Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

I got a message from someone Saturday morning, asking when I was going to write another post about Providence.

“I’m not,” I wrote back. “I’m pretty much done with Providence. Providence has become dull and predictable. It’s the New Jersey of nullsec. There’s nothing interesting going on in Providence.”

An hour later Ushra'khan (U'K) was disbanded.


For those of you who need a bit of catch-up, it seems a Hydra Reloaded mole spent about a year infiltrating U’K and working his way up the alliance hierarchy to chief diplomat. The administrative authority associated with that position allowed him to a kick out all U’K corps and pillage the alliance accounts and hangers. Enemies of U’K were given access to U’K stations and structures.

Now, strictly speaking, U’K was not “disbanded”. There are about 90 New U’K pilots still flying under the U’K logo; with 80 of those occupying the alliance’s executor corp. U’K systems and stations are still in place and under the control of New U’K. I prefer to think of this event as the U’K Purge (or UP for short). 

To avoid confusion and keep the players in this little drama straight, I refer to U’K members and corporations who were kicked from the alliance during the hostile takeover as “Classic U’K”. U’K members and corporations presently flying the U’K flag post-takeover I refer to as New U’K.

Classic U’K pilots and corporations have called in help from the rest of the New Providence Holders (NPH) coalition and Against All Authorities (AAA). Classic U'K elements are presently attempting to a) regroup into a new alliance and b) take back their Providence holdings from New U’K. Pending stand-up of a new alliance, a number of Classic U’K corporations have joined Circle of Two (CO2), while others like Griefer-Be-Gone and The Littlest Hobos have chosen to mark time as stand-alone corporations. 

CVA partisans, as is their wont, began Saturday by pre-emptively declaring victory and speculating as to how long it would take to scour Providence of the NPH.

However rather than waiting for CVA and Hydra to make the first move, Classic U’K pilots and NPH alliances quickly organized and were first on offense. Based on where major actions are occurring, the NPH objective appears to be not only retaking U’K systems and stations, but eliminating CVA sovereignty from any systems in Providence and turning them into a full-time lowsec alliance.

The fighting to date has been bitter, with neither side apparently able to take and hold the momentum.

NPH attempts to take systems have been blunted by the presence of a Razor alliance armored HAC fleet fighting for the Hydra/CVA coalition. The Razor players have been going after NPH fleets besieging sovereignty structures. Such fleets, configured for maximum DPS rather than pvp, have been easy targets for the Razor HACs and have taken a flensing.

Meanwhile, the Hydra/CVA coalition took a turn on offence and attempted to take the two Providence gateway systems R3-K7K and N8XA-L. If you look at a map of Providence, you’ll see that taking those systems would have given Hydra/CVA an unbroken string of systems running through the 04-H4M constellation – effectively controlling access to Providence by way of Misaba.

NPH and Classic U’K were able to gather a fleet, relieve the besieged sovereignty unit and destroy the Hydra/CVA sovereignty blockade units.

To date, little real estate has changed hands. The NPH has taken CVA system TU-RI6 and the New U’K system 4B-NQN. However those appear to have been targets of opportunity, lost to defensive indifference.

NPH and Classic U’K appear to remain solidly united and seem resolved to drive the interlopers from their territory. If they can find a means of countering the Razor HAC fleet they should be able to put the Hydra/CVA forces back on their heels. Classic U’K appears to be reorganizing on the fly and I’d say have a good change of reconstituting their alliance under a new name.

Meanwhile the Hydra/CVA side appears to be hoping for a replay of BOB’s demise, in which a vast horde of alliances, motivated by anti-BOB feelings and/or the draw of easy loot gobbled up Delve while BOB attempted to simultaneously reconstitute itself and defend.

If Hydra/CVA can keep a running fight in Providence going long enough, and the state of play elsewhere in EVE gets dull enough, bored pilots may wander down to Providence for a bit of pewpew drama. That could put additional pressure on the NPH and strain their coalition.

So far, the NPH’s luck is holding and they’ve refused to play BOB to Hydra/CVA’s GoonSwarm. The Classic U’K network of friends and allies has held fast and the horde of external invaders has not appeared. However, the clock is running. The presence of good Sov warfare fights in Providence is drawing attention. NPH needs to keep the combat tempo brisk and start taking systems if they’re going to discourage new actors who might tip the balance of power from entering onto the Providence stage.

Some bloggers have commented on the delight the EVE community at large seems to have taken over the U’K Purge; finding it out of proportion with the situation. Classic U’K is only a middling alliance and, while prone to the odd act of arrogance, is a far cry from BOB or GoonSwarm. CVA and Hydra are hardly champions of sweetness and light. Why, then, all the cheers and jeers over an event that has more to do with weakness in alliance management software mechanics than weakness in the U’K alliance itself. 

The answer, in a word, is shadenfreude.

Delight in the misfortune of others looms large in the collective EVE psyche. Like many other behaviors we try to repress in real life, many players give shadenfreude free reign when protected by the anonymity of EVE. Hulkageddon is, in effect, shadenfreude as spectator sport. For good or ill, the misfortune of others pricks the pleasure center of a lot of EVE players.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Barbarians at the Gates

I love the sovereignty changes that accompanied the Dominion, probably for the reasons many of the alliances that previously held systems in nullsec hate it.

See, the new sov rules do two major things:

First of all, it makes in-game sovereignty behave a bit more like real-life sovereignty. 

As I’ve written previously , the new rules require that you actively defend your systems with fleets. Attackers no longer have to deploy a capital fleet big enough to grind their way through a defender’s collection of POS and drop POS of their own in order to take a system. Defenders can no longer refuse to engage attackers – defending space and slowing the attackers simply by deploying more POS.

