CSM 9 Voting Slate

csmlogo-blackSo once again we’re on Dolan Standard Time (i.e. the voting site is not up yet even though it was going to be up at downtime. See also time frames for winner announcements and last two summit minutes). So while you wait, here is some information for voters new and old. If you are looking for my endorsements (which is different than my voting slate due to the STV mechanics!) check here.

Last year was my first encounter with a live STV election, which is how CSM voting works. In short, your vote trickles downhill if the person you voted for explicitly gets elected or gets mathematically eliminated. Therefore your top vote is critical as are your top 5-10. For this reason, I strongly recommend that at minimum you list at least 5 choices.

It also became very clear with the high level of organization of last year’s wormhole voters that non-null-bloc candidates can get “bloc voted” if their constituents are disciplined and treat the candidates of a given type as a bloc.

TLDR: I’ll suggest a couple of mini-blocs (Lowsec, Highsec, New Players, Wormholes) here to top your lists. In addition, you’ll find my own personal ballot at the end. I’ll leave sov null bloc list creation to the CFC, PL, N3 and allies.

Lowsec Players: This year there are finally lowsec candidates. Both are great, both deserve your vote, and if Low Sec all votes together it is very realistic that one will get on, and potentially both. But if you want that to happen, Sugar Kyle and DJ FunkyBacon must be 1-2 on your list! If you put them further down, they risk not getting in. I think FunkyBacon has a better shot than Sugar right now, even though I think Sugar is the better choice, because FunkyBacon has a large base of voters in the form of the Faction War crowd, where Sugar pulls more strongly from the rest of Lowsec. List them both in the top two positions on your ballot! Of course James Arget should be #3. :)

New Players, Brave Newbies, EVE University: Wow have you got a crop to pick from this year. The founder of BN, people who live in UNI chat or teach classes there, newbies themselves who are running. Here is my recommended ballot-topper for new players:

    • Sugar Kyle (Literally sits in rookie chat and E-UNI mumble on her off time to adopt and answer questions for new players all the time)
    • Ali Aras (Ran as a newbie last year, still a major focus of her campaign)
    • James Arget (Graduate of E-UNI, long-time contributor there)
    • Karen Galeo (A wormholer and newbie herself)
    • Matias Otero (Founder of Brave Newbies)
    • Mike Azariah (A very new player friendly candidate who focuses on highsec, missioning, incursions, etc.)
    • DJ FunkyBacon (Representative for Faction War, a common place for newbies to go first)
    • Mangala Solaris (Representative for Red vs Blue, another common newbie starter location)
    • Asayanami Dei (Creator of the Wormhole Fundamentals videos to help new wormhole players)

Highsec Players: Like Lowsec, your options are a bit limited, but there are key people you should hit if you want to champion the highsec lifestyle. There are actually two lists; one for the PVE/Markets/Industry crowd and one for the PVP/Wardec/Ganker crowd (merge them if you do both!). Here are the candidates that should top your ballot:

    • PVE, Markets & Industry: Mike Azariah, Steve Ronuken, Sugar Kyle (Mynnna fits here as well unless you hate Goons)
    • PVP, Wardecs & Gank: Mangala Solaris, Ali Aras, Psychotic Monk

Wormhole Players: It is critical that you list as many wormholers as possible in your top 5, at minimum your top 3. Make no mistake, wormhole questions will be tackled this year – in all likelihood system effects (now including Pulsars and Wolf-Rayets, not just Black Holes), POS augmentation or replacement, and potentially T3 rebalancing. If you do not stack, you risk getting NO wormholers in. The reason is that if votes get distributed among the candidates rather than stacked through them, it is entirely possible that NONE of the wormhole candidates will be elected. The stacking factor cannot be underestimated. Your top 3 should be James, Corbexx and Proclus, in whatever order you feel appropriate. I recommend my full personal ballot to all wormholers – it starts with the wormhole stack, then a bloc of top CSM8 alums and lowsec (because lowsec roams FTW), followed by PVP and market folks. My ballot will look like this, and I recommend this full ballot to all wormhole voters:

  1. James Arget
  2. Corbexx
  3. Proclus Diadochu
  4. Karen Galeo
  5. Asayanami Dei
  6. Sugar Kyle
  7. Ali Aras
  8. Mike Azariah
  9. DJ FunkyBacon
  10. Xander Phoena
  11. Steve Ronuken
  12. Jayne Fillon
  13. Psychotic Monk
  14. Mynnna

Yes, I realize that the Mynnna vote is a throwaway – he will be elected long before my 14th vote. It is also exceedingly unlikely that my ballot will reach #14. But as I said in my endorsements post, Mynnna deserves to make your ballot regardless where you live, and so he gets a spot here.

Good luck to all the candidates.

MOST IMPORTANT NOTE: Regardless of who you vote for, VOTE!

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CSM 9 Endorsements

csmlogo-blackFirst, a few things about how I endorse. My endorsements are not the same as my recommended voting slate. There are some great candidates this year that will not be getting my vote because frankly, they don’t need my help. They have massive voting blocs behind them and will get in whether I vote for them or not. Conversely there are some that are in my second tier that will end up high on my voting list because of my voting priorities. But more on voting slates in the next post.

Doing endorsements this year was a lot harder. I think the community owes Cap Stable and Legacy of a Capsuleer a debt of gratitude for their interviews, and the same for groups who have done debates or panel discussions, including Declarations of War, EVE University and Down the Pipe. But that said, I very much miss the style and approach that Xander Phoena brought to the effort last year on Crossing Zebras. As a candidate himself this year, he has stayed out of the interview business, but last year his approach was hard-hitting and almost always found a way to get the candidates to trip a little bit and show the differences between themselves and other candidates – and they were always over in 30 minutes (Cap Stable tried to stay within that this year as well).

Last year, I had a lot more time (I was mostly sitting in a hospital or living room as my wife recovered from surgery) around the election – this year I have been badly strapped for time so have only listened to about a third of the available content, based on my gut checks around viable candidates and my areas of interest. That said, as I have watched other endorsements get announced, I have seen little that surprised me and so am pretty confident in my list.

