Category Archives: EVE Online

Why I didn’t play EVE at launch

It seems everybody I know is ill at the moment. In contrast to my typical behavior when it comes to games and hardware (I’m typically a late adopter), I was ahead of everybody this time. I was ill all of last week and half-ill this week, which I’ll blame the lack of posts on this time. Because I need something to put the blame on this time around, right?

Anyway, Ripard asks whether his readers would have played EVE Online at launch in 2003. I like that question, because it is not at all hypothetical to me. I actually tried out EVE at launch. (Or maybe shortly afterwards. Must’ve been before Castor released in December of 2003 because I remember rumors in chat about T2 ships.) I tried it, and was turned away fast.

Ripard names a couple of things that weren’t in the game at launch and that are considered fundamental pieces of EVE these days: war-decs, POSes, capitals, T2 ships, a mature player market. None of the these turned me away from the game, though.

No, the thing that made me boggle and leave after just a few sessions was… seriously, you develop a game about fighting and trading in space… a game like Privateer, an online game like Jumpgate, just grander… and I can’t fly my spaceship?

Most EVE players probably don’t think about this any more when they log in, but at that time, it felt utterly ridiculous to me that “flying” your spaceship meant choosing targets from a list and hitting a button. That system surely was designed by someone who sucked at even the most basic flight simulators! I wanted to use first-person view out of my cockpit, and my joystick! In a way, all flying in EVE is autopilot-based. “Manual” flying means clicking somewhere in space and hoping the ship will fly in vaguely that direction. All normal flying is based on choosing a target and a command (approach, orbit, warp to).

I mean, how strange is that? At that point, I came from trying out Jumpgate, which annoyed me for other reasons (which I have mostly forgotten). A spaceship game which didn’t allow you to actually fly your spaceship seemed like the weirdest idea to me. Surely, only crazy Icelanders who had too much rotten shark could’ve come up with such an idea? That would never fly! (1 Euro in the pun jar, yes yes…) The game would crash and burn and nobody would remember it in 5 years!

Yeah, I’m obviously great at predictions.

Anyway, that’s why I didn’t play EVE when it was released. If EVE were to be released for the first time today, I still wouldn’t. Only playing this weird “space simulator” which really isn’t one made me think that such a concept might work, after all.

35 Million Skill Points

Good thing that Wilhelm keeps track of his skill points. When I saw his post, I realized hadn’t checked my SP total in some time. It had just rolled over to 35 million, so you’re out of luck and have to endure another pointless numbers post:

Spaceship Command               11,702,768 (*)
Gunnery                          7,752,860 (*)
Engineering                      2,978,040 (*)
Missiles                         2,745,062 (*)
Shields                          1,553,335
Armor                            1,290,305 (*)
Navigation                       1,265,805
Targeting                        1,048,000
Trade                            1,338,235
Drones                             911,217
Resource Processing                471,680
Electronic Systems                 444,776
Rigging                            436,774
Leadership                         421,824
Production                         222,767
Social                             198,935
Neural Enhancement                 159,765 (*)
Science                             45,255
Scanning                            20,729
Corporation Management               1,000
Total                          ~35,000,000

Since EVE recategorized its skills, there are now a lot more categories than before. Some of them make sense: for example, you don’t have to remember any more that armor and rigging skills are under (the now defunct) “Mechanics” and shield skills under “Engineering”. Some categories are a bit more dubious: why Scanning was split off Electronics for a mere seven skills… who knows.

The downside is that it is a lot harder to compare the areas in which I earned additional skills. For the most part, the asterisks are educated guesses on what I remember training. Basically, it’s been another 5 million in mostly gunnery, missiles, and spaceship command. The other categories are short trains for skills that were added to the game with the recent Odyssey expansion: “Infomorph Synchronizing” for reduced jump clone timers, and “Armor Layering” to fly faster with heavy armor. The latter one has already been renamed once in its short life. I have no idea what was wrong with the original “Armor Honeycombing”, I liked it a lot better…. However, most skill progress is still done in The Big Three, with a bunch of long-running skills. That works well with my current play time: I don’t play at all, I just let my pilot sit in his ship, waiting for the subscription to time out.

