The Great Orca Nerf

As many people have noticed by now, the last Incursion patch brought some, shall we say unspoken changes along with it. The biggest, and curiously most un-announced of these is a major nerf to the Orca, specially its ability to let you swap ships.

Pretty much since its inception into the game, the Orca has become almost a necessary tool for ninjaing and ganking in any meaningful and productive way. Having become victims of our own successes, it was quickly becoming evident that mission runners were no longer willing to complacently wait around in their missions after shooting you to let you go back to station, wait out the various timers, and come back in massive ganking battleship to knock them into submission.

The Orca came at the perfect moment for our profession, as it allowed you to bring the fight to the mission runner quicker, more efficiently, and sometimes, without even leaving the scene. It was the perfect combination of high-sec carrier and logistics platform, and its pretty much been the smoking gun behind 90% of mission runner kills in the past 18 or so months.

One of the more headlining features was the ability to utilize the Orca’s ship maintenance bay to swap ships during a fight, effectively allowing you to start a fight with one ship, and then swap to various other ships once you were engaged. This has of course been called cheating, a broken mechanic, and an exploit by pretty much everyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of this for as long as we’ve been doing it, but I call it escalation. Concord allows you to destroy my ship because I stole one piece of t1 ammo from your can? Lets call this the equalizer.

However, after the latest Incarna patch, we quickly noticed something had changed. Ninjas would get shot in one ship, bringing the Orca in to swap to a gank ship (par the norm), but then they would find themselves UNABLE to switch ships, receiving the following message:

“You are unable to change ships as it appears you are currently trying to evade CONCORD or player retribution”

Normally, this is the message you get when trying to STORE your ship while under fire, not while trying to SWITCH ships. Petitions went in for the bug and we awaited the reply.


The GM response is now in:


The Orca change was a bug fix, you weren’t ever supposed to be able to swap ships while being aggressed. It was an exploit to do so actually, it was just hard for us to detect it. I’m afraid we have no plans of changing this back, but you’re welcome to offer your feedback on this game mechanic on the forums.

To be clear:

You are no longer able to swap ships out of the Orca WHILE BEING AGGRESSED. This is NOT a bug, this is a GM CONFIRMED PATCH.


I’d be lying if I said no one saw this coming, but it still sucks. Being able to switch a Vigil for a Hurricane mid-fight, or even switch from a Hurricane to an escape shuttle mid-fight always seemed slightly one-sided to me, but of course it also seemed more than slightly awesome as well. Regardless, I’ve never viewed it as an “exploit” (actually about a year ago actually, a similar nerf idea was on the table, which I responded to here). Being out-smarted is just that, but it seems that if enough remorseful victims cry “unfair, they shouldn’t be able to shoot BACK!” CCP starts to listen.

Some people have put forward the idea recently that ninja salvaging is “dying”, and thats its decline and eventual demise is all but secured, and there are those who would say that this nerf does just that. Personally, I don’t see the nerfs and patches that have hit ninja salvaging pretty hard in the past year or so as the pale horse for the profession; I see it as raising the bar.

For a long time now, ninja salvaging and ganking has been a relatively low-skill intensive profession in Eve. In fact, it takes about 2 months and a healthy amount of blog reading for a completely new player to Eve Online to be able to scan down and shoot most mission runners. While part of me always thought this was one of the best parts about what we do (and indeed, it played a MAJOR part in myself and my contemporaries even getting into the ninja game), I also believe we’re at a point now where its such a recognized part of the game that it NEEDS some sort of entry barrier.

Some have called the recent change to scanning a “scan nerf”, yet in reality its actually a change in the right direction. For the first time really, scanning skills ACTUALLY matter. I sometimes used to fairly effectively scan down hits using a probe launcher on my Orca with level 3 astrometric skills on my alt while I poked around missions. Thats ridiculous. Now, even scanning in a CovOps with almost all level 5 scanning skills and faction gear and probes, I’m still re-teaching myself the scanning ropes.

As always, I think the beauty of this game is in its fluidity; that things DON’T stay the same and that you’ve got to be smart to stay ahead. By no means does this recent nerf make Orcas or the toons you’ve trained to fly them obsolete, it just requires a little lateral thinking and some new ideas. If you’d rather log in and do the same actions with the same results every single time without having to think about it at all, well, there’s another profession out there that handles that. Its called mission running.




~ by Aiden Mourn on September 13, 2011.

16 Responses to “The Great Orca Nerf”

  1. I find it funny that they respond with “OMGWTF we didn’t mean that”, even though the nerf is just for high-sec. As far as i understand it you can still swap under aggression in low and null in Orcas and in carriers.

    I agree that it’s not really going to make ninja’ing go away, or really any harder in the long run. Most of the new ninja’s don’t even have an orca alt in the beginning anyway.

    The sad part is, though, it looks like CCP is starting to get into hand-holding mechanics that apply in one region but not in another for no really good reason other than to keep whiney players happy; and that’s not the EvE I fell in love with.

    • Agreed. The other part I dislike is the “this has always been an exploit but we didn’t fix it” part. I’ve been Orca hot swapping for almost 2 years now and this seems like a relatively simple (and stealthy) nerf, which makes it bizarre that this “fix” is just now being implemented.

  2. “It was an exploit to do so actually, it was just hard for us to detect it.”

    Riiighhht, 100s of posts on the forums, numerous blogs and uncountable numbers of petitions. And its hard for us to detect?

    The thing that pissed me off (although not currently affected by the change but will be soon) Is that they didnt mention this would happen. We had to learn the hard way.

    I get the feeling that “Welcome to the Sandbox” phrase can be removed from the EvE Dictionary now, as it feels too much like CCP is shrinking our Sandbox.

    However I look forward to using our other *Special Trick* to kill mission runners with.

  3. I think its safe to say that Hilmar is a closet carebear. Sitting in his office mining on one account missioning on the other while cringing about the HTFU video and harshness that his employees created. Go back to WoW Hilmar.

    Can the fitting in space services be used while being aggressed? Because we while still mercenaries got a Glasier free while keeping his armor rep’ed and fitting him with wcs using a neutral orca. Fucking CCP.

  4. I have never encountered a ninja salvager; likely because I very rarely run missions. But, honestly it was silly that you could swap ships while somebody was shooting at you. It would have been better to just tag the Orca pilot with aggression as well, though. I think that would have received even more whining though.

    I do find it very amusing that you say, “Concord allows you to destroy my ship because I stole one piece of t1 ammo from your can?” when in your next post you will say it makes perfect sense to be able to extend how long you are legally allowed to shoot another pilot by shooting his property in space.

    Glad to see you’re rolling with it though.

    • “honestly it was silly that you could swap ships while somebody was shooting at you.”

      Why would it be silly? Take a couple of guys in cars shooting at each other, what prevents one from changing cars mid-fight? Nothing in the physical world. It’s physics-breaking rules like this that take away from the ‘immersion’ of the game* that CCP seems to care a great deal for here lately.

      It’s like God appearing from out of the clouds and saying “NO! I didn’t design it that way.” Not gonna happen. Why does CCP think they are better than God?

      *(Even though I don’t RP I still like immersion to the point that actions in-game make some sort of sense.)

      • Physics breaking? In a game whose physics engine is more like “submarines in water” rather than “ships in space”? And is full of more inconsistencies and holes than a piece of Swiss cheese? Using “Physics Breaking” as justification is retarded when it comes to this game. Ninja tears best tears

      • If you want to take this further on the “realism” thing, consider the aggressed MR. Using another stupid “real-life” example, consider the gunner of armored personnel carrier:
        1. I’m shooting this dude in a hostile toyota corolla with my MACHINE GUN (auto-cannons). Die die die!
        2. Oh, his vehicle has stopped, and he has got out of the car!
        3. Let me politely STOP firing my MACHINE GUN on the defenseless gentleman while he nonchalantly waltzes from his STATIONARY corolla to his STATIONARY Abrams tank, which he boards without harm.
        4. ???

        Basically the game is full of realism (“physics”) holes. It’s silly to get upset about ONE broken game mechanic out of many, with “oh but the realism!” as your justification of why this mechanic should be addressed particularly.

  5. The “hard to detect” part would refer to the coding required to handle evading player aggression in hisec, without screwing things up in low sec.

    I’m not sure why so many pie bears are torn up about having to finish a fight in the same ship you started it in. Make friends, learn your aggression mechanics, and get back to blowing up officer-fit mission running ships.

    Ninjas were making a tidy living before the Orca, by being intelligent and spending a little time hunting prey.

    TL;DR: HTFU, ninja-wannabes.

  6. There was a topic started by a GM on the new forum regarding this. Not sure as to its time compared to any petitions, or why they felt the change was not worthy of warning or patch notes.

  7. When a buddy assists you in combat then they get aggression for assisting but if you use an Orca to achieve the same effect there is no penalty. Exploit no. Obvious mistake yes.

    I love Ninja antics but some of you bitches whine harder than a gang raped bear. Take your own advice and HTFU.

    • When it comes to spreading aggression to Orcas, I stand by that unless someone is “actively assisting” an aggressed player (i.e. remote repping, remote sensor boosting, etc) aggro should not spread to them. Current mechanics already allow another character to fly a ship to you, eject from it, and let you board it, all without having aggro spread to them; that same toon flying that ship out inside of another ship is really no different. Do players go red because they’re running warfare links that are helping another player currently engaged in combat? Do stations go red when your war targets dock up in them? Now, show us on the doll where the bad ninja touched you, and for the love of God, never use that ridiculous “HTFU” failed CCP marketing slogan ever again.

  8. I like your approach to this change. It would be so easy to cry tears like many of your victims, but instead you take it as a challenge to improve and adapt.

    I’m sure (unfortunately for people like me) that you’ll find different, and possibly even better, ways to continue your evil profession 😛

  9. can anyone confirm if you can use the orca’s fitting service while aggressed?

    I’m more concerned with that honestly than swapping ships…

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