I approach endorsements through a very similar lens as Kirith Kodachi. This year I am separating my endorsements into two tiers rather than going through the entire candidate base.

First Tier Endorsements

The first tier are people who should simply be on everyone’s ballot. They will be good for the game regardless of your playstyle and you should want them on the CSM simply to make EVE better as a whole. In alphabetical order (ranked order comes next post):

  • Ali Aras: In my Grading CSM 8 post, I gave Ali an A+, the only CSM 8 member to get that grade, and one of only two to get an A. Ali was the adorable newbie candidate last year and this year still considers herself a newbie-friendly candidate, but she has matured into a great veteran player and CSM member. Not only do I endorse her, but if she gets back on CSM, I strongly believe she should be CSM 9 Chair. She simply blew the doors off her first year as a CSM. Despite her excellent abilities and qualifications, however, she no longer has the Provibloc vote behind her this year, and needs your vote to keep her in.
  • Corbexx: If you’re a wormholer, he hits all the right notes. If you’re not a wormholer, you should know that he is solid, experienced, and intelligent. He is a long-standing player of the game, formerly of Aperture Harmonics and now in No Holes Barred (NOHO). He is a champion of change, but in a thoughtful manner that works across space types. If James wasn’t running, he would be top of my ballot. Corbexx is this year’s Malcanis, in my opinion – smart, seasoned, and a keen observer.
  • James Arget: James will be top of my ballot, for several reasons. 1) He now has a year of CSM experience under his belt, on top of his formidable knowledge of game mechanics. He has been endorsed by all of his CSM colleagues that have posted so far, a testament to his effectiveness despite being less visible than Chitsa. I remember one particular issue where it was clearly something that the sov null guys were up in arms about, but had no effect on w-space. He seemed buried in it – I asked him why he was so concerned. His quote: “I represent the entire playerbase, not just wormholes.” 2) He is passionate about the game, and especially about wormhole space. 3) He is a tireless worker. 4) I trust James. We have more than three years of time together in fleets. He is not only one of the lead FCs, but the founder of Future Corps and Sleeper Social Club, built on his original vision. That vision included having the good judgment to step down from the CEO role when other demands claimed his time, rather than dragging the corp down.
  • Mike Azariah: Mike was a long shot last year, a surprise victor. He has showed his mettle time and again on this year’s CSM. He also represents a number of chronically under-represented groups in EVE, including missioners, incursion-runners, roleplayers and other highsec carebeary types. He has been a strong, intelligent and forceful advocate for their point of view and deserves to be there to do it again.
  • Mynnna: Mynnna may be the smartest person on CSM 8. The Goons may have their quirks, but they didn’t get where they are by being idiots. Mynnna can spot the proverbial butterfly and predict with seemingly uncanny accuracy exactly how the playerbase will manipulate changes into economic chaos – because he knows what he would do. His insight is invaluable to the CSM and he deserves to be in any open slot you might have even if you’re not part of the CFC. More on that in the next post.
  • Sugar Kyle: The CSM desperately needs a voice from lowsec. Sugar Kyle is the perfect lowsec candidate, in my opinion. She is not just a lowsec small-gang PVPer, although that is her core. She is also a lowsec hauler. A lowsec mission-runner. The founder and maintainer of a full-blown lowsec market that she created simply because she saw a need. A person who sits in E-UNI and Rookie chat and voice channels for fun to help people out. A lowsec manufacturer, with POS experience making boosters. And most recently, a Faction Warrior. In short, she is lowsec embodied. It is critical that you put her on your ballot for the good of the game.

I’ll talk about the order of these folks in the voting slate post.

Second Tier Endorsements

Beyond the top tier, there are some excellent candidates that while I can’t put them on the “everyone should vote for them” list, should be shoe-ins for various constituencies. These people are strong, solid, and worthy of your vote if their playstyle matches yours. The vast majority will be part of my personal ballot. Again in alphabetical order:

  • Asayanami Dei: Asay is a wormhole candidate, and famously the videographer behind the Wormhole Fundamentals and U-Boat videos. While I find his focus on community sites a bit meh, he has the right wormhole ideas in mind and should be on your list if you are a wormholer.
  • DJ FunkyBacon: FunkyBacon almost made it to the first tier. He is a faction war candidate with a ton of game experience and a high-profile community member through his EVE Radio show. If you live in lowsec, he should be second only to Sugar Kyle on your ballot. If you roam in lowsec, he should be in the top half. As a wormholer, I can tell you that these days most of our lowsec targets are FW or FW-hunters, so keeping this field of targets happy is a good thing.
  • Jayne Fillon: While there is some level of controversy around Jayne, there is no debate around whether he is a content creator. He is a highly-visible public fleet commander associated with Bombers Bar and Spectre Fleet. If you’re a PVPer, you should strongly consider giving Jayne your support.
  • Karen Galeo: Karen is that rarest of birds, a wormholer who is also a newbie. Ali Aras has already shown that a newbie candidate can be a fanstastic CSM representative. Karen took newbie to an extreme by setting straight off into w-space, something almost no one does. Big points for bravery, creativity, and HTFU. Younger players and wormholers should have her on their ballots.
  • Mangala Solaris: Mangala is another proven content creator and player organizer. As the head of Red vs. Blue, he continues to show that he is able to put immense creativity into the game and find ways to make highsec more interesting. His new column at Crossing Zebras is insightful and useful, even for those of us who aren’t part of that space. Yes, there are stronger incumbents, but a vote for Mangala is a solid vote for the future of the game. Everyone who lives in highsec, is new player focused, or part of RvB should unhesitatingly vote for him.
  • Mattias Otero: Mattias is the even-newbier, not-highsec mirror of Mangala Solaris. As the founder of Brave Newbies, he set a course that has gained growing fame for a year as it set out with “fun per hour” as its core metric. Brilliant. If he didn’t already have such a huge voter base, and I knew him better, I might have put him in the first tier. The guy can be nothing but good for the game with this as his base.
  • Proclus Diadochu: Proclus is another one with a bit sketchier history – he is particularly famous as a forum troll. I almost had written him off before I listened to his interviews. He was surprisingly direct, refreshing and articulate. Much like Psychotic Monk surprised me last year, Proclus surprised me this year. He has lowsec experience as the founder of Fweddit and now flies with one of my favorite fight targets, Red Coat Conspiracy. I have now been convinced that wormholers and lowsec residents should vote for him with confidence.
  • Psychotic Monk: Last year I advocated that Monk should get in, because someone needs to represent the dark side of highsec. Especially with the Erotica 1 drama, Ripard Teg on an anti-bad-culture roll (likely to surface again when his term is over), and James315 continuing to be the worst form of this type, the saner versions like Monk need a voice before they are stomped out for good.
  • Steve Ronuken: Steve came very close to making First Tier this year as well. Last year I wrote: “I would like to see Steve branch out this year to other areas of space, and expanded types of play. I’d like to see him put together a third-party app that had a level of renown among part of the playerbase, to give himself something specific to point to (be the next developer of an Aura-like, EVE Central-like, etc. tool and trumpet it) – he has loads of industry tools publicly posted on his site that I suspect could be rolled together into an impressive toolset and promoted by him.” Well, he still needs to branch out in space – particularly wormholes. He gave me a good response to my questions around his AFK Cloaking position (which is IMO really a force projection position) that allows me in good conscience to endorse him but it still gave me a twitch that prevents me from putting him in the top tier. That said, everything else he has done in spades. He is a great face of the highsec industrialist for EVE. He has taken on the mantle of very visible 3rd party developer, with loads of tools provided to the community free of charge. He rescued evebloggers.com. I think his point of view is a badly-needed one, and several CSMs have already said that it is critical that CSM 9 have a good CREST person. All that taken together is enough for me.
  • Xander Phoena: Xander is, I’m convinced, a good guy. I like his podcast, although I liked it better a year ago with less bloviating about “best podcast” and more clean, simple 30-minute commentary. Xander’s interviews last year were seminal – a master guide to how to incisively question and consider a CSM candidate. He has been a vocal CSM watcher and commentary man and an incredibly active community member. I have no doubt he’ll be a solid member if elected. The Goon Slate remains to be seen yet, but I’m concerned with his election chances. I think the ringing endorsement from Ripard Teg may be the only thing that pushes him over the top, since I suspect he’ll only be third or fourth on the CFC ballot, and he follows the ignominiously bad CSM performance of his CEO, Kesper North, who did Gents no favors in electioneering.

