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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.

 

Boosters Must go to Five June 27, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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One of the things I always shoot for is to be useful when it comes to fleet ops.

That started off with making sure I could fly ships appropriate to the fleet doctrines in use.  Way back when it was Maelstroms, then Drakes, then Tengus, then Megathrons, and then Dominxes for a short bit when drone assist ruled the world and crashed nodes.   More recently we have gone to Apocs.

There has been some catch up for me to do as things have changed.  I needed some training for the Maelstrom fit, but we were all shield tanks back then and I was pretty well covered on that front.  Later we changed to armor tanks and I had some training to do.  And weapons have changed along the way, missiles, arty, rails, and blasters have all shown up at one time or another.  Recently, with the Apocalypse fit, lasers finally made it back and I was able to train up there, closing what I think might be the last gap I had in gunnery.

Once caught up on the main ship of the current doctrine, I have tended to train some of the support ships, starting with logtistics.  While it is not a role I really enjoy flying… the pet peeves of a logistics pilot are manifold, and everybody loves logistics at exactly two moments during a fleet op, when we save their ass and when there are enough of us in fleet that the FC shuts up about not having enough logistics, otherwise we’re invisible… I fill in when we are short.   Having finally picked up Amarr cruiser V a few weeks back, which got me the Guardian, I can now fly the tech II logistics cruiser for all four empires and am pretty close to max skills there.

The Guardian!

The Guardian!

So what is next?

Boosting ships have recently been much in demand.

Well, they have always been in demand, but of late we seem to be very short on pilots willing and able to fly boosting ships, which run the warfare links that increase the performance of all the ships in their fleet wing.  But of late the situation has gotten a bit more desperate.  There is one FC paying people to fly booster ships in his fleet, while the other night Reagalan posted a lower skill boosting fit in fleet, asking people to fly that as it was better than nothing.

So I decided to take the plunge and start training up to fly a boosting ship.

The problem is that even Reagalan’s lower skill, battlecruiser based boosting fit required a lot of level 5 skills under leadership, which is a problem.

It is a problem for the obvious reason, in that level 5 skills take a long time to train, and it is a problem in that people tend to optimize their character attributes, which directly affect training time for skills, towards combat related skills.

Or at least I was so optimized.  I trained spaceship command or gunnery skills at a fast rate, at the expense of skills in categories like social, trade, or leadership.  But most of those fleet boosting skills… or most of the ones I am missing… those fall under leadership.  And they trained hella slow with my attributes set as such.  So I used my yearly attribute reset and… well, I couldn’t bring myself to optimize for leadership and such.  There was only eight months of training at the slow setting.  But I flattened out my attributes, so I am only optimized for mediocrity in whatever I train for the next year.

So the plan, listing out only the level 5 skills I need, is:

  • Warfare Link Specialist V (need that for the Command Processor)
  • Skirmish Warfare V
  • Skirmish Warfare Specialist V
  • Armored Warfare V
  • Armored Warfare Specialist V
  • Siege Warfare V
  • Siege Warfare  Specialist V
  • Wing Command V

That lot will take me 191 days in a clone without implants.  I will shave some time from that by spending off days in my high sec clone that is fitted with +4 implants.  And Wing Command V is icing.  I could shave 40 days off the plan by just skipping that, but I want that in the long term.  I will probably push it out some, as after I finish up the rest, I still have a bit of training on the ship side of things to firm up the fits.  One of them requires a Legion as the hull, which I cannot fly as yet, though I am covered for the Tengu and Loki fits.  And could get into command ships in a day, though I understand that is like flying with a giant “shoot me first” sign on the side of your hull.

So that is my training plan for the balance of the year, which will move along at 1,800 skill points an hour without implants.  That will push my 130 million skill point post out a bit, though not as far as it would have been pushed if I trained all that without any remap.

Still, that should give me enough time to figure out what to do with a boosting ship once I have all the skills.

A Consolidation of Empires May 19, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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I will be interest to read what Andrew Groen has to say in his planned book A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online (the Kickstarter has six days to go as of today) about the state of affairs that exist today in null sec space.

Life is change of course.  Nothing stays the same.  But the very face of null sec seems to have changed quite a bit since I wandered out of empire space a couple of years back. (Maps from the usual source)

Null Sec as I joined it - Dec 18. 2011

Null Sec as I joined it – Dec 18. 2011

That is a pretty chaotic map, at least by today’s standards.  And look at the bulk of the CFC packed cheek-by-jowl into the space between Cloud Ring and Deklein.  We were such close bros back then and questions about who got to rat where seemed like a big deal.

I wrote semi-jokingly back in January about the nature of the conflict then running in null sec, describing the three in terms of the three competing empires in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  It seemed apt at the moment, and the big battle at B-R5RB seemed to be quite a setback for the group I tagged as Eastasia.

