Archive for December, 2010

Zen the Art of Muninn Maintenance

Posted in Roaming on December 31, 2010 by Easley Thames

The holiday season has brought us a fair number of mid to large-sized engagements from Catch & Impass to Fountain. However, many -MVN- fleet commanders long for smaller engagements where individual pilot skill and quick decision-making by a scout or FC can turn the tide of an even (or even imbalanced) fight in our favor.

Blobs / fleet fights are more about coordination & communication than anything else. While Eve’s sand-box environment encourages you to bring additional pilots in ways that other online games guard against (e.g. enforced battle sizes / team sizes in FPS games, RTS games, and most MMORPGs) there are still ways for smaller groups to fight back.

In USTZ, apart from major sov challenges tied to timers, we have been fighting a guerilla war. The weapon of choice for alliance gangs has been bombers, but -MVN- FCs have another gang composition that we like to roll out when the right people are available to make it successful: snipe hacs.

Perhaps our most active FC since the corp joined IT (around the time I went on hiatus) has been Perseus “PK” Kallistratos. Ever since flying with the Tri elements during U.S. timezone ops in Max 2, he has been a huge fan of the sniper hac gang composition. These gangs require each pilot to react fairly quickly, and there are some people who simply fail too much to participate in or FC these gangs, but when they are used well they can fight larger enemy gangs in a way that long-ranged BS and BCs cannot.

Having taken out Snipe HACs many time in Atlas  – and in a few cases before that – with repeated success, I am also a fan of this fleet composition. However, during my time in IT I have not called for snipe hacs very often because the majority of pilots in this alliance do not have experience with them and that can lead to disaster. Snipe HACs require timing and reaction time. If you get bad pilots in your fleet who have never flown snipe HACs, you end up spending a huge amount of time re-educating people. PK has been the one to bring the tactic back for U.S. timezone gangs open to the alliance.

Beyond their tactical strengths and weaknesses, there is a different experience of combat in a small snipe hac gang going up against a larger fleet. In 0.0 blob fights, aside from virgins on their first battle, you really feel like you are a passive participant. It’s just not exciting or immersive. Sure, you lock the primaries and cycle guns. Sure, you warp out occasionally. How much are you really in control? How much are you deciding? Would the battle have been different if the FC had literally played your character for you with a second keyboard, or did you add something? These are things I often feel, especially in heavy lag.

To Quote Pirsig’s famous novel, “You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.”

Much like riding a motorcycle in lieu of being a passenger behind the windows of a car, snipe hac gangs don’t leave you feeling like a passive observer. After flying in a small gang where individual pilot decisions change the outcome of fights to much greater extent, -MVN- snipe hac gangs have earned us praise from those who have come with us. You really do feel more in control, and more importnatly you feel you can fight even in a timezone that has been dominated by hostiles for years.

Here are the kills I made it on scouting for a recent snipe hac roam. Note, this is just from my perspective, the gang caught many more without me even touching the hostiles:

On that particular roam, three -MVN- FCs played a major role. I was scouting, Cardking was the primary target-caller and PK was coordinating fleet warp-outs and bounce-points. It all paid off in the battle we had in B-9 where we traded a few light tacklers for many quality kills on a NC blob. I didn’t think to capture a screen-shot during the main action, but I did get this picture.

In the end, we held the field and looted. The hostiles popped many of their own wrecks before warping, including that of their Tengu. Here is a shot I took of the field in the aftermath. 12 yellow wrecks and 5 white (4 tackle 1 covop) remained.

In the end, these gangs don’t kill titans or break sovereignty, but they do something equally important; they keep us active rather than spinning in stations. Winning a few small victories every night is more fun than simply waiting around for the daily blob battle. Both are important, and doing well in small gangs can boost morale that spills over into better “CTA” participation.

Truthfully though, even if it didn’t benefit the alliance, we would still run these gangs, because most of us enjoy this style of fighting the most and could not stand to only play in the official ops.

