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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The T2 Market

Or at least a small part of it. So, I'm slooooowly getting back into EVE. I decide to do some cleanup and manufacturing runs. Get some T1 hulls built and put on the market. Most sell quickly the ones that don't, I really didn't expect to. Then it's time to get to the BPC collection. Humm 10 1 run Slasher blueprints. Obviously I was intending to do a Stiletto invention run.

So I do the rounds of the Datacores. Humm, they've been piling up. So I snag 20 mech eng and 20 minmatar starship and the handy dandy Minmatar ship data interface and head to my invention spot and shove them in. Note that this was more to clean up my BPC collection rather than analyzing the market and doing what's profitable.

So I get around to updating my costing sheets. Sell or buy order pricing as appropriate (whichever is higher actually). So in go the mineral values, the datacore values and the current jita pricing of advanced moon materials.

Blink Blink...

A quick double check of my spreadsheets and yep I updated the calcs for all the new ship BPC values. Well well well.

Claw: Under cost - buy in Jita
Stilleto: Resonable - buy but building is cheaper
Cheetah: Ack! - build it
Hound: Ack! - build it
Hyena: Resonable - buy but building is cheaper
Prowler: Holy! - buy in jita (about 28mil cheaper than building it)

Bear in mind I have a full set of researched T2 component BPOs and I tend to use 1 run -4/-4 BPCs for materials it's worth heading to Jita so I use the Jita sell prices for the T2 materials. From what I can see there is still quite a bit of volatility in the T2 materials market but certain ship classes are stabilizing at least relative to the current Jita materials prices.

From what I can determine the Claw pricing is endemic. Claws were never the popular matari interceptor so they always tended to be cheaper to buy (as the sellers keep undercutting each other trying to move inventory on a slow selling ship). The Prowler is probably still in pre-Dominion stockpile liquidation. There's no other reason to explain the cost/price difference. Unless there's a BPO holder that's really keeping Jita fully stocked (always possible). The Hound and the Cheetah see constant use. They are probably over priced simply due to being good sellers and T2 manufacturing guys taking a bit of a break post Dominion while waiting for the moon goo prices to stabilize a bit. The Hyena - having no BPO will always stick pretty close to the manufacturing costs. Currently its about 2-2.5 mil more expensive to buy it than to invent and build it. The Stiletto is used (and lost) in such large numbers that it will always be a good seller. It's still astonishing that it's manufacturing costs are so close to it's sell price (relatively speaking).

The end result of all of this is that it pays to pay keep your manufacturing spreadsheets up to date. Know where the deals are and know what you should be building.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Alliance Thoughts

This post is about the structural implications of corporations and alliance organization as it applies to wormhole living.

As various others have posted and commented on in the past, there's an interesting difference between alliances that were formed as alliances with purpose build corporations and the primary focus being the alliance as a whole, and alliances that are made up of strong individual corporations.

In wormhole space the biggest issue that an alliance runs into is that in order to operate effectively in wormhole space you need to operate out of a POS. The problems start coming along in that POSes were designed to be corp entities and the alliance level facilities are few and far between. This effectively forces each corporation in an alliance that want's to operate in w-space for any extended period of time to put up their own POS. This is not so much a problem for the industrialists since we're usually the ones with the POSes. Mainly because we're the ones with the manufacturing arrays and the reactors.

It becomes an issue for the rest of the pilots since the two facilities that are needed simply to live in w-space become problematic. You need a spot to stash your ships and you need a spot to stash your reserves/loot that's accessible. When you're operating out of your own corps POS it's not an issue. Your CEO sets up some hangars and makes sure that your level of access is appropriate. The only thing that is effectively available at the alliance level (for daily life) is the Ship Maintenance Array.

The major reason for the need for multiple ships is that in EVE ships are highly specialized. For example if you're going to go mining it's different ships than if you're going after sleepers, responding to a BC intrusion, a SB intrusion or a BS intrusion. These all call for different ships let alone different setups for those ships. Not to mention re-mounts for the inevitable loss. Most pilots end up with an average of 3-6 ships in w-space at any one time if they operate out of there on a daily basis. Which brings up the problem that anyone who has access to a ship maintenance array can take any ship in there out. Which brings up corp/alliance security issues. Once you get beyond a certain size, you're guaranteed to have some bad apples in the and things go missing etc... This doesn't even get into the issue of POSes going up and down on a monthly basis as activity focus shifts and if you're away for a few days you may suddenly find your ships spread all over high sec (if you're lucky).