The Mandatory Titan Test

I’m still 128 days from flying a Titan. That number hasn’t changed a bit in the last 5 million SP. Gunnery skills are not required to get into a Titan, so they don’t get me any closer to one. They do get me closer to actually fit weapon on the theoretical Titan, though, so there’s something.

Plans for the Future

Sit in a station. Log in to train skills. See the subscription timer tick down. Unless something unexpected happens, this might be the last round-number skill point post for a long time. I’ll train a couple more extra-long skills until then. Next up: Advanced Weapon Upgrades V. Getting that out of the way would, in theory, allow me to fly dreadnaughts, the smallest capital class of ships, within a month, and only a couple more days for their guns. Not that I think that’s very likely to happen… ever. But AWU also gives you some other benefits, so it’s probably good to finally get that done. It’s not a fun skill to watch train for weeks while you’re actually playing.

MMO Ennui

It’s that time again.  I come home after work, eye the icons on my desktop (I don’t use my desktop for pretty much anything, but I do keep my game shortcuts there), and just sit there staring at them. I had a pretty good run recently, played a bunch of LotRO, EQ2 and EVE. However, the last couple of days, none of the games could really captivate me.

LotRO was the first to fall off. During the time I didn’t write, I pushed my Hobbit Warden the last couple of levels to the level cap. However, I never really got to the point where I enjoyed Rohan. Too on-rails, too grindy, too… I don’t know. I guess part of it is that there’s nothing at the level cap I really want to do. I’ve exclusively soloed to the top, and as such, I never collected any experience with grouping mechanisms. Wardens will be expected to tank in groups. I don’t think I want to dive straight into that cold water. So all there is to do is grind dailies (blech) or level an alt.

EQ2 had the best run of the three. After hitting level cap on my Swashbuckler late last year, I started an alt Illusionist who, after my general MMO hiatus in spring,  is sitting at 85 at the moment (long-lost post about him in my post queue). I’m somehow missing the motivation for the final push to 90, though. From there I should be able to get groups and waltz my way to 95 and 320 AA easily (or at least that is the hope). I switched guilds from a US-based to a Euro-based guild, but it for the most part stopped raiding around the time I joined, which led to reduced attendance in the guild overall. Nobody really quit, but people just play less, and there are still not a lot of people on to play with. I basically switched from one guild with low attendance due to time zone issues to another guild with low attendance due to other issues. I probably should try and find a larger and more active guild, but I always feel like I’m abandoning people when I leave a guild, even if I’ve only been there a short time and not really contributed much.

EVE is the most recent one I picked up again. At the moment, I’m sitting in my private corp again, population status: 1. I’ve been flying around a bit, doing some missions, but that’s really not something that can keep my interest going. EVE missions are quite repetitive and get boring fast. I’ve been thinking about re-applying to the Uni, but being a Uni member comes with some restrictions I’m not sure I’d want to carry right now (especially when it comes to where you are allowed to go and such). Plus, the Uni is specifically designed to be a transitory corp. Newbies join, and most leave after some time when they learned some ropes. As much as I liked the Uni, this transitory nature made it hard for me to completely feel at home. I’m slow in my socializing, so it sucked when people tended to leave about the time I felt I slowly started to get to know them. I’m still a bit scared about WH and Null, so I’m a little bit scared of finding a corp in one of those areas. Plus, I don’t have a lick of an idea how to go about finding a corp in EVE in the first place. It seems to be all about alliances, but you don’t apply to alliances, you apply to a corp that’s part of an alliance, and I don’t think I could name more than 5 corps without looking them up. And while those 5 would probably interesting places to be, and I’d gladly accept an invitation from them, they are also (highlighted by the fact that an EVE noob like me knows them) famous enough that they wouldn’t accept me. You know the saying with clubs and exclusivity…

At the moment, I’m also lying in wait for FFXIV. I’m having high hopes; on the other hand, I know that I’m almost certainly setting myself up for a disappointment. I don’t even know much about the game, just what I saw over the course of a bunch of beta weekend hours. I think I’m projecting my hope for a good community and lots of socializing and grouping onto a game that’s still mostly a clean slate.

