Sunday, 24 May 2015

Back in a Merlin, Part 3

This is part 3, you can find part 2 here.

I wanted to complete the challenge in style. Go out with a bang. Instead I dragged my pod across the finish line after a mistake I thought I'd grown out of.

"Dammit... Challenge complete."

Starting from fight 5, things were really looking up. I used to fly a buffer fit Merlin in a previous life; and when that Neutron wielding Merlin annihilated me in fight 4, I knew I had to give it another try.

I feel instantly at home in this fit. A Rifter was the first to melt under my new setup. Not having to worry about avoiding damage or boosting shields really takes the pressure off.

"Turn everything on, light 'em up. Good Fight."

Next up an Incursus. She tried to duel me on the gate, not gonna happen if I don't have scouts available. Thankfully she followed me to an outpost and five volleys put her to hull, and gone.

I was so confident in my fit, that fight 7 saw me engage a Tristan - the ship I love to hate. The ship I always misjudge and get kited or neut'd by.

"Not this time, friend. Off you go, Good Fight."

Followed by the Slasher. The pilot with a 7 million bounty and the 4-volley defense he managed before I sent him home in a pod (missed the bounty, pfft).

The final two fights were less than spectacular...

Fight 9 was an all out mistake. I think confidence got the better of me. I started chasing a Tormentor (which I was pleased with my ability to find him!)... I knew he'd get range on me, yet I didn't swap ammo. I tried to sort of slingshot him back into optimal and failed... and I totally ignored the drones plugging away at my ship, ultimately leading to my demise.

It's worth mentioning here that - although some of my defeats definitely pissed me off - nothing as yet caused me to rage quit for a few hours to calm down. Until fight 10.

My final fight. A Breacher falls in my lap but I'm very worried about local. It's a bit risky but I believe I've taken the appropriate precautions.  If this Navy Hookbill is his friend, I've got enough time to kill him and warp out. There's a Comet buzzing around too but it's been here all along so I'm less suspicious.

The Breacher starts melting away and I'm spamming D-Scan to check for extra hostiles. He gives me a little bump, which I notice, and I spam approach a few more times to make sure he doesn't pull range.

Problems start when the Hookbill appears on D-Scan - I'm distracted now, not concentrating on the task at hand. I don't notice he's pulled range until his shield starts to regenerate through lack damage. I spam approach a few more times and realize my afterburner wasn't turned on.


I try to swap out to longer range ammo. I must've fumbled the cartridges on the floor, because I took a good 10 seconds doing the 5 second reload. Of course, it's too late. A fair fight, that I should've won, that I lost.

It's difficult not to be too hard on yourself when that happens.

Here's the full playlist of my '10 Merlins, 10 Goodfights' challenge:

(Part 4 coming soon...)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Back in a Merlin, Part 2

This is part 2, you can find part 1 here.

It's peak time and I'm hitting up the Heimatar region, looking for FW spots. Locals are big. There's 30-odd ships battling it out on the gates of Amamake. I sneak through without much trouble.

The thing that strikes me most about this challenge - I'm not afraid. There's a surprising comfort knowing that another 9 ships are waiting just a few jumps away, should anything go horribly, horribly wrong. I don't even have implants in yet, after my recent trip into null.

I even stopped to take a picture.

I finally spent the free 5,000 AUR they gave me years ago.

The goal was to get 10 good fights, win or lose. Sure, wins are always good - but I'll take a lesson from a loss in such a cheap frigate.

I recorded the fights so I could evaluate them later.

What I love about EVE is that so much goes on in the community outside of the game. I expected the only person to view those videos would be myself. Yet after just 1 day, a few people have already left constructive feedback about my fights!

  1. Overload modules from the beginning of every fight.
  2. Wasting too much shield boost, maybe use passive instead of active.
  3. Carry alternate ammo with better range.

Here's the YouTube playlist:

Fight 1: Merlin vs Rifter - kill mail

"As wins go, that was awful."

After settling into an orbit outside my optimal then wasting my shield boost charges - it struck me I hadn't turned my afterburner on and the Rifter would slowly nibble me to death unless I adjusted.

I broke the orbit with manual piloting but I'm sure I could've just clicked 'approach' instead. Could've saved myself a lot of cap charges.

Fight 2: Merlin vs Merlin - kill mail

"Why is he so goddamn tanky?"

I was excited about fighting another Merlin. I honestly didn't know how my build would compare to the 'standard' FW fit. Turns out this was not a typical fit, the guy had two shield boosters. I should've noticed a phantom mid slot because he didn't web me - I need to pay more attention.

