Wicked Creek Without a Paddle

The inevitable moment came to pass as I tried to dual box a fleet op in EVE Online.  Not only do I have a single monitor that now seems a bit small by today’s standards (I recently profiled my setup), but I insist on playing full screen, so I can only see one client or the other.  Eventually I become fixated on one of the clients, leaving the other one to fend for itself only to hear the FC call my character’s name because I haven’t aligned or missed a warp or have otherwise wandered out of formation, usually straight into the jaws of the enemy.  Then I have to flail to get things set right again.

And that’s if I am lucky.

If I am unlucky I tab back to the neglected client and find myself sitting in a pod, either in space or back in my home station, dead from the distraction.

I am not good at dual boxing in EVE, though that is, in part, because of my own stubbornness.  I like to see as much of space as I can.

And so it went Tuesday night in Wicked Creek.

I mentioned previously that on the Monday before EVE Vegas the Reavers, along with some of Karma Fleet, LAWN, and allegedly my own alliance, TNT, deployed down to Wicked Creek under the weak cover story of defending the Phoebe Freeport Republic or some such.  In reality, we were there to get fights.  Fights with TEST, who live in the corner of Wicked Creek close to Curse (via Scalding Pass) and the NPC null sec station where we set up shop. (If you read the last couple entries at the excellent Game of Sov blog, Trick or Treat and Pillow Fort Fight!, you’ll see some of the resulting battle reports, though the list there is not complete.)

I haven’t been on for as many ops during the deployment as I would have liked.  There have been other things going on… like EVE Vegas… or last weekend where my wife and I indulged in a James Bond movie marathon… but I have been there for a few.

I was there for the op when we killed the infrastructure hub in S-E6ES, which cut TEST’s jump bridge connection from their deeper in Wicked Creek to that system, an important feat as that connection allowed them to jump ahead of us and cut us off from home during a withdrawal.

I managed to show up for a “no logi allowed” slippery boat Tengu fleet op.  fortunately Karma Fleet came along as well, and was handing out free Cormorants to boot.  I hadn’t flown a Cormorant in ages.

Cormorant fleet is go!

Cormorant fleet is go!

I was happy to see that the little destroyer, which was my first “goal” ship in EVE Online, now has an additional low slot, for a total of two.  Go wee Corm!

That was the fleet where we were after the ihub in GGE-5Q.  I don’t recall specifically why, other than to generally annoy TEST and perhaps get a fight.  As I said, getting fights is now our thing.

It was also my first chance to run an Entosis Link ship.  We had lost our initial link ships and they were looking for people who had the skills to run the link.  I opted in and then warped off the fellow Reaver Azure and Argent and ejected from my Corm so he could get in and use his mobile depot to fit the links he had brought out from our staging.  Then he ejected and I got back in and headed to the ihub to start running the link.

Entosis Cormorant

Entosis Cormorant

This was just as exciting as I expected.  I went into orbit of the ihub, with a tech I link you need to stay within 20km, targeted it, and started the module.  There was a five minute warm up cycle, after which followed 20 minutes of Entosis Link magic, watching the timer count down as the Cormorants and Tengus lingered about.

As the timer rolled down to zero, TEST started showing up in the system.  With just ten seconds to go they warped on grid with me and the ihub, targeted me, and blew me up with a mere 3 seconds left on the clock.  I was subsequently podded and found myself back in the staging.

At this point the fleet had been going for more than three hours.  We were given a participation link, but the fleet kept going.  There was a scramble to get another link setup to pick up where I left off as the automatic defender regeneration had now kicked in.  It is slow… it takes an hour to regen my almost 20 minutes of work… but it just keeps going.  I never found out if we succeeded or not, as it was getting late on a work night, so I was off to bed.

Which brings us around to Tuesday evening and the fleet op departing our base.  There was a call for numbers and we collected a good 70 people initially, a number that grew to about 90 as we prepared to leave.

I was only going to fly one ship, being fully aware of how bad I am and dual boxing during fleet ops.  However, Asher said he needed people in Entosis Drakes.  How hard could that be to run on a second client.  Entosis is easy enough, and when was the last time I got to fly a Drake?

So I got out my alt, had him buy one of the Entosis Drakes on contract, strapped it on, fit the rigs in the cargo hold, and renamed it “I Bring Draek!”  I also setup the broadcasts on my alt so he would see calls for shields, highlighted in blue, just like Wilhelm in the Basi, so I wouldn’t miss any calls for help if I was in the wrong client at the moment.

Having gotten that sorted out, I waited until the fleet finally undocked and started out towards its destination.

I am the red Basilisk in the fleet

I am the red Basilisk in the fleet

Things went well to start with.  I kept my eye mostly on my main as I had to keep the cap chain going when we stopped, only tabbing over to my alt when I had a moment to get him aligned or to jump him through a gate.

We moved along, scouts reporting a clear road ahead, until we arrived at our first destination.  The main fleet anchored up, logi got anchored as well and got the cap chain running, ewar, anchored on Victor Fel, set themselves off to one side, and the Entosis ships went to safe up.  I made a safe for my alt, put him there, and went back to my main.

The timer ran down and Moomin was called as the first to Entosis… and likely die.  TEST was in the system.  There were reports that they were scanning down people who were safed up so, while the main fleet was waiting for something to happen, I switched over to my alt to run the directional scanner now and again to make sure no bad guys were in the vicinity.  I had safed up pretty far away from everything, though I could see another Drake on d-scan.

Then TEST dropped on grid with us and a fight started.

First round of shots

First round of shots

This was just a skirmish and did not add up to much.  But as the fight was calling, Asher called everybody back to the main fleet, so I had to tab out and warp my alt back… and then try to keep him up with the fleet.  While I was doing that Asher did a short warp with the fleet so my alt landed in the wrong place and my main was at the new location, sitting still and not in the cap chain.  I was already being excessively bad.  I pointed the Drake at the main fleet, turned on its MWD and said to hell with its cap and went back to get my shit straightened out on the logi front.

My absence had been noted.  I apologized, got myself back in range, got the cap chain going at my end, got anchored up, and everything on that front was back in order.  I quickly tabbed back to my alt and set him to approach my Basi because.. why not?

As this skirmish subsided, Asher warped us the U-HVIX gate and we all went through.  Then he warped us to a command node in that system.  We got caught in a bubble a ways off from the node and he had us all just approach it.  He then asked for an Entosis ship to x up, so I did so with my alt.

My alt was tasked to head to 1-7B6D to start working on a command node there.  Unfortunately, on coms, Asher just said (or I just heard) “One seven,” which isn’t enough to set a route.  So I had to tab about to a browser, get DOTLAN up, get Wicked Creek up, find us, then find the right system, go back to my alt, set a course, and start that trip.  It was just two jumps, so that went quickly enough.

Once there I discovered that I had not updated my overview on my alt, as I had long ago on my main, to show the new sovereignty structures.  So I had to dig into my overview settings and select those bits for my travel overview, my sort of go-to, generic, show me what I need to get around set.

And this is now me distracted and fixated on one character while shit is going down with the other, as I started in on at the top of the post.

I worked through what I needed to do on my alt, got him to the command node in the system, and started warming up the Entosis Link.  I then tabbed back to my main and found him sitting in a pod bouncing off the command node Asher had us approach maybe 10 minutes back.  Things were happening and I had also forgotten that, once off grid and out of system, my alt would stop seeing fleet broadcasts, so my plan fell down on that front as well.  Again, me being bad at EVE Online.

So I got out of the cap chain channel, declared myself dead and out in the logi channel, set a course for home, since nobody had blown up my pod, and warped off.

But at least I still had something to do on my alt.  Time to do the Entosis Link thing.

Drake running the Entosis Link module

Drake running the Entosis Link module

Before the warm up cycle had even gotten half way through an NCDot pilot in a Claw dropped on me, locked me up, and pointed me… presumably to hold me for somebody else, since they didn’t have much in the way of offensive power.

In my one moment of glory in during the whole evening, I had the presence of mind to lock them in return, launch my drones, turn on my rapid light missile launchers, and rather quickly blow them up.

In over nine years of playing EVE Online, this is the closest I have ever come to having a one-on-one PVP kill.  My alt will now have a kill mark queued up I think, when we get those on the sides of our ships.

My moment of glory was, however, short lived.  The rest of the NCDot crew, in the area to third party no doubt, showed up on grid with me, the odds quickly going against me.  I did manage to damage one of the Omen Navy Issues to the extent that he he felt he had to motor out of range.  But then, held in place by another point, I hit the long reload cycle for the rapid light launchers… 35 seconds of waiting… and their fire kept on whittling me down.  I had everything overheated that could be as I waited for the inevitable to occur.  Eventually I went boom.

At least I had remembered to insure it before I undocked.

I managed to warp my pod off… not that that was doing myself any real favors.  I was more keen just to deny them one more kill mail.  I posted my loss in fleet and set a course for home.

So now I had two pods wandering about Wicked Creek, slowly making their way back to our staging station.  Meanwhile, as I listened on coms, apparently the best fight ever unfolded back in U-HVIX.

I mean look at this thread on Reddit.  How often are both this jazzed after a fight?

TEST dropped T3 cruisers on us and we were outnumbered, the Dabigredboat showed up with a fleet from the north, mostly Hawks, Jackdaws, and ECM Claws, and joined in.  Then TEST dropped triage to support their end and LAWN followed suit by dropping six dreads on the field and mayhem ensued with over 100 billion ISK in losses, split almost exactly up the middle.  TEST lost a bit less when it comes to ISK, and won the node timer, but lost a lot of T3 cruisers and the skill points that go with that.  The Imperium lost a bit more on the ISK front, including all six dreads dropped on the field, but lost no T3 cruisers, and only a couple of Entosis ships since getting the fight was more important than the objective.

The ISK War

The ISK War

You can see it all on this battle report, which is almost the same as the one linked on Reddit, except I extended the time out an hour to cover the last bits of the fight.  Looking at that battle report, my Basilisk is almost the difference between the two sides.  See what being distracted gets you.

I spent almost the entire “good” part of the fight getting my ass back to our station, buying a new ship for Wilhelm, and then rushing back to get into the fight.  I opted for a Manticore stealth bomber set up with a point and a target painter (but no bomb launcher) that happened to be on contract at our station.  I figured that gave me better odds for the return trip.  In one of those odd twists, I was heading back at the same time Fate Aivo, whose Claw my alt had blown up, was on the way.

There was a gate camp on the direct route back.  However, there was a way around that, so I managed to arrive safely back in U-HVIX just in time for the fight to pretty much be over.  I landed on the field literally as TEST left.

There were a couple of skirmishes after that point.  We held the field and used that opportunity to loot or destroy everything left behind by the battle.  During this time a TEST Tornado fleet attempted to drop on us several times, but ended up only picking off a single ship on their runs.  At least that was all I heard they managed.  Hoping they might be lazy, I ran my Manticore out to where they had landed each time to see if I might be able to lock one up and point it so we could blow it up, but they were better than that it seems.

Once the field had been cleared of valuables, we packed up and headed for home.  We did catch a few people on the out gate, so I managed to get on a couple of kill mails.  Small comfort.

And so it goes on our deployment to Wicked Creek.  TEST keeps coming out to fight, generally with decent numbers.  There is a rumor going around that TEST is running out of ISK and may not be able to sustain itself in T3 cruisers for much longer.  But, then again, when isn’t “TEST is broke” an active rumor?  I suppose we will see what they show up with next time.

Meanwhile, no more dual boxing during ops for me… for now.

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