Operation Etherium Reach-Around

Posted in Against All Authorities, Eve History, Fleet Tactics, Killboard Stats, Pandemic Legion on February 29, 2012 by Easley Thames

Not often does one see AAA’s coalition, The Cluster-fuck Coalition (CFC), and tons of random people from all over New Eden cooperating spontaneously.

Tonight, something magical happened in Etherium Reach. In AAA, we will forever remember this day fondly as “Operation Etherium Reach-Around.” It will come as a shock to no one that this name was chosen by eccentric Maverick Navy CEO Avicenna Sarfaraz.

At the outset, let me tip my hat to Mukk Barovian, Perseus Kallistratos, Makalu Zarya, and James Kordent. These four FCs really pulled a rabbit out of a hat tonight, in more ways than one.

Things started off with a relatively small-scale conflict between the DRF and AAA/Nulli in LXQ2-T, with XxDeathXx forming a dread and carrier fleet to kill a Stain Empire POS that was coming out of reinforced mode.

XxdeathXx added two titans to their POS-killing fleet, something that caused AAA spies to raise an eyebrow. Presumably, the XxDeathxX FC was eager to add more muscle to their rather unimpressive fleet of about a dozen carriers, half a dozen dreads, and a small support fleet hitting the Stain Empire PoS.

An Avatar and Erebus were on field when AAA showed up solo, with only 60 sub-caps, but the Avatar cyno’d out at the first sign of trouble. The Erebus was not so fortunate. Once he was tackled by AAA’s Oracle gang, Nulli rushed to support their allies with a swiftly-traveling Naga fleet.

XxDeathXx and Controlled Chaos warped in some additional carriers to repair the imperiled titan, but a very smart order by the AAA FC team lead to the placement of defensive bubbles that caused the carriers to land outside of repair range. This allowed a relatively small battle-cruiser fleet to wear down a titan with minimal interference by hostile remote repair.

The Erebus exploded too quickly for PL or NCdot to arrive. This was due in part to the fact that he was not fully tank fit. Approximately one minute after the titan died, the pro-DRF mercenaries showed up to save the day — or so they thought.

PL and NCdot had around 30 supers on the initial jump-in, with no support to speak of on field. This might seem like hubris to some, but PL’s reputation is often enough to protect them from serious challenges to their super-cap fleet.

Tonight, AAA decided NOT to leave the field when hostile supers landed. Instead, a small number of dictors did their best to hold down PL and NCdot super-caps, while calls for help went out across New Eden.

Some of the first AAA pilots on-field burned to a nearby low-system to trade their current ships for additional DICs and HICs. There was a tense atmosphere, but everyone realized the potential for something special to unfold here. Everyone moved with a sense of urgency.

At one point, PL and NCdot were able to free up the majority of their super-cap fleet. They took this chance to warp out. However, a well-timed bubble by AAA FC James Kordent caught a single Aeon seconds before it entered warp.

To their credit, PL and NCdot decided to come back for their stranded comrade, but this decision would eventually cost them dearly. From the moment that the XxDeathXx titan was tackled, forces across the galaxy had been massing.

Reinforcements from every AAA ally were on the way, not to mention the hordes of neutral alliances who just wanted a chance to appear on the kill-mails.

It took some rather dynamic bubbling by AAA dictors to keep the supers bubbled. In particular, MVN FCs James Kordent and Perseus Kallistratos pulled off some impressive feats in the domain of interdiction. Together they used a combined 160 bubbles before help arrived.

Our brave dictor pilots nearly died on multiple occasions. The AAA, Nulli, and  CONDI logistics pilots deserve a huge amount of credit for saving them both repeatedly.

When I personally landed on-field in my Heretic, along with other reinforcements, the situation was still in flux. No one knew for sure which neutrals were going to help PL and which had come merely to pile-on the tackled supers.

Neutrals from dozens of alliances were showing up. Many were bombing the field indiscriminately. TEST’s tornado fleet was firing at both sides of the conflict, while most of the other Clusterfuck members seemed to be focusing primarily on PL and NCdot (though by no means exclusively so).

However, despite the chaos. NCdot and PL supers were now completely covered in bubbles, and they started dieing one-by-one. They deserve recognition for choosing to go down fighting instead of initiating self-destruct. PL and NCdot have a good tradition in this respect, and I wish more people would follow their example until CCP fixes the mechanic so that a kill-mail is produced.