Then we get pilot focus issues. It's all very well to have your corp focus on a specific activity at the corp level but if only about half your pilots are into that activity it kind of lets the rest go by the way side, and you end up with a corp without specific focus.

The problem here is that in a lot of cases the primary allegiance of a pilot is to his corporation. The concept of inter-corporation mobility is actually frowned upon. In an ideal world some corporate structure with more security safeguards in it but that allows for more mobility between corporations within an alliance would be desirable. This would allow alliances to form specific purpose corporations and when pilots wish to focus on different activities they can simply switch over to corporations with the focus that they are interested in pursuing. This would allow for a normalization of POS spam while guaranteeing that the pilots in specific corporations are interested in doing what that corporation is set up to do.

One could do this in EVE without too much trouble IF one sets up one's alliance like this from the get go. Changing to such a structure when you've already got an alliance with longstanding established corporations is a much more difficult proposition (you can rest easy guys I'm not planning on doing this with AMC). But if you're setting one up for this from the get go it's not such a bad idea. This way one could have a corporation for those IN wormhole space, a different corporation for those wanting to stay and mission in high sec for extended periods, another for inactive reserves (people who indicate they'll be away for a while and/or will just be puttering around without committing to anything specific).

It should be noted that once a pilot can fly an Orca some of the issues go away since you can use your own Orca as a mobile base for your stuffs. Simply make sure your most important ships are in the Orca and then log out inside the POS. When you log back in you can stuff the Orca into a designated SMA and do your stuff then at the end pull it out to log out in and store any new acquisitions.

At any rate that's my toughs on alliance organization with regards to wormhole space.

Side note: I have been following the various gyrations in the south (Provi-block, Goon semi-implosion, IT gloating, etc...) as it makes for interesting reading. Not being involved however I'm not going to have much in the way of comment. Kirith Kodachi and Manasi however are deeply involved on opposite sides of the Provi-block squabble and provide excellent very balanced reading on that campaign. I highly advise reading about the last week's worth of posts from both these fine gentlemen. For the goon situation, I'm waiting with high interest for the next "sins of a solar spymaster" post from The Mittani. Regardless of the spin-doctoring it will be an interesting read.

Monday, January 25, 2010

More Reflections

In my previous post there were some interesting comments which I would like to address.

One of the arguments in favor of the current flimsy state of industrial ships is the following:

"Just fly with combat pilots running defense".

Let's sit back and look at the stupidity of this statement, shall we? Think about it, if concord can't stop destroyers from suicide killing an industrial in a 1.0 system, how the hell does anyone expect a normal player to defend the things? You can defend a POS (they last long enough to get a response fleet together and if the timing is off you know when it comes out of re-enforced). unless you're willing to loose the ships to something much cheaper they can't realistically be used as bait ships either. Case in point, recently one of my newbie pilots tried to get a war target to engage by using an escorted mining ship. Sure they got the frigate, but the barge died before the frigate did. As I would have predicted prior to the rather idiotic attempt (ok it did get him out play).

That pretty much establishes the parameters of defensibility of the industrial ship class (T1 haulers and barge/exhumers). The only real "defense" is advanced warning and evasion. This happens in the defense channels of 0.0 alliances and in the wormhole space quite well. True NBSI policy helps in this regard. The problem is that high sec is too crowded and the gankers rely on anonymity and lack of any true ability to retaliate on the side of the carebears as a defensive shield to continue their griefing.

The biggest problem is that all industrial ships are too easy to kill. They don't last long enough against a single ship let alone a small squadron to be able to be defended directly at all. It's only in 0.0 space that the tools to actually defend the space around the industrial ships allow their operations proceed in defensive environment. Early warning and switch to combat ships being the letter of the day.

As for "employing" the combat pilots to help in defense. The real problem here is a question of income. The truth is that mining and hauling are not great isk per hour. It's effectively on par with mission running. The problem here is you're asking a combat pilot to stop making isk to defend you and even if you split your proceeds with him he's much better off simply running missions. It would only be if it was possible to earn 3-4 times as much mining as running missions would it be worth while employing combat pilots to help defend a mining op. And THAT is only IF the combat pilots could conceivable "defend" the op. The truth is they can't really "defend" anything in high sec. They can "avenge" but not "defend". In 0.0 the combat pilots are defending their space, and it doesn't matter if the source of income is rats or sleepers or rocks. Every one helps the defense and everyone works on their preferred source of income.

It still remains though that as currently implemented, industrial ship defenses are so minimal that the only true defense is an area defense which you can't establish in high sec or in low sec.

