Always Next Year

Well that didn't work. We went 2-2 this Alliance Tournament and it was, numerically, our worst showing since the first one. And that one we didn't practice for and we did it simply to learn how the AT worked. And for fun of course. Am I disappointed? Gosh no, I'm extremely proud of our team, our pilots, and of our FC Devlin. Over half of our team did not fly with us last year, we lost our FC and some of our pilots from the last two year runs. Always a tough spot. And I'm not making excuses here, those are just the facts. We worked our butts off and we gave a good showing. The two teams we beat, Centipede and Fraternity, went on to have good runs themselves. And losing to CAS and TEST is nothing to be ashamed of. Solid teams.

Having said all of that we remain in search of a signature win. Despite having beaten Volta, Hard Knocks, Shadow Cartel, Fraternity, and other solid teams in the past - we've yet to climb over that middle weekend barrier. The ever elusive fourth win. Last year, our deepest run, was a 3-2 effort. That fourth win gets you into rare air and builds the kind of momentum you need to make a legit run. Like Tri this year. It can happen in either bracket, but so far it eludes us. Last year's Lazerhawks team could have been us instead, they are the ones that beat us in that fourth win spot.

So it'll have to wait until next year. In good news I think our team is more determined than ever to make that happen. I've been very encouraged by the spirit this team has shown and the reaction they've had to our loses. Which is great news. We'll need their experience if we have any chance of finally breaking down that fourth win wall. And hopefully some of the pilots that couldn't join us this year will be back for our run next year. The AT is a grind and it can be a tough one to balance with real life demands.

So we will also be trying something a bit new this year. For the first time in 3 years we'll be opening Corporation recruitment into A Band Apart in the coming months. We'll be looking for solid Corporations with 50+ members that are looking for an Alliance of mature, honest, game players that they feel they can make a contribution. Not just from an AT standpoint of course, but it is time for us to grow a little more and inject some new blood. If you happen to be interested and you have a Corporation with 50 or more members, shoot me an in-game mail and we can start talking about it.

In addition Stay Frosty is always open to new members. If you want to Yarrr with us and learn the ways of PvP across the board in Eve, then consider joining the team. We'll be starting organized roams up again, on comms, including some public roams here in the next month. So now is the time to consider a change.

My own life is settling down and I'll be re-dedicating myself to bi-monthly organized roams as well as more public event/roams in the coming months. So if you want to fly with me, now is the time.

Lastly, to our friends in CAS and TEST, well played. You guys deserved those wins and we have no regrets, we fought hard to the last man in each one. Good fights.

There is always next year.

ATXVI: Third Weekend

Click to embiggen
In last years Alliance Tournament we won 3 matches straight, including victories against Slyce, Hard Knocks Citizens, and We Form Volta before losing to Lazerhawks and Brave on the Saturday and Sunday of the third weekend. In order to make it to Sunday this year we have to win three matches on Saturday alone. Our first match is going to be against TEST. Then the winner of the Lazerhawks/Templis match, and then the loser of the Vydra/Samurai match. Yikes.

Not an easy road by any stretch. But nothing about the AT is supposed to be easy. And the further you manage to make it, the harder the road becomes. That is the entire point. But so far every team we've faced is still in the Tournament, which is a pretty amazing stat when you think about it.

We could technically end up playing CAStabouts again. But first of all we have to manage to win three matches in a single day. Something we've never had to face before. So this is all brand new territory for us. The Pick Em site has us as 80%-20% dogs in the match against TEST, which is awesome. I honestly prefer being the underdog.

I'm not going to pick matches in the losers bracket, but here are my thoughts on the four winners bracket matches on Saturday:

Vydra Vs Samurai
I'm rooting for Samurai in this one, but I think Vydra is the team to beat this year. Vydra will probably win and we'll have to face Samurai in the losers bracket. Because I am an optimistic type person.

NCdot Vs Skill Urself
or, The Battle of the Former ABA Pilots, as we call it in Discord chat. I don't want either of them in the losers bracket, but I have to give our practice partners the edge here - I think NCdot has the edge to win. But I wouldn't be surprised by either result to be fair.

Hydra Vs Tuskers
Neither team has really been tested so far this year so it is hard to measure without basing it on past year's experience. Which really has nothing at all to do with anything. Again, can we just keep them both out of the losers bracket? As a former Tusker myself, I'm going to root for them.

Bright Side Vs CAStabouts
I think this is where CAS's luck runs dry and I think Bright Side has this one. This has the potential to be either the worst match or best match among the four. But I think BS wins it.

Can we win three matches in a row? I have no idea. What I do know is that we are going to try like Hell and hope that Bob is on our side and the ammo falls in our favor in each match. After that, it all just comes down to the fight. We know how to fight.

The rest we leave in the hands of destiny.

Poster Contest Results

FC, Can I Bring My Drake
One of my two entries, this one won 2nd place

I almost forgot about this because of the Alliance Tournament. But back on Friday CCP announced the results of their recent Vegas Propaganda Poster Contest. You can see the final results in this dev blog.

I've already tweeted a bunch on this subject, thanking everyone that participated and congratulating the winners. But let me do that again here in this forum - thanks to everyone that participated and congratulations to the two winners! Sincerely. I don't have an axe to grind or any secret agenda here, I'm happy with my 2nd place finish and the extra Plex. I can sell that and put it right into our Alliance Tournament Fund.

I've never entered a contest expecting to win. I enter contests hoping to win. Such things are a matter of opinion and I'm sure the judges used theirs to make the decisions on the winning entries. I'm extremely happy with this poster, as well as the other one I entered, and how they turned out. I also understand those that decided not to enter based on the restrictions placed on the entries by CCP, primarily in regards to ownership. I also agree with those stances. However I honestly don't mind if CCP now owns my Drake illustration because there is no chance of me using it anywhere. So good on them.

In the end I had fun executing this idea that has been banging around in my head for awhile. Hopefully someday, somewhere, it might actually get used for something. That'd be cool.

Until the next contest.

Hidden Threats | AT Second Weekend

The clip above is my stream interview with Apothne on Saturday. Thanks to Eve-NT and +10 gaming for the opportunity. I missed two practice matches to be there, which may or may not have contributed to what happened on Sunday. I'm kidding of course. If someone gives you a chance to promote your Alliance you say yes. No brainer.  So I was happy to do it and I think it went pretty well. You guys got to see a little of our Art Studio which is still a little messy after hosting Steel City Eve the weekend before the AT started.

As you all probably know by now we lost our Sunday match against CAStabouts in what turned out to be a really nasty brawl. We both landed our mainline machines at zero, in the replay you can see our Leshak's literally nose to nose at the beginning. First of all I want to say congratulations to the CAS team for a well played match. I didn't expect TD drones and I certainly didn't expect them to be so effective against our main damage dealers. So well played. Best of luck to your team the rest of the way.

This time last year we were still undefeated going into the third weekend, eventually losing to Lazerhawks and Brave. Having already gotten thru Hard Knocks, Volta, and Shadow Cartel. And while this year has turned out slightly differently, our opponents are ALL still in the tournament. Is there another team that has played three matches against opponents that are all still in it? I don't think so. (And yes, I am spinning things because that is my job as Alliance Executor and CEO of Stay Frosty. Shockingly, I am pro-ABA.)

