The Broken War

Yesterday over on Tweetfleet Twitter I mentioned that I believe the war mechanics in Eve are seriously broken and that it is having a negative effect on players that primarily operate in High Security space. I believe this cannot be denied. And yet, the merest glancing blow to this playstyle resulted in a lot of sudden and unexpected vitriolic expression. It got so weird at one point I had people questioning my bonafides as a Pirate.

Look, I don't give two shakes of a Lamb's tail about High Sec. I operate in Low Sec and rarely, if ever, go into Empire space. War or not. Doesn't matter to me as an individual player. I am also not an expert on HS war mechanics, I focus on LS mechanics primarily. But there are experts inside my Alliance and some of our players do choose to operate in HS. And it just so happens that I am also responsible for them and their playstyle. If you are having trouble keeping up with that logic then I can't help you.

I've documented in these pages some of our attempts at fighting back against War Decs over the past few months. Some of which have been promising and successful. However, all of those efforts did little if anything to stem the tide of constant war. In fact, it appears as if they have only encouraged those forces to continue declaring war on us. Over and over again. Let me be clear here, our players are good. We do not get killed much in these wars because our players know how to deal with them. Me complaining about a broken mechanic in NO WAY means we don't know what we are doing. Those two things do not go hand-in-hand.

What I do know is this. The recent changes to HS war mechanics are not working as promised. The Citadel War HQ device is seriously broken. War Decc'ing groups are putting their own Citadels into reinforcement so that attacking groups cannot. Timers are such that, even should you try, the War will be over BEFORE the attacking Citadel is destroyed. And, as if that wasn't enough already, the War HQ can often be changed during a war. So that you are fighting an ever shifting target. And yes we can argue the specifics about each of these statements until we are blue in the face, but this is what is happening.

My concern isn't about my own playstyle, or the health and happiness of my own Alliance. We're taking steps to deal with these issues on our own thank you. My concern, as always, is the health of Eve Online. And I believe that the current state of HS War is, in many ways, much worse than it was before these changes.

We have an abundance of extremely creative and resourceful players in my Alliance, and when they come to me and tell me the system is broken I listen. The system is broken.

And here is the moment when the writer would offer up suggested fixes and solutions. I'm not going to do that for a very simple reason - I just don't know enough about HS Wars to offer any. And I'm not going to pretend otherwise. I have my hands full trying to make LS better.

I'm just here to point at something and say, this needs fixed.

This needs fixed.

Slash and Burn

There was a time when the system Rancer was deadly. The gate was constantly camped and getting a ship through the system wasn't safe. People adapted and went the extra jumps just to avoid it. These days Rancer is dead. Usually empty. No gate camps in sight.

Have you been through Uedama lately? Or Abune when it is camped? I'm sure you can name another system in Eve that is constantly being camped. N-RAEL, HED-GP, the list is long. I once lived in a system for a few months after Burn Away fell apart and before I joined Tuskers and I lazy camped it myself because the hunting was good. After awhile others started noticing the kills I was getting and they started moving into system, eventually turning it into their own private mission running system. They are gone, but the system remains dead. Even seven years later it is taking time for it to return to its former glory.

Cultivation isn't something you hear a lot about in Eve. But cultivating an environment that encourages players to participate is important, especially to those of us who focus on PvP for a living. It's why we defend our home systems, why we discourage gate camps, why we burn down other people's Citadels, and why we rarely over-hunt at home. Especially if you are in a pirate corporation, like Stay Frosty, it is even more critical to consider cultivation. Because there is something else tied to that approach - our reputations.

It would be easy enough for us to perma-camp the High-Sec entrance to our home system. But to do so would not only drive content away from our home system, it would also have lasting effects on the entire neighborhood in which we hunt. Not to mention the impact such activities would have on our ability to get good fights in other areas. Our ability to get those good fights often comes down to our reputation. I can't begin to tell you how many times a pilot engages me in a fight simply because they know it will be a good fight. And they tell me that.

For me personally I know of several tactics I could use and ships I could fly, that would result in a lot of kills and less danger for me. I could easily rack up the kills and rocket to the top of the killboard. I could do this anytime I wanted. But I don't. Why? Well there are lots of reasons for this, mostly because it gets boring doing the same thing all the time. But also because I don't want to become known for flying the same thing all the time and for being nearly impossible to kill. That would have a drastic impact on my ability to get fights. Heck, just being me already does. The last thing I need is to make it worse.

I'm not judging other players choices here. Play however you choose. But what I am saying is that every choice has consequences. Often unexpected consequences. And not just for you, but for those in your Corp, your Alliance, and in the places you choose to fly.