So far only the T2 haulers and the Orca - although killable - are defensible and or slippery enough to actually be worth escorting. The rest are "well you need to risk getting blown away to move x cubic meters of stuff in any convenient fashion". We do it because there are few other options, but like it? Nope can't say I like it at all. Getting killed in a ship that can fight back? not so bad. Getting killed in a ship that's intentionally defenseless? Not so fun.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


So I've had a chance to pull back a bit and look at EVE from a bit more of a distance. Time to put some of my thoughts in order. Now as I've indicated I'm in burnout mode, so I'm playing some different games while I let my EVE burnout work it's way through. My alts are doing their jobs (those that don't fly much) and my main is simply grinding some NPC corps for standing in order to get perfect refines at more stations. This is the "turn off brain and grind" side of EVE. But unfortunately for me my brain does not turn off very well.

So I'm left with pondering the state of EVE and MMOs in general. So without further adieu (that's how you're supposed to spell it) here are some random thoughts on EVE:

1) Single server. This is by far the biggest factor in EVE's success. Anyone who doubts this just has not experienced the difference between an EVE meet and other gaming meets. The ability to know that anyone you meet who says they play EVE is someone you can run into in game is VERY powerful. Other games do not know what they are sacrificing in terms of draw to their game by not pushing the technology and game design with this in mind. This was brought home forcefully when it turned out that I was not the only player in my alliance in burnout mode. A bunch of us ended up on DDO independently. But because we had arrived independently we were split over 2 different servers and by the time we found out that we'd each ended up in DDO, we were all too far along to switch servers. Bummer.

2) PvP - the good. Now by definition PvP in MMOs is for the hardcore (or the jackasses, but I digress). Now the fleet battles and the operations involved that result in fleet battles - of any type - are incredibly well done. This is one of the few games where I feel they nailed mass combat and fleet operations PvP correctly. Scouting is critical, good fleet coordination is crucial. Lag notwithstanding in the 0.0 slugg-fests (EVE grows, but that means you need to put up with the growing pains from time to time), short of some FPS mass combat system it's the one aspect where EVE realy shines. Once you understand ship types and realize there's a role for the cruisers and smaller craft even in more end game situations and that it's not just a progression from frigate to titan things work much better.

3) PvP - the bad. Carebear ships. They universally suck (except the Orca). This is where EVE's design falls apart. The only reason these ships are like they are is to provide griefers targets. End of story. None of them have enough hit points and none of them have enough defenses. I'll simply point out that in pirate infested waters, in real life, eventually merchants arm up. East India Traders back in the age of sail were not toothless cargo ships. They knew they were operating in dangerous territory and were build and armed with the operating environment in mind. The sad part is they could be so easily changed to the point where they would be usefull and promote good PvP but certain elements at CCP just want to pander to the Bully/Ganker mentality that chases away newbies. There is no fun in a part of gameplay that forces you to be an indefensible sheep staked out for the wolves.

4) PvE - There are two ways to control resource acquisition in MMOs: Search for resource time and loiter time. For some reason EVE seems to like the second type over the first type. Once again this makes the types of ships involved rather badly designed. In the real world ships this badly designed for their job would be rather rapidly replace with more suited designs. Unfortunately this is not the case in EVE since we're stuck with the designs of the game. We keep getting glimmers of hope that this may one day be addressed, but for now simply have to suffer through. The biggest glaring problem on the resource side strangely enough is not the more traditional resource extraction stuff (although it works really well in Apocrypha). It's the fact that they've got very high reward for practically no risk for mission runners.

5) Crafting (industry) - This is where EVE is firing on all cylinders. With the exception of a few glaring issues in the resource side of the equation, the actual market is by far the best designed in the sphere of MMOs.

In the end, EVE is a flawed game. There is no doubt of that. The thing is that you can see the diamond in the rough from the parts that are light years beyond what other games offer. It's just too bad it's taking so long to polish off the rough parts.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

And I remove myself from the blog pack

As part of my burnout, I'm posting less. You may have noticed. That being the case I decided to remove myself from the blog pack while I'm on burnout row.

What I'm up to:

Missioning. Currently doing mainly level 3's while I skill up my weapons some more. Trying to get to the point where I have T2 BS weapons for all weapons a minmatar BS can use. This might take a while...

What the alliance up to:

The usual peace time stuff: Lots a wormhole ops and engaging intruders.

Amusing quotes:

AMC Pilot> 35-40 jetcans, and that was just me.