Under the old system, taking even undefended space was a tedious and resource intensive exercise. A number of nullsec veterans have complained that, under Dominion sov rules, taking systems is too easy; all the attackers need is a fleet big enough to overwhelm whatever fleet the system owner can quickly bring to bear for defense.

Well…yes. And I’d say that’s a good thing, because it’s much closer to how such things work in real life.

I mean, if a barbarian horde comes over your borders and you won’t or can’t field a force to turn them back, you’ve no one to blame but yourself when they start drinking your tea, eating cake off the good china and leaving the toilet seats up. 

“Hey, nice bit of real estate,” they’ll say “Good pig country. And there’s nobody using it. I think we’ll stay.”  Next thing you know, the locals are calling the lead barbarian “Your Highness”.

Like nature, the Dominion sov rules abhor a vacuum. And that changes everything.

If an empty constellation on the borders of your sphere of influence is going to fill up with smelly barbarian noobs in tar-paper shacks the first time your back is turned, you’ve got to fill it pre-emptively. You’ve got to drop in someone who will:

a)    Stay put while you’re off war-lording
b)    Act as a buffer between your systems and inbound barbarian hordes or magazine salesmen
c)    Keep their grubby mitts of your stuff (systems, stations, loots, et al) and
d)    Pay all sovereignty related expenses

In other words, you need vassals. Or in Eve-speak, you need pets. The more space you’ve got, the more vassals you need. Not only do you need vassals, you need vassals you can trust, because under the Dominion sov rules your interstellar empire can evaporate very quickly. If a vassal turns on you at the wrong time, or abandons your frontier for a better offer, you could find yourself cadging drinks in a lowsec bar in no time at all.

Don’t have any vassals? Guess you’d better put your schmoozing pants on recruit some.  Find some respectable low-sec pvp corps. Wine them and dine them. Fill their heads with tails of untold power and riches. Offer them a home in nullsec under your protection.

There is a second change occurring in New Eden that’s going to add new residents to nullsec. It has to do with nullsec economics under the combined influence of Dominion sovereignty rules and Tyrannis.

There is an invasion underway. These are the true barbarians, the true threat to the old order. Not only are they at the gate, the lords of nullsec are inviting them in. They look so benign, so harmless. But keep that night-light on, for they will change the face of nullsec forever.

Prepare for ….


Monday, July 19, 2010

Vox Populi


Across the vast landscape of EVE forums and the lofty heights of the EVE blogosphere, I hear your rage; a rising tide of discontent that breaks like unto a mighty storm upon the rocky shoals of Reykjavik.

CCP has vexed you, vexed you full sore. Your grievances are many and though you cried out to CCP for relief, they gave you none.

Therefore, you sent forth the Council of Stellar Management – mighty champions chosen from among the capsuleers. Across the sea’s broad back, to Reykjavik, you sent them; there to shake the foundations of CCP and let them know the perils of ignoring their subscribers.

Alas, for you! Stellar Managers manage naught. Though they spoke with the voice of many, they had no power to bend CCP to their will. There was much nodding of heads among the CCP lords, and though their software artisans wept copious tears at your plight, all their minds were turned unto Incarna and Dust514.

The Stellar Managers returned from Reykjavik, across the wine-dark seas, their hands as empty as when they parted. And you set your wrath against them now, as well as CCP.

Then you waxed wroth, saying:
Knoweth thou not who is boss, oh lofty CCP?

Verily, unto you we pay our monthly tithe. And verily, you take our tithe and squander it upon cook-outs, beer and first person shooters.

Who dost thou think thou art, anyway?  My tithe pays for thy services, wherefore you work for me.

Vex me no further then, lest I rage-quit, taking my tithe with me and leaving you, your minions and your families to suffer in squalor and penury.
And CCP, in its wisdom, made no answer. For all their vast fortunes are wagered upon Incarna, and all New Eden with it. The die is cast. The bridge is burnt. The Rubicon is crossed and there is no return. ‘Pon such scales, the tithes of a few capsuleers weigh little. Such truths are best left unspoken.

Rage on, therefore, if you must. Alas for you! It will change little, but it will make you feel better. The voice of the people should be heard, even when it does not persuade.  But cast thou not stones against the Council of Stellar Management, for thou wouldst not have done better.

If thou must rage-quit for thine honor’s sake, go then with the gods at thy back. And forget not to transfer unto me all your liquid assets before you go.

Otherwise, abide and endure, happily podding thy neighbors as thou wouldst be podded. For even with its flaws New Eden is a paradise compared to World of Warcraft. Or Star Trek Online.

In sooth, where you gonna go?

Thus endeth the lesson.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fiddler´s Note

I´ve gone planetside for a week. Taking a break from scrapping with pirates and breathing canned air. So I´m on a tropical island soaking up the sun, drinking beer and watching the World Cup. I´ll post pictures when I break atmo and get station-side again.

Meanwhile, CVA´s slow motion failscade continues with their membership count drooping to around 850, thanks in part to two corporations heading for the door. Until CVA finds a way to make being prey for New Providence Holder hunting gangs fun (or they go into acute failscade), expect this to continue.

CVA´s latest allies, Opticon Alliance, is faring no better that CVA´s earlier friends(such as Paxton Federation). They´re down to two systems remaining from their original constellaton grant from AAA.

And with that, my friends, there´s an attractive lady holding a beer beckoning ol´Mord over to her table.
Gotta go.