Long story short, just like Syp, who seems to be at a point where he feels like he needs to restructure things, I also have to reconsider what I want. Looking at what I wrote, a common denominator seems to be that I want more social interactions in my MMOs. Soloing MMOs can get boring, surprise! I guess I’ll have to do some thinking and figure out what I want and how to go about it. Suggestions are welcome.

Thirty Million Skill Points

Don’t ask me how it happened. I was weak. For reasons I still cannot figure out myself, I resubscribed to EVE some time ago. And so the 30 million skillpoint mark came and went some time ago. Short look:

Spaceship Command           11,061,943 (*) 
Gunnery                      6,271,210 (*)
Engineering                  2,939,845 (*)
Missile Launcher Operation   1,670,950
Electronics                  1,623,756 (*)
Trade                        1,338,235
Navigation                   1,265,805
Mechanics                    1,719,079 (*)
Drones                         911,217 (*)
Industry                       690,204
Leadership                     421,824
Science                        225,749
Social                         198,435
Corporation Management           1,000
Total                      ~30,300,000

Asterisks denote categories that changed from last time. Unsurprisingly, since I am still in my Perception/Willpower remap, Gunnery and especially Spaceship command have seen the largest increase since last time. Sadly, since it’s been so long that I paid attention to my skills, I cannot really say what I picked up since last time. I think it was T2 Large Hybrids, so I can now fly Caldari and Gallente Battleships (or at least a good part of them) properly. I can also fly the Oneiros now, and other than that, made a decent spread across all the T1 hulls for the different races. I guess the idea was that, since I didn’t know where I’d end up, I better train a wide spread, so whatever they ask me to fly wouldn’t be too much of a train from what I got. Sadly, I didn’t take a snapshot of my skill level distribution this time around, but it seems I picked up a fair bunch of IVs and Vs.

What I’m Currently (Not) Doing

I’m at a total roadblock with EVE at the moment. I’m not with the UNI any more, because they kicked me after a long period of inactivity and when my API key ran out (can’t blame them for that, really can’t). I can’t do anything on my own, except maybe run missions, which gets boring fast. I have a couple of people on my friends list from the EVE university days, but I haven’t talked to them in months because I’ve been offline for so long, so I kinda don’t want to start the conversation with “Heeeeeyyyy… remember me? No? Well, damn. Anyway, can you vouch me into your alliance?” Even worse, I don’t even know what I want to do. Null? Low? Wormhole? it actually all sounds ok, everything would be better than what I’m currently doing. Which is a whole lot of nothing. I log in, stare at my chat windows and friends list (typically people are offline), then jet around in my interceptor from point A to point B, then queue another skill and log off. It’s basically Farmville in Space. Then again, I’m also worried that even if I ended up getting someone to help me with getting back into the groove, I’d have to bail out again eventually. I remember EVE being a good time-sink, and the rest of the year will probably be a lot of work for me. I basically want to finish a first version of my thesis document until the end of the year, and that might mean a lot of long working hours. Plus, there are other games around, too…

So yeah, enough of the morose attitude. If anybody has suggestions, shoot please. Otherwise, I’ll probably just let my subscription time out again.

The Mandatory Titan Test

Funny enough (and fitting for my whole love-hate relationship with the game), my “time until I can fly a Titan” has actually gone up from last time. I mean, what? How is that even possible? I guess it must have something to do with the skill reorganization, and the Titans must’ve picked up different prerequisites. I can’t figure out what they are, though. Jump Portal Generation maybe? In any case, if I won a Titan today, it would now take me another 128 days until I could fly it (difference between the four Titans is only about a day).

Plans for the Future

I think I covered the lack of those quite well. It’s been a year since my last neural remap, so I could, in theory, go for Int/Mem and pick up lots and lots of support skills. That would be perfect for a time in the game where I’m not doing much anything. On the other hand, if I end up doing anything in eve again, Perc/Will will probably be valuable, because it’ll allow me to train for ships and guns much faster. Then again, using my free remap now means the next free remap will come again sooner, and I have 3 bonus remaps available still. Decisions, decisions… Anyway, if I keep playing (or at least paying), and stay in Perc/Will, then I expect to pick up even more guns/missiles/ships. If I go for Int/Mem, most of the skills until the next milestone will go into Engineering, Electronics, and Mechanics.

