Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Gospel of Eve, Pt. IX: O Deus! Caedes Erat!

Whenever you are lost in space, tired, damaged, alone, you can always take comfort to know that someone is watching you. It may not be a physical entity, or a friendly pilot, but His eyes are watching you. But when you are down, broken, and all hope is lost you can always count on one word of truth for guidance, salvation, hope: the Gospel of Eve.

Part IX: O Deus! Caedes Erat! (Oh God! It was a Massacre!)

This is the Gospel according to caldeem...

First letter to the members of General Tso's Alliance:

Oh brothers! What hath happened between us? Not to long before now we called each other friends. Brothers even! Our causes are the same, are they not? Are we not brothers in arms? But yea you cause us such loss. It feel like a knife through the heart!

Did we not leave on amicable terms? We moved to our own land to prosper. And prosper we did. We meant no ill feelings to arise. But if you come in to our land, we will engage! And engage we did. But we never predicted what would happen next.

We also couldn't predict how completely naked you would all be.

After our initial attack, you made a counter-move. The result was devastating. The losses were great. The blood filled space and the wreck of my fallen comrades are a vision that will haunt my dreams. I know mourn their losses:

Boshnic Sternen was the first to fall. We tried to move our fleet back to the battlefield to defend him, but it only proved to be our undoing. Soon after I fell myself. My brothers fell very closely behind me. Reco, Whatchu, Rain, Yourdoom, Zerelos, then Reco came back, followed by Rebecca, Boshnic also came back, and finally Rain returned as well. Oh it was a massacre! Here we thought we could survive against a handful of battleships. 3 Dominixes, 1 Tempest, and an Armageddon? No problem... But we were wrong.

It is with heavy heart that I concede defeat to you, my friends. Never again shall we underestimate General Tso's Alliance.

Your former comrade,

caldeem
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Transcribed by Lord SphinctAnus RectAnus

PERMITTE ME INDVCERE: DOMINVS SPHINCTANVS RECTANVS MIANI CONNECTICVTI SVM.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

From the Bowels of the Archives, Pt. II: The Federation

A Letter from Lord RectAnus to the Outside World:

While I must say that my scholarly mind is meant for other tasks, I should also take the time to point out that it fared rather well in the diplomatic scene. 

This only happened once! I believe that makes the trip a success.

A little background information, I suppose, should be in order:

DUST 514, Eve Online's FPS counterpart has been sputtering along nicely since it's release. But coming this May there will be an expansion opening certain planets to conquer. SMERG (General Tso's) will no doubt partake in this adventure. But we do run into the issue of size... an issue I am all too familiar with.

On the plus side, it is easier to hide a boner.

So enter the Federation of Small Corporations (FSC). This group was a coalition of DUST corps that would squad together and go on DUST missions. This worked out well in the current system, but come this next expansion, our small corps will not fare well in planetary conquest. So the FSC would need to band together to be able to hold a planet. That's all well and good, but the FSC is a coalition (pretty much just a pinky swear) so the suggestion came up that we should be in an alliance together. The idea took off and people agreed to meet about it asking all CEO's to come to said meeting. Well, our CEO, being the homo he is, was going to be out of town during the meeting. So he came crawling to me. Well, as luck would have it, I would be around and free the night of the meeting. And so the night came...

The meeting started off a little awkwardly. The grand total of participants seemed to be lacking a bit. Only a total of about 5 CEO's were present (including myself). Nevertheless, I pushed forward. I started talking, first off all, about the difference between a coalition and an alliance. I believe I did well explaining this point. After some questions about the pros and cons, it seemed that the CEO's were on board. The meeting only took about 15 minutes due to my awesomeness and resulted in a unanimous vote of "yes" we will join General Tso's Alliance. Only one CEO was unsure, but gave a tentative yes due to the fact that he was made CEO that very day. This was Raz Sidona of the Department of Defence Planetary Response Force. But he claimed that his corporation would be willing to leave their current alliance in favor of joining the same alliance as the rest of the FSC. So, all in all, I feel I am awesome and did an awesome job of presenting the facts. I personally thought there would be more of a turn-out, but you can't force people to be there, so I did what best with what I had. I rule.

