Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Allied Defense of Heydieles

Heydieles was once more taken to the edge of capture by the forces of Old Man Gang yesterday morning. We had a small defense fleet but any plex we occupied was swarmed by OMG forces too numerous for us to take on. We ran from three fights this way. The fleet decided to do a short roam instead, just to stay occupied and maybe do some damage elsewhere. I got on a Corax kill before making a mistake and engaging a Cormorant on the wrong side of a jump gate; my fleet was trapped on the other side waiting for an aggro timer to clear.

I returned to Heydieles and was asked by my CEO to contact Stay Frosty and ask for their help. They agreed to do so and our fleet grew to 25 pilots. We were ably FC'd by Bugrat Warhead of Prima Gallicus and after a few jokes about French accents we kicked the shit out of an OMG gang. Really, it was beautiful.We lost four ships to their ten (or more?) and it felt seriously good to take control again. I was flying a logi ship, the Navitas, and repped three people during the fight. The next fight, in my Tristan, petered out into a draw but I got on an Incursus and Condor kill. The pattern seems to be that we can take the novice and small plexes but OMG brings too much firepower to the medium plexes for us to handle. As Russian midnight approached the OMG forces dissipated and we brought Heyd down to around 74% contested.

In non-combat news I've got four factories set up in planetary interaction and, though my first couple of attempts were uuuuugly, I think I've got the hang of it. If my math is right I should make about 100M ISK and month from this, provided I pay attention to keeping them busy. It would help if those pesky Russians would stop blowing us up :)

I'm going to try and fix my video recording software so I can show you more of the exciting combat we get into.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Random Things

Here is a video with some interesting moments that I haven't included in other videos. In the first segment I'm introduced to gate guns and the consequences of attacking neutrals; unfortunately mentioned a bit late :) . In the second those same neutrals have reshipped and come to fight us in a plex. In the third we encounter some Eve Uni members who run into us at a planet after we've skirmished with someone else and in the fourth we encounter a Merlin at a gate and he picks me as his target.

Among the most frustrating losses I've had in Eve is where I respond to someone who is excitedly trying to reassemble a scattered fleet to jump to them and help attack someone. This usually ends in failure, as some of the fleet responds and some don't, and those that do just trickle in one at a time and get killed.  If you're the one calling for help, please try and honestly consider whether you might really win if help reaches you, or if you're just getting your friends killed.  Instead, ask people what they can bring, how quickly they can get there, and possibly where they can stage so they all reach you at the same time.  It might be difficult to stay together enough to do that while you're in a losing battle, but it's better than just hoping your buddies will reach you and be helpful.

As a bonus, watch for the many times I do NOT have my ship's weapons activated. This is due to tunnel-vision on my part where I'm so focused on doing something that I forget to do something else. In our ships we usually have several things to keep track of: drones, guns, scram, web and sometimes a neutralizer. I often forget about one or more of these. If you are looking for one good reason to record your Eve Online combats, this is it! Watch your videos and see where you made mistakes.

Nov 18th 2013
It's the night before the Rubicon expansion hits, so I'm doing a couple of random things before logging off. I ran a level 2 security mission in a derp Tristan, just to see what happened. It went fine, though I lost a drone. I also bought a bunch of skillbooks and trained Planetary Interaction skills. Its an area of the game I haven't touched and I wanted to give it a try. I also sold another load of data/relic site loot for a tidy amount of ISKies.

Nov 24th 2013
I'm on vacation but have taken my laptop with me to play a little Eve when I can. Heydelies was at 99.8% contested this morning but has been pushed back down to 80% or so this evening. But when the US timezone pilots sign off, things will be looking dicey for us.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Flying Logi

From flickr user Jerry Bowley

Last night's combat was a bit different for me; I flew logi! That means I flew a repair ship whose job is to repair the armor of our fighting ships during combat, trying to keep them alive longer so we had more chance of winning. I was under the guidance of Huard Catanach and using our new Mumble voice software we were able to set up a voice channel for just the two of us to talk on. Huard was a good teacher and we repped our way through several fights during which both of us got killed (see 13-11-20).

Being in a repair ship frequently makes you the first ship to be targeted. Our FC knew this was the case, though, and we did the best we could. At the very least we distracted the enemy so our DPS guys could attack them while they were busy with us.

