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We Pay Black Legion a Visit October 6, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Blow Up at F2OY-X August 4, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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I was a bit disappointed on Saturday.  There were a couple of strat ops planned, but they were both during time frames where I was not going to be able to come along.  I like strat ops because they tend to be based on timers or some other event that forces both sides to show up.  And they tend to be focused on a specific mission beyond shooting whoever we can find.

But as I was poking around early Saturday afternoon, an op came up in Jabber asking people to get in fleet fast for action in F2OY-X.

That sounded like my kind of deal.  A fight in our staging system meant no travel.  Of course, it was likely to be a chimera, the possibility of a fight that would never materialize.  But I was sitting around and I wasn’t going to be around for the later strat op, so I jump into the game.  I would get a participation link for showing up at least.

But on getting into the game, a fight looked more than likely.  There were over a thousand people in the system, TiDi was already starting to hit hard, and even as I got into Reagalan’s Baltec fleet he was telling us to undock and align.  It was time to go, so I got my Apocalypse pointed in the right direction and went.

There were warp disruption bubbles of one flavor or another all over space within sight of the station.  We actually had to warp to a mid point to get around some to drop in on the fight.  Along the way, we passed within sight, if not range, of a TEST pilot who wanted us to be sure of who to shoot.

Ship naming fun

Ship naming fun

We slowly made our way to the engagement, tidi dipping to 10% already and, on arriving, started shooting the targets called.  Initially we did not have much success.  A later count showed that the hostiles brought a lot of logistics with their Tengu fleet, so were catching sufficient reps when targeted to shrug off our fire.  Remote reps have come up as part of the larger “fix null sec” thread of posts that has been banging about the EVE Online world.  You only get kills if you can out-damage the remote repair abilities of your foes.  So the game becomes “bring more dudes” while your FC yells at you to get into a logistics ship.  More reps means life, so nerfing reps is now being discussed.

Logistics become a lynchpin in engagements.  You keep your logistics alive, which tend to be easier to kill than your ships of the line, by having your logistics anchor keep as far off on the other side of the fight from your foes as possible.  Out of range means being safe.

Fortunately for us, the reach of Baltec fleet is pretty far.  An Apoc with range scipts and the right crystals can reach out and hit things as far as 150km off if you have the right skills trained.  Not that we needed that.  Their logistics seemed to be close to hand, within the range of our short-to-medium range ammo.  So Reagalan had us swap to targeting their logistics.  That worked and we started getting kills, breaking Scimitar tanks one by one.

That was an investment into the future of the fight.  However, killing logistics now leaves all the hostile firepower still on hand to shoot at you.  We had enough logistics for the fleet, so long as you paid attention and clicked the “need armor” button as the hostiles were just starting to target you.  That is indicated by the yellow boxes around ships in your overview.  I was not paying close enough attention and only hit the button when I noticed those yellow boxes starting to turn red, which means that you are now being shot at.

Never a good sign...

Never a good sign…

Soon I was floating around in a pod.  But first I got to see my ship explode in slow motion.  The tidi was bad enough… it had clearly pushed beyond the level that was showing as the backend systems struggled to keep up with things running at one tenth speed… that my ship was gone as far as my controls were concerned a good 30 seconds before it actually exploded on screen.

I go boom... eventually

I go boom… eventually

Then I was sort of stuck.  There were layers and layers of warp disruption bubbles to fly through so I would be clear to warp back to the station and re-ship.  I took that time to go through the contracts, pick out, and purchase a new Apocalypse.  Reagalan was cajoling us to return in Celestises in order to sensor damp the hostiles, as not being able to target and shoot things apparently induces rage in our foes, but those had all been bought out.  So it was back to a big ship.

Pods move slowly, put-putting along at 187 meters a second, made all the more slow by tidi inflicting is penalty.  Eventually though I wandered out into open space and was able to warp back to the station.  Docking and reshipping went very quickly given the TiDi situation, and I even remembered to check the fitting to make sure the guns were online before I undocked.  They were not.  Ships on contract sometimes get fit by an alt that cannot use all the modules, so they are with the ship but offline.  It is embarrassing to be in a hurry only to get undocked and find you can’t actually shoot anything.

Then it was time to find my own way back to the fleet, which meant finding a wreck or something to warp to, since the direct route from the station was still blocked by bubbles.

I got back in time to see the end of the initial engagement.  The long range ammo was out now and we were taking shots beyond the 100km mark as the hostiles headed away from us.  The last kill we got there was Doombunny.  As the hostiles began to fall out of range, Reagalan warped us off to the staging POS to regroup.  There we were joined by one of the hostiles.

I am not sure how this happened, but one of the enemy Scimitars warped to the POS with us, getting stuck outside the shields.

