shrinking is good

If you have time to listen to one Podcast, make it Declaration of War.  Its entertaining, informative and highly polished.

If you have time for 2 podcasts, either add Hydrostatic Podcast or High Drag – both are funny and mix up the topics quite a bit.  Crossing Zebras and the host’s pretend professionalism and relentless nullsec focus gets old.

Wormhole space only has one podcast – Down the Pipe.  While informative to me – I live in a Wormhole – its chestbeating for PvP and “content” (=site runners getting murdered by a fleet 10 times their size) is getting a tad old.  But the recent roundtable was indeed excellent, as the Blogger Eminence grise Kirith Kodachi noted.  The funny thing is, I too  thought it was excellent – but for very different reasons.

So, lets start with the state of Wormholes.  As intro, I must say that I do not matter.  I do not belong to an elite PvP corp and therefore my opinions are likely not relevant. Our alliance is neither very serious nor has any interest in the color of the killboards.  We like red, red is good.  Green is nice also.  But we like red.

Hyperion gave us massive chains in concordance with Fozzie’s stated goals to generate deep chains.  Deep, yeah, no kidding.  They are deep.  To balance, the hole rolling was made more dangerous which means that fewer holes are rolled.  Add to this the wee little Frigate holes and you have an environment for people to log in, see if someone scout the massive chain and – if not – log off.  I may exaggerate a little but I am in good company. Corbexx himself has made prediction of the imminent  doom for wormhole space.  I have scanned down dozens of connections and am not sure whether wormhole space really has gone “dead” (notice, there is no grey-zone in the bloggosphere) or its normal activity.  Only CCP really knows if the activity in WH space has indeed been impacted by Hyperion changes – I wager, it hasn’t really.  Our corp pays ISKs to our members, gets ready to really run C5 sites (thanks to our new static) and generally is more active.  We are – because we have to be – a bit more organized.  The teams log in together, spawned by jabber pings, scans diligently and adapt its fleet doctrine.  Some of our dedicated carebears have – against my prediction – staid. I think the lure of C5 holes holds them.

So, this is Hyperion – a LOT more scanning to find a safe route or someone to shoot at – never really run sites risk-free and we had to get more organized to run anything. One could say that the Risk has increased but the reward has not.  This is the line that the podcasters took but its not the line of Kirith Kodachi in his excellent post.  See, he thinks back to just after Apocrypha  where wormhole space was balanced to be highly rewarding for a small, hard hitting but temporary fleet.  We were supposed to scout in, bring in ships, run sites and leave.  Nobody thought we’d be nuts enough to actually stay.  But stay we did, our predecessors with EVE-typical ingenuity removed some of the big obstacles that made life hard in Wormhole space.  Us – the relative newcomers – found Wormhole space not so mysterious anymore but have set SOPs for everything.  In effect, we reduced the risk by being smart, adapted and taught the community how to deal with the space. Paraphrasing Kirith – we “professionalized” Wormhole space, drove the risk out of it while keeping the reward.

Following this argument to the end, Kirith asserts that the Hyperion changes were designed to correct the risk / reward calculation to the original design.  None of the mouthbreathers on the forums or in the bloggosphere has seen it like that (me neither).  Is it true?  Well, kind of.  You can’t really dial back the knowledge that we have aggregated.  I will never unlearn the almost pathological urge to click D-scan – I swear I D-scan high sec systems with just me in it every 5 seconds.  You can’t (well you could but it would be pretty nasty) disable the excellent out-of-game tools that allow us to map Wormholes in space and create paths, routes etc.  You can’t undo corp bookmarks (if you have not lived in Wormhole space before corp bookmarks, just for a second imagine how that worked…it was terrible).  You can’t undo our POS Kung-Fu – we are masters of POS, experts in managing logistics.  So, if Kirith is right and CCP is trying to correct the risk-reward equation to where it should be, I feel jibbed.  The reason why the risk / reward is – alledgedly – out of whack is not because external influence.  It is because of those of us who learned, improved, taught, re-learned and adapted.  Sorry CCP if we took the Playdoh but instead of making pretend-cookies, we made guns.

