Monday, May 30, 2011

Growing Up Is Hard Work

But the reason I call myself by my childhood name is to remind myself that a scientist must also be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not. See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting.
--Douglas Adams

Remember this post?  The one where I outlined my skill training plan for the next year?  Yeah, I lied.  I didn't mean to, I promise, it just sort of happened.  Today's post will take a look at some of the changes made, why they happened, and what I would have done differently knowing then what I know now.

I was pretty naive when I made my first year's skill plan.  There.  I said it.  I had only been playing the game for a couple of months at the time, only been Pirating for half that, and made some decisions that in hindsight were a little presumptuous.  I'm pretty stubborn though, and have only just recently admitted to myself that it was time to change course.  There are three factors at work here, and I'm going to go over all of them in the hope that someone out there can learn from my mistakes.

Factor one includes all the little things.  Even if I was to stay true to the skillplan I had set up, these would all add up to mean I was about two months behind where I thought I was going to be at the end of this year.   They would include a little over a week that my account was un-subbed due to unforeseen circumstances, getting podded and then not replacing +4 implants, and generally some minor skills that I had just overlooked.

By definition there was nothing I could have done about the unforeseen circumstances, but I could have double checked my account status before leaving town for an extended period of time.  Lesson learned, won't be making that mistake again.

The loss of my implants which I didn't replace came about from losing three pods in under a month after not having lost one in the first five months of Piracy.  It was right around the time CCP was making changes to some of the ways the game handled lag and I have a sneaking suspicion that this played a part in it.  I petitioned several of my losses during that time and was reimbursed for them.  The last of those losses came just after CCP introduced their new reimbursement policy and was denied when I petitioned it.  Since that time, I haven't lost any more implants due to Socket Closed errors or Soul Crushing Lag over the past couple of months and I might just reinvest in some better implants soon.  If I do, they'll shave a couple of weeks off my training between now and the end of the year.

The minor skills being overlooked probably won't happen again.  First of all because I've already trained them, and second because I have a better grasp of game mechanics now than I did then.  When I designed that plan all I was really concerned with were the ships themselves and maximizing the output from the modules they used.  I overlooked some things like the Cybernetics skill needed for better implants, the Biology skill for Boosters, Infomorph Psychology for Jump Clones and maybe some others that I'm forgetting even now.  None of them represented major investments in training, but a day here and day there still add up.

The second factor in retooling my skill plan involves the ships themselves.  I had wanted to avoid flying larger ships in a mistaken understanding of just how much they'd cost and so I replaced larger ship classes with Tech 2 variants of the smaller classes.  It's become very apparent to me now that those larger ships aren't nearly as expensive as I originally thought.  As a quick example, losing one of my Vengeances costs me about 15misk.  The ship itself costs 10misk up front, but returns about half through insurance and the rest is the cost of the modules.  By comparison, an Arbitrator loss is only about 10misk.  This time, the hull costs around 3misk, but returns 2misk from insurance with the other 9misk being the cost of the modules.

This pattern doesn't really scale at all as you get bigger.  Instead it completely favors the larger T1 hull to the Pirate looking to save a buck.  In fact, Battleship hulls are practically free after insurance and the cost of modules doesn't change much when you're still using that same Web, Scram, Damage Control, Nano Membrane, etc.  The Tech 2 Battlecruiser or even T2 Cruiser hull might end up costing a hundred million as the insurance claims adjuster just laughs at you for losing it.

As a daily flyer, I just can't justify the cost to myself of flying and losing Recons and HACs while I continue to learn the game.  I've already talked about all the reasons that Battlecruisers are so popular and those reasons are all still valid.  So while I might be able to beat down a Battlecruiser in a T2 Cruiser, most of my losses these days come from being completely overwhelmed when what I thought was going to be a 1v1 turned into a 1vmany.  Most of those losses can't be prevented by me flying a fancier ship, they can only be minimized by me flying a less expensive one.

The third factor at work is me.  More specifically, where I'm at in the game and the people that I fly with.  When I made that skill plan, I was brand new to Piracy and the Blood Money Cartel.  We would go on roams with me in my Tech 1 Frigate and everything was great.  As time passed, and I went on those same roams in my Tech 2 Frigates I began to notice something.  I was no longer brand new, but lots of other pilots were.

Those new pilots were right where I was a few months ago, with very few skill points and just getting their bearings on flying a Rifter (Yes, they almost all fly Rifters.  I blame Wensley.).  A gang can only benefit from so much tackle before it becomes redundant.  What these new pilots were really needing from me was DPS and I just didn't have it.  I could still go out and solo in my T2 Frigates just fine, but when it came time for putting the gang together to take on a larger threat, I felt like I was letting people down.

Step one is going to be getting some firepower for our roaming gangs without the potential embarrassment of T1 guns on my lossmails.  Since I don't even have T2 Small Lasers, training for Medium would mean several months of training placing the Harginger quite a ways off.  What I do have are T2 Small Autocannons and a two week training time for T2 Mediums.  I have just as many Missile skills, but comparatively poor Shield skills putting a Drake a bit further away.

So in three weeks time, I'll be sporting my very own Battlecruiser or rather Battlecruisers plural.  Tech 2 Medium Autocannons mean the ability to fly an Armor Tanked Hurricane.  While not nearly as popular among the Pilots I fly with as its Kiting Cousin, it still packs a considerable punch and I've become pretty comfortable with flying Space Bricks, even if they tend to do a lot of exploding under my watch.  Tech 2 Autocannons combined with the already intensive drone training I've been doing for the Arbitrator means the ability to fly the Myrmidon.  Rather, The Myrmidon, as the Triple Rep Myrm is the only fitting I've ever really considered for it.

Beyond this, I really can't say what my new skill plan will look like.  I'm probably going to come back and finish up the last few remnants of Arbitrator skills that I'm still lacking, but then I don't know.  It's going to have a lot to do with how much I'm enjoying flying Battlecruisers and whether or not Recons are the best choice for me then.  Only time will tell.




  1. Navy cap 800's (preferably in a container) are pretty nice. Running out of boosters has happened to me before.

  2. The Armor Cane is a good ship. Dual webs + scram are great for fighting on gates.
    Best thing about the Shield Cane is it's speed. Running away when the fight turns bad saves your ship and generates some amusing rage in local. :)

  3. I took a very different approach. I went with an all-rounder stat distribution because I knew that I had no clue what skills I would want to be training in 2 months time, let alone a year.

    In part, my decision was also influenced by my play schedule; I have to travel a fair amount, so I often need to switch skills based on when I am going to be able to play next, which does not lend itself well to strict skill plans.

    I'm probably "behind" in skill points over where a skill plan would have gotten me, of course, but I have enjoyed the flexibility of being without a plan.

    That said, I am seriously considering a skill plan when I get my next remap. At that point all the easy skills will have been aquired and I should have a clear idea of where I am trying to go. The idea of shaving a few months off my high level skills is very appealing.