Visiting Scimitar

Visiting Scimitar

Of course, we were all “Shoot her, shoot her!” but were, for the most part, stuck inside the POS shields and unable to target or shoot.  So we started to burn out of the POS towards her.  Those who had forgotten to enter the POS password (I do not remember entering it myself, but somehow I landed at the tower) and were bouncing off the shield got a quick kill before we could get there.

We then warped onto the enemy Tengus again and were able to bubble them up and start shooting.  By this point their logistics had been pared down so that we were able to alpha Tengus off the field fairly regularly.  It became a race to lock up hostiles before they disappeared and the targets called quickly stretched out into a long list.  And then they were off again.  We warped around a bit trying to catch them, ending up hanging around on the 1DH gate for a while.  But that was the end of things for us.

Return, getting a warp in, more shooting.  Warping about, catching some more. Warp back to POS, scimitar joins us.  Hanging on gate, no joy.  The action was over for us.

The fight itself seemed to develop as a slow boil on our side of things.  Black Legion, Northern Coalition, and their allies dropped in and established an early dominance with a mass of tengus, which cost use a lot of losses amongst those who came out to meet them at the start of the fight.  There was a point where they were “winning” for whatever definition you choose, and if they had been able to extract at that point, they could have made the case for victory.  At the end of the first round, Reagalan seemed pessimistic about how we were doing, hoping for a draw on the ISK war after we were mauled early on.

But rather than leaving the hostiles lit cynos and jumped people in as the CFC pot came to a boil.  As things moved on the pings for fleets built up on our side, filling out the Harpy fleet and then bringing out a wrecking ball of carriers deploying even as the rest of us were reshipping and returning to the fight.  We were fighting right there in our home system, so people logging on had no problem jumping on.  The end result of the battle shows things tilted very much in our favor.

Total kills were close, with 358 kills for our side against 315 for the hostiles.  But the ISK war fell heavily in our favor, as we lost 16.5 billion ISK in ships to their loss of 37 billion.

Always the ISK war

Always the ISK war

We lost a lot of inexpensive ships.  If you look at the ships engaged, there are a lot of dead interdictors and Celestises and tier 1 logistics listed for us, all pretty cheap as far as things go, while the hostiles lost mostly Scimitars, Tengus, and Huggins.  Those are pricey.

The fight ended up about two hours before the start op I was going to miss, but I had gotten my share of internet spaceship kills for the day, so was satisfied to leave that to others.  It was certainly better than the fleet op on Sunday where we flew out to Aridia through a mess of TiDi only to arrive at a fight that had just ended.  Pandemic Legion invited us out to help, but I wonder if they just wanted to inflict pain on us as we took 16 very slow gates out to Soliara and then 16 back home again.

There is a write up of the larger, strategic view of the fight at F2OY-X over at TMC. which answers the whole “so how did this happen?” aspect of things.

And naturally, I have some screen shots from the fight after the cut.

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Fight at the POS in A-ELE2 July 29, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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The battle had been raging for a while when I sat down at my computer and saw a list of pings from Blawrf McTaggart, CFC Skymarshall.  Most of them were old enough to discard, fleets long since off to the races, and trying to catch up by yourself is a mugs game.  But the last one was only six minutes old, a call to get into a reinforcement fleet and get on a titan for a bridge into the current fight.

Multiple doctrines were being called up; Harpies, Celestis, and Apocalypses were in demand.  I was in my high sec implant clone, still working away at my leadership training plan, but my timer had run down and I was clear to clone jump immediately.  So it was back to my clone in F2OY-X where I jumped into my Apoc, primarily because I had the power grid implant needed to fly the doctrine fit already installed in the clone, and if I was going to lose it I figured I might as well lose it in the ship I need it for.

I was on the bounce right away, into the fleet with the titan to get a bridge, undock, enter the POS password, warp to the titan at 10km so as not to bump it, into the bubble, and then a quick burst of speed with the microwarp drive to get in range because the bridge was already up and I didn’t want to have to wait around for the next group to form up and get bridged.

Passing into the POS

Passing into the POS

We landed in A-ELE2 and things slowed way, way down.  There were about 1,100 people in the system and TiDi had everything running at 10% of normal speed.

A-ELE2 is not that far away from our staging system in F2OY-X, but it is in the hot zone corner of Delve, the NPC null sec, where our foes are staged and where there are often camps and where a lot of the action happens.

Where things happen in Delve

Where things happen in Delve

I dropped the reinforcement fleet and changed com channels to find out what the Baltec fleet was doing.  Reagalan’s was the FC and he was calling targets already.  It was time to get out there, but servers were balking at doing anything.  It took half a dozen tries to get into fleet even though there was space available and then it was time for the long, slow warp to join the battle.

