Friday, March 29, 2013

Captain’s Log; Luminaire, After The Battle for Caldari Prime…

All is quiet on the bridge. The background hum of the power units, felt more than heard… the gentle susurrus of the atmo plant, the rustle and murmur of the duty shift… It’s midwatch and everything is bathed in soft indirect red lighting, giving the ‘feel’ of night without losing visual detail...

Rigging for Red in the Conn is an eon’s old naval tradition during midwatch, no matter that the rest of the boat in under 20% normal lighting in the gangways and bays... just at the point of loss of color vision. But the Conn, the Command Deck, is a special place… even tonight, especially tonight.

I sit leaning forward lost in thought… no one disturbs me. They all know I am chewing over the last few days in my mind… the choices, my choices… and the lives those choices cost… I sit in the ruddy red light staring into the main viewscreen and think back…

* * * * * * *

I and my crew had no ‘stake’ in the Battle to come. We are Anoikis veterans and a mixed crew. There are Caldari, Gallente, Matarii and even a few Amarr in my crew, all of whom have chosen to turn their backs on the Empires of New Eden and forge a life for themselves and their families on the other side of the sky… They all swore an oath to each other on joining my corp and crew… an oath above all others to trust in each other regardless of Race, Bloodline, Creed or Religion.

We all knew what going to Luminaire meant to each of us. It was discussed, and in this special case, voted on in full assembly before we shipped up. Normally we operate under standard Navy regs… my ships run under a taut Dictatorship and I am the Despot. But this… this was different. And I was not going to have a man or woman aboard that was not fully in agreement with going. We had heard the rumors, scoured the NEOCOMM, waved friends and sometimes, even enemies seeking information, rumors and rumors of rumors...

We slowly came to understand that it was true… that after all these years a major military effort was going to be fielded… to destroy the Caldari Titan “Shiigeru”. Finally a fight to remove the Leviathan and the Caldari support Fleet that had held orbit for 5 long years over the planet Caldari Prime in the Luminaire system… Holding captive and threatening wholesale death to the Gallente citizens cordoned off and held captive in ‘Districts’ on the planet’s surface directly below.

But, for the first time pitting not only the Caldari and Gallente Navies against each other but a new type of ground force would be in pitched battle down below. These were not standard Military forces, but DUSTers. Originally they were criminal test subjects, then Amarrian volunteers, heavily modified with radical Sleeper implants, they were called ‘Templars’ by the Amarr. They were elite, highly trained, physically conditioned to a level never seen before in a human and mentally conditioned to complete subservience and absolute service to Amarr… and to Empress Jamyl Sarum herself. They were the secret product of the Amarr Empire’s desire to rule ALL of New Eden… Immortal and all but invincible Soldiers… soldiers who cannot die.

But those plans and secrets were exposed during the Battle for the Matarii Core Freedom Colony on the planet Pike’s Landing in the Amamake system. Near the end, with the extreme escalation of the battle going against them, the Imperial Navy itself bombarded the HAZMAT truck farm that they believed held all the remaining Templar Clones, and their secret Sleeper tech… but they were wrong. One escaped…

Templar One, Vince Barabin as he was known in his former life... he escaped all who tried to find him and found peace and safety offered him by the Ishukone CEO, Mens Rappola… and in the care of Dr. Gable Deitrich one of his former crewmates from The Retford… safety in return, of course, for the reverse engineering of the Sleeper technology inside his brain.

An individual Immortality Implant… an implant that replaces the entire hippocampus, thalamus and brainstem in the human brain and replaces the spinal cord with technology that not only does all the functions of a normal spinal cord, but is also a very powerful transmitter. It is this implant that makes possible the same instantaneous personality gestalt transfers similar to the Empyreans… only over planetary ranges, not light years.

This technology has now been released to the whole of New Eden. Now the terrible deadly no quarter given or asked battles that the Empyreans wage in the cold hard black… will be as ferociously waged in the harsh bright light of day in the mud and the blood down deep in the gravity wells of the planets and moons of New Eden.

But… DUSTers are not Templars. While they are as elite, as highly trained, as highly conditioned and as incredibly deadly… and yes, as Immortal… they are free agents like their Immortal brethren, the Empyreans. They are Immortal Mercenaries beholden to no one and swayed by no laws or rules of man other than the strictures of CONCORD.

This was the battle we face… this was a battle that was named before it even began… The Battle for Caldari Prime. I had decided I wanted to take a ship there and if not take sides, at least take part. In our daily operations in Anoikis the only way to make ISK, to turn coin as we say, is through Sleeper Loot & Salvage… and looting and salvaging is something we are very good at… and I had a feeling the airless black above Caldari Prime was going to be littered with wrecked ships very, very soon.

