Thursday, December 6, 2012

Alexa Virinenkov - Two

Yvonne Legrand

I was trapped the minute I boarded this vessel! I should have known! Alexa was a powerful man in his youth and power does not come to idiots. Though you can wipe a mind of it's memories, hopes and dreams, removing the spark of brilliance is not an easy affair. “Legrand, what do you want us to do? Should we open fire?” “You don't stand a chance now that he has you fully tackled Michel, signal the fleet, they aren't but a minute away.” “But Captain, what about you?” “I am done, the ship is your's Michel.” I transmitted through my implant as I raised my blaster to the bottom of my chin. Michel was a competent second in command, he would know what to do. Then I pulled the trigger.

Alexa Virinenkov

I removed oxygen from the room's life support mixture and just as she started to feel the effects Yvonne lifted her blaster and blew her head into dust. With that blast the only clue to my life before was obliterated, scattered across my ship in atomic form. My suit slowly began to return to it's normal state as I cursed to myself for not acting sooner, nearly forgetting to return the room's atmospheric settings to normal. I stumbled back towards my capsule as the ship informed me of scans showing more federation vessels in warp to our location. Fourteen AU and closing fast. Hostile contact in thirty seven seconds. I ordered my ship to align out to the nearest celestial as Yvonne's vessel sprung to life, unleashing a vicious salvo of blaster fire scrambling my ship's warp drive.

Thankfully he'd acted too soon, had he waited longer he might have survived long enough for his fleet to arrive. A single volley put that ship to rest among the stars as I climbed into my capsule. Immersed in fluid but not yet connected I forced the ship into warp against multiple safety warnings.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why no Stock Market?

We've all heard about the attempts to create a corporate stock market in EVE, none have succeeded. The closest thing in the game right now is the BSAC exchange run by Block Ukx and it's closing. During it's operation I understand it to have functioned as a commodities speculation market, not a corporate stock exchange though. So lets talk about the reasons why a true corporate stock exchange has never sprung up in eve.

The biggest reason is that corporation shares have no method of secure transfer, after that we have concerns over valuation and assumptions that there is no need for a corporate stock exchange in EVE.

As it stands today in EVE, shares themselves are a very odd item. They reside solely in the wallet, a corporate share does not sit in a hangar, it cannot be put on market, traded or auctioned via contracts. All corporations start out with one thousand shares, these shares may be given to other players or corporations. It is possible to hold a vote to create new shares, expel a member, lock/unlock BPOs, select a new CEO and cast a general vote, which are similar to free form contacts of old. This distinct lack of secure transfer capacity makes the share system useless despite it's other strengths.

While judging a corporation's value can be difficult, there are several ways to weed out those that would be of no benefit. In EVE, corporation's can be founded by anyone with the skill “Corporation Management” trained to level one. Corporations can generally be defined as one of three types, alt corps, casual corps and hardcore corps.

An alt corp is a corp comprised of alts for griefing, spying, POS gunning, war dec'ing, or any number of other activities. They were used heavily for war dec'ing back when wars were cheap and for POS gunning back when POSes determined sovereignty.

A casual corp is a corporation usually comprised of friends or individuals with loosely the same interests. Casual corps are quite prevalent in high sec and are usually spread out with little cliques of active players flying together. Casual corps can be broadly defined as corporations that lack dedicated organization and highly motivated leadership.

A hardcore corp is a separate beast entirely. Hardcore corps can be found primarily in nullsec and lowsec, though there are some highly organized incursion and war dec corps in high sec. Hardcore corps are often lead by motivated individuals with a skill for 'herding cats'. They're highly organized, sometimes to their own detriment and are usually well centralized. They're the ones who measure their mining ops by millions of m3, project super capitals across regions and shift markets with their wealth. Hardcore corps can be broadly defined as the movers and shakers of EVE.

Two out of three of these groups would likely not be of any value simply due to the nature of their operations. Hardcore corporations on the other hand would be of tremendous value to investors as they possess the potential to accomplish great things.

While one could argue that there is no demand for a stock exchange simply by the fact none currently exists within the game, one must remember what drove the creation of stock exchanges to begin with; A need for capital. You need only look at the Market Discussions section of the EVE Online Forums to see this need for capital. On any given day in Market Discussions you will see bond offerings. Some are collateralized with a trusted third party such as Somer, others are banking solely on their past ventures. Average bonds range between five and ten billion isk, though on some days you will see bonds as high as fifty or even a hundred billion isk.

These bonds can range from individuals looking to expand market operations to those trying to start capital production projects. They commonly offer between five and fifteen percent interest and prices anywhere from a hundred million isk to two billion isk per bond. A strong etiquette and culture of disclosure has sprung up around these bonds with scrupulous and enterprising individuals able to obtain huge amounts of capital over night. This is all possible despite the risks inherent in entrusting huge volumes of isk to individuals with no possible repercussions beyond perhaps a large bounty should the isk go unrepaid.

The very existence of these large scale public bond measures, and the culture that has sprung up around them invalidates the notion that a stock exchange would go unused within EVE. All that is missing is a secure transfer method.

Special thanks to monolithdigital of reddit for providing the prompt for this post.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Alexa Virinenkov


My name is Alexa Virinenkov and I am a capsuleer.

Ever wonder why everyone starts out in some school? It's not because they wanted to, it's because they had to. Whats worse is that no one remembers the lost years. You wake up in your capsule, a message waiting, flashing in, I guess, in your eyes. It tells you about your ship, how to undock, how to load your cargo bay, all those good things. That is your ship, your cheap pathetic ship, not some nice caring friends. Thats your ship telling you how to go be useful again, telling you the basics. It tells you these things because that school of yours, it's wiped your memory.