Another corpmate, Serenalen, hosted a class for Aideron Robotics pilots on logistics. If you're interested in logi, you should really watch it!

It's actually less pressure, I found, than fighting in a DPS ship.  You have only one job: repair people. You are expected to not leave the fight and if you die nobody is surprised; it meant you stayed till the last, nobly giving up getting on killmails in return for free ships. As the non-lead logi guy, I didn't even have to steer...I just ordered my ship to follow Huard and he made sure we stayed at the right range from the fleet.

There was one unexpected moment: one of our pilots came late to the fleet because he'd been out flying Very Very Fast in his interceptor, reveling in its new speed after the Rubicon update. Our FC jokingly targeted him and fired, forgetting that we'd all assigned drones to him. His shield melted quickly and Huard and I had to rep his armor while the drones were called off.

Heydieles is almost 60% contested, so we need to step up to the plate again and get that number back down!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Highs and Lows

By flickr user michael heiss

Yesterday was a pretty odd one for me, though I actually hope to have more like it! Lets start with the highs...290 MILLION ISK! Aw yeah, space bucks baby. I cashed in 100,000 loyalty points and bought Gallentean Starship data cores, which are riding high in value right now. I contracted them to a corporation which buys them at Jita prices and pocketed a cool 190M ISK in profit. Sadly, they're not taking that particular data core any more, since everyone and his brother has been trying to sell them. So I will look for other opportunities.

Later on, while my corp was busy with moving large items long distances I decided to try some belt ratting. I'd successfully done some between plexes a couple of nights ago. This is, in case you don't know, where you warp to asteroid belts and look for NPC pirates (the "red cross" kind, not neutral players) to fight. You get a boost in security status for killing them, plus a little bounty and loot.  Unfortunately I got lazy and didn't check d-scan often enough...I got jumped by a gang of four neutral players and got killed.....and podded! I did give the command to warp out after my ship blew up, but perhaps they had fast lockers? I was flying a cheap Tristan that I put together, which I'm pretty happy with. I will make more copies and go roaming in belts, though I'll avoid systems with a lot of people in them. Heyd had 15 in local when this happened.

Worst part of that fight: I had a set of +2 skill implants that a friend had given me just two days ago! Sorry mate :(

The fight, despite their numerical advantage lasted longer than I thought it would, and had I noticed them earlier and either run away or kept my range, I might have gotten one of them. Despite a late start to my attack, I brought one of them down to low armor very quickly. I'll switch the prop mod to afterburner, though.

I switched into an exploration ship, wanting to finish the night on a good note. But despite scanning about a dozen cosmic sigs in eight systems...nothing. I suspect exploration is getting quite popular in our area.

Our home system of Heydieles is around 20% contested and we continue to plex it and the surrounding systems.

Funny mistake: we had finished running a plex and people were warping out to the next one. I decided to wait a bit and see if anyone left drones so I could rescue them and get karma. Sure enough, some fool left drones behind...get on comms "Who left their drones? I'll get them for you."...nobody...nobody. "Come on, someone did, they're right h....oh shit they're mine." Yep, my own drones, still out. Herpaderp.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Heydieles is stable!

Wow, what a mad ride!  Heydieles was *this* close to slipping from our grasp on Saturday morning, but by Tuesday night we made it a safe as it can possibly be. 0% contested, 100% stable in Gallente Militia control. I was there for the last plex and made the video above. My thanks to Tennar for bringing the fireworks!

A medal was created and given to all members of Aideron Robotics to commemorate the occasion.

But our victory does not come not only from our tenacity. After all we've been as persistent as we could for the past few weeks and were still losing ground to Old Man Gang and their allies. It seems that an internal dispute at OMG caused one of their 5 corporations to depart, taking some of their best pilots with them. I'd like to think that the pressure we were applying had something to do with it, but who knows?

As a bonus we also wrested control of OMG's current home system of Fliet from the Caldari. Our next campaign will be to help stabilize the systems around Heydieles.

Monday, November 11, 2013

How to "Slide" into a plex

How to slide into a plex

I have spent most of the last month in Eve fighting in faction warfare plexes (short for "complex", not to be confused with the "plex" that gets turned into 30 days of game time).  We get new members in our corporation or in our nightly militia fleets that don't know what it means when the Fleet Commander tells them to "slide in" to a plex. Those players are very much at risk for getting caught and killed at the entrances into plexes, where enemy ships and pirates lie in wait.

