Summer Movie League – No Chance for Ants

Week seven of our Summer Fantasy Movie League is now in the books.

The week brought us into the post-blockbuster part of the summer, where the films expected to garner $100 million or more on their first weekend were in the rear view mirror and the league was going to have to duke it out in a battle between smaller new releases and the residual power of the big launches. The lineup for the week looked like this:

Hotel Transylvania 3       $523
Skyscraper                 $394
Ant-Man and the Wasp       $387
Incredibles 2              $201
Jurassic World             $174
The First Purge            $111
Sorry to Bother You        $74
Sicario 2                  $45
Ocean's 8                  $40
Uncle Drew                 $38
Won't You Be My Neighbor   $30
Tag                        $21
Three Identical Strangers  $16
Whitney                    $14
Deadpool 2                 $11

At the top of the anchor list was the new Hotel Transylvania 3, which was expected to top the box office over the weekend and vie for the kids market with The Increcibles 2. But it also came with a fairly steep price. You could have one screen of that. It wasn’t so expensive that your couldn’t mix and match, but you couldn’t depend on just it.

Next, trying to score on the action adventure from was Skyscraper, where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson battles a burning building that has taken his family hostage… or something… I’m not sure, really. That is the impression the trailer left with me. Whatever it was, I wasn’t buying it.

Then there was Ant-Man and the Wasp. It did not do as well as hoped its first week out, but it still seemed a viable choice if only it could keep to about a fifty percent drop in revenue.

After that we have The Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World battling it out. Last week they were in nearly a dead heat, but The Incredibles 2 lower price point made them the pick. This week it looked like the situation could be reversed.

Then we get into the filler, which ranged from the expensive end with The First Purge was down to Deadpool 2.

For an anchor I went with four screens of Incredibles 2 for my Monday hot take pick, making it the fifth consecutive week I went with the film in at least one of my leagues. I couldn’t get behind Hotel Transylvania 3. I just don’t like the franchise, which makes me believe the worst when it comes to box office. Skyscraper seemed like a risky bet. The trailer was muddled, as noted, and not compelling at all, unless you have to see every picture The Rock makes.

I considered Ant-Man for a bit, but the buzz was that the movie was going to suffer a serious second week drop off. Which left me down with Jurassic World and The Incredibles 2.

In the end I wasn’t shaken from my streak when it came time for the TAGN League to lock. I went with 4x The Incredibles 2 and 4x Sicario 2, a double quad sequel pick.

Unfortunately for me, Jurassic World was the anchor to go with. For not much more than my 4 screens of The Incredibles 2 I could have gotten five screens of dinos. Again, when the estimates started coming in the two movies were neck in neck for revenue, which meant spoils for the cheaper of the two.

There was a stretch of time during the estimates when Three Identical Strangers had the best performer bonus, but in a no bonuses league that didn’t make much of a difference. In the end the league results for the week looked like this:

  1. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $89,719,218
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $86,544,778
  3. Goat Water Picture Palace – $86,217,724
  4. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $86,217,724
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $83,686,706
  6. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $83,625,423
  7. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $81,544,984
  8. Wilhelm’s Abyssal Pocket Playhouse – $80,575,792
  9. Kraut Screens – $74,997,493
  10. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $72,506,522
  11. I HAS BAD TASTE – $72,506,522
  12. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $72,169,038
  13. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema – $72,143,824
  14. aria82’s Cineplex – $66,907,804
  15. Joanie’s Joint – $64,160,163
  16. grannanj’s Cineplex – $61,162,190
  17. Too Orangey For Crows – $61,162,190

SynCaine was the only one to go with 5x Jurassic World, so he won the week. He didn’t have the perfect pick, but he was still out in front by over $3 million.

After SynCaine there was Corr, Goat, and Pak who all went with Hotel Transylvania 3 and three screens of Jurassic World. Then Vigo, Ben, and Darren were a step behind them, anchoring on Hotel Transylvania 3 but without dinos, so it seems like that franchise was a reasonable choice for anchor. After that, mid pack, came me and my four screens of The Incredibles 2, $9 million back from first.  I was the only one all-in on Pixar this week.

Behind me was a group who either anchored on Ant-Man or who went with Hotel Transylvania 3 but sank themselves by betting on Whitney. That got the worst performer nod this week, dragging down an otherwise solid anchor. Whitney was in 17th place in the overall box office rankings.

And, finally, there were the final four who bet on The Rock only to find that Skyscraper seriously under performed, the bottom two who also bet on Whitney, for a double whammy. Ouch.

All of that left the season scoring looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Abyssal Pocket Playhouse – $683,641,387
  2. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $676,893,229
  3. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $663,451,223
  4. I HAS BAD TASTE – $660,325,535
  5. Goat Water Picture Palace – $653,427,734
  6. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $651,729,082
  7. Kraut Screens – $643,798,519
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $637,656,707
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $628,872,961
  10. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $624,110,761
  11. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $621,961,128
  12. grannanj’s Cineplex – $594,509,349
  13. aria82’s Cineplex – $579.687,945
  14. Biyondios! Kabuki & Cinema – $568,115,307
  15. Paks’ Pancakes & Pics – $546,096,525
  16. Too Orangey For Crows – $550,949,081
  17. Joanie’s Joint – $542,749,314

I managed to hold on to the top spot despite a mid-pack finish, but Corr is closing in on me. SynCaine also benefitted from his clear victory this week, moving up a bit. But with a lower scoring week the ability to make drastic changes was diminished. That leads us to week eight and the choices we have.