Forever your faithful scholar,
Lord SphinctAnus RectAnus of Mianus, CT
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Written by hand by Lord SphinctAnus RectAnus

PERMITTE ME INDVCERE: DOMINVS SPHINCTANVS RECTANVS MIANI CONNECTICVTI SUM

Friday, April 12, 2013

Federation of Small Corporations

For fuck's sake...

With the refined Planetary Conquest (PC) concept coming from CCP, they changed a few key pieces of the system:

The Genolution clone pack is now 80 M ISK and contains 150 Clones.
The minimum clone loss count is 150 clones, as is the minimum clone movement amount.
A corp can buy more than one clone pack and distribute up to the maximum clones to a district.
There are EVE-side bonuses that apply to entire Alliances (more on these in a later blog)

This makes life a LOT harder for small and medium-sized corporations. The cost is quite prohibitive if you are a small corporation, as you will have less people contributing into the corporate pot. There's currently no tax system, so its entirely dependent on donations from members that won't "miss" the money much. I, personally, roll with Raven Type-I BPO suits fit with an Exile BPO and all militia BPO's for 95% of matches. I do well in these, so I haven't felt the need to rock Type-B's and Proto mods, despite having the skills and fittings for them.

Also, small corps will be hard pressed to pull together the 16 players for these matches. I have trouble getting people into multiple squads of 4 on occasion, despite regularly having between 10-20 players on during peek hours. This is another problem with CCP's system; not having an easy way to ping people to join squads or advertise their presence. The game needs a sort of EVE-style fleet finder where players can log in, see what squads are running that they have access to, then jump into them, even in match (or at least queue up if they are in a full match). That brings me to the next point: if you missed the boat with your squad for whatever glitchy reason, you are fucked until the match is over... at least in pubs, that is.

So, in the comments section of that dev blog, I noticed a few posts by a guy named xLTShineySidesx concerned about the accessibility smaller corps will have to PC. Realistically, I already accepted that it would be impossible for a singular small corp to do PC on their own, but he had an idea that, for some reason, I haven't thought of before: what if small corps formed a coalition? This really got me thinking, and I reached out to him. He informed me that he was a leading member of such a coalition, and thus I entered SMERG into their loose federation, called the Federation of Small Corporations (FSC). I then explained to their members about the EVE Alliance structure and how it isn't necessary for corporations to have loose coalitions when CCP allows for an actual ally-mechanic under a single banner.

After much explanation, xLT created a trial account in EVE, promoted him to CEO then applied to General Tso's. His corp, UNOBTANIUM, INC, is Tso's first Dust-only corp, and it will be far from the last. I currently have 1 more being processed, and two that have specifically requested the assistance of my alts to put their corps into Tso's. Many others have expressed interest in joining and I will facilitate this as best as possible. There is a CEO meeting tomorrow night that I will not be able to attend, but will have Lord Rectanus (my Director and Dust player) there in my stead. He will hopefully explain to the corps the function of our Alliance and the benefits for joining it. A small FAQ popped into my head, so here goes:

What ARE the benefits of joining?
As I explained earlier, the admission cost for a singular small corp to enter into PC is steep. SMERG is not a huge corp by any means, but we do have a large player base than most of the other corps in the coalition, and we generate plenty of ISK. Most of my better guys roll cheap/free suits in every match and contribute regularly into the corp wallet, so meeting the goal of 80 M will be easy, and 160 M might not be completely unreasonable, either.
SMERG will certainly spend the money to assault a district early on (hopefully we'll snag one the morning this launches). We can then bring in members from the coalition into battles with us. Preference, of course, will be given first to SMERG, then to Tso's, then to the FSC guys. It'll most likely be first-come-first-served as well, so SMERG guys that show up 1 minute before the battle are shit out of luck.

