be seen.

GalNet References

Against ALL Authorities Battle Records - 9UY4-H

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Situation in Providence: Part 3

Wensley over at Rifter Drifter came up with another great article on the situation in Providence that roughly corresponds with ISD Falstaff Labron's third part of his four part series. I'll just link to Wensley's article because, as pointed out, he deserves all the traffic he can get. I'll post Falstaff's article here so you can compare the quality of the two. Or perhaps, you'll think like I do and decide both are good reads.

The Providence War Part 3: Internal Struggle
reported by ISD Falstaff Labron | 2010.02.14 23:56:56

D-GTMI, Providence – Following the capture of D-GTMI system in Providence from Providence Holder-alliance Paxton Federation, Against ALL Authorities (commonly known as "AAA") offered a 72-hour cessation of sovereignty warfare, during which negotiations could take place between AAA and Curatores Veritatis Alliance [CVA] and their allied Providence Holders. CVA rejected the cease-fire offer and the subsequent terms of territorial non-aggression put on the table by Against ALL Authorities, which led to dissent among those Holders that backed CVA and those who wanted a swift end to the conflict.

A few days after the fall of D-GTMI, Manfred Sideous of AAA issued a public statement on 31.01.112 in which they invited CVA to negotiate a settlement of the conflict. In this press release, he claimed "As it currently stands, we have spoken with CVA leadership, stating our intent to not cause permanent harm, even with a scenario of a return of the D-G system, and informed CVA leadership of -A- holding back (unless again provoked) until [01.02.112] at midnight pending their reaction and willingness to contain the current conflict. However, even this has been refused."

Virtuozzo of AAA said “It's no political document; it's from one group of soldiers to another group of soldiers... When push comes to shove, it really comes down to Curatores Veritatis Alliance choosing to expand its dominion in the wrong direction, at the expense of the wrong alliance.

“As much as we regret it, there are some unwritten rules that apply to all alliances active in lawless space, and as such we can but react and continue to react.”

According to documents leaked from CVA's alliance network, discussions did take place between CVA executor Aralis and Manfred Sideous of AAA in which AAA offered a treaty that would return D-GTMI to Paxton Federation and cease further invasion of Providence by AAA, in return for CVA forswearing any future attacks upon AAA sovereignty in Catch. Sources claim that no more extensive NAP was offered, however, meaning Against ALL Authorities pilots could still pursue Providence Holder pilots and any other pilots roaming in the region - their gangs could be engaged by CVA but the Holders would be unable to take any action to permanently remove such gangs by ousting AAA from the neighbouring space. On behalf of his alliance, Aralis declined.

Asked to give his perspective of the overall situation, Virtuozzo replied “It's a shame the current mess - in spite of our reputation and our usual preferences... we are not enjoying the current situation of having to slaughter pilots who are essentially stuck with a situation caused by flawed vision of leadership.”

An anonymous source inside AAA confirmed “Based on what I know, AAA doesn’t want to destroy Providence because it is considered a training ground for new pilots... The Providence Holders brought this upon themselves.”

Galandrius Malkin, a former member of LFA, commented that some Providence Holder alliances “were trying to get the Holders together to force CVA to accept AAA’s non-aggression pact... The Holders were split between prolonging the conflict and settling for peace... The LFA block disagreed with [continuing engagements] and all LFA pilots were barred from attending offensive actions... defensive actions were still approved... [My corporation] disapproved of Lasterax's measures and supported fighting AAA... Other corporations have expressed opinions similar to our own... LFA was assisting in defensive actions in Providence and individual corporations left LFA and have gone pro-war.”

An anonymous source within LFA commented on internal affairs immediately after the fall of D-GTMI: “As far as I understood, AAA announced to CVA... a 72-hour cease of sovereignty warfare – and AAA knew how to use this time very well... They started to heavily roam Providence with a focus on D-GTMI, 9UY4-H and all entries to Providence. We had several mercenary corps... in Providence as well as small to medium sized gangs of AAA, Ushra’Khan, Systematic Chaos and others. At the same time AAA made a [public declaration that] was very successful at spreading an open conflict between CVA and the Providence Holders; it even lead to LFA being removed as a Holder. After a few days of [internal disagreements, we] decided to stand together in this fight... and the inner conflicts have been resolved.”