Mamma Mia 2               $526
The Equalizer 2           $403
Hotel Transylvania 3      $334
Ant-Man and the Wasp      $210
Skyscraper                $167
Incredibles 2             $149
Jurassic World            $135
Unfriended 2              $103
The First Purge           $61
Sorry to Bother You       $42
Sicario 2                 $29
Ocean's 8                 $24
Leave No Trace            $23
Uncle Drew                $21
Won't You Be My Neighbor  $20

With four new films making the cut, four older ones are dropping off. Week eight says good-bye to Tag, Three Identical Strangers, Whitney, and Deadpool 2.

In their place we have Mamma Mia 2, The Equalizer 2, Unfriended 2, and Leave No Trace.

Mamma Mia 2, or Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again to give it the name on the title card, is the sequel to the 2008 movie which was based off of the 1999 musical that involved taking a bunch of ABBA songs from the 70s and early 80s, and trying to weave them into a story. The original movie made bank so it seemed likely that somebody in Hollywood would try to force a sequel, so here we are. They managed to secure most of the key cast and even have Cher on board. The long range forecasts for the new film have it hitting about $35 million for the opening weekend. The original only hit $27 million its opening weekend, but it was up against The Dark Knight, just to put into perspective how far back that was. Mamma Mia 2 doesn’t have to compete against Batman this time around, so I suppose the real question is whether or not there are any ABBA songs left that didn’t make it into the first movie.

Opening up against Mamma Mia 2 is The Equalizer 2, the sequel to The Equalizer from 2014, which itself was based off of the late 80s crime drama of the same name. But hey, it has Denzel Washington in it. The first movie opened to about $34 million four years back, but the current film is tracking closer to $27 million, putting it a little shy of the “85% rule” for sequels.

Unfriended 2 is down in the filler tier and is, of course, a sequel. Ten out of fifteen titles this week are. And people complain about video games being mired in sequels. Unfriended, a social media horror story (as if that isn’t reality every day now) was a Blumhouse production, a company that specializes in low budget films, hoping to strike it big with an occasional big success. (There was a Planet Money episode about how they work.) The original brought in over $60 million on a $1 million budget, so with name recognition a sequel was a natural. Unfriended 2 is not directly tied to the original and tracking puts it at just $7 million for the weekend. But as low budget films sometimes bring big returns, so do low priced FML picks.

Finally there is Leave No Trace, which should have been on the list last week since it did better than Deadpool 2 or Whitney. This will be its fourth week of release and I am not sure if it is expanding its theater count this week. In the bottom end $20 to $24 pack it feels like the least likely one to pick unless it has some card to play I am not seeing.

So there we go.

For my Monday night hot takes I went with 6x The Incredibles 2, because how often do you get to anchor on the same film six weeks running, mated with a screen each of The First Purge and Sicario 2. Still, by the time I need to finalize picks for week eight I might swap to Jurassic World because the two films have been so close in revenue the last couple of weeks and dinos are cheaper again this week.

Make your picks soon. The league locks in less than 24 hours after this post goes live.

Addendum: Or, since I accidentally published this early, you have more than 24 hours.  Once again I hit the publish button instead of the save button.

WoW and the End of Legion

We are in that transition time.  The World of Warcraft 8.0 patch lands today.

This heralds the start of the run up to the Battle for Azeroth expansion launch in the middle of next month.

From the Blizzard site

With Blizzard planning a world-wide simultaneous launch, we’re actually going live mid-afternoon of August 13th here on the west coast of the US.

It is also the official end of the Legion expansion for the game.

WoW Legion farewell tour

It isn’t as though Legion is being purged from the game. If you have a character that levels up into the expansion’s range you can still get your artifact weapon and run through all the zones and dungeons and what not. If you haven’t purchased Battle for Azeroth you can hang around at level 110 and work on faction and unlock flying just like many of us did before today.

However, Legion will no longer be the focus of the game. The bulk of the player base will be moving on. Right now the pre-expansion events will start taking people away, and once the new expansion itself hits Argus and the Broken Isles will be much more quiet. Using LFG for dungeons may take some time, and LFR for the expansion raids will likely be untenable. Class changes coming with BfA will also alter the Legion experience. And, of course, some achievements and events will no longer be accessible. The Legion experience is over and the game is moving on.

So I am going to take a bit and reflect on Legion in its first moments of being part of WoW‘s past rather than present.

Zones

I still think it kinda looks like Outland…

I liked the zones. Each of the initial four had their own flavor. I think I liked Stormheim the best. After that Suramar was an adventure in and of itself. The stealth/disguise game play could be a bit much after a while, but it gave the zone its own dimension. Moving beyond that, Broken Shore wasn’t anything special, but Argus was good, in its own no-flying sort of way.

World Quests

I liked those, at least as a variation on the standard daily quest mechanic. The Emissary Quest aspect of it gave a nice, compact set of daily quests to do without burning yourself out griding. The Kirin-Tor quests were perhaps the most problematic. At least the ones where you had to teleport around, though they became incredibly easy once you unlocked flying. And I was happy to have pet battle world quests available.

Dungeons and Raids

I don’t have much to say on this really. Lacking a regular group with which to run the group content I had to rely on the Dungeon Finder. That tends to be an unsatisfying experience to me. Groups are focused on getting the dungeon done and moving on as fast as possible, while I like to stop as see what is going on. You can’t do that when you’re chasing a tank who is running at full speed to get to the last boss and get out. But I wouldn’t be able to do the dungeons at all without LFG, so there is that.