I woke up, same as you and everyone else, I relearned how to do everything. How to fly my ship, how to endure combat, how to use the weapons, I relearned it all. I was successful, my wallet stacked ten digits out. Then as I flew through the vastness of null security space I came face to face with something I didn't think I would ever see out there. My own corpse, with the words “Federation Navy” emblazoned along the bicep.

I'd never been to XD-T0V before, why was my corpse out here? Why was my corpse labeled with a military tattoo from the Federation? I graduated from their school only 8 months ago, I was never in the navy! It couldn't have been my corpse, but the scans all proved it, even the implant configuration. No two capsuleers have the same one, something about the way the brain forms in utero and changes during adolescence. They'd taught us that in school, I'd always thought it was a bit odd back then.

That corpse got me thinking, had someone moved it out here? Scooped it up back in lowsec, thawed it, tattooed it, then re jetisoned it? Why would anyone do that? I started reading up on the local pirates. Guristas aren't known for mutilating or collecting bodies like the Blood Raiders are. It couldn't have been them, my friend Onigashi who flys with them even confirmed that it isn't their style. Why would they start now?

This mystery plagued me for several years as I traveled the space lanes. On a few occasions I'd heard stories in the group channels about other capsuleers who'd also found their corpses in strange places. Most had just assumed they didn't remember it thanks to an out of date clone or something. I've only been podded three times though, and I remember each and everyone of them, burned into my psyche like a laser burns through hull plating. Up to date clones are to thank for that.

One day in my travels, a pleasant day by most accounts, I ran across an unusually large military detachment from the Federation. A young captain by the name of Yvonne Legrand opened a chat with me and started asking me how I'd been. I quickly searched my contacts, I had no record of this young woman. I queried the public databases on her and found she was barely 40 years old, I was only 30, and only 5 years out of the academy. She wasn't old enough to have been an instructor, nor was she even a capsuleer so that ruled that out. Who was this woman? I quickly answered that I was fine and that business was good. She asked me if I was still in the same business and I responded with yes hoping that she would elaborate on her question.

“Ah, well how about we make this private, may I board your ship?” Yvonne said, “You may, would you like to do this in space or a station?” I responded, to which she simply said “You know how observant stations are, better we do this elsewhere.” “I have a safe spot we can use, 40 AU from anything, follow me.” I said and we took off to my safe spot. I still had no idea who this woman was or what my old business was, but she was sure as hell going to tell me!

As her cruiser landed at the safe spot pulling along side my battleship I quickly loaded my guns for high alpha Void L and told the ship to slowly rotate the guns into position to fire on her vessel but to do so without targeting. A little used sub function that would take the better part of fifteen minutes without the feedback of active targeting.

A small craft ejected from the cruiser, no larger then a small drone and headed for my ship's maintenance personnel boarding doors. It would appear she was coming alone, that craft couldn't hold more then her. I prepared my body suit and the neural links, then disembarked the capsule to greet her in person. Wireless neural linking isn't as reliable or as fast as connecting yourself directly to the capsule, but it would let me fight off a cruiser, or in this case ransom one. I disembarked the capsule and suited up, completing final connectivity checks as I walked towards the boarding bays. She was waiting in the bay for my authorization to enter the enter the ship, I gave it.

“I hadn't expected to see you in person Alexa, what prompted this?” “It's been so long Yvonne, I thought an in person meeting was appropriate.” I replied as I ushered her towards an entertainment room on the starboard side of my Megathron's bridge. We could clearly see her Federation Navy Thorax floating eight kilometers off my bow, but my guns were quite out of view. “Take a seat, let us chat of the old days.” I said to Yvonne as I gestured towards the bar in front of the windows. She sat as I walked towards the bar and started mixing a Gin N Tonic for myself. “Would you like a drink?” “Yes, a Vodka and Quafe would be delightful Alexa.” Silence filled the room as I mixed our drinks.

I passed her her drink and sat down on the stool opposite her, gently sipping at mine. She looked me over, “You look different Alexa.” “How so?” I inquired. “You look... less burdened, happier.” “Yet you look the same, stressed. How is it a Federation Navy Captain has the authority to randomly visit with friends from years gone by?” I asked her. “Oh Alexa...” she said as her hand slipped beneath the bar. “You don't remember do you?”

As the last of her question rolled off her tongue I solidified my body suit, freezing me in my position but also rendering myself impervious to most small arms and sealing me off from the environment of the room. “No Yvonne, I don't, but you're going to tell me.” I said as my ship unleashed a salvo into her cruiser ripping through it's armor, numbers flashing in my mind as the lock timer ticked down. She jumped to her feet and sprinted for the door, muttering under her breath. Lock complete, two stasis webifiers and the warp scrambler sprang to life ensnaring the enemy vessel, another volley ripping through the last of it's armor. Yvonne tried the door but found it locked, my trap had worked flawlessly. “Now Yvonne, what do you know?” I yelled, my voice amplified by the room's speakers, my anger so strong my voice leaked through the suit and into the ship itself.

She whipped out a blaster and pointed it square at me, evidently unaware of my suit's new properties, “Let me and my men go! Or there won't be an atom left of you to clone.”. “Fine, shoot me.” I said as I ordered the ship to fire a single gun into the tackled vessel, 25% hull damage. She didn't disappoint, she shot me in the knee, but to her dismay the suit absorbed the blast as though it were nothing. “Now, do I have to kill your friends and knock you out with nerve gas, or are you going to tell me what I need to know?”  

All Hail CCP 'Fixer of Bad' Fozzie

CCP Fozzie has been one of the most impressive devs CCP has had in a long time. He is doing amazing things for the game, primarily through his tiericide project. Today though, Fozzie stepped on a land mine. He nerfed triage capitals by accident, by making it so that gang links no longer effected the remote repair modules. His stated reason for it was also completely wrong.

