Saturday, December 26, 2009

Some Stuff

This was originally a really long post about Starbucks Lattes and how much I hate faction warfare and how awesome the Dramiel is. Unfortunately I got a little writers block and decided I didn't feel like finishing it so instead you just get this one tiny section. Sorry. Deal with it:
  • FC Guide on C&P - Kobra was kind enough to create a thread on the Crime & Punishment forums linking to my last blog post about FC'ing. If you bump it and generate me lots of free traffic it will inflate my ego and cause me to act even more arrogant and holier-than-thou! Sounds great!
  • Hulkageddon NEXT - We live in exciting times. The first Hulkageddon was a weekend long blur of coke, whores and ganking the shit out of a bunch of miners in highsec. It was successful enough that Helicity has decided to organize another week-long Hulkageddon and this time the prizes and participants seem to be crawling out of the woodwork. Check this thread out for a list of all the different prizes and conditions for winning them (I have donated a Navy Issue Exequror already myself to the 2nd place winner). I really look forward to the amount of tears and damage this is going to cause.
  • The Jerk Cartel - A while back, we had a bit of a quarrel and few-week-long skirmish in Egghelende with a corp named Eternal Perseverance. To make a long story short, EP moved out of Egg for a while and several ex-members of their group formed a new corporation named Space Jerks. We shared chat channels, a Ventrilo server, forums and most of our daily activities with SJ to the point that we were basically the same corp. We finally decided last week to make this marriage official by pissing away a billion ISK and creating an alliance.... and thus, The Jerk Cartel was born. So for now on you may notice me refer to my friends and allies by a different name but rest assured, we will still do the same ridiculous bullshit.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How To FC A Small Pirate Gang

For anyone not familiar with the role of a "FC" or Fleet Commander in Eve, it is generally to organize and direct the gang so that everyone is coordinated and working in an optimal fashion towards finding (and maybe winning) PvP engagements. The FC's roles can be things like organizing ops, telling the fleet what sort of ships to bring, directing where the fleet should warp/jump to and specifying battle tactics and targets during a fight. The roles, responsibilities and skills that each fleet commander has are vastly different based upon the size of the gangs, the ships that are being flown and what region of space that they are working in.

Over the past several months I have spent a lot of time "FC'ing" small gangs for our corp. By "small" I mean anywhere between three or four ships up to as many as a dozen. Generally I get stuck in this position not because I am the best qualified or experienced but because everyone else is lazy as shit and doesn't feel like it. It has become such habit now to act as FC that when others are leading fleets that I am in, I begin yelling out suggestions and primaries without really even thinking about the fact that I am not supposed to (and without thinking about the fact that it is rude and disrespectful of me... oops).

So I am not an expert. I don't know it all. Maybe I'm not even good. Regardless, I have decided to share my knowledge of how to lead a small pirate gang around lowsec with this guide...


Now if that title picture and it's subtitle don't get you pumped up then perhaps this guide is not for you and you should find a blog about running grav sites instead. Also, this isn't actually "Part 1" as there are no additional parts. I just thought putting that would make it look more badass. If that name did get you pumped, then read on! This blog entry is only about 57 pages long and should keep you busy for the next week and a half:

(1) Setting Up A Small Pirate Fleet -
  • Using The Fleet Finder Tool: If this post had been put up a few weeks earlier, the instructions to "Form A Fleet" or "Set Up A Fleet" would be some confusing crap about having everyone ask the fleet boss (person who forms the actual fleet in game) to send an invite one-by-one or how to generate a link in a chat channel that lets people click on it for an invite. Instead, thanks to Dominion, we get the fancy new fleet finder! The fleet finder allows you to create a fleet, advertise it to a certain set of individuals (most likely your corp or alliance) and then let them join it on a whim and even tell what system you're in. No more "X UP PLZ!" or "WHAT SYSTEM R U GUYZ IN???" in chat every five minutes. Fleet Finder has got your back broseph and here is a quick and simple guide on using it to make and advertise a fleet:
Click This Button:

Click On Form Fleet:

Set Your Advert Details:

This Is What Other People Will See:

  • Determining Fleet Makeup: As the commander of your mighty fleet, you have the right to deny people when they ask "Can I bring my Tristan to your battlecruiser gang???" and you should exercise it. If you are worried about your fleets effectiveness or survivability, it generally makes sense to make sure that all your ships engage in combat at similar ranges and their roles complement each other. If you allow small easy targets to roam with your large super-tanked gang, you give your opponents something to easily primary and gank early on in the fight with almost no repercurssion. If you bring a big lumbering battleship along with some frigates, you risk having that person get caught by a enemy gang that the rest of your fleet can otherwise avoid easily.

    I won't go too in-depth here because there are simply too many ways to consider how different ships and their types compare. Just try to use common sense and think about how different ships and setups will interact and work within the confines of your current gang during a fight. If it seems like it won't work, don't be afraid to tell your gang members to grab a more appropriate ship.
  • Determining Where To Go: When I set out to roam with a fleet, I generally choose a destination that I already know is populated and that I am familiar with. Sometimes we take larger ships only a short few jumps to the busiest areas where we are most likely to find another large fleet to match up with (you don't usually want to put yourselves in too much danger by moving large, lumbering ships over dozens of jumps). Other times we take smaller ships that are relatively safe from gatecamps and other roaming gangs so that we can move quickly and cover lots of ground.

    You probably want to find some sort of busy hub system and try roaming the systems around them or in a pipe between them. Some of my personal favorite systems to visit are Mara, Tama, Old Man Star, Amamake and Evati as well as the systems that surround them. Other well-known pirate/PvP systems in lowsec include Rancer, Decon, Nalvula and Hevrice. I am certain there are many more missing in the list and it is up to you to ask your pirate friends or simply learn from roaming yourself about what systems and pipes may hold targets and what kind of targets they might be.

    One last option to finding a good system or route is to simply use the in-game map. The Star Map (Press F10 in game to open) lets you view certain statistics per system. If you click the "Star Map" tab and then the "Stars" sub-tab and then the "Statistics" header, you can choose from several useful stats such as "Ships Destroyed in the Last Hour" and "Average Pilots in Space in the Last 30 Minutes". This will let you know what systems are both active with pilots and active with explosions.

    When you have finally decided where to go, "Set Destination" on whatever you find, make sure you're set to "Prefer Low-Security Space" and then start your roaming!
(2) Coordinating, Organizing and Traveling With A Small Pirate Fleet -
  • Gathering and Aligning: It is extremely helpful to have a number of safe spots in a system you frequent. It is a fantastic idea to go to these systems in advance and create safe spots that are "deep" (off-scan from all celestials by being at least 14.3 AU away), spots that are "pounces" (very close but not on grid to the gates and stations) as well as "scan spots" (in a centralized location that can scan most of the system in one sweep by being within 14.3 AU away from most locations in space). When you need to move your gang to safety and you don't want to sit in an easy to locate spot, you can move to a pounce near the next gate you are traveling to. If you are planning on staying long, you can move your gang to a deep safe where it is less likely you will be probed out.