Finally, while it didn’t occur to me earlier, PK often blogs about riding his bike in real life on his blog. As the strongest advocate for snipe HACs in IT, maybe there is something more to the muninn-motorcycle connection than I realized when composing this post. While nothing in Eve is quite as exhilarating as risk-taking activities in the real world, warping in on a hostile blob in an agile but lightly-tanked snipe HAC is sure more fun than being in a drake-heavy slug fest.


NC Shows Up In Force :: PNQY Falls

Posted in IT Alliance, North versus South on December 23, 2010 by Easley Thames

Summary of Fighting in PNQY

We had posted a 17:00 start time to allow enough time to move people from GE- and NOL- into Fountain. We actually had been running trains the previous day and a major movement of caps occured at 14:00. IT and some allies were the first to arrive in PNQY with significant numbers.

We camped the most probable hostile in-gate, well aware that they would probably bridge around us, but there were strong signs that at least one of the NC fleets was going to enter from the gates. At this stage I was the FC for the IT sub-cap fleet and the overall PNQY operations FC was focusing on coordinating with scouts & allies. Early on we popped 4 groups of bombers who kept trying – in vain – to bomb our a-hacs into oblivion. This was the one time a-hacs actually paid off in the battle of PNQY.

The NC bridged into system with a fleet similar in size to our entire force in system. They went to work at the station. Instead of warping to them, the primary FC ordered us to kill 2 of the 3 SBUs. If we had won this DPS race we would have saved the system. However, guns were cycling slowly on manual control and we had MUCH less alpha per volley from A-Hacs than the enemy maelstroms and drakes were able to put out.

We warped carriers (but not supers) to one of the SBUs to lend fighter support. Fighters did NOTHING, literally no impact in the lag they were not functional at all. It was then that the NC (at this point still not much larger than us) warped right on top of us at the SBU.

This was actually the perfect engagement range for our a-hacs, and I felt pretty good about our odds on the gate (not knowing just how many more NC were coming). I started to call a set of primaries, and the fleet went to work on close range targets.

Since we had some carriers stuck on field, I called the broadsword on top of them primary. Another FC suggested over channel command that we start with the Maelstroms instead. This was when a third FC abruptly started calling targets (even though myself and the backup FC were both still alive) and he switched the fleet to yet another THIRD set of primaries (this time scorpions).

We had discussed what to shoot ahead of time, and being undermined was annoying, but having stayed up all night to participate I was so tired I just sat back and let the enthusiastic european FCs take over. As each one died, another stepped up.  I would have done things slightly differently, but in hindsight none of it mattered since we were out-numbered and in the wrong ships for the job.

One weakness that quickly stood out was that we had an embarrassingly low number of guardians in contrast to the enemy scimitar force. We did kill things but we were not winning the battle. The hostiles were able to melt 2 of our heavily tanked anchor points, and their scorpions were a major issue for the few guardians we did have on field.

As the fight dragged on, the NC numbers grew substantially. At peak system was over 1600 pilots. We had around 500 including caps, who were warped off-field when it was clear that they were not useful in this lag. Only titans would have made an impact and the primary FC was not willing to risk them with a worsening situation on our hands.

The hostiles were focusing on IT ships the entire fight. Knowing this, we checked in with allies to see if they were having any success killing enemy scorpions. If we could kill enough ECM we thought we might be able to stabilize our logistics / rep-chain. The NC had left our guardians alive (since most were jammed) and focused on HACs to reduce incoming dps. Our friends felt it was going slowly and the our FCs posted in shared channels that we were going to regroup at a friendly POS to evaluate the situation.

It was at this point of the fight that primaries were switched from BS to tackle. We melted lots of frigs and other tackle before warping. Our allies were told we were warping and only a few got bubbled. With the fight not going our way, some serious discussions took place about our options. Super caps were ruled out again and the primary FC actually logged. Many of the FCs who had helped call targets were also either dead or absent when some late-arriving IT leadership asked who could take over the fleet.

