Comic Book Awards for May

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~Nandor Shaffer

I’ve been looking forward to the month of May for a considerable amount of time. This in large part has to do with what Marvel is calling “the event to end all events”, or better known to the public as Secret Wars. This eight issue series is in the position to forever alter the foundations of the Marvel Universe and from this month on, over some thirty tie-ins will be under the Secret Wars banner, contributing to the scope of this event and hinting at the changes to be implemented when it concludes and the all-new, all-different MU is established this Fall. Almost each of these tie-ins are brief limited series’ exploring past, future, and alternate timelines in the MU (like Old Man Logan, Civil War, 2099, Marvel Zombies, etc.), separately falling into either the Last Days, Battleworld, or Warzones! categories, and these titles will be replacing the majority of current ongoing Marvel comic books. This leads me to imagine that the following months will be strange for my comic book purchases, as I do not plan to buy many, if any, of the tie-ins for the sake of money and their worth, respectively (I’m not much of a guy for original tie-ins). I could already tell a big change between April and May since I bought half as many comic book titles that I did in April. By the end of Secret Wars, I have a strong feeling things will be switched up more than a little.

Even though it’s true that the numbers were slim for May, the quality was anything but. Scott Lang’s exhilarating opening storyline as the tiniest hero of them all finished with this month’s issue five of Ant-Man on an outstandingly admirable note. I’d go so far as to say the first five issues of this title to be the ideal success story for a fresh, relaunched book and revolutionary envisioning of an underrated character. I do not state that lightly given the fact I miss Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, in the suit to a bottomless degree. I love Ant-Man and it is a perfect beginner comic book for any of you wanting to give comics a chance. The magnificence of artist Marco Rudy returned for a full issue of Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier after last month’s omission on the title. Once again, I cannot begin to describe the excellencies of his artistry in issue eight. The comic is basically an opulent art piece of two-pagers that need no narrative or thread to intertwine them because it’s so beautiful and powerful. Marvel continues its controversial and arguably disappointing creative harnessing of the Star Wars space-fantasy with issue five of the core title and Titan Comics’ Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #12 brings the Doctor to a unpredictably exciting predicament. The second, final Convergence issues of The Flash and Aquaman hit this month as well, while we also say goodbye to Doc Green in the final issue of Hulk, and prepare ourselves for the milestone Uncanny X-Men #600 in June after this month’s Uncanny X-Men #34. This leaves us with what I’ve been leading to and saving for last. That is, Jonathan Hickman’s initial two issues of Secret Wars, which released this month and left me with nothing but unending, deserved praise.

But out of these nominees, which comics received the Comic Book Awards for the month? We may have a faultless comic book issue in our midst.

Cover of the Month Award: Secret Wars #1

Cover By: Alex Ross

header2An event on this tremendous scale need not ask for a finer comic book artist to market its value of epic proportions. The ever great, near to legendary, Alex Ross is the sole cover artist for the entire Secret Wars series and, true to form, reminds the reader of his matchless eye for perspective, lighting, care, and quintessentially pristine handiwork right here with the first issue’s cover. The specially manufactured material used for the cover also amplifies its striking impact. The representation is clear, with the drama of the two dozen or so characters’ body positions and reactions as the two earths collide before them deliver an expedient sense of urgency and hefty grandness. Ross’s realistic, life-like style makes the image jump off the page to excellent affect and the anatomy of the characters and piece as a whole is legitimately astounding. What staggered me even more was no matter how minuscule the persons drawn on the cover for Secret Wars #1 are, you can still tell who they are. It further surprised me to see that a generality of the characters dominating the cover are not as well known to the mass audience, such as Black Bolt, Machine Man, Captain Marvel, Cloak & Dagger, and so on. It’s a testament to why Alex Ross is the artist without pier; whomever and whatever he draws, it is forever iconic.

Art of the Month Award: Secret Wars #1

Artist: Esad Ribic

Color Artist: Ive Svorcina

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Header3AThe art of a comic book essentially drives the story of a comic book. Take away that, and, well, the idea of a “comic book” ceases to be. Just as necessary is the storytelling rendered from the authorship of the artist in a comic book. Many people can draw excellently, but can they draw or tell a story? There’s a gaping difference between the two and I find the keen hand of Esad Ribic captured in Secret Wars #1 to fully envelop both poles of the spectrum. There is a crystal, firm ambience to Ribic’s zealous pages in the commencement issue of this massive event. His detailed diameters portraying New York’s towering skyscrapers crumbling in the wake of gigantic S.H.I.E.l.D. Helicarriers raining down its explosive fire while his molds of numerous characters from both Ultimate and Marvel universes fight one another is some of the most graphic, cataclysmic imagery I’ve recently seen. This individual issue features scores of characters throughout in explosive action and it’s easy to see that Esad Ribic held nothing back whatsoever. Colorist Ive Svorcina has done the same on his part for this issue as well. His brilliant palate is on display in all its glory, providing Secret Wars #1 with an overlaying futuristically modern tone. Both keep in synchronous stride with Hickman’s prodigious script, branding this issue as an immediate must-buy.