What are the requirements to be in General Tso's Alliance?
Virtually none. You can't be in another Alliance (not a personal thing, just a game-mechanics thing.) It's also probably best if you have more than one guy, but if you like your own corp and plan on recruiting, then all the power to you.
Please note, however, that for district owners in PC, you will need at LEAST three squads running with three squad leaders form your corp to drag friends in.
The Alliance fees are paid for by SMERG's EVE-side profits and taxes, so there is no monetary payment required even if it was possible to transfer ISK from character-to-character or corp-to-corp in Dust.
K/D ratio isn't important to me, teamwork is what matters, as is goal-accomplishing. This means snipers are nice, but you better be providing over-watch for the squads that are actually taking objectives. Lone-wolf style playing is fine in pubs, but come PC battles, we all have to work towards the goals!

How can I join Tso's?
There are two methods. First is to create a 14 day EVE trial. Then create a character and have him train Corporation Management to I. Have him apply to your corporation, make him the CEO. Go to the Corporation Menu, go to Alliances -> Rankings -> View All, then scroll to General Tso's Alliance. Right click and Apply Corporation to Join.
The second method requires more trust. I have a couple alts set up for corporation management already. I can join your corp, you make the alt CEO and I can do the rest. I will then give you back CEO, drop all roles and leave the corp after the 24 hour cool down. Make sure its me that is applying to your corp and not someone masquerading as me.
My main EVE character is Burseg Sardaukar. My main Dust514 character is BursegSardaukar. Message them for clarification that a character applying to your corp is actually authorized by me. I am not accountable if some random dude pretends to be me and steals all your stuff (when that eventually becomes possible from the EVE side).

What if I want my corp to own a district?
That's absolutely awesome! If you can come up with the 80 M, we will happily aid your corp on the ground, whether it be defense or offense. A good plan would involve Tso's and your corp hopefully working together to grab the same planet's districts. If we can pull it off, it would make it easier for us in the long run because off-planet invasions have an attrition rate for clones attacking, meaning the hostile forces will lose clones before they even land.
If SMERG finds itself somehow owning several Districts, it would not be unquestionable for us to transfer ownership, even though it will still require you to pay 80M to "invade." We can easily pull all of our clones out of a district to leave it abandoned for your invasion.
A good strategy would be to stagger our district's reinforcement timers to ensure they can't all be invaded simultaneously, and we can maximize the defense.

What are Tso's goals for PC?
We want to get our feet wet and understand the system and hopefully establish some income from the clone generation. We will assault districts we think we can take, and we will defend down to the last man. We all need to understand that a TON of big-wig corps with kdr's of 4.0 and such are going to be competing against us in these, so its going to be a tough run.
If we fail and find that even with each other's support that we are unable to hold districts, keep in mind this is just ONE REGION in the EVE universe that is opened at the launch of Uprising. Eventually ALL lowsec systems will behave under this one game play style, and we will redouble our efforts when the territories can handle everyone more fairly.
I specifically have an eye for the system of Seyllin. It has been my home in EVE since 2008, and I will do everything in my power to own all the districts on BOTH Temperate planets there. Chances are it won't be available with Uprising, given what information CCP has stated regarding the attributes of the region will be, but it will happen some day.

If you have any more questions about General Tso's or Sardaukar Merc Guild (SMERG) ask in the comments below, or in the FSC thread on the Dust514 forums!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Burseg's Thoughts on Battleship Tiericide

For fuck's sake...

No, really this time: FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

I'll try to make this a short and sweet synopsis, including everything discussed from the dev's (mostly CCP Rise, aka Kil2). They want to move the existing BS's (with the exception of the Scorpion) into Attack (fast, less HP, smaller sig, heavy damage) and Combat (slower, lots of HP, generally thought of as a 'brawler') categories as part of their dismantling of the 'tiers' that currently exist. This will also alter the price of the existing ships since their mineral content will be rebalanced after the change. But anyway, if you don't live under a rock, you should know that last part, so on to my opinion, which rules:

Caldari:

Not much changed. The Scorpion stays in its lonely Disruption role, the Rokh loses 1% resists per level, and the Raven remains a torpedo boat, but with an exchanged hislot into a mid and some fitting buffs to help make use of it. It also got a speed buff which could make for an interesting, fast Attack Battleship.