During this time, the NC caught a small group of blues outside an IT pos that they couldn’t enter. The blues lost a few ships, including a damnation that was getting reps from shield-hugging armor logistics, leading to a hilariously SLOW death. I asked repeatedly on comms if we wanted to warp in on the NC support who were bubbling themselves on the POS, but the attention had shifted to getting supers out of system by then.

I don’t have a pic of the supposed titan that was tackled (must have been at a safe), but a supercap who was supposedly logged in POS before any hostiles warped in had been in jeopardy for a short time. Of this, I don’t have many first-hand details because the fleet commanders were split between the capital and sub-capital channels with very little global TS chatter.

Kill-board Link –

Reflections On The Battle of PNQY

In my previous post, I discussed the incendiary and much-debated topic of 0.0 fleet numbers. One fact I highlighted was that, despite IT Alliance being the largest single alliance by a margin of several hundred pilots, the real strength worth paying attention to is that of one’s overall coalition.

The NC that repelled -A-, IT, ROL, Atlas, Init and others in MAX 2.0 is just as large today as it was then. I believe it has actually grown in membership among guests who see the North as a safe-haven and impenetrable fortress (despite PL’s successes to the contrary). In contrast with Northern “BFFs,” IT has lost -A- & ROL as allies, while Atlas has partially merged into Initiative Mercenaries without retaining its former impressive participation levels in CTAs. It doesn’t help that those aforementioned alliances are tied up fighting each other down south.

In PNQY, there were several reasons IT and our allies were beaten, but I will highlight one above all else: strong turnout from several major NC alliances in addition to the expected numbers from GSF + TEST. The presence of Wildly Inappropriate isn’t totally unforeseeable, but Mostly Harmless, Razor, Morsus Mihi and many more were in attendance with considerable sub-cap fleets. That’s not even counting the cap fleet ready to log on and jump in if we had committed our supers to the field.

Our numbers – as reported on other sites – include the caps and supers who were NOT on field during the most intense fighting. Hostile reinforcements were forming and spotted en-route to PNQY throughout the entire fight. The one blue group that made a late appearance was Initiative, but their numbers were not enough to tip the scales. Other IT allies had been on-time or early.

All sides were expecting a large IT supercap fleet to make an appearance. We moved over 100 titans & SC in the 24 hours before the OP, in addition to the ones who were already in Fountain. This projection of power was a double-edged sword, drawing in over 1100 NC with holiday dreams of popping dozens of SC or even Shrike’s 5th Avatar.

The NC had pilots from nearly every sov-holding alliance in the North with caps ready to go and ended up fielding several hundred more sub-caps. With a huge sub-cap advantage, the primary FC for this operation decided not to deploy supers. Carriers were briefly used before being called back when it was clear that fighters were doing absolutely ZERO damage to SBUs and presumably had even less chance of harming moving players as the lag continually worsened.

Aside from the issue of hostile numbers, the second biggest problem was that the FC had called for armor HACs. With limited range, low alpha damage, and a high level of reliance on logistics this was a very poor choice for the amount of lag we encountered. Our now familiar shield fleet setups would have been a better choice.

While some disagreed with the decision not to go take the supers onto the field, the fact remains that 1 station can be retaken. More importantly, this has been a morale boost for the Test/GSF forces (and probably the rest of the NC who have been forced to fight PL recently). That’s a victory that won’t be erased even if the station is re-taken, and it was something I was confident we were going to be able to avoid.

IT Alliance Myths, Mega-Coalitions & More

Posted in IT Alliance on December 21, 2010 by Easley Thames

Detractors of IT Alliance like to point out that we’re the largest alliance in the game. The implication is that, since we’re the largest, we should therefore have overwhelming force during all timezones. The issue of alliance size is one that I have felt like touching upon as of late.

While IT is the largest alliance, the size difference between IT and the next-largest alliance – Goonswarm Federation – is not that great. The #3 alliance – TEST – is not far behind either. Both alliances are hostile, work together, and share similar cultures. Together they greatly out-number IT with over 9000 characters.

