Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Single Best Guide for New Player Solo PVP

Suitonia's new player Kestral guide.

Suitonia's videos at EVE is Easy have been some of the best PVP video guides available since he started updating frequently 8 months ago. I probably enjoy watching EVE videos more than most players, but I've learned a huge amount from his videos, and this tutorial is one that stands out as something I've always wanted for newer players getting into solo PVP (it is a type of video he has been making more of lately, too). A weakness of many new player solo PVP guides is that, while they are generally very helpful, the ship fittings they use often require high skill points in capacitor and fitting skills, and the characters in the example fights are not typically new.

Suitonia's video covers exactly what skills are needed for the newbie-friendly Kestral and its setup, including why they are more generally useful, and then an overview of the fitting for the rocket Kestral. He covers a brief run-through on how to use the directional scanner, using the map to find fights, tactics for fighting groups, and finally lots of good examples of using the ship in a low-SP character (there are lots more such examples on his channel).

What is particularly fantastic about this video is that (starting at 28:00) it covers how to fight every frigate match-up you might encounter. I wish I would have had this video when I started PVP. I first used a MSE AB Merlin in LS to learn solo PVP. I would frequently read, and re-read, the solo PVP guides on Azual Skoll's blog, The Altruist. But figuring out how to fight any given ship in the blaster Merlin was difficult, and as a newer player I primarily relied on "activate everything, approach, OH, cross fingers," which works surprisingly well until you fight counters. I still remember the day I first won a mirror match-up by kiting with null against an opponent who only had void, but it took me a long, hard road of practice to learn this simple tactic. Suitonia's video would have saved me a lot of trial-and-error if I would have had it 2-3 years ago, which is why I've started sharing the video with new players I meet who are interested in solo PVP.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Different Kind of Market Luck

I'm in the process of consolidating my trading a bit and trying out some new items in some hubs. I finished my side-project of trading in Thera this week (post coming soon about how this project went), I pulled out of another regional hub, and I added some new items to my other hub markets. This means a lot of goods to move, but I had a rare stroke of luck today:

That's a HS to HS wormhole, one jump from Jita, that led straight to a trade hub I was hoping to stock today. I frequently use HS/LS wormholes to find PVP in other regions of k-space, but I have never found a HS -> HS wormhole useful for logistics before. This was a rare find as I don't usually scan in the areas I trade. Even if I actively scouted for such wormholes, this would be a rare find indeed. I was able to get a few freighter loads hauled via the wormhole, about as "safely" as I have ever transported goods.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Is PVE Safer in High Sec, or Null Sec? - Some Evidence that Null is (Much) Safer

Is it more dangerous to do missions in high security space, or rat in NS? One might well assume that NS would be more dangerous (and presumably more profitable as a result). I mean, that's the point of risk versus reward in HS versus NS, right? In fact, however, this common belief is probably wrong, especially as of 2014-2015. To test this common belief, I did a small study of NPC kills in top systems in HS versus NS and compared them with PVE ships losses and isk values in those systems. If ratting in NS is more dangerous than missioning in HS, what we should clearly see from the data is that more ratting ships are dying in NS compared with mission ships in HS. However, this is not what we find...


Here is how I did the analysis: I started on Dotlan's immensely useful summary of statistics for various activities in EVE. I focused on NPC kill statistics from December 2014. I took the top 8 null sec systems for NPC kills, which in the month of December combined to a total of 4,133,166 NPC kills. These top 8 systems, conveniently, also represent different areas of space, including (at the time) CFC space, NA space, B0T space, and PBLRD space. Importantly, I included carrier losses in these systems as a "PVE" loss unless the carrier losses were part of an obvious fleet fight (of which there was only one such fight it appeared), even though some of the carrier losses were likely not ratting carriers

Then, I took three of the top high security systems for NPC kills in the month of December. I picked the three systems whose combined NPC kill count most closely matched the combined kill count of the top 8 null sec systems, yet also represented different regions of high security space (so as to help avoid biasing the sample, given that PVE systems near Jita have far more PVE ship losses than systems further away--if you want to see how much you can bias the sample toward high sec, only include PVE losses in systems around Osmon and you will see high sec numbers jump way up). These three systems are: Sheroo, Inaya, and Tvink, for a total of 4,164,725 NPC kills. So, the sample from high sec has just slightly more NPC kills (31k more)--not enough of a different to be statistically significant.

I then compiled the number and isk value of losses from each of these systems for the month of December. I only included losses of obvious PVE ships (so, I didn't including losses of mining ships—incidentally, there were far more losses of mining ships in these high sec systems than there were in the null systems, as one might expect). 