Raids I am less concerned about. I have never been a raider in WoW. They tend to be slower anyway, and I am only there in LFR in full on tourist mode, so things work out.

Still, I ended up not doing much group content during the expansion.

Artifact Weapons

I was okay with the artifact weapon idea. As a player I am not very good at keeping my gear up to level, but my weapon is always the exception. I want the best I can get and will hunt down upgrades or stalk the auction house. The artifact weapon meant that I didn’t have to keep track of that even.

Some of the artifact weapons looked good… or would have if they hadn’t been literally everywhere.  I transmoged my Ashbringer to a Mists of Pandaria model that looked about the same shape just to see if I could confuse anybody.  Other weapons were pretty bland.  I wasn’t keen on my hunter weapon.  I had a pile of transmog options that looked better than any variation of Titanstrike.

Flying

Blizz is still firmly on the fence about flying. You can’t have it to start with. You have to run through the expansion without it. Then at some point they unock it and then you and your alts can fly, but not in every zone. This time around there was no flying in Argus.

However Blizz giving us that whistle that let us recall to the nearest flight point fixed a lot of the drudgery aspect of not being able to fly. You have to be on the ground to do the quest, fight the mob, collect the thingies, or whatever. It is just getting back to the nearest settlement or on to another one that concerns you most of the time. Especially when you’re doing world quests in order to unlock flying! This made the lack of flying much nicer.

Classes

I ended up with seven characters at 110 in Legion, so I guess I ought to have some opinions about classes. Paladin and Hunter remain my favorites, though the spec split for Hunters didn’t do much for me. I was excited about the split when they announced, then stayed with beast mastery the whole time because ranged weapons and pets are what the Hunter class is all about for me.

The Death Knight and Warrior classes also worked well for me.  I am good at running up to things while wearing a pile of metal and beating on them.

I am not so good with squishy stuff.  I leveled a combat Rogue from 1 to 100 during Warlords of Draenor, then struggled to play him during Legion.  I boosted a mage to 100 and then died so much I leveled him to 110 via pet battles.  I helped my druids, one Alliance and one Horde that way as well.  The Alliance one still isn’t 110 yet.

And somehow I never quite got around to working on my Demon Hunter.  I rolled him up early in the expansion, yet he is still in the starter story.  Never finished it.  No gliding about for me.

Order Halls

An attempt to fix/refine the problematic garrisons of Warlords of Draenor. It was tough to pretend you were anything special when you’re running around in an area with a lot of people all wielding the same “unique” weapon as you. How many Ashbringers are there?

I’m with the bland

Still, having only a few followers and missions available removed the follower management mania of garrisons. I never felt order resources were as critical as garrison resources.  I did run down all my class quests for my Pally, but never felt the need to do it with alts.

I liked the Paladin order hall the best.  It was likely the easiest one to get around.  It was certainly the one I spent the most time in.  But for travel to and fro, nothing beats the Warrior order hall.  When I told my daughter that you simply jump into the sky to get there she thought I was kidding.

Trade Skills

Again, after Warlords of Draenor pretty much made trade skills pointless by giving everybody access to everything in their garrison I know they had to do something.  But I guess there was no going back to the harvest and grind.  Instead they went forward with quests and multi-level recipes and what not.  When I found I had to do dungeons in order to advance trade skills lost interest, even with my Paladin, who is an engineer and who I always max out.

Here is what I did for trade skills during Legion.  I sat my tailor in his garrison after he hit 110 and had him make hexweave bags, so now all my characters are loaded up with 30 slot storage.  And then I did Darkmoon Faire.  I suspect I advanced more via the latter than I did in the Broken Isles.

Overall

A while back I tried to quantify which WoW expansions I enjoyed most based on factions as a metric.  The theory was that the more time I spent doing something like grinding faction, the more likely it was that I enjoyed the expansion.  It was probably as good a metric as any.  In that list I worked the number so that Wrath of the Lich King, my gut favorite expansion, came out on top, with 8 of 11 major factions exalted, or 86%.  Now it is time to look and see how I did with Legion.

Legion Faction Count

I guess by that metric I have a new champion.  Unless there was some major faction I missed, I am 9 for 9, which gives me 100%.

Now there were some special circumstances.  I had to get revered with six of those in order to unlock flying in the expansion.  And, later on, I had to get revered with four of them to unlock the four pre-BfA allied races.  Still, I did do my bit for grinding, largely thanks to world quests and the emissary quest system, which put it all into daily bite size pieces.

By another measure, time spent playing, Legion is only average.  I spent about a year playing Legion out of its near two year run.  I played WotLK from its launch to the launch of Cataclysm, the only expansion I stay with for the full term. So, as it goes, Legion is likely mid-pack in my favorites; behind WotLK and Mists of Pandaria certainly.

Now a days for somebody like me who doesn’t have a regular group, who doesn’t raid, who doesn’t do any PvP… I know there must have been at least one new battleground introduced with Legion, but I couldn’t tell you the name…, who did a bit of Time Walking, but who mostly plays solo and does some pet battles and works on some alts, there is about a years worth of content in a WoW expansion.

Which is fine.  Taking a break is good.

Anyway, tonight is probably the last night for the Legion login screen.

One last look

When I get home tomorrow it should be version 8.0.x and have the Battle for Azeroth logo.  But what that brings is another story altogether.