Of the top 10 largest alliances, numbers 2 through 9 in size are all unfriendly to IT. Of those 8 alliances, all but #5 (Shadow of xXDeath) are members of the Northern Coalition. The total membership in those 7 NC alliances alone is over 25,000 characters.

Rounding out the top 20 are IT’s allies and yet more hostiles. Initiative + Init Mercs (which are two heads of one beast) and Init Associates (renters who participate to a lesser degree in fleets) total up to an impressive 6098 players. That makes the Init family (as a whole) larger than IT. However, if you remove Init Associates (as is sensible IMO) the combined population of IM + Init (4175) would fit between TEST and Morsus Mihi at the #4 position.

Sys-K sits at #15 with 1679 members. Fountain allies like Blast, Blade, Hun and Talos are all below the top 20 with BLAST being the largest at 1336 members. These alliances are roughly the same size as mid-sized NC guest alliances like Fatal Ascension, F-Con and Demon Hunters (all between 1000 and 1500 characters).

Hypocrisy and Contradictions:

> Whenever we have a fleet operation where we’re out-numbered, such as nearly all U.S. timezone ops where euros don’t alarm clock, we are called an “AFK empire” full of anomaly farmers.

> Whenever we bring better numbers we’re then some kind of mindless horde that recruits noobs en-masse and “only wins because of lag.”

> Whenever we drop our supers we’re “only able to win because of our high SP and old money.”

So what’s the truth? Clearly we can’t all be newbies fresh from empire AND old 100+ mil SP characters at the same time, those are mutually exclusive descriptions. Clearly we can’t be inactive and also blobbers who lag systems to death.

The truth is that IT is not an amalgam of every propaganda “meme” used on the forums. We don’t have red phones to call CCP, we don’t have nearly as much moon income as the NC after CCP rebalanced in favor of Tech, and we don’t have nearly as many members or as liberal recruitment standards as our enemies (though some IT corps are sluttier than others).

I would also like to say that IT Alliance is not the devil:

Before Eve devolved into a boring war of super-coalitions and diplomacy, alliances like IT/BoB were among several with balls, and people signed up because they/we were revered for starting wars and generally keeping the game exciting.

Today, while everyone says they want such things, few back up their actions with resets that would revitalize their alliance and provide “fun” engagements.  In the words of someone who should never have run for office, “I am not a witch, I’m you.”

Ultimately, we don’t make decisions with any regard for popularity. Molle does not market IT Alliance to the population as a whole, and we don’t keep allies around if they are not both strong and loyal. We also don’t pretend that allies of conveniance are our “BFFs” when we barely know their players.

Is that something that weakens us in the long-run? Clearly so, but it’s our choice to make and if more people followed the same mentality Eve might be a more dynamic universe. This leads me to my next point. Permanent power blocs / coalitions / nap-fests have become ridiculously large.

While building a large alliance is advantageous, the real numbers advantage is determined by the size of your COALITION,  not just a single alliance. In those terms, IT and friends are dwarfed by our enemies, and the anti-BoB bandwagon is one that literally every sov-holder has jumped upon at one time or another in history.

It’s just too easy to side with the cultural movement started by Goons that has come to define most alliances, whether they recognize it or not.

The drama and animus of the old anti-BoB rivalries is sadly a thing of the past, replaced with an “inherited hatred” in new players based on events they never experienced. Real drama is engrossing, but what we have now rarely rises to that level. 50 pages of people saying “U MAD BRO???” to each other endlessly is not exactly space opera.

Alliances today are too quick to ally-up with big coalitions. Groups like Evoke are rare, and deserve to have a region somewhere, but it’s a little depressing that they choose to evict the Provi NIP which is – itself – full of independent alliances trying to cut into 0.0 without joining a major power bloc.  Providence is a subject for another post, so I won’t trail off into that subject at this time.