Landing on grid was agonizing.  My ship seemed to spend an eternity stopped at the battle but still in warp.  I could see the targets being broadcast, they were in my overview, but I could not lock them up because I was still flagged as being in warp.  Finally, the server relented and I was back in normal space and able to engage targets.  Despite TiDi, the enemy, a host of Black Legion Augoror Navy Issues were in a bubble and going down fast.  Locking a target took ages, and when you finally got somebody locked they would appear to be only lightly damaged before suddenly blinking out in the familiar destroyed sequence.  They cycle time of my lasers was the gating factor for kills.  I launched some drones and got those into action to give myself an additional way to deal damage… and to whore on kill mails.

Reagalan had the fleet orbiting the POS tower, which is at the very center of the defensive bubble/shield, at just enough range to be outside of the bubble and able to fire, but also able to duck back in and become immune should they get targeted.  After the action, Reagalan asked how many pilots managed to pull off this maneuver, and there was quite a show of hands.  That, and reports shared with us about Black Legion complaining about us constantly blowing up their anchor or target caller because we had a spy in their midst, seemed to be tiling things our way.

And then, as often is the case, Black Legion got free of the bubbles and warped off, leaving us alone in space orbiting the POS with no targets.  TiDi dropped from the heart crushing 10% to a bearable range as the server was no longer having to keep track of hundreds of ships moving and locking and firing and taking damage.

We sat there for a bit.  There was a report of a fight at the 1DH gate, but Reagalan warned us not to just jump in willy nilly thinking we would get a few more kills.  So we stayed in orbit of the POS for a bit until the time was ripe, then he warped us all off to the gate together where the Brave Newbies Moa fleet had been bubbled.  Then it was a race to lock up targets again before the exploded.  Reagalan was broadcasting targets, but they were popping so quickly I just took to sorting by range and locking up everything possible in hopes of getting in a shot or two.  That did not last long, the Moas melting like snow under a hot sun.

Then it was back to the POS and into orbit.  There was actually a very nice starburst pattern of ships as we landed in a ball on the tower and then turned on MWDs to get out of the shields and into orbit.  We waited there for a while to watch the POS for any further hostiles and cover the carriers that had been sitting in a happy, self-repping ball all this time.  My corp CEO was in the carrier ball, in one of two Chimeras in a sea of Archons.  He wanted me to get a good shot of him, which I figured I had better do because I haven’t done much with the corp in ages.  I go on strat ops and click on participation links.  I don’t play with our towers, mine, do planetary interaction, or even rat much these days.

After the carriers pulled out, we headed to the 1DH gate where there was a scramble to get through as the ISboxer bombers were out and about and waiting for us to land on the gate.  All those people piling on the gate caused a bunch of people to drop, so there was a long wait until people got back online, through the gate, and back with the fleet.  Then it was another gate back to F2OY-X and then to the station and done.

I never did get the story as to how this fight started, except that it was over the POS where the brawl took place.

According to the battle report, there were more than 1,200 players involved with over 1,500 ships on the field over the course of the fight, with losses of nearly 48 billion ISK for both sides combined.  The split in forces was 686 CFC to 528 hostiles on grid, so not excessively unbalanced.  Black Legion and their allies ended up with more kills, destroying 435 ships to the 251 we blew up.  On the ISK war, things tilted our way, with the hostiles losing some expensive ships.

CFC is Blue

CFC is Blue

That comes out to about 21 billion in losses for the CFC and a little over 26 billion for the hostiles.  And we ended up with the POS still intact.  So I guess we won.

One bit of intel that got passed along was about TEST, who apparently had 60+ Ishtars formed up at one point, but then did not join the battle.  That force might have changed the ISK war if not the overall result of the battle.

Addendum: There is now a write up about the battle over at TMC.

After a quiet week or so, where I mostly collected participation links for sitting on titans by never bridging into combat, or chasing around reluctant foes when we did, it was nice to get into a stand up fight that did not involve us getting blow up in Ruptures. (Rupture doctrine is now dead.)  It managed to push me over the 1,000 kill mail mark, though EVE Kill and Zkillboard cannot agree on exactly how many kill mails I have been on over the years. (And Battle Clinic says I have less than 700. No idea what the right number actually is.)

And, as usual, screen shots from the fight after the cut.

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Postcards from the Trap at Daras May 15, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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Baltec Fleet Time – looks like some fools need to be smacked around a bit. Red Crown’s Fleet, Mumble Op 1 – formup VFK for stratop.

*** This was a broadcast from red_crown to all-all at 2014-05-15 02:00:24.017258 EVE Standard, replies are not monitored ****

That’s the way it started for me.  After the last couple of short fleet ops, where we were always shy of logistics, I decided to pick up a Guardian.  So that was what I join Red Crown’s fleet with, even remembering to insure it.  I did not need the insurance this time around, but others did.