There are a hundred small decisions that go into every single match. There is rarely one or two that you can look back on and say, "That's why we lost." There will always be those idiots that don't know any better who will offer criticism cloaked as advice. The challenge when coming off of a loss is to stay focused, don't second-guess yourself into paralysis by analysis, and stick with what got you to the dance in the first place. We suffered from that last year and as a result we barely showed up to the Brave fight. That was a mistake that we worked to correct in the off-season.

But despite all the practicing, planning, and preparation sometimes you land on the field in a situation that is obviously not in your favor. And, in the span of mere seconds, you make decisions that seem obvious at the time that slowly eat away at your chances at victory. It happens to everyone. In the light of hindsight we made a few very small decisions that escalated into our defeat. That is the slim difference between victory and defeat sometimes. And we've discussed this over and over again, we all know these things. And hopefully we will learn from them, build on them, and take those lessons with us into the remaining matches in our run.

As always I remain incredibly proud of our team and everyone in A Band Apart that continues to support us. No matter what happens next, that will never change. We continue to punch way above our weight-class and make a name for ourselves amongst the biggest Alliances in all of Eve. And that remains, and will always be, something that all of our players can take pride in knowing.

I don't know the specific stats off-hand, but I know that most AT Winners seem to come from the losers bracket. And that is now where we find ourselves. It doesn't get any easier. But this is the furnace from which we can forge our own destiny. I'm excited to see what happens next.

ATXVI: Second Weekend Predictions

Underdogs Again

I thought it'd be fun to post some pre-weekend predictions for the second weekend of the Alliance Tournament. I won't be talking about our match, or predicting it, or saying anything about it. That will be true all the way no matter who our competition might be down the road. Every match, no matter who we are facing, that team gets my total, 100% respect.  Which is really true for all of the teams in the Tournament. It takes a lot to organize a team and get into the matches, especially once the first weekend is finally behind us all.

Vydra Reloled Vs Black Legion

Did you know I actually agreed to join Black Legion once? This was years ago. I would have, but something else came up at the time and I went down another path. The exact same thing happened with Pandemic Legion and Noir as well. Funny, my Eve career could have been much different. Doesn't matter because more than likely Vydra will win this one. 86% of people on the Pink Em site have Vydra as the winner. I don't believe it is that wide of a margin, but I do give Vydra the edge. If Black Legion manages to pull the upset, it'd be YUGE.

Samurai Soul'd Out Vs We Form Volta

That Samurai comp from last weekend was impressive and hard to pull off. So kudos to them. But those types of comps won't get you far in the AT and Volta will be better prepared than Brave was. We beat Volta in last year's AT and that was a fun match. But even so I have to give the edge to Volta here, Samurai feels like this year's Spectre Fleet. 

Northern Coalition Vs Pandemic Legion

So many good matches and this is one of the best. I'll be rooting for NCdot for the upset. They were our practice partners for two years and even though our FC from last year is now flying with them, I have to root for them in this thing. But to be honest, I'm glad we aren't facing PL in the next match. Talk about a tough spot. So I'm rooting for NCdot but I think PL will be coming out of this one with the win.

Skill Urself Vs The Initiative

78% of voters on the Pick Em site are picking Skill in this one and it is the smart choice. But this is my upset pick of the day. I think Init will pull the upset here and take the win. I have my reasons for this pick and I can't share them with you. Either way it should be a great match.

Hydra Reloaded Vs Triumvirant

This is a much more likely upset than Black Legion over Vydra, but equally unlikely, if that makes sense. I'd love to see an upset here but more than likely Hydra will be coming out of this one the winner.

Tuskers Vs Exodus

Tuskers all the way. look back up at these matches and realize just how happy I am that we are in the bottom portion of the bracket this year. Thank the random Gods of Bracket Placement! The bracket is heavily weighted in the upper levels this year and I am fully aware of it, and grateful for it. But eventually all those levels merge into one. Until then, Tuskers should win this one.

Lazerhawks Vs Bright Side of Death

If we manage to get past CAS this weekend, the winner of this match will be our next opponent. Our loss last year to the Lazerhawks team still angers me to no end, I still believe we should have won that match. So it'd be great to have a chance for revenge. Having said that I think people are not giving Bright Side enough credit, they are a solid team. Even so, I think Lazerhawks will most likely pull this one out. It could be very close though.

So there ya go for whatever that is worth. I'll probably be 100% wrong.

The only match that matters is the one I'm flying in.

See you all on Sunday.

Captain ABA

Click to embiggen and save
Last year's Hero Logistics pilot extraordinaire was not Jose Zampano, as some less informed people have claimed, but rather Devlin Shardo. I know Jose was just as confused by this as anyone. But after Jose made the decision to abandon us for the greener pastures of NCdot, Devlin courageously accepted the challenge to step into the FC role for our AT run this year. For anyone that has been in the AT before well knows, this is not an easy role to take on.

It is a tremendous amount of pressure, stress, and time-demanding work to have to shoulder. Varying parts of those burdens can be lessened depending on the team around you, and I think we all try to do that as much as we can. Our team this year is very experienced and knows what needs to be done. But, even so, there is no avoiding the responsibility of leadership on the battlefield. And as our FC, Devlin has made incredible progress this year. Frankly, I could not possibly be more proud of him and the work he has done. And that is not "spin" or "meta" or anything other than the truth. I know everyone on our team feels the same way.

My job every year is to support, encourage, and mentor our Fleet Commander and help them build a successful team. Which just so happens to be a big part of my real life job as well. Jose is not Devlin, and Devlin is not Jose of course. So the details about how that works tend to change every year. A lot of which has to do with each person's personality and acceptance of help. My intention here is not to compare FCs because that would be ludicrous. They are different people, the team is different, the situation and rules are different. Comparisons are for idiots. I'm sorry that Jose felt the need to leave us, but I'm also extremely pleased that Devlin is now our FC.

Last year after the first weekend I posted an image of Jose as Mad Max, so this year I wanted to do something similar for Devlin. He has worked his ass off this year and deserves the attention.


Updated ATXVI Wallpaper

ABA ATXVI wallpaper
Click to embiggen
Can you believe we have 9 match victories in the Alliance Tournament now? That makes us 9-6 lifetime in the AT, which includes that goofy first year when we lost our first two matches. You gotta start somewhere. If you don't count that one, we are 9-4 in the last three Tournaments. Which is a much more fair way of looking at it. That first year we honestly had no clue what we were doing.

I hope I get to add some more flaming Alliance logos to this wallpaper. Five more would be just about perfect. In fact, it would be perfect. The easiest way to get through the AT is just to win every match. And while the matches only get more and more difficult as you move on, the odds get increasingly hard to ignore, you start bumping into other people's special AT ships, and the cost mounts in both material and human souls - the goal remains the same. To have fun. Which is always my own goal.

