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.

Yarrr!




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."