Sunday, 23 August 2015

Brave comms: AT match v Brothers in Arms [NSFW]

My highlight of our Alliance Tournament run was this excellently executed demolition of the Brothers in Arms tinker in our third game.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Alliance tournament: Captain's Report stardate 2015.08.20


What a week!

What a blast!

What a mindfuck!

Brave has now played two matches in the Alliance Tournament and we're a respectable one win, one loss.

And we're so pumped for the next weekend where we will play three matches, the first reasonably even, the next two against the odds.

So let me roll it back, last Captain's update was 5th August. We continued to work hard in practice and perform well against other teams. We knew we'd built a strong squad.

To give you an idea of how much work we've put in we use a points system to track practice. Either 1 or 2 points is awarded per practice session. The highest currently is 46 so that person has put in between 46 and 92 hours at practice. Several more are very close behind. Oh and the early practices weren't tracked so it's actually more than that.

At the other end our least practiced player has put in 2 hours but people around that level are considered almost unplayable because of the very organic and idiosyncratic way we FC. We sort of FC by committee but we know which info is for us and which isn't and when to just make our own decisions without listening to the others (but maybe tellling them). So it's very hard to come into cold, you need to know how we work to make sense of the babble. It's actually very effective for small gang - the person with the best perspective calls what needs to be done in a composition where we're all doing different things.

The first day of the tournament rolled round and we faced Easily Excited a competent tournament veteran who went 2 wins 2 losses last year. And we got slaughtered by bans. We'd underestimated the time needed to fit ships so our comps weren't ready - we were frantically fitting up an hour before the game. We had 2 armour comps and a tinker ready and they banned out guardian and oneiros. Oops!

Next our best Tengu logi pilot complained of being ddos-ed and announced he wouldn't be able to play. Holy crap.

We asked Tomiko to take the tengu and he was wonderful, allowing us to scrape through a very close match where the final whistle went 10 seconds before our opponent finally broke our ultra-tanky set-up. We all played well in this game but particularly Tomiko who had only practiced the ship two times with us and who flew the hardest ship in AT perfectly.

That put us on a high, but you know what they say about pride....

It comes before a fall and Sunday was a disaster. We played command ship juggling trying to work out our comps if Blue Ice, our main command ship pilot, was again unavailable because of internet problems. He came on by phone before the match and told us he couldn't get online so we had to work something out. We decided, under some time pressure, to use Shisuka who hadn't been able to practice with us because of work commitments but he did pretty well in an overall abyssmal performance.

I'm going to talk about my own performance. I was slow out of the blocks intially because I was really nervous about moving too early and getting a penalty so my dps arrived late on our primary target. I then bumped the target when I did get there, Approaching straight into him in a microwarping Vindi. That's a habit I have from frigate soloing where it doesn't matter, it matters a lot in battleship combat where you push the primary out of your colleagues' blaster range. Towards the end of the match I even burned out my top rack to set the seal on a terrible performance. In terms of FCing I insisted the support hang back early so we didn't feed cheap losses by support staying out of rep range but they stayed back too long because I never stated they should come in, leaving it to their own judgment. That caused the decision to come in to fall between the cracks as they were maybe waiting to be told and I was assuming they would seize the right moment. You know what they say about assumptions. In addition the Napoc was the wrong primary. We picked it because the Napocs started at 20 and the rest was at 50 but really we should have just thrown everything at the logi and offered the trade of logi ships if necessary. Cog's usually remarkably resilient in that logi when we all abandon him and we really needed the logi and scorpion dead asap.

Add to that the fact that several other usually excellent pilots also had stinkers and it's to the credit of the few who did pilot their ships properly that we made such a close-fought match of it.

Still at the end of the day we're Brave Newbies, we undocked and had a go and if we welped at least we tried.

And full credit to Phoebe Freeport Republic who played a superb game when it looked like they also fielded a comp that was a response to last minute calamities.