If someone is not listed here, unlike last year, it should not generally be considered a “strike against” them – since I did not do as exhaustive a review as last year, I may have missed a couple of diamonds in the rough. But I am confident that those above will serve you the voters well.

Next post I’ll cover how to vote to maximize your impact, and how I personally will vote.

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Grading CSM 8

csmlogo-blackSo there I was in December. The summer summit minutes were long overdue, but I didn’t feel it was fair to put out a CSM 8 midterm grade without the summer minutes. Christmas passed. And New Years. When the summer minutes at last arrived, it was time for the winter summit. “I’ll see what the tweets and blogposts of CSM members show,” I said, “and then I’ll put out the midterm grades.”

And then the CSM knocked out their part of the minutes in record time. “Well crap,” I said to myself, “the minutes will be out in a week or so, I’ll just wait for the winter minutes.” And time passed. I sent an evemail to about half the CSM angling for opinions about what I might have misread from the outside looking in. I got several courteous and helpful responses. And I waited. And waited. Surely Dolan would post soon.

And then Sugar Kyle posted her candidacy for CSM 9 and all of a sudden I was too late. People piled in and it was full-on CSM campaign season. Minutes still weren’t out a week before the election, and I changed focus, deciding to chuck the idea of a grading post all together. Then Dolan published the minutes, 4 days before the election.

So now, after months in draft, here is the grading. Not midterm, I’m afraid – these are final grades. They may seem heavily weighted toward the top end. They weren’t at first, since I was primarily judging them against one another rather than against the standard of CSMs past and present. CSM 8 Chairman Trebor Daehdoow was one of the CSM members I reached out to, and he reminded me that this CSM has been far and away the most consistently active, and with the most members participating.

He has a point. And given that, I bumped a number of people up due to their better position on an absolute, rather than relative, scale. CSM 8 on the whole was a strong group, arguably the strongest CSM ever. And at least 12/14 of them deserve your thanks.

