It's that time of the year, the sixth EVE-Online Alliance Tournament is now under way, and the matches from days One and Two are now posted up on the EVE-O forums. At the same time last year I was a complete and utter n00b and didn't know a tenth of the ships being used, let alone the modules and drones. All I could do was watch the slugfests happen and once in a while ask Letrange a question or three about the things I had no clue on. But this year , after almost a full year of PvP action under my belt I have a new appreciation of what EVE combat can offer, and the only things I'm still not fully up on are the logistics and ECM drones, as I very rarely see those in action. The major change since last year is the disappearance of the spider-tanking fits that made a few of last year's matches somewhat boring as two teams would just slam into each other and it would take until one of the primary target's tank would break to make something happen. It's still not a true picture of what EVE PvP is like, but having 2 fleets going around a constellation looking for each other and taking forever at it would be very bad and boring on the spectator side, so slugfest it is.
This year's different rules (which I will not go into because redundancy is bad; see EVE's main site for details) not only make the matches a lot more exciting, but also very unforgiving in the case of mis-fit, pilot error, or bad FC calls. Look up any of the matches that last under 5 minutes and you'll know what I mean. One thing I did not expect though is the importance of movement, and a good example was AAA's fielding of 9 Republic Fleet Stabbers and 1 Claymore fitted with speed and tracking links. Despite of what we call the "speed nerf" that happened with the arrival of the Quantum Rise expansion, speed can still be used as a combat tool in this game. I'm not quite ready to go back to training HACs to get into Vagabonds, mostly because of the cost of the skillbooks, ships, rigs and mods to make it viable in combat, but my recent successes flying interceptors or fast frigates is making me want to erase the "nerf" term and call it a rebalance.
Back to the recent matches, it was also interesting to see our usual 0.0 enemies fighting in the tourney (if a bit infuriating that Bozo is not >_<), namely Atlas Alliance, Agony Empire, White Core Alliance and B.L.A.C.K. Alliance. There are a few more that we come across in Curse but these four are the main ones. And of all four, only Agony has won its initial match fielding Vagabonds and a couple of Griffins, which died rather quickly. GF Agony, now please do the same in Curse and stop hugging stations FFS! Atlas's Ishtar+support gang didn't seem to work for too long against heavy volleys of missiles, and I have no clue what B.L.A.C.K.'s strategy was but one thing was sure: they were not concentrating fire power AT ALL! I wasn't on the field but from what I've seen I'm sure they should've done better with the fleet they had. I'm thinking that whoever was FCing did not have the other side targetted but who knows. And then there was White Core. To be honest, I've never been impressed by this alliance through my own experience dealing with them and against them. In the early summer when we were working with them and Goodfellas against TCF I remember a Bozo pilot losing a Thanatos carrier in a "rescue mission" blunder to an obscene number of dreadnoughts, carriers and battleships. Well the next day, I came home from work and logged in to a TCF station camp with about 30 of them in Local, and even knowing what had happened to the Thanatos, this White Core pilot (who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent) was asking someone to undock a cyno ship so he could jump in his Archon. Nice. Well, White Core's tourney match was, to remain polite, very short. a Trophy of Absolute Fail must be given to the Paladin pilot who fired 5 minutes before the match was to start. Neat. And though there was plenty of energy transfer going, the Dominixes crumpled like newspaper going into a fireplace. Again, I wasn't there but I'm sure the WC guys would love to have a rematch; well, tough noogies!
On my own little personnal side, Cozmik is now able to fly around all cloaked up and stuff as he now has the capability of Covert Ops ships. It will take a bit of tweaking to make me fly it right, and also some Cruise missile training to field my brand-spankin' new Hound stealth bomber. I've always said I wasn't exactly a fan of all things cloaky (and I'm being VERY polite...) but being a scout made the training of these a semi-important thing, and it will bring me this much closer to Recon ships. I will be bumping the Cov Ops skill to IV when I get back in game but my current long skill is finally Gallente Frigate V, so I'm getting closer and closer to that Taranis I seem to be obsessed with. The missile training I need for the bomber will also be useful for my Bozo-fit Drakes as well; I've already tried one out on belt rats, and where I may lack in firepower I make up in tank because I can literally laugh at 3 belt battleships and 3 cruisers! And once the shield support skills get better it should be even funnier against rats, but I will need a lot of practice flying that slow a ship in fleet combat.
And that's it for my update. I will be watching the tourney matches closely and post My Little Two Cents on them in the near future.
Until next time, fly hard and fast...