So we've won matches against Snuff, Shadow Cartel, Spectre Fleet, Volta, Hard Knocks, Slyce, Methodical, Fraternity and Centipede Calliphate. Which ain't a bad line-up, but if I'm being honest we've yet to beat what most might consider a big name. Like a Pandemic Legion, or Tuskers, or one of those legacy teams. Frankly, I'd prefer getting to the final weekend without having to face one of them. Luckily this year our seeding in the bottom of the bracket (thank you last year's 11th place finish!) has given us the softer underbelly of the tournament. And I mean no disparagement to those teams in our bracket, all good teams that could certainly knock us into the loser's bracket. But the tournament is certainly top heavy this year. I don't envy those teams.

Luck plays an important part in the AT every year. Some teams get lucky and some don't. The engagements often come down to a rock, paper, scissors moment that just can't be avoided. And sometimes you bring a Minnie Rush team to a BC Core match and get your ass handed to you. Shit happens. The best you can do is work hard to mitigate some of those problems and do your best. Let the chips fall where they may.

Which is what is so fun about the Alliance Tournament. Who knows what might happen next?

Not me. All I know for sure right now is that we have another match on Sunday that we need to win.

And that is all that really matters.

The rest is all hot air.

ATXVI: First Weekend

My Kronos ATXVI 2018
My Kronos safely back in Jita
After months and months of preparation and practice, doubts and rumors, layoffs and prizes, the first weekend of Alliance Tournament 16 is finally in the can. Not that long ago we weren't even sure that we would have another AT, or that there would be prizes, or that... well we just didn't know. But all of that is behind us now. Sure we had some trouble filling out the 64 team roster, and sure a few Alliances managed to failscade or drop-out at the last minute - but once the lasers and ammo start flying everything that led up to this weird moment in Eve history is forgotten.

And cheers to Eve-NT and +10 gaming for stepping up and filling in the void. You all did a magnificent job this weekend and put a face on the AT that we could all be proud of. Well done. I know how much work it takes to mount a production like this and I can appreciate all the small victories and challenges that have to be overcome to make it all come together. You all did a fantastic job.

Speaking of fantastic jobs, how about that A Band Apart team? We wanted to come out strong and get two victories under us this weekend (duh, like every other team!) and head into the second weekend with some momentum. First weekend can be tricky and weird if you aren't familiar with your opponent - which we were not. We didn't know Centipede Calliphate or Fraternity frankly, other then this was their first AT and they both had something going on in Null somewhere. Ok, we did know more than that. But it doesn't make the story any better. The real test of the first weekend isn't your opponent actually, it's your own team. Did you practice enough? Are your comps good, stupid, or great? You never really know the answers to these important questions until the fights start happening.

Congrats to the CAStabouts team for putting Pen Is Out into the loser's bracket yesterday. We certainly run into CAS pilots a lot on TQ, so we know each other extremely well. So we look forward to facing them on Sunday. 

It's hard to talk about details while the tournament is still going on, so you'll have to wait until it is over for all the juicy behind-the-scenes stuff.

Right now we're just a bunch of people that live in a lower-end Wormhole somewhere raiding people, but not as well as a bunch of other people do that. The confusion about who we are never ceases to amaze me. It's hard to imagine where some people get the idea that Null Sec players look down on the rest of us, y'know? In case you are wondering I'm referring to the suit wearing NCdot dude at the desk before our match yesterday. Don't be fooled however, he knows exactly who we are since NCdot was our practice partner for the past two years of the AT. Isn't Eve fun?

I promise a full and detailed recap of our matches once our run in the tournament is over. I hope you have to wait until August 20th for that.

Did I mention that the final day is on my birthday?

I know what I want.

Alliance Tournament XVI

A Band Apart: ATXVI Poster
Go Team!
Our first match is Saturday against Centipede Calliphate. You can see and follow and predict the entire bracket here. If you aren't flying in the tournament be sure to catch the action on the CCP or Eve-NT Twitch streams on Saturday and Sunday. The AT is going to be worth watching this year, the rules changes alone should result in some amazingly close matches and some historic upsets. Trust me. This AT is shaping up to be unlike anything we've seen before. Time will tell if that will be a good thing or not.

All I know today is that our team is ready. All of us are well practiced, confident, and ready to face the field. After the timer starts anything can happen. Hopefully Bob will shine on us and we will be competitive, lucky, and fortunate enough to smash our way into the final weekend. I'm not an idiot however, I also know the other teams want the same thing. After a 14th and 11th place finish in the last two Tournaments, I'm hungry for more. But literally anything is possible.

The thing experience teaches you is that the thing that will eventually be your undoing is something you don't know about right now. All you can do is try and work any potential issues into the ground and mitigate them as much as possible. Our team is different this year, but even more experienced. While we lost a few members over the past year, we also managed to pick up a few veterans (and friends) from last year's PFR team. PFR was one of our regular practice partners the last two years, and we ended up losing a match to them in the Tournament the year before last. So we already knew them well. Those guys have been a great addition to our team and have fit right in.

Other than that I ain't telling you nothing. Everything else is OPSec for now.

On the Streamfleet stream the other night Apothne called us, "Aggressively mid-tier". Which is up from "A bunch of nice blokes" or "Barely mid-tier" from previous years. Despite finishing in the top percent and earning automatic bids those two years. I shouldn't complain. I prefer to be the underdog, the over-looked. I get it. We have a lot to prove. We aren't a shiny null sec Alliance hiding under someone else's skirts. We're nobodies. Built up from nothing on our own. Beholden to no one. And damn proud of it.

And yes, that last paragraph was written for my team to read. I gotta motivate them. At least this year I won't have to throw a fish at Ithica Hawk since he was nice enough to point out that the panel shouldn't overlook us. Wouldn't it be great to see us up there on that last weekend? Sure would. But first we have a lot of matches to win.

Let's see how that goes. One match at a time.

Oh baby, it is Alliance Tournament time again! Brace yourselves.

Another Classic

This box of old Eve Children's Books just seems like it'll never end.

Gotta be a bottom to this thing.

Today's Children's Book Find

Click to embiggen
What can I say, I'm having fun blowing off some creative steam this week. It's stressful waiting for the first match of the AT to start this Saturday. So making up Children Book versions of Eve is keeping me occupied. Plus it's fun.

More to come? Maybe.

Little Golden Eve Books

Click to embiggen
Click to embiggen

Also click to embiggen

Guess what?

I may have gotten a tad carried away.

Proof + Pudding

I really enjoy the history of Eve, not only of the in-game machinations, but also the out-of-game community history. The two are inseparable and they intertwine and mix fluidly together, you can't really separate one from the other. Eve is now over 15 years old and that is a ton of history. For a young player it can be difficult to catch up, even if they happen to be interested in doing so. This post isn't about showing you how to get caught up, on that front you are on your own. But I have noticed a trend lately towards recency bias that I find interesting.

Recency Bias is defined as "when people more prominently recall and emphasize recent events and observations more than those in the near or distant past."  A great example of this bias at work, and one which we can all probably appreciate, is the weather. Humans seem to have a hard time remembering weather and exactly how cyclical it is. The patterns repeat, but people seem surprised every time it happens. The current weather always seems worse, or more unusual than they remember. But recency bias affects all aspects of life, from sports teams, to music, art, and beyond. We tend, in general, to favor the moment and expect it to be special.

