Sunday, 18 June 2017

AT XV: The Draw, Villore Accord perspective

Alliance Tournament XV will be held over the course of four consecutive weekends starting on Saturday July 29 with the grand finals taking place on August 20.

Following last weekend's Feeder rounds we now have the draw for the tournament.

Here are the teams placed into a Tournament Bracket Generator. Unofficial but should be correct.

For my alliance, Villore Accord, this means our first match is against United Federation of Conifers.

Match 1: United Federation of Conifers

This alliance is new to the tournament and afaik so too are the players. They are definitely paying attention though because when Apothne mentioned them on some obscure podcast they got in touch with him.

They seem to be a group of pvp focused players using a low class wormhole as a base to raid across New Eden, mostly nullsec targets. Generally using small ships.

Top 3 pilots: Rye Zero, Sholto Douglas, Nai Nesealc

Top 3 ships: Jackdaw, Ferox, Republic Fleet Firetail

zkill

evegate

eve who

dotlan

Expected Mawderator  pun: it's a needle match.

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 Match 2 will be against the  winner of SOLAR Fleet v Salt Farmers if we win or against the loser of that match if we lose. So let's examine these two.

Match 2: Either SOLAR Fleet

SOLAR Fleet are a major Russian alliance living in the Drone Regions. They have played in many ATs and almost always do badly.  They played Villore Accord last year and it was a strange match. VA warped in too close and seemed certain to be punished for it as SOLAR brought double  Vindicators.  SOLAR then managed to fly their Vindicators so  badly that they couldn't track and thus succeeded in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

SOLAR are very experienced with all types of ships up to and including titans. They  also have many years' worth of AT. They haven't been able to translate that into any AT success yet but maybe this could be their year to come  strong. I feel they're one FC short of becoming a solid team, perhaps Mactep needs to let someone else run the team.

Top 3 killers: Olaf Tarkka, elita force, Stine Hakkari

Top 3 ships: Cerberus, Stiletto, Rapier

zkill

evegate

eve who

Dotlan

Expected Mawderator pun: not a  stellar performance from SOLAR Fleet.

Match 2: Or Salt Farmers

Salt Farmers are a German low sec group based in Okkamon in Black Rise. Their killboard shows most of their kills come from gatecamping their whole system but they also run nightly roams.

Top 3 killers: Front242 Ellecon, Demoleon Delwargin, Scramma

Top 3 ships: Svipul, Kestrel, Jackdaw.

zkill

evegate

eve who

dotlan

Expected Mawderator pun: Villore Accords farming salt as they send their opponents to the losers' bracket (I hope!) 

Match 3:

Win, Win, sees us play the most successful from Phoebe Freeport Republic, Ghost Legion. It's Only Pixels and Pen Is Out. I think Ghost Legion. which is based around Fafer and some other PL AT veterans is the most dangerous. They clinically despatched Phew 100-0 in the Feeders.

Win, Loss sees us play the winner of (loser of NC. v Razor) and (loser of Shadow Cartel and Of Sound Mind). Equally likely to be Razor, Shadow Cartel or Sound. Very unlikely to be NC.

Loss, Win sees us play the loser of SOLAR v Salt Farmers and beat them then play the loser of (NC.  v whoever wins the Shadow Cartel v Of Sound Mind match). I'd expect to play the more successful of Shadow Cartel and Sound.



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Match 4:

I won't go through all the permutations but if we win our first three games we'll probably get a chance to knock Pandemic Legion down into the Losers' Bracket ;)

Saturday, 27 May 2017

AT level up: A beginner's guide to Look At on opposing ships

I'll be doing a series of gameplay posts in the run up to AT XV that aim to explain a simple feature or technique that will help some people play better. I'm shamelessly borrowing the phrase "level up" from LRCast, a Magic: The Gathering podcast and community.

First is a guide on how to use Look At.

This is principally used by AT players to assess the opposing comp and determine how it will apply damage. This can often give crucial information to AT Fleet Commanders, for example you probably want to move in on a setup using long range weapons and move away from a comp using high damage close range weapons.

1. We will be using a third party Eve fan site called, rather charmingly, Caldari Pony Club.

2. It's slightly easier to have two screens. Possibly a PC and a phone may work. Alt-tabbing is ok if you can't set that up.

3. The time between when you first have intel on your opponents' comp and when the match starts is about 120 seconds. This is valuable time that you can use to gain small advantage if you use it well. Among other things checking their fits visually is a valuable use of this time.

