I shot the Myrm, but I did not kill the Dominix

As my last remaining reader may recall, I live in WH space, staging with NOMEX out of a C2.  And while fleet fights are awesome fun with our solid FCs, occasionally I get “wanderlust”, drift away with my two characters and deliberately go down chains with EOL holes.  When the last known connection expired, when the bookmarks become stale and old, I really get the old feeling of being totally isolated and alone.  Whether I engage hostiles or not, whether I live or die, win or lose is now all up to me, no excuses, no regrets.

And so I drifted from Wormhole to Wormhole over the weekend with my Legion and my Stratios, sniffing around dozens of holes, checking out citadels for activity, keeping a mental log of how many anomalies or gas sites should be there but are not (indicating recent PVE), checking if the POCOs are allied with the citadel owners, checking the citadel owner’s killboard and so on.  Much has changed (for the worse) in WH intel since POSes are gone but I just try to get a feel for each hole I travel to and get a mental image of the people who live there.

I bumble into a C1 with a static Low Sec connection.  Its a very large system (which is good, so I can make excellent safe spots to log off in) and I tend to like C1s.  In general, they are inhabited by PvE guys who seek riches from PI, hacking, mining (the anomalies are nearly worthless) and of course as manufacturing base.  I look around and see an Astrahus and 2 (!) Athanors pulling in rocks.  All owned by a 7 man corp (i.e. 1 guy with 3 accounts and 2 Jita trade toons).  A single POCO is being reinforced, comes out in 24 hours or so.  I shall sleep here tonight.

The next day, I am working from home where I can put my character 1000 km off the Astrahus and watch for activity while I am on the phone or answer emails. Nothing happens really, but the timer on the POCO faithfully counts down. The CEO / main of my “host” logs in a few times, takes a Helios out and scans, checks out the POCO (yes, still there!).  A Gnosis warps around the system and I am getting clammy hands – I could take a Gnosis easily with my two characters, especially if he runs any one of the anomalies (for which I have tacticals, warp-in, warp-out etc…).  But the Gnosis re-docks and nothing happens.  Oh well, the wormhole deity “Bob” rewards patience and patient I am.

Kinda

Its evening now and I am on comms with my corpmates who “roll for content” and scream for pilots to log in. I am stuck in this C1 like a sad person without friends and watch an empty structure.  It wears my patience down.  The LS connection from here is terrible, somewhere off the map in Minmatar space and we have a Frigate hole which I watch attentively. Frigate holes never bring things I can catch my cruisers but can bring a lot of stuff that can hurt me.

Action!  Two guys undock from the citadel, a Myrmidon (still an amazing looking ship) and a Dominix.  Solid, hard-ass, well tanked drone platforms, about the worst that I could deal with.  They can be built in active tank to withstand any DPS I have.  I know this because I love both hulls, they are still my favorite ships in the game.  They warp off to another POCO and eject 10 Ogre II.

POCO Bashing

Well… So if this is how they bash POCOs, I am not sure I can do anything about that.  These are really hard nuts to crack each and I have two of them.  10 Ogres II can mess up my sunny day and while my Legion has decent tank, most Domis have Neuts in their high slots.

I decide to wait.  I can be here for days if I need to.  They have 2 (!) Athanors pulling rocks, one of the rocks is ~ 1-2 days from fracturing (I measure rock speed, I am that guy).  Bob’s Patience.

Other Real Life things happen and I am afk for a little.  When I get back the two targets are in the exact same spot which makes me think that they could be AFK.  Risk it?  Just drop on it?

I casually watch while doing work-stuff on the other screen when an Astero drops out of nowhere on-grid. He is not cloaked (idiot) and just sits there.  The pilot is not part of this corp but comes from a WH outfit.  He must have come from the Frigate hole.  So, my thinking goes, if my targets don’t react to this they could be AFK and I should risk it.  

Caution gets the better of me.  That and real life again.  10 minutes pass when I decide that its late and I need to log for the night. Bob is more pleased by a small kill with patience than a reckless banzai charge.

I turn my Legion around and initiate warp to my safe spot.  Its 50 or more AU away and I am mentally logged off when I see a flash on my overview, a Hound Stealth Bomber is on grid and I see the distinct icon of a bomb hurtling toward my target.  But I am in warp already!  Damn it!

I warp the 50 AU and yank on my reigns, turn the cruiser around and warp back.  It takes forever and when I finally land, nothing has changed. The Myrm and the Domi still peck away on the POCO, all Ogres are circling and no sight of bombs or bomber.  My targets were afk through a bomb attack?  They have to be afk.  They must be.

