Thursday, December 23, 2010

A day in the life of OUCH's CEO

You know, there's no such thing as a typical day in my life as I manage OUCH and the Art of War Alliance, so this post is going to be more general than specific. I wrote this because it was requested of me - I'm sure they'll enjoy it, but I hope you enjoy it too.

My day starts around 6:30am when I wake up. I drag myself into the study, collapse into my comfy chair (I'm still waking up!), and check my Gmail and deal with all the emails that came in overnight, answering those that need answering, viewing interesting web pages that they might link to, or just deleting them as rubbish. I then check Facebook and see what's new. One of my friends might be sharing the latest US government outrage about assassinating Wikileaks members or torturing people they don't like, and I'll rage a little and then go and get some breakfast. I usually have muesli with yoghurt and honey and milk, and come back to eat it while I log into Eve Online.

As I log in I look at the top left of my character picture see if there's any new messages for me. I know it's going to be an ordinary day when maybe I've got maybe 2 or 3 emails. I like ordinary days. When I see there's 10 messages or more waiting for me, I sigh and wonder who started another war.... Luckily that doesn't happen too often.

Not that war's a bad thing! To be honest, I get excited when a new war starts, because then I start yelling at people via evemails to tell them what to do as I prepare the alliance for the war that's about to unfold.

But on an average day, I continue logging in while eating my breakfast. (Well, I do that on a not so average day too, but I digress...) I wave o/ in all the channels I'm in (corp, alliance, public, blues, intel, personal, and occasionally evebloggers). Sometimes people wave back. Then there's wave parties as everyone waves. I like that.

I log on to Teamspeak but have myself in the AFK channel so I don't have to talk to anyone while still waking up, and then in Eve I check the messages that have come in. These are either enquiries about joining OUCH or the alliance, or requests for reimbursement for lost ships during training or PVP operations, or queries about training, or someone giving me intel about regional activities, or updates on what I missed out on while I was sleeping. Being in Australia, I'm usually asleep during the peak US / EU times, so I often miss out on the all the excitement. Except on weekends, when I can play during the day at the same time as everyone else. Then I can potentially join in on whatever fleet is active at the time in the alliance or with our blues. I like weekends.

I very rarely chat with anyone at this stage, unless they've private convo'd me to ask me something or tell me something. Then I'll briefly chat with them while still eating my breakfast. I try to keep it short though, because I have to get ready for work after I've done my morning Eve routine...

When I've logged in and there's 10 or more messages, I'm usually also inundated with private convo's or lots of corp/alliance chat - "OMG! WE'RE AT WAR! WHAT DO WE DO! WHAT DO WE DO!!!!! I'M A TEAPOT, I'M A TEAPOT!!" Then I have to calm people down and start issuing instructions. I write alliance mails to remind everyone (which will be for the first time for any newer members) about the alliance's Wartime Operations Policies, referring them all to the relevant forum threads so they can get the appropriate information for their wartime activities.

The senior staff have their own operational activities during war, which is usually gathering intel, establishing scouting operations, and informing everyone of what they need to do. My communications to the corp is separate to the communications to the alliance, and I remind everyone in OUCH that all PVE is banned during war, to read the forum for OUCH's wartime operations policies, and I make sure I threaten to kick them out if they continue to engage in PVE during war.

I've kicked members out for exactly that in the past, so everyone knows I take these operational policies seriously. As a result, we've had wardecs against us cancelled by aggressors because of the success of our policies. I consider them 'victories', of course, which I'm very happy about.

So after dealing with the administration of the corp and alliance for maybe an hour, I log out of Eve and check the forum, answering anything on there that I feel I can provide input on. (Sometimes I do this while still logged into Eve.) Then I prepare for work, and then head off to work. If it's a 'new wardec day', then I'm going to be late for work...

I check evemails via Eve Gate occasionally during the day, answering any queries that might come in, etc.

When I get home from work, I usually log in to catch up with the things that I couldn't do via Eve Gate. I'm usually brain-dead from work, so I just quietly chill for a while. Then there's dinner, maybe a movie on occasions, before I get back into Eve in the hour or two before downtime.

At this time it's usually pretty quiet, so I catch up on forum posts, evemails, or consider my strategies for the future of OUCH and the alliance. I occasionally talk to people that are active, answer queries about training, corp or alliance membership, communicate with blues, or - occasionally - undock and go look for a fight. I know - shocking! As if I get any time for PVP....

If we're at war, I usually do less administration and spend the time moving around highsec in a cloaked ship, antagonising the war targets with my presence, gathering intel, and occasionally waiting for the right moment to pounce. Sometimes I'll lead a fleet of members into battle, always conscious of the benefits of guerilla warfare. I treat all engagements as training operations, teaching the members about how to operate during war, and why certain tactics are important.

After downtime is just before my bedtime, but things start getting a little more active in Eve when EU players start coming online in their morning. My 2IC / Training Director usually comes on at this point, and we're often discussing training plans, PVP operations, or dicussing strategy relating to the future of OUCH and the alliance.

As the time approaches midnight, I'm often considering the day's events, taking into account strategic discussions, and then occasionally writing some alliance or corp message to communicate the evolutionary changes, training or strategy of the corp or alliance, and what those changes will mean to members. I also check the forum to see what other input I can provide, or feedback I can take from discussions to help me decide the future plans of OUCH.

One thing I've always been very clear with is my management style. I try to get people taking ownership of various areas of responsibility so that the workload of running this place can be shared. Maintaining a healthy balance between my life and this game is important to me, you see, so I don't go to the extreme with my in-game time.

This has worked out quite well over the past year, with encouraging others to take on training, answering queries from people about training regimes and ship fittings, and forum moderation. My day usually includes maintaining all those different areas, with all the people that are assisting me with them.

I consider myself a benevolent dictator. OUCH and the alliance are mine alone, and I will not let anyone else take on an in-game position that could potentially be dangerous to my position (eg. taking away my CEO role or disbanding the alliance). Everything that ends up happening is in line with my underlying strategy.

You see, everyone is encouraged to give me ideas and suggestions about how they think OUCH and the alliance should operate, and while I listen to their suggestions, if it's not in alignment with the direction I want to go I will end up telling them why I won't allow it. However, if their suggestions are in alignment with my vision, then I'll allow their suggestions to evolve through discussion and planning, and become part of how we do things.

It seems to work pretty well, which I'm happy about as I have no intention of doing it differently.

Communication with other corps or alliances is part of my game too. Some people PVE, some PVP. I communicate. I love communicating, negotiating, and generally being a diplomat. I love the conversations designed to either obtain information from hostiles, or obtain friendships. When TEST alliance recently moved into our area we were almost wardec'd by them, but I managed to change that around to becoming blue with them instead. From that point on we had a wonderful relationship flying with them, being involved in roams and camps throughout various nullsec systems.

Anyway, once I've finished all my conversations in-game or in Teamspeak, finalised all the evemails I need to respond to (or initiate), and checked the forums, I usually say goodbye to everyone, go back to my Gmail and tidy that up before heading to bed. I take my iPad with me to check Facebook while in bed, browse some RSS feeds in Google Reader, and then fall asleep around midnight.

Thus ends a day in the life of the OUCH CEO.

All of the above is, generally speaking, my standard day. It certainly does keep me busy! But I've been doing that for a year now, and still loving it. At this point in time, I have no intentions of stopping - especially since more and more people are starting to get onboard to help me, which means there's just going to be less work for me. Woohoo!

Ahem. I'll go now...

Monday, November 29, 2010

You want epic? I'll give you epic

Yesterday morning in Eve I was involved in the most epic battle of my gaming experience. Let me share the story with you….

The fight started with about 10 of us in cruisers and frigates, camping a bubble and gate in nullsec. Our fleet consisted of the Art of War Alliance, and some guys we were newly blue with. We attacked a small fleet of ships that came through the gate, killling probably 5 of their cruisers. Then another of their fleet jumped in, a Dominix battleship that quickly dropped a cynosaural field, which opened a jump bridge with a system far away. Suddenly two supercarriers appeared!

Yes, our frigates and cruisers killed some cruisers, so they use a cyno-battleship to hot-drop supercarriers against us. Firstly - what a bunch of losers! Secondly - we fled the battlefield, withdrawing to tactical bookmarks.

But then another alliance (Bat Phone) very quickly heard about the supercarriers nearby their own roaming fleet and jumped in and started tackling the Dominix and supercarriers so they couldn’t get away. The Dominix was primaried and warp bubbles went up, but the supercarriers were repairing the Dominix (maybe 'cause it was their way home?). The call went out in local for people to bring battleships or capital ships, and soon enough the Dominix was destroyed. Then the supercarriers became the target of this small-ish fleet that thought we would 'give it a go'.

We rejoined the fight ourselves, offering our assistance as best we could. I was flying a Pilgrim, which is a combat recon ship and good at sucking a target’s capacitor dry, so I was one of the ships doing that against the supercarriers.