I often joke that I attack everything in space I come across. And generally speaking that is true. But in reality I will often not attack a target so I become less predictable, encourage that pilot to return (hopefully in something bigger), and to cultivate the system I happen to be in.

A big part of success in Eve is in creating an environment in which you get what you want. I want good fights. I want my Corp/Alliance to prosper. And stewardship of that environment, our reputation, and our ability to find targets worthy of fighting - is a huge part of getting what I want.

I think it would be better if more people, especially those of us in leadership roles, thought this way about the place in which they choose to play this game of ours.

Empyrean Chronicles Book

Speaking of projects some new players may not have heard about, back in June 2016 I released a book of Eve Fan Fiction and Fan Art called Empyrean Chronicles. You can still download a PDF copy for yourself using this link.

I'm extremely proud of this project and the fact that I put it all together and made it available to the community for FREE. I was hoping it would turn into a more regular project, but the time and energy needed to produce it - also for FREE - was something that just wasn't sustainable.

I do have another book I'm working on however. But this one will take more time. Although I do hope to release it later this year. It will be my last book and will incorporate my story, my art, and other things into one collection. I was hoping that project would be done with the cooperation of certain people who live in Iceland, but as many of you already know they aren't interested unless you are a journalist from the Northwest. Don't even get me started on hypocrisy. This is not the week for that discussion.

Anyway, if you don't have a copy you should. Download it, enjoy it.

I have a hard copy on my shelf.

Eve Art Repository

"The Patrol" Mural which is on a wall somewhere at CCP HQ (I'm not allowed to see it, so who knows)

Against the advice of my own brain, I've recently started posting on r/eve again. I took a two year break from even visiting Reddit and for good reasons. For a long time there I couldn't even post a comment without getting hammered, threatened, abused, and otherwise negatively attacked. I was personally DOX'd several times on Reddit, my personal and private information being slung across the internet by several dedicated individuals. So it was only natural that I stayed away.

Special shout out to the Moderators who quickly helped squash those efforts back in the day. You know who you are. Thank you.

However, given some recent water testing, it seems that my posts are no longer being summarily attacked for no reason. So I've quietly been sharing my work with a new audience. We'll see how it goes, I'm obviously prepared for the worst. But I think it is worth the risk to introduce my work to a wider audience. After 11+ years of doing this it is amazing to me that, in many corners, my work is unknown. Time is the enemy. And it keeps marching on.

Out here in real life I've started reminding people of my real world work over on LinkedIn. A good friend of mine told me on the phone the other day that he didn't even know I worked on a certain well-known project. So it happens in real life as well. I know that over the years I've annoyed some people with my advocacy, my soapbox, but if I've learned one thing in my life it is this - if you don't stand up for yourself no one else will. And for a creative the pressure is even more pronounced, if we don't advocate for our own work - who will?

And so, with that in mind, I'd like to point my dear readers to my Flickr portfolio. There are over 1,600 pieces there primarily Eve Online related.

Explore, enjoy, share.

Onward & Upward.

A Band Apart: The Next Phase

In a few short months my Alliance A Band Apart will be celebrating our sixth year anniversary. Originally the Alliance was formed entirely by two corporations, Stay Frosty, and my previous Corporation Lucifer's Hammer - which at the time was primarily a home for alts in Stay Frosty. The Alliance was formed so that we could compete in the Alliance Tournament.

It wasn't long before other Corporations became interested in joining the Alliance. And out of that growth came our first philosophy regarding accepting new Corporations. We'd look for groups that focused on areas of the game that we did not, all under the same guiding principles that Stay Frosty was founded under. And this worked for many years and ABA continued to grow. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with this approach and we had many good years together.

But time passes and the strain of time started to show. Especially on the Wormhole side of things, which had always been a challenge for us as a group. The current state of War Declarations in Eve Online means that ABA is pretty much constantly under a War Dec, which can make operations outside of Low Sec difficult. This combined with the different demands on allies, support, and other entanglements presents a constant challenge to those outside the protection bubble of low security space. This caused incredible strain for our long string of WH Corporations, the last of which left us in December. And while we remain friends and often fly together - these changes have led to some re-thinking on my part.

In December ABA welcomed our first ever Pirate Corporation to the Alliance when Average Pilots joined us. You may be familiar with the streamer Joebane Maetheon who is the CEO. We knew these guys for a long time and realized that we shared many of the same philosophies when it came to low sec, so it seemed only natural to join forces. And today I just accepted our second Pirate Corporation to the Alliance - Abscondita Stilio will also be joining the Alliance.

These additions mark a change in how we will be approaching further growth for A Band Apart and a new overall direction for the Alliance. It is now my intention to add a further 3-5 low sec based Corporations to our growing family and build a new, more powerful, PvP/Industry focused Alliance. This will serve to better position us around our true nature, which is what it has always been and help us become a more powerful and decisive force in low security space.

