CZ Minutes: Charge of the Light Brigade

Two events have been making the collective EVE Online headlines during the past couple of weeks. The swarm of new players, following the “This is EVE” trailer, and the Hero Coalition – Pandemic Legion conflict. They are intimately connected – an estimated 2 000 of the new players found their way to Brave Newbies, a part of HERO. Pilots still fresh from the tutorials are being thrown into battle against some of the most seasoned and well-equipped players New Eden has to offer in PL. Even though BNI are able to summon far greater numbers, the going has been tough. Ultimately this boils down to N+1 vs hardware discussion, and by the looks of things, hardware wins. Several of you are involved in this conflict, how would you characterise it? What are the difficulties facing the involved parties and what lessons are being learned, about conflict and EVE itself? Do you consider N+1 or superior hardware a problem in the game? In other words, would you nerf caps/supers/T3 cruisers, introduce mechanics that limit the effectiveness of the blob, something else or neither? Apoth: Personally I try not to spend the whole time thinking about this issue from a game balance perspective, what the Devs need to change basis. It’s a great discussion to have, but too many people hold onto CCP changing things as a crutch for how they experience their gameplay. This war is a “holiday” for PL – we have no strategic objectives, just to fight BNI a ton for fun. That does not mean this is an “easy” deployment. I am lucky enough to be allowed into the FC channels in PL, and when we’re putting 90 people on field versus hundreds, pretty much every doctrine we have, any strategy, gets ruined by the opponents having more Maulus on field than we have ships. If we want to win an engagement, we have to kill ships significantly faster than we lose them, which either means that a) we have to bring ships that can’t be hit or b) ships that can hold reps. The “can’t be hit” doctrine in vogue at the moment are Slippery Petes, but BNI are a deft hand with Virtue probers, so that’s out. Ishtars are great at staying out of the firing line, but 3 waves of bombs and you have no drones left. In terms of holding reps, you’re limited subcap-wise to T2 logi cruisers. If you’re losing them you’re going to lose all of them. Tengus tank like champs, but 100 Eagles will volley Scimis, the way to killing T3 fleets has been, since inception, to kill their logi, then kill the T3s. NB: I do cautiously believe Tengus and Ishtars are a little too strong in their current form, though this specific war does not show it. Okay, what about capital logi? a small number of Triage does not cut it in multiple hundred-man fights, without incoming reps triage boats will die well before their cycle is up. Okay, let’s think bigger: SlowCats? Supers? Super fighter bombers and slowcat Sentries will be killed by the subcap forces well before they do any meaningful damage, leaving us with Titan doomsdays.  It has been made clear that when PL really throw their weight around BNI are more than happy to just bubble us until they can batphone enough DPS to be able to break even the full might of PL’s capital e-peen. No, the solution is not to drop all our Titans on every fight. But get this, I AM NOT COMPLAINING. I AM HAVING THE TIME OF MY LIFE. This is a interesting and stimulating challenge to fight so outnumbered, I love it! We are the Spartans of Thermopylae facing the barbarian horde of newbros, only they’re not invading, we chose to stick ourselves in the middle of them to see how we hold. As to the question, I don’t think, without a complete paradigm shift into the nature of PvP, that there will ever be the case of, no matter how many people you bring, X bounded above people can stop them in Y way. Goons used to be the horde of newbros, outnumbering everyone by their wrecks, now they can outnumber everyone in the older players ships: Tengus, supercapitals, titans, SlowCats, etc. Nor do I necessarily think this is a bad thing. I’m also interested to when we no longer can hold to the idea that BNI are exclusively a group of brand newbros. We’re Seeing HACs, T3s and capitals coming out in substantial numbers, not something the standard definition of “newbro” can fly. Of course they still have that great newbro intake, but when do they become a core of more experienced players with a wave of newbros as well? How do we consider BNI in terms of being “Brave Newbies” as that ratio shifts? Choosing to be a smaller group has repercussions, choosing to accept everyone with a pulse has repercussions. I’m more than happy to discuss the academics of balance and game design within my limited sphere of knowledge on the topic, but i’d rather devote the majority of my time to playing the damn game. It’s pretty damn fun. Tarek: I have no horse in this race but where it becomes problematic for me is when I see the calls to nerf this or nerf that because it either becomes overpowered when used en-masse or it seems to be a way to actually defend successfully against a massed force. N+1 blob warfare is a strategy that is specific to sov-nullsec and I consider it a mistake to “balance” ships on the basis of observations gained from that theatre. The