Initially there were probably 30 of us, but within 10 minutes there were ships and fleets and alliances coming from all corners of the region. There were phone calls made to people to get them to get in the game ASAP! The supercarriers were repairing each other so that the combined fleet against them was hardly scratching their shields.

A Rapier appeared and dropped another cyno, and a carrier appeared before the cyno and Rapier were destroyed. The carrier immediately added its repair capabilities to the supercarrier that was taking the most damage, but within a minute it was destroyed by our fleet.

Then the pilot of the most damaged supercarrier logged off but the ship was stuck in the bubble for 15 minutes. The other one managed to slowly crawl out of his bubble and warped off, but then came back again to continue repairing his buddy, who disappeared once his 15-minute log off timer was up (your ship stays there for 15 minutes even if you logged off, IF your ship is being attacked and can’t warp off).

So now all attention was given to the supercarrier that had come back, and more warp bubbles went up around it. Someone called out for Titan pilots, and soon enough a Titan appeared on the field to add its firepower against the remaining supercarrier. By this time there was almost 100 pilots in this system in NPC nullsec – a system that rarely gets more than 20 or so. Neutrals passing through were stopping to watch the awesome sight, and we were all too busy to worry about targeting them.

Meanwhile, in the middle of this huge capital-ship battle, there’s me in my little Pilgrim, sitting off the supercarrier at about 7km, doing my bit to neut the hell out of it. The artillery fire, autocannons, lasers, missiles, torpedoes and huge explosions from almost a hundred combatants were lighting up space all around me. It was truly awesome.

Eventually the supercarrier was killed, unable to survive the combined forces of around 85+ ships against it, ranging from frigates, many battleships, capital ships and a Titan.

In the aftermath, everyone agreed in local that the system was now blue, and no one would attack each other. The supercarrier wrecks were looted, and over the next 20 minutes everyone started drifting off, back to whatever it was they were doing before the supercarriers arrived. The watching neutrals moved on.

I was sitting there probably for an hour afterwards, cloaked, watching pilots moving around, looting the wreck, taking photos, salvaging.... Blues, oranges, reds and neutrals – today, for a short while, everyone was blue.

It was awesome.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Black Claw's update

Hello there, I bet you forgot about me, right? Well don't worry, I hadn't forgotten about you. I've just been busy, and haven't really felt that there's been anything really interesting to write about.

OUCH is still recruiting (when we're not at war, that is), and we have training happening on a daily basis, including roaming through nullsec to put into practice the things that the members are learning during training.

Speaking of wars, we've been involved in two wardecs this week, both due to coalition support.

Oh yeh, I should tell you about the coalition. The Art of War Alliance made some new friends over the past few weeks, and we've somewhat formalised our relationship into a 'coalition of alliances'. Since there are 3 of us, and all our names start with "A", we've called it the A3 Coalition. As good a name as any, I think....

First order of business was attempting to support each other with wardecs - if one is wardec'd, the others wardec the aggressor, so that we're all involved. Unfortunately, this had a cascade effect that made it prohibitively expensive, so we quickly learnt that won't work! We're now changing that policy to something more suitable, but I'm not going to tell you what that is. Security measures, and all. I know you understand.

I'm really proud of the fact that we're doing so well against war targets. I don't mean we're killing them repeatedly, I mean they're not killing US repeatedly. This is because of the wartime operations policies I implement within the alliance. As soon as a war starts, I initiate the policies and everything changes. We've pretty much won most of the wars we've been involved in since these polies were created.

However, I'm not going to say any more on that. If you're interested in finding out how to win your own wars that you're the victim of, then contact Black Claw in-game to discuss how the Art of War Alliance can help you.

Along the way I've been doing the occasional PVP myself, and I've learned a few new things of my own. While the Cynabal is a tough ship, it's also a shit magnet like you wouldn't believe. I've had fleets chasing me through nullsec in an attempt to kill me. I'm sure they're phoning up their friends and telling them to log on to help catch the Cynabal, 'cause people have logged in and joined in the chase. I've had fleets of stealth bombers appear out of nowhere in an attempt to blow me out of the sky. All of them failed, luckily for me.

But it made me realise that the ship gathers too much attention, and because I'm more of a solo pilot without any fleet support, I've decided to park it away at the back of the hangar. Instead, I'll use the other ships that don't get so much attention. Like the Hurricane. I've got a setup that I want to test in battle that I think is pretty cool. But I have to find the time first!

It's amazing how much time is spent in-game on corporation management, alliance diplomacy, and coalition setups. While I enjoy it all, don't get me wrong, it doesn't leave that much room for PVP'ing. Thank the Gods that at least training is sorting itself out, so I don't have to do that too.

Until next time, fly however the hell you want.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

OUCH and AWA featured in EON Magazine

I was honoured to be approached by EON Magazine a number of months ago, who asked me if I minded being featured in an upcoming magazine. After thinking about it for about 0.034 seconds, I said no, of course not. So they sent me a whole bunch of questions and asked me to answer them with as much detail as I could, which I did.

The feature was published in their October issue, and it was exciting to see my words there for everyone to see! Thanks EON. :)

However, due to space constraints they had to edit out a lot of the information I sent them, so I wanted to put that information here, in my blog, so that the missing gaps were available for people to read. Please enjoy.
HOW DID YOUR AWA GET STARTED?

A long time ago, back when I first started playing Eve Online in 2006, I got the idea to translate "The Art of War" by Sun Tsu into something that was applicable to Eve Online. Ever since then I've been playing around with the Art of War theme, writing the occasional Art of War articles for my blog as well as having some of them published on various Eve-related websites. I was also featured for this on www.massively.com some time ago, but I've not completed publishing my series of articles. When I was trying to come up with a name for my alliance, it struck me that a good name for it would be the Art of War Alliance. I was surprised it was available, and snapped it up as soon as I thought of it.

I think it lends well to the theme of OUCH, teaching nullsec survival. A theme I'm thinking about at the moment, but yet to implement, is having the alliance available to teach corporations the 'art of war', or how to survive wardecs. Where OUCH teaches individuals how to survive in nullsec, AWA might teach corporations how to survive wars. I've survived two major wars so far in the past four years, and even won two wars against pirates, forcing them out of the area they were inhabiting, so I feel like I have a small amount of experience to draw upon as I work out how I'm going to move forward with this idea. I'd like to incorporate Sun Tsu's Art of War into what I teach within the alliance.


OUCH WOULD APPEAR TO BE THE FOCUS OF THE ALLIANCE. TELL US ABOUT WHY YOU SET UP OUCH?

Towards the end of 2009 there was some discussions within the Eve blogging community about Eve University, and how it was difficult for new players to get to learn the game because of politics and elitist attitudes. On December 2 I made a blog post that said:

"Here's a tip for the new players:

The best University is in 0.0 space. Suck it up, gather your belongings, and head out to the Open University of Celestial Hardship (O.U.C.H.)* and you'll learn more there than you could ever possibly imagine...

* Just in case you're wondering, O.U.C.H. is not a real university. It's more like the 'School of Hard Knocks', but O.U.C.H. sounds better than S.H.K...."

From that off-the-cuff bit of satire sprung an idea. The next day I started using Google Wave to invite discussions on the idea of a corp that provides nullsec survival training. By 14th of December, OUCH was brought into existence as a real corp providing nullsec survival training. We had donations of ISK and material resources, and was invited to join an alliance that would help provide support. We officially opened on December 29th, and started accepting applications. Within a month we had over 100 members. It was an exciting beginning!


WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF THE OTHER CORPS IN THE ALLIANCE?

I'm currently very relaxed about alliance membership, as right now it's simply about three things: 1) getting numbers into the alliance, 2) providing industrial support to OUCH, and 3) facilitating further PVP training or operational activities.

Any corporation that wants to join AWA is made to understand that as far as we're concerned, the only requirement we have of them is that they continue their normal operations that they did before joining the alliance. Being in the alliance allows them to participate in training or PVP operations in lowsec and nullsec should they want to, or allows them to build ships and fittings for OUCH and the alliance - again, should they want to.

We've just recently got a corp that wants to focus on wormhole PVE operations, and another that plans on using a wormhole POS as base of operations for PVP raids into lowsec and nullsec, so they're planning on working together. These corps, and the industrial member corps, not only benefit from being able to join in on OUCH's training and PVP operations, but OUCH members benefit by being able to join in on the operations of these other member corps as well.


WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF THE ALLIANCE AS A WHOLE?

When I formed the alliance my original plan was that we'd have our own sovereignty in nullsec by the end of 2010. However, I've come to understand that I might have been a little hasty with such lofty ambitions. For now, the alliance is simply to bring together a bunch of like-minded corps who want to have some fun doing their own thing under a common banner.

Member corps know that the focus of the alliance is with OUCH and nullsec survival training. All members understand that alliance activities and operations revolve a great deal around OUCH's operations and goals.

As we move forward, I'd like to see some very strong corps join the Art of War Alliance with a strong commitment to help the alliance obtain and hold our own sovereignty in nullsec. When that happens, then I can start working with the CEO's of such corps with plans on achieving this. Until then, we're just out for some relaxed, casual fun with the focus being on teaching people how to survive in nullsec and get more kills than losses. I operate on the principle that 'if you build it, they will come'.


