EVE – Cruiser

I have a tendency to “train one more level” of some random skill, for the incremental benefit. 5% more damage here, 2% less capacitor usage there, hitting level 4 of skill X allows training skill Y, etc. Soon, I’ve planned out 5 more days of skills and spend more time juggling my queue than flying around blowing stuff up. Or exploring, researching, etc.

This stems from my careful and conservative nature playing MMOs. I hate it when my character dies, even in a game where that doesn’t set you back much. I think the last game I played with an actual death penalty was Asheron’s Call, where you suffered a “vitae penalty” and potential item loss. Guild Wars gave a penalty as well, but defeating a boss would give a morale boost and help erase that – and if worse came to worse, map travel back to an outpost would remove it. There was no item damage or loss.

However in EVE, getting blown up means a loss of items. And to get your stuff back, you need to return in a ship to do it. In the meantime, other players might be there helping themselves to your former possessions! If your medical clone isn’t up to date, there is loss of skill points, and then you basically need to rebuy all the stuff you lost.

So, I tend to play carefully. Hence, the skill training gyrations.

But that’s part of the reason I bought a PLEX, to make my life in game a little easier. Rather than grinding out the ISK in order to do anything (buy skillbooks, buy modules), I can just buy stuff and undock without the very real concern that imminent bankruptcy is looming.

So I said the heck with it and flew my main character Aurora to nearby Dodixie to do some shopping. Aurora has a bit over 18 million skill points and can fit a lot more gizmos than Summer. Aurora can get much fancier stuff, such as a cruiser fitted with tech 2 modules.

I bought a Caracal (Caldari Cruiser) and equipped it using some guidelines from a BattleClinic loadout:

  • High Slots – 5 x Rapid Light Missile Launcher II
  • Med Slots – Medium Capacitor Battery II, Medium Shield Booster II, Medium Shield Extender II, Sensor Booster II, Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
  • Low Slots – Ballistic Control System II, Damage Control II, Armor Repairer II
  • Rigs – Medium Polycarbon Engine Housing I, Medium Hydraulic Bay Thrusters I

I’ll just say that fitting my first cruiser is awesome – they have so many slots and way more power and cpu than frigates or destroyers. Obviously. 😉

For ammo, I bought a few thousand each of Scourge Light Missiles, Scourge Precision Light Missiles (tech 2 upgraded missile), and Scourge Fury Light Missiles (also a tech 2 upgraded missile). I’ll load up each and try them out.

This is massive overkill for the intro epic arc (The Blood-stained Stars) but hey, I need to try out Aurora’s new setup somewhere! 😉 Summer had a challenging time at the end, fighting the last 2 NPCs… Aurora should easily crush them both.

Later, I plan to outfit Aurora in a covert ops ship, the Buzzard. I’ll be practicing scanning, cloaking, and all that stuff in hisec before daring to step into low or null!

I’m angling Aurora to be a mission runner and exploration character. She’s also got various electronic warfare skills trained which might come in handy. Summer will be more of a planetary interaction, research, and manufacturing character. They are both working on core skills, with Summer just starting and Aurora nearly finished, and after that they’ll split more as to what skills they train.

EVE – Blood-stained Stars (almost)

I like to “finish things up”, so before I look around to join a corporation on my chars, I wanted to knock off the intro epic story arc: the Blood-stained Stars.

I had an OK time with it ~2 years ago, but this time around I’m stuck at the end with the fight against Dagan. Maybe CCP made it tougher? I don’t put out enough DPS to overcome his repair ability. I’ll try again in a few days in order to let a few skill train higher.

I also had a tough time on a previous step, fighting Kristan Parthus in “Chasing Shadows”. It was his NOS ability (Nosferatu module, which drains my capacitor and thus ability to fire my weapons) that made it challenging, for an alt char of ~2 million skill points that can’t equip a whole lot just yet.

Summer is a Gallente and I’d been doing this arc in the Catalyst, a Gallente Destoyer. But that wasn’t going anywhere versus Kristan Parthus, so I switched things up a bit and bought an Algos, which is also a Gallente Destoyer, but one with a drone bay.

So after moving some things around, I set out to fight Parthus with as many 150mm Railgun 1’s as would fit, and 4 Hobgoblin 1 small scout drones for some extra help. Since Summer had Drones trained to 4, she could load up 4 drones to help in the fight.

