Thursday, June 11, 2015

Looking Up

My EVE life has become a spreadsheet.

Many see too many numbers, and orders of endless drudgery when they think of market trading. But, out of all the ways one can make ISK in EVE, the trading profession has always been the one I’ve gravitated toward.

Unlike other things such as mining and mission running, there is no limit to how much ISK you can make in trade. There is no min-maxing the most ISK per hour, or reaching maximum efficiency. The sky is the limit, and your ISK has the potential to grow exponentially.

However, beyond the obvious ISK advantages of being successful at market trading, I find the market in EVE to be interesting in its own right. In many ways, it represents the pulse of a place. You poke at it, watch it, and stick your fingers in it until you understand the underlying thrumming that is the everyday life of the locals. 

And I often can’t distinguish whether my market research ends up being a matter of researching a system’s inhabitants in order to understand their market, or researching the market in order to understand the people that live there.

I current supply two low-sec markets. And, they are as alike as night is from day. What will sell extremely well in one place sells poorly in another and I’ve come to regard them as two separate beasts altogether.

One is a sleepy Faction War system, where I avoid the expensive stuff and hand out warp core stabs like they were penny candy. Faction frigates and tech one cruisers seem to be the popular vessels of choice and my buy orders gorge themselves on discarded drones, tags, capacitor boosters, ammunitions, and salvage materials.

The second one is a volatile, thriving, pirate cesspool.  The flavor of the day seems to fluctuate like the emotions of a moody girl, with one expensive ship class selling hot and heavy one day, and fizzling the next as some other expensive class takes its place in popularity. Faction battleships and then HACs. Tech three cruisers and then command ships. 

And I load the market with every expensive gadget--anything offering an extra 2.5% advantage for which the inhabitants will dearly pay.

My third market is an experiment I recently started in high-sec. It’s the first high-sec market I’ve traded in on this scale, in a frazzled high-to-low border system. There are several others who trade there, though their market pulse feels timid and scattered to me. Perhaps they are new –eager to reap the benefits that market trading can bring, but a little scared to take risks.

This market is also home to a couple items I purchase in bulk from those cashing in at the local loyalty point store. Combat pilots and freedom fighters slip in to drop their wares and pick up a few necessities, only to dash back out again. And I keep up ample buy orders to bank upon their haste.

And then, of course, I speculate. Speculating is like riding waves. You have the small, predictable and somewhat regular waves that null-sec alliances brings as they gently do their market manipulations and shipments from null-sec.

And then you have tall, less predictable waves that usually occur with shifting politics and local wars.
Momentary tidal waves will come in as everyone rushes toward something new and interesting. And a building Tsunami will indicate someone doing a whole lot of something general --outfitting a fleet, or stocking an alliance hangar with old reliables.

You ride, and ride, buy and sell, buy and sell, hoping that you don’t miss the peak or misjudge the quickly approaching valley.

But, for all this spreadsheet life’s interesting qualities, I always welcome that particular moment that always hits me when I’m heads down, all else forgotten, adjusting orders, riding waves, and researching new ideas. The freighter is going, and I’m scrolling and tabbing through market and wallet and journal, then market and wallet and journal.

And my Teamspeak rings and my Jabber pings and I’m jolted –looking up through a haze of numbers and percentages and margins.

“MAX DUDES GET IN FLEET!!!1” <insert string of expletives here>
"MAX DUUUUUUDES " <insert seedier string of expletives here>

And my spreadsheet life abruptly drifts away, forgotten. And once again I am a pirate.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Did He Say Jump?

Sometimes it’s all about the good fight. You try not to ship too high, or bring overwhelming force in the hope that your enemy will feel comfortable engaging you.

And other times, it’s simply about burning everything to the ground.

I logged in last night to a sleepy corp. Many were online, but few seemed active. Until, Punchy, one of our directors and FCs, logged in and announced abruptly that he was starting a fleet. 