    Regardless of where everyone is, it makes sense to try and keep your gang gathered and aligned towards some spot in space so that if trouble appears you can instantly warp the entire gang away with no fuss. Ships warp when they hit three-quarters of their maximum speed and are aligned directly at their destination in space. Having your ships already in this state (AKA "Aligned") means they can instantly warp away to escape trouble or to pounce on top of a target that has been tackled somewhere in system by your scout/tackler.
  • Scouting and Intel: This could almost be a separate guide in itself as generally you will have one person acting as your scout, intelligence gatherer and tackler. I will try to quickly gloss over this very important role in a roaming gang:

    You don't want to jump an entire gang blindly into a system where it could become blobbed by an opposing force and you also don't want to scare off potential fights by suddenly filling up local and scan with a bunch of new, scary ships. This means that it makes a lot of sense to send one person as a scout through to the next system in your roaming route. You should have faith in this person to be good with the directional scanner, to be able to convey important information quickly/succinctly and they should be in a ship capable of escaping danger and holding down a point. Obvious and effective examples would be an interceptor or a cloaky Force Recon Cruiser. Lastly, having your scout bring probes is a BIG PLUS as many targets will not be at an object you can warp to. Being able to locate and drop on them unexpectedly is a huge advantage (and tons of fun).
  • Traveling: Everyone probably does this differently but I have always preferred the method of having your gang warp to a gate or gate-pounce and then letting the scout go in alone to search for threats or targets. It can be a little boring for those that sit on the gate waiting for clearance but if you have a decisive FC and a competent scout then it can move very quickly. Getting to know which systems, regions and gates are busiest also helps you decide whether or not to move quickly with less caution or slowly with more. Certain gates are rarely ever busy and others are almost always deathtraps (ie: Heydielies<->Old Man Star, Dal<->Amamake, etc).

    It is good to learn what ships and gangs can handle sentry fire so that you know if you can handle certain ships or gangs jumping through into your group. Additionally it is good practice to have the scout echo back to everyone what the names of the pilots, corps and alliances are in local along with their potential ships and activities. It isn't difficult to tell using the directional scanner, security statuses and corps whether or not there are helpless carebears or nasty pirates hanging around in the system.

  • Voice Communications: This is an area that becomes more difficult as the gang grows. A small gang of a few pilots can generally say whatever they want over chat and it will not be too distracting or cause confusion. When you start growing to half-a-dozen or more, you start having people yelling random information that is not relevant, sometimes not even related to the game. Add alcohol into the mix and it gets downright loud and obnoxious. My personal feeling is that it is OK for people to joke around and have a good time (that is the point of a video game) but when anything serious is about to go down, all pilots except for the FC and scout are to shut up and pay attention. 95% of your gang-mates will probably follow this order to a T and never be a problem. It is just the rare few that cause issues and you shouldn't be afraid to boot them from the gang and/or mute them on your voice communications if they become a problem.

    In other words? Have fun, but don't let disorganization and lack of focus during an important moment cause poor communication and confusion among your fleet.

(3) Engaging In Combat With A Small Pirate Fleet -
  • Deciding Whether Or Not To Engage and Warping In The Fleet: You've located a potential target ship or fleet! You should consider whether or not you want to engage based upon several factors such as whether or not they have potential cloaked ships with them, whether or not they have powerful E-War/Logistics ships that are big force multipliers (ie: a Falcons, Guardians), etc. Consider your own forces and your opponents and try to imagine how a fight might go. If they have the perfect counter to what you're flying or they simply have much higher numbers, don't be afraid to skip it. Additionally, don't be afraid to try using baits or moving around in an effort to split up a larger force. When your own fleet is organized and another is not, that alone may be enough to turn the tide significantly.

    When you do decide to engage, it is almost always best to have all of your firepower arrive on the field at the same time (except for rare situations where you are trying to hide parts of your force until the enemy has committed). One of the most devastatingly negative things you can do for your gang is to have them arrive one-by-one or in groups. This splits up your DPS and makes things way less confusing for your enemy. I like to consider this the "movie ninja" move and just like in the movies, arriving in a linear fashion instead of together may very well result in a massacre (not the good kind). In addition to this, you should know what ships are in your gang and what range they operate at. If you have certain ships that need to warp in at a different range in order to be effective (snipers, electronic warfare, logistics, etc) then make sure you do not accidentally gang warp them into the center of the fight where they will be quickly primaried and destroyed.
  • Calling Primaries: This is easily one of the more confusing elements of leading a gang that a FC will have to deal with. You never truly know how another ship is fit without a ship scanner and even if you had one with you, you would not really have the time to scan each ship of your opponents to determine what to hit first. The FC has to pretty much make a split second guess based on several factors to decide what target to hit first. Some of these factors are:

    - Gank vs Tank: If a ship generally has a very big tank but does not put out much damage (ie: Prophecy, Maller, all Heavy Interdictors, etc) then they are a very poor choice for a primary early on. They do not cause much threat but will soak up massive amounts of damage. Instead, look for ships that are known to have a large amount of DPS but only small/medium buffer tanks (Thorax, Brutix) or even just a moderate active tank (Myrmidon, Astarte). These ships will be easier to take down and you will be cutting away a large portion of your opposing gangs effectiveness once they are gone.

    - Pilot Age: Younger pilots generally have crappy skills and cannot use the best modules. They may die very quickly and the faster you can remove ships from the field, the more of an advantage you give your fleet.

    - Ship Cost: You can't win every fight. Hell, most of us don't even want to win every fight. You may be involved in engagements where you know that you will not hold the field at the end of the encounter but you want to inflict as much damage as possible before you go down. Engaging ships that are expensive (T2, T3, Faction) allows you to take something significant down with you as your entire group goes down in flames.

    - Ship Threat: Certain ships are a much bigger threat than others and I don't just mean in terms of damage output. Logistics and electronic warfare ships can literally make or break a fight the instant they show up on the field and are usually referred to as "force multipliers" due to the way they enhance or decrease the effectiveness of other ships on the field. In many situations you will want to destroy or at least drive off these gamebreakers the instant they uncloak or warp in (ie: ECM ships, Logistics ships). It is a rare situation where I do not primary a Falcon or Blackbird immediately.

    - Distance From Your Gang: This is a really important one. So many times you may have fleet members ask as you are warping into a fight: "What is primary???". I rarely want to answer the question as I don't know until I land and see how far each ship is from where we arrived. If you see a great primary but it is 50 kilometers from your gang, you are going to be asking everyone to split themselves up and come under enemy fire as they move that entire distance to engage. Your gang will be shot up and destroyed before you even reach your victim. Make sure to factor in what is close and call primary on something that is actually within reach. The amount of DPS and other combat capabilities you bring makes absolutely no difference if you are not in range to apply it on a target.

    The bottom line is that you want to remove as much of your opponents strongest capabilities from the field as quickly as you possibly can. The first ship or ships to be primaried in a fight have an exponentially large effect on the rest of the fight as it goes on. Many even or closely matched fights are literally decided by this during the first few seconds of the engagement. It is important to select a target quickly, clearly state it to your gang and then stay decisive about it. Not communicating clearly or switching targets constantly before others have been destroyed is confusing and wastes precious time. Even worse, it will result in splitting your damage and enhancing the effectiveness of your opponents who are still able to field ships that should already be dead. Don't worry if you don't make the perfect call every time on the first try. Try to make a choice, call it out and then repeat it clearly to your gang so there are no mistakes.
  • Watching Local, D-Scan and Deciding Whether Or Not To Bail Mid-Fight: Lots and lots of "targets" in lowsec are actually bait. It is important to have your entire gang keep a close eye on both Local Chat and their Directional Scanners during a fight. It can be hard to do this while also focusing on the fight and following orders but if you want any chance to notice a local "explosion" or new ships on scan that are warping in then you have no choice. Depending on how many numbers enter local once the engagement has begun and what ships you begin to see on scan, it may make sense to tell your gang to flee the fight. Again, be decisive if you decide this and make sure everyone understands whether you are staying and fighting or turning and leaving the scene. It can make sense to simply cut your losses and only lose a couple ships instead of your entire gang. Easy to say but hard to judge.
  • To Ransom Or Not To Ransom: In a situation where the target is high-value, your gang isn't too large and you are sure that you are safe, ransoming is a wonderful pirate activity to partake in! Open a conversation with your victim and offer him a chance to save his ship. I generally ask for large amounts to begin with and then let the victim talk me down if they are interested. Always be keeping an eye on local, scan and other indicators that they may be stalling you while friends come to the rescue. Also, don't be silly and start ransoming a ship that can kill you as you sit around trying to converse! In the end, most of the time a ransom is much more profitable than the loot from a wreck so always consider it as an option.
  • Post Fight Smacktalk: Regardless of how a fight ends up, don't be afraid to converse with your aggressors afterward in local chat. A simple "gf" might suffice. If you are feeling sleighted, accusing them of cheating or bringing too much ECM or logistics is a great way to get people angry and is so much fun. Remember that if you do something or bring a certain ship, IT IS OK, but if anyone else does it, IT IS BULLSHIT AND THEY HAVE NO SKILL! Enjoy the resulting smack!
(4) Conclusion -