But, like the impressive dev he is, Fozzie didn't get mad, he didn't stop talking. He went and checked his work.

Then he told us what he found, explained his reasoning behind the change in the first place, and promised to fix it as soon as possible. For this I applaud CCP Fozzie. Especially since half my corp has been working on getting into gang links and triage capitals and that change was crushing to read about.

Let us all rejoice in the awesome that is CCP 'Fixer of Bad' Fozzie.

Lets Talk Money

While I have been running Sadistica for only a few months, I have been looking for corps strong enough to help me found an alliance for about a year and a half now. In the past I have done this by sitting in whatever alliance's public channel I was in at the time and asking tough questions. Those tough questions would usually be answered because many people in an alliance's public channel seem to believe that anyone wearing the alliance tags MUST be a recruitment officer. Other times I've simply built a rapport with various CEOs or directors through daily interaction and then started asking probing questions.

When I say tough questions I don't mean things like “How much isk do you have in your wallet?” or “Can I f*** your mom?”. I mean questions like 'How many pilots does your corp field on an average roam?”, I then check the killboard stats and call bullshit if their stated numbers don't represent historical numbers. Questions like “You claim to have capitals, can you show me their fits?”, this question is difficult to answer by any except the most organized of corps as they're often the only ones with a unified capital doctrine and thus fittings on hand to show me.

Then there is my favorite question, and incidentally the impetus for this blog, “How does your corp make it's money?”. This question is almost always answered with “Well we do a little missioning, sometimes some mining” or “We run anomolies and incursion in HS” depending on whether I'm talking to a highsec corp or a nullsec corp. What makes this question interesting is that it instantly tells me whether the person in question, usually the CEO, has any concept of corp isk.

After the young CEO/director has finished explaining how they make their money I often correct them with “I was more interested in how your corporation, as an entity, makes its isk, not how your members do. Can you explain that a bit more for me?”. Sometimes they don't answer and just leave, but usually they answer with something along the lines of “Well we have a 5% tax rate... We have mining ops occasionally where everything goes to the corp...”. So the corporation's income comes from 5% of any bounties/agent rewards/concord rewards over 50,000 isk, and slave labor. This means that any capital expenses incurred by the corporation, be it a space rental bill, the cost of a POS to live out of, or the monthly fuel needed to run that POS will likely be covered by the personal isk of the corporation's leaders. This is a bad thing, strong corporations are not just strong militarily, they're strong economically. Should they not be, when things start going bad, ISK will quickly become a very potent drama llama. So lets talk about money.

Types of Money
There are three main types of isk and two main types of income sources.

Personal Isk & its Sources
Personal isk is owned by an individual. As the main type of player in EVE, an individual has the most isk making options available to them. They can get it by ratting, mining, missioning, PI, incursioning, anoming, station trading, import/export, the list goes on. There are dozens of possible income sources for an individual, and thus dozens of ways to acquire personal isk.

Corporate Isk & its Sources
Corporate isk is owned by a corporation. Corporations are the second main type of player in EVE, I say this because corporations are controlled by players, not NPCs. Corporations however have surprisingly few income sources. They are: Corporate Tax, POCO Tax, Station Tax/Fees, Moon Mining and Moon Reactions. I am aware of no other income sources that either expressly require having a corporation to do, or expressly dump into the corporate wallets.

Alliance Isk & its Sources
Alliance isk is owned by an alliance. Alliances are the third main type of players in EVE. I say this because alliances are controlled by their executor corporation which is in turn controlled by players. An alliance has two income sources: Station Taxes and Fees. I say this because you must have an alliance to own sov which is a requirement to owning a station. I am aware of no other income sources that explicitly require an alliance.

Types of Income Sources
Above I have broken down the types of isk and the income sources associated with those types of isk. It should be blatantly obvious that nearly all of them require at least a single player's time to collect the isk. These are active income sources. Active income sources are larger then passive income sources in both isk collected and number available.

There are a few exceptions though, Corporate Tax, POCO Tax, Station Tax and Station Fees do not require a player to collect. A player must still do something to generate the tax or fees, but the collection is passive. These are the only passive income sources in the game that I am aware of. Passive income sources are individually smaller then active sources, but scale infinitely and do not incur managerial overhead.

Why ISK Separation Matters
In EVE, when you start to expand as a group, a common breaking point is finance. For a simple example, lets talk about POSes. As of this post, a large caldari tower burns 40 blocks of fuel an hour, there are 24 hours in a day, and 28 days will represent our 'month', the blocks themselves are around 12,500 isk a unit. So a month of fuel costs 12,500 * (40*24*28) = 336,000,000 isk/month. The tower itself is about 280 million, and the gear, depending on what you're doing is between 50 and 150m. These fuel costs are about the same for all large towers, but gear can be as expensive as a billion isk for a full deathstar, or as cheap as 30 mil for a basic moon mining tower.

So lets say you're setting up a single tower for your corporation to live in, you want a large deathstar so you 'can stay safe'. That tower is going to cost you between 750m and a billion isk depending on how you plan to fit it out. It is then going to require you to feed it 336m a month in fuel. Not too bad right? What if it explodes? Now you're buying it all over again. What if you want to 'be safe' in another system? Another billion isk down the drain and another 336m a month. What about a mining/reaction network? 500M for towers here, 300m over there, a fuel bill in the billions, and oh look! Seed reaction material is going to cost you 750m too!

This will very quickly become a strain on a corporation's leadership. Strained leadership quickly become burnt out leadership who don't login anymore. Separating out personal isk and corporate isk allows these strains to be spread more evenly.