Methodologically, this little study has weaknesses. Ideally, a much better study would be to look at far more systems over the course of a year in both NS and HS. If anyone wants to do that, go ahead!

Here are the results, with both number of PVE ships killed as well as the total isk value (in billions of isk):

(One interesting thing to note is that the bulk of PVE losses in these null systems came from CFC systems. This suggests that PVPers might hunt CFC space more frequently than NA. space in particular, or that the CFC might be worse at defending their ratters than other sovereignty holders--or both.) 


In these high security systems, 69 PVE ships were destroyed in this month for 4.16m NPCs killed, while only 44 PVE ships were destroyed in those 8 null sec systems, and for a mere value of 23.8b isk for the same number of NPC kills. The most common PVE ships to die in HS were tengus and marauders, while in NS the most common PVE ships to die were (by far) ishtars, gilas, and VNIs. Interestingly, the average marauder to die was worth more isk than the average carrier to die--so if you like getting lots of big kills, gank marauders in HS, don't waste your time fishing for carriers in null. Plus, there were only a few carrier losses, while there was a few dozen marauder losses.

If we can extrapolate from the mere isk lost, we could say that high security space is almost 300% more dangerous for PVE! 
However, besides the mere fact that, as the numbers suggest, more PVE ships worth quite a bit more isk die in high security systems than null, what conclusions should we draw?

There are many general conclusions one might draw from this data set about risk versus reward in HS compared to NS, assuming the numbers are real and generalizable:

1. Risk versus reward in PVE activities in HS and NS are fine as they currently are. (In other words, the numbers above are "where they should be").

2. PVE in NS should be less dangerous while PVE in HS should be more dangerous.

3. PVE in NS should be more dangerous while PVE in HS should be less dangerous.

4. PVE in both NS and HS should be less dangerous.

5. PVE in both NS and HS should be more dangerous

And so on...

Let me put my cards up front and put my argument in as simple terms as I can. I have no real opinion about risk and reward in high sec. The conclusion I favor is this: PVE in null security space should be more dangerous. In fact...

PVE in null security space is broken.

I don't much care about risk versus reward in HS, because the risk of PVE in high security space does not seem broken, whereas the risk versus reward in null sec clearly seems broken based on the numbers above. Lots of ships are dying in HS--especially expensive ships--whereas significantly less ships in NS are dying, and at far less of a isk cost. Isn't null sec supposed to be more dangerous? I think it should be. (Disagree? I am open to hearing counter-evidence or reasons to the contrary.) If you are more likely to lose a tech 2 fit, plain-old marauder while doing missions in HS than you are to lose a carrier while ratting in NS, something is wrong.

That all said, I am also not opposed to conclusion 5--that both HS and NS should be more dangerous. Risk is good for EVE, and if anything the game needs more of it, everywhere. But, clearly, the bigger problem is with NS.

Finally, that all said, I think the attitude some players have--that HS is somehow this "safe" area while NS is somehow this extremely "dangerous" place--is completely off-track, and, at best, an out-of-date left-over from EVE Online pre-2010. HS is, in fact, far more dangerous than it used to be, while much of NS--partly due to the incredible intel and coordination of many null sec empires--is far safer than it has ever been for activities like PVE (and mining). When you look at the numbers, there's little other conclusion to draw. 

Well, assuming you agree with me that the status quo is NS needs to change, what changes should be made to fix the lack of risk? Making intel harder to acquire is one obvious way, through mechanisms such as local chat delay when entering systems. This is a big question, and probably a good one to ask those running for the next CSM...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Permanent Ship Skins, a 3b isk Misclick, and a Small Giveaway

On the latest o7 show, CCP announced a major change to the way ship skins are being delivered. Likely coming in the February release, ship skins will now be applied to the character, rather than the ship itself. Along with that will come a new addition to the fitting window where players will be able to toggle available skins for their ship. I took this screenshot of the prototype while watching the show (sorry for the low quality and such...):

I don't think many others have noticed this yet, but note that 3 of the skins for the megathron shown in the prototype do not currently exist...a teaser for what is to come, maybe? (I would personally love a Serpentis edition Mega, considering how cool the Serpentis edition Brutix looks.) I hope that the ship skin fitting window can be minimized, as I can imagine some players may not usually want to see it (and might get annoyed at having BUY icons on screen).