This is easily the longest post I've ever written and still I barely covered many of the topics that are important to FC'ing in lowsec alone. Nullsec and/or very large gangs are a whole different beast that I have very little experience with and some or all of these points may not even apply in different situations or types of space. Additionally, I am far from an expert but I wanted to provide my points of view and experiences over the past several months acting as an FC for a smallish pirate group. Please feel free to share your own experience, tips, additions or even disagreements with what I have said in the comments below so that I can refine the information contained within.

Lastly, thanks to Andrea Skye for a majority of the MS Paint pictures that accompanied this article. His talents are truly spectacular and deserving of some sort of award... or something.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How To Tackle A Sniper Ship With Your Frigate

...or this might be also diagram of how to herd cattle off a cliff using a boom-a-rang. I'm not entirely sure.

Courtesy of Andrea Skye's incredible Microsoft Paint talents:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Surgical Strike

For several months now I have been taking out ships like the Thrasher, Rifter or Curse for when I go roaming solo (usually the Thrasher). The Taranis has taken a back seat and barely been utilized since the "Speed Nerf" changes that very significantly mucked with the effectiveness of the king of the interceptors. For a long time before that patch hit, I pretty much only flew a Taranis in a way that was based entirely around maximum DPS like so:
[Taranis, Super Ion Taranis]
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Pseudoelectron Containment Field I

Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters

Warp Scrambler II

'Langour' Drive Disruptor I

Light Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Light Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Hobgoblin II x2
However, with the changes to Warp Scramblers that prevented the use of microwarpdrives while scrambled, this simply became too hard to dictate distance with and made it basically impossible to disengage once you realized you were fighting a losing battle. More recently, when I do undock the Taranis, I have been going with the dual-propulsion fit which looks something like this:
[Taranis, MWD/AB Taranis]
Damage Control II

Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

Phased Monopropellant I Hydrazine Boosters

Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters

J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

Light Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Light Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Light Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Hybrid Collision Accelerator I

Small Ancillary Current Router I

Hobgoblin II x2
While the DPS is not quite as high as the fit that used to be king, this new setup gives some added flexibility in the form of slightly longer range neutron blasters, slightly higher EHP via a Tech II damage control and the ability to accelerate to pretty acceptable speed even while scrambled by using the afterburner. The new super-cheap small rigs also help bridge the gap by letting you fit a damage rig or two (my skills aren't perfect so I have to save one of the rig slots for a powergrid rig).

When I checked out my hangar for something to fly today, I decided to give my old friend a chance to shine once again. I boarded a dual-propulsion fit Taranis and headed out to roam around the Old Man Star region. What I found was not too shabby...

Pulling A Python

Occasionally we will have people refer to a certain form of trickery as "Pulling a Python". I am sure we are not the first to do it but we utilized it to great success for a while in the newb heavy system of Egghelende. Pulling a Python consists of:
(1) Inviting a pilot to fleet that you know is in system and in a ship you can probably blow up.

(2) Warping to the pilot and/or waiting for him to undock so that he is on grid with you.

(3) Warping the squad/fleet/wing to a safe spot so that the victim that accepted your fleet invite gets warped with you.

(4) Blowing up your victim.
A new little twist that we have added to this is making sure to swap the victim around between squad member, squad commander and other fleet spots so that his/her session is constantly changing and they cannot leave system or dock without leaving fleet first.

This is exactly what I did to a new-ish Drake pilot I found in Jovainnon. He attempted to warp to a gate and jump out but with his fleet "smacktalk" preventing the jump, I was able to warp to him at the gate and then warp him off to a safe spot. This wasn't going to be easy as solo'ing a battlecruiser that has a flight of light drones, a little bit of DPS from missiles and very solid tank is rarely a sure bet when you're engaging with a frigate hull. As he landed, I scrambled, deployed my drones and overheated my guns. Fortunately he had not brought any drones and by the point I had barely even hit hull, his Drake popped and I was able to boost my killboard lead with a pretty sixty-four point kill. Suck it Skye.

Beating Up Some Nerds

Later on in the day we received a report that there was a mining operation going on about 10 jumps away. In lowsec. Apparently they were mining with several barges that were protected by a couple of T2 cruisers and a Nidhoggur carrier. Wanting to bust up the party as soon as possible, we gathered a fleet of small nimble ships that would be capable of nabbing some miners and then warping out before a carrier could start applying remote reps or peppering us with drones and fighters. We set out with a Jaguar, Rifter, Keres, Vagabond, Rapier, two Taranises and an Anathema to take care of the scouting and probing. We gathered one jump away from our target destination and sent a couple of pilots in to investigate without spooking our prey. It turned out that they were mining in a gravimetric site that needed to be probed out so we had our Anathema pilot carefully locate and peek in on them. He soon reported back that there were several barges spread out among the asteroids that were being protected by a Myrmidon, Deimos and Nidhoggur.

We sat back and thought for a minute. The fact that they were spread out meant that if we all warped in together we may nab one or even two barges before they could flee but the rest would get spooked and bail. We decided to have our scout bookmark the exact location of all four barges and then return to the next system over where we were waiting. We came up with a convoluted plan that I assumed would never work because we are all retarded:
(1) Have our scout create copies of all four bookmarks that are directly on top of each barge and put them into a can in space.

(2) Split our gang into four small squads, each with one person as squad commander.

(3) Have each squad commander grab one bookmark.

(4) Have everyone jump into the miners system at the same time and warp their squad at the same time.
Hypothetically, we would all come out of warp on top of all the barges at approximately the same time, allowing us to quickly blow them away and then flee before any of the carebears had time to react. We jumped in and began to execute the last of the above steps and in moments we were all landing on top of our targets. I arrived on top of the only Hulk in the group and managed to help destroy it away as their entire gang (including the Nidhoggur) warped away from the site, probably spooked by our sudden appearance. Amazingly, our plan had executed exactly as we had designed! Three mining barges were destroyed as a result.

As we began to loot the wrecks, we were surprised by the miners warping back into the site with not only their original combat ships but with the barge pilots now in combat ships as well. An intricate game of warping in and out and kiting the gang to separate them finally resulted in our gang of frigates/cruisers managing to knock out a Sleipnir, Myrmidon, Thorax, Flycatcher (WTF?) and Onyx. The amount of damage that the Myrmidon took was quite impressive and we barely had enough DPS to break his passive shield tank after a very long engagement. When the fight was complete, my Taranis had only five volleys of antimatter left in the guns, no ammo at all left in my holds, severely damaged guns from overheating and no armor HP. Basically it was the way a Taranis always ends up at the end of a fight (that is if it isn't blown up).