So given Eve's long history, the influx of new players, and the trend towards recency bias - it is not surprising that a number of people are confused about certain things. And in keeping with recent themes I would like to focus primarily on toxicity. Toxicity in communities is nothing new. And certainly not when it comes to Eve. This has been, to varying degrees, a conversation that has been on-going since the beginning. And this is not unique to Eve.

What a newcomer might not appreciate is that many, many people in the Eve player base have taken steps over those years to combat, mitigate, and or exclude that toxic influence. And while I won't try to include every single example, I would like to point out some obvious ones.

Tweetfleet - The existence of the popular hashtag tweetfleet is a good example. It has been around pretty much since Twitter started and has largely been an unusually effective place to mingle, express opinions and generally avoid the more toxic elements of the community. A large part of that has to do with the format itself, but it is also often self-policed. and banning those that bring hate to the group is relatively easy and individual. No system is perfect, but I personally believe strongly in Tweetfleet.

Facebook - I know FB isn't the cool place to hang, but there are bunches of FB groups dedicated to Eve. And probably because the accounts are linked to real life accounts they tend to be pretty much free of bad actors.

Broadcast4Reps - I've written extensively about this program in the past and I couldn't be more proud to be associated with it. I even appeared in the video below. As long as I am involved with Eve I will be a believer in this idea. I've personally seen it in action so many times.

Best of Us - Another great community outreach program, this one primarily for Vets who also play Eve. I'm also a proud supporter and I'm not even a Veteran. At least not of military service. Great people doing great things because they want to help.

Operation Magic School Bus, The Angel Project, Care4Kids, Red Vs Blue, Eve University, etc - I could go on and on, there are so many individuals and groups doing wonderful and positive things for the Eve community. I salute all of these players and try to help them all as much as I can over the years. Please take the time to google search and explore the fansites, blogs, forums, Slack channels, Discord servers, and on-line information portals and learn more about these programs.

But the expression of positivity isn't limited to players outside of the game. In fact, many organizations in-game have sprung up over the years as a result of this positivity. To varying degrees these groups are direct responses to the toxic nature that can often be found inside of Eve.

Groups like Brave Newbies, Signal Cartel, Sixth Empire, A Band Apart/Stay Frosty, and others (apologies for not listing everyone) were created specifically to provide different options to potential players. I can directly speak to ABA/SF which enjoys a zero tolerance policy when it comes to hate speech of any kind. And I know other groups in Eve also use similar policies.

The world has changed a lot in the fifteen years since Eve was launched. The advent of social media occurred well afterwards and has had a significant impact on Eve as well. The fact is that things do change, people change, and so do communities. It is easy to look at your own situation and over-react to the way you see things here and now. But there is more to the history, effort, and community that you might be missing out on.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating. The thing that has changed the most over the years is the sheer amount of Player Gatherings around the world. Please take a moment and visit Eve Meet and find an event near your own home. Meeting other Eve players in person is the best decision I ever made and I'm having more than thirty of them over to my house this weekend.

Get out of the house and meet some players. It'll change your entire perspective.

Get involved with a charity, or a support group, or organize one of your own. Help people. Be the change you want to see. Put your efforts towards improving the game we all love. There are a lot of us out there doing it already. And we love the company.

Keep the courage.

Poster Contest: Second Entry

Make The Jump
Click to embiggen
Funny, this is actually the first one I did. I had this idea a long time ago, or at least the very beginnings of it. I wanted something very conceptual in nature, something that distilled Eve down to its very core nature. That represented what I believe to be its emotional center. And while we could all argue about what that might be, and each of us have a valid and meaningful reason for thinking it - Eve is after all a very personal experience - this is what it comes down to for me. Strip away everything else and I'm left with this core image. Everything we do, every adventure, every gank, blob, fleet op, war, every single thing begins with this moment when we face the unknown. 

My very first day in Eve I tried to slow boat over to the system gate in Todaki. This was before I learned about right-clicking and warps. That moment when I stood before my very first gate, wondering what I'd find on the other side, trying to figure out how it worked, and what I might have to do in order to get back home. That moment has never really left me these past ten years. And that feeling is what I was trying so hard to capture in this illustration. I hope I succeeded, even a little.

Unlike the last poster, this one was done entirely in Photoshop. Although to be fair I did create the base templates for the gate and Incursus in Illustrator to start with. It is hard to avoid when it comes to these extremely mechanical devices. I took some much deserved artistic leeways with the internal glows inside the Amarr gate obviously. I wanted to play up the alien feel and the impending disintegration and re-integration about to happen.

For everything else please see the previous post regarding the other poster entry, for my thoughts on the contest itself. Once again I wish all entrants the very best of luck.

Poster Contest: First Entry

FC, Can I Bring My Drake
Click to embiggen
If you haven't heard, CCP is holding a poster contest for Eve Vegas.  I encourage everyone who wants to enter to do so. I have entered two posters of my own, the first of which is above. I'll be releasing the other one publicly later.

Long time readers may be surprised to hear that I am entering this contest. As is typical of these CCP contests, you are essentially giving over all rights to your work forever and ever. However, seeing as that work is rife with CCP IP Trademarks - there are truly no other options available. If you want to do art based on Eve IP then these contests are it. As I have discovered over and over again, CCP has zero interest in working outside of whatever arcane, ever-changing, adaptable, fart-in-the-wind system they have at the moment. Which is fine. As I've said thousands of times before and will probably say a thousand times again - it is their IP to do with as they please.

As for me, I just want to get my work into the player's hands. Mostly that means creating awesome swag to give away at player events like Fanfest, Steel City Eve, and Eve Vegas later this year. But often it means taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Like a poster contest.

All of which doesn't mean anything. I might not win, or I might come in second or third and not get a poster printed for Vegas. Or I might win and CCP change its mind about printing them for Vegas. Goodness knows that has happened to me before. Twice.

Chance. There are a lot of very talented creatives in our community and I look forward to seeing the other entries. Best of luck to everyone that enters. And I mean that sincerely.

Once I decided on the creative for this poster I decided that the best way to present it would be to create a style that captured the look of old screen printed limited color propaganda posters. To do that I decided to work entirely in Adobe Illustrator to create the art. I actually illustrated two Drakes in two different styles before I finally landed on the final look I was after. I hope to use the other one in another project down the road. The final Drake was probably the easiest spaceship illustration I've ever done for a final project. It only includes three colors, which made it pretty easy to create.

The final poster is actually four-color, the limited color palette is only a "style" and not an actual treatment. Which I think helps to modernize the look, which is what I was hoping for.

This was not my first design for this poster, in fact I probably did about 8 different thumbnails and eventually decided to just work it out in real-time. The graphic elements are re-used from beer labels I designed years ago, altered of course. My habit of never throwing anything away comes in handy. And that helped to keep the total time spent on this poster down to about 8 hours from start to finish.

Whatever happens with the contest, win or not win, I'm happy with the end result. It is yet another example of what I believe is an endless well of largely un-tapped Eve based creative that could be used to help sell Eve Online to a much larger gaming community. And that, as always, has been my goal since day one.

Tomorrow I'll show you the other entry. Which is completely different.

