Author Archives: Wilhelm Arcturus

About Wilhelm Arcturus

I started playing online, multiplayer games in 1986. I expect to get the hang of it any time now.

My Five Books of 2018

A couple of years back I signed up over at GoodReads, a site devoted to books and reading.  I did so less to find new books or interact with others as I did to be able to track what I have read.  As with many other things, I often know that I have read a given book but I can be a bit hazy on when I did.

Anyway, now that I have a timeline of my reading I can now abuse the end of the year summary season here at the blog to recall the better books read.  If you want to see everything I read you can find me over at GoodReads under the usual name of Wilhelm Arcturus.

I used to read a lot more, knocking out a book a week easily at one point.  Life, family, TV, and video games have conspired to drop that number, and I have to make up some of the missing time with audio books in the car.

An odd aside, I had to look back and check which of these books I read on the Kindle and which I listened to as audio books.  One I read on the Kindle I could have sworn I listened to instead.  I suppose there is something to be said when, once done, the impression left by the book seems to be free of the media.

Anyway, I still think I get through a decent number of titles over the course of a given year, even if my taste can be somewhat questionable.  There are some dubious titles on my GoodReads page.

And, because we’re at the end of the year I thought I would pick out my five favorite reads from 2018.

The picks, if you just can’t wait

Five is a good number for such a list.  Three is too few, but when you try to stretch to ten there tends to be a couple of filler items in there that don’t really stand up to their peers.

These are not all new books.  Two are a bit long in the tooth, one is a book that I re-read every so often, and another actually got me to re-read an old title in anticipation.

Why Baseball Matters by Susan Jacoby

Picked up on a whim for a trip back in June and I pretty much finished it at the airport and on the plane out.

I grew up as a baseball fan and somewhere in my drafts folder is an unfinished post about the cultural importance and impact of baseball in the US.  It is the grandfather of sports in the US and had professional leagues back when basketball and football were intramural oddities at a few universities.

But it is also a product of its time, a game with no time limit played too often for many games to feel special. (A baseball season is 162 games and teams can easily play daily for a month at a stretch, while basketball and ice hockey have 82 game seasons and football a mere 16.)  This reflects it coming of age in an era of few competing entertainments and no mass media faster than the telegraph or the daily paper.

The slowness of play, the abundance of options and distractions, the expense of equipment and coaching needed for kids to advance towards serious play, and the 90s, where the big strike and the doping scandals made a mockery of the game, has all sent the baseball into clear decline.

Susan Jacboy has a plan to fix that.  It is a forlorn hope born of the connoisseur (my favorite over-used reason to link to this comic) who believes if you just got into baseball you would appreciate its subtleties and interesting choices, that if you just looked hard enough you would find a world to explore in every pitch.

I appreciated her walk through the history of baseball and felt a kinship with her feelings.  And I agree that some of the things Major League Baseball is trying or has proposed to solve the games problems in the modern age barely add up to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

But since the 90s I have lost my faith in the game and cannot see its decline being halted without radical change.  Baseball needs a new era.  Still, I quite enjoyed the exploring the game and my own feelings for it through this book.  Her passion for the game is genuine and I wouldn’t (and probably couldn’t) do anything to derail it.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

This one is from the same trip as Why Baseball Matters.

The news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide was fresh in the news that week and I realized that, while I sort of knew who he was and recognized his face when it passed by on TV, I didn’t really know anything about him.  So I picked up his first book, which is pretty much the story of his life up to the late 90s.

While some seem to be critical of the fact that it includes sections that were initially done as magazine articles, which does lead to a change in style at times, it is still a good collection that holds together very well.

Restaurants are also an interesting business, as so many people seem to think it ought to be easy, but then so many restaurants fail.  But it still seems to be a thing that people do after they achieve fame and fortune elsewhere.  So people from Scott Adams of Dilbert fame to Willie McCovey, baseball star of my youth, end up in entwined in the business.