If all these pilots had stayed together instead of arriving one-by-one like crazy movie ninjas, we probably would have lost the fight. Between an Onyx, Sleipnir and Myrmidon I would pretty much always call a Myrmidon primary first and there is not way we could have killed it before the rest of their gang picked apart our barely tanked fleet of small ships. It just goes to show how important tactics, organization, ship fittings and bringing the proper ships to a fight can be.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Uppity Crackers

A pirate in Eve and a pirate in real life are not really the same thing. A pirate in real life is described like this:
Pirate (noun): someone who robs at sea or plunders the land from the sea without having a commission from any sovereign nation.
...and looks like this:

Sweet Autocannon

In Eve-Online, there are a select few corporations that try to make all of their funds via ransoms and loot from combat (or at least they say they do). In general though, a huge majority of pilots who PvP make their money through other methods and no one is actually an accurate representation of piracy in any way. When people refer to other players as "pirates" in Eve, all they are really describing is the fact that they have a -10 security status, live in low security space and spend most or all of their time engaging in player vs player combat. Eve-Online pirates also differ from real life pirates in that they look less like the guy above and more like this person:

Andrea Skye Back In 1983

Pirates in Eve have always seemed to have a little bit of an unspoken code from what I have seen and experienced. Most (but not all) pirate corps tend to be smaller and less equipped than most of your nullsec corps or alliances. We are far from weak or helpless but there are certainly many situations where we cannot compete with some of the larger faction warfare or other groups that show up by ourselves. As a result, we may call for the help of fellow pirates that we would normally fight against to instead work together. A great example is just the other night when we found a carrier in a belt and called upon our fellow pirate friends which even included one individual we had just been in a fight with and smacked with ten minutes earlier.

This is a pretty standard attitude. Most of my favorite pirate corps are smaller groups that may fight us one day but we will band together as opportunities arise and situations warrant it. We share intel and chat channels to discuss what is going on in the region and to ask for help when it is needed. It's not written, it's not black-and-white and it's not true for everyone but in general this is the Eve-Online code of the pirate in the regions of lowsec where I have operated.

Shiver Me Timbers. Please.

When we moved into our new vacation system a couple weeks back, I realized quickly that it was occupied by another small-ish pirate group, the Blood Money Cartel. I did not know a whole lot about them but I did know of their CEO, Skira Ranos. Skira had recently started a blog that I had added to my list of blogs worth reading and he was also responsible for what is probably the best Eve-Online piracy guide in existance. When new pilots come to me asking how to learn to pirate and where they should start, I send them to Skira's piracy guide and Wensley's Rifter guide. Always. I was excited at the prospect of being around a region of space where we had pirates who seemed honorable, friendly and probably would adhere to what I see as the pirate code. Eager for good fights and perhaps willing to work together against many of the larger groups that populate the area surrounding Old Man Star.

At least that is what I was hoping for.

One of the first days we were in system, a couple of BMC ships showed up outside our station. I undocked my Megathron to consider engaging and one of our friends in station asked me over voice communications "Should I undock my carrier?" I told him no and encouraged him to simply undock another battleship. I wanted to have a fight with some pirates who probably also wanted a fight without capital ships and ECM and logistics and giant blobs. We aggressed and took down one of their ships just in time for the rest of their gang to arrive. They destroyed my Megathron before I was able to redock. I had underestimated their numbers and firepower but when it results in a decent fight, I am usually not too upset with losing a ship and niether was I in this situation.

As the days went by I continued to try and encourage my corporation to be nice and respectful to BMC. I even held my own tongue in check which is no small achievement (I really like to talk shit). Regardless, BMC always seemed to be on edge at all moments waiting for any excuse to start a verbal fight. There was a certain coldness and arrogance in every interaction we had but I still held out hope. Finally, yesterday, Skira opened a conversation with me. Skira was very vague and asked me several questions about our corp, where we came from, what our intentions were and so on. I didn't have many certain answers as we simply chose this system at random and moved in to have some fun with no alterior motives. Finally I asked Skira (politely) to get to the point of the convo:
[ 01:43:13 ] Skira Ranos > My alliance is more than 70% focused on training noobs.
[ 01:43:23 ] Skira Ranos > We're talking rifters, here.
[ 01:44:55 ] Skira Ranos > "I look forward to hanging out in the same system as some real PvP'ers instead of the smacktalking joke that is Dead Terrorists."
[ 01:45:01 ] Skira Ranos > I hope you realize the irony
[ 01:45:26 ] Skira Ranos > myself and my veterans don't much care about you guys. We get in decent fights.
[ 01:45:57 ] Skira Ranos > But we do care about this little spec of property. We aren't a 0.0 alliance, we don't hold territory or anything silly like that, but we worked hard for peace and quiet in our home system
[ 01:46:02 ] Skira Ranos > so we can train the noobs in peace
[ 01:46:08 ] Skira Ranos > and so we can come home to rest, not ganking
[ 01:46:21 ] Skira Ranos > logging on and seeing more reds in local than allies is really harming morale amoung the rookies
[ 01:46:32 ] Skira Ranos > This is why we have not been remotely interested in good fights with you all.
[ 01:46:39 ] Skira Ranos > If you were in Heyd, thats our backyard
[ 01:46:43 ] Skira Ranos > we'd get in great fights
[ 01:46:47 ] Skira Ranos > even outnumbered we'd fight you
[ 01:47:02 ] Skira Ranos > In yvangier/ You're squating in my living room. We will blob the hell out of you, bring falcons, etc
[ 01:47:11 ] Skira Ranos > because its our home and we want it nice and quiet.
[ 01:47:20 ] Spectre3353 > wow
[ 01:47:22 ] Skira Ranos > Not to mention you're one of three large pirate groups moving in on yvan
[ 01:47:25 ] Spectre3353 > ive got to be totally honest with you
[ 01:47:30 ] Skira Ranos > one of which claims they're evicting us
[ 01:47:35 ] Skira Ranos > though they're failing at it
[ 01:47:39 ] Spectre3353 > you pretty much just gave me and my corp reason to stay here longer and go after you
[ 01:47:43 ] Spectre3353 > by telling me this
[ 01:47:47 ] Skira Ranos > *sigh*
[ 01:47:54 ] Spectre3353 > it could have been such a wonderful dynamic
[ 01:47:58 ] Skira Ranos > I was hoping you'd not be a jackass about it.
[ 01:48:09 ] Spectre3353 > believe me, im probably one of the most reasonable pirates you can find
[ 01:48:23 ] Spectre3353 > this is eve
[ 01:48:28 ] Spectre3353 > there are no rules about who can live wherever they want
[ 01:48:36 ] Skira Ranos > No, which is why I'm asking you
[ 01:48:43 ] Spectre3353 > im not sure what youre asking me
[ 01:48:49 ] Skira Ranos > not telling you. If there were rules, there wouldn't be diplomacy
[ 01:48:49 ] Spectre3353 > what is the point of why youre talking to me right now?
[ 01:48:54 ] Skira Ranos > I'm asking you to go away.
[ 01:49:00 ] Spectre3353 > most definitely not happening
[ 01:49:13 ] Spectre3353 > you can right now scratch the word vacation off of anything i have said
[ 01:49:23 ] Spectre3353 > i am now informing my corp that this is our permanant home system
[ 01:49:25 ] Skira Ranos > Alright then. What little respect I had for you and your organization has boiled away in the last week.
[ 01:49:28 ] Spectre3353 > and that our goal here is to remove you
[ 01:49:34 ] Spectre3353 > i am not here to earn your respect
[ 01:49:36 ] Spectre3353 > this is a video game
[ 01:49:42 ] Spectre3353 > you seem to take it very seriously
[ 01:50:30 ] Spectre3353 > ok well
[ 01:50:34 ] Spectre3353 > is there anything else you wanted to discuss?
[ 01:50:49 ] Skira Ranos > Gloves are off =0
[ 01:50:53 ] Skira Ranos > Cya in space.
[ 01:51:22 ] Spectre3353 > understood
[ 01:51:26 ] Spectre3353 > cya skira
To be frank, I was extremely dissapointed and a little bit annoyed at the level of arrogance that was being displayed during this exchange. I shared it with my corporation and I think that Raph put it best:
[ 02:04:46 ] Raph > fucking hate uppity crackers
Skira has basically issued a challenge and we have decided to accept. I tried so very hard to give BMC the benefit of the doubt. In fact I tried so hard that I missed the fact that they are poor at PvP, they completely ignore their own rules about smacktalk, they are immature and they are hypocrites who preach about piratey ideals and then totally ignore those ideals when it is convienent. Fair enough. We will settle this in space indeed.