Should there be a fight among core leadership, when one leaves, they may be inclined to take expensive assets under the guise of “I paid for this!”. This hurts everyone in the corp as critical assets are now no longer available. Separating out corp isk and personal isk reduces this incentive so long as you keep unpaid debts at a minimum.

Separating Corp and Personal Isk
Separating corporate isk can be a difficult task in an established corporation. So lets discuss creating new systems that will allow isk to be separated out over time. We will once again use the POSes as an example.

Lets say your corporation is looking to move out to nullsec and rent space with Rebel Alliance of New Eden. The system you want is going to cost you 1b/month. The system you're looking to rent does not have a station, so you'll need a POS to live out of. So your initial capital requirements are going to be 1b for rent, 750m for the POS + Gear and 336m for the POS'es fuel. Excluding moving expenditures, you're looking at just under two billion isk to move out to nullsec. Your corp doesn't have any isk of it's own, but your membership is chomping at the bit and are offering up isk to get the job done. Lets solve this problem by implementing a simple bond measure.

A Bond Measure in Action
Assumption: The corp will generate more isk in tax then it takes to pay the monthly bills.

A simple way to implement bonds in EVE is to determine the amount of isk you need to raise, in this case two billion, and then determine the individual bond share prices, lets use 100m. Now we can sell 20 bonds and raise the capital. If you issue out 20 corporate shares you have a simple way to tell how much debt the corp is in and to whom that debt is owed.

So, John Galliger buys 5 shares, the CEO of the corp buys 10 and Alexi Varennikov buys 5. The CEO then uses the 'Give shares' mechanic to give 5 to John, 5 to Alexi and 10 to himself. All corporations start with 1000 shares, so these shares are inconsequential in volume and do not represent a threat to the CEO's position so long as he is active. They do however offer an excellent way to keep track of debt, as the CEO can now look at the shareholder's window and see exactly how many shares each person owns, including himself.

The corporation then moves out to their shiny new nullsec home with their POSes in tow and lets the corporation's tax rate fill the wallets. As the wallet crosses 1.4 billion isk the corp will reach break even for the monthly accounting. Any isk above 1.4b can then be used to pay down debt. If the corp makes 2b/month in taxes, and buys 6 shares back from it's investors every month it will be out of debt in a little over three months.

Shares are not items within the game, so there is no secure way to transfer them. For this reason I highly recommend being very selective about who you give/sell them to. A share may be given to any corp or player in the game, but there are no ways to recall or otherwise force a share back into the corporation of origin.

In the above example the CEO is in a different position then the other investors. He owns some of the debt just as they do, and will be repaid just the same as they will. However the CEO must also administrate the entire affair, this will require the CEO to spend his time, a valuable resource in EVE. The CEO's time is not repaid in isk, instead he is paid for his time in power. That is, he will be able to do things with the POS as it is a corporate asset and thus under his control.

Bear in mind, most bonds have an interest rate associated with them to entice investors. The above example does not include this, however tacking on a fixed interest rate or other value is trivial. For example, a 25% term rate would just mean paying the share holder 125m back for every share instead of 100m.

Benefits of Bond Measures
By implementing a bond measure it becomes very simple to keep track of corporate and personal isk, even when it is beneficial for the two to mingle such as detailed above. They also make asset separation easy, as no one individual owns the assets involved. The corporation owns the POS and it's gear, while the individual investors own the debt.

Debt may be repaid at any interval and under any terms.

Bond measures scale aggressively, and can work for providing capital from corporations to alliances, or from players to corporations as demonstrated.

Bond measures do not require any power sharing, that is you do not need to have your investors in positions where they can break things.

Benefits of Separating Isk
Separated isk allows corporations and alliances to be more resilient in the face of external pressures because it will remove a common cause of internal drama.

Separated isk allows for leadership members to be changed out without needing to pay back a past member for the billions they put in. The past leader's debt is logged with the corp already and payments go out as normal. This allows for leadership to be dynamic in the face of burn out and changing circumstances.

Separated isk allows for proper accounting, which will make it easier to audit your corporate or alliance finances and ensure the real world agrees with your spreadsheet projections. This is because it limits reasons for an individual to buy a ship with corp funds and go “Meh, I was owed it anyways”.

Practice good accounting or the drama llama will find you.

All of the above methods are at work within Sadistica. The alliance is executored by the holding corp, the holding corp owes 1b to FELON for founding it, and FELON holds 10 shares of the holding corp for this reason. FELON owes me, it's CEO, 2.2b for seeding various projects, as well as 1b to another member for seeding a different project. Each of those project's profits are used to sustain the project and pay down debt as able. I hold 22 shares of FELON, and the other member holds 8, he bought into a 25% term rate, and will receive 125m/share, where as I bought in at 'CEO's a bitch rates' and will get 100m/share back.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

How Lowsec Became Viable

I run Sadistica Alliance. We're a small (~20 man fleets) alliance living full time in lowsec. We live in Yiratal, the center of the Ombil Constellation in Aridia. FELON, the corp I have built with the help of many over the course of the last two years runs the alliance. We are a dictatorship and while I don't have to use it much, I do lead with an iron fist.

This post is not about Sadistica though, this post is about WHAT let us live where we do. There is a common myth about lowsec. The myth that 'there is no money in lowsec!' and that that is why so few people live there. This is often repeated, and for years, it was true. Then, in May of 2011 CCP Molock & Tallest gave lowsec one of the biggest buffs it has ever seen, and I'm pretty certain it was by accident.

The Buff of 2011
CCP Molock and Tallest unified all agent types into 4 basic types, sadly this was a double edged sword because they also changed all agent qualities to 20. 

Agent's rewards have, and are still based on the agent's level, quality and the mission system's security status. However, with all qualities at 20, CCP has effectively removed a multiplier from the equation as it is now a constant variable.

