Thursday, 11 September 2014

Offensive Logistics

Logistics is an important part of warfare in EVE. Without ships and ammo in the right places it is impossible to mount an offense against the enemy. Also, in friendly sov space, keeping jump bridges and POSes fueled is important in strategic fleet movements. Currently the HERO coalition is fighting with Providence. The goal, as far as I am aware, is to take the remaining systems in northern Catch from them. This post will be about my own little logistical effort during a bombing fleet.

Catch region with strategic areas highlighted.

In the picture of Catch above I have highlighted a few key areas. Box A represents our frontline against Providence in Northern Catch. This area contains stations which we can resupply from and systems which border the Providence owned systems in Catch that we are trying to obtain. Area B in the East is mainly HONOR space. This area is important as the sov in this area was recently dropped and reclaimed due to an internal dispute. This resulted in the off lining of a number of key jump bridges which previously allowed for quick access to Northern Catch from the BRAVE staging system. Box C represents one of the Catch Providence borders. Due to the temporary disruption of our jump bridge network in the East of Catch these border systems are the most direct route to the frontline from HED-GP, which is connected via jump bridge to GE-8JV. This area is easily camped by Providence making travel for bomber pilots or individual pilots hazardous, but not impossible. I won't detail our super secret opsec jump bridge network in the East (yeah I laughed too) but just know that GE-8JV was well connected to the East which was then connected to the North prior to the sov drop. In summary, with the disruption of the jump bridge network and ability for Providence to camp the Western border it can be difficult to resupply and rejoin fights on the frontline during a major engagement.

Recently I was in a bomber fleet during an engagement with Providence over a system in Northern Catch. After 4 successful bombing runs, a resupply was needed. A quick market search pointed us towards bombs in various station systems along our frontline and to the east. However, as each system was called for resupply the bombs were rapidly bought out before many of our bomber pilots could get to the stations. It was suggested that Providence was capitalising on the situation and buying out our bombs in an attempt to prevent continued bombing pressure which was wreaking havoc with their fleets. An interesting strategy if true. Either way we needed more bombs and I had a plan.

On my second screen I quickly logged on my JF pilot and a cyno alt then podded the cyno over to a station in Northern Catch where I had some ozone and cyno generators. I then looked for nearby bombs on my JF pilot, in high sec at the time, and found some 1 jump away. I set to grab them and piped up on comms to say that I could get bombs and a bomb truck to us in ~10 minutes. "Fantastic", or something to that effect, came back over comms. I had a Viator ready at my JF staging system but didn't really want to break the rigs to move it. However, I remembered that you can transport assembled ships when they are wrapped as a courier contract*. So after some fiddling with contracts in order to courier my own Viator I made the jump, hopped in the Viator and got set up 1 jump from the hostile system at a safe spot. I then jetcanned some bombs, orbited it at 5km, cloaked and gave the okay to warp to me. With the fleet successfully resupplied things were back on track.

We then jumped back into the hostile system and set up on our bombing perches at opposite sides of the grid. Shortly afterwards a friendly fleet arrived on grid followed by a large enemy fleet 200km+ above them. The friendly fleet then bubbled themselves. The plan was to bait the enemy fleet to warp onto the edge of the bubble which would cluster them up for our bombing run. At first the trap looked like it was going to work. The enemy fleet began their warp, apparently not pre aligned, and they trickled in to the edge of the bubble.  Things looked perfect... until an enemy dictor bubbled up the enemy fleet. This was a clever move by them as the bubble would act as a screen and prevent our bombers from warping to optimal bombing distance and force us into a suicide run. "Screw it" says the FC and warp is initiated into the bubble "Decloak and bomb, decloak and comb" is called. Uh oh...

You see, Interdictors launch bubbles which have a diameter of 40km. Any ships that warp to these bubbles from any angle get pulled inside the bubble. When warping from a short distance, this usually leaves you just at the edge of the bubble. Our two bomb squads had warped towards the enemy fleet from opposite sides of the bubble. Without a bubble, we would have been ~80-100km apart. However, due to the bubble, we were now ~30km apart. Those of you who have bombed before might already be laughing at what is about to happen. For those who haven't bombed before, bombs travel 30km in a straight line then detonate. The explosion is a sphere with a 30km diameter. Anything inside the bombs sphere will take damage when it detonates. Unfortunately for us... Squad 1 landed first and bombed, shortly followed by Sqaud 2. This put Squad 2 inside Squad 1's natural bomb sphere. Venn diagram of death below:

How to not bomb

Sorry guys:

We did actually hit some of the enemy fleet too... honest.