Well, now what?  What are my “predictions”?  As usual, I see this a bit more relaxed.  Humankind has evolved by adaptation and then becoming the fittest.  EVE players are  – maybe except nullsecc-ers  – humans who will take the challenge and adapt, overcome and excel.  But who will win?

The obvious answer is –  the large corps.  The big, massive Wormhole PvP groups, the Verge of Collapse, the Bluefires, the AHARM, the Narwhales (are they still a thing?), the Upholders, the Skyfighters… there quite a few.  These corporations have the numbers to rapidly scan down the lengthy chain and decide if it is worth keeping.  Their numbers also protect the hole rolling, yes, its tedious but with Battleships its not such a big deal.  And by the way, they want to get jumped.  They WANT fights.  Thats the whole point of this.  Or is it?

Well, the dirty secret is that the oh-so-elite PvP corporations do a LOT of PvE.  Something has to pay for the ships and yes, T3 have come down in price (big time) and PI has generated nearly risk-free ISK but a single C5 only holds this much ISK in its own anoms and signatures.  Its not like nullsec where stations can be upgraded to have nearly unlimited rat spawns.  Even a C5 or a C6 (does anyone actually still live in a C6?) has limited ISK to be farmed.  The dirty secret is that these elite PvP corporations are the biggest carebears of New Eden with massive PI farms, high-sec T3 production corporations and – most importantly – dozens of “private” holes.  These holes are C4 or 5 (sometimes a NS C3) and owned by 3-5 guys who park a few alts in them.  Every few weeks or so, they do not participate in their elite roams but instead they farm their system dry, move the ISK to their main character and resume the chest-beating, PvE-belittling stance.

I think these guys are going to suffer most.  They are used to rat in peace without much care in the world and farm billions of ISK with their few mates.  That’s over.  Like it is over for us, its over for them.  The risk described above makes it more riskier for them to hold these holes, they need more people for security and routes and the value proposition drops. Add to this that we (and most corps of our size) dont give a flying hoot about killmails.  These guys, they do.  Check out this kill.  I know Dean – been flying with him lots. He is one crazy mofo but an excellent pilot who will take any fight.  The opposing team had 25 (really, I had to check this twice) pilots on his killmail.  25, this means, they had to hold fire to wait until everyone is on grid and at least got one shot off.  Because for these groups, Killmail matter.  They matter because only they allow objective differentiation of a pilot’s worth.  Fleets of this size are very hard to finance on an ongoing basis – yes these happen to be cheap cruisers but even there there is a limit for the income of each of these 25 pilots.

To bring this to an end and offer my “Prediction”, I think we will see a slow bleed of the large PvP corporations and contraction to sizes that can be accommodated with a single hole and its neighbors.  For a C2 its ~10 players, for a C3 also (the static to empire space reduces ISK making potentian), a C4 maybe 20 and I do not know much about C5 / C6.  I guess, a C5/C5 is about 150 pilots – that means 50 human beings with 3 alts each.  Of course, there will be alliances, blue-settings and so on but I truly hope the time of ridiculously large fleets in wormhole space is coming to an end.

And that would be a good thing.  See, unlike Kirith, I do not see the world this way:

 

Hypothesis: What is happening in wormhole space right now is a microcosm version in both scale and time of what has been occurring in null sec for years, and can be predictive of what is coming in the next year in null sec. Kirith

I see a restructuring, a pairing down, a trimming of fat of the large wormhole corporations. I see that the large fleets can neither find fights not ISK and fade out.  I see that smaller corporations who can organize themselves will “own” wormhole space, not because they can withstand the might of a large fleet but because they are inherently more adaptable and more survivable that the big guys.  Yes, like cockroaches will survive through the nuclear winter, Z3R0 Return mining will soldier on.

And yes, we are recruiting.  :)

Lost in Translation

I commented before on the new Wormhole Spawn rate – it has indeed slowed down a little but we still have many connections leading to scanner burn-out and of course extremely long and tedious chains.  But they also seem to be leading to more content and corporations adapt swiftly and efficiently.  Our site running team for example tested a new mixed PvE / PvP fit that promised to be highly successful and resilient to hostile action.  It may need a little tweaking but in theory it works perfectly.

