Friday, March 9, 2018

The Guardian's Gala 2018: An After Event Report

With the end of the Guardian's Gala event I thought I would try something a little different. Normally most people, including myself, give previews of the events. Hardly anyone ever looks back at the event. After getting one character up to the 700 point prize and another up to the 500 point prize, I think I can provide a valid perspective on the event.

First, an overall opinion. The Guardian's Gala event was not designed for newer players (or at least, newer players who had not purchased skill injectors). With the changes to the Alpha skill set and the ships they can now fly, sufficiently skilled Alpha characters could run the sites. I think their best choices were shield-based ships like the Drake and Cyclone, with the Gila a viable option for returning players with the skills. I’m not sure how many new Alpha characters have the skills to fly the Gila well.

I used a Claymore, a Minmatar command ship, to run the sites. I chose the Claymore because, in addition to the ship’s inherent tech 2 resist profile, the ship gives bonuses to both missile rate-of-fire and active tanking. I also chose to fit two command burst modules to enhance the ship’s defenses. While the event NPCs never broke through my shields into armor, I did go through a fair amount of command burst charges and Cap Booster 400s powering my Xtra-Large Ancillary Shield booster. I also did not lose a drone during the event, with my drone repair costs totaling under 50,000 ISK. To end the breakdown of consumables, I used approximately 50,000 Nova heavy missiles. I chose to go with the tech 1 missiles because at the beginning of the event I made the determination that the event was not worth using tech 2 or faction missiles to complete. I might have used tech 2 missiles if I ran any sites in low security space, if only to clear the sites faster to avoid interlopers attempting to kill me.

Now for a couple of details I did not learn from my testing on Singularity. First, warping into the sites at 50km and then aligning at speed to a celestial produced an interesting response from the NPCs. The frigates would warp to a perch and then warp down on top of my ship. The cruisers, on the other hand, would start to slow boat toward my ship.  If I could fire fast enough, I could kill the initial cruisers in the site before the frigates could reach me to apply webs. Next, I found out that when the loot ships appeared on grid within 100km, the best course of action was to turn around and close the range, as the ships would not leave grid to bounce closer. Turning around also gave me a chance to kill more frigates, which upped the number of event NPCs I could kill in each site. The last change involved other players warping into the site. The player closest to the structure would gain the most aggro to the NPCs. At first, I would enter the sites at 100km to make the NPCs have to travel farther on the theory that would mitigate the amount of damage I took. That plan worked but left me vulnerable to having a site swiped. The move to warping in at 50km was an effort to counter the stealing gameplay.

CCP also instituted a couple of balance changes to the event sites. The most noticeable occurred on the third day of the event. Once the boss ship with the loot was defeated, the NPCs would pack up and leave the site. Before the change, the NPCs would continue to web the ship down and try to kill you. The change to the NPCs giving up and warping off was very welcome and led to quicker completion of the sites.

The next area to look at is the event prizes. The event gave players prizes for reaching 100, 300, 500, and 700 event points. The minimum number of sites one could run to get to the 700 points was 42, or three per day if one logged in every day of the event. I thought the prizes for the first three plateaus were appropriate for the level of work. At 100 points was a new type of firework, which was also a drop. I wound up with 5900 of the fireworks. At 300 points, CCP rewarded players with an advanced skill accelerator with granted players a +12 bonus to all learning attributes for 24 hours (48 hours if the character trained Biology V). These advanced accelerators, along with the standard accelerators that only provide a +10 bonus to all learning attributes, also dropped during the event. The premier reward was a new type of implant that gave a +5% boost to web range. These implants dropped in the VIP rooms, which only spawned outside of high sec. For high sec players, the only chance to get one of these implants was to reach 500 event points.

The 700 point reward, a 72-hour accelerator that granted a +10 bonus to all learning attributes (144 hours with Biology V), I felt was optional. In high sec, the drop rate was about 2%, so if one dropped, the final reward was a bonus for either an alt or selling on the market. If CCP wanted a prize that people wouldn't feel required to grind towards and burn themselves out, I believe they succeeded.

One of the most popular questions about events like the Guardian's Gala is whether the rewards make the event worth running. Over the course of the event, I completed 92 event sites in approximately 15 hours. I consumed a little over 10 million ISK worth of command charges, cap charges, and heavy missiles during the two weeks of the event. Those are the costs. Now for the rewards.

Something I failed to notice during testing on Singularity is that the "boss" NPCs granted bounties. The Guardian Angels battlecruiser paid 250,000 ISK while the battleship paid 400,000 ISK. Surprisingly, the battleships appeared 57.6% of the time. All told, I received 31,100,000 ISK in bounties during the event. Obviously, the bounties are present just to recoup ammunition costs.

The drops are where the real ISK is made. The boss NPCs dropped four types of items in high sec: 30-minute stat boosters, fireworks, SKINs, and learning accelerators. I didn't keep track of the booster drops, as I don't use them and didn't think about doing an after-event post until the Guardian's Gala completed. I'm going to estimate a 40% drop rate, as I seemed to receive either a booster or an accelerator with each event site completed. I received 5900 of the new Angels Arisen firework for a 64% drop rate. Fireworks, while cool, don't provide too much ISK.

Ship SKINs (or Super Kerr-Induced Nanocoatings) do bring in some ISK when not just activated for personal use. I received 55 unique SKINs and 88 total SKINs. At this point, I wonder if I just misplaced 4 SKINs as what I have currently listed is a 95.6% drop rate.

I'm not sure why some of the icons are different. Perhaps they were added for this year's event. But when adding the value listed above to the bounties for completing sites, the ISK/hour was only 14 million ISK/hour.

Before moving on to accelerators, I want to mention the implants that dropped in the VIP rooms. Players running the event only in high sec had access to the 5% web boost implant available as the 500 point reward. Yesterday, the implant sold for an average of 53 million ISK. That pushed my ISK/hour up to 21 million ISK/hour.

Skill points are the most valuable commodity in EVE, so the fact that the learning accelerators bring in the most ISK should not come as a surprise. I received 55 standard (+10 bonus) and advanced (+12 bonus) accelerators for a 59.8% drop rate. I also received 2 of the 72-hour Serpentis accelerators for a 2.1% drop rate. Add in the 2 advanced accelerators and 1 Serpentis accelerator I received as event rewards, and I had a lot of accelerators.

I am currently consuming my remaining advanced accelerators and plan to finish my advanced training period by consuming the Serpentis accelerators at the end. I wound up selling 15 of the standard accelerators to buy orders in Rens for 11.5 million ISK each. The additional 172 million ISK pushed my ISK/hour up to 32.5 million ISK/hour.

The additional boost to my training is the real reason I run these events. Keeping characters training with skill boosters throughout the period nets over 750,000 skill points. I am doing that for two characters, with a third joining about 10 days into the event. Since all my characters currently training are over 80 million skill points, I would have to purchase 5 large skill injectors in order to get 750,000 skill points. I figure that over all three characters I will receive approximately 13 large skill injectors worth of points. Buying 13 large skill injectors in Jita would cost 10.5 billion ISK using yesterday's average price of 808 million ISK. I don't know of too many activities in EVE where I can get that type of cash for only 15 hours of work.

For myself, I find events like the Guardian's Gala worth the time reward wise. I will say I was sick of running the sites by the end. After the fascination with the challenge of the new NPC behavior wore off, a PvE grind is a PvE grind, no matter what game I play. For the next event, though, I need to limit my ambitions. Getting all the skill points possible is hard to resist.

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