The gloves are off.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Yesterday marked the deployment of the latest Eve expansion/patch/thing. A lot of other bloggers have been posting about it but every single entry is either:




Pathetic that nobody can come up with anything that actually contains content. What has the Eve blogging community become? On a totally unrelated note, this very blog entry is being posted from the in-game board and here are some stellar screen shots of the new planets and star fields in Dominion:

Storms Can Be Seen On The Surface

The Dark Side

Some Mars Looking Shit

Some More Mars Looking Shit

Class M Planet

In My Face

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pew Pew Lazor Beams

Amarr Ships

I have spent the past several months training towards the use of Amarr ships of the cruiser and battlecruiser variety. Over the past few weeks this effort finally culminated with the ability to use Tech II medium lasers and as a result I have been on a bit of a binge flying the Harbinger and Zealot. I am still learning the ships and tweaking my fits but so far this is how I am flying them:

[Harbinger, Tanky]
Damage Control II

1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II

Adaptive Nano Plating II

Heat Sink II

Heat Sink II

10MN MicroWarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II

Medium Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I, Cap Booster 800

ECCM - Radar II

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M
50W Infectious Power System Malfunction

Trimark Armor Pump I

Trimark Armor Pump I

Trimark Armor Pump I

Hammerhead II x5

The above fit puts out about 450 DPS including drones and with Scorch from 20km. This gets boosted to about 535 DPS including drones when switching to Amarr Navy Multifrequency crystals which have an optimal of around 7 KM. Overheat and it just barely gets to 600 DPS. Pretty impressive compared to the other gank battlecruisers I am used to flying. Neither the Ferox or Brutix get quite the same combination of tank, gank and optimal range. Most importantly, the Harbinger looks like a giant flying chicken which is a huge improvement over the giant flying head.

[Zealot, Sniper]
Damage Control II

Heat Sink II

Heat Sink II

Heat Sink II

Tracking Enhancer II

Tracking Enhancer II

Tracking Enhancer II

Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive

F-90 Positional Sensor Subroutines, Targeting Range

F-90 Positional Sensor Subroutines

Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M

Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M

Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M

Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M

Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M

Polycarbon Engine Housing I

Polycarbon Engine Housing I

This fit is specifically for sniping. I can hit for about 250 DPS from 105 KM away or 430 DPS from 30 KM away with Multifrequency crystals. Extremely one-dimensional and it will die if you sneeze at it the wrong way but incredibly effective at its one role of providing DPS from any range. Nothing is quite as cool as watching giant red laser beams shoot one-hundred kilometers through space.

There Is No Place Like Home

Our corp has been having great success on roams into the regions around Old Man Star recently. On our last roam from Egghelende to OMS, we managed to kill several ships including two totally unassociated Tech III ships in under an hour:

Loki - Probed out while doing a mission with his Legion friend.

Tengu - Made the mistake of engaging our scout on a station.

After considering the fact that this region seemed to ripe with action and the fact that the corp had grown somewhat disillusioned and inactive in Egghelende, we decided to take a corp vacation to a system only a few jumps away from Old Man Star itself. This weekend we moved into our temporary digs just to realize that we had arrived right into the system where the Blood Money Cartel lived! Already in our first couple of days we had a few fun fights (and non-fights) with Skira Ranos' corp and after talking to them in local they seem like a nice bunch of pirates. I look forward to hanging out in the same system as some real PvP'ers instead of the smacktalking joke that is Dead Terrorists.

In addition to the other benefits of this new region, we are now in easy roaming distance of the Python Cartels true home (in my opinion at least). I wanted to visit it so we arranged a small gang to roam up to Tama and then the fantastical system of Aurohunen. We set off with a Rapier and Vengeance as our scout/tackle and four battlecruisers bringing up the rear to provide actual tank and gank. We flew all the way from Old Man Star up into Tama, Ishomilken and then finally Dantumi (one jump away from Aurohunen) before we finally found a little bit of action. A lopsided fight but you take what you can find. With the area looking dead and our roam winding down and feeling somewhat unsuccessful, we sent Necio in his Rapier to scout Aurohunen. Necio jumped in and then mumbled something over chat while I was barely listening. I could have sworn he just said there was a carrier in a belt. Necio repeated himself and I perked up and realized I did not misunderstand. There was a Chimera carrier and a Hulk in a belt in Aurohunen.

Necio tackled the carrier and tanked the fighters and drones that were sent his way as we jumped into system and then warped into the belt with the rest of our gang. We spent the next couple of minutes shooting down drones and fighters as I attempted a ransom:

[ 04:48:14 ] Spectre3353 > hey man
[ 04:48:19 ] At Hand > hey wahts up?
[ 04:48:19 ] Spectre3353 > we have several more ships arriving in a minute
[ 04:48:24 ] Spectre3353 > if you want to save your ship itll be 1 billion isk
[ 04:48:29 ] Spectre3353 > you have a minute to comply otherwise you die

A blatant lie as we had no backup and no more ships were coming as of yet. Instead of a proper response, he simply ignored me and closed chat. We kept our points on the carrier, orbited out of his smartbomb range and began asking everyone we knew if they were in the area to come assist in the destruction of a defenseless and lonely Chimera carrier in the system of Aurohunen. First we managed to convince the Myrmidon pilot we had killed only a few minutes earlier to jump in and help. Then we got really lucky and recieved a response from an ex-Python, Lady Thanatos who was only a few jumps out with a gang made up of several battleships and battlecruisers. After what felt like forever, LT and his gang landed and we all opened fire on the carrier, hoping to be able to break its tank. Slowly we broke through his shields and then faster we began to burn into his armor. It was about then that he finally did what we were hoping he would not... The Chimera pilot activated self destruct! The race was on... We had only two minutes to pour on enough DPS to break through most of the armor and all of the structure of a Chimera.