Some of my pilots do crazy mining ops from time to time...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And EVE's most borring war is over

And the war with Ghengis YAAAARGH is over. It died due to non-payment of the CONCORD bribe. A most dis-satisfying war. Let's go over the sequence of events:

1) One of my pilots learns that concord will kill your ship if you pod kill someone you're not at war with in high-sec.

2) We do the POS bash thing in the grotto (and learn that Cruise Missile Batteries are FAIL).

3) We get a wardec from a 4 char corp with a rather young CEO (note: this costs 50mil isk since we are an alliance).

4) Right before the war goes live I get the usual extortion attempt (right, I've got more PvP'ers than indies and the indies are mostly in wormholes so they have been getting their PvP on for the last 6 months and are best described as carebears that no longer care) (oh and please list the 17 newbies we're supposed to have... twit) (and the story keeps changing depending on who he's talking to - Goon trained - being paid to wardec us etc....)

5) From what I can determine the initial engagement(s) go as follows: He kills 1 barge (set out as bait) and gets killed in turn 4 times. (figure the barge was what? 8-10mil and he lost 1-1.5mil flying frigates).

6) Further encounters involve him logging in, running and logging out. Figure we spent 2-3 mil in locator agents.

7) The wardec elapses with a whimper.

So in the end he spent about 51.5mil (estimate) and we "spent" 10-13mil (estimate). This did not significantly interrupt our operations. Heck our boys have more problems when a wormhole ends up in a high sec island and they have to traverse low sec for a few jumps to get something done.

At this point I'm going to assume the was simply trying the "extort/scam" thing against our alliance and failed miserably.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Da war's progress

So I was playing Bayonetta when the war went live. And unless my boys aren't posting their losses, it looks like some of my guys are having fun.

I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And as predicted there was a lame attempt at extortion just before the war went live (Noos if you're out there - this guy needs lessons in how to extort cuz his attempt was meh).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This will either be interesting or high comedy

I'm not sure which.

The alliance has apparently been wardeced... by a corp of can flippers...

It'll be one of two things: Either it's a sneaky move and we'll see them join some pirate alliance right after the war goes live or we'll suddenly see a spike in population in the corp of older chars. These are probably the most likely scenarios. On the off chance it's just these 4 characters it has the possibility of being high comedy.

Let's put this into perspective - even my newbies have access to nice Arkanor and Bistot fields. I'm pretty sure that most of the mining we do in high sec is "can flipper bait". Ah well it'll keep the more blood thirsty pilots occupied.

We'll see what tomorrow brings...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

More lessons in POS warfare

Note to everyone in EVE: Any control tower defended with nothing but cruise missile batteries = utter and absolute FAIL!

Backing up for the story behind this one. So a little less than a week ago I'm playing some other game but in Skype contact with a couple of alliance pilots. That burnout thing. Word comes along the grape vine that someone (who will remain nameless to protect the guilty) had summarily plunked a POS down in one of our settled systems without a by-your-leave. So after a bit of back and forth communication (me with my alliance pilots and CEOs - still no direct contact from the intruders to myself), a pilot steps forward to handle the task of evicting the intruders.

Now, just to be clear: This is EVE just because someone does not attack you right away does not mean that they are friendly. If you do not bother establishing formal NAP/Friendly diplomatic relations (all alliances have a contact indicated on their description for crying out loud), then you can't complain when they come down on you like a ton of bricks in 0.0 space...

So the campaign to evict the offending POS was scheduled for this Saturday. Even though I'm not on much atm, I keep a stable of combat capable ships at my main base ready to rock. Early on the day of the engagement I started the logistical move of two of my ships: My Maelstrom and my Rapier. The enemy having gotten comfortable in the last few days does not even bother with a wormhole watch. I'm finding that whenever there is a delay between an incident and a response there seems to be a nice re-establishment of the element of surprise. It also helps to calm the more "we must do something now" types down and point out that it's better to fight organized than piece meal.

