In Depth | Condor Vs Coercer

Lock and Load

The eternal pursuit of the perfect ship. It is an on-going and constantly updating challenge when it comes to Low Sec Pirates. The eternal debate between speed, tank, damage, ehp, resists, and ultimately just how many faction modules does it take before it isn't worth risking? I can only speak for myself, but I also have to factor in a certain level of notoriety. People tend to run away before I even uncloak from the Gate jump. Or worse, decide a blob is the best way to deal with me. After all, the idea here is to get good fights.

I could just fly Comets and Tristans all day, but that gets insanely boring. I try to fly a nice variety of ships and keep things interesting. As well as keeping the skills honed to a fine edge. Or I could do what so many others do and just do my best to ensure I never lose. And while that has its temptations, it just isn't my style. I prefer good fights, and I believe if you want good fights, you have to be willing to give them.

The Condor in the screen shot above had about eight kill marks on it before it exploded. I wasn't really happy with the fit and decided to move on to other ships for awhile. That was until this weekend when I saw the Condor fit that fellow Stay Frosty pilot Darkon was flying. It wasn't all that much different than the previous one, but enough so that I thought it might have solved the problems I had with it. So I fitted one up and have been looking for a chance to see what it could do.

I called this post "In Depth" because I thought it would be nice to take certain fights and explain them in some detail. I dunno, but maybe someone would enjoy that. I've done it before, but let's ignore the vast history of this journal and pretend like everything is new.

If I'm out roaming solo and I jump into a system with one person in local I have a couple of choices. Most of the time I'll choose to just blindly warp into a plex and see if I get lucky. But if I can already see the target on d-scan and it is a juicy target, say a ship-class above my ship - then I might choose to do a fly-by. Especially if the pilot is actually in FW. If I warp directly after jumping in people get nervous and run away. But if I just play it casual and warp to the next gate and then jump out, well obviously I wasn't interested. So that's what I did when I saw the Coercer in the Small Plex. I left system.

I slow boated back to the gate and jumped back in. In warp I went ahead and pre-heated my armor repper, my prop mod, and the rockets. This Condor fit is dual tanked, so I wanted to save my shield boost for later and use my armor rep to survive the initial hurt that was coming my way. If the Dessie was far off the button I'd warp away. If he was in range I'd have to live long enough to get into his face. The time between landing and face was critical. Coercers can do a lot of dps, but their lasers are notoriously bad at tracking small sig, fast targets like Condors.

I landed about 12k from him, so he was outside point or web range. My fingers hit the lock key just as my mouse double clicked off his right bottom side for a nice transversal manual approach. Even so his guns took me into half-armor quickly before the rep started chewing into his damage. By that time I already had scram/web and was burning into an overheated close arc. His damage was already falling off. I only needed to run the shield boost twice to mitigate some of the incoming dps.

The fight was already decided by then. He needed to kill me on approach. I needed to live on approach.

As a bonus I got some nice loot for my troubles. But most importantly that was a good fight.

They don't happen nearly enough these days.

The New Stay Frosty

In a few weeks I'll be celebrating my 10th year of playing Eve. Over half of that time will have been spent as the CEO of Stay Frosty. As we came out of the recent Alliance Tournament it was time to throw some challenges at our leadership team and chart a new course for New Edens largest group of Yarrr Pirates.

Over the past few weeks we've been discussing what exactly those changes can or should be. We certainly don't want to lose the things that have made us successful, the casual attitude, the willingness to take any fight, and the love of low-sec space that make us so well-known in the space lanes. But every once in awhile you need to shake things up a bit to keep the Corp fresh and challenge your members, attract new members, and move in exciting new directions.

For one thing we will be closing the doors on our long-standing policy of Open Recruitment. Starting in September applicants to Stay Frosty will need to bring a minimum of 10m skill points to the Corp and have a somewhat indicative track record of combat on their killboard. (Subject to change or modification, this isn't final yet.) And be willing to talk to people. Which brings up a whole other important change we will be working on instituting in the coming months.

Awhile back we merged our TS and Slack servers into a new Discord server, which not only provides chat but comms in one package. I'm sure most of you reading this belong to at least one Discord channel. For Stay Frosty communication has been an on-going challenge since the very beginning. When we started our pilots were on comms all the time, or at least when in fleet, but over the years laziness and our natural solo inclinations have contributed to horrible comm doctrine. This is no one persons fault, some of it happened because some of our members are unable to talk on comms at all. In addition, a lot of us have children or families that often preclude talking to idiots on the internets. It happens. But we do need to work on changing that. And we will.

In the end most of this falls on my shoulders and I take full responsibility for it. In the coming months I'll be getting back to focusing on the things that I enjoy most about Eve. I'll be running more regular gangs with doctrine/comms on the weekends. We had a nice 2.5hr roam this past Saturday and I'd like to see us doing more of that on a regular basis. As always I'll continue to drive content and position Stay Frosty as a prime content creator engine in Low Sec.

So a couple of calls to action here. For Stay Frosty, if you've ever wanted to fly with Rixx and be a part of the fun now is the time to think about joining. We'll be ramping up the content for this Fall and preparing for another AT run next year. We're opening up additional areas of Low Sec and building a strong support network that helps keep the engine running. Join the EVEOGANDA channel in game, or put in an APP and ask to speak to a Director.

In addition to Stay Frosty, our Alliance A Band Apart is looking for new Corporations to join and help us all reach our goals. Corporations of 10+ members are eligible in all categories, we're looking for vibrant, growing, and active Corps in any playstyle area. We are especially looking for PvP oriented groups, but we're not limiting it. This is the first time in FOUR years that we've opened ABA to new Corporations, so this is new for us. In addition, in the past, we've only accepted groups that could bring something unique to the Alliance - that is no longer the case. Even Pirate corporations are welcome!

This is a new chapter in both Stay Frosty and ABA, consider being a part of it. You can be a huge part of our success.

Onward and Upward.

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.