Story of the Month Award:  Secret Wars #1 (“The End Times”) 

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

header4Words have meaning, words have power, and Jonathan Hickman may be the only comic book writer whose words stir me (at least on a month to month basis). The first few lines of Secret Wars #1 did just that and the final closing lines to the comic book issue left me with an emotional feeling only Hickman’s writing can generate. In-between these first and final pages, the reader is presented with the last gasp of the Marvel Universe (Earth-616) and the Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610), as they suffer the one last incursion. Picking up where Avengers #44 and New Avengers #33 concluded, the heroes of both earths focus all of their energies on each’s own survival. This historic encounter of these two universes is so engaging and there is not a single slow or tedious moment in the totality of the comic. Important characters of both universes are given the spotlight on equal terms and the satisfaction from this is phenomenal. Secret Wars #1 is a beginning and an ending, the culmination of what everything of the last few years has been leading to and a taste of what lies ahead.  Out of all the first issues of major Marvel events I’ve previously read, the story for Secret Wars #1 trumps them all.

Issue of the Month Award: Secret Wars #1 (“The End Times”) 

Writer & Designer: Jonathan Hickman 

Artist: Esad Ribic

Color Artist: Ive Svorcina

Cover Art: Alex Ross

header5This is a first for my monthly Comic Book Awards; a single issue that is the winner of every receivable award. An incredible feat, no doubt, and leave it to Jonathan Hickman’s introductory climax of possibly his greatest plot yet to do it. What is beheld in the double-sized, packed vastness of Secret Wars #1 is the faultless issue I hinted to earlier. The efficacious cover by Alex Ross, the power pens of Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina, and Jonathan Hickman’s staggering developments raise this single issue above reproach. When a comic book gets you uncontrollably excited about what you just witnessed and even more excited for what’s to come, it has overcome what the plethora of usual comic books depart you with. Major comic book events are enacted to hold what regular ongoing series’ cannot and to drastically affect the universe it is a part of. From Secret Wars #1, this is inherently the case…and the event just started. There is an all-true common trend that events boast how “after this, nothing will be the same”, or, “this is the biggest event ever attempted to be put out by our company”, and, usually, the event turns out to become almost nothing of a sort. This is Jonathan Hickman, though, and this is his Secret Wars. Nothing is safe, and you can trust that when he’s at the head of something, mountains will move.

Thank you all for checking out my awards for May (a lot quicker than last time, eh?) and check back sometime next month for June’s Comic Book Awards! Until then, hopefully you and I will continue to be reading comics!

Galactic Civilizations III Impressions

Emerald Tablet:

A good friend put his impressions on the sequel of Galactic Civilizations, this time in the third installment to the franchise. I am definitely going to get it but will be waiting for the price to hit around the twenty buck range.

Originally posted on Ardwulf's Lair:

Galactic Civilizations III is the latest incarnation of Stardock’s venerable turn-based space 4X franchise. You can buy it through Steam and you don’t need to bother with Impulse. But mind the system requirements, which include 64-bit Windows 7 at least. Me, I was a bit concerned how well it would perform on my aging system, but it turns out to run just fine, aside from a nagging memory leak that’s likely to get patched out fairly soon.

There’s a lot to like about GalCivIII. It’s visually attractive, boasting not just good graphics but excellent art direction as well. Race and ship design are quite robust, especially the latter, which you can easily sink hours into. The addition of Ideology is welcome; it gives your empire some personality. And as advertised, the largest map sizes are indeed enormous. They way I see it, space is big and playing space 4X games…

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Comic Book Awards for April

Comic Book of the Month Awards For April

~Nandor Schaffer

Welcome to April’s edition of my monthly annual Comic Book Awards! I apologize for the late posting since last month’s awards, although I’m always ever appreciative for those of you who take the time to read these. I personally have quite amount of fun writing this blog and I hope the same can be said for you, the reader, just as well.