Stay Frosty and Lucifer's Hammer once formed the entire Alliance, and have served as the backbone of the past six years. Now, as we move forward into the future, we will be building on that backbone and adding more friends to help us achieve our goals. And should the Alliance Tournament ever return (see my last post) to help us win it. Which has always been, and continues to be, one of my primary goals in Eve Online.

So to all you independent minded low security Corporations out there, consider joining forces with our Alliance. Reach out and talk to myself or one of our Directors about coming on-board and helping us achieve these goals together.

The doors will be open only for a short time, so now is the time to act.

We look forward to flying with you.

Why We Need The Alliance Tournament

As many of you already know, we did not have an Alliance Tournament last year. Instead we got the World Tour and a series of 2v2 matches that will culminate in the finals at Fanfest in April. What you may not know, because I suspect many people don't run PvP focused Alliances in-game, is how much impact not having the AT last year caused. The ripples of which still echo throughout New Eden.

I do run a PvP focused Alliance and I do hang out with a lot of fellow PvPers in-game. So I've seen first hand the impact that initial announcement had, not only on our numbers, but the numbers of those in that specific community. A lot of the best and brightest stopped playing Eve. Some forever. Some temporarily. But either way, they aren't in the game anymore.

Why should you care?

The more important question here is why should Eve cater to the veteran players at all? Since it was primarily veterans that decided to step away from the game? We're focused on new players these days, CCP needs more new players to keep the wheels turning. We should be focused on them. And I don't fundamentally disagree, new players are great and I think we need more as well. The NPE has sucked for years and any improvements are more than welcome. But we can have more than one focus, more than one track. Why bring more new players to Eve at the expense of more veteran players? That's just bad business.

I was a new player once. It took me two years of playing Eve before I started writing this blog. It took time for me to develop into the content creation juggernaut that I've become. That's normal for new players. It takes time. Veteran players on the other hand, have already put that time in. They are committed, dedicated, and constantly looking for more content. In fact I would argue that most of them are driving content. And, as CCP well knows, content drivers are the single most important asset in all of New Eden.

As CCP is constantly reminding us, Eve is a player driven game. If so no one drives the game more than veteran players. We run the Alliances, the Corporations, the services, the engines, that drive the game forward. There is no argument to be made against those statements, they are true.

When was the last major conflict in New Eden?

I recently went and watched a bunch of matches from the last AT. And while this is not a scientific survey, I discovered that about 40% of the players in those matches did not record significant activity on zKill in 2019. Almost half seem to have gone to sleep. And while this is completely unscientific I get the feeling if I wanted to pursue that further the trend would be the same. The matches I watched were some of the most active and historical Alliances in New Eden. The trend might even get worse once you move into the younger Alliances.

The AT brings Alliances together in ways you may not understand if you've never participated. We practice together for months and months, often spending hours together on comms, planning doctrines, building ships and mods, transporting items, developing strategy and tactics, coming together in ways that normal, everyday, Eve doesn't always afford. Not to mention the aspirational nature of the AT for our younger players.

There are few if any opportunities for regular players to showcase their abilities. To get mentioned by name in front of their peers. To perform on a large stage in front of their fellow players. Most of what we do as players is hidden, quiet, noted on zKill, or in a journal, maybe streamed to a half-dozen viewers and then lost to time. The AT is unique in that it provides a stage for players to be seen, to showcase their abilities in front of their fellow players, and to have pride in their own Alliances.

I strongly believe the Alliance Tournament should be the showcase event of every year. Players are more than willing to take on the challenge, not only of playing, but of broadcasting, producing, and bringing the AT to an audience. We just need CCP to give us the tools we need to make it happen.

Eve Online is a better place with the Alliance Tournament.

And it is a much lonelier place without it.

Why Keep Blogging?

As I approach the tenth year of Eveoganda it is natural to start reflecting on the history, the content, the sheer amount of work that has gone into these pages over the past decade. And to perhaps wonder, where do I go from here? Is it even worth continuing? Where did everyone else go?

When I started writing the Eve Bloggersphere was a vibrant, challenging, exciting place to be. I had been reading other people's blogs about Eve Online for almost two years before I finally decided to take the plunge myself. At that time I was already six years into my own companies blog and had written pieces for MoviePoopShoot (Kevin Smith's website), Aint-It-Cool-News, and other blogs around the internet. So I wasn't a noob when it came to understanding the platform, the dedication it required, or how hard it would be to stand out in such a crowded field.

As I said in my very first post, "As the artwork I produced started to add up I began to think about putting it somewhere, and that is where this blog comes in. A place to put the art I do for Eve and a place to talk about the game, how the art came to be, and anything else I can think of. We'll see how it goes."

