A little thing happened this week that was certainly not planned, came at exactly the wrong time and led to a little drama. Ushra’Khan accidentally dropped out of FW. :S
What happened should not be hard to guess; one of our corps ended up with Minmatar standings below the minimum needed to remain in the TLF. I’m not too sure why that was, either they recruited/kicked someone causing their standings to shift, or they shot up some other pilots from the TLF (there is a very active corp of AWOX’ers doing the rounds in TLF provoking others to shoot them, we have war decced a couple of alt corps doing that to avoid further standings losses). Regardless, whatever the reason, their standings dropped too far.
When this happens, the entire alliance gets a notification mail warning them of the issue so that the corp(s) responsible get 48hrs warning to fix it, or so that the alliance can boot the offender if that is the better solution. Ignore that warning at your peril!
So, our corp that doesn’t like to PVE much set about fixing standings and brought them back up to minimum in time. Or so they thought. This is where we encountered what turns out to be a previously undocumented bug (I know, IN MY EVE, right?). As I understand it, the bug is that sometimes the standings value that the client reports does not match up to value used by the server. You might see 5.00 but the server says you have 4.999 – which is being reported as rounded up. So in our case, the corp thought they were just inside where they needed to be but were in fact ever so slightly below it. Ergo, the server kicked us out of TLF. CCP have now identified and confirmed the bug, so maybe we will see an innocuous line in the patch notes at some point.
If you follow FW closely, you may be aware that in the run up to Retribution Ushra’Khan redeployed from Eszur over to Isbrabata. Isbrabata is one of the three new jump gate connections added in Retribution, turning a previously dead-end backwater constellation into a major travel route in the Amarr-Minmatar war zone. It was Ushra’Khan’s game plan to get set up there and to make it our business to lock down that stretch of Metropolis then push into Amarr territory. Crashing out of the TLF in the first week of Retribution was definitely NOT in the plan!
So we have had a wonderfully nail-biting week of watching our new staging system coming under heavy and sustained Amarrian assault at the same time that we can’t run plexes, take sec hits constantly (as the enemy are no longer WT’s) and find that our standings are a mess with other TLF pilots we might not have blue (you blue close friends and allies, not every single corp and character…). It was messy, often frustrating and kind of embarrassing. Bug or no bug, that kind of FUBAR does not do wonders for your public image. 😉
However, the week did improve. Isbrabata and its surrounding environs have been a major hot zone this week with ships exploding left, right and centre. The TLF rallied round and eventually U’K did manage to get re-enlisted in the TLF and back into the fight proper.
From what I’m seeing, Retribution seems to have kicked FW back into high gear with an upswing of action going on generally. People are rushing to try out the new destroyers and rebalanced frigs/cruisers which is leading to a flurry of experimentation and changing fleet doctrines. There was a battle a few days ago (that I missed) which went on for over an hour of continuous fighting. The new T1 logistics cruiser role is already having a profound impact on FW fleets as this particular battle took place inside a medium plex, both sides struggled to break the logistics of the other to the point where most pilots on the field were being forced to loot ammo from the dead just to keep firing! Doubtless new tactics are being devised to combat the proliferation of remote repping now going on.
I stepped inside a medium plex today solo to test out the NPC changes (yeah, it has taken me awhile..). First impression, I think the redesigned NPC’s are going to do their job pretty well. I was able to quickly dispatch the Imperial Navy cruiser NPC I found there using my Stabber Fleet Issue, but its presence would not have been too big of a disadvantage had I been faced with another player. I blew up the NPC having only taken a few percent in damage to my shield buffer. After being in the plex for a few minutes a WT Omen warped in and it would have been a fair fight had he not had another two friends on their way to back him up.
In my book this means that it is now viable to run offensive plexes using PVP fitted ships. At last! 😀 This is a huge win for quality of life and PVP in FW. It should no longer be automatic suicide to run a plex solo and consider fighting the guy who turns up to stop you. Maybe plexing will finally be the fight provoking mechanic it was always meant to be, but on a level that players can consider doing solo or in very small gangs if they choose. Previously if you intended to fight in a plex you would be unlikely to do it with less than five guys in order to minimise the impact of the NPC’s.
Retribution is off to a good start I think, so far I’m not seeing the emerging design issues which we saw with Inferno. If early the sense of optimism prevails, then Retribution should turn out to be a much welcome layer of polish and iteration for EVE going into 2013.