Archive for June, 2010

3-Peat Number Two :: PL Wins AT 8

Posted in Alliance Tournament, Pandemic Legion on June 21, 2010 by Easley Thames

Pandemic Legion won this weekend, a feat that should come as no great shock to anyone following the tournament teams. While their victory was far from assured, few teams are on PL’s level when it comes to tournament prep, which includes: theory-crafting, practice matches, meta-game intelligence gathering and good piloting.

This makes PL’s third win in a row, matching BoB’s record from the days when TWD was around. What I found surprising was how many people seemed unaware of the history of the tournament. To me, the Star Fraction v. BoB match was one of the most exciting matches of all time, but newer players might be totally oblivious. For many U.S. players, the last 3-peat they saw was in the Shaq & Kobe era (or possibly the USC title which was recently stripped).

The final match shaped up to be a really great throw-down. If anyone could beat PL, I believed fully that 2 of the 4 semi-finalists could do it (Darkside and Hydra). Both of these alliances are used to small-scale fighting where, unlike most combat between large 0.0 entities, your individual piloting choices have a huge impact on the outcome.

Hydra is made of of pilots whose individual feats are on-par with anyone in PL, especially considering Gobby (one of the game’s most innovative fleet commanders) is now with them. What PL brings to the tournament (and Eve warfare in general) is a level of seriousness about victory. Hydra will self-destruct ships, bring the same setup repeatedly and rely more on educated guesses to determine what they will face.

PL does not take such a casual approach. From what I have seen, PL practice as much or more than any other team. Moreover, while others will setup random people from the alliance to play with them on the test server, PL can draw from a deeper pool of competent tournament-level pilots who will simulate real match conditions.

Finally, while it is not always a factor, it’s also worth mentioning that PL’s intelligence gathering/meta-gaming is second to none. Last year, PL forum posts indicate that they knew exactly what their opponents were undocking (before transport to Polaris) for each and every match. That level of preparation ensures you not only bring a good setup, but it also prevents fittings mistakes (such as improper racial ECM or fitting TDs against a missile-spam team).

I think that PL deserved this win and the reality is that everything they did (practicing with various setups, bringing quality pilots and monitoring the opposition) can be replicated by anyone motivated to compete on their level. Hydra came close this time, bringing a setup that could have been dangerous for PL, and I would be lying if I said they did not also approach the tournament seriously. All I am suggesting is that, for the moment, Pandemic Legion appears to be on a totally different level than everyone else in-game.

Then again, wasn’t that what everyone thought about BoB’s team in 2007?


Fighting “The Fist”

Posted in Fleet Tactics on June 15, 2010 by Easley Thames

In their “Delve Contract” PL used armor hacs with guardian support to crush a variety of fleets arrayed against them. The plated heavy-cruisers were instructed to orbit a damnation and move together.

This formation, when held together, was difficult to break and could cause serious damage at close range. For these reasons, the nickname of “the fist” caught on quickly.These fights are recounted in the video “Mercenary Theory,” which can be found on Eve-O or SHC in the appropriate video sub-forum. In my opinion, it’s one of the best videos of the year thus-far.

With their great success, came quick imitation from admirers in the NC. The northerners are calling their version the “Bro Fist” (a reference to their unity as a coalition) and they’ve had success against drone-region alliances in fairly large fights. The fitting discipline and execution has been somewhat weaker from the NC, but I’m very impressed that they are willing to try something new and skill-intensive.

Though Cry Havoc released footage of this tactic years ago, including the S3verence titan kill and other mid-size engagements, PL clearly deserves credit for driving yet another evolution of in-game tactics.

For those who haven’t studied “the fist” concept, here is a short summary of how the fleet is organized —

Composition Breaks Down Into:

60% Armor hac (usually zealots and ishtars)
20% Guardians
10% Bomber/recon/light dic (these will operate independently from the fist)
5% Damnation (armor bonuses)
5% HIC (plated and cycling bubbles on/off to allow repping)

Their Roles Are:

>> Pulse zealots and sentry ishtars are used for pure dps. A plated muninn is also acceptable in NC gangs but PL do not seem to bring them.

>> The fleet is supported by 10+ guardians, and they tend to be experienced at the role. With command ship bonuses, t2 resists, a small signature and afterburner-enhanced transversal speeds it is possible to rep HACs even under heavy fire from a fleet of snipe BS.

>> The HAC fleet typically orbits a single command ship who is used as an “anchor” that determines overall fleet movement. All cruisers have an afterburner (not mwd) to improve transversal while orbiting.

>> Cloaking ships operate autonomously while the hacs and logistics maintain the orbit, which frees them to focus solely on the task of shooting hostiles or repping friendlies. Bombers in particular play a key role in causing harm to the enemy.

