Saturday, January 19, 2013

ECM Is Broken

For fuck's sake...

In the EVE universe, there are a bunch of dice roll mechanics, mostly tied to non-PVP situations:

-Hack/salvager success
-Loot drops (both from NPC's based off the drop tables and off of a ship destruction)
-Escalations
-Rat spawns

Some would cry that certain things shouldn't be subject to this mighty random number generator in the skybox, especially when talking about a stack of PLEX's in the cargo hold of a ganked shuttle, or super-rare Guardian-Vexors in cargo hold of some noob.

But what really pisses me off is the ECM system. Every other form of electronic warfare has defined strengths and a certain part of combat they affect. There are also direct counters that absolutely aid against said E-war. Here's my breakdown for those of you that don't know:

Warp Disruptors: Will stop a target from warping if their war strength is below 1 (which is most ships).
Counter: Warp core stabilizers, ships with multiple points of warp core stabilization.

Warp Scramblers: 2x warp disruption strength, shorter range, does the same thing as warp disruptor but has the added ability to disable microwarpdrives.
Counter: warp core stabilizer (to warp away), dual-prop (adding an afterburner) to keep velocity high, or just use an afterburner to begin with.

Stasis Webifiers: Reduces the velocity of a ship.
Counter: Navigation skills, propulsion modules.

Energy Neuts: Drains the capacitor of a ship. This adversely affects active tanks the most, but can also disable any active module on a ship that requires cap, including scrams/webs/etc.
Counter: Cap boosters - inject cap directly, cap skills to increase cap faster or have higher base cap, cap batteries now bounce the neuting effect back to the aggressor.

Tracking Disruptors: Decreases the tracking speed and optimal range of turrets. Can be scripted to increase 1 effect more.
Counter: Tracking computers, tracking skills, optimal range skills, tracking enhancers.

Target Painters: Increase the signature radius of a ship, so it "appears" bigger, takes more damage, is locked faster, etc.
Counter: Currently none, but TP's are probably the least common E-war out there. Also, the TP's do not hinder a target directly, like diminishing their DPS/tackle/speed, but must be coupled with weapons that normally wouldn't hurt it as much, like torps to a cruiser. Also, since the TP's make you a bigger target, increasing speed (against missiles) or transversal velocity (against turrets) will help alleviate the incoming damage. This isn't much of a "counter" as it is smart piloting, but it is a defense that WILL have an impact.

Sensor Damps: Decrease the scan resolution and targeting range on a ship. Can be scripted to increase 1 effect more.
Counter: Sensor booster, targeting range and scan resolution skills, signal amplifier, rigs.

Now this brings me to ECM. A little background on the mods above, aside from the Target Painter, every module has a direct counter that WILL help defend against the e-war. If you are damped and turn on your sensor booster, the effect is diminished, same goes with any of the counters I mentioned. ECM is different, in that is it chance-based, and the formula I've recovered is:

C= 1-((1-J/S)^n)
where: C = jam chance 
J = jammer strength 
S = target ship sensor strength 
n = number of jammers used

You now have 4 ways to decrease your chances of being jammed:
  1. Fit an ECCM - active midslot, can be overclocked.
  2. Fit a sensor backup array - lowslot, passive.
  3. Have a fleet booster with the appropriate Infowar command module.
  4. Train the newly-added ECCM skills that increase your base sensor strength.
Now, that is all fine and dandy, if it weren't for what ECM did:

Broke your locks on everything.

Yea, that takes out (most) of your ability to do damage (not counting drones, smartbombs), your ability to provide logistic support, your ability to keep a target affected by any of the above-mentioned E-war, or your ability to keep a ship from cloaking. It takes care of the job of neuting (removing logistics), tracking disruptors (guns can't track if they can't shoot), and sensor dampeners (actually better if you are too close for damps to work) all in one module. I think this is deserving of a nerf.

My Proposal:

Change the lock-breaking to high slot disabling.

Let's fudge some numbers here for a good example. Let's say a racial jammer has a strength of 5, and a target ship has a sensor strength of 5. This would mean the target can not be jammed. However, if you put two racial jammers of the target (with an appropriate stacking penalty like any other e-war), it will lose the use of 4 high slots. This could have a dice-roll to pick which slots you lose, but I prefer a left-most first system, so slot order matters more.

Now, with bonuses applied up the chain to ECCM and ECM alike, the scales keep tipping one way or the other, but a Falcon could put around 4 ECM on a target and remove its ability to use its hislots, whether they be neuts, nos, guns, missiles, salvagers, tractor beams, smartbombs, bombs, jump portal, drone link augmenter, command links, remote reps, etc.