This a a major change, not least because it means that custom ship skins--which now only just make more expensive loss mails--will be common place. (So common place, that I would expect CCP to eventually raise the AUR prices on existing store skins given that they will no longer be "lost.") There will be no reason not to have custom skins, considering that many skins are currently very cheap. As I've posted about before, I am a huge fan of custom ship skins, even in their current, limited iteration. If the ship I am flying has a custom skin, and it is not extremely rare, I currently fly the skinned edition of the ship, just for fun. I've been flying the custom destroyers a lot recently, for instance. I would like it if the skin type (not the price, since it isn't lost) showed up on killmails still, though.

As some readers may have gathered, I don't spend a lot of isk in EVE. I make a decent amount trading, but I mostly (currently) fly tech 1 frigates, destroyers, and cruisers. I also don't exactly "collect" ships like other players do (I prefer to explode them). However, collecting ship skins is something I definitely will do now, considering that they are applied to a character and cannot be lost. And upon hearing this news, I stocked up on the current skins in early preparation for when they are character-based.

This brings me to how I then made a roughly 3 billion isk misclick... After hearing the news on the show, I decided to cash in one PLEX for AUR in order to buy one of each available skin in the new eden store. I've been buying PLEX off regional buy orders for fairly low prices lately, so I thought I would put one to use. I went to a regional trade area where I had a PLEX and cashed it in. What I didn't notice, though (I was distracted, a bad reader, etc.), is that I cashed in not one, but six PLEX. Opps. This left me with 21,000 AUR. What the hell am I going to do with 21k AUR?? (Of course, you can now buy multiple character training with AUR, so realistically it wasn't a waste, but I also don't have a use for them at this point.)

I just laughed it off, because the isk means little to me as a lowly bottom-feeding-frigate-pirate. I went ahead and bought 1 of each current skin for future use, and I still have over 16k AUR. I will save some of that for future skins added to the store.

However, as a long-overdue thanks for reading, I am going to give some of this AUR in the form of ship skins away over the weekend to readers. Here's how it will work:

To participate in the drawing, put a bounty of any size on Sven Viko VIkolander. Then, by the end of the weekend (by 23:59 game time on 01/18) I will randomly draw ten players from the pool of players who put a bounty on Sven. If you are one of the 10, you will get your choice of any ship skin(s) adding up to no more than 500 AUR.

So, that means if you are one of the ten players who put a bounty on me and are selected, you can pick from a dreadnaught skin, one battleship plus one cruiser skin, one battleship plus three frigate skins, three cruiser plus two frigate skins, each of each of the eight frigate skins plus one cruiser skin, or any other combination of ship skins in the new eden store which add up to no more than 500 AUR.

If you are savvy with the new notification settings, you can turn off bounty collection notifications to avoid being spammed with notifications every time I die. Or you can leave it on as a reminder of how bad some people are at PVP!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 Accomplishments, 2015 Plans

One of the main things that keeps me playing EVE is having large, personal goals. Many of my goals are "complentionist:" PVP in just about every ship, visit every region, and so on.


Trade, Exploration, and Isk
In 2014, I made, in total: 125 billion isk from trading, around 20b from destroying modules of offline POSes, around 3-4b in both casual exploration and from LP in faction war PVP.

One "exploration" goal I have is to visit every system in EVE at least once. Here is the map view of systems I've visited at the end of 2013:

And here is what it looks like now, in January of 2015, a pretty drastic change:


1578 kills, 122 deaths.

I tried to lose 50 ships in one month and failed though not horribly.

While I primarily flew solo and often in an NPC corp or my own corp more recently, I also flew with/in Stay Frosty, a few faction war corporations, Brave Newbies Inc., and (increasingly) in a few dozen public / NPSI fleets.

I made a lot of progress in my PVP goals for EVE. I aim to (1) attempt to solo in about every sub-capital ship, trying out all the "standard" and some not-so-standard fits for them, (2) PVP in some form in every region of the game, and (3) try out every "type" of PVP, though primarily solo. I am nearly done with Tech 1 frigates and destroyers, and have made a decent dent in pirate, navy, Tech 2 frigates, and Tech 1 cruisers.

I also made a lot of friends in 2014, many of which include newer players I've come across. My contact list in game has more than doubled.


Trade, Exploration, and Isk

I will continue trading in 2015, though I am no longer expanding markets in terms of number of orders. I might trade in different areas, and I will certainly change stock to some degree as market trends in 2015 evolve, but my trading is roughly where I want it at the moment. I hope to make around 12b a month, ending the year off at 150b isk from trading.

I also plan to continue to do casual exploration and occasionally search for, and hopefully destroy, more offline POSes, maybe making a bit of isk there as well.