Five Years: Eve Dumb Ways To Die

It is hard to believe it has been five years (or will be on July 29th) since Sindel Pellion and I released this parody video. Since then it has been seen almost 740k times on my YouTube channel alone, who knows how many other times on other channels and sources. 4k up votes and 400 down votes ain't bad either. Although one wonders who those 400 sour puss people are and if they are ok? I hope they've all gotten the help they so desperately need.

How has it aged? Not bad, although I think today's Eve players might be confused about a few of the references to Luminaire, Asakai, and Rahadalon - Brave was still a brand new idea five years ago. And obviously few people still fly with PLEX in their cargo sadly. Although you still see that every so often, it isn't the common sight it once was.

I sometimes get the itch to do the graphics over again. But I'm not putting myself through that. It was a tremendous amount of work the first time and I think I mostly succeeded in producing the half-assed style of animation I was trying for. lol.

The thing that has aged the worst is probably the original version that this is based on. Not that it is bad, just that it has faded from the general memory a bit in the years that followed. Like most popular memes and viral sensations, the lifespan of these things is hard to predict. Believe it or not that damn song and video were everywhere five years ago. There was even a phone app game.

I still enjoy watching it every so often. So that is all that really matters.

Time marches on.

One Bad Apple

If you haven't read my "The Toxic Community Myth" post yet, I highly recommend doing so before reading this post. However, if you feel like continuing onward without reference, I have to respect that. You are a reader of action.

I was super curious what the reaction would be to my last post. And no, it wasn't a "troll" or anything stupid like that. It was genuine. And it remains genuine. But still, it has been awhile since I addressed that issue and I was curious what the response would be. Overall it was extremely positive and thanks to everyone who responded, reached out, or otherwise supported the thoughts expressed. But, as always, you can't please all the people all the time.

As before, let me be as clear as I can be. Bullying, abuse, harassment, and all other forms of hate are abhorrent and should be dealt with. By CCP, by law enforcement, by the community, by anyone with any sense of right and wrong. Me saying that the Eve Community is awesome is not the same as endorsing bad actors that happen to play in the Eve Community. It just isn't. If you think that, then you haven't been paying attention to my adventures in Eve during the last ten years.

A part of the my attraction to Eve from day one was the social aspect, the fact that the ships in this game are piloted by real people playing somewhere. I was slow to build a community in game, back in those days it was mostly just me and my oldest Son playing. But hanging out on gates in Null tends to get dull and you start making friends. Eventually I got involved in Alliance politics, forums, and leadership. And then I started this magazine. And then I became involved in the greater community. Along the way, I've bumped into my fair share of bad actors. I once had my account stolen, I've had a couple of harassment issues, potential stalkers, and a-holes at the top levels of certain other player groups. I've seen and experienced a lot of hate in Eve. And some of that I purposefully sought to engage with. To varying results.

After all the work and effort that went into WWB I made a conscious decision to step back a bit and focus on different aspects of Eve. I had some projects I wanted to try and get off the ground, but those didn't work out. So now I'm just chillin'. I'm enjoying the game and helping the community and practicing for the Alliance Tournament and all the other projects I'm involved with. It is pretty awesome.

My point is this, you can actually step away from it. It can be hard and it can certainly take time and effort, but it can be done. You can surround yourself with great people and stay away from negativity. 99% of Eve players are just normal people like you and me. Most just want to have fun and do their thing in-game, whatever that might be. They are well aware of the line between real life and game life. Hang out with those people.

And if you really just can't? Then maybe Eve isn't for you. Sometimes even I need to take time and play something else. There are so many other options. If Eve is impacting your enjoyment of life, friends, family or anything that makes you happy - then for goodness sake just step away from the computer. Please.

I thrive in this environment. Nothing that has happened to me and no one that has tried to ruin my game, has mattered or impacted my real life in the slightest. Not Mittens, or Grath, or anyone else. But that might not be your experience. And I can appreciate that. We're different people. Do what makes you happy and brings your life enjoyment.

Eve is a game, please don't suffer for it. It just isn't worth it.

Keep the courage.

The Toxic Community Myth

I'm not going to mention any names in this post. My intention is not to call anyone out. But the idea of Eve's toxic community has once again, for the millionth time, risen to the surface of the conversation. If you are not aware of the specifics, I'm also not going to link to them here. Suffice to say our community is horribly toxic and destructive and hurtful and angry. Again.

First of all, and most importantly, let's be clear up front that I have zero tolerance for bullies of any kind. No one should have to endure toxic attacks online, in the real world, anywhere. Not the actor playing Jar Jar Binks, or someone who plays Eve Online. Specific incidents of this kind of activity are horrible, painful, and should be dealt with.

Secondly, it is true that Eve Online is a harsh, dark, nasty, complex game that CCP purposefully created that way. They have spent the last 15 years ensuring that it remains that way, despite drunken suicide threats, home invasions, service attacks, and all the other horrors that HTFU have spawned. This is a game imagined by Vikings on a cold, desolate island in the North Atlantic. We can argue and debate if this was the best course of action for the long-term success of this game (I don't believe it was, or is) but here we are. No sense sugar coating it.

With all of that said the Eve Community is not toxic. It is a myth and to believe in this myth is to continue to help spread it. The Eve Community is awesome and full of awesome people who support charities, help each other out (even strangers), give of their time, worry about each other, worry about our game, travel thousands of miles to spend time together, create amazing works of creative power, and generally exemplify all that is good and decent about gamers. All with a sense of humor, and all the inherent weirdnesses that often come with social awkwardness, fear, insecurity, and isolation. Which is true of any community.

Individuals are toxic. And I personally know a bunch of them. I have two of them blocked on Twitter. If I were to show my face over on Reddit a few of them would show up in the comment section. They always do. If given half a chance they have, without reason, spread all kinds of insults, lies, and fake news about me and my family around the internets for the past ten years. But that is not the "community" doing that - those are individuals choosing to do that. And I happen to believe that is an extremely important distinction. People are things we can point at and expose, a community is only something that we can wave at. It is amorphous.

I believe it is vital to make the distinction between a single person and a group, community, or organization. Especially in the time we currently find ourselves living in. Labeling a group under the umbrella created by bad actors endangers the entire group by association. A person can be dealt with and banned, removed, ignored, blocked, or helped. But an entire group?

This community of ours saved my sorry ass when I needed it most and I won't ever forget it. I'm not ashamed, or embarrassed by it. In point of fact, I am very proud of it. And I believe I've worked my butt off to pay it back in spades. So no one will ever convince me that this community is toxic. Because it is, like always, only the work of a desperate, confused, ignorant few. Most of whom are super easy to ignore.

If you are really concerned about the toxic elements in our great game, then I suggest doing what I do to avoid them. Here are some helpful suggestions:

• Stay away from Reddit. I do. You won't miss it.

• Block bullies on Social Media. I do. You won't miss them.

• Meet Eve players in person. They are awesome and you'll become life-long friends with many of them and then one day find yourself inviting them to your house and then 30+ of them will show up. And it'll be so awesome you'll do it for three years straight. I have. Our next meet is July 21st.

• Join or create an incredible corporation/alliance. Find your place in Eve. And if you can't find one, create one. I did.