>> Ships with free mids are often instructed to fit an anti-caldari ECM racial jammers or remote ECCM module to counter any kind of caldari voodoo put on the field to prevent the guardians from repping.

So, how do you win against this? First, some general counters.

1-     Lots of ECM, lots. Plus  a solid fleet that can exploit holes in repair coverage.

2-     Significant Numerical Superiority (can use close-range BCs or BS snipers to overwhelm).

If those are not an option, I think there are 3 fleet styles that stand a chance with similar numbers being fielded by both sides.

1-     RRBS With Support (guardians & plated recons for webs & target painting)

2-     Copy The Tactic (bring the same ships)

3-     Drakes & Scimitars

The key is to winning without massive ECM or numerical superiority is to beat them up-close. Deal more damage while tanking more. So, how would these setups do against a fist formation?

Mirror Match – This would come down to the involved pilots (both FCs and their general pilots). If one side is inexperienced, particularly the guardians, they are going to get swept.

Scimi/Drake – BC hulls are more vulnerable to bombs than armor hacs, but also far more mobile if MWD-fit. A Scim/Drake gang might be able to missile-spam heavies from range (escaping bubbles) but probably have less efficient repairing due to T1 resists. Also, using heavy missiles against AB-fit cruisers will result in up to 50% dps loss while sentries and pulses will hit for full if in range.

RRBS + Logis + Web/Painting Recons – This is a great counter, but still one that has its flaws. The RRBS bring additional reps to aid the guardians. The recons (with web and painters) will keep primaries slowed and sig-bloated. The BS deal good damage on well-tackled targets and have much larger buffers. On the down-side, bombs are highly-effective and T1 resists will make repair less efficient. Mobility could become a major issue as well.

I’m A PvP Video Junkie

Posted in Eve Videos on June 6, 2010 by Easley Thames

It was with great disappointment that I missed today’s tournament matches. I will now have to wait to view them later (once CCP uploads the footage) without the pre-game discussion panels.

I have to confess that, with only rare exceptions, I watch every single Eve PvP video I find on the Eve-O forums. I’m a huge Eve PvP Video fan and the alliance tournament is, for me, an even better experience. Not even the sometimes lack-luster commentary cannot stop me from loving this event.

It was watching PvP videos that, while I was still new to the game, gave me a sense of how PvP fits (and playstyle) differed from the missions I was rapidly growing bored of. To this day, I still draw occasional inspiration from videos.

You can actually find my first “significant” ship loss in one of Bellum Eternus’s pvp videos. I was in a poorly-fit myrmidon with a 1 mil-sp friend piloting a catalyst. We both pinned our hopes on a slightly more experienced pilot flying an Abaddon.

Unfortunately, if you know Bellum, you know he has high-grade implants and often pimps his tier 3 battleships with dead-space fits. The result was a Hyperion that cut through all of us in record time.

I try to watch everything, but sometimes videos fall through the cracks or are never released beyond a corp forum. As I see it, the following listed vids are the best around.

Please help me out by suggesting any other vids that you feel were extraordinary. I may or may not have seen it before, but don’t hesitate to let me know what you’ve enjoyed before.

The bestvideos from the first half of 2010 include:

PL’s Mercenary Theory (oh the carnage…)

Theseus (another amazing Cry Havoc video)

Science & Intrigue (Hydra Reloaded is truly the “elite soloist” alliance of choice)

The Rocket Witchcraft (Fon is a beast, much respect)

Future Proof (a perfect short story. 2010’s “Day of Darkness 2” but not quite on the level of either “Clear Skies” in my opinion)

Mind Game (Endless Subversion shows us how to fly a battle cruiser properly)

Daybreak (seeing that last CVA logo hammered down by a fleet of Ushra Khan  in all Minmatar and Angel ships was just… awesome)

TAKE MY POLL – “What has been the best EvE PvP video of 2010 so far?”

You can find all of the videos in this thread.

Older videos that really stand out in my mind are:

All of Stahlregen’s Goonswarm videos (helped bring me to Eve and many others have said the same)

Day of Darkness 2

Clear Skies 1 & 2

Relentless (a testament to BoB’s resilience in defending “The Alamo”)

Operation Tortuga (epic storytelling)

Arachnophobia (the first video that showed me the power of RRBS)

Cry Havoc Videos (Strife and V For Victory are the two that standout in  my mind)

MAX (back when BoB could steamroll northern regions before meeting real resistance)

Thriller (This curse pilot is fucking amazing. The fight with the abandoned Raven… omg…)

Garmonation 1-7 (they were all so awesome)

Kil2’s Videos (easily one of my favorite pilots of all time)

The Dronelands War (IRC gave up “blue with everyone” status to do what Eve is about – making a bold and violent move. They were never amazing but the story telling in this video is quite good.)