Monday we practiced but people were still really frustrated and it turned into a bitching session. Probably good to get it all out of people's systems.

Tuesday we practiced against a really good opponent and won three lost one. We piloted really well too.

Brave has found our mojo again, we have one more session before Saturday then we hope to bring a really strong game against Brothers in Arms.

If we win that one (and we're hoping too) we will most likely have a super tough match up against Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork captained by tournament expert Bei Artjay. It's another team we've practiced against and know well - that could be one of the best games of Sunday if we get there and if we play to our best.

If we survive our first two matches we play the loser of RONIN v Shadow Cartel. SC are another team we know from practice - they're a team we have beaten in practice but tbh they usually trounce us so if by some magic we make it that far we'll treat it like it's our final and throw everything at it.

Wish us luck, tune in to the CCP Stream this weekend and join Mumble where Extrems will be hosting a Brave AT party.

Brave's match times:

22nd STUDIO BROADCAST MATCH Brave v Brothers in Arms 1800

23rd STUDIO BROADCAST MATCH Brave (if we win) v Footwork or Drop the Hammer 1620

23rd STUDIO BROADCAST MATCH Brave (if we win) v loser of RONIN v Shadow Cartel 1920

If we somehow win all three clear your diaries for the weekend of 29th/30th where we could play as many as 11 matches (or as few as 1).

Lastly I want to talk about how accessible the Alliance Tournament is to people who are members of our alliance or who are thinking about joining.

When a mildir sent out his first mail everyone who said they wanted in got in and everyone who said they wanted to be captain (ie me) got captain. I did a second recruit and added a bunch more then a third recruit and added more people The only people who slipped through the cracks were people who expressed an interest but didn't really bother following it up when I was trying to get in touch with everyone.

We fielded players who mostly started playing in 2013 or 2014. At least two of the people who played on Sunday have under 20 million skill points - less than a year's worth. Our best logi pilot has 18 million skill points and is the first name on the teamsheet for most games (he can't fly a tengu though). If you are reading this now and are interested in the 2016 AT, AT XIV then plan your train so that you will be a really strong AT pilot - we're particularly likely to be short of command ship pilots who can kill things but ewar frigs, D3s, assault frigs and interceptors are all really useful.

Anyone in the alliance can be right at the heart of next year's AT team if you want to, a team we hope to see go further into the tournament than we are likely to (and we're planning to make the final weekend).

So if you want to be part of something amazing, if you want to put your pvp piloting skills under the microscope and learn to be a better player please think about joining the AT squad next time we recruit. In the meantime watch us this weekend (and inshallah the weekend after) and cheer until your cat thinks you've gone mad.

If you're not in Brave and are considering joining join channel Brave Newbies in game - at least 2 of my squad are usually in there working as BNI recruiters. Make sure you join us before May 2016 so that you're eligible to play in AT XIV!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

What I'm playing

Eve Online

Eve Online is number one of course, with the Alliance Tournament starting next week. I think I've pushed my guys as far as they'll go (at least most of them).

We've developed the squad to a good place, not great as there's still a lot of annoying misplays, but that's perhaps being hyper-critical. We should at least not embarass the alliance in our first AT outing and build a solid foundation for next year.

I'm not doing much else in Eve except waiting and preparing for the AT.

Magic: Duels

Magic: Duels is the newest variation of Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers, a slightly dumbed down version of Magic the Gathering. Unlike previous versions it's persistent and uses a Heartstone style free to play model and I have to say I'm loving it.

The free to play model is generous, so generous someone on reddit calculated you can grind the entire card set in 21 days. I wouldn't suggest doing that but I do recommend that you don't spend money if you're a reasonably competent Magic player. It's simply more fun opening the boosters which accrue at a generous rate if you have a poor card collection that gets significantly improved with new cards.

I started playing the Elves cards, Black and Green and my second booster had 3 elves in it. Awesome when things like that happen.