• Do your thing. Ignore the idiots, trolls, and bullies. Find your thing and keep doing it. Eventually good things will happen. I do this all the time.

• Let Eve be Eve. Fight for things you believe in, but do it in a positive and encouraging way. You'll be surprised how much more you can get accomplished. You can get WCS Banned, or wings put back on Vagabonds, and have your opinion matter. Trust me.

• And always remember that bullies are just expressing the troubles that haunt them. It isn't really about you, it is about them. Their insecurities and fears. Always keep that in mind, it helps.

Engaging trolls on their turf accomplishes nothing. You can't "win". Eve is much more fun when you control the narrative and ignore the bastards.

For anything worse we can file tickets, ask for help, or simply log off for a few days or months.

Hope this helped.

Start the Hype Train!

A Band Apart: ATXVI Poster
Click to embiggen
Time to start the HYPE Train! This year's Alliance Tournament is just around the corner and July 28th will be here before you know it. The brackets are out, the Flagships are announced, the teams are practicing (one would hope), and your friendly neighborhood underdogs are ready to rumble. This will be our fourth AT and our 11th place finish last year has given us some decent seeding this year, but make no mistake - we won't be taking anything for granite. Or granted.

Anything can and will happen. Lady Luck may or may not be on our side, the chips may fall where they may - who knows. All I do know is that we've been practicing hard for a long time, our team is experienced, prepared, and working like a well-oiled machine. I believe this is our strongest and best prepared team ever. So there is nothing to do now but make some really nice wallpapers!!

Fire up the engines! Let's get this HYPE Train rolling!

Why is a Pirate's Honor Important?

A Pirate's Honor. It is the single most important thing we own. More important than the ships in our hangars, the implants in our heads, the corp or alliance we belong to, or the marks on our killboards. But why? We all know there is no honor among thieves, so why is a Pirate's honor so important in the context of a game like Eve Online?

Reputation is an extremely important part of our game. Especially for those of us that operate on the margins in Low Sec and Wormhole space. Often our reputations are all that proceed us when we enter a new area or jump thru a Gate. There is an expectation that comes along with any pilot flying the Stay Frosty banner. That expectation has been built over the past five years by every single Stay Frosty pilot that has flown before you. On an individual level and on a much larger meta level across all of New Eden. 

That expectation is so important to us that we've written it down in our Stay Frosty Code - which you can read for yourself at the link below the masthead on Eveoganda. A version of that Code was written originally by KaJolo, former CEO of The Tuksers and Stay Frosty has used a modified version of it since day one. That Code is almost as old as Eve itself. It lets everyone who decides to fly our flag know what their expectations are and the standards by which they will be held. All of us in Stay Frosty uphold that Code every day and those that choose not to, or are incapable of doing so, are dealt with harshly. We have zero tolerance for fools.

A fool can damage our reputation and ding those expectations. Even if it is only in the smallest of contexts, say one individual pilot, it is important enough to warrant swift action to repair. 

A Code does several things at once:

• It gives everyone in the Corporation the same understanding and it unites us
• It gives everyone outside of the Corporation the same understanding about us and our conduct
• And it forms a solid foundation against which all decisions/actions can be measured

The result is our enemies understand us and what we stand for. This understanding is so powerful that I can literally just undock and wait for people to show up to fight me. The stories of similar encounters from every corner of New Eden fill our Discord. Stay Frosty is well known for giving good fights, often under-manned and against the odds, that often other players will seek us out. Or engage us if we are in their local. It literally happens all the time. And I could give thousands of examples. As could any pilot in Stay Frosty.

For us, that is the single most valuable thing we own. And we've all worked hard since day one to protect it, share it, and spread the word about it across all of known space.

That is why a Pirate's honor is so important.


May 2013

Stay Frosty "Anarchy" Wallpaper
Stay Frosty
May 2013 is the high-water mark for Eveoganda (so far!). In that month this magazine experienced 212,495 visits, which works out to an average of 6,854 visitors a day (including Memorial Day weekend). Looking back now, some of those days saw 14-16k visits a day. I have no way of knowing now how many of those were unique visitors, I never ran metrics on this magazine and I still don't. So these numbers just come from the basic Blogger metrics that are built into the Google platform. Our second highest month was October 2013 when we had 190,835 visitors. 

So what the heck was going on in May of 2013 that drove so many people to this little, quiet, unassuming corner of the Eve community? 

Stay Frosty was born. I was kicked from The Tuskers in April and I started Stay Frosty in May. Between those two things a lot of stuff happened. A lot of those things were extremely public, some not so much, and some remain behind-the-scenes. Some people labeled those things as "drama", usually those on the other side of events - but undeniably everyone found them interesting. 

I'm not writing this today to re-hash any of the things that happened then. I've moved on, The Tuskers have moved on, and Stay Frosty has certainly moved on. Last year at Fanfest I even had the chance to finally meet Suleiman Shouaa the CEO of The Tuskers in person and we hit it off, buried any hatchets, and we've both moved on from it. So all of that is well-buried and mostly forgotten. And I only say 'mostly' because it is still history.

I had a tremendous amount of things happening in my life at the time. A lot of which was still private at the time. I had lost my business the year before and my personal life was in chaos. I wasn't playing Eve as much as using this blog to stay sane. And I suddenly found myself with a lot more time on my hands, sadly, than I had previously. When I finally found time to start playing again - I decided it was time to exert more control over my situation in-game.

I had a plan. That plan worked out almost perfectly. But, as with any plan, there were certainly things that happened along the way that I couldn't have planned on. There were unexpected things that cropped up that unfortunately made the situation much more acerbic than I intended. You can't predict everything, the only choice you have is to accept things as they are and move forward. There are things I wish hadn't happened, and there are a few things I wish I had handled differently in hindsight, but I can't change those now.

The plan was to make as big of a splash as possible and get Stay Frosty off on an incredible growth spurt, establishing the code by which it would operate, and attract the kinds of players that would find that play-style interesting. And by those metrics alone, May 2013 certainly exceeded my wildest dreams.

I had started or been a part of starting 4 Corporations and 2 Alliances before starting Stay Frosty and I knew that doing so without a platform like this one was almost impossible. Corporations and Alliances start every day in Eve and no one notices. I was determined that if I was going to do that again, that this time I would put everything I had into it. It was time to put the biggest foot forward I could and establish something that would stand the test of time.

As I approach my 10th year of playing Eve this September, May 2013 is becoming the half-way point in my Eve career. Everything that happened the five years before that directly led to everything that has happened in the five years since then. It is both literally and figuratively the half-way point and the turning-point of my entire Eve career.

And that's why I brought it up today. Not to kick a dead horse, but simply to remember the past and to learn from it. But mostly to remember it. 

It is, after all, only a game.

Eve Onion

Eve Onion Logo
The Eve Onion Logo
You should be reading Eve Onion. I do.  Bookmark that sucker. Go on.

There are tons of great articles full of sarcasm and biting, sometimes bitter, commentary. It often makes the work I do here more difficult, but I honestly don't mind. I highly recommend the site and not only because I designed the new logo. But mostly because I designed the new logo. In other words, I'm a fan. And you should be also.

