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Of ISK and Efficency

Discussing a fleet where our planned tactics and our execution of said tactics were of great differences, resulting of the loss of the bulk of the fleet it was said "that is a big victory for them."

Victory in this case was defined by the ISK calculation placed on the field. While it is common and true to say that there are different ways to determine who wins and loses it is also common to use ISK as a basic measurement.

A group may kill five hundred ships of their enemy and loose twenty over the course of a war. However, the twenty ships lost might easily be worth twice the cost of the five hundred destroyed. Who is winning there? Both? None?

Most of the fighting in Eve is full of these moments. Outside of sov war and wormhole evictions how does one judge these things? How does one judge what does not matter? For as much as I enjoy PvP for the sake of PvP, very little of our general fighting is done for a reason. We do have plenty of fights for tangible objectives. We are willing to unite as a community against larger threats. I do not dismiss all non Sov PvP as meaningless but a great majority of it is done for the enjoyment of it without further goal. That is where I question judgment.

Subjective. Objective. It is judgment and often that judgment works its way down to ISK. Waste and value for ones ISK are sensible themes. Yet, are they also limiting themes? If I fly a Cynabal it is because I want to fly a Cynabal. It is what fits my need. A Thorax or Rupture or Stabber or Omen are not going to be a Cynabal. I could fly a Vagabond but then it is a question of fin differences and small costs.

T1 ships are fantastic for many, many jobs. I do not cast them by the wayside or shun or scorn them for their basic, simplicity. But when one ventures into more costly spaceships it is often for a reason. Reasons where the details start to matter.

And that also brings with it greater loss. If  a fleet of shiny ships engages a fleet of T1 ships, and the fleet of T1 ships outnumbers them by a two or three or four to one, the shiny fleet may have an edge due to fitting abilities, hull abilities and pilot abilities, but when one ship dies costing 300 million ISK and it kills six ships on the way down buy they total, perhaps, fifty million ISK, who won? Who lost? What does efficiency matter in that situation?

It seems that it is a metric more than anything else. I asked for our killboard to remove the ISK to IRL Money conversion modification. I hated it. My ISK does not come from my IRL money. Why is it being converted into a comparison and represented as a loss of IRL money? It creates a measurement that is flawed and shallow. It is as shallow as the killboards themselves. And I am a killboard supporter and find htem valuable but their information is flawed because killmails only show one aspect of the battle, making it a shallow metric So much time is spent using comparisons that lack details to create something to judge quality by.

While some need metrics, the information that we have to freely structure said metrics on should not override all of the other details about the situation. Sometimes you have to talk to someone. That is an area where recording battles is, indeed, an over all positive for completeness. And more focus on completeness and less on ISK would cause fewer people who have the ISK to venture to not simply due to avoidance of efficiency as a standard of measurement. And I know, not everyone measure this way but enough people do and enough people do publicly that things as said such as, "It is a victory because of the ISK."

I well understand harming people in the ISK. I think it is a fantastic goal and one of the selling features of Eve. However, that does not mean that if I lose a Cynabal over a Thorax or Rupture that I have been harmed in my ISK. I may have six back in the station fitted and ready to go while the other person has but their Thorax and a grind or a plex to go to replace it. Who wins? Who loses? Who put more at risk? How would anyone even know the answer to any of this other than the individuals in the fight and then not even to each other.

But judging by only the cost of ISK in a situation that is three dimensional frustrates me. So here I rant about it.

Disclaimer: It should be noted that I am a very noncompetitive person and it is where my view on such things wanders off onto its own path.


  1. Try explaining that to Gevlon Goblin. He fails so much at Eve, because of his "ISK is everything" mantra.

    1. Buy Gevlon finds his value in ISK. It is that he needs not define what counts to others by that same metric.

    2. I wouldn't say he's failed at Eve. His ISK focus guides him, but his search for various ways to make money has led him to explore more of the game than even most bitter vets have.

      And if you read his blog posts, particularly those on religion and politics, he uses Eve as an analogue to explore some high minded ideas. Of all the bloggers out there (no offense Sugar), his blog shows more appreciation for Eve as a work of art... even if he does use a lot of numbers to explain it to himself.

      That's not to say he isn't a dick. But he does find a lot of value in exploring the various game mechanics Eve has to offer, or else he wouldn't do it.

    3. Maybe he does. But more often then not, he makes extremely wrong conclusions. Do you remember how he manipulated data to show his flawed logic about wormholers? Do you remember how he praised New Order just to realize it was all a scam, like everyone told him? Do you see, how he desperately want to be called a PvPer, despite he is too afraid to shoot anything to shoot back (and hided behind ISK efficiency on that)? He may be exploring Eve, but he fails to grasp what it is, because of his ISK-centric approach. Someone called him meta-retarded once. There is much truth in that and it all comes down from his WoW background of grinding numbers. ISK is very good candidate for grinding, but it does not define Eve.

    4. Which I think just reinforces how Eve is the kind of game where everyone can define success differently. It also makes it harder for the walk-on player to understand.

  2. We've all struggled with this over the years and I'm not sure there is a satisfactory solution. Each person needs to develop their own way of measuring success and failure, something they feel comfortable with. From a macro perspective however, it becomes increasingly difficult.