Now there are them as call us vultures… feeding on the dead they say. But the very simple truth is, if we don’t Loot & Salvage those wrecks, someone else will and we didn’t assplode all them ships… Why, the truth be known, we’re performing a civic duty by cleaning ‘em up and keeping the orbits free of junk! Do you have any idea how many weather and communication satellites are brought down each year in New Eden by errant wreckage?? The figure would astound you I assure you.

So, we discussed, voted and loaded up one of my new favorite Salvage Destroyers… an Algos. Lovely bird the Algos… sorta reminds you of one of them old fashioned ‘airships’ from ancient history… or what used to be called a ‘submarine’… though even our Matarii Marines cannot dun the why of that naming… but they do share a familiarity with the quaint 2D ‘flats’ of ‘submarines’ from the mythology of old Earth that was.

So, we fitted her up, but not as a ‘dedicated’ salvager with tractors and Salver IIs in the weapon mounts… no, there was going to be a War in progress and we could not count on Caldari or Gallente Naval protection… for that matter maybe not even CONCORD… and if the most extreme rumors were true we might even encounter Dread fleets from the far deeps of Null where lawless and strange pirate Alliances hold sway over countless vast and rich… and yet empty… star systems, where not even CONCORD dares go.

[Algos, HDF =Das Boot=]
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Drone Link Augmentor I
Thermic Dissipation Amplifier II
Upgraded EM Ward Amplifier I
1MN Afterburner II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Co-Processor II
Small Ionic Field Projector I
Small Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Drone Bay:
Hobgoblin II x10
Salvage Drone I x5

This is a sweet little boat and for a Dessie decent EHP/DPS (w/ my skills) but her main job on this run was to field those Salvager Drones at max range and be able to (hopefully) GTFO if needed. But I was not overly concerned… I had run Salvage Ops at the Titan a few years ago when I was a newly minted Captain with my very First Cruiser command (a Stabber)… which, TBH, I lost before I even got her home AND I lost her to the Caldari Titan Support Fleet… which was WHY I had spent quite a bit if time round the ol Titan… learning how to deal with those poor bastards, the Caldari Fleet commanders… you see they had some serious issues with Tibus Heth as I understood it… cause he had laid down some very weird RoE’s (Rules of Engagement)…

You see if a “ship” attacked them they could, and did, respond in kind… in other words fire on one and they ALL fired back… yes, learned that one the hard way I did… BUT, sic some ‘drones’ on ‘em and they could only fire back on the drones, yes… I said ONLY the drones… weird huh? But if while your drones are putting the damn damn on em if you opened fire with your guns and then recalled your drones… guess what? They stopped defending themselves.

Yup, stopped em dead. It seems they were only allowed to fire upon who, or what, actually initiated the hostilities… as you had ‘joined’ the drones aggro after they initiated, then when the drones either assploded (you didn’t always get em all back in time… there were upwards of 40 BC and BS class vessels out there ya know…) but once they were either a ball of wreckage or smoking and shooting sparks all over your drone bay... the ship you were still firing on was not allowed to fire back on you as ‘you’ were not the aggressor… even though you were still firing on them!

So you could just follow em around and kill ‘em at your leisure… and then Loot and Salvage for profit. Well, you could vie for the L&S… there were a LOT of pilots who knew this game and came only for the L&S. I knew that game well too… spent many an evening later on in a dedicated fast salvager doing exactly the same thing. So I felt I had a lock on that aspect of the coming battle… my worry was the battle itself and how the system’s Sec Rating was gonna be hit by this event… but, better to try and lose then to never try at all I say.

So we entered Luminaire two nights before the planned attack. I wanted to make some Safes insystem, some InstaWarps off of several Stations and Warpto’s all around Titan herself. In general do some scouting and get familiar with the ‘lay of the grid’ as they say and… well… things didn’t work out quite as planned.

Our first night in we made and logged the BMs we needed around the system then did some scouting around in general, then we went to the Titan… Those of my crew who had not seen the Leviathan or any Titan up close before were, as all are… awed at first sight of one of the largest class of Warships in New Eden. I dropped us out of warp at 50km from the “Shiigeru”. She is a “Leviathan” class Titan of Caldari design and manufacture and she is 18,056m in length… 18 kilometers long.