Magic: the Gathering Online

I'm also playing "big boys' Magic," MTGO. That seems to have absolutely slumped with regard to new players with the advent of the more generous Magic game.

It's going through an interesting transition. They've nixed the ability of extremely hardcore, extremely good players to farm everyone else for enough boosters to make a profit. The main difference is that instead of handing out boosters to the winners which can be sold for real money they will be handing out "player points" which can be used to enter more events. Naturally this has provoked howls of outrage from the more hardcore elements of the player base. It's great though for people struggling to break into the game.

Let me just explain that in more detail. MTGO is expensive unless you have an above average win rate. Since most people are average or close to it that means the above average are supported by the rest of us. If you have no job and can play all day and are really good you can achieve tremendous value from this. A 2 man events costs 2 "tix" (worth $2) to enter and currently pays 1 booster (costing $4 in the shop) to the winner. The daily event pays out more than the players put in as a sort of loss leader. The effect of this has been to concentrate both activity and rewards in the hands of ultra hardcore players who then flood the secondary market with their excess winnings, to such an extent that $4 boosters can be valued under $2 when resold to players because there's just so many of them being generated. However if they have value above $2 it's worth the hardcore high win rate people playing all day every day because they can generate real world income. I doubt many people consider this a full time job but for a college student living at home making $100 a week playing games all day would be pretty sweet.

It takes an enormous amount of casual players to support each such hardcore grinder. Essentially for him to make $100 a week there needs to be 20 casuals willing to lose $5 a week each.

However until the new system he won't get sellable boosters (mostly) he'll get player points, and there's no point spending every week grinding enough player points to enter events all day every day for 6 months.

Which means it will be easier to get opponents we can win against more often for everyone else.

I haven't done many of the events, I'm at about 50% win rate. I want to tune my skills and decks before I start seriously farming. I'm hoping the new system will help me with that. In any event I think it will probably take two years before I become a good Magic player because to be good you need to throughly know the card sets and the decks people netdeck.


The other game I'm playing super casually is Hearthstone, just doing dailies really. It's a good game but it feels eclipsed now by the new Magic: Duels for me.

Everquest 2

I tried Everquest 2, taking a Necromancer to level 10 or so on the new progression server. It was very fun but I really don't have time for 5 games at once. But a big thumbs up to Daybreak for breathing fresh life into this 2004 game.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Alliance tournament: Captain's Report stardate 2015.08.05

It's been a while since my last report but that's not for any lack of activity.

Our main preparation is practice. We aim for 8 practice sessions a week with 4 in EU time and 4 in US time. We've managed to hold these sessions most times although we've cancelled a few sessions due to sisi problems or due to low attendance. Our best attendance was 17, our worst 2, from a squad of about 30.

Practicing really helps as we've improved a lot from where we started. Boundary violations are rare, people are adjusting to small gang style.

In small gang, unlike in the big nullsec blob fleets, FCing is much looser, with multiple different people able to call instructions. For instance a battleship pilot might call that he needs something tackled for him. Each pilot has to continually assess the fight, the positions of the ships, manage a complicated array of active modules (and their overheating), and see who's in trouble while piloting his own ship (and not flying out of the arena).

I asked one of our newbros tonight to explain his piloting choices and decision making and he responded with a barrage of clever and innovative actions he had done in his frigate while making a big contribution to a game we won against a really strong practice partner (CVA). After he finished I was like wow -I don't understand everything you just said but I can tell that you really get it.

There's nothing better you can do in Eve to raise your game to the next level.

Tonight's session with CVA was pretty awesome in a number of ways. In one match we were behind on points until 2 seconds before the end when a ship exploded just as the end of the match was being counted down in Local. I'd been looking at my 85% burnt weapons trying to decide whether to squeeze out one more overheat cycle (in the end I decided not to). It's all about those constant little decision points.

Sid Meier said a good game is a series of interesting decisions.

