I was home from work on Friday, sitting at my computer and wondering how to spend my free time, when a fleet alert came through over Jabber asking for people to assemble for a Drake fleet. An Alpha fleet announcement had popped up earlier, but I had missed it while I was in the shower and figured they had gone off by the time I saw it. (Every so often a fleet will leave in a timely manner.)
But now I was ready to go, and Dabigredboat was leading, so it was bound to be amusing.
I got on and had to rush to catch up to the fleet. I was a few jumps from VFK when I logged in and had to get there, get one of my remaining PvP Drakes, and then join up with the rest of the fleet who, it seemed, were determined to be one of those fleets that does, in fact, leave in a timely manner.
I probably shouldn’t have worried.
Yes, the fleet got going in a hurry, but there were the usual snags along the way. A jump bridge was out of fuel. Some people joined even later than I and had to catch up. And then there was the inevitable wait for the cyno to go up so that the titan could jump us out to our destination.
We got out jump. And, as usual, some people were not ready or AFK and Boat had to arrange the usual three bridges before everybody who want to get through made it. I have made fun of Boat’s banter during down times, but I certainly don’t have the patience for his job. (Or the skill.)
This is one of those “too many damn pictures” posts, so I am going to put in a cut here so the front page doesn’t get to be a mile long.
We headed into H1-ESN, which is in Tenal. Tenal is, of course, Raiden’s front yard and we were there at European prime time, so were expecting some action. The first response was a small fleet of stealth bombers that hit us as we were forming up at the gate. The killed a few of ours, we zapped more of theirs, but it was a relatively even exchange in terms of ISK. And the damage was small enough that we were not going to be deterred. I managed to hit two of the bombers. They were popping pretty quickly. I also took some damage to my shields from the bombs, but had my hardeners and damage control up, so was in no real danger.
We were with the Alpha fleet initially, but were given our own task to perform. I gather that the Drake fleet, as usual, was sent off to make noise and be a pain in hopes of drawing a response while the Alpha fleet took care of the main task at hand. We went off to a POS and started attacking the defenses. We put the cyno generator, the warp disruptor, and all of the guns off line.
There were a few people at the POS manning the guns and I actually got targeted at one point and had to call for shield reinforcement. I ended up targeting back the scimitar who repped me, because I forgot that I had the setting on to target the first thing to target me. Since I had, up to that point, never targeted one of our scimitar logistic cruisers, I am going to say that that was the first time I actually got repped. But at least I got it when it counted.
That did not bring down anything upon us and once the last gun was down, we headed to one of the jump gates. Greener pastures called. Though the opposition was light in H1-ESN, there was a clear indication that a battle was brewing and that enemy forces were near by. Time dilation was already working.
A time dilation factor of 26% means that the game, for us, was moving at 26% of normal speed. And it only does that when a lot of players are in the area.
We jumped through with the Alpha fleet and ended up in EOY-BG. There we ran into a battlecruiser fleet staffed by pilots from Ev0ke, a German heavy alliance, and Ewoks, another European focused alliance, and started a running battle where we seemed to be getting the better of them. We knocked down quite a bit of their logistics support. My own kill totals show I was in on 8 scimitar kills during those skirmishes. Without support, they headed to the station in the system and docked up.
We followed them to the station and basically kept the bottled up in there for a good half an hour.
We caught at least one ship coming into the station, but this was something of a quiet time. Well, quiet as far as combat went. The local channel was full of taunts. Boat assured us that sitting on these guys was worthwhile and that it was keeping pressure off of the Alpha fleet, which was elsewhere.
And then things started to get busy.
Local spiked way up, from ~200 to nearly 600 players. A fleet showed up to break our siege of the station and suddenly my overview seemed filled to overflowing with enemy ships. We had enemy battleships and carriers show, while the fleet we had bottled up undocked to join the fight.
At this point I figured we were probably done for, and not just because we seemed hopelessly outnumbered.
EVE was also making things difficult. The client seemed to be crashing for a lot of people. The client went down for me five times during the battle. And, more important to our survival, Boat got knocked off nearly as many times during the fight. And when you are knocked off, you have to get back, rejoin the fleet, possibly warp back in to where ever we were, and then catch up to where the fleet happens to be. And if you are the fleet commander, you have to get command of the fleet back from whoever inherited it during your absence. Meanwhile, somebody else has to start calling the plays while you are getting back online.
I expected that we would draw up an retreat, but Boat, when he was on and in command, was having none of it. He actually found us a carrier to target and we took it down.
At some point Alpha fleet joined the battle. I have to assume this is why we weren’t all dead, since there was a lot of enemy firepower floating around that station.
The EVE client crashed on me three times during the battle in EOY-BG. I think this actually helped keep me safe. While it was a pain to have to log back in and get in the fleet and make my way to them, during that time I was burning at full speed on my microwarp drive, nearly 1100 meters per second, in my attempt to catch up, usually moving at right angles to our enemy. So while I got targeted at least twice, nobody hit me… or maybe they didn’t bother taking the shot. All I know is that I stayed alive and took no damage.
Meanwhile, Boat kept moving us around can calling targets. And we began taking a toll on their battlecruiser fleet again. I show 17 battlecruiser and logistic cruiser kills from when we downed the carrier to when we began to pull out.
Eventually we pulled ourselves away from the station and made for one of the jump gates, jumped into S-EVIQ. This put us a little closer to home, but the enemy was hot on our trail. And so we moved to the battle of the jump gate.
This was even more chaotic, from my point of view, that the battle around the station.
The chaos was not helped by Boat getting dropped again in the middle of a maneuver. Since he was the anchor, the ship we all follow, that leads to us getting spread out.
Another pilot called out to anchor up on him as we flew through the maelstrom of fire, while Boat struggled to get back into the game and back in control of the fleet.
The fight in S-E was both more and less confused than the previous fight, at least from my perspective. Things were spread out enough that I was able to identify a number of the independent maneuver groups, ours and theirs. And, because it wasn’t just shield tanked battlecruisers punching it out, I did get to see a few new ships in action.
During some warping about to place us in a favorable position, the EVE client quit to desktop on me for the fifth and final time. Final not because I gave up, but final because of where it left me.
Previously I had dropped in the middle of fights, and when that happens EVE leaves you where you were. When I logged back on I found myself in the same part of space, modules still active, sometimes still firing at the same target.
This time around we were between fights and warping around the system. So when I logged back I found myself alone, my ship having warped off to safety. However, as soon as I had figured that out, EVE had started warping me back to the point in space where it left me, which turned out to be a bad spot indeed.
I turned on modules and attempted to warp out, but I was targeted and warp scrambled before I could get off. I was alone and in range of quite a few hungry bad guys. And my Drake went poof.
I knew it was going to. 24 Abbaddons and 26 Drakes hitting me was a bit of a give away. So I was ready on the buttons to warp out in my pod and I got away safely.
I did get a little bit back. One of my attackers was in a Dramiel that I had taken a few pot shots at previously. He got popped just a couple minutes after I did and I got credited as part of the kill.
But I didn’t find that out until later, when I checked my kills… and when they had finally caught up.
At that point I was alone in a pod and far from home.
I had to drop the fleet. There were some reinforcements coming in and people were trying to get organized. I could hear orders and targets being called on Mumble, but quickly turned that off. That was no longer my fight. Now I had to get back to VFK in one piece.
Fortunately I seemed to be in luck. I did not run into any of the usual gate camps waiting for stragglers and pods to come jumping through, and so made it back to my starting point slowly but in one piece. This was my third Drake lost since I moved to null sec, but losing one in a fleet battle means breaking about even when insurance and alliance reimbursement are added together. And the most painful part of losing a ship, at least to me, is buying and refitting. But our alliance has a lot of pre-fit fleet ships up as contracts for sale
This set of battles seemed to be the start of a series of engagements in Tenal. I did not manage to get into another fleet over the weekend, but I heard tales on coms about additional large battles where we seemed to be losing more ships but were inflicting a lot more damage when measured in ISK.
I have no idea what the strategic plan is, but there is still a lively war along the border between Branch and Tenal, between the CFC and Raiden and its allies.