It was one of those weekends where I didn’t actually have much on my plate to do, just enough to chop the days up into chunks too small to go on a fleet op safely. The problem with fleet ops is that they could run anywhere between 15 minutes and four hours, given recent history.
But Sunday morning I looked to have a stretch of free time and there was a fleet going up under Apple Pear, one of our German FCs. It was about the right time for cross-pollination between US and EU players, our morning and their evening., and it seemed like it might be a busy day in New Eden, with the player count closing in on the 40K mark for the first time in quite a while.
The fleet called was Katrina Doctrine, with features Hurricanes, because there is no joke in poor taste that we won’t make. I happened to have a Hurricane ready to go in our staging, so got into game, on to coms, and into the fleet. There was the usual build up, the call for boosters and hictors and, of course, more logi please. Usually I would swap out for logi at the first call, but Katrina Fleet uses Basilisks for logi and I have at least five of those sitting around in other stations, so I wasn’t inclined to buy yet another one. I’ll find time to fly one of the ones I already own out later. According to the Neocom app. which has a new little “wealth” readout that gives you a pie chart depiction of where you ISK is tied up, about 60% of my wealth is tied up in stuff sitting in stations. (With another 18% being stuff in stations I have listed for sale on the market of via contract, the remainder being installed implants and liquid ISK available to spend.)
I didn’t feel the need to add to that pile of stuff.
So I got in my Hurricane and ignored the pleas of the FC to get into support roles. Today I was going to shoot things.
We were also told to stock up on ammo for a POS shoot. You don’t want to expend your expensive faction ammo shooting a tower. However our staging system was fresh out of normal, non-faction ammo, so I loaded up a bit on some of the less expensive faction ammo. At least with our projectile fit ‘canes, the damage is high and the rate of fire is low, so you don’t need a ton of ammo for a tower shoot.
Finally, once things seemed to be getting sorted, we were told to undock. From there we were warped to a POS where we found an Erebus waiting for us. We all got within 2,000 meters of it and waited for the word that a jump bridge would be going up to send us on our way.
As we waited, the Erebus suddenly turned into a red ball of building power and disappeared into distant space. Coms were immediately overwhelmed with laughter and wry commentary as we suspected we had just witnessed yet another titan pilot hitting jump rather than bridge. I’ve been there for that before.
Apple Pear had to shout at us to get us to shut up as he was trying to listen to what was going on in command coms. The tale was later spun that the Erebus pilot meant to do that, that he was acting as some sort of bait to lure our foes out or some such. I am not sure I believe that, largely because we were all left sitting there on the edge of the POS with no titan in site. (The Ragnarok had since logged off.)
We bounced around the system to another POS and another titan where we sat for a bit until we were given a destination in Black Rise, just 11 jumps away and told to align to the out gate. No ride for us, we were going to have to walk to our destination. Via gates. Through tidi. Uphill. Both ways.
Eleven jumps doesn’t seem like much, just as about 40K accounts logged in doesn’t seem like much, but squeezing more than 200 of us through low sec on a busy Sunday turned out to be a bit of a chore. There was time dilation and traffic control and slow loading grids all the way to our first destination. Oddly, there were not that many disconnects… often there are when the servers are straining… but there were a few and we waited for them to get back in game and catch up.
It was a long trip for just eleven gates.
We finally arrived at the first target, a small tower, and put it into the reinforced state. Then we moved over a couple more systems… slowly… and reinforced another tower. Then we did a third and then a fourth. The shoots themselves were pretty quick.
We were putting out enough damage that knocking the shields down to the 25% mark, at which point the reinforcement timer kicked in and we were done, was taking 19 rounds out of the 20 loaded into each my guns. So not much ammo expended, with 114 rounds total across six guns for each tower, for about half a million ISK in faction ammo expended total.
I would have rather expended a bit of it hitting other ships, but that didn’t quite work out. nobody came out to contest the towers, though there was an Ares that showed up for the last three to adjust the stront so that the reinforcement period would end when it was presumably more convenient for the defenders than us. (The choice seemed to be to let the timer run 1 day 2 hours, which would put it late for EU but in prime time for US.)
We ran across a couple of targets on the way out and back, but due to being in a bit of a hurry and the fleet being cleared to “jump on contact” at each gate in order to keep things moving along, I somehow managed to always be on the wrong side of each gate when something happened.
All in all, we were out for about 2.5 hours, of which maybe 45 minutes was hitting, or traveling between, targets. The rest was waiting and the slogging through tidi and traffic control and keeping everybody together. Pretty normal stuff for a main fleet strat op.
Apple Pear is good about putting up after action report summaries in the forums, so we can go back and get a peek at what was going on. Nothing is ever quite as it seems to the line member. In this case we were initially formed up to cover a capital fleet operation in Cloud Ring, there was a hint that we might get some action, but when that failed to materialize we were sent off to hit the towers, but couldn’t get a bridge out because our cyno ship got popped before they could light it up. So maybe that titan did jump on purpose. Life in EVE Online.
On the bright side, there is some word of a Reavers deployment in the offing, so we will once again be able to escape the main fleet and run off on our own for smaller ops.
Pictures from the fleet formed up in a gallery. In a couple of these you can see some non-doctrine ships that came along. There was a shield fit Harbinger and a Vindicator. At one point I would have been impressed to have a Vindi along, but I recently did a couple incursion fleets, where they are a staple, making them much less special.