As seen from 50km out she sits regal in the light from both the Luminaire sun and the reflected light from Caldari Prime. I order us to fly in under full thrusters… Then I, and the old hands, enjoyed the show as our newest crewmates first see smaller vessels orbiting and flying around the Leviathan… and then, as I did years ago, the jaw dropping understanding when they realize those tiny ‘specks’ are Battlecruisers… and Battleships. The sheer SIZE of the damned thing is very hard to grasp. To ‘say’ eighteen kilometers and ‘see’ 18km are two very different things…

Once things settle down I give the crew… hell, and myself TBH, a bit of a treat and do a grand tour of the old war horse with her gleaming deep blue-black armor… Once from stem to stern over the top then down and under and back. I finally order everyone back to duty stations and them as not ‘on’ duty “OFF MY BRIDGE!” I grin to myself as they jump and then file out smiling and thumping each other’s shoulders…

We make a number of Pounce BMs both out at warp range and in close. A good number of Empyreans and Faction War vessels from both sides are now gathering, same as us, either here for sport or those as are engaged in the war effort, for honor, or for ISK… There are the usual conflicts whenever Empyreans gather… the criminal and the suspect and the corporate grudges and wars do not stop just because a major battle is to be waged… if anything that fact alone heightens the probability of conflict both intentional and not… there are wrecks on scan… lots of wrecks…

We take up a stationary position under the Titan and near to center of the fleet of ships… I had noticed that the Standard Caldari Navy Titan Support Fleet was not here when we arrived… but there are many wrecks and drifting scorched and blackened freight containers… very many of them. I order a deep scan and the results are as I guessed… the Standing Fleet had been decimated by the Empyreans. I have seen this only once before… back during the Jita Riots. The New Eden clusterwide political turmoil that followed in the path of drastic changes to clone technology and the market made unilaterally by one of, if not “the”, the most influential and enigmatic corporations in New Eden, CCP.

The Jita Riots were named for the political rioting that started at the Jita Monument… it spread quickly to Amarr, Rens and other systems and even here, to the Titan… the number of Empyreans present that day was stunning. And I and my crew joined in just to say we had. When I arrived then, as today, the Standing Fleet had been destroyed. And as we watched that day a backup fleet warped in and landed on grid at the Titan… and melted in less time than it takes to read this recounting. It was quite simply amazing to see… and it seemed to be repeating on this day… and a few minutes later, it did. The backup Standing Fleet landed on grid and… very quickly, died to a ship.

I ordered “Man Battle Stations.” “Align to Safe 1.” “All stop and hold at station keeping.” Once all decks and stations had reported in and we were holding station I ordered “Launch Salvage Drones.” and began calling targets… the drones went to work efficiently and without incident… right up to when we exploded…     Huh.    I sat in my POD rocking in the shock wave and rapidly dissipating cloud of wreckage and smoke from my lost Algos… I was stunned to say the least… it seems I had been CONCORDED... wait… what!?!?  CONCORDED!?!?!?! WTF? We were only SALVAGING for the god’s sake!!!

I had SARA (Semi Autonomous Rational Array computer AI) check on the crew, losses were light thank the gods, but still… the loss of even one life in the pursuit of what I “knew” was legitimate deep space salvaging was for me simply unforgivable. I waved CONCORD and immediately lodged a formal complaint and asked for an investigation and explanation of this heinous act…  I was told, “Due to recent changes in CONCORD Law and Empyrean Rules of Engagement (the infamous Crimewatch System) any drones used in assistance against a pilot with a Criminal Flag now garners a Criminal Flag and “Drone Assistance” against pilots with either Suspect Flag or who is an Outlaw now garners a Suspect Flag also. SARA received and displayed the following chart from CONCORD…

So… huh… Salvage drones can kick off Illegal acts now and not a god’s damned thing I can do about it… great. OK, my crew, officers and men had all rendezvoused back at Dodi Station and I bought and fit out another Algos same as the old =Das Boot= and we went back to Luminaire, stationed up and logged for the night.

The next night we went back to work at the Titan… On our way I stared at that damned CONCORD “Crimewatch” Safety Switch that had been installed, against my will, under the CONCORD “Retribution Act”. After they had finished installation and we had undocked I set the thing to “RED” (off), had my engineers make a very nice tritanium cover that blended in nicely with the control panel it was installed in and to finish it off, I had a small flatscreen installed on top with a endlessly cycling animation of a multicolored Unicorn prancing merrily around on it… like we needed a stoopid ‘safety’ switch…

However, always a man to look to the future and not make light of technological advancements no matter how stoopid or asinine… I had them remove the cover and I set the (stoopid) switch to “GREEN” (safe). As I understood it now if I tried to ‘do’ anything that would warrant a Suspect or worse, a Criminal Flag (IE a CONCORD set transponder code that transmits omni-directionally on ALL bands that we just did a boo-boo so everyone can take pot shots at us…) that “GREEN” setting would keep us from ‘accidentally’ getting CONCORDED or attacked by Empire Police, Navies and/or other Empyreans… uh, huh.

