Regression to the Mean

After our successful run to our forward base in Curse, I finally had at least one doctrine combat ship, a Harpy, and my Viator blockade runner, in theater.  Owing to time zone issues (US West Coast), I’ve successfully missed all of the various coalition and alliance convoys headed to the combat zone.  So my plan was to forward deploy a pile of doctrine ships in a nearby high sec system and shuttle them into Curse in my Viator under the cloak of, well cloak.

Retracing our circuitous route through the Great Wildlands, all was going well after a few close brushes at the gates near Goon and TNT operations in Curse.  Once off the beaten track, I was often the only person in a system.  The track through the Great Wildlands consisted almost entirely of systems without stations, so visitors are few and fleeting.

Roll file footage of Great Wildlands courtesy of TAGN
Roll file footage of Great Wildlands courtesy of TAGN

Of course, I was feeling pretty good and well along the way when I entered what I now know is the gate system from null to low sec.  Had I done a bit more homework, I would have know that.  It also would have perhaps impressed upon me what is obvious to vets, but less obvious to null sec noobs like me: you’ll find bubbles and camps on the null sec side of these gates as bubbles aren’t permitted in low sec.

Such was my state of mind after about 10 null sec systems where I was the only person in system when I jumped into the gate system and saw reds in local but none on grid.  Again, had I done my homework, I would have realized that of the three gates in the system, they were most likely to be camping the gate to low sec, but who does their homework these days…

Continue reading Regression to the Mean

How I Eve…

Internet spaceships is serious business... no really, they're in there somewhere
Internet spaceships is serious business… no really, they’re in there somewhere

So the Delve Campaign continues

Having just missed the Great 6VDT-H Battle in Fountain being only able to reach the rear area and not actually, well, shooting anything, I was looking forward to being able to contribute a bit more in the Delve Campaign.  And to some extent I have been able to in my own limited way.

However, most of the ops have been either local defense fleets batting away generally bothersome local gangs or siege fleet ops.  The siege fleets are built around stealth bombers and some support ships.  After arriving in Delve, I found myself wanting in the skills needed for the bombers.  In a turn of classic Eve irony, my second account pilot is fully stealth bomber capable and he’s safe and sound in high sec in non-allied corporation…  So if I wanted to siege and serve as something other than the ammo truck, I’d have some skilling to do.

For the defense fleets, I was also sorely lacking in the skills needed for doctrine ships too other than the odd tackler or occasional logistics ship.  To get the skills needed for most of the ships here would take some skilling up too.

Between the two, I was closer to a stealth bomber than an assault frigate, so that’s the road I chose.  A scant 9 or 10 days of training and I’d be there.  Of course, I just managed to complete the longest skill (Caldari Frigate V) of that needed group tonight.  That left just a few level I skills in other areas and I’d be minimally functional in a stealth bomber.  After seeing Wilhelm’s latest sovereignty map and assuming that Eve will throw me another curve, I’ll likely just strap into my new stealth bomber and undock just about the time the Delve Campaign is over… Such is Eve.

so in order to complete my training, I had to buy and train some new skills since it was impossible to acquire them in high sec and “inject them” before I had completed the prerequisites.  And with clone jumping around in null sec, I couldn’t “carry” them with me until needed without clone jumping to a location where they were and then waiting another 24 hours before I could jump back to the action.

So for the skills, a trip to high sec was in order.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a jump clone in high sec before I joined a CFC corp.  And even if I did, I’d still only be able to manage one jump in 24 hours anyway.  Of course, in Eve, where there is a will, there is generally a way.  In my case, the pod express.

Having a jump clone at my null sec base of operations, I was able to set my medical clone for a station in high sec (conveniently the School of Applied Knowledge station in Parra, a scant 2 jumps from Jita), undock and self destruct.  Poof, telemort to high sec.

Once I’m done shopping, I can jump back to my jump clone in null sec which will conveniently leave a clone in high sec.  Voila!

While there, I made sure I took the time to make sure I would be able to acquire and inject any and all needed skills before I departed to avoid the inevitable Eve O Shit moment when you realize you still need that one additional skill to operate that ship/module/dingus which was the entire point of your plan to begin with.

And with Eve there is ALWAYS another skill needed.  Torpedoes are a perfect example.  There is a skill for the torpedo launcher (only Missile Launcher Operation Level I required), while the actual torpedoes requires training Missile Launcher Operation through Level IV, Light Missiles through Level III, Heavy Missiles through Level IV and finally, Torpedoes Level I…

And of course, with Eve’s infamous UI, getting at all that information can, well, clutter the screen a bit, hence the screen shot at the top.  That’s how I Eve… in about 1 square inch of actual space.  And that’s only one of two monitors I use…


The Continuing Saga of the deployment to Delve…

After this last weekend’s ill fated jump into “nonbat” in 1DH, I was feeling a bit frustrated.  I never seemed to have a ship that I could fly that was needed for the ops being conducted in 1DH and more importantly, with no extensive logistical support established yet, few options were available locally.  Difficult to even find a simple tackler.

So rather than cursing the darkness, I lit a candle.

Seeing the dearth of tackle frigates available in 1DH, yet hulls and components somewhat available nearby, if a bit dangerous to acquire, I decided to go into the rifter business in1DH.

My first plan, “The Operation,” whereupon I would grab an industrial ship, collect the bits, build the ships, and sell them in the time honored tradition of war profiteering.  The Operation was a failure (Iteron V + hope in a “neutral station” in a hostile system = nope).

My second plan, “The Other Operation,” whereupon I grabbed an even cheaper industrial ship, stuck a cloak on it and went to ostensibly less hostile systems to collect parts was also a failure (gate camp 1, Badger 0).

Finally, I came upon my third plan, “The Other Other Operation,” whereupon I would retrieve my Viator blockade runner from many many jumps away and use its ability to move quickly and warp while cloaked to avoid the pitfalls of the previous Operations.

This for me was the turning point.  The Other Other Operation was a success.  The main problem was hauling capacity.  The Viator is great for everything except volume…  Rifter hulls are 2500m3 per, and the slippery blockade runner fitted for evasion has only about 4000m3 IIRC.

One rifter per run…

Even with a source of hulls close to 1DH, thats undock, insta, gate check, jump, station check, dock, load, undock, insta, gate check, jump, station check, dock, unload…

Nonetheless to prove the market, I did that for 10 rifters, fitted them up Sunday night and listed the contracts in 1DH.  I logged in Monday am to 800 people in local and TiDi in 1DH.  Sales were brisk and I was sold out quickly.  As I suspected, I couldn’t make them quickly enough.

That led me to my next plan, “The Other Other Other Operation” or 4xO for short, whereupon I use the Viator for everything but the hulls.  For the hulls I would use a more traditional cheap low/null sec fitted poor man’s blockade runner– a combination of a T1 industrial ship, a few cargohold expanders, and enough power grid modules to permit it to run a 10MN microwarp drive and the Tech II, Improved Cloaking Device II.

Mammoth courtesy of Eve Online Pictures (

All hail, my Mammoth (aka the SS Pod Coffin).  With T1 cargohold expanders (what was available), I get about 9000m3.  If I could get T2 versions, I could get to 10km3.  So as is, I can haul 3 hulls per run and I’ll only use the mammoth to haul hulls when needed.

Things tend to cool off later in the evening Pacific time, so its reasonably safe if one is careful and religiously uses the improved cloak-mwd trick.

I had one narrow scrape which I survived (a first!) and taught me a few things:

  • Don’t update the intel channel until you are truly safe.  A gate cloak doesn’t qualify as safe. 
  • “ddddddddd” or “sssssss” in chat will not cause you to warp no matter how much you mean it…
  • Turn on your tank before you hit the gate/station, etc.
  • In this ship, always always always use the cloak-mwd trick. Gate cloak, align/cloak/mwd, then when max speed is reduced because of the cloak but before your speed falls off once the mwd shuts down, decloak and insta warp.  You’re visible when you start to align, but quickly disappear. you’ll likely finish aligning under cloak and mwd, then you’re visible momentarily when you decloak/warp.  I use two hands.  I’m old.

So my scrape involved a Hawk on the 1DH side of a gate.  I was warping to 0 (dangerous and impatient, a violation of the Three Ps of Eve…). I saw him and jumped through.

He didn’t follow or so I thought, so I was being the nice guy and quickly updating the intel channel when he showed up on the my side of the gate.

Of course I had wasted most of my gate cloak timer, didn’t have my resistance mods turned on, was not aligned, etc.,  I panicked a bit, and while uncloaked started to align, he instalocked me and closed so fast I couldn’t cloak.

Just as the ship finished aligning, I hit the mwd, finally turned on the resists just in time as as two volleys slammed into me and took out 75% of my shields.  That was when I realized i was typing “dddddd” in the chat window… Fortunately, I clicked on my destination in the overview, hit d again and off I went to the station where I docked safe and sound.  From local, I knew we were the only two in the system so the station was safe.

Reviewing my earlier lessons (Patience and Prudence), I decided to do a few chores before bed and wait him out.  Sure enough, I came back about 15 minutes later and he had logged and there were no reds/neuts in the system.  I picked up my hulls and off I went back to 1DH safe and sound.

Preparation dictates that if I’m going to use this ship with any regularity in these neighboring systems, I would be well served to do the leg work to set up instas and safes and gate tacticals.  In the Viator, its easy to be lazy.

Now I just need to find some more difficult to locate components nearby at a reasonable price at a station that I can dock and undock from with some acceptable degree of risk… I’m not likely to get space rich, but the risk premium on each ship does make it worthwhile, and if I’m careful it could be quite lucrative until logistics catches up with the Delve campaign.  So if I can make a little dough AND help the war effort while I’m at it, so much the better.

And its a great opportunity to spend some time learning all the necessary survival skills in null sec without jeopardizing the success of fleet mates during an op.  If I screw up, I really only have myself to blame.

Of course, with a scout on an off night, I could stockpile materiel in 1DH if I can convince Wilhelm to come out and play on a work night…

Boom Goes the Dynamite

In which the author (in this case, the dynamite) learns yet again, that there can be no short cuts in Eve…

To bring the reader up to speed:  Longtime carebear industrialist, mission runner joins friends in null sec corp in the Goonswarm Federation for lulz and massive fleet battles.  MMO malaise coupled with Gaff’s persuasion and Wilhelm’s Fountain war reports finally convinced me to sign up, get to the front to see what all the fuss was about.

[Redacted: painful tale of moving to null sec, installing and signing up for a hundred different app for comms, intel and such, staring blankly at the overview and generally being paralyzed at the thought of undocking].

I actually arrived in null sec on the day of the infamous Battle of 6VDT-H without a ship suitable to fight in and no idea even how to get to the battle.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed the battle on voice comms a bit like the ground crew sitting around a fighter squadron’s squawk box listening to grabastic towel snapping and tom foolery mixed in with the time dilation and occasionally punctuated by fleeting moments of terror and destruction.  I distinctly remember some TEST version of Pickett’s charge near the end to which the Goons on comms let out the equivalent of the Union troops gasp as they bravely(?) marched into oblivion.

Of course, things immediately quieted down which was just as well as I was doing remedial training to just be useful out there.  Then came the call to Deploy to Delve.  Convoys to ferry ships to the new staging station were called, all at the usually inconvenient time for Pacific time folks like myself so that left it to my noob self to solo convoy my ships through hostile territory.

Having been generally a Caldari Missile Man, I was woefully short on gunnery skills when I arrived which most fleet doctrines required.  After a bit I finally had enough relevant skills to claw my way into a somewhat weaker version of the fleet Megathron battleship.  I found one in 4-EP, swapped a few modules to accommodate a few skill deficits and eagerly awaited my chance to go play with the big boys and girls (who are all boys anyway).

Megathron courtesy of Eve Online Picture (

I missed another convoy by about 1.5 hrs but decided to chance it from 4-EP to 1DH, something like 15 jumps through largely vacant but hostile space. From intel channels, there appeared to be a few folks a jump or two ahead of me doing the same and noting the status of the systems on the way to 1DH which was very helpful.

I had one close call where I hit a bubble, but no one was about.  Tense going, but a thankfully a boring tension.

Then I got to the last jump into 1DH system which I knew from intel was hot.

I did not know whether the gate was hot. I asked.  No reply.  I could have jumped to visual to recon, but I didn’t.

There were reds in the system. I didn’t know where they were.

There was a station I could have docked at but I didn’t.  I thought, heck, I’ll find an odd angle of approach from a celestial body and even if its bubbled, I’ll make it around them like I’ve done before, hit the gate and sayonara suckers.

Just one more jump… It was late.  I was tired.  I was almost there…

I could have just parked one jump away from my destination and waited until the heat dissipated…

But I didn’t.

And now I need to buy a new Megathron. Boom went my dynamite.  Tackled, scrammed, webbed, damped, jeered, killed and podded.

As a complete null sec noob, I did learn a few things and/or reinforced some things I already knew:

  • Insurance is good. The loss of a battleship is a sting, but not a stunning blow. I fully subscribe to the “Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose” ethic. So this rule was adhered to and I benefited.  Insurance helped somewhat to assuage my isk pain but it does nothing to salve my embarrassing noobness.
  • Jump clones are not “flight points”.  They’re clones.  I kind of screwed up the whole jump clone thing. I could have sworn I had one at 4-EP. I probably did. I probably jumped into it and left (thereby leaving no clone there anymore since I promptly left). As a result, I was back at our home base in Deklein, something like 15 more jumps away from my destination of 1DH. Lesson learned. Jump to clone. Replace clone. Leave and go about your business.  If the kill didn’t end my night, the prospect of 15 jumps just to get back to where I started the night certainly did.
  • I got the med clone right. After my last convoy, I set my med clone to 1DH so when I got podded (and oh, how I got stucco), I ended up there which, in other circumstances would have been exactly where I would have wanted to be.
  • When convoying self, it might be good to refit a bit just in case. Case in point: There were a few points along the way where there was a drag bubble and a solo camper. A couple bomber pilots were floating around and shepherding pilots through. Had I a point fitted, I could have tackled and they could have taken the annoyance out since they had visual on him. I was just fleet fit, so no point.
  • Damps are a B. When the gang caught me just 25km out from the gate, although I lasted quite a while, I wasn’t able to lock a single bastard. Don’t know what to do about that really except don’t be that guy.

So another lesson reinforcing the three Ps of Eve: Patience, Preparation and Prudence. Roll file footage of “old/bold” homily.  Being in a hurry cost me dearly.  Not preparing for the worst prevented me from helping others help myself.  Finally, the sure way not to lose a fight is not to have one…

Oh well. Dejected, I decided to let those lessons sink in a bit before another try.  I retreated to my new favorite thing, War Thunder, and had a few of the better matches I’ve ever had surprisingly in British biplanes. Had a bit of success against Jerry, cabbage crates coming over the briney and all that.

Time is Money

Tobold asks the question when will WoW go free to play and how that might be implemented. Blizzard has certainly learned the lesson all good gym owners know– the neglected subscription is the ticket to success. Who among us hasn’t joined a gym or health club with a monthly fee and ahem how shall we say… neglected to make full use of it?

I have no idea what the average is, but it must be a significant percentage of members continue to pay but, even with the best of intentions, stop going to the gym regularly or at all. Call it guilt, call it taking a wee break, call it preserving your access should you want to play, it’s still recurring income.

Blizz may get there, but I don’t think they’ve lost enough people to justify going F2P yet.

For other games that, in Tobold’s words, don’t justify a subscription when compared to many players’ level of interest or commitment, F2P is just the ticket. DDO, LotRO and now STO are three that have come back on my radar specifically because they went free to play. Being able to match my spend with my level of enthusiasm and or time commitment is a boon to me.

Even with a traditional sub though, in theory I could maximize my return on the sub by consuming as much content as my time budget would permit. If I were only interested in the leveling game in SWTOR, and played obsessively since launch, I might have consumed all the storylines for all the classes/factions by now. I could see SWTOR going free to play at some point following the path others have taken– pay for fluff, utility items, progress enhances and or access to content areas/modules for progression.

Eve however remains the anomaly. One can legally buy characters, and effectively in game currency as well, but one cannot buy progression. Eve progression is skill based and skill training is time based. The only way to continue to progress is to continue to subscribe.

So why doesn’t Eve just sell time?

If I really want to spend the next year working through a skill training plan (not an unheard of amount of time) why not let me buy the time now, apply it to those skills I want to train and be done with it? If I’m going to spend $180 to learn to fly a Titan, why spend it over twelve months?

One of Eve’s major barriers for new comers is never being able to catch up skillpoint wise to friends who have played much longer. Granted that progression can go in any number of directions, but to switch from a hardcore miner industrialist to a 0.0 capital ship pilot would take a very long time.

Seems like a natural progression for Eve. Eliminate subscriptions, sell a time equivalent for skill training, or just skill points out right to be applied to skills of a players choice, make that freely tradeable like PLEX and you would have the most flexible model in the universe. Players could truly exchange time for money in whatever proportion they wish.

Earn isk by playing, purchase training and it’s truly free to play. Buy isk or training and your time budget is preserved. Of course the one element that likely prevents this from upsetting the games balance is that to survive in Eve, you still need to learn how to be a good pilot. Something that you just can’t buy.