danger of ruining the game for everyone else is just too high. Lowsec, NPC nullsec and wormhole players would suffer great setbacks in their gameplay if – for example – T3 cruisers get nerfed too much. In the end the problem has to be solved, not the symptoms like specific ship doctrines. There have to be counter-incentives against resorting to N+1 blob fights. One of the first things that needs to go are the timers. As soon as both sides know when and where a fight is going to occur, they are of course going to bring all they can. Fighting that occurs in between the timers is inconsequential and any form of small-scale guerrilla tactics is useless. In the face of this, less powerful groups like BNI will have to resort to mass-based tactics against a force like PL. I hope that an occupancy-sov model would solve this partially. BNI would have an advantage because they can indeed occupy their space effectively with higher numbers, and the likes of PL would retain their advantage of higher experience, skillpoints and finances in individual fights. It has been said before that the way Faction Warfare works can provide hints for an occupancy model. I consider that a valid starting point. Also, from what I hear, the main thing that newbies momentarily hate about the game is the mindless back and forth of timer grinding. If that does not go out of the game soon, chances are that many of those people who just enthusiastically joined HERO will leave again. 9YjKXTz Dunk Dinkle: The current conflict in Catch is an example of what can occur in Eve at the extremes of playstyles.  In Pandemic Legion you have high skill point characters, capable of flying literally any ship in the game, without much concern for costs, in well coordinated fleets. In Brave, you have the ability to always field 5x to 10x the number of pilots than almost any other group in the game. With these two extremes of New Eden in conflict, you are going to see the edge cases of Eve play out.  It’s unlikely that many other conflicts are regularly seeing fleets of supercapitals in use, nor 100+ pilot support fleets of sensor dampening Mauluses.  Few groups can pull off these kinds of fleets. So it would be a mistake to think that solutions to perceived imbalances would benefit the majority of pilots.  However, some doctrines seen regularly in Catch that are also in use more widely across New Eden, because they work and are clearly overpowered or extremely hard to counter. Ishtars and ‘Slippery Pete’ Tengus spring to mind.  When discussing if a nerf or buff is needed, consideration as to whether the doctrine is widely used/abused, or only seen in limited cases. From the view of Brave in Catch, supercapitals are clearly OP with no counter.  To see ~20 pilots destroy SBUs, reinforce an ihub and station in less than a half hour is demoralizing.  The extreme damage projection of supers combined with the Phoebe reductions in structure hit points in the Dominion sov system of grinding, is clearly in need serious reform.  If the largest alliance in the game has no viable response to a fleet other than use hundreds of ships to tackle the enemy for hours, while another group spends literally hours traveling to present the capability of killing ONE supercapital, something is fundamentally broken. From the view of Pandemic Legion, they are outnumbered, surrounded by hordes of ignorant savages, and simply trying to have a good time.  Faced with unreasonable number of enemy pilots, abusing as much of the broken mechanics available to low skill point characters, they try to have a good fight. They try to have the elusive ‘good fight’ but make sure they bring fleets that have a good chance of holding the field.  Without forcing fights by using the sov timer system, it’s unlikely they would have reasonably sized and motivated enemy fleets to fight. The back and forth in Catch is likely to continue until changes to the sovereignty system arrive.  If the oft discussed occupancy based sov system does get implemented, the advantage is likely to swing from Pandemic Legion to Brave/HERO who have the most active organized player group in the game currently.  Until then, the goal of leadership on both sides should remember that the game is meant to be enjoyable and not a chore.  When the in game fighting leads to personal attacks out of game, the very new players all of New Eden is happy to see will start to drop off and leave. Tarek: This whole thing has the potential to become a reprise of Goons vs. BoB and I hope it does not. So far the same level of bitterness has not been reached yet. PL have offered prize payments to HERO pilots who manage to kill specific fleet members of their own and HERO are still in good spirits because they feel great about sticking it to the scary PL bogeyman. Lately things seem to become a bit more frustrated on both sides, but I hope that the maturity of the players wins out this time. The last thing we need is yet another overly serious blood feud that will be quoted years later as a reason for invasions. There was a point after the Fountain War where Shadoo proposed to just have fights for their own sake and stop sov warfare. B0TLord was a similar effort to create an environment where strategic warfare was declared off limits. I understand