Category Archives: Meta

Scraping the Bottom

So the new Space Marine Codex for 8th is out. With it came updates to the non-Codex chapters. Blood Angels, Space Wolves, and of course, my beloved Dark Angels. To call this update a sop gives it far too much credence. I’m going to talk about 4 main portions of the update, and examine the effects that DA players have to work under while we wait for a new codex that hopefully will rectify the situation.

But first a bit of context so you can see the power level DA were in before the update. Here’s this morning’s ITC rankings.

One guy over 550, everyone else under 400, even dropping down into the high-mid 200s by #10
Vs. One score under 500. The #10 Vanilla Marine army would be the #2 Dark Angels Army

Ouch. So before the Codex, DA were virtually non-competitive vs regular Space Marines. That’s the environment we existed in Friday. From there we see four main changes to the new Marine Armies.

First off is Doctrines. This is a huge one, handing out -1 AP to either Heavy and Grenade weapons, Rapid Fire and Assault, or Pistol and Melee, depending on which you are on. This basically puts regular marines back where they were in 7th as long as their doctrine is going, and boosts intercessors a LOT, with grenades and grenade launchers getting some real “reach out and touch someone” on turn 1. Dark Angels did not get this in the update, leaving all our troops with inferior AP, and no way to “tip the scale” depending on what phase of the battle is going on.

Second is Litanies of Battle. This is GW’s attempt to make Chaplains much more valuable and I am here for it. Basically each chaplain gets to pick a Litany he can recite every turn. Some of these are very powerful, even if virtually all are situational. Of course DA didn’t get this in the update either.

Third was stat changes. This affects DA in a different way. Lots of Primaris units received +1 wound. Gravis units in particular. This DID get given to DA; however it’s still a nerf. Gravis units are now tougher than Terminators, relegating two of the few special DA units rather less effective. Those being Deathwing terminators and Deathwing knights. While DA has access to the units with more wounds, these units don’t have the same access to power boosts that vanilla space marine units have.

Finally there’s point changes. Many units received new, lower costs, which DA do not have. There were some increases (especially Thunder Hammers) which haven’t hit DA yet, but in general Dark Angels armies built to mirror vanilla marines will have fewer, less potent models on the table, compared to their basic bitch brethren.

I do want to point out that some changes did hit equally, Angels of Death being a big one, but even these hit equally. Every change has had either zero net effect or a negative net effect, leaving an already weaker army further behind the power curve.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. GW has said there will be something for DA next month, but I am less than sanguine about it. We’re pretty late in the day for us to get what I think would help the most (The Lion) and I strongly doubt we will get more than a near-equalizer. Rules that bring things roughly in-line with Vanilla marines but don’t address the larger power imbalance.

I would LIKE to see a new chapter tactic. Grim Resolve doesn’t mean much of anything in a world of buff auras and MSU. I think something like a +3″ to aura abilities would be suitably strong, and also show the control the inner circle exerts over the Unforgiven. I know that’s very strong but… DA need something very strong at this point. Space Marines got boosted because they honestly needed it to be a top tier army. DA weren’t a top tier army, or even an average tier, now they are getting shoved even lower, and Space Wolves, Blood Angels, Grey Knights, and Death Watch with us.

Dark Angels Codex Wishlist

So one of the next 2 codexes will be the Dark Angels.  I’m excited to get a codex, as they make armies far more competitive and grant a lot more depth.  However I’m also disappointed because I feel it means we are unlikely to get much in the way of new models.

I’m going to break this list down into three things.  Things I expect to see, things I’ll be interested to see, and things I want to see but don’t really expect.

Things I Expect to See

Plasma trait / Stratagem – Similar to how Salamanders get re rolls with their flamers and meltas, I think the Dark Angels should get some kind of bonus to show their expertise with Plasma weaponry.  Whether this takes the form of a stratagem allowing them to fire supercharged without worrying about dying, or simply allowing re-rolls on wounds or something similar will be interesting, but I firmly expect this to be in the codex.

Older marks of Terminator Armor – I really don’t understand how this wasn’t part of the index anyway.  The only chapter with more terminator armor is the Grey Knights, and they are ridiculous mary sues anyway.  Lacking the fun and interesting older marks just feels wrong and I know a lot of Dark Angels players would love to include them in their armies for more than a cosmetic change.