WHAT WOULD A CORP MEMBER GET FROM THEIR TIME IN OUCH THAT THEY WOULDN'T GET FROM EVE UNIVERSITY?

When I first started discussing the idea of a nullsec survival training corp on the Eve forums, I was ridiculed by a number of people, particularly by some Eve Uni 'enthusiasts'. It was their opinion that in order to start up a training corp of my own that I should join Eve Uni to see how the 'professionals' did it. That seemed ridiculous to me. The whole point behind OUCH was to move forward with my idea of what nullsec training should be like, not what Eve Uni thought it should be. I thought it was sad that my invitation for discussion on the forums quickly sank into such fanatical outpourings of negative emotion, but it only reinforced in me to provide something different to what Eve Uni does.

To my understanding, there was a lot of political infighting and strangled policies last year which caused the problems amongst new members not being able to get any appropriate training. Since I established OUCH, however, Eve Uni's leadership changed and I believe it's been for the better. I was approached by their new CEO and we had a great discussion about mutual goals and beliefs, and we're blue and friendly with each other.

However, I believe that Eve Uni still only provides highsec PVP training, but their biggest problem is the number of wars that they're involved in, which forces them to almost always be operating under wartime operations policies. This really screws things up for free and easy PVP training in highsec, as they always have to hide from war targets looking for easy kills against the noobs.

OUCH provides nullsec survival and basic PVP training. Training and operations in highsec are rare to nonexistent for us. A number of our members and trainers live in lowsec and nullsec, and as for myself, I'm a -9 security status pilot/pirate who just stays in lowsec as much as I can.

The 'celestial hardship' part of our name is true. We don't protect people from the harsh realities of life in lowsec and nullsec. In fact, we push them into it.

War? In nullsec you're ALWAYS at war. Every day, every minute, every second, you're doing everything you can to stay alive. If you see someone who's not blue, you can be guaranteed they're looking at you as a potential target. Unless they're flying a PVE or industrial ship, in which case they're looking at you with fear, knowing THEY'RE likely to be the target.

OUCH teaches people how to survive in nullsec. Simply put, Eve University just doesn't teach that. They teach highsec PVP, whereas we teach nullsec survival. We cater to different niche areas of training.

What Eve Uni teach would actually complement what we teach. The two aren't mutually exclusive, but can go together. What you learn in Eve Uni can then be applied in nullsec once you learn how to survive out there.

Of course, we also teach some basic PVP, but we teach it in T1 frigates and cruisers. Using cheap and expendable ships and items, we throw our members into the deep end and they learn from practical experience. We provide theory and instruction, but the experiences are real. OUCH members learn from getting their asses kicked by hostiles out there in nullsec. Repeatedly. But our motto encourages this. We don't pussy-foot around. We don't have tissues for people to wipe their tears. We shove them into a ship, and get them out into nullsec. As they die, they learn, and the more they die, the more they learn.

There's a reason we're called OUCH!


WHAT ARE YOUR RELATIONS LIKE WITH OTHER LEARNER CORPS AND ALLIANCES IN EVE?

Apart from Eve Uni, we have no relationships with other learner corps and alliances. We've pretty much mostly kept to ourselves. We provide a niche service and as far as I know, no other corp or alliance in Eve Online provides dedicated nullsec survival training 'for noobs and carebears' like we do. Obviously there's a lot of corps and alliances in nullsec that provide PVP training, but they also expect their members to have already learned some basics of nullsec survival before they've joined.

There's been a couple of corps I've heard of who also provided training to some extent, but my approaches to them were ignored, so nothing ever evolved to the point of even discussing any kind of relationship.

We don't mind being alone, with few blues. It just means there's more targets to practice against.


YOU HAVE VERY LOW ENTRY REQUIREMENTS - VIRTUALLY NONE, IT SEEMS - IS THAT EVER A PROBLEM?

I've tried to maintain strict security policies in line with the 'open university' theme. Everyone is welcome, and there are no security or reference checks. We used to have free ships and items, which most members were grateful for. But it's been the few idiots that come along and decide to take everything they can for themselves that have slowly caused an evolution in the availability of free ships for our members.

By evolution, I mean we no longer provide free ships or fittings. Instead, we provide cheap ships to corp members, and the ships are built by corp members who are looking to make a little bit of money and support OUCH at the same time. We're also just starting to develop a program of providing pre-fitted T1 ships / fittings for members to buy as a package deal, jump in and then lose them in combat.

And that's when our ship reimbursement program comes into play. Every time a member loses a ship, all they need to do is send me an evemail with the killboard link of their loss and OUCH reimburses them for the value of the lost ship. Combine that with their insurance payout and they can actually afford to buy another ship with fittings and maybe even come out with a profit!

So our ways of supporting our members have had to evolve to cope with the selfish, greedy blackhearts that think it's a great idea to steal donations from the corp, and screw things over for as many people as they can.

But we'll never increase our entry requirements. All that's required is a commitment to learn how to survive in nullsec. We no longer provide access to corp hangars, and no one person ever has access to anything more than the ships available for a cheap price via corp contracts.

When people find they can no longer steal from us, or they're unable to gain any kind of selfish benefit, they quickly move on. They're not the kinds of people we want in the corp anyway, so they're quickly weeded out without much effort at all.


WHAT IS YOUR OWN PERSONAL ROLE WITHIN THE AWA (ARE YOU DEMOCRATIC, AUTOCRATIC, ETC) AND HOW DOES YOUR ALLIANCE OPERATE INTERNALLY (WHAT DIVISIONS, ETC)?

The alliance is about 3 months old, and I'm still building it. As per some of my comments above, with it being a casual and relaxed organisation, there's no 'divisions' as such. Instead, we have the member corps making their various operations available to other members of the alliance.

I run OUCH and the alliance like a 'democratic dictatorship'. All CEO's and Directors of member corps are invited to be on an Executive Council. Everyone can tell me what they think is best, and if I have an idea, I present it to corp or alliance members for feedback, discussion, criticism and suggestions for improvement. The ultimate decision rests with me, but I take note of what people are saying, and I'm willing to change my plans according to better ideas, or significant rebellion against my own ideas.

At the end of the day, while I have a vision about where I want to take AWA and OUCH, I'm aware that it's much better to tread softly than to bash heads.


COULD YOU LIST WHO THE MAIN DIRECTORS ARE AND WHAT THEIR ROLES ARE?

Black Claw. And.... my alts.

And... oh wait... no, just me.

I learnt a long time ago with past corps I've been in, and an alliance I once took over, that if I have others sharing the control, then I have no control. So I now make sure I keep all the control. This baby's mine, and if people don't like it, they don't have to be part of it. It's that simple.


IN WHAT ECONOMIC SPHERE DOES YOUR ALLIANCE OPERATE IN? HOW DOES YOUR ALLIANCE PRIMARILY MAKE MONEY (AND WOULD YOU SAY YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL)?

Make money? Hmmm... Maybe I'll get back to you on that once we start making money....


WHAT ARE YOUR POLITICAL AFFILIATIONS WITH THE FRONTIER (O.O) ALLIANCES AND THE CORE EMPIRES? AS A "NEWB" ALLIANCE YOU MUST BE LOOKED DOWN UPON?

Mostly hostile. We have more reds and oranges than we do blues. Our standings scheme is simple: reds are those who actively seek us out, looking for the easy kills against our noobs, and oranges are those who are known to be hostile but we should simply be cautious around. But anyone not blue is a target to us, as we operate on a NBSI (not blue, shoot it!) policy.

I think the ones who we've made red to us are probably the ones that think it's a great idea to hunt out the noobs for the easy kills. I'm not sure that achieves what they want to achieve, since that's what OUCH is all about - the more we die, the more we learn, and the better we become. They're helping us, rather than hindering us.

Some of those who are orange to us have actually learned to respect us. There's a lot that can be done with T1 frigates in nullsec, and some of the local inhabitants have learnt to be very cautious if OUCH members are around. I like that a lot. And some even run in fear. I like that a lot too.


IN WHAT REGION(S) OF SPACE ARE YOU BASED AND WHAT IS LIFE LIKE THERE?

Our highsec location is Derelik, which is right on the border of Curse, a nullsec region that is NPC-owned. We chose this spot because there are less gate camps controlling entry into nullsec, which makes it just that little bit safer for noobs and carebears to use as they learn how to operate in nullsec. With less focus on 'chokepoint' ownership from the nullsec inhabitants, it becomes more like lowsec but with nullsec PVP tactics, and that makes it an ideal environment for nullsec survival training.

One of the goals I have is to 'own' our area of NPC-nullspace, simply by our presence. I want dozens and dozens of OUCH members in the nullsec systems that joint with lowsec, so that WE 'own' the chokepoint. I think that would make it a lot more interesting and exciting to provide the nullsec survival training that we do. We would base ourselves in nullsec, instead of where we're currently based (lowsec and highsec).