So here we are ten years later and most of the Eve Bloggers have vanished, my reading list has dwindled, and most of the content these days gets streamed, or happens on Discord. (I refuse to acknowledge Reddit) And while there are Blogs of note still going, Blogging has certainly dropped in importance over the past few years. In fact traffic to this blog has dropped 10x over those years. In 2013 I averaged 4,000 visitors a day, on average. Today I'm lucky if 400 people visit this blog. So why keep going?

It's funny now. But back then when I'd say things like, I write this for myself - people would mock me for it. But it remains as true now as it did back then. Primarily this blog remains a journal of my personal journey as a player of Eve Online. And as long as I remain a player in the game, I will continue to write about that journey. That's what a journal is. Secondly, I don't care how many people visit, or read, or enjoy the blog. I will keep writing as long as someone is reading it. It could be a few people a day, or hundreds, doesn't really matter. I'll keep plugging away. I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for the readers I do have. And I see no reason to change now.

I also take a certain amount of pride in being one of the longest running Eve focused blogs remaining. And while other blogs have been running longer, most of those are not primarily Eve Blogs. Or they don't post very often, if at all. And while it is annoying that when most people think about Eve Blogs they tend to remember ones that aren't even around anymore, that doesn't change my approach to writing in these pages. And continuing to share with my readers.

Nothing stays the same, change is a part of life. Eventually I will stop writing this blog and Eveoganda will fade into the history books. Before that happens however, I hope to continue to write, challenge, document, and have fun playing Eve Online. And as long as that continues, so will this blog. Even if no one else is reading it.

2,310 posts later and still going strong.

You try it, it ain't easy.

December 2019: Best Month Ever?

Drake Fleet 2019
Drake Fleet Undocking
It's hard to imagine that after 11+ years of playing Eve Online that December 2019 might be the best month of Eve I've ever had - but I think the argument is there for it. Obviously a bunch of factors had to be present for this to happen. December is typically a slow month, end of year, holidays, weather, a lot of factors add up to more time than normal to play. Add to that my current employment state and I have even more time than usual for playing my favorite game. That certainly helps. But it was also a month that saw more than a few unusual circumstances pop up that helped elevate it beyond just bone crushing numbers.

I had 185 kills in December, which is my best month numbers wise since May 2015 when I had 222 kills. But December stands out because of the "value" of its destruction, which added up to 19.26 Billion Isk in total. Now that number far exceeds my previous value high month of 14.49 Billion Isk in May 2011 back when I was running the Burn Away Alliance and we were killing Carriers. Remember when Carriers would run missions? So why so much value destruction? Again, a bunch of factors had to happen to contribute to such a high number.

Let's take a look at some of the big hits from last month, starting with the Dreadnaught kill. (You can watch a video of this fight here.)  This was a big score on its own, but what this single incident doesn't show is just how often we were killing these guys around the neighborhood. They kept flying expensive, blingy ships and we just kept blowing them up. That certainly helped the numbers.

The AFK Leshak.  We ran a filament roam and jumped into four or five Null Sec regions generally coming up short on great content - which is Null Sec in general in my opinion. However, we did spot this Leshak tethered to a Citadel during our roam. And while our FC Watson poo-poo'ed my idea of bumping it off the tether with our interceptors, Brrc Flynn of Average Pilots took it to heart and started doing just that. Once he reported back that it seemed the Leshak was AFK we all rushed in to push and bump him off station. We even grabbed his rather expensive pod. Much hilarity was had.

The Athanor Oopsie. (You can read more details here about this fight.)  As we learned later this entire thing was came down to one player dropping a structure were it shouldn't have been dropped without telling anyone about it, until the last minute. The battle, the Athanor, and all the kills associated with it truly had a great impact on the total value destruction of this month.

And finally the Drake Roam.  I took 13 -15 Drakes out for a stroll and we ended up in three truly great fights that we managed to come out of ahead in the ISK War and in the total killed balance. You can read the report for yourself, but a lot of green was added to the killboard that day. And my Drake made it safely back to station, which is unusual enough on its own.

I also had 44 Solo kills and 8 Solo losses for the month. Nothing super great sadly, but some good fights. Here are a few of them.

Mostly however, I think December was one of my best months because Stay Frosty and ABA are both doing well. Average Pilots joined the Alliance and our members are engaged, finding content, and getting involved. As always that means more to me than individual accomplishment.

And speaking of individual accomplishment, congratulations to my friend Lufax for winning December's Hicks Award with 197 kills for the month. I tried keeping up, but in the end my Mobile Depot gambit wasn't enough. Well done and well deserved.

Onward to 2020. I wonder what great fights, adventures, and paths await us in the New Year?

Let's find out.