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Instanced PVP, Wardec Changes, and An Invitation

A Larger Abyss

When CCP first announced Abyssal content, they justified its instanced dungeons with the claim that the content of the pockets was such that running it as normal deadspace would be tasking on the servers. It flew in the face of fifteen years of Eve’s “one universe” ideology by creating PVE spaces that couldn’t be interfered with. I had my misgivings at the time, but at least CCP made the high-end content riskier by having people running Abyssal content in highsec come out as suspects on tier 4 and 5 sites. Then they walked that back “temporarily” with no fixed end date in sight.

Now with the Onslaught release, that instanced content is accessible to other players…if you want it to be. You can form a three-frigate fleet to run that “server-tasking” content. I guess it didn’t need to be instanced after all. And if you’re running the solo cruiser content, you can opt in to some instanced space jousting where another cruiser who also opts in does battle with you.

I recently ran about a hundred Abyssal sites. I lost two Gilas in the process, one to a warp gate refusing to activate and one to a pile of neuts. The PVE content is quality and the randomness of it is refreshing (though still repetitive). I don’t even particularly have an issue with the “enchanting” mechanic of the mutaplasmids. I say that to make it clear that my primary concern is that the Abyss and the underlying concepts of instanced content and on-demand PVP are dangerous to the larger Eve meta.

We now have a system in which players can engage in PVE content without fear of immediate interference. What’s more, with Onslaught it is being transformed into a way to get “goodfights” without the effort of roaming and with no risk of being baited into engaging a superior force. The slippery slope here is obviously that fleet content is already in effect, and it’s reasonable to assume that eventually the frigate fleet variant will make its way into offering PVP. The ability to find and engage other players on those terms is going to take more and more ships out of regular space and leave Eve feeling more and more desolate while the people using the content operate in an increasingly safe environment.

The Next Target: Wardecs

As I mentioned previously, CCP is poised to take a nerfbat to the wardec system again. I agree that there are problems in the current state of affairs, but that’s a discussion for a previous post. It looks like the final decision for a “short term” nerf is to limit wardecs to entities that own structures. Look for that change to come with the “winter update.” Merry Christmas, now anyone looking to opt out of highsec PVP will need to simply opt out of owning structures with the same corp they’re a member of. The solution to “we made a corp and are now getting pummeled” is apparently to move the bar to “we anchored an Athanor and are now getting pummeled.”

I honestly can’t even predict what this will mean for all of you who aren’t in one of the handful of big wardec alliances. My gut tells me that a lot of smaller mercs and wardec enthusiasts will lose a fair bit of content while the hub campers will continue to do what they do with a slightly smaller margin on their killboards.

Lowsec Is Still Fun

I never really planned on using this blog for recruiting, but here it is: Arcana Noctis is looking for dudes like you. We need competent, maladjusted individuals who can’t properly start their day without wrecking something. So if the new highsec isn’t your bag, or you’re just looking for another flavor of content, or maybe you just want to come fly with me on the rare occasion that I can actually make fleet ops, drop me a mail in game. We have been known to dabble in highsec shenanigans (see TerrorDestroyer5K and the OAK structure fights I blogged about), we have a large network of things and people over several regions of low, and we’ve got jump range on dozens–probably well over 100 now–of null systems.

Drop me a mail in game and I’ll set you up an interview with the leadership.

So About Wardecs…

There is considerable discussion on r/Eve right now about wardecs. It seems the recently-released CSM 13 minutes indicate that CCP has data showing indicating a startling rate of attrition among new players who are the targets of wardecs. It seems significant enough that some members of the CSM stated that it could justify an immediate removal of the wardec system while a more lasting solution is worked out.

Such knee-jerk reactions are rarely good in the best of circumstances. CCP’s history of such things can hardly be classified as “best” and their recent acquisition by Pearl Abyss should give us all even more pause. I also feel that most of the CSM has little vested interest in the areas that wardecs affect, as most of them come from null blocs where a wardec simply means using neutral haulers in highsec, and perhaps aren’t the most qualified people to make sweeping suggestions on how to address the situation.