Life in our little area is still quite interesting. Because it's on the edge of nullsec, we still get some of the nullsec corporations hanging out in our area and providing some tension. And of course, there's a corp that are all flying battleships and simply engage in large-ship PVP in lowsec, and ignore our T1 frigates buzzing around. Occasionally large fleets of nullsec alliance pilots fly through on a roam, and we all dock up and wait for them to pass by. Life is great.


HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR COLLECTIVE COMBAT ABILITIES AS AN ALLIANCE?

Well, if 1 is a bunch of noobs that have no idea, and 10 is a fleet of Titans, then we're probably about 2.5. Our killboard has a lot more green than red, which is nice to see when I wake up every day.


UPON WHICH MEMBERS WOULD SAY YOUR ALLIANCE MOST DEPENDS, AND WHY?

Apart from myself as the alliance leader, I'd say there's no single members at this stage that the alliance depends on. We're still growing, and I'm sure such dependencies will come in time. Just not right now.


WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS FOR THE ALLIANCE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ENSURE IT SURVIVES BEYOND THE OTHERS?

To own our own sovereignty in nullsec, so that we can have a nullsec base of operations where our members can hang out in, learn nullsec survival and PVP, and have some safety to go ratting or do missions in the nullsec systems that we own.

For AWA to survive in order to reach its goals I follow a simply philosophy: NEVER SURRENDER. Always push on, no matter what.

The only reason corps and alliances fail is because their leadership quits. If you don't quit, your goals WILL be realised. You just have to keep striving for them.


WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR 3 OR 4 MOST SIGNIFICANT MILITARY OPERATIONS TO DATE (COULD YOU STATE WHAT REGIONS THEY TOOK PART IN, WHEN, WHO THEY WERE AGAINST, A BRIEF SUMMARY OF HOW IT ERUPTED, WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW IT CONCLUDED)?

1. When I created OUCH I joined an alliance at its executor's request. He wanted to support OUCH's goals, and after much discussion I joined with him. However, I think it was in January that our membership of that supporting alliance fell apart. The alliance executor decided he wanted to move the alliance to a different region, and follow a different goal. He tried to hijack OUCH and pull it out from under me. His manipulation of OUCH members led to about 20% of our members at the time leaving OUCH and going with him instead of staying with OUCH.

2. Two weeks after OUCH's departure from that alliance, we had war declared against us by some unknown highsec griefing corp that seemed determined to destroy us. We'd never encountered them at all until they declared war, but they told me they had a budget for the war, and their excuse was that we had been seen flying with a previous enemy of theirs. Sounded like mercenaries to me, and I thought their excuse was pathetic, since they weren't attacking their 'enemy', only the weak corp (us) that had been seen flying with them....

That war lasted two months, and moved from highsec, to lowsec to nullsec. We transferred the 'battlefield' locations into areas that we had a more even footing by allowing others to get involved on our side. Eventually, after 2 months of sustained war, they cancelled the wardec and moved on.

I was very proud of OUCH members for holding on during such a period. At the end of that 2 month war I went from about 140 members to 130 members. We lost some, we gained some, but in the end we survived their attempts to destroy us.

I always wondered who paid them to seek out OUCH's destruction. I'm sure it wasn't the alliance executor who tried to hijack OUCH and then steal all the members for himself....


WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? IF NOT, COULD YOU MAKE ONE UP, PLEASE? Smiley

"You're going to die. A lot. But along the way you'll learn how to die less."

50 million ISK for 50 fights

That's right, you read right - 50 million ISK for 50 fights. Now for the details...

For the month of November I'm running a competition for OUCH members to encourage them to get out there and get some fights. Just over a year ago I wrote this post about 50 fights, and I've been using that as a training element within OUCH.

A few months ago I started a new policy that all members had to be involved in at least 4 fights a month. Winning or losing didn't matter, as long as they were out there fighting. To encourage that policy even more, I decided to create this competition for OUCH members for November.

50 fights = 50 million ISK.

This is for all OUCH members only, and only for the month of November. The rules are:
  • The fights have to be real, and not against other OUCH members.
    Any such fights will not be considered in the final count.
  • The ships have to be fit for PVP.
    Any ships without without fittings, or with stupid fittings, will not be considered in the final count.
Note: Corp members trying to 'cheat' in this fashion will be removed from OUCH, as there's no room for cheats in this corp.

Does this competition excite you?

If you're interested in being part of that, OUCH is still open for recruitment. If you're interested in learning nullsec survival and PVP and getting your ass kicked and being paid for it (if you do the 50 fights), then you're welcome to join us.

Join the in-game channel OUCH-UNI where you'll find joining instructions, or you can ask any of us any questions you might have about OUCH and how we can help you succeed with your nullsec survival and PVP skills.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

E-ON Issue #021 – Published 1st October (now shipping)

IT’S STORYTIME

It’s always been there, but EVE’s storyline has never been the most overt aspect of the New Eden universe. All that’s set to change with Incursion, as CCP is looking to bring the back-story firmly to the front. With player events back on the agenda and everyone from the mightiest 0.0 alliance to the lowliest high-sec miner invited to take part, it looks as if your reasons for doing what you do are about to get ever more dramatic.


CONSTRUCTING FANFEST

As we wait patiently for 2011’s extravaganza on the roof of the planet, we take a trip back in time through Fanfests of old to discover how they came to be, why they came to be and who came to... uh, be them. Whatever. The moments that made CCP realize getting a large group of its players together under one darkened roof was all worthwhile, the lessons learnt, and what we can expect from future trips to the sunny shores of, er, Iceland.

SURVIVING EVE

Of course we love EVE more than life itself, but that doesn’t mean that life should be neglected in the pursuit of one more can-flip or podkill. We take time out from staring at the monitor to examine ways to step back, smell the flowers and still appreciate our beloved game for all its worth but without becoming totally burnt out in the process. Remember traveller, a healthy capsuleer is a happy capsuleer and vice versa.

THE 50M ISK CHALLENGE

Give a bunch of pilots a (relatively) small lump of cash, tell them to spend it on whatever ship and fittings they think are best and record the results. Following Issue #019’s 200 million ISK ship-building challenge, we thought we’d try it again but with a more modest amount. You’ll be surprised just how far a tiny budget goes in New Eden’s chop-shops these days.

PLUS
  • The Mod Delusion – how EVE’s greatest fans are taking New Eden into other game engines
  • ‘Condemned To Repeat’ – an all-new, exclusive Chronicle of espionage and deceit from Danny Schalit
  • In depth ‘Insider’s Guides’ to Militia Fleets, getting the most from EVE’s communication tools and the first of a multi-part look at Drones
  • Interviews with EVE TV veteran and CCP Video Producer Stevie Ward and Technical Director and ‘Lag Warrior’ CCP Yokai
  • Behind the characters of Silentbrick, Niccolado Starwalker and Sakura Nihil
  • Profiles of Art Of War Alliance and Veneratio Venator Alliance
  • The latest news from CCP and the latest reports from 0.0 space
  • Postcards, Funnies, My Two ISK and much more

Oh, and there’s one more thing... E-ON is going digital, but we’re not abandoning the hard-copy magazine – far from it. And as a special incentive, ALL subscribers to the hard-copy edition will receive FREE access to the coming-soon E-ON Digital, which will be able to be viewed online or offline on a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Android device. The print edition will still retain its glossy-page collectability, but the digital version will enable us to bring new features such as full archive searching, lower cost and instant availability. Go tell the world, E-ON Digital is coming soon...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Adventures of the Cynabal

I joined in on a nullsec bubble camp with some corp mates the other day. I asked them about the neutrals in local, and they said they weren't sure about them, but they hadn't seen anything. I was hesitant to join in on the camp without adequate intel, but the corpmates were flying frigates and cruisers, so I figured it was ok.

So there I was, at a tactical bookmark a few hundred km from the gate and bubble, aligned so that I could quickly go to warp and arrive at the bubble to join in any attack against someone who might get stuck in it. Suddenly, 5 ships appeared (my fleet members don't show in the overview) and they were all within 20km of me while I was still 200+km from the gate and bubble.

Whoah! I said to myself. An ambush! They were all stealth bombers, and they all released their bombs. Explosions lit up the darkness, and I was happy I was aligned and moving, otherwise the damage would have been far more extensive than just 60% of my shields! I tried going to warp, but nothing happened, so I quickly activated my MWD and burned away from them at 2.7km per second. Their next volley of bombs was unable to catch up to me, and once I got out of their point range, I then activated my warp drive and got away.

Cursing to myself about my corp mates lack of intel, I told them what happened and said something like "Screw you guys, I'm going home!" But politely, of course. :) I wasn't going to sit on a bubble camp with my Cynabal and wait for more stealth bombers to sneak up on me.

So I was heading back home and jumped into a nullsec system, only 1 jump from my lowsec destination and discovered a small fleet of ships gathered around me on the gate. There was probably about 8 to 10 of them, including some interceptors, some battlecruisers, and some miscellaneous T2 ships.