LFA leader Lasterax commented “Unfortunately some internal Providence Holder discussions were intercepted and made quite public... Suffice it to say, LFA voiced our disagreement with CVA regarding AAA's offer of a treaty to end hostilities in Providence and Catch and return things pretty close to the status quo... LFA has made a commitment to fight with our friends should they be attacked.

"We don't agree with pursuing attacks on sovereignty and won't be engaging in them... We believe there was a diplomatic solution to be taken there but apparently CVA and AAA couldn't come to terms on it. I think the future of Providence lies in finding a diplomatic solution to the issue or else everything that has been fought for down here will be lost... It would be too bad to see the only region in null-sec that welcomes neutrals and rookie pod pilots fail because of a failure to work out our differences and find a solution that would benefit everyone.”

Aralis of CVA expressed his view on the current situation: “AAA offered some [unappealing] conditions for peace... A permanent sovereignty non-aggression pact and the return of D-GTMI... I have no doubt they thought were generous.

"There are always a few [that do not want to] fight, usually those pushing hardest for a fight in the first place... Most people are brave and solid. With the current power of Titans and the [problems with spatial anomalies], a large scale victory is not currently possible. We have a wide variety of tactics that we are confident will bring us eventual victory. But a two-year war would not be a surprise.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One Year Anniversary

In a sign of epic blog failure, I missed the 1 year anniversary of the creation of The Nosy Gamer. Created on 16 February of last year, I set out to discuss my opinions of massively multi-player online role playing games (MMORPGs), in particular EverQuest 2, and the podcasts that surround them. What a long strange trip it has been. I wrote a weekly column, What I’ve Been Listening To, about podcasts from February to August until listening to podcasts became a chore instead of a job.

In August, with the news that the new EQ2 expansion would come out in February 2010 instead of November 2009, I took the plunge into Eve Online. By November, having accomplished just about everything I wanted to, I left the world of Norrath after having played for 3 ½ years. At about the same time, my desire to write diminished and the blog went silent for over a month.

In December I started to get the itch to write again and fired up the blog. Since then I’ve mostly written about the universe of New Eden with the occasional return to discussing podcasts I found particularly interesting. I started up a series on sovereignty that lasted a week until I realized just how much work producing those posts were. But I did learn about tools like Dotlan that have helped me in playing Eve.

So what does the future hold for The Nosy Gamer? I’m not even going to guess. If anyone had asked me last February, I would have replied I would be writing about EQ2 and happily leveling my army of crafting alts up to level 90. But I can say what my plans for the next few months are. The first is to keep posting the types of stories about Eve that drew me into the game in the first place. The second is that I’d like to write (and copy & paste) information about the Minmatar Republic and the Minmatar in general. Just as I did research about Eve before even downloading the trial, I want to do some research before jumping into role-play and faction warfare and posting the information here will reinforce what I learn. But beyond that, everything is subject to change.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Situation in Providence: Part 2

The situation in Providence and the Interstellar Correspondent's coverage of it has reached I'll just add that one of the things I like about ISD Falstaff Labron's coverage is the linkage to the forums. Sometimes the links are well worth the read. Here is part 2 of the IC's coverage.

The Providence War: Part 2 - Two Fronts Become One
reported by ISD Falstaff Labron | 2010.02.14 01:20:27

D-GTMI, Providence – Following the invasion of their sovereign space in Catch earlier this year by the coalition of Providence sovereignty holders, Against ALL Authorities [.-A.-] removed Libertas Fidelitas Alliance [LFA] from the systems they had captured in Catch and launched a retaliatory strike against D-GTMI in Providence, held by Paxton Federation.

The beginning of this year saw Against ALL Authorities engaged in a two-front war against GoonSwarm in Delve and the Providence Holders in Catch, but GoonSwarm's lapsed upkeep payments in Delve, Querious and Period Basis and their subsequent forcible dissolution by lead Goon, karttoon freed Against ALL Authorities' leading fleet commanders to return to the Catch front along with allies including Ushra’Khan, Systematic Chaos and AAA Citizens.

Several engagements took place during this period as the Providence Holders mustered to defend their new territorial claims. Galandrius Malkin, formerly of LFA reported that battles took place in SV5-BN, F9E-KX and also WD-VTV.

