Secret Santa and Thera

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Suddenly Spaceships is doing Secret Santa this year and I've yet to buy my gifts! I guess this is a case of game mirrors reality, because I pretty much haven't done any shopping this year in real life either! Everyone wants gift cards from me this year, so maybe that's part of it. I can pick those up whenever.

For those of you who aren't familiar, Secret Santa is where you're given the name of another person and someone else has your name. You buy gifts for your person, trying to find out what they're interested in without them cluing in to the fact that you're fishing for gift ideas. Our organizer did a really good job getting it all prepared with a Google Form and everything!

I do know what I'm going to buy my person, I just have to make a trip to Jita and get it. I'm going to contract it through an alt so he doesn't know who gave it to him, although we don't really have a big reveal planned as you would in a real life game of Secret Santa. Still, it's fun!

Speaking of surprises, we're heading into Thera soon! Some of the guys have already moved in, and a bunch of us are coming later. We're just taking a little break here, basically, while we have no contracts during the holiday season. It should be a lot of fun. Lucia Denniard through down the proverbial gauntlet by linking me Thera's stats and pointing out that PIZZA was holding the lead in kills. Challenge accepted!

I'm doing a lot of CSM work already for my campaign, pounding the pavement and meeting new people. I'm working to introduce myself to as many people as possible who I think are interested in what I have to say. So far, nearly everyone seems to have come away impressed and has given me their support. I've a long way to go yet, but I'm feeling positive. I sincerely hope to be a great representative in CSM X and I look forward to being put to work and striving for a better future in EVE. I also really hope that if I'm elected CCP will be interested to talk about mercenaries, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it!

If I don't check in with the blog before December 25, I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Contract Recap: Sukanen Constellation Assault

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This was a really fun contract. It also reminded us, once again, why we hate large towers. Seriously, those things suck. This contract also ended in disaster, from an ISK standpoint, but we were able to pull it out of the hole due to fortuitous circumstances and quick reaction time.

This was our first major deployment for a contract since Phoebe. We had put a lot of thought into how we were going to move, obviously, but had never tested it on a large scale. The way we used to move was pretty simple: everyone in the alliance would put their ships into a hangar, naming their ships after their characters. Directors would then parcel out ships to carrier pilots and we'd begin the journey, jumping to one cyno, docking, and then undocking to jump the next one. We'd unload the carrier once we arrived and then make the return trip to load up again until all of the ships were moved out. We could typically make an entire deployment in one cyno cycle. We also had a pretty wide variety when it came to what we would deploy with. We didn't have to make a lot of sacrifices in deployment doctrines.

That's all gone now - and that's not a bad thing. I really like that we have to choose our tools for the contract carefully now. We've retooled our doctrines to hit harder with less ship, and it's awesome to see the results of a well-chosen fleet doctrine on a contract. And this move wasn't any more difficult, really, but it did take a lot longer; five hours to be exact. We basically logged in, jumped, logged out for an hour. It was relaxing. We do have a longer prep time to contracts now, which isn't a huge issue - we never had an emergency contract in the past, so I doubt that we'd face that now either.

Anyway, back to the contract! We were hired to remove a specific set of targets made up of POCOs and control towers in the area.  On top of that, we were to destroy the enemy at every opportunity as well. We moved out on December 3 and planned to initiate the contract on December 5. Some of our more enterprising members began causing havoc a little early, which we certainly didn't mind.

We took the first POCO of the contract down on December 5, but not without casualties. It was a really good fight. Both sides were holding on, logistics barely holding on. Our fleet didn't have enough DPS to kill their carrier before its triage cycle ended, and unfortunately we didn't have our capitals ready to move quickly enough to bring them in to finish it off. We were able to grab a few kills by switching targets and staying ahead of the reps, but Violent Declaration were able to bring in more and more ships to the fight to replace their losses. Eventually a tipping point was reached and we began to lose a few ships, so we began pulling range - all the while still trying to organize our capital fleet. The enemy fleet took this opportunity to disengage and leave the field.