Immediately my heart rate went up, and I was saying to myself "shitshitshitshit..." My brand new Cynabal hadn't even been blooded yed, and now here I was in the middle of a gate camp. I'm sure they were eagerly waiting for me to decloak from the gate, because you don't gatecamp in nullsec without having a scout on the other side. They knew what I was flying, and they wanted it on their killboard...

I took stock of the situation. No warp bubble - thank the Gods for small mercies. Every single one of them was within 12km of me. Hmmm... it was going to be hairy.

I aligned for the lowsec system and then quickly pressed F1 for the cloak, quickly followed by F2 for the Microwarp Drive. It did exactly as I hoped, and made the ship invulnerable while both modules were active, each of them struggling for dominance and preventing the surrounding ships from being able to get a lock on me.

All they could do was watch me cruise through their midst until the MWD completed its cycle and I quickly deactivated the cloak and then clicked on 'Warp to'. The Cynabal immediately went to warp and escaped the gate camp. I could imagine them all screaming at each other on their voice comms as I warped away from them. "He used the cloak+MWD trick - he's obviously gay! He's super gay! Why couldn't he have let us kill him! What a loser!"

I exited the system and docked up in lowsec... I can tell you that my hands were shaking from the adrenaline rush. I had to hold my hot cup of tea with both hands as I waited to calm down!

But then there was the next threat....

When I left highsec and entered lowsec earlier, on my way to the nullsec bubble camp, about 10 'reds' (known hostiles) saw me flying across the lowsec system. As I arrived at the gate to jump into the next lowsec system, 4 of their battleships arrived with me. As I jumped through, I could see maybe 5 more arriving at the gate. On the other side, once my screen cleared, I could see 4 or 5 of these 'reds' appearing in local, and I quickly activated my warp drive to flee the gate's proximity and make my way to the station where I docked and waited for them to leave.

They eventually left, and when they did I made my way into nullsec. But now I was back, and their scout obviously alerted them of my presence, because local began to spike with 4 of them jumping in. I suspected that they might have had a couple camping outside the station, with the rest of them waiting near the gate that went back towards highsec. That's what I would have done... There was no way I was undocking right now.

As it was, with a corp mate acting as a scout of my own, I determined that even though they eventually left the system (leaving behind a scout), and left the next system (leaving behind another scout), that it was probably a trap.

So I undocked in my pod and made my way back to highsec safely, where I got myself another cup of tea and relaxed, thinking about my day's adventure.

I've come to understand that the Cynabal is a shit magnet, and it attracts all manner of shit wherever it goes. People go to great lengths to try and kill a Cynabal, so to say that I was happy to have survived my day's adventure is probably an understatement. I was ecstatic!

See you in space.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wars, POS bashings, and PVP action!

OUCH has been busy!

I've been busy running OUCH and the Art of War Alliance (AWA) and even playing the game as well (shocking!), so doing blog posts has been a distant second place in terms of priority. But I'm back. Not sure how long it will be before the next post, but I'll try to make it more often than I have been!

We've been busy lately. Every day there's been training operations that include corp members playfully dueling in highsec to learn all about ship fittings, PVP roams or bubble camps in nullsec for the action and extra training, and just a couple days ago a highsec war to allow us to clean up an abandoned POS.

Our first lowsec POS bash!

On Saturday we had a test run into lowsec to destroy the tower of an abandoned POS and clean up the nearby modules. Over 14 hours we had quite a few alliance members turn out for the fun of it all, but it took so long because the turnout was sporadic at best. But it was eventually destroyed.

The fun part of that was doing it in lowsec... Everyone had to have cloaks on their ships so that they could hide if hostiles entered the system, which didn't happen too often, thankfully. It was important to have scouts watching the entry points, but we didn't have enough for that AND the battleships/stealth bombers, so we had the 2 most dangerous entry points covered and had scan probes on the other 2 gates.

Between 4-15 pilots in in a single lowsec system over 14 hours - without incident. Phew! And right next door to us was a hotzone, but none of the regular pirates and pvp'ers in that system ventured next door, so they never noticed the bunch of trainees in battleships. :)

Our first war!

Well, not our first war, but the first war we declared against someone else...

The feedback about the POS bash was so positive that I decided to go find an abandoned POS in highsec, and research the corp to determine their activity. I found a large abandoned tower with about 240 million worth of modules and did some research to find that the owning corp was last active in February and the POS in question had been taken offline by a single pilot in August.

I immediately had the alliance declare war on them, sent the alliance and evemail to announce what was going on and provided instructions to the alliance on where it was and what was needed to attack it.

The war became active yesterday, and I got home from work about 2 hours after. There was already an alliance fleet in place that had been hammering it as soon as they were able to, and I (as Alexia Morgan, since Black Claw can't go into highsec in ships...) joined in with my own Armageddon battleship. It took about 7 hours for the fleet to destroy this large tower, and then I went to get the hauler to pick up the modules.

Lots of fun for all! I was excited that every alliance pilot who came online joined in on the POS bash. Very cool!

And another corp joined the alliance after seeing what we were doing in local... I think they got excited about being able to bash POS's too, and wanted a part of the action.

Do you want a part of the action too?

If you're an individual that's looking for an exciting place to learn PVP and nullsec survival, join OUCH. The corp is full of great, laid-back guys that you can sit back and have some fun with and learn how to be a whole lot better at Eve than you are. Join the channel 'OUCH-UNI' in-game and have a chat to me or some of the guys that hang out in there.

If you're the CEO of a corp and you're sick of having griefers declare war against you and you want some alliance protection, we can't guarantee to protect you, but we CAN guarantee that you'll learn how to operate effectively during war. The Art of War Alliance teaches member corps how to operate effectively if wardec'd, allowing you to continue PVE operations even while at war, and how to deprive an experienced enemy of kills without having to sit in station all day!

If that interests you, then add me to your watch list and chat to me about it when you see me online next, or send me an evemail and I'll get back to you.

Ships. Lots of ships!

Over the past few months I've been continuing the training plans for Alexia Morgan and Black Claw so that they can fly bigger and better ships. I'm currently cross-training them both for Heavy Assault Cruisers and Recons for all races. That's a lot of ships....

Alexia can now fly all HAC's and Recons for all races except Caldari, but I'll wait for a while before working on getting the Falcon.

I recently got excited about Hurricanes, so after Alexia's current training finishes for a Broadsword (Heavy Interdictor for nullsec operations) I'll be training her up to achieve Elite status for all the Hurricane certificates and using that as much as I can. It feels like a cruiser to fly, but is more powerful. And I like how it looks like an Empirial Star Destroyer...

Ships that go boom!

Black Claw has been doing a lot of station camping. Those cyno alts, they keep getting in the way! They're like tempting hors d'euvres, just sitting there waiting to be eaten. And so Black eats them. With extreme violence. He just can't help it. While camping a station waiting for a juicy frigate or industrial, the cyno alts just sit there. And so they pop.

It's funny. I had Atlas Alliance form a fleet to hunt Black Claw (and failed) because I was bothering their cyno alts. Even though they had 60+ kills against OUCH, compared to OUCH having killed 15 of their pilots, they still got offended...

See you next time!

Friday, July 02, 2010

EON Magazine - Issue 20 is out!

I'm a subscriber of the EON Magazine, and as a blogger I get notified of the latest issue as it's published. The magazine's prettydamn good, so I recommend anyone that plays Eve Online to subscribe to it. It's worth it.
PEOPLE AND PLANETS

Tyrannis is here, and with it the feature they are calling Planetary Interaction. Inside the latest E-ON we have a guide to understanding how to make the most from New Eden's literal new landscape. ...But, hang on, where have all the people gone who live on all those surfaces (perhaps not so many on those lava ones)? How are we supposed to be benevolent or tyrannical when there are no insignificant proles to sell cheap electronics to in order to keep them in line? We ask whether as an attempt to breath new life into old New Eden, Tyrannis was an opportunity missed, or one soon to be realized.

STELLAR COUNCIL MATTERS

Keeping with the theme of people in EVE, we look at the work of the CSM, the volunteer body of EVE players who are elected to give CCP a players’ perspective of EVE. It's been more than two years since the first Council was sworn in, since which time our various representatives have canvassed and cajoled for important changes. We ask whether those changes have been significant enough and try to gauge the CSM from the view of those that might vote for them.

BIG SHIPS, BIG TESTFLIGHT

Motherships were once a ship to be left at home, but as the re-named and all-improved Supercarriers they have become one of EVE's most important front-line vessels. Able to provide massive support, or deal vast amounts of anti-capital damage by deploying fighter-bombers, they are almost as versatile as they are massive. Which is why we devote a massive number of pages to fitting and flying them properly.

FREE POSTER*

Free with E-ON issue #020, we are giving away another ship poster; this time it's the cruisers of the Gallente Federation that line up in a sexy pose. That's right, never again will you have to rely on 'show info' to tell the difference between a Vigilant or a Deimos, as you can see how all the hulls line up by faction or tech level, together with handy fitting and hit point information so you know just what you're up against.

*FREE for every subscriber (while stocks last). This poster is also available rolled on thicker stock.