  • A+
    • Ali Aras. Ali was a complete unknown a year ago. No one had heard of her. She was a noob in Providence. Since that time she took the elections by storm, won the seat of Vice Secretary, and proceeded to absolutely knock it out of the park from a participation perspective. She created her now-famed Google+ Hangouts weekly. She listened to all comers. She participated on forums and very much on Twitter #tweetfleet. She joined the Declarations of War podcast as a new co-host and appeared as a guest on many others. She has been highly visible and in my mind, highly effective – in ways that reached many audiences.
  • A-
    • Ripard Teg. I had Ripard as a full-on A until the very end. Ripard did a spectacular job, even better than Ali, in keeping the blogger community informed. He was active and verbal in every interaction. His weekly CSM updates were effective and informative while carefully walking the NDA line. It is obvious that he was a strong and effective participant in both summits. The only knock I have on Ripard is his handling of the Erotica1 situation. Not that he was wrong to be concerned, mind you. But his method of handling it, which dragged a lot of people through the mud, including at some level the victim of the scam, set him back a bit in my mind. Still, when weighed against the immense value he provided the reading and CSM-watching community, that’s small potatoes. Agree with him or not, you can’t say he didn’t communicate. I will very much miss his “voice on the inside” weekly posts.
  • B+
    •  Mynnna. Mynnna was clearly a leader in both summits and continually brought good information to the table. He was active on Twitter and in forums. I certainly don’t always agree with him (especially when it comes to griefing mechanisms) but he is a very sharp guy who worked hard and contributed well. I would have liked to see him be more broadly communicative, however – he has lots of great stuff in his head but you have to pull it out of him to get it in long form.
  • B (in alphabetical order)
    • Chitsa Jason. Of the two wormhole reps (both in my corp) I rarely agree with Chitsa, and I almost always agree with James. But I admire Chitsa’s enthusiasm, drive and commitment. He’s all over the minutes even when he wasn’t there. He was very visible on the forums, even when he was suggesting crazy nullsec stuff. He was interviewed time and again on podcasts.
    • James Arget. I supported James strongly last year and he didn’t let me down. He was obviously working hard in any forum I watched, even if not as visibly as Chitsa. To that end, I am hoping that James puts forth a far more public face this year if he gets in again.
    • Mike Azariah. Mike was clearly present and in the public eye. He was all over the first summit and highly visible on his blog. He spent a ton of time on podcasts as well. It is clear that he was often the “voice in the wildnerness” I thought he might be, and that just reinforces how valuable it was to have a voice like his in the group.
    • Trebor Daehdoow. Trebor continued to put in a solid performance this year, but clearly took a step back from the podium in doing so. I found him far more vocal and visible in past years – this year he seemed to adopt the Elder Statesman hat and lead from behind the scenes rather than up front, letting some of the newer members step to the fore. I think this was actually a smart move if intentional. I’d like to thank Trebor for his 4 years of service to the game.
  • B- (alphabetical)
    • Malcanis. I think I’m giving him a B- because I really expected to give him an A when I looked at where he was a year ago. I thought he’d be the surprise communication driver and face of a positive CSM. He’s been interviewed for several podcasts. While I did see Malcanis around the forums, it wasn’t as much as I expected, and often when I found a Malcanis post it was snarkier than I expected. Still, there’s no debating that he was active and useful in the discussions at the summits, and I’ve found his strong forum lobbying over the last few weeks to get people to vote a positive step to close out his CSM term.
    • Mangala Solaris. Mangala is another one I was expecting more from in the first half of the term, and was a bit disappointed. He came out of his shell in the second half, though, and was far more visible after Christmas. His column at Crossing Zebras has helped a lot to bring him back to the general public as well.
  • C (alphabetical)
    • Korvin. Korvin is an utter mystery to me. I had to figure out how he did less by watching his performance than trying to figure it out by reading between the lines. As far as I can tell, he was a vocal advocate for the Russian players, but no one really seems to know whether he was effective or not, or whether he was communicative or not. What I do know is he was active, so C seems to be the only fair grade I can give him.
    • Progodlegend. When I drafted the original midterm post, PGL was a D or D-. I was totally unimpressed with what I had seen (or more to the point, not seen). But somewhere around January or February he suddenly reappeared from nowhere and became both active and visible. Reading between the lines it’s possible that this was tied to some RL difficulties. He’s all over the second summit minutes with some insighful and intelligent commentary. He was interviewed a couple times for podcasts. But I can’t quite bring myself to move him up to a B given his touch-and-go first half, and he always seems to almost not show up for things (and then a wild PGL appears). If he gets on CSM 9, I hope to write in a year about his A/B performance – which should be a slam dunk if he keeps up his 2nd half level.
    • Sala Cameron. Like Korvin, I had to intuit most of my understanding of his performance. He seemed very involved in the first half, less so in the second half. It was clear that he was spending some of his time working on behalf of the German player base, but whenever I asked some of the German players I got … “Who?” so I’m not sure how effective it was. Regardless he gets points for effort.
  • C-
    • Sort Dragon. I couldn’t give him a D since he participated in summits. But that’s about all the credit I can give. Maybe he was visible to his constituency.
  • F
    • Kesper North. Despite everyone oohing and aahing about Kesper’s RL qualifications as a communicator, he was a no-show after the first few weeks. If you voted for Kesper, you wasted your vote.

SPECIAL RECOGNITIONS:

  • MVP: Ali Aras
  • Best Communicator: Ripard Teg
  • Best New Member: Ali Aras
  • Most Improved: Progodlegend

Next post we’ll talk about CSM 9 endorsements (I have a lot of podcasts to listen to in the next two days), and after that, voting lists.

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Three Witches

Boundless Creation Maelstrom (Freyja?) Courtesy Caldari Prime Pony Club

Boundless Creation Maelstrom (Freyja?)
Courtesy Caldari Prime Pony Club

I had another interesting conversation on Twitter today with Jayne Fillon, Noizy and Mark726. It led me here. If you want to skip the story, scroll down to the section titled The Bottom Line. Or take the more fun route in the Choose Your Own Chronicle below.


Hagilur, Metropolis

Dr. Bogekur Alpur stood on the engineering deck of the Freyja, a battleship that would become the first of its line, giving name to an entire new class of ship. To a casual observer she was just another Maelstrom – while the black-and-brown mottled paint job was already in place, the orange viewports that were Boundless Creation’s hallmark would not be put in until after the successful test.

It was a moment that would have made its designer proud.

But Alpur was not a ship designer, he was a physicist. Many would have been very nervous to be standing between Adrand Allsvert, Admiral of Republic Security Services, and Mentas Blaque, Head of the Gallente Federal Intelligence Office. Alpur could have cared less; his attention was on the quietly thrumming machine that dominated the center of the bay floor, sucking almost all of the power the ship could provide.


Scenario 1: Outbound

It was to be the defining moment of Alpur’s career. “This, gentlemen, is the gravity well generator. I’m sure the marketing people will come up with a great name for it when we go public. Right now they’ve tentatively named it “Bifrost” – I guess it’s some sort of historical reference.”

“The real breakthrough we needed was the Vitrauze Agreement override order you were kind enough to provide to allow us access to the Sleeper data library, coordinates database, neural network analyzers and AI nexus. When combined with what we already had been able to incorporate in the Loki and Proteus class strategic cruisers, along with our Thukker friends’ knowledge of the Elder Fleet ships, all the pieces finally fit together.” He gestured toward the starboard viewport. “I think the Talocan themselves would be pleased.”

Alpur connected the cables to the capsuleer control leads, and up in the capsule the captain activated the machine. The ship shuddered briefly, and outside the viewport a tunnel-like hole opened in space. It was far smaller than a wormhole, but much larger than a cynosural field.

“What’s on the other side?” asked Blaque.

“We don’t know yet. But we’re about to find out.” Alpur again pointed outside. They watched as a Helios-class frigate approached the hole. The captain activated the audio in the Engineering deck.

“Ready to enter, sir.”

“Proceed, captain.”