This also allows for a ship to leave an ECCM off until needed, to gain back the use of hislots, much like a sensor booster can be used to gain damped targeting range.

Whines:
"This will make Falcons useless!" - No, it will bring them in line with other e-war. In some ways it is a buff because the ECM will always work on a target with insufficient sensor strength.

"Only hislots? What about mids, like tackle?" - For too long ECM was a dice-roll to get out of jail free. With the addition of a Spectrum Lock Breaker and its drawbacks, it is much more apparent that the ability to completely break the locking ability of an enemy is extremely unbalanced in PVP, especially when the trade off is so slim. This way, a Falcon can permajam the damage component of an enemy (still able to "ECM tank"), but they can't simply get out of a fight if they are tackled.

"Won't this make some ships non-jammable by default because of their high sensor strengths?" - Potentially, which means ECM strength should potentially be granted a buff. The numbers should be such that 4 maxed skilled Falcon jams can disable the hislots on a non-ECCM fit, max-ECCM skilled carrier.

Feel free to add more whine, I'll address them and confirm I am awesome.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Welcome DAYZE to General Tso's

For fuck's sake...

A couple days ago General Tso's Alliance scooped the most prevalent corp from Multiplanetary United alliance, DayZero [DAYZE]. They were our chief ally in our last, totally awesome, bounty hunting war, and their members were impressed by our actions to the point that they applied to <3XXXD> in hopes of learning from us. Well, I assume "us" = me, as my alliance is shit.


What was great about them joining (besides bolstering our active numbers) is they also brought with them 3 wardecs. It was brought to my attention that a member corp in Multiplanetary United may have been paying off the griefers that were deccing them, which inevitably leads to a shit ton more deccing, especially by alts of the same griefers. But anyway, I told their CEO to not pay any more ransoms, and he assured me they hadn't, so it's likely it was a different corporation within that alliance.

The reason why multiple corps would dec a carebear alliance are: they were paying out ransoms, losing extremely expensive ships (which is likely), or one of their members is a smacktard (also likely). It will become clear over the next few weeks which one of my suspicions is true, but the leading hypothesis is the ransom one.


Anyway, Sunday night (EST), around 0300 EVE time, I received and accepted the application from DAYZE to Tso's. This would give us 24 hours before the war went live against Tso's, so we prepped some ships, got intel about their active members, and otherwise readied ourselves for more wars. About 1 hour out from the supposed war start, we moved a rather large SMERG and DAYZE fleet down past Hek and planned an elaborate log in trap... which ended up never happening. The 0-hour mark rolled by, then the 30-minute-over mark, and by this time our prime targets (Pendulum of Doom) lost interest in our bait ships from DAYZE and retreated back in the direction of Caldari space. This clearly sucked ass, as the war wasn't live for Tso's, DAYZE was still not in Tso's, and now everyone would have to slow boat their lazy asses back towards Seyllin. Some of us didn't make it... right, Saggy?

We eventually reshipped into slightly more agile stuff (down from BS's to Cruisers/BCs/Tech 3's) and this time just staged 1 jump out from where 2 of the to-be war targets were docked (Renyn), which happened to be 4 jumps from Seyllin. We settled in for another 30 minutes or so when we finally got the good news:



So we sent out our "bait," who all got massacred, so we jumped into system, warped to station and engaged the pair of targets, a Hurricane and a Vigilant. The Hurricane docked so fast, I don't even think he shot anyone, and the Vigilant scurried as far into the station dock radius as humanly possible. This is when the strangest thing happened: we knew a neutral Oneiros was on station, and were prepared to counter it, but when it began repping our war target, it was not flagged as Suspect as the Crimewatch 2.0 dev blog explained would happen. This ended up costing us the kill (at about 70% structure, mind you, so it could be that had Saggy not died in his Dominix to faction police in Minmatar space, the outcome would have been different) and all of our bait ships to boot. The target smacked, as common with 12-16 year olds; and to be honest, I'd rather he use the release of the internet to get his pent up nerd rage out instead of taking it out on his bullies at school with a shotgun.

Like this, but with more Butthurt Dweller.
That and analrapists are expensive. So I'm glad he can get the poison out, and I hope his Dad stops pounding his butt hole. I'd gladly offer mine.

