Monday, March 28, 2016

Joining the Hype in Tribute

Today was a near perfect storm of conditions that in some ways officially starts the war against the Imperium. Out of game, many players have re-subbed to join in the war, and some are on spring break with the time to play during both of the EU-US timezones. A few timers in M-OEE8 came active at 20:00, a system that is symbolic for the Imperium as the gateway into the North and very close to Jita.

At peak, J-GAMP hit over 3,500 in local, but with the way the new Aegis sov works many other hundreds of players were fighting in other systems in the constellation at the same time. I watched many small gangs fight over command nodes spread out in the constellation, a very interesting mechanic Aegis brings from my perspective as a more solo/small gang PVPer.

M-OEE8 was at around 900 at the same time J-GAMP peaked over 3k, which is when I jumped into the largest fight of the day. Just as I was to jump in, one of the Imperium fleet trying to join their allies got bombed on the gate, losing something like 20-30b isk in Hurricane's, HFIs, and Slepnirs. 

I joined the fight just as a third party, while also watching a live stream of the fight on twitch. I really lucked out with my timing--just as I jumped into J-GAMP the Imperium Mach fleet was 30k away getting pummeled. I got a bomb off just as PL. bombed and ended up doing over 50k in damage with one run and contributing to over 10b isk in ship destruction, including a Nestor kill which I believe is my first time on a Nestor mail. That's cool for me since I am still learning the ropes of bombing, and typically try to join these firsts as a solo party only to die horribly to a gate camp on the way there. Later in between work I did some solo PVP in the area in an interceptor, getting a few good fights against stragglers and people trying to loot the field. You do not have to join a corporation involved in the wars to actually get involved in these huge battles. Especially if you can fly a bomber, you can potentially contribute to these huge fights. Or at least get on kill mails if that is the sort of thing you care about. My total from the fight got a bit long!

Will the hype continue? It is really hard to say. I am personally very excited about the war and think it could do wonders for the health of the game, maybe even more long-term good than the epic B-R did. I don't have much interest in the political side of the game. I suppose my ideal scenario of the war would be to see the breakup of large coalitions, and in its place to see the North become much more comparable to the "thunderdome" that is the South, with dozens of largely independent corporations fighting one another. The North in EVE has simply lacked interesting PVP content in literally years due to the massive amount of blues and PVP stagnation in this region, and seeing it have more activity and local conflict would probably benefit everyone.

I mostly just hope that EVE will get a ton of PR from these fights which leads to an influx of new and lasting players. But I am curious to know how a few aspects of this war play out:

  • How long will the fighting last? (Particularly relevant given that fanfest and Citadels--along with the entire capital/supercap rebalance--comes in just a month.)
  • Will the "Allied" forces make it to Deklein?
  • If the Imperium is fully evicted, how will they manage the retreat to low security or NPC null, and will large coalitions continue to exist after this war?
  • Will any more entities within the Imperium defect or go it alone?
  • Will we see a fight breaking 3,500 players or will this first battle end up as the largest?
  • Will a large supercap fight happen?
There's definitely a lot to be hyped about. The next month is going to be interesting, to say the least.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

How Do Alliances Die?

This piece has two tentative theses about large group dynamics in EVE:

1. In most cases, alliances do not die to war, propaganda, or loss of space, but to inability to survive stagnation in the game.

2. In most cases, alliances that manage to live through war, losses, propaganda, and so on, are those who have learned how to manage membership activity during periods of low content--like the summer of 2015, which arguably claimed more major alliances than almost any other period/war/event in the game's history.

Let's take 2015 as an example and consider some of the major groups that largely died during this period.

Nulli Secunda was a surprising loss, considering their role in most major wars in the prior few years. In Nulli's case, "The consistent burnout of important people has been a problem for a while now.” In the low activity summer of 2015 Nulli was getting less than 2k kills a month—less than what many small gang PVP corps were getting. Ship losses, too, were substantially down. Players were simply not logging into game. Gentlemen's Club likewise closed its doors partly due to inactivity as well: “More specific to GCLUB, I am seeing a steady drop in fleet participation, and have been getting an escalating number of complaints/concerns about morale, culture, atmosphere, and enjoyment levels.”