There was only one other moment where PL and NCdot had a chance to escape. The grid was badly contorted, and their supers were able to cross from one grid to another. We spotted this phenomenon early, and had dictors on both grids to prevent any escape.

This is what the end result looked like from my perspective in the AAA fleet.

Some are pointing to this battle a great example of the weakness of an unsupported super-capital fleet. In my opinion, the fact there there were no PL or NCdot titans on field to blap things was a major factor. Even without titans, the super-carriers nearly escaped on multiple occasions.

Super carriers were already neutered to an extent when they lost the ability to launch anything other than fighters or bombers, but titans remain very capable of killing support ships. Perhaps the lesson from the battle in LXQ2-T is that titans are what are imbalanced right now, not super carriers.

In any case, it’s food for thought, and I’m sure CCP is taking everything that happens on Tranquility into account when working on future balancing. If Titan tracking does get a nerf, fights like this – where a small sub-cap fleet holds down many supers until help can arrive – might be far more common.

This victory was preceded by PL losing 2 other super carriers to AAA, and morale among the Southern bloc is improving at a time when XxDeathxX and RA are both holding high-level meetings about the future of their coalition.

Ultimately, super-capitals can be replaced, especially by rich alliances like PL and NCdot. What can’t be paid for is the psychological impact of a super-capital being destroyed. Whether or not this harms the DRF, PL, or NCdot – it will definitely positively impact on everyone else involved.

Battle Summary: http://dog-net.org/brdoc/?brid=5104

Capital Kills —

Ship Class Total



WTF Battle Clinic?

Posted in Killboard Stats on February 29, 2012 by Easley Thames

This last weekend was fairly eventful for me in terms of online gaming. I had some extra time on my hands, so I finished upgrading my T34 in World of Tanks, and I also spent some time soloing in Curse.

It has been a really good couple of weeks for large gangs, with 3 super kills and  lots of high-value sub-cap kills on roams:

However, solo play is completely unlike gang roams or large fleet fights. While I enjoy all 3 forms of PvP, solo play is what motivates me to log-in most days.

I had  several notable solo fights this weekend. In one case, I was able to beat a Hurricane and Thorax in my Drake, before narrowly escaping a Mach that warped in late.

It was a great rush when I prevailed in the end with ‘nary a single point of shield remaining.

I also had a number of frigate duels. Some were arranged, and some spontaneous.

Assault ships are FOTM, but you still see garden variety Sabres all over the place. The destroyer buff has also motivated some people to dust off their Thrashers and Catalysts.

One small ship fight in particular really amused me. I killed a Russian Sabre who was camping a gate in my Wolf. However, he had explosive ammo loaded, and was able to get me into structure before he died. Worse yet, the rats had started firing on us during the duel.

Since the bubble was still up, and rats were on the gate, I actually died to Angel rats before I could get out of the bubble to. I had a good laugh at this, at least initially.

Despite the fact that we both died, I expected to actually come out slightly ahead on Battle Clinic due to the fact that a Sabre is a larger t2 ship than a Wolf.

Then I looked it up and – to my horror – I lost 83 fucking points for dieing to the Sabre, while he only lost 5. How in the world is an Assault Ship worth so many points compared to a t2 destroyer?

For reference, 83 points is a large amount. It’s like 4 solo kills against someone in an equal ship. 83 loss points is something like an 8% increase in my LIFETIME loss points, from one duel. To me, this felt like a huge blow.

Although mad, I wasn’t done for the night. I re-shipped into my own Sabre, and then as if the universe was apologizing for the illogical point loss on BC, I was rewarded with a Wolf target.

I killed the Wolf in my Sabre, and this time I managed not to die to rats on the way home.

So, did I get 83 points in return?

Nope. 16 points.

What the fuck, Battle Clinic? What. The. Fuck.

If it were any other kill-board I wouldn’t care, but BC is really the standard solo pilots use to judge each other, and this loss really feels unfairly scored.

At Long Last :: The Assault Ship Buff

Posted in Fittings on December 23, 2011 by Easley Thames

Everyone is talking about the assault ship changes posted by the same redditor who brought us an accurate preview of the tier-3 BC stats before CCP released any information on them.

I don’t know his/her methods, but apparently he/she is able to filter out relevant ship changes from the “Chaos Client cache,” using what I can only assume to be some sort of magical scrying stone.