That was the first of our major conflicts we had over the contract, and despite destroying nearly half of their fleet and only losing four ships, the price of our doctrines did not leave us with an ISK win. Regardless, we were able to continue through seven more POCOs in short order with minimal resistance.

After a break, the fleet continued with an eye on one of the control towers. Despite not being able to organize our capital fleet in time for the fight earlier, the break had given us more than enough time to get them on the field. Unfortunately, Buhddust Princess broke his own rule of only using dreads if you can kill the tower in one cycle. So during the second cycle, an enemy fleet began to land on us and Buhhdust begins the process of trying to get our dreads and carriers out alive. Unfortunately, due to a series of mistakes and miscommunication, we had some carriers jump out first which allowed two Aeon and one Hel supercarriers to kill two of our Archons and a Moros.

This was a huge blow to us. Noir. is not well versed in capital warfare, we've always been more of a guerrilla force, although we've always worked towards being in a position to use them effectively. With the merger of Suddenly Spaceships, we're finally in that position, but we do lack experience. We've put a lot of time practicing this though, and I'd be very surprised if something like this happened to us again.

We did get the tower and a POCO afterwards though.

Another notable event for this contract was a drive-by carrier kill. We actually snagged two carriers, both of which had just come from a resupply run. For whatever reason, they decided to fight with all of that material still in their cargo holds. This really helped us turn the killboard back around. It almost got away from us, but we were able to bump them off the station by acting quickly, and then securing them both with the Titan. Not only did it boost the killboard, but it really boosted morale. We hate finishing a contract successfully, but with poor numbers. And honestly, I'm still not terribly happy with our final result, but it could have been much, much worse.

Perhaps the largest fight of the contract was over the last objective: a large control tower. We had taken every other POCO and POS on our target list. During the reinforcement operation, we had multiple skirmishes on top of the POS, and man was that thing annoying. It was covered in neutralizers, scramblers, jams, and dampeners. Their POSgunner began to focus efforts, placing everything on one target and trying to coordinate the defense fleet to take it out while it was under enormous EWAR pressure. It didn't really work, except once. Alek was our FC at the time, and when he dropped we simply had another member of the fleet immediately take over without missing a beat. That's one of the best things about being in Noir., we have a pretty deep FC pool.

We reinforced the POS and began to prepare for the final showdown. We were certain that they'd bring another large fleet, similar to the reinforcement, and perhaps their supercapitals as well, which is what we truly wanted to happen. We tried baiting them out to no success, and in the end the contract targets chose not to fight and instead gave us the field and the POS and, for all intents and purposes, the contract.

We were technically hired for a week, so we did stay around for that time and picked up some more kills, including a fairly successful gatecamp.

Finally, we packed it all in and made the roughly five hour trip back home. We broke Noir.'s all-time record for highest contract pay in one week period, which was pretty awesome, and we had a lot of fun. Our contract targets were great sports and maintained a very friendly attitude throughout, and it was a pleasure fighting against them. I just hope we're not hired to hit many more large towers soon! We ended up with 279 contract kills and 9 losses, but our ISK efficiency was only 67% due to such expensive losses. But, live and learn!

CSM 10 Campaign

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Well, it's official! I've announced my candidacy for CSM 10 and I'm really looking forward to it. Last year, despite not being elected, I met a ton of cool people through the process. If nothing else, I sincerely hope I'll do the same this year.

I really like how the CSM has performed and been viewed by the community over the last couple of terms. It's not perfect, and perhaps never will be, but being a CSM member in this era is perhaps one of the best times for someone to truly help make EVE a better place.

And that's certainly what I intend to do: make EVE a better place. I want people to have an enjoyable time in our universe, no matter what their preferred method of play is. That's a tough goal, of course, but I think relying on the core, underlying principals of EVE, it can be achieved. Those tenants include giving players more reward for more risk, making them sacrifice one thing to gain another, and having players rely on others to accomplish grand ideas.

I've never been one of those doom-and-gloom types when it comes to EVE. Even during the dark years, I've seen the great parts of EVE. I do believe that EVE will be here in 10 years, and I plan on being a part of that. I plan on helping it remain the game we all know and love, but helping it grow, helping it mature.