Teamwork Crow (wtf Edna… 20km/s with 1 overdrive)

Tri Nation Chapters 1 & 2 (people mock Tri but they were a force of nature)

So, how might one single out the greatest Eve video of all time? For me it comes down to two factors: story-telling and action.  The perfect balance can be found in The Clarion Call #1, “Call for Support,” and the sequel, “Pantheon.”

Lord Maldoror captures amazing footage and Princess Aricia is an excellent narrator. Fairlight Trading Corp (formerly Foundation, now in Rooks & Kings) have always been good at escalating mid-size fights with carrier support and when -MVN- was in IAC we were often impressed by their feats.

These videos feature impressive “against the odds” fighting along with clear story-telling. These videos were also somewhat innovative tactically. While there may have been a few alliances out there escalating fights like this with a single triage carrier or winning cap-fights massively out-numbered with “Pantheon” carriers but I certainly never saw footage like this anywhere else.

Battle Clinic :: Rankings Error Fixed

Posted in Eve Videos, Killboard Stats, Solo PvP on June 5, 2010 by Easley Thames

In a previous post, I discussed the turmoil caused by Battle Clinic readjusting its ranking system. While the changes were only intended to seriously impact players who engaged in extensive suicide ganking, a database error caused most pilots to drop thousands of ranks over night.

During the period of “bugged” rankings, I dropped from the top 2000 to below 8000! El’Tar, the #1 listed pilot, was down to #150.

Today, a quick visit to BC reveals that I’m back up to #1905 and steadily climbing over the last month. I’m still a ways off from my personal best, but that’s my own fault for playing casually over the last 6+ months, not any kind of rankings error.

El’Tar, known to most as “Garmon” (though that character was sold some time ago), has been returned to his rightful position at #1. For those who want to see why he ranks so high, I recommend searching for his videos on Eve-O.

The latest release from the pilot formerly known as Garmon features a Mimir (the ship given to PL for winning Alliance Tournament 7) flown solo against incredible odds. This is the only Mimir that has seen real combat on a frequent basis, and it would still be rotting in a PL hangar if not for Cippa gifting it to Gobbins before quitting Eve.

Fun In Empire :: I Ain’t Afraid of No Dec’

Posted in Roaming, Solo PvP on June 3, 2010 by Easley Thames

I was moving some assets across high-sec when I noticed a war-target was following me in a Vagabond. The pursuit continued for several jumps, but being in a more agile ship, I had nothing to fear. When I made it to one of my stock-pile systems, I quickly re-shipped to a hurricane and warped to the gate my pursuer would enter from.

Meeting the Vaga on-gate just after he de-cloaked, I landed a web but couldn’t get the scram on him before he burnt out of the over-heated range of my x5 web. He picked away at me from range, forcing me to de-aggress and jump into the next system.

I decided to refit for a dual-web setup and jumped back to into him. He was sitting within over-heated web range, so I quickly de-cloaked and rapidly executed the following steps: I activated my mwd, started locking the target, over-heated my webs and initiated an approach on the hostile ship.

When I landed the dual-web,  a smile crossed my face. I soon applied my scram and with the Vagabond shooting-back at me from well out of jump-range, I knew that his destruction was assured.

The pilot was from the ex-Privateer corp Interstellar Brotherhood of Gravediggers. I remember a few of these guys from when they briefly joined IAC. The 0.0 play-style didn’t fit them and they were supposedly recruited under the understanding that they could focus on war-decs, which was not going to work well when the alliance wasn’t willing to war-dec anyone outside of UNL and AAA.

As it turns out, Perseus had also killed the same pilot, earlier in the day. I have never felt war-decs were an inconvenience, they’re simply an opportunity for more pew pew. Usually, pilots from dec’ corps are highly aggressive and not prepared for a well-piloted, hard-counter setup to jump through a gate on top of them. They expect to gank unsuspecting pilots that haven’t noticed they are at war and those who are not cautious enough to travel safely.

Anyway, after handling personal logistics, I headed down to low-sec. This time I had a small gang in tow and I was looking for a real fight. My ship was another plated hurricane fit with plenty of tackle, and following me were 2 pilots in RR BS and a drake whose scorpion got misplaced somehow.

I first engaged an Ishtar in Ami who had suspiciously warped to 50km off the Fensi gate (while -10). I made it into disruptor range when he took off like a rocket, traveling at 3000 m/s. “What the fuck,” I said on over voice comms, “That speed is close to a t2 overdrive-fit, poly-carb-rigged nano-Ishtar back in the days of mass-reduction and non-stack-penalized speed bonuses.”