This change still had incredible effects on lowsec. Suddenly you had stations like Yiratal, with FOUR lvl 4 agents, two lvl 3 agents, a lvl 2 AND a storyline agent. They're all over the place! Yiratal, Fageras, Hakisalki, Uphallant (It even has a lvl 5!), Aeschee (A lvl 5 too!), and these are just systems that I remember off the top of my head!

These mutliple agent stations are the single biggest buff lowsec has ever been given. They allow something that was never possible in lowsec before. Centralized Scaling Income.

Centralized Scaling Income
Sounds like something you'd hear about in a macro economics class right? Turns out it isn't, though it should definitely be written into EVE's! Centralized Scaling Income is an isk faucet that is centralized in a single system, and scales to the number of players drinking from it. Centralized Scaling Income is the holy grail of any player group and here is why.

In order to respond to hostiles and stay safe, a group must be centralized. Centralization offers the ability to rapidly respond to dynamic situations, such as PVP. This is why fighting an enemy in their home system is generally considered disadvantageous. 

Sadly, centralization usually means that you don't have enough resources though. In lowsec, the best spawns you get in an asteroid belt are single 950,000 isk battleships, usually no more then 2 for every 5 belts before you start chaining. Chaining can up this to three, maybe four active spawns in the five belts, and the rats respawn approximately every five minutes. This effectively means that a 5 belt system has a max consistent isk/hour ratio of about 45.6m (60/5 * (950,000 * 4) . Of course actually achieving the best possible payout consistently is impossible, and while 45.6m/hour is decent isk; the minute you put two people in those belts the whole thing comes crashing down to 22.8m/hour per pilot. 

So belts don't scale, and neither do anomalies and complexes (Cosmic Signatures). Those are believed to be tied to constellations and regions, with dynamic reseeding that ultimately allocates to less beared in systems, like pipe systems with heavy camps and traffic.

To centralize a player base, the isk source must scale. Missions do this, an infinite number of pilots may pull a mission whenever they want, how ever often they want, and the payout will never be diluted by more people doing it. Excluding of course LP value, but that is a whole different article.

People generally believe that players gravitate towards isk, and that if you want to draw someone somewhere, you need to put a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is entirely true, but there are exceptions and tolerances for every rule. A good example of exceptions are nullsec incursions, they often go completely untouched and despawn despite the double isk payout over highsec incursions. An example of a tolerance is lowsec missioning, they're run frequently in specially built ships because when you're neg 10, its kind of hard to get isk.

These exceptions and tolerances are because there are dozens of other factors surrounding the choices people make with regards to their bearing. Things like perceived safety, barriers to entry, minimum time commitment, required attention level, rate of dilution and the willingness of peers to participate. 

For example, a nullsec vanguard site forces you to stay still in a publicly listed location (perceived safety), to make good isk in them you must field expensive ships en-mass (barriers to entry), travel time and completion time are often in excess of 3 to 4 hours (minimum time commitment), you must be constantly vigilant for hostiles and aware of increased sleeper damage output (attention level) and you must have a ten or twelve man gang (willingness of peers to participate). The one thing nullsec incursions have going for them is that they're scaled to group participation so there is no rate of dilution by bringing your friends with you.

As illustrated above, nullsec incursions simply don't offer the right mix of externalities to build a solid player base around.

Lowsec missions offer slightly better pay out then highsec missions, but they also offer a different combination of externalities. For example, it'd be pretty obvious if a ten man tornado gang is sitting on the undock waiting to volley your mission ship, and you can do something about it! 

To be more accurate, you can do something about that Tornado fleet if you're centralized, and you can centralize because you have a scaling income source with different externalities then are offered elsewhere in eve. The best example of this are multi-agent stations. With a station like Yiratal or Aeschee, you can freely choose your missions and will almost never find yourself blocked by faction kill missions. Sure there is more isk to be had in Faction Warfare and/or Incursions, but the unique combination of high agent count stations and lowsec offer a very unique isk faucet.

This isk faucet may not be the best, but because the few negatives can be mitigated by player action it is possible to build a community around them. A community like Sadistica.

The only reason I was able to base my alliance in lowsec is because I was able to find a centralized scaling income source to rally my pilots around. These income sources are the building blocks of every player group, be it incursion runners in highsec, null bears chipping away at sanctums, miners chewing on veld or the ever common ice belt mackinaw.

Scaling isk faucets are the foundations of society in eve, and everything else, be it station type, services, constellation size, moon goo, or whatever, is ENTIRELY secondary to it. We need to keep these specific kinds of isk faucets around and we need to make sure CCP knows that these faucets are at the core of every group.

No matter how many tech moons your coalition controls, or how good your bot filled SRP program is, at the very least, these faucets are what made it possible for your alliance/coalition to come into existence in the first place.

A little known buff to lowsec made it viable for an alliance to live and grow in lowsec by providing a centralized scaling income source for the first time.

Centralized Scaling Income sources need to become part of CCP's design ethos when trying to design any mechanic intended to support young alliance growth.

Lowsec doesn't need more isk anymore, it just needs the infrastructure to support more growing groups. Infrastructure like stations with cloning or a way for players to provide such critical infrastructure for themselves. 