A Case for Wardecs

One of the long-running problems with making suggestions on improving the war system is that most people in the conversation are trying to solve the current problems without a clear picture of what a good wardec system would look like. To get that, we have to consider why warfare is necessary in highsec.

Even in highsec, there is competition over resources. I’ve seen competing industrial corporations go to war trying to force each other out of good ice systems or to drive out fleets that are mining out good ore from belts they claim. Since moon mining has made its way to 0.5 systems, currently the only way to remove an abandoned Athanor is with a wardec. Taking these options away from active fledgling corporations is removing one of the major selling points of Eve: the ability to influence the world around you via combat.

What’s more, those of us who spend most of our time in lowsec also make use of wardecs. Some of us prefer to maintain a sec status that allows us to wander in and out of highsec as we see fit, and wardecs allow eviction campaigns to remove structures and engage in fleet fights without having to spend hundreds of millions per character on tags.

Wardecs should be a tool for achieving a goal. Taking territory, allowing a nullsec conflict to spill into highsec, impacting cash flow of your enemies, or just settling a grudge.

What’s Wrong With Wardecs?

Obviously there’s a problem here. Or perhaps several.

Neutral Logi

One major issue is the use of neutral logi. Since CrimeWatch 2.0 came out in 2012-2013, providing remote reps to anyone engaged in combat while in a war or while they have a limited engagement causes those logis to go suspect. This seems like a great idea; now anyone can shoot those logis.

The problem is that shooting the suspect logis triggers its own limited engagement, meaning that your in-corp logi is forced to go suspect to continue providing you reps.

Poor Leadership and Bad Information Among Defenders

Over the years I’ve been on the aggressor’s side hundreds of times. I’ve also been a defender dozens of times and had spies in dozens of wartarget corps. The common trend I’ve seen among those corps that fall apart in the face of wardecs is a leadership who, frankly, shouldn’t be trying to lead. This breaks down to two basic flaws: a complete lack of proper response to war and ignorance of basic game mechanics.

Most corps I’ve seen fall apart when targeted by a much smaller group of seasoned combat pilots do so because their leader(s) don’t communicate with their members, don’t formulate any kind of response to the war, and don’t take any initiative in showing people how to deal with the situation.

What’s more is the absolutely terrible information often being taught by “experienced” players who try to lead these corps. Over the years I’ve seen people with far more skillpoints and years in the game than me tell people to fit ships completely wrong, misunderstand game mechanics that a simple Google search would explain, and state with total confidence that things work a certain way and be utterly wrong.

Intel Is Hard in Highsec

Along with neutral logi, neutral boosts and neutral scouts are able to roam in and out of local without alerting the enemy. Quite a lot of work can be done to stage prior to a fight without the enemy having any idea it’s happening. This in itself isn’t a problem–personally I always enjoyed the fact that highsec allowed you to hide in the crowd, but as a part of the larger issue this is important to recognize the unique challenge it brings. Low and null have the ability to stage gate camps and operate vast intel networks. Wormhole entities can roll holes and hammer dscan to remain constantly vigilant.

This really becomes a problem when a fleet of enemies can move into position and join the enemy corp minutes before an engagement. No amount of scouting can protect you when suddenly local is full of wartargets that were neutral moments ago. Some effort was made to punish corp-hopping years ago by adding the 7 day ban on rejoining a corp you left while it was at war, but that’s trivial when you can simply join another corp in the same alliance, or jump to an alt corp that’s in a different wardec.

The “Bully Factor”

I don’t really know how to quantify this, but I know that I felt very victimized as an early player being targeted by much more experienced and wealthier players. This is perhaps the hardest thing to solve without severely hurting the sandbox nature of the game, but it’s enough of an issue in player retention that I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge the role it likely plays in subscriber counts. It’s also perhaps the last issue I would seek a solution to; nullsec doesn’t protect a month-old player from a ten-year-old player. I’d just as soon we not start trying to do that in highsec.