I hope this video will be a handy shortcut for those who have to give the same explanation over and over again :)

It's worth noting that this technique does not always work! Ask any faction warfare fleet for stories about when sliding didn't work, and you'll hear 'em.  If your has to do a big turn to go into the plex, that's a drawback and sometimes the enemy may have sensor boosted ship that can lock more quickly. But 99% of the time, this method will work. Remember to click "Activate Gate" repeatedly!!

More information the "slide", aka "Hans Slide" can be found at this forum posting, wherein the discussion over whether its a bug or a feature can be found.

The Successful Defense of Heydelies

We suffer a DDOS attack on our Teamspeak server
just as a huge Old Man Gang fleet engages us.

It's been a few days since I've posted because my spare time is going into playing Eve. We are successfully defending Heydelies but it has been a hard fight with large swings of fortune. As of today things look very good so I'm going to make a series of posts about what I've seen.

My last post was on November 7th and I reported Heyd down at 60% contested. We were gradually pushed back and that number rose and rose...on the morning of the 9th Heyd actually hit 100%. It was vulnerable! Had the Caldari militia decided to bash the i-hub during that very brief window, we would have lost. Luckily for us the Gallente players in the Dust 514 game made a push and took Heyd out of vulnerable, making it *barely* safe. We began de-plexing.

The work was very difficult. Old Man Gang are the main alliance that we fight and they have some seriously good pilots that appear to need no sleep.  The high levels of fighting (nice post, Kirith!) have attracted pirates too. Two of our pilots, Baynex and Ashterothi put in long, long hours of fleet command and rallied other Gallente Militia members to fight in Heydelies. Lockefox has greatly improved our supply of ships and components. We focused on plexing as best we could and....

At time of writing Heydelies is 25% contested. If take about 40 more plexes, unopposed, the system will be stable. Following the "broken windows" theory, we want Heydelies to be an unattractive target for the Caldari. If we keep it stable that sends a signal that the system is occupied, patrolled, secure and not worth attacking.

We don't know if OMG have had enough, have spent all the ISK they want to spend or are just resting this weekend. We'll find out soon enough.

[Update Nov 13:] The word on the grapevine is that internal strife in OMG caused one of their five corporations to leave, taking some strong pilots with them.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Grind Continues

From wikipedia

The grind for control of Heydelies continues. I hadn't thought to look up our enemy, Old Man Gang, but their persistence in fighting us prompted the thought "I oughta know who these guys are". OMG is an alliance of five corporations with about 200 pilots, compared to our 80.

This isn't going to be easy.

Heydelies fluctuates around 60-70% contested each day as OMG and us, with the help of people who join our nightly fleets, run plexes. We are bringing in more ships and getting better at re-shipping to take each fight with more appropriate equipment.  There's not much more to say other than this is the difficult, grinding face of faction warfare. You need to organize as close to round-the-clock presence in system as you can, refine your tactics, have ships available for purchase, make sure the right ships are on the field and everyone knows how to fly them. Rinse and repeat.

[Next Day Update - Nov 7th 2013]

Last night was quite successful; OMG were not out in large numbers and we ran a lot of plexes in Heyd AND in OMG's current home system of Fliet. We had Fliet at 44% contested and Heyd down in the low 60% range. We also had good numbers in our defense fleet; enough to be working in two systems at once.

Our supply chain is strengthening and we've developed some tools to watch our stock of components for all our doctrine ship fits so we can more easily re-ship and also sell replacement ships to visitors who are helping us defend Heyd.. The market in Heyd is well-stocked and continues to fill up and we're seeing repeat visitors each night to participate in our fleet.

Hope springs eternal, and all that.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fortress Heydelies

What an EPIC weekend! If you've been following my posts you'll remember that we were quickly losing control of Heydelies. On Friday night it was in the 80% range and we brought it down a little by plexing. We realized that if our corporation was the only one defending it, and we were only on in force for a few hours at night, we'd lose the system.

I woke up on Saturday morning and logged in to see where things stood....99.6! We were ONE plex away from the system going vulnerable. (side note: Once the system was vulnerable the enemy would have to attack a structure called the "i-hub", which takes a lot of firepower. The TEST ihub bashing fleet is about fifty strong, mostly battleships, and it takes about 10-15 minutes to do its work.)  I got onto our corp Google Hangout and notified the group. Luckily Marcel (CEO) was online and he advised me to notify the Gallente Militia, start a fleet and generally get things moving.

9:12 AM -- Heyd 99.6%, Dust at 1.1%

I wasn't able to actually fly due to family commitments but I got into the Gal Mil channel and alerted the troops: Paskis Robinson, Terhiss and Sharel Lennelluc were the first three to join the defense fleet and I wanted to thank them for stepping up so quickly. The system actually went vulnerable while we were getting set up! Each plex captured changes the contested status by about 0.7% and you need to capture about 150 plexes to go from zero to hero, or the other way.

9:21 AM -- Heyd 98.7%, Dust 3.3%

In case you didn't know, CCP make a first-person shooter called Dust 514. It is free to play on the Sony PS3 console only (for now). Not only is it set in the Eve universe but the two games actually affect each other. As the Gallente Dust players strengthened their hold on Heydelies in Dust 514, it takes away some Caldari control in Eve.

9:31 AM -- Heyd 97.7%, Dust 5.5%. Our defense fleet now has 5 members. Paskis and Terhiss are in the general militia channel urging pilots to join and defend Heydelies.

I asked during the weekend why Heydelies was so important; I'd heard the odd comment about it being a big deal but I'd never asked why. After all, the Caldari are conquering a lot of systems at the moment and we're not teaming up hard to defend them. The reply surprised me: its partially for strategic reasons (it connects with six other systems) but mostly to do with how difficult it was to take Heydelies back in March 2013, then we lost it in April and just regained it on October 14th. As a player its nice to know the history of a system and participate in the evolving story.

The Dust level increased to 12.5%, it's maximum allowed value, and stayed there.

Around 11AM one of our directors, Ashterothi, logged in and began a marathon session of FC'ing and diplomacy. He negotiated with a Europe-based corporation in a neighboring system to come and help us and also set up a temporary truce with a nearby pirate gang. Pirates are usually in faction warfare systems to look for fights with members of either side.  Ash was on for twelve hours and by Saturday night Heyd was down to about 65% and our fleet numbered between 20 and 30. This allowed us to also deplex neighboring systems a little, just to keep them out of vulnerable status.

We found the Test Alliance i-hub bashing fleet on Saturday night and teamed up with several other Gal Mil corps to try and attack it. We chased them across several system to the Aldranette area, but they dispersed and avoided a battle. They had flipped at least three systems into their control that day. They had spies in our fleet that threw some fapping noises at us over comms too, which was funny, lets face it.

The fighting continued the next day, again with Ash doing a lot, but not all, of the fleet commanding. It was less intense on Sunday, possibly because word had gotten around the Caldari FW community that Heyd was well defended and they should try elsewhere.

As you can see from the killboards it was a busy weekend (13-11-02 to 13-11-03) but what it doesn't show are the new associations we made. We know our friendly neighbors better now, we demonstrated our commitment to defending our home system and we got several applications to join Aideron Robotics, which is always nice. And we showed a a lot of younger players how to fight!

When I signed off last night Heyd was around 40% contested.

Funniest moment: A fleet member returned to station for repairs and was confronted by a battleship. The battleship locked him and opened fire....and was melted by the station guns!  I wish I could find the kill mail; the battleship was worth 480 MILLION ISK! The fleet member got a couple of shots in so he's the only player on the kill mail. 

While searching for the kill, I found this one instead: our CEO and the CEO of Old Man Gang, our perennial enemy, shared a kill together. Gotta be a story here, or maybe just a three-way fight with an interesting outcome.

Lessons Learned

Whew! Where to start?  