And then Eurasia collapsed and now we have three big powers on the map again, only rather than empires constantly at war, they are starting to take on the look of mercantile empires, having turned their conquests into rental space.  One third of the 3,524 systems that make up null sec space are part of one of the three great rental alliances, Northern Associates, Brothers of Tangra, or the Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere, and I expect that number to grow some more as time goes on.

Age of Rentals - May 18, 2014

Age of Rentals – May 18, 2014

The CFC is the furthest behind in this regard, with only 134 systems in its rental pool.  But it is also the last of the three accept rentals as a source of income, its past disparaging view of the slumlords of null sec being overridden by the ISK advantage it was giving potential (and actual) foes.  The CFC also suffers from being something of a fragmented coalition, each with its own set of policies and ambitions.  As much as Gevlon likes to call all non-GSF members of the CFC “slaves,” it is far more a coalition of the willing.  The Mittani is more akin Caesar than Pharaoh.  He has his enemies, but he gives the rank and file what they want, war and victories and ISK, all of which have been delivered regularly during my time in the coalition.

However, now we seem to be reaching a point of stasis in null sec… though every time I have thought that in the past, a new war has broken out.  And while I do not share Gevlon’s conspiracy theory on what the purpose of the new alliance in the CFC, The Bastion, might be, they did choose to frame their relationship as a suzerainty under The Mittani.

That is a very specific term, which flags The Bastion as a vassal state to The Mittani or Goonswarm, handing over foreign affairs to them while keeping some control over its internal policies.  Now, whether or not that reflects the true state of affairs or if it just a case of somebody breaking out the thesaurus for fun has yet to be seen.  But if it does turn out to be something akin to the non-Goon recruiting arm of the CFC controlled by the Goonswarm Federation, the dynamic of the CFC could shift.  And I have already seen one blogger from The Bastion talking about what new players should expect in the alliance.

Way out ahead in the rental scheme is Northern Coalition, which currently has 668 systems in its rental pool.  Having wrapped up their consolidation of the southeast, they announced they were taking a break from sovereignty grinding to refit, emphasizing the need to get members into super carriers and titans.  With their rental holdings, they will have the ISK to subsidize this effort, which makes it much more likely to come to fruition.

That seems to be the way things are headed.  Pandemic Legion is heavy on supers, and in the CFC there has been a push to get pilots into dreadnaughts and carriers, while there was a comment at one point that we CFC pilots ought to push towards supers if possible.

After B-R5RB, Jester went with a historical analogy to describe why he thought that the current war in particular, and sovereignty warfare in general, was over in null sec.  The dominance of the CFC in supers was going to crush the N3 coalition and then nobody would ever be able to challenge the CFC again.  No more big fights in null sec.

Only N3 didn’t get crushed.  Instead the CFC backed off, the Russians imploded, and now Northern Coalition and its allies blanket more of null sec than ever before.  Meanwhile, what B-R5RB seemed to do is make having a force of super caps a requirement while making losing supers now and again acceptable.  Now we have three entities building up supers on the backs of their rental income who know they can only gain advantage by taking out any super cap force opposing them.  Plus, you know, kids want to take their toys out and play or they’ll get bored with them.

So we are back to three dominant empires ala the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, though I am not sure who ought to be who any more.  There is at least one public sovereignty non-agression pact between PL and the CFC.  There is a quiet super cap arms race going on, with each side building up lest they be left behind.  And, as Daras showed, there is a willingness to whip them out when a choice target appears.

And then there is the slice of null sec that isn’t occupied by the three main empires, which is now thinner than ever.  Looks like just Providence, Catch, and Querious at this point.  That isn’t much.  Everybody else has made common cause with at least one of the big three.  And not only can’t that area expand without a mass of supers of their own (and where are they going to get the ISK for that without a vast rental empire of their own), that isn’t a lot of entertainment for what I suppose we might as well call Imperial Null Sec at this point.

So where will null go?  Will it be stagnation or bloody super capital warfare?

I know, I know, why can’t we have both?

Now what is it going to take for me to train an alt up to a titan…

Tackling in Syndicate May 8, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , , , , ,
11 comments

One of the things that has often been said about EVE Online is that a new player can be useful on day one.  In any operation there is generally room for the new guy in a basic frigate who is willing to get out there and tackle hostiles for the fleet.

And it is true.  I have seen it often enough flying with the CFC, and especially with Goonswarm, which prides itself in not just bringing new players to the game, but getting them into action very quickly.  So when the call went out last night for a Baltec fleet, which I was able to join, we had a couple of new players in the fleet as well, including a one day old account.

