Friday, November 20, 2009

Psychology of Tactics 1: Mental Blocks

First off, go read this article:

Playing to Win

When you're done, come back here.

This is why I do not mind people who blob in EVE. This is why I don't whine about Falcons (and my alt can fly one). This is why I use setups with neuts on them. Etc.

The main difference between EVE and other games is that EVE, by virtue of being a sandbox game, lets you set your own victory conditions. For me, winning is about getting kills and ransoms against non-PvPers, beating other PvPers at their own game by getting more kills than losses when I fight them, and, my absolute favorite, winning a fight against the odds. Ultimately, winning is about having fun, getting in a good fight, and getting out alive (or die after getting tons of kills) I don't mind when people use "cheap" or "lame" tactics like EWAR, blobbing,logistics/RR BS and the like. I might not personally find some of the above tactics interesting or fun to employ, but that does not mean I think there is no counter to them, and it ALSO does not mean I won’t employ said tactics myself if need be.

In fact, one of my favorite things to do is splitting up and picking off members of gangs of PvPers who outnumber and outgun me and my mates. Blobbing might not be an interesting way to win, but I certainly see nothing wrong with it. It may amuse me when people resort to it against me; generally I take it as a compliment. If someone thinks they need ten ships to kill me and my gang of two, I have done my job. I am sufficiently scary that they need to massively outgun me to "even the odds". On the rare occation that things go perfectly according to plan, and I manage to do the "impossible" and beat them at these odds, it turns out that they were right.

The point is, "If you are playing to win, you should play the game everyone else is playing, not the home-made game that no one plays." Before you can truly begin to learn how to master the game, you must relinquish your mental blocks and personal hang ups.

Next time you feel the urge to whine about a Falcon, remember this article.


  1. Good information. If you add a followers widget I would like to follow your blog.

  2. I want to offer a counter point here (I swear I'm only responding to topics that interest me).

    Eve is a game. All of us play eve to have fun.

    Actual combat is a relatively minor part of eve. Most of eve is spent setting up for (funding, ship design, logistics etc) and searching for combat.

    Combat in eve is completely consensual. (Probably should elaborate here). We can refuse to undock, not enter certain systems or areas (rancer, low sec, 0.0, etc), use docking mechanics, unaffliated logistic alts or dozens of other ways to avoid combat. If someone doesn't want to fight they can even just not log in.

    Most PvP corps pursue combat. That's the whole point of these corps, to find and engage in combat. The more the better. Nearly every pvper I know wants to be able to log in and get good fights with an absolute minimum amount of roaming around bored looking for them.

    What does this mean?

    On a personal level it means I avoid combat with entities that engage in massive blobbing / ecm abuse / capital nonsense and the like.

    On a larger scheme, it means the policies of entities define the combat they get.

    Entities that use metagame trends of blob/capital/ecm systematically weed out all targets besides the totally incompetent (who don't know any better) and the bigger/better entities doing the same thing back to you on a larger scale.

    If you always bring overwhelming force, players without overwhelming force stop seeking you out, stop engaging you and stop allowing themselves to be engaged by you.

    Enitites behaving in this manner ulitmately set themselves up push away smaller gang pvp and to invite blobbing, hotdropping, ecm and other metagaming techniques for winning =/

    And that's in direct conflict to what most pvpers want from a the game...

  3. Endless:

    We talked in local a few weeks ago and you gave me a pretty long spiel like this too. I thought it was kind of ironic actually because you were preaching to the choir the entire time. Anyhow, some other stuff to consider when talking about these sorts of lowsec tactics (blobbing, station games with cap ships, ECM):

    (1) Youre in a corp and you start a gang or schedule an op. One day you might get two people. The next day you might get fifteen. Do you start telling pilots they can't come with you so that your gang won't be a "blob"? I personally try to never exclude anyone if they want to take part in a roam.

    (2) Some of the best counters to certain "un-fun" tactics (station games with cap ships, ECM) is to bring your own ships of these types. So do you stoop to flying the lame stuff also and then go down in flames when you encounter those tactics? Or do you utilize the same tactics so that youre on an even ground with most other gangs or not? More of a rhetorical question I suppose.

    (3) One day you go out solo and run into a gang of 10 pilots. You run home to get your own gang that is built for an even fight and when you get back you find that the other gang is gone and there is a small gang and you kill them instead. Are you supposed to feel guilty that you intended a fun even fight but ran into a situation where you had a large advantage instead?

    (4) Even if you run a corp, are you going to start telling people what ships to fly and how large their gangs can be? I have had situations recently where I tell a gang to grab ships appropriate for a fight but you have one or two who show up in a much larger ship or undocks a carrier. I can't speak for all corp directors but Eve is supposed to be fun and it's hard to turn around and really yell at someone for bringing a bigger ship they spent time and money training and fitting.