that PL wanted to get out of that sort of regulated gameplay, but at this point in time we have a clear perspective that change will come. I have the impression that CCP very much want to create an occupancy based sov model and certainly many of the major nullsec players are for it. Players in other areas of the game downship to get fights, why not in sov nullsec until the deck is shuffled by new mechanics? Xander: I think the most interesting takeaway from all this is that BNI is even competitive with the likes of PL. I don’t mean that to sound disparaging towards BNI – quite the opposite. That they are out there on the field, winning some fights, losing many others, killing red Titans – it’s all incredibly laudable. I’m not sure what it says about gameplay balance as such but if the current game mechanics allow the newest guys on the sov block to actively compete with the highest SP, bitterest of bittervets, I think Eve is in a good place. CZ-bg Oh Takashawa: That attitude is exactly what’s starting to frustrate PL about BNI, and exactly the sort of behavior that ends up enticing us to burn your home to the ground. It’s the excuses and the whining. It’s the disinformation, the gross misrepresentation of mechanics, and the complaining about how unfair things are – complaining that, in effect, a 4:1 numerical advantage still isn’t fair. While I don’t expect BNI to know everything for themselves, as they are, despite flying hacs, relatively new, there’s a lot of shit that’s just…disappointing. Let’s take Blue Ice, for example. He got pipebombed because he did something which makes absolutely no sense – instead of warping his fleet to a perch, or keeping his eyes on-grid to assess the situation on the HED- gate in SV5-, he instead warped his prober to the gate, dropped probes, and then warped back off again. Perhaps he was trying to get a warpin – the rohks were reported as rails despite having no turrets visible (a rookie mistake) – but regardless, it was a mistake. So he warped to the gate at zero despite knowing there were dictors & battleships around, and his entire fleet got dumpstered for it. Y’know what his response was, immediately? “Petition your losses, this is CCP being unfair.” Y’know what we heard from other elements of BRAVE? “Smartbombing is too unfair, it causes lag and we can’t fight back.” This simply isn’t true – with the numbers on hand, those  who died were dead in the first volley, second at worst. Yes, it’s a new experience for BRAVE, but it’s also an obviously explainable situation. It’s not the server fucking up, it’s not PL intentionally causing lag – it’s Blue Ice getting dumpstered by Waffles and his first response being to look for a way to blame it on something unfair. He later owned up to the fuckup, to give him credit, but even his explanation was laden with defensiveness and rationalization. Let’s talk about sov structures, since they’re another particular thrust of Dunk’s whinging. CCP dropped their EHP by half to make them easier to grind. Has that broken some shit? Yes, absolutely. We have to babysit our SBUs now because, with phoebe, we literally cannot form up and travel fast enough to save them. We tried to SBU ERVK to poke Provi a few weeks back. Provi, with a ~40-man gang, killed one of the SBUs in something like 28 minutes, with 40 subcaps. Here’s the killmail: We couldn’t form and get there fast enough to save those SBUs. SBUs aren’t hard to kill, BNI just won’t form 200 dudes to do it outside of a major timer. They can – they’ve routinely got 800 dudes in alliance chat – they simply won’t. Rather than cry about supers being unfair, perhaps Dunk should ask his FCs why they don’t leverage their massive numerical advantage. I’ve done the math, you need something like 68k DPS to kill an SBU in 10 minutes. That’s ~150 dudes in Catalysts. For a coalition that routinely forms 80 tackle, 120 EWAR, and a full 250-man primary DPS fleet, and forms ~150 dudes for home defense fleets, that’s a very low threshold for success, and again, that kills an SBU in ten minutes. Yes, it takes supers three minutes with fewer dudes, but guess what – sometimes SP and isk grant you some conveniences. Those advantages are only broken when there’s absolutely no counter – BNI’s preference for whining and laziness over investing the effort to defend their home rather weakens the basis for any supercap whining. We’ve also seen that, when they apply themselves, they’re capable of destroying supers. Crying that they’re unbeatable is…hilarious, to me. Had BNI executed properly in F4R, we’d be down a titan, or at least a couple supercarriers. Had BNI executed properly in HED, we’d have lost supers. It’s fucking unbelievable what you can do when you can form 600 dudes, no matter what doctrine you fly. So far, BNI has tried three things in a concerted way to kill our super fleet: eagles, dominixes, and a smattering of dreads. Their execution has been, overwhelmingly, poor. Eagles are great at a lot of things. By and large, killing supers isn’t one of them, although the ability to neuter fighters easily and keep range gives them some advantages. Their Domi doctrine is awful – we’ve told them this, explained why, pointed out its anemic DPS, bomb-magnet tank, diminishable DPS, and insane capacitor limitations.  