Jelly Knight - 1 Day Old

Jelly Knight – 1 Day Old

Despite having “things to do,” people spent time getting him into the fleet and pointed in the right direction.  We also got to hear him go through the sense of scale in EVE.  When he flew out to the staging POS in his Condor frigate, he was clearly impressed with how much bigger the battleships around him were.

Bumping Jelly Knight with my Apoc

Bumping Jelly Knight with my Apoc

He was then treated to another boost in scale when Reagalan led us off to the titan to wait for a bridge out for out op.  And there those big battleships looked pretty small waiting on the hulking titan.

Waiting for a bridge out

Waiting for a bridge out

I cannot image how it would have felt to have gone from a frigate to sitting on a titan after only a day or so in EVE Online.

The new guys also got to experience the “waiting on a titan” game.  We played that for quite a stretch until Reagalan had us turn around and head back to VFK-IV.  He got us a participation link for our time on the titan and asked those who could stay around for a different op to re-ship to a frigate or an interdictor.   I did not actually have either handy and the ship market in VFK was pretty empty last night.  The closest thing I had was a Hawk, a missile firing Caldari assault frigate, so I grabbed that.

Reagalan gave us a route that ended at 4-EP12 in Fountain, our old final staging base from the Fountain War last year.  I immediately checked to see if I had a more suitable ship there, and found I had a very low skill fit Rifter docked up in the station.  I would have just clone jumped out to it and save myself the trip, but I had just clone jumped to VFK for the fleet, so I had about 18 hours to go before I could jump again.  So I flew along with everybody else to the destination.  Fortunately, that did not take too long in frigates.

Arriving in 4-EP12, Reagalan had us drop his fleet and join the Freedom Squad fleet under DingoGS.

Freedom Squad is a Goonswarm group that looks for fights during US time zone prime time and which heavily plays up mock patriotic fervor in the “‘merica!” tradition.  They were happy enough to have us along, but were a bit surprised to find that we were mostly tackling frigates and interdictors;  Sabres and Rifters and what not.  Still, it seemed likely we would be able to hold on to any hostiles we managed to land on.

Then it was time to move a few systems in order to sit a titan again.  I took opportunity to head to the station and swap out my Hawk for me low skills Rifter and then joined up with the fleet.  In fleet there were some tips on tackling being given to the new guys which was also a helpful reminder for me.  While I had heard the routine before, I have never actually flown a tackling ship in more than seven years of playing EVE.  By the time I ended up in null sec, I was trained up to fly battleships for most of the factions, so have tended to fly in the “press F1 when told” DPS role (especially when DPS meant Drakes) or as logistics (which the first big training destination after hitting null sec).  So this would be something new… once we got into action.

Getting into action took a while.

We were waiting on a titan while the intended targets got themselves into position so that we could drop on them at just the right moment.  As usual, the right moment took its time in showing up.  Finally the bridge went up and we jumped through into CIS-7X and warped to where the hostiles were bunched up.  Then it was time to go through the tackling routine I had heard listed out on coms so many times.

Pick a target alphabetically close to your name.  For me that was the pilot VisualNarcotics, who was flying a Proteus in the middle of the pack.

Turn on your propulsion module, a basic MWD in my case, and spiral into the target so as to keep the traversal speed differential high enough to make your frigate tough to hit.

Orbit your target, remember to actually lock him up, and then turn on your tackling modules, which in my case was a Stasis Webifier I and a Warp Disruptor I.

Stay alive for as long as possible.

That last bit is, of course, always the trick.  I dove in through the blossoming warp disruptor bubbles and successfully locked down my target.

But then I was just there in the middle of the fight in a high speed orbit.  I turned my guns on my target, but wasn’t doing a lot of damage.  Meanwhile the FC was going through the list alphabetically, so I clearly was going to have to hold on for a while.  To keep myself busy I turned off my guns, un-grouped them, turned one back on VisualNarcotics just to let him know I still cared, then tried to lock up other targets being called to see if I could get in a few hits just to get on some kill mails.

Guns blazing

Guns blazing

Splitting my guns would be a sin if I were flying a DPS ship, but nobody is expecting the tackler to add significant damage… or to live very long… so what the hell.

I saw VisualNarcotics lock me up in return.  He apparently took a few shots at me as well, but failed to hit me according to my own kill mail.

In the fight itself, more ships were dropping in.  A hostile Naglfar landed right next to me, so I was able to lock him up and take a shot, which was enough to get on the kill mail.

And then the smart bombing started.