  3. I take a simplistic approach and just ask myself "Do I feel like I won?"

    If the answer is yes then I did and all the musing and arguing over ISK efficiency matters not a jot.


  4. I'm certainly glad I'm not the only one that feels this way. ISK is just ISK...I measure my win rate on the amount of fun I have.

    I lost a 800mil isk Pilgrim to an awesome trap...I got one caracal kill out of it...then got eaten alive by a Sleipnir...BUT...that was one of the funnest fights I've had in a while...totally worth it. (though, if I'd known a sleipnir was going to show up...I might have grabbed the cheaper Pilgrim :))

  5. The entire ISK efficiency metric is flawed, because it can't really be applied in a general manner. Individually, sure, but generally, no. ISK war metrics only matter in relation to how quickly the opposing sides can make up the lost ISK. So, really, you've answered your own question, Sugar, and I think it's the right answer.

  6. For me, this is the answer, "ISK war metrics only matter in relation to how quickly the opposing sides can make up the lost ISK." IE, "Don't fly what you can't afford to lose."

    As you know I am a wormholer and I have been for over 2 years so my ISK expectations are based in what I can make in Anoikis... which can be a lot. We were doing 'ok' back in the C2 and the C3 we cut our teeth in... but since joining SYJ we (well "I" as my sons regularly buy PLEX... the filthy cheaters...) have for this first time been able to not 'worry' about losing a T3, or jumping into a T2 or faction ship for a roam... because I can now AFFORD the loss easily.

    I lost my Armor Sites Loki inna ToO (Target of Opportunity) kitchen sink ambush op, and it was just meh... You see I had another Loki in the POS plus most of the Subssys in both the POS and in hisec...and I had more than enuf in da wallet to afford a new hull, or 2, so meh...

    Meh... to a Loki loss... last year or even just several months ago that would have been a hard loss for me, with weeks if not a month or so of sites to replace it... even at C3 income levels (because I would still be playing and spending instead of playing ONLY make ISK for a new Loki hull...) and that would have 'hurt' me... but to lose a Loki now is, at worst, an ISK and skilling inconvenience... a few nights sites and a day or so of re-skilling and I'm back in business.

    we went on a Null Roam last night... I was going to fly my Firetail which I have had for like 2 years and never even targeted anyone with... but when I got to Amarr, onna whim because I love the ship, I bought and fitted a Wolf... for a "We're ALL gonna Die" Null roam. Again something I could nay have 'easily' afforded until now... So for me, the ISK is not the yardstick anymore...

    We lost a few ships (no I dint lose the new Wolf, yet) and a few PODs... but the victory yardstick now is, as Pell asked after the last of us jumped back into Hisec... "Did everyone have fun?" ... and the answer, was Hell yes!

  7. In my short time in Eve I've seen several posts about how killboards are flawed, notably that they give full value of a kill to everyone in on that kill. Two carrier kills with RVB Ganked and FrigFest will probably keep my "Efficiency" looking incredible for quite some time since I mostly can only afford to fly cheap stuff. That really doesn't convey anything about my skill or the skill of our corporation. It is surprising to me that not even the newish zKillboard tries to address this. I thought I'd seen some good descriptions of how to fix this but perhaps the "wants to fix" and "runs a killboard site" populations don't overlap.

    TL;DR: I ignore ISK efficiency since it seems pointlessly flawed.

  8. ISK value is complicated. I earn about a billion a month right now, maybe a little more. So typically I fly ships worth around 100 million ISK, because I can afford to lose quite a few of them and it doesn't hurt too much.

    That being said, there are people in my area that are earning 3-4 billion a month, and have chosen to fly ships more worth 300-500 million. It hurts them about the same as it hurts me when we lose ships.

    If I flew a billion ISK T3 cruiser and lost it, I wouldn't be very happy so whoever killed me would have won by how much they hurt my wallet. However destroying that same T3 cruiser from someone that earns 5-10 billion a month, probably doesn't care that he just lost a billion ISK ship.

    Anyways, I don't lose at ISK as a 1-to-1 value of if you won either. I think it's all subjective to the person that lost the ISK.

  9. I measure the value of my EVE experience in the most valuable currency anywhere: rich, interesting content.

    My most important metric is fun per hour.

    I may be ISK poor, but I am content-rich.

  10. I never even consider isk when considering another players combat record. For all I know, their high isk efficiency could be from ganking billion dollar indies in high sec. I dont look too hard at ship kills either. They could be obtained in gate camps or simple killboard whoring or even just enormous fleet fights while they waited for their turn to be primaried.
    I just look at the last 10 kills on their board. No solo? No respect.

    1. I am shocked that my writings do not cause you to burst into flames.:)

  11. Lmao Isk Efficiency is a simple of measure to determine the side that lost the most isk. In a fight that occurs simply for the sake of fighting with no other goal than simply to blow each other up an isk efficiency measure is very clear in determining the winner. However, if their is an objective in mind, say a tower or a poco then destroying that tower or poco can be considered a victory regardless of the losses taken to achieve it. These are two simple perspectives on who wins or loses in eve. Also Sugar, T2 rigs are overrated 0_-

    1. I use one T2 rig on one fit for one ship. :)


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