Once I realized he was out tanking me, I tried to manually dodge his shots while I waited out the 60 second shield reload. This was felt incredible, I was manually piloting and pulling away! I was doing it! (I still hadn't realized no web...) 60 seconds later and I'm back in the fight; but his shield is just too strong.

I try to bail and actually make it out of scram range (yay!), but there's not a warp point in sight and I have to turn around (buuu...). Forget to re-web him, overload everything, burn out my afterburner. Sitting duck and dead.

Just a total clusterfuck, really. Lessons would be: carry ammo with more range, check what he's targeted me with, aim for a damn celestial if I'm trying to escape.

Not a Good Fight - kill mail

I lost a ship to bait. It was a busy system, I jumped in a novice site and a Tristan showed up. I kept checking D-Scan during the fight (yay!) but was unable to do anything about the two Imperial Navy Slicers joining their buddy.

Fight 3: Merlin vs Tristan - kill mail

I noticed (yay!) this guy was neuting me straight away which I'm really happy about.

"Power everything down - let's see if I can kill him while there's still juice in the tank."

I could not. In fact I was so far away from killing him that I've decided to avoid Tristans while flying this particular fit. Not a particularly valuable lesson learnt in terms of my PvP career, but it should save me a few Merlins over the next few days.

Fight 4: Merlin vs Merlin - kill mail

After my fight with Mr Crazy-Big-Shield Merlin, I thought about the lack of a web and the impact it might have on fights. Sure I had managed to break scram range from this guy, but my current problem was an exploding ship - not an escaping target.

The only way to fit two shield boosters is to drop my Ion Blasters down to Electron Blasters. The new setup should see me a lot tankier but with less DPS.

"Let's see how I do against this Merlin... Shield's down!?!"

His DPS is insane, eats through my shield. I spam both boosters in panic to get myself back to full. We settle into something of an orbit and it all calms down a bit. I'm trying to stagger my shield boosts but the damage has been done and I'm soon due a 60 second reload. Towards the end of the fight he's pulled a bit of range on me. I'm barely scratching him while he tears through the remaining armour and hull.

He compliments my tankiness and I check his prior losses on BattleClinic to see what I was up against. Except, there aren't any recent loses in a Merlin. He hasn't died with this ship recently.

So I message him... and then he links his fit!

"People really are nice in EVE, even after you've tried to kill 'em."

Ah... the Old Faithful. He's flying the buffer shield Merlin. Web, Scram, AB and an MSE with defence rigs and an anti-EM. That's the ship I used to fly back when it had two rocket launchers and two turrets on offense. He's managed to fit three Neutron Blasters on there. He sure did a lot of damage... Hmm. maybe I'll try that one next...

Read part 3, here.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Back in a Merlin, Part 1

My first day back started as predicted.

I awake in my pod. Battle Clinic tells me the last thing I did was lose a Thrasher. I'm mid-training to improve it's damage and I don't have any spares or any money.


There's a Harpy four jumps away but I'm feeling uneasy. I've returned during peak hours and I know one wrong move will see me podded. A Merlin looks like a better choice. I buy a single set of modules to equip my old friend and throw myself straight into null to see if I can still fly.

It wasn't arrogance, it was stupidity. A few jumps into null and I'm reminded of Appetite4Destruction and their gate camps. A Saber, Ceptor, Ceptor, Daredevil is a wicked way to remember I shouldn't fly null without scouts or guides. Lost the pod too, damn Saber. Thankfully I only carry basic implants.


So. I set myself a goal to ease myself back into PvP: 10 Merlins - 10 Good Fights

I'm overcome with happiness at the idea. It's a mini project with it's own start & end, and hopefully by the end of it I'll know whether I'm happy doing solo PvP or want to join a bigger corporation.

I have no disillusions - I don't mean 10 wins, just good fights.  Fights that I can learn from, be a better pilot at the end.

I've been reading about active shield tanks and how - if you're good enough - they can out perform buffer tanks. I want to become a better pilot. I need to learn to manual pilot, to switch ammo for different range advantages, all the skills I've blissfully ignored sat at my bubble in earlier life.

I force my hand by fitting an active shield. My advantage now comes with better piloting and longer fights. I can't just tank, spank & pray like I used to.

[Quarti's Merlin]
3x Light Ion Blaster II
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster (Navy Cap Booster 50)
1MN Afterburner II
Warp Scrambler II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
2x Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Damage Control II
Small Core Defense Operational Solidifier I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Processor Overclocking Unit I

It probably won't win innovative build of the year, but the numbers seemed fairly good. Now all I need to do is find someone to test it out on.

"Where's the closest FW region?"