Wrong Audience

If it is true that 96% of all EVE Online players are male, it is probably safe to assume that most viewers of the EVE Alliance Tournament video stream are, too. I therefore would not have expected to see so many ads for feminine cosmetics and hygiene products.

(Or it’s a personalized ad thing and it has problems profiling me. Facebook is likewise hilariously off whenever I log in and look at the ad sidebar.)

Heads Up: Alliance Tournament

If you’re an EVE player, you probably know about this. If, on the other hand, you’re like me and you’re interested in the game in theory, but rarely play it, you might miss this event otherwise. (I nearly did, I just yesterday asked myself “hasn’t it been a year since the last tournament?”)


For the next three weekends, starting tomorrow, 20 July, the 11th installment EVE Alliance Tournament will take place. Fights start at 13:30 EVE time (15:30 CEST, 9:30 EDT) and continue until 22:00, with a dinner break (or afternoon tea, if that fits your timezone better), each Saturday and Sunday until 4 August. Fights and commentaries will be streamed live, as explained here.

Even though I haven’t actively played EVE in almost a year, I’ll have a look. Last year, I enjoyed watching the fights. I think it’s my preferred form of PvP: watching other people bash each other’s heads in.

EON stops the printing presses forever

Some games are more successful, and some are less. Some are successful enough that they spawn fanzines. Most of the time, this doesn’t work all too well. Either the quality of the writing and topics is questionable (even considering the sad state gaming journalism is in), or the communication between the writers and the game developers is not up to par. If I remember correctly, Blizzard’s general secrecy meant the demise of the “official” WoW magazine after roughly two issues [1]. If you can’t pull news out of the developers’ noses, it’s hard to fill a good magazine. Scantily-clad, buxom, purple night elf lolitas only get you that far with the average readership.

EON #28 cover

The antepenultimate issue of EON, and the last I remember reading.

EON was a bit different. Just like the game it covered, EVE Online, it was an outlier in the market. Its production value was quite high. The printing was top-notch. The writing was (for a game magazine) stellar (which meant it was actually readable). EON was probably the reason I played EVE for as long as I did. When they had a “one year for x% less!” offer a good year ago, I decided to go for it. I didn’t regret it, even though it was still expensive, and it came via mail in a plastic “neutral design” envelope that made it look like a porn magazine. (It also always arrived dog-eared because it didn’t fit into my small mailbox, and our postman seems to like cramming, but that’s a different problem. Not very nice if you like to take care of printed items.) Just as EVE keeps going and going, EON had a surprisingly long life for a printed game-specific magazine. For more than seven years, the quarterly “Official New Eden Magazine” brought news, rumors, and statistics to its readers, all in a slick design and sprinkled with interviews with or snippets about CCP developers and other team members. Now that time is over. Issue no. 30, recently released, has been announced to be the last one, first on the CCP dev blog (where I missed it because I’m horribly out of the loop at the moment when it comes to MMOs), and later via mail (where it reached me just a few hours ago):

It is with regret that we must announce that EON magazine is closing down after nearly 8 incredible years in production. The economic realities are such that it is no longer viable to continue to produce the magazine in spite of EVE enjoying record success in this its 10th year of operation. […]

Our only regret is that we are unable to fully celebrate EVE’s 10th anniversary with one more issue, but we can reveal that we are collaborating with CCP on a new project, to be revealed soon.

I wonder what that new project will be? Something with DUST? Come to think of it, I haven’t even followed the news on the DUST/EVE integration. I still can’t believe it will go well in the end, but I really should spend some time reading again…

In any case, the age of EON is over. I wonder whether we will see a comparable magazine again? It seems printed magazines are dying out. Then, of course, the paperless office never came to pass, so maybe at some point, we’ll see people enjoying printed matters again. It’s unlikely, granted, but as a lover of printed paper, one can hope…


[1] Thanks to Wilhelm’s archive, I now know that it survived for five issues.