Lots of admin stuff as people drop out, a wave of people got recruited in, finance, logistics, attendance tracking, aar analysis, theorycrafting. We're coming up fast on a thousand posts on our AT XIII subforums.

And soon everyone will be able to see what all this hard work has produced. Brave's first two matches are:

15.00 Sat 15th August: Brave Collective v Easily Excited.
15.00 Sun 16th August: Brave Collective v Clockwork Pineapple or Phoebe Freeport Republic

Watch us on Twitch!

Friday, 31 July 2015

[Podcast] Cap Stable 74 with Callduron and Oaa Rhaawii

The Brave Alliance Tournament team featured on another podcast this week:

Cap Stable Episode 74: The Quaternion of Q


 We were delighted to be part of their show and they asked us interesting questions.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

One day in the life of the Brave Collective.

A lot of people seem to be wondering how Brave is getting on. Have we collapsed completely after leaving sov? Are rumours of a resurgence arising from a return to the alliance's low sec origins true?

I'll tell you about yesterday's activities and let you decide.

18th July 2015

2015-07-18 00:36:16 A junior FC pings a Talwar roam.

2015-07-18 01:46:23 A FC calls for a Caracal fleet for a fight in Aunsou, our staging system.

2015-07-18 02:33:41 A FC calls for torp bombers for black ops hot drops.

2015-07-18 04:19:46 A FC randomly decides he'd like to visit the Eve Gate and pings for destroyers to go on a roam to there.

2015-07-18 12:25:16 A ping goes out for torp bombers. A corp has tackled a carrier and needs more dps.

2015-07-18 16:40:35 A cruiser fleet is called in Aunsou, led by a guest FC from NC., one of the top pvp alliances in the game.

 2015-07-18 18:00:52 (Tournament squad only) Our Alliance Tournament practice starts, a 2 hour training session where we play a number of other alliances on the test server. Squad members only (although the squad is currently recruiting a select few more pilots).

2015-07-18 20:31:09 POCO bash.

2015-07-18 21:04:15 A Dojo class teaching manual piloting with our AT squad, open to everyone. We got a number of people very new to the game. 5 members of the squad are there to help teach and I ran the class. 4 people won prizes, one person got horribly murdered by the MOA guys who decided to hunt us. Of the people who won prizes one won for making a pun that made me laugh, 3 won by managing a trial that had them hold scram on my Moa, while orbiting manually, while dodging my smartbombing as I tried to slingshot them while we were being probed down and hunted by hostiles!

2015-07-18 21:11:36 One of our senior FCs, Extrems pings for Talwars to fight in Aunsou.

2015-07-18 21:35:58 Time to ship up in Aunsou, Extrems pings for cruisers.

2015-07-18 22:25:17 Carrier tackled ping goes out, the cruiser fleet has found ludicrous amounts of content as half of low sec piles into our system for a massive punch-up.

2015-07-18 23:16:43 Things have quietened down in Aunsou. However an interesting glitch has occurred, giving FC Extrems the chance to mess up someone's night. Inties and fast attack frigates are called for a long range roam.

Here's a video of the fights that Extrems FCed in Aunsou:

In addition to all that we had corp stuff going on (my corp was involved in a Syndicate v the rest of the universe punch up over a Black Omega moon), I taught a newbro the basics of Jita station trading and we have our usual permanent defence fleet running with no FC and a fly whatever you want approach running in our home system (except when the big fights in Aunsou happened then everyone jumped across to get in the properly run fleet).


What did your alliance do yesterday?

(If it was boring join Brave Newbies if you want to talk to our recruiters or just fly down here to Aunsou and shoot someone).

Saturday, 18 July 2015

[Podcast] High Drag ep 54, featuring Callduron and Avaren Dias.

High Drag is always excellent and should be on your list without me needing to recommend it.

Still the last episode is of special note because I'm on it.

First time I've been on a podcast, was really good fun.