    (5) Baiting and blobbing is so prevalent in Eve (at least the parts of lowsec I live in). When I see a couple ships from a certain corp out in a belt, I will instantly do math in my head to try and assume what they have sitting cloaked or in a station or on the other side of a gate. You might bring a force you think is going to be equivalent and instead you wind up blobbing because for once they weren't baiting. There really isn't any way to make a perfect guess on that sort of situation very often (or ever).

    I guess my point is that there are a LOT of factors that go into gang size and makeup and even if you try to keep your gangs small and evenly matched it is very, very difficult to estimate what will be an even fight. What might be "overwhelming force" for one fight winds up being "virtually no resistance" in another and every enemy is different.


    Sorry for the giant comment. Your blog is great so far, keep it up.

  4. I agree entirely with the points made here. I fucking hate blobs, but my point was that from a self betterment perspective, instead of complaining about them I just counter them or avoid them (if the counter itself is lame, as suggested).

    I am not trying to encourage people to blob, is what I mean. And thanks for reading =)

  5. Out of that whole comment Spectre (nothing wrong with long ones btw), I would say I disagree with your first statement, I typically try and cap my gangs at 5 to 6 pilots. When a gang gets TOO big it begins to scare away a lot of potential kills.

    What I find works best in the "Now you have 15 pilots that want to gang with you" situation, is to split up the gang. You cover alot more ground in a region, get a good number of kills, and if for some reason you bite off something you cant quite chew, you have allies not too far that can assist.

    Small gang tactics are important, you either fit to counter a specific threat and HOPEFULLY do, or you have to generalize and hope for the best. Each has its own virtues and problems, and when it comes down to it, there is a counter to everything no matter how "cheap" it is.

  6. Skira: Avoiding blobs is so much easier said than done, especially around where I am living these days :)

    Clam: I so wish that was an option. Generally in my corp we have very few people who are capable or even willing to FC a gang around and there is rarely more than one online. I suppose thats not a general problem for most corps though.

    As far as countering the specific threat, I think thats my favorite part about getting into fights near home. I love being able to locate a threat and run back to bring a specific ship(s) and dictate the fight. Usually if the roam goes more than a few jumps away though then yea you just have to fit a generalized gang and hope no Falcons uncloak.

  7. I've got to say I agree with you in regards to blobs: If it is part of the game it is a valid tactic. While annoying I don't have a problem with it. The same goes for the Falcon and anything else branded with the same labels. I just t ry to avoid situations where I may have to face them. Admittedly, this isn't always possible, but I do my best to reduce the number and severity of such encounters.

  8. I am definitely a scrub. I generally suck at games; most of what I play are Japanese-style console RPGs, simply because there's usually a lot of story/cinematic payoff for not a lot of skill at all.

    That said, I had a moment in Guild Wars that I think brought this article's point home for me super well. I had a monk character with an elementalist sub job, both things that scream "not fighter". He's the last time I created a character that uses a play style I don't actually enjoy, and I ended up deleting him in fact, but I digress.

    In Factions, the only GW I have, there's a set of like license challenges pretty near the beginning. They are meant to teach you the meat and potatoes of using Skills in tandem with each other. There are like eight total, and I had cleared all but one.

    This last one was a BITCH, and I think I failed it more than ten times. It was driving me insane. It was just two characters attacking me solo, and I had to wear one of them down to a certain point to pass the thing, but no matter what I did, I couldn't! The guy used a heavy constant regeneration spell, which meant I had to hit him continuously as hard as I could, and somehow stay alive at the same time. I couldn't just keep using my few heavy damage spells, though, because they caused me Fatigue, cutting my mana reserves down permanently little by little until they were gone. If I let like twenty seconds pass between casts I was fine, but his regen spell worked quickly enough that at that rate, I'd run out of HP before he did, his just wouldn't go down fast enough.

    It pissed me off so bad. Normally I'm pretty good at figuring out what The Game wants me to do to get past something, but I could not see the point here at all. It looked like the odds were just deliberately stacked against me, that I'd never have even a chance to win because I rolled a Monk instead of a fighter or something. But I couldn't just leave it undone, it was a tutorial mission, for Pete's sake!! There were plenty of other Monks around, there's no way every one of them just left that challenge undone! If they had, if it was that broken, wouldn't they just change it or remove it somehow? This was an online game, constant updates were possible! It just didn't make sense to me.

