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Notes from an Undisclosed Location in the Insmother Region October 23, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
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7 comments

The big, pre-Phoebe alliance update was posted yesterday addressing the new order in sovereign null sec.  Since the CFC is as riddled with spies as any other organization in New Eden, updates from The Mittani get posted directly over at The Mittani dot com, saving people the trouble of stealing/distributing them and generating some ad revenue as some people rage against The Mittani in the comments.  You can view it at your leisure.

Some of what was mentioned had been gone over before in less formal venues not long after the Phoebe changes were announced.  In fact, such fireside chats in Mumble with The Mittani started as a campaign to calm down some of the super capital pilots who were losing their heads in the forums about the death of their gold-plated space coffins.  When you opt to fly a super cap, that is pretty much all your character does from then on.  Of course, a bunch of us line grunts piled into the room as well because Mittens is a good public speaker if nothing else and these became 400+ pilot events.

For the super cap pilots, the message was that supers were becoming more powerful and more likely to be used in combat because, with Phoebe in place, a fleet of local supers no long has to fear a group of hostile supers dropping on them from the other side of New Eden.  Super cap fleets cease being a huge stick to be brought down literally anywhere in null sec on a very short notice, something only the three large powers could manage.  Instead they become the local super powers that can drop on anybody within 5 ly immediately, and within 10ly pretty quickly, becoming less of a blue water navy by analogy and more of a coastal defense force.  Without the threat of incoming forces from all over New Eden you can drop on your are much more likely to drop on your own zone of control.  Even Gevlon seems to agree with the idea that supers will not fall by the wayside, and the goblin would find a technical reason to oppose Mittens if the CEO update declared the sky to be blue.

The rest was more about how the Phoebe changes favored us more… or at least hurt us less… than our rival superpowers (My joke about the genie at the end of my own first cut at Phoebe seemed to match that), how much this will favor the defender who actually lives in their space, and some plans under way to help us adapt to the new world.  Stepping up MiniLuv operations to harass jump freighter operations so as to make pre-Phoebe prep more difficult for our null sec opponents was mentioned early, as was a new group called the Reavers.  More on the latter further down the page.

That was all a couple of weeks back.  Since then more obvious preparations for the coming expansion have surfaced all over null sec.  Pandemic Legion has divested itself of nearly half of its rental empire.  The Mittani says that Northern Coalition is abandoning space in the east to the Russians and looks to be headed towards the southwest where it was announced that the CFC is pulling out, drawing back into the northwest of null sec, abandoning Querious, Period Basis, and Delve as being too far from our core and too sparsely populated to defend itself with local residents.  Phoebe working as intended for many. (EN24 has a null sec movement rumor mill post up that is worth a look.)

Farewell southwest null!

Farewell southwest null!

A joke going around is that the Goons, having invaded and taken Delve six times already, gave up the region out of habit just so they could invade it again later.  Hell, even I have been through two Delve invasions at this point.  But I am still shipping all my stuff in our forward deployment base in Querious back to Deklein before the expansion.

It isn’t quite setting the clock back two years, but with the CFC pulling back into the northwest and Russians possibly resurgent in the east,  it seems like all we have to do it get Intrepid Crossing back into Cobalt Edge and we would practically have the band back together.

2012 vs. 2014

2012 vs. 2014

The 2012 map looks like it has a lot more entities on it, but if you count the various Russian alliances as one coalition, they overlap a lot with N3’s rental empire.  And that brings us to the renters.  In an age of static null sec, one upside has been an ample supply of stable and relatively safe null sec systems to rent, which has lead to a lot of corporations being able to move out to null and mine, rat, or whatever.  PL’s rental empire, Brothers of Tangra, had more than 10K pilots in it until they started to divest, while N3’s rental space, Northern Associates, currently has nearly 14K pilots spread over about 360 corporations in nearly 700 systems across 15 regions.

That is a lot of players… a lot of entities that just don’t show up on the map… for whom the much ballyhooed “blue donut” era has been a benefit.  Where will they go when Phoebe, Rhea, and expansions beyond make holding vast tracts of sovereign null sec untenable?  Phoebe and beyond, working as intended, means a lot of different things.  The CFC will hunker down and weather the storm, PL will consolidate, NC has its own core defense perimeter in sight, but there will be areas in null which will become the wild west.  That will likely be a good thing in the larger scope of the game, but may suck mightily if you’re a PvE sharecropper in a null sec empire that has abandoned you because they can no longer move fast enough to defend far flung space.

So we will see new entities on the map… or old entities returning… while a mass of invisible entities may well be at the mercy of whoever shows up.  Will the find new landlords to protect them or barbarians who will drive them back to empire space.

Interesting times.

Back to Reavers.  This is a new formation in the CFC, and I joined up because they look to be the place where things might be happening going forward.  It is actually the first CFC group I have joined.