Now, I’ve flown with Punchy many years now. And in flying with someone that long you start to learn little things –like the frame of mind they are in by the tone of their voice. I jumped into fleet very quickly, for Punchy’s particular tone of voice last night told me that some sort of spaceship violence would be occurring in short order.

It didn’t take long to whip up an armor HAC gang with Guardian support. And it quickly became evident to me that we had a destination, a target, and an Ace up our sleeve. Even though on the outside our little gang looked like a standard, spontaneous cruiser roam.

Sure enough, as soon as Punchy made the call to depart, we were burning toward Enaluri –the home system of Did he say jump? Alliance and their FC, Predator Elite. 

We set up in a Medium Plex, aligned out to the Hallanen gate. We were burned nearly 100K off the warp-in when Predator’s fleet finally arrived, closely matched to our own with armor HACs, armor cruisers, and several Guardians.

As soon as hostiles began landing on field, the command was made for our fleet to warp to Hallanen, and jump upon arrival. And so we did.

The End

(Just Kidding)

Pred’s fleet followed close behind, and we began to engage them quickly as they followed us into Hallanen.

Both sides were fully committed in the fight, and we were fairly evenly matched. That is, until our surprise arrived –a medium sized fleet of arty sleipners belonging to ‘The Bastion’ –who had decided to come around to our neck of the woods to visit a friend of theirs in IFW.

It was a classic EVE ganking, and it didn’t take long for Pred’s fleet to realize it. They began disengaging and escaping back through the gate.

Now, it is typically the case in this scenario that you gank your prey, you giggle a little, and then you go home. But it was apparently not just Punchy who wanted to make things explode last night. Intel quickly alerted us to the fact that Pred’s gang was shipping up –to battleships.

Battleships including Faction Battleships and Vindicators, with no logistics. Which, could only mean ones thing. They were bringing triage.

After a few minutes of watching them reform into their new comp, Punchy had us warp to the Large Plex within the system. While it wouldn’t completely prevent triage from arriving, it would make things a little more difficult as cynos cannot be lit inside FW plexes.

We then started getting more alliance mates into fleet. It’s amazing how many people who were ‘AFK’ suddenly are not AFK when there’s the possibility of capital kills.

A cyno went up, and Pred’s triage entered system. Local climbed as more of our own guys arrived –in a few BSes of our own. A few folks asked if we wanted to bring our own triage, but the call was made to not bringing any caps of our own. 

Local spiked with the hostile battleship fleet, and as they landed inside the plex, their triage carrier –an archon –arrived with them.

Their triage held up fairly well as we began testing squishier targets. Our logistics were getting heavily neuted by Armageddons, but we had brought some neuting power of our own in the form of Bhaalgorns, which were slowly working on the triage’s capacitor.

The Bastion lost a logi, but it was simply not going to be Pred’s day. Even as his second carrier –a Thanatos—arrived to assist the first one. 

Around the time the Archon died, a third carrier arrived –another Archon.

In the end we killed all three carriers, two vindicators and a bunch of other stuff. The Bastion lost a ship or two, and Snuffed Out managed to end the fight with no losses. (Probably because I wasn’t flying logi…lol)

Over all it was a good night. And as someone cheekily commented as we were going home, “we didn’t even have to drop supers.”

The battlereport is here. (Unfortunately, not all the hostiles on field will show up on it since nobody in Snuff died.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Death in Hallanen

PVP in low-sec is often more ‘hunt’ then fight. Targets dance around each other in slow, suspicious movements, and many fights end before they begin as one side or other decides committing is not in their best interest.

However, sometimes the stars align and all hell breaks loose –as it did Monday night when a general POS bash turned into a multi-alliance extravaganza in the low-sec system Hallanen.

For me, it all started the day before as an alliance op was called to go take down a different POS coming out of reinforced in Nennamaila. My alliance (Snuffed Out) dressed for the occasion in an assortment of Tech 3 cruisers and capitals, and intel showed that we were probably going to be in for a large fight. The Gallente were showing signs of preparing to defend their asset, and it appeared they would have help from at least one nearby alliance –‘Did He Say Jump?’