This time we landed on grid at max drone range, 55km from the nearest ships and wrecks… I angled for a fly by that would keep us aligned to a warpable and ordered speed set to 78%... as slow as we can go and still guarantee an immediate warp initiation, then I launched the Salvage drones and targeted ONE wreck… and set em on it while I hovered over my Nav Officer ready to pounce and hammer the ‘Warp’ button the second I saw anything hinkey… The drones droned away on the wreck, and delivered some nice salvage back to the hold… whew.

OK, Salvage Ops SOP was now to orbit at extreme range, salvage one wreck at a time and take it easy… Things settled into a routine. We orbited the site staying between 50 and 55km from the currently targeted wreck and trying as hard as we could to keep up with or beat the other ships to the salvage until we exploded…

Huh? I sat in my POD rocking in the shock wave and rapidly dissipating cloud of wreckage and smoke from my lost Algos… I was stunned to say the least… it seems I had been CONCORDED... again… wait… what!?!?  OH GODSDAMMIT!!!! CONCORDED AGAIN!?!?!?!

Needless to say I was… displeased. At this point though, having lost 2 ships, fits (but no more crew as we were ready this time dammit!) and what was shaping up to be a worthwhile load of salvage… Crap. So we all just rendezvoused at the nearest station and drank the night away… whatta waste…

This afternoon, after we had all taken our “Hair of the Dawg” pills and cleaned up a bit, I purchase a Hound and fit only a CovOps Cloak and a 1MN MWD… and we headed out to see what we shall see… and well, it was all over… and had been for hours. The “Shiigeru” had been destroyed and the wreckage was down spread over the surface of Caldari Prime… the battle is over and all that was still going one was a smattering of Empyreans going at each other tooth and nail and the Gallente Navy and CONCORD back in full force… whatta waste, what a terrible terrible waste…

* * * * * * *
I slowly stand in the bloody light of the Conn… and order normal lighting resumed and then,“Open shipwide comms”….

“This is the Captain…”
“My friends, we came to take part and witness, and possibly profit from, this great battle.”
“We missed the fight, lost two ships, made not one red ISK and lost a few good men into the bargain.”
“We are, it seems, too far removed from the rules and ways of life in Known Space.”
“These Empires have become strange to me… the rules here make no sense anymore.”

“We are now truly a people of Anoikis, that is the place where we know and understand the rules and the ways in which we must live, and die… that is our home and the place we belong, not here.”
“Let us go home now… and mourn our dead and hold our loved ones once again and take leave of… this…”

I wave an arm at the screen showing Caldari Prime and the burning craters visible from space to the naked eye. The craters that broke through to magma… when the “Shiigeru” fell from the sky…

”Let us leave these wars of genocide and mass destruction to them as find it suitable… I no longer do.”
I take my seat, wave comms closed and order Rig for Red resumed. I stare at the lurid monstrous scene before me…

“Take us away from here…”
I say it quietly, almost to myself… The bridge crew quietly turns to their duties and sets course. We bank away from Caldari Prime… her burning lands and the unaccountable millions of her dead… and dying. We align and build speed… then, for the first time in my life, that brief, gut wrenching ‘twist’ one feels as the ship shudders through the warpbarrier… is not so much something to be endured as it is… a relief.

The camdrones are locked on Caldari Prime and I watch as it swiftly disappears in our warpwake… I sit up, take a deep breath, let it out… then I tap the controls to set the cam view forward… without a second thought.

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I am Become Death... (OK, ok) We Have ‘Joined’ Death...

or~ We Do Unto Others, ‘Cause We Can…

Been a while tween posts and TBH looks like I will prolly continue posting at a slower rate than in the past what with RL general stuff, work & life, picking up a bit as we wend our way into spring.

We in HBHI have been playing the learning game in New Eden, well… in Anoikis actually, what most call Wormhole Space or W-Space, WHs or just holes. We have spent over 2 years now learning the ins and outs of life in Anoikis. The give and take of living in a POS, the routines of life in holes… daily scanning, Anoms, Sigs, hole control, PI, sites, getting comfortable with the complete lack of any outside influence as regards safety (IE CONCORD), finding that we are happier in holes for that very reason… freedom. And to top it off, the absolute and very real sense of ownership of a system in Anoikis… and the risk that rides with it.

And finally, as was bound to happen, we were camped by a superior force. In our case it was ‘Surely You’re Joking’ [HAHA] Alliance and thank the Gods it was not a large scale camp or a Merc Op and we got out of it with our skins, pods, ships and mods intact even if doing so depleted our wallets quite severely but we ended up joining with SYJ Alliance which has been all to the good. Now I say Thank the Gods it was not a large camp or an SYJ Merc Op because I recently went on my first SYJ Anoikis POS Bash and Raid. Yup, about 20+ SYJ guys (3 of us from HBHI) and another 20 or so effectives from Alliances and corps we set Blue for the Op took over the Static to a occupied C2 (hole control), staged an Omaha POS then caged (IE to totally cover a POS with T2 Lrg Warp Bubbles) and attacked and reinforced a Large Minmatar POS and a Large Domination POS… then we camped, waited out the reinforced timers… then destroyed them…

…then carefully looted them of any and everything of value. I am become, that which I used to fear… or at least that what caused me more than a few late worry filled nights… a guy in a DPS ship in fleet from a corp and Alliance that bashes and/or evicts small corps in holes for fun and profit.

