The previous weekend we headed up to Tribute to 3rd party on the battle in M-OEE8 to shoot targets of opportunity. There was a giant six hour slow motion spaceship melee around Circle-of-Two’s Keepstar. However, that was just the preliminary, the second act of a three act play.
This past Saturday was the real deal, the actual final engagement when the Keepstar would be saved or blow up dramatically. Even CCP put up an official notice about the event. I wanted to see that, but I wasn’t sure the Imperium was going to show up. We were having our own little spaceship tournament (in which Asher led the Reavers to victory) so I decided to make my own plan. Fortunately I had an option in place.
Back when I pulled out of Tribute, literally just a day before we officially abandoned our space there, I left behind some stuff in UMI-KK. I gave some of it away and sold most of the rest at well above Jita prices. But I also left a jump clone there along with a Manticore stealth bomber along with a cyno and some liquid ozone with an eye to being able to bring in trouble some day.
That day never came and as summer rolled around we moved to Delve, but I left that clone and ship in place. This seemed to be the time to reactivate that asset.
So on Thursday night I clone jumped to UMI-KK, packed up what I had left in the station, and made my way carefully E-OGL4, on gate from M-OEE8 and then safed up and logged out as there was a lot of coming and going at the time and I did not want to get caught on the gate trying to slip in.
I came back a couple of times until I found a quiet stretch and warped from my perch below the gate and jumped to M-OEE8.
Once there I made my own safe spots then set about trying to find the Keepstar. Even something so big isn’t all that big in the scale of a solar system. It wasn’t open to me, so it didn’t show up on my overview. I saw that my kills from the previous week were marked on zKillboard as being in the vicinity of planet VIII, but warping there didn’t show anything. My last shot was the cynos that seemed to be in continuous use. They would likely be on grid with the Keepstar, but they might be also be at one of the citadels that the attackers had anchored around the Keepstar. Either option would do, so long as I stayed cloaked. Either side would be happy enough to shoot me.
So I picked one and warped to it at 100km while cloaked. At least I am pretty sure that is what I did. What happened was that I landed right on the Keepstar and was decloaked. You feel a bit exposed sitting there on a besiged station, hostiles coming and going all around. One of those “oh shit!” moments in New Eden that raises your heart rate.
I immediately aligned back to my safe and warped off… but had the presence of mind at the last moment to bookmark the Keepstar. I got away safely and was able to warp back to the bookmark at 100km, this time landing at range. Then I pointed myself up (relative to the plane of the solar system) and motored to a spot 250km above the Keepstar. Then I made a couple more bookmarks at about that distance as backups, went back to my safe and logged off.
The next day, almost an hour before the Keepstar timer was set to some out, I logged in and warped to my perch.
There were already about three thousand people in local and the number was climbing steadily. 20 minutes before the timer came out, that number passed four thousand and time dilation had already kicked in and was down to 20% at times. With about a minute left on the count down, I tweeted a picture of local, which had already crossed the five thousand mark. Tidi was already in full force.
That was already more people in system for the battle than had every piled into before. The number eventually passed 5,300, at which point the server seemed to feel that was the maximum point of stability as it started dropping people until it got under 5,300 again.
I do not have a dramatic tale to tell as far as the fight goes. I was there to see the sights and, most importantly, get on the Keepstar kill mail. As I joked, I figured I could sit in my safe for three hours, warp to the Keepstar, take a shot, then warp back to my safe and be set.
Of course, nothing is ever that simple.
After about an hour I warped to one of my perches, and watched the fight a bit, thne warped to 50km off the Keepstar. I seemed to be fairly far from most other ships, with only a few in the 30-60km range. From there I aligned back to a safe, decloaked, locked up the citadel, and fired my torpedoes. After a couple of salvos I saw an Crow locking me, so I warped off, cloaked up, and sat safe for a bit as I went off to make some lunch. The Keepstar was at 79% structure.
I tabbed out, watched some of the Imperium tournament, listened to a podcast, wrote most of yesterday’s silly post, and generally ignored the fight.
When I checked back I founded that the EVE Online client had quit with an error. I was no longer in the system and as like as not I would no longer get credit on the kill mail. This needed to be addressed immediately.
I logged back in, which given the stress on the system was surprisingly smooth. I suspect being off-grid in a safe all by myself helped on that front. I again warped to my perch, then to within 50km of the Keepstar and took another shot at it. At that point it was a 56% structure and local had actually dropped to about 3,900 people. I wasn’t the only one getting kicked off it seemed.
Then it was back to my safe, then on grid at a perch to watch for a bit, then back to my safe to idle. I let the client be again and went and played Pokemon Sun on the couch. Of course, once I returned, the client had died again. Time to log back in.
In successfully again, I once more warped to a perch, then into range of the Keepstar to take a shot. I aligned, decloaked, and salvoed the torpedo launchers again. I seemed to be pretty safe in my spot, so I also locked up an Mobile Tractor Unit that was close by to take a couple shots at that. The Keepstar was down to 21% structure then and local was still below four thousand.
I took shots at the MTU until a Caracal wandered into range, locked me up, and hit me with a couple of volleys of missiles. Fortunately, he did not tackle me… he may not have been equipped to tackle me, as he never got closer than 30km but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out… and I warped off to my safe yet again. Then it was back onto grid with the Keepstar to watch the final bits.
At that point my wife reminded me that I had committed to go pick up a pizza for an early dinner, so I called that in, left myself at the perch over the Keepstar, and my wife and I drove off to pick up the pizza.
When I got back I was still there… and so was the Keepstar. However, when I checked Twitter, somebody said it had already been killed… but then was still there taking damage. Had I missed the final moments? Was the Keepstar still really there or not? I put the camera on the Vanquisher titan that was parked close by the Keepstar and moved is to I was focused on the citadel. The Keepstar obliged me by starting to explode shortly thereafter. (You can’t put the camera on the object itself, as the system yanks it back to your ship the moment it starts to explode.)
The explosion seemed somewhat off… probably due to tidi. It spent a lot of time brewing up points of fire as in the picture above, then there was a sudden orange flash, then the explosion, and then things settled down and it was done.
Now for the important question: Did I get on the kill mail. The system was still going well enough that it generated pretty quickly for the person who got the final blow, an Legion of xXDEATHXx pilot named Vlulvik Hrapruk.
However, the kill mail itself was so big with 4,078 people listed on it that trying to view it crashed my client. I had to log in yet again. But people were getting the hell out of the system at this point, tidi was relaxing a bit, and I was eventually able to find myself way down the list on the kill. You can find me on the list over at zKillboard. A warning though, even trying to list all pilots on that kill mail will put your browser into a “Not Responding” state for a minute or so.
Soon the system was responsive and tidi was minimal and only those trying to loot the field were left. I did my part and shot up another MTU, getting top damage and the final blow.
I warped around a bit while cloaked, looking for other targets of opportunity, but it was still a bit hazardous for something as easy to kill as a stealth bomber. I did see some CO2 guys clearing off any hostile MTUs, including Tyffanny, who was our first kill during the Keepstar armor timer battle the previous week.
And that was about it for me. I sat for a bit in my safe until the system totals dropped some more, then went to my perch over the Taisy gate. Seeing it was clear I warped and jumped to low sec and motored on into high sec and headed to a station closer to home in Delve before I logged off. My Manticore which, judging from its name was left over from the Reavers deployment to Wicked Creek more than a year back (RATKINGBOIS!), was safe and its cargo full of such valuables as Ice Mining Upgrade I modules was secure.
That was my exit from Tribute. I have no assets left in the region.
And it was also and exit for CO2 and TEST, despite any remaining citadels.
Checking on DOTLAN now you can see that they hold no more sovereignty in Tribute.
Now the question is whether or not the war continues. The original causus belli for the war was to secure part of the region for Pandemic Horde, as I recorded back in early October. PH has since changed its mind on moving and no longer seems keen to occupy M-OEE8.
Meanwhile, TEST and CO2 still hold sovereignty in The Vale of the Silent region next door. A couple of systems in CO2’s constellation in the region seem to be reinforced and there is an unlikely rumor on Reddit that TEST is evac’ing to low sec, but I am far enough removed from the conflict to be unable to weigh either item. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
The battle itself saw a lot of ships destroyed. If I read zKillboard correctly, the Keepstar itself got on something like 600 kill mails, even whoring on my MTU kill. Destruction came to many. The map says almost four thousand.
DOTLAN puts the number higher, claiming over seven thousand ships and five thousand pods destroyed over the previous 24 hours.
So that is what happened on Saturday, another 6+ hour long tidi lag-fest where thousands of players tried to get in to see the first fully operation Keepstar get blown up. The server did not melt down and CCP can rightly ask what other online game is getting that many people in close proximity.
Other sites have overage of the Keepstar Battle and the war:
- Crossing Zebras
- PC Gamer
- Massively OP
- Imperium News (Fight timeline, the tournament, and more)
- Razorein’s Flickr Gallery (Many cool screen shots)
- CCP Dev Blog about the event
And, of course, I have a selection of screen shots from the battle itself.