I have a few preliminary thoughts on these changes…


(1) The MWD bonus seems highly ineffectual:

I think that the devs may be attempting to encourage the use of a “heavy interceptor” setup that can remain highly survivable while MWDing out to tackle targets for roaming gangs, or even in larger fleet battles.

However, this “heavy interceptor” role bonus really isn’t something that will be particularly useful to most gangs, or even most assault ship pilots.

Changes in fleet composition trends, game mechanics, and FC preferences over the last few years have caused frigate tacklers to fall out of favor, in both fleet warfare and roaming pvp.

The rise of idiot-proof probing has removed the phenomenon of 150km+ snipers (who cannot track frigs for shit) from 0.0, the popularity of close-ranged turret BS has made orbiting frigs into mere fodder, e-war immune super-caps determine the victor in most serious battles, and missile-spamming 100MN AB-Tengu fleets give absolutely zero fucks if you scram them.

The bottom line is, there is no longer a need for a “hero inty” to burn out to the enemy like we saw depicted in the Incarna trailer.

Even in smaller fleets, it only takes a few roaming fit-BCs to pop an MWDing assault ship in a single volley, before it can reach them at range on a gate or station.

The focus has instead shifted towards well-placed interdiction spheres, heavily-tanked HIDs, long-range tackling recons, and tech-3 “strategic” cruiser tacklers with faction mods.

These ships can provide better tackling, usually from further away, and can actually be supported by logistics on a reliable basis.

In solo PvP, with a few notable exceptions – such as Imperial Navy Slicers – solo frigs rarely run MWD-only fits today.

Almost all 1v1 frigate setups plan on fighting within scram range these days. Worse yet, mwd/scram/web frigs can often be escaped by AB/scram  frigs, with only web-bonused ships like the Daredevil being a consistent exception.

For this reason, most pilots fit to optimize their performance within scram range, rather than attempting to kite.


(2) Most people expected something else:

The two most popular theories discussed have always been an AB speed-boost (as a flat role bonus of perhaps 25-50%) or e-war resistance (such as web immunity). I would greatly prefer either of these bonuses to an MWD-related bonus.

Since interceptors already have the MWD signature bloom reduction, would it not make much more sense to give assault ships an AB-related bonus?

This would benefit assault ships in close-range tackling, further augmenting their defensive capabilities, without encroaching on the (already greatly diminished) territory of ‘ceptors.

I believe an AB-buff is what most of the player-base would have voted for, if given the chance. However, I would personally favor an even more dramatic change.

My suggestion is that CCP allow assault ships to fit medium weapons!

The game really doesn’t need yet another boring frigate-sized tackler, it needs original ship concepts that spur innovation and force battle-soured capsuleers to reconsider their dogmatic approach to warfare.

Where will the Amarrian God be when your fancy new Oracle gets tackled by an AB-fit Enyo with a rack of Heavy Neutron Blaster II’s?

I think that this would be in-line with the tradition of over-sized weapons established first by stealth bombers and, more recently, tier-3 battlecruisers.

I digress though. Back to the tentative changes.


(3) EHP values are going up:

The next general buff to all assault ships seems to be the addition of either 200 armor or shield, depending on the natural tanking predisposition of the ship.

Some have said that this will tip the balance even further in favor of assault ships against close-range faction frigs, which are already starting to go down in price (particularly Dramiels). I certainly agree with that sentiment.

However, I think this was done, more than anything else, to put comparatively-expensive assault ships (and I use the word “expensive” with a degree of sarcasm here)  in a better position against the recently (and rather unexpectedly) buffed T1 destroyers, which are very affordable.

The passive armor/shield buff also favors passive fits that can attach a multiplier effect to the added HP (such as a core defense extender or trimarks) rather than active setups.

However, I personally believe we may well see a golden age of active-tanked assault ships used by solo combat pilots due to the improved slot-layouts.


(4) Added slots and fittings space will create new possibilities:

Each assault ship will be receiving an added slot!

VENGEANCE +1 HIGH (utility only)

The biggest change here has to be the addition of a second mid-slot to the god-damned Retribution. A frigate with one mid-slot is just a fundamentally flawed design, and it’s a bit disappointing that we had to wait for a full overhaul of the ship class to get this thing modified.

These layouts, combined with some extra PG or Cpu here and there, should enable some dangerous new setups.