I also enjoy reading what goes on behind the scenes in various industries, how things really get done.  I’d read Waiter Rant some years back, a blog cum book, but that focused on the dining room.  Anthony Bourdain brings you into the belly of the beast, where the food gets made, who is likely making your food (Spanish makes up much of the lingua franca in most kitchens), how things go, and how to get a table’s food to all show up at once.

There is a lot off putting in the mix, but that is largely because, as with any human endeavor, it involves people with their own egos sometimes working at cross purposes.

In the end though I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.  And ended feeling I understood just a bit of the mania and demons and passion for food that drove Anthony Bourdain.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

I read this back in the 80s, maybe a year after it came out.  The name Wintermute was already on my brain when I started playing Stellar Emperor back in 1986.  I had an alt with that name for a bit.

Back then, as I used my Apple II and its 1200bps modem to log into an online service, the book seemed like a look into an amazing future.  And, as time moved along, I have been impressed with how prophetic the book was with each re-read.

There are bits that haven’t aged well.  Somehow the Soviet Union was still around, but the fate of the US was a bit of a mystery.   But those things blow past in the vision of a gritty future that feels all too real and a tale told well.  I will be back to re-read it again I am sure.

Grant by Ron Chernow

I bought this for my father after hearing it reviewed, Grant is a hefty tome ringing in at over four times the length of Neuromancer.  But that is the way Ron Chernow rolls.  And before my dad had dug into it I picked up a copy for myself and dove into an exploration of all things Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant is a strange mix of traits who was lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time.  Grant born 20 years earlier or 20 years later would have likely never been heard of.  Instead, despite multiple character flaws, including a social awkwardness that made things like his job as a debt collector nearly impossible to a trusting nature that marked him as a sucker to some and came back to bite him multiple times to his binge alcoholism that haunted his career and forced him to abstain, he rose to lead the Army of the Potomac to victory in the Civil War and was twice president of the United States.

He was a complicated man and the book spends much time exploring his life, behavior, and the stories around him, sorting out the fact from the speculation and the rumors spread by those seeking to rise by bringing him down.

The expanse of the book is almost exhausting, but like a day of hard work and accomplishment, you feel better for having put in the effort.

A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carre

I can be something of a lukewarm fan of Le Carre, and all the more so if we get into the film and television adaptations of his books.  I just made it through the AMC mini-series based on The Little Drummer Girl thinking mostly that it was at least an hour too long and that Michael Shannon could really play a good middle age to older Kurt Vonnegut if somebody wants to do a biopic.

But A Legacy of Spies is something special.  It drags up the events of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and runs it through the post Cold War wringer as loose threads from the original Operation Windfall arise and Peter Guillam is summoned to MI6 as investigators try and tease out what really happened in Berlin some 50 years before.

Knowing the basis of the novel, I read The Spy Who Came in From the Cold first, just to have that set in my mind before I started off on A Legacy of Spies.  I was not disappointed as the new novel explores and brings to light much of what was left out or only hinted at in the original.  The duplicity and hard choices of an older time seem silly and wasteful when trotted out decades after the Berlin Wall has fallen, an not only because the meat of the operation had been hidden all of this time.  Definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of the original book or even the film version, a Richard Burton classic that is an excellent adaptation of the material.

The Other Keepstar Falls in Rage

One one Keepstar awaited in wormhole J115405.  Named “Unassailable Wealth,” the Initiative had been in the night before to get it to the final timer.

Unassailable Wealth waits to be assailed

That was the last big target in the hole known to some as “Rage,” the final loot pinata to smack, and its timer was running down, set to end just after the transition to December 15th on the UTC clock that EVE Online uses.

There was a bit of a warm up a couple of hours before as a Fortizar on grid with the Keepstar had its final timer come up.

Astero with the Fortizar

Above the Fortizar is the Keepstar, below it the planet around which they all had been set.  My alt got out on grid in his Astero to drop a sentry drone in order to get on the kill mail.  I also got out Wilhelm in the Hound he looted to take a few shots as well.