As noted in The Mittani’s post, we are tasked during war time to deploy into the enemies rear areas to be partisans.  We will destroy infrastructure, siphon moons, and basically terrorize the PvE locals who stayed behind.  This will be made a viable strategy by Phoebe, which will keep anybody attacking our territory unable to move quickly back to defend their own.  We will slip in, shoot up the place, and move on.

As part of the plan we have been on a practice deployment down in Insmother, where we have had a few days of token resistance as we reinforced and blew up towers. (Let’s hear it for low stront and no stront towers!)  Even in this pre-Phoebe stage, where fast travel is still a thing, N3 seems to be more focused on trying to hit our structures in the north than defending their holdings in the east.  I hear they may have woken up to what we are up to at last, so we may have to move on.  But as a learning exercise it has been good, and a lot of fun.  It is also nice to be in on the creation of a group, where the traditions and procedures (and inside jokes) are being formulated.  You end up feeling more a part of things.  I even spoke on voice coms… once.

And it is even a new section of space for me.  The Goons have a history out here, but I have never been deeper in the east than B-R5RB… though that was a memorable visit.  So new sites for the tourist in me.

We will see how the deployment fares.  In the mean time I have a few postcard screen shots from the deployment which (I hope) do not violate operational security.

 

A Short and Bloody Visit to F7C-H0 October 20, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
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Well, it was a short visit for me.

The highlight of weekend fleet ops up until Saturday evening had been flying around Black Rise to pop a couple of Black Legion faction battleships with DBRB.  I hadn’t been in one of his fleets in ages, and it was good to see that he hasn’t calmed down at all.  The best moment during that op was when he had us on a gate, yelling into coms that the hostiles were on the other side and jumping through, only to discover we were on the wrong gate.  All those low sec names look alike.

Things were quiet on Saturday afternoon until the call went out to form up to take on some hostiles out in Cloud Ring who were hitting one of our towers.  We were going to head out in Tengu fleet, though we had to go through the usual round of trying to get enough Scimitars and boosters before we could get on our way.  Having gotten on my share of kill mails for the month, I joined up in a Scimitar to help keep the fleet alive.

I figured something interesting must be going on as when I undocked to join the fleet at the staging POS, there was a huge lump of capital ships undocking as well.

Heavy iron undocking

Heavy iron undocking

We had to sit in the POS and be cajoled for a while until the fleet composition settled down into something useful before we headed out and down the “so familiar I could fly it in my sleep” pipe from Deklein to Cloud Ring.  After nearly three years in null, I think I have finally flipped over and systems with seemingly random letters and numbers as designators seem normal while systems with actual names seem odd.

We got into the region and held a couple of gates out.  I gather we were waiting for our own caps to get into the system.  Eventually we moved into F7C-H0 as well though, and dropped into the fight under heavy TiDi.  The main fight seemed to be a slugging match between capital ships, but there were plenty of sub caps running around as well.  Our personal nemesis seemed to be a fleet of rapid light missile launcher fit Cerberuses. (fit)  Those seem to be the counter to our Harpy fleet doctrine, but they seemed to do equally well in a mass against our Tengu fleet Scimitars and Scythes.  They were able to lock up and alpha Scimis off the field before we could get reps on them.  And so when my name came up as a target, I could see that mass of ships yellow boxing me, meaning that they were locking me up as a target, at which point I called for shield reps.  But before help for me could arrive, the boxes went red and the missiles began to hit.

And soon I was in a pod in the middle of the battle, my Scimitar having exploded.

I had about a minute of peace as I tried to move towards the edge of the bubbles with an eye to warping off when I got caught and was sent quickly home to our staging system at YAO.

The battle was still in full swing, and my first reaction was to just jump into another Scimitar and head back towards the fight.  I knew the route after all, and a Scimi can be swift.  But that way lies madness and gate camps, so I reigned in my enthusiasm and took stock of the situation.  A Harpy fleet had just gone out (soon to pay the price in facing those Cerebruses), and was far enough away that I wasn’t going to catch them.

However, a Baltec fleet was forming up.  That meant swapping to an armor doctrine ship.  As usual, logistics was in demand so I went with an Oneiros.  I wasn’t in the right clone to fly the Apocalypse battleship, the mainstay of the fleet, in any case.  It needs an implant.  The joys of clone juggling.  Anyway, we got out there on the titan, as fleet boosters were obtained and logistics pilots were recruited (including any number of dead Tengu fleet logi pilots), and sat.

We ended up just sitting for about an hour before we got our participation link and were stood down.  We were, it seems, just a fleet in being, there to show the hostiles that we had more forces to drop on them should they pursue our withdrawal from the battle.