One of the best recent articles is called "CCP Introduces Brutal PvE Content to Drive PLEX Sales" and you really should go read it now. I wanted to talk briefly about this post because it involves me. First of all, it is brilliant and so close to being true that it stings just the right amount. Secondly it has been up for almost a month - which reminds me that it has been over a month since I wrote the post it is based on. 

Time flies when you are having fun.

The Holdo Maneuver

A lightsaber in peril
The Last Jedi. No matter how you personally feel about the latest entry in the Star Wars "Skywalker" series, it does contain a few scenes that are challenging. One of the most challenging is something that has come to be known as "The Holdo Maneuver". I've read and watched countless opinion pieces since the release of the film and no one that I've seen or read has seemingly connected several dots that, I believe, are obviously connected. If you haven't read this piece over on The Ringer I suggest you do so.

When I walked out of seeing Jedi the very first time I was excited by the challenges the film presented, with the bold new directions it took, and with the way it handled both classic and new characters. Like everyone, I was sad that Carrie was gone from us. And watching her scenes in the film were gut-wrenching. They still are today. But strangely, I didn't find myself confused by anything I saw. In fact, the now infamous Holdo Maneuver made perfect sense to me. I was baffled when that started to become a 'thing' on the Internets.

I'm not going to spend 3,000 words making you wait. So let's get this over with.

There are three things happening at the exact same time in the film. Finn and Rose are getting their heads chopped off inside the ship. Rey and Ben Solo are force pulling that poor lightsaber apart in the ship's "throne" room. And Holdo is spinning the ship around to ramming speed. While it is impossible for a filmmaker to actually have three things happen at the same exact time in a movie, I believe it was the intention that all three of these things happen together. No one in any previous Star Wars film has ripped a lightsaber into two pieces before. No one in any previous Star Wars film has attempted to warp one ship into another ship. But hey, here we have two of those things happening at the exact same moment.

I can't believe no one else has connected these two unique things together before. It seems rather obvious to me that they are intended to be connected. When I walked out of the theater I felt secure in knowing that the so-called Holdo Maneuver would not have worked without the lightsaber being torn in half at the exact same time. To me, this was rather obvious. And I've seen, nor read, nor heard, anything since that first day to change my mind. In fact, I just watched it again before writing this... and duh.

This, in my opinion, solves all the weirdo problems that people seem so hung up on. Sure, ramming one big ship into another has been done before. We've seen it in other Star Wars movies. And I contend that was what Holdo had in mind. She had a big ship and they had a big ship, ramming them into each other would cripple the First Order's ship and allow the Rebels to escape. She got super duper lucky - thanks to the effects of the Force.  And the reverberations of the lightsaber being ripped apart at the same time. That is what allowed the Holdo Maneuver to work.

So yeah, feel free to use that again if you can manage to get someone aboard the enemy ship with a lightsaber and another force-user and then make those things all happen at the same time.

Good luck with that. MTFBWY.

Glad I could help.

The Year of the Leshak

ATXVI Traglavian Rock
click to download various sizes
The deadline for Flagship submissions for this year's Alliance Tournament (which starts July 28th btw) has passed. You can see the public list here for yourself. Even the briefest of looks will reveal that the new Triglavian Battleship is the popular "meta" choice this year. And yes, A Band Apart's Flagship is also a Leshak. ( I spent 14b isk buying skill injectors to train the Cruiser/BS skills to Vs, I have 28 days left to train Large Disintegrator Spec to V. That one won't be ready in time for the AT. I'm only a poor pirate.)

43 Teams submitted a Flagship. 25 of those are the Leshak. 5 are Scorpion Navy Issues. 2 Bhaalgorns. 2 of the new Praxis and 2 Rattles. 1 Golem, Vargur, Macharial, Geddon, Barghest, Nightmare, and Paladin. 63% of all Flagships this year will be new ships that have never appeared in the AT before. That's huge. And exciting.

First of all the Leshak is a powerful choice for a Flagship. All the criteria are there. It is a beast on the battlefield, especially in an enclosed box situation. Damage application is insane. And it benefits from the freedom to fit faction/officer mods. Secondarily it will be a hugely popular ban choice in this year's tournament, which means you won't be able to bring one if it isn't your Flagship. (Even if the hull is among the banned ships, you can still bring your Flagship.) This is critical in deciding which ship gets that designation on your team each year.

I want to be clear, every team has to make this decision on their own. And I'm not trying to throw shade on anyone specifically - but this post is about the Flagship choices. So I am going to talk about them. In particular the Praxis and Nightmare choices. There are other questionable choices being made in this list, but let's give those teams the benefit of the doubt. It is obvious that certain people have convinced themselves that RML spam is going to be a thing this year. And while it might make an attempt at being a thing, I don't believe it will be successful.

The Praxis is the Gnosis big sister. And when I say big I mean BIG. If you haven't been in space next to this Battleship yet, it is monstrous. I can't wait to watch them in the tournament. But like the Gnosis the Praxis is a Jack-of-all-Trades and Master of none ship. Remember ship bonuses? The idea of a Flagship is to maximize those bonuses under the influence of Faction/Officer mods. A Geddon Flagship is a lot like a Bhaalgorn, as an example. Those faction neuts are brutal. In my opinion I don't see the same net gain from a Praxis Flagship. I also don't believe that the Praxis will be a popular ban. Especially after the first weekend. But, as always, I'm willing to be proven wrong.

Unlike the Praxis however, the Nightmare is just a confusing choice. And I love the ship personally. We've fielded Nightmare comps before in the NEO and we tried to build some comps around them a few years ago for the AT. Double Nightmare comps can be quite effective with the right support. But I don't like them in this tournament. Sadly the real reason for that is something I can't reveal right now. Some thoughts and opinions must remain OpSec for now. Again, I could possibly be wrong.

Last year our team picked a Geddon Flagship. We weren't alone, but the big winner last year was the Bhaalgorn. It was probably picked by 50%+ of the teams then. So I know exactly what it feels like to be off-meta before any matches are played. So for all of those teams out there that picked an off-meta ship, be of good cheer. It is only one of a thousand choices that will impact the outcome of matches. Only one. Every match gets played out on the field of battle and sometimes the odd choice, the off-kilter decision, the lag, the boundary violation, the ecm landing or not landing, the range, the jumps, the... well you get the idea.

The HYPE is real.

Once More Unto the Breech

A Band Apart ATXV Poster
HYPE Train
The Alliance Tournament is four weekends away. Flagships have been locked in. Fleet Compositions are being spreadsheeted. Ships are being built. Mods are being hunted down and hoarded. Practices are really starting to hum. This is the stretch now. Shortly the brackets will be announced and the path to glory locked down. Hopefully our 11th place finish last year will mean something when it comes to placement. But nothing is guaranteed. Especially this year, with the rule changes and the new ships on the field - literally anything can happen.

If you've never experienced the mad rush to build an AT team yourself, I highly recommend it. Of all the things I've done or been a part of in Eve - flying with my team is simply one of the best things. Especially when the team starts to come together and mesh, when things start to hum. It is an elevated feeling, confidence, team-work, energy, that is hard to replicate in normal game play. Even in fleets or gangs, it just isn't the same thing. Working together for a purpose, to achieve a direct goal is rather unique. It is easily one of the things about the Alliance Tournament that keeps bringing me back.