For example, the Enyo gains a slot that could be filled with a web, but I believe many will attempt to emulate the success of Garmon’s legendary taranis fit by opting for dual-prop layout.

The Vengeance in particular seems singled by these changes, and arguably has improved the least, but it was already so good at what it did that it hardly needed improvement. This hard-tanking frigate is the PzKpfw 38H735 (f) or “Hotchkiss” of Eve – a reference I suspect many tank-driving Eve players will agree with.

More relevant to my own tastes, CCP may-well have ushered in a the golden era of dual-rep armor tanking assault ships. I am very excited to experiment with cap-injected, dual-repping Ishkur.


(5) The Missing 4th Bonuses Finally Applied:

T2 ships, regardless of whether they have a role bonus or not, always gain two additional bonuses on top of their two T1 hull bonuses. That is, except for Assault Ships.

This shortfall has always vexed many pilots, and at last we have those missing bonuses.

An extra 5% or 7.5% per level can make a huge difference in a dog fight, and this will further cement the Assault Ship as the new kings of close-range frigate brawling.


The Stars Look Amazing…. In Skyrim

Posted in Non-Eve Gaming on December 10, 2011 by Easley Thames

I have to confess, I am totally addicted to Skyrim. With all the hype out there, I really expected to be let down somehow, much like I was with Oblivion.

Fortunately, that was NOT the case this time. This is what I would call a perfect game, in that I literally would not change anything about the experience.

I was not planning to purchase Skyrim so soon. Rather than paying full price for the game + lots of DLC, I typically wait for the expansions to be released to each Elder Scrolls game before buying the package deal.

However, I received Skyrim as a belated birthday gift from a friend, so I was off to explore the frozen Nordic wastes earlier than I had anticipated.

The world is really beautifully constructed, and I feel strongly immersed when adventuring.

I am also impressed by the quality of the voice acting, and the dungeon layouts I have experienced, two things that were painfully awful in Oblivion.

I just wanted to say that, if you aren’t seeing me online, this is why:

Like many, I didn’t enjoy Oblivion very much compared to Morrowind, and let me just say that Skyrim has completely refueled my love for this franchise. They did so many things right this time that I don’t even know where to begin.

Finally, I wonder if any other Eve players found this particular ability amusing:

I kind of chuckled when the Greybeards started talking about ‘Clear Skies’ up on High Hrothgar.

CCP Diagoras Reports – AAA is the #1 Most Destructive Alliance

Posted in Against All Authorities, Killboard Stats on December 2, 2011 by Easley Thames

Warning: This is a shameless post where I pat my alliance on the back.  If you’re not interested in that kind of thing, then this is as far as you need to read.

CCP’s internal numbers (including the last 4 years of kills) now back-up my recent study of public kill-boards reflecting that AAA is the most destructive alliance in New Eden. It is a source of pride for -MVN- that we have contributed to the ongoing success of AAA for nearly a year now.

We faced the “old AAA” from their earliest days in 2007, back when The Mavericks were providence residents, enjoying daily fights with skilled AAA pilots. AAA has always had one of the best roaming cultures in the South, and the stats reflect this.

Our respect for -A- grew again as they continued their way of life, roaming the South and having fun, while simultaneously turning the tide against IT Alliance & The Initiative in 2010, eventually rebuilding their empire.

Many alliances have claimed they can survive losing space, but only AAA has been able to actually grow while facing a larger coalition, month after month.

Here are CCP Diagoras’s Findings:

#1 Against ALL Authorities (115,425 / 56,169)
#2 Pandemic Legion (91,301 / 49,606)
#3 Morsus Mihi (85,062 / 38,735)
#4 Red Alliance (69,726 / 34,727)
#5 RAZOR Alliance (58,754 / 28,887)

Source: http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=3235

Our Welcome to Macrabe Votum

Posted in Against All Authorities, Alliance Leadership on December 2, 2011 by Easley Thames

Maverick CEO Avicenna Sarfaraz recounts the tale of how Macabre Votum found itself in the “-A- bar” with the rest of us lunatics in an adaptation of a Korean comic meme that has been sweeping the inter-webs:

Once you go in, you can't go out!

The Five Most Destructive Alliances of All Time :: A Short Review of the Data

Posted in Against All Authorities, Eve History, Killboard Stats on October 24, 2011 by Easley Thames

While bored at work, I decided to construct a simple table comparing the most destructive alliances of all time. The data is taken from Battle Clinic, which is the largest and oldest-running kill mail database available to Eve players.