Shortly after this spectacle of bombing excellence a reship was called. We also had a Blops ready this time to bridge more bombers back to the fight. However, it seemed that Providence had shipped up (a 300+ fleet was reported) and we were losing the subcap fight, forcing us to stand down. Our bomber pressure was good but ultimately not quite enough to turn the fight in our favor. So as they say, the battle may be lost but certainly not the war... not yet anyway.

* I moved my assembled Viator by courier package by doing the following:
1. Item exchange contract the Viator to Bizar Raizen
2. Accept on Bizar Raizen then set up private Courier contract to the JF pilot to move it to the station in Catch.
3. Accept courier contract on, JF pilot, jump to station and deliver contract.
4. Item exchange Viator back to JF pilot.

Fiddly and annoying. In future I'll be keeping an unrigged "bomb truck" to avoid having to do this. Also, please do not star contracting fit ships when using a freight service. Although it is possible to courier contract an assembled ship it is not possible to subcontract the resulting courier package due to it having an "assembled container". Most services rely on subcontracting from an alliance alt to a non alliance alt in order to avoid wardecs.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Eating the Sand

I was listening to a Podside show recently when a line caught my attention:

"EVE is a sandbox and some people like to eat the sand." - Longinius Spear

Spear was telling a story about him and a friend trying to murder a Gnosis pilot. I won't tell the full story. Needless to say, the Gnosis pilot was totally unaware of Spear's intentions and had demonstrated some rather unusual behaviour prior to his demise. It seemed like this dude just had a rather strange way of playing and that his type of sandbox play was to simply "eat the sand". I think Spear was referring to how some people break the mould and do unexpected or unusual things within the sandbox and/or are just completely oblivious to their surroundings. It got me thinking about how I play EVE and what might drive other players into particular playstyles that could be considered "suboptimal".

A lot of activities in EVE get broken down to how much ISK/hour you can make doing it. I've talked about this before in a previous post. Being able to make ISK is important in EVE. However, it often leads people down the road to EVE becoming like a second job and padding the wallet can become an obsession. In my early attempts at playing the market I'll admit to getting a little obsessed. Watching the ISK roll in was satisfying. I was playing the 1 ISK game because I heard that it was an effective strategy that would get decent ISK/hour. However, I realised that I wasn't having fun. I needed to find fun activities rather than worry about being a space billionaire. That was the catalyst that led me to BNI but it also changed my way of looking at the game in general.

Opportunity cost gets applied to a number of activities in EVE when it comes to making ISK. Some players base almost everything they do in the game around the principle of opportunity cost. It is how I thought when I started, hence the focus on station trading. However, I realised that often I would have the most fun doing things just for the sake of it. I shifted my focus and started doing whatever took my fancy at the time. Feel like mining? Fire up the Retriever. Want to be a space trucker? Undock the space potato (Anshar/Obelisk). Need to prevent the Sansha from expanding its borders? Break out the Raven and smash some anomalies. The point is to try and avoid sacrificing fun for the sake of ISK and just play in the sandbox. I understand the "minerals are free" thing. People just like building things, even if it isn't the most efficient way to convert those mined minerals into ISK.

I'm fortunate that some of the activities I enjoy also yield absurd amounts of ISK, particularly the way I now play the markets. However, the point really is that I also do things that other people think are dumb. I do them because its fun. My most recent example is buying one of each bomb blueprint original and researching them to perfect ME/TE. That cost about 1.2 Billion isk in total (200M per BPO and then ~100M for perfect ME/TE on each). I'm also mining the ore, refining with almost no refining skills and then shipping the uncompressed minerals out to null sec with my JF in the spare cargo space I often have. I'm then going to build some bombs locally and keep a stock of minerals so that bomb types can be manufactured on demand. I can picture any industrialists out there cringing pretty badly as they read this. Why am I doing it? I'm doing it because part of me thinks it will be more fun to bomb people with home made bombs. So the next time you get bored grinding out ISK, or wonder why you aren't having fun in a videogame, remember that EVE is a sandbox. Sometimes it's more fun to eat the sand.