We have always in the past been a small corp inna hole. At first we lived in a C1 in an Alliance owned Lrg Amarr POS, then sharing a C2 with an Allied corp, then moving up to a C3 but this time alone in a Lrg. Minmatar POS. I was the POS Manager so it was up to me to learn as much as I could about the ins and outs of POSes, which I did and some of which knowledge has spilled across the pages on this blog occasionally.

I learned the differences between the various races POSes and the % here and % there of the various Factions POSes. I decided, and argued my co-Directors into agreeing, that overall the Large Minmatar was the best for outright defense of the T1 POSes and the Large Domination was the best of the faction towers in Defense. ISK drove the final decision as it always does and we went with a Lrg Minmatar. And it has served us well, and still does today. We once more call “Serenity Station” home in the Alliance homehole… though she has been, for reasons unknown to me, renamed “Pandora” (I know not if it is for the movie or that little troublesome box... but as I am no longer POS Manager it is not my concern so meh).

Anyhoo, after we decided on a Lrg Minnie Spike I got even deeper into defense modules and defense strategies and internal modules and Industry and that led to POWER & CPU and Grid Balancing… in other words I got to know and understand POSes very deeply. And this was back pre Crucibble when POS fueling was very different from today…

I’m gonna intentionally digress for a sec here… (steps up onto an old beat up soapbox…)
There were no ‘fuel blocks’ back then, you had to constantly buy, or create via PI, the large variety of products you now use to BUILD Fuel Blocks… but you had to add them into the POS Fuel Bay like adding the parts of a recipe into a blender or a hopper, or, more like having to constantly ship in, or make, all the various goods and services that would be needed to support and run a Real Space Station.

Nowadays you still make or buy the prods from PI somebody does have to make the damn Fuel Blocks for sale… or we can haul out the PI, sell it and buy and haul in the damn Fuel Blocks… or make all the PI prods (except ICE as usual) and then devote a huge amount of our Industrial capacity to making our own fuel, thereby cutting heavily into our normal ammo/droan/ship making efforts etc. So in a way it is more complex, yet not in a good direction… not in a direction that emulates Real Life.

You see I actually liked the old fuelling mechanic as it was far more immersive and realistic in that a Planetary Orbital Space Station would NEED all these various ‘things’ shipped in almost daily… AND things we didn’t (and still don’t today) ship in like food and water for crew and staff… and ship OUT (or shoot into the sun… I mean why not? It’s a big ol nuclear furnace just burning away out there…) like garbage and industrial and human (and alien?) waste products etc. etc. … I liked how the fuels worked and I saw CCPs vision… these were a reasonable number of ‘things’ that reasonably went into keeping a Space Station up and running… not the, IMHO, stoopid Big Blue Jello Shooters we ‘feed’ the POS now.

But sadly the game is in now a state of constant slow nerfing to the point where a monkey with only one hand and blind in one eye will have a shot at being a PvP king… It’s just the way of the world today… ‘everyone’ is told they are a ‘Special Snowflake’ and in order to fulfill that idiotic ideal, everything is getting slowly nerfed and dumbed down until even the knuckle-dragging mouth breathers are happy and have all their entitlements fulfilled… sheesh. (ok, I’m done… steps down off the soapbox)…

So, I essence I had learned a helluva lot about POSes and all. So I planned out a very detailed, uh, plan… for our POS. I wanted a POS players would think twice about attacking. There are 2 main schools of thought on POS defenses in EvE. In Hi and Losec (under a War Dec in Hi) your POSes are at risk… but in Anoikis and Null, they are nothing more than juicy grapes hanging in the ether… and if they have goodies inside… well, they had better be defended and not just by the Defense mods in auto-mode.

So I created a diagram for the Def Mods layout, How many and what kinds of mods, their locations and overlap, ammo types and loadouts and most importantly of all, Grid Balance. How many of what kind could be OL during Peace Time and how many and which ones to OL in Time of War. I wanted the best possibly ‘passive’ ‘Auto-Mode’ defense our POS could have while balancing the needs of Industry, mod and ship storage… in the event of an attack… by people like us. Sheesh.