Read part 2, here.

Friday, 15 May 2015

An all too familiar itch

I've been here before. I've never really understood why I get it, but over the years I've come to accept that I get it.

"The EVE Itch."

EVE Online. The game that has everything... the game that's always there when you need it. The game tha--

"Damnit, I've wasted so many skill points by unsubscribing these past 18 months..."

I suppose the question is. What would be "My EVE" this time around? I'm sure it'll start the same way as always... I log in, I find myself in a pod at a station... it was probably a particularly annoying death, on a particularly bad day, when I last stopped playing. I'll scoot over to my Raven, start doing some missions for a bit... and wait for the PvP bug to slap me in the face.

Easy. Except...

...then what? I'll have to find a part of EVE that I can play to win, that fits within schedule. Money less of an issue now but time very much an issue. I'm happy to PLEX my habit but what can I achieve in an hour here and there, that's the question I'll need to answer before I resubscribe.

I can't live in a wormhole. As much as I loved it, that initial "30 minutes chore", every single day. Scanning everything down. Making it as safe as possible. I'd barely have time left to leave the POS.

Maybe I could hunt in a wormhole. I'm sure there's a stealth bomber fit with probes that would work. Find an entrance in high, jump a few holes deep, sniff out the inevitable null sec connections. Maybe.

Bubbles. I do love bubble camping. Most similarly likened to fishing in my mind (not that I've fished since childhood). Setup your floats to alert you of activity, sit back, enjoy the breeze and wait. Deep breath. Definitely an option.

Corporations? Fleet Wars? I never really got into the fleet war stuff. It struck me as... well, Odd. I'm sure to someone new to EVE it's a brilliant way to start fighting. For me it always felt a bit like "Who are these people and why should I trust them?"

Corporations, sure. The best time of my EVE life was in a training corp down in null. I'm not sure if I'm ready to commit to other people in my EVE right now. I have no idea how often I'd play, whether I could commit to any meetings. Dunno.

Definitely food for thought! In the meantime, I've downloaded the client. Not subscribed though. Want a plan first. Wish I could get access to my profile offline (EveMon? EveHQ? People still use those? I must check!)... Would love to know the type of ships I can fly.

What to do, what to do...

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Committing to a Date & Time

Edit: Renamed the title of this post. I think 'Competitive Gaming for the Grown Up Gamer' is a much bigger area than discussed here. Certainly much more involved than just "Clans can't organize themselves anymore, and it pisses me off"... which would probably make a great TL;DR; for this post.

The biggest problem you face as a clan organiser is making sure you have a core team that can all play at the same time. It becomes an even harder task when you're playing with a bunch of grown ups. All that pesky "real life stuff" going on. When gaming becomes a hobby and not a second job.

Back when we used to play Counter Strike as a clan, we dabbled in the competitive leagues. We'd be set against people from all over Europe; of varying age ranges; who lived in different time zones; who juggled different responsibilities.

"Our match day is Tuesday, practice at 8pm match at 9pm GMT."

Honestly, we weren't that busy with real life that we could only make one night a week - but as a 'skeleton team' of 5 it was about finding that 1 day where everyone would be online. The single night of the week where family got told, social life put on hold, where working late nights wasn't an option because "Tuesday night is gaming night."

So yeah, this actually happens. Your hobby is gaming & competitions are fun; you have a busy life yet you want to make the hobby work. So you set aside time to make it happen. Done. I think it's something perhaps the younger players don't worry about, nor the bigger clans with readily available replacements... but it's something we had to consider.

"The league's starting a new season and their match day is a Tuesday!"

Here's where I get to the point (thank goodness, eh). So Tuesday night comes around, we'd been practicing de_dust2 for an hour or so - their war arranger appears 30 minutes before the game:

"Sorry, we need to reschedule. Can you do tomorrow at 9?"

Now... I know stuff like this happens. Things come up. Unavoidable things. For all the "I'm busy Tuesday night!" claims in the world, if we were really needed - gaming is just a hobby. I get it. I do. You might call this common courtesy, or you might think I'm throwing away points - but if we don't have a team, I offer to forfeit the game. That's just what I do. Our screw up, our penalty.

Yet here's how the conversation unfolds:

"Sorry, we need to reschedule. Can you do tomorrow at 9?"
- Sorry, we can't play tomorrow. Tuesdays are our only gaming night.
"Ok, how about Saturday?"
- No really, the only night we can play is Tuesday. I can't guarantee we'll all be online any other night.
"Come on, stop being unreasonable and just reschedule it for another day!"

Suddenly we're unreasonable? My gut reaction, "Hang on, you little shit. I've cancelled a drinking session; he's taken wife aggro; and he's not eaten yet... just so we all make it online. Yet we're being unreasonable, after You want to reschedule?"

I keep my opinions to myself.

Worse, I know that this wasn't a one off incident, because it happened maybe 4 times in the first 6 weeks. I reached a point where I updated the Bio of our clan to specifically highlight that we can't play any other night than Tuesday.

It made no difference...

"But our LeagueABC match is on a Tuesday, we can't play both!"
- So play this one, and re-arrange your LeagueABC match.
"LeagueABC rules won't let us re-arrange, we'd have to postpone it to the end of season. You guys are really unreasonable..."

I can understand how it may seem... but we've joined a league specifically based on the nights advertised. This seemingly accepted culture of not playing on the nights advertised. The commonplace swapping out nights for other nights. Unreasonable for only being able to play when you're supposed to play.

So at least this is all in the past, right? Counter Strike ey, bunch of kids with no lives who can't organise their way out of a paper bag, right?

Last night...

"Hey guys, REALLY sorry to do this - but we can't play tonight. Could we re-schedule for another night?"
- Sorry, the only time we can get on is tonight...

Maybe I'll start up a new league, with strict play dates & zero reschedules. Just need an accurate way of tracking which clan turned up on the night. I'd play that.

Mneh. Maybe I'll stick to FIFA.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Plus Two-Hundred?

I've been in talks with an Alliance, they've invited Fates (Hey, that's my Corp!) to be a part of their plan. It brought up an interesting question...
"Just what do I need to know, before joining an Alliance?"

In fairness, they aren't the first Alliance to make a move. The way we play our game - aggravating people in null - it does attract attention. We are reasonably well known, within our little pocket of space; and we do get fairly regular invites to Ally with some of the bigger guys of the area.

But this time the invite is for a different reason. A real reason.

Onto current.  My other half has come back from iSeries and decided she wants to start playing EVE. Watched her mates playing and decided it looks like a lot of fun (more fun than when she watched me play, or when reading my blogs, apparently! Hah...)

Wait... Hang on. My girlfriend... wants to play EVE? Very happy Dan!

"I can't wait til I can shoot you! Hahahahaha."

Argh... Not so happy Dan.

This does not end well - you can imagine how the scene unfolds. She turns up in some ship with a few months of SPs, I take her down relatively easily, I'm an evil bastard, blah. Or worse, she kicks my ass and I never live it down (not happening).

So talks began for us to "be friends" in game, which naturally leads to the suggestion of moving Fates into their Alliance.

Problem is, you're putting a permanent mark on your Corp's history. You have to make sure it's the right move. If the Alliance turns out to have a bad reputation, you can't dismiss your involvement with them. It's there for all to see.

"Yeah I only joined them cos my girlfriend knows them IRL, LoLz."


Soooo, I have to responsible. It's not so much looking after our members (there really aren't enough to worry) it's about looking after The Name.

Here are the questions I've asked so far:

  1. What's the primary focus of your Alliance, are you PvE or PvP? Do you operate in High, Low, Null or Wormhole?
  2. Do you have any sort of Call To Action rules or Minimum Play Times that we'll have to abide by or are we free to log on as we please?
  3. Are you Enemies or Allies with any Corps or Alliances?
  4. Do you get War Dec'd at all? How often & who by?
  5. Is there a monthly fee to be paid for being in the Alliance?
I feel like their answers have given me an excellent understanding of the sort of guys we'll be dealing with. Certainly glad I asked. I'm very aware that the main motivator for the move is to avoid girlfriend aggro - so now I need to make sure I'm not being selfish; mull over their answers with my fellow corp mates; and hopefully come to a mutual decision.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Quick Reinvigoration

I've been feeling pretty down about EVE PvP this past week - partly because I've been getting disheartened losing so many bubbles to faction cruisers; partly because my preliminary attempts to "change my game" (stop camping, go solo roaming) has ended in a lot of relatively expensive ship losses.

With that in mind, I've been neglecting EVE for the past week really. Favouring more care bear games, traditional MMOs where death is an inconvenience at worst. But I do enjoy playing around downtime & I've got a few hours to kill before the football starts.

I lost a bubble to yet another faction fit cruiser. Sometimes, I really do get fed up - but I suppose, the guys who land in my bubble feel the same way about me!

That said, it's amazing how much a simple thing can have a massive impact...

15 minutes before downtime, I put up another bubble. See if anyone's being careless in a bid to leave null before the restart. Turns out they where! My kill. A buzzard, carrying a sister's probe launcher and a few hundred million in loot!

Happy Dan.