Twenty Million Skill Points

While I was on vacation, I passed another milestone in EVE skill points. Last time I looked at my skills, I had just passed the 15 million mark. Now, two months and 5 million skill points later, the distribution looks like this:

Spaceship Command            4,783,925 (*) 
Gunnery                      3,443,574 (*)
Engineering                  2,924,345
Missile Launcher Operation   1,670,950 (*)
Electronics                  1,389,011 (*)
Trade                        1,338,235
Navigation                   1,265,805 (*)
Mechanics                    1,211,517 (*)
Drones                         887,217 (*)
Industry                       690,204
Leadership                     421,824
Science                        225,749 (*)
Social                         198,435
Corporation Management           1,000
Total                      ~20,000,000

Asterisks denote categories that changed from last time. Of those, Missile Launcher Operation, Navigation, Drones, and Science only saw minimal changes. I can’t even remember what exactly it was I trained there. On the other hand, Spaceship Command, Gunnery, and Mechanics saw the largest increase since last time, just as I had predicted.

The longest train in this period was Gallente Cruisers V, which took most of my vacation. (The first week I was gone was for a conference, so I had net and could train some shorter skills during that time.) That it’s Gallente after all, and not Caldari, comes as a bit as a surprise to me. I’ve always liked the Caldari ships, and Tengus are simply awesome. On the other hand, I caught up on armor tanking and hybrid weapons recently, and the leader of my battle group in EVE University wants to experiment with setups that bear some similarity to TWEED gangs, so I decided to train Gallente before Caldari for this one.

That means I picked up skills to fly a couple more Tech2 ships. Together with Gallente Cruisers V, I trained up Heavy Assault Ships IV and Logistics IV, so I can now fly the Deimos, Ishtar, and Oneiros. I cannot fly Recons because I’m missing the CovOps prerequisites, nor can I fly the Phobos Heavy Interdictor.

I can also equip those more expensive ships properly, because since the last milestone, I picked up skills for T2 medium hybrid weapons, and a bunch of Gunnery support skills, as well as decent (if not great) armor tanking skills; enough to fit T2 armor tanks, a very very good idea for every ship armor-tanked anyway.

Looking at the skill level distribution:

Level 0:  1
Level 1: 15
Level 2: 24
Level 3: 37
Level 4: 48
Level 5: 29

Quite a spread. It follows the old adage of “everything worth training is worth training to level IV”, though. I just lose interest in a lot of skills early. When it comes to training skills, I go through two-phase cycles. Either I don’t know what to train at all, and just put in something long, or I have so many things I want to train as soon as possible that I stop training at level II or III as soon as the bare requirements are met. I guess I should round off some skills soon.

The skill at level 0 is a bit odd. It means I injected the skill, but then never trained it up at all. That rarely happens if I buy a skill before I head out somewhere where skill book supply is scarce, but want to finish training something else first. The skill in question is Nanite Operation. Whoops! Totally forgot about that one! That might be worth training, definitely!

The Mandatory Titan Test

All of this training, however, has not brought me closer to a Titan by even a single day. I am still 118 days away from the closest Titan (the Leviathan), of which 77 days are for training Advanced Spaceship Command and Capital Ships to V, and another 30 for Caldari Battleship V. Not that I have any intention of flying a titan anyway, but there. 2 months of training, and not a day shaved off.

Future Plans

I am in a bit of a slump again with EVE at the moment. Back when I was still a Sophomore, I had something to work towards. After becoming an EVE Uni graduate, my play time has gradually decreased, though. I did not play all that much in the month before I went on vacation, and I’m not even really sure what the ILN is up to these days. I hope I can find something fun to do, because I have lots of memories of just sitting around, waiting for anything to happen (like just some sort of fleet, even one that doesn’t do much), and nothing happening at all. In the last months, TSW has been released, LotRO has been calling out to me again, and RIFT’s one-year-plus-expansion-soon deal has rekindled my interest in the game. Competition has become more fierce again. Let’s see how EVE will hold up against that.

The EVE Alliance Tournament X, Part 2

This is part 2 of my notes and thoughts about this year’s EVE Alliance Tournament. It seems that there were some problems with the publication date of the first post, and it didn’t show up in some feed readers, so here is the link to part 1.