4. Pick up your opponents on D scan and put the ship type you want to check into the Caldari Pony Club search with a weapon system it is bonused for.

5. In Eve Online, look At the ship you wish to check on one screen. On Caldari Pony Club look at the likely weapon types.

6: Example: Typhoon:




Cruise Missiles

Rapid Heavy Missile Launchers - not there so we'll look at RLMLs instead which should be pretty similar, if a bit less chunky.

Torpedos.

In this example it's actually a little hard to tell Cruise from Torpedos when they're not firing but if you use the Fire All Turrets anination on Caldari Pony Club you will be able to confirm definitively early in the match when they start firing.

7. Example II: Vigilant.




The hull isn't in the drop down so we'll use Thorax, which is the  base hull, instead.

Rails

Blasters (we have to use small blasters as Heavy Neutron Cannons are not in the drop down.

8. Relay the information to the team. I recommend using fleet chat as the FC may need to explain tactics verbally during these critical seconds.



Summary: it's not perfect, sometimes the exact hull or weapon won't be in the list but there's enough visual information there that you should be able to be confident what class of weapons are on your opponents' ships.

Friday, 26 May 2017

AT XV Feeder Rounds, June 10th-11th 2017

In just over two weeks we will see the AT Feeder Rounds and it promises to be a brutal affair of heartbreak and broken dreams.

https://community.eveonline.com/news/news-channels/eve-online-news/at-xv-teams-and-rules/

56 teams will play on the Saturday with the winners gaining a place in the Alliance Tournament and the losers playing for a tiny handful of spots. I estimate that if you lose on the Saturday you have just 14% chance of getting through the losers' bracket of the Feeder Rounds.

There will be no seeding in the Feeder Rounds so the crucial first match could be against a strong well-experienced tournament team like Test or Shadow Cartel. And we will see some quite weak teams get through no doubt because they got drawn against someone weak or got lucky against an average team.

Hopefully Eve-NT will be streaming the games and commentating. I think it will be a tremendously exciting and dramatic day.

Many of the teams will be poorly prepared. The AT XV rules only came out a few days ago and 3 weeks isn't very long to adapt to a new meta. Most teams won't have done any practice until the AT was officially announced on 9th May. Some enthusiasts, notably Test, have been practicing since January.

The day one meta will be dominated, I think, by 1) comps that were good last year (like Floon Core), 2) comps abusing the re-introduction of T2 drones, probably featuring ishtars and gilas and 3) comps abusing the Serpentis discount, ie Vindicator comps. Veterans will be really advantaged because the new comps that will come in because of the rule changes are old familiar comps they've played against before. The drone comps dominated AT XI and AT XII and Vindicator comps are always around and generally don't do all that well.

I think the Vindicator comp in particular is a trap. When you scrim with other teams to practice it often does spectacularly well. On the day however captains are more cautious, players are more on their game and control is ubiquitous making it really hard to catch and blast incautiously positioned opposing ships.

Let's look at how Vindicators did last year in the AT's early stages:

Day One

Triumvirate v Galaxy Spiritus. TRI brought a garbage shield Hyperion set up and got out-performed by Galaxy's more conventional Vindi brawling comp. Vindi win.

Villore Accords v Solar Fleet. A weird match. Solar brought Vindis, Villore warped in unwisely close with our Mach Moa meta, Solar caught the opposing battleships and then threw the match by spectacularly bad piloting, orbiting the thing they were shooting with mwds on so they couldn't apply damage. Vindi loss.

The Solar Fleet piloting of the Vindicators ... is absolutely horrendous - Chessur.

Day two.

Triumvirate v Spaceship Samurai. Samurai unwisely warped to zero and discovered their opponents were in a heavy damage close range brawl comp. They got obliterated. Vindi win.

Brotherhood of Spacers v Lowsecnaya Sholupen. Spacers' Vindicator brawl comp just got out-brawled by Sleipnirs. Vindi loss.

Castabouts v Brothers in Arms. CAS brought double Vindicators but at the warp in their opponents Barghest comp was nicely placed at long range. However the Vindis trundled over and wrecked their opponents who inexplicably didn't really move away despite being in what appeared to be a kiting comp. Spectacularly poor positioning from BIA. Vindi win.