MER – Pre-War Delve Numbers

CCP has released the monthly economic report for June 2018, and it might turn out to be an interesting report for comparison sake.  June was a month of dull peace in Delve, with ratting and mining and production and commerce rolling along unhindered.

But now, in July, we have conflicts in null sec.  Pandemic Legion has deployed to the southeast to join in on the attacks on TEST and the Legacy Coalition while the Imperium has taken PLs absence from the north as an opportunity to roll north, drop a Keepstar, and start pounding on Circle of Two and Guardians of the Galaxy.  That not only pulled a bunch of capsuleers north, but also the super capital umbrella that protects Delve as well, leaving those who didn’t get the word (which always happens), or thought they were invulnerable, open to attack.

So we can look at the June numbers as a baseline for how war changes output in Delve.  And we can start, as usual, with the mining numbers.

June 2018 – Mining Value by Region

We even have the bar graph back this month.

June 2018 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

Delve is, as usual, far ahead of every other region in mining output, and second place is Querious, which is also controlled by the Imperium and the host to the monthly “locust fleet” operations to harvest moon output in the region.  The scourge of the Rorquals I suppose.

Delve was up 600 billion over May, which is fairly impressive because the mining value measurement depends on the price, and prices were again down in June.

June 2018 – Economic Indices – Three Year Snapshot

If the price of minerals is still headed down but mining value in Delve is up, that means a lot more ore had to get mined.

Mineral prices aren’t close to their all time low yet, as the long term chart shows.

June 2018 – Economic Indices Long Term

But the trend is still way down.  Cheaper prices make it harder to get rich as a miner… unless you’re running a fleet of Rorquals… but they also make manufactured items cheaper overall in Jita.  If you’re not a miner, this is probably good.  If you are, it probably pisses you off.

On the NPC bounties front, Delve also held on to its top spot.

June 2018 – NPC Bounties by Region

Again, we have the bar graph back.  Several of those went missing for the May report.

June 2018 – NPC Bounties by Region – Bar Graph

Delve, despite its dominance, was down almost 2 trillion ISK compared to May.  Meanwhile Branch was up, the place where the groups in the north have fled to escape the attentions of the Imperium SIGs and Squads.

Fade was up, almost doubling from May’s 396 billion ISK number by hitting 747 billion ISK.  That is no doubt due to Circle of Two moving in and settling down in the region and having the first half of the month free of attacks as the Imperium took two weeks off in June to give its pilots a break.  I suspect that number will be down in the July report due to the return of the Imperium.  Rumor has it that GigX has forbidden anybody to rat in anything more expensive than a VNI or mine in anything better than a T1 barge.

The share of bounties across sec status remains heavily tilted towards null sec.

June 2018 – NPC Bounties by Sec Status

High sec, which was trending up a bit over the last couple of reports, was back down to 6.2% of the total, while overall bounty payments saw a slight decline over the course of the month.

June 2018 – Top 8 ISK Sinks and Faucets

On the trade front The Forge was in no danger of losing its top position.  Jita remains the place to go to buy and sell.

June 2018 – Trade Value by Region

The bar graph shows the dominance of Jita more clearly.

June 2018 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph

That dominance is such that they have to make a bar graph without The Forge in order for people to see how other regions stack up against each other.

June 2018 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph, Forge Excluded

There we see Domain, home of Amarr, still comfortably in second place, with Delve trailing behind in third.  After that are the three other New Eden high sec trade hubs, then Geminate, home of Pandemic Horde.

For contracts however The Forge is not as dominant.

June 2018 – Contracts Trade Value by Region – Bar Chart

There are a lot of contracts in Jita, but Delve is not far behind.  As usual, I suspect this is because a lot of things like fleet doctrine ship sales, capital and super capital sales, buy back schemes, and some raw material sales are done via contract.  Still, overall, contracts remain a small item in Jita relative to the main market.

Then there is production.

June 2018 – Production Values by Region

Previously Delve was the top region for production, though the three regions in the vicinity of Jita still combined to well out produce Delve.  However this month Delve slipped, dropping from 40 trillion ISK in production in May to 33 trillion ISK in June, putting it in close competition with The Forge, which held steady with 32 trillion ISK.

What happened in Delve?  Did we run out of pilots rich enough to buy a titan finally?  Is that why The Mittani was was extolling us to get alts into supers if we already had a main in one?

Anyway, production was down.  We will see if a war suppresses it further or if losses… should we join battle in any serious way… will spur production in order to replace them.

And so this month’s chart of interest is the destroyed value by region.

June 2018 – Destroyed Value by Region

War in New Eden may make this chart interesting to compare with next month’s chart.  But I also wanted to compare it against May’s chart to see what Into the Abyss did to the numbers.  I was wondering if the losses in abyssal pockets would up the numbers.  But abyssal pockets aren’t in normal space, so in places like The Forge, ever a hot spot for suicide ganking, destruction numbers actually went down 800 billion ISK.

So Into the Abyss didn’t change the chart, but I suspect war might.  So we will revisit this one again next month.

Finally, I will close with the usual regional comparison chart.

June 2018 – Regional Stats

That just nicely summarizes the stats for a few key regions.

Those were the June numbers.  But now, in July, war is on, both in the northeast around Fade, where the Imperium is pressing on CO2 and GotG, and in the southwest, where Pandemic Legion is leading a large but loose coalition of alliances against the TEST and the Legacy Coalition.  If both conflicts carry on, the numbers could change up quite a bit.  But wars can also end suddenly.  We shall see.