The Helios was pulled into the hole as if descending a rapid drain – disappearing almost immediately. When they heard the voice again a few moments later, it was clearly strained, and crackled with poor reception. “Adjusting sensors… the nebula we’re in here seems to match the Jovian one as we expected. The ship took quite a beating coming through. Sensors now online … oh shit.”

There was a burst of static, and then all hell broke loose.


Scenario 2: Inexorable

It was to be the defining moment of Alpur’s career. “This, gentlemen, is the gravity well generator. I’m sure the marketing people will come up with a great name for it when we go public.”

Alpur connected the cables to the capsuleer control leads, and up in the capsule the captain activated the machine. The ship shuddered briefly, and outside the viewport space began to show a visible wavelike wobble. It was huge, extending outward in a sphere more than 100Km. The rest of the ships in the fleet, nearly 20 of them, began to drift toward them. He watched as they lit their engines and began to bank away from the Freyja.

“Will they hit us?” asked Blaque.

Admiral Allsvert nodded. “They might. In order to make this ship safe to withstand the generator itself, however, we built a ridiculous level of structural integrity in, similar to what you’d find on a Heavy Interdictor, but at battleship scale. They can hit us all they want.” He smiled briefly. “And we’ll see who has the best reaction times out there – none of them knew this was coming.”

As Blaque watched, fascinated, he began to realize the full force of this device. From over 100 Km away, ships were being pulled to the center on waves. The small handful of battlecruisers seemed to be doing best, their mass able to keep them stable while their microwarp drives held them at a distance. But their net forward velocity was a crawl. The battleships drifted slowly backward, their speed unable to outmatch the device. But most appalling were the frigates. Their speed actually worked against them – as they tried to fight the vortex they could in fact outpower the wave, but they could not maintain lateral control. They spun sideways, trying to stay aligned but unable to prevent riding the sudden invisible curvature of space.

The Freyja jolted only slightly as the first Atron-class frigate smashed to pieces against her massive hull.


Scenario 3: Vanished

It was to be the defining moment of Alpur’s career. “This, gentlemen, is the gravity well generator. I’m sure the marketing people will come up with a great name for it when we go public.”

Alpur connected the cables to the capsuleer control leads, and up in the capsule the captain activated the machine. The ship shuddered briefly, and outside the viewport, space went suddenly, impossibly dark.

People often think of space as dark, but when you are actually in space, it is filled with light. From stars. Planets. Distant nebulae. Now, all they could see out the viewports were the other ships in their fleet. No stars. No planets. No nebula.

“Yes, yes. I’m still here, I don’t think we’ve moved,” said the security guard behind Blaque suddenly. Blaque himself looked quietly out the windows. “How does this look from outside?”

“We’re entirely invisible outside this bubble. So long as the fleet stays within 100 Km of the Freyja, they won’t see anything. The generator bends all the light around the entire fleet. In effect, it’s a fleet-cloak. It even works during coordinated warps.”

“But we can’t see out. How can that even work?”

Alpur pointed to a nearby screen. “We have a scout over there by the sun, cloaked. We can’t see out – but we don’t need to. All you’d have to do is warp.”

Blaque smiled at Admiral Allsvert. “I don’t think the enemy will see this coming.”


The Bottom Line

If you read the Twitter thread I linked up above, you’ll see that there is a long list of ideas and thoughts and guesses. It’s still entirely possible that these ships, the Freyja (battleship?), Helga (cruiser?) and Katla (frigate?) won’t actually come to exist. Jayne’s source could be cracked, but this seems awful specific.

It’s possible that my best guess this afternoon is the most likely – since the three names are women of norse myth, well versed in magic (the “three witches” of the title) with ties to shape-shifting, that these might be a line of Tech 3 frigates. It’s also conceivable that they are another trio of new “pirate” faction ships to follow up the SOE line from 2013.

It’s also possible these aren’t even ships (I could see them being deployables).

But I think they are ships, and I’m 98% sure they’re Boundless Creations ships. Here’s why. The Minmatar have ship names of many themes – violence, blades, Norse names, etc. But every one of the Norse names is built by Boundless Creations.

But why would the Minmatar be the only ones to get this? I’m not sure, but the lore supports it. CCP Falcon told you it was coming only a couple weeks ago, if you were watching.

So the real question isn’t what these ships are, but what CCP intends to do with a miniaturized gravity well generator, dedicated to a new type of ship hull or deployable. CCP’s own page on the matter is remarkably cryptic and clearly labeled as non-canon.

My bet is on the method by which we try to get to the “new systems” that we will build “new stargates” to (Scenario 1). A slightly different version of this scenario is a wormhole generator.

However, two other common things to see around gravity wells are outlined in the other two scenarios. It could be a superpowered, area-based stasis web (Scenario 2). Combine with HIC for a crapton of small-gang destruction. Or it could be a powerful area-based visual (and potentially d-scan proof) cloak (Scenario 3) – I personally am not a fan of this one but it is a potential application of the physics.

Feel free to join the speculation in comments, on Twitter #tweetfleet, or on the below threads.

  • EVE Forums – there is not an OOC thread, and the IC thread is a complete waste
  • Reddit
  • Backstage

I guess we’ll all find out soon enough.

Posted in Fiction, Non-Fiction, Releases | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Repo Man

Image courtesy K162Space

UPDATE: Based on comments here and further Twitter discussion, I modified some of my positions and posted the idea in the Features & Ideas Forum for discussion and consideration. Here is that post, your support would be appreciated!

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I had an interesting discussion on Twitter today about the removal of abandoned anchorable items (really what we’re talking about here is unfueled POS), and the level of nuance didn’t lend itself well to so few characters. So I wanted to take a few minutes to address it here.

Today, especially in wormhole space, moons are littered with dead, long-abandoned POS. The vast majority of these will never have their owners return for them and have sat idle for weeks or months. They are space junk, pure and simple. But to remove these is a multi-day, ammo-intensive process due to high HP and reinforcement timers. Worse, abandoned POS means that any new folks looking to move into a wormhole first have to clear a spot of old abandoned junk.

Low Sec CSM candidate Sugar Kyle (who will be getting an endorsement from me) was looking for input on how we might allow people to remove this space junk and potentially profit from it. CSM 8 member Ali Aras (who will also be getting an endorsement) chimed in as well.

