A Blaze In The Western Sky (Interview)
Interview by Wurm, 2013-09-14, for rooksandkings.com and themittani.com
Rooks and Kings can be difficult to track down for a chat. However, here I'm able to have a chat again with RnK FC Lord Maldoror about the pipebombing weapon, Fountain and Chernobyl. There is even a new (mini) video to share.
During the recent Fountain war there was a lot of pipebombing in Fountain. Could you tell us a little about pipebombing?
I think of it like a huge railway artillery piece. The titan is the gun, we are the ammunition, and people like Eld, Skrubs and Marillio lurk on hillsides with binoculars, zeroing in on fleets with dictors and cynos. In that sense, it really is an old fashioned AOE Doomsday of sorts.
I have forwarded a little video with this interview to help illuminate the matter.
It's a dressed up Soundcloud but it shows a little of the impact of a pipebombing. I should add that despite a minor mishap like the one recorded there, I do think Mr. Vee is one of the finest FCs the game has ever seen.
Were both sides targeted?
Yes, we had no vested interest in the outcome of the war. The fact that more CFC fleets were hit is mainly because CFC fleets became the dominant sight in the region. We initially targeted the war from afar, using our Black Ops pipebombers, e.g. here: http://rooksandkings.com/killboard/index.php/kill_related/42910/ . The Black Ops pipebombers are generally deployed on slightly lower EHP targets than the heaviest pipebombing setups. The challenge we faced later, once we moved heavier assets into range, was that the front line actually moved so fast that it was difficult to keep titans in range of the best action. It shows how well CFC did in the war once they gained momentum and their strategic situation improved.
Still, both CFC (e.g. http://rooksandkings.com/killboard/index.php/kill_related/44512/ ) and their opposition (e.g http://rooksandkings.com/killboard/index.php/kill_related/44427/) continued to be dropped on.
It seems like a lot of ships were killed this way - departing fleets would wonder if they'd come home or die by pipebomb.
I'd say 'a lot' is relative. It's a lot in terms of a small group of people but in the context of a grand war like Fountain, it's just one aspect of many. Nor did we pipebomb as relentlessly as we did in some other theatres in the past, simply because we were not supporting a specific side. Roughly, we killed 970 ships and lost 16 in activities related to that. Those 16 losses equate to around eight billion isk, though the damage inflicted is ten times that, making it very efficient. This only includes direct attacks on Strat Ops and large fleets. It shows, at least, that whatever people say about blobs , coalitions and such things, twenty people can still hunt nullsec fleets head-on. While I have maximum respect for the art of Guerrilla warfare, I run almost no roams, cloaky camps, ratting-carrier hunts or anything of that ilk (though some in alliance do, occasionally).
At its heart, RnK is a fleet-killing machine, using whatever tools are necessary. If the day ever comes where it's no longer possible to do that with a small group, I'll either close the doors or recruit several thousand people. However, if that time ever comes, Eve would no longer be a true sandbox.
What was the biggest challenge of pipebombing in Fountain?
Usually this is the matter of zeroing in on hostile fleets. In the Fountain campaign, however, we never actually loaded grid and found a fleet had eluded us. Every strike scored a hit.
By far the biggest challenge was the server itself, without which we would have killed several times more. When pipebombing large fleets, module activation became very difficult and hundreds were often able to escape. Nonetheless, the hostile fleet would still be operationally routed by losing a third or half its number, and thus forced to retreat and rebuild.
Did Fountain also feature battles using the more traditional toys like triage Archons?
Yes, faction battleships, triage and the like were used in a number of hotdrops, though less commonly overall than pipebombing. In fact, on the evening of answering this, we did battle with a CFC Megathron fleet using Vindicators, Navpocs and so on. Ultimately, although we won the engagement, only a few 'Baltec' Megathrons died. Both sides had solid logistics and gradually fleet commanders across Eve have learned to spot when an engagement is going south. And there is a limited amount of ships a small group can hold tackled, even using Vindicators.
It is fun, of course, to drop hulls like that onto coalition fleets, and repping Vindicators out of low armour evokes the narrative battles of old. Fleets like this are commonplace now (even a coalition like HBC embraced a Navpoc doctrine, after all) though the twin pillars of high risk and high prestige still make it an addictive experience, even if no longer a unique one in the endless arms race of Eve.
I hear RnK recently took some time out to meet for a gathering.
Yes, the end of the Fountain action coincided with an RL meeting in Germany organised by Marillio, which was a great success.
At some future time, however, I do plan an RnK trip to Chernobyl. I think there is an apocalyptic melancholy there which would fit very well with the RnK spirit and aesthetic. It will also be a chance to put our scouting practice to good use, when Eldareth tracks ahead through the bleak bric-a-brac with a Geiger counter. And if we get good access near the sarcophagus, we'll submit a battle report on the excellent urban exploration forum, 28dayslater.com.
Do you prefer the 'traditional' RnK tools of triage, logistics, etc. or the more ruthless pipebombing?
Rooks and Kings aim to be gentlemen but we are simultaneously proud denizens of the anarchistic underbelly of the internet. In truth, all Eve players find ourselves here - it's ingrained in the ruthlessness of the game, the people and the language, from the rapecages to the pyramid schemes. Lately, I've noticed politically correct safety-culture encroaching a little on to this spirit. Magnificent eruptions of Eve culture like Grath Telkin's rage are linked in the manner that the tabloid press links something taboo, rather than as a glorious rage-filled celebration of a man's obsession with excellence. We've seen people encouraged to report their fellow fleet members for linking pornography, when each man or woman has the choice of what to click on (even if, I dare say, in some fleets of some coalitions there probably are a few landmines waiting there..). A CSM swearing leads to a thread on Eve-O, and so on.
And, although the staff involved in game-balancing do a wonderful job overall, a little of the politically correct safety culture has also encroached onto the mechanics themselves. In egalitarian fashion, everything must be equal to everything else, or people will complain, and so the game panders a bit to the masses, rather than standing aloof and mysterious as an imposing, cruel mountain, daring us to scale it. Everything has a clearly-labelled counter, and counters have obvious counters. Anything that doesn't instantly find a place within this circle of betterment must be buffed or there will be angry threadnaughts.
Of course, if anything, what Rooks and Kings do is bring the right tool, so this doesn't really affect our core gameplay. Yet, in a way, pipebombing is - in addition to its other traits - a stand against clearly labelled arrows and directions. The tools it requires (Titans, dictors, battleships and smartbombs) have all existed in the game since 2006. It has not been empowered by any new buffs or changes or bold, underlined text in patch notes. It is a weapon built because in Eve you can build anything.