Hound over the Fortizar

The main effort was by the usual ball of Ravens that the Initiative favors for these operations.  The Fortizar, lacking the Arcing Vorton Projector doomsday weapon, just sat there and took the damage until it blew.

The Fortizar erupts in flames

According to the kill mail my Hound actually kept up with individual Ravens as far as damage went, though damage deflected by the damage cap makes that an odd metric to figure.

After that there was a couple of hours off before the big kill.  As the time approached pings went out to alert everybody who wanted to be there for the final fight… if there was to be a fight.  It seemed unlikely that Hard Knocks would show up in force at this point, but complacency on our part might make resistance viable.

For Reavers Thomas Lear came out to FC our Ishtar fleet.  I jumped into my Guardian and, this time, remembered to put the Bouncer II sentry drone I brought along into the drone bay.  I wanted to be able to tag the Keepstar, as last time around it didn’t work out.

The rules for this fight were laid out up front.  This time around the Initiative, which had spent the last year setting up this whole event, was claiming the loot from this Keepstar for itself.  Once it blew everybody else was going to have to get off grid as they would be shooting any outsiders looking to scavenge.

In the Reavers channel this didn’t get much of a response.  It certainly seemed right to me that those who did the bulk of the work reap the rewards.  And let them try to haul stuff out after we were done.  I was there for the spectacle and a couple of kill mails, not some random stuff I would have to worry about taking home.  (I almost never loot after battles.  I don’t even think to do it until somebody mentions it.)

On the main fleet coms however, people were apparently pissing and moaning about getting left out of the sack of the Keepstar.  If there were ever a reason to join a SIG or a squad, it is main fleet coms.

The event itself went down about as expected.  Various fleets showed up, the main one being the ball of Ravens fielded by the Initiative.  They unleashed their barrage of cruise missiles at the Keepstar and, in return, the Keepstar gunner zapped them with the Arcing Vorton Projector whenever it cycled.

The Keepstar reaching out

With a 10 minute recycle time, only two shots were made before the final moment when the Keepstar exploded.

The Keepstar, now brighter than the sun

Then the loot pinata began spewing hangar containers to loot.  At that point the Initiative did something special.  They warped in and formed their logo in brackets on grid.

The Initiative logo in spaceships

For reference, this is their logo on DOTLAN EVE Maps.

INIT info

It is really only the center part of the logo, but it was a nice bit of work.  My screen shot of it isn’t that good, since I was caught unaware and just had to use whatever overview I had to hand to try and see it.  Over at INN their post has a screen shot with just the ships and aimed so the sun is behind the eye of the logo.   Very nice.

It is my understanding, confirmed on NER coms, that on person set that up, making the bookmarks for each ship location, then handed them out before the fleet so everybody could warp to the spot and, tah-dah, logo in space!

At that point all the wise people not in the Initiative warped out and docked up or tethered.  Those foolish enough to ignore the warnings, or unlucky enough to have missed them, were blown up according to the kill board.  More loot for the Initiative.

There are still some more structures to blow up and the Initiative has committed to hitting every last one of them, leaving only after they have all been destroyed.  Much of the rest of the Imperium headed home though.  The big kill mails and epic loot are all gone.  Only die hard structure shooters like Reavers are hanging around for some more kills.

And so it goes.  That post at INN looks a bit at Hard Knocks.  They aren’t imploding or shedding members.  They still have their null sec rental space in Cobalt Edge.  There is a rumor that they are folding into Pandemic Legion and merging their rental space, but there is as yet no substance it.

I suspect that once we have cleared out of JJ115405… nobody in the attacking force wants to keep the place… that Hard Knocks will return.  They will probably set up a more modest holding there.  No Keepstars.  The Keepstars were an extravagance, some bling to show off to the world.  And that is why we ended up there.  Fortizars are cheaper and would suit their needs.

I  do wonder whether CCP might look into the Initiative’s Raven fleet tactics to see if EVE Online players have found yet another hole in the game mechanics that ought to be filled.  What starts as ingenuity tends to become the meta.  We shall see.

