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Tower Watch in Fountain and Delve August 18, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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It looked like it might be a good week for fights.  The word came down that the rest of the N3 coalition was going to deploy to Delve to join Northern Coalition and help boost their numbers.  NC and Black Legion had also gone out of their way to reinforce a number of CFC towers in both Delve and Fountain, which I took to be a good indicator.  As much as null sec veterans loathe the sovereignty mechanics, timers mean fights.  Both sides have a vested interest in showing up and being on grid when the tower comes out of reinforce.

However, it was not to be.  At least not for the times I was online.

During the week we rolled out to cover some tower swaps in Delve.  I was in Baltec fleet for that run.  We headed out to 1-SMEB to stand by as a small tower of ours was blown up so it could be replaced with a larger one.  Hostiles were reported forming up, but could not get the numbers to come fight us, so the only kill mail for Baltec fleet was our own tower.

On the way back from that we stopped at the BL staging system and hung out around the undock in hopes that somebody would come out.  CFC Sky marshal Blawrf McTaggart even flew around the station in a pod daring the enemy to emerge and pop him.

The Skymarshal's capsule

The Skymarshal’s capsule

But they didn’t have the numbers to come out.  Meanwhile, people started locking Blawrf up just for fun.  He was getting reps from several of the logis in the fleet.  Then Jay Amazingness put a target painter on him which lead one of the Fatal Ascension dudes to open fire… because FA.  So essentially we ended up popping him for BL.

Blawrf painted, getting reps, as the fatal beam lands...

Blawrf painted, getting reps, as the fatal beam lands…

It is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

After that it was back to base.

Saturday looked to be a prime day for a fight.  There were several towers in reinforce up in Fountain and Blawrf had been pinging us well in advance to get people out for the timer.

I was on early for the first call, as were a load of people.  We had well over 100 people in the Tengu fleet before the announcement that the fleet was up went out.  There was also a Baltec fleet and a Celestis fleet up as well along with the carriers that would be needed to rep the towers after they came out of reinforce.  Of course, we were gummed up for a while trying to get boosters for the fleet.  You need one for each wing and one for the fleet itself, each of which has to fly a very expensive ship and, in the case of the wing boosters, hang around in a safe spot during the battle giving boosts while hoping not to be scanned down.  I am still a long way from my training plan for that fleet role.  Maybe next war.

But eventually we got the support ships we needed and we off to Fountain.  We bridged through various systems and got to the first tower and hung out.  Intel came down saying that the hostiles could only get about 100 people into fleets because they were all watching the Alliance Tournament.

(Editorial: The Alliance Tournament is never going to be a popular esport because an outsider can’t tell what is going on by looking at the stream. You either see a single ship, which doesn’t give context, or you see the grid with some icons on it which is dull.  And even the announcers can’t keep up with what is going on with all the ships.)

So with 600 of us stomping about Fountain, there didn’t seem much point for them to come out to play.  But we still had to stick around and cover the capital fleet and their tower operations just in case.  That meant staying system, but we didn’t have to sit on the tower itself, so the FC took us through some anomalies just to shoot stuff.

Tengus blowing stuff up

Tengus blowing stuff up

That got us some ISK for bounties as we melted anything that showed up.  A lot of us were shooting, so those bounties at least exceeded the cost of the faction ammo we were shooting for most of us.

We also got to admire baltec1 and his amazing fast Megathron.  People were moaning about a battleship being in a Tengu fleet, assuming it would slow us down in fleet warps… which adjust to move at the speed of the slowest ship… not knowing how it was fit.  I had seen it previously flying with a Harpy fleet where, jumping alone in a race against the fleet, it landed ahead of the Harpies every time.

Fast Megathron is fast

Fast Megathron is fast

We stayed at that until the caps were done and then headed home.  We did get two participation links out of the deal.  Participation links, or PAP links, are the metric by which corps and alliances in the CFC see who is pulling their weight, to the point that we have all become a bit obsessive about getting our PAP links for each fleet.  Some alliances pay members for each PAP link.  In our alliance we just get yelled at for not clicking enough of them.  (I was the #3 clicker of PAP links for our corp last month, behind our CEO and a corp member who is also an alliance FC.  Not bad for a lazy, on-call pilot.)