We were colluding with a group of neutrals on this op, which is always leads to interesting results.  In our case, we killed several of the neutrals before people got cleared up on who was who.  Meanwhile, the neutrals moved in and started to smart bomb the enemy formation.  Of course, I was in the middle of that with my MWD on, meaning I would get the maximum amount of damage if I was in range.  The first one hit and I was nearly dead, my status put me 90% into structure, meaning that even the duct tape holding the ship together was on fire at that point.  I turned off the MWD and hoped for the best.  I seemed to be out of range of the next few, but another one landed close eventually and suddenly my ship was gone and I was flying a pod, the kill mail having go to our temporary allies.

Gold pod away!

Gold pod away!

I expected, sitting there being smart bombed in the middle of warp disruptor bubbles, that my pod would soon go as well.  I headed for the edge of the bubble, crossed my fingers, and ended up getting out and away safely.  I hung around on grid, still opening the gap between myself and the battle, in hopes of being present for a couple more kill mails for ships I had shot up.  Then it was time to take gates back to 4-EP12.  The battle having wrapped up fairly quickly, the rest of the fleet was close behind.

The route to 4-EP12 ended up being clear.  There were a few neutrals along the way, but when the fleet showed up in system, the melted away.

Once there, I was able to re-ship in my Hawk and head back to VFK with Reagalan’s part of the fleet, while Freedom Squad went back to their current deployment base.

So the night ended up fairly well.  I got my first shot at tackling.  While I lost my ship (value ~730,000 ISK, look at how meager my fit was), I did not lose my pod (value ~55 million ISK thanks to all those skill points and the implant I need to fly a Baltec Apoc), I got on a dozen kill mails, and generally had a good time.  I could have done with less waiting, but that is simply part of the game.

The new guys seemed to be enthusiastic after their first battle.  Jelly Knight made it through without loss.  The fleet, as is the tradition, showered the new guys with some ISK.  I gave them each a million ISK, so I spent more on gifts than ships.  Another day in EVE Online.

A gallery of screen shots taken during the op is available after the cut.

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All The Way to Placid for a Kill May 1, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

Well, two kills actually.

PlaNavyIssue

It started with the usual lure.  The call went out for a Baltec fleet for a strat op.

I am all about the strat ops, and I happened to be home and sitting in front of my computer, so off I went to join Shock Fist, Reagalan, and a surprising number of Germans (must have been very late for them… or very early) to see if there was a fight to be had.

There was a promise of Apocalypse Navy Issue kills, which was later boosted to include some potential dreadnought victims.  All we had to do is travel a bit.

And the route laid out was quite familiar.  We were off via jump bridges to our old staging system for the Fountain War, nearly a year gone by, B-DBYQ in Cloud Ring.  I still have a jump clone there… though no actual ships.  I could probably delete that clone.

Unfortunately, the hostiles were not ready for us as yet.  So Shock Fist dragged us around the system where we shot up a Serpentis sanctum and goofed off until it was time to travel.  Good for those who needed to build up standings I suppose.

Then finally we were warped to a titan and jumped into Syndicate, where we turned around and landed on another titan that sent us further across the region and into Placid.  The landing was confusing for a moment, as we dropped right in the middle of a Gallente station.  We warped to the Vestouve gate, where we held for a bit until Shock Fist has some of the smaller ships jump through.  Then he called for everybody to jump.  I pressed the button just as he changed that order.  Those of us who jumped through were told to re-approach the gate.  However there was a target for us, an Apocalypse Navy Issue which we blew up quickly enough.  Something was happening at the other side of the gate, and another Apocalypse Navy Issue jumped through, which we took care of as well.

Exploding Apocalypse

Exploding Apocalypse

Those on the far side of the gate picked one off as well.  Then we all got in one location to move, when there was a report of a hostile titan outside of a POS bubble.  We warped to that, but found it secure inside, safe from our attentions.

It was reported that the hostiles were not going to engage us.  There would be no more Apocalypses… and certainly no dreadnoughts… for us.  so we burned back to the second titan for a ride part way back.  There was a suggestion that we detour to visit Poitot, as it is the only named system in the Syndicate region… everything else is letters and numbers… but it wasn’t really on our way, so we passed on that.

As we reached the titan, word came down that the hostiles might be having a change of heart, that they might actually be upset that we were shoving off without a real fight.  So we sat on the titan for five minutes while somebody ran down the likelihood of this being true.  There was hope, but it turned out not to be the case.  So we were bridged back to B-DBYQ by the titan and made our way back home to VFK-IV in Deklein.

But at least I got on a couple of kill mails.  My  first for May.  And, it turns out, we weren’t just idly trailing our coats around Syndicate and Placid.  As is often the case, we were stomping about to cover cap fleet operations elsewhere, which is why it was a strat op.  Several towers were repped up and saved while we were making nuisances of ourselves.  The kills were just a bonus.

Some screen shots from the op after the cut.

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