When it comes to life in EVE Online I am a tourist. I have given up most of the ambitions I ever had about being good at anything in game or having some influence or impact. I just log in to experience ops and see things get blown up and following the ongoing narrative that flows through the game.
There are ops that are exciting, and that goes for winning as well as losing. A hard fight where you’re side comes off the worse but still inflicted some damage can feel like a victory. You lost a ship? So what. You’ll lose more if you hang around.
There are ops when you get to blow up big stuff and run away before the locals respond. I can see the allure of whaling and whenever Black Ops calls out for people to join them on a drop I log in if I can.
There are ops that don’t happen. You log in, get in fleet, hang out for a bit, then get told to stand down. Whatever was going to happen didn’t happen. But you get a low effort PAP out of it, so you get something for your time. It is better if you stand down quickly. But I’ve sat on a titan or a black ops for an hour or more, tabbed out and doing something else, waiting for the FC to sing out that it was time to go and not felt mis-used when we have stood down without going. It is the nature of the game. If you want a guarantee of something to shoot at you can always go play World of Tanks.
And then there are ops that make you miserable. I went on one of those earlier this week.
With the destruction of the Keepstars on Tuesday morning, most of the ihubs in Tribute being killed, and Dead Coalition having pretty much wiped out Tenal, focus for the Imperium has started to drift over into the Vale of the Silent, another region held by PanFam.
There was a ping for a very important op at 00:30 EVE time and, given that I was home alone, I figured I would go along. The call was for Eagles, now called Salt Fleet because part of the gimmick to get people into Eagles was the coalition offering up a free Ghostbird SKIN for Eagles and Basilisks, which are both good looking SKINs and which led to the fleet name. I jumped into game, got in my Eagle, and was ready to go.
However we were short of things. Some of them were the usual roles, we needed more boosters and more logi and a couple other roles filled. But there was also a call for people to fly entosis ships. We got the “we’re not going anywhere until we have enough entosis ships” talk, and when they offered to hand out ships for entosis pilots to use, I figured I would step up.
I even double stepped up. I logged my alt in and got him into fleet as well, and got two enotsis fit Drakes to fly. I just had to hand them back at the end of the fleet if they lived.
I hadn’t done entosis in ages, and I couldn’t recall it being very exciting. But I do try to fill roles that the fleet needs, which is why I fly logi most of the time. If I help the fleet undock then all of us get to go out for what might be an adventure.
And we soon undocked, got on the titan, and bridged out to M-OEE8. From there we slipped into low sec, then back into null sec via P3EN-E, which put us into the Vale of the Silent region. There is also a Keepstar in that system, which is clearly on our list of targets.
In the entosis channel we were getting ourselves sorted. I opened up the Google doc with the shared spreadsheet for tracking entosis nodes and put my name in the right column. (Legit spreadsheets in space.) We flew in a few more systems then the FC told the entosis pilots to spread out to the various systems in the constellation. As we grabbed systems and got setup one of the other pilots was called out and told not to entosis. He was not in Goonswarm and this was a defending hack, which means that only those in GSF could participate.
Of course, that meant I couldn’t play either.
Being line members, we are told little to nothing about where we are headed or what the plan is. There are enough spies around that I can see the sense of that. However, if you’re setting up an entosis operation and you know that only people from a specific group can participate, it seems like something you should mention, or at least look into. I mean, I had to trade with the person running the entosis opt. We were all in a channel together and there were not that many of us. A double check to make sure the right people are in the right roles doesn’t seem like a stretch.
Anyway, there would be no entosis lasering for me. I flew both ships to a Fortizar we had dropped in the constellation and tethered up with the other guy to wait for the op to finish.
Things went quickly. Nobody showed up to contest us, so after relatively few nodes the defenders had won and we were done.
Well, we were done with the entosis bit. Since the area was quiet our FC took the Eagles around and began reinforcing various cyno jammers, jump gates, and other structures. Meanwhile, the rest of the entosis ships, a dozen of us all together, tethered up on the Fortizar and sat around waiting.