Again, you can find the monthly economic report here.  It includes many more charts than I choose to review and has all the raw data if you care to make your own.

Imperium Ignorance Saves the CO2 Keepstar in DW-T2I

After laying down a Keepstar in Cloud Ring last week, the Imperium went straight to work on Circle of Two, reinforcing their Keepstar in DW-T2I the next day.  The Imperium staged in Cloud Ring meant that most of Fade was in capital range, if those capitals took the gate between the two regions.

Fade Map with Locations noted

With the Keepstar in DW-T2I reinforced, the next big even was set to be the armor timer.  To destroy a fueled citadel you have to go through three battles.  The first is the shield layer.  You can attack at any time and if you get the citadel’s shields down to zero, a timer comes up.  When that timer finally counts down the citadel goes into a 15 minute repair cycle.  You have to form up and shoot it again, this time shooting its armor layer down to zero.  By applying enough damage you can stop the repair cycle and get through the the final timer.  When that comes up you do the same thing again, only shooting away the structure.  If you succeed, the citadel blows up.  If you fail, you get to start all over again.

So it was the second round, the armor timer, that came up yesterday.  It was set to hit at a little after 19:00 EVE Online time, which is UTC.  However, because fleets had to move and get in position, the call to form up came a good four hours before then.

That was before I got out of bed here on the west coast.  I turned on my computer to find fleets already forming and heading out from Delve.  But that was okay.  I wasn’t interested in heading out with main fleet for the long drive there and back to visit CO2.  I hung around waiting for something to form up in Pure Blind.

And I was rewarded for waiting with a fleet ping from Dabigredboat.

Some might not consider that a reward.  Boat can be an acquired taste.  But he works hard, gets you in the action, and tells you what is going on.  Plus, he was handing out free ships.  We were going to head out in Tengus to snipe targets of opportunity and run down disconnects.  I was happy enough to be in a Tengu again that I bought the snappy new Ghostbird SKIN for it.

55 PLEX well spent to my mind

Meanwhile I already had an alt online in a stealth bomber in DW-T2I to watch what was happening with the Keepstar and the system in general.  CO2 had been busy.  Both of the gates into the system were heavily bubbled, so any fleet trying to gate in to contest the timer would have to get past that.

The P-33KR Gate

You can just barely see the Keepstar in the background of that screen shot, through the dense layer of bubbles laid about the gate.  The array of bubbles was big enough that if I pulled back to get them all in the screen shot, the gate and the small bubbles around it become difficult to see.

The same gate from a distance

Everything seemed to be coming together for a big fight.  While Boat was arranging a black ops bridge up to DW-T2I my alt sat and watched CO2’s allies start to show up.  Darkness and their coalition brought a Tempest Fleet Issue fleet.

Darkness in a ball

Ranger Regiment brought an Ishtar fleet.  NCDot brought a Machariel and a Cerberus fleet.  CO2 undocked a fleet of Megathrons.  And capitals began to form up about the Keepstar.

Boat got us a bridge into system and we went off to safe spots to cloak up and wait for something to do.

Tengus on the way

In system Boat was keeping us up to date about what was going on while also looking for something to shoot.  We went and tried to pick off some transports that were parked near the O-CNPR gate.  We didn’t get a kill, but we scared them off at least.

Then Boat said we were going to go try and shoot the cyno jammer in system.

This was the first of many times I would hear the words “cyno jammer” during the op.

Boat explained that the previous day and evening the Imperium spent time putting up POS towers on every free moon and reinforcing the towers that CO2 or anybody else had deployed in the region.  This was to keep a cyno jammers from being deployed.  A cyno is a beacon which lets ships with jump drives travel to it.  You need a cyno lit in a system in order to jump into it.

A cyno jammer, as you might imagine, blocks cynos from being lit.  The ones on a POS jam the whole system, and CO2 had one in DW-T2I.

(Cyno jammers do not block covert cynos, which only black ops capable ships may use, such as our Tengus, which is how we got into the system.)

So Boat warped us over to the POS with the cyno jammer and had us start shooting it.  Very shortly a Minokawa force auxiliary logged on just outside the POS, close to the cyno jammer, and started to repair it.  CO2 had prepared for an attack on the jammer and, later, more Minokawas were spotted on the POS.  The Minokawa was repairing faster than we could inflict damage, so Boat warped us off and we went to our safe spots again.

As we sat around I turned up the volume on the INN stream of the event and heard Boat talking about the situation.  There, and on our own coms later, he explained that somebody running the preparatory ops believed that cyno jammers would not function on reinforced POSes.

This turned out to be a fairly wide-spread belief.  Progodlegend, on the same stream, said that they had just done the reinforce thing to Fraternity recently.  However, it appears that Fraternity just didn’t try anchoring a cyno jammer on a reinforced POS, no doubt because they believed the same thing.

GigX however, knew better it seems.

If we had known some simple contingencies could have been put in place, like leaving behind some logged off dreadnoughts to knock out the cyno jammer quickly to let fleets start pilling in.  But we didn’t so we were stuck.

That left the only way in to the system for the converging Imperium fleets… with more capitals on the way than the defenders had ships on hand… with one way into the system; through the O-CNPR gate.  But, as I mentioned, that gate was heavily bubbled.

The O-CNPR Gate

And it wasn’t just heavily bubbled.  It was also heavily defended.  The direction scan of the vicinity of the gate showed the following:

O-CNPR Gate DScan

Yes, you cannot possible read that unless you click on it.  But among the things on the list were 425 battleships, 124 super carriers, 35 carriers, 683 fighters from the carriers and super carriers, 504 drones from various ships, and a titan.