The whole thing was apparently a trap to lure out some CFC capital ships to kill.  While much of the CFC leadership was hanging out at EVE Vegas (here are Elo Knight and The Mittani, something I linked in fleet during the op) Black Legion and N3 set their plans in motion, and we stepped right into it.  (Rumor has it that the leadership in Vegas were all hovering over Skymarshal Blawrf and his laptop at one point to find out what was going on while they were away.)  The ISK war was tilted heavily in their favor, though they did not leave unscathed, losing some caps of their own.  The battle report sums it up as such:

Red: BL & N3 - Blue: CFC

Red: BL & N3 – Blue: CFC

Long time gaming pal Gaff, who just returned to EVE Online last week, managed to get on kill mails for ten hostile dreadnoughts before losing his Archon in the fight.  He was almost all the way into the POS shields as the capital fleet pulled back when he went into structure and exploded.

And so it goes.  Another big fight in before the November 4 Phoebe expansion turns operations like that from a two jump flit for capitals (16 ly covered from YA0 to F7C according to DOTLAN) to a 20 gate slow march through TiDi.

The two competing EVE Online news sites both have battle reports up.

Meanwhile I have, as usual, a few screen shots from my own short time on grid.  You can just see the ball of Cerberuses that killed me in that last picture.

Tech 3 Destroyers and Other Tidbits from EVE Vegas Keynote October 18, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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EVE Vegas is running this weekend.  The one time player driven event that has turned into a CCP sponsored affair, complete with a keynote speech full of new treats.

CCP Seagull kicked things off with a theme and overview of how CCP is looking at the upcoming changes.  The idea is that CCP wants to create things where they cannot predict the outcome, because they if they can then we can as well.  So roll on emergent game play.

Playing and Outplaying

Playing and Outplaying

She reviewed the titan themed expansions so far this year…

The new expansions so far...

The new expansions so far…

And talked a bit about items we have heard mentioned before.  Then she gave us the release plan for 2015.

2015 Release Plan

2015 Release Plan

That is 10 release for 2015, plus the two we have left this year, Phoebe and Rhea.  This all led into a bit more overview on what the upcoming phases of change they are planning.

Going through a phase

Going through a phase

Phase 1 is looming, with Phoebe dropping in just a couple of weeks, but Phase 2 is where the shape of null sec might change.  She then wrapped up with a revised version of the road map for EVE Online.

Where we are...

Where we are…

This is a bit trimmed down from the old one.  The green line shows where CCP feels they stand, so industry is pretty much done but many more major changes are left to come.

CCP Seagull wrapped up and handed the stage over to CCP Fozzie who got to talk about some more specific items related to the Rhea expansion coming in December.  Most of that is still under wraps, but there were a couple of neat things.

Quick look at Rhea

Quick look at Rhea

The art change consisted of an update to the Blackbird/Falcon/Rook ship model.  There was a very early mock up of what they want to do with the some of the most loved/hated ships in the game, but CCP Fozzie said that it would likely bristle with antennae when it was done.

Then there was a new ship type announced, currently codenamed “Tug.”

The Tug

The Tug

This will be a freighter sized ship that will be used for carrying around multiple fitted sub cap ships.  A mock up of the ship was shown.

The model is still early on, so no textures have been applied, but CCP Fozzie did say something about the art team pushing the envelope when it come to the number of polygons used.  I suspect that this will be a popular ship.

Then CCP Fozzie spoke about the research race/contest that had been going on for the last week.  The results were in, which he announced, along with what it would mean.

Research Race results

Research Race results

Each of the empires will get their version of the end result in the order in which they place… and what they are getting is Tech 3 Tactical destroyers.

Tech 3 Destroyers

Tech 3 Destroyers

The Amarr should get theirs as part of the Rhea expansion, which other races getting theirs with following expansion.  There were even some mock-ups of potential models for the Amarr tactical destroyers shown.

Amarr tactical concepts

Amarr tactical concepts

He also showed mock-ups of the Caldari version, because apparently the Caldari were in first place in the race until almost the end, so the art team started in on what looked like the winning team early.

Caldari tactical concepts

Caldari tactical concepts

As with the “Tug” announcement, there were no final names or any stats for the ships.

That about wrapped up CCP Fozzie’s time, and he then gave way to CCP Seagull again who spoke of exciting times coming in the game with all of the changes they have planned.

Others talking about they keynote:

Also, the video of the keynote is up on YouTube now.

And on a related topic, CSM member Sugar Kyle has summarized some of the CCP roundtables.

The Birth of a Pipe Bombing Campaign October 17, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec, YouTube.
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When it comes to watching gaming related videos on YouTube, I must admit that I do not have much patience.  Small screen video, bad audio commentary, and a general inability to grab and hold the interest of any viewer not captivated by shiny colors and an overbearing sound track pushes me to reject just about anything that demands more than 5 minutes of my time in the medium.

Some of that is my MTV generation attention span, but a larger part is resentment that some poorly produced nonsense is demanding my full attention as it spews out its low quality efforts onto my computer screen.  I can tolerate armature podcasts… well, some armature podcasts… because at least they only require me to listen.  But demanding eyes and ears and mind for crap, that is asking too much.