Reports of the death of Black Legion also cite boredom and burnout after taking sovereignty: "so too were our members starting to get restless, when CCP finally hosted their new sov party, and no-one came." Many other alliances died during the summer stagnation. Black Legion's stagnation was rather surprising, given that other groups with arguably similar playstyles managed to survive or even thrive during the most recent periods of low-content. Yes, Black Legion's trademark pre-Phoebe playstyle of using the massively flexible jump range of capital fleets to third party fights across New Eden was substantially nerfed. Many other alliances died during the summer stagnation. Yet, Black Legion's stagnation was not guaranteed, given that other groups with arguably similar playstyles managed to survive or even thrive during the most recent periods of low content, groups like PL and low security powerhouses like Shadow Cartel. In terms of ship kills, ship losses, as well as leave/join rates as tracked by sites like EVE Who, 2015 was probably Shadow Cartel's most active year in game.

Take a further, much different case that illustrates how alliances do, and do not, die. EVE University is now 12 years old. This is a group that trains newer players in all areas of space that has been under near constant war dec during that entire 12 year period. If ship losses killled alliances EVE University should have died a decade ago. Yet what E Uni is probably the best in game at is teaching players how to avoid and cope with groups who want nothing else than to farm them. They even recently turned their wars into interesting content, amassing large enough fleets to destroy the POCOs of some major high sec war dec groups. EVE Uni is a group that knows how to survive stagnation and a group that knows how to create content, even against groups who want to simply farm them, and that is part of why it is done so well over the past decade plus.

For another recent case, TEST alliance is currently waging a concerted propaganda war against the CFC/Imperium on reddit (that's my favorite of the many, many TEST posts currently). Very much like during the recent large-scale harassment of SMA space by a variety of smaller groups, the propaganda this time around also often paints itself as a war to destroy the alliance.

Propaganda wars usually help both sides (even if they cause some members to switch respective sides, or move to a neutral 3rd party). Getting pings to log in to defend another POS or Sov timer against a fairly no-name group that likely will not form up is boring. Getting pings to participate in fights against some of the most storied alliances in the game's history, with battlereports filling the front page of r/eve and fights being streamed live on twitch--now that's something to log in (or re-sub) for, even if you are on the "losing" or "hated" side. Alliances are often fluid groups. Some players stay with their friends in the same alliance for as long as they play the game, whereas many others come and go--especially some famous fleet commanders who are known more for their charismaand skill no matter who they lead. It is thus hard to say whether wars in EVE even have losers. In EVE, wars are almost always win-win.

The lesson of this history in EVE--if there is really one worth drawing--is that you don't kill groups by PVPing them. Fighting them, even taking their space or their moons, generally gets their membership to log in--it's content, even if you are on the side losing more space pixels or reddit up votes. It is still, in the end, just a game, and the possibility of ship or sov loss is still a reason to log in and play.

There's also, I suppose, a lesson here about how to kill an alliance or any other group in EVE. You could, on one hand, wait for stagnation to kill them, and try to outlast them. Maybe the summer of 2016 will kill as many groups as the summer of 2015, or maybe the current trend of activity will continue into 2017 (I hope it does). Of course, this tactic very much makes the game a "last group standing," and since it is just a game, there's not much bragging rights in being among the very last people still playing.

So, that leaves another method: denying content. Denying content is very hard to do if you have something that needs defending, such as sovereignty or POSes/Citadels. (This is partly why groups like Pandemic Legion are so impossible to "kill," they simply rarely have attackable assets like sovereignty or ratters/miners that need protection.) But, systematically denying a group content is one way to stagnate (or poach) its membership. If no one fights a group, if no one goes to their space to play or forms fleets to counter their roaming gangs, the game can become very boring for many of its members, especially those like its fleet commanders who play to organize such content. The one and only maxim of FCing is don't be boring for a reason. I would say the current wars in the North are good for the game, and good for all sides. But if you really wanted to kill the groups in the North (and I deeply suspect many of the players leading the "invasion" do not actually want their CFC/Imperium friends to literally stop playing the game), you'd pretend they don't exist, denying any sort of fun or content to such groups, while poaching their membership and leadership with the offer of fun content.
The consistent burnout of important people has been a problem for a while now - See more at:
The consistent burnout of important people has been a problem for a while now - See more at:
The consistent burnout of important people has been a problem for a while now - See more at:"
The consistent burnout of important people has been a problem for a while now - See more at:

