Ranger Gama was back again with another frigate race for Reavers. You may (but most likely do not) recall the race I wrote about back in December that had us racing Daredevils about the north. That was enough fun that Ranger has made it a semi-regular thing in Reavers. There was a second race a few months back that I missed, but I was around this weekend for the third one.
As has been the case in the past, Ranger Gama wouldn’t tell us where we would be headed in advance, nor what we would be flying, aside from the fact that he figured some of us might need to train up the skill.
That prompted me to see if there was any frigate that I could not fly. Aside from the new Triglavian frigate, the Damavik, I seemed to be covered. But if I had had to guess, I would have said the Venture was a likely candidate, being a mining frigate. And, sure enough, when the time came Ranger Gama had some specially fit Ventures for us.
Ranger only had a few to hand out, so only the first 9 people who joined fleet were going to get one, which led to me hitting refresh on the fleet finder until his fleet advert popped up, at which point I joined (followed shortly by a couple other people) before the ping for the fleet was even sent out. The fleet had to be disbanded until the ping, at which point people piled back in.
There were more people than frigates, but the fit was simple and cheap, so a couple people were allowed to buy their own in order to join. As you can see from my eventual kill mail (we’ll get to that) it just fit a pair of mining lasers, a festival launcher, an MWD, an AB, a survey scanner, and a Nanofiber in the low slot. We did get rigs to let us warp faster, so at least we had some speed.
There were questions about what we were allowed to do. Not allowed was changing the fit. Everybody had to race with the fit provided, though a couple of people felt that meant they could add some drones. But otherwise people were allowed to run with implants if they so desired and take any route or mode or transportation they wished, so long as they stayed in their Venture. We were then given the route and were sent on our way.
We started in 1DQ1-A, the capital of the Imperium, and our first waypoint was HY-RWO in Catch. Most people headed straight down the most direct path, but four of us, myself included, got out GARPA to check the local jump bridge network, and turned the other direction to catch a jump bridge that shaved nearly a dozen gates off the route. That put the four of us, Sicarius Bile, Grodd Gandar, Zarakik, and myself, way out in front of the pack. In that group of four I was the second through the jump bridge.
Part of the idea of the race is that hostiles along the way will cause trouble for the leaders who may (or may not) choose to share intel on what is happening. However, Saturday night in Catch seemed to be pretty quiet. TEST and their allies in the Legacy Coalition were not out roaming their space along our route, so the four of use made it to U-QVWD without incident.
Sicarius Bile got there first, and I jumped into the system just after. I waited until he said he was on the TEST Keepstar in the system before warping to him and then moving off to pull distance while staying on grid. Since grids… what is essentially the local bit of space where you can see other players and structures… are pretty huge now thanks to citadels, there is a lot of room to work with.
Nobody came out to molest us however. I did see that there were a couple of player corpses on the undock of the Keepstar, which I suggested ought to fetch a prize bonus if collected (which somebody then did, because of course they would) but otherwise not much happened.
As we were winding down our five minutes on the Keepstar those who did not take the jump bridge began to arrive. Asher seemed to be at the back of the pack, but unperturbed, with a calm in his voice, which made people suspect that he had a plan.
Then the early four headed out for the loop around TEST space. During that run the lineup of the first four changed as Zarakik passed me. I suspect that he might have opted for the warp speed implants. But later he said that he was physically close to the London data center where the EVE Online servers are, giving him a consistent 7ms ping, which basically allowed him to load system faster than I could, eight time zones away from London, allowing him a small but tangible head start through each gate.
We started arriving back at the Keepstar for our second five minute stay on grid just as the last of the second group was leaving after their first. Somebody in the second group tried to use the drones they packed to thin out the pack, but that did not work out.
I made a bookmark on the first stay so was able to warp straight in and start my five minute timer. Again, there was little to remark on during our stay. An interceptor undocked, but didn’t seem to have any use for us. We speculated what they might be saying on their intel channel about a small gang of mining frigates hanging out around their Keepstar, but whatever it was, nobody came to get us.
So after our five minutes elapsed, we headed out for the final waypoint, Sicarius Bile in the lead, Zarakik next, and myself and Grodd Gandar close behind, smug with the distance of our lead.
And then we all died in SV5-8N, just one gate shy of the finish line. Brave had a gate camp with drag bubbles up on the HED-GP gate. Sicarius Bile died first and told us about the gate camp. Then we proceeded to pile on and die, one by one, until eight of us were down.
We didn’t all just bumble in with a direct warp. I, like most of the later group, tried to find a bounce point which might bring me in behind the camp and let me get to the gate without getting caught. But they had four drag bubbles up arrayed about the gate so that there was no joy on that front.
That left Asher Elias, Locke Erasmus, Elisha Okaski, and Boris Agnon (who got away in his pod) still in the race. Back in 1DQ1-A I asked if I refit a Venture if I could just race to HED-GP, but the ruling came back that I would need run the whole route again for it to count. Given that the alternate route to HED-GP was another 34 gates, I didn’t think it was worth the effort.
It got quiet on coms as those left considered their options. A long diversion from the easy path seemed to be the choice. And then Asher called out that he had made it, long before he could have run the full way around.
He told us that he looked at the killmails that we had linked and started convo’ing the FC of the gate camp to bribe him to be let through. As it turned out the FC just wanted Asher to bring a fight, and since Saturday Night Swarm was starting in HED-GP in just a bit… that was why it was the end point of the race… he was able to offer that up. So they let him through and he won.
We asked what other plans he might of had, since he seemed to linger behind as the race started, so there was speculation that he might have been looking for an opportune wormhole to get an edge. However, it came out that he convo’d TEST (and former GSF) FC Vily to ask him to set Asher blue to TEST so he could use TEST jump bridges. Vily told him he couldn’t do that himself, but would try to find somebody who could. It looked like Vily was good to his word and actually did get Asher set blue, but nobody got back to Asher so he ended up not using the jump bridge network.
Then after a time, Locke and Elisha made it to HED-GP via the long route and we had out winner. The prize pool of 1.5 billion ISK was divided up, with 50% slated for the winner, 30% for second place, 15% for third, and 5% set aside for the first person to arrive in a pod. Those finishing the race were:
- Asher Elias
- Locke Erasmus
- Elisha Okaski
Boris Agnon opted not to take the long way around in his pod, so the 5% for that was rolled over into the prize pool for the next race, along with Elisha’s prize money at his insistence.
And so the third Reavers frigate race ended, with most of us dying quickly at the gate camp in SV5-8N. Brave popped me so fast I did not have a chance to launch fireworks at them. Somebody had enough time to grab a direction scan of the camp, but that was about it.
Despite not getting a prize I ended up 103,545.20 ISK ahead for the evening, that being the payout for losing an uninsured Venture. I went with a clean pod, so losing that cost me nothing.
There was some talk as to what else we could have done with the race. Since we were in mining frigates it was suggested that filling our ore holds ought to be a requirement… something Locke said he did anyway… but as not everybody had mining skills (the advent of skill extractors meant a lot of combat pilots ripped out the mining skills they trained as newbies back in the day) that was set aside.
Ranger Gama has promised to hold another race in the future. We will have to see how that plays out and what surprises he comes up with.