The R0nin v Agony Empire. R0nin brought Bhaal/Vindi pairing the overpowered webbing of their flagship Bhaal with the high close range damage of the Vindi. Agony initially went for the flaghorn and pushed it into dangerously low armour.. It was skillfully kept up by Deacons who piloted superbly, saving the critical ship long enough for the Vindi to lead an assault on an Agony fleet phoon, turning the match when it died. Vindi win

Conclusion:

Except for the R0nin match where a Vindi was used in a highly synergistic set-up the Vindis relied on opponents being bad to win. Vindis even lost close range brawls in a couple of cases. When you scrim, Vindi comps seem amazing but they tend to disappoint when the stakes get real.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Final thought on leaving Waffles

You know, it's not actually a dictatorship if people can vote with their feet.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

AT XV Rules: what's different

General

Collusion rules tightened up.

Sponsored by the Serpentis, points cost reduction to their ships. (AT XIV was sponsored by the Blood Raiders).

3 ship bans in matches played during the final 2 weekends (probably top 16).

T2 mobile combat drones allowed (eg Warrior II).

Strategic Cruisers are not allowed to fit remote repair modules.

Capacitor transmitter modules are once again allowed with a maximum of one per ship




Ship point costs

Pirate Battleship +2
  except Vindicator -1 and Bhaalgorn +4
Marauder +1
Navy Battleship +2
Black ops +1
Battleship +1
Logi cruiser +2
Recon -1
Battlecruiser -1
Tech 1 support cruiser +1
HAC -1
Pirate cruisers unchanged except Ashimmu +2, Vigilant -3
Tech 1 disruption cruiser (eg Blackbird) +1
Cruiser -1
Pirate frigates unchanged except Cruor +2, Daredevil -2

What we can expect to see more of:

Serpentis
Recon
Battlecruiser
HAC
Cruisers

What we can expect to see less of

Blood Raiders
Battleships, anything with a battleship hull
T1 & T2 Logi cruisers
Blackbirds


Monday, 15 May 2017

Crash landing

Full of beans, I rejoined Waffles 3 weeks ago and things seemed great. Then on Friday I had a rather wanky interview with a director. He told me that me rejoining just before the AT looked bad and that the directorate weren't sure I wasn't some sort of spy, and that they wanted me to show I was truly committed to the corp. Really odd, and rather unpleasant, a cross between a work disciplinary and a 12 year old kicking you out of his secret treehouse club. Not entirely sure what I was supposed to be spying on either as they hadn't done any AT practice and don't have any comps but hey ho, no point staying where I'm not wanted.

So 3 days before the AT cut-off I found myself without an alliance.

Luckily for me the first group I tried said yes. I'm now in GalMil alliance the Villore Accord. They're pretty connected with Crossing Zebras, with Niden and General Stargazer being long-time members who have relatively recently moved on and my new CEO Ash being on the writing staff. Specifically I'm in Foxholers, a C5 wormhole corp.

High end wormholes is one of the few things in Eve Online I haven't tried yet. It's a zone which has spawned some of the greatest videos in Eve such as Clarion Call 3, my all-time favourite. New corp seems pretty practiced, pretty aggressive. Should be fun.

They are also well-positioned for the Alliance Tournament, having managed to claw their way into the top 16 with a Moa/Machariel set-up last year. We will be entering as number 11 seeds and I hope I  can merit a spot in the team.

I'm quite glad to avoid the feeder rounds which I think will be brutal. I'll admit I'll enjoy watching Waffles, especially if they get beat ;)

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Cantfeelmy Modules: an Alpha clone's story

So I've been thinking about the ewar side of Horde's strat ops and I've been looking into making a doctrine that would work well with newbies but which would still be fun at high levels. I've settled on the idea of very long range ewar frigs and so I rolled an Alpha to test it out.

16.45: Cantfeelmy Modules is born.
16.50 Plugged in first skill: Long Range Targeting. Tried to find my way out of the tutorial which starts new characters in a warp disruption field.
17.30 Finally got out of the newbie prison you start in by self-destructing. Set autopilot to Jita.
20.00 Logged back on, having sent over 50 million isk. Purchased 10 Crucifiers with fittings
I discovered that  Salvage Drones are unusable by alphas but the regular salvagers are just fine. In fact to sit in the ship I needed to train these skills:

Amarr Frigate I
Weapon Disruption I
Light Drone Operation I

So very quickly I was Crucifier ready, well under an hour to train those skills. I didn't optimise skill maps or use implants because I wanted to get a feel for how a newbie would fly this in his or her first week.

Tomorrow I'll try to get on a fleet with Horde and see if I can get on some killmails.