Anyway, I am wandering around and scan down a new C5 which leads to a C4 (among several NS holes, a frigate hole, an EOL C1…).  The C4 seems promising, it has a C2 static and I stroll in, see what the locals are up to.  Oh, look.  A Raven on Dscan, not aligned with a tower / bubble.

Site runner?  No, no wrecks.  Guard at some WH?  Could be, 3 sigs in this place, one of them the hole we just came through, so must be one of their statics.  Raven is aligned with a planet and I pick a random Moon, warp at range and see nothing.  A dead tower, but no Raven. He is close tho, not cloaked and I take another attempt on Dscan when he suddenly moves and almost literally lands on top of me.

Raven_01

Am I not cloaked?  I am still cloaked.  How did he know where I am?  I didn’t warp decloaked from the hole, there is no way.  With that many moons on this (or all planets), this is an incredible coincidence.

Incredible is right.  We have a Raven flopping about this C4 like a fish in a barrel.  Bait, says my careful self.  Target says my wannabe PvPer self.  Considering the amount of red ink that spilled on our killboard tonight, I’d risk adding my Proteus to it, but some green would be nicer.

How to break a Raven?  Well, my trusty alt is in Jita, shopping for ships.  While he is haggling (he is Caldari, the Scum), I have no combat-ready alt available to assist.  I am in a cloaked Proteus facing a Raven from Bob-knows-where with Bob-knows-how-many-friends.  I don’t think I can break his tank easily – even if he doesn’t have friends.  If I at least had a Falcon, then I could render him useless and peck away at him.  But  Raven at point-blank range can’t really miss my Proteus and its going to hurt.  Time to call the cavalry, my corp mate Storm logs in a Falcon and his Hurricane and hurries down the pipe.   The usual confusion where I am and he finds the hole, jumps, I motor in range, ready to pound on the Raven and….

He warps off.  What the living f***?

He has not seen anything, it was just a coincidence.  Really, he warps to some other random planet / moon and spews probes out.  I am heading after him but he is on the move and we can’t nail him down.  He has Core probes 1 out now and seemingly is scanning down the 2 remaining holes – both statics.  Apparently successful, he disappears from D-scan.

Crap.  He is gone.  Well, not so fast.  He is not very good at this – scanning took him a long time in the unbonused ship and with T1 drones.  He has no cloak, he is randomly selecting celestials.  And I don’t think he knows we are here.

I scan down the hole that he seemed to have disappeared into – the C2 – and jump in hoping he is just decloaked by the hole somewhere. He ain’t.  But he is on D-scan, so are other ships but I don’t care about them now.  They are noise.  I want my Raven, sauteed with a dash of garlic.

He does the same thing, zooms about the system but without probes this time.  Never stays more than a minute on each moon and seemingly also makes safe spots.  I think he is trying to make a perch for a lengthy scan session.

Storm and I are now joined by Rxs, who had just uncrated his new Loki and is itching to try it out.  He follows us down the chain and – crucially – he brings a Combat Probe launcher.  I know, I know, we drop probes, the game is up but if our target is really as dense as we think he is, we may get him at his “safe” spot.

Rxs jumps into the C2, guided in by Storm and I, drops his combats and gets the fat Battleship to 90% with the first scan.  But the target warps off.  Rxs tries again, nails it to 100% and initiates warp.  Our target sits in his safespot and drops probes.   Rxs lands on top of him, scram, guns, web and Storm and I land our respective boats to join the slaughter.  Weapons free, that Raven soon is toast but we miss the Pod.  The loot is pitiful, I stuff what I can into my cargo hold for corp donation.

The pod pipes up in local – in Russian.

VoVik Gorec > Вот спасибо!)