And then there is the Rooks and Kings channel on YouTube.

Rooks and Kings is a small PvP alliance in null sec that, through skill and innovative tactics, is able to take on much larger alliances and win fights.

And they can make decent videos.  Their latest effort is over an hour long and I sat and watched the whole thing.  It is a documentary describing how the alliance had to alter its tactics to deal with the ever larger fleets it had to contend with, how they came up with and evolved the tactic called pipe bombing, and then how effective it ended up becoming.

(Direct link to video)

If you are interested in seeing a small group smash much larger fleets, describing how they did it, and playing audio of the victims (who in most cases express admiration at being so done in) this is a worthwhile watch.

Related to things discussed in this video are a couple of shorter videos, The Drebuchet,The False Tower, and War Crimes in Fountain.  The latter documents the time that Mister Vee got pipe bombed after mocking his fellow CFC FCs who had been roughly handled by Rooks and Kings.  I was in a fleet later that day and people were talking about that action.

One Hundred and Thirty Million Skill Points October 13, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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I missed the big battle at CCP-US, where we traded a titan for 60 dreadnoughts, and the pipe-boming fiasco of Sunday afternoon, so all I really have at the end of the weekend is another round number to write about.  I have hit another meaningless milestone in the eternal quest for skill points in EVE Online.

I think the skill point thing was perhaps one of the best moves CCP made in designing EVE Online.  It is practically money in the bank, as some people will stay subscribed for ages because they are making progress on that front, even if they aren’t really playing.  And with the new limitless skill queue coming… money.

Anyway, the milestones so far, which act sort of my progress chart through New Eden as I have bounced from one thing to another over the years:

The pattern of milestones is a bit odd, though that too reflects to a certain respect my engagement with the game.  And, of course, I never hit 100 million skill points because CCP broke out Battlecruisers and Destroyers into racial skill with the Odyssey expansion, giving those of us who had them trained to five an instant boost of about six million skill points.  That jumped me from around 99 million to 105 million skill points, and spared you all one of these numbers blog posts.

Anyway, here we are at the next round number and here are how my skill point distribution stands.  Those categories marked with an asterisk changed since the last milestone, so that is where my training time went, while the numbers in parenthesis show how many skills out of the total number I have for each category.

Spaceship Cmd   35,466,680 (42 of 67)*
Gunnery         13,915,745 (36 of 39)*
Missiles        10,311,505 (21 of 24)*
Navigation       9,362,039 (12 of 13)*
Drones           9,309,104 (17 of 20)*
Leadership       8,507,855 (13 of 14)*
Armor            6,899,137 (14 of 14)*
Engineering      5,748,120 (12 of 14)*
Shields          5,643,314 (11 of 12)
Resc Processing  4,569,908 (22 of 28)
Science          4,408,426 (21 of 39)
Trade            3,271,765 (9 of 13)
Electronic Sys   2,458,519 (6 of 15)
Targeting        1,521,805 (8 of 8)*
Scanning         1,412,995 (7 of 7)*
Neural Enhance.  1,384,785 (5 of 8)*
Subsystems       1,320,000 (10 of 20)
Production       1,157,986 (5 of 12)
Corp Mgmt        1,108,784 (4 of 7)
Social             943,765 (5 of 9)
Planet Mgmt        769,335 (5 of 5)
Rigging            580,275 (10 of 10)*

Total         ~130,000,000 (295 of 398)

I am clearly guilty of trying to have one character do everything over the years.  I will recycle, once again, Jester’s skill point chart that gives a general view of the whole.

Skill Points Mapped Out

Skill Points Mapped Out

There are, as always, chunks of training time spent around optimizing for fleet doctrines.  But far and away the majority of my training time over the last cycle has been devoted to Leadership skills, with more than 6.1 million skill points accrued.

This was due to me decision back in June to train to be a fleet booster.  Getting Leadership maxed out, which means all the way up to the Fleet Commander V skill, has been described as a year-long process that you just have to buckle down and dedicate your training to.  Certainly there are not a lot of happy, useful mid-points, at least not in our fleet doctrines.  You have to have a lot of level V skills to take on the role.  My first plateau, the point at which I might actually be useful, will probably come by the end of this year, at which point I will Wing Command V and the appropriate Warefare Link specialist roles trained up, along with the Command Ships skill, so that I can fly the Damnation command ship as an on-grid wing booster in Baltec fleets.

Damnation in a POS

Damnation in a POS

Let’s hope Baltec fleet is still a doctrine by then.  Given that leadership is shown as ~12 million skill points over all, my next milestone will no doubt feature mostly an increase in that category again.

All told, my character knows 295 different skills, up from 283 at the last milestone.