Interromancy powers will debuff everything – The only faction with more debuffs will be Eldar.  I expect minus to hit, minus to charge, and minus to leadership at least.  Facing Dark Angels librarians should be a pain in the ass more than anything else.  Debuffs can make the game not fun for your opponent, but it’s super fluffy for Dark Angels to debilitate their foe before crushing them.

Things I’ll be Interested to See

Azrael changes – Azrael is a hair behind Guilliman right now.  His ability to grant re-rolls to hit to any UNIT within 6″ is crazy.  Added to 4++ save granted to any MODEL within 6″ he becomes a bubble master and an auto include in any competitive army.  He’s also pretty damn deadly in both shooting and melee.  Keep him safely off the front line until it’s time to uncork him and he’s a threat to anything with his D3 wounds and mortal wounds added in melee, not to mention some very good shooting going in.  Oh and bonus CP just for taking him when most other chapters LOSE CP to take a chapter master!  But should he really be that close in power to a friggin Primarch?  No.  I don’t know if he’ll actually be nerfed though.  I’ve been of the opinion that you could make him much more reasonable by changing his bubbles to read “Infantry Unit” and “Infantry Model” as the Dark Angels aren’t particularly known for their armored units prowess.  It also matters whether or not the Lion shows up.  If the Lion makes it in changes to Azrael become much less important as in most tournament army sizes I’d expect the Lion to be the default choice unless he’s awful.

New units – A plasma-based tank would be a lot of fun.  So far we have a land speeder and…. a land speeder.  The bikes can take plasma guns.  The flyer… can’t.  A predator with a plasma cannon could be fun.  Plasma Land Raider to carry around the deathwing would be AMAZING.  I already mentioned older suits of terminator armor.

Primaris Integration – Now the big one.  The most untrusting of chapters being forced to integrate hundreds of new “brothers” whose training and indoctrination they didn’t control.  I don’t think there’s a chance in hell Azrael and the inner circle let the first crop of Primaris advance beyond Sergeant or Lieutenant.  I do think they will be put in untenable positions over and over until nearly all are killed, then the Dark Angels will demand full control over creating and training the next generation to fix the “flaws” in the process that resulted in high casualty rate.  However the current game takes place 120+ years after the return of Guilliman so that would be in the past in either case.  By now there would be veterans advancing in knowledge and skill to where they should be moved into the Ravenwing or Deathwing.  Aggressor marines could be used as Deathwing fairly straight up, although the lack of melee ability that Aggressor’s suffer from would make them a flawed choice.  For the Ravenwing… there’s no bikes, and while I, personally, love Inceptor units, especially decked out with Plasma cannons, I’m not sure they fit in the hunt.  Will we start seeing Primaris bikes (RIP all other bikes) or Primaris Land Speeders?  Will we see something else?  I hope we see a lot of effort put into this thorny issue rather than a hand-wave.

Things I Want, but Don’t Expect

The Lion – There’s not enough time to build much hype, and I’ve heard from folks I trust that the odds of a Primarch coming out this year are really low.  I also really don’t expect the codex to come out with the Primarch limping out a month or two later, so if we get the Lion, it will likely be after a considerable wait, and most likely after the story has advanced a good bit.  I think the game needs more Imperial Primarchs, I think the story needs them, and frankly, I think GW’s business needs them.  Even with the release of Guilliman, I suspect Ultramarines are behind the Dark Angels and Space Wolves, and only inching ahead of Blood Angels as they have been in a bad spot and getting worse in 8th.  I also suspect that if I picked up some Ultramarine models and scraped off a bit of paint there’s a different color underneath.

Contemptor Dreadnoughts – I want them.  We won’t get them.  Just not something the chapter has ever been known for.

Bring back the old wings – There used to be 6 “wings” in the Dark Angels Legion.  I think chapters will get larger and larger, and the simplest solution to the problem of where to put more experienced Primaris would be to put them in their own wings.  An Ironwing and a Stormwing for the Primaris would be an interesting way to increase the diversity of the Chapter, without necessarily bringing them fully in, and continuing the theme of distrust.