We arrived in our subcaps and began pelting the POS, as reports started coming in of a large number of hostile Armageddons and other battleships possibly preparing to head our way.

Around 37 Waffles arrived on the scene in a large Naga fleet, sitting at a safe distance eyeing us. They often third-party some of the bigger fights in the area, though someone had obviously alerted them to the upcoming action. 

Unfortunately, the fight was not to be. It may have been our carriers undocking to join us, or something else but the Gallente spooked and docked back up. And so we sat there, slowly shooting the Large tower. And Waffles sat there, probably cursing whomever told them something interesting was going to happen.

Eventually, someone pointed out in local that if Waffles were to help shoot the tower, at least they’d leave with a killmail. And so they did.

Typically after such disappointments, we disperse ourselves, hopeful for a fight another day. However, our FC had murder in his heart. And so we grabbed dreads and began burning things to the ground.

We reinforced three large towers, including one in Hallanen that had a pretty good timer for us.


I was market trading the next day when I was pinged to get into fleet. It was time to finish the job on the Hallanen tower and it was once again looking like the Gallente were going to defend. Maybe….hopefully?

There were also whispers of nearby wormholes, and additional hostiles possibly traversing those wormholes to attend the party.

We bridged our subs in and once again began bashing at the tower. We did not have long to wait –the Gallente showing up in a similar composition they were spotted in the day before.

And the party was officially started.

We committed fairly quickly, bringing our carrier contingent in. And the Gallente were obviously out for capital blood, as they brought a sizeable dreadnaught fleet with some carriers of their own.
The call was made to light the next cyno, and our Super Caps arrived. “All in, all in, everyone in!” our FC commanded.

I was in a proteus and occasionally the fight turned into a blur of managing dps targets and ewar targets and locking, and shooting and unlocking and swapping for new targets and anchoring and re-anchoring. All while local (and TiDi) slowly climbed up….up…up.

The field was awash with NC. HICs, and Waffles were there in their Nagas. Supers were pointed and then not pointed and then pointed again. Our subs (including me in a Proteus) were slowly burning down HICs in the slow motion of 30% TiDi, and around me hostile dreads were exploding to our Supers.

There was a low buzz in fleet as it became known that others such as Black Legion and Pandemic Legion had caught wind of the fight and were possibly on their way. Dropping supers into full scale combat in low-sec is a little like dripping blood into shark infested waters.

Our FC continued to hold everyone field, slaughtering the final dreads. I think he held on a little longer then was comfortable for our Super pilots--between us beating back waves of incoming HICs, and the impending arrived of BL, I could practically feel them sweating through my computer.

Finally, the dreads were mostly dead and the HICs were temporarily at bay. The call was made to remove our Supers from the field. They made an uneventful exit as the battle raged on with our subs and carriers.

Local was still climbing, however the call was made to stay and continue fighting. It was slow going between the TiDi and the sheer amount of hostile logistics that were on field, but we started work on squishier targets –taking down several tech 1 battleships, and a vigilant.  We also managed to burn down the last remaining hostile archon on field.

No matter what your comp is or how good you are at it, there reaches a point where if enough people are shooting you, you will inevitably break. We tried to get a few more people bridged in, as the 60ish we had on field were not holding up very well at that point. But, there were simply not enough other people online to make a difference. 

BL + PL arriving with close to +175  more people (lots and lots of Ishtars) sealed our fate. (Or perhaps made our already-sealed fate arrive faster…lol) Local peaked at around 640ish if I remember correctly, with just about everyone dogpiling to shoot our carriers.

Our subs held on as long as we dared –trying to fend off a few more HICs and possibly save one or two caps. But eventually, we were told to bail....if we could. It was time to minimize our losses.

Or caps continued to try fending off hics in the effort to get a carrier or two out. When that proved fruitless, they started discussing the best ways to save their pods. 

By my count, we lost around 25 Archons when all was said and done, and killed around 15 dreads and 4 carriers. The battlereport can be found here.

Edit: A Video of the fight can be found here.