PlanetSide Arena

Daybreak said they would be announcing a new game come Thursday morning Pacific time.  And what they announced was PlanetSide Arena.

The word “new” obviously has some sort of alternate definition, because it didn’t look all that new to me on the stream.  It looked pretty much like PlanetSide 2, tired six year old graphics and all.

But then the stream made it clear that it really was PlanetSide 2.  Just PlanetSide 2 merged with just about every common shooter mode ever… including battle royale, because of course… with seasonal battle passes and achievement progression and as many as 500 players in a match.

Meet Battle Modes

Those are all the planned modes anyway.  Season 1 will have just two modes, and I know you can guess one of them without looking:

  • Massive Clash (250 vs. 250 group battle)
  • Battle Royale (Solos and Teams of 3)

So those who picked “PlanetSide 2 Battle Royale” in the pool win.  I would say something about Daybreak jumping on the battle royale bandwagon, but they pretty much started it with H1Z1.  I have my doubts about whether they’ll be able to take the lead with their second go-around.  Fortnite needs to stumble to be assailable.

The stream actually addressed where in the lore PlanetSide Arena occurs, which surprised me with the idea that the game had some sort of lore beyond factions.  Anyway, it takes place several decades after PlanetSide 2 in the timeline, after the war between the three factions led to a chaos where there are no factions.  Convenient… unless you’re into the faction thing.  Then no faction for you I guess.

Of course, the upside of just reworking a game you already have is that the development time is cut down dramatically.  So if you are dying to get your hands on PlanetSide Arena you only have about a month and a half to wait.

January 29, 2019

And, of course, there are pre-orders with special bennies available now.

At least the price is discounted

Oddly, the only place to pre-order seems to be Steam.  There is no direct from Daybreak purchase available.  I guess that means we’ll see how many people end up playing it via Steam’s stats.

Also, no mention of a PlayStation 4 version as yet.

So the revenue scheme here is box sales and season passes I guess.  That is probably not going to play well against Fortnite, which Epic gives away for FREE.

Also missing from the list is any mention of the Daybreak All Access subscription.  You know, that thing that the Daybreak installed base is likely already subscribed to.

The All Access pass is what PlanetSide 2 has largely depended on, which led Daybreak to say that the game was “really struggling” back in late 2015.  Since then the newer games in the stable, H1Z1 and the late Just Survive, have avoided the All Access pass, with H1Z1 even getting its own cash shop currency.  PlanetSide Arena appears to be avoiding the All Access pass as well, which I suspect will limit any halo effect benefits for PlanetSide 2.

I gather that the target audience is people who are not already invested in Daybreak.  Or, at least the installed base is being taken for granted.  That always works out well for companies.

Anyway, this is clearly not my thing.  But it is coming from Daybreak, so its performance does have some impact on a couple of games I do care about.   We shall see where this one goes.

Does this count as PlanetSide 3 from that rumors post?  It hits on a couple of notes, but really isn’t a new game.  Close enough though?

Anyway, this is where I would be linking to other bloggers talking about the first “new” game announcement out of Daybreak since its founding, but there aren’t any yet.  I thought waiting until the next day to post would give me a couple links.  We’ll see.

A Keepstar Waits in the Hole

A Keepstar and a Sotiyo are down in J115405… along with various other smaller structures… but the timers on several more are counting down.

Structures in their final timer… and some mobile depots

The big circles are hostile structures, with each circle divided into thirds, each third representing one of the steps necessary to destroy it.  Each is already past the shield and armor steps, waiting only for the structure timer to arrive.  Over the next five days there will be some more fleets to kill them.  But the big one is coming soon.  The second Keepstar, Unassailable Wealth, is less than a day away.

Soon to be assailed

We got out last night to support the Initiative contest the armor timer.   We got out our Ishtars, and I climbed into my Guardian to fly logi, while our friends in INIT undocked their Raven fleet once more.

