The Million Dollar Battle Hangover

Some things are better read about after the fact rather than experienced live.

Or watched live.

The timer has come and gone and the Pandemic Horde Keepstar in 9-4RP2 still stands.

I was hoping that CCP would do a Dev Blog about the fight.  They might still I suppose.  But so far all they have is a promotional video using the battle to sell the game.

What the video says is technically correct, but it really doesn’t express the nature of the fight.

One thing I would like to see out of CCP is an official number for people in local for the battle.  CCP has mentioned the number “6,000,” which has been picked up by the press, but the video description says “over 6,000” and CCP said “more than 6,000” on Twitter.

On the INN stream I heard them calling out the number of people in local, 6,700 being the number I thought I heard, since somebody expressed a desire to see it go past 7,000 at that point, so I don’t think I mis-heard “5,700” on the stream but I’m not willing to go listen to the stream again (which Matterall has posted to Sound Cloud).  And shortly after that the system dumped over a thousand people, so maybe local was wrong, messed up by the stress on the server.

Anyway, an official number would be nice.  We know it beat the 5,337 number for the M-OEE8 Keepstar fight a little over a year ago, but where is the bar set today?

The INN stream itself, which I listened to at various points throughout the battle, was interesting.  Or, it was interesting to somebody who knew the game and some of the various alliance personalities.  Watching the stream was… less interesting, and doubly so if you knew nothing about the game, as it was mostly just colored brackets on the screen.

Orange defenders waiting for the battle, blue attackers in the distance

With about 20 minutes left to go before the Keepstar timer ended, the group on the stream was ready to declare the citadel saved.  The Imperium had jumped in a Nyx fleet and launched fighters to attack the Keepstar, but they were so far away and moving so slowly in TiDi that they were not going to get there in time to hit the structure.  A command destroyer group that was supposed to use their AOE microjump drives to speed the fighters along failed, leaving the fighters swimming on their own towards the Keepstar.

And when the defenders launched space superiority fighter… anti-fighter fighters… to take on the coming blob, things seemed lost for the attackers.

But the Imperium dropped in sub caps, a Jackdaw fleet and a Machariel fleet, to start hitting the Keepstar, feeding in new ships as losses in those fleets mounted, allowing the fighters to arrive.

The Keepstar structure started to get whittled away, and by the time it was down to 70% the discussion on the stream had flipped and was now talking about when the defenders would have to start pulling out.  It was estimated that they would need to start withdrawing supers by the 40% mark to keep them from being massacred when the defending Keepstar blew up, removing the protective cover.

Then the Imperium attack began to run out of steam.  The fighter force had been removed as a threat and the sub cap fleets were losing ships faster than they would be replaced.  I was home by about that point and saw the calls for Jackdaws and Machariels to form up in Delve to be flown to our staging system and jumped in.  When the Imperium firepower waned the repair timer, which runs in real time and is not affect by time dilation, began to count down again.  Soon the battle was over, the Keepstar being saved.

Despite getting home about an hour before that point, I never got in system during the conflict.  The login server wasn’t having it and I just got errors every five minutes or so until the game finally reset me and made me try again.

I’ve been on hold for more than 30 minutes here…

Eventually I got on.  There were about 2,500 people in the system at that point and time dilation was still pretty heavy.

11% actually means the server is working

The TiDi was lifting though, and was gone before I logged off about 30 minutes later.  I undocked from one of our Fortizars and surveyed the scene.  I cloaked up and warped around looking for looters or MTUs to shoot.

MTU pulling wrecks with the Keepstar in the background

People were being paranoid… and rightfully so… so MTUs didn’t get left hanging about for very long.  I did get a shot at a Coercer once I saw he was fully armed with salvage beams.

Coercer salvaging

However once I decloaked my Purifier caught the eye of a couple of other hostiles and I had to warp off after a few salvos.  Maybe I should have let them shoot me.  It would have gotten me home more quickly.  Instead I docked back up and called it a night.

Looking at a battle report, the Imperium lost about 1,200 ships and fighters totaling up to nearly $300 billion ISK.  There were a lot of Machariels on that list.  Meanwhile the defenders lot about 800 ships, but they were mostly small ships and fighters, so they didn’t even pass the 40 billion ISK mark.

A clear win for the defenders.

Of course, as with any battle that doesn’t live up to the hype, a lot of people seem to be unhappy and there is no end of people those infused with the wisdom of hindsight willing to tell people what everybody should have done.

There is a group that is mad at CCP because their servers can’t handle that many players, though anybody paying attention knew that this was going to be an issue.  It always has been.

There are people mad because the fight did not entertain sufficiently.  Somebody is always mad when Goons refused to suicide their titans by jumping them into a fight.

And then there are the people who hate when null sec gets any attention.

Some of the press, who eagerly snatched up the whole “million dollar battle” theme that was the brainchild of one person on Reddit, followed up with sad trombone posts about how the game let them down by failing to live up to that promise.

I like that we can’t agree on the alleged cost of the battle.  Over at The Nosy Gamer there is a calculation as to how much a titan costs in real world money using the spurious Dollars to PLEX and back again method.  Nothing being simple, he has four answers.  My own back of the envelope math says that, pulling from those headlines above, $3,300 is bit low, $10,000 is probably too high, and half a million is clearly from some other dimension of reality.  But it doesn’t matter anyway since no matter what answer you get, it was all virtual goods in the end, which we know lack any real world value.

And then there is the review of the game mechanics involved.  There is an interesting thread on Reddit, written by one of the defender, exploring how the balance favors the defenders in such battles.  That should actually make the Imperium happy, what with our “a Keepstar in every system, a Fortizar on every gate” plan.

Over at INN Arrendis explored the mechanics of the battle compared to B-R5RB and speculated as to how things could be mad better.  Maybe CCP will look into that.  They seem to like the attention such big battles bring to the game, so it would be good if they were not hamstrung by the mechanics when players show up in huge numbers.

A few people gave props to the Imperium for actually leaving fortress Delve to try to take down the Keepstar.  But not many.  As ever, Goons are bullies when they attack anybody and cowards when they don’t.  CCP says in their video that the “war is not over,” but I suspect that was the last fight over that particular Keepstar unless somebody has a plan that won’t collapse when more than six thousand capsuleers show up.  Instead, convoys of Imperium pilots have been shuttling they ships home since the battle.  We’ll see if GSOL slips in and takes down the Fortizars.  That’ll be the sign we’re not coming back.

Anyway, we all seem to prefer the static state of null sec currently, where we hunt each others ratters and miners but not much else, a scenario that has never dislodged anybody from their sovereignty ever.  I guess that meets the twin goals of safety and fun in some way.

5 thoughts on “The Million Dollar Battle Hangover

  1. mbp

    A few questions from someone who tried to watch some streams on Twitch but gave up when it looked like nothing was going to happen.

    1. Did the time dilation affect the outcome? For example if the repair timer was in real time but the attackers were doing damage in dilated time that would make a big difference wouldn’t it?

    2. Could a few thousand sub capital ships (Machariels or whatever) do enough damage on their own to destroy the structure or would they need the help of the super caps to pull it off

    3. If Super Capitals are too expensive to risk in combat do they play any useful role in the game? (As a deterrent maybe?)

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @mbp – The repair timer runs in real time, while everything else in the system was running at 10% real time, so while it didn’t make killing the Keepstar impossible, the window for action was effectively much more narrow than it otherwise would have been had everything been running in real time.

    Fighters from the carriers and super carriers, along with the sub cap fleet, could have carried the day easily, but as the fight dragged on the carriers couldn’t reload or launch additional fighters, there were problems jumping replacement sub caps into the battle, and there were problems with the sub caps on the field being able to reload their guns to keep firing. Things fall apart when the server gets that much of a load. Jumping in titans would have been as problematic and likely wouldn’t have changed anything.

    Supers are too expensive to throw away foolishly, though not as much as they once were. A super carrier is about 20 billion ISK equipped, a titan 80-120 billion ISK equipped. Most pilots can probably afford to replace the loss, especially since most of it will be reimbursed by their alliance. So losses are not so bad because of ISK but because of the not-so-quiet super capital arms race going on. Every big alliance in that fight could probably afford to replace all their titans should they lose them, but they take time to build and the loss would put an alliance behind in numbers relative to their neighbors.

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  3. Dinsdale Pirannha

    So tell me, based on the last 3 or 4 MER’s, exactly how many supercaps are goons building every month? If only 4 trillion was allocated towards supercaps, and assuming an average build cost of 60 billion (3:2 ratio of Nyxes to Titans), that means 60-70 are being built every month.

    And unless goons are building the Palatine, I would say 4 trillion is low ball figure.
    The game’s balance is way way out of whack.

    Thanks goons, your winning of the ultimate meta-game, specifically controlling the direction of game development, has had wonderful impact on the game, specifically the PCU and paying accounts.

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Dins – I love this. There is this ongoing narrative by a few angry high sec players that null sec is always given everything they want, as though null sec hasn’t been screaming about Fozzie Sov and citadels all along. Pull the other one.

    Farms and fields, which was being asked for by a lot of people, did seem to accomplish what it set out to do. NCDot and PL no longer have to own literally half of null sec to have enough useful systems to run a rental empire to support themselves. The Imperium no longer needs five, eight, or a dozen regions to have enough decent systems. It is in Delve and has plenty of room to grow in size. Meanwhile, comparing the pre-Phoebe sov map with the current one, there are a clearly more independent sov owning entities in null. You still can’t wander out and take sov as a PvE-only group, but somebody willing to PvP, like people sick of faction warfare… killed by citadels which, I will point out, are not a thing null ever asked for… can find some systems to hold. Ask Kirithi Kodachi, who’s group has some sov up in Cloud Ring now.

    Meanwhile, you’ve been banging the drum and declaring that the PCU will “crater” for a long, long time now. Did I mention it went up in 2017? Yeah, I know, Alpha accounts. But neither you nor I know how much the average Alpha ends up buying. Some are strictly free. It is always the case in a free to play system. But others will spend, buying PLEX to get ISK or skill injectors, or whatever. And they’re still in there supporting the in-game economy. An Alpha player has more impact on the game than no player at all.

    As for what we actually build in Delve, I couldn’t really tell you, other than there is a serious effort to try and build everything. I know moon mining platforms have been high on the priority list, and we keep dropping more big citadels, plus making all the fuel to keep them all going. That is actually a significant chunk. But supers are on the list too. The limiting factor there is most likely the people willing to skill up and invest in one. You need more ISK than I am willing to earn to go there. But capitals are proliferating as well. Dreadnoughts, which insure very well, are considered disposable at this point, something to throw into a fight to shoot a big targets. And faxes, which support the supers, those are everywhere. Even I have one.

    But the real take away from all of this goes back to our old pal Malcanis. No matter what CCP did, no matter what CCP does, older invested players and big organized groups will always benefit more than new players and random solo players. Name a scenario short of banning people for doing well where Goons and PL and NCDot don’t stay on top. It isn’t that CCP favors null sec or Goons, it is that null sec and Goons are positioned to take advantage of any change.

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