If you’ve never bothered to look, this is the reality of the “numbers game” in 0.0. Here is the data, color-coded based on IT Alliance standings —

Alliances By Size [Source: DOTLAN Eve Maps]

IT Alliance Friends in BLUE

IT Alliance Enemies in RED

Alliance Outposts Systems Members Corps
1. IT Alliance IT Alliance 62 Show on universe map119 5667 27
2. Goonswarm Federation Goonswarm Federation 21 Show on universe map55 4836 76
3. Test Alliance Please Ignore Test Alliance Please Ignore 7 Show on universe map22 4371 32
4. Morsus Mihi Morsus Mihi 21 Show on universe map64 3766 22
5. Shadow of xXDEATHXx Shadow of xXDEATHXx 16 Show on universe map113 3408 134
6. United Front Alliance United Front Alliance 0 Show on universe map41 3283 50
7. R.A.G.E R.A.G.E 6 Show on universe map53 3040 24
8. Wildly Inappropriate. Wildly Inappropriate. 9 Show on universe map35 2894 34
9. Majesta Empire Majesta Empire 16 Show on universe map50 2810 30
10. Initiative Mercenaries Initiative Mercenaries 0 Show on universe map38 2549 29
11. -Mostly Harmless- -Mostly Harmless- 10 Show on universe map41 2418 26
12. SOLAR WING SOLAR WING 1 Show on universe map48 2380 96
13. RAZOR Alliance RAZOR Alliance 25 Show on universe map50 2165 18
14. Initiative Associates Initiative Associates 3 Show on universe map69 1923 66
15. Systematic-Chaos Systematic-Chaos 9 Show on universe map32 1679 23
16. The Initiative. The Initiative. 46 Show on universe map74 1626 15
17. Tactical Narcotics Team Tactical Narcotics Team 3 Show on universe map12 1609 24
18. Fidelas Constans Fidelas Constans 2 Show on universe map15 1599 28
19. Red Alliance Red Alliance 24 Show on universe map73 1574 24
20. Against ALL Authorities Against ALL Authorities 13 Show on universe map29 1546 12

The War of Wills :: Impass, Catch & Beyond

Posted in Against All Authorities, IT Alliance, The Initiative. on December 15, 2010 by Easley Thames

Background Information

-A- with help from an unlikely alliance of long-time friends based in Stain and the “we’re too cool to be the NC (but we really are)” crew have been working hard to punish Init for over-extending itself and – above all – for helping PL wipe AAA off the map in much the same way Atlas had fallen not long before.

The facts of who betrayed who are disputed, but I don’t have much sympathy for -A- after their lackluster performance as allies to IT, and their general shitty attitude towards Atlas & Initiative. They were always a bit too smug and hard to work with, but without them Atlas would likely never have made it in Omist (from which an epic campaign began), so I cannot fall them unimportant to the development of the South over the last year.

In 2009 -A- was one of the “big three” down south (along with IT and Atlas), and before Max 2 a tentative partnership that the NC was quick to equate (incorrecly) with their own “coaliton” looked poised to challenge the unprecedented nap-fest up North. We all know how that turned out. IT couldn’t coordinate with -A- and Atlas, Atlas was not motivated in the first place, and -A- showed late then left early.

Since then, two of the “big three” have been cut down. In Atlas’s case, the corps who were in the alliance at the time have abandoned the namesake and moved on. -A- has taken a very different path.

The kind of 0.0 alliance that can exist long-term in the current 0.0 world is one that doesn’t mind fighting to regain lost space or collapsing down to a smaller core of players and then growing resurgent for a long fight. I admire and have respect for the current members of -A- in this regard.

The War of Wills

-A- had early successes in this campaign, but the momentum has swung heavily in Init’s favor recently. I do not believe that Init can or should hold the entirety of its current space for a long time without making some compromises, but so far they have shown no indications of being worn down.

The battles have been raging daily with SBUs going up all over the place only to be shot down. Small gangs are made and lost time and again. What is really being tested here is the willpower of the two involved coalitions.