[ 05:03:23 ] At Hand > i feel special
[ 05:03:29 ] At Hand > 16 people just for me wow you guys really suck haha

I opened chat again to try and trick him into turning the self-destruct off so that we could finish our kill:

[ 05:07:38 ] At Hand > yes?
[ 05:07:42 ] At Hand > you got 60 secs
[ 05:07:43 ] Spectre3353 > stop SD and we'll let you go for 250mil
[ 05:07:47 ] Spectre3353 > final offer
[ 05:07:48 ] Spectre3353 > 250mil
[ 05:07:56 ] At Hand > stop firing and let me go
[ 05:07:59 ] Spectre3353 > gotta stop sd
[ 05:08:02 ] Spectre3353 > we will as soon as you stop
[ 05:08:06 ] Spectre3353 > i have everyone ready to stop
[ 05:08:08 ] At Hand > stop firing first
[ 05:08:10 ] At Hand > 30 secs left
[ 05:08:13 ] Spectre3353 > STOP SD AND WE WILL
[ 05:08:20 ] At Hand > sorry

Everyone in gang overheated their guns and threw everything they had at the ship. It felt like he was going down so slowly and I was almost convinced that we would never be able to pull it off when finally he dipped into low hull and exploded.

The Chimera pilot let us know how he felt about the whole situation once his ship had finally been blown up:

[ 05:04:58 ] At Hand > obviosuly it takes this many to kill one is sad
[ 05:05:09 ] Bfoster > we are pretty pathetic..
[ 05:06:24 ] Priah > your in a carrier
[ 05:06:40 ] Priah > at least for now you are
[ 05:06:40 ] At Hand > your in a battleship
[ 05:06:48 ] Priah > ya but ill leave in the battleship :P
[ 05:07:30 ] Mark wick > awww thats mean
[ 05:07:34 ] At Hand > to bad
[ 05:08:00 ] Bfoster > no insurance for that
[ 05:08:02 ] Bfoster > lol
[ 05:10:20 ] At Hand > actually ya there was
[ 05:10:22 ] Mark wick > lol fail
[ 05:10:23 ] At Hand > never leave home without it
[ 05:10:29 ] Mark wick > u still died
[ 05:10:39 ] Forest Baltar > you lost a fucking carrier
[ 05:10:41 ] Forest Baltar > IN A BELT
[ 05:10:41 ] At Hand > you guys still suck and need to learn some reall pvp
[ 05:10:42 ] At Hand > lol
[ 05:10:43 ] Forest Baltar > learn eve
[ 05:10:49 ] At Hand > learn to pvp

The loot was worthless and the pilot was an idiot but it isn't every day you manage to tackle and kill a carrier in a lowsec belt. I love Aurohunen.

EDIT: Bfoster has an account of the carrier kill on his blog as well. Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

Tonight I had an interesting conversation with Andrea Skye about our corporation:

[23:50] Skye: i would say it makes us look bad
[23:50] Skye: but we already look bad
[23:50] Spectre: yea
[23:50] Skye: so who cares
[23:50] Spectre: we are already the python cartel
[23:50] Spectre: we are the most immature loud mouthed inconsistent drunk bunch of retards in lowsec
[23:50] Skye: im not drunk
[23:50] Spectre: well lets use some math here
[23:51] Spectre: the python cartel = nothing without me
[23:51] Spectre: me = drinks a lot while flying
[23:51] Spectre: thus the python cartel = drinks a lot while flying
[23:51] Spectre: got it?
[23:51] Skye: no
[23:51] Spectre: hmmm let me draw a venn diagram or something

As I ran off to grab my crayons and some construction paper to create a color coordinated Venn Diagram that would knock my 3rd grade teachers socks off, I looked back and realized that Skye had already beaten me to the punch:

[23:56] Spectre: oh god

My jaw dropped in awe as I gazed upon his fifteen seconds of artistic effort:

Click To Enlarge

Quite a masterpiece.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reap What You Sow

A conversation from last month with a Python Cartel member that was removed from corp:


Channel ID: -3127383
Channel Name: Private Chat (Griznatle)
Listener: Spectre3353
Session started: 2009.10.02 05:15:48

[ 05:16:00 ] Griznatle > well ok...
[ 05:16:24 ] Griznatle > you busy, or you think you can talk to me
[ 05:16:28 ] Spectre3353 > hey
[ 05:16:29 ] Spectre3353 > whats up
[ 05:16:47 ] Griznatle > wanna explain a little whats going on man
[ 05:16:56 ] Griznatle > i was pretty sure we were getting along
[ 05:17:39 ] Griznatle > i had told you a couple times about my character sheet issue
[ 05:17:42 ] Spectre3353 > i got a few complaints of people that said they didnt want to fly with you
[ 05:17:46 ] Spectre3353 > and you piss your ships away
[ 05:18:00 ] Griznatle > what was the complaint?
[ 05:18:03 ] Spectre3353 > dont take it personal but if youre not fitting in with the corp then thats that
[ 05:18:14 ] Griznatle > i do take it personal
[ 05:18:15 ] Spectre3353 > you fc'ing gangs and getting everyone killed
[ 05:18:20 ] Spectre3353 > being obnoxious on vent
[ 05:18:30 ] Griznatle > ive never fced a gang in python man
[ 05:18:38 ] Griznatle > ive target called once
[ 05:18:47 ] Griznatle > or twice, i think
[ 05:18:51 ] Spectre3353 > i wasnt there
[ 05:18:56 ] Griznatle > i really loved being part of python
[ 05:19:08 ] Griznatle > i wish you would have talked to me saying that this shit was happening
[ 05:19:16 ] Griznatle > i would have really worked hard
[ 05:19:31 ] Griznatle > yeah the jew thing was stupid...i just got mad at the blobbers and emoraged
[ 05:19:44 ] Spectre3353 > that wasnt really the problem
[ 05:19:49 ] Griznatle > but i really love you guys
[ 05:20:03 ] Spectre3353 > well i dont want to tell you how to play
[ 05:20:09 ] Spectre3353 > if you want to suicide 5 ships a day thats perfectly fine
[ 05:20:11 ] Griznatle > please do
[ 05:20:15 ] Spectre3353 > but thats a bit beyond what i want us doing
[ 05:20:27 ] Griznatle > i know man...ive been having a hard past week
[ 05:20:41 ] Griznatle > i just started college and its difficult to fit in
[ 05:20:48 ] Griznatle > and i mean i love you guys, like brothers
[ 05:21:02 ] Griznatle > i guess what im saying is i really would have loved to work it out
[ 05:21:30 ] Griznatle > i can stop throwing ships away man, i really just miss being a part of the cool guys
[ 05:22:30 ] Griznatle > i know its not much to offer, im not that good a pvper
[ 05:22:39 ] Spectre3353 > none of us are that good, its not about that
[ 05:22:46 ] Griznatle > but im really trying to learn and its been so awesome and like a dream to fly with you guys
[ 05:23:02 ] Griznatle > id love a second chance...
[ 05:23:12 ] Spectre3353 > one moment
[ 05:24:08 ] Griznatle > i get carried away man, and i totally know that, no excuses, i dont have much to offer to the corp other than love for the craft
[ 05:24:57 ] Spectre3353 > every corp is different and i think you could probably find another where your playstyle fits in better
[ 05:25:06 ] Spectre3353 > there are tons of pirate corps and id be happy to put in a good word for you in any of them
[ 05:25:17 ] Griznatle > but i like being with you guys man
[ 05:25:26 ] Griznatle > i know a second chance is out of the question
[ 05:25:41 ] Griznatle > i just really wish i could prove to you that i could change
[ 05:25:58 ] Griznatle > and ill stop being the annoying kid on vent
[ 05:26:40 ] Griznatle > i just really loved being part of pythons
[ 05:26:44 ] Spectre3353 > i think you're taking it a little too hard
[ 05:26:56 ] Spectre3353 > we are a video game guild
[ 05:27:00 ] Spectre3353 > one of many
[ 05:27:04 ] Spectre3353 > you will find a place
[ 05:27:25 ] Griznatle > there isnt anyway i could try just one more time to not be stupid noob?
[ 05:27:57 ] Griznatle > i can really work on it man, i really can
[ 05:28:00 ] Spectre3353 > maybe sometime down the road but right now i think you should move on and find yourself a group who play the same way as you
[ 05:29:09 ] Griznatle > this sucks man, spec...i really wanted to become one of the guys
[ 05:32:11 ] Griznatle > i could be probitionary, no roles or anything, you can kick me out first sign of trouble, i just really wish i could prove myself
[ 05:33:08 ] Spectre3353 > sorry griz, ive said what im going to say for now
[ 05:33:18 ] Spectre3353 > good luck and let us know if theres anything i can do to help you with a new corp
[ 05:33:33 ] Spectre3353 > if you need to transport stuff safely out of station just let the guys know i said to let you go without engaging
[ 05:33:40 ] Spectre3353 > if anyone gives you trouble with that let me know
[ 05:33:41 ] Spectre3353 > o/