According to the latest update about the fight over at The Mittani, it was a trap laid by Pandemic Legion and Black Legion, who worked together to lay the bait POS in Daras, a low sec system in Lonetrek.  CFC caps and supercaps were drawn in, along with the subcaps in Baltec fleet, to go after Black Legion supers, and then Pandemic Legion dropped in as well.

We were told not to shoot PL at first, as it appeared they were dropping in to join us in rolling up Black Legion.  But then they started shooting us and the who op went to hell from our perspective.  The kill board is still updating at this point, but PL and BL clearly came out on top.  It wasn’t anything like B-R5RB or even Asakai… if nothing else, it was over quickly… but it was a loss for the CFC.

The summary that came out over Jabber as we moved slowly back to null sec… tidi was running at 10% making everything slow… was:

And that’s why we don’t go to lowsec

But, playing the tourist as usual, I got a few screen shots.

Chasing Around Deklein March 30, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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There was a time last year when merely watching the Jabber announcement feed would end up giving me a quick fight a couple times a week.  I took note at the end of February 2012 that there was always a party. Hostiles would show up and camp the undock in VFK-IV, the de facto Goonswarm capital and we would go out to fight them right on our doorstep.  Sometimes we’d bag something big, like a carrier, right in VFK.  And sometimes I would get popped.  But stuff seemed to happy right in our midst on a regular basis.

And then came the wars to recolor much of the null sec map.

13 months of change

13 months of change

The action moved elsewhere.  We deployed to various locations on the map and the fights followed, first up to Branch and Tenal, then down to Delve and Querious, and then into Tribute and the Vale of the Silent.  That was pretty much a year’s worth of fleet actions.

And then they were over.  The new territories were split up and I returned to my starting point in Deklein.  Where not much was happening.

But there was still a war being settled down in the south and something of an inadvertent conquest in Cobalt Edge, so the attention of what I would guess I would call the free companies, groups who wander null sec looking for fights as opposed to sovereignty, was focused elsewhere.

Now though, things are a bit quiet.  Well, except for some pundits declaring that after over a year of non-stop war and change, that null sec is now dead.  But the quiet is really only relative to the massed fleets.  The operational tempo goes on at a smaller scale.  Roams become more of an activity, both by us and our neighbors and the free companies.

And so it was that last night alone I was in two different homeland defense actions.

The first was a force of Nulli Secunda and Northern Coalition that drove into Deklein and which we assembled to face.  Normally I would have just pulled out one of my Drakes to join this fleet, but Hurricanes were on the list of ships desired, and I happened to have one in VFK, so I grabbed it.  It was a DigiCane fit, which was for a fleet doctrine that became obsolete about 30 seconds after I bought it.  And so, despite my bringing it along on any number of ops where we expected to die and dragging it along to every war over the last year, I never managed to lose it.

Well, I took care of that last night.  We undocked, got on the II-509 gate, then went through to meet the enemy who put the hurt on us, winning the kill war at a 2 to 1 ratio, then took off while we were reshipping.  We gave chase, ending up amidst a null sec incursion, which change the color of space if nothing else.

Happens in null sec too

Happens in null sec too

Failing to catch up to the bad guys, we hauled ourselves back to VFK.

Fawlty7, our FC, was going to take the fleet out again in a roam to see if he could find some more trouble, but I declined to follow along on that and logged off for a bit.

And a while later, there was another call on Jabber.  Black Legion was around VFK in force.   This time the call was for Alphafleet and I had my Rokh ready to go.  As fate would have it, about the time we were ready to undock and face the bad guys, Fawlty7’s fleet was returning to VFK and got hit.

The Black Legion fleet fell back a system and we spent some time on opposite sides of a gate waiting for one side to barge in on the other.  Neither side was taking that bait however, and so they fell back to another gate and we followed.  And again.

Eventually the Black Legion fleet ended up in a pipe of systems that fell between the two ends of one of our jump bridges and we spent the next 40 minutes jumping through the jump bridge to block them at one end and then the other of the pipe, in something of an internet spaceships version of pickle.  Our fleet was a little bit bigger, but not big enough that we could divide our forces and press from both sides.

This went on long enough that we had to call a service guy out to ensure that the jump bridges would have enough fuel to keep it going.  A Rorqual showed up, which we were not supposed to mention on fleet chat because it is a high value target, and which I think we successfully mentioned less than a dozen times on all possible channels.  So much for operational security.