I think it would be safe to say that the month of April was a month of endings. Avengers, New Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Cyclops (much to my surprise) – four ongoing series – all saw their final issues hit the newsstands this month in bittersweet crescendos. This is because of the Secret Wars event starting in May and we can expect more titles to end and new ones to return after the event’s conclusion this fall. I’d like to thank the creative teams behind each series and for making my purchases all the worth while throughout the last couple of years. Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #7 and Uncanny Inhumans #0 were highlight issues in April, with the former being a touching, dark character study following the Crossbones of an alternate universe, and the latter featuring artist extraordinaire Steve McNiven on a tale of the Inhuman king, Black Bolt. The Convergence tie-ins hit this month in the DC corner ash both the Flash and Aquaman issues had engaging plots of DC’s past (it truly made me want pre-New 52 DC Comics back).

But out of these and other nominees, which comics broke through and came out on top? The Comic Book Awards for April are just a scroll away from finding out.

Cover of the Month Award: The Avengers #44

Cover Artist: Dustin Weaver & Justin Ponsor

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In concept, the cover for Avengers #44 strikes gold. Here is a wrap-around cover of Captain America and Iron Man locked in harrowing battle as two earths collide behind them. And it’s drawn and inked by the sharp, technical, detailed hand of Dustin Weaver, a new favorite artist of mine (with Justin Ponsor providing his brilliant colors). The balance between Weaver’s clean and precise technique with the harshness of the piece is incredible. It’s like a before-and-after image that is in your face and very “in the moment” of a pivotal battle of brothers. It also represents an accurate foreshadowing of the content inside the comic. Truthfully a premiere cover to promote the final issue of Avengers.

Art of the Month Award: The Avengers #44

Artists: Stefano Caselli and Kev Walker

Color Artist: Frank Martin

comic2Two artists contribute to the pages of Avengers #44. Stefano Caselli, a series regular, lends his talent to the meat of the issue while Kev Walker, whose name might sound familiar for his work on a few recent issues on the sister-title, New Avengers, opens and closes the book. Caselli and Walker’s styles differ from each other in a lot of ways and this helps with the two corresponding plots unfolding in the issue that each tackle. Even though I prefer the smooth, realistic touch of Caselli, I would have to say Kev Walker got the better half of the issue depicting Captain America and Tony’s relationship and eventual one-on-one emotionally charged clash. Most of what Stefano Caselli brings in this issue doesn’t offer as many eye-catching moments compared to Kev Walker’s brutal action pages towards the end and his work is what ultimately makes Avengers #44 really rise to the forefront of the month.

Story of the Month Award:  New Avengers #33 (“In Latveria, The Flowers Die In Summer”)

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

comic3Last month in New Avengers #31, it was revealed who Rabum Alal, the Great Destroyer, the harbinger of the incursions, is. This was one of the biggest, most shocking revelations that shaped the reader’s perception of the entire New Avengers series, and in #33 we how Rabum Alal came to be, the reasons for the incursions, and the Beyonders’ motives for multiversal genocide. I still wouldn’t want to spoil who exactly Rabum Alal is for the sake of ruining the reveal for those of you who have yet to read the issue, so I’ll do my best to work around that while explaining why the story for New Avengers #33 is exemplary.

I’ve grown accustom to Jonathan Hickman’s highly intellectual, thread-weaving superhero adventures, but even with that in mind, this issue is heavy. You’re thinking about the implications of what is gone over and expounded upon in this issue at the same time you’re trying to understand and comprehend what is actually written. The answers are plentiful, but from them even more questions arise in the extra-sized issue. The final pages of New Avengers #33 carry with them some of the best lines and one of the most sweat-inducing encounters to ever be printed on a comic book page. There’s not necessarily a pay-off to the series (that will be Secret Wars’ job), which is slightly disappointing for the last issue of any title, but it stands to show the reader that Hickman isn’t slowing down and the real finale has only just begun.

Farewell New Avengers. And thank you for being my all-time favorite comic book series ever. What an epic run.

Issue of the Month Award: Avengers #44 (“One Was Life, One Was Death”) 

Writer: Jonathan Hickman 

Artists: Stefano Caselli and Kev Walker

Color Artist: Frank Martin

Cover Art: Dustin Weaver & Justin Ponsor

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Call me nostalgic, but I can still remember the day I bought and read Jonathan Hickman’s first issue of Avengers at the end of 2012already interested in how well he’d approach these characters after his undeniably “fantastic” work on Fantastic Four/FF – and falling in love with his vision for the book after the first couple of pages. It’s strange to think that it’s been forty-three issues (seventy-six counting New Avengers) since that day, and that at the end of May I won’t be seeing a Hickman Avengers comic included in my comic book pile any longer. It is a fact that all writers leave a series eventually, but it’s been a while since I’ve honestly dreaded that fact. The final issue of Avengers leads right into Hickman’s Secret Wars and you know the writer must feel great to finally be nearing his end game he’s had planned since the very beginning.