Jam the Radar!

This is my first post on some more game theory-ish topics.  I play games for fun, but sometimes I’ll dig into the numbers behind the game and try to figure out better ways to play.  This is an example of a games-theory concept that I encountered a lot in Warmahordes that I think has become extremely relevant in 8th edition 40k, with the rise of melee, hordes, and the ability of units in melee to affect vehicles during their own turn.

Jamming is a big part of some games, in others it barely makes the lexicon.  Traditionally Warhammer 40k has been one of those games where it is a rarely used tactic as it is incredibly hard to do with any sort of efficiency.  Well 8th edition has changed that in a big way.


Land Raider About to be JAMMED

So first let’s talk about what jamming is in a wargame.  Jamming is when you use a relatively unimportant unit to deny an enemy the ability to move, shoot, or pick his own charge target by charging into him.  The benefit of jamming is it can give you a lot of board control, while saving you from a substantial amount of fire.  The downside is, unless the unit doing the jamming is a really good tarpit, they are probably dead as doornails.

The biggest target for jamming in 40k right now is vehicles.  Vehicles often have a very high damage output, and are extremely hard to destroy quickly.  They have too many factors making them very hard targets to be destroyed without a massive concentration of firepower.  However all it takes is 1 model starting its turn within 1″ to block the vehicle from shooting.  A predator has the weapons loadout of a devastator squad, with more mobility and far more toughness.  It can’t take cover as well, vehicle cover rules basically meaning vehicles don’t get to take cover, but it can inflict a lot of damage in a very short period of time, and removing those guns takes a lot of effort.

However one stormboy with a choppa disables all those guns for at least one turn.  And he does it for pretty cheap.  Jamming into a tank does three things.  It reduces my firepower, it forces me to fall back and disrupts my gunline, and it forces me to find another unit to engage the jammer, either with enough firepower to destroy them or to charge into melee itself, and if my opponent picked the right unit to do so, it’s a unit he can afford to lose while I have multiple units dealing with them.  If he has multiple, small units available to jam, or if I mess up and he can charge multiple units with the same unit, he can turn my shooting phase from the height of my turn into a really frustrating exercise in trying to do more with less.

Now let’s say he gets a small unit of stormboyz into melee with my predator.  Maybe he knocks off a wound, maybe he doesn’t.  Now I have a predator pulling back, I have a squad of tacticals coming over to shoot, and probably charge them to finish them off, and I have nothing shooting at the deff dread rolling down on my battleline trying to keep it from getting its claws on my precious marines.

On the flip side of the tactical coin is horde armies.  Boyz mobs, genestealers, hormagaunts, all are incredibly powerful if they crash into your army and get off the first attack, but they have to be unengaged to charge, so you have to lock them up.  This can be tricker, and you have to break out the Mathhammer to figure out how best to do it.  Let’s take a unit of genestealers that I have to delay for a turn.  20 stealers of course, attacking MEQs, first we’ll see what happens if the ‘stealers can charge.

80 attacks, 54 hits (I’m going to round up because I’m a pessimist.  Similarly armor saves will be rounded down) 9 wounds at AP-4 from rending claws, 18 wounds at AP-1.  On generic marines that’s 9 wounds just going straight through, and 9 more after armor saves.  That’s almost 2 squads of tactical marines, or nearly 1 full squad of intercessors.

That example is worst case.  Let’s look at if I charge them (without shooting) with my trusty 10 man tactical squad.  My typical squad is 10 marines, combi-plasma, plasma, and Heavy Bolter.  So they charge in, 11 attacks, 2 from the sergeant, 9 from normal marines.  7 hits, 3 wounds, 2 dead genestealers.  Not exactly great, but it does clip a couple of wounds off the return attack.  Not enough to save a normal tactical squad from being summarily destroyed, but it does help a bit.