That titan, just sitting in a bubble waiting to boson somebody

So while it was possible that the Imperium could have thrown everything through the gate and eventually muscled past the defenses, it was going to be a slog.  Defending on a bubbled gate like that is referred to as “water boarding,” because it is torture that the attackers cannot escape.  With more bubbles no doubt set to be deployed and inderdictors on the field, a hostile fleet could be kept writhing in that mess for hours.  Certainly they could be held in check until the repair cycle on the Keepstar finished up.

Instead everybody turned around and went home.

That was it.  GigX won the day and saved his Keepstar.

As far as I can tell the biggest fight in the whole event was a smart bombing drop by NCDot on an Imperium Jackdaw fleet.  They did kill a lot of ships, 64 according to the battle report.  However, they lost 20 of the black ops battleships they used, destroyed by their own fleet’s smart bombs, which left the cost of the operation at roughly ten times the ISK of the hostiles they destroyed.  Not a good trade.

Battle Report Header from the Black Ops Drop

That was fine for everybody else.  However those of us in Boat’s fleet were still in the system and he was on the INN stream talking about events as they unfolded.  However, the stream wrapped up pretty quickly once it was announced that the Imperium was not going to show up.

Boat did not forget about us, though he forgot about his titan in the super fleet for a bit and almost got left behind.  He got a black ops battleship in to send us all back to Pure Blind, staying behind to cover two people who had gone AFK long after some FCs would have left them to their fate.  I got one last look at the Keepstar before we bridged out.

Still 35 minutes left on the clock

I was glad again to not have schleped all the way up from Delve in a Baltec fleet only to have to turn around and go home again.  But that was still shorter than having a fight before the return trip, so a bunch of people got some of their day back.

The Mittani held the weekly Fireside Chat on coms where he explained what went wrong and how we were going to go back to doing things the old fashioned way, grinding and suppressing the region until CO2  retreats.

Not our most brilliant hour.  Reddit will be filled with comments about Goons being dumb and not knowing POS mechanics for a while.

I guess we know the answer

But everybody knows about that POS mechanic now for sure, so if if anybody else falls for it… well, more of the same on Reddit I suppose.

So the war goes on.  We still have a Keepstar of our own on the border of Fade and SIG and Squads are still roaming north from Pure Blind.  The fun is not over, but it may be a while before we pave our way to the Keepstar to do anything more than keep it reinforced.  I suspect we’ll keep reinforcing it to ensure that CO2 can’t pack it up and move away.

Meanwhile there was no saving the TEST Keepstar down in 4-GB14 in Immensea.  They couldn’t even use GigX’s cynojammer trick since hostiles had already grabbed the ihub for the system, and if you don’t own the ihub you can’t setup a cynojammer.  And so that Keepstar died.  It wasn’t their capital Keepstar, but losing one hurts no matter what.

And then there was the Provi Bloc Keepstar, anchored down in 9UY4-H, which went online successfully.  This event also involved a cyno jammer, that being the EVE Online word of the day.  Hostiles sacrificed dreads to incapacitate it, but Provi just finished it off and anchored a fresh one, leaving the attackers without an easy way in.  Even being able get the cyno jammer offline doesn’t mean you’re good to go.

[Update: Or maybe Provi repaired the jammer. I’ve heard both stories now.]

So it was quite a day for null sec Keepstars, with one successfully defended, one destroyed, and a new one online.  And we all know just a bit more about POS mechanics, just in time for them to go away at some point in the near future.

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Kickstarter – Stay Awhile and Listen Book II

My fondness for video games and Kickstarter has cooled, this is true.  Except in special circumstances, it feels like making a game ends up being too sprawling of a venture to fund this way without inviting the inevitable delay and disappointment.  And doubly so (or more) for anything in the MMO genre.  I’ll buy games when they launch.  Or when I fail to notice they’re still in early access.

Books on the other hand, books seem to work out okay.  While the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls campaign went way past their promised dates, that is pretty much a game.  But things like Empires of EVE have kept reasonably close to their timelines and deliver on what they promise.  And even the laggardly Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls ended up on my bookshelf eventually and was worth the wait.

And so it is that I have another book based Kickstarter on my radar, Stay Awhile and Listen Book II.

Of course, my first question was, “What happened with Stay Awhile and Listen?”  I mean, if we’re speaking of a “Book II” then it seems likely that there is an original out there.

And there was.

The author already has the first book out, Stay Awhile and Listen Book I, released initially back in 2013, which you can find over at Amazon.  While the title suggests that Diablo is the focus, the author’s description of the series says it covers more of the evolution of Blizzard as a company and has tales about other projects, including both those that shipped and those that never saw the light of day.

Stay Awhile…

The book itself is said to be essentially done and the funding is for editing and artwork to get the whole project wrapped up.  So the amount of funding requested is not huge when compared to some other projects, sitting at $12,000, of which $5,500 has already been pledged.

And while the campaign hit my benchmark of 20% funding in the first 24 hours, meaning that it has a chance of success, the pledges really dropped off after day three.  Like, off a cliff, to the point that I suspect the campaign won’t fund unless it gets some more attention.  So I want to help get the word out lest the campaign founder midway through..

This sort of behind the scenes book is something I enjoy, so I am in for $30.  That gets me a paperback of book II and ebook versions of both book I and book II.  If this sort of thing interests you as well, take a look at the Kickstarter page.  The campaign has about 20 days left to run and the estimated delivery date for the finished product is June of next year.