Note: Submitted to for staff writer position - islador

[BR] A Welp Like Never Before

All time stamps are EVE Time (GMT)
[23:45 Saturday 12/1/12] Fleet op form, Standard Doctrine, Scheduled Fleet, 10 ready, 10 fitting/jacking off.
[00:01 Sunday 12/2/12] 20 ready, hostiles the roam was scheduled to meet have not formed up. Intended targets are unable to make fights happen when they say they can. Something about having a child now.
[00:05 Sunday 12/2/12] Scouts Report: 5 man hostile BC gang one system over.
[00:05 Sunday 12/2/12] Our forces have not been spotted, but our doctrine is not setup to fight on a gate. Screw it, fleet warp anyway, some idiot brings a Machariel, at least it has a point.
[00:09 Sunday 12/2/12] Scout Report: A wormhole, C5, active capitals, critical mass limit reached.
[00:10 Sunday 12/2/12] Hostiles jump straight into us, Mach pilot calls point, fleet has no other points, hostile hurricane explodes as the rest of his gang warps off. Nothing to see here, reship to brawler doctrine, neut heavy. FC - "Fuck the mass, we're going for those capitals!".
[00:12 Sunday 12/2/12] Fleet reshipped, 4x Basi, 4x Curse, 6x Drake, 4x Cane, 1x Claymore, 1x Buzzard. Orders given to form up on the wormhole 2 jumps away. Safe space, so best speed.
[00:14 Sunday 12/2/12] Fleet has rallied on the wormhole
[00:14 Sunday 12/2/12] Scout Report: Hostiles are capital escalating, second escalation just triggered, total visible hostile count 5, believed secondarys/alts/afks 5. Chimera triage, Rorqual scooping loot, Moros blapping, Tengu, two Huginns webbing.
[00:20 Sunday 12/2/12] Scout Report: Revelation warped in, capital escalation two, sieged.
[00:25 Sunday 12/2/12] Scout Report: Thanatos warped in, capital escalation three, aligning out.
[00:26 Sunday 12/2/12] Scout Report: Thanatos warped out towards known hostile POS, 25 AU away.
[00:30 Sunday 12/2/12] Scout Report: Sleepers destroyed, Rorqual has warped off, Moros is aligning.
[00:30 Sunday 12/2/12] 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, FLEET JUMP! Headcount: 18. Missing: Basilisk, Boosty Tengu. Align planet 11! Fleet Warp, landing at 10 from hostiles. ECM drones spread across the Huginns, primary target is  T******, open fire. Hostile Chimera has velocity, neuts on T******. He's breaking. 1/4th shields, Armor. Chimera triaged, neuts on the Chimera, keep those drones spread, open fire on the Chimera.
[00:35 Sunday 12/2/12] Chimera is tanking too well, local effects must be countering our neuting. Hostile Falcon landing, point called, burn to the Falcon, swap damage to the Falcon when in range. Falcon down, burn back to hostile fleet, primary Moros, all neuts on the Moros, keep drones spread to the Huginns, we don't want to get webbed down and blapped.
[00:36 Sunday 12/2/12] Scorpion landed at zero, smartbombs, suck drones. 75% of fleet drones destroyed, Huginns now web effective. Fleet pull range and scatter. 20% report heavy webs, Basilisk down, Second Basilisk down. Fleet warp off.
[00:50 Sunday 12/2/12] Fleet has been bouncing safes for 14 minutes now, Scout reports two wormholes, both camped, one leads to nullsec, the other into a C6
[01:40 Sunday 12/2/12] Hostile probes are getting better, they're applying pressure with hictors and fast lockers to try and lock us down. Friendly pilots that need to leave have transferred ships to capsule pilots and logged off. Wormholes still camped heavily.
[01:41 Sunday 12/2/12] Scout Report: "C6 has been scouted, no way out, only deeper down the rabbit hole."
[01:53 Sunday 12/2/12] Hostiles have followed us as anticipated to a safe spot 30 AU from the nullsec hole. Lone Onyx on the hole now, fleet warping to nullsec hole, neut and apply damage to the Onyx. Onyx successfully neuted down, bubble is off. Fleet jump as you're able. Hole collapsed, two made it out. Hostile fast tackle is landing, triage chimera. Fleet transferred to secondary FC.
[01:54 Sunday 12/2/12] Fleet has been destroyed or run off. Some have scattered to the C6 where they're now killing themselves in the hopes of waking up back in K-Space. Total Losses: 2.7 Billion. Total Kills: 650 Million
[01:55 Sunday 12/2/12] Primary FC ritually murdered by his fleet as punishment.
[01:56 Sunday 12/2/12] Log End

Losses Report:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Burning Bridges

I recently formed an alliance by the name of Sadistica Alliance. We formed with a corp we'd known for a while, and the idea was that I would finally be able to lead an alliance in the manner that I find appropriate. We got the alliance off the ground and have been busy making a name for ourselves in Aridia.

We've fought several groups over the last month, EVE Uni's Low Sec Camp, chief among them. Not because they're good, though they have killed us plenty of times, but because they're just as blood thirsty as we are. Two weeks ago Drunk & Disorderly and Lost Obsession, two notorious gallente faction warfare alliances moved into Aridia. They excel in tactics similar to Rooks & Kings, flying heavy armor tanks, usually faction battleships, and cyno'ing in triage carriers as a form of force multiplication. They also keep numerous capital alts on standby and, like most titan hugging alliances, will bridge onto anything their scouting Arazu can tackle.

They don't seem interested in good fights, merely in winning, which is a stance I can respect. Winning is something that everyone enjoys, even if victory was achieved by bridging in a horde of battleships on a 5 man BC gang.

Our encounters with DnD/FATE have raised an interesting, and often ignored edge case. There are NO counters to titan bridges in lowsec. That is, once a group has a titan, there is nothing you can do to keep them from bridging on top of anything.

Common Anti-Bridging Tactics
Now there are popular anti-bridge tactics, most commonly, popping the cyno. However many titan hugging corps and alliances bridge in heavy tank ships like vindicators or legions with cyno's fitted so that they can simply light a replacement cyno when their cloaky alt explodes. Another popular counter to popping the cyno is to jump a capital in first and light a replacement cyno with the capital itself. Due to the raw EHP of a capital ship there is very little you can do to kill a capital before the bridge fleet manages to click the "Jump through to [Cyno System]" button.