And, of course, I will be visiting new systems. By the end of 2015, I hope to have visited every high security and low security system at least once.


Time constraints permitting, I hope to total at least 100 kills every month of the year and, more importantly, at least 5 or so losses per month--ideally, deaths in glorious solo combat etc. etc., but dying in a fire to blobs also works in a pinch.

More importantly, I hope to finish the first phase of my completionist PVP project, flying solo in every tech 1 frigate, destroyer, and cruiser. With the recent changes to beam lasers I have a few new beam fit frigates to try out, but this should be an obtainable goal, so I also plan to start making progress in tech 2 frigates, destroyers (t3 dessies included), and cruisers.


In December, Sven completed the last racial cruiser skill to V. Racial frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and battlescruisers are all to V, and in two weeks he finally will have access to all medium-sized tech 2 weapons (saving projectiles for dead last, a decision which goes to show how much the change has changed since 2010-2011)! In the queue for the next few months are going to be the tactical destroyer skills to V, gunnery and missile specializations to V, and some of the tech 2 ship skills to V. For my main trading alt, she is working on link skills and jump freighters, while my other minor alts are finishing covert op skills for scouting.

New Goals: Living in different regions

At the end of 2014 I briefly moved to null sec--my first real experience living there since I've started playing. It was a lot of fun, but it also made me realize how much I like living in new areas of space. Some PVP groups are relatively nomadic, moving multiple times per year in pursuit of new space and new fights. I don't think I've fully appreciated this lifestyle until now, so I'm thinking about moving more frequently. My trading alt now has a bowhead, and is fairly close to a jump freighter, both opening up possibilities for risky but large-scale moves that I've never before had. Should I pack up and move to new regions every few months, or should I move to Thera and let the wormholes do the movement for me? I will be posting more about this soon, once I make up my mind.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thanks for Reading: 3+ Years Playing, 1+ Year Blogging

I did not realize it, but I've been posting on this blog for over a year now. This blog's birthday was November 14th, 2013, and has accumulated over 60 posts, at varying levels of content and readability. My main character, full name Sven Viko VIkolander turned 3 years old on October the 16th, 2011, at 5:09PM to be exact. That fateful day after which I would not play virtually any other game in over 3 years (I should actually thank CCP for saving me a lot of money!).

Here is the story behind my character's name: The name was chosen arbitrarily. Sven, after the name of a random past friend; Viko, because it sounds like a male version of "Vika," the name of a great Pianist, and "VIkolander" because typo. But, things are permanent in EVE, and as a result they have a way of becoming endearing to the people behind the keyboards.

My first post was on November 14th, a short bit about my history in EVE. My second post was a compilation of isk I made running exploration sites while living in low security space. I've kept this blog "low profile," as I blog about EVE primarily because I love writing about EVE, and I love reading about EVE.

So, if you've visited this site and read any of my posts over the past year, thank you. 

Like many players, I got "hooked" on EVE primarily through the community...

I got into exploration watching JonnyPew's early videos (didn't we all?)...

I got into PVP largely from watching Alliance Tournament X, but then even more so from the streams that followed. After ATX broadcasts, the player formerly known as "Kil2," now CCP Rise, would often stream, along with the still active streamer Sard Caid (whom I still love watching). They and countless others inspired me to PVP...

I got into market trading reading the many fantastic blobs about markets, trading, and industry in EVE, some of which are listed to the right...

So, I guess you could say I owe everything I love about EVE to the community. When I first started playing, I devoured blogs about all aspects of EVE. I got hooked on the game more from reading about it than actively playing it, and I still love reading about and watching EVE almost as much as playing it (sometimes more). So if you are a "content creator," a blogger or video maker or streamer, thank you. You've made the game what it is for me, where I am over 3 years in and still deeply enjoying so much of the game and community.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Wish List: The Top Seven Necessary PVP Changes in EVE

My wish list for changes to EVE in 2015 consists primarily of small tweaks to numbers that would make PVP--solo PVP especially--much, much more enjoyable. These changes would get more people in space and more people losing ships, which are the two basic ingredients for healthy PVP in EVE. These changes are also "flexible," in that they do not depend for their effectiveness on the exact proposals or numbers I have. Any changes in these areas would be good changes, in other words. These changes would also specifically be good for solo and small gang players.

1. No security status penalties for combat inside faction war complexes

This change is long overdue, as security status penalties for PVP inside faction war complexes benefits no one and harms new players, faction war players, and everyone else looking for PVP in LS. Players go to faction war complexes either to PVP, or to make isk while knowing they might get targeted, so faction war players (along with everyone else) should not have a penalty for engaging targets inside plexes.

2. Remove fleet warp

This is likely to be unpopular with the masses, only because it is one of the single largest crutches of large fleet PVP. Fleet warps unfairly advantage blobs over small gang maneuverability, and if it were removed it would mean equal size or smaller fleets that are more coordinated than the opposing fleet could inflict more casualties, preying on fleet members that fail to follow FC warp commands and using their coordination to their advantage. Fleet commanders cannot align other fleet members, activate their guns or other modules, nor can they (as of January 2015) use multiboxing software to effectively fly more than one ship at a time, so why should FCs be able to warp an entire fleet with a single click?

3. Reduce Drone DPS by Around 3-5% Across the Board

The exact numbers here don't exactly matter, because drone DPS is far too powerful across the board. The "OP" ship in every class is, almost without exception (rail tengus, cough) a drone boat. A roughly 3-5% nerf to the DPS of drones would be small enough to keep drone ships almost as viable as they currently are, while also bringing drone ships (such as the ishtar, VNI, tristans, etc.) more in line with non-drone ships of the same class. CCP members have said off-hand that drones in general are too strong at the moment, so they seem to agree with this assessment.

4. Increase Medium Projectile Rate of Fire by Around 2% 

Small beams have been improved and are now surprisingly good on ships like the confessor, coercer, tormentor, and so on, and now it is time to improve medium projectiles. They are, to be frank, stuck in 2010, when autocannons and hurricanes and rifters were absolutely dominant, but they have fallen behind in the power-creep of the past 4 years. A modest ROF increase would help medium projectile ships, which are, almost without exception, the current worst-in-class ships.

5. Reduce Warfare Link Effectiveness by Around 50%

The effectiveness of links--especially in the form of command ships or T3s--is the single most powerful boost to a solo player, small gang, or fleet in game, to the extent that if you lack links (solo, small gang, or fleet) while your enemy has links, you are at a huge disadvantage, about as huge as lacking logistics ships when the opposing force has logistics. It is clear that CCP is not going to "fix' off-grid boosts anytime soon, and "fixing" OGBs would not solve many of the current problems with links. The current problem is caused simply by the fact that links are just too powerful. They are "required" in fleets and small gangs--and some would say solo as well, especially when fighting out-numbered (which is pretty much always). The best possible solution is not making boosting ships only effective on grid (which brings in problems with EVE's bizarre "Grid" system), but simply making the benefit of links less effective. Personally, I would say this is the first or second main change needed on the list, with the more needed change possibly going to #6...

6. Local Chat Delay: Pilots do not appear in local chat upon entering a system until their gate cloak ends. 

EVE online is strange among most PVP games in how much free intel players are given. In virtually every other game with a large PVP focus, you are not given immediate numbers and detailed lists of every player nearby or in system. Intel in EVE is cheap--everything from how many players are in local with you, to the specific details of who is in local and, using killboards or external tools like Pirate's Little Helper, the PVP statistics of each of those pilots. Some players (myself included) would like local chat removed across the board, making basic intel something you have to work for in any system. However, a highly modest but hugely effective compromise would be to add a local chat delay, tied to the cloak when entering a system. This would give pilots entering system a brief window where they could scout, and it would slightly lessen the complete invulnerability players in system have (it would also give a benefit to players actively scouting or camping at gates, giving that they could still see if players entered local via the gate flash, but it would also be a nerf to gate camps, in that they could no longer immediately tell how many entered local with a gate activation, making camps slightly more vulnerable to incoming gangs). If you do not want to killed--say, if you are ratting or shooting a POS in a null sec system--then you simply have to stay aligned to a POS or station and immediately warp when someone enters local. The only thing safer than the advantage local chat gives players is staying in station (and it is only slightly safer for the players who pay attention), and it needs to be removed, at least to some degree.

7. Increase Fleet Warp Speed on Battlecruisers and Battleships to be closer to Cruisers

The warp speed changes in Rubicon were a double-edged sword. On one hand, they made cruiser-sized ships and below (particularly interceptor fleets) much more viable and enjoyable in just about every environment, including solo PVP. On the other hand, they made flying BC and BS sized ships--particularly when solo--much more painful. The disparity between cruiser warp speed and BC and BS warp speed is far too great, and should be slightly reduced so that BCs and BSs have a higher base warp speed--low enough to be out run by smaller ships like cruisers and below, but not as large as it is currently.