Lipot, a member of one of the alliances operating in conjunction with Curatores Veritatis Alliance [CVA] and LFA reported that active support in the conflict was provided by more than just the official Providence Holder alliances. "There [was] an active ‘Neut’ fleet that operated under the guidance of one of the CVA fleet commanders. The number of pilots at any given time [was] around 150 in the fights with others coming in as relief. Our corporation resides in Lower Domain and Providence, respecting CVA/LFA rules of engagement. We are termed as ‘Neuts’ to them but they are ‘Blues’ to us.” Regarding the battles in Catch and Providence, Lipot added, “It is pushing a lot of the smaller corps' and alliances' resources to the limit but we are all fighting to have a safe haven in 0.0.”

By the end of last month, LFA had been removed from its recently-claimed systems in Catch by AAA and their allies and as retaliation, Against ALL Authorities launched an attack against the D-GTMI system in Providence.

An anonymous source close to AAA reported that “D-GTMI was a scheduled ‘Call to Arms’ as far as I know, with the intention of forcing the [Providence Holders] to back off on their imperial intentions.”

TheSprite of Core Factor described his part the battles for D-GTMI. “It all looked like it was going to plan; myself and alliance Core Factor joined up with CVA and Holders to form a capital fleet of... 140+ ships." With heavy battleship and battlecruiser support, the full fleet exceeded 600 ships in his estimation.

TheSprite described the fleet he was in entering the contested system by titan-bridge and moving to a tower to engage the enemy. Infiltrators within the fleet had allegedly passed the location of the tower and its forcefield password to commanders in AAA's and their allies' fleets. The AAA capital fleet, estimated by TheSprite to consist of "13 titans and maybe 60 - 80 dreadnoughts" jumped onto the tower and deployed warp interdiction spheres (commonly known as "bubbles") around the CVA tower, catching an estimated 20 capitals outside the tower's shields.

TheSprite continued "Our Fleet Commander then made the decision to warp out of the bubble and regroup 300km from the current position so that the rest of the fleet could reform there.” This gambit did not go as planned, with pilots reporting drastic system failures heavily interfering with fleet operations - overviews were slow or failed to load entirely, with many pilots complaining of inability to exit warp, activate or deactivate modules or arriving completely sensor-blind.

TheSprite explained “The order was then given to re-enter the [tower] shield but after we did so, AAA used their advantage of having the forcefield password and warped in a large gang of Battleships which proceeded to bump some of our capital fleet members out of the shield who ultimately died at the hands of the AAA titans' new 'doomsday' weapons – by this time AAA had 10 bubbles surrounding the [structure] which made it impossible to both warp out and warp in... without getting caught in one, so the order was given to jump out of the system completely, form up and try to re-enter once again via Titan-bridge.”

“The rest of the non-capital fleet started to battle once we had regrouped with the capital fleet again, we jumped back into D-GTMI… but by this time the [system failures were affecting around] 90% of our capital fleet [which lead to the retreat order] in hopes that it might salvage some of the capital fleet and reduce the losses but… this wasn’t good enough as a majority of the pilots whilst [retreating] found their capitals had been destroyed [while affected by the system's temporo-spatial anomalies].

"The rest of the non-cap fleet did their best to try and defend the [affected] capital ships, but in the end were fought back. AAA then proceeded to attack the station and put it into its second stage of reinforced mode, thus ending the battle. I believe that, if the circumstances were different and the [spatial anomalies had not affected our fleet] we would have had the upper hand in this battle.”

Asked if he was participating actively in the on-going Providence conflict TheSprite stated “Unfortunately no, I’ve been rebuilding my capital ship after the loss in D-GTMI.”

Galandrius Malkin comments that “our fleet was well-lead on a tactical level, however, higher leadership was sorely lacking. Command took hours to make simple decisions, and often we made bad decisions such as [warping back and forth]."

Malkin cites the anomalous and unpredicatable behaviour of the afflicted ships' systems as a major factor in the loss, but states that it was aggravated by some command decisions. "However, this wasn't the only problem. AAA made very good use of spying mechanics and they gained the passwords to our capital ships’ safe [structures] and proceeded to bump the ships out into engagement range. AAA also had a commendable cap fleet and was very well organized, which was still effective [against the spatial anomalies] both sides experienced.”

By being set up within the system before the engagement began, the AAA ships may have held an advantage in that they had more time than the incoming Providence fleet to load environmental data into overloaded sensors and to get themselves into position, though they too reported problems with modules either firing up or shutting down.

An anonymous source close to former LFA affiliates reports that “There was [a severe mistake] in D-GTMI… We had a strong fleet of conventional ships in system, but were ordered to just sit in a [tower] while our capitals were getting slaughtered and the capital fleet received orders to warp off grid and then back… to die.”

Aralis, executor of CVA, was emphatic that that the battle for D-GTMI was "sabotaged" by the anomalous behaviours they experienced and expressed a belief that these unforeseen circumstances were wholly responsible for the outcome of the engagement. Sapphrine of Ushra'Khan, however, felt that Providence Command's decisions from the outset of the battle led to circumstances in which the anomalies were able to cripple the Providence fleet beyond recovery.

GalNet References

Ushra’Khan Alliance Battle Records – SV5-BN
Libertas Fidelitas Alliance Battle Records – WD-VTV
Against ALL Authorities Battle Records – D-GTMI

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is This A Sign To Play Mount & Blade?

I just checked the Dev Blog section and saw this:

Downtime Jobs Delayed Until Tomorrow
reported by CCP Wrangler | 2010.02.15 19:50:42

During Tranquility's daily downtime, certain jobs are performed, such as reseeding asteroid belts. Unfortunately, these type of jobs did not run during today's downtime; as a result, asteroids were not reseeded, outposts were not created from construction platforms, and outpost upgrades did not occur. Additionally, corporation standings and various statistics were not updated.

I just bought a Cheetah and have been having fun exploring. Oh, well. I needed to grind some faction anyway. Now I might have some time to finish the riding tutorial in Mount & Blade. Now to stop writing and play.

The Situation in Providence: Part 1

Last week, Ushra'Khan recaptured UNITY Station in system 9UY4-H. I have to admit the news brought a smile to my face as a Minmatar player who may wind up role-playing someday. But what led up to that happy day? Readers following Crazy Kinux's Blog Pack (which I have in the sidebar) know some of the tale, as participants like Wensley over on Rifter Drifter not only have covered the fighting in Catch/Providence but have started to do some analysis of the war so far as well. The PODDED Podcast's Dillon Arklight and War Childe, both either members or former members of Ushra'Khan, have talked about the situation on both episode 24 and RAW #10. And The Eve Tribune's Kirith Kodachi, a member of Providence Holders Coalition member Paxton Federation, has been reporting on the fighting in Catch and Providence.

The Intestellar Correspondents have a 4-part series I've been reading as I log in to play Eve every day. (Yes, you get the news on your login screen. Pretty nice!) Since the IC gets rapped a lot for biased or incomplete coverage, I thought I would go ahead and post the series here. To paraphrase a U.S. cable news network, I'll post, you decide. Below is part one.

The Providence War: Part I - Catch An Easy Prey
reported by ISD Falstaff Labron | 2010.02.12 22:20:59

HED-GP, Catch – This first part in a series of four articles on the current struggle for Providence looks back at the start of the year, which saw the Providence Holders make a territorial move in the Catch region, capturing four systems where Against ALL Authorities had dropped sovereignty near the end of last year. This offensive culminated in a 300-ship fleet disabling HED-GP station services.

Aralis, current executor of CVALibertas Fidelitas [LFA] is one of the major Providence Holders and the Alliance responsible for initiating this offensive that was part of “Operation Deliverance”. A source close to the alliance explained that LFA corporations and pilots had shown interest in territorial expansion for quite some time. Several systems had previously been identified in the Catch region which were without sovereignty and a decision was made that lead LFA to move on the F9E-KX, SV5-8N, WD-VTV and 9KOE-A systems in Catch, dropping TCUs and towers as an offensive measure designed to gain more space and mobility for the Providence Holders.

An anonymous source explained that at the time of the Catch move by LFA, AAA were focused on engaging the then-Goonswarm alliance (now disbanded and restructured) in 49-U6U. (The official ticker of Against ALL Authorities is .-A-. but they are more commonly known as AAA.) The plan was to distract attention long enough to allow IT Alliance to take Fountain. Although the four systems were unclaimed, the same source reports that “there was a clear boundary set with CVA at F9E-KX.”

Aralis, executor of CVA asserted that the Providence Holders’ motivation was reaching “Ushra’Khan-held territory and to drive them from our borders.” The anti-slavery alliance Ushra'Khan have fought CVA since their inception, with the struggle culminating a few years ago with a hard-fought battle for sovereignty in Providence centered on 9UY4-H, the home of Unity station. Following the CVA conquest, that station became known as "Deliverance Reclaimed."