As I'm approaching on the last leg of my logistical move (in the Rapier as it happens) word gets out that the enemy is actually going to run a site. Well unless it's giant bait time, OPSEC seems to be holding and they have not twigged to our slow forces build up. At any rate in goes an Arazu to keep an eye on them. A Nighthawk and a drake... I'll give you a minute to wipe up the drool... The shindig almost kicks off without me but as another spawn of sleepers comes in I manage to get in system soon enough. As the Arazu gets the initial tackle the rest of us stream in. Soon enough I have the nighthawk immobilized and our DPS is laying the hurt. The only issue of course is the sleepers as they cause our pilots to have to bail from time to time. BTW a PVE fit Nighthawk has a serious tank. At any rate I'm able to keep the nighthawk immobilized for most of the fight. The Arazu pilot waits just a little too long before warping out and gets nailed. As does a Flycatcher. I manage to get warp out once I become primary of the sleepers and the nighthawk (not as panicky as it sounds I was there for quite a while before I had to bail under the fire of 4 sleepers, the nighthawk and the drake). On my way back however the nighthawk is killed and the drake gets away. So we trade an Arazu (belonging to one of the BS pilots) and a Flycatcher (again not the pilots main ship for the main event) for the Nighthawk (loosing those seriously hurts regardless of your hull availability - and the Nighthawk pilot only re-apearing in an Anathema would suggest he did not have much PvP ship depth at the POS after his Nighthawk.). I'm a little disappointed we didnt' get the Drake but then again with the need to occasionally warp out I wasn't about to ask anyone to spread points and risk loosing the Nighthawk.

Then it was the matter of formally investing the wormhole and building up the forces for the POS bash itself. I keep an eye out on the POS in my Rapier for most of this. We'll be split into two forces for this operation. The BS only POS attack force and the BC and lower wormhole force. We bubbled the wormhole and waited for our forces to gather, and at the apointed time we rolled on the POS. At this point due to the planned FC's mic going dead I had to take over the FC'ing of the POS bash itself. We went in in good order expecting some close calls until we degraded the firepower against ourselves...

Well that was actually disappointing. For the curious (or morbid) here was the tower defenses:

Caldari Control Tower Medium
Warp Scram Battery
Sensor Damp Battery
2 x ECM battery
9 x Cruise Missile Battery
2 x hardeners to plug both 0% holes.

I can feel the experienced POS tacticians cringe from thousands of miles away. Now I have personal experience of why. People if you read this blog and are at any time planning a to own a POS, Never ever ever do that. The level of FAIL of that layout has to be experienced to be understood. But take my word, it is FAIL (and I don't say that often).

The rest of the POS bash proceeded without problem with only 3 events of note to interfeer with the monotony.

1) some poor shmuck in a Helios jumped into our wormhole camp and then proceeded to panic. Call from the scout on high sec side: Neutral at the wormhole. All BS warp to the wormhole to reinforce the wormhole force. Helios jumps thru. Immediately heads for the gate. tackled. killed, podded. And we go back to the POS and continue killing things. In a convo with one of my pilots afterward he said he was going to petition CCP because he was killed by the lag - until we pointed out the session timer issue. Apparently he did a face palm at that moment. Woke up the wormhole force.

2) The CEO of the corp who owns the tower logs in and once he lands at his POS an "oh snap" is heard in local. Once again I must apologized for the spam in local following that. The pilots involved were given a stearn talking to. A conversation with said CEO was broached during the rest of the POS bash, but by the time you're in that position, diplomatic solutions are effectively over and it's object lesson time.

3) Said CEO attempts to flee in a Drake but fails to scout the wormhole that we had so conveniently bubbled and kept a cruiser force at. Once again the boys at the wormhole did their jobs of not being asleep. Hearty thanks to them for enduring the even more boring than a POS bash job of keeping an eye on the wormhole.

Then we get the "only 5h of stront"... and it's on for the next morning for phase 2. I'm not sure how to handle these short stront guys. Sure for weekdays it's probably fine but for weekends you shoot yourself in the foot. Ah well.

I actually miss getting on the KM of the pos death due to sleeping thru the alarm. But sufficient forces were there to finish it off and within 2h of downtime it was gone and the clean up had commenced.

Once again congratz guys on a successful POS bash.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

General notes:

1) I'm going thru a bit of an EVE burnout ATM. The corp CEOs of the alliance have been advised and we've talked about it so the alliance is in their hands for the next while.

2) I've had to put some restrictions on anonymous posting and moderation for posts older than a certain amount of time due to too much spam in the comments recently. Sorry about that Sp4m.

3) I'll be posting much less than normal until I recover from the burnout. So I need to get in touch with CK and see about removing me from the blog pack while I'm posting less often.

4) I'll still be on EVE from time to time to do the old skill changes and what not. Hopefully by the time I'm active again my BS weapons skills will be in T2 territory and I won't feel like such a putz as a BS driver....

5) *sigh* time to go dive into those old posts and remove all the spam - with 350 odd posts that might take a while....