As I mentioned above, waiting is nothing new. But this was a particularly frustrating wait. I had flown out with the fleet, both main and alt, for a role that I was not able to perform. Once the entosis part of the operation was done our little band was essentially ignored while the rest of the fleet flew around shooting targets and… well… actually doing things. And the number of things to be done was very open ended, so there was no ETA or such, just having to hear over coms that the were warping to another structure for another 20 minute reinforcement shoot.
And so we sat for over two hours. If somebody had said, “Be back in two hours” I would have been good. But no, we had to stay alert and listening to coms to figure out what was going on. This was not helped at my end by it being the hottest day of the year so far (it hit 107, and was still in the high 90s as the sun set), my office being the hottest corner of the house, or the fact that one of the cats ate something they shouldn’t have and started throwing up all over the house. Oh, and the paper towel roll in the kitchen had exactly three sheets left on it and it was the last one we had. Also, nobody else would join up for a Drake conga line while we waited.
So I was salty and boiling, and not necessarily metaphorically, and my patience for being ignored and left to wait for an unspecified time frame was very much non-existent. And I was not necessarily alone in that feeling. The mood in the entosis channel was grim and a couple of people said that they had learned their lesson about volunteering for that. Some people couldn’t stick around and just left.
I considered leaving as well. If the two Drakes had been my ships I might have just blazed a trail for home despite intel reporting a couple of gangs roaming the route back. Two high EHP entosis Drakes with RLMLs and ECM drones would make for some comedy moments if nothing else. Plus they each had a cyno fit, so I could have called in a drop. I knew there was a group on standby just for that.
But these were not my ships. These ships were on loan. And while I could afford to reimburse the person handing them out, that wasn’t the point. On a deployment getting supplied can be a task in and of itself, so handing somebody the ISK doesn’t solve the full replacement problem. Plus you just don’t go throw away ships people lend you. I felt like I had to make a good faith attempt to get them home safely. So I waited, listened to coms, and fumed.
This was the dark time of the op. I couldn’t really stray far from my computer, I couldn’t watch a movie because there was still talking on coms, and a lot of it was from the command channel so being in the no chatter channel wasn’t helping, I was hot, I was bored, and I just wanted to get this whole thing done.
This is where you start questioning why you went on this op, why you are on this deployment, why you stay in your alliance, why you play this objectively unfun game at all. I started planning to head back to Delve, haul the remains of my stuff to low sec… a process I started back in late 2017 when I was bored with the game… and just quit. Fuck this game.
I tabbed out and played some RimWorld while I listened to the ongoing chatter as the rest of thee fleet moved from target to target, reinforcing various NC/PL structures so they couldn’t unanchor them and carry them off. There were several fleets out doing this, including Zungen’s roaming fleet of Leshak battleships.
Eventually the FC called out that there were only three more targets before the fleet would head home, then two, then one, then, at last, the entosis crew was told to wake up and given a destination at which to meet up with the fleet.
Having something to do made me feel a bit better right away. I was still surly, but could feel it ebbing away with activity. We met up with the fleet on a gate and carried on with it. The FC said we had a ride home waiting for us, that we just had to get through a couple of systems and a titan would be waiting to send us home.
My annoyance was peaked just a bit as we moved towards our ride. We had to pass through one bubbled gate, and as we landed 80km off the of it the FC chided us to hurry, to turn on prop mods and get to the gate.
Of course the entosis Drakes, the slowest ships in the fleet, had no prob mods fit. We were going to sail leisurely through the bubbles no matter what the FC said, though at least somebody reminded him that we were not lagging behind on purpose.
The titan was in the next system. We were bridged back onto the Keepstar where we started. I docked up, contracted both Drakes back to the person who lent them out, and logged off. Then I went to the store to buy more paper towels.
I was back by the next day though. There are still more things to blow up in Tribute.
And there are targets in the Vale of the Silent now as well. That defensive entosis effort was to keep the ihub in P3EN-E in GSF hands. There is a Keepstar in that system, and without an ihub in their possession the locals cannot put up a cyno jammer to keep our capitals out. I imagine that we will be blowing that up some day soon.
And so it goes. I got through my black moment and carried on, still keen enough to see things through another chapter in the ongoing story that is EVE Online. Even bad moments make for tales once they are in the past.
But I am still going to sit on my hands and remain silent the next time they need volunteers for entosis operations. Fuck that noise.