Without a doubt, this past year has been a challenging one. I won’t try to attach some greater significance to our struggles as a corporation with the greater game of EVE. Building and running a successful EVE corporation is hard. It is uncommon to find an unwavering dedication from other players that lasts for the years and years that EVE timelines are built on. When you do find those people, you should hold onto them with all that is possible. Where I find myself now with our little corporation is being left with only those truly dedicated but without the overwhelming passion of my own to start it all over once again.
This is where I found myself not so long ago. Struggling with what to do in EVE with the corporation I have made and been a part of for over 6 years now. It has been hard considering the various options but ultimately I have decided to return to the roots of why i fell in love with wormhole space and hope that those remaining in the corporation will continue to join me in the adventure.
I don't want to speak too much here about these plans yet. I will have more to say soon as things unfold. I will say that I am not writing the final chapter of Star Explorers. Perhaps the best is yet to come.
It has been some time since my last post. Our corporation has undergone that which most wormhole corporations dread at some point in their existence, an eviction.
Here be Russians
It was early in December when we were beset upon by a hostile Raitaru in our home system, Frank, and our structures being attacked. This was not a corporation looking for content. All told, we found ourselves under siege by a 70 man fleet of Russian origin from a variety of corporations using a mix of about 40 Rattlesnakes and 30 Basilisks for logistics.
While our member count was well over 200, our true body count, as we would come to find afterwards when purging our ranks, was well under 50. And this would include people who were out of the hole, on break, or otherwise unavailable. I, myself, was driving across two states at the time this all went down. The situation looked bleak and did not improve as the days wore on. While we had contacts with some larger wormhole groups who had no love for our Russian attackers, our enemy had 24x7 coverage and gave us almost no opportunity to bring in reinforcements by keeping excellent hole control.
It is hard to admit when you are beaten before you even have a chance to fight but that is where we found ourselves. Outnumbered, outgunned, and trapped inside our burning home, we had few options available to us that didn't involve just whelping ships into an overwhelming force. We did manage a few small victories such as killing an enemy Rattlesnake with our 2nd Astrahus when they were attacking with a less than ideal force. We were also able to log off/evacuate many ships to limit what we self destructed prior to the hull timers. As expected though, our Astrahus, which had been anchored for years and was filled with many ex-members hangers, still provided a decent loot pinata for our attackers.
In the end, all was lost and while our attackers showed no interest in sticking around (we even were able to take their unanchored Raitaru in the end), we also felt that it would be better for our sanity to seek a new home.
To Sansha we will go
For some time, I had my 4th account alt sitting in the Sansha Shattered wormhole that was a C4 Pulsar with C1/C2+HS connections. I had dreams of running the wide range of PvE sites there but never really got around to using him. After some consideration, knowing that we needed to find a new C4 home, finding a C2 with C4 static was going to be our best way to do that short of buying our way in as we had so many years ago to Frank. Having a system with a C2 static was going to be the best way to do this.
After regrouping in high-sec, we moved our rag-tag group into the Sansha hole feeling a bit lost like Battlestar Galactica. It didn't take us long, however, through rolling of the C2 static, to come across a C4/C2+HS that had a freeported Astrahus in it. Interesting. We quickly jumped at the option, anchored a Raitaru of our own, and docked up. Of course, this didn't go over very well initially with the locals who we learned were mostly using the system for PI. After a brief conversation about our recent eviction, the owner of the Astrahus re-opened his doors while our structure anchored and we set to rolling the C4 connection looking for a replacement home, a C4 with C3+C5 statics. Ironally, in true EVE fashion, through all that rolling we did end up jumping into our old C2 home from many years ago. It felt like a true sign from Bob.
Finding a C4 proved to take a bit longer, but before Christmas, we had already found a system, removed the existing structures (which were abandoned), and anchored our own Astrahus again. Our new home we dubbed "Floyd" due to the lovely pink star that it had.