Sunday morning saw a call up for a Harpy fleet to go shoot hostile capital ships.  That is the sort of fleet everybody loves, especially when the caps were reported to be just a few jumps from home.  The fleet was already under way when I got in, but they were running via gates so I was able to catch up by taking jump bridges to PR-8CA where the hostiles were reported to be.  It turned out to be a safe route as a CFC Tengu fleet was headed out that way, so I had plenty of cover and arrived in the target system at about the same time as the rest of the fleet, albeit through a different gate.

By the time we arrived any capital ships had vanished.

We did, however, run across an NC/BL Ishtar fleet and were able to bubble them up and pick off some of their logistics in hopes of setting up a dunk.  They slipped away a couple of times and eventually headed to a POS where a titan was waiting to bridge them out.  We had to sit and watch them jump away, though we did knock off about a dozen of them during the chase, including Futurama reference of the day, 25star-General Zapp Brannigan.

So that was my weekend in space.  A lot of running about and hanging around with a few moments of combat.

On the hopeful side for the future, there is a report up that a group of 14 alliances has formed a new coalition.  Called “Battlement Coalition” they are declaring that they are coming after the CFC to reclaim content.

Battlement Campaign Message

Battlement Campaign Message

I am a little confused by a quote attributed to leader, PantsuFan:

CFC has taken a lot of content away from the pilots in EVE and we are here to rectify that. CFC controls nearly one half of the game content in eve now.

As far as I can tell, we haven’t take any content, we ARE the content, at least in null sec.  And even then, our wars hardly matter to most EVE players, except that they sometimes drive up market prices and occasionally cause TiDi in the odd low or high sec system.

The new coalition includes a number of alliances we were shooting at anyway, such as Triumvirate and Mordu’s Angels.  How this will play out has yet to be seen, but I can only imaging that more fights will work for us, given how many pilots we had piling into the game for the timers this past weekend.  This might actually be a boon for the CFC, since I think the most likely reason it might crumble is lack of fights. (The Mittani responds to this development, complete with competing PowerPoint presentation.)

And that is about all the news I have from space for the past week.  Some fleets, a few kills, the promise of a new foe, and screen shots… always screen shots after the cut.

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Weekend Fleet Ops in Delve August 11, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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The “Good Fites” war in Delve continues on, giving us something to do during our summer vacations, such that they are.  As usual, I tend to just sit and do other things until Jabber pops up and tells me it is time for a space fight.

Saturday morning seemed to be a rich time for ops.  I missed an earlier tower defense, but happened to just sit down at my computer when a call went out for Harpy fleet.  They had suffered some losses during a fight and were re-shipping in F2OY-X, so there was an opportunity to jump in.  I quickly got online and on coms and was off with the fleet to NOL-M9 where a Northern Coalition Tengu fleet was in the process of being pinned down.  NOL is about at the edge of what is the current radius of action around the NPC null sec stations in Delve.

The hot corner of Delve

The hot corner of Delve

We arrived just in time to find the NC Tengu fleet bubbled up and heavily committed.  We were able to warp to the fight and join in at extreme range for Harpies, using Spike ammo and range scripts.

Rolling in on the bubbled Tengus

Rolling in on the bubbled Tengus

Time dilation was running close to 10% at times with a lot of ships on grid, but we were able to close and get in on our share of kills before the remaining hostiles slipped the trap.  We then bounced around quite a bit trying to catch them on their way home, but there was no further action for the Harpies and we eventually headed home ourselves.

That fleet slaked my need for a fight, but when a call came up two hours later for a Baltec fleet to go and kill some super capitals, I was in as quick as I could be.

On coms the word was that there were supers tackled and so it was time to go go go!  Reagalan was FC and, as proof that we were in a hurry, he had us warp to zero when traveling to the titan waiting to bridge us, causing it to get a severe bumping. (Don’t bump the titan is the mantra of almost every bridging operation.)  We bridged immediately to another POS where another titan was waiting to bridge us soonest out to Rilera, where the supers were said to be waiting.

However, once we got there, the supers had slipped away.  We were left with a Black Legion carrier on the field though, which we proceeded to blow up as quickly as we could, and then we cleared out all the drones that the supers left behind.  Super pilots leave so much litter behind I swear I saw a crying space Indian… or native American… or whatever.

No splitting fire with just one target

No splitting fire with just one target

We then managed to corner a Black Legion Ishtar fleet and took a bite out of them before they got away.  There were a lot of people hanging around the system for a while, and then people faded and Reagalan had to figure out what to do with us.  We were in a low sec system, which was fine, but to get back to Querious and F2OY-X, we needed to travel through high sec.  Rilera is a pocket of low sec surrounded by high.

The route to low sec

The route to low sec

For me this was no big deal.  My security status is 4.98.  But there were a lot of people in fleet with negative security status, all the way down to -10 if coms are to be believed.  And I have yet to be in a CFC fleet that has to pass through high sec where anybody seemed to know definitively what will happen if low security status pilots go into high sec.  Will CONCORD shoot them, will faction police shoot them, will they get pointed or just webbed before being blown up, will they be able to get through in a battleship… always questions with half a dozen conflicting answers on coms.

Reagalan eventually just got us lined up on the jump gate to Col, gave everybody the destination, and told us to just fly as fast as possible through high sec.  There was nothing else for it, nobody was going to risk jumping a titan out to low sec just to rescue a few relatively cheap battleships.  So we went.

And, as far as I could tell, nobody got blown up.

From there it was just a matter of getting to null and the jump bridge network for The Initiative, which we can use, and hey presto we were home.  A lot of anxiety for naught.

That was it for me on Saturday, but Sunday held the promise of more fights.  One of our towers was reinforced in 1-SMEB and the timer was set to come out at around 19:00 EVE time.  Skymarshal Blawrf McTaggart was putting up pings on Jabber about this operation, counting down to the undock time and practically promising a fight.

STRATOP FORMING IN 30 MINS. We’ll be forming large – tengufleet as first fleet, baltec as second, fyf & harpies as third. BE IN F2O FOR A SUNDAY BRAWL

Since 1-SMEB is in the Delve hot pocket, I figured this would be a short commute for a fight, so got into the Tengu fleet.  I am starting to acquire a ship for every occasion in F2OY-X.

We formed up, caused a lot of TiDi undocking, bridged to 1-SMEB, got to the POS and watched the tower count down the minutes.

And nobody showed up.  Well, we showed up, but the other side did not.  We ran off to a blocking position in another system, lest this be some trickery of some sort.  But the hostiles were not going to fight us.  Eventually Blawrf was back on Jabber telling us the fight wasn’t going to happen.

After broadcasting for guarenteed fight all day, the lowsec pirates sit on a titan and ref a moon before docking again. Sorry that we didn’t get a fight.

We wandered back home and stood down.  Unfortunately, that was about all I had time for on Sunday.  I left Jabber up and it looked like there were fleets of opportunity throughout the day, but I was done.  Still, two fights out of three tries isn’t a bad record for null sec.

Some screen shots of the various ops after the cut.

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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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Quote of the Day – What Baltec Fleet Really Does July 21, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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Dreadnoughts were literally a punchline of nullsec jokes until the five-minute siege timer, and now unless in blap mode they scuttle for cover like oversized space-cockroaches​, cap boosters firing wildly, when confronted with bright lights​.

-The Mittani, Traffic Control: Apex Force

The Mittani is continuing his pot stirring over at TMC with his Traffic Control series of columns.  This time around he is on about the current chestnut of favor, power projection, and how it has ruined null sec.  I was particularly amused by the dismissal of dreadnoughts, quoted in part above, as a good percentage of Baltec fleets I’ve stood up for over the last year… from midway through Fountain forward… have been called to cover dreadnought fleets.

Reinforcing the first tower

Baltecs babysitting dreads

Of those call ups, a good half of the time we end up just sitting on a titan, a fleet in being, as much there to dissuade any hostile move as to actually shoot something.  We only get to go out and shoot if the target system is beyond the range of a titan bridge.  And even then, as with recent run down to Delve, we have to move out, cover the system, wait for the dreads to arrive, let them shoot stuff up, then hang out while they head home before we can start for home ourselves.

I actually have all the skills required for a Naglfar dreadnought at this point.  It might be time to buy one so Baltec fleet can sit on a titan or scurry across space to protect me.

Send More Ruptures! July 18, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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I’d just like to congratulate the entire CFC on losing over 627 ruptures in the last five days.

Good work, all. Keep it up.

### Original broadcast from blawrf_mctaggart at 2014-07-17 01:28:10.494439 ###

It looks like my experience so far with Gamma Fleet Ruptures is not unique.

Ruptures undock

Ruptures undock to meet their doom

Gamma Fleet is a low cost doctrine that is supposed to be expendable.  Lose one and buy another while you’re waiting for your reimbursement because they are cheap.  But I am not sure if they are supposed to be quite that expendable.

Then again, maybe taking on bombers isn’t the right job for them.  That might be the “Never pet a burning dog” lesson of the campaign so far.

You might think we’d be down on Ruptures.  Well, I suppose we are a bit.  Calling a Rupture fleet is a way to get a laugh.  On the other hand, the supply chain has been in full swing getting ships out to Delve to replace losses and we now have hundred of Ruptures on contract just waiting to be blown up.  It has even caused a small bump in the price of Rupture hulls in Jita.

Rupture market for the last 10 days

Rupture market for the last 10 days

The wide reddish area, the Donchian channel, shows that pricing has been changing, with the gap between high and low sales widening as the average price jumped up a bit.

So we are invested in Ruptures.  Maybe.  A lot of fleet doctrines die out or get changed soon after a major deployment starts.  We didn’t end up the war in Fountain flying the same fleets we did at the start.  And I still have a Ferox sitting out in Curse left over from the fleeting “Non-ironic Ferox Doctrine” that was in vogue for about 20 minutes.  That was just long enough for me to buy one on contract.

And if we’re going to continue to chase bombers in Ruptures, I’ve taken the liberty of reworking the lyrics to the WWI tune Bombed Last Night to be our theme.

Bombed last night, Bombed the night before
Gonna get bombed again tonight if we never get bombed no more.
When we’re bombed, we die so damn quickly
God damnn the boxin’ bombers from PASTA and NC

They’re bombin’ us, they’re bombin’ us,
Only one Rupture left for the four of us.
Glory be to God there are no more of us
‘Cause one of us could fill it all alone.

I think I need something better for the last two lines, but it gets the point across all the same.

Fresh Out of Ruptures July 16, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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Bombs and smart bombs are becoming a theme for me in Delve.

The other day our Harpy fleet got caught on a jump bridge, bubbled, and smart bombed into pieces.  That is apparently a known Pasta tactic.  The warp disruption bubble disables the jump bridge so the fleet landing on it is stuck there as soon as the bubble goes up.  And then the battleships drop in and start smart bombing the the knowledge that they can survive while their frigate foes will likely perish before they can retaliate.  We were probably lucky to kill a couple during that run.

Last night was a whole lot worse.

There was a call up on Jabber for a short duration fleet to take care of some hostiles sitting in our staging system, F2OY-X.  The fleet was going to be either Ruptures or Harpies depending on how many people showed up.  Asher Elias was the FC and he had a plan.

The numbers appeared to dictate Ruptures.  I had two docked up in the station.  There was a change to the fitting requested and some special ammo to be purchased.  This was going to enable us to kill some bombers that were running about the system.

We undocked and got ourselves together.  We didn’t have enough logistics, not that it would matter in the end, but the FC spent some time trying to get people to switch.  I nearly did… I bought a Scythe on contract… but really wanted to shoot something.  I had never flown a Rupture before, so it was a new thing.

After some moving about the FC got us lined up on towards the 1DH gate.  There was a Caracal fleet there acting as bait.  We knew it was bait.  The FC told us it was bait.  The moment we landed within range to shoot them, we would get bombed.  Our goal, with each Rupture fit with a sensor booster in place of a hardener, was to shoot the bombers as they came in for their run.

The fleet warped into range of the Caracals, which just hung about ignored by us.  Then bombers landed and launched their bombs which hit us square on as we were locking up and firing.  I think we got two.  Our fleet, however, was ravaged.  My Rupture was gone.  The logis, flying off to one side as they should, survived, and a few of the Ruptures made it, but it was a bad exchange for us.

Worst of all though was the fact that I didn’t get a good screen shot of all those bombs going off.  It was seriously beautiful, but in my haste to get the shot  I hit the escape key rather than they key I have mapped to turn off the UI and snap a screen shot.  I’d lose a couple of ships for a good screen shot most days of the week, but this time it was a bust.

No bombs, just settings

No bombs, just settings

Those of us who lost ships warped back to the station.  Podding people did not appear to be on the agenda, which was fine with me.  My clone costs almost as much as a Rupture.

However, the station was out of sensor boosters this time around, so we went with the stock Gamma Fleet Rupture fit.  I bought some more of the special bomber hunting ammo and undocked to join the fleet.  There was some carping about a participation link at this point, people having lost ships, but the FC was disinclined to generate one so soon into the op.

At this point there was talk of running out to fight Brave Newbies.  Then the word came down that a Brave Newbie Drake fleet was in the area.  That sounded like an ideal target and there was much enthusiasm for shooting them.  But first we were going to take another run at the bombers in system.  The bait was now on the station undock, so the FC maneuvered us around to get us lined up to warp in at just the right spot.  That set, he warped us in with essentially the same plan; shoot bombers as they dropped from warp to launch.  However, we were not exactly in the right spot and, I swear on this, the last order I heard before the bombers hit was, “Prop mods on!” to speed us up a bit to get us in position.

Of course, that just meant most of us had our microwarp drives on when the bombers hit, boosting our signature radius and making us all the more vulnerable to the incoming bombs.

The Scythes were well positioned again… hail to the logi anchor for being on the ball… but many Ruptures went “Boom!” all to quickly for logi to save us.

We got our participation link after that.

Ruptures are supposed to be cheap, expendable brawlers to jump in en masse, so losing a couple wasn’t a big dent to the wallet, but I’d still like to get on a kill mail before one explodes.

I made it back to the station.  There was some talk about what to do next.  Ruptures were momentarily out of stock in the system.  I decided to call it a night at that point.  I had started a bit late for a work night in any case and talks of roaming out for an hour or so were no longer thrilling me.  Life in New Eden.

You can look at the kill stats for the time frame of those encounters.  That is a lot of dead Ruptures relative to hostile kills.  And you can see a lot of the pilots listed twice.

Including me

Including me

You will also note on that listing a couple groups of bombers made up of pilots with variations on the same name.

Septuplates!

Septuplates!

There is an example of the recently controversial IS Boxer debate, wherein a good bomber pilot has his skills effectively multiplied and is able to do perfectly timed runs solo.  All good and legal according to CCP, differentiating them again from some other games in the genre.  Better to just not take the bait as we did… though we did knock off one of his clones at least, making him 14% less effective I suppose.

But I am still annoyed that I did not get a good screen shot of the bombs going off on either run against us.  That is what I really wanted!  Life of a space tourist.

So a few other shots will have to do.

Brave Newbies Leave the Key to the Station Under the Mat July 12, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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So when our FC had us all enter a starbase password and then warped us into the Brave Newbies‘ POS in V-3YG7, I was pretty sure that this was a product of our superior intelligence network.  Then, as we hung out in there, I zoomed the camera out to get a screen shot of us in the POS.

Hrmm... an interesting module arrangement...

Hrmm… an interesting module arrangement…

As I did that, I noticed how some of the modules were arranged.  A crop of the above shot:

Showing just modules

Showing just modules

Hrmm… that happened to be the same pair of characters we entered in the starbase password field.  Maybe it wasn’t an intelligence coup after all.  Seems like they left the key out so anybody could stop on by… if they but had the wit to see the message written in the night sky.  Funny stuff.

The op itself was a bit of a mess.  I gather that it was one of those “fight dates,” but we went out there in Harpies and wanted to fight that way, while they just wanted to bomb us or mess around on the station undock.  We nibbled at them, the nibbled at us, some kills were scored, though it was difficult to get any of the few targets of opportunity locked in time to get a shot off before they were gone.

The station camp and mucking around in their POS was only amusing for so long, after which we turned for home.

And that was uneventful until we landed on the jump bridge in 8QT-H4 and got bubbled and pipe bombed by some Pasta Syndicate battleships.

The part of the fleet that bore the full brunt of the smart bombs blew up right away.  Those further afield survived and managed to get in a position to fight back.  I was closer to the “dead” end of the spectrum.  I happened to have my hardeners on out of habit, so lived while some of those near me blew up.  But I was down to 20% structure with a big flame coming out of the back of the ship.

I started flying towards the edge of the bubbles to get away, taking a few shots at the ravens as they warped off.  One went down and I was on that kill mail.  And then somebody said that their FC, Fragbox, was still in the middle of the bubble in a Tempest.  I turned around and went after him for no good reason other than it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  He set off a smart bomb that destroyed what little there was left of my ship, but he want down at almost the same moment.

Final order of death

Final order of death

He got the final blow on both me and my pod, but I got on one more kill mail as my corpse floated in space.  My first death in the Delve campaign so far.

Fortunately, some Harpies were up on contract when I got back to the station, and some Ruptures are promised in soon.  So I should be re-armed and ready to go for the next fleet.

At least I remembered to insure my ship right before this op.

Link to the new battle summary tool, now with the correct link, which shows just how trashed we got.

In the mean time, some screen shots from this evening’s adventures.

A Rumor of War in Delve July 11, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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It isn’t much of a war, but it’s the only war we’ve got, so enjoy it

-Major General Charles Timmes, Military Assistance Advisory Group 1962

We’re going to Delve.  Again.  There is something that draws Goons and their allies to Delve every summer.

And I swear, I am never making an effort to move anything out of Delve again.  Not only can it be annoying, we just end up going back there in any case.  Remember the Rifter that got blown up while I was tackling a while back?  I left that in Delve after the 2012 war.  But I was able to pick it up again in Delve… twice.  That Rifter lasted through two summers and almost made it to a third.

Guns blazing

The late Rifter “FNG Style”

So I am not going to worry about hauling anything out of Delve anymore.  It will just wait for the next war… unlike all that crap I left in Curse.

I have some useful ships sitting, gathering dust in a couple of the NPC stations in Curse.

But I digress.  More after the cut.

(more…)

The Deklein to Delve Tower Bash Commute July 8, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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There has not been a lot going on when it comes to the strat op front in EVE.  There is no summer war.  The groups in the nearby NPC space have stopped coming out in force, apparently feeling content to gank ratters they can catch.  And, I have to admit, as amusing as a Baby Lemba fleet can be, ops that are billed as 2-3 hour roams just don’t make me happy.  I like a kill of opportunity as much as the next capsuleer, but I also like ops to have a mission, a purpose beyond “lets find something to shoot.”

I am just an objectives oriented person.  This is why I like quests and levels and reputation and achievements and all sorts of other things that are now in the default MMO bag of tricks.  This aspect of my personality can, at times, make EVE Online a questionable game for me.  My career in New Eden has been a series of goals which, once achieved, tend to leave me knocking around looking for something else to do.  Null sec has worked out so far because, as a coalition, we often have discreet, concrete objectives.  Defend space.  Cover capital ops.  Defeat opposing fleets.

Even a tower shoot works for me.

So I was happy enough to go along to put a couple of Black Legion towers into reinforce the other day.  As with a number of other ops of late, the form up was in VFK-IV, but as soon as we were in motion, it became clear that we were headed down to Delve.  It is one of those things… if I hadn’t just clone jumped to VFK to get to where the main fleet was staging, I would have just jumped to our old staging system in Delve where I keep a jump clone and ships for a few doctrines, at least one of which we still use.

Not that the trip was a big deal.

By gates, according to DOTLAN, the quickest route is 47 jumps, taking you from Deklein into Pure Blind and Cloud Ring, then the full length of Fountain, and across half of Delve, to arrive at the nominal “capital” of Delve, NOL-M9.

Deklein to Delve route via gates

Deklein to Delve route via gates

But the jump bridge network cuts that down to roughly a third of the jumps, so the trip goes fairly quick even in battleships.  The route is well known by this point, it is pretty close to the gate route suggested by DOTLAN, and frequently camped, so you do not want to fall behind or leave late and try to catch up when an op is on.  But the presence of 90 battleships and another 30 support ships landing on a camp is enough to get them to scatter for a while.

The op actually ran a bit longer than I expected.  We got down there in short order and formed up with the forces that were already down in Delve there or along the way,  The LAWN gnomes live down in Delve now and Fatal Ascension is in Fountain.  But the capital ships were poking along, taking their time.  Dreadnaughts always show up for tower shoots these days, as they speed things up.  Baltec fleet is mostly there to cover them while they are sieged up and during the shoot.  So we went ratting as a fleet for a while and ran through an anomaly that actually had an escalation, which kept us busy for a bit.  But eventually the dreads were in range and it was time for business.

Black Legion tower

Black Legion tower

There were two Black Legion towers that had been dropped in the CFC rental space.  We hit them without incident.  The dreads pulled out and we began to withdraw as well.  There was some chasing about as the Delve contingent went to head home and ran into hostiles, and news that there was going to be activity in the pipe from Delve to Deklein must have gotten out, as there were several camps looking for stragglers.  One camp even hung out too long as we piled through a gate, allowing me to lock up and get a shot off at an interceptor before it blew up.  I didn’t do any damage, but my beams were on the way, so I was credited on the kill mail.

While we ended up having to circle back a couple of times to rescue somebody, eventually we all arrived home, op success.

Another day in space.  Hardly worth a mention, except for the few screen shots I included at the end of the post.  Space is always pretty.

However, it is currently in vogue to debate exactly the sort of thing we did in that op.  Force projection and the ability of the three null sec powers (PL, N3, and the CFC, ignoring any alliance between PL and N3) to get fleets around space quickly to maintain their empires against all external threats is the current favorite topic in the ongoing “null sec is stagnant and/or broken” discussion.

Over at EVE News 24 there was a post last week suggesting that capital ships needed to be nerfed, followed up by a post with a longer laundry list of things to kill off “easy” force projection, which included things like nerfing jump bridges into complete uselessness. (And another one slipped in while I wasn’t looking, and another.)  Over at The Mittani there is a post up that includes interviews with a few stakeholders in the argument that seems to argue that changing force projection would cut both ways… the big null sec blocs are the ones most likely to be able to adapt to any changes… and that other mechanics in play, such as the fact that time dilation holds battles in stasis so that force projection can be leisurely and still get their in time, as well as the long standing complaints about how sovereignty works, mean that just focusing on travel time won’t change much.

This is one of those “something is wrong so we need to do something, anything to fix it” discussions that seems ripe for unintended consequences and subject to conflicting goals.

I do not think there is a universally agreed upon place where people want null sec to go.  “More fun” gets brought up now and again, but fun is subjective, to the point I have been told I suffer from cognitive dissonance when I find things fun that don’t meet some criteria.  So how do we figure out what fun is in a game that can be argued is objectively not fun (Press F1. Whee.) and when people find fun in so many different things?

And then there are the different groups who are clearly working at cross purposes.  CCP wants more big fights, because that makes the news and gets subscribers, as do a lot of the line members in null sec alliances.  Those running the current power blocs want fun some fun for their line members, for whatever definition they may choose, as that keeps them subscribed and in space, while not having their power degraded.  There is a vocal group that wants to see null sec Balkanized into a series of small holdings where space isn’t empty, as most systems in null tend to be, but teeming and lived in and bloody from constant conflict.  And then there is a current pushing for null sec to be… well… for lack of a better term, useful, at least for something more than just epic space battles.  Some aspect of CCP wants that, given some of the industry changes they were proposing for Kronos. (Which got pushed out due to their controversial nature.)  And there are probably groups out there I haven’t accounted for that want any number of other things.

But there is certainly no unified vision of what null sec ought to be that I have seen.  There isn’t even such a thing from CCP that I have run into.

And, in something of an ironic twist, null sec might be getting more use right now than it has in the past.  Sure, there are no giant battles, and the likelihood that any group in game is going to be able to dislodge one of the three great powers is exceedingly small.  Internal rot and collapse seems to be the only hope on that front.  But what do you see when you look at the sovereignty map? (From the usual source)

Null Sec - July 8, 2014

Null Sec – July 8, 2014

You can say “stagnation.”  That is a defensible answer.  There were no sovereignty changes today.  There were none yesterday.  There will likely be none tomorrow.

But I cannot help looking at all the space devoted to the rental empires.  On the map, Northern Associates, Brothers of Tangra, and Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere color in most of space.  And while that is certainly a case of the rich getting richer, each of the power blocs make a lot of ISK through the renting of null sec space, that also means that there are more than 600 corporations currently in null sec working systems… ratting, mining, whatever… that likely wouldn’t be out there if space rental was not an option.  Yeah, I want more big fights, more objectives, more systems to take, but is the rental aspect of the current situation a bad thing?

I don’t know the answer.  I am not sure I understand the question.  But I am very suspicious of anybody solution put forth that suggests that a simple change focused on one area will result in everything being better when it comes to a complex system like EVE Online.

So I’ll just play the tourist.  Here are some pictures our time in Delve.