Let’s say they pour some fire into the stealers.  I’m going to assume they moved during their turn, because in order to get a charge in on genestealers you practically have to, so here we go.  7 rapid fire bolters:  just over 3 wounds on average.  1 combi weapon bolter adds about 1/3 of a wound, combi plasma adds enough that with the bolter fire we’re calling it 4 wounds already.  Heavy bolter – just under another wound.  We’re being pessimistic so, 4 dead stealers, charge in, kill 2 more.  Now we’ve removed 24 attacks from that incoming salvo.  Still not enough that the basic tactical squad will survive.

That’s how nasty hordes are this edition.  14 Genestealers coming back with 4 attacks is 56.  37 hits, 6 automatic wounds, another 6 or 7 normal wounds.  Still a dead tactical squad and the surviving stealers can move up and charge in their own turn.  Remember, moving 9-11 inches for normal troops is trivial this edition, and genestealers can start 18″ away from you and reliably get a charge in so you HAVE to burn them down, or keep them at arms range.

Now let’s look at something I’m looking at very hard, the intercessor squad.  One thing I didn’t mention is that my tactical squad only costs about 2/3 of a genestealer mob, Intercessors cost just around 5/6 of a genestealer mob.

So, the bolt rifles, 10 of them with no special or heavy weapon, 4 wounds.  Charging in these tough bastards have 2 attacks, the sergeant has 3 (and a power sword).  That’s another 5 wounds (combining average extra wounds from shooting and melee) leaving the Genestealers with 11.  44 attacks.  29 hits, 6 wounds that go right through armor, 11 other wounds.  That leaves the sergeant and 1 other marine holding on.  That’s not enough to be comfortable that the genestealers would be stopped during their turn, but I could divert some fire from another unit to increase that margin a fair bit.  While it’s not the topic of this post, I have to say Intercessors are looking better and better in comparison to basic marines when it comes to objective play.  The only thing they lose out on is heavy firepower.

In the Bloody, Grimdark, Future, There is Only Testosterone

To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be relearned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.

-Rogue Trader and damn near every main rulebook ever.

So writing any fiction in the Warhammer 40k universe has some issues for me.  It’s a stretch.  I like writing about diverse characters, men and women, strong and weak, outgoing and introspective, noble and degenerate.  You really don’t get that a lot in the grimdark.  The heroes are intolerant, “noble” in the harshest of senses, the villains are far more interesting running the gamut from the truly and bestially depraved to, well, heretics like you and me.  No, I’m not kidding.  We’re heretics to them.  PURGE YOURSELF!

The tech of the grimdark is very interesting, especially when you deal with the arcane mysticism that has swum up around it.  It’s amazing, highly powered, high tech stuff, and no one has really any idea how it works, it’s all the machine spirit.  There’s some interesting writing to be done there.

Even the battles are problematic.  Marines are organized into chapters of 1000 marines.  The Battle company I listed has a little over 120 marines.  Let’s say I throw them into a huge battle and get tabled.  That’s 1/8th of the Dark Angels!  It’s really over 1/4 of their active strength as 4 companies are reserves, 1 is a scout company, and the Deathwing/Ravenwing are mixed with the Battle Companies to such an extent that they really just build out the 3 Battle Companies and stretch them a bit to 4 or 5 deployable forces.  So how do I write these battles up?  I mean I can have a lot of lightly wounded and good treatment, and Marines are quite hardy, but it’s going to take some creativity to keep them from dying in job lots to the kinds of weapons you run into routinely in the 41st millenium, and it takes 8-10 years to get a replacement ready and up to speed.  Years.  Even the British Regulars didn’t take that long and I can lose 25% of their deployable force in a long, awful Sunday.

I am looking forward to meeting these challenges.  It’s an interesting universe to write in and having such one-dimensional characters to begin with make writing them in a more nuanced fashion a challenge.  Too much nuance and I’m far out of canon.  Too little and it’s just testosterone filled blood and guts.  Should be interesting to walk the line.


Pretty sure I’ve used that title before.  Getting back into 40k.  Currently it seems like the Dark Angels I’ve been fiddling with for a while will be fun.  Getting used to detachments will take time, and currently I have a big enough grey horde to make Leman Russ jealous, but I think I can manage that.