Minmatar:

Maelstrom remains the same, and Tempest joins it into the Combat role. The latter is being debated, however, and there are some considerations for moving it over to the Attack line, reinstating a smaller signature radius and removing a bit of its HP.
The Typhoon becomes a dedicated torpedo boat as many (including myself) figured it would be, and gains an explosion velocity bonus that will aid in its trashing smaller targets. As an Attack Battleship, it will be quick, with a lighter tank. A few people feel that it overlaps too much with the Raven, and consideration is being put into that by CCP Rise, but he definitely believes it is strong in its own right.

Amarr:

The Abaddon gets similar treatment as the Rokh, because resists are OP... or something. The Apoc gains tracking while losing cap usage bonus, and moving it into the Attack role. Could be very interesting indeed.

Now, this is where I start to complain. The Armageddon was changed outright into a drone platform WITH A NEUT RANGE BONUS.

Now, a key point up to now that CCP has harped on is that the Amarr are the second drone race, favoring expanded drone bays to bandwidth. And up the line, that has worked:

Algos: 60 m3 / 35 mbits (10% drone damage, 10% small hybrid tracking, 25% drone mwd role bonus)
Dragoon: 75 m3 / 25 mbits (10% drone damage, 20% neut range, 25% drone mwd role bonus)

Vexor: 125 m3 / 75 mbits (5% hybrid damage, 10% drone damage)
Arbitrator: 150 m3 / 50 mbits (7.5% TD effectiveness, 10% drone damage)

Myrmidon: 200 m3 / 100 mbits (5% armor repair amount, 10% drone damage)
Prophecy: 225 m3 / 75 mbits (5% armor resists, 10% drone damage)

UNTIL:

Dominix (new): 375 m3 / 125 mbits (10% drone damage, 10% drone tracking/optimal)
Armageddon (new): 375 m3 / 125 mbits (10% drone damage, 10% neut range)

So they scrapped that concept. CCP Rise mentions that it didn't "make sense" to have less than full drone bandwidth on the Amarr drone boat... except its been that way up the line. So all of a sudden it doesn't make sense? In addition, nerfing the Dominix's drone bay could be a way to make the Armageddon have a bigger one, but at the same time, I don't see the problem in giving it 400 m3. Who cares? It's strange that they want Combat Battleships to be in the fray and tanking damage, yet both of these ships seem to be designed to sit outside of the battle... It's almost as if they have no idea what they really want from the ship lines.

Also, the Armageddon has superior EHP plus 7 hislots. So even if you didn't want to utilize the neut bonus and just wanted to slap several Auto cannons on it, you'd be fine. All you lose is a mid from the Dominix in exchange, which hardly amounts to anything since its mostly used as a novelty slot where we stuff a Sensor Dampener to take out Falcons and/or Logistics ships, in the rare instance we don't have dedicated ships doing that for us... As I said, a novelty more than a necessity. And anyway, this brings us to the main attraction!

Gallente:

Dominix and Hyperion will move into "Combat" role.

Domi gains a shit ton of HP, but loses its hybrid turret damage bonus in exchange for the bullshit drone optimal/tracking bonus. This is clearly done to shove it into a tiny niche role as a mini-slowcat for null ops and kills at least 100 DPS from the ship. While this ship wasn't really prevalent in null, it was a mainstay in our Alliance Battleship fleets. With the changes to the Armageddon, it is very unlikely that the Dominix will even retain its Neut Domi status, aside from maybe being used up (read: brought out to die) in random engagements until they are all replaced by Amarr ships. I have made my thoughts on this very clear in the forums and in the Amarr post above...

As of this posting, CCP Rise has pulled down the Megathron and Hyperion original ideas because they were so terribad. The Hype was losing a mid and gaining a low, in an effort to buff its tank... with no thought as to how that active tank would be fueled since two mids have to be dedicated to capacitor boosters. Thankfully Kil2 has added that they are considering changing the Hype's active repair amount to include a capacitor use as well. This could be really interesting, but a lot of players believe a 7.5% to Active Repair and Remote Repair Reception Effectiveness would make it a gnarly doctrine ship. I frankly couldn't give a shit less what a good doctrine ship is, but that bonus could effectively make a plated Hype in our spider-tank fleets very dangerous.