The issue starts off with a flashback meeting between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark that suddenly turns ill when Captain Universe sparks an outburst of rage. The following twenty pages is set in the present with the legions of galactic Shi’ar warships attempting to destroy the Earth to quell the end of the universe. We also witness what the Ultimate Universe plans to do as their Earth is beginning to collide with the Marvel Universe’s Earth and, as this comes about, a savage battle between Captain America and Iron Man. The majority of the issue is a stepping stone to Secret Wars. Like the final issue of New Avengers, you won’t get the cut-and-dry finale you may have wanted, but it all makes sense in the context of Hickman’s intentions for the plot. There’s so much going on and there are strong moments of dialogue throughout. Hickman remains possibly to be the best at writing dialogue scenes between characters with so many memorable lines of weight in Avengers #44. This is especially apparent in the final pages. By the end of the issue the gloves come off and the Captain America and Iron Man fight is action-packed as well as emotionally intense. Avengers #44 is an absolutely terrific comic book and a praiseworthy, respectable last issue of the title. The Secret Wars now cometh

Thank you again for checking out my awards and check back sometime next month for May’s Comic Book Awards! Until then, hopefully you and I will continue to be reading comics!

Comic Book Awards for March 2015

Comic Book of the Month Awards For March

~Nandor Shaffer

Spring has set in and things in the comic book world are booming (or blooming, if you prefer…sorry, I knew that’d be too easy to catch). The fact still remains that after this April, changes will be coming. Both Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers will be sadly wrapping up with Secret Wars on the horizon, as well as Fantastic Four with #645, supposedly being the very last issue of the series for the foreseeable future (which I’m not too happy about). March was the penultimate month for these books and, as you can expect, they were quite the highlights of the month. March was also the last month for many comics in the DC corner as DC’s hotly-anticipated multiversal Convergence event invades the stands this month and the next. The Flash and Aquaman concluded their current storylines on high notes and will return after a brief hiatus in June. Uncanny X-Men took somewhat of a retrospective breather with #32, while Nick Spencer and Roman Rosanas continue their up-beat, humorous, and fresh take on Ant-Man to much applause from me and other critics alike. Last but not least, the start of the 9th Doctor miniseries from Titan Comics debuted.

But out of these and other nominees, which titles received the Comic Book Awards Awards of the month? Here we go.

Cover of the Month Award: Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #9

Cover Artist: Brian Williamson 

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You might be wondering how Brian Williamson’s cover for Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #9 managed to float its way up to being awarded Cover of the Month, especially compared to the many other excellent covers that graced a sizable majority of the comics in March. There’s not much to it, there’s barely any “real” artwork, and only huge red letters pervade the blank white background behind The 11th Doctor. This is all true, but here, and as a whole, less is more. Firstly, this is a wholly stylized cover. The black, white and red all compliment each other to give you a picture of impactful symmetry. The Doctor shown here on his knees only completes the creation to hit you emotionally. In the end, it’s memorably ominous.

Art of the Month Award: The Flash #40

Penciller: Brett Booth 

Inker: Norm Rapmund

Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse

Flash-40The art team of Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse have been lending their exceptional talents to The Flash ever since #30, so what makes the artwork in The Flash #40 stand out from every previous issue? Just to clarify, it’s no secret this has been a strikingly beautiful book. Brett Booth carries with him a pure comic book style, almost a call-back to that sharp, bombastic form prominent in the 90’s. That’s not seen too much in mainstream comics these days, which is why I always look forward to seeing what he decides to cook up in The Flash. In #40, he lets it all out. The extra-sized issue makes the extra dollar worth it in every case, not just from the art, but here we’re given so much. Packed with action and energy, it’s just as blasting as a real life lightning bolt. This might sound like the perfect art style for a Flash comic book, and, in some ways, that’s absolutely true. Not everything about Brett Booth’s is pretty per say, but it’s no less sensational. Moreover, his panel work is skillfully orchestrated in The Flash #40. We also cannot forget about Norm Rapmund’s inks and Andrew Dalhouse’s essential colors. This issue, no less this book, would not look nearly as good it does without them. They are put through their paces and come out more than champions.