Monday, March 7, 2016

Market Milestones - 30b in One Month

After bringing in 18b in January, I expected trade profit in February to drop down to a more average 10b or so. However, with the introduction of skill injectors--combined with more time to play and a few trading side-projects that proved profitable--I ended up bringing in 33b for the month. That's not bad for only trading on one character, or just 300 orders! -The basics of the month are:

1. Skill injectors obviously made up a good portion of the trade profit for February. The margins have mostly fallen to 10-20% now, but I expect skill injectors to be a staple of my trade habits for some time. It is not so much the margins on injectors that makes for good trading, but the sheer volume:

Alright, so the 36k and 33k traded in skill injectors during the first two days is definitely a lot, but the initial hype was to be expected. What's really surprising, though, is how high the quantities have stayed a full month later. The quantity of injectors has yet to drop below 5k, and has in fact stayed closer to an 9k average (in Jita). That volume is higher than the PLEX volumes traded in Jita during the same period, which makes an unprecedented opportunity for traders. The point is, an initial rush of injector trading was expected, but a month later it seems that players have gotten used to occasionally using injectors. They seem to have become a regular part of the game for many players, something much like multiple character training or level 5 implants, that players want to grind isk for and use on multiple occasions. (E.g., I just used another 3 the other day to finish a level V skill I wanted to use. It is a habit now, just like training a month on an alt here and there.)

The real questions I am interesting for skill injectors at this point are:

     I. What will the lowest quantities be pre-Citadel release? Will they stay above 5k per day?
     II. What kind of spike will the Citadel release bring to the injector market?
     III. During the next period of "Stagnation" for the game (maybe late summer of 2016?) how 
     low will injector quantities fall?

I am interested in how these questions will play out over the next 6 months, if only for science.

2. Because I had a bit more time at the computer, I also did a bit of station trading in Jita. Spoiler: I traded in SKINs, as they are very low volume but very high margin. I made roughly 10b isk in the month I traded them. However, just a few hours of station trading here and there made me realize how much I cannot stand it. Not only do I not like updating orders, but I don't like having to remember to do it. The reason why I like regional trading is because I can update orders when I feel like it and then not think about the orders for a day or a week. Regional trading uses considerably less cognitive resources (because I can and do simply ignore it), which for me is just as valuable as time. But for anyone looking for some casual station trading, SKINs are a potentially worthwhile market. (Yes, players do sometimes sell them to incredibly low buy orders. I have no idea why, but it happens.)

3. Some trading side-projects have also proven decently worthwhile. Basically, I expanded where I trade to a null sec hub--maybe 12 items or so that are bought pretty frequently. Here's another spoiler: it is in P-Z, the very convenient Red Frog freeport in Querious. However, I was able to stock this location at first because I found a wormhole in system directly to HS. I stocked it on another occasion by flying a hauler through null, mostly for the fun of it. I don't yet know if I will be able to reliably stock this location, short of scanning for a wormhole every day or buying a jump freighter. The JF likely would not pay itself off for a few months, though, so it would be a risk (and time consuming) venture. This freeport has also seen an influx in station camps as well (I didn't know Rote Kapelle, who just moved in, did a lot of station and gate camping, but apparently they do), and there's always the possibility some group will entosis the station out of freeport sooner or later.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Exploring Every High Sec System

Exploring every system in EVE is a sort of goal I have. It is completely personal and arbitrary really, but the sandbox nature of EVE is amazing enough to make such goals worthwhile.

As of last week I've explored every HS system, as well as most of LS so far. I've made a decent dent in null sec space.

I've scanned for and run (I think) every exploration site that spawns in HS/LS, and I've searched every system for inactive POSes in HS at least once.

There's a lot of empty space in the game, that's for sure, but there's also a lot of unique space. And what is meaningful about the unique space is that it is not the developers who make it so, but the players living there who make this fascinating space world.