Also working on D’s Eldar.  We have her up to around 1k points.  Almost exactly 1k actually and with a pretty clear path to 2k.  It’s interesting and educational to see how things look from the standpoint of another codex.  It’s also eye opening to realize just how glaring many weaknesses are.  Try finding anti-air in a Dark Angels list.  Eldar may not be great but they at least have a little.  DA?  Woof.  Monstrous creatures?  Does a Land Raider count?  Not saying DA is weak, it has a lot of 2+, great bikes.  Really great bikes.  REALLY REALLY great bikes.  And T5 is pretty good in the current meta.

So I’m going to try to necro this blog with a bit more hobby flair.  Alternating between a meta/battle report post, a hobby post, and some fluff fiction fun from my battle company.  And I need VERY little in the way of additional troops to get the whole battle company on the field.  Mostly assault marines.  I think I’m 15 assault marines and 4 heavy weapons from having a full battle company; but which one do I make.


Not doin it!

So, 3rd or 5th?  I can do 5th very easily just doing the slash across the shoulder plate and knee pads, but with my planned lists almost always having (very, very good) bikes, and terminators… It’ll be nice to have all the colors mixed in on my tac squads.  So…. probably doing 5th.  Still leaving 3rd open as an option though.

One of the things I like about the detachments is it lets you take org charts like that one above, and put it into an actual army list.  I can build a Lion’s Blade Demi Company that splits a Battle Company right down the middle.  Double up on that, add a Ravenwing support team to one half, a Deathwing support detachment to the other and you have a REALLY fun, neat army that has a full battle company at its core.  So right now I’m looking at that.  Here’s the list I’m looking at now.  Priorities are:  Transport for the 3rd tac squad, possible weapons changes for the termies.


LotRO Raids Aren’t Easy

Ok so last time I talked about how Turbine had decided to trash raiding because there aren’t any raiders to do them.  In itself that probably isn’t completely false.  It does ignore that the reason for these raiders being so rare is that the raids are dated, buggy and generally poor in quality.

There’s even another layer to this.  Making raids for LotRO isn’t easy.  I’m going to give a brief overview of the classes, starting with the tanks, then the DPS, then the healers, then the troublemakers.

There’s two classes that are primarily tanks:

  • Guardians – Traditional Heavy Armor tanks.  High morale, high mitigations, lots of taunts.
  • Wardens – Medium Armor tanks.  Over the course of a fight they build up very high mitigations, and have a bewildering array of self-buffs, self-heals, and shenanigans that make them easily capable of soloing three-man content.

Primary DPS Classes:

  • Champions – Melee blenders.  Heavy armor.  Great close range area of effect, and very good single-target damage.  Ok mitigation.
  • Hunters – Nukers par excellence.  Orlando Bloom would be jealous.  Serious heavy sustained damage in multiple flavors.

Primary Healing Classes:

  • Minstrel – Medium Armor, lots of buffs, lots of heals, some bubbles.

The rest of the classes are troublemakers.  In other words 4 of the 9 classes make a challenge for the traditional paradigm of tank-dps-heals.  Let’s look at why.

  • Captain – My current main.  One class can fill three roles.  Tanking?  Decent.  Heals?  Decent.  DPS?  Decent.  Most importantly it adds heavy buffs to the list.  Every raid will have a captain.  They add a solid character in any role, even if they are a bit behind the top rate at any position.  Their buffs take other classes into the stratosphere and make them a requirement.  They also mean that balancing requires you to take into account that a well played captain is going to break metrics.  A raid set for a group without a captain will get crushed by a raid with a captain.  A raid set for a captain would be impossible without one.
  • Burglars – A really good DPS class to begin with.  They add debuffing, and crowd control.  WoW Rogues drool with envy.  This class can cripple enemies and deal with dangerous adds with contemptuous ease.  A well played Burglar is nearly indispensable in some fights.  While not as raid-breaking as a Captain, they add another flavor to balancing that certainly makes things rougher.
  • Lore-Master – Not your daddies cloth caster.  A 2nd tier DPS choice, that adds debuffing, healing and ridiculous crowd-control.  Oh and Power (mana) regeneration.  For everyone.  They also add pets to the party.  This class is simply a requirement.  It’s easy to game for something everyone is going to bring, but still the kind of power a good Lore-Master includes means that raids are going to have a pretty hefty difficulty.  A good LM can keep everyone fed with power in a 12 man raid.  Imagine running a 10 man dungeon in WoW without ever worrying about mana.
  • Rune-Keepers – This one is challenging for everyone.  A very good RK can jump between damage and healing mid-fight and provide high quality (not quite top tier) performance at both roles.  A merely good RK can provide elite levels of either DPS or Heals with nearly contemptuous ease.  The ability for really good players to swap roles mid-fight makes this class difficult to deal with when tuning different phases.  DPS races and healer intensive phases just mean the good players are swapping back and forth.  This class is again not as game-breaking as the cappy, BUT that the presence of them, especially multiples of them, can potentially make any challenge phase much less of a challenge.

