Battle report, February 18

[This is the copy of a report I posted on my alliance forum]

When Marcel calls, we answer.

Fleet was to be composed of kiting tier 2 battlecruisers. I went ahead in a Helios to scout the systems we'd be roaming while the fleet was forming.

Entry point was Ouelletta. There had already been some kills in local with two corpses in space. One was identified as a Black Frog pilot who had lost his cyno alt. We didn't bother with the Anshar. Instead I looked for the Tornado that did the killing, but he soon logged after I got David's Drake got in system. With local down to four I moved on.

I found Dirty Worm belt ratting in Melmaniel, presumably fielding an active tanked Deimos based on his recorded losses. By now the fleet was up and moving. The BC gang was holding at the Melmaniel gate in Ouelletta awaiting my signal. However, Dirty Worm logoffskied when David started chasing him around. Moments later Dax Jr sighted equincu ocha, a Tusker pilot, in his Brutix heading to either Costolle or Murethand. David went on to pursue him.

Meanwhile Gunther Lutgens in a Legion had jumped to Ouelletta and came in contact with the crew. He quickly cloaked and got away. We didn't know then that Lutgens was equincu's armor boosting alt.

David made his way to Hevrice and docked at the Tusker's base station to find IK Thel, Thomas Castle(boosting Loki alt) and another pirate docked. Marcel positioned the main fleet in Muetralle. This is when he noticed equincu following. He had up-shipped to a Megathron at either Murethand or Melmaniel.

Marcel decided to seize the opportunity to engage a battleship at the gate. I requested everyone in fleet to kite the blaster ship at 15km. My biggest concern was, of course, his warp scrambler and web. It was quickly revealed that the Megathron was active tanked. David made his way back from Hevrice to Muetralle to provide additional fire to the gang. equincu was bent on killing Shrike's Harbinger. With good reasons, too. a) Shrike was fielding the slowest ship, b) he had the least SP, suggesting it could have the weakest tank, and c) the Megathron's defense was weak against EM and Thermal damage in comparative terms.

I ordered everyone to overheat guns until modules took 50% damage. As we feared, Shrike had been caught up by the Megathron and had already lost a portion of his armor. Another Tusker in a Tengu came through the gate. Luckily for us, he cloaked and went his way.

The Megathron's blasters was steadily shaving off Shrike's armor tank and he went into structure. Our fleet began overheating our guns for the second time. Shrike was given instructions to align to a celestial farthest from the Megathron and spam warp. Just when we though the Harbinger would die, a bright flash of light flickered on our screens. equincu's battleship had been destroyed.

Megathron kill: http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=12481202

Since there were no stations in Muetralle, we got to a safe spot to gather our senses. Back in Costolle, Dax Jr witnessed a sudden local spike. A Tusker BC fleet comprised of three Hurricanes, a Drake and Onyx were on our tail. This gang was led by Suleiman, their main FC. I called for an immediate evacuation to our high sec exit, Raneilles.

David lingered behind in Hevrice to chat with the locals. equincu was asking for a rematch.

[02:13:04] equincu ocha > round 2 ?
[02:13:19] David Vendetta > With Suleiman on our asses?
[02:13:25] equincu ocha > ?
[02:13:35] David Vendetta > He's heading back home
[02:13:39] David Vendetta > With Konig in an Onyx. :)
[02:15:16] equincu ocha > timing is horribly, wanted a remach, someother time then
[02:15:44] David Vendetta > Of course.

Soon enough Suleiman and equincu brought an Abaddon and Rokh to the gate I was orbiting in hopes of getting me to fire. I watched the sentry guns strip away their tank and did nothing. The Drake jumped out to safety at 70% shields. This isn't the end of it, though.

I was chatting on TeamSpeak with Marcel for a couple minutes when a pirate pod came into high sec. To my surprise, he got pointed by me. Nice token pod kill to end the roam.

Pod kill: http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=12481309

Lessons learned:
1. Kiting in a Harbinger isn't as easy as it sounds. A single webifier will allow one to escape scram range.
2. Overheating makes a huge impact - train Thermodynamics to at least IV.
3. Keep scouts in pipes so the fleet doesn't get ambushed from behind.
4. When you see a pirate pod, point it!

I love flying with you guys. :)


EVE Central Bank: Doing too much or too little?

I break my silence at the behest of an esteemed blogger at Ecliptic Rift. This post departs from my usual iteration of misadventures and takes aim at the manipulative monetary policies of a company that ‘excels’ at entertaining us. Let’s talk about our economy, tinfoils off.