Story of the Month Award:  New Avengers #31 (“Rabum Alal”)

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

4388270-new_avengers_31_coverNothing will prepare you for what you will find in New Avengers #31. Or, put more accurately, whom you will find. Dr. Strange is seeking out the Great Destroyer, Rabum Alal, to destroy him, but sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. This issue begins with him and the Black Priests looking for access into, they soon realize, where Rabum Alal is located. After intense battles with various Black Swans of many different universes, Dr. Strange meets Rabum Alal face to face and the ramifications of this reveal are tremendous. It wouldn’t be at all fair of me to spoil what many readers, including myself, have been curiously and anxiously waiting for ever since the first few issues of New Avengers released two years ago, so I wouldn’t dare to. I will say it is a complete shock; one I didn’t see coming whatsoever and one that will leave you with your mouth dropping. Jonathan Hickman, you’ve done it again.

Issue of the Month Award: New Avengers #32 (“The Fall of Gods”) 

Writer: Jonathan Hickman 

Artist: Mike Deodato

Color Artist: Frank Martin

Cover Art: Adam Kubert & Frank Martin

New_Avengers_Vol_3_32While New Avengers #31 is unquestionably the issue of the month that will turn your world upside down, #32 will destroy it. It’s tragic, invigorating, scary, and overall powerful. It’s been hinted at how immensely formidable and threatening The Beyonders are. Well, here, we see them in action…against members of the Avengers. The outcome of this battle is terrible for our heroes and I don’t know what to think in the aftermath. This is a last grand stand for these Avengers put on display divinely by penciller/inker Mike Deodato and colorist Frank Martin. It’s true that a lot of the time Mike Deodato doesn’t pull me in like other artists do, but he and Martin broke through any preconceptions of mine and, really, shamed me to why I ever thought this. The combination of detail and vibrancy in New Avengers #32 brings a teeming weight to the issue. Since it takes place in deep space, blackness, stars, and asteroids present an ethereal setting to the events taking place, offering a tranquil resting place for those who fail to make it out alive. What could possibly be next for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?

Thank you again for checking out my awards and check back sometime next month for April’s Comic Book Awards! Until then, hopefully you and I will continue to be reading comics!

EVEn MMOre Issue 7

Clones

Once again I am amazed at the learning experiences in Eve Online.  Last week I had my first PvP kill and it was exhilarating, but this week I also found out the hard way about gankers and the risk vs. reward that some players have figured out.  I discovered the misfortunes of having a wormhole close and finding yourself in space far, far away.

The week started out marvelous with all my pilots pooling their spoils for the week.  A grand total of 325 million isk!  I loaded this fortune into my trusty Bestower cargo ship and plotted my course to Jita.  All the systems were in high security space and that made me feel safe, secure, and comfortable — three of the worst feelings in Eve you could ever have. Eve makes you PARANOID.  Trust nothing, no one.  Always be on guard because the moment you take it easy, you will be in serious trouble.

My trouble came halfway to Jita.  A twenty warp run, I entered the Sivala system around my 11th jump.  I was doing great.  I was comfortable. I was at ease.  What could go wrong in a .6 security system?  That is where things fell apart and I learned my first lesson of the week.  A crew of gankers interdicted my hauler and within thirty seconds I was blown to a million pieces.  The attacker was immediately killed by Concord, but his friends were then free to loot hundreds of millions of isk.  His ship probably cost 20 million.  So you can see how this could be very profitable.  Rinse and repeat this little strategy and see how quickly the pirate can turn into a billionaire.  Woefully, I lost a weeks of loot and PI.  I was stunned how quickly this happened and how fast they came in a picked my ship clean.  All lost.

My first reaction was anger and pity (for myself). Then I was determined to build the toughest tank hauler I could. If you can build a ship with enough armor, shields, and hull to survive for 30 seconds you will survive and the attacker will be destroyed by the Concord starships.  Those thirty seconds are tough, mostly if there is more than 1 attacker.  It all comes down to the risk vs. reward — is the destruction of my ship and the booty of my cargo worth losing 1, 2, maybe even 3 ships?

One thing I learned: Keep cargo to less than 100,000,000 isk  It becomes slim odds that the pirates will profit from such attacks and they will often let you pass.  Second, make sure you tank the hell out of your industrial ship. Find its strength in either shields, armor, or hull and just pile everything into that.  Third, when plotting your course to a hub, use the highest security system run as possible.  Even if it doubles the number of jumps required, it will pay for itself.  There is a huge difference in response time between a .6 system and a .9 system.

I discovered that you can also use a transport system that has organically been created in the game. Using Contracts you can hire a player run cargo service to pick up your freight and deliver it to another system. Roughly a million isk per jump (a bit less) you can drop off your cargo in one system, create a contract for its stowage, and then wait for it to arrive in another system.  My 20 jump ordeal could have been negated if I had known about this — I would have paid 20,000,000 isk but my 325,000,000 cargo (plus the value of my starship) would have been safe.