So What Now?

  1. The “quick fix” solution that stops short of completely ending wardecs is to make providing reps to at-war characters in highsec into a CONCORD offense. No more neutral logi forces aggressors to bring logi that can’t hide in the crowd and makes them valid targets to the entire fleet without breaking defender logi. Do I like this idea? Not that much, but it’s preferable to the sledgehammer fix of getting rid of wars and follows with CCP’s recent trend of making small changes to see how they impact rather than making drastic changes that are much harder to predict the effects.
  2. I don’t know how hard it would be to limit wardecs to specific areas. But imagine a war system where you could specify a system, constellation, or region (or “all regions”) in which a wardec would be active. The larger the area, the more expensive the war. This would make wars for territory reasonably priced while galaxy-spanning wars could be made prohibitively expensive for all but the largest of alliances. If you’re the target of a wardec in Domain, you have 24 hours to move people and equipment a dozen jumps out of the region to a fallback position and carry on.
  3. CCP can do a much better job of communicating the nature and mechanics of war to new players. Eve’s legendary learning curve should be the result of its complex nature, not poor documentation and insufficient alerts. By making war less mysterious, newer players can make more educated decisions.
  4. Further restrict corp mobility during war. This will be a delicate issue as too much restriction allows griefing by simply maintaining wars, but it might make sense to force a character to remain in an at-war corp for a minimum of three days and/or place a four hour delay between accepting an invite and actually becoming a member of the corp so that instantly shifting the balance of a fight is much more difficult to achieve.
  5. Unless something has changed very recently, there are still issues with local channel properly showing standings and wartarget status when that changes. That desperately needs a fix as I’ve had instances where I missed tackling a valid target because they didn’t show properly in local or on my overview. Eve is a game where fights hinge on good information, it shouldn’t be acceptable for that to happen.
  6. One idea might be to have a handful of no-war systems. These would need to be free of PVE content and not permit anchoring of citadels for obvious reasons Some lore work could be done to justify maybe one safe zone for each empire. I’m specifically thinking about Jita, but don’t want to make it a special system just because it’s Jita.

What Shouldn’t Be Done:

I’ve seen a lot of talk about doing a couple of things. I’d like to address those now.

Limit wardecs to corps that own structures: The problem here is that a lot of active corps that are doing things that might warrant a wardec don’t own structures. Maybe they’re constantly mining your 0.5 athanor belt. Maybe they’re doing logistics for gankers. Maybe their CEO just wouldn’t shut up about how great they are in local and you want to show him how wrong he is. Doesn’t matter. Creating an opt-out method for highsec PVP is a bad idea.

Give wars set goals so that the war ends as soon as that goal is accomplished: Situations change quickly in Eve. If I set the goal of destroying a particular structure, then my target can immediately anchor another one when my goal was to drive them out. Not to mention, there’s no amount of options you can give me that will cover every possible legitimate reason to declare a war.

Bonus Round: Corporations

Another thing I’ve said many times over the years is that corporation membership needs to be more valuable in highsec. Wars would be more interesting and used by more people if there were compelling reasons to remain in corp and fight it out rather than (as most experienced players do) simply dropping corp and carrying on about your business. It’s beyond this scope of this post to propose changes and consider all their implications, but just like the “bully factor” I mentioned above I feel it’s important to consider the role this plays in how wardecs got to the state they’re in today. Perhaps, just perhaps, new players wouldn’t be subject to so many wardecs if every experienced hauler, miner, and mission runner in highsec weren’t so adept at simply opting out of them.


Side note: my eight-year-old motherboard finally took a dirt nap several weeks ago. My budget prevents me from rebuilding my PC for a while, so I’m blogging in lieu of actually playing Eve. See you guys in space whenever I can get back to it.