Level 1  - 4
Level 2  - 23 
Level 3  - 48
Level 4  - 71 
Level 5  - 149

Only four of the new skills were in the Leadership category, while another four went into Rigging, while the final four were in Targeting where I discovered I was missing the racial sensor compensation skills.  That discovery was largely because of the skill review at the 120 million skill point level, so I suppose these milestones are not entirely meaningless.

At the end of these posts I have traditionally put in a calculation about how far I am from flying a Titan.  Way back in time that tended to be a hilariously large number, to the point of seeming unlikely to ever come about.  As time has marched forward, I have managed to edge closer and closer to that ability, to the point that I last reported that I was about 50 days of training shy of being able to fly (but not fully equip) a Titan.  49 out of those 50 days were tied up in Capital Ships V, something I am unlikely to be training in the near future.  And so that number seemed to be static.

However, in the CFC, we have a utility that shows you where you stand on your skill progression if you want to fly in one of the capital fleets.  This shows you what skills you are missing and the minimum training level that the CFC will accept, so I can now list out how long it will take me to fly a fully operation titan.  In this case, the shortest path is to a Ragnarok, the Minmatar titan. (See its doomsday weapon in action. Not a super laser like the Avatar or Erebus.)

Free wheeling Ragnarok

Free wheeling Ragnarok outside the POS

This is largely due to the fact that I have trained up the skills to fly the Minmatar Naglfar dreadnought, and the capital ship level weapons skills apply in both cases.  The training plan to fly this beast looks like this:

1. Capital Ships V
2. Astrometrics V
3. Jump Portal Generation I
4. Jump Portal Generation II
5. Jump Portal Generation III
6. Energy Pulse Weapons II
7. Energy Pulse Weapons III
8. Energy Pulse Weapons IV
9. Energy Pulse Weapons V
10. Doomsday Operation I
11. Doomsday Operation II
12. Doomsday Operation III
13. Doomsday Operation IV
14. Minmatar Titan I
15. Minmatar Titan II
16. Minmatar Titan III
17. Minmatar Titan IV

According to EVE Mon, that is 6 unique skills, 17 skill levels, with a total time training time of 130 days, 17 hours, 44 minutes, 40 seconds.  The training time number was generated when I was in a clone without implants, and my attributes are sub-optimal, so I could cut that time down some if I so desired.  Any of the other titans would add another two days to the training time, which isn’t very significant.

Meanwhile, if I went the super carrier route, I could be flying an Aeon in about 105 days, thanks to the Amarr carrier skills I trained up for the Archon.

The Aeon looks half finished

The Aeon looks half finished

Of course, this is just an amusing numbers exercise.  I won’t be flying either a titan or a super carrier in the foreseeable future.  In part, that is because I do not have the patience to actually earn enough ISK to buy either class of ship.  I would be stretched to fork out the 3 billion ISK required for the Naglfar I have already trained to fly.  But mostly it is because titans and avatars pretty much require you to dedicate a character full time to them.  There is no docking up and swapping ships.  Once you are in your giant space coffin, you are stuck with it.

So, while an amusing metric, super capitals aren’t really a goal for me.

Anyway, off for the 140 million mark.  At least I don’t have to upgrade my clone until the 150 million mark.  Maybe I will be “done” training by then.

Sometimes you can even catch me in high sec buying skills or just sitting in my training implants clone.

New Eden Alt Creation Becomes Easy with Phoebe October 10, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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CCP put up a dev blog listing out what will be in the next expansion, Phoebe.

And while there are many tasty tidbits to digest on that list… including the whole jump drive nerf, which has gotten some alterations based on feedback… the one stunner for me is CCP removing the limit from the training queue.

You will be able to pile up as many skills as you want in your training queue.

Training queue to infinity...

Training queue to infinity…

Some people may never have to log in again.  I cannot tell if this is truly awesome or horrifying.  I know I like it, though you do have to wonder what eventually changed CCP’s mind on this.

And being able to identify a bitter vet will eventually go from those of us who remember when there was no queue to those of us who remember when the queue was only 24 hours long.  We have had the 24 hour skill queue for more than five years now.  It came in with Apocrypha back in 2009… along with a lot of other stuff.  Look at the list on that link.  Wormholes.  Ship fitting windows.  Blue lasers for ice mining.  Damn, we take for granted these days.

It isn’t the be all, end all of course.  Unless you can inject and queue skills that you cannot yet train, there will have to be some logging in now and again.  But it looks like I will be able to load up the remainder of my fleet booster training plan and let it ride after Phoebe drops on November 4th.

Makes me want to create another alt… which I am going to guess is part of what changed CCP’s mind.

 

Another Null Sec Achievement! October 8, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
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There we were.  The ping had gone out.  Nulli Secunda was running around Deklein.  They were in YA0-XJ, our staging system, when I logged on.  all 54 of them.

A fleet was formed.

We piled into Tengu fleet doctrine ships to fight them.  We undocked, but our scouts reported they were running.