Try Red Frog Transport: http://red-frog.org/jumps.php

Thus several lessons were learned this week concerning cargo.  Hopefully I will not get ganked over my shipments for a while.  Losing 325,000,000 isk really hurts!  A hard lesson, but a good one.

larryn

I also learned to know the timing of wormholes.  If you get caught on the other side of a closed wormhole, you can be in a lot of trouble.  Last night I was out just knocking down .5 security anomalies  when, without warning (although I knew it was going to end), the wormhole collapsed. To my dismay I discovered that to get back to the new high security hole, required me to do a 45 jump journey — seven of the systems were -.4 or less.

I was sure I was going to die!  I simply dumped everything I had and sold it without care of cost (thinking if I am going to die, I might as well sell all my equipped modules). I was just certain I was going to die!

To my surprise I moved through the worst of the star systems, meeting only extreme hostiles at over 100 kilometers — too far away (i guess) for them to fire on me.  It was getting late so I cut the last 25 jumps and made my way to Amarr.  I was lucky, extremely lucky some would say.  Its not something I would want to do again.

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Lesson learned, know the duration of wormholes.  Two big lessons I learned this week.

Not all was bad, however, and I did learn some good things this week too.  I finally found a Relic site and moved into hacking the six floating debris stations.  On my first try I lost every single one.  I never got anything out of it.  A day later, I found another unguarded relic site and scored one victory.  The reward was about 60,000 isk of junk and one blueprint (I do not remember what it was but it didn’t look overly valuable). I watched several videos on hacking and I believe I will be getting much better at it.  Key is to have the best gear and skills, along with patience.  All the time I was hacking the site, I was hitting my D-Scan.  The last thing you want is to be ganked while trying to hack into a relic.

Learning to use the Red Frog transport system is going to save me a lot of pain.  Its essentially paying insurance on your shipments — I’ll gladly give these guys 20 million isk to guarantee my 350 million isk cargo gets safely to port.

This week also found me learning to how divvy up skills across my two accounts and six pilots. Alternating back and forth to gain as much as I can from a single learning queue.

So many challenges still await.

d0BU0Yu

A Special Eve Moment

FirstKill

I know I shouldn’t get all excited over this.  Someone else had to lose 30,000,000 isk when I blew up their retriever this morning but that is the nature of the game.  That is why all the players really log on.  I have been blown up a half dozen times, losing far more than a mere 30 million isk. The really big thing is that its my first kill in the game.  I have been playing for about 3 months but up until today always got into matches that ended badly for me.

This morning I was cycling through my characters doing my standard morning PI.  I have only about 30 minutes before having to go to work so really can’t do much in the game.  Suddenly I noticed on D-Scan a retriever within 14 AU of my position.  There could be only two places that ship would be, both cleared of rats.  Some bloke was actually mining ore in our hole!  How galling is that? I thought it may be a trap, but I just had to take my chances.

I switched over to my shiny new Ferox.  I knew I would never get this guy since my guns are blasters and their reach was 5000 meters.  I thought I could scare him though.  I also put on a module for warp interdiction and a low end cloak just in case.

I warped out to the first ore site and to my surprise he was there mining kernite.  He just sat there?  I was at over 60 kilometers and needed to be within 20 to hit him with my cheesy ‘dictor.  I was positive he would warp out at any moment.

I poured on the afterburners but my sluggish boat still waddled closer at 332 meters per second.  I sat and watched.  At 35 Kilometers he still hadn’t moved but I could lock on him which did.  Surely alarm bells in his cabin would be going off and he would jump.  But he didn’t!  So I moved closer.

At 20 KM I was close enough to fire the dictor, but waited again until I was at 15 KM because what sense would it be if my guns were way out of range.  At 15 KM I fired my interdictor module and the wafting beams of light encapsulated his ship. I set my course to a 500 meter orbit, knowing it would be further out then that  — I probably should have set it at 2,500 meters because my guns optimal range was 5000.  But I was nervous and just wanted to be close enough.

At 9000 meters I opened up on him with 5 hobgoblin drones and 7 Heavy Ion Blasters!!  Surely this twit would move off, but maybe the guy had gone off to watch TV or something.  His shields were ripped away, then his armor, and finally at half hull I noticed on D-Scan a Ferox warped in.  I drove on, firing everything I had into him.  And with a woot of victory the ship exploded.