This year’s stars

Finally, I can recycle a picture I used before! Ahem… I mean: The Harpy, one of the heavily featured assault frigates in the alliance tournament.

The largest difference to last year was the shift towards frigates and assault frigates that were patched in the last months. These patches buffed these ships considerably, and the tournament teams realized this. The low cost, high damage, and potential to field more EWAR made these frigates very appealing to virtually all teams, especially compared to last year, where this ship type was almost non-existent; the only ships of that hull sizes brought last year were pirate faction frigates, and in much smaller numbers. For comparison: of the ten most fielded ships this tournament, five were frigates or assault frigates. Last year, only a single frigate hull made it into the top 10, and it was a pirate frigate (the Dramiel).

No other module was discussed as much during the tournament as the ancillary shield booster (ASB). The way normal shield boosters work is that they continuously convert some of your capacitor into shield, similar to casting heals on yourself in other games: you trade capacitor (mana) for shield (life). The ASB works more like a potion: instead of using cap, it uses charges. When it runs out, it goes into a lengthy reloading cooldown. In effect, it is a bit like health potions in other games: you get some life for “free”, but you can’t use it all the time. The ASBs proved to be very powerful within the confines of the tournament. Since there was a limited amount of ships that each side was allowed to bring, it was possible for many ships to withstand even concentrated attacks without any problems until they had to go into reload. They would die eventually, but it took the opposing team a lot more precious time. It was probably a wise decision to limit the use of ASB modules to at most one per ship; otherwise, we might’ve seen battles that would’ve stalled at some point because neither side could kill off the other. I’m not sure how much influence the ASBs had with respect to armor vs. shield tanking setups; I would assume it favored shield tanking to the point that it would’ve been preferred by the teams (since at least so far, there is no armor equivalent to the ASBs), but it seems previous tournaments seemed to have similar numbers of shield fleets.

The ASBs were more powerful in the 6-ship preliminaries than the 12-ship final rounds, to the point where it was very hard to break ASB tanks for some teams. There was a lot of discussion on how long it would take CCP to nerf this overpowered module. However, I don’t think it is actually overpowered. It can just showcase its advantages very well in these setups: as soon as you have larger fleets battling each other, the incoming damage is too high for the ASB to make much of a difference; it gets overpowered almost immediately and can’t keep up with the incoming damage. I do wonder though whether CCP has plans for an armor repairer equivalent. On the other hand, armor has other perks.

Finally, a thing that makes me sad: the continuing dominance of Minmatar ships, and low number of Amarr ships in the tournament.It’s a well-known fact in New Eden that Minmatar ships are, on average, the best for PvP, and Amarr ones are the worst. I refuse to let this also  become a well-accepted fact, at least in my mind. I dislike Minmatar ship model design (to me, they look like somebody by accident soldered an engine to a discarded scrap metal heap), so maybe I’m just bitter. Nevertheless, it is obvious that EVE is like many other games in that balancing issues plague PvP. At least everybody can train for every ship type, which mitigates the problems somewhat. There is also some hope: in those ship classes that were introduced or rebalanced since last year (frigates, assault frigate, T3 battlecruisers), the numbers of fielded ships are much more even. So maybe we’ll see more even numbers in the future. Though, by the speed the rebalancing goes, that will be a distant future.

My personal favorites

I can’t decide on one single favorite game, so I’ll mention two, for very different reasons. The first one was the second intermediate round match between Pandemic Legion and Rote Kapelle. Both teams had won their first match of the group, and a win in this one virtually guaranteed progress into the elimination finals. Pandemic Legion decided to seal their progression by virtue of bringing the most powerful ships they had at hand. They brought their Bhaalgorn flagship, decked out with ridiculously expensive officer modules, and no less than four limited edition frigates with massive bonuses – these had been rewards from a previous tournament. A rough estimation is that PL invested no less than 100 billion ISK (that’s roughly 200 months of game time, if you buy them on the market) into that match. And lost. They didn’t lose all their ships though, and they made it into the finals by winning their last match, but… that match was impressive the way Ben Hur is: it’s not necessarily a great movie, but it impresses by numbers. Michael Bolton III, one of the commentators (and TEST alliance member) seemed to be close to a heart attack during the match.