PLUS

* ‘Fuel of your Creation’ - sequel to E-ON Issue #002 story ‘The Eighth Plague’
* The evolution of the Alliance Tournament
* How to get the best people into your corp – Insiders’ Guide to Corp Recruitment
* Interviews with CCP’s Art Director Asgeir Asgeirsson and video producer CCP Charlie
* Shar Tegral, Dianabolic and Zoolkhan are ‘In Character’
* 0.0 Report reports on 0.0 shenanigans
* Plus The Funnies, My Two Isk... …and all the latest news

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Interview with a mercenary

In the past I've done a couple of interviews as Black Claw and probably my most popular post as Alexia Morgan was my interview with Duckeye. Well, it's time for another interview!

This one is with Noir Avlaa of the Sunset Jokers. Please sit back, relax, and enjoy the read.

  • You used to be pirates... what made you want to move away from piracy and become a mercenary?
Romeo Blakstorm and I have both been flying with The Tuskers for a while, and a pirate's life was the life for us for most of our EVE careers. But after a while we both just felt that piracy was not the way we wanted to spend our future. Romeo left a couple of months before me to join up in a 0.0 corp, whereas I left my account to go inactive, thinking a break might make me come back and become more enthusiastic to the Yarr.

When I did come back I still found myself spinning ships in station, and Romeo was finding 0.0 no to be to his liking. I looked at my options, spoke a bit to Romeo and decided Merc life was the best way to go. We both like the PVP side of piracy, but I'd like to have a bit more freedom with my movements through space, and be able to earn more than enough ISK than I really need without an alt character, whereas Romeo's been a pirate for a bit longer than me and as 0.0 isn't to his liking then merc work, while alot like piracy, would be much better. He still gets to shoot at people, but with a paycheck and access to empire space.

  • So what made being a mercenary more desireable than other proffessions, say joining up with a lowsec alliance as muscle or even roaming 0.0?
Well as I said before, I want to get paid while I shoot at people. Joining up with a lowsec alliance would seem like a restriction after being in The Tuskers, and roaming in 0.0 just seems like a silly idea to me. There may well be as many targets as lowsec but there's also alot more risk. If possible I'll always stack the odds in my favour when it comes to PVP... there are no rules, only winning. I've had a look at a lot of mercs across EVE and they have the same sort of set up as The Tuskers, but without the pitfalls involved with being pirates.

  • Now you've created Sunset Jokers, how do you plan to progress into merc work?
For now we're trying to create a core set of players with various sets of skills we can meld together to create a small, effective gang. We're going to learn how each pilot operates over a reasonable period of time with roams through lowsec, probably against pirates mainly, until we're confident enough to start out properly as mercenaries.

We're looking at between 25-40 members when we're fully running, and we'll start taking contracts at around 15 members against small corporations and alliances. We'll start taking most contracts at 25 members, and expand up to 40 members maximum. We want to keep the corp large enough to be effective, but small enough as to keep a tight-knit group of players.

  • You mentioned you'd be shooting pirates... Any particular reason, considering your backgrounds?
Aha, yeah, we know how pirates operate, and they flash red in the overview. We're going to be weapons free anyways, but we'd prefer to shoot reds than neutrals, purely for sec status. And pirates bring more fun to the party, if we can learn to combat pirates, which are a bit more unpredictable than most corps I've seen, then we should be fine with alot of wardecs we'll be doing.

It'd also be fun to shoot some old corp-mates :D

  • Have you got any ground rules to becoming a Sunset Joker?
Well we'd like to keep things professional. We want members to have at least 5 million Skill Points, and that would need to be mostly in combat skills and be able to fly something like a stealth bomber or an interceptor. We're mostly looking for older players, people who can bring some real punch to a party.

We're definately advocating a professional attitude. We don't want any smack talk from our side of the fence. If someone is giving us lip in local, we find it better to just not respond. After all, anyone is a potential client. If we act in a professional manner, stay courteous and don't get angry then people will see it and appreciate it.

Currently we want pilots who can fly a Recons, HACs, BCs and BSes, but by all means drop us an application no matter what you can fly and we'll see if we have space for you. All pilots must be self sufficient, as we have no corp fund at the moment, nor an industry alt corp ;)

Age limit is 16+

If you're interested check out our recruitment thread - http://www.eveonline.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=1336398

Join "Sunset Public" chat in EVE-Online or EVE-Mail "Romeo Blakstorm" or "Noir Avlaa"

  • Ok, thank you for the interview, Noir, and I wish you all the best in your mercenary endeavours!
Thanks for the interview. :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Teaching the Art of War

I had an idea a little while ago. OUCH teaches nullsec survival... what do people think of the Art of War Alliance teaching noob/carebear/industrial corps how to engage in operations during war?

Let me know your thoughts on such a thing, as I'm seeking 'market feedback'.

PROMOTIONAL POST - Nullsec Survival Training

Hello everyone! Black Claw is back.

I know, you didn't even know I was gone, did you. Well, I wasn't... I've just been vewy, vewy quiet. This post is a 'promotional post'. I'm going to be doing them every now and again, as part of my ongoing advertising and recruiting campaigns.

Catching up on past events

Over the past 6 months OUCH has experienced a lot of challenges and changes.

We started out with all the best intentions of making things easy for noobs and carebears to get involved in nullsec survival training. We even had trainers! Except that things went pear-shaped pretty quickly, when my primary trainer and partner decided he wanted to hijack OUCH for his own purposes and go do other things. Our 'breakup' was messy, and he manipulated a number of OUCH's members to follow him. My only joy was that after a month or two he quit playing Eve, and I'm still here.

*dances*

A highsec griefing corp wardec'd us and we ended up being at war for two months. At the end of it, I was happy that I still had about 130 members, having started with 140 members at the beginning of the war. Some had gone, some had joined, but stability and morale was maintained. A great achievement, as far as I was concerned, with a war that had gone for 2 months, even venturing into lowsec and nullsec. They ended up canceling their wardec when it became obvious that they were starting to get more significant losses because they had to follow us into lowsec and nullsec, where the war became more even and non-involved parties could join in and assist.

I fully believe they were paid by a 3rd party to destroy OUCH, and I'm happy they failed. Destruction of a corp or alliance comes from a loss of will at the leadership level. There's no way I'm EVER going to let anything or anyone destroy OUCH.

Highsec griefers are cowards. They wardec noobs and carebears who can't fight back, and then brag about how good they are based on their killboard. Pathetic. I despise such corps and pilots that enjoy that kind of thing. They're even worse than whinging carebears, and that's saying something!

Where we're at now

Some of the issues I've had over the past 6 months in is attaining and retaining trainers. I've found that a lot of qualified and experienced players either prefer training in highsec, which means they go to Eve-Uni, or if they're nullsec experienced, they prefer actually playing in major nullsec corps and alliances, rather than training a bunch of noobs and carebears.

And fair enough too. This is a game, after all, that they're paying to play, so I can understand that they might want to just play the nullsec game than teach others how to play it. People with my vision and enthusiasm seem to be few and far between.

But it's not stopping me. Instead, I've had to evolve the training methods so that OUCH can continue its goal of providing nullsec survival training to people that want to learn.

So this is how it works now. There's a lot of guides and tips that have been generated over the past 6 months, that provide detailed instructions on how to travel around and survive in nullsec, how to enhance skill training, how to fit ships, how to engage in combat, and how to make money. It's a wealth of information available in a single location, and accessible to all members of OUCH at all times of the day!

At the same time, as members practice what they're learning they can band together with other members who are online at the same time, and work together on practicing what they're learning. The more experienced members take on ad hoc training roles as they use their own experience and knowledge to help the newer members learn as well.

What's in it for members?

You're probably wondering what's so special about OUCH then, if all we do is provide written material that you can find elsewhere on the net. Well, apart from the fact that we make it easier to get that information by having it in one location for OUCH members, we don't JUST provide written material for people to read. We also provide:

  • Friendly and supportive environment.
    Our friendly and supportive members encourage new members to fleet up with them and get involved in nullsec survival training and PVP operations, as well as always be on hand to answer questions that new members might have.
  • OUCH pays you to lose your ships!
    We encourage PVP training and operations, and every time you lose a frigate, we'll pay you the ship loss value. Along with your insurance payout, this will allow you to keep buying new frigates and fittings for as long as you want.
  • Graduation week.
    Once a month we provide a nullsec survival test for students. This is starting 1st of August, and will be the 1st week of every month. If they pass the test, they graduate and receive a Graduate of OUCH decoration that lasts with their character forever. If they fail the test, they can do it again next month. If anyone gets 3 kills during their Graduation Test period, then they'll receive an Honours Graduate of OUCH decoration.
  • Reimbursement policy for all members.
    Students are reimbursed for their frigates lost during training and PVP. Graduates are reimbursed for lost cruisers, and Trainers are reimbursed for battlecruisers lost during fleet operations (eg. taking a small fleet out for training or PVP).
  • Become a trainer.
    All members who have graduated can have the opportunity to become Trainers. This means that not only will their destroyed cruisers be reimbursed (as a Graduate), but so will their battlecruisers if they take a fleet out for training or PVP. To be a trainer all you need to do is organise and host a training session once a week on whatever it is that you're good at. (You'll need to take me through a training session first for final approval.)
If you're interested in finding out more, join the public channel OUCH-UNI and say hi and ask all your questions. We welcome anyone and everyone.