Traditionally PLEX prices are highly fluctuant when each expansion is introduced.

Period: May 26, 2010

Period: Phase One November 30, 2010 / Phase Two December 25, 2010 / Phase Three January 18, 2011

However biannual market events are not enough to maintain PLEX quotes. This is where PLEX for Good enters the picture. I present exhibit 1, a year long price history graph of PLEX, taken from Jita.

Exhibit 1 - PLEX price history
Source: EVE Online market data

PLEX for Good
Period: September 15 through October 6, 2010
Scale: No results published

Period: January29 through February 15, 2011

Period: March 14 through March 31, 2011
Scale: 2,549 PLEX

Period: 3 May through 16 May 2011
Scale: Results pending

Notice how CCP deviously made use of good will to forward its own agenda. This brings me to what I really want to say. Do not give away your cash. There are two reasons why players should not donate their PLEX.

First and foremost, we should refrain from giving away our money to CCP on moral grounds. How does a commercial enterprise justify donations by imploring on the conscience of players? “While you sit comfortably in front of your computer, millions are suffering. Be an internet spaceship hero and donate money. Oh, and hey, let us take credit for it.” No matter how noble the cause, if one truly wants to donate there are agencies galore in specific fields, arguably with less controversy and more impartiality than the Red Cross. As far as I know, CCP did not publish the results for Pakistan, nor did they ever fully disclose how much money they spent on ‘handling costs.’ I myself usually contribute to the World Food Program and Doctors Without Borders. No one, especially not a for-profit company should claim acknowledgment for charity paid for by its benefactors.

Second is, of course, our economy. Whether you live in high, low, null sec or wormholes the invisible hand reaches far and wide. Only the hand present is one that is short-sighted, irresponsible and pandering to certain parties with vested interests.

A larger threat lies in the lack of proper tools to control the market. In the real world, we have policies that are flexible in their implementation of different rates such as interest or tax, and a monetary authority that controls the supply of money. They mean little in EVE either because matters are almost entirely ignored for years or when they implement change, one can always expect debacle. CCP intervenes in asset value modification and supply of raw materials with little insight to ramifications, which I assure you, always follows suit. The company simply doesn’t have a buffer or punitive measures to use against speculative powers within the game.

As for ISK, there is no limit to the flow of cash. Concord for one is printing digital numbers 23/7. RMT exploiters are a testament to this broken, yet perfectly normal MMO mechanic. In an effort to sustain PLEX prices high enough to compete with RMT, CCP has contributed to the very vice they were meant to deter: inflation. Take a look at exhibit two.

Exhibit 2 - Top sinks and facuets in EVE
Source: QEN for 2010

EVE Central Bank’s statement is especially touching in this regard:
EVE Central Bank has been monitoring the money supply closely and is becoming increasingly concerned about the rate of growth in the total money supply and the subsequent risk of inflation increase. The bank has therefore proposed that in 2011 there should be a focus on increasing ISK sinks in order to curb potential inflation. – QEN4 2010, p.20
The great misfortune here is that of the obscurity of players, which in turn is a boon to CCP. The underclass are caught standing next tidal waves they are not even aware of. A small circle of bourgeois privy to exclusive information take advantage of these tides to multiply their wealth. At times it amazes me how a game could mimic the failings of reality. If EVE Central Bank were an institute, its managers should be put to trial for negligence and sued for corruption. Below is a brief history of what EVE Central Bank has recently been up to.

After letting a contingent of exploiters to hoard ISK by self-destructing insured battleships, they decide tackle the issue. On May 26, insurance policy changed to reflect market trends putting an end to unbalanced mineral supply. Yet this was only a tip of the iceberg. In August we saw the stealth nerf of drone mineral loot. DRF, or Drone Russian Federation, the main supplier of Nocxium took a tremendous hit to their business when this happened. As supply toppled, so did the economy. 2010 saw another Nocxium spike when the Noctis was introduced. This compounded with strategic mishaps by DRF itself lead to an exodus of renter corps that further aggravated inflation in the entire universe.

Exhibit 3 - Nocxium price history
Source: EVE Online market data

Planetary Interaction changed the market overnight. Fuel, previously supplied by NPCs, turned into player-made commodities. Costs skyrocketed 552 percent. This spike immediately spilled over to POS resources. Technetium is the winner among the crowd due to its prestigious rarity bearing the curse of monopoly, giving alliances all the more reason to battle over limited resources. Yet another factor to inflation. Turn back the clock to February 14, your gaze at Uemon. Contest over a Technetium moon culminated to a clash in which twelve titans and seven supercarriers were destroyed. If you cannot grasp its importance look at exhibit 4. When 300% growth per year is at stake for a valuable resource, alliances will throw everything at each other. With massive ISK sink in supercaps come… you guessed it, inflation.

