Clash of Fleets at H-PA29 in Venal

Saturday saw more than 3,700 ships in a single system engaged in a sprawling fight that went on for over seven hours.  The thing is, there wasn’t any huge objective to be won.  The fight was centered on a Brotherhood of Spacers (B0SS) alliance Fortizar anchored in Venal, and NPC controlled region of null sec.  Fraternity, which controls the regions around it has been pressing into the region which is where a lot of pirate faction missions.

In fact, if you look at the Monthly Economic Report for October, which started reporting on loyalty points, you will see that Venal is at the top of that list.  So it is lucrative NPC space and Fraternity would like to keep others from living there.

So they were set to form up, along with their PAPI ally Pandemic Horde, and commit capitals and battleship doctrines to overwhelm BOSS, which is small relative to either of those groups.  It would be very hard for BOSS to defend against those odds.

New Message from ‘@Gobbins’ (Gobbins [HORDE]) in “pandemic-horde.discord” –

@everyone **PREPING:‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍ MAX DUDES TOMORROW EARLY EUTZ, SAT 16:00 EVE TIME**
Maximum girth full form. Capital move ops are also posted if you want to pre-move your caps.
This time we have ensured that all parties involved are fully organized.

But other groups, such as the Imperium, very much like to see Fraternity and its allies thrown back, the way they have been in Pure Blind in their war against Brave and its coalition.  So it was that I saw on Friday afternoon a ping noting that there might be a big fight on Saturday and we should be on around 17:00 UTC if we wanted to join in.

Having some free time, I showed up and got in the first fleet, led by Asher himself.  We were going to be using a revised version of our war time Sacrilege doctrine, a missile spewing Amarr armor tanked heavy assault cruiser.

He also explained the plan.  Pandemic Horde was going to be there in a Paladin doctrine, which are marauders, an expensive tech II battleship hull.  We were going there to kill paladins knowing we could probably break even on ISK exchange if we traded ten Sacs for each Paladin we killed, and more if we managed to pod the pilots, since the doctrine requires a set of Amulet implants, which can run to near a billion ISK on their own. (Like this pod.)

As third parties, we were going there for kills and were not all that concerned about the objective which was, after all, just an armor timer on a Fortizar on the other side of New Eden.  We figured the attackers would win the timer and we would just be there to make sure the price for that win would be high.

So off we went.  Our fleet filled up quickly and we ended up having three full fleets headed north from Delve.

Sacs on the way

The locals, who were also forming up to resist the Frat/Horde attack, gave us access to their Ansiblex jump gates to help us move through their territory, though the toll on some of their gates seemed a bit high.  We’re spoiled in the Imperium, the land of low fees.

How much to jump through?

It took a while to get all the way up to Venal, even with jump gates.  There is always this criticism of null sec that we can get all the way across New Eden in minutes.  And we can with some planning if the fleet is 50-100 people tops.  Shoving somewhere on the order of a thousand ships through the pipe from Delve to Venal… well, time dilation follows you wherever you go.  We were a constant wave of time dilation as we moved through Fountain, Cloud Ring, into Deklein (and all those familiar systems), and finally to Venal.  There were stops to let people catch up, stops to change the route, stops because the same people in Cloud Ring with that one gate camp dropped bubbles, and more stops to let people congregate when we needed to take a titan bridge.

Sacs waiting on a structure before the next leg of the trip

Some work and coordination was required to get us all up there.

Using a local structure to bridge us forward

It took us well over an hour to make the move, but we arrived just in time.  We were all settling in on the B0SS Fortizar with a little over six minutes left on the clock.

Time to spare before the fight

So there we are on the Fortizar and Asher is giving us our game plan.  We can see the Horde Paladin fleet out there and we’re setting up to go get them, with assignments for tackle and targets and tracking disruptors, and this is all going to be more fun because there is a metaliminal plasma firestorm in the system which, among other things, includes a debuff to turret tracking.

Storm Effects

It also effects missile explosion radius, but that won’t do much to heavy missiles against battleship hulls, but the tracking thing will make us harder to hit, and all the more so when we add our own tracking disruption.

We are primed and ready to go.  The timer has counted down, the hostiles are shooting the fort, the capitals on the hostile Fortizar have sent their fighters to help the structure shoot, we just have to anchor up on Asher and go get some Paladins.  But then something is going on with the hostile capitals.

What is happening off to the right there?

Rather than getting stuck into the Paladins, Asher aligned us towards the hostile capitals and then we were warping into them.

The hostile caps stacked up in bubbles, made so red by the storm

We went in, found a Nyx we could tackle, and started in with the energy neutralizers and missiles and suddenly the hostiles had a scenario they didn’t seem to have anticipated.  We had no capitals of our own, but now we were up close with their caps and they were starting to de-aggress and call in fax support.

So we were in there, holding down first one, then a few supers and blowing up faxes as they arrived.  The tidi by that point was so bad, and we were putting out enough damage because other fleets were on grid with us, that I couldn’t even lock up and shoot some of the faxes before theyd been blow up.  There were over 3,700 people in the system at that point.

Local says 3,713, and Tidi went back to 10% pretty quickly

I still managed to get on 15 of the fac kills, but I saw a number of additional faxes blow up before I could get a shot off.