A few days after this, Griz put me on ignore and freaked out in local chat screaming at me. A little while after that, Griz posted a post out of nowhere in the C&P forums apologizing sincerely for his actions. A little while after that, Griz once again freaked out in local at us. The reason I am sharing this? Simply to let other corporations know: Do not ever recruit Griznatle. He is a complete psycho and a spaz both in game and on Ventrilo. I can only imagine that he must be bipolar or schizophrenic and I hope that he gets help. Until he does, do not accept him to your corporation or risk having to deal with some psycho shit. You've been warned.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Hangar

I've always had a lot of shit in my hangar. Tons of modules and drones and ammo so that I will always have what I need to fit a ship on the fly. Lots of different ships fit in various ways so that I will always have something adequate for the encounter at hand. This situation compounded itself considerably over the past few weeks when I came into a large quantity of money at the same time as I finished a number of skills that let me fly some new ships. I hauled in a couple Harbingers and a Zealot just today right as I was completing Medium Pulse Laser Specialization I. I dropped them in my hangar and then realized that somehow I had amassed forty-five ships in my hangar ranging from newb ships and shuttles up to several battlecruisers and battleships. Take a look for yourself at this blob:

Let's go over them:

Harbingers and Myrmidons: Just your standard battlecruisers. Fit and rigged and ready for any sort of fight that requires some tank and power under sentries but more agility than a battleship.

Dominix/Megathron/Megathron Navy Issue: Usually for station games. It's rare an engagement occurs where I can bring a battleship off the station on not be hot dropped or blobbed and Gallente battleships are not know for their agility or ability to get the fuck out (AKA "GTFO").

Curse/Arazu: For HAC/Recon gangs or situations where you need to nano around and take control of a small fight via electronic warfare. The Arazu usually gets broken out just for tackling at long range but the Curse gets utilized almost daily. It is an amazingly effective ship when used against certain ships/setups that are cap dependent, use turrets and aren't forcing you to fight under sentries.

T1 Cruisers: I don't fly them as much anymore but these were my bread and butter for a long, long time. Shown here: Arbitrator, Vexor, Blackbird, Exequror, Omen, Moa. I would usually have a Thorax or two but they have all been blowed up and I have not yet bothered to replace them.

T1 Frigates: Believe it or not, I still hop into the Rifter pretty often. It is pretty much the mainstay of any self-respecting pirate. Cheap, fast, durable and extremely effective against many other frigates including several T2 varieties.

HIC's: Shown here is a Phobos and Devoter. Both are exclusively for gate camping. I have never actually flown the Devoter yet.

HAC's: Exclusively for nano'ing around and being lame. I just bought the Zealot so I haven't gotten a chance to try it out yet. The Ishtar doesn't get undocked too often because honestly I find that it is extremely underwhelming while using heavy drones. One of these days perhaps I will train T2 sentries and give it another shot.

Pilgrim: Bought it. Fit it. Flew it once. Haven't managed to get too excited about it yet so it is rotting in the corner.

Thrashers: It's hard for me to explain how much I love the Thrasher. I love shield tanking it with autocannons. I love armor tanking it with autocannons. I love honor tanking it with artillery. It is a very flexible ship, it shreds virtually any frigates regardless of how you fit it and it looks fucking cool as hell. Even the name Thrasher is awesome. A great little ship whether you're solo'ing or you're in a Thrasher gang.

Taranis: An old favorite that I have been neglecting recently. Ever since the scrambler changes I have found myself preferring other frigate sized vessels to the Taranis.

So there you have it. My hangar. It's better than yours and you should be jealous.

Some Random Screenshots Of These Ships In Action:

Weirdass Looking Station

A Giant Penis and His Sailboat Friend

Nano Cruiser Gang

More Nano Cruiser Gang

Working Hard? Or Hardly Working?
Thanks Scam Victims! You Bought
Alt a Freighter!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mining In Amamake

Over the past few weeks, the Python Cartel has fallen into a state of inactivity for a number of reasons including:

- The release of Borderlands.
- The release of Dragon Age: Origins.
- The release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
- People having random real life issues or responsibilities.
- People being frustrated with Minmitar/Gallente lowsec becoming very populated and difficult to operate in.

Throw in the pending release of Left 4 Dead 2 tonight at midnight (hooray!) and I wonder how long it will be until our corporation is truly active again. Maybe when Dominion is released? Maybe in 2010?

In an effort to keep things at least a little bit interesting, I scheduled an op for the corp last week that would be different and rewarding. The rules for this op were as follows:

This is no joke. Everyone is to get into any mining ship they want with any character they own. Retriever, Hulk, Navitas, Vexor, Tengu, I don't give a shit. We will go to Amamake and we will have an ore mining contest.


Thursday, November 12th
Meet in Amamake at 0300 Eve Time


- The specific type of ore to be mined will be specified by me right before the contest starts.

- Only one character per person is allowed to mine or help mine/haul. You may NOT work together in teams.

- All mining ships will start in a safe spot together in Amamake, gathered on Spectre.

- Ships can be fit ANY WAY YOU WANT but I would recommend you have some mining lasers and/or mining drones or you are going to have trouble gathering any ore.

- You will have 60 minutes from the moment I say START to mine as much ore of the type that I specify that you can. At the end of 60 minutes we will meet in a station in Amamake (station to be determined) and you must CONTRACT me your ore. Anyone who tries to contract me their ore past the designated 60 minute timer will be disqualified.

- If your ship is destroyed by random gankers in system, you cannot get another. You will have to give me whatever ore you have gathered in the station to that point and that will be your score. People participating in this op are NOT allowed to attack each other in the belts or at any other point or they will be disqualified. You ARE allowed to bump, smack or distract each other as long as it does not involve directly engaging via guns, drones, etc.

- Mining in anomalies, missions or any place that isn't a normally marked and warpable belt IS NOT PERMITTED.

- If you lose your mining ship, you still have to post your loss.

- You cannot have any ore in your holds or in any station in Amamake when the OP starts. YOU MAY NOT LEAVE AMAMAKE OR YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.

- You must stay in fleet the entire op. Anyone who leaves for any reason other than a disconnect will be disqualified.


The winner of this contest will be given 100,000,000 ISK (100 million ISK).