Many predicted Init or IT would give up easily. Those people don’t understand how boring it is for us without a major campaign. Catch has not only revitalized -A-, it has been a shot in the arm for everyone involved.

IT’s Syndicate / Cloud ring campaign was a snooze-fest, we took moons mostly unopposed and fighting NCdot in Fountain was really more of learning experience for our U.S. timezone, while the E.U. timezone had unbeatable numerical superiority and could win any battle timed for their prime coverage.

With that said, this entry is more or less just an excuse to post some pretty screen-shots of IT, Init and some new allies (most notably M. Pire as of this week) getting what needs to be done accomplished.

Images from the Front Lines

Be sure to check out the images (other than the map)!

Counter-Terrorists Win :: Battle of C3N (Part Two)

Posted in IT Alliance on December 13, 2010 by Easley Thames

After last night’s victory, IT members camped the C3N system around the clock. We had half a dozen bubbles on every gate, and there were even bubbles anchored with cloaked tacklers at planets and at the POS where the battle had taken place.

There was a non-stop flow of hostiles logging into system and dieing, one by one, as if they had no way to warn their friends. Perhaps they simply wanted a quick ride home.

For as late as I could stay awake, I warped from gate to gate killing drakes and other miscellaneous fleet ships from TEST, Goons, AAA, Stain Empire and even ex-Providence NIP alliances (who are the newest allies of AAA against Initiative). The rate of pilots logging into system was very high and we were continually warping from place to place to support gate tacklers.

This continued until the second CSAA was saved later in the day. I fell asleep a couple hours before that timer, but the hostiles were too demoralized to show up. The killing of small hostile gangs attempting to break out of the system continued all day.

Home Field Advantage :: The Battle of C3N (Part One)

Posted in IT Alliance, Killboard Stats on December 12, 2010 by Easley Thames

Earlier this week, when 2 DICE CSAA were put in danger with a U.S. prime-time reinforcement timer (on Saturday night no less), the groundwork for a large-scale battle in Delve was put into place.

Before getting into my account of the fight, a little background:

Goonswarm and TEST have recently felt emboldened by their early victories over IT-friendly residents in Fountain. Engaging Goons/Test/WI/etc in U.S. prime has so far been treated as low-priority (much to the chagrin of DARK CEO Mitch Taylor) in comparison to the campaign to support Initiative.

Goons see the renaissance of AAA as a chance to trigger a failure cascade in IT. The Mittani has played though these events many times before (on both sides of the collapse) and would be a fool to pass up this opportunity to rally his alliance if there is even a small chance of something big happening. Nevertheless, though IT certainly has issues, I have a strong sense that the external perception of the alliance’s stability is greatly distorted currently.

IT has always had a relatively weak U.S. time-zone (compared to our enemies) due to most IT corps being strongly Euro-heavy with U.S. players that are used to playing on a schedule to match official IT ops (which typically occur after downtime).

Some Maverick FCs have been slowly expanding their role in running “official” alliance ops in the U.S. time-zone with mixed success, but it’s difficult to consistently succeed out-numbered when you’re operating in an “empire building” alliance rather than an “elite nomadic mercenary” alliance.

Despite our time-zone gap, the equation significantly changes for critical battles. IT members rally when attacked at home, and are always willing to alarm-clock diligently when needed for home defense.

That said, I will proceed with my account of tonight’s battle:

In a highly anticipated battle involving numerous alliances on each side, IT and IT’s allies won the first round in the battle of C3N.

The fight was very large, with local peaking over 1600. IT alliance held the home field and prepared with carriers, supercarriers and titans. The immense lag was a problem for both sides as weapons were slow and logistics even slower.

The Anti-IT forces focused on the tower the entire fight (barring some light support skirmishes) and were slowly killed at first. As their numbers dropped lag was reduced and the slaughter commenced. Our Titans had been doomsdaying battleships non-stop and hundreds of fighters were swarming on the enemy. We had a strong sub-cap fleet as well.