The future for OUCH and the Art of War Alliance

For OUCH

We're only going to get bigger and better. We have about 120 members at the moment, after I recently culled a number of members who haven't logged in for over 3 months, and there's room for PLENTY more. The more people we get, the more opportunities there'll be for training and PVP action. OUCH will become a force to be reckoned with. Not only will its newer members be going "OUCH!" from the pain of losing their ships, but so will our targets!

Graduation Week is the first stage of providing reward and recognition for our graduates. As we develop this, we will also provide more advanced courses that include Covert Ops, Intelligence Gathering, Scouting, Fleet Command, etc etc. All course graduates will receive appropriate decorations that show all the galaxy that they've graduated their relevant courses.

For the alliance

The Art of War Alliance (AWA) will be a haven for corporations that want to be part of what OUCH stands for, to facilitate training or be involved in training, or to provide industrial support and PVE operations.

AWA welcomes any corp that wants to come onboard. We have no sovereignty or POS's at this stage, so there is no requirement for 'calls to arms' (CTA's) that many other alliances demand of their members. We're very casual, very friendly, and very supportive. Being in the alliance means that your corp's members can become involved in our nullsec survival training, PVP operations in lowsec and nullsec, and even involve themselves in PVE activities or industrial operations.

Any type of corp is welcome, we have no restrictions (except for mercenary corps or highsec griefers!). We want corps who are focused on manufacturing, wormholes, exploration and scouting, covert ops, even piracy. Everyone is welcome!

Contact us

Contact me if you want to talk about how your corp can be involved.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An update on OUCH and its nullsec survival training

/begin advertisement

OUCH Nullsec Survival Training

OUCH is a casual training corp that provides nullsec survival training to anyone that's interested in learning how to survive the deep, dark depths of the galaxy, where the only security is what you can provide for yourself.

Trainees become members of OUCH, the Open University of Celestial Hardship, and get to learn from first-hand experience how to survive.

Our motto is:

"You're going to die. A lot. But along the way you'll learn how to die less."

We don't teach you with theory and stories over a campfire. We teach you by taking you out on real operations, where you join up with others in OUCH and go roaming around space looking for a fight.

Along the way you'll be taught all about
  • safe spots
  • PVP tactics
  • ship fittings
  • lowsec and nullsec survival
  • avoiding gate and station camps
  • avoiding warp bubbles and understanding how they're used
  • escaping from gate camps and warp bubbles
  • fleet operations and etiquette
And so much more. There's about 150 members in the corp at the moment, with quite a few active at most times (but particularly US peak time), so there's often something going on.

We also have a ship program that provides members with free frigates from the corp hangars. New members have to ask for a ship, but once they get some kills under their belt, they get free access to the hangars so they can take what they need, when they need it.

Contact me if you're interested in learning how to survive in lowsec and nullsec. I'd be happy to chat with you about it.

/end advertisement

Real Life

Wow, I've been pretty busy... but not in Eve. Like everyone else, real life gets in my way too, on occasions. The past few months has been such an occasion. But I'm sure you don't wan to hear all about my real life. :)

I've logged in to the game every day, maintained the corp and talked to members, replied to evemails, maintained the alliance and talked to other CEOs... Everything is going well, but I just haven't been involved that much.

Top Killers

I'd like to give a big shout-out to the top 10 members of OUCH (as of this writing) for their PVP activities in the month of May so far:

Pilot - Kills

1. Miss Teri - 65
2. Crorono - 20
3. Jaxen Griolin - 10
4. Bren Genzan - 9
5. Ailee Ross - 9
6. GRERNANDEZ - 8
7. Contes - 8
8. Black Salamander - 5
9. ColdCutz - 3
10. KIppz - 2

I'm really proud of them, as well as everyone that joins OUCH for training and then gets involved in PVP operations and roams... The best training is simply from getting out there and doing it. All those in the Top 10 list above, they're all getting out there and just doing it.

Art of War Alliance

Some time ago I started up the Art of War Alliance (AWA) for a few reasons.

  1. To bring together various corps that want to provide support to OUCH, and have everyone operate under the one banner
  2. To allow for OUCH graduates to potentially leave OUCH but stay in the alliance and continue providing their support
  3. To start the ball rolling to become a dominant power
So far there's about 6 corps in the alliance, but I plan on having quite a few more as time goes by. The more we get involved, the stronger we'll become.

If you're the CEO of a corp looking for an alliance, and you'd like to be part of what OUCH is doing without having to leave your corp, then contact me to discuss joining the alliance.

For the time being, everything is casual. Alliance membership does not have any requirements other than to continue doing what you've always been doing. Membership in the alliance is mainly to have support from other members, or to join in on ad hoc operations that members might organise.

It's to have fun, without getting too serious. There's plenty of time to get serious in the future, but that will all be part of our steady growth.

Contact me if you'd like to join the alliance.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Art of War Alliance

As of last night, I created the Art of War Alliance (AWA).

This is an exciting new step in the travels of Black Claw, as well as an evolution of what Black Claw is all about.

I first started converting Sun Tzu's Art of War for Eve Online back in 2006, when I was a member of a corporation called Purify. They were anti-pirates, and I got excited about helping them with the art of war, so I created a document called Black Claw's Art of War for Eve Online.

Unfortunately, Purify and I split up and I followed a different path. I didn't revisit the Art of War until 2008, when I first started publishing it on my blog: The Art of War - Laying Plans.

I gained a small amount of 'fame' when Massively featured me later in 2008: Eve and Sun Tzu's Art of War. I also started submitting the series to eve-mag.com but got caught up in too many other things, so the series was forgotten about. I've always been meaning to revisit and continue it, but just never got around to it.

For the past week I was trying to work out a name for the alliance I was about to start, but nothing was inspiring me. I put it up on the corp forums for everyone to add their suggestions, but still nothing grabbed me by the balls and said "THIS IS IT!"

So there I was, sitting in front of my computer after Empire Control V finished, and still no closer to thinking up a name. It was time though, so I decided to sit there until a name came to me.

I thought about Black Claw's past, about OUCH and my goals, and where I wanted to go as Black Claw and as a corp and an alliance. Then I remembered Black Claw's Art of War... That's when I immediately got the feeling, "THIS IS IT!"

OUCH is all about nullsec survival training. A lot of that has been about lowsec and nullsec PVP training, with the focus on surviving. The purpose of an alliance was to bring together a bunch of corporations that supported OUCH and its goals with industrial support, combat support, or just wanting to be part of it all.

We've been at war with Dark Grendal for about 6 weeks now . It's been quite an interesting ride, and we've had to adapt our training and operations to deal with the war. This has included moving most of our operations into lowsec and nullsec, and including war as part of our ongoing operational background.

There have been some mistakes along the way, but we've learnt and grown from them. When people make mistakes, it just points out where we focus our training, so that we can minimise those mistakes in future. We've been building an excellent group of core personnel, and they've become quite a solid team.

I'd been in the process over the past week of working out how to restructure training to take into account how we're evolving and our unique challenges. Once I remembered the Art of War and created the new alliance around it, I also started re-thinking how the training and structure of OUCH is going to change accordingly.

There'll be more on training and alliance memberships in upcoming posts.

Eve just gets more and more exciting every year. :D

Friday, February 26, 2010

More on the war with Dark Grendal

I'd just like to thank Dark Grendal for going to war against OUCH, and thinking that their highsec griefing is a problem for us. In fact, it's inspired a whole lot of OUCH members to tell them to fuck off. They're spamming corp members with evemails, and even spamming those that have left OUCH. It's quite amazing, actually, as to how pathetic they are.

They think they're awesome in using T2 ships and battlecruisers against lone noob frigates, and then they dock up when OUCH amasses a reasonable force, or flee the system. Inspiring, really.

Yes, OUCH members have lost a lot of ships. But they don't care. They joined OUCH to learn how to survive. Dark Grendal is inadvertently helping them do this, but in the process they're also helping show how awesomely, awesomely pathetic they are.

I'm humbled by the support that I have been given from my corp members. These people who have joined OUCH to learn nullsesc survival have made the decision they will not bow to threats, intimidation, ransoming, griefing, harrassment or spamming. Their support of what OUCH stands for is truly inspiring. I'm so grateful to be leading such a great bunch of pilots.

One of our fellow bloggers, and a member of OUCH, wrote an excellent post on the subject that I'd like to refer you to:

Its not because its piracy baby! Its because you're a pathetic bitch.

Have a read, you'll love it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Eve Elitist Pack

CK has recently announced that he's dropping the Eve Blog Pack to 21.

I'm completely against the Eve Blog Pack, to the point that a few months ago I removed it from www.evebloggers.com (which lists over 500 blogs about Eve Online). I'm against the Pack because it promotes elitism, by its very admission. I know there's a lot of bloggers who ARE elitists, and they fight and scramble amongst themselves to get on the list. They want to be considered the best of the best of the Eve bloggers.