Invasion Two: Electric Boogaloo
Fast forward two months of regrouping to this week and after having performed a successful anchoring of a Raitaru and Athanor to enjoy all the benefits of our home, we woke up again to find a structure anchoring in our system and a POS where one was not before. We were being invaded...AGAIN!
This time it was a Polish/Czech corp of much smaller numbers. Having learned some things from our previous eviction but still not feeling as prepared as we would like to be, we quickly set to testing our invaders control. Not only were we able to roll a hole with them in system (though we did lose one roller), we were ecstatic to find that Bob had blessed us with an outbound frigate hole to a C3 system. We knew that this could be the key to getting friends inside and sent a scout in to find the way. While this was happening, our invaders were using a different wormhole chain to bring in some things but did not seem as organized or forceful as our previous opponents. Then suddently, a new wormhole rolled into us and very quickly my scout observed two Hole Control scouts enter the system. I knew that this was going to end badly for our new invading friends if we could get the two groups together. Having had some less than ideal interactions with Hole Control before, I was reluctant to just point and say "Go get them! We're being invaded", but I didn't have to do much of anything before a slew of Damnations and other ships from Hole Control came pouring into Frank.
During this time we had been talking with some friendly corps again about getting a little assistance with our defense. Two were gearing up to help. One had some closer contact with Hole Control and was getting information to them. Hole Control had engaged in a fight with losses on both sides but agreed to keep the chain open to bring in a scout from our friend. This was very appreciated from our side but just the attack itself seemed to leave our invaders on their heels. They were far less active for the next few hours as we approached later EU and then US timezones and our members were able to be online.
We were able to get a fleet from our other friends in through the open chains our invaders left and reinforced their POS with a timer that came up at 4am US Central. Not ideal for anyone but a step in the right direction. This show of force and then the subsequent destruction of the POS without any real resistance, alarm clocked by our team and a few of our friends, turned the tide and what few people remained from our invaders either self destructed or had logged off and did not show up to contest the Astrahus anchoring later in the day.
So big thanks to our two wormhole friends that came to our aid this time. We will never forget the assistance. And to all the members of Star Explorers, we may not be good at much, but we fucking tried...and won!
When the alliance tournament rolled around, I slapped together a quick video celebrating our corporation's four years in wormhole space. I was pleasantly surprised when it also ran during this year's EVE Vegas, even being prominently featured after the CCP Presents session. But even after having spent four years running a wormhole corporation, I still managed to have a "first" this weekend.
Having a bit of unexpected time to play on a Sunday afternoon, I was keeping eyes on a wormhole in our system connected to our C5 static which I had previously scouted down the chain. Nothing much came of it and I decided to get a few Valkyrie sessions in as I was still in the Proving Grounds and wanted to graduate to the real matchmaking. After a couple successful flights, I got the XP I needed and was looking through the rewards I had received when the static wormhole sound greeted my ear and I saw a Megathron appear where my cloaked scout was watching and proceed to reenter the static. A rolling megathron. Excellent.
I have long since wanted to execute a command destroyer micro jump of a rolling battleship. The few times I had tried, the target either micro jumped themselves away or made it back to the wormhole successfully and warped off. Not to be deterred, once the megathron had returned to his side of the hole, I reshiped my scout into my Pontifex and returned to await his eventual return. I alerted any members online what was going on and shut down Valkyrie to get my main into a Rattlesnake I had recently refit for some "in your face" PvP.
It wasn't long before I was rewarded with the wormhole sound again and, while the pilot held cloak for as long as he could, once he appeared 11km from me sitting on the hole, I knew I had a good chance. I headed straight for him, waited a second because the timing on the jump had to be close to perfect, and hit my jump drive. I was rewarded with the jump animation and our position changed to 88km from the hole. Quickly I scrammed the target and called for DPS as he began neuting me hard. After losing scram numerous times to only get it back quickly, I remembered that I had a NOS on my Pontifex for this very reason and applied it, keeping tackle. By then, my main had landed applying Rattlesnake DPS and two other corp members managed to get in on the action.
