Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pillaging POSes - Now and Later

"Real life" has had me fairly busy lately, though I'm often working from home or at least with access to EVE. When busy, I like to work on long-term projects that I can chip away at in play sessions of 30 minutes or less. One of those long-term projects involves visiting every system in EVE.

As readers may know, when I visit high security systems I like to use combat scanner probes to search for players, POSes, drones, and of course cosmic signatures. Sometimes, I happen upon inactive POSes with modules that can be destroyed, and I have a particular fondness for pillaging these vulnerable bases.

My routine goes like this:

I enter a new system, making some bookmarks while using combat scanner probes (scanning on the setting "show all"). A few close probe scans around celestial clusters reveals all of the starbases in system, from giant complexes like this beautiful but lag-inducing POS:

...to the dozens upon dozens of abandoned control towers in near every system.

A combat scan around a celestial offers a top-down picture of all of the POSes (et al.) around the planet:

A habit I've now taken to is bookmarking all active POSes I find. There's no reason not to, and when I pass through visited systems I briefly check the active POSes. This new method has helped me find a few POSes that have lapsed in upkeep, and sometimes find them before others do.

Well, as I've described in previous posts, this can be a fairly lucrative business, and I know of at least a few dozen players now that sometimes engage in the same type of search and destroy scanning. However, it has been quite a while since I found a decent haul from looting laboratories, assembly arrays, and hangars...until recently!

A nice 1.9 billion isk collection of minerals and research and PI materials, not a bad find at all.

However, my recent return to POS pillaging has me wondering what will come of this profession after the upcoming overhaul of structures in EVE. With the just released entosis module, POS "destruction" will no longer involve shooting (at least at the L and XL size structures, so far as we currently know from the early dev blogs). So, presumably, can we expect that inactive POSes will be even easier to remove? Currently there is little reason to destroy lone inactive towers because of the DPS needed (or inactive towers with guns and batteries, modules which cannot be destroyed or looted until after the tower is destroyed). However, after the structure rebalance, it seems like it will simply take (in HS) a war dec and then a few minutes (?) of entosis magic. Will this "Destroy" the structure, creating a killmail, or will this de-activate it and allow it to be scooped? We don't yet know. I would personally prefer the entosis link to destroy the structure itself, resulting in a killmail, with some plan for what loot can drop and what will be "stored" in some way for the owner (the structure dev blog features a lengthy discussion in the comments about what method of "storing" dropped loot for players should be taken. I don't have a preference.)

But what about active structures in HS? Currently, high security space POSes are very safe when active, even without guns, simply due to the time commitment involved in trying to destroy them. Plus, an active corp will immediately take the valuables out of the POS when a war is declared, making it a waste of isk for the attackers as well. What will happen after the structure rebalance, though? Here would be a bad outcome: A single player can declare war on Red Versus Blue, who owns many dozens of customs offices around high sec (these POCOs become some version of new structures after the overhaul, the dev blog states), and then travel all around HS putting all of RVB's POCOs into reinforce. That, it seems to me, would be a bad outcome. On the other hand, what I do think HS needs is more conflict-drivers. The introduction of player-owned customs offices in HS a few years ago was an amazing change, one of the best in the game's history, because it added an entirely new source of conflict in the game. HS (as well as all other areas of space, LS and NPC Null especially) need more sources of conflict. So ideally, the structure revamp will 1) create many new sources of conflict in New Eden, while 2) not giving the attacker too much of an advantage to the point that it is never safe to drop a structure in space. I don't know how to balance 1 and 2, but I am eager to see how CCP tries to do it, and I hope "POS Pillaging" will live on into the future.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Solo PVP in Every Ship

The following list is my own personal progress in my goal to solo PVP in every (or just about every) ship in EVE. It also includes my favorite ships and favorite fittings when I have a preference. In most cases I have flown in 1-5 different fittings for each ship, and on average 3. I am almost done with tech 1 frigates, rookie ships, interceptors, except for a few odd cases. Obviously I've flown many ships in classes larger than frigates and destroyers, but I am still working on better skills for those classes in most cases. The example fights listed aren't necessarily the best I had in the ship (they do not include fights versus small or large gangs, for instance) but they just represent a bit of what the ship can successfully fight against, and matter to me personally. This list is purely for the sake of my own personal goals in EVE, and certainly not an attempt at being an "elite" PVPer. It's simply me having fun with "completionist" goals:

Solo Kills and Favorite Fits

T1 Frigates:

Favorite: Breacher, Atron, Merlin, Tormentor, Tristan, Probe

         Favorite fits: 1. AB, AAR Neutrons (LS)
         2. AB, 150mm Railguns (LS)
         Favorite Fit: Dual Rep, Cap Booster (LS)
         Favorite Fit: Dual MASB neuting “baby Tristian”

          Favorite Fits: 1. LML MSE
          2. Dual MASB Rockets
          Favorite Fit: Neutrons, MSE, Dual Web, AB “honor Merlin”
Kestral vs. Executioner https://zkillboard.com/kill/31354376/
          Favorite Fit: Rocket, AB or MWD, MSE scram range kiter (LS or NS)
          Favorite Fit: Dual Web, AB, Scram, TD

          Favorite Fits: 1. SAAR, TD, 200mm Autocannons (LS)
          2. MSE, TD, 200mm Autocannons (LS)
Breacher vs. Tristan https://zkillboard.com/kill/41121013/
          Favorite Fit: 1. SAAR, MASB, rockets (LS)
          2. MASB LML kiter (LS)
          Favorite Fit: Dual MASB battle probe

Executioner vs. Cormorant https://zkillboard.com/kill/38563819/
          Favorite Fit: SAAR, Focused Pulse, scram-range kiter (LS)
Crucifier vs. Crucifier https://zkillboard.com/kill/42908980/

Rookie Ships:

Navy Frigates:

Pirate Frigates:
Garmur vs.
Daredevil vs.
Dramiel vs.
Cruor vs.
Succubus vs.
Worm vs.
Astero vs. Caracal Navy Issue https://zkillboard.com/kill/37675586/

Ore Frigates:
Prospect vs.

Ares vs.
Claw vs.
Malediction vs.

Stealth Bombers:
Nemesis vs.
Manticore vs.
Hound vs.
Purifier vs. Harbinger Navy Issue https://zkillboard.com/kill/39011571/

T1 Destroyers:
          Favorite Fit: 400mm plate Dual Light Pulse Lasers
          Favorite Fit: LML MSE kiter
          Favorite Fit: 200mm Autocannons, MSE
          Favorite Fit: MSE, Light Ions. Small Neut
          Favorite Fit: Neutrons, Web, max DPS “honor” catalyst
          Favorite Fit: Dual MASB Rockets

T3 Destroyers:
Confessor vs. Cerberus https://zkillboard.com/kill/44266198/
          Favorite Fit: Dual Light Beam, SAAR, 10MN AB, Kite Confessor

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The State of EVE - Ship Kills from December 2014 to March 2015

A while back, I started tracking monthly ship kills in EVE, collecting data from as far back as 2010. Ship kills in low sec and null sec are a small indicator of the amount of PVP activity in the game, which is itself a small indicator of the game's overall health. December 2014 from March 2015 marks a distinct phase in the game's life, insofar as Phoebe (with its jump changes) released in November and Rhea (with the introduction of Thera) released in December. March represents fanfest and the start of discussion of "fozziesov," including announcement of the upcoming structure rebalance and initial changes to null sec sov coming as soon as April. So, let's look at the past 4 months of ship losses in low sec, null sec, and both regions combined, and all of them indicated on the purple line:

If you attended fanfest or watched the streams (or read the follow-up blogs) you likely got a sense that many players are concerned, but not pessimistic or completely unhappy, about low security space. The graph explains a bit about why players who PVP in LS are a bit concerned: LS ship losses in February and March drop below the losses in 2013 and 2014. Now, to be frank, 2013 and 2014 were both fantastic years for LS PVP, and 2015 is following similar trends, but many have a sense that LS needs more players, more content drivers, and ultimately more PVP. Non-FW LS (it exists!) in particular needs help, and faction war needs an iteration that will 1) expand it and 2) make PVP more central no matter the state of the tiers. However, because of recent events LS PVP will spike in April and after....what recent events? Well, obviously, the fact that BRAVE moved back into LS, making their new home in Defsunun the top system for ship kills in LS by far since their arrival. The uptick should not be taken as evidence that low security space is in a satisfactory place: it does need iteration, and unfortunately there are simply not enough devs at CCP to iterate on everything that currently needs iteration. Now let's turn to ship kills in null sec, a completely different story...