But anyway, 1 whole day into the war, we managed to bait and kill a Megathron and its pod along the Jita pipe, and were en route to other targets deeper in Caldari space when we ran across a couple of their guys in Uedama. So we camped for a while, they played docking games, spent a good hour waiting for their members to become un-AFK and right when we were going to engage their 10-or-so T3/Curse/BC etc gang, we noticed not just the one neutral logi from before, but on short-range directional scan there was1 additional Oneiros and also 2 Guardians! For T1 fit T1 cruisers! I'm sure we would have lost the whole fleet to theirs with just the single neutral RR alt. Talk about overkill!


Well, we did what any reasonable person would do and went and reshipped, to even the odds, but by the time we made the 6 jumps to Seyllin and back they all rage logged. The single dude left in Ikao seemed content playing more station games, and I sure as shit wasn't going to subject my fleet to that ass hattery for another hour so they could bat phone their 4 logi again. So I called it and we logged as well.

So far this war is turning out to be the same typical bullshit war we hate, and coming down off that high from the last war is depressing. I guess we'll just go on some AF roams through lowsec and perhaps hunt one of the other 2 war targets currently decced against us.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

SANSHA LOYALIST APRIHENDED

BREAKING NEWS JUST IN !!!

field agent reporting: Dark Drifter
Local Node: NAFOMEH
Sov: Amarr Empire

    Today is a good day for the Empire. We the loyal members of Sardaukar Merc Guild (3XXXD)
went undercover as a Sansha advocate combat fleet and perused suspected Sansha loyalists.
Our most notable combat engagement saw the destruction of one Vindicator Class battleship that was fitted with multiple experimental weapons and defensive systems. unfortunately for the Pilot, (who shall remain un-named) he had not activated his "Sansha Command Relay Processor" (SCRP)
a command processor that is hooked directly in to the PODs hyper-wave communications node that transmits on the same frequency as most Sansha Slave augmentations.

this resulted in the Sansha mistaking him for a hostile and assaulting him in force. only his POD escaped and just over 600million ISK in assets was recovered including:

Core A-Type Armor Explosive Hardener
Core B-Type Armor Kinetic Hardener
Centum C-Type Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane
Shadow Serpentis Magnetic Field Stabilizer
Federation Navy Stasis Webifier

after this reasult we assumed that word would have spread and all Sansha Loyalists would steer clear of our inquisition.

OH HOW WRONG WE ALL HAD BEEN...

Thesuvioerofwar found our fleet and attempted to disguise his SCRPs signal in order to join us and then assist the Sansha scum in AWOXING us. he did not count on one thing though...
currently all SMERG vessels are equipped with latest in the line Sleeper FOF systems. these FOF systems had been designed by SMERG seers (hippi sciantists) to fool sleeper class drones and confuse thair targeting/tracking systems.

Following is the conversation that ousted this vial scumbag:
---------------------------------------------------------------

  Channel ID:      -36157936
  Channel Name:    Private Chat (alone)
  Listener:        Dark Drifter
  Session started: 2013.01.03 03:31:44
---------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Drifter > yo
Dark Drifter > gonna talk to you here to keep fleet comms clear
Dark Drifter > ok?
Thesurvivorofwar > k
Dark Drifter > cool do you know how to use the smart bomb
Thesurvivorofwar > yes
Dark Drifter > cool position yourself 5-10km off the fleet then
Dark Drifter > you will be the anti frigit platform
Thesurvivorofwar > going now
Dark Drifter > i know this will sound silly but set ur safety to red, this will enable you to set the bomb off
Dark Drifter > when you have done that then set it going, its not gonna use much cap so you will be ok
Dark Drifter > done?
Thesurvivorofwar > yep
Dark Drifter > cool when the drones come within range they will all die
Thesurvivorofwar > dude wtf

>transcript End<

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Uppon activation of his Smart-Bomb, the assailant began to assault SMERG assets in space.
CONCORD apprehended him and with assistance from the SMERG fleet, destroyed the assailants
Megathron class Battleship.

All in all it was a good day for the anti-SANSHA coalition of Empires

>News Feed End<

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Two Bounty Hunting Wars

For fuck's sake...

With the launch of Retribution, the bounty mechanic has proven to be an awesome way to incentive PVP (in addition to my Alliance's own PVPIP, more on that later). I hoped to use this to motivate that lazy shit heads in my Alliance to attack those with bounties through war decs.

First Target: Mentally Assured Destruction 

Bounty: >3B ISK


We started off by doing the deccing, and this was an absolute waste of time. There is apparently good reason they have such a large bounty, since they barely undocked during the war. Looking through their war history it became quickly evident they must place alts in mission hubs and just wait for an unsuspecting noob in a faction fit Marauder to warp to his mission then blob him with nano-fag ships. Since the bloke would clearly be mission fit, the attack would be entirely risk-less on the end of Mentally Assured Destruction.