These four classes make raid design an incredible challenge.  WoW and most of its clones have traditionally dealt with this by simplifying their class structure.  Turbine has not followed this route.  They have kept the classes diverse, with controllers, buffers, debuffers, and the traditional trinity.

None of this excuses the buggy messes.  The poorly thought out mechanics, and the severe gating of radiance had nothing to do with the problems of class balance.  While Turbine has its work cut out for it in developing raids, they cannot blame that for the problems that have traditionally plagued them.  The simple fact is they don’t have the wherewithal to develop raids that are current, that work, and that are interesting in the modern MMO paradigm.

Turbine has a fiscal issue.  They have to prioritize their spending and that’s fine.  They need to recognize that by saying “You guys don’t play raids so we won’t make raids” to an educated audience burns bridges.  The raiders left in the game keep waiting for Turbine to support them.  Now Turbine is blaming them.  Sure they don’t make up a large part of the game, but they make up a far larger part of the community.  Turbine is stabbing them in the back and you would think someone as savvy as Sapience would know better.

Well That’s a Big Hole to Fill

Ripard Teg has laid down his pen.  Wow.  I have logged into EvE all of three times in the last month but I have kept abreast of the news and this has been huge, and bigger than some people realize.  The EvE blogging community is not as big as it once was, having been largely supplanted by sites like EN24 and, and many of the big names in the blogging community aren’t active, or aren’t doing a whole lot these days.  Part of the reason is traffic is down.  There used to be sites that would direct readers to blogs, like the old EvE Blog Pack, or Evebloggers (which seems to be kinda back) which could help a fledgling blog get some traffic.  Now you can pimp yourself on Reddit or hope for some publicity from forums or search engines, but there isn’t a lot of incentive to crank out a couple thousand words a week if only 4 people read them (and one is Bex who convos you in game to explain the big words).

Ripard had become the biggest supplier of hits to my site (after Reddit) by a long shot.  He represented nearly 1/3 of my incoming traffic over the last year, not counting Reddit.  His removal at a blow takes the dead center of the blogging community and removes it.  Now the structure is missing it’s strongest pillar and I wonder how long it will be before the roof caves in.  Independent bloggers don’t always add a lot, but their voice, and their unique bias makes them valuable.

And I haven’t even talked about Ripard’s voice.  He was the most prolific, the widest reaching, the most successful, and the 2nd most insightful blogger out there.  Mord Fiddle gets #1 there.  His voice on EN24 gave Riverini a real heavy stick to use to convince people that EN24 was a real deal.  Certainly far more credibility than I ever lent him, or Poetic (who I do hold in high regard).  If I had to make a top 10 or top 50 list of influential or must-read EvE posts my first question would be “How many Jester’s Trek posts can I use” because the top 10 would be JT and Fiddler’s Edge and the top 50 would have maybe 10 from other sources.  Most notably Evoganda, Mabrick’s Mumblings, @gamerchick42, and Nosy Gamer out of the current group.

Ripard Teg owes us nothing.  He has given freely of his time, of his insight and of his prolific writing to the entire community and he has made EvE a better game by his efforts.  Still and all it will be a lesser game, and blogging a lesser community for his absence.  I hope the bug bites him again, and I will now go off in search of a new default “What’s up in EvE today” blog.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can



So a lot of people in the media have been talking about the $300 battle.  This is both true, and disingenuous.  If I were to throw down 300k in cash on Plex, and convert them into ISK, assuming I managed to not crash the market, I would have enough ISK to buy the ships that were lost in the battle.  I could not, however, take the ships that were lost in the battle, and sell them for ISK, convert them back to PLEX, and sell them for real money.  The mechanisms and rules of the game don’t allow it.  I could probably sell some of them for real money, I think we all know or at least believe this to be the case.