I am polite but my Russian is only as good as Google Translate

Epigene > Вы хотите маршрут
VoVik Gorec > да

I think this means “yes”

The pod is stationary – so far I have not promised anything, have I?  I need to play for time, let him do the translation:

Epigene > I need to scan

Epigene > we need to put probes out

But Rxs used his combat probes to scan him down, warp us in and I scram him.  I promised to help him find a route – and we are good as our word.  Our Raven pilot is transported swiftly to a cloning vat where surely he is contemplating what went wrong.

Moral of the story – there isn’t one.

This is EVE

Oversteering

Well, Hyperion had one effect for certain – the total number of wormhole connecting “things” has gone up dramatically.  Other bloggers picked up on this as well.  Where we used to have pretty short chains (C4->C3->Empire), I shall here present you with a screen shot of our mapping tool.  It outlines a typical week-night with 2 people scanning – there were many more connections that did not make it on the map because of ~ effort ~.

 

Many Holes

 

Now on one side, this does have the desired effect of connecting everyone with everyone, “content” is always found.  The term “Content” is generally used by elite PvP-ers to describe carebears waiting to be slaughtered.  The problem is, even carebears look at this map and realize that life has become a lot more dangerous and re-evaluate their options.  Corbexx predicts a rather substantial drop in residence.  I am not quite as negative about it but the current connection density does not allow a small, casual corporation to survive long in Wormhole Space.  Maybe that is CCP’s aim anyway, maybe they over-steered and will be dialing back over time.

We shall see…

Hyperion and Wormholes Part 2

I wrote about my early impressions on Hyperion from the perspective of someone who actually lives in a C4 and flies with a quite small corporation.  As I mentioned, Hyperion changes – like all changes to EVE – benefit larger outfits more than smaller one. CCP is perfectly open in that – larger corporations create larger fights, create more press, create more subscribers.

Corbexx is our active WH resident on CCP and therefore was kneedeep in the discussions of this patch.  He has published his impressions on the changes on his blog and I can’t feel but smug about his realization:

My small alt corp I have that makes T3 also has a C4 wormhole it had a C3 wormhole and was a really sweet place to relax, It had perfect PI me and 4 of my mates could easily run sites in there and pvp in the c3 if we wanted. The down side is with the patch we got our second static that was a C5. Now this sucks combined with the mass/distance change and the frig wh. we are basically screwed. As a small corp we really struggle to close the C5 with assuming we could all use orcas which we can’t it would still take 2 rounds to close it, with battleships 3 rounds, If there is any big group in that C5 we basically have no way at all of closing it safely.

Yeah, no shit, Sherlock.  Some of us saw this coming a mile away.  The changes to C4 are not designed to keep carebear or alt corps in C4.  The changes bring C4s on the level of C2s, non-stop vigilance and PvP with very limited ability to make ISK.  Many dedicated carebear corporations will certainly see the sign and move out, I have no doubt about that.  Whether they will be replaced by larger, more PvP-centric outfits remains to be seen.  Again,Corbexx agrees with this:

We’ve not the only ones having this issue. So are others and I see others leaving. However while some move out others will hopefully move in as its potentially a decent PvP wormhole for small groups. This is why for the dual statics I’m happy to pay the price for this change.

Isn’t that charming?  Our CSM candidates suffers because his alt can’t farm his C4 in peace any more because massive PvP corporations (like the one from his main) now have easy access to him.  That’s called “content”.  My heart bleeds for Corbexx and members of these “elite” corporations that need to have “alt-holes” since they are too big to earn enough ISK from their main hole.  And you need that many people in one hole because how would you otherwise fly a 30 man fleet every night?

Well, poor us don’t have “alt holes”.  We live in one hole / corporation and we are an Alliance of such corporations.  We eat what we kill in our home and in our chains and there was a time when we actually too many members actively farming the resources.  C4s only support that many pilots.