As for the Megathron, a low was bumped to a mid, and its damage bonus was changed for a rate of fire, so it could put more damage on target. After mulling it over, I can sort of see what they were going for here. Especially if the ship is meant to be an Attack ship. I however, disagree with placing it into the Attack role. While it seems to make sense, the problem steps from active vs. plated armor tanking. Plated ships move slower and thus can't really get into position as easily, especially with the buff to the active armor rigs (they increase power use of armor reppers instead of increasing mass). So, it makes more sense to have the Hyperion take on the role as the Attack craft, losing no speed with its active tank, while the Megathron should be more of a Combat brawler.

So I really hope they do something more meaningful with the Dominix, because I crunched the numbers and the smallest projectiles will NOT fit on the ship after the changes. The already shitty hybrid range is a nail in the coffin for Gallente ships that are not bonused for hybrids. Most pilots immediately switch across to projectiles when presented with a choice. Who can argue? Cap-less guns with better overall range/tracking and the ability to change damage types. Seriously, who the fuck would stick with the marginally higher damage weapons if there's no reason to specifically keep them on your ship?

If a power grid boost isn't in line, it might be time to move across full-fledged into the Armageddon.
OH SEVEN DOMINIX. OH SEVEN EM EIGHT.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April Fools Day 2013 Battles of Seyllin

For fuck's sake...

This weekend was particularly awesome for me in Dust514. I hit my weekly cap for the first time since the first week of open beta (I've come close, but an all-day murder-fest on Saturday chucked me well over the limit this week), and unlocked the B-Type Caldari Assault suit for BuregSardaukar. I would love to field test them in some Corp Battles, but with Uprising right around the corner, I think I'll save my ISK and suits for Planetary Conquest.

A small update on the politics within General Tso's Alliance, as well! We reset the Sea Hamsters;  they were good for the small while they lived and operated within Seyllin and Ane, but have since joined a null-based alliance and have only been using Seyllin as a test bed for their rookies to get them ready for null. And since I don't give two flying fucks about null and didn't particularly see the benefit in Tso's keeping people blue that simply wanted to use OUR systems for a playground, it didn't make sense to keep blue status. In the end, if shit hits the fan, they have no vested interest in the area and can move their "school" anywhere else, and leave us to slug it out for the motherland. Not acceptable. That and SMERG guys always bust my balls about having blues anyway, so the less we have the better.

This leaves WORK. as our primary (and surprisingly very active) ally within these two systems. Their guys, even the new ones, are extremely good about not breaking chains (they just need to learn to kill one BS rat at a time to maximize the benefit) and are learning the ins and outs of lowsec PVP. And this brings us to the subject of today's blog: PEW PEW!

Since I've been neglecting the EVE half of SMERG as of late, as soon as I paid out the PVPIP to the tune of 1.7 B, I grabbed whoever was on and took a fleet of Battlecruisers (recently rebalanced) into Parts. I expected some of the DAYZE guys to be patrolling the area, but to my surprise a neutral Proteus was hanging out on the Obalyu gate. I aggressed in my Prophecy, trying to force him into the rest of the fleet on the other side, when an orange Legion decloaked at 0 km on the gate. The Proteus jumped and the Legion immediately scrammed, webbed, and neuted my ass. I figured this would be an easier target, being the covert ops version of the Strategic Cruiser, and I falsely assumed the orange status was tied to DAYZE, since we were inside of their stomping grounds. Come to find out (after the black ops ships bridged in) it was actually a Basgerin alt. Woops. Of all the fucking people, lulz. This resulted in my death, along with Selina's Exequror.

I felt this wasn't a particularly good way to end the night, considering we were only 10 minutes into the roam, so I reshipped and headed off into our usual place of harassment, Old Man Star. Within nothing but a strange Rise of Legion fleet roaming about, I thought this would be a shitty night overall for our roam, but after scouting neighboring systems, we found a Skiff on scan inside of Yvangier. I sat in a belt, pretending to rat, even announced it to the locals:

Burseg Sardaukar > I'm just here to rid this system of Serpentis SCUM!