Oh for Bobs sake: !!!BANZAI!!!.  

Without thinking, I warp my Legion to zero onto the POCO, activate my tank and tackle the Myrm.  The “plan” (there really isn’t) is to burn down the Myrm, then the Domi as fast as I can.  I briefly think about killing the drones first but dismiss it because both boats have enormous drone bays and I would be on grid forever, giving the bomber boys a chance to get their stuff together and come with a swarm of angry frigates and destroyers.  No, this either goes fast or it doesn’t go at all.

While my Legion scrams, shoots, has drones out and a Neut (not going to be much good but whatever), I struggle with my Stratios.  I never really liked the boat, yes, its a jack-of-all-trades but it does everything worse than a Strategic Cruiser.  It has no tank, so it has to be stand-off, it has anemic DPS but its relatively quick.  So, I circle at 20km and send drones downrange,  I even have some lasers in the high adding measly DPS.  But there is so much that needs to be done manually that I am getting overwhelmed.

While I wrestle with the Stratios, something  scrams my Legion. I think its the Myrm and don’t pay attention, that guy is going down hard and fast.  I am now dipping into armor which is fine, the Myrm is breaking.  Its harder than it looks but the drones from the Stratios are now landing and his end is swift.  The Myrm blows up and the pod races off.  Now for the Domi.  Shit, he is scramming me.  Should I get away?  He is not neuting, I can try to burn him down. His tank is untested.  He may just have all DPS on a POCO basher for all I know.  I target and shoot. Damn, my Legion has Rapid Lights, great for ambush but terrible for prolonged fights.  I reload. It takes forever.  My armor is 1/2 which really means I should get out of here. The Stratios and my combined 10 medium drones finally crack into the Dominix.  D-scan clear, no sign of the frigate boys and their bombers.  Oh come on, clench your cheeks and hammer through this.  The Domi armor gives faster than my Legion.  Its now a race who can hold out longer.  I am losing the race.  My alarms screech.

I realize that I am losing the Legion if I stay on grid and align to somewhere.  My MWD is useless of course, I need to get out of his scram range before I can get away.  He target paints me now as well which helps his Ogres a little I think but that really makes me thing that he is not as harmless as I thought he was.  Damnit, I am not going to make it.  Hull alarm is sounding, I overheat whatever I can but it doesn’t matter.  My legion blows up in a fireball and I warp my pod away.  My Stratios stays on grid, he is way outside scram range and maybe, just maybe if I can keep shooting the Domi just dies?  Without holding it down myself, its unlikely but I’ll try.  Suddenly his Ogres are on top of me and within 1 salvo I am in 1/2 armor.  The painter shines on me now, this Domi is not going down, he is staying on grid and slugging it out.  I D-scan and see a “Hound” somewhere, not on grid but I know now that the frigate boys are finally inbound.  If I don’t pull away, I’ll lose the Strat to someone.

I disengage, offer GF in local and head my pod for the LS.  Only way to get him back to civilization, 20j through low sec.  I feel that at every gate, a bell rings and people shout “Shame” as I run the gauntlet.  To make my shame complete, I decide to convo my target and get ready for well-deserved insults, gloating, Drake-memes etc but none of that happens.  My target is a thoroughly nice chap, we chat about WH life, fits, the danger from the frigate holes etc. No asshattery at all and I don’t feel quite as terrible anymore when I make it to Jita, reload my loss mail and click “buy all”. Because, what killed me was not the fit, it was skill and situational awareness.  And thoroughly underestimating my target…

However, Bob is moderately pleased with my performance and may his blessing shine upon my next roaming venture….

 

And yes, I thought the title of this post was really clever.  Maybe not.  Good song tho!

 

 

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A Series of Fortunate Events

As my remaining two readers know, I spend my EVE life in Wormhole space, flying with Anomalous Existence (NOMEX) based out of a C2 hole.  However fun this is, between real life job(s), family and other stuff I barely can make 2 hour / week piloting work and consequently lost much of the “edge” that I used to have may have had .  Basically, I screw up a lot these days and while this is humorous occasionally and solo, in fleet operations it can put the whole fleet at risk.  And here follows the tale of the screw-ups that nearly ended badly:

Big picture. NOMEX lives in a C2 but had reasons to make an Astrahus in a C5 go away.  I have no idea why, don’t ask, don’t want to know but I like explosions, so of course I volunteer. As usual, the fleet combo is something like DPS+Scout+Logi and my always preferred roles for “Scout” were already taken.  The DPS fleet ships into “Leshaks”, these newfangled ships for which I have so far been too arrogant to train for and that leaves me with flying Logistics.  Actually, that works, I am reasonably confident that I know what I am doing and I certainly could use the practice.  But wait!  Why use a standard corp-approved Guardian if I could make things far more complicated and fly a T3 Cruiser?  Logi-Proteus is a “thing” these days, I already have a hull. Its expensive, risky and unnecessary, just what my corp didn’t ask for but the FC grudgingly approves. Someone smarter than me gives me a fit and I head to Jita with a song on my lips.  This is what I buy: Continue reading

Endgame?

For most of us old EVE players, the metaverse of the game is as important as the game itself.  EVE would be nothing without the player-generated stories of evictions, slander, theft and good deeds, we have become a famed community not despite EVE itself is such a buggy work in progress but because of it.  And while blogs and news aggregators used to be our watering holes (EVE Forums have always been limited to new players who just didn’t know any better), the shift to r/eve is nearly complete.

Continue reading

The Eviction of Hard Knocks and why it could be good for Wormhole space

As my last remaining loyal reader (hi Mum!) may recall, I bounced around in EVE but always come back to Wormhole Space (aka Anoikis). To me, the uncertainty of connections, resources and enemies, the excitement of working in small, highly skilled teams and the slow, cat-like scouting sessions are the most thrilling aspects of the game.  Wormholers in EVE are a little bit “different”, we used to have a fearsome but also slightly weird reputation.  I mean, who is nuts enough to stalk an enemy for weeks in order to get a single drop on a site running fleet?  We do.  Oh yes, we do. Continue reading

Space Bushido. Its why I log in

EVE Online used to have two distinct reputations: a) its a spreadsheet game played by the hyper nerdy, basically those who are so socially inept that their D&D group threw them out and b) total and complete immoral bastards who plan for years how to stab their best friend in the back.  Like all stereotypes, these are vastly exaggerated but have a kernel of truth: EVE is complicated and driven by numbers and mechanic lets you be a total asshat as long as you can deal with the in-game consequences.  The same mechanic that lets you be a dick also lets you (and the group you fly in) actively reject being dicks.  There are pragmatic reasons behind not being a dick, especially in smaller wormhole outfits.  By nature of the wormhole mechanic, we run into each other all the time and getting a bad reputation is a recipe for an eviction.  On the other hand, being true to one’s word allows rapid, temporary coalitions to form to help in a defense situation or when fun demands it.

The video that my corp-mate Seraphessael recently posted shows off the bizarre nerdiness that EVE is and the honor code that our small world lives by. See, in the video,  Seraphessael chose to show the entire engagement, not just the juicy combat parts. That’s a little unusual but I personally love it, it really shows so much more how a team functions than just the choice parts where missiles are in the air (well, vacuum, whatever).

So, first, full disclosure.  I came into this really late, I had had the audacity to eat dinner while the corporation had been “rolling for content”  and I only logged in when the ping went out.

In wormhole space, you push enough heavy ships through a wormhole, it eventually dies and a new one spawns soon after.  The mass-calculation, the fleet coordination, the fits of the various “rollers” are finely tuned and a good corporation can crush a hole within a few minutes, scan down the new one and have scouts in there to search for targets.  Its entirely routine and in Seraphessael’s video, the first 2:14 minutes show the team in rolling action, coms are relaxed and people goof around.  However, when the scout finds a mining fleet with their pants down, the tone and content changes dramatically.  I love this inflection point because in good corporations, within seconds a PvP fleet forms, pings are sent and everyone gets down to business. Unlike Nullsec, its not always organized, there are no real FC’s but the roles are flexible.  Much, much hangs on the scout – whoever it is at this time.  A second experienced person quarterbacks the fight relying on the word of his scout and the competency of his team to execute.  In the video, shooting starts at 4:48, basically 2:30 minutes after the target was first seen.

The fight itself was short and brutal, it could have ended either way since nobody (not our target, not us) had any idea what they were really up against.  We won – this time – but next time we may be the victim.  In this light, notice the call not to loot the field, keep the very expensive mining drones on-field and basically not be dicks.  We had what we wanted (kills), now was the time to display our honor code.

Of course, we could have spammed /local with taunts.  Instead we typed “gf” and nothing else.  We could have looted everything denying our target valuable assets.  Instead we chose to leave the field unlooted.  We could have podded everyone, laughed about them on /r/eve, sent meme-gifs and basically be dicks.  Instead, we chose not to any of these things because it goes against our “bushido” and dishonor would have been worse than defeat.

And here the video:

CCP has been acquired. This is a good thing

The Icelandic developer and publisher of EVE Online has been acquired by the Korean game firm Pearl Abyss, best known for the MMO “Black Desert Online”.  My first reaction to this news was “finally”, my second reaction “who”?

So, CCP has been on the block for many years.  Privately invested companies are generally not designed to stay for decades, they go public, go under or get bought.  Launching an IPO for CCP was always a thing but with the abysmal record of CCP to launch anything other than EVE online, the company had established itself as a one-trick-pony.   One trick pony with ambition and vision but, well, one trick.  A strong, adult partner was always needed and the rumors had been EA, Viacom Activision Blizzard (edit: thanks Wilhelm, corrected) (owns Blizzard) and others.  CCP never had worthwhile marketing, flubbed on the very most basic money-making schemes (monocle gate, swag store, fan fiction…) and literally markets itself only to existing players.  Successfully, sure but CCP was running out of gas.  No console, no mobile platform, no “quick” game play mechanic, ageing infrastructure, decades old pull-down menu interfaces and much more betrays CCP as running way, way behind their times.  Every other company would have gone bust but the nature of EVE and our loyal fans kept it afloat.  Afloat.  Not more.  This was never enough.  I had hoped for an acquisition for years as it would bring a decision: either death by incompetence and greed to a massive marketing and structural shot in the arm.  Choose one but stop the slow coasting.

I know nothing of Pearl Abyss other than they are based in Korea and launched yet another WoW clone called Black Desert Online.  Apparently its successful in Asia but this is where my knowledge stops.  But the $425 mil sounded pretty high until I remembered an article from last year analyzing CCP’s 2016 cash flow position.  CCP had a record revenue of $86 mil, which makes brings us into the very comfortable 5x multiple.  In fact, it appears low for a tech platform buyout but I am sure, CCP’s investors are glad to have this done and over with.

Now what. My corp slack chatter is a mix of “omg, sky is falling, EVE is dying” to “wait and see” and “weee!!!”.  I personally offered a ISK 100mil bet that we have more EVE subscribers next year than today.  100mil is a lot for me, so don’t belittle that.  I have reasons to be optimistic:

  • With a 5x multiple, Pearl Abyss banks that it generates at least the acquisition costs back in 5 years plus transaction fees, inflation, blah, blah.  Lets call it 6 years.  Stripping the company of its assets and relocating a few engineers will sink EVE (and hence CCP) and reduce the investment to zero.  I have been in buyouts just like that and am not saying its an impossible scenario but I am saying its unlikely.  Based on my personal experience, above $100mil transactions, professionals are involved.
  • EVE has a proven, reasonably stable platform (really large battles and log in issues aside) and a loyal, very stress-resistant playerbase.  There also is no alternative game.  Star Citizen is nowhere and while No Man’s Sky has become MUCH better, its not a replacement for EVE.  No, there literally is nowhere to go other than the next PubG / Fortnite / Escape from Somewhere clone.
  • Pearl Abyss knows the Korean market better than CCP.  I bet their first action is to properly translate the EVE client and market the living daylight out of the game in Korea.  EVE doesn’t have “shards”.  Any, really any marketing effort will be seen instantly in log in numbers (and revenue) and without much infrastructure investment. I.e. its a marketers dream.  Spend marketing dollars and receive bacon.  Ridiculously easy.  Make a swag store, hire @RixxJavix for it and blow the roof off, revenue-wise.
  • In general, Korean markets are run entirely separately from other Asian markets but I assume that Pearl Abyss knows how to sell in Japan and maybe even China.   CCP’s relationship with its Chinese distributor have been strained for many reasons.  If (my hypothesis) Pearl Abyss has good relationships with “person-in-charge” in China, they could double the revenue nearly overnight.
  • Lastly, why does Pearl Abyss buy CCP?  Not for some outdated spaceship game.  Not because CCP is a channel to market, has mobile or cross-platform experience.  No, its because there is no game company that can stage massive, multiple thousand player interactions.  We may complain about TiDi in a 1000v1000 encounter.  Any other game would bluescreen and die.  EVE is the only major title that allows this and this is the core of CCP’s IP.  Replace spaceships with horses or dragons, replace drones with pets, replace lasers with spells, it doesn’t matter.  CCP knows how to manage massive encounters like this.  I am super excited about this as it has the potential for an entirely new class of MMO, where gigantic, multi-day battles rage across virtual cities, landscapes and skies.

Yes yes, eventually EVE will die, really die, we all know this is inevitable.  But my bet is: not for 5-7 years (until cash is recouped) and then its replaced by something massive thats worth waiting and giving up EVE for.

And I have – so far – ISK 200mil 300 mil riding on it.  Go Pearl Abyss, make me rich.

 

Edit: More worthwhile reading about this