This was the core of my worry and angst… and what I have become. I knew our POS was at risk, I knew ANY POS can be taken down, remember the edict… “Don’t anchor what you can’t afford to lose.” All I wanted was a POS so heavily defended that (1) it would scare off, or at the very least give pause, to them as would think to attack us and (2) it would survive long enough for us to login and manually fight back. My biggest worry was not Mods or ammo or even Grid… it was the same thing we used against the guys in that C2 to the greatest effect… time.

The guys in the C2 were Japanese. To say the least their prime OL is not the same as ours. This is the worst case for Anoikis dwellers, when your enemy is up and active either when you are asleep, or worst, in the middle of your workday. There are players who will sacrifice their sleep, but few who will call in sick and none who can ‘afford’ the lost time, just in the name of the game. Hurrying home to login and finding your POS(es) gone, your faction defense mods gone… to find everything you worked so long for, that your spent so many hours creating all gone and listed on someone’s killmail… it would have been, it must have been… simply crushing.

Two Lrg POSes in a C2 with a stat Hisec entry… one T1 Lrg lightly defended and the other, a faction Lrg POS quite heavily defended and with multiple Faction Defense Modules. The problem was… they were filled with yummies, Industry mods everywhere. Wayyy more than I had ever felt was reasonable in our POS. And so, they were accessible with a Hisec Static, owned by small corp with a PvP record none would envy… and with a very high probability of lucrative loots, what Anoikis Merc worth his weight in gooey nano-ribbons could say no? The leadership setup scouting, warpins, safes, and watched and learned their schedules, ships, and routine… plans within plans were laid.

The wind up of all of this was that on a recent Sunday afternoon I found myself in my Navy Issue ‘Phoon, in fleet, sittin on the edge of one of the Lrg T2 cage bubbles and firing on that Lrg Domination Control Tower… until it exploded. I was in on the reinforcing of the first T1 POS but missed the take down that morning however I made the second timer on the Domination POS. I was involved, active and shooting shit or awaiting orders all three days of the Op and glad to have the chance to do so. I learned a lot and got to experience some really fun moments and, of course, the obligatory totally boring hours of waiting out the timers… sheesh.

The lessons I learned?
(1) EWAR -I now know why the Dick Star got its name… EWar can be a blue balled bich. Even with no one awake and actively running defense mods the POS in auto mode was crippling our attack and we even lost one ship due to a scram and jam. Logi was unable to assist and so he popped. Now keep in mind this is only one loss out of a fleet of near 40 ships… for the whole 3 day op.
(2) LOGI – I learned that Logi is THE reason any POS can be taken down. Good Logi support for a fleet against a POS in auto-mode can totally counter the available DPS. To counter that you would need manual control and sustained focus fire from the Def Mods and even then you would have to have the targeted ship nailed to the floor with webs and long & short points.

In a way it was a comfort to learn I was right in my base assumptions about the way I had setup our POS defenses. I went for a half-n-half Dick/Deth Star. The point being that once we had enough guys OL and manually running the def mods I was going to have EWar concentrate on jamming out the attacker’s Logi and Web/Points/Guns focus firing on the biggest DPS boats on grid one at a time. Had the guys who owned these POSes done that, it would have made a major difference.

But… would it have ‘won’ the battle? I don’t know… the truth is there is no way to know. If they had upped their defense would my FC have bat-phoned for more help? I believe so… then would the defenders have upped their defense by bat-phoning for help of their own?

All I can say is they didn’t bat-phone while we were there for three days… not once did they log on in any numbers and ‘actively’ defend their towers… All they did actually ‘do’ was to OL all the Shield Hardeners and a few extra jammers and damps. They had a total of 13 Shield Hardeners anchored and the normal setup for a Lrg. Domination POS would be x2 EM/x3 Thrm/x4 Exp/x4 Kin to bring the total resists to 71/68/68/68. As Shield Hardeners have stacking penalties any more than this would be a waste of Grid.

So did the Hardeners help? Hell yes, cut all our DPS by 1/4 to 1/3 or more. That’s what they are for after all. But they didn’t ever really put up a defense that I saw… I never once saw focused fire from more than 2 or 3 mods and the one time I saw 3 on me at once, it was all different jammers. With Logi able to easily rep back the Gun DPS (with the POS in auto-mode) the only really effective def mods were ECM.