 That's right, null security space saw more ship kills in March of 2015 than any other month in any year prior in 11 years (expect the anomalous April of 2012). It seems that all null sec needed was not actually a change in sov, but a mere suggestion that sov would be changing, in order to see more activity. CCP's best tool for increasing activity in game, it would seem, is merely suggesting that they will change that area of space. In any case, the activity in null sec during this 4 month period is due in large part to the fighting in Catch, the general "thunderdome" or "farmingdome" of EVE, as well as increasing activity in Fountain and Delve. Null sec, from these numbers, is looking to be in very good shape, and even if "fozziesov" is only a moderate improvement on the current sov system, given the current level of activity in NS, we should continue to see the ship losses and PVP activity skyrocket in April and especially in June/July when the bigger changes come. This should make the summer of 2015 the most active period of PVP in EVE Online's history... Summer is coming, indeed!

Here, finally, is what LS+NS look like combined, an important stat considering that many players (such as most of BRAVE) go back and forth between LS and NS. (I myself have been more active in NS lately in virtue of the amount of the PVP there, so in many cases LS players count as NS players and vice versa):

Combined, the total ship losses suggest that PVP activity in EVE is pretty good. In fact, it is close to all time high numbers, and on the uptick (much more so than in previous years). Simply from this graph, one can tell that there is a lot of excitement about EVE right now that simply wasn't present in March of any other year. Summer is coming indeed.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Market Milestones - 200b isk from Trade

My trade project keeps plugging along, making 18b in March on my two characters, and now has 10 straight months over 10b isk. The main milestone is that I've now made 200b isk total trading (the above chart does not include profit in April or a third character I briefly traded on in Thera). Since the late fall of 2014 I have stopped increasing the size of my markets (number of orders and locations) and instead have focused on optimizing the items I trade, optimizing how and when I restock, and especially optimizing the efficiency of my trading. So, even though I do not necessarily make more isk trading now than I did back in late 2014, I spend at least 200% less time on trading total per week than I did during the winter.

Since the fall of 2014 I have also stopped putting isk back into my trade hubs, and instead have turned to making long-term investments with the excess profit. At any given time, I often have only a few billion isk on all my characters. A while back, I did an experiment where I pretended to invest around 100b isk on the market, doing very little research, and would have made an estimated 12b isk from these investments in a few months. So, I've now turned toward long term investments of all sorts, following that model. I've been buying (and selling) more PLEX since even if it substantially drops in price I can use it for other purposes. I've also made a bunch of different investments in all sorts of items--a bit of everything except minerals and moon products, basically.

In terms of expenses, my two accounts are paid for about 6 months in advance. I still only lose/spend less than a billion isk per month, but I make at least that much isk causally from other sources--loot from destroying POS modules, LP when I am in faction war, and exploration sites here and there. Last month Sven lost 750m isk, the second most I've ever lost in a month, but the month prior I only lost 60m, and 156m before that, given that I am (still) primarily flying frigates, destroyers, and cruisers. I will eventually fly more expensive ships, but I am still working through many of the smaller tech 1 hulls in my goal to solo in every combat capable ship in game. This is all just to say that I trade primarily for higher-level sanctification it brings as a type of gameplay in EVE, rather than, say, to fund all of my activities. There might come a time when I still plat EVE but get tired of trading, but it takes so little and and effort at this point that I will likely continue for the foreseeable future. If there is ever another "PLEX for good" campaign, I will likely "cash out" all of my markets and investments and donate it there.