Plot Twist

Just a brief note on a sudden change of pace in Eve. I resubbed my main just in time to get the news that we were moving out of Aeschee and heading back to Arcno territory. It didn’t take long before nearly all of the US time zone was summarily kicked from Shadow Cartel for reasons above my pay grade. I only know that we were planning to leave and the European contingent sped up our departure.

Almost immediately the drop in numbers was noticed, and a very large ball of titans and supers showed up to reinforce the Aeschee Keepstar. We finished our evacuation uneventfully when that wasn’t happening. The Keepstar is due for demolition in two or three days.

So we evacuated to Dom-Aphis and have recently redeployed with the rest of the Shadow Cartel refugees in our own newly-formed alliance, Shoot First. This should be fun.

Operation TD5K: Epliogue

TerrorDestroyer5K had seen hundreds of viewers on his twitch stream. He’d become a phenomenon, and somehow he’d convinced himself that most of those people were there to learn the wisdom of his ways. We couldn’t have that. We put the word out that it was time to stop taking away his ships, and take away his viewers. The goal was to drop him from 100+ to less than 12 in a day. A restream was set up so we could watch without raising his view counts. He was baffled at the sudden decline, and on his next foray into nullsec he couldn’t understand why no one was chasing him. His immediate assumption was that he’d won: we were all too afraid or too guilty or banned or…something. I stopped paying attention.

Ultimately, nothing of note happened after this. Random gankers regularly paid attention to him so that he couldn’t fly anything of value. After months of losing literally hundreds of frigates, rookie ships, and pods, he lost his free Praxis to rats. Fun fact about that 780,000,000 isk fit: I reproduced it in Pyfa, and it can rep at best less than 70 dps. He somehow built a battleship less tanky than most frigates.

Since then, I haven’t seen much of TerrorDestroyer5K streaming Eve. Our daring spy created a tribute video capturing some of the signature moments of that weekend. I’ll end the story with that.


Lately I’ve not done much Eve myself. As I said at the start of this series, real life has been taking up a lot of my time lately. I let my accounts lapse into Alpha and only logged in to randomly roam about our territory looking for prey. But I’m getting ready to dive back in, and I’m looking to possibly make myself blog at least a couple of times a month. I’ll be reinventing it a bit, though, as Eve has changed and so have I. But I’ll get more into that later. Maybe.

Operation TD5K Part 2: The Gankening

dontdoevil

Following the gank of the Raven, TerrorDestroyer5K fumed in silence for some time before launching into his customary tirade. He’d said before his storyline mission that he’d be going to bed soon, but that seemed forgotten. After an extended fit of arguing with his camera, he began rage missioning in his next-best ship, a Drake Navy Issue.

While this was going on, I was being bombarded with chat requests. Dozens had watched the gank go down and more than a hundred were witnessing the aftermath. We were getting congratulatory mails and chats from all over New Eden. I received two corp invites out of nowhere, got dragged into a dozen new chat channels, and ended up on CODE.’s teamspeak chatting with loyalanon as he assembled a fleet of Tornadoes. Members of Hard Knocks joined up and 142 minutes after the loss of his precious Raven, I listened in as the Drake Navy Issue died along with an empty pod.

His rage renewed, TD5K stayed docked for a while, ranting at the camera while we continued talking to everyone who is anyone in Eve Online. Members of a dozen major alliances were watching. Viewing numbers were soaring. And he still wasn’t sleeping…but I had to.

I woke the next morning to real life needing attention. I checked in on the stream, and found him still going. My CODE. contacts indicated he had never stopped. He’d reshipped into an Osprey Navy Issue, his next-next-best ship, but he was moving around a lot and no one had put much effort into pursuing him. I checked in throughout the day, marveling as the resilience of his rage. He was still streaming, still yelling at the camera. He’d come unhinged.

When I sat down to actual game time that evening, he was about 24 hours into streaming. He’d moved his Osprey from Lonetrek out to Genesis. We organized a fleet and followed him down a highsec dead end route. Knowing he’d be coming back our way, I staked out a gate in a 0.5 system. We sat on the gate in our tornado gang and watched as he made the two jumps toward us, then stood up and walked away right as his ship jumped through to us.

We thought at first that his local channel had loaded and he’d stormed off. Turns out we just got lucky. We waited 60 seconds for him to decloak and then ended the Osprey. Turns out, he bought new implants, too. He sat down just in time for us to see his face washed in the white glow of a fresh podding.

In a fit of rage, he decided to sell all his assets in Korama since he knew he couldn’t undock. All of Eve was watching him and dozens of destroyers were prowling looking to be the next one to gank him. When he realized the Magpie MTU buy order was only 300 isk, he decided to make a Jita run. Once again Arcana got the kill, this time amidst stiff competition.

This was the beginning of a flurry of ganks. Multiple ventures were badly fitted, undocked, and destroyed. He tried to go hide in a wormhole. He failed. He invented the Swiss Army Moa and bragged about his 40k EHP before undocking it in Jita, to find himself at 25% structure before the grid even loaded. At some point in the chaos, he put his webcam on a loop of him headbobbing to his terrible reggae music and got some sleep. He loudly announced on stream that we were all too afraid to follow his empty pod to null, so eight of us promptly followed him to null and killed him. The person with the final blow doesn’t seem to have posted the mail, so I have no link for that one.

His killboard illustrates just how chaotic it got, and doesn’t even reflect all his losses as people created characters with the express purpose of ganking him. If you have unposted mails, please get them on the board to show the full glory of what happens when all of Eve unites for a common goal.

We began to realize he was coming to derive some enjoyment from leading people on long pursuits before his free ibis got ganked. I put out a call to stand down and get people off his stream. The goal was to deny him the notoriety he believed he’d achieved and leave him wondering where everyone went. There was a phase 3 plan in the works, but TD5K was worn down and so busy insulating himself against contact with other humans that it was impossible to provoke him or engage him in anyway.

Operation TD5K: The Hunt

(This happened way back in March, I’m just getting around to posting it because I’ve been distracted by real life sucking.)

So life in Shadow Cartel hasn’t always been conducive to the lifestyle I write about here. There’s plenty to do, just not much to write about. There are other bloggers and streamers who talk about lowsec PVP far more competently than I ever will. So I’ve been quietly playing (and based on my recent killboard, not playing) without much to say here.

And then Market Tycoon linked this stream to the BU channel way back on February 4. At the time, the streamer was engaged in a 30-minute tirade because people were spamming 100k bounties on his character. I joined the fun, delivered some content to my Shadow Cartel brethren, and much amusement was had until he rage quit the stream.

Some further investigation revealed interesting clips on his channel: him justifying his use of macros to fire all his guns at once instead of grouping them. He has an irrational aversion to grouping guns and loads his 8 launchers with all four damage types.

Two days later, I found my new playmate streaming again. This time he was roaming about in a venture, dodging Gallente faction police because he a) doesn’t know how to decline a mission, and b) doesn’t know how to avoid wandering into an entire empire that considers him a criminal. Once he returned to the safety of Caldari space, I spent an hour pacing him with a scout while he roamed in search of that most rare and valuable ore, Omber. He finally abandoned his quest in Ahynada, settling instead for a Jaspet site he found. The New Eden Asteroid Preservation Society took issue with his wanton disregard for the natural beauty of the anomaly and his Venture was reclaimed for nature.

The loss of his venture triggered another outburst. For twenty minutes, we were treated to the most spectacular rant about the inferiority of people who do such terrible things, how “the stream is about the streamer, not the viewer” and how I had violated terms of service for Twitch and/or Eve–I was never clear on which. I watched as he docked in Korama and boarded a Raven Navy Issue. He ended that stream and I thought he was done for the night, only to find later that he lost a Heron four hours later to a Tornado.

It became a hobby/side project for Arcana Noctis to watch his stream and trigger his rants. As more of the alliance took an interest, we assembled a Talos fleet and began seriously pursuing him. I got a ship scan for the RNI and discovered a full rack of Caldari Navy launchers. We staged up, and were surprised when he abruptly docked and ended his stream while I was scanning his mission site. We suspected he’d seen probes on d-scan, and confirmed this the following day when he saw probes again, this time docking and launching into yet another lengthy rant, the first of his stream that we recorded live and the source of one of our favorite quotes, regarding why he doesn’t join a corp:

They want to change your build, they want you to build ships so that you can get killed faster, they want you to group your weapons, they want to manipulate you <unintelligible> so that to you aren’t a billionaire. I’m a billionaire.

Fast forward to March, and one of our own has gained his confidence in his Twitch chat and asked if she can run missions with him. On March 5, I logged in to find the Talos fleet on standby and our spy in fleet and running missions with him. One problem: our spy was drunk. After an hour of trying to negotiate with an increasingly-inebriated spy, she effectively passed out and we lost our window of opportunity. But it gave us the chance to see how our prey operated, and inspired my plans for the gank.

It took a few days to get everyone online at the same time again. After watching his interactions with our spy, we abandoned the idea of catching him in a mission space and instead set about grooming him to allow his new prospective girlfriend fleet control. We watched as her Hurricane successfully shield tanked level 4 missions better than his Raven Navy Issue. We watched him awkwardly flirt, smirking as he typed in private chats. We watched as they embarked on a 12-jump storyline mission late on a Friday night, and we set our plan in motion.

They were running missions out of Korama. One jump out is Piekura, a 0.5 that sees a lot of ganking action. The system’s killboard for earlier that day showed CODE. pulling six concord squads after a successful gank; that meant half our fleet would be ganking under pulled conditions, making the odds even better. We were bringing so much overkill it wasn’t necessary, but there’s nothing wrong with padding your margin for error.

I set up a safe spot near the Saatuban gate, well out of dscan range of anything but a planet and its few moons. As the pair returned form their journey, Phurious informed our prey that she now had access to level 4s and would like to run some of hers if that’s okay. He agreed enthusiastically, and I docked and contracted a bookmark to her. While TD5K was doing something mundane and forgettable, she retrieved the bookmark and returned to sit on the Korama gate in Piekura, where her mission was supposedly going down. He gave her fleet command and the scene was set.

A minute later, he jumped through the gate into Piekura. They sat on gate chatting for a moment before Phurious initiated a fleet warp to the “mission”. She landed first, followed shortly by TD5K.

Raven Navy Issue
Capsule

Our primary goal accomplished, we settled in for the rage. We had no idea what we’d begun.

Victory Genesis, and Another Chapter

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year’s, well wishes for all the other holidays I didn’t blog during because I’m terrible and there hasn’t been much to talk about since this isn’t a PUBG blog.

We deployed to Genesis and pushed out most of the existing residents in the pockets we had our sights on rather quickly. We extended our reach several jumps into highsec with wardecs, the most enteraining of which was Order of Allied Knights, whose Azbel was the subject my previous post. They mounted a similar defense on the final timer, and this time I was prepared with a covops legion that appeared and disappeared all over the grid as they attempted to snipe our logis. The Azbel kill ended up being number 1,000 on my killboard, which was kind of cool.

Which brings me to the next bit:

Image result for shadow cartel logo

Arcana Noctis joined Shadow Cartel just as 2018 was getting started. After a month of entertaining ourselves with scraps in Eve and mostly playing other games, we’re in a flurry of activity setting up move operations. At this point I have no idea what I’ll have to write about in the next few weeks: I recently finally trained my first capital skills and can sit in a Naglfar, although without JDC5 I’m not quite “there” as far as joining SHDWC fleets. I can be in any dread or carrier in a matter of hours with the right skill book at this point and have moved to the FOUR MONTH chore of training all my battleship skills to 5 so I can get into any black ops and improve my mobility.

As our reach expands, I find myself constantly challenged to reinvent how I operate. This is what keeps me coming back to Eve: after all these years, I can still find things new to me.