The attack failed and – being slightly late to the battle in a humble interceptor – I didn’t load until the hostiles had given up and started to run. Self destruct notifications were numerous and the remaninging ships warped to various gates (all of which were bubbled). A few logged off, but the general sense I got was that most wanted to die and respawn so they could come back later.

I caught a few people on a gate and they were quickly melted by our support.

With most kills posted via API feed, this is the current result from IT’s perspective (340 KILLED | 12 LOST) —

KB Link:

As a note, that board won’t show non-IT losses, and the one carrier kill is essentially a double-counted mail showing as both a kill and a loss. Losses were not high for any blues involved, as the hostiles were relentless in focusing fire on the tower.

Goons had told their members it was Lady Scarlet’s titan, a super carrier intended for Molle’s wife and various other things. My understanding is that this is actually the super DICE is giving away in the IT alliance x-mas lottery, but I can’t be absolutely sure of that.

Stay tuned for part two, later today, when the next timer is up. All signs point to the hostiles regrouping and coming back for more. However, as it’s a timer much later in our prime, it will be difficult for them to match the numbers they brought in round one.

CCP’s Latest Expansion :: An Incursion Into Good Game Design

Posted in CCP, User Interface on December 1, 2010 by Easley Thames

With the current state of the game, and given the widespread outcry from players, it seems to me that the Eve Online player-base would prefer optimizations and changes to the current game-play experience over additional features.To my great delight, Incursion seems to offer a little of both.

What is noteworthy in this expansion is that there are significant changes that are wholly unrelated to the new feature (Sansha raids). If CCP can continue to blend optimizations (and not just for server performance) alongside new features, my satisfaction rating will continue to rise.

In a previous blog post, I mentioned some UI fixes I wanted to see implemented. Incursion includes at least one of these (naming ships in hangar without boarding them) along with many other useful changes I have desired for years.

I am not particularly excited about the rocket buff, but it was certainly long over-due. The Hawk is getting some needed special attention, but I feel the ships that will skyrocket in popularity as a result will be the Vengence, Worm and CN Hookbill.

The heretic and malediction also should see a major improvement in their 1v1 capability against small ships. Rocket Maledictions have always been a fairly threatening opponent for certain combat intys, and with this change the plated varieties should be even more dangerous.

The removal of learning skills coming on the 14th is also a long-awaited and highly popular change. I am personally very happy about the early x-mas gift of several million skill points to spend as I please, and the removal of learning skills will reduce the misery of being a new pilot in this game.

In all honesty, it’s fine for the game to be as complex and harsh as it is for new players, that was part of what kept me interested, but creating pointless hurdles for new players that increase the time before they can start obtaining useful and fun new skills is just a bad game design decision. In conclusion, skill reimbursement = epic win!

Arguably the biggest change is the sweeping revision of T2 close ranged ammo types. Long considered worthless by the majority of pilots (especially the close ranged ammo for long-ranged weapons) the removal of some major penalties makes them a viable alternative to faction ammo. The movement penalties, in particular, and lack of significantly higher damage than faction variants were usually deal-breakers for savvy ammo users.

In many cases, I will now be carrying T2 CR ammo in large quantities. I’ve bought-out some large sell orders that still reflected the low (pre-buff) prices. I expect prices rise soon in remote 0.0 regions as demand rises steadily.

As for the actual incursions? Well, I don’t play Eve for PvE. I play other MMOs for that kind of experience. I think PvE in EvE is always going to be lacking a bit because there is so little actual player control over your movement, not to mention a limited extent of module management. It just doesn’t compare to the interaction required by games like Everquest, WoW or Aion.

As a short aside, is there anyone out there playing Vindictus currently? I’m greatly enjoying it in small portions, though the game certainly lacks some depth. Still, you can’t argue with a free MMO where the micro-transactions don’t dominate the game (unlike gPotato games for example where potentially amazing games like Allods are sunk due to excessive “pay to win” cash shop items).