I was actually a little surprised at how effective EWar actually was initially… but once the defenders began OLing extra jams and dampners the FC simply ordered enough ECCM brought in that we could all warp to the Orca and refit to x3 ECCM in the mids and back we all went with a greatly reduced susceptibility to jams… and so I now know that EWar effectiveness can be greatly reduced… in auto-mode. I cannot but help wonder if it would be as effective under manual control and focused targeting by multiple jams…

So, DPS can be negated by effective Logi and EWar can be greatly reduced by ECCM… at least against a POS running in auto-mode… I still want to know how it would go against a POS that was effectively manually defended with a real Death Star’s worth of Defense Mods OL and fully loaded… I almost hope I never personally find out, cause it will mean our POS in homehole will be under attack and considering the defenses SYJ can bring to bear, if an enemy is just sittin on our POS bashing it would mean we would have already had a pretty rough time of it indeed…

I don’t ever wanna be those Japanese players with rich POSes inn a hole… I’d rather be in League with Death.   =]

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)=

Friday, March 22, 2013

Heed the Writing In The Sky…

~or An Important Announcement Regarding James315

After James315’s Post on Wed the 20th, I have no choice but to come to the conclusion that as deluded, egotistical and outrageous as he was, James315 was also fairly bright. Anyone who can read the writing in the sky is a leg up on many of the rest in my book, and J315 not only saw it and read it… he heeded it.

J315’s post “An Important Announcement Regarding the CSM” (which would be much more honestly titled” An Important Announcement Regarding James315”… is J315s official withdrawal from the race for CSM8... which, BTW, he never 'officially' entered.

If so then why is he calling it an announcement about the CSM? Because obfuscation, rhetoric and propaganda is and has been the only way he has communicated in the past and I have spent tedious and often somewhat revolting hours reading his crap. As Sun Tzu said, ‘know thy enemy’.
But, the important and most telling part is, “WHY” is James315 stepping down? Let us explore this latest diatribe and see if we can find the nugget of truth shall we?

J315 starts with a discussion of the CSM8 election process and the changes to that process CCP has made for this year’s election. He talks about the possible effects his election would have on his playstyle and is bloggin. He talks about the CCP required NDA… a lot. And then more about the NDA, and then even more… and how very wrong it all is.

He talks of how he has initiated and brought the debate “…on an issue of critical importance to EVE.” to the for front EvE politics and considering his ‘platform’ he plainly states that he means the age old argument about Hisec Safety and Risk/Reward Balancing… (you know, the same way Dan Quail Created the Internet) and how “I have a unique platform, but when I take my seat on the CSM, I will be required to put it aside.”

He talks of his belief that if he could but talk face-to-face he could convince CCP to change direction… and that possibility was worth giving up his platform. He talks about his critics and their ‘take ‘ on him and his politics and platform.

Tellingly he says, “…that I would spend my time on the CSM screaming in vain for nerfs to highsec. They say I'm ignorant of the possibility that CCP might simply dismiss me and move on to something else”. He then pats his own back for a little while on how smart he really is and how he gets all of that… etc. etc.

Next he talks about the changes to the CSM, voting system, STV, et al. but ends with “I don't have very strong opinions on the new voting system, other than my view that it wasn't very well thought out.”

Then he gets to the heart of it… the changes to how the "Iceland reps" are chosen. Before, the seven were chosen by the popular vote. The top seven vote-getters went to Iceland. Now the two highest vote-getters will have seats at the table but the remaining five will be selected by CCP alone.

Now… this is the change that makes a difference but we must all remember that this is NOT a government, this is NOT a ‘real’ political body. What this is however, is a group a people who play a very immersive GAME together and their job is to basically ‘lobby’ (as Mabrick put it so well) the game creators and owners, CCP, ‘for’ changes and developments the players want and ‘against’ the ones they don’t.

Some of what he says makes some sense in the world of RL politics… but the fact that we all call it a “Council of Stellar Management” is more role play than RL fact… and is actually somewhat misleading as to its real function. The CSM is not a governmental council, assembly or group of people who ‘manage’ anything… stellar or otherwise.

They are however a group of people who (hopefully) communicate and lobby (IE work to sway the opinions of) the Management and Devs of CCP so that the changes they do make to their for profit product MMO(RP)G “EVE Online”, are in such direction as will benefit or at least placate the majority of the current playerbase, or at least the most vocal and meta-interactive segment of said playerbase… (IE them as care enough to vote/post/forum rage & whine etc. etc. etc.)… but in truth that’s about it… a working realistic title would be something like the “EVE Players Lobby Group”.

This change does put CCP in the driver’s seat as regards who gets to ‘lobby’ them. Is this good or bad… Well, depends on which side of the table yer sittin on as is always the case. But let us remind ourselves once more of the one prime overriding factor, that the MMO(RP)G “EVE Online” is NOT the real world, it is a game and a for profit product wholly owned by CCP. And while they do want & need our subs, the relationship is quite different from a government and its sovereign peoples… we may take sov and hold sov and lose sov, but we aint sov… if you get mah drift.

Then James315 makes note of a very important point, “…high-quality representatives with fewer votes could be elevated over low-performing (but higher vote getting) reps.” (Parenthesis Mine) Which he believes undercuts the purpose of the CSM.