Reagalan, our FC secured us a titan.  We could cut them off.  All we had to do was get bridge to a system a couple jumps out to cut them off.  We had eyes on them, we knew where they were headed.

We hit the staging POS first, then Reagalan had us warp to him on the titan.  We all bunched up there, looking straight into the face of the giant Amarr titan, the Avatar.  Reagalan asked the titan pilot to bridge us to the beacon in the cut-off system.  We started intently at the titan, waiting for the visual effect that would indicate that the bridge was up.

The tension mounts...

The tension mounts…

Nothing happened.  Reagalan nudged the titan pilot again.

Suddenly the Avatar, this giant visage right before us, transforms itself into a red ball of energy and disappears as a streak into the distance.

Poof!  Gone!

There was a moment of silence as we processed what happened, and then fleet chat broke out in hilarity.

The pilot selected “jump to” instead of “bridge to” and sent himself off to the cut-off system, while we were all left to run there the hard way.

Fortunately Nulli Secunda was too busy heading out of our space to see the titan.  Not that they could have made much of an issue of it, as we were very quickly burning through gates as fast as we could to catch up.  Reagalan got himself popped racing ahead, but otherwise everything was okay.

So we headed back to YA0-XJ, catching a hostile on the way.

I have heard about titan pilots mixing up “jump” and “bridge” before.  It was how the battle of Asakai happened.  But to see it happen was quite a thing.  I feel steeped in just that much more of the null sec experience.  I can now mark that off of my list of things to experience.  And, some day, should I fly a titan, I will try to follow the simple guide.

Picture source: unknown

Picture source: unknown

All the more so because once Phoebe drops in about a month, there will be the heart ache of jump fatigue to deal with.  Then again, a titan won’t be able to get very far away after Phoebe either. Fun stuff.

 

We Pay Black Legion a Visit October 6, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
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We are suddenly living in interesting times in New Eden.  Change is coming.  A lot of people think they know how things will play out, but when CCP is telling people that they cannot predict the results, it can be hard to tell which pundit has some deep insight versus just some wishful thinking.

In addition to my own minor predictions, I am going to guess that, over the next few weeks, we will be witnessing the last hurrah of easy jump drive and jump bridge travel.  The Phoebe expansion and its huge travel changes, expected to drop in early November, looms and all good pilots in New Eden are at least making contingency plans.  The wise are making sure all their jump clone related skills are up to snuff.  The traders are stockpiling goods, the industrialists materials.  Those needing to have stuff shipped are doing it now rather than later, as shipping charges are expected to jump.  And I am willing to bet that alliances with supercapital heavy doctrines will be looking to get in some last-minute cross-region hot drops.

And those of us who have been flying subcaps back and forth across half the galaxy in order to defend the empire… we’ll be eager to do a few last farewell flings across space as well.

So it was Saturday when Reagalan put out a ping on Jabber that he would be doing something hilarious and that he had a fleet up, but that the doctrine was as yet undecided.

Once nearly 200 people showed up and piled in on that promise, it was time to pick ships.  Reagalan wanted to go with the new Hawk fleet doctrine which he has been championing, however logistics held us back.  There just weren’t any Hawks up on contract.  Some of us had them, but most of the fleet did not.  So the doctrine was changed to Harpy fleet, while asking some people to stay with Hawks to give us some more tacklers.  I opted for a Harpy because I happened to have three in the station, so I figured I might as well lose something I already had backup on.  Besides which, as I found out with Sunday’s fight, the Hawk fleet configuration changed a bit and my Hawk needed to be refit to be brought up to date.

The act of nearly 200 of us swapping ships brought up TiDi in the system.  CCP is going to have to put some more CPU power behind our new home, what with fleet assemblies and Black Legion coming to visit.

Once shipped, it was time to undock and head out to… wherever it was we were going.

Most dramatic undock screen shot yet

Most dramatic undock screen shot yet

That was some more TiDi, as was the move through the first few gates.  Other ops were likely in progress.

We started down a route I had not previously been aware of, and Reagalan had been very quiet about our actual destination, no doubt in the name of operational security.  But eventually he had to tell us where we were headed.  We ended up joining the old convoy route to Fountain, and by the time we got to J5A he had put NOL-M9 in as a destination for fleet.  We were headed to Delve.

Which was something of a pisser.  I have a jump clone and the correct doctrine ship down in Delve.  I could have just landed down there and waited for everybody else to take the jump bridge highway from Deklein.

Looking at another jump bridge array...

Looking at another jump bridge array…

That is the problem with op sec.  You can’t just ping that you want people for form up in YA0 and then add in the bit about jump cloning to Delve if you’re trying to keep the hostiles from being totally aware that you are coming.  So my jump clone sat unused, still saved for a rainy day, or Phoebe, whichever comes first.  I suppose I did get to update some jump bridge bookmarks.  The Oceanus expansion last week changed the rules a bit on where jump bridges could be anchored, so some of them had to move, obsoleting some bookmarks.