HERO is actively resistant to listening to anything we say, though, so… I’ve rambled a bit, I realize. I guess my main point is that while I recognize and appreciate that there’s a metric fuckload of stuff to learn about EVE, BRAVE’s response to adversity of late has been to whine, be it about Tengus, Ishtars (which we barely fly lol), or supercaps. They’re quick to look to the few cards they don’t have as though those make all the difference, while making little to no effort to push back against us beyond showing up for defensive timers, and making no apparent effort to innovate in response to the few challenges they have left to face when fighting us. That’s disappointing, because the BNI I watched grow out of Rahadolon didn’t have that saltiness. The BNI I saw in Rahadolon showed up day in, day out, no matter the odds, and didn’t whine about shit. They relished the fight, win or lose. I think today’s BNI does, too, but there’s an asterisk on everything. They seem to think the fight ought to change so the tools they don’t have aren’t permitted, and numbers will win out every time. I’m glad EVE isn’t like that – I wish I saw BRAVE, and HERO as a whole, embracing the challenge the way we do every time they pile more Mauleses onto the field. I don’t care how BNI lives, fights, or dies. I don’t care if they purge, or if they continue letting everyone and their mother in. What I care about is how they conduct themselves within the community, and how they treat the sandbox. I don’t see BNI growing into an entity that relishes the challenges the sandbox presents – I see it growing into a giant pile of people who’d rather see the sandbox changed to suit them, than enjoy the amazing diversity it provides. And that, after all that they left Rahadolon with, is truly, deeply, disappointing. Dunk Dinkle: Let me summarize Taka’s cogent points:
  1. Brave doesn’t have the ‘right’ attitude that Pandemic Legion thinks it should have.
  2. Brave’s FCs make mistakes and should be perfect instead.
  3. Catalysts are the equivalent to Supercarriers.
  4. Brave cannot figure out the elusive ‘secret weapon’ to kill a Supercarrier fleet.
  5. Brave should not complain about their systems being invaded and sov & stations taken.
In light of this fantastic advice, I will convene a special council of Brave & HERO leadership, regarding how we have been doing it wrong all this time, despite growing in the largest, most active, most newbie friendly, most #yolo group in all of New Eden.  How could we have been so blind? Hendrick: Dunk, rather than become pedantic and misrepresent what Taka was saying perhaps take a minute and think outside of the box you have built for yourself regarding mechanics and the methods in which you think BRAVE should operate. With regards to this deployment, it’s been fun and annoying at the same time. The fun parts are purely and simply the fights. I don’t think anyone can complain about how these fights have been some good brawls with some nice build up skirmishes. I’m equally excited that BRAVE were able to get two titan kills with the help of Black Legion and a few other people. The annoying parts come after the fights and outside of the game where you see HERO make complaint after complaint over this or that. Each time there is a problem with something and things don’t go HERO’s way they find a scapegoat to blame. I don’t recall how far into the Fountain War the likes of BRAVE and HONOR were but you saw this sort of behavior out of TEST regularly on, r/eve, and other forums. If it wasn’t mechanic A or B, it was person 1 or 2’s fault flat out. The blame was never placed on faulty tactics or poor coordination, it was a broken mechanic or an individual player that ruined everything. People blamed Blue Ice for the whelping of that Eagle fleet to Waffles. While he made a mistake, it wasn’t purely his fault in my opinion. Graphically, yes there was lag but that’s been known to happen in TiDi to HERO Coalition members for several years in some cases. It wasn’t the CCP servers fucking up and not letting you use modules, those ships were dead plain and simple. Because of the way the game works, the servers had to process a session change between a player being in a ship and their pod. While that was going on, the game was also processing the other ships in system as well as the rest of the events on the node. It’s not CCP’s servers fucking up in any capacity like with the HED-GP fight back during the Fountain War. The more frustrating part is that when a PL or non HERO member explains these things in a nice calm way, they’re accused of meta gaming or outright lying to HERO. That’s pretty silly to do but I can understand the desire to revert to an “us vs them” mentality during a war and not wanting to admit one is wrong with some things when they’re pointed out to them. Regardless of the fun and annoyances of this deployment, one thing has been made clear. It’s less about the type of ship a group to fly or the balance of those ships, and more about knowing what to use when, and why it should be chosen over other options.
Tags: brave newbies, cz minutes, hero, pandemic legion

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12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.