This table includes the top 5 ranked alliances on Battle Clinic (based on their all-time rank). Though Battle Clinic rankings are based on kill-points, I find that the most interesting data is the overall amount of kills, losses, and isk damage caused by each alliance.

A note about “BC” rankings. Battle Clinic ranking is based off “kill points,” not the raw isk value of kills.

For example, killing a T2 frigate in another T2 frigate is worth 20 points, while killing that same T2 frigate in a battle-ship is worth much less points, even though the isk value of the kill is the same in both cases. This system is supposed to judge the difficulty of a kill, and in most cases it works well.

Sharing a kill with multiple players spreads the value out, so solo kills are the most valuable. This tends to benefit alliances that have many small-gang and soloist pilots.

Of the top-5 alliances, it’s easy to see why each of them are there:

(1) AAA has held down the top spot for years. While AAA’s current enemies in the DRF tend to portray AAA as cockroaches that refuse to die after losing space, the truth is that sovereignty is a secondary priority for most AAA pilots.

AAA has maintained an almost compulsive small-gang roaming culture with multiple gangs across multiple timezones since their formation.

That tradition is very much alive today, and the alliance is now more active than ever in the U.S. timezone, in large part due to the addition of  The Maverick Navy’s fleet commanders.

Looking closely at the numbers, the sheer volume of kills by AAA pilots tells the whole story. The kill total is un-matched by any of the other alliances listed, and this tells me that AAA has been constantly involved in fighting.

AAA has more kills than the all-time #2 and #3 ranked alliance combined, and is – in that sense – the most destructive.

(2) The Privateers. Ah yes, the greatest terrors of high-sec. These campers regularly scored mission-fit battleship kills with small groups, which is an excellent kill-point generation strategy.

You can see the relatively low number of losses for Privateers, which is evidence of the well known fact that their prey is mostly unsuspecting high-sec fodder. However, the lack of large-scale battles means less overall kills as well.

Privateers also suffer in the isk damage category, largely because you cannot score high-value capital and super-capital kills in empire. I guess ganking in Jita has to have some drawbacks to it.

(3) Triumvarite, the phoenix that keeps burning itself out, only to rise again.

This alliance, which can be considered the precursor to Northern Coalition(dot) of today, was a nasty menace that kept a much larger norther force on their heels for months at a time, periodically disbanding when the e-peen of involved parties got in the way of operating a single alliance.

Triumvarite was well known for both small gang roaming and ganking capitals, both of which generate copious kill-points.

Unlike privateers, who took very few risks, you can see from the numbers that Tri definitely took heavier losses as a result of fighting an organized opponent while out-numbered.

(4) Pandemic Legion, the game’s one true king-maker for hire, and the force whose fittings and tactics have been most heavily imitated in the last two years.

I expected that, being the game’s most successful super-cap killers, their isk destruction total would be very high, and it is. PL is only 5 trillion isk behind AAA, despite killing roughly half as many ships.

PL certainly has a healthy kill-point generation source in large battles, where they are generally un-matched, but perhaps they are not quite as active between major battles.

Since PL is well-known for playing other games actively (like myself), I think this is probably explains what we see reflected in the data.

(5) Stain Empire is a tough group of Southerners with a long-held regional alliance with Coven and AAA. These Southern alliances tend to place a strong emphasis on roaming and casual pvp, which is reflected in their strong overall ranks.

Much like AAA, Stain Empire appears to care more about fun battles than holding space. SE is even more extreme in this regard than its neighbors, and they have proven they are perfectly content to live in the NPC-owned Stain region.

During the invasion by the DRF, which caused a massive wave of counter-balancing, Stain Empire stuck to its principles and temporarily reset many of its allies to keep the kill-mails flowing.

The stand-out statistic here is the fact that SE has apparently caused 68.3 trillion in damage, which is more than twice the next closest  total. Unless there are fake mails involved, that means AAA trails SE with 31.4 trillion destroyed, despite killing more than twice as many ships.

This amount is larger than the sum total of PL, Tri, and Privateer’s totals. Without going out-side the top-5 ranked alliances, this feat is un-matched and makes SE a strong outlier.

Stain Empire – at first glance – seems to be the single most destructive alliance in Eve history.