It suffices to say that he was able to kite me, but I eventually managed to warp off after focusing my fire on his sentry drones (which were his only dps). I am guessing that he had snakes and a low-rack with 3+ over-drives, but I was still shocked to see that speed on a post-nano-nerf Ishtar. Due to our heavy composition, we were not able to get close-range tackle on the bastard, though we were able to force it off-field without difficulty.

We had another fruitless (although entertaining) engagement in the same system when I aggressed a bait battlecruiser on a station. As the Myrmidon hit 50% armor, a carrier un-docked. I think we could have killed the bC easily if I had my gang aggress him at that point, before the carrier locked him, but I played it safe and burned away while the gang warped.

While we might have gotten a BC kill, the carrier was followed by several other ships and would have likely taken considerable losses ourselves. Sometimes it’s best just to bring your pilots back alive, even if things end up slightly less exciting.

Finally, only intending to roam for a while while, we then turned around and headed back towards our staging system. On the way back I scanned-down and killed a mining Vexor (who popped before I even noticed he had entered armor) and I killed a cyn0-frigate for the lulz.

No losses for the day and 3 solo kills (one of which took actual effort). While not the most epic evening, we really did have a good time, and that’s what counts the most.

AAA :: Now Against More Authorities

Posted in Against All Authorities, IT Alliance on June 3, 2010 by Easley Thames

I was not at all surprised when -A- recently withdrew from the north. Atlas and -A- have a partnership that, while younger, mirrors the closeness of Razor and Morsus Mihi.

Many overlook the fact that Havoc, whose CEO is now the alliance leader of AAA, was formerly an Atlas corporation. Furthermore, these two groups have proven that they work extremely well together, even in large scale fleet battles. When Atlas went home, it was a foregone conclusion in my mind that -A- would be next to withdraw.

These two alliances coordinated to re-establish Atlas in Omist and worked together as full partners against XxDeathxX, Goons, PL, Razor and many others in the record-breaking tower purge that spanned the entire south-east quadrant of 0.0 space. Atlas (including -MVN- at the time) was always the one to do the majority of the pos-removal while -A- remained ready to drop-in capitals at a moment’s notice if an Atlas fleets was hot-dropped.

No one should have been surprised in the least when Atlas reset IT. We had only been blue for the northern war, which Bobby was reluctant to even participate in. Ever since -MVN- joined IT, Bobby has carried a grudge against Molle (primarily because Bobby claims Molle lied about attempting to recruit former-GBC Atlas corps like Beach Boys and -MVN-). What no one knew for sure was how standings would be handled by AAA, who have a somewhat better relationship with us than Atlas.

Today, Manfred Sideous, the successor to Evil Thug (in rank but not spirit) announced a standings reset that includes IT Alliance. Their remaining blues are:

Red Overlord
Stain Empire
Ushra Khan

I think that this development will lead to more small gangs and provide roaming targets across the southwest. While some in IT Alliance see this as some kind of betrayal, I consider the primary motivation for playing Eve to be fun. As soon as IT returns home, PL will have to scale-back its operations (barring the full support of the NC or others) and we will need someone to shoot at locally. I look forward to having more targets and I find it unfortunate that so many in my alliance are indifferent to “unimportant” operations like roaming gangs.

Some in the north have been quick to insist that -A-/Atlas and IT might cooperate again for mutual self-defense if the NC attacked, and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable assumption, but isn’t it better that we actually reset each other in the mean time than not at all? The only real enemy we have that has shown it doesn’t give a shit about standings is PL. With the exception of BoB/IT whom they have despised for years (see: Kugutsumen / T20 incident) the legion will work with just about anyone to get super cap kills.

I Miss Eve TV

Posted in CCP, Eve History, Eve Tv on June 2, 2010 by Easley Thames

When I was new to the world of New Eden, the one thing that really drew me into Eve Online was the unmatched community. If anything has kept me here, it has been the myriad stories of true player-to-player interaction spanning the realms of politics, cultural interaction, role-play, trade and warfare.

Watching episodes of Eve TV helped me to better understand the world I was playing in and – better yet – I could put a face to some of the names I had read about. Though it would be years before I really had a comfortable grasp on something approximating a history of 0.0 warfare, Eve TV truly cultivated my interest in PvP.

When I learned that Eve TV was going to be shut-down, I was heart broken. If only more people had paid for the episodes, perhaps they could have kept going longer. The free Alliance Tournament coverage is great fun, but nothing can match the weekly shows covering in-game events and interviewing special guests.

I really wonder, is it completely out of the question for the show to return in a monthly fashion at some point? Only CCP knows for sure, but there is certainly zero indication of that ever happening, despite numerous petitions back in 2007 and 2008.

For those who never had the pleasure (or perhaps for those looking to reminisce) you can watch most of the original Eve TV episodes here.