My favorite when it came to the setup and originality was the last round-of-sixteen match between Exodus. and Agony Empire. Agony’s team defied all standard logic:

  • Instead of as many ships as allowed, they brought only seven of twelve.
  • The rules required that you bring no more than one logistics ship, and no more than one ship with repairs. Instead of the obvious logistics choice, they put their repair modules on a Tengu.
  • They brought several ships that are typically armor tanked into a shield tank setup.

The reason this setup worked was because of the immense tanks on each of the ships they brought. They set it up in a way that it was almost impossible for the opposing team to kill any ship, and also almost impossible to run out of capacitor, so they could keep up repairs for the whole duration of the match. Of course, their DPS suffered greatly, but their reasoning was that in the end, the team with more points would advance. Which meant killing a single frigate in the available 10 minutes would be enough to advance.

It almost worked out. Agony killed two frigates, and would’ve advanced, but then Exodus. managed to find a weak(er) spot and kill one of the Agony ships before it could be repaired back up. From that point, the match was over.

The final reason why I like this match is because I figured it out really early, while the commentators were clueless for half the match, wondering what the hell Agony was thinking bringing such a setup. Yes, I’m smug, thank you! But it was such a beautifully crafted, interdependent group of ships, with cap transfers, repairs, and massive tanks, all tailored to eke out this minimum-point victory. I’m really sad it didn’t work out in the end.

And now for something completely different

CCP has been toying with one of those fun side projects called “skyward sphere”. It basically is a light plastic cast structure in the form of an EVE Online capsule, that was to be sent to the official border of space (100km above ground) via a weather balloon. The capsule contained the names and portraits of all EVE players who had an active subscription to EVE on 31 December, 2001. Originally, the sphere was to be launched during fanfest, but bad weather made this impossible. CCP launched the sphere a few weeks later, with cameras that streamed the ascend and descent. Sadly, the balloon only got into stratosphere, but the pictures are stunning nonetheless:

I think this is a very cool idea, and CCP already said they want to try again. The footage from the launch was shown in an inter-match break during the Alliance Tournament. Preceding it, there was a very funny skit about “CCP Space Laboratories”, complete with spoofs of Carl Sagan spoof , a German rocket scientist, and “live” centrifuge experiments with hamsters. Sadly, it is not featured by CCP in their youtube video collection, and I couldn’t find it anywhere either. I really want to watch it again.

Finally, the tournament’s live streaming was… less than optimal at times. So, CCP decided to do something about it:

The EVE Alliance Tournament X

Because this post kept getting longer and longer, I decided to split it in two. This is part one. Part two will be released when it’s ready(tm), hopefully tomorrow or on the weekend.

And the winner is… somebody who nobody seemed to have on their list. Me neither, but that’s not a surprise, seeing how I still know very little about powerhouse corps in EVE. So, congratulations Verge of Collapse!

With that out, let’s look at a couple of features. Warning: This will contain tactical theorizing by someone who doesn’t have any clue. As always, I will try to keep it accessible to people without much knowledge about EVE. This is on the one hand to keep it understandable for non-EVE-players, but also because my own knowledge is still limited.

The rules

The tournament started with preliminary group stages, where each team was allowed to bring up to 6 ships worth up to 50 points total. The points list was decided and published beforehand by CCP. The cheapest ships (T1 frigates) cost 2 points, up to 20 points for the most expensive (faction battleships). After the group stages, the top 50% of teams went into an intermediate group stage of 4 teams each, fighting round-robin team battles, with the top two teams from each group progressing to an elimination stage. In those two groups, the limits were doubled: up to 12 ships worth up to 100 points in total. The winner was decided by looking at who had killed more ship-points of the opposing team within 10 minutes (or until one team was eliminated, then the survivor was declared the winner, obviously).