Exhibit 4 - Technetium price history
Source: EVE Online market data

Null sec grunts have taken a hard punch when their anomolies were knocked out according to true sec. This caused the second exodus of renters this year, only months after the first which occurred with the changing of hands in southern regions. Where do null bears go when they leave ratting systems? High sec beware, change is coming and it isn’t going to be pretty.
If that [inflation] does happen countermeasures would have to be taken in the form of increased sinks, reduced faucets or even higher taxes in the system. - QEN4 2010, p.32
Here's a bonus. Apparently the null bears spread out in Caldari regions.

Exhibit 5 - Federation Navy Fleet Colonel Insignia I price history
Source: EVE Online market data

The paradox of Incarna is clear; if inflation goes unchecked, players and an army of alts that rely on PLEX for subscription will leave while clueless new players try out EVE. It’s like pouring water into a bucket without addressing the hole at the bottom. What can we do? We’re the constituents of EVE Online. Managing a healthy economy is far more important than balancing factional modules. It is our right, even a responsibility, to seek improved conditions for the player base. Take some time off those heated guns to contemplate the rich-poor divide. Be a real hero and demand rightful change.


Chapter 3 – North by Northwest

Dax Jr. had disappeared. I stopped blogging. David’s contract history was bad enough for an intel leak coupled with the previous loss mail. An explorer should not handle module trades – leave traceable deals to alts. Better to have locals assume you’re afk cloaked denying them knowledge of your intent. Unfortunately the billboard sign I carried was screaming ‘kill me,’ thus there were numerous occasions when resident pirates took over complexes I was running. Tuberider’s T3 gang raided my 6/10 in Ihakana, DiamondDog brought a Bhaalgorn and Ishtar to another complex in Onatoh, and there were a host of Russians in Black Rise systems who thought they could catch me by logging off in front of acceleration gates. Despite these interruptions David was able to hoard billions before I burned out. The sweetness of instant riches left missions tasting sour. I was consumed by the idea that pilots beyond the boundaries of empire space were making more ISK in relative safety with less input.

In hindsight I didn’t put in enough effort to rent null sec space, nonetheless David found himself in Branch to do what he does best. Funnily enough I joined WI. while looking for a high sec corp. I placed ads for three of my pilots in the corporate recruitment channel hoping to find a group that will take me in. It soon became clear that people were interested in David’s service, sidelining Dax or an up and coming logistics alt. On one particular convo, Lynn Deniera offered a different choice. I was impressed at Lynn for personally recruiting pilots as head of the corp. The Foreign Legion corporation was a part of Wildly Inappropriate alliance that had sovereignty over UWRZ-2 constellation in Fade and KWCZ-A in Branch at the time. The interview was relaxed thanks to his mild manners and witty comments. According to him I could do everything that I wanted to do under the condition that I participate in ops – it will be so good that I’ll never see empire again. To me it was a ticket to the northern outreaches of space. For him I was another Drake pilot. We both agreed it was time to sign the papers.

Below is my application to STOLE dated Oct. 2, 2010.
General Information
1. Do you have an alt/s? 2 active
2. If so, how many, what are their names? David Vendetta(API submitted) and [redacted]