A second tactic is to scout out the hostile titan, and simply not do anything if they have a superior fleet waiting on it. While this does keep you from getting bridged on it, is equally boring for both sides.

Nullsec Anti-Bridging Tactics
Occasionally some fleet commanders will pile a bridge fleet on the edge of the POS shields to keep the titan safe. This is used as a means of keeping paranoid titan pilots from getting bumped around by blues. It also ensures that no one can bump the titan, thus making the whole fleet have to chase him to stay in bridge range. Should the bridge fleet you're trying to counter be doing this, it is possible to bomb the ships on the edge of the shields with stealth bombers.

This was carried out to great success during the CFC's war in Tenal and around 60 'welp canes' were destroyed. It was accomplished by warping a hictor to the titan's bridge fleet and bubbling up while the bombers decloaked and dropped bombs.  The bubble kept the fleet from simply bridging out, or warping away, and the POS shield, which is capable of stopping bomb damage inside it, was locked to the fleet resulting in their death. Had either of the hictor or the POS shield not been configured/deployed in this fashion, the fleet would've been able to evade the bombs. For this reason many bridge fleets stay in the POS shields. Bombing a hostile fleet bridge fleet is not a regularly deployable anti-bridging tactic due to the shields ability to stop incoming AOE damage.

Titan Bridging Counters
The only counter is to find the hostile titan POS and station a cloaked dictor on it during fleet operations. This dictor can then maneuver him/herself onto the side of the POS the hostile titan is sitting at and decloak then bubble the titan. As illustrated above, bubbles will prevent a hostile fleet from jumping through the titan bridge. The bridge itself can still be activated though. The dictor can then either burn out of his bubble and warp off, or burn and recloak. Regardless of the dictor's choice, the enemy fleet must now either reposition out of the bubble, smartbomb the warp disruption probe or wait for it to decay (2 minutes). This tactic forces the enemy to react in a way often unexpected by fleet commanders and because it forces a delay in the bridge, is an effective counter to bridging.

Cynosural System Jammers (Cyno Jammers) may also be considered a counter to titan bridging. However they're really more of an area denial weapon as they do not keep the fleet from bridging in, they simply force them to bridge in one jump out from their cyno jammed destination. They also have much wider positive and negative consequences for both the owners and invaders of any system they're deployed in.

Only two counters?
Yup, there are only two counters to titan bridging in EVE and both of those counters are currently unavailable in lowsec. This means that as the game stands today, there is no way to counter titan bridges in lowsec, they're the "I Win Button" of lowsec. Be it dropping in a fully fit faction battleship fleet as DnD/FATE enjoy, or slipping a damnation into system at some far off celestial, titan bridging is an immutable advantage that wealthy pilots and alliances enjoy in lowsec. I believe it is this immutability that has lead to the prevalence of titan bridging in lowsec.

Hey now! Cyno jammers are coming to Lowsec!
That they are.  However they do not appear to be included in the retribution patch notes :(. Should CCP go through with the changes listed in the forum post linked above, the cyno jammer will be able to function as a counter to titan bridges in the same manner as nullsec jammers for a limited duration. Unfortunately, they will only be available to faction warfare participants and not the general lowsec population.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

[Proposal] Lowering the Barriers

Right now there is a dearth of players in null, this is nothing new, nullsec has historically been full of empty space. What is new is the lack of independent entities struggling against each other. There are three major power groups in nullsec today, CFC, HBC and Everyone Else. This is a player created element of the sandbox, it was not created by CCP, though dominion sov did help propagate it. I believe this could be solved by tweaking the HP and reinforce timers of sov structures based on activity indexes. Now stick with me, this is going to take some explanation.

The basics
(skip this if you know the terms, hitpoints and sov mechanics)

Currently, to siege a system with three entrances I must: acquire and deploy at least two SBUs. I must online them, and defend them until they online. I must then grind down any Ihub and/or stations present in the system to their first reinforcement timers. Then I must grind them down to their second reinforcement timers and kill the TCU. Once I have done all this, I need to anchor my own TCU and the system is now mine.

A current Sovereignty Blockade Unit (SBU) has: 10m shield @50% resists, armor @50% resists and structure @ 0% resists = 50m EHP.

A current Infrastructure Hub (IHub) has 192.25m EHP and two reinforcement timers, one in shield at 25% shield (after 56.5m shield) which it exits at 0% shield and one in armor at 50% (after 56.25m armor) which it exits at 25% armor.

Current stations have no documented health, but I understand them to be similar if not exact clones of IHub EHP and reinforcement.

A current Territory Control Unit (TCU) has: 10m shields, armor and structure at 0% resists, so 30m EHP.
To take a three gate station system, my forces and I need to destroy 320.76m EHP. (145.38 for the Ihub, 145.38 for the Station and 30m for the TCU)

To defend a three gate station system, my forces and I need to destroy 100m EHP (50m EHP for each SBU). This assumes that I don’t want to clean up the 3rd that they invariably dropped as well.

For comparison’s sake, lets talk about some structures more people have had dealings with. A small Caldari control tower, and a Player Owned Customs Office (POCO).

A small Caldari control tower has 14.5m raw HP, if you are shooting it with EM it has 0% base resists. It has a reinforcement timer at 25% shields that is no longer than 41.5 hours and it exits that reinforcement timer at 25% shields.

A POCO has 14.5m raw HP and no resists. It reinforces at 25% shields and exits reinforce at 0% shields, saving you 2.5m EHP of grinding. It’s reinforcement timer is variable, but averages ~36 hours, and is always under 48.