We brought a single frigate gang down to the gates of Hek (where a lot of their members seem to perma-dock), and got one engagement on the first day of war. They, of course, brought a Cynabal and a Vagabond to fight 5 frigates, but risk is clearly a bigger concern for them than a challenge.

So, needless to say, this war sucked, and we barely lost ships, for crying out loud. And we fucking suck!



Second Target: Relentless Terrorism

Bounty: >400M ISK

Now we decided it would be more intelligent, as history has proven, to ally with a defender corp against an aggressor, especially when the war history shows decent activity. And, holy shit, did this prove to be a much better choice.

With the targets in the Jita vicinity, it took a bit to get my sluggish, lazy, Hutt-like Alliance motivated to get off their asses in Seyllin and go kill shit, but the first kills we nabbed made significant progress in the overall war win/loss ISK category.

First Kill: We used Reg'nar's son Antcent Kaff in a Moa to bait a lonely Thorax on the Jita 4-4 undock, which we promptly Vexor blobbed. With the Moa bleeding into armor, our fleet (augmented by my alt in the newly buffed Exequor) managed to keep Antcent from dying and the Thorax stayed interested, never de-aggressing and died to our firepower. He must have been so upset by the lack of kill that he didn't get his pod out. And bounties were paid!

Second Kill: We started coordinating with the Alliance we allied with in the war, and they started passing us intel that a Proteus and Tengu were killing their members on their home station in Venilen (approx 5 jumps from Jita). We rallied a few more guys, who were "all of a sudden" interested in being a part of the war after the 250 M+ kill in Jita, and made our way. We attempted to coordinate a bait situation in Venilen as well, but, much to our surprise, as our fleet landed on the system gate, their Tengu jumped into us. We promptly tackled it and remote repped his chosen primary, killing him with no losses. The Proteus docked and logged, despite attempts to get it to fight. More bounty paid!

Third Kill: This motivated both my Alliance and our ally into wanting to win the war. We even took a few of their members on our regular assault frigate roams, which turned out to be pretty sweet as well. With this drive, we managed to bait a Proteus, which was very expensively fit, with our allies' members. We had tried baiting earlier with Dark Drifter, of all fucking people, but typically, he failed and is our only loss of the whole war. So, by using non-SMERG member, we were actually getting kills.

Fourth Kill: With 24 hours left of the war, our allies reported that a large fleet of the war targets appeared to be heading into Gallente space, which we assumed meant they must have been coming to Seyllin for revenge on their fallen T3's and to rebalance the war effort (which we had just tipped in our favor with the last Proteus). We were mistaken, and the war targets apparently were just on a little roam on their own, and exited lowsec through Old Man Star. This made it intensely easy for us to rally a Battleship fleet, including some fast-tackle provided by our allies, of about 20 people and we flooded into Villore in hot pursuit. Their fleet caught on, because of a couple stragglers who were docked in Villore noticed the local spike and they either sprinted full-bore into Caldari space or promptly docking wherever they were. Well, except for one sole Hyperion that got completely sandwiched on the Villore/Erme gate.

Fifth Kill: Pretty much satisfied with the war, and it having less than 24 hours to go, we took our allies on another assault frig through through our usual Tama-OMS-Parts (and sometimes Decon) route, and in the middle of it received a really interesting bit of news, that a Navy Megathron was camping our allies way back in Venilen. We absolutely pounced on the change, especially after ship scans revealed multiple faction mods equipped. We raced through lowsec to the Venilen gate, and our spirits were almost broken when a non-voice-comm'd noob appeared to have made the WT dock, but we were pleasantly surprised when he undocked in a Vindicator. Dark Drifter jumped in his Bhaalgorn, which (for whatever Dark-reason) was in our same system, and we baited and blobbed. With some good bumps from Lydia, the target was 20 km off station and died to a hail of Assault Frigates, making it the best kill of the war, and even more firmly solidifying our victory. And also clearing out the remainder of the target's bounty, I might add.



Conclusion 

It ended up being intensely profitable, and with PVPIP paying for only those kills during the war, should motivate my members to want more wars.

The sad reality is: more wars are like the Mentally Assured Destruction war than the Relentless Terrorism war. And that is a shame. I would not mind being proven completely wrong, of course, and we will see what the future has in store.

P.S. I am retooling my PVPIP calculator for potential wide-release for those that might be interested. I have to pull out a ton of hard-coded references to my Alliance/Corp and it could be used by anyone with Griefwatch boards. (I'm sure it can parse the dumps from other boards, but I haven't seen what spits out of them, so I can't really know for sure).