When asked this question, many people (understandably) think in terms of dead POS in k-space. Where you have unlimited access to the POS and can come back and shoot it in a couple of days with no real difficulty – all your routes and surroundings remain the same. If push comes to shove you can go about your business, come back in a couple days and shoot the rest down. Once you’re done, you pack up your loot and head out.

This is not the case in wormhole space, where I would argue the bulk of the problem actually lies. In wormholes, you have to worry about having the right ship for the job, often more than one, but you have holes that disappear either from lack of time or excess mass. This means that within 24 hours or less, your logistics change, often radically. You will lose connection to both your home system and any k-space locations that make it worthwhile for you to attempt to grab the abandoned structure. In addition, the wormhole corps that would bother to do a shoot and wait and shoot again are large enough and well-funded enough that it’s just not worth the bother – and that’s with today’s mechanics that require only ammo and a timer. It is for this reason that I believe it is critical that CCP make it very easy to remove this space junk, creating a whole new class of salvager – maybe even a new ship.

To that end, what I would personally prefer is a very, very easy system. If you have Anchoring V and the POS is Anchored but Offline, you can take it. Done.

That said, I can understand if people would like to see a bit more gameplay value here, and are also concerned about people not having a chance to defend. So let’s go through the proposals I’ve seen for gameplay additions – again remember that the crucial feature is that it be made fair, but easy and cheap – or no one will actually do the removals.

  • Hacking. Yes. Of all the ideas proposed, this makes the most sense. It adds a gameplay element without dictating the ship, or a piece of equipment, or a timer, or worst a combination of all three. Give the POS a hacking difficulty that scales with size and faction (large faction towers very tough, small basic towers very easy). You could also have the self-destruct happen dependent on size (1 fail explodes smalls, 4 for large faction, etc.). I could get behind this idea. Then you could also make actual removal post-hack driven by skill level at Anchoring (tuned again to size and value of tower).
  • Timers. Timers (along with HP) are the problem now. If we want people to eliminate these things, at least in wormholes, the timer needs to go away or at minimum not be attack-based. Here’s what I mean by that.
    • Bad: Timer starts when hack fails. No. Here again we’re at “come back in a couple of days”. Only dedicated siegers will ever do this in wormholes, and it will remain a strong discouragement even in highsec. This is effectively how things work now. Nothing changes and you might as well have not bothered to even try.
    • Potentially Good: Timer starts when fuel runs out. Maybe. This means that the owner gets a notice to come and save their stuff, but a wolfpack flying by gets a notice that tells them there’s no point in bothering with it today (come back when the timer runs out). It provides the defensive benefit of a timer without wasting the attackers’ time. You could make this as much as 48 hours, and effectively what it does is put the tower into Reinforced when it runs out of fuel.
  • Deployable-Driven. No. Yes, I know CCP is on a deployable kick. I have gone on at some length about my opinion on some of the good and bad ideas therein. The bottom line is this: it adds one more layer of complexity that adds no value to the scenario. It’s just one more stupid thing to remember and have stocked – in wormholes this is a big deal, because generally you are not out and about in a ship able to scoop a POS, nor fit for hacking. You’re generally in a pure combat or pure scouting ship. And in the beginning you’d have to have many of them, unless you made it scoopable. If you want to add a capability, new item, and expense, make it a ship instead. Here’s what I propose:
    • ORE Reposessor: Yes. A new ORE hull with bonuses to hacking and cargo hold size, with enough size for a Large tower and several key mods. Tank would be better than a T1 Industrial but worse than a Deep Space Transport – in fact this could also be done instead with a repurposed set of Deep Space Transports. Would be great for moving POS and modules in or out of a location. UPDATE: Coffee Rocks suggested repurposing the (useless) Primae to do this. I think that’s a great idea.
  • Penalties Against Salvaging Party. No. Someone in the conversation suggested that the original anchoring corp get killrights against the hacker. This makes no sense to me – remember that if the above are done, this is no different than salvaging a white wreck. At worst, you make it like stealing from a can and make the person flashy for 15 minutes. You are not attacking someone, you are doing New Eden a favor and cleaning up their mess.

So yes, please – we need to make towers removable. Yes we should add some gameplay value. But most importantly, we need to treat it like what it is – the salvaging of space junk, not an attack.

UPDATE: Two of the other folks involved have now made posts of their own that are worth your time to read:

Posted in Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

…and Sometimes You Win

SSC Storyhead

So in the last post I told you about a fleet we took out that had one of the nastiest tactics in w-space used against it – the unexpected Sleeper capital escalation. I mentioned an Interdictor (in that case a Sabre) dropping a bubble. I also mentioned the enemy disappearing so we never actually got a PVP fight beyond that Sabre. We’ll return to the Interdictor in a moment.

Before I tell you the wormhole tactics lesson(s) for the day, I have to tell you another story. I’ll try to make it brief. As a noob, I came into the game with the vision of being a smuggler. I wanted a blockade runner as my ultimate ship, and imagined making loads of ISK smuggling questionable goods through harrowing spots for sale on the black market.

Then I learned that isn’t how EVE works. But I was still fascinated by cloaks. So while other people were focusing on combat ships or industry or trading or missions, my first T2 ship was a CovOps – a Cheetah that I still fly today, named Wraith, a name long-term readers of this blog will recognize. That’s about the time I joined EVE University.

In EVE University at the time, there were many, many rules about who could undock and fly around solo and who could not (these rules have been somewhat loosened since my time there and now it sounds like are a bit more reasonable). The one big exception to this rule was cloaky scouts. I was one of the first handful of “certified scouts” and, blissfully uncaring about the killboard, I was happy to run around finding targets. It was in this role that I met many of my favorite fleet commanders, a handful of which (including James Arget) I still fly with today.