Dealing with all that EHP
Now that you have an idea of just how much EHP we’re talking about. Lets explain what it takes to reliably chew through all of that. Your average DPS battleship or Tier 3 BC does 1k DPS. So to chew through those 320.76m EHP with 30 of them is going to take you ~3 hours (178 minutes).  If you have 100, you’ll get it done in just under an hour (53.5 minutes).

Let us say you’re fielding capitals. Carriers average 1k DPS (Thanatos get as high as 1.75k) and dreads average 10k DPS (Moros get as high as 15k), but are stuck for 5 minutes at a time. With 10 dreads, it’ll take just under an hour (53.5 minutes). With twenty, it’ll take about thirty minutes (26.7). Bare in mind, those dreads are stuck, so you are very likely going to lose them. You can use supers though, and that will drastically improve your survivability, but instead of 30b in dreads, you must field 300 billion in supers (average nyx comes to 30b between hull and gear).

Not too bad right? Sadly all those lovely numbers assume you are doing it in one sitting. In reality it takes you at least 2 separate operations, so add on 30 to 40 minutes of form up time and however long it takes you to get there and back. This means that each of those operations is a 3 hour grueling structure grind operation, and between each of those operations you have to wait on average 36 hours for a reinforcement timer. This means that to take a system it takes at least a 4 days! It can get worse though, you might be unable or unwilling to take the station and the ihub down at the same time, so now it takes FOUR separate operations. Those four will be slightly faster, but still be in the neighborhood of two hours each, and then it can take up to a full week to take the system!

So, in summation, taking a three gate station system requires between six and eight hours of fleet ops over the course of about a week and each op must have either 100 DPS Tier 3 BCs or BS, 10 dreads on a suicide path, or 300 billion isk in supers. This is for a single system, and it discounts passive regen on all the shields as well as the deployment and onlining time of SBUs (3 hours).

This massive block of EHP and time is why we have the super coalitions we have today. The numbers are required to play the game. If we want to see new groups in nullsec duking it out, these EHP bricks need to change.

Desired Effects
I would like to make it so that territory is held based on activity level more than the owner’s capacity to project force. That is, if a sov owner is out attacking some other alliance, I would like a smaller group to be able to come in and take a few of that owner’s outlying systems. Think of it as the barbarians versus the Romans and the fall of the Roman empire. This is currently impossible because it takes a week and 8 hours of fleet operations to take a single system, let alone a constellation.

Undesired Effects
The ability to rapidly sack another group’s capital

The Proposal
To this end, I propose that the current HP for all sov structures, excluding SBUs, be tied to military and industrial indexes. Each structure would then have it's base hitpoints reduced to 10% of it's current hitpoints. For each index level, excluding strategic, the structure gains 10% of it's hit points under the current system. Should the structure have had a reinforcement timer under the current system, it will gain one reinforcement (based on stront, not some timer) for each index at lvl 5, excluding strategic.

Under the proposed system, an ihub in a solar system with military and industrial at 0 will have just under 19.25 million EHP and no reinforcement timer. An ihub with industry 5 and military 0 will have one reinforcement timer and roughly 115.5m EHP.  An ihub in a military and industry lvl 5 system will have 211.75m EHP and two reinforcement timers. An unused system with a TCU and Ihub will have 23.25m EHP and no reinforcement timer.  A heavily used capital system with a station, ihub and TCU will have 456.5m EHP along with 2 reinforcement timers for the station and 2 for the Ihub.

Outcome Analysis
The proposed system will make it HARDER to take an extremely active system by INCREASING the EHP  of sov structures in it. However it will make a lesser or unused system substantially easier to take. This means that active areas of space, such as a capital systems will be much harder to take. Active ratting or mining systems will be noticeably easier to take while still being difficult, and unused systems will be substantially easier to take. In essence, it will lower the barriers to nullsec by opening up guerilla warfare as a viable tactic.

By scaling EHP and reinforcement timers in this manner, we create lesser controlled border zones between the activity hubs of large alliances. This will fundamentally alter the status quo of sov holding alliances as new vulnerabilities open up all across their space. Small groups will be able to border skirmish with larger alliances and potentially hold space despite their smaller size.

To be precise, that 30 man BC/BS gang from earlier that would've taken just under 3 hours to take a system, can now take an unused system in twelve and a half minutes. They must still place and wait for  SBUs to online (~3 hours), so it doesn't allow for pure harassment, but it definitely opens the door for smaller groups.

But what about Moons?
Those of you who are in the know realize that this change does nothing to help the young alliance acquire moons. That is O.K. The goal of this proposal is to get people into nullsec. When there are more people in nullsec, those new people will find a way to acquire moons.

Possible Supporting Changes
-        It may be necessary to reduce the strategic index level for cyno jammers to support younger groups holding space.
-        It may be necessary to tweak the activity levels required to move indexes up or down to better balance EHP distribution across a space empire.
-        It may be necessary to increase anomaly spawns to increase player density per system to allow for large alliances to concentrate force.


Hello, my name is islador and I run Sadistica Alliance. We’re a bunch of ‘lowsec pubbies’ living in Aridia. I have been playing since 2006 and have seen two sovereignty systems come and go, along with several capital and super capital changes. As a director I was in 3 nullsec alliances, B.L.A.C.K, Sc0rched Earth, and Gentlemen’s Club. As the CEO of FELON I have been in two nullsec alliances, both renters, The Methodical Alliance and Rebel Alliance of New Eden. I have spoken at EVE Vegas twice now, the first was on transitioning a HS corp to nullsec and the second was on surviving a renter alliance. The first is not worth watching, it was horrible. The second was great and I would love to find a recording if possible.