We were headed to Delve to support our southern cousins in the CFC.  FA had a fleet coming from Fountain, while the LAWN gnomes were forming up along with The Initiative to defend their turf.   A tower in NPC null had been put in reinforce so there was going to be a timer fight and Black Legion, also crossing the galaxy for a fight, was expected to be there.  Time for a bit of pay back for our losses at YA0 Thursday evening.  We had to fart about a bit camping a gate to see if we could grab anybody headed to the fight, but eventually we jumped into G-TT5V, warped to the tower in question, and found a fight in progress.

Landing at the tower

Landing at the tower

We were a little far off from the fight, so Reagalan warped us off and then back on top of Black Legion where we anchored up and started in.  Bubbles went up around the fight.  The numbers were in our favor, so the key to things was to pin them down, kill off their logistics, and then chop them up one by one.

Ball of Tengus in the bubbles

Ball of Tengus in the bubbles

As a percentage of their force, their logistics was not as prevalent as they were at YA0 two days before, and they did not seem to be as well coordinated.  This may have been due to there being different fleets calling different targets, thus spreading the Scimitar reps more thinly.  Whatever it was, we were able to start breaking the tanks on their Scimitars, and pretty soon they were going down as quickly as we could lock them up and start shooting.  With support down, our path to juicier targets was clear.

Black Legion Chimeras

Black Legion Chimeras

Black Legion had three Chimera carriers on the field, which we proceeded to target and turn to scrap one by one.

A Chimera wreck, and a soon to be wreck

A Chimera wreck, and a soon to be wreck

Three carriers down and the battle was really going our way.  Without logistics to support them, bubbled up and unable to flee, the Tengus were meat before us, waiting to be consumed.

And then, as we were laying down another round of  bubbles on Black Legion, some allied stealth bombers dropped on the Tengus and bombed them.  This was unfortunate, as they did not have nearly the firepower to do more than scratch the Black Legion fleet, but they had more than enough blast to clear away the bubbles.  The Tengus, already burning to get out of the bubbles, was clear to warp away.

There was some chasing about.  We managed to drop on and tackle one hostile in an asteroid belt.

Harpies unleash

Harpies unleash

But Black Legion had freedom of action and was able to dock up in the Blood Raiders station in system to avoid further loss.

We kept the station under guard while the other fleets finished up their business and withdrew.  The most expendable fleet gets to fly cover while the more expensive assets pull out.

Sitting on the Blood Raiders station

Why does every Amarr structure look like it was made out of Apoc parts?

We sat outside and made chicken sounds and attempted to goad Black Legion into undocking, but Elo Knight merely responded in local that sticks and stones might break his Tengus, but words would never hurt him.  At least I think that is when he uttered those words.  That might have happened on Sunday when we had him holed up in the station at 5ZXX-K.  I forget which.

Once everybody was clear, we were able to withdraw and get on the jump bridge highway back to the north.  Our movements may be hampered come November, but it is still October.  Black Legion also headed north.  As noted in the previous post, we ended up facing them along with Nulli Secunda in Pure Blind just a day later, and then again later that night up in Deklein.  They were not able to repeat their performance at YA0 and the Sunday night brawl devolved into us chasing their Ishtars all over 2R-CRW in Hawks while they tried to escape.

But the fight at G-TT5V at least got a little payment back for YA0, with the ISK war tilted in our favor this time according to the battle report.

Losses - Team 1: CFC, Team 2: Black Legion

Losses – Team 1: CFC, Team 2: Black Legion

A lot of our losses were wrapped up in a Naglfar that The Initiative threw into the brawl to hit the Black Legion carriers.  Being fixated on my own little corner of the battle, I completely missed the dreads dropping in to assist.

For a wider view of the battle, what it was about, who did what, and so on, there is a post up over at TMC by Arrendis, who was also our anchor for the main part of the fight.

I expect, with Black Legion, Nulli Secunda, and a few other groups now in the north to take advantage of the last few weeks of easy travel in null sec, that we will have more fights on our hands .  The final days before Phoebe will be bloody because nobody is really sure what we will be doing once the travel changes clamp down.  So we will take our fun while we can get it.

There is Blobbing, and then there is Blobbing October 5, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
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5 comments

It was Sunday afternoon/evening and elements of the N3 coalition along with Black Legion came calling in force, taking advantage of easy travel while it still exists.  There was a call up for fleets, a tower to be saved, and all of the usual elements.  But the surprising bit was catching the Tengu fleet on the gate in R6XN-9 and having first capital ships and then supercaps drop in on the fight.

Titans on grid did not bring out PL, so there was no B-R or Asakai style escalation.  Not ready to have a supercap pyre just yet I guess.

Meanwhile, DBRB and his bombers were taking care of a hostile Abaddon fleet in one pass.

Addendum: Reports on the bombing run at TMC and EN24.

 

Black Legion Pays Us a Visit October 3, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Null Sec.
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8 comments

I managed to sit down at the computer last night just in time to have a Jabber alert pop up calling for a fleet.  Black Legion was in our new Deklein staging system at YA0-XJ.  I guess those change of address cards worked.

The alert said that more than 100 ships were in YA0 looking for a fight, so I logged right in.  I was in my high sec training clone, so I jumped back to my clone in YA0,  got into my Baltec Apocalypse, and got onto voice coms to listen to the usual operetta of a fleet form up.  The fleet commander, the tenor, must sing his sad tale of not having enough logistics (and too many interceptors) and how we won’t even undock if we do not get enough.  I sit in my Apoc and rationalize by saying to myself that it is a new month so I need a couple of kill mails, and in any case I am in my Apoc clone, the one with the EG-603 implant, which is required to fly our fit, so if I am going to get podded and lose it I am damn well going to do it in the ship that requires it.  I’ll fly logistics next time, I swear.

Eventually Red Crown cajoled enough people to swap so that we meet the minimum doctrine requirements.  The logistics theme is not done yet though.  That motif will continue through the fight.  But we are able to start undocking, which turns on the time dilation.

Undocking in YA0

Undocking in YA0

Red Crown had us align to the 2R-CRW gate in YA0, where Black Legion was reported to be lingering.  That is when we started to prove again that we can be very bad at EVE Online.  On of the squad commanders warped his squad to the gate rather than aligning, sending most of his squad to a quick and early death.  On person was able to cancel warp, the rest were blown up on landing, being served up for Black Legion like hors d’oeuvres.  The rest of us managed to align without warping to a fiery death.

Once we had a safe warp in, Red Crown warped the fleet and we landed on grid with Black Legion and the shooting could begin.  Black Legion was out in Tengus with a fleet of over 120 ships, a quarter of which were logistics.  As has been discussed elsewhere, logistics is a very powerful aspect of fleet composition.  This is why the FC is always shouting for more logi.  Black Legion was going to be a tough nut to crack with all that support.

The first thing on the agenda was to clear off a Mobile Cynosural Inhibitor that was on grid, so that we could bring in some more firepower in the form of some carriers and their sentry drones.  This led to a moment of comedy where everybody locked up the inhibitor, shot it into structure, then moved on to the next target.  When you are shooting ships, and you see one out of shields, out of armor, and taking damage to its hull, it is time to think about moving onto the next target.  But with structures, the hull actually makes up the bulk of the hit points.  The inhibitor only has 20K hit points armor and shields combined, but 150K in the hull.

So everybody shot it into hull and moved on, leaving it still alive.  So the FC had to get us all to go back and finish it off so some carriers could land on grid with us and add their fire to the mix.

With that finally accomplished, we started trying to whittle down the enemy logistics, which were on the far side of the battle from us.  Baltec fleet in general, and Apocs in particular, are good and picking off ships at range. With the right crystals loaded, I can engage targets out past 150km.  So the FC began calling Scimitars as targets.  We even managed to pop the first one, but then the hostiles were alerted and each subsequent target got reps before we could get it into armor.

BL Scimitar taking heat

BL Scimitar taking heat

On our side though, casualties began to mount.  We had half as much in the way of logistics, and a third of it was being flown my one guy who was multi-boxing.  Add in the fact that armor reps apply at the end of the module cycle, as opposed to the beginning of the cycle with shield reps, and there was a lot less margin for error on our side.  Even TiDi, which usually makes logistics easier, as your reaction time remains the same while the world around you slows down, wasn’t enough to help us out.

BLYTiDi

We swapped to other target types, and managed to knock down a couple, but once the hostile logi was wise to our plan, reps thwarted further kills.

At some point Red Crown went down and Reagalan took over the FC slot.  He aligned us away from the hostiles so we could engage at range and then tried a few tricks to see if we could alpha ships before reps kicked in.  He would have us all hold fire until we were ready to go, then give us a target to lock up and shoot.  When this worked, it worked quickly, but for the most part Black Legion seemed to be on the ball and calling for reps as soon as we started locking somebody up.  Anybody who was slow died, the rest got reps in time to thwart our damage.

There were a couple calls to get more logistics in our fleet and a small Celestis fleet went up to try and damp the hostile logistics, though they were targeted and destroyed in pretty short order.  After a while of mounting losses for little gain, we left the field and headed back to the station.  Black Legion won the day, with more kills and more ISK destroyed.

Team 1: CFC, Team 2: BL

Team 1: CFC, Team 2: BL

The battle report from which that graph was drawn is available here.

Some screen shots from the fight.  There are a couple of shots where you can, thanks to colors, spot people using the wrong crystals for their lasers.