Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Albion Online: Gear set management

Playing on with this very addictive MMO. I'm now Tier 5 in my gear which while nothing exciting is solidly mid-pack.

I've realised that it's all too easy to suffer excessive financial setback through mismanagement of gear. In fact I just found out the hard way.

I joined a ZvZ group which is a Zerg v Zerg group for some open world pvp. In ZvZ gear doesn't matter that much. If there are 10 of you and 3 of them you win, if there are 3 of you (because you got separated or over-enthusiastic) against 10 of them you lose. Gear will tip an even fight but that's a relatively unusual circumstance.

When I died I had a moderately expensive mount on me (a T5 Armoured Warhorse).  Just silly not to swap it out. The zerg moves rather slower than the speed of its slowest member and as a healer I'm not out flanking in exposed positions. I should just stick with the group on a cheap horse as all fighting will be done on foot. Anyway not a bank-breaker and lesson learned.

So it's about gearing on the cheap.

For me that's this build.


Add t3 or t4 riding horse and you're fine for supporting a zvz. Possilby a gathering tool if you think you're likely to make it home with more than the value of the tool.

It's probably not true for tanks. If you're going to charge boldly in you probably need decent survivability from gear quality.

But for healers and dps I think it's better to have more uptime (ie I can carry on past 3 deaths) than higher quality. (I died, sorry guys, got to go.)

I don't think the same is true of gathering unless you're consciously going into dangerous zones. I do most of my gathering in the black zones just outside our friendly town. For me to get ganked they would have to manage to sneak multiple people between me and the safe haven of our town. I have multiple escapes on the gear plus it's really hard to close quickly on someone in the very cluttered forest terrain.

Here's my gathering gear:


Horse is a Tier 5 Armoured Warhorse.

Here's my expedition/fame farming gear.





The boots are a little behind the other armour types as I realised late that I wanted to wear Assassin's boots at end game so they're in my fame-grinding set.

One final point about gear in relation to consumables. A lot of people skip food and potions. This is an error of analysis. If you are playing in a context that is quite likely to kill you then it's all consumable. There's no point cheaping out on consumables when you can just use cheap ones as everything is just going to be lost sooner or later anyway. When you die every half an hour, a hat is just a consumable that gives you some stats and the Ice Block ability for 30 mins.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Albion Online: first fortnight

Albion Online launched about a month ago, the latest in a long line of games aiming to be a "fantasy Eve."

In Albion's case they seem to have struck closer to the mark than some of the previous attempts. There's a single shard server with a very interesting economy. There's a relationship between pvp, pve and crafting/gathering that's dynamic and engaging. We even have a Goon blob guild that is offending the elite pvpers.

If you want to know more about the basics then there's a ton of good beginner's guides on youtube.

I'm going to talk about my heavily sub-optimal start to the game.

Optimisation in this game is straightforward. Pick a thing, do it over and over. Dull but efficient.

I'm not wired that way so I've experimented with all kinds of things. I started as a Fire Mage, then turned into a Holy Priest simply by equipping a new staff. I can go back to being a Fire Mage at any time by equipping that weapon which is need.

Healing is fun in pvp and efficient in doing the game's pickup dungeons. I wait 30 seconds for a group as  healer compared to about 15-20 minutes if I do one as a fire mage.

I've also done lots of gathering with him.

I built a private island, then decided I'd put it in the wrong place and had to demolish it and start over. I'd definitely advise waiting a bit on the island until you're clear what you will be doing in the game.

I made a tank alt and a rogue alt. The classes are really fun and if you want to check out a different playstyle you just change your weapon.

Silver is incredibly impactful in the game and you can make alot of progress if you're wealthy.

The end game that I'm working towards is 5v5 pvp content. 5v5 fights are used to contest territory and the game world is a huge Risk map of conquerable zones. There are also special dungeons called Hellgates where you run a normal dungeon with mobs and bosses but the kicker is there's another 5 man party in there.

So far it's exceptionally fun, the only notable downside being a rather large amount of DDOS related downtime. Highly recommended and if you're an Eve player you may meet a lot of familiar names here.

Here's a video of some high level players having a laugh in a Hellgate.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

AT XV Villore Accords debrief

In Magic: The Gathering there's a concept of recognising when you're not the beat-down. You may have constructed your deck to get a fast start with plenty of cheap creatures aiming to finish an opponent quickly. However if your opponent has a similar deck and gets a better start you need to recognise that your usual aggressive tactics are wrong for this match and play defensively. You need to recognise you're not the beat-down.

Villore Accords met two close-range blaster set-ups in this tournament. We needed to kite, to minimise the time spent doing damage by the enemy blaster boats. We didn't get this.

Even, agonisingly, a situation developed in our second match where a whole bunch of enemy Brutixes etc were chasing but not catching a ship that was about 30km off them not doing any damage. All the pilot had to do was nothing - let his ship coast out towards the edge of the arena dragging the defanged enemy team behind him. Instead he decided to turn around and fly back into the happy wolfpack.

Now the key to this I think is practice. We practiced once or twice a week and our practices were not efficient in terms of matches played per time spent. I'd guess we were about 1.5 matches per hour which is not a lot when a match lasts at most ten minutes.

People were also getting tilted too easily in practices.

Let's now look at some positives. The practices and tournament games was very useful experience and we saw some sigificant  improvement in some players. I'd like to mention WubtheCook (our logi) and Malmar (frigate pilot) particularly. Ship fitting was  good (Ashley being a supremely gifted pyfa wizard) and doctrine theorycrafting was fine. It's the understanding of how the enemy's doctrine works that we didn't get and that's a very achievable goal for next year.

It was a ton of fun and I was very glad to be allowed to participate after I fell out with my former alliance just days before the cut-off.

Match 1: Villore Accords v United Federation of Conifers

Match 2: Villore Accords v SOLAR Fleet

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.

-------


 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.



---------- 

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.