Today I heard NPR’s Marketplace interview The Mittani.  Mittens does a good job selling the concept of the $300k battle.  He mentions that there were people who spent money out of the game to buy ships in game.  Now this is not necessarily accusing people of RMT, although he certainly implies a degree of condescension towards the practice of using real money in any way to buy ships, by specifying that he knew that people on the losing side had done this.  I think no one even vaguely familiar with Goons would be in any way surprised to find that there were several people in goons who’d PLEXed for ships; and there’s nothing wrong with this.  Hell I’ll be doing so later this month.

The Mittani and CCP both have become victims of their propaganda, and the long-term prejudices of MMOs.  RMT is bad.  This is a very simple, and generally true statement, but not all RMT is bad.  EvE has a lot of grinds and the game allows you to buy game time, sell it to other players, and buy whatever they want with the proceeds.  This does far less damage to the economy than wholesale, unregulated third party RMT.  It does permit “Wallet Warriors” to bling out there ships and do a hell of a lot, but due to the incremental increases in capabilities offered, it doesn’t give massive, overwhelming advantages to people using this (beyond the ability to bring the bling time and again, but frankly that’s just wealth redistribution against the wrong enemies).  The only time the advantage does get truly oppressive is when it is played out on the macro scale.  Were PL to drop a truly mammoth amount of cash to replace their whole fleet, only more so, and bring in other folks to do the same to tilt the balance, it would certainly be possible to do so, but… well… I doubt how sustainable it would be for them (if they can sustain it, more power to them, maybe they can fund some better expansions).  This is the trap of the prejudices of the MMO industry.

EvE has built this article of faith that everything is worth money.  That the money in game is directly tied to real money.  The connection is tenuous, it goes only in one direction, and it can very quickly change, so that this battle, that today represented roughly $300k in a very indirect way, will next year represent a much smaller figure, and in a few more years represent an even smaller figure.  The wars of EvE have a context, and the context isn’t the wealth destroyed, but the bonds broken.  The creation and destruction of alliances and coalitions, the betrayals, and the battles.  Not the almighty dollar.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

Case in Point

Ok, this is just fucking embarrassing.  Seriously who the HELL let this one through.  I’m gonna quote it in its entirety because… well… it’s not a lot.

EVE Online is known for its epic battles. Not only did last Monday see the biggest EVE battle to date, but the developers and players have already started work on a monument to remember the event.

The Bloodbath of B-R5RB, as the battle is now known, will be commemorated in game with the Titanomachy monument, constructed from the wrecked models of the brand new Titan ship introduced with Rubicon’s 1.1 release (coincidentally right after that battle). The permanent monument site will live around the seventh planet in the B-R5RB solar system and is already expected to be a pilgrimage destination for many players.

You can read a complete recap of the Bloodbath of B-R5RB on the most recent dev diary, and be sure to tune in today at 19:00 UTC (2:00 p.m. EST) for a developer livestream discussing the event and Rubicon 1.1’s release.

First a bit of a quibble.  Developers are doing the work on the monument.  Players don’t exactly have a ton of input beyond some suggestions from the CSM.

Let’s look at the real lowlight:

constructed from the wrecked models of the brand new Titan ship introduced with Rubicon’s 1.1 release (coincidentally right after that battle).

So wait.  The monument will be made of the wrecks of the brand new Titans.  The ones introduced in 2013’s Rubicon expansion.  Not the Titans from 2005’s Red Moon Rising expansion.

There’s two possibilities here.  The first is that Shawn Schuster simply doesn’t play EvE, has no experience with it, and is unaware that Titans have a tremendously long and infamous history in-game.  This would seem to have some weight to it because, well, 74 Titans got blowed up in and around B-R, which would be really awkward if they were introduced the day after the battle.  Second that he or his editor changed some words around and instead of talking about the new wreck models, put the word new in front of Titans.  In which case the editor should be fired.  Out of a cannon.  Into the sun.