Black Legion clearly knew what was going on and eventually sent a sacrificial lamb out to bubble us on the jump bridge at one end of the game, which makes the jump bridge unusable, while they escaped out the other end of the pipe.  The bubble went up and we were stuck there for a bit, but it wasn’t long enough.  We caught up with them at FO8M-2 for a short, sharp fight where the kill totals favored us this time.  We got them in a bubble and the shooting began.

However, after blowing up their FC, Ipsimus, the Black Legion fleet made their way out of the bubbles and to the exits.  Well, there was that and the fact that a fleet of 27 CFC carriers dropped onto the field.  That tipped what would have been a fairly even fight into odds heavily in our favor, so they withdrew with good reason.

Somehow I managed to fail to get on a single kill mail in the fight.  I seemed to be always targeting the guy who just blew up just warped off.

And so it goes in Deklein, where such smaller fights seem to be becoming the norm again.

Weekend War in Venal August 6, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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In null sec wars are like buses; if you wait long enough another one will show up.

Which is a good thing, since war and the accompanying fleet operations are my favorite null sec activities.

OTEC, which previously brought various parties together, isn’t quite holding together it seems.  The upcoming nerf to technetium production… which will either kill tech moons and make us all poor or is purely for show and won’t change a thing, depending on who is speaking… seems to have shaken at least one member of the coalition out of the ranks and into conflict with the rest of the cartel

Tech moons were already under attack in Venal, which like Stain, is one of the more amusingly named regions.  Black Legion and our old foes from the south, Nulli Secunda were on the move there.  But then Northern Coalition, a member of the cartel, joined in as well.  I do not know if this was a dispute over other cartel members dumping tech on the market and killing the price or if they were just looking for something to do after the “mate war,” but things were on. (I have to go listen to the intel collected from NC comms.)

And so the weekend consisted of a series of fleet engagements base on reinforcement timers, starting on Friday night.

Friday night was pretty much a bust for me.  The fleets started off before I was home from work so by the time I could log in everybody was headed for home.

I have one shot.  I happened to be on coms and at the staging system as fleets were coming back when Black Legion tried to hot drop on our Drake fleet in 9-R6GU.  There were carriers on the field and I burned out to join the fight.  However, by the time I got there not much was left.  I managed to lock up an Abaddon and get missiles launched before it blew up, so I got on the kill report with 0% of the damage.

Saturday morning though, that was a different story.  Everybody seemed to be hungry for a big battle.  One of Northern Coalition’s tech moons was coming out of reinforcement the word was that they were going to gather up some friends and fight for it.

On our side we filled up an Alpha, a Tengu, and a Drake fleet and then had to make another Drake fleet.  Even The Mittani logged in and got into a fleet.  Just moving ourselves from VFK to the staging system brought up some serious time dilation.

13% TiDi and we haven’t even left yet!

I joined up with the first Drake fleet.  The FC was Zarks who has the cool demeanor of a late night FM disk jockey (if such a thing still exists).  Somebody in the fleet was complaining that the FC was “shouting” at them, and idea of which made people laugh and openly mock the person.  I have never heard Zarks speak in anything but the most moderate tone imaginable.

To counter that, we did have Suas along to be the Drake anchor.  And unlike Zarks, Suas always sounds like he is shouting with that finely honed British tone of voice that seems to imply that we are all morons because he had to even bring up a particular item, much less shout it at us to get us to pay attention.  So it was sort of Good FC/Bad FC.

We slowly bridged out to Venal and started burning towards the target system, N6G-H3.

Red in the ships/pods killed view

In what seemed like an odd turn of events to me, we did not face that much of a threat before Northern Coalition’s tower was destroyed.  Some stealth bombers came our way, but that was it.  Of course, that was just the part of the battle I was in.  The count in local was up beyond 1,200 people and TiDi was heavy, so something was going on.

With the tower blown, we joined the real battle.  With one of the first targets being a carrier that was inside the tower shields.  That went before I could lock it up.  Then the combined force from Northern Coalition, Black Legion, Nulli Secunda, Ev0ke, Ewoks, and Intrepid Crossing, with a few Gypsy Band ships thrown in for fun, collided with the CFC fleets.

Drake fleet in the fight

This followed the pattern I have seen in such battles in the past.  Once one side starts chewing away at the other, the balance of things quickly gets out of hand.  Our own targets were battleships and logistics at first, then the opposing Drake fleet until the focus became keeping them from escaping.

One of their battleship fleets retired to another station they had in the system where they were safe within the POS shield.

Battleships in the POS Shield

There were a few other skirmishes after that.  Stealth bombers plied their trade, attacking us while we roamed around the fleet safely in the shields.  The password to get in was known by us and at one point we flew into the shields and attempted to bump some ships out to face the waiting guns of the lurking Alpha fleet.

Drake formation in the enemy POS bubble

While an Iteron V that was sitting on the edge of the shields did get bumped out at one point, the exercise was not very successful.  If a ship is under way it is difficult to bump it very far, and the enemy fleet set themselves up orbiting the tower once we started bumping which put an end to our ambitions.

The end results, like the odds, favored us.  We put nearly double the number of ships in the system in the end which lead to us dominating the kill board for the fight.  This of course brought up the usual arguments about how the CFC is bad at PvP and needs to bring favorable odds in order to win.  That still leaves the open question, “If we are bad, why would we do anything else?” along with “If you’re so good, why do you need such evenly matched odds to win?”

I ended up with 84 kills for the day, though 44 of them were POS modules.

Kill totals for the weekend

I am not sure how I ended up with 43 out of those 44 kills.  I only shot the tower.  But I guess you somehow get credit for the module that are destroyed or collected afterwards.

Both sides drifted off the field and we headed back to the staging system where I parked my Drake in anticipation of the ops that were set to go on Sunday.

The Sunday ops were early in the morning for me.  As much as I like fleet ops, I wasn’t going to get up before 5am in order to participate.  It seemed like I wasn’t needed in any case.  These ops were to defend and rep our own towers that had come out of reinforcement, as opposed to going after the towers of the opposition, so Northern Coalition and friends were less inclined to go head to head.  I got on coms near the end of the second of the mornings three ops and it sounded like it was more of a cat and mouse game with a lot of scanning and probing.

And by the time the third op went out, the opposition had had enough of that, so we flew around hindered only by TiDi and our own incompetence.  Our inability to follow orders when we aren’t actually shooting things is phenomenal.  At one point, on the way home our FC, Reagalan, said one destination system in voice coms, then quickly changed it to another destination, which he said a few times, which was linked in the fleet channel, and which was broadcast in the fleet window, and still a good 10-20% of our fleet wandered off in the wrong direction.

We were also very lucky.  While the Tengu fleet went out with 55 Scimitars to support it, we had just two.  That would be about 18 shy of sanity.  And then one of them dropped off, which left us with just a single logistics ship, the pilot of which seemed quite concerned.  It is the logistics ships that keep us from getting turned into so much wreckage most days of the week, so we were primed for disaster.  But nobody showed up to fight us, so we hung around until our towers were repaired… we even sent our sole scimitar off to help… what good was it going to do us… and then headed home.

Moon Harvesting Array

The war of the moons in Venal continued on last night while I was asleep.  We shall see if it continues on with as much vigor next weekend or if, like so many past wars, the stand up fights come early and after that it turns into another bug hunt.

Retaking the Tech Moon at 42XJ-N July 26, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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In which pretty much nothing happens, so you might as well just look at the pictures and move on.

I was not sure I was going to get to go on this op.

There was an update to fleet doctrine recently, during the war in Delve, with new fits, new ships, and even new fleets becoming part of official policy.

I can still fly Drake fleet of course, since my skills in missiles and shields are just about all max’d out.  And I am still good with Alpha fleet, even if I have to fly the Maelstrom with training wheels because of my low gunnery skills. (Both on my character and in person.  I never seem to have the right ammo for starters.)

But Welp fleet changed fits to something I am going to need to train for, while the Bomber fleet just scares me because, while I have all the skills, I have no clue on how to actually fly the ship and really don’t want to figure it out in my usual manner, which generally involves screwing up badly.

And then there is the Tengu fleet.

Tengu fleet is the new darling of fleet ops, as unlike Drake fleet, it doesn’t need a nearly full fleet to be effective.  So it has become the go-to fleet for odd hour weekday operations.  It is odd, fleet ops in Delve at late hours were filled to overflowing but back in Deklein we seem to be scraping by with much smaller turn outs.  No war fever I guess.

Of course, the promise of a fight related to defending or attacking a tower might have worn thin over the many tellings.

So it was last night when the alert came up promising a fight over the control of a tech moon in Venal.  This is where Black Legion and our erstwhile foes in Delve, Nulli Secunda, have been hitting OTEC installations in the wilds of Venal in hopes of provoking a serious fight now and again.  Bless them for giving us something to do.

The call was for a Tengu fleet, which got a very low interest reaction from me.  I can fly the official reimbursement Tengu fit.  However, our alliance policy also requires some minimum subsystem skills in order to qualify for reimbursement.  This is something my pal Gaff found out the hard way.  I am level 4 across the board, but some level 5 skills are required if you want to get paid for the loss of your 600+ million ISK ship.  So no Tengu ops for me until I spend a couple weeks training.

An update came along a bit later asking for more people to get in the fleet, even if it was only in a Drake.

There was the magic word.  I can afford to lose a Drake even if I don’t get reimbursed because I brought it to a Tengu fleet.  And strong still is the call to “go shoot stuff” for me.

I got into the game, clone jumped to VFK, saddled up a Drake a warped out to the rally point.  And there we sat as DBRB called for more Scimitars to support the fleet.  Logistics, space priests, ever the linchpin of our fleet operations.

So I volunteered to reship to a Scimitar, as I happened to have one parked in VFK in the right configuration.  Apparently one more logi was all he wanted, because the fleet started off before I was able to undock.

You may be tempted to mention at this point that, in flying a Scimitar, I can join any of the standard fleets (aside from bombers) that the CFC puts up because we never have too many logistics ships.  And you would be correct.  My reluctance stems from two things.

First, I am pretty sure I am bad at logistics at this point.  I do not have a lot of direct evidence from the four times I have flown them on fleet ops, once I was blown up very early in the fight and the other three times (which includes this very op) things ended up going so well for us that I suspect everybody else was simply able to carry my dead weight without notice.  But the fact that I ran off without nanite paste or performance enhancing drugs again (I actually have some nanite paste, but never remember to buy the drugs) seems to argue in favor of my failings as a logi pilot.

Second, I like to shoot stuff.  Getting kills still thrills, even if I am just one ship in the Drake blob.  And, frankly, the only way my corp or alliance seems to know I am doing anything at all is when I get on the kill boards or when I submit reimbursement forms.

But, in the name of getting a fleet op going, I will bite the bullet and fly a Scimitar.  I suppose there is no other way to learn.

Of course, as I mentioned, the fleet took off so I was rushed, which is part of the reason for no paste/no drugs.  The fleet had used a jump bridge and was a couple of gates into Venal when I finally caught up.  Getting to the target system was a good dozen jumps from the jump bridge, but soon we were sitting on the gate to 42XJ-N, at which point the logi leader told us to take our drugs.  Yeah, oops.

Then it was through the gate and into the waiting arms of a Black Legion Abaddon fleet, which started off the battle on a bad note for us, when one of our Tengus got popped before everybody was together and focused.  I was still locking up key individuals when the “need shields” call came, and by the time he was locked there was only a pod to rep.

My first though was the hope that we were not sailing into a fiasco.  But the kill turned out to be a quirk of fate.  Black Legion was able to primary him before we were together.  We did better after that.  Even drug free me got reps off on ships taking damage, including our heavy interdictor who was something of a key to the operation.

It was he who was to put up the bubble to trap the enemy and to light the cyno to bring in the dreadnoughts.

Bubble AND Dreadnoughts present

DBRB said later on coms that Black Legion had asked Nulli Secunda to not form up, except as a bomber fleet, as the expectation was that we wouldn’t be able to field enough ships to want to fight if they both showed up in force.  Then we dropped capitals on them.  And once that happened, things pretty much went our way, with 13 battleships and 2 carriers getting popped as they pulled up stakes and headed for the exit.

At one point I deployed a combat drone and assigned it to one of the Tengus in hopes of whoring myself onto at least one killmail, but the drone sat idle the whole time, then got left behind as we hopped around a bit to try and chase down the opposing fleet.

That done, we jumped to the tower we were there to destroy.  Here I managed to fly too close to the tower defense, which locked me up and started shooting at me.  However, between my speed, size, and reps from fellow logis, I barely sustained any damage to my shields at all beyond the tiniest sliver of red showing.  But it looked exciting.

OMG the tower defenses are shooting me!

And then it was everybody’s favorite activity, a POS shoot.  Fortunately, the dreads stuck around and helped make it a short shoot.

Big guns make for short work

Once the tower was down, it was time to put up one of our own in its place.  The dreads trundled off and we got to sit around guarding the tower during its vulnerable deployment and onlining stages.  Each of those takes 30 minutes.  So there was an hour of flying in circles.

The boredom of the wait was mercifully broken by Nulli Secunda, which had some stealth bombers in system.  They took runs at us now and again, the most comic of which took place just as DBRB went AFK for a bathroom break.  The bombers swooped in, launched their bombs, took a loss, but got a Tengu kill.

When DBRB got back he was incredulous.  How could a Tengu die to such a weak attack?

It turned out that the victim brought his ratting Tengu to the fleet op.  A look at the kill mail shows it fit for active tank Guristas operations, with a low (25K) effective hit points.  Compare that to one that is fit for Tengu fleet operations, with an EHP of 125K.  Ratting ships do not do well in PvP, as I could tell you.

A later bomb attack hit the logistics ships dead on, which knocked shields down about 25%.  Not a big threat to the right fit.

As the timer counted down, people started to get really bored, or cranky, or both, which DBRB tried to solve with a combination of trolling and talking about Kristen Stewart getting caught cheating on Robert Pattinson with her recent director Rupert Sanders, who also happens to be married.  It was like TMZ in space.

Then DBRB said how old he was on coms, and the age difference between him and I happened to be exactly the same as the age difference between me and my father, which was mildly disturbing.

And then, at last, as the timer for the tower going online dropped below the five minute mark, the word was given to head for home, all gates green.  Back to VFK I went, calling it a night when I hit the station.  But it was not the end of things for DBRB.  He had an op planned for two hours later, in which he planned to hunt the great truffle whale or some such.  I will have to go read the forums to see how that turned out.

Meanwhile, I still do not know how badly I suck at the logi thing.  But I am going to remember to buy some drugs.  I swear I’ll have them next time.

Getting to the War in Delve – First Attempt July 3, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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As I noted in my June in Review post, things had been quiet in the part of null sec where I generally live.  I wrote that we needed a war and that the Goons tended to go to war in the summer, so maybe we would get something to do soon.

And my wish was granted even before that post went up.

In the most recent State of the Goonion, which was held hours before my speculation was even posted (automatically, because I was away), it was announced that the CFC was going to war in Delve.

(Another link to DOTLAN EVE Maps, about which there is a nice community post up from CCP, if you want to know more about it.  Oh, and there is also a video announcing the war in Delve.)

So I came back from vacation to find war was declared, a lot of people already redeployed to Delve, and battles already under way.

This will be the fifth war in Delve for the Goons, who I gather have now taken to seeing the region as a place to take their summer vacation.  They know it well.

I, on the other hand, have never been and had to get their.  Regular convoys of ships seemed to have ceased.  I was left with some directions and a note on the fridge saying, “make sure you turn off all the lights, see you in Delve!”

Delve is kind of far away, in EVE terms, from my usual home up in Deklein. (Map from the usual source.)

Getting to All The Fun

Just putting in our staging system in as the destination put the route as 61 jumps from VFK-IV.  Jump bridges had been set up along the way to cut that number down by a fair margin, but it is still a ways to go.  And, of course, the route was all through null sec, so danger lurks at every gate.

Still, fun beckoned, fleet ops were being announced regularly, and I wanted to go.  So I decided to risk it and run the pipe down to Delve on my own.  So I grabbed one of my fleet fit Drakes and a copy of the route and headed out.

And I made it about a third of the way there.

As seems to be usual for null sec, a few systems had people in them, but most along the way were empty or had one or two other players.  And things went smoothly until I hit 6-4V20.

There were five hostiles in the system when I landed at the jump gate.  I had the intel channel up, but the system had not been mentioned by anybody up to that point.  Nobody was in sight, but they might have been cloaked, as I was, around the gate.

At that point I had three choices, go forward, go back, or go hide.  Going forward meant warping to the jump bridge in the system and heading to the next destination.  Going back meant turning on the microwarp drive and trying to cover the 15km to the gate before I got webbed, jumping out, and then working on where to go next quickly if they followed me.  And hiding meant warping to some other point in the system, a belt, a planet, or a moon.

I probably should have tried hiding.  There was an off chance I might have been able to work my way around, staying ahead of the hostiles, and then hit the jump bridge.

But I happened to come through the jump gate aligned almost right for the warp to the jump bridge, so I had a chance of at least warping off successfully.  With a Drake, aligning to warp can take time, enough time that you can get warp scrambled and held before you can get away.  So I went for the jump bridge.

I uncloaked, aligned very quickly, and warped off.  As I did so, the hostiles all broke cloak as well.  They did not get me at the gate.  But they did not need to.  They knew where I was headed.

Just short of the POS and jump bridge was a drag bubble they left on the path.  I hit that, dropped out of warp and was hanging there in space, trying to align for another point in the system when they showed up.  I was webbed and scrambled pretty quickly.  I had hardeners on and locked up and fired away at the ship that was keeping me from warping, but it was a futile effort and I knew it.

It actually took longer than I thought it would for them to take down my ship, but it blew up all the same.  Here is the kill mail.

My Drake goes “Boom”

In that picture you can see the drag bubble, the closer sphere, and the POS shield in the background.

And I was quickly podded after that, which at least saved me the trip back.  At least I was in a no-implant clone.  Though to add insult to injury, I realized that I had grabbed one of the Drakes I had not bothered to insure, so my payout was the minimum, 17 million ISK.  And there is no alliance reimbursement for fools like me who get caught trying to travel alone.  Not that the ISK is a big deal… though I am glad I wasn’t flying a fleet fit Tengu, which costs about 8x… but it does make one feel stupid.

And I wasn’t the only one to get picked off there on the way to Delve.

So I ended up back in Deklein in a new clone.  I will have to wait until more people are traveling to Delve to make another attempt to get to the war.