So with these rules set, four pilots showed up to intetionally mine in one of the busiest and most dangerous systems in all of Eve. I gave everyone the specific goal to collect as much Fiery Kernite as possible in one hour and sent them off to make fools of themselves. Within minutes we lost Golden Helmet's Retriever and Brick0Joe's Osprey. It seemed like this was going to be over very quickly but to my surprise, Bfoster's Exequror and Kerblammo's Scorpion both lasted the full sixty minutes and Kerblammo barely won with a score of 3480 ore to 3429 ore. It turns out that the winning formula was to fly a ship with Warp Core Stabilizers as well as tricking people into thinking your ship is bait.

The winning fit was like so:

Congrats to Blammo for winning 100 million ISK and congrats to Golden Helmet for being embarassed publically on the Crime and Punishment forums. Stupid carebear miners.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

XB360 Review - Borderlands

One of the first things most people will probably think to say upon noticing this review will be "First Person Shooter? RPG? Why the hell didn't you buy this for your PC?" Well, I spend all damn day at my computer at work and there is something to be said about playing games on a 50 inch plasma TV with 5.1 surround sound from a comfortable couch. This review is specifically for the XBox 360 version of Borderlands. Most of the content in this review is relevant to all versions but it should be noted that there have been many complaints about the fact that the PC version feels very much like a rushed port and has technical issues that are not prevalent in the console version of the game.


Because Wikipedia gives better overviews than I do:
Borderlands features four player online cooperative play, which allows players to join and leave games whenever they want to, along with other single-player and multiplayer modes and a large number of weapons. Players can choose from four different playable characters who each have their own unique abilities and skill trees. In addition, players may have access to customizable vehicles for "vehicular combat" and will also be able to customize their pre-selected character. Defeated enemies will sometimes drop equipment, which is then available for players to pick up. The game is described by Gearbox Software as an "RPS," or "role-playing shooter."

While I didn't spend much time following the development or previews related to Borderlands before its completion, some controversy about the direction of the graphics and art style did come up around the gaming community during its development. The original art style was a bit more standard and gritty but was updated part of the way through the production cycle to have a more cell-shaded and cartoony feel by the time it was actually released.

In Borderlands final state, the colors are bright, the world is vibrant and both friendly and enemy character models are very nicely detailed. Textures on the XBox 360 become a little bit muddled as you get up to point blank range on your targets but in general everything looks sharp and the style come across as very unique and pleasing to the eyes. Perhaps the only big gripe with the cell-shaded style is that it occasionally becomes difficult to perceive depth or distinguish different pieces of terrain during a fast moving encounter but these incidents are far from game breaking and may be have been partially related to my level of intoxication.

In addition to the terrain and character models being visualized well, the guns and other weaponry are impressive looking and varied. Every weapon you pick up will differ in its model, color, scope, muzzle flash and a number of other visual elements. In comparison to other loot-centric games where "Joe's Long Sword +3" looks identical to "Fred's Short Sword +5" virtually everything you pick up in Borderlands is going to have some graphical element that distinguishes it and accurately reflects it's capabilities, even down to the number of barrels your friends can see when they look at the front of your badass new shotgun.


The sound effects and dialogue in Borderlands could certainly be seen as one of its brightest spots. Weapons and explosions generally add a great feel to the combat and I was especially fond of one specific sound effect that plays when you fire missiles out of the games vehicles. Additionally, player and NPC dialogue is done well and much of it is has a great sense of humor that matches the "gritty-but-silly" feel that the visuals also convey. You will never know what truly hilarious combat is like until you are listening to one of your friends yelling next to your ear by using the Berserk ability as you fire a shotgun into the face of a screaming midget.


At its core, the Borderlands gameplay is easy to get into and very satisfying. Jump in with your friends, activate a quest, kill everything in your path on the way to the objective and bask in the loot and experience you gain as you move along. It is a tried and true formula that has worked for Diablo, Titan Quest and a number of other games. Most interestingly is the fact that Borderlands begins to give you that familiar feeling of playing a MMO as you progress further and further along. Moving around from lower level zone to higher level zone, completing quests with your friends, leveling up and assigning talent points to your character. It all feels very familiar. Gearbox even blatantly ripped off World of Warcrafts color scheme for items via the "White -> Green -> Blue -> Purple -> Orange" progression of item strength. Fortunately, it is here where the FPS elements come to the rescue and pull Borderlands out of the "been there, done that" quagmire that it nearly falls into. The unique guns and grenades and rocket launchers along with the real time twitch based combat does much to differentiate it from just any old fantasy action-RPG or even from MMO's such as World of Warcraft that it seems to want to emulate.

Regardless of this all, no RPG is going to succeed without interesting abilities that make you feel more powerful as you level and encouragement to continue questing to advance the story and obtain more levels and loot. In the same vein, no FPS is going to succeed without adequate focus on weapons that are responsive and feel right as well as interesting enemies and encounters that challenge without frustrating. So where does Borderlands fall in these categories? To generalize, the RPG leveling, talent and gear elements are fairly light and the story is downright forgettable. On the other hand, the FPS elements are satisfying and combat is exciting and well balanced (that is if you can ignore the ridiculous fact that running an enemy over in your car instantly kills them even if it would have taken considerably more effort via normal means). The overall success and satisfaction of the gameplay comes from the fact that Borderlands brings the unique addition of FPS combat into the action-RPG genre in a manner that melds very well and causes Borderlands to really become more than the sum of its parts.

The last thing to point out that will effect the game and your overall enjoyment is unfortunately a number of glitches and bugs that exist upon release. Gearbox is working hard to get out patches to fix issues related to talents that are not working properly, sound issues on consoles and even problems that cause all of your items and money to be deleted as you join your friends games. I ran into one of these glitches when my XBox 360 froze up during the games final cut scene. Because of the timing of the crash, the last boss no longer exists in my game but it did not register me as completing the game or even getting the final boss achievement. My character is now stuck in a permanent limbo where I cannot finish the games final quest. Gearbox is working on a fix but it is still obnoxious to know that so many serious issues made it through to release.


To be totally fair, it is hard to imagine playing Borderlands in any manner that is not multiplayer and it seems quite obvious that the game is balanced around more than one person playing at a time. Bosses feel like they are designed around having multiple players, many talents and abilities lend themselves to working with others and even the in game vehicles have seats for two players. The Berserker gets abilities that encourage him to tank for the group, the Soldier gets abilities that encourage him to heal and resupply and Sniper simply needs all those other people distracting for him so he can sit back and snipe without being mobbed. In some ways the classes are unrestricted as they can use and level up proficiencies with any weapon type but your combat effectiveness really begins to shine when you utilize some of the specializations and support abilities that is encouraged for each class.

It is due to this overwhelming design around multiplayer that I wonder why some pretty important things were omitted, most obviously is the ability to trade assets. Not being able to directly trade items is a little bit insecure but far from gamebreaking. You simply drop the items to trade on the ground and pick up what want but when playing with strangers who may have no inclination to share or play fairly it seems silly that there is absolutely no ability to set loot rules or roll for items. The biggest fubar is the fact that you cannot trade or give money! If your friend Johnny needs another $5000 to buy that awesome purple sniper rifle in the shop then it's just too damn bad because you cannot give him any of your hard earned cash. Why a game that is based around working together would leave out such simple and important cooperative capabilities is just bizarre.


Borderlands is a great hybrid of RPG and FPS ideas and mechanics that is unfortunately marred by some weird design decisions and a few nasty glitches/bugs. It is a hard game to recommend if you are going to be exploring the world of Pandora solo due to somewhat monotonous gameplay and a very forgettable story but with a friend or three it stands up there with Gears of War and Left 4 Dead as an extremely entertaining and satisfying co-op experience.