Let me be your voice in that endeavor.

Contract Recap: Towers

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We're in an interesting place right now as an alliance. 

We deployed to a new home just before Phoebe like many other people, a place where we store our ships and deploy to contracts from. We've always had a home base like this, it's necessary as a mercenary group to have a warehouse, if you will, for all the ships you don't need for a particular contract. Historically, when we're off contract in our home system, we do a number of things: make ISK, keep our edge sharp with regular fleets, or just log off and recuperate from the last contract. This time it's a tad different.

Perhaps it's indicative of the mercenary life after Phoebe (although I hope not), but we've received a lot of contracts over the last few weeks. That's a good thing. They've all been POS related, which isn't a bad thing. The interesting thing is how quickly the turn around on them is. We've been hired the day of the POS timer more than once. Obviously for POS defense contracts there is always very little heads up, but it's a strange turn of pace from typically having larger, week-long contracts to having small, short (but surprisingly well paying) jobs each day.

I won't go over each one in detail, there are just too many of them, but I will say that so far we've successfully completed every contract that we've been given post-Phoebe. Success is always sweet.

I'm ready for a larger scale contract though. Those are what I love and play for the most. They get me logging in more than anything else (although I'm trying hard to change that), and they're what make the memories. I doubt I'll remember any of these POS contracts in detail in six months, even the ones that had good fights, but I'll always remember the Delve II contract, or the Of Sound Mind defense. 

Anyway, it's an interesting change for us. Activity is great, we're finding tons of fights, and we're able to utilize a lot of our new doctrines, most of which have me very giddy about. We also caught an Archon chilling on a novice plex yesterday. We let some neighborhood guys come in with destroyers to whore on it, which was fun. Who says mercenaries can't be diplomatic?

Contract Recap: Stay Frosty ABA Free For All

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Rixx Javix of the Stay Frosty corporation and A Band Apart alliance has put together a FFA many times now. The most recent hosting was, if I remember correctly, the eighth event. It's a great, free event where people of all ages can smash thousands of frigates together for prizes. New players even have special prize categories for them!

This year we were hired to act as bouncers for the event. Our job was to ensure that the rules were being followed by participants and keep ships out of the system that weren't allowed during certain times. I was incredibly excited about this contract - I love the unique ones - but I wasn't able to make it, unfortunately. The good news is I missed it because I was installing a new SSD and stabilizing my internet. So I've invited a fellow member of Noir. to write a short AAR of the event from his perspective.  Enjoy!

The Stay Frosty FFA is an event that allows pilots from all backgrounds to come and fight with frigates in a free-for-all setting. Free frigates were given out to all pilots taking part, the rules were only to use T1 frigates until 20:00, at which time the watershed would open to all frigates and destroyers. No links were to be used in system.

We loaded up a couple of carriers and lit cynos on the central station in the system. We decided that our armor doctrine with re-sebos and damps would be effective against anything larger than a T1 frigate entering system. Our drones would take care of any misbehaving frigates. We kept up three guardians at all times, we used a proteus to place our re-sebos on for instant tackle and a loki/ashimmu for webs. We noticed two link pilots, one in a tengu on one of the other stations and one astarte near a POS. We tried to kill both of these targets. The link astarte ducked back into it’s POS every time we tried to intercept it and the Tengu pilot docked.

Our main three areas of interest were the one gate into system which bordered a highsec system, the top belt (most of the action was going on here) and the central station. Alekseyev Karrde commanded the fleet initially until he had to break for a hockey game and other pilots took over in his absence, he returned nearer the end of the event. The pilots that were benefiting from the links were quickly identified as cheaters and were using ventures and destroyers to try to mop up kills mostly in the top belt. The majority of our time was spent pinging from gate, to station, to top belt in response to intel from FFA participants.

Here are some kills we got on the cheaters.