3. Please list the skillpoints for each active character you use.
Dax Jr: 9mil (API submitted), David Vendetta: 17mil, [redacted] : 6mil
About You
Ingame Info 
1. Do you have any long term goals in eve? 
I want a meaningful MMO experience, building relationships and helping others out. Although this may just be a game, I take mine seriously and know that it involves real people. Below are some goals for my online avatars.
Character development: Dax Jr's very long term goal is to field cap ships. In the meantime he will train for T2 cruisers, T2 battleships and related support skills. David Vendetta's mid term goal is to become the perfect Tengu pilot. He's on a 500+ day skill plan. [redacted]: Guardian/Basilisk pilot. Will see what he'll do after I'm done with that.
2. What type of ships can you fly?
Dax Jr: T1 frigs battleships. Gallente assault ships. David Vendetta: Cov-ops, Recons, Tengu, Drake (working on Assault Ships and Heavy Assault Ships at the time of writing) [redacted]: Guardian
3. Are you Isk self sufficient? 
Yes. I bought David Vendetta for 3.5b, then trained him up to rat in low sec earning 1b to 2b per week. I should be able to make more ISK in 0.0 space, granted I'm given access.
4. What is your main source of income?
Missions, LP conversion, DED complex and low sec combat sites/escalations, sales of loot
5. What do you like to do in EVE Online? 
PvE combat and eventually PvP.
6. What do you use your alts for? 
Dual boxing missions, exploration, and logistics
7. Can you fly a Capital Ship, and do you own one? 
8. Do you have an FC experience? - if so please tell us what kind. 
9. Are there any specific roles you have experience with? eg. Logistics/pos gunner/Black ops. If so please list them here, and your level of experience. 
None. Eager to learn and contribute.
10. What kind of Fleets do you enjoy the most? 
Small gangs, battlecruisers and below
11. Can you tell us about a memorable fleet/battle/campaign you've been involved in, and what you did? 
Past History 
1. Please list any alliances you have been a member of. 
None. David's previous owners were in some.
2. Tell us about some of the notable corporations and alliances you've been with for extended periods. 
Not worth mentioning.
3. Tell us about current/last corp & alliance. 
Currently all my characters are in NPC corps. Last corp was a laid back carebear corp. I left due to lack of activity and CEO's inability to display any form of leadership.
4. Why are you leaving them and are you leaving on good terms? 
Left my last corp in good terms. I am a regular at their public channel, and apparently they want me back.
5. Please provide a link to a killboard with stats on you - we don't mind if it's a public board. 
Dax Jr http://eve.battleclinic.com/killboard/combat_record.php?type=player&name=Dax+Jr David Vendetta http://eve.battleclinic.com/killboard/combat_record.php?type=player&name=David+Vendetta
6. Have you ever been a member of any of the current WI corps, or a member of an ex-WI corp? 
7. Have you been a member of any corp currently 
Currently? No

Lynn suggested I liquidate assets in high sec, giving me a few days to dispose of what earthly belongings I had. A prudent friend advised me to keep a home that I could return to should things not work out. Dax Jr. would stay behind clearing the hangars of excess items that I would not need in Fade. David moved what he could carry to Torrinos, the last bastion of high security strip that laid way to NC.

I was in. Little did I know that David would be mistaken for a RED.Overlord titan pilot to come under suspicion of treachery.


Chapter 2 – Business trips to low sec

Exploration in low sec, like all things in EVE can’t be defined in a singular term, but I think my friend came close when he described it as “high-strung.” Every pilot in local pose a threat, especially pirates and null sec scouts. Choke spots are often camped. No one is innocent in low sec – that young pilot could be a probe alt. The directional scan window becomes a permanent component of one’s screen. Combat probes are parasites you loathe and fear. Then there’s that exhilarating thrill in receiving an escalation, finding the best drops from given loot tables when opening a faction wreck or objective can. As a vulnerable prey that is seeking treasures in hostile space there is never a dull moment.

In the summer of 2010 my pilots were always short on ISK. My mission ships were a hodgepodge of meta 4s sprinkled with tech 2 modules. Dax Jr. could really use a faction fit Navy ship. Hardwirings needed upgrading to 5% variants. My wish list was filling up rather quickly as did my patience. So why not go out there and find juicy deadspace stuff by myself? I already had the skills and tool for the job. It only lacked a few key components. Limited resource led to sacrifice. The Dominix Navy Issue was sold to finance an all-in-one exploration Tengu.

I headed out to low sec with simple goals and minimum knowledge. Thankfully beginner’s luck was predominant as I kept hitting gold during the first week. A Pithum C-Type Medium Shield Booster and numerous Low-grade Crystal implants were my main source of income at this point. I spent all the ISK I earned. Albeit not prudent, when you’ve made over a billion in a span of short time, an inexperienced pilot can feel like he’s found an untapped faucet of wealth. In my naivety I thought I would be able to buy anything if I toiled on. This was easy money for manageable risk.

David was still in the infant stages of exploration and I wasn’t utilizing all the resources that were available to me. The only map I had opened then was Ombey’s 2D maps. Slowly my methods progressed as I began referencing statistics on star map and cross checked those figures with dotlan. I learned to use various methods to distinguish the nature of pilots in local. Checking their kill records on battleclinic or eve-kill returned information on their capabilities, cohorts, and most importantly whether they could probe. Summoning contract histories of pilots that had positive security status was one way to know if they were potential competitors. Instead of relying on my memory I listed all the known scanners and their ships on my notepad and gave them bad standing. Yet it’s a brief lapse in judgment that leads to loss.