In my panic of seeing the oncoming Ferox, I turned my drones on him and started targeting the incoming ship. I then thought of the pod, but I had no clue on really finding it.  I looked on the screen but couldn’t find it there and my D was empty other than the new target.  Perhaps he warped out.

I should have stayed and fought the new Ferox, but I was nervous that he may have me out gunned.  I was thinking it was really a trap and that I was going to be ganked — I have had that happened to me twice before.

Being a newb my ship is still underpowered and my skills only two months old.  So I fired some parting shots then warped out to a safe spot.  At first I thought I may have been interdicted as the seconds waiting for the warp drive seemed to be minutes, but I shot out into deep space.

I turned around and waited.  I saw another ship warp in (via the D-Scan) and then I jumped to a safe spot behind big guns.  All around me flashed hobgoblins and I saw a few ships come and go but none must have ever gotten close enough for the station cannons to fire.

It was time for work but I lingered long enough to find my kill on the boards and screen captured it for posterity.  Man, I was feeling geeked.  It will be short lived, I know.  In a few days I will be ganked or blown up, but I will take each of my wins with a smile on my face!!

EVEn MMore Issue 6

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Easter is about rebirth and I certainly saw that yesterday in Eve.  Once again my ship was blown up.  Not just once, not twice, but three times.  Admittedly one of the times was a direct fault of myself.  Really all three are solely my fault, but two were from direct intervention of other players.

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My stupidest destruction was my second debacle when I was flying a Venture around the hole skimming gas.  I just finished clearing one gas field when I decided to try another.  I had already probed down and cleared the gas fields of rats with my Ferox.  Except for one that had these real nasty gun towers.  Even in my battlecruiser I was hammered hard coming out of warp.  I tried to destroy them, but it was obvious that I was going to lose and worse not even destroy one.  There was five of these platforms on this gas site.  I thought I was safe because I remembered which of the three remaining gas sites had those nasty towers.  I remembered wrong!!  I brought my Venture into the occupied site and before I could align to the star, I was blown to a million bits. Luckily they didn’t get my pod (or maybe rats don’t care about that?)!  Scratch one Venture.

Losing that Venture I thought I would head off to Hek and get a new one.  Really make it a shiny new ship with the latest modules.  Spent probably ten million isk and of course I didn’t insure it. I brought it back and decided to ore mine instead of gas.  The w-space had been quiet for a few hours and the ore site was within 4 AU of the Hi Sec  hole so I thought I would be safe if I tapped my D-Scan while I mined.  Well that was my mistake!!  The Helios must have slipped in through the C4 hole and knew the layout of the hole.  Never saw anything other than a few seconds before my ship exploded, the web and lasers seething through my haul.  BAM!!  Another Venture lost and another ten million isk down the drain.  Either he let me go or I was quick with the warp because at least he did not pod me.

That was the last ship I lost that day.

imagesThe real loss came when my corporation mate was running some PI.  Normally this is a pretty safe operation as things go in the hole.  Suddenly he was bubbled in his Epithal and asking for help.  Stupid me, at first I didn’t understand his plea and jumped to the POCO with my probing ship.  DOH!!   I Warped out and came back with my Ferox ready to do battle.  I saw space littered with bubbles.  I am still a complete newb to this kind of fighting, so I targeted the closest enemy and shot towards it with seven heavy ion blasters trained on the little ship.  Suddenly I was bubbled and I knew it was all over.  I did have the wits about me to eject and warp my pod to the star — so I never did lose my clone and some expensive cybernetic implants.  I lost most of those last week when my pilot was destroyed doing another stupid endeavor.

My friend came out worse on this debacle losing some 400,000,000 isk worth of stuff.  I probably lost 100,000,000 isk of ship and modules.

To be fair to myself, I am still a big newb to space battles.  I have been involved with maybe four or five fights and lost every one of them.  Another corp mate said I should just buy 100 inexpensive frigates and just expect to die 99 times with them.  Its paying your dues in the game, I guess.  Its disheartening to die in the game but its just a big part of the game.

Perhaps one day I can get revenge against some of these nasty pilots.  Or chastise newbies like me with their first 100 ships?  I am getting better, as at least I know how to warp away with my pod.

Greed on my part is why I lost two ventures this weekend.  I should have just ore mined in High Sec.  Or check out each gas site first with the battlecruiser before going into an “unknown” gas site.  Next time I will record my findings in the bookmarks about rats and other aspects of gas sites.

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Beyond my debacle over the holiday weekend, I have overall been doing quite well in Eve.  Late last week I made two forays into Amarr and Jita selling close to 500,000,000 isk worth of high end PI and modules gleamed from rats.  Money is always a good thing and I seemed to have found ways of making enough to keep ships around (for now).