    Eventually I got so pissed off that I decided it was broken, but I was going to fucking beat it anyway. I loaded my skill bar with every heal I had and one or two really powerful spells. I left all my debuffs out; I needed to destroy this guy, not poison him. They didn't work anyway, because the other guy would dispell everything I tried faster than I could cast it. Then, I went up and started the skill challenge.

    When it started, I started fighting the guy as cheaply as I possibly could. I hit him over and over with my normal weapon and I cast my powerful attack spell as much as I possibly could without Fatiguing. I could see that it was actually wearing him down, too! I threw up every single heal I had as often as I could; if it came to that, so be it, I'd just outlast him

    And it worked. :) I learned a lesson then: I was meant to use Skills in whatever way I could, whatever way worked best for me. I wasn't to worry about being cheap or having too many healing spells in my bar, that wasn't the point. The point was that it was possible, and therefore viable. That, unlike all my console RPGs and the other MMOs I played, Guild Wars was about skill. :)

    I still like the game, and I play it off and on now. I'm a level 15 Ritualist/Mesmer now, and I have a lot more fun playing that type of character. I'm in a high-level enough area that I can roam around with a huge group of henchmen, something like eight or nine; it looks rediculous, and feels awesome. :D I may roll a Necromancer when I can get around to it next, I love how they can swarm around with whole armies of undead.

    And now I enjoy games a lot more, and I play to win. :D

  9. Good blog Skira. Look forward to reading more, you always post excellent reading material!

    As far as blobs/bait, if it is a no win scenario, I have also found that if you can successfully avoid it, will be a victory itself.
    Usually the blobbers/bait will get so mad that you did not fall for there bait. They will smack talk themselves into looking like a fools.

  10. Been meaning to get back to respond to Spectre's post and I have no 'forum' of my own to do it on so it'll have to be here. I'll respond by your numbers.

    1) Yes. We strictly limit gang size because of the relationship between gang size, fight quality and and fight frequency.

    2) We don't "stoop to the lame tactics". There are certain mechanics in EVE that we, as a corp, feel are broken. We refuse to abuse them just to net some easy kills. And yes, this often does put us at a disadvantage in fights.

    3) No, you're not supposed to feel guilty, but it should cause you to take a second look at your gang size and composition. Does your size and ship picks set you up for good fights or are you trying to ensure a win with as little risk as possible. Which is more important for you, the win or the quality of the fight?

    4) Yes, at least for our corp. We're a corp because we're a group of like-minded players. Our corp policies and rules are hashed out through talk about what we want to encounter and encourage in our eve experience. Fun, for us, is about frequent, quality fights.

    I've seen on Eve Noob that you've recently removed someone from corp, bascially becase they're not the type of player or person you want in your corp. For us, someone who insisted on playing in a way that consistently placed winning ahead of getting good fights wouldn't fit in and, eventually, they'd either have to change or they'd need to move on to a different corp.

    5) For sure, baiting and blobbing is horribly common throughout eve. I have two thoughts on dealing with this. First, it's possible to accect the bait without committing to fight the backup. Especially so at a belt or planet and even more so if it's your home system when you have some ship options available.

    Go stick a 24km point on it in a reasonably fast ship and see what shows up, bring some hitters in that don't have to be at point blank range. Score some tackler or mid sized ship kills with some kiting and avoid the bulk of their blob or even just warp away if it's too much to handle. You don't need to outnumber or outhull the opponents to spring their traps, just out think and out pilot them.

    As I said initially, pvp is ultimately consensual. If corps insist on massively blobbing me everytime I fight them to the point where no amount of piloting or fitting is going to compete with sheer numbers, size or ecm quantity then stop fighting them. It takes two sides to have a fight and I can stop showing up anytime I want to. Why would I waste my time with an entity that wants to blob me when I can go find fights with guys who want fun fights instead?

    You can't totally do away with having one sided fights. What you can do is to put the forethought into maximizing quality fights, and to me, quality fights are why I play eve.

  11. I really wish more people thought this way..
    I started playing EVE for the fun fights I've read about on several of the EVE pirate blogs (for all the grief pirates get, they certainly seem to have the most fun :)
    Since I've been playing though, I've not seen 1 good fight.. Many gate camps that catch good kills, but that's not a good fight in my book..
    I keep hearing that solo low-sec roams are dead or that 2 or 3 man frigate roams are pointless and this is starting to turn me off to EVE in general.. I plan on fitting up a few Rifters and heading out alone to test the validity of these statements, but I'd like the opinions of people who've been doing this sort of thing for a while...
    Is solo, low-sec, pvp dead?
    Are low ship-count, small ship roams in low-sec pointless?
    I have access to null and have been told this is the place to go for these types of fights, but where's the fun in NOT breaking the law? :)

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