Midway through the event, two large cruiser gangs ended up coming into system. A mixture of Vexors, Hurricanes, Ruptures and quite a few other cruisers were scouted coming into the system when were were not on gate. We regrouped, added some frigate/cruiser support from the event organiser and headed back to the gate with the aim of taking out their logistics pilots first, and then holding as long as possible with our guardian pilots. We thought it was going to be a tight fight, however our opposition didn’t seem to agree. As soon as we landed on the gate, they had a little think, then decided that they were not going to aggress. They jumped out of the system with no losses. Some of our fleet members had suspect timers and we thought it best not to give chase and tank gate guns. Unfortunately one of our guardian pilots lemming’d through the gate with his criminal timer and was dispatched efficiently on the other side.

Throughout the fight there were some events. The most memorable of which were an Orca in the top belt, and 4-5 dominix’s, I recall a proteus as well. The FC called to ‘whore’ on the Orca with a neut or a scram, or one volley of ungrouped guns. One of our pilots seemed to have misinterpreted the order and put 14,000 damage into the capital ship, the FC (Buddhest Princess) found it pretty funny. Two more capitals were spotted in system, a rorqual (who was tractoring wrecks and salvaging) and a phoenix. Neither of which were bumpable.

Near the end of the event two smartbombing rokhs were scouted coming in and out of system when we were busy in the belt and on the station. We forced them both back out and caught one of them jumping in. We web/scrammed him and took him down.

One last highlight was an iteron mark V that was trying to bring in some more kestrels to fight with. We killed it as it was not a T1 frigate and was not permitted in system.

Finally, we killed a ton of frigates that were either not abiding by the rules, or were dumb enough to plink away at a fleet of sacrileges with guardian support. It appeared that some people had not gotten the memo that we were there to protect them from cheaters and to keep the frigate free-for-all ‘wholesome and fun’.

The clock struck 22:00, the event ended and we warped to station to murder everything, because why not? After 15-20 minutes of solid murdering, we decided to leave system, packed our stuff into carriers and travel-ceptor’d back home.

This was one of the more interesting contracts I’ve experienced whilst in Noir. and I’m very glad I was available to come on the op.

What You Do Doesn't Matter

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You've probably heard this before from the forums or Reddit or maybe even in game: you're irrelevant. Irrelevant. They mean by this, of course, that you're below them, your game play is not as meaningful or perhaps historical as theirs.

What does that even mean? Well, according to Google it means, "not connected with or relevant to something." Interesting. So, to be relevant you have to be connected with something else, and that your relevance is only based on that connection.

It's interesting because EVE and its players absolutely love the idea of the underdog. Many of us profess to playing the game because we heard about the possibilities that a player can actually have on the long-term history and even daily life of the game. Many of you have probably watched this many times before, but let me reintroduce one of the most popular EVE trailers of all time: The Butterfly Effect.

This trailer is so endearing to us as EVE players because we want that scenario to happen. This was such a clever marketing tool because it plays on our natural desires.

So why is it then that the term "irrelevant" is thrown around at anyone who isn't part of the super coalitions? It seems a strange dichotomy that so many people get into EVE because of its possibilities but then mock those who don't fall into line with someone else's dream?

As a member of Noir. I hear this all the time. Pretty much everyone has heard of us; we're very well known. But people always say we're irrelevant, that nothing we do matters. After all, how can any of our activities matter when they don't play into the grand political structure of the metagame?

The truth is, not only do our actions have meaning and consequence, so do the people we work for and those who we've never encountered. We just finished a contract lasting four months where our employer was beleaguered and tired of having to fight their local enemies. As players, they weren't interested in PvP, and hiring us allowed them to enjoy the game in the way that matters to them as well as dabble in PvP under our direction.

We've taken POS defenses and takedowns in the last day or two. Our presence isn't tipping the balance against the large coalitions, but it is providing content for the people involved.  This isn't to beat our own drum either. My point is that EVE is not a game that revolves around the large powers. It's about the individual, the little guy. It's a story of doing it yourself, against the odds - because make no mistake, simply not giving up on this game is against the odds.

Our focus on what is and isn't relevant is skewed. One isn't irrelevant simply because they're not related to you. Everything we do in EVE is relevant because it's related to EVE. Everyone loves good trash talk, especially in EVE, but calling someone else irrelevant is about as weak as it gets. Let's step our game up here. Irrelevance is something to be reserved for those who no longer play the game. It's worth remembering that everything you do in EVE has relevance, at least to someone.