Even more than Brendan’s tone-deaf rants, characterized by an even narrower scope and vision than my own toilet-paper roll view of EvE, this kind of writing goes beyond “Stringer” and into “Silly String”.  Gamers tend to take their games seriously, and having someone who simply knows nothing about the game write about it (which I believe to be the case judging by his writing history with Massively) is unacceptable.  I’m not saying that Shawn is a bad writer.  It’s actually a bit hard to judge him based on what he seems to be called on to write, but asking him to write about EvE does him a tremendous disservice.  It’s like sending a blind man to explore a mine field.

If Massively is going to rely on Copy/Pasting links and writing 150 word summaries they can at least spend another 5 minutes to provide ACCURATE 150 word summaries.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

The Issue With Numbers

So we had another big battle, this time in HED.  The good news:  Numbers were great and the node didn’t crash.  The bad news:  Soul Crushing Lag.

Solving this problem has to happen.  I see three ways to do it, and I think all three should be implemented.

First I’m going to do the inane thing and talk about why real life battles don’t turn into the Command & Conquer blob of Mammoth Tanks overrunning the objectives.

First: there’s logistics.  EvE doesn’t worry too much about these, but in real life the supply “tail” behind a potent force in the field, or even a not-very-potent force is often as large, or larger, than the force actually in the field.  All the fuelers, armorers, maintenance, admin, command, supply, cooks, and medical personnel represent a much smaller wedge than in EvE.

Second: In real life you have to worry about area of effect weapons.  Especially if you are against us.  Whether it’s DPICM, JDAM, or any of the menu of cluster munitions NATO forces can use, putting a bunch of tanks within a 300m area… not smart.  Clustering infantry in the open?  The gunners are drooling.  Even the insurgents came up with some innovative ways to punish allied forces when they got too predictable.  EvE has smartbombs, but these only work well up to a certain point.  Really all they do is murder support, and even Battleships can usually escape to wreak havoc.  Not to mention the server lag caused by these tactics.

Third:  Economy of Force, there’s always competing objectives.  There’s a need to protect your own supply lines, your centers of power, strategic terrain that threatens your forces, if you stack up your entire force, the enemy can do massive damage to your own forces and or infrastructure without even engaging your combat elements.

One of these (Logistics/Divisional Wedge) doesn’t really apply in EvE.  Almost any nullbear can fly something useful in a fleet and isn’t busy running munitions, fuel, other supplies etc to the front.  Back in the dark ages you used to have to warp off grid to the logi tower where all the logis hugged up and topped up your armor and sent you back in.  Yes this was a thing.  Even that rudimentary tail has been eliminated (thankfully, I can’t IMAGINE how dull that must have been).

We’ll replace that one with hardware/software upgrades that bring CCP closer to being able to handle battles like this.  This won’t actually fix the problem, because as soon as it happens more players will fight in these battles and the problem comes right back, but we can keep running on the wheel a bit here.  This is also probably the most straightforward leg of the solution.

Area of Effect weapons that threaten overly concentrated fleets.  Whether it’s better smartbombs, nukes a la Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Device, or something similar, the solution to the blob is a weapon aimed at the blob.  Hell let titans script their doomsdays.  Maybe not the full grid demolishing AoE, but a smaller, more concentrated (say 20km) area of death.  Like 200k of damage death. Oh you have your whole fleet anchored up on one guy?  STBY brah.  Oh 20 carriers in one little cluster?  The titans just salvo’d them into structure for the support to finish off.  Good luck.  Sure this will cause spikes of lag on the server, but it will make FCs think twice about bringing every asshole who can only anchor up and F1.  It might force them to bring in fleets in waves.  They might find entirely different ways of operating.

Finally:  Competing objectives.  Make it possible for defenders to force additional objectives in that system or neighboring systems.  For example the TCU, IHUB and Station all have to be down at the same time, and all run on the same timers, rather than in sequence.  Or if you take a system in a constellation, you can only do it once a week/month, whatever, BUT you can take as many as you want as long as they come out of reinforced within 24 hours of each other.  Something to incentivize spreading out.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can