The setups

One common feature of almost all setups was a dual-battle approach. Most teams brought a group of battleships or battlecruisers for the “big fight”, and a bunch of assault, electronic attack, or plain T1 frigates for a “support fight”. In addition, many teams brought one or two cruisers for logistics (“healing”) or various forms of “debuffing” (neuts, damps). A decisive win in one of these two could decide the battle. Winning the big-ship fight left the enemy with too little firepower to win; wiping out the enemy’s support ships allowed you to cripple the big ships and sway that fight in your favor. This could make for interesting battles, because several things happened at the same time.

There were, of course, exceptions to that rule. Especially during the last battles of the intermediate group stages, if out the outcome didn’t matter any more for qualification, teams brought a lot of “comedy setups”, These fights were actually fun to watch, because they brought some variety.

Other than that, it seemed to me as if there were three main setups that worked a bit like rock-paper-scissors with each other, and another one or two slightly less popular setups. These dominated the tournament, especially as it progressed.

The Minmatar Rush: Felt to me like the most popular setup. The backbone was a relatively large group of T1 and T2 Minmatar battlecruisers, Sleipnirs and Cyclones, specifically. Typically supported by a Scimitar for logistics and ASBs on each ship (more about ASBs in a minute). These can do a frighteningly large amount of damage while being quite resilient (especially the Sleipnirs with their higher innate T2 resists).

The Double/Triple Vindicators: Seemed to work like a great counter to the Rush. The Vindicators (or, as a replacement, sometimes the similar Kronos) are Gallente faction battleships that come with a bonus to webs. If anything comes into their web range, they can slow it down by 90%. This spells doom for the Minmatar battlecruisers, who rely on speed to evade damage from battleships. In addition, the Vindicators can tank an immense amount of damage, especially when supported by an Oneiros Logistics.

The Vargurs: It wasn’t a very popular setup overall, but by the virtue of HUN Reloaded, who went all the way into the final by bringing the same setup over and over again, it made this list. On paper, it looked like a very weird idea. The Vargurs are Marauders, a class of ships that is typically associated with PvE rather than PvP. However, this setup was very flexible, and maybe HUN also was lucky that they always seemed to bring the right counter to each battle. It makes a great counter to the Vindicators, because the Vargurs can stay out of range of the webs, and project a huge amount of damage on battleships. It could also work well against Minamatar Rush teams, provided the support frigates could pin down their enemies, and the Vargurs and their Scimitar Logistics weren’t sensor damped and therefore could project damage from range. HUN even survived an ECM team, which is all the more surprising seeing how ECM is typically the Marauders’ Achilles heel. They just happened to bring support with remote sensor boosters to counter the ECM in exactly the right fight. Honi soit qui mal y pense? I don’t know. The Vargurs finally met their demise in the final match at the hands of a Minmatar Rush team with heavy dampening fielded by Verge of Collapse.

ECM: Every now and then, teams fielded an ECM setup. This is typically very risky and chance-based. Since ECM only has a chance to jam the enemy ships, the fight can easily go either way, and typically ends in total destruction for one of the teams. If you manage to jam out most of the opponents ships until you can kill one or two, you can apply more and more jammers to fewer and fewer ships, which increases the chance that they stay jammed, which makes for a safe victory. If, on the other hands, the jams do not work in the beginning, it is easy to lose one or two of your (typically much weaker in both offense and defense) ECM ships, and the fights tips the other way: you have fewer and fewer jammers left to jam the other team, ships get jammed less often, you lose more ECM ships, and you’re downhill without a chance to recover. I still enjoyed these a lot, maybe because I’m a Caldari pilot myself, and ECM is Caldari territory (and also sadly one of the few setups you actually see many Caldari ships in).

Drone Boats: Also a rather rare setup, the drone teams benefit from two properties of drones. They can reach out quite far with their drones, and they are much less susceptible to ECM, because drones keep attacking their target even if you lose a ship lock due to jams. (They also can switch between light and heavy drone types, so they can kill frigates and battleships equally well, though that wasn’t that important in the tournament, with the drone boats bringing the heavy DPS and the frigates killing each other.) Their downside is the typically more fragile drone boats, and the fact that it seems to be hard to actually get the drones to do the on-paper damage during a real fight. Also the fact that drones typically have to travel to their target first to attack from close, so there is considerable downtime if you switch targets. These downsides resulted in drone teams not doing very well overall. Props for trying, though!