In Hyperion, our little band of brothers certainly has seen the change.  I only logged in a couple of times (RL >> EVE) but instead of logging into a quiet backwater from which I scan for “content” (remind me to write a blog post on the use of “content” in EVE before the fad fades), I find myself in the middle of skirmishes, posturing, threats and suddenly opening holes.  Where we used to have a C3 static (and often just that), I could park and alt on the hole and do a quiet PI run with my main, read the BBC and drink coffee while taking a shower and getting dressed at the same time (I am exaggerating).  Them days are thoroughly over, me thinks.  We had at least 4 holes every time I log in and our chain is massive.  Each C3 seems to be making Swiss Cheese look solid and only our new C5 neighbors offer some predictability in that they only have their static or a nullsec to nowhere and nobody online.  Deep in our chain, we even murdered a Retriever in classic take-down.  Pity the fool who mines in WH space with this many holes connecting everything to everyone!

Retriever Takedown

 

And talking about mining – the days of pure PvE fleets are over as well.  As a C4 crew, we can’t just put 1 guy on the hole and watch D-scan, run sites and drink beer.  I guess to run C4 sites in our hole we need at least 6 human pilots online with 12 ships (not each, do we look like nullsec carebears?).  In addition to mandate dedicated times to organize corporation runs, it limits the amount of ISK that an individual pilot can make.  As I said before.  EVE is defined by Risk / Reward.  Risk has gone up a lot, Reward has staid where it was.  Even Corbexx and his alt corp notices it.

What does that do to us?  Well, our dedicated site runners have not logged on. We have a group of hard-core carebears who will strip a system clean with machine-like precision and help with fuel hauls and scanning but never go out of their way to engage in PvP.  We like our PvE crew, they generally keep our C4 free of pesky signatures and anomalies and they even used to mine so that the corp may build ships from the Ore.  Since Hyperion, nobody has seen them.  I would not be surprised if they had moved out for safer farming grounds in nullsec or one of the massive WH organizations that can afford to create total security in their home systems.

So, overall, the changes are exactly as predicted – smaller C4 organizations will have to change or get out, wormhole space has become a lot more dangerous for smaller groups in general and forces them to aggregate and become posturing blobs in order to pay the fuel bill.

I for myself have fun with it for now – I fly frigates and cheap crap (corp mate just sold me an Algos!), gone are my days of flying T3.  The income I make is nowhere near enough to pay for these ships but I can whelp the occasional bomber or destroyer.  And that I will!

Attract Convert Close

The Hyperion release was successfully implemented this week, as far as I know without major snafus.  I logged in last night to check on my PI and noticed no difference in our C4 other than having a C5 hole (and a C3 and a C2, so traffic was plentiful).  I discussed some of the features here and may put up a second post but to be honest, our team shrugged and moved on.  C5 holes are pretty common for us and we have a doctrine to deal with it, the little Frigate holes are a different matter but as I mentioned before, I see them as occasional opportunities to mess with people more than a game changer.

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Hyperion and Wormholes Part 1

Well, so our Icelandic friends dropped a little surprise on us.  The upcoming patch “Hyperion” will contain some rather significant changes for us wormhole dwellers.  The associated Dev Blog can be found here, a decent description is found here and Rhavas summarized his analysis here.

Lets start with the tl/dr – the changes are not really what the community wanted or needed but they’ll do and most of the changes will contribute to more activity in Wormhole space.  This is a good thing.

Considering that I agree with much of what Rhavas wrote, let me just add a couple of comments from my point of view.

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Drink!

Wormhole alliance are by nature dispersed all over the universe and combining fleets is sometimes a bit challenging.  Our Alliance (Illusion of Solitude and yes we are recruiting) is no exceptions.  We see each other on Jabber / TS all the time but we don’t fly that often with each other.  Only to whack a Wormhole, defend our brethren or roam drunk.

Yes, IOS has drunk roams and they end in disaster, mayhem and annihilation of ships and hepatocytes alike.  On these days, those of us who can make it, stream from our holes like bearded mountain men of yonder, muskets loaded, flasks filled with moonshine.  We assemble somewhere central and buy random ships that we happen to like the sound of.  Our European fleet mates have a crucial advantage – they started drinking 4-7 hours earlier.  Our US contingent is wanton to catch up and the sweet sound of cans opening, ice cubes rattling and corks popping fills the TeamSpeak ether.

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