There's something to be said for being able to have a new experience in a tried and true environment even for a many year veteran such as myself. While I'm likely behind many other players in their use of the jump drive, it was an exciting moment, as it usually is in EVE, to have a plan come to fruition and work successfully.
Many months ago, I contemplated what to do with some of my earnings from my industrial efforts which continue from my previous postings. While I have not expanded my industry alt army beyond the levels I've been operating at, they continue to produce profits that keep my accounts subscribed and the wallet increasing. The common advice is to invest in PLEX and given the PLEX market response to the split and merger with Aurum, that was probably excellent advice. I, however, have never been one to see PLEX as a place to store my liquid ISK despite this upward trend. I decided to take a chance and after the announcements of Fanfest, I dropped some of my liquid ISK into a stockpile of Bhaalgorns. My thoughts were that no matter what the changes CCP might make to the pirate battleship production or rarity, they had nowhere to go but up.
This week, my speculation was rewarded though not directly to me with ISK profit...yet. CCP announced a pair of changes to pirate battleships both to increase their raw material costs but also reduce their availability by two methods. First, to reduce the drop rates of the blueprints and second to reduce the frequency of the escalations they drop from. Immediately, speculators jumped on the ship market and the cost almost tripled in the trade hubs. Given the popularity of these ships and what is certainly a huge stockpile of hulls and blueprints, the price quickly began falling, settling in now at around 430M ISK for a Bhaalgorn up from the 250M where it had been sitting for quite some time. Without any hard numbers on what the material changes will be or any direct impact to drop rates yet, it remains to be seen what the true value of the ship will be in the months to come. It is likely to take a considerable time for the stockpiles to deplete. But, I'm patient and have some idea of a target profit that I would like to make and hopefully walk away with a good return on my speculative buys.
But this change to the meta was not the only one that CCP dropped leading up to the June patch next week. They also announced major changes to fighters in an attempt to curtail what they called unsustainable ISK faucets. This was directly aimed at carrier and supercarrier ratting but also affects their use in PvP as well as the fighter defenses of citadels.
The response to this, as seen by the number of pages of responses on the forum post as well as the repeated posts on Reddit, has been met with significant rage from players who feel their efforts are being thrown out in the name of CCP greed. It is amazing to me the number of players who admit to spending hundreds of real life dollars, some monthly, to play EVE. As someone who has played now continuously for almost 4 years, I have yet to drop any real money on EVE other than my first month subscription. I have watched the cost of a month of game time go from 400M ISK to 1.3B ISK in that time and yet I continue to adapt my game to support two, three, and now four accounts despite that 3x increase in cost. I will freely admit that I am not the most active EVE player, as evidenced by the 19 days since my last kill. I am also therefore not spending the most ISK in game but I'm also not in a position to make the most ISK yet I have enough liquid wealth to make a considerable speculative investment. How players who have access to carrier ratting struggle to make ISK, or are so negatively impacted by this nerf, is beyond my comprehension.
The rage of players also focuses on the most shallow and obvious part of the change without taking any consideration for the larger more nuanced effect that these changes are likely to have on the EVE markets. Those days where 400M ISK subscriptions were a thing were also days where C5 wormhole data sites dropped easily 400M ISK of loot and null-sec anomalies dropped deadspace loot worth that or more. Today, over supply of these items has dropped the value of these sites, in terms of loot, to half or a quarter of their value. What so many people fail to grasp is that the pirate battleship changes to reduce escalation frequency will have a direct impact on the availability of deadspace modules. On top of this, CCP is seriously curtailing the speed at which carriers and supercarriers can clear anomalies and generate escalations. While many decry the AFK VNI as a greater threat, I can only assume that, as usual, they have more data and insight than us, as players, into the ratting income by ship class to know that those two classes are out of balance with the rest of the game. Reduced escalation frequency and reduced escalation generation should have a long term effect of decreasing the availability of deadspace modules resulting in an increase in value and thereby an increase in site value to the players even while their bounties per site are reduced. From CCPs perspective, this turns down the faucet while maintaining player wealth.
Will players respond by moving into the next best ISK/hr generation? Probably. Will this fix all the ISK faucet issues in the EVE economy? Probably not. But it doesn't take much effort to see that lower bounties and scarcer supply of deadspace loot are both good changes for the game as a whole.
We see this time and time again with wormhole space and the value of melted nanoribbon salvage. The easier a site is to farm, the higher the blue loot faucet is and the lower the nanoribbon value is. This affects many levels of wspace due to how our loot and salvage is distributed. There is a tight relationship between the two that is difficult to balance. I'm glad to see that as part of the July changes to Tech 3 cruisers, CCP will be implementing some new faction materials sourced in wspace to add some more variables to our resource gathering options. It is hard to speculate on what form that will take or how they will be collected. I hope that they link this material into the Relic and Data Site loot tables for wormhole combat sites. These sites are woefully undervalued and used only as combat anomalies with higher payout. The actual loot that drops currently has low value because of the availability of the materials. It would be nice to see those drops adjusted to account for increased site running and then the new materials added to the drop tables making them compelling content to run. Given that the materials currently dropping are used in T3 invention, this could also have a positive effect by raising the cost of T3s in general if the drops were split between the new materials and old.
On top of all this are pending changes to moon mining and a winter expansion that will affect empire space. Not many details yet on what that expansion might be. As a wormholer, it is a little disappointing that both of the major changes at the end of this year will not directly affect us. As an EVE player, I can only hope that they start to put some of these complaints to rest and show a more complete picture of what CCP is aiming for with these changes.
As Fanfest unfurls, my thoughts turn to the year ahead but also looking back on where things have gone in the corporation and for both I can say I'm very optimistic.
The past 6 months or so, we've seen some excellent corporation growth. Some of this is renewed focus on recruitment, others may be word of mouth, and certainly some I think can be attributed to Ascension, alpha clones, and an increase in the general player base of EVE. Star Explorers has grown from just under 100 characters in November of 2016 to 170 today. While not a one to one correlation between characters and bodies, it has been a great growth trend. The corporation is more active that it has been with us engaging in more varied and challenging content. This is not to say that we are at a place where we feel we are winning more than losing engagements, but it is a constant effort with progress to improve.
We also were able to put up our own in game advertisement that is now running on the screens across New Eden. Not professional quality but I thought it was a great first attempt. The process with CCP was actually very straightforward with a couple rounds of back and forth with edits suggested by them to match the guidelines. Overall I've been very happy with it and we've even gotten a recruit who specifically said they were interested from the ad.
In addition to our own in game video, we also recently had the (mis)fortune of being featured in a PVP video of our fight against a solo Bhaalgorn. No press is bad press so take a look at us not being good at much but trying
I'm also pretty excited that for the first time one of our fansite passes to Fanfest got used. I offered one free to anyone in the corp who was going and Tazhaul was first to grab it. He and OleDDOS from our corp are in attendance and representing Star Explorers this year.
If you run into them, say "Hi!". They've even been marking our territory around the event
As for what's coming for EVE. It is a mixed bag for us and wormhole space in general.
Love, love, love the concept. Just wish we were getting some aspect of the mechanic in wormhole space. As it is, we probably will still place a medium refinery in our system in order to reprocess and react and maybe even some drug production, but overall, it is disappointing CCP didn't take the opportunity to enhance wormhole space a bit by including us in the initial rollout. I can only hope it isn't very long before they decide to enable this type of gameplay for us.
NPC AI Content
With the announcement at Fanfest of new NPC AI content from the Blood Raiders, it is great to see the AI advancing and being used in more parts of the game. Unfortunately, along with the announced Winter expansion, very little of this content appears to be making its way into wormhole space currently. Good for EVE, not too exciting for us yet
Looking forward to the more detailed presentations and getting more information on what's to come in the next couple days
About this blog
I am blogging my experiences as a wormhole CEO as a way to give back to the EVE community that has provided me so much inspiration
CEO of Star Explorers