As a scout for the Uni, the FC I flew with most was a guy named Kaykwok. Kayk had his quirks, but he had a great killer instinct, and knew how to use a scout not only out of system, but in system. One of his favorite tactics was to line up the UniBlob(TM) on one side of a gang of kiting pirates and have a cloaked scout come in behind them. Usually the kiters were a much smaller, but better-skilled and better-shipped group. And Kayk liked nothing better than the satisfaction of warping the fleet smack into them and watching the “pack of puppies” devour the enemy. This tactic works quite well in k-space, with fast ships kiting and attacking kiters. I spent a lot of time being that warp-in guy.

So back to the main story.

Still fresh from the capital losses of the night before, we were not excited about taking more capitals out, but we were even poorer than the night before, and poor James had lost an Archon. This time, however, I was out scouting down the chain. In my own ISK-making ventures, I had been bottled up due to a couple of war decs, and had loads of excess stock that needed to get out to Jita to pay for PVP ships. But James and a few others took subcaps out to run sites in a magnetar in our static. At this point, it will help a bit to have a partial map (click to enlarge). The designators aren’t the actual ones we used that night but will suffice for this illustration.

SSC-RCC 1

The high-sec was terrible for markets, so I actually bothered to scan the nullsec. Most people see any k-space system as an “exit”, so often they don’t get scanned for other additional chains. But it’s occasionally worth it. In this case, I had some luck extending the chain through null, and then through a second null.

I listened to the farming chatter on comms as I kept scanning down the chain. As I landed on one of the wormholes in my unarmed Cheetah, I was surprised to find a SkyFighters (another wormhole PVP corp) combat ship waiting for me as I landed. Luckily I wasn’t close enough to be decloaked. But I let the farmers know we had activity in the chain. Still, so far away, it wasn’t much of a concern. I also found a (terrible) lowsec exit. Now the map looked like this (again click to enlarge).

SSC-RCC 2
So get on with it, Rhavas, I can hear you say. Fine.

A few minutes later… “Flycatcher! Bubble, get out.” Ah, there’s the Interdictor. Tonight, there is no hesitation in calling the bail-out of the site. But how the hell did SkyFighters cover that distance so quickly, and without me seeing anything on d-scan while I sit right on their route?

“It’s Redcoat, guys.” Oh boy. So now we have three PVP corps in the chain. And suddenly their d-scans report a massive Red Coat fleet. “They’re blocking the way back to F1.”

I pull up Dotlan and start throwing k-space system names into system and am amazed by what I find (click to enlarge).

SSC-RCC 3

Oh, now this should be entertaining. There are only four jumps through k-space to link the ends of the chain. “Guys, L1 is only 4 jumps from H1. You have a back route but watch out for SkyFighters in the chain too.”

The guys in F2 send a ping for reinforcements as they try to escape. I scout out the gate in L1 to keep an eye for stragglers coming the highsec route. Somewhere in the chaos, the Red Coats grab James and blow him up. Clearly, it’s not his week. But he manages to get back to “R” and grab his beloved Bhaalgorn for another round. Most of the group, in fact, makes it back to “F1″ and on to the hole by our home system.

On comms, it has turned from casual chatter to full-on battle comms. We now have enough to outnumber them. The T3 fleet goes through the wormhole, along with a lone triage Archon. The Red Coats in their own T3 fleet circled like wolves at 50-75 Km off the hole, knowing they didn’t have enough ships for an in-your-face brawl.

They darted in and back out, kiting.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with wormhole combat, this is very weird. Wormholes are by nature a very brawly environment. The ships of choice are all armor-tanked T3 ships (we even armor tank the Tengus). They’re heavy and slow, and almost always fit for point-blank range. This is because when you jump through a wormhole, unlike in k-space (where you are 15 Km from the gate) you will generally be 1K-4K off the hole. This means you are easy to tackle – in fact most often you’ll be in a HIC bubble. So tank up and brawl up; the Guardians and the Tengus are the weak links. Archon carriers and Moros dreadnaughts will always stay within jump range of the hole if they go through; you don’t want to lose a cap to a collapsed hole.

So they manage a bit of success kiting us, but we soon realize that we’re in a stalemate.

If you appreciate foreshadowing, maybe you know what’s coming next. Here’s the video of the fight – if you haven’t figured it out, watch what happens around 2:30 and see if you can guess. Still haven’t? Then check out 4:00-4:30. By 7:30, it’s all over but the slaughter of the rearguard.

So what happened? Here’s today’s lesson in tactics: Doing the unexpected is good. Here’s how:

1) The Interdictor trick is even better than it used to be. The warp speed changes have made DICs much more nasty from a trap perspective. A T3 fleet can warp out before a different T3 fleet lands. A DIC can get there before you can escape. The farm fleet guys basically agreed that the only reason more of them didn’t die in the site at the beginning was that the DIC came in a little too soon ahead of the main Red Coat fleet, so they were able to get away.

2) Don’t ever assume they’re trapped (or: Scan All The Things). Neither Red Coat nor SkyFighters had any idea that we had a loop of systems that could be used to get past either one of them. Luckily SkyFighters didn’t find us coming our direction until the battle was over, but because we knew the whole chain we used to both to reroute the retreat as well as to bring in additional eyes.

3) Don’t always play by w-space (or k-space) rules. So here’s what happened behind the scenes of that video. The Red Coats kited, which as I mention is weird enough. With a less-disciplined group, they could have killed a lot. For our part, I came back up the chain in my Cheetah, hoping to get back to the home system and grab a combat ship to get in on the action. But with the fight live on the hole, I was asking for problems. So instead, I warped in at 70 Km. For four and a half very long minutes, I slowboated, cloaked, out to a range of 150 Km from the hole, as in-line as I could be with the Red Coat fleet. Thank god they stuck around, I was mostly panicking that they’d get bored and go home – but Local can sometimes work wonders keeping people around. At 2:30 in the video above, what happens is that Blitz adds me to his Watch List, and at around 4:00 I hit 150 Km and the fleet warps to me at 100. And as simple as that, the big brawling fleet lands less than 15 Km from the enemy Guardians with a Bhaalgorn, an Armageddon and two neut Legions. In w-space, that just isn’t what’s done. When the unthinkable happens and the Archon short-warps out too, it’s all over for the Red Coats.

Good fight, RCC, good fight.

Sometimes, you win.