There are only four things that can kill a cov-ops ship in low sec. In the order of possible encounters here’s the list. 1) A sensor boosted tackler that can lock you instantly before you initiate cloak, 2) an MWD fit ship that can decloak you, 3) an officer smartbomb-fit battleship sitting atop a gate, or 4) your utter stupidity. Well, it’s always #4. Here’s my account.

In mid August I traveled to Taisy and scanned down a Provisional Gurista Outpost. Although it’s the easiest low sec combat site in Caldari space, the acceleration gate in the first pocket and objective structure in the second pocket takes a while to reach. I haven’t had a decent drop all day and headed in despite local bursting with pirates and null sec roamers. Those familiar with the region will know that Taisy is the entrance to MM controlled Tribute. Everyone except me and an alt had GCC on them. A smart person would leave. I didn’t. Strike one.

When I cleared the first pocket, directional scanners revealed five combat probes. I narrowed the range to see if those probes were on me. Yes. So I warped out and got back to my Provisional Outpost at 100km and watched who would visit. It was Kel Katrina in a Sleipnir. Since I was cloaked all Kel saw on d-scan were wrecks. I waited until the Sleipnir left system and returned to complete it despite having my spot jeopardized. Strike two.

Sure enough I saw the pilot in local again. Taking advantage of my covert-ops cloak I decided to play hide and seek. Only this time she wouldn’t leave. If a Tengu pilot was dumb enough to come back to a compromised plex for the second time, there’s a chance he will get caught. Feeling the heat I warped to a gate to leave. In a moment I discovered that I accidentally warped to M-OEE8 gate at 0. Even at this point I had very good probability of survival as the out gate was empty; however in my panic I warped to another spot at 0km. The damned Provisional Outpost. Strike three. Guess who was waiting for me? Out goes my first Tengu.

Expensive lesson learned. Gradually I recovered from my loss and made more money. By October I grew hungry for bigger prizes and contemplated renting null sec space to explore freely. In the meantime I wanted to get Dax Jr. into a new corp.


Chapter 1 - Tengu pilot wanted

When I purchased my new slave pilot back in July, wormholes seemed like the best darned thing to exploit. Upon research the Tengu turned out to be the best choice out of the four T3s when it came to PvE. Consequently Tengu pilots were actively sought after by everyone else, meaning they fetched exorbitant prices at lower skill point ranges. The general rule of the character bazaar was one billion ISK per five million SP last year. I am assuming things changed after December when CCP removed learning skills and massive inflation struck New Eden.

Due to frantic demand Tengu pilots were the only exception to this generally accepted ISK per SP rule. Most were starter pilots between the 10-20 million SP ranges and could cost 3 to 6 billion ISK per head. Even if there was a pilot that I liked the seller would be asking for too much and more often than not affluent buyers were willing to buyout. My requirements made it even worse because I wanted a pilot with proper name, thus ‘H4XX03’ or such absurd identities were out of the picture. Since I had to probe wormholes my pilot would need scanning skills, too. My budget was only three billion in ISK.

This is when I began my trade hub marathon spamming local with ads. I was met with bemused remarks by pilots who suggested I train one myself. Dax Jr.’s skill plans were set for Gallente/Minmatar leaving no room for Caldari ships, I explained. Convos were opened and mails were exchanged with half a dozen holders. I went as far as searching eveboard.com for characters that I liked and tried reaching them. My budget was raised to four billion. On the ninth day I was finalizing talks with two potential sellers. David Vendetta, who had lower SP, was chosen.

The seller informed me that I was to be his fourth master. He could not tell much about this pilot’s troubled history. I was to keep whatever assets David had sprawled in empire and beyond. The catch was that some were inaccessible owing to the fact that previous owners failed to evacuate goods from player owned outposts. The seller evaded directly answering my question on neural remap; it turned out he had remapped David a week before effectively leaving me stuck with maxed out perception and willpower for 360 days. I petitioned this matter to a GM asking if I could get a new one. The request was understandably turned down. Too tired for a refund, I decided to mold him into something I wanted. Despite having numerous skills at V, he lacked the prerequisites to field a Tengu.

For the next several weeks I dual boxed two pilots in a Domi/Drake and ran missions while taking time off for travels to remote hangars. I was dumbstruck at how many faction modules this guy had. It was enough to buy and fit a decent tech 3 setup. However I still didn't have the skills nor the money for an omni tank needed to solo wormholes. I did the next best thing which turned out to be my second profession; low sec exploration.