CO2’s Keepstar Reinforced in DW-T2I

As expected, with our own Keepstar safely installed in 6RCQ-V the night before, operations directly against Circle of Two in Fade began.

Fade is not a big region, and while CO2 also holds a bit of Pure Blind as well, the bulk of its holdings are in Fade, including its capital and Keepstar in DW-T2I.  So that system and Keepstar are not far from where the Imperium’s own Keepstar is now planted as well as being close to NPC space in Pure Blind where Imperium SIGs & Squads have been based for the last few months.

Fade Map with Locations noted

Fleets were called up for various tasks last night, including Reavers.

I actually missed the initial ping, but reports were that nothing really happened and I managed to get online and catch up with the fleet as we headed off to DW-T2I.  There we hung out for a while on one of the Raitarus we have anchored in the system, waiting to see what CO2 would do when another group started shooting their Keepstar.

We spend a lot of time hanging around structures

While somebody was at the helm of the Keepstar and using its weapons to hit the attackers, no resistance showed up in ships, so we were allowed to run off and shoot something on our own.  Our target for the night was the Draccous faction Fortizar that replaced the station in system when CCP did the great outpost conversion back in early June.

CO2’s Draccous Fortizar

We approached this with some caution.  We were not a big fleet and a Fortizar’s defenses are not without teeth.  But nobody was at the helm and when scanned we found that only the default fittings that came with the conversion, the rigs and services, were there.  Without defenses we were clear to fly around and let our drones reinforce it… and goof off a bit.

HarleyQ trying to catch up to us

Aside from a lumbering point Proteus falling behind the fleet… somebody may have webbed him… the shoot went without incident.  The armor timer was set to go early on Saturday.

Draccous Reinforced

After that we warped over to the gate that would send us in the direction of home.  That gate is on grid with the CO2 Keepstar and we stopped to watch the attacking fleet for a bit.  There were some titans with fax support with Megathrons and Ravens along for the shoot as well.

Titans in defensive bubbles, battleships just barely visible

Looking at the related kills over on zKillboard, it looks like the Keepstar defenses were able to pick off some of the battleships, but none of the capitals were in danger.  And, looking at some of the kills, at least one was blue on blue.  I don’t know what Kun’mi did, but all the pilots on the kill mail for his Nestor are in the Imperium.

The Keepstar didn’t have much further to go.  It was down to the last few percentage points of shield when we arrived, so we saw a bit of shooting before it was reinforced.

Keepstar reinforcement timer

After that we were off for home, the evening’s work done.

The next attack, the armor timer, is set to come out on Saturday… if I am doing my calculations correctly… at about noon Pacific time, which is 3pm Eastern time, or 19:00 EVE Online time.  that makes it an evening event for the Euros and an afternoon fight in USTZ.

This puts the fight in contention with the final timer for the TEST Keepstar down south, so I suspect many of the possible allies of CO2 will punt on the armor timer to get in on a potential Keepstar kill at the other end of New Eden.  We shall seem come Saturday.  Meanwhile ops continue in the north to suppress the locals and reinforce other structures they have about.

The Keepstar Fight at 6RCQ-V

There is a war on.  Or a war is on.  Another one.

Over the past weekend The Mittani said we would be mobilizing and come Monday INN announced that the target was the northwest end of null sec.  Pandemic Legion had been moving its capital fleets down to the southeast of New Eden to assail TEST, Brave, and the rest of the Legacy Coalition.

That move left a vacuum up north, a serious reduction in the number of capital ships the locals could bring to bear on any invader.  The Imperium plans to move in and fill that vacuum.  Pandemic Legion and NCDot are seen as the biggest threat to the Imperium, so with PL away and just NCDot and the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition left to watch their homeland, an opportunity was seen.

Of course, Reavers and a few other SIGs and squads have been up north since at least November of last year hunting the locals and trying to bring them out to fight.  We’ve seen change over that time, with Pandemic Horde moving from Fade to Geminate, Mordus Angels collapsing in Pure Blind, and most recently, the resurrected Circle of Two taking up the space in Fade.  The locals have occasionally put some effort into trying to suppress our operations.

Our station wrapped in bubbles at one point

But more often than not they avoid us, leave our structures alone unless we’re on a break for a couple of weeks, and only form up for final timers on their structures or when we’ve got another Rorqual tackled.  I am sure there is a not unreasonable idea that if we get bored we’ll go away.  But Reavers live to shoot structures and do things that seem boring, knowing that it can all lead to a fight if we persist.

Anyway, once Imperium forces were on the move from Delve northward the first objective was to setup a deployment base.  So a Keepstar citadel was dropped in the system 6RC8-V in the Cloud Ring region.

The first staging in the war

The Gallente Militia alliance Federation Uprising owns the territorial control unit there, so they get their name on the map, but The Initiative owns the infrastructure hub, and since they are part of the Imperium any structure we drop there takes just 24 hours to come online.  (It can take days if you drop them in hostile systems.)

The location is right on the boarder with Fade, where Circle of Two lives.  If we were allowed to plant a Keepstar there, that would put them under a hostile capital and supercap umbrella.  We could drop forces on CO2 which they would be hard pressed to resist.

It became vital that the locals kill the Keepstar as it came online.  That is the point of vulnerability.  After it is online and can be armed it becomes much more difficult to take out.  So a big battle was brewing.

Fortunately for me this was all set to happen in the evening my time, which is the middle of the night EVE Online time.

I was already up in the north so planned to go with the SIGs and squads deployed there.  I did, however, fly an alt over to 6RCQ-V and put him on grid with the Keepstar just to make sure I could keep an eye on what was happening there.

And that turned out to be a good thing.  While fleet after fleet was getting called up and ready to move from Delve and Fountain to the fight, we undocked to take care of other business.

Undocking our Ishtars

While all eyes were on the Keepstar our fleet ran out and dealt with smaller structures.  We covered a Raitaru on grid with the hostile Keepstar in DW-T21, CO2’s capital.  It was in its final timer and we were there to make sure it got through that so the hostiles would have to start over reinforcing it.

We also reinforced a CO2 Astrahus on that grid, giving the locals something to form up and defend later.

Hitting the Astrahus

We then started in on a CO2 Sotiyo, which was gunned, hoping to reinforce that as well.

The view from the Sotiyo, our fleet boost visible in the distance

The Sotiyo was going to take a while however, and before we got even half way done there we were called off to help support the main fight by setting up to block hostile reinforcements.  We managed to knock-off a Gila and a few bombers while doing that.  We never actually went into the 6RCQ-V system.

That was probably a good thing, because in 6RCQ-V things were happening.  As the timer counted down on the Keepstar a cyno went up and the Imperium supercap fleet began to land on the structure.

Titans visible on the Keepstar

And then another cyno went up and a second group started landing.

Some more titans arriving

And then a third cyno went up and then a fourth as super capitals arrayed themselves in and around the Keepstar.

And even more titans start landing

There ended up being a lot of titans on the field, possibly as many as I have seen on the field since B-R5RB.

So many titans

What is hard to see is the super carries mixed in with those fleets.  They are big ships when compared to subcaps, but they seem so small when mixed in with titans.

Meanwhile the locals were forming up as well, with CO2 dropping a Muninn fleet into the system.

Muninns landing near the gate

Likewise Darkness and other GOTG groups formed up an Ishtar fleet and was circling the gate to Fade as they waited for the timer to count down.

Ishtars with the Keepstar in the distance

More and more people kept piling into the system, but things were not too bad… and then the shooting started.

My alt got knocked offline a few times during the fight, but things were not as bad as during the 9-4RP2 fight, the so-called “million dollar battle” where getting back in was pretty much impossible.  If your client died… and I could see my client grabbing more and more RAM until it expired… need a 64-bit client… you could get back in with a bit of patience.

But this fight wasn’t as hyped as the 9-4RP2 battle was, and we were well shy of the 6,142 players in system that earned that fight a Guinness record.  The peak I saw when my alt was in system was just past 3,800.

3,813 and 10% tidi

The fight itself involved the hostiles using Gilas and Ishtars and some long range fit dreadnoughts to stop the timer and start chipping down Keepstar.  They were successful for a while, getting enough damage on the citadel to stop the timer with 10 minutes of online repair to go and they did break it down to 85% of its hit points.

But the weight in numbers was against them.  While they got out in front of things, the titans and super carriers had been joined by a dreads and subcaps who chipped away, cutting back the attackers until the repair timer started up again and the outcome became inevitable.

Titans firing on attackers

Once the timer started up again the prospects for the attackers dimmed and they began to extract.

The Kirkland Protein Star about to go online

Tidi was still bad though, but my main was on the other side of the gate in Fade trying to catch some hostiles coming and going.

Asher, whose ongoing Kirkland Protein Bar meme helped name the Keepstar (though the name changed a couple of times), was not there to the Reavers.  He is now the Sky Marshall, the overall commander and coordinator of fleets and in charge of strategy.  I am glad he has an opportunity to move all the pieces on the map.  There are not many games where you can drive the actions of literally thousands of other players.  But I do worry a bit as the position tends to burn out those who sit in the Sky Marshall chair during a war.  I would miss him if he left the game.

Zed Starshine was leading us for the evening.  He has led us on some ops before.  He got us out to our targets, then to block the comings and goings of the locals, and then the hell out of the way when the hostiles packed up to head home en masse.  Our little fleet wasn’t going to stem that tide, we’d just be a snack for them on the way.  So we got home early and never had to face any tidi.

The Keepstar went online.

With a big flash

The capitals and super caps didn’t have to head home.  They were home.  They could dock up and be ready for ongoing ops against CO2 and GOTG.

The fight itself saw more than a thousand ships blow up.

Most violent system on DOTLAN

Most of those ships belonged to those attacking the Keepstar, as the battle report indicates.

Battle Report Header

[Corrected that battle report as I had CO2 on the wrong side initially.]

The ISK count wasn’t that big however, barely a titan’s worth of ships destroyed.  TEST and Brave, who are now allied with us against PL and NCDot, sent forces north to join in and cover the Keepstar coming online.

But once that Keepstar was online the situation in the north changed.  6RCQ-V is close enough to CO2’s capital and Keepstar in DW-T2I that the super fleet can just take the gate into E9KD-N and then jump straight there.  And you can bet that their Keepstar, and all of their structures, are clearly in our sights.  If they stand there will be more fights.

Rumor has it however that they might pack up shop and head to Venal.  There are still NPC stations there, places that cannot be destroyed.  That is, however, just a rumor at this point, as is the rumor that Slyce might join them.

But if they hang around there will be more titans on grid and more battles over structures in the weeks to come.  Maybe even another node killing, 6,000 player, “million dollar” battle.

Other coverage: