The Tuskers

It is hard to believe, but I've been a Tusker for eight months now. Time sure does fly when you are having fun. Sadly, for me, these have also been the most difficult eight months in my own personal life. Lots of changes, horror, potentially devastating crap that has to be dealt with. Change sucks but it is also the natural course of life. Adapt or die.

I started this post that way, because it just happens to be the best thing about this group of strange people. Adapt or die. Fiercely independent. Whatever it takes. Those are the types of word combinations you'd be forced to use, but what does that really mean?

It is hard to describe to people that don't already know. Being a Tusker isn't like being in any other corporation I've ever been a part of. There are times when you wouldn't even know you were in a corporation and times when help arrives from out of the black, times when we are spread out across the universe and times when we gang up to fight. Time to be yourself with exactly zero pressure, except to do well in whatever it is that you do. Incredible amounts of support or none at all. Being a Tusker is kinda like being in one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. You choose. How involved do you want to be? What choices do you want to make?

Granted, this lifestyle isn't for everyone. You need a strong spirit of independence mixed with a powerful dose of solidarity to the ideals of what being a Tusker brings with it. If attacking a six man gang in your lone frigate sounds like a good idea to you, then you might be the kind of person that flourishes in this kind of strange environment. Or not.

I don't want this to sound like a group of individuals who just happen to share a Corporation, because that isn't it either. In fact, the Corp has a very strong sense of community. From the amazing amount of information and debate on the forums, to our shared sense of what makes Eve fun, to the over powering sense of wanting to do better. For yourself and for the Corporation.

You can see that from our killboard.

It doesn't take a ton of skill points to be a Tusker, it doesn't take fancy ships. It just takes a butt load of "want to" as my Father would say. It isn't the kind of place for everyone, which is why we don't want everyone.

My own play time has been extremely limited lately, but I thought it was time to plug my corporation.

Join our in-game channel, it is awesome. The Tuskers Public Channel.

Prober Hunter

Today I was out running around not getting any kills in my Vengeance when I stumbled on a system with just me and a Thorax in it. I did the usual scanning crap and finally determined that said tasty treat was parked at a deep safe.

I sat there wondering, now what?

My home station was right next door so I warped back to see if I could manage to fit up something with a Probe launcher on it. Y'know what? That is really frickin' hard to do. My first thought was the Pilgrim, figured I'd lose one of the neuts, but even with Recon V it is more complicated than that. By the time it gets on there, the ship is gimped pretty harshly. Maybe a Tengu? Same story.

Eventually someone in corp went out to see but the Thorax was gone by then of course. Thanks anyway Easy.

Don't get me wrong here, I don't think I should be able to just plop a probe launcher on any old ship and have at it. There has to be penalties involved and I'm actually ok with that. But can't there be another solution? And what would it be?

Many of you are saying "train an alt". I'd love to do that and I actually have three of them capable of doing that task, but sadly I can't really dual box currently. So I'm strictly a mono-box guy. So that won't work.

At its heart this is a solo PvP problem that no one in there right mind cares about. The game is built for people to play, not a person. Form up a gang and have a prober in, or standing by. Granted, that is usually how it works. But today I was alone, just out looking for a good fight that rarely happens anymore. And this came up.

I don't have a solution. Oh sure, I could say how about a Cruiser classed Prober Hunter ship for each race with 2 hi-slots for weapons and a utility hi built for a Probe Launcher. I could say that. I could also say that each one would be gimped in some way that balances the game, but also allow for the pilot to find and have a reasonable chance against some types of ships. Then I'd have to argue the other side and explain how unfair that would be, how it would throw the game outta wack and after all, why should the rare solo pilot get a special ship?

So I won't bother. No big deal. Just rambling and wondering out loud.

Howdy in Local

Yesterday I spent some time sneaking around Black Rise to ( CENSORED ) and help ( CENSORED ) out by locating a dozen or more ( CENSORED ). Hadn't had a chance to do that for awhile and it was a fun couple of hours in the trusty, but people run away from me, Pilgrim. Although I did just narrowly miss a Apoc that was actually ratting in a belt. I know, I almost didn't believe it either.

I probably went thru about 30 or more systems and in about 12 of them someone said howdy to me in local.

This has been going on now for over three years and I am of two minds about it. Most importantly I think it's awesome and I appreciate everyone that sees me in local and says hello. I really do. The other side of it is that often I don't read local and only notice after a few jumps and then I feel guilty about not answering. More times than not I'll shoot off a quick eve mail in reply.

To people that do not know me this might sound a tad pretentious. It makes sense when you think about it. Most of the people that say howdy are either, 1- Readers of the blog, or 2 - People I've flown with before. This makes them all part of the community, part of the expanded list of virtual friends that Eve is made of. Even if I have no idea who they are, they are an important part of that community. To me anyway.

So please feel free to say howdy if you see me in local. Just know that I may not be able to respond. I may be scouting enemy positions, or have been playing at being AFK for the past hour and responding might just reveal that I am indeed alive and active. Mostly though it isn't a problem in low sec like it used to be in zero space. I've had my cover blown several times in zero. It isn't so much that I'm active, it is mostly that other people tend to primary the pretentious blogger when they can. lol.

Like I said, if you know me you know I play for fun. I also write this blog for fun. I have enough serious crap in my life already, I don't need Eve to become another one.

So say Hi when you see me in local. Just know that I may be hunting you. Nothing personal.

Posting As: Jester's Trek

[ Posting As is a new feature in which I will be writing a post in the exaggerated style of one of my fellow bloggers. Thus securing their eternal disdain and contempt most likely. This week's honor goes to Jester's Trek. ]

Inane Subject of the Week: Space

I'm gonna answer something I read the other day on Failheap Challenge. This quote was buried within a 172 page thesis on propagation of sub-cultural stereotypes within virtual worlds:

The inherent sub-issue within Eve is the coldness and absolute zero darkness that surrounds the game, in point of fact I find the issue of space to be a gross barrier to any enjoyment one might otherwise find

If you read the seventeen different references I made to the Eve forums in my last post you'll understand the context in which I am taken aback by this quote. But if you want even more examples, feel free to read the following threads on FHC, from Muckity Muck and Boogersnatch, because there are lots and lots to be found.

It would be wrong to assume that these increasingly vocal rants against the darkness and all-encompasing vastness of space itself are merely those of insane blowhards. Funnily enough, several renowed MMORG experts from the University of Scandalnavia have posited similar viewpoints:

Ah yes, the space issue. We have seen many instances were de subjects have... what you call, space sickness. Ya, the terrible affliction of disorientations, dizziness and feelings of de horrible inad...uh, ya know, where de feel terribly small. Dis is da serious business.

Indeed. Many have called this the beginning of the end. As more and more capsuleers fall victim to what Douglas Adams once said, "Space is very, very big." CCP has no choice but to respond. If this response is simply philosophical or more material in nature remains to be seen. Given their history of dealing with rock-phobias, jump nerves and ganker sores, I don't have a lot of built in belief that CCP's response will be worth a pile of beans. ;-)

It would be wrong of me not to mention an Alliance mate who is rotting away in a sanatorium somewhere due to this issue. He used to be one of RKs best FCs. Wherever you are mate, good luck!

Finally, I'd like to say that while the vastness of space has no affect on me personally, I am not without sympathy for those that are afflicted. And for now... that's all I have to say on the issue.

{EDIT 5/29/12: As several commenters have pointed out, space is not only big, but it is also mind-boggingly huge.}

Eve Memorial Day

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It's Memorial Day in the states and RJ is away from Eve, but he thought he'd share some special Memorial Day sentiments from a slightly different perspective.

To those around the world that defend their families and friends, thank you. 

RJs Homemade Point Spread

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BB36: The Wonder and the Blunder

"With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?"

Nine years and seventeen expansions later. Castor, Exodus x3, Bloodlines, Revelations x2, Trinity, Empyrean Age, Quantum Rise, Apocrypha, Dominion, Tyrannis, Incursion, Incarna, Crucible and Inferno. Whew. What a long and strange road that has been.

Just for the record I started playing Eve during the Empyrean Age expansion, which was 2008. So I  don't have much to say about the earlier expansions, although obviously they were important in so many ways for setting the universe up.

This Blog Banter is too easy honestly. It would be simple to re-hash the horrors of Incarna, the way Dominion ruined much of what made early Eve so much fun, the underlying death of PvP that Apocrypha would bring us in the shape of T3 ships, and the rest. Each expansion brings with it unintended consequences, some of which are immediately obvious (like monocles) and some which we still haven't admitted to (like T3 boosting). Yeah, that would be the easy way to go.

I loathe easy. I love Eve. I miss much of what made early Eve so much simpler than new Eve. But at the same time I enjoy new things. Each expansion has done just that, expanded the game, the universe, the amount of crap, the amount of good, the wonder and the blunder. ( I just change the title of this post that was so good).

Eve is expanding. At a rather rapid pace. We have more systems, more ships, more skills, more modules, more ratting opportunities, more, more, more of everything. Soon we'll even have a whole new game! DUST is coming. Eventually we may even be able to walk in stations!! My God, Eve is getting freakin' huge!!! Is this a good thing?

Seriously. Fundamentally is this a good thing? Or not? What CCP has accomplished is nothing short of a miracle. Unprecedented. And it is only going to get more so as time passes, with DUST integration, WiS someday, and who knows what the heck else. But the real question is this, in my opinion, is bloat the thing that will eventually kill Eve as we know it?

Bloat kills a lot of things. It kills software, browsers, major league baseball pitchers, and eventually everyone reading this post. Eve is getting bigger, it is expanding, but has it reached the point of actual "bloat"? In my humble opinion, not even close. And that is one of the wonders and one of the blunders of Eve. It is inherently open to further expansion, it is after all an entire universe of possibilities, but it is also extremely sensitive to blunder. With a continuing reliance on a limited player base, Eve can be rocked by the slightest transgression or false step. Which is a tad unfair, given all that has come before. CCP has a lot in the vault, but that doesn't change the facts. Even an improvement in the inventory UI can somehow cause rage.

Eve will continue to expand. But until it really starts to expand the player base, mostly by implementing changes to the price of entry ( such as this great idea! ) and spread the potential for rage out to a manageable thin layer of boundless subscriptions. DUST will, if it works, be an important linchpin in that process. But the next nine years need to be focused on the duality of pleasing the current players and, at the same time, adding new ones. Not an easy task for a game approaching a decade of expansions. But not impossible either.

So yes, some expansions have been better than others. Crucible and Inferno have been two of the best and they also happen to be the most recent. That is excellent news for the future of our beloved Eve.

CCP has proven lately that they listen. And they've proven over the years that they can lead. They make mistakes, they screw the pooch sometimes, but in the end - Eve marches onward. Where exactly it is all headed?  Even I can't see that far ahead.

I've been around awhile. I feel nostalgic when I think of the simplistic universe that presented itself when I first undocked only four years ago. That universe has changed significantly and fundamentally since then. Right underfoot. Some bad, most good and a few brilliant. But the most important part is that they keep coming. They haven't stopped yet. And when you stop and realize how lucky we are to live in the world where Eve continues to grow and expand, that should cause you to pause. Take a deep breath. And undock.

Fly safe. One and all.


Minmatar V3

Caldari, Gal, Amarr sub-caps have now been given the upgraded V3 treatment, and generally speaking - awesome job!  However, in my humble opinion, the most important racial ships still await - the Minmatar.

The most important? Hang with me a second. This is purely from a design standpoint, "Trust in the Rust" is not just a random slogan, but an important key to the Minmatar "mythos" which is extremely important when considering re-design. Unlike the other three races, the Minmatar ships have a certain horribleness to them that is built deeply into the cultural background of both the race itself and the pilots that fly them. If you need more explanation than that, then I fear you've never flown a rust-bucket, tied together with duct tape, with your internal atmosphere slowly leaking into the vacuum.

Based solely on the few Minmatar ships that have already been blessed with V3 treatment, I have some major concerns about the upcoming re-do. And let me be clear to anyone from CCP that might be reading this: "Rust Colored is not the same!" Simply making the Minnie ships slick metal that happens to be rust-colored isn't going to appease anyone. In fact, it may completely alter years of dedicated and passionate feelings, lore, history and gosh darn fun.

Let me be extreme to make my point. When I zoom in on a Minnie ship I expect to see duct tape, small oil leaks spilling into space, vapor escaping seams in the hull plates, bones TIED to the hull, mismatched bits, stains ( maybe even blood stains? But stains all the same.), and general wonderful horribleness well-rendered and V3'd. Some of those might be impossible, but I said up-front I was going to be extreme to make my point.

While wingy bits are important traits of any decent Minnie ship, the underlying reasons for those solar sails are more important to the heart of what makes a Minnie ship special. The Minmatar ships are NOT just fancy Caldari painted a special Sherwin Williams Rust. They can't be.

In light of the other three racial ships, the Minnie ships stick out like a sore thumb now. The anticipation of their re-design is very high. And it is obvious why they were left till last, they will be the most challenging. The hardest to get just right, to perfect. That is perfectly understandable. And it was the right thing to do.

But don't screw this up. Remember the heritage and embrace it. Don't be afraid to add teeth to the Vagabond. Don't be afraid to keep the strange Pirate Ship back-deck on the Rupture. Embrace your Minmatar brothers and their struggle against tyranny!

The Eve universe will be better off for it.

PS: And if you want any outside contractor help, just let me know. I'm always available.

INFERNO & Rockets in Flight

I'm a simple man, given to simple pleasures. I also tend to expect more than I'm given and to see the best in things, even when they don't always have the best to give.

Eve has always fallen into the later category. This isn't a criticism or a failure, it's just the way things are... errr, have been.

My first reaction to Inferno yesterday was whoa Nelly. Shiny new ships, some new models, a new UI, kill reports(!) and some other things that don't matter. Oh, I forgotted one. MISSILES!

The circle is now complete. When I left you there were but turrets, but now there are launchers. Heavy Missile launchers on mah Drake, rocket pods on my Vengeance, Torpedo... ah, flat things, on my Typhoon. And they are all a glory to behold, racing off in random sorta wavy trails of awesomesauce as they tend to do now.

I love the new Manticore model, wish we had that back when I actually flew that ship more often. The above mentioned Vengeance is amazingly shiny. My favorite  however has to be the Absolution. The Space Chicken is still a chicken, but with its crossed swords and demon eyes, it is a scary space chicken. Well done on the Amarr overall. Which only makes the Minnie ships seem even more in need, but more on that later.

Back to missiles. The addition of missile launchers is an interesting change that affects me more than I anticipated. When turrets were added it was cool and great and awesome certainly, but it still left a rather huge gap in the game. Our missile ships were still naked. Yesterday they got their clothes and now everyone is ready for the ball.

It is hard to explain. But Eve feels... I don't know, full maybe? Certainly 'complete' isn't the right word and 'finished' is far from accurate. I'll go with Full for now. In the parlance of the old skill train graph we've all seen a million times, it finally feels like Eve itself has finally reached the plateau. Doesn't it? Am I reading to much into this? Maybe. But with DUST on the horizon, our internet spaceship game is all grown up.

For all my friends in FW, those that find the new UI system worse than before, and all those that found fault in yesterday's launch, I do sympathise with you. A little. My Low Sec remains unattended, GCC is still fifteen minutes and it remains a vaste wasteland in serious need of some love. So it is hard to generate much in the way of sympathy.

Change is hard. It always has been. 

Now on to the Minnie ships! (Which I continue to volunteer to assist with CCP!)

Holy Mother Machariel!!

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There is always a lot of talk about the negative aspects of Eve, the nasty side of New Eden. Obviously that side, just like in real life news, is more interesting and sells more papers. Scamming, stealing, robbing, blobbing, ganking, all the seedy underbelly stuff in and out of game is certainly riveting and I've got no issues with writing about it here in these pages myself. But there is another side. I experienced that side of Eve my very first day in space when two total strangers in a belt gave me some very good advice. Since then, I've tried to continue that tradition myself as much as anyone can. Helping Noobs, giving advice, lending iskies when needed and never expecting them back, and generally trying to help the community in many different ways.

But I never expected to be on the receiving end of unexpected and spontaneous generosity.

Last week, for no damn good reason, Sindel Pellion (Sindel's Universe), started a drive thru Tweetfleet to buy me a Machariel. At first I thought she must be joking and I played along as I usually do. After a time however, it became increasingly obvious that she wasn't joking. I then began to believe that nothing would come of it. I was wrong.

Some sample tweets:
 Thank you for your donation to 's fund! We're one step closer to giving a poor pirate an expensive ship! <3 Love, Sin

   He doesn't HAVE to. I took it upon myself to collect. Don't be a douche. Donate.

Sitting at 950mil for 's Machariel. Who will donate to our (un)worthy cause of giving ships away to get blown up? 

  I'm not begging. Sheesh. I'm getting donations for a guy a respect and appreciate-- WITHOUT showing my tits.

In the end donations came from Sindel, Joseph D Stargazer, Placid09, noise, Swearte Widfarend and Bagehi and the Machariel appeared in my contracts in Juffvitte about 4 jumps from Hevrice. 

Most of this happened while I was away this weekend, I did my best to keep up thru the iPhone. So it wasn't until yesterday that I was able to get Ana up in the freighter to take the Mach back to Hevrice.

Once back in station I decided to see what I could do as far as fitting on my own. I never know what is laying around the hanger, being a Pirate does have some benefits. One of the drawbacks of the Machariel is its inherent need to be bling fit. It almost has to be bling fit, in some ways you really can't fit it without faction mods. 

You can click the picture above but for now I'm not telling which of those things is faction and which isn't. The fit is still a work-in-progress, so until it is finished I don't want to give away the details.

I will say this however, she flies like a bat out of Hell. Took her out for a spin yesterday and for a Battleship, she moves like a Hurricane that can reach out and touch you from almost 100k away with Barrage loaded. That's without bonuses, just raw undocked and un-heated brawn. 

Whatever ultimately becomes of the Mach, I will never forget those that helped to make a poor pirate happy. This year has been an extremely brutal one in so many ways out here in the real world that this unexpected kindness in the virtual one has meant a lot to me personally. I know that is an extremely silly thing to say. But fuck it, I said it anyway.

Thank you guys. It's just a stupid ship, but it means a lot to me.

I named her "tweetfleet" in your honor. Long may she sail.

March 2014. The Machariel lived a long and awesome life. I undocked it often to ward off station-campers, to pop battleships, and even once to insta a Venture for the fun of it. She was a valiant and amazing ship that survived a few battles she probably should have died in.

Until the NEO Tournament. Stay Frosty brought an all Pirate themed comp and won our match on the back of this amazing ship. She was top-damage in ALL our kills except one. She finally went down under heavy neut and Sentry pressures when she ran out of cap charges.

The above was mistaken. In the intervening years I've bought several Machs, and they were in different stations. Turns out the one called "Tweetfleet" which is the original, is still alive and well. The one lost in the NEO was not her after all.

The Eve Sidekick

Best to start thinking about this now. Once Eve starts walking around in stations properly, like all good science-fiction characters, we are going to need sidekicks.

I imagine mine will be a small dragon that wears a patch, cooks my toast, and delivers snappy catchphrases and repeats the last word in almost all of my sentences. "Yark, all my sentences!"

But there will be others of course. The store could be chock full of great choices, like a yammering robot buddy, a dead-eye Duck (with credit to Bucky), a monkey of course, a dwarf (probably Minmatar), and others. The possibilities are limitless really.

But beyond the awesomeness of having a little guy with you in station, what else can a sidekick bring to the party? I think that's it really, party! As a self-running buddy who is always thinking about you, your avatar pal is always working it. Setting up party spots, playing the scene, opening doors that your dour face would never get open... making life in Station fun again.

Plus, if we get to the point where actual gameplay happens in out! There will be no end to the insane trouble your little buddy can get into. Seriously, the hilarity meter on fun just went thru the roof.

Kidnapped by evil pirates? Only your pal can save you. Need to get into a tight spot, send in the monkey! Imagine the hilarity.

So what would you choose as your sidekick? And what ways can you imagine Eve being so much better with a little buddy to hang out with?

PS: For those of you that don't usually catch on, I'm not being serious here. This is totally sarcastic tomfoolery intended to illicit a humorous response in the reader. Outlandish contrivance is, in some circles, considered humorous or mildly amusing. "Yark, amusing!"


Just because it would be awesome to win. And we're awesome and so are you. Seriously. You know you are. We've always believed in you, even when those other people didn't. You remember. When they said you was ugly, stupid and would never amount to anything? Yeah, ring a bell? Who was it that stood up to be counted when the chips were down? That's right, us. Don't forget who your friends are. That's important.

Vote here now.

Or don't. It's really more of a lark than anything.

Milestone: Cross-training Complete

Yesterday I undocked in an Ishtar. Just moments before I had also undocked in an Arazu and a Lachesis. On its own those three events hardly seem important, people undock in those ships all the time. For me however, it isn't so much the ships themselves (although they are cool), as what they represent.

For the past three years, since I first realized that we were not locked into our race choice, I've been on a mission to cross-train all four races. Yesterday, undocking in those three ships, represented the culmination of that goal.

I can now fly every PvP ship in the game, Battleship and under, for all four races. T2 and T3 variants included. (Although Caldari T3 is the only T3 I fly in combat, my other skills still need work before I undock in those.)

Gal Cruiser V was the last ship skill remaining that unlocked those three ships, and more of course. I left it until last so I'd have time to train up my drone skills and a few others first. These things take planning and lots and lots of time.

So now what? For the past seven months I've been hard at work on the next phase of the plan, what I call the Hard V phase. While I already have a lot of Vs trained, there are still many more that need to be worked on. I haven't taken on a new skill in over a year, having loaded up on all the skills I need a long time ago. So now it is time to focus on finishing topping the rest off.

The ultimate goal is to have Rixx at level V on all BS and below skills. That path will take another 2+ years to accomplish. Maybe more, I haven't finished calculating it all out yet.

Then what?

If I know CCP at all, I suspect we'll have some new skills to train along the way, so that path could stretch out past three years or more. As things stand now, Rixx won't be moving beyond BS skills. Ana is my character for those and she is already a badass at the Archon and will be training Black Ops next.

So, unless CCP introduces a new ship class, Rixx can fly all the shiny ships he will ever be flying.

In some ways, while yesterday marked an important milestone, it also kind of made me sad. One of the purest joys in all of Eve is dragging a new ship into the hanger, fitting her up and then undocking her to see what she can do.

Stealthbombers: Escort Service

Stealthbombers can be invisible. If you didn't know this already, it is extremely important to remember. It is a pretty awesome feature turning invisible. And it gives rise to all sorts of naughty and sneaky tactics when you have a few invisible ships to work with.

One of these sprang from trying to find ways to get younger players engaged in Zero Space combat. It works in a wide variety of ways, but in this example we'll focus on how it applies to SBs.

The premise is simple. You need an anchor ship, we often used an Arbitrator (innocent looking but tough), but any Cruiser or BC would work. And some SBs, 2-5 work just fine. Set up a drag bubble off of a semi-well-traveled Gate. The anchor sits right smack on top, just outside of the bubble and aligned. The SBs cloak up and sit around within pointy distance. And then you wait.

With only a Cruiser and some SBs you can kill an amazing array of enemy ships. And easily run away from things you can't kill, or blobs, etc. If you have a few people you can do this on several gates at once, cloak up watchers on each one and have some real fun. It's a great way to pass an afternoon and get younger players involved in killing things.

So how does this translate into Low Sec?

Bait and Bushwack. The premise is essentially the same, without the bubble. A Cruiser/BC - ideally a tasty, well tanked target with a point and some dps - and a group of escorting SBs. Now obviously they will show up in local, which might not be a problem given the amount of people already in local. Typically the bait ship enters local first, gets the lay of the land, and then you can bring the SBs in one at a time. Spread it out so local doesn't spike.

You can also dock up a few, or keep a few in the next system over, there are many ways to hide your numbers. The point is to catch someone that isn't necessarily paying that much attention. Face it, really good pilots probably won't fall for this, but luckily for you Eve is full of terrible pilots.

Act casual. Be a ratter, warp to belt and kill rats. Warp to the Sun, check out PI Offices, y'know just act casual. All the while your SB buddies are keeping you in-line and their fingers on the warp to button. Before long the trap is sprung and you'll get your first kill.

In any SB gang it is critical to establish proper procedures BEFORE you fight. I recommend actually practicing beforehand. I usually give each SB pilot an established warp-to distance, 5, 10, 15, etc. So that when they warp to you they don't automatically de-cloak. This can save your ass more often than you might think. My rule of thumb is, I want to be the one that chooses when and where I de-cloak my SB. By the time the escorts arrive the field of battle might have changed significantly.

You can adapt this basic premise in many ways and creativity is the key here. That and the expansion of power rule we learned in the last post. (Which is below this one, you should read it)

The point being, even younger players can contribute in Eve. And even older players can have fun doing something different from time to time. A 100m sp pilot in an Arbitrator is an incredible force to be reckoned with.

Have fun. Undock.

Stealthbombers: Low Sec Strategy & Tactics

There are few things in Eve as exciting to fly as Stealthbombers. These little glass-cannons can cloak and launch bombs, as well as deliver significant damage on larger targets. Significant damage.

They also blow up in a stiff wind.

You have to be crazy to fly them, but they can be a blast to fly. The escaping air whistling into space, the creaking metal under your pod, the constant warning lights... ahh yes, the life of a Stealthbomber pilot.

So, do they have a home in Low Sec? Remember you can't launch bombs, so we are removing one of the entire reasons for SBs to exist from the equation. But yes, SBs do indeed have a place in Low Sec. And today I'll tell you about it.


The more SBs the better. There is a whole entire post to be written about SBs in fleets, even in low sec, but for today I'm only going to focus on gang and solo fighting. So let's assume a gang size of 5 pilots. How do we form up such a thing and what do we do with it?

Eve is all about the expansion of power. The more you can expand your power the more likely you are to succeed. This Rule of Thumb applies in all instances, from solo all the way up to massive fleet battles. It is basic, so you should know it. For example, three SBs and a heavy tackle make for a basic decent gank gang. Add another SB and another tackle and now you have an excellent gank gang. Add one boosting Loki and now you have a very good gank gang. See how it works? Or add a prober and then the fun can really begin.

But you only have 5 pilots on hand. So you want 4 SB and a somewhat heavy tackle with a long point, like a Lachesis. Something that can hold the enemy ship down until you can blow him up. Cause the tactics here are extremely simple. You want to scout in the tackle for enemy Battleships, Exhumers, Transports and other large ships that are not on Gates or Stations. That is your limited target list. The SBs stay cloaked one system behind the tackle. And the hunt begins.

Only when the tackle announces he has point does the SBs jump into system and warp to the tackle. All your SBs should have long points and immediately set-up orbit/point/damage so the tackle can exit the field if necessary. ALL your SBs should be AB fit, never put a MWD on a SB in low. You go BOOM. Depending on the BS you've tackled you might not even need your prop mod. Cause he won't last long. The DPS potential from 4 SBs is staggering and it should only take a few volleys. Exit the field asap, cloak up and disappear to a safe spot.

Rinse and repeat. 

To make this really work well, two tackles are preferred. The second doesn't engage on the above example. He comes in after to salvage the wreck and then head to the next system to pick up the scouting duties. This swap/scout/tackle/salvage exchange keeps things moving under GCC. While SBs can't hang at Gates under GCC they can move thru them into the next system if they hurry.

Remember the expansion of power. Adding a T3 booster means longer points, faster locks or decreased sig radius, or more speed, depending on the T3. All good stuff that will help keep you alive. You may have lost one or two SBs killing that BS, but you killed a BS.

Dual Gang

Another fun way to use your SB is the dual-gang approach. For this you need two ships, a Prober and a SB. The prober can be a dual-boxed alt or a friend who doesn't mind missing out on kills. Although he can certainly warp in later and whore on them.

The same rules apply. You want to find big solo ships away from Gates and Stations. Safe spot sitters are awesome for this, since then you don't even have rats to worry about. You'll need to make some modifications to your SB fits, since this fight could potentially take a bit longer, you may need a Cap Booster to help you stay in the fight longer. There are so many variations on fits that I can't address them all here. But use your head.


The most dangerous game of all. You alone in a SB. While this certainly is more fun in Zero Space, it can be done in low sec. You may have even seen this video of a solo manticore fighting it out on gates and killing insane amounts of people.  And while filling your head with implants, taking drugs and having a boosting alt in local are all fair tactics, I tend to deal with more realistic every day tactics here. Those of you that know how to do things like that don't need this guide in other words.

Obviously you can kill Hulks and Freighters if you can find them alone in space (lol), but your real target is Battleships. Young pilots especially in Battleships, the younger the better. Ratting or running missions, you can kill them. Probably. Maybe. But you have to get close, you have to have nerves of freaking steel and ice in your blood. It is scary, potentially deadly and tricky. Not to mention horribly boring most of the time.

I once had a Baddon into structure in my Manti, and I would have killed him had someone else not undocked on us. Writing this makes me want to get out there and try again. But me and SBs have a way to go together before that happens.

Don't get me wrong here, I've killed plenty of ships in a SB. Usually with one or two buddies along for the ride. Or Hulks in zero space solo. That was the kind of Corp I was in at the time. But in Low Sec? I haven't actually tried it myself. I just want to be upfront about that. But the tactics are the same as in Zero Space, because you can't do it on a station or gate - unless the poor schmuck is -10 and you ain't. Or you have a WD on, or something. Which is a whole different ball of wax.

The bushwacker is the lone wolf. You hide in local and let the natives get used to you being there. You wait for the perfect opportunity. You are patient, or you are lucky. There are no shortcuts, only safe spots.

You will most likely die, but death can be glorious. And, after all, we can't really die. So get out there and try something new. You might just enjoy yourself.

PS: Tomorrow I'll tell you about yet another way to use SBs to kill things in Low Sec. This one is fun and easy. But also extremely dangerous.

@#&%$! Stealthbombers

First of all, the new Stealthbomber models are schweet. Nicely done CCP. Although I will miss the RoboTech Tristan. The re-design of the Tristan actually invalidates one of my 1v1 Comics. Oh well, the wheel keeps turning.

There is only one ship class in Eve that I have more losses than kills in and that is Stealthbombers. I am currently 19 wins against 23 losses when it comes to these glass cannons. It is a statistical aberration that pokes me in the eye every time I happen to glance at meaningless statistics.

Why the imbalance when it comes to SBs? The answer is inherent in history, so put on your way-back machines and follow me back to Old Providence and a young, wet-behind-the-ears PvP machine called Rixx Javix. Young Rixx is desperately climbing the Skill Training Ladder, jumping into any ship he can get his hands on and undocking in things he shouldn't be undocking in. And then picking fights in them. Sigh.

Those were good days, but they were also stupid days. A vast majority of my losses happened in those days, but that's water under the bridge now. You can't go back and bitch slap yourself.

The not-so-mighty SB was one of the rungs on that ladder. A ship that can turn invisible?!? Sign me up. As a single race pilot back then the Manticore would be my chosen sword. Lobbing bombs, blowing up transports, sneaking around in enemy territory... sounded like a blast. And it was. It was also dangerous as Hell.  I probably lost seven SBs before I figured out how to properly bomb a enemy fleet on a Gate. A bunch more attacking Battleships solo, lol. A few here and there getting caught in enemy drag bubbles. The learning curve was pretty damn curvy. I suspect a few AOE Titans also popped a few of my bombers.

Eventually I moved on to other ships and the SB was relegated to its proper role of tactical DPS madness and structure bashing. But not before I'd lost 23 of the damn things.

Thing is, I doubt I'll get the chance to make up the difference anytime soon. You just don't run into a lot of SBs in Low Sec. Although maybe more people will be running around in them with the new models popping up next week? Who knows.

In the end, if I was going to be stuck with only one ship class imbalance, SBs would be the one I'd choose. Despite the stupidity of flying 75 jumps thru enemy territory in a glass cannon, I wouldn't trade those days for anything.

My Manticore and I had some really good times together. I snuck right up to a -A- Titan once, I solo'd a couple of sweet transports up in somewhere or other against the Russians, had some good times playing on station and bombing people as they undocked, spied on various enemies and generally learned an incredible amount about avoiding bubbles and whatnots. Plus a huge collection of spots in places I never go anymore.

I need to kill 7 SBs at some point. 

PS: I love Stealthbombers. The ship class stat, like many stats, is a bit of a lie. Goodness knows how many ships, structures, warp bubbles and other things I've killed with a SB. Way more than 23 I can tell you that. Can't lose what you don't use.

1v1 EVE COMIC #42

Click to embiggen

The Machariel Problem

I've been able to fly a Machariel for over two years now, but I've never owned one. There have been several moments over that time when I came close, but something always happened to upset the apple cart right before I pulled the trigger.

Yesterday I sent Ana up to Jita to buy some new ships and supplies, the first time she has been to Jita in over a year. And once more my fingers hovered over the "buy" button in regards to the Mach. It was then that I realized something...

I can't do it.

There are several reasons for this. The Mach represents a certain level of bling that makes me slightly uncomfortable. I certainly don't mind losing ships, it isn't that exactly. Although the thought of losing a ship that costs, unfitted, 1b iskies does make my skin crawl. And if I undock in something, I'm going to end up losing it eventually. That's just the way I play.

The only ship in my collection right now that comes close is Ana's Archon, which all fitted up and whatnot, certainly costs close to 2b iskie I guess. But I've had the Carrier for almost two years and it ain't lost yet. And yes, I have flown it into combat a few times. But not often. Ana is not a combat pilot.

That's because I live in low sec and have for the past two years. And the Mach is not exactly a ship you fly often in low. I've known people who have of course and guess what? They lost it rather quickly. 

I'm not a rich player. I don't run Plex, or mission, or rat. I play the market some, but not seriously. I also don't buy GTC or supplement my income by PI or anything else really. I have serious means in which I have to live.

The Mach currently represents a ceiling above which I am not prepared to take Rixx for now. Should the situation change at some point then sure. But for now, spinning one of these in my hanger just isn't going to happen.


You Shouldn't Blog

Everyone seems to be spouting advice around the Blogosphere for those that wish to start their own blogs. It is all part of The New Blogger Initiative ( go look it up, or do I have to do everything for you!) and I admire the pointlessness of it all. There are some really good, solid, admiral advice out there... this isn't one of those. In fact, I'm going to tell you what no one else will.

Don't do it.

First of all, let's be honest here, you probably suck. The odds are with you, since most people suck, are idiots or complete and total nincompoops, most likely you are as well. And no one wants to read your drivel. You will only set yourself up for failure and seriously, do you need more of that in your life right now?

When was the last time you had an original thought? One not based on a pop culture reference?  I thought so. Been awhile, huh? People that read blogs expect to read compelling, interesting and original thought at least once a week. That is a hippo ton of expectations. One that will hide barely under the surface only to jump up and chew your leg off in a way that makes it impossible to ever face your few friends again, cause you got your leg chewed off by a giant pink water pig. Don't get your leg chewed off by a giant water pig.

Secondly, have you seen just how many other blogs there are?! I mean, good grief, there are dozens and dozens of really, really good blogs out there already. What can you hope to add to the general gestalt that is worthy of the discerning reader? I can tell you... nothing. So why bother? Put your time into finding something to do that no one else is doing and make it your own. If you need suggestions for that you've come to the wrong place, but I bet someone is writing a blog about it.

Lastly, blogging will ruin your already pathetic life. Like all you need is just one more reason for chicks to ignore you. If the comics, Star Wars figures, MMORG game play haven't already done enough damage, blogging about it will be the proverbial broken camel back. Do yourself a favor and put your time and energy into things that girls actually appreciate, like having your own place, a job, things like that.

Blogging will destroy you. You are not tough enough for it and it'll eat you alive. I'm just trying to warn you. Someday you'll try to quit, to hang it up and you won't be able to. Trust me.

If none of the above has convinced you yet, one last warning. I don't want you to blog! Good grief, the last thing I need is another blog on my reading list. In the name of all that is Holy and good, don't do it. Please.

You're going to aren't you? Fine. Don't say I didn't warn you.


I've been having problems with the Intense Debate/Blogger comments for a few weeks now. Sadly I just didn't have the time to investigate the issue fully until yesterday.

I discovered that not only did Blogger change some things that made multi-national commenting an issue, but Intense Debate also had a new version available that supposedly corrected that issue. So I installed the new version of ID but it hasn't actually fixed the problem.

I switched to Intense Debate about six months after I started writing on the advice of a few fellow bloggers, and I've liked the system since then. The only bad thing was losing all of the comments on posts up to the original switch.  I just hope I'm not at that point again. I shouldn't be, since all comments are stored within the ID system and not locally within Blogger.

But for some reason the last post shows only 1 comment, and that one within the Blogger system, but there are actually about 14 comments on that post in the ID system.

Uh. So I'll keep working it until I figure something out. In the meantime, my apologies for any trouble this is causing anyone.

The End of Boosting

I am officially calling on CCP to end the reign of T3 Boosting in Eve Online.

It was an interesting experiment that changed the face of combat in New Eden for the last two years, but not in a good way. In my opinion, it has in so many ways, helped to hurt, damage and forever change the fundamental landscape of PvP to the point where there is little recourse but to end it. Now.

I have flown in T3 Boosted gangs, fleets and combat. I have flown against them as well. And I have also flown in un-boosted versions of everything you can imagine. I've watched one-versus-one fights turn strangely one-sided, I've watched Drakes exceed their potential upper speeds, I've watched ships point at ranges they have no business pointing at, and I've been on both the positive and negative sides of those equations. This really isn't the reason why it needs to end.

CCP says they want Eve to grow, to attract new subscribers. I have no choice but to believe them. Over the years I've probably given this idea more thought than most of the employees at CCP and shared openly many wonderful ideas on how this could be achieved. Some have been silly, some have been extremely profound, but this one is fundamental.

The concept of gaining advantage while NOT being present on the field of battle is at the center of this argument. Typically the T3 Boosting Alt Strategy goes something like this, a small gang forms that includes one T3 ship that will be providing boosts of one kind or another. The gang is smartly formed around those boosts. The T3 ship is usually an alt of someone in the gang, or flown by a primary pilot. Generally, given the value of said T3 ship, the pilot will avoid combat participation. Generally speaking the T3 ship itself isn't the reason it is in the gang, the only value truly being the boosts it gives the other ships. In some gangs the T3 is utilized as a scout, we did this a lot in Lucifer's Hammer. The T3 would scout, often pointing the target, while the rest of us would warp in to kill it. The T3 hopefully escaping in the ensuing fight. But staying in system for those important bonuses.

The idea of one ship being in a safe spot or across the entire system from the actual battle and having such a fundamental impact on that battle, is the core of what I am getting at. It would be like parking a Scorpion at a safe spot but still being able to jam enemy ships 2AU away. Would anyone argue that such an ability would be good for PvP? But essentially this is what T3 Boosting has evolved into.

Ah, you say, what if the boosting effect was based around an area of effect? The resulting T3 ship needing to be actually present within the gang to provide the bonuses? Now you are thinking and perhaps that is a potential solution.

There would be more combat in Eve without this invisible, almost impossible to counter, distant advantage to always have to consider. It is enough that the lone Vexor in the belt may have friends in local - but he and his friends could also be under the influence of a cloaked Loki sitting in the middle of friggin' nowhere. At the very least, if me or my friends warp in to fight the Vexor we should have the chance to fight his friends. As things stand today, one of his friends can be in an ivory tower far from the fight, outside of my ability to harm him, and influence the fight.

I am all about HTFU and the fundamental unfairness of Eve, the harsh world of live or die. But I think this specific, small unfairness has gone on long enough.

No one else is going to say it. So I just did.

(I'm back btw, so hold on to your hats!! lol)

What can The Avengers teach us about Eve?

Hulk smashing box-office records with an extremely rare A+ rating on CinemaScore, Marvel's The Avengers is the culmination of over six years of unprecedented commitment and risk taking. This isn't a movie review, but I highly recommend you run out and see this thing for yourself.

But it does bring to mind a few things that I believe are important for Eve Online. As we spiral towards a decade of our favorite MMORG, the lessons learned in bringing an entire team of Superheroes to the big screen might be worth taking a look at from our perspective.

This might seem like a reach. But truth happens to be universal ( or in this case Disney).  So let's take a look at some of the reasons for The Avengers success in light of New Eden.

1. Technology
I remember walking out of seeing Jurassic Park for the first time with my friends. As usual the immediate conversation was, "how did you like it?" My reaction may have been unusual, "This is going to change Superhero movies forever."  In fact, back in 1997 I wrote an essay on the subject for an Internet Magazine I was doing freelance for at the time:

"Just as CGI technology has rapidly changed the face of Science Fiction, Horror and Action genres, another revolution is approaching.  And it's approaching faster than a speeding bullet.  The next revolution, and the one I've been waiting for since I was 5 years old, will be in the new crop of "SuperHero" films.  When the revolution will actually happen, the quality that it will happen at and the product that will carry it into the mainstream, are yet to be determined.  What is known is that it is here.  It is here in it's infancy, it's pure beginnings, but it has started."

The technology simply wasn't available before to tell a true SuperHero story. We were stuck with two guys in tights slugging it out, suspended from wires and trapped in limited thinking story lines that never approached the ones in the actual comics.

Jumping the shark on technology is dangerous. As we all saw last Summer, the same holds true for Eve. It is important to utilize the state of the art when and where it is appropriate, but only doing so when the time is right. Taking the time to build up to it is critical. Imagine how silly The Avengers would've been if it had been released just ten years ago.

2. Passionate Creative
The inescapable truth is that genre works only when people that care and are passionate about the material are in charge. And not just the Director or a few others, but the entire chain of command. Marvel's success came about because Marvel took control of its own properties, put people in charge that gave a shit about the material and then hired the right people for the right job. It hasn't been perfect, nothing ever is, but it has been successful.

The lesson here for CCP is clear. Keep the people that care about the property in charge of making decisions about the property. The fire mustn't be replaced by a "just business" attitude. Certainly business decisions play a role, we are not simple-minded, but passion about the material is critical to long-term success.

3. Focus on your Core
Christopher Nolan understands this. So does Joss Whedon. Keep the focus on the core elements that make your creative product successful in the first place. The Avengers succeeds because people want to see their SuperHeroes being super-heroic. The film is unashamed of its own inherent silliness. Take for example the Heli-Carrier. It would have been an easy call to settle for changes when it came to this bit of insanity, a FLYING Aircraft Carrier? C'mon. No one would have blamed them for removing this from the film. But they didn't. They embraced the silliness because it is in the comics, it represents the inherent silliness of the material. It is core.

What is core to Eve? Internet Spaceships. As we've seen since last Summer, when CCP focuses on its core, the results are nothing less than impressive. Certainly more will be coming from WiS, but the focus needs to remain on this core material.

There are other lessons as well, but best to keep this post manageable. The Avengers is truly the first real Super-Hero movie in which SuperHeroes were allowed to be Super, to inhabit a story as big as they are. In many ways, Eve is also a story about Super-Heroes, about eternal beings with amazing powers. Except in our case, those special beings are us.

With great power comes great responsibility.