I also learned how to probe.  I never thought I would figure this out. I’m a rather slow learner and I get very frustrated easily. I quit things I don’t understand, too.  A bit of prodding and help from a certain corporation mate got me into practicing this every day.  Now I am rather confident about my abilities.  I still take a while to probe down all the anomalies in our hole, but I know I can do it.  A good thing when no one else is on and I need to figure out what is out there.

I am also learning skills so I can do data and relic sites.  I think I have the skills down but have yet been in a situation when I can try these two types of anomalies.

Getting back to greed, I think for the most part that is the reason I die in the game.  Three things I need to remember:

1) Always be on a mic when corps mates are on.

2) Keep eyes on the holes coming into our space — C4 and Hi.

3) Use the high security space as much as possible.  Mining in the hole is just not really worth it.  The ores there are no different than ore is High Security.

My worst problem is that I am six hours different from 90% of the pilots in my alliance.  I may see them for an hour a day.  Being alone in a worm hole is a daunting ordeal — pilots coming into that sort of space are there for one reason and its not to be friendly.  For the most part, I can dance around inside the w-space and do what I need doing.

Last month I bought with my earnings in the game 2 extra training slots — that was very expensive and I won’t be able to do it again this month.  It is odd that Extra Training PLEX is more expensive than normal PLEX.  I would think it would be the other way around.  Why use the Training PLEX when you can use normal PLEX for the same thing and pay 15,000,000 less isk for it. Dumb.  Going rates in the game are about 770,000,000 to 810,000,000 isk for a PLEX,   I may try to undercut that but its a lot of money to tie up for a couple of weeks if no one takes the bid.

Return of the Dark Age of Camelot

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Last night I resubscribed to a game that I hadn’t played in more than twelve years.  In gaming terms, that is a millennium of time.  I did not even think Dark Ages of Camelot was still in operation.   I thought the sun had set on this game, like so many other classic fantasy MMOs.  To my surprise the game is still active and there is a respected number of players.

I looked around on the web and found some statistics, with a general figure of 2000 active accounts.  No doubt some of these are dual or even tri-boxed.  There is also essentially one server now, Ywain.  You can freely move between the twelve shards so it is no longer an issue to debate what server you are going to join.

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The last time I played was in the Summer of 2003.  I think I may have played a few weeks over the years when I would get a free month but it has been at least five years since I seriously even looked at the game.  As I said, I was flummoxed when I discovered the game was still in operation.

New players get 2 week to try it out but then it is $15 a month to play.  As far as I can tell there is no real money transactions or micro transactions in the game.  Hooray!  There is also no stupid list of themed cosmetic crap to spoil the world — no ugly pink unicorns, no over sized penguin mercenaries, no ridiculous pets, etc…  Games such as Everquest I & II, World of Warcraft, and other games have been destroyed in my opinion by all this glitzy trash.  Players today seem drawn to this candy-coated shit.  When confronted with their outlandish prizes (always paid for) they get hot under the collar, yelping that they should be able to play any way they want and have their fantasy as they choose.  Well then, go have it it all these other horrible fantasy melee games.

call_to_armsThe graphics still hold up well after all these years. It is no Guild Wars by any means, but its not unplayable. Some older games just have such horrible controls and graphics, they are not worth even trying again. Not so with Dark Ages of Camelot.  The game can be clunky at times, often I notice when turning my character that it stutters.  Some graphics appear to have been updated, but even so its still at least 6 years old in graphics.

I simple revel in the old school fantasy rpg fun of Dark Ages of Camelot.  I would rather pay $15 a month (really 50 cents a day to play) then constantly be wooed and cajoled into spending more.  I have never found a player that strictly played for free in those RMT worlds — they say they do, but on closer examination they always have the glitzy adds.  Its like the gambler who says he never spends more than 50 bucks or the guy who says he wins all the time — Vegas was not built on winners.  MMO companies with RMT don’t stay in business from free players.  Stop the lies and just admit it.

Upon my return I found most of my old characters.  I also started in a new realm with a few new guys just to play the game from a different perspective.  I don’t recall much about the game. I remember older places but not much about them.  I am really going to enjoy all the zones again.

I need to find a good source of tactics, strategy, and hints.  I am woefully forgetful of how to play all of my toons. I have several pure melee characters, along with a fine array of magic users.  I was never much into the PvP or PvR aspects of the game. Back in the day I spent most of the time with PvE.  I look forward to trying all aspects of the game.

New players can get 2 weeks so why not try it and find me in game.  http://www.darkageofcamelot.com