Meanwhile, the hostile subcaps, who were shooting the B0SS Fortizar were being called to come get us off of the cap fleet, but our dictors were in between us and them dropping bubbles to keep them from being able to warp to us, keeping them out of the equation for a lot longer than we had any right to hope for.

Bubbles on grid keeping us safe

While we had to let the Nyx go because some subcaps eventually leaked through and we had to deal with them, we did manage to grab onto a Hel super carrier and slowly grind it down even as more faxes were coming in, even as some of the caps were jumping out.

Our Hel, up close

We took long enough to kill it that it apparently became a topic on hostile Discord that the Hel was holding out against “900” heavy assault cruisers, a declaration by Norus, the leader of Fraternity.

Statements that did not age well

The Hel died a little while later.  We have the kill mail.

I also liked 0Musky calling us blobbers when their operation was set from the start to get as many of their own caps and battleships on grid to win the battle and teach the locals a lesson.  Can irony be too rich?

During that the word came to us that our bringing the battle to the capitals had drawn away enough firepower from the B0SS Fortizar that it repaired.  The hostiles had lost the objective, and the ISK war was going very much against them, with it looking close to a 4 to 1 ratio in our favor.

At that point it was possible that the battle could have ended.  The objective was secured, and combat after that would have been a bit gratutious.  We could have tethered up and made plans to go home.  We did, in fact, tether up for a short bit.  But we had been promised Paladin kills and were being kind of whiny about not getting any.  So we found some Horde Paladins to tangle with and got the promised kills.

We also got stuck pretty deep into a fight.  While there were only around 3K people in system, that is still a lot of people and the grinding of multiple fleets together commenced.

In the thick of things

The exchange of losses became a lot more even, then weighed against us as many of the hostiles were staged close to hand while our losses ended up back in Delve.  My own ship went up in the middle of the final great subcap scrum and I was left motoring around in my capsule, ignored while there were so many more lucrative targets about.

Capsule in the thick

If there isn’t a rush to get back into the fight, as there was when we were on the defense in Delve back during the war, I tend to try to get my capsule out, even if I don’t have implants, just to deny the hostiles one more insignificant kill.  Also, hanging around meant I got credit for ships I had hit earlier but only blew up after I was unshipped.

I managed to slow boat my way to the edge of the bubble field, past the eerie wrecks of capitals littering the grid, list by the light of the storm and the ongoing explosions.

Dead Minokawa wrecks

I docked up in one of the structures we had access to and jump cloned home.  Silly, but I felt like it was a minor achievement.

By then the fight was almost over.  I had re-shipped back in Delve, but people were kind of tired.  It was past midnight for the Euros and the fleet had run for over 6 hours by that point.  We were done.

The results were still heavily in our favor.  As third parties in a fight like that, we had the luxury of claiming any victory metric we cared to.  As it so happens, we secured the objective and won the ISK war, so came out well no matter what we chose to point at.  The battle report puts our ISK ratio closer to 2 to 1, but it was still quite the win.

Battle Report Header

There are a few variations of battle reports out there and they all seem to have the sides wrong in some way.  I chose the one with the least amount of wrong.  I also grabbed that image not too long after the fight, so another billion ISK of losses has shown up, but it get s the point across.

400 billion is a decent sized fight.  It wouldn’t have ranked very high in the World War Bee battles, but for a peacetime conflict over a minor objective, that is a lot of ISK expended.  Going back to the “blobbing” claim, the defenders did outnumber the attackers, which is never a good sign for the attacking side.  On the other hand, the attackers came with capitals and supers, which should have pushed things their way if things had gone right.

As for lessons being taught, the locals had thrown together a video about the battle even as it was ending.

And, of course, r/eve is alight with all sorts of memes and propaganda about the battle and the choices made by Fraternity and Horde and how they are coping with it.

It was a fun time all the same.  I am glad I had the time to travel up there and take the fight with our fleet.  People will complain about 10% tidi grind fests being literal cancer, and if every fight was like that the game would be in trouble.  But having a fight like that every couple of months… it is good, gets people worked up, and generates a shared experience that we can talk about when we meet up in person.

And, of course, it is nice to have a New Eden experience worth writing about.  It has been kind of quiet for me since the war wrapped up over a year ago.

The only real downside to the whole affair was the Photon UI.  I had it enabled because the finally fixed the Neocom issues and I am getting used to its quirks.  Certainly improved readability on large screens was not on the list of issues for CCP to address.

But in a big fight under heavy tidi parts of the Photo UI become pretty much unusable.  It lags, it breaks, it doesn’t respond.  I had the outstanding calls window open and things like issuing commands to drones didn’t even make it there half the time.  Meanwhile, CCP still believes that it the game is going at 10% then the UI should respond at 10% speed as well, and the Photon UI, in addition to its other sins, really seems to have problems with that.  Overall, I was unhappy with its performance relative to the old UI.  Basically, under tidi, you get all the same old responsiveness issues, plus some new bonus Photon UI exclusive issues.

Oh well.  Maybe CCP will get to that before we have another war.

1 thought on “Clash of Fleets at H-PA29 in Venal

  1. Asher

    Good write up, I was running the old UI, I’m very much looking forward to dual overviews but if it lags that badly… I’m not sure I will use it.

    Like

Voice your opinion... but be nice about it...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s