I couldn't give a rat's arse about it.

I've always blogged for me, for the game, and for the community, and the community is NOT just 20 blogs (+ 1 for CK). The community is a whole lot more than a bunch of people scrambling to vote themselves and their favourite blogs into the the Eve Elitist Pack.

I know that there's always going to be a lot of people who like others thinking they're the best. One thing I've learned in my time here on this earth is that those who seek approval, acknowledgement and recognition aren't usually worth it. The true quality comes from those who just get in there and do it, and they don't seek reward or recognition.

So, in saying all that, I'm withrawing my interest in continuing to be part of the Eve Elitist Pack. It's flattering that a lot of people have voted for this blog, and I really appreciate that. But I cannot condone such an elitist attitude towards blogging about Eve Online and maintain my presence in it as well, especially when I am trying to support the Eve blogging community as a whole. I fully support the Eve blogging community, and even if that means my exposure is reduced because I'm no longer in the Elitist pack, then so be it.

CK, I'd appreciate it if you leave me out of your revised list, thank you.

To continue, I think it's a shame that with over 500 blogs in the community, both CK and the people behind Capsuleer are working together to promote elitism. I sincerely hope that Capsuleer can open up its promotion of all Eve blogs, rather than just a select few, and if they want to chat with me and Ga'len about how to achieve that, we'd be happy to discuss it with them.

I also think it's a shame that very few people promote and discuss www.evebloggers.com I know it's because we're not encouraging elitism, and I know that doesn't sit well with a lot of people that want to be thought of as being better than everyone else. It saddens me that more people seem interested in promoting themselves and a few elitists, than they are in community as a whole.

I don't care that some bloggers aren't 'as good' as others, neither do I care that some aren't as active as others. What I care about is that, as far as I can tell, Eve Online has more people blogging about it than any other game in the world. And if there ARE more people blogging about any other game, they don't seem to be pulled together into a single community.

Ga'len and myself have been working hard to promote the community as a whole, and I'm disappointed to see so many bloggers struggling to shrink it to a select few elitists. I'll have no part of that any more.

In October last year I wrote:

You know, I'm sick to death of all these social niceties that control us. We don't say what we really feel, believe or think because we're afraid of offending people.

Well, you know what? I'm over it.

If you get offended at what I say about things in general, and you take the opinions I have as personal comments against you, then you're far too sensitive and insecure for me to waste my time and energy on trying to keep you happy.
If you're stung by my words, then maybe the truth hurts. Maybe you see yourself as an elitist, and you're not entirely comfortable about it. Maybe it hurts to hear the truth. Well, you can change that if you want.

Support the community. Support your fellow Eve bloggers. At the end of the day, we're all the same, enjoying this virtual reality called Eve Online.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do you have the longest-running Eve blog?

I was just thinking about blogs and blogging, as I often am, and I wondered - who has the longest-running Eve blog in our community?

I've been blogging since 2006. My first post is here:


I've come a long way since then.

I'd like to see who started before me. So if your blog is older than mine, please post a link to it in the comments. Let's see how far back we can go.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What's in your EveSpace?

I think it was Mynxee that started this ball rolling with a photo of her workspace, and a few other bloggers have done the same thing. So I thought I should post mine too.


I've got a new 27" iMac within the past couple of weeks, and have connected the 22" monitor to it that I was using before I got the iMac (I was originally using a 17" MacBook Pro notebook connected to the 22"). Plenty of screen space for eve (at 1920x1200 resolution), Tweetie for Mac next to it (Twitter program), Chrome browser on the other screen, with my chat program next to that.

Sometimes I get a sore neck from swinging it back and forth to see what's happening on both screens... It's a hard life, I tell ya.

A closer view.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Check out the new blog

Well, it's not 'new', as such, but due to some recent changes, I decided to freshen the blog up. Thanks to some wonderful work by one of our members and his graphic designer friend, OUCH has a new banner which I decided to put up on this site.

If you're reading this blog via RSS, click on the title of this post to go have a look at the site. It's an awesome banner, and it's exactly what OUCH is all about.

Along with the banner, I changed the colour theme of the site to match the colours of the banner. I'll keep fiddling around with it over the next few days or so to get it 'just right'.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh no! We're losing! Good.

Well, the war with Dark Grendal (DG) has been going a day or two now, and like everything else they've been doing, OUCH members have been throwing themselves into it with a vengeance. As of this writing, OUCH has 36 losses to DG's 1. And we're loving it! :)

DG are a dedicated PVP corp, and as such, we knew that we weren't any match for them. That's why they declared war against us, of course. That's what high-sec griefers do, look for weak targets in Empire because they're too scared to go into nullsec and fight. All they do is sit outside a highsec station and camp in a bunch of frigate flyers with their battlecruisers, and when they get jammed by any of our frigates, they dock.

Cowards.

So anyway, we knew that as a 'noob training corp' we couldn't defeat a bunch of more experienced and skilled PVP'ers with battlecruisers, battleships and T2 ships. So on our forums I've been discussing 'the economic war' and providing instructions on how we could potentially win based on the value of losses. We set up Wolf Packs, fleets of frigates designed to overwhelm single targets with organised tactics and planning.

It was working well to start off with. We killed 1 battlecruiser at the cost of 9 frigates, with DG losing 80 million ISK and OUCH losing 32 million. I was encouraging this to continue!

And then someone decided that they'd do well with a Muninn, a Heavy Assault Cruiser (HAC). And they lost it at the cost of 145 million. And then someone else thought a Covert Ops ship was 'just a frigate', and that cost 35 million. One Covert Ops ship was worth 9 frigates... One HAC was worth 35 frigates...

So right now we're losing the economic war, and I'm banging my head into the keyboard.

jhmjhmjhmuyjhmnujhmujhmik,

See? Told you.

But it's all good. OUCH is learning how to deal with this war, and even if we lose, we win - because we learn so much. This will help OUCH's members moving forward, understanding how war is waged in Empire space, what's important, tactics and strategies.

They throw themselves into it, and I'm very happy that they're not afraid to lose. Even in loss comes learning. That's what this is all about.
"You're going to die. A lot. But along the way you'll learn how to die less."

Monday, February 15, 2010

We're going to war!

OUCH has been wardec'd a few hours ago by a corp we'd never heard of, nor had any dealings with, until we received their wardec. Dark Grendel.

Turns out we've been flying with a corp they have a grudge against, so now they have a grudge against us. Also, all their money and resources have been focused on going to war against us.

Which surprises me, when you think about it. If their grudge is against the other corp, why aren't they focusing their efforts on them?

OUCH's motto is:

"You're going to die. A lot. But along the way you'll learn how to die less."

OUCH's members have joined with the expectation of dying. It doesn't scare them. In fact, they're looking forward to this.

Yes, OUCH will lose a lot of ships, and the members will be podded. But we're going to kick some arse as we go. OUCH is a nullsec survival corp, and this war will be a good highsec training exercise of what life is like in nullsec.

Bring it on. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A status update

This is OUCH's new logo. Just something simple, but I like the meaning behind it... The 4 points symbolise the coming together of the 4 races from throughout the galaxy, joining together in a single entity: OUCH.

And together, everyone learns how to survive in nullsec. :)

I've slowed down recruitment a little, focusing on setting up some departments for the more 'normal' corp operations. Basically, OUCH is still focused on providing nullsec survival and PVP training to new players and veterans that don't want to be carebears any more, but we also are structuring ourselves to be self-sufficient.
  • Industry helps mine and build the ships that the trainees use, along with looking after our POS's, engaging in group missions and wormhole operations
  • Security provides combat support to all other operations within the corp
  • Special Forces is our T2 combat specialists, dealing out pain wherever they find targets
  • Intelligence gathers intel that supports corp goals and operational activities
  • Training provides all the various training information, courses and operations for nullsec survival and PVP
So as members learn all about nullsec survival, there are departments that they can be part of. They can mine or do missions if they want to make money for themselves or the corp; they can join Security to provide support to other departments or go on roams with our blues; they can go out into the depths of space in their cloaky ships and gather intelligence; or if they're flying T2 combat ships and are good at what they do, they can be part of OUCH's Special Forces teams.

Something for everyone!

It's starting to settle down a bit now, after our recent alliance shenanigans. I'm about a month away from starting my own alliance, and we've got a few friendly corps lining up to join us once I do.

It's all systems green as we continue moving forward to provide nullsec survival training.

I think I'll go dance in the rain now....

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Hello Capsuleers!

I've been getting a few comments here and there that people are missing me on Capsuleer. Since I know I was on CK's Eve Blog Pack, I was wondering what was going on, but I didn't do anything about it. Until today.

So I think that after Twittering CK about it, I was added to the Blog Pack RSS feed that caters to Capsuleer. Woohoo!

It's good to be 'back'. If anyone on Capsuleer wants to say hi in the comments, I'd love to hear from you. And I hope you'll be looking forward to getting more of my posts in future! :)