The CVA Executor stated that another driving factor in the expansion of Operation Deliverance was their increased need for space following infrastructure upgrades. CVA and the other Providence holders are almost unique in allowing others relatively-free access to their space. While all comers reap the benefits of such upgrades, there is no way to tax them to recover costs.

Manfred Sideous, spokesman for Against ALL AuthoritiesManfred Sideous of Against ALL Authorities made a public address to Providence residents on 31.01.112 in which he made it clear that he considered the invasion of Catch a betrayal of his alliance's previous relationship with CVA.

"Not too long ago, when the alliance of CVA found itself disbanded, -A- stepped up and got in touch right then and there with your leaders, regardless of being neutral in our relationships we pledged to stand by and defend the people of Providence should the unfortunate situation of CVA disbanding give rise to a threat or assault on Providence and its people. We formed, and stood ready, but a single word was needed. No, not even a single word.

"It is as such, remarkable to see how a unique relationship where either side knew perfectly what they were at with the other side was disrupted by a long term vision designed by CVA leadership which culminated in the now infamous project to expand into Catch, into -A- space, and onwards from there."

Aralis emphasised that CVA has no boundary agreements with AAA or Ushra'Khan. “There is an obvious boundary as it is the edge of the regions” but went on to clarify that there was no formal agreement whatsoever in place at the time, nor, according to statements from CVA diplomat Hardin, do they wish one.

Charleigh of Veneratio Venator Alliance described that roughly 600 Providence-friendly forces were mobilized to capture these four systems and that this move culminated with disabling the HED-GP station services. “If I recall, AAA did bring 200 or so to the field on more than one occasion during this entire time.”

A source in AAA who wished to remain anonymous considered the Providence incursions to be “minor engagements from the AAA perspective.” The Providence Holders took control of the four systems on the second week of January and maintained territorial claims for roughly two weeks.

An anonymous participant reports that in HED-GP, a 300-strong fleet from the Providence Holders destroyed several station services including the Clone Bay and the Reprocessing Plant. An AAA fleet that was assembling in a nearby system was also reported as having been destroyed.

GalNet References

Against ALL Authorities Battle Records – January Week 2
Against ALL Authorities Battle Records – January Week 3.

The next article in this series will look at the abrupt turn-around in the war with the retributive strike launched by Against ALL Authorities and their allies against the Paxton Federation system of D-GTMI in Providence.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Van Hemlock #88

I haven’t posted too much about podcasts lately, but if you haven’t listened to Van Hemlock #88, you really should. I love listening to Tim and Jon discuss gaming topics and show #88’s topic, storytelling in games, was very good. The two games the hosts chose as primary examples of storytelling were Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2 and Star Trek Online. The games were used because they just launched, but both are science-fiction games, and since I’ve burned out on fantasy MMOs in favor of a science-fiction one (Eve Online), the topic had a special appeal to me.

Now, I’ve never played the games of the Mass Effect franchise, and I’m not into first person shooters, so the discussion of Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2 was just intellectually interesting. But when Jon started talking about Star Trek, it brought back memories.

Besides Jon being a Trekkie (while Tim obviously is not), Jon also participated in the beta of Star Trek Online so was able to compare how the game brings the Star Trek universe to the game experience. Besides discussing some of the classic episodes in Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space 9 (did Voyager really have a classic episode?), the pair discussed the challenges of doing so.

Tim summed up the challenges facing any developer attempting to make a good science fiction game, whether it be a single player FPS or an MMORPG.
“Good science-fiction is generally about people rather than technical wizardry and gadgets; it’s about, here is a technical thing that could happen in the future, now let’s examine what society’s reaction is to it, how this affects the individual, what this will mean to us as people.”
While Tim and Jon were discussing Star Trek Online, I started thinking about whether Eve Online is good science-fiction. Yes, another possible blog topic. I wonder if Crazy Kinux has ever made this a contest topic.

Now I need to listen to episode #89, which was posted yesterday. In #88, Tim mentioned he was in the middle of taking Agony Unleashed's PvP class and I'm really interested in what he thought of it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mount & Blade on Sale for $5

I logged onto my computer last night and saw that Mount & Blade is on sale this weekend on Steam for $5. I first heard about this game from Darren at The Common Sense Gamer last year and was interested but just didn't want to spend $20 on it. But $5? Sign me up! I downloaded it last night and started going through the tutorials.

I've never played Darkfall, but just from what I've seen on YouTube I think the combat is somewhat similar. The combat is pretty much player-skill based, so just targeting a mob and clicking on a hotbar box won't cut it. You actually have to have some skills. I really had a hard time fighting sword & board style, but I was finally able to defeat the archer. I was a lot better with a quarterstaff. I still have to learn to fight from horseback before going out into the wide wide world of Calradia. Here's a little description of the game:
Calradia is a land at war, offering great riches and even greater dangers to adventurers and mercenaries that flock to shed their blood on its soil. With courage and a strong sword, an unknown stranger can make a name as a warrior.
  • Free-form sand-box gameplay. You are free to go anywhere in a world with more than a hundred unique locations including villages, castles and towns.
  • Groundbreaking horseback combat.
  • Highly advanced and intuitive sword-fighting systems.
  • Fight on horseback and foot using a vast variety of medieval weapons, each with unique characteristics.
  • You can be anything from a lonesome adventurer to a commander of armies or an owner of villages, castles or towns.
  • Sophisticated AI will challenge you in combat and in your strategic plans.
  • Freedom to interact with hundreds of characters.
    And here is a user review from someone who rated the game a 6 on Metacritic.
    The phrase "niche title" was created to define games like this. Mount and Blade has already achieved a cult following, and, like many other cult classics, features some amazing features along with some crippling issues. Of all the positive things that could be said about Mount and Blade, the titular mounted combat stands out above the rest. Nowhere else will you find mounted combat handled this well and as entertainingly. On the negative side, the game contains a relatively bland and harshly unforgiving environment (proponents will cite this as "realism") as well as some mind-blowingly unintuitive mechanics. Mount and Blade is extremely newbie-unfriendly, as there is little to no indication as to how dangerous many of your enemies are. An inexperienced solo-adventurer without troops is guaranteed to have a short life. Some mechanics are curiously inconvenient, like the inability to sleep in a town if one is not a nobleman. Others are downright maddening, like the frequent inability of one's character to withdraw completely from combat even if the character is mounted and his or her opponents are not. The openness is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the freedom can be invigorating, with several potential avenues for success including trading, looting, participation in the arena, and vassalage. The openness can be completely overwhelming to a newcomer, however; a new character enters the world with literally no objectives whatsoever. I have been following the game since .6-.7 and while it has improved greatly in many areas (most notably the graphics which are fantastic for such a low-budget indie production), other areas have remained completely stagnant. As it has now finally reached gold, it is unlikely to change drastically and will remain a quirky, enjoyable title to get out whenever one feels a craving for what it does best.
    Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Yes, I'm going back to a medieval world, but it is a single-player game with no elves or magic. And this is a game that will not replace Eve Online. But for $5, just having it around when I want something different to do is nice.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Overheard in Fleet Chat

    I mentioned that I took part in a roam through The Great Wildlands. We only really had one fight, but sometimes roams are about more than just fighting. The following was part of a conversion on Team Speak.

    Fleet Commander> Why did two, no, three ships just jump through the gate?
    Offending member> Someone said there were cookies on the other side.
    Fleet Commander> No just death.

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Six Months in Eve

    Today marks the 6 month anniversary of when I started playing Eve Online. Since I'm not at the stage I make enough isk to purchase PLEX to continue playing (and won't be anytime soon), I'll be paying for another 6 months in a couple of days when the bill comes due. I've got 2 accounts and have enjoyed the game so far. After playing for six months, I really should start posting about why I like the game. Yes, another blog idea whose time has come. Now if I can just stop playing the game to really write about it.

    For now, I'll just give a progress report on how I've done so far. Right now between my two main characters (I have a third I never log onto) I have 127 million isk. Of course, that amount will shrink in the next couple of days as I want to take a class that requires having a covert ops ship so I'll be buying and equipping a Cheetah.

    Yes, taking classes means I'm still in Eve University. I have a lot to learn and after 3 1/2 months the Uni still has a lot to offer. I'd really like to get on the killboard before leaving. I tried on Saturday but the "Rampage" through The Great Wildlands didn't bag much. I do have the title "Student" to show for my time, although I really need to work toward becoming a "Graduate". And if I haven't said it before, Eve University is a great place to start out your career in New Eden. Just expect to wait a long time (like up to a week) to get in; the application line is still backed up.

    Another thing I should mention is the little fleet I've built up. Eve Online is different than games like World of Warcraft and EverQuest 2 in that ships, unlike the gear and weapons in the fantasy MMOs, are not bind on equip. So as long as I train up the skills I can pass ships back and forth between my accounts. Both of my characters are Minmatar, and I've stuck to training Minmatar ships, which makes passing the ships between the accounts easier. Right now my little fleet on both accounts consists of:

    2 Rupture
    3 Bellicose
    1 Scythe

    4 Burst
    3 Probe
    6 Reaper
    5 Rifter
    2 Slasher
    6 Vigil

    1 Thrasher

    4 Wreathe
    3 Mammoth
    1 Retriever

    8 Minmatar

    The Reaper is the Minmatar beginner frigate that is free to obtain. All you have to do is undock from a station in your pod and then travel to a station in which you have no ships. However, the very cheap Minmatar shuttle is so much cooler to look at, so I wind up buying them.

    Now, the Eve player may notice a distinct lack of T2 frigates (covert ops & assault frigates) and battlecruisers on my list. The reason is simple. What's rule #1 in Eve? Don't fly anything you can't afford to lose. I can afford to lose any of the ships on that list. When I pick up my Cheetah, that will put a dent in my wallet, but while losing the ship would hurt, I could recover fairly quickly.

    I do have a second rule I live by in New Eden. Don't fly anything you cannot fly well. So I've been training all the support skills and trying to equip my existing ships properly instead of rushing to fly something bigger. I'd really hate myself if I lost a ship because I just didn't have the skills to fly it properly. When I started out I didn't have a choice. Now I do.

    Everything has not gone my way in the first six months, however. So far I have managed to lose 3 frigates (1 Slasher and 2 Rifters) and one mining ship. That's right, I managed to lose a Retriever. I was dual-boxing and hit a booby-trap. Because I was dual-boxing, I didn't get the mining lasers and strip miners all turned off in time so I kept setting the traps off. If I was a couple of seconds faster warping out, I would have been okay also. Oh well, live and learn. At least I was carrying platinum insurance.

    The last thing I should mention is my production skills. So far I've been more involved with mining and hauling goods around Minmatar space than trying to make things. However, I can make some of the necessities of life. Here is a list of the things I can currently manufacture.

    Burst (9)
    Navitas (5)

    Hammerhead I (10)
    Hornet EC-300
    Vespa EC-600
    Warrior I

    Antimatter charge S (200)
    Carbonized Lead S
    EMP M
    EMP S
    Fusion S
    Phased Plasma S
    Proton S
    Titanium Sabot M

    Bloodclaw Light Missile
    Havoc Heavy Missile
    Sabretooth Light Missile

    I still have a lot of training to do in research and manufacturing before I can really engage in that area of Eve, so I've been doing a lot of hauling instead. While I like flying from place to place buying and selling things, I have to admit that I can consistently make more money by mining. That's why I'm training Mining Barges to V so I can buy a Covetor before beginning training for a transport. I'm not going to train to fly a Hulk for a long time because that ship is just too expensive to buy right now. Also, flying one would violate rule #1 of Eve.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    The Goons Are Really Leaving Null Sec?

    For those who were wondering if the Goons were leaving Delve, stop wondering. According to Dotlan, at 6:17:48 GMT on 3 February the Goons let the sovereignty drop on 101 systems. Of course, part of that is that the Goon leader that failed to pay the bills that led to the the Goon bug out of Delve, Khartoon, reportedly pulled the plug on the alliance. According to the listing for Goonswarm on Dotlan, the plug was pulled at 6:30:27 GMT 3 February.

    Goonswarm currently only holds one system in 0.0 space, Z-UZZN in Querious. If I have the rules figured out, the Goon sovereignty over that system may end on 5 February at 13:44:53. That would leave Goonswarm completely out of null sec.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    What Now For The Goons?

    As people following Eve Online know, Goonswarm basically lost Delve because they failed to pay their bills. Now Teamspeak sessions have leaked out. The first is a State of the Goon speech by The Mittani followed by a question and answer session. From all appearances it looks like The Mittani was drafted to lead during the emergency. Will Darius Johnson return? Listen and find out.