  • My ideas about plexing in cloaked ships neglect the big impact that visibility has. 
  • A gang of five ships can dissuade most attackers, especially if you have a repair ship. 
  • Make your fleet public and regularly advertise it in the militia channel.  
  • Try and have replacement ships ready to buy. 
  • Take your fights INSIDE plexes, not on gates. The defender's advantage is very useful.
  • Everyone should have ships ready for small or large engagements. It took a little too long to get a big fleet together to chase Test's ihub fleet.
  • Commandante Chongo is a one-man Tristan army! What this guy did with a single Tristan threw us into confusion. Hats off to you, sir, and may your pod lines clog and cause you unseemly discomfort.
My video recording software, Overwolf, had the hiccups and I wasn't able to record anything.

Friday, November 1, 2013

In Defense of Cloaked Plexing

My favourite solo plexing ship

Our home system of Heydelies was heavily plexed by the Caldari, taking it from 30% contested up to 70%. This meant that our prime task was to defend our home system by plexing it ourselves, which we did last night. I started our fleet and advertised it (we got some non-Aideron people to join, thanks guys!) and three of us headed out. I decided to use my cloaked Venture instead of an expensive Tristan because I had a suspicion it would be more useful and it turned out I was right.

[Venture, Cloaked Plexing]
[empty low slot]

Medium Shield Extender I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field I
Limited 1MN Afterburner I

150mm Railgun I, Uranium Charge S
150mm Railgun I, Uranium Charge S
Prototype Cloaking Device I

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
[empty rig slot]

Hobgoblin II x2

(You could put a drone damage amplifier in the low, or whatever you like. And remember that the Venture has a role bonus of +2 Warp Stability built right in - it takes at least 3 points to warp scramble it. The guns/drones are there for taken out the NPC rat if you're offensive plexing. If you're purely defensive plexing you don't need the drones or guns.)

Over the next couple of hours I ran a novice plex, did ten minutes in a medium and ten minutes in a small, all solo. I also provided intel on enemy movements in a plex that was outside d-scan range for the main fleet. My fourteen corpmates handled the fights and had a blast! I think this contribution makes a good case for having a cheap cloaked ship in any plexing fleet. If your aim is to run as many plexes as possible then you want to have ships in all available plexes simultaneously. If you're a small fleet with plexing as your main goal, you might want to ALL go cloaked. A group of three or four cloaked Ventures could plex a system much faster than three or four fighting frigates.

A cloaked ship is a very safe way to have just one pilot be able to either run a plex completely or run down the timer. BUT if you're just using plexes to find Good Fights, a cloaked ship is just one less set of guns and is a liability.

Non-cloaked ships have to be ready to fight, flee or be present in numbers high enough to take a fight. But a single cloaked ship watching d-scan (see my guide from an earlier post) can just cloak up if someone shows up. They probably know you're in there since they will have d-scanned before jumping in, but if they can't find you then you can just wait until they leave. 

I've done this a lot and very rarely have the newcomers stayed to actually run the plex. Most of the time they're looking for a fight and, not getting one from you, they leave. Or someone else comes in a few minutes later and blaps them, then they leave.


This is where things get interesting, in a sociological way. There is a bias against cloaking! It's not outright hostility but I've heard hesitation from others in my corp when I suggest doing plexes cloaked, with the sense that it's "not the done thing". I get the feeling that in low-sec and faction warfare you're expected to to fight, or flee, but not hide. An answer along the lines of "we're here to fight together" has come up a couple of times when I've proposed it, even if our stated aim that night was to run plexes. I can understand that position, but fighting is not the only way to have fun in Eve. It can also slow down the process of taking plexes. 

It might be an interesting subject for someone to find out where this attitude came from how prevalent it is, and how it survives in a game where the full exploitation of every available game mechanic is encouraged. "If the game allows it, I'll do it" applies to cloaking too, doesn't it?

A cloaked ship is not invulnerable and I'll tell you what makes me nervous when I'm hidden: ships in wide orbits. You can spook a cloaked ship by having your gang orbit the button at different ranges. Go round a couple of times at 5/10/15/20/25/30 km if you think there's a cloaked ship in there. He can't move fast, can't recloak for 30 seconds (if he's using the cheap cloak) and can't target you if he decloaks. He'll probably decide to warp out. You only have to go round a couple of times to "sweep" the system, then return to orbiting at your optimals as usual.

In conclusion, my takeaway message from this post is that plexing fleets should consider using cheap cloaked ships more often, especially if you're a small fleet. It's an easy, cheap, safe way to run more plexes per hour and give you intel on enemy movements.