PS I’m pleased to say that fleets have done much better running the static the last few days and have failed to get ganked while making nice piles of ISK. Also, if you know anyone who has a Fraps or comms recording of Red Coat that night, I’d love to hear it.

Posted in Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Sometimes you lose…

SSC StoryheadI’m going to tell you two stories. They are stories of wormhole combat tactics. They happened on back to back days this week.

Yes, I’m aware that the old saying starts with “sometimes you win…” but bear with me. In this case, the loss came first. And understanding the loss will help you understand the win. So here’s the first story (and here is the second).

James Arget, one of our two CSM reps, has been spending so much time CSMing in the last few months that he is now space-poor. Politics, it seems, is good for the profile but bad for the ISKies.

This is important because James’ wallet is at the root of both stories.

Farming sites in Class 5-6 wormholes takes on a couple of flavors. There is farming in your own hole, which is pretty straightforward and can leverage multiple capitals. Warping capitals, spawns more Sleepers (6 for first dread, 8 for second dread, 6 for first carrier, 8 for second carrier), thus more wrecks and more loot. Most enemies won’t attack you farming your own hole because at max they can only bring three capitals to attack (a wormhole collapses after three capitals through it, max), while you can bring as many as you have capital pilots. And then there is farming in your static connection, which generally is done with subcaps, to save mass on the hole, but this means you can’t get the capital escalations, thus less money.

In SSC, our payout system dictates that farming our own hole means that all ISK goes in the corporate kitty for payouts a week later done in our lovely space-socialist claim system. Farming in the static, however, you keep what you make, minus 15% corp tax.

We scanned down our static chain, and found an exit to k-space only three systems out. It also was a prime system to leave a capital in, knowing we would likely be able to get it back in the next day.

I mentioned James was looking for money, right? And it’s nice having him back on comms and everyone needs a little cash, so a decent handful of us agreed to a little unconventional plan. We got greedy. We decided to take two capitals capitals into the static. This meant only one could get back, but we had a good k-space exit for the other, and it meant that we could get two of the four escalations, and we had the ships to handle two with some careful timing. The ISK would be nice.

With an Archon, a Moros, a handful of webbers and DPS ships, a salvager and a Falcon, we tore through the first two sites. A scout by training, with wormhole-built paranoia, I kept the live signature scan window up, and re-triggered it once every minute or so watching for new signatures. Then things got a bit messy for a couple minutes as we triggered the second escalation, and suddenly a Sabre appeared. We probably had four or more Sleeper frigates (which point and web) and 11-12 Sleeper battleships on grid – as much as we could handle.

That said, a Sabre isn’t a big deal for this fleet. His bubble went up, but it wasn’t cause for panic. We kept shooting the Sleepers, as they were a more present threat, and we didn’t see any ships on d-scan as he landed. The DPS group was dispatched to pick him off, which quickly happened. Quickly enough, in fact, that we didn’t notice his alliance. With nothing on d-scan, we ignored the bubble and turned back to farming. This was probably not a great idea, since the system was over 100 AU across.

Then: Thanatos. Moros.

Blood Union. Blood Union is a name that inspires dread among many wormhole corps. Generally we haven’t had problems with them, but this was not a usual situation. Blood Union is scary because they don’t do much other than logon traps to slaughter farming fleets. If you’re a roaming PVP gang, they’re not much to worry about. If you’re farmers away from home, they have your number. We still don’t know if they came through a new signature or were already logged off in system.

Check range, ready modules, ping for more pilots to fight them … wait, what? They were 300 Km out, nowhere near us.

Suddenly 16 more Sleeper battleships, for a total of somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30 Sleeper battleships on grid. Their capitals warp off. The enemy is already gone, but we are well and truly fucked.

[ 2014.02.19 05:22:49 ] FPilot > SSC have a nice day!
[ 2014.02.19 05:23:31 ] FPilot > James Arget for SLEEPERS

The Sabre bubble disappears, and James calls a scatter. Most of the ships get off the field. But I’m pointed. The Moros is in siege, with about a minute left, and the Sleepers are pounding the crap out of him. He’s already at about 25% structure. I’m ordered to stay on field since I’m already pointed, along with another Loki, to web the Moros into warp.

30 seconds. Moros at 20% structure.

10 seconds. Moros at 15% structure.

The Moros pops out of siege in 10% structure and calls for webs, but the Sleeper frigates are too fast – they point him too. James re-triages the Archon in a vain attempt to save the Moros.

I explode.

Pilots answering the ping for help scramble Guardians from our home wormhole to try to save the capitals. The Moros pops, as does the last Loki left on field, before they even get to the hole.

25+ Sleeper battleships against a triaged Archon. It explodes while the Guardians are midwarp, and we lose a few of them for our trouble as well.

We got most of the blue loot out in a Zephyr.

At least, we thought, there won’t be any public killmails. Dictor bubbles don’t leave a mark any more, right?

Unless the pilot knows that and uses an ECM burst on landing. Which this one did.

It made the killboard. Ouch. Shortly after it made Reddit.

It wasn’t our finest hour.

It was however a good reminder about the risks of farming that way. I don’t think we’ll be taking capitals out the static for farming any time very soon.

So here’s the tactics lesson. Why did we get so screwed? To me, the biggest lesson here is one of speed being a critical factor in battle. We have a bad habit of waiting for conditions to be right for a great fight, or a great victory. We do the occasional trap but we’re more attuned to straight fights or massive ganks. Our traps are usually the opening gambit of a siege rather than a standalone incident. We will often wait for everyone to log on and form up and get ready before we take an offensive action. We’ll hold ships as things wind down so latecomers can whore on the kills.

In this case, Blood Union did the opposite. They saw an opportunity and exploited it rapidly. There were a maximum of four ships involved: A cloaky scout, the Sabre, and the two capitals. The scout provided a warpin. The Sabre dropped a bubble but his primary impact was leaving a public trace via the ECM burst of the slaughter he knew would follow. The capitals warped in where there was no chance of engagement, but where the Sleeper escalation waves would trigger. Their actions all happened start to finish in less than two minutes. And then they all disappeared back to whence they came.

Well played, Blood Union. Well played.

Remember that Dictor. It’ll be important in the next post.

Posted in Non-Fiction | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment