Imperium Ignorance Saves the CO2 Keepstar in DW-T2I

After laying down a Keepstar in Cloud Ring last week, the Imperium went straight to work on Circle of Two, reinforcing their Keepstar in DW-T2I the next day.  The Imperium staged in Cloud Ring meant that most of Fade was in capital range, if those capitals took the gate between the two regions.

Fade Map with Locations noted

With the Keepstar in DW-T2I reinforced, the next big even was set to be the armor timer.  To destroy a fueled citadel you have to go through three battles.  The first is the shield layer.  You can attack at any time and if you get the citadel’s shields down to zero, a timer comes up.  When that timer finally counts down the citadel goes into a 15 minute repair cycle.  You have to form up and shoot it again, this time shooting its armor layer down to zero.  By applying enough damage you can stop the repair cycle and get through the the final timer.  When that comes up you do the same thing again, only shooting away the structure.  If you succeed, the citadel blows up.  If you fail, you get to start all over again.

So it was the second round, the armor timer, that came up yesterday.  It was set to hit at a little after 19:00 EVE Online time, which is UTC.  However, because fleets had to move and get in position, the call to form up came a good four hours before then.

That was before I got out of bed here on the west coast.  I turned on my computer to find fleets already forming and heading out from Delve.  But that was okay.  I wasn’t interested in heading out with main fleet for the long drive there and back to visit CO2.  I hung around waiting for something to form up in Pure Blind.

And I was rewarded for waiting with a fleet ping from Dabigredboat.

Some might not consider that a reward.  Boat can be an acquired taste.  But he works hard, gets you in the action, and tells you what is going on.  Plus, he was handing out free ships.  We were going to head out in Tengus to snipe targets of opportunity and run down disconnects.  I was happy enough to be in a Tengu again that I bought the snappy new Ghostbird SKIN for it.

55 PLEX well spent to my mind

Meanwhile I already had an alt online in a stealth bomber in DW-T2I to watch what was happening with the Keepstar and the system in general.  CO2 had been busy.  Both of the gates into the system were heavily bubbled, so any fleet trying to gate in to contest the timer would have to get past that.

The P-33KR Gate

You can just barely see the Keepstar in the background of that screen shot, through the dense layer of bubbles laid about the gate.  The array of bubbles was big enough that if I pulled back to get them all in the screen shot, the gate and the small bubbles around it become difficult to see.

The same gate from a distance

Everything seemed to be coming together for a big fight.  While Boat was arranging a black ops bridge up to DW-T2I my alt sat and watched CO2’s allies start to show up.  Darkness and their coalition brought a Tempest Fleet Issue fleet.

Darkness in a ball

Ranger Regiment brought an Ishtar fleet.  NCDot brought a Machariel and a Cerberus fleet.  CO2 undocked a fleet of Megathrons.  And capitals began to form up about the Keepstar.

Boat got us a bridge into system and we went off to safe spots to cloak up and wait for something to do.

Tengus on the way

In system Boat was keeping us up to date about what was going on while also looking for something to shoot.  We went and tried to pick off some transports that were parked near the O-CNPR gate.  We didn’t get a kill, but we scared them off at least.

Then Boat said we were going to go try and shoot the cyno jammer in system.

This was the first of many times I would hear the words “cyno jammer” during the op.

Boat explained that the previous day and evening the Imperium spent time putting up POS towers on every free moon and reinforcing the towers that CO2 or anybody else had deployed in the region.  This was to keep a cyno jammers from being deployed.  A cyno is a beacon which lets ships with jump drives travel to it.  You need a cyno lit in a system in order to jump into it.

A cyno jammer, as you might imagine, blocks cynos from being lit.  The ones on a POS jam the whole system, and CO2 had one in DW-T2I.

(Cyno jammers do not block covert cynos, which only black ops capable ships may use, such as our Tengus, which is how we got into the system.)

So Boat warped us over to the POS with the cyno jammer and had us start shooting it.  Very shortly a Minokawa force auxiliary logged on just outside the POS, close to the cyno jammer, and started to repair it.  CO2 had prepared for an attack on the jammer and, later, more Minokawas were spotted on the POS.  The Minokawa was repairing faster than we could inflict damage, so Boat warped us off and we went to our safe spots again.

As we sat around I turned up the volume on the INN stream of the event and heard Boat talking about the situation.  There, and on our own coms later, he explained that somebody running the preparatory ops believed that cyno jammers would not function on reinforced POSes.

This turned out to be a fairly wide-spread belief.  Progodlegend, on the same stream, said that they had just done the reinforce thing to Fraternity recently.  However, it appears that Fraternity just didn’t try anchoring a cyno jammer on a reinforced POS, no doubt because they believed the same thing.

GigX however, knew better it seems.

If we had known some simple contingencies could have been put in place, like leaving behind some logged off dreadnoughts to knock out the cyno jammer quickly to let fleets start pilling in.  But we didn’t so we were stuck.

That left the only way in to the system for the converging Imperium fleets… with more capitals on the way than the defenders had ships on hand… with one way into the system; through the O-CNPR gate.  But, as I mentioned, that gate was heavily bubbled.

The O-CNPR Gate

And it wasn’t just heavily bubbled.  It was also heavily defended.  The direction scan of the vicinity of the gate showed the following:

O-CNPR Gate DScan

Yes, you cannot possible read that unless you click on it.  But among the things on the list were 425 battleships, 124 super carriers, 35 carriers, 683 fighters from the carriers and super carriers, 504 drones from various ships, and a titan.

That titan, just sitting in a bubble waiting to boson somebody

So while it was possible that the Imperium could have thrown everything through the gate and eventually muscled past the defenses, it was going to be a slog.  Defending on a bubbled gate like that is referred to as “water boarding,” because it is torture that the attackers cannot escape.  With more bubbles no doubt set to be deployed and inderdictors on the field, a hostile fleet could be kept writhing in that mess for hours.  Certainly they could be held in check until the repair cycle on the Keepstar finished up.

Instead everybody turned around and went home.

That was it.  GigX won the day and saved his Keepstar.

As far as I can tell the biggest fight in the whole event was a smart bombing drop by NCDot on an Imperium Jackdaw fleet.  They did kill a lot of ships, 64 according to the battle report.  However, they lost 20 of the black ops battleships they used, destroyed by their own fleet’s smart bombs, which left the cost of the operation at roughly ten times the ISK of the hostiles they destroyed.  Not a good trade.

Battle Report Header from the Black Ops Drop

That was fine for everybody else.  However those of us in Boat’s fleet were still in the system and he was on the INN stream talking about events as they unfolded.  However, the stream wrapped up pretty quickly once it was announced that the Imperium was not going to show up.

Boat did not forget about us, though he forgot about his titan in the super fleet for a bit and almost got left behind.  He got a black ops battleship in to send us all back to Pure Blind, staying behind to cover two people who had gone AFK long after some FCs would have left them to their fate.  I got one last look at the Keepstar before we bridged out.

Still 35 minutes left on the clock

I was glad again to not have schleped all the way up from Delve in a Baltec fleet only to have to turn around and go home again.  But that was still shorter than having a fight before the return trip, so a bunch of people got some of their day back.

The Mittani held the weekly Fireside Chat on coms where he explained what went wrong and how we were going to go back to doing things the old fashioned way, grinding and suppressing the region until CO2  retreats.

Not our most brilliant hour.  Reddit will be filled with comments about Goons being dumb and not knowing POS mechanics for a while.

I guess we know the answer

But everybody knows about that POS mechanic now for sure, so if if anybody else falls for it… well, more of the same on Reddit I suppose.

So the war goes on.  We still have a Keepstar of our own on the border of Fade and SIG and Squads are still roaming north from Pure Blind.  The fun is not over, but it may be a while before we pave our way to the Keepstar to do anything more than keep it reinforced.  I suspect we’ll keep reinforcing it to ensure that CO2 can’t pack it up and move away.

Meanwhile there was no saving the TEST Keepstar down in 4-GB14 in Immensea.  They couldn’t even use GigX’s cynojammer trick since hostiles had already grabbed the ihub for the system, and if you don’t own the ihub you can’t setup a cynojammer.  And so that Keepstar died.  It wasn’t their capital Keepstar, but losing one hurts no matter what.

And then there was the Provi Bloc Keepstar, anchored down in 9UY4-H, which went online successfully.  This event also involved a cyno jammer, that being the EVE Online word of the day.  Hostiles sacrificed dreads to incapacitate it, but Provi just finished it off and anchored a fresh one, leaving the attackers without an easy way in.  Even being able get the cyno jammer offline doesn’t mean you’re good to go.

[Update: Or maybe Provi repaired the jammer. I’ve heard both stories now.]

So it was quite a day for null sec Keepstars, with one successfully defended, one destroyed, and a new one online.  And we all know just a bit more about POS mechanics, just in time for them to go away at some point in the near future.

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