Winning would also be awesome. A Band Apart remains an underdog. Apparently we aren't getting a version of Apothne's yearly AT predictions this year, but I wonder if we'd finally make it out of the mid-tier if he had. Maybe. While I like to use that information every year to help motivate our team, it doesn't really matter. The only thing that matters is winning matches. Without checking I believe we are 7-6 so far in the last three tournaments, having finished in the Top 16 the last two. My goals for this year would be to break into that last weekend without being in the loser's bracket. After that, just let fate take charge and see where it takes us. I believe that is an achievable goal. But I know that anything can happen.

We've bumped into hard counters the last two tournaments and I know how fast those can wreck the best laid plans. So anything is possible. Avoiding the rock, paper, scissors nature of the AT is our last hurdle, to put aside the underdog status and make an impact on the field.

All of which is a lot easier to write about than it is to achieve.

Our team is strong and we are really coming together this year. Whatever happens, I'll be just as proud of every single pilot and the players behind them - as I have been every year.

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height."

New Art Prints & Event Updates

My days of trying to work with CCP to broaden the appeal of Eve to new audiences may be at an end, but that doesn't mean that I've stopped creating. Nor will I. Last weekend two of my posters arrived from the printers and we framed them and hung them on the walls in our recently renovated sunroom. They look awesome. And if you are planning to attend Steel City Eve III on July 21st at my house, you can see them for yourself.

Those are both movie poster sized prints (27"x40"), but we'll be handing out 11x17 versions of the Eve Anniversary illustration at SCEIII to everyone that attends. As well as other goodies. Just like every other year.

In 108 days we'll also be attending our first Eve Vegas! We also have several awesome swag ideas in the works for that event. So keep an eye open for more information on those as the date gets closer.

And next year, it looks like we'll be joining a bunch of Eve nerds for an Alaskan Cruise, which you can find out about on the forums HERE. At least we are planning to attend, I'm calling after this to reserve our place. But we have until March to make the final decision. And I've got work to do for that as well.

I'm busy with commissions, projects, AT practice, and a thousand other projects.  And our schedule is crammed full of future events and hanging out with our Eve friends. Hopefully we'll have the chance to meet many more of you at one of these soon.

Onward & Upward.

5 Tips for Being Better at PvP

Cyno Ad
Click to embiggen

There are as many ways to describe PvP in Eve as there are people outside the station in Jita. All of which are probably valid in one way or another, to one degree or another. Player versus Player combat in Eve is one of the most complicated, time-intensive, stressful, and potentially rewarding experiences in all of gaming. There is simply nothing else like it. It takes time, learning, and experience to get decent at it. And it takes teachers, failure, failure, and dedication to even approach mastery. No wonder it generates so many colorful ways to describe it.

Essentially PvP combat in Eve comes down to either being prepared or being unprepared for what is about to happen to you. The more you as a participant can swing the scale in your favor the more likely you will be to fly away the victor, and vice versa. Fail to swing anything in your favor and it'll be the Pod-Express home for you.

With this in mind I'd like to offer up five seasoned tips to help you become better at PvP. My goal has always been to see everyone in New Eden become insanely good at combat. This makes the game better for everyone. I want to be challenged. And that will only happen when people learn some valuable lessons.

Yes, there are more than five things you need to do. But I wanted to keep this list manageable and concise. Find a teacher. Become a Wing Man. Join a good Corp like Stay Frosty.  But for these tips I'm going to focus on things you can actively do to enter a fight more prepared than your enemy.

1. Learn to Fit your Ship

Be a student. Always be in learning mode. Study the killboards of famous or infamous pilots. Learn the abilities of the ships you want to fly. Find ways to maximize their bonuses and minimize their weaknesses. Every ship in Eve serves a purpose and the art comes from finding ways to exploit those purposes against your opponent. But never at the expense of common sense. Being prepared does not mean fitting one of everything on your ship! It means not expecting a slow, armor-fitted AB Dessie to defeat a shield-fitted, MWD LML Garmur. 

There are tools available that can help you, tutorials on YouTube, plenty of blogposts, forum posts, and everything else. But nothing replaces doing it yourself and undocking in it. A fit doesn't have to be fancy, or faction, to work. More often than not a smart fit is all you need.

2. Situational Awareness

Learn to see past your d-scanner. Situational awareness is more than what your d-scan shows. It's about what it doesn't show you. How many people are in local, where are they, what are they doing, are they together? How many people are in the systems around me? Are they related to these people? What ships are around and why are those ships in space? What is their purpose?

You get blobbed because the guy you attacked had friends next door. Or you attacked an Incursus sitting in a Large with Cruisers on scan. Or there are two people in local and one is in a Medium plex with a Rifter. (C'mon, that other guy is in a Recon 75% of the time!) Learn how to read the signs. Often I will fly around 5-12 systems just to get the lay of the land, turn around and then head back to see what has changed. You can tell a lot from what moves around. Those Core Scanner Probes from earlier might just be a juicy PvE target when you come back around.

3. Control your own Space

You want the other player at your mercy, or as close as you can get him. Let me use a Blaster Comet as a good example of this in action. Let's say I'm flying around in my Rail fit Daredevil. I can kill any Blaster fitted Comet that I come across in that ship, as long as I maintain control of my own space and make him fight me on my terms. But I will lose my ship if the opposite happens. If I land at zero on that Comet I'm going to lose that fight nine times out of ten. But if I land 10+k away from him, he will lose that fight nine times out of ten to me. This essential premise is true, in one way or another, in every single fight in Eve. When you engage within your own space you will have a much higher chance of winning the fight.

4. Be Bold, Not Stupid

Before a fight we are all geniuses, afterwards only the winner is. Your own scale is going to depend on your own personal preferences, how long you've been playing, how much isk you have, what your personal goals are, etc. But you want to take chances, just not dumb chances. The other night I tackled a Myrmidom in my Hawk because I knew I had two other AFs behind me and we were one jump from home. We couldn't defeat him alone, he was tripled-repped, so we sent one guy home to get a bigger ship. That is being bold and being situationally aware. I wouldn't have tackled the ship had we been 17 jumps away from home.

Had we lost that fight, we'd all be idiots. But the odds were in our favor because we understand and exploited the three rules above. We know not only our ships, but all ships. So I knew what to expect from the target. And he didn't. It is one thing for someone to tell you to take chances, be bold, but another for someone like me to tell you to take smart chances. The more you understand the less bold those chances become. And the less likely you are to come out looking stupid.

5. Don't Be Afraid of Failure

I've lost 1,831 fights in Eve. I've had exactly 8,000 fights that ended in victory or death according to zKill. I've failed 1,831 times. I've horribly failed 139 times and not only lost a ship, but also my Capsule. And while these days I tend to succeed 77% of the time, that wasn't always the case. In the beginning I wasn't even planning on being a PvPer, or at least not a full-time Pirate. 

Have patience with yourself and don't let failure stop you. Each time you don't succeed is another lesson you can learn. And then sometimes you can just do dumb stuff for the sheer fun of it.

Undock, have adventures. I hope to see you in space.