And when the skiff landed, I pointed it. This was met with a point from the Skiff, immediately telling me this was a trap. A Talos appeared on scan, and an Arazu on grid (decloaked by asteroids). I was then pointed by all three, and a SECOND covert cyno was lit, but thankfully only a Redeemer jumped through. I got a point on it quickly, yelling to vent to get on grid and get additional points on him and other targets. Before they landed, however, the Redeemer micro jumped 100 km out of range, thanks to the new, awesome, battleship-class-only, midslot propulsion module added in Retribution. So we lost that kill, and the skiff scurried away during the fray, but we managed to kill the Talos VERY quickly, and the 700M Arazu, which I brilliantly switched my point to after the Redeemer fucked off.

Coming down off this high, and with about 300M or so in drops, we trickled back to our home to log for the night... when Colt found an obvious-bait-Prophecy in top belt. It was being tackled by some of our blues, so we figured: WTF and descended upon the poor bastard like a swarm of cockroaches (as we often do). The Prophecy went down hard, and a Myrmidon landed too late to help his friend. We began to kill it as well, when a Tempest also landed. We stayed on the Myrm, and I pointed the Tempest. After we had several ships committed, I did a d-scan from Bashar at our tower. I noticed 5 Hurricanes that were clearly not with out fleet. Since a majority of my fleet was in cruisers and below, I figured news of several Hurricanes on directional might spook them, so I kept this information to myself for the short term. Then all the 'canes landed.

It became a rapid fire "Primary is" "Secondary is" commands as I tried to get control of the situaton. I knew we could win this. Saggy lost his Stabber Fleet Issue, but we kept chewing through their canes faster than they were denting out fleet. A couple 'canes dropped, and Col reported Jade's Naga dropped. At this point, our Attack Battlecruisers pulled range and laid down damage, while myself and the smaller craft kept points on targets, ensuring not a single target escaped. The Hurricanes were wiped out, joining their Prophecy and Myrmidon buddies, and we soon focused all DPS on the lone Tempest, killing it very quickly. The engagement was a very decisive victory for SMERG and friends.


When we were coming down off the high, looting the field, there was another spike of neutrals in local. Directional scan alerted us to a small gang all with identically named ships (a terrible idea if you enter into unknown space.) They warped around to a few belts, I think looking for wrecks to steal drops from. They ended up at Seyllin IX Asteroid Belt II, where Iron Straw tackled one of their Ospreys. They had a pair of them, a Blackbird, Thorax, and a Tornado. It wasn't long until our fleet landed and began to tear them apart. This was engagement was a bit more of a cluster fuck as everyone ignored primaries for whatever reason, but the end result was an even clearer victory, since we lost absolutely fucking nothing, and wiped out both Ospreys, the Blackbird, and the Tornado.

On a side note, I've been putting out feelers for ideas to incentivize Fleet Commanders. For those of you unfamiliar with the inner workings of SMERG, no one does anything unless I am around to FC the fleet. This includes roams, defense, POS assaults, war, etc. This is different than our Dust514 group, which has several extremely competent squad leaders (chiapet, Thrawn, Imperial Storm Trooper, Arianne, this guy kyle, ironcitysteelers, Rectanus and many more). While it is easier to "FC" a squad of 4 (soon 6) in an FPS, since all the mechanics are straightforward, it doesn't change the fact that I needed to find a system to create leaders inside of Tso's, if we are to be equally versatile in space as we are on the ground.

While many ideas are being thrown around the general gist will be:
-Scheduled ops with a scheduled FC
-Ops at least once a week, maybe twice.
-We will aim for Saturdays, similar to the old suicide roams, and to bolster activity on weekends (especially when I'm not around)
-The FC will be paid on a per-member-per-hour basis
-This ISK will come from the moon-goo fund
-Proof in the form of screenshots will be required
-Some type of voting might be done on whether an FC was good or just phoning it in for ISK

More details to come as we finalize the concept.