I disagree, as a lobby group no one ‘deserves’ a place at the table, CCP is a business and who gets to sit down and talk to them is UP to them. Once again, CCP/EVE is not a ‘government and a country’… it’s a ‘business and a product’. To think or act otherwise is foolish.

Now we get to the real heart of it… James315 discusses the value of the CSM and the "Iceland seat" and he says,

“Before, I would have been guaranteed a seat at the table in Iceland, receiving one of the top seven vote tallies (regardless of whether STV was used).”

This I did not know… how can he KNOW he was guaranteed a seat? I did worry he was in strong contention, but guaranteed? That’s either a very bold lie or really worrisome if somehow true… but OK, let’s go along with that for now, next he says,

“Now a new scenario presents itself, one in which CCP declines to include me--based on my platform, reputation, attitude or whatever--but in which I would still be under the NDA for a year or more.”
“…the CSM is increasingly viewed by CCP as obsolete…” or “…they view it as a pool from which they pick and choose the useful candidates and marginalize the rest.”

To him, in that case he, “…must adjust my cost-benefit analysis of giving up my platform in order to take a seat on the CSM.” Hmmm… one wonders why? I mean if he has a decent and worthwhile platform and his reasoning is sound and is, as he has said over and over and over again, is the correct direction for EVE Online to go in order to ‘save the game’ from the misguided and lack luster development and poor management that has led us to the sorry state of affairs he says we’re in today.

If what he says is true, if his Political Platform is the "Right Answer For Our Times"… then surely he is a shoe in for one of the coveted "Iceland seats"? Then why the adjustment? Is he saying he feels CCP will NOT give him a seat because of his platform? his reputation, his attitude... or whatever? Hmmm… He is probably counting on more of that lack luster management I guess huh?

And yes, I agree wholeheartedly that CCP would do anything other than pick James315 for an "Iceland seat"… CCP knows what the majority of the rest of us know, quite simply that…

Carebears cannot be ‘forced’ by any means into Losec and Nullsec, but they can be very easily ‘forced’ OUT of EVE altogether.

And, as far as 'Hisec Risk & Reward' and 'Carebear Creep'... The evidence I see proves to me that CCP is working very hard to ride the razors edge of balance for both the Carebear and the Griefer in hisec. To give both as much as they can of their separate desired playstyles while not favoring one or the other too much... and especially without changing the high risk nature of this amazing game.

No, there simply is no ‘carrot’ nor is there any ‘stick’ that will ever ‘draw’ or ‘force’ Carebears into areas of EvE they have no interest in playing in. It’s a GAME and they want to play it in a way that James315 and all of his drooling, mouth breathing, knuckle dragging sycophants will never understand or accept.

So now James315 asks the main question...

“Does a (non-Iceland?) seat on the CSM offer enough influence to justify going under the NDA, as opposed to having someone else on the CSM who shares my views but doesn't have a comparable platform to give up?”

His response…

“I am withdrawing from the CSM8 race.”

One can clearly determine, from the question and withdrawal, that his ANSWER was... No.

And for James315 to come to this conclusion means he knows CCP will not give him a "Iceland seat" and this to me is the "Nugget of Truth". Because he knows his views and platform are simply far too extreme, will fix nothing and would be, in fact, greatly damaging to EVE Online.

James315 understood this well and clearly enough to back out instead of going ahead and giving everyone a reason to forget The Mitanni as the most controversial character to come out of EvE… oh no, “IF” he had won a slot and an "Iceland seat", that place would be James315s after the very first Summit w/ CCP.

Because James315 would have to choose to either back down, step out of character and become reasonable in order to actually try and work with CCP and the rest of the CSM… in which case he would be shown as a complete fool and a troll and garner the ridicule of all his followers or... he would have to back up his rhetoric and make a absolute and complete fool out of himself by pounding the pulpit and spewing his nonsense in front of real live people…in which case... well, what is fun in the anonymous arena of the Internet is simply not workable, or even acceptable, in the Real World... just ask Mittens.

To actually win and go to Reykjavik would be nothing but a lose-lose for James315 and he knows it. And so James315 has backed down and now he can continue to stand high on his soapbox and make up all the rationalizations he wants and say anything he pleases without any RL consequences…

Except, I’m betting he loses quite a lot of the support he has had up until now. Oh some will stay on for the lulz and cause he’s somebody in Nulls alt or something… but his heyday is over…

Throwing in the towel before the first punch is thrown… man that’s just poor form, really poor form.

Plus… I cannot help but wonder if CCP took a good hard look at James315 and made those rule changes JUST so they did not have to actually sit in the same room with the likes of him… If so, then James315 himself was his own greatest enemy. Kinda give me a warm fuzzy inside… like the world is still… you know...  working as intended.   =] 

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)=