Parthus Battle
Parthus Battle

The fight was long but I finally wore him down. I had to run away one or twice, but finally what worked was sending in the drones to wear down his shields, and then moving in with railguns blasting.

Anyway, I’m up to the “Our Man Dagan” step, a fight again Dagan and some escorts. His escort die pretty fast, but he’s a little tougher because he repairs his ship faster than I can damage it. The Eve University wiki suggests flying a cruiser (more firepower) and I’ll keep that in mind if I can’t seem to get anywhere. First, I’ll train a few Gunnery skills higher and also consider improved modules. Maybe some tech 2 items would help but those require training other skills to 5 and then specializing as well. For example if I want to fit a 150mm Railgun 2 to my ship, I’d need to finish Small Hybrid Turret 5 and Small Railgun Specialization 1 (and also balance CPU and energy usage). EVEMon tells me it would take about 5 days 20 hours for the training, the bulk of which is Small Hybrid Turret 5 (21 hours for level 4 and then 4 days 23 hours more for 5).

If that doesn’t help, then I’ll look into training Gallente Cruisers and research a good setup. Maybe I’ll end up fighting Dagan in a Vexor or Thorax. 😉 What I generally do is crank up EVEMon and use the ship browser plus the BattleClinic loadouts link, and then modify from there given what skills I have trained. Anyway after checking that the training queues on Aurora and Summer and full, I logged off to take a break while that stuff finished us.

Earlier, while traveling around systems for the epic arc, I took a screenshot of my ship approaching a warp gate. I forgot to note where this was exactly. Anyway, I just think it’s a cool looking pic.

Ship and Planet
Ship and Planet

Upcoming Games

I’ve managed to find a decent balance of play between LoTRO and EVE. Yes, two games that are very different, but that’s part of the appeal. If I can manage, I will add another game into “the rotation”, but I know that will be very difficult to pull off.

However, I do have an eye on some upcoming games. I’m sure everyone is aware that Wildstar Online and Elder Scrolls Online are coming out in the next few months.

I haven’t played either one (no beta participation) so I just have impressions from various others, ranging from blogs to official websites, scouring whatever info I can. I also know that pre-release hype tends to be sky high, only to crash to reality in the immediate aftermath of release, so I’m tempering everything I read especially if it is drooling enthusiasm.

That being said, I’m more interested in Wildstar Online than Elder Scrolls Online.

Why is that? Honestly, it is entirely due to “fantasy fatigue” – I’ve played a bunch of fantasy themed MMOs and Wildstar Online looks sci-fi enough to hook my initial interest.

Notice I said sci-fi enough… that’s because as Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. It’s all going to be in the overall feel of the game, which is hard to quantify until I actually play it.

For example, I barely considered SWTOR to be a sci-fi game. It’s fantasy with a sci-fi paint job over it, if you really look at it. Light sabers replace swords, blasters replace bow and arrows, jedi masters with force lightning replace wizards with lightning bolts, etc. I’m just a so-so Star Wars fan so playing a fantasy MMO in the Star Wars universe wasn’t much of a draw for me. This really isn’t the Star Wars team’s fault – the movies themselves are a mix of spaceships and jedi “wizards” so the implementation was faithful. But if I’m going to play a fantasy game I might as well play one in a setting I enjoy more.

My desire to play a sci-fi game is fueling my interest in EVE, and there haven’t been that many sci-fi MMOs. Anarchy Online, Matrix Online (shutdown), Earth and Beyond (shutdown), EVE, perhaps even Fallen Earth… these are off the top of my head, I’m sure there have been others. Meanwhile, there are at least 10 to 100 times as many fantasy themed MMOs.

And where does Wildstar Online fit into that? Well it looks like a sci-fi game with a sense of humor along the lines of Ratchet and Clank, my favorite console franchise. The catch for me being – how much of a sci-fi game does it actually feel like? And the usual stuff for any game – is it fun?

That isn’t to say I’m uninterested in Elder Scrolls Online. I played the heck out of Morrowind, and also enjoyed Oblivion and Skyrim. I enjoy the universe and setting of Elder Scrolls, it’s just that I’m going to prioritize something different first.

So, I’ll keep toggling between LoTRO and EVE while trying to follow the latest news on Elder Scrolls and Wildstar. Who knows, maybe I’ll get so busy in LoTRO/EVE I wind up delaying checking either of these new games out until much later after they release.

LoTRO – Finishing Mirkwood

I finished up Mirkwood – Vol 2 Book 9 – on Autumn and hit a few other milestones along the way as well. There were equipment upgrades, skirmishes, outleveling my previous main char, and becoming just my fourth adventurer to enter Vol 3 of the epic storyline.

I had forgotten how skirmish-intensive Mirkwood was. No matter, with my trusty soldier Summer the Sage, we were able to triumph in each challenge. In fact, some denizens of Dol Guldur even welcomed us to the fortress.

Welcome!
Welcome!

Autumn leveled to 67 (almost 68) along the way and passed up my former main character Aillas, the Lore-master. Aillas finished up Mirkwood and ventured to Fordirith and the Echad Dagoras area, but did not get much further. He’s been essentially retired to Caras Galadhon and pursuing scholarly arts as various materials are sent his way.

Mirkwood is dark and creepy, and I’m glad to be moving on. (I do enjoy Mirkwood, and the “dark and creepy” atmosphere is as it should be. I think all the zones in LoTRO are pretty good so this isn’t a criticism.)

The first step in gathering the Grey Company is an audience Lord Elrond, so I made my way to Rivendell, and was happy to see one of my favorite views in the game: Rivendell and the Last Homely House.

Imladris
Imladris

Autumn did most adventuring in Mirkwood with underleveled gear, which was partly remedied at level 65 when Naerys crafted a set of Malledhrim Haleness armor, and Dhrun crafted some nice jewelry to ago along with it. Aillas even assisted, contributing a Westfold Atlas.

Malledhrim Armor
Malledhrim Armor

My weapon and rune lagged behind, and I hoped to fix that by speaking with Malledhrim reputation vendors in Mirkwood. Unfortunately, despite all Autumn did for the Malledhrim across the Anduin river, they would not speak to her (Autumn is only friend to the Malledhrim). Bah, those ungrateful elves. Since it is beneath my dignity to beg them for gear, I instead visited the auction hall… and discovered a paucity of level 65ish items. (Since the rest of the world is level 95).

But there was a very nice Second Age sword available, for those level 61 and above. Hm… after thinking for a bit I decided to buy it since it was substantially nicer than my current weapon, and reasonably affordable for such a fine relic of the past. And I hope this lasts me to the Galtrev area where I should be able to find an even nicer weapon. I am still on the lookout for a good Rune as well, to replace the one I have used since Moria.

In the meantime, I must gather the Grey Company, and visit lands I have not seen before. (Due to the Gift of the Valar, Autumn leveled over most of Eriador. She has not been to the North Downs, Evendim, Forochel, etc. It’ll be a nice tour and opportunity to open up a few stable masters along the way!)

EVE – Plex

I bought a PLEX. Actually I bought 2 of them, one to sell for a nice ~600 million ISK, and another to enable skill training for a second character. What can I say – I play MMOs for fun and this trade of cash for in-game benefits is worth it to me.

Last time I played, I spent way too much time trying to eke out an existence. EVE is tough starting out, because you need ISK to afford ships, modules, and skill books… and some buffer to replenish losses. On top of figuring out various game systems and mechanics. Getting a self sufficient income that is fun to obtain (for me, that means no mining or station trading, and level 1 distribution and security missions get repetitive) takes a while. I know some new players strike it big in low or null sec via piracy/exploration, but I think that is partly a survivor’s fallacy – only the successful ones talk about it.

Anyway, with this pile of ISK, I should be able to get by for a long time. Especially if I’m careful. Heck, just outfitting normal frigates with regular modules, I can almost be recklessly incompetent 😉 and still have enough ISK to tide me over for months. And I intend to be better than that, ha!

Why train a second character? Well my “main” one, Aurora Tian, is my planned combat (security missions) and exploration char. I’d also like to give Planetary Interaction another try, outside hisec, so a second character will train up those skills plus support skills. I’ll also train production and manufacturing skills. Thus, Summer Tian is training as well – at least for 30 days and after that I’ll see how things are going.

As Jester blogged, chars in EVE can be grouped by skill point distribution. If I want one char for “sub capitals” (from his chart) and am interested in another that is “science trade”, then I need to decide whether or not training everything on one char is the way to go. Disadvantages include time spent waiting for training plus waiting for that char to free up what they are doing when I want to try something else. Advantages include cost – one char training on one account is cheaper than another account or another char training.

For now I’m going to double train on one account. It is a little more expensive than a second account, but then if I reach a “good enough” point on that secondary character, I can stop training and still have access to the account and char.