Contract Recap: Outer Ring

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Contract Type: Regional Assault/Pipe Camp
Target: Outer Ring, 4C-B7X and nearby pipes
Duration: Four Weeks

It's been a long time since we've done one of these. You could consider our assault of CFC controlled space in the NW (Cloud Ring, Branch, Fade, Deklein, and Pure Blind) in the same category, but we approached it differently utilizing BLOPs whereas with this Outer Ring contract we wanted to brawl. Good times.

We were hired by a group of PvE players. They had been tussling with the locals for quite a while and it was wearing them down. We had three objectives. I'll paraphrase from our contract announcement thread:

  1. If it's not blue, it doesn't get in or out. We're talking locking these pipe down with extreme prejudiced All our focus will be on a few system so put scouts down the pipe, set bubbles up, etc. and camp away. If it's too big and we need to run that's cool but also feel free to setup bomb runs to get kills off those fleets too.
  2. The non-blue locals in the area are aapparentlyvery annoying and need to die. They use hit + run shield with lots of tacticals so combat probing their tacs to pick off kills will be very in demand. They may also try and attack employer assets, resulting in exposed small BS and cap fleets. We're not responsible for defending the assets but we should use those opportunities to get good kills and fights.
  3. Open our fleets to interested employer pilots. While most of their forces are taking a break, those that stay need content and we will provide that for them, provided they observe our rules in fleets.

So off we go with those three things in mind. We arrive, set up shop and immediately begin. Within the first two days the hostiles in the surrounding area of 4C- had taken down their towers and moved out. Within two weeks we had basically shut down all traffic in the contract area. It was getting incredibly boring, frankly. That's the curse of doing a job right. You can look at

Nevertheless, we kept setting up bubbles and catching the stray person who would come through. We'd roam outside of the contract area trying to pull enemies back in to fight, but they were pretty good about stopping just outside our area of engagement.

During this first week of low activity, we began attacking POCOs and POSes in an attempt to draw fights out. This was pretty unsuccessful at first. The hostiles were just happy to let us have them. The boredom continued.

Right around two weeks in, the local hostiles began to pick up in activity but primarily focused on station games. Sitting on the other side of the undock in Tornadoes, that type of thing. We did manage to lose a few things in an attempt to draw out their carriers that we knew they had in station, but nothing expensive. This confirmed once again that we're terrible at (and hate) station games.

Three weeks in and things start to really pick up though. Hostiles began reinforcing our employer's POCOs in NM-OEA. I FC a fleet to defend these once to pretty good success. Hostile forces in the area are calling in reinforcements from RAZOR and Fatal Ascension. That's fun.

This type of thing happens a few more times; POCOs are reinforced, we defend. Typically there are no more enemy forces showing up to try and finish the POCOs off though. They're repaired with no problems and the cycle is repeated a few days later.

Our contract is winding down by this point and while the contract is definitely a resounding success, our employer isn't happy. Not with our performance, but rather that we're leaving. They offer us a contract for another month, but we're not interested. It was fun, but there are two main reasons for this decline:

  1. The longer we stay, the more the content is drying up. We don't want bored pilots any more than the next guy. We can deal with short term bursts due to a good contract performance, but a long-term situation like that is not good.
  2. Phoebe. We don't want to be stranded that far away from most of our assets after the changes. 
So we pack up, job well done, and head home. Once again I wasn't able to play as often as I would have liked. Perhaps it's time I accept the fact that I'm older and have more responsibilities, but I want to pound out 3-4 hours a night again! We'll see. Maybe again soon.

We ended the contract with 87.23% efficiency with 299 kills and 36 losses. That's not bad, but more importantly this was our first real contract as a new alliance. There were and still are some growing pains, and while I don't want to speak for Noir. officially, I can say that there is definitely a general positive feeling about the merger. 

We've got our next contract lined up and it's going to be a ton of fun! You should participate. Just follow the rules or you'll deal with us!