Ravens hanging off of the INIT Fortizar

Once more though, no ships undocked to try to fend off the attack.  Instead we were left to dodge the Keepstar defenses, its point defense system, its bomb launcher, and the dreaded doomsday that can reach out and hit even the elusive Raven fleet.

There is just a bright blue spark that appears on the Keepstar structure to let you know the Arcing Vorton Projector firing and the lightning is coming.

The lightning forming on the left side of the structure

Then it arcs out towards its target, bouncing across six more ships before dissipating.  The FC’s Raven was the target, with others eating the rebound.

Ravens exploding after the hit

Fortunately for the attackers, while this weapon pretty much ensures a few subcap kills on each firing, it has a 10 minute cycle time.  We only had to face it twice during the armor timer.

The second firing was just as effective as the first, the FC being the target both times.  The second time the fleet logi had their Typhoon pre-locked and reps running on it.

Armor reps on the Typhoon already

The Typhoon went anyway.

Here comes that lightning again

However, the kill mail showed that the Typhoon wasn’t fit, so an economic victory since it was probably insured.

After that there wasn’t time for the Keepstar to fire again.  The Ravens finished up the armor timer, with our Ishtars adding their bit.  The armor layer was soon burned down and the Keepstar did that transition effect that indicates that the structure timer is up next.

The Keepstar light show

The timer was set for 23 hours from that point, putting the final even at some time just past 00:00 UTC.  We will see if there is any final effort to contest this Keepstar and whether or not it will be anything like the loot pinata of the first.  I am sure somebody is busy tonight delivering 3200 cap boosters to lots of people just to make the loot hunt that much more dramatic.

Traipsing Through the Trollshaws

Having done about all I could do in Evendim… the quest log said I was 588 quests into the game when I wrapped up there… it was time to move on.  At the end of Evendim you get the option to head to Forochel, but I have never been a fan.  Snow zones are always hit or miss with me and I always think of that as “that new place.”

Chasing Legends

Because it actually is a newer place than most in the base game, having shown up in 2008, it not only overlaps in levels with other zones but, as with Evendim, the epic quest line bypasses it.  Since one of my completionist goals for this run at LOTRO is to finished up the epic quest line before the Mines of Moria is unlocked, I had to head to the Trollshaws.

Which isn’t to say I am in love with the Trollshaws either.

As a zone it does have its upside.  To start with Rivendell is at one end, and you need to spend some time there.  It is also big and lush and has some nice lore from the books.

The Three Trolls from The Hobbit

It is also a zone you can actually get lost in.  The woods are dense and hilly and there is a whole series of backwoods tracks that lead all over.  It is a zone where, on returning to it, I keep saying to myself, “Oh yeah, that place!” as I end up following some gully into a new area.

No coffee mug ring on this map

I tend to think of the zone in terms of the road through it, but there are so many places off that main path.

On the flip side, it has some of the more tedious quests in the game.  You move from camp to camp where the prime directive seems to be to slaughter all of the local wildlife.  It is the “bears, boars, wolves” problem over and over, though they also add in deer and various insects.

And, with various game updates over the years they have gotten away from the quest giver handing you quests for the wildlife.  Sort of.  In part of the zone you get the wildlife quests but taking down a bear or wolf or whatever that has a quest ring over its head.  But it can be disconcerting, not to mention immersion breaking, to ride through an area where all the animals have golden halos over their heads.

Are those angel bears?

And it isn’t just the wildlife.  Some more sentient creatures have halos as well.

Does that troll have a quest for me?

But in other parts of the zone it is the same old “I need to fill the larder, so can you kill me some boars, bears, badgers, bobcats, and maybe some giant mosquitoes?” like some zone designer couldn’t make up their mind on which was better, so they threw both out there for you.

The zone also awkwardly overlaps with Evendim.  On a live server, unless you turn off experience, you can get away with completing either the Lone Lands and Evendim or the North Downs and the Trollshaws, but not both pairs.  Once you’re done with Evendim your pretty much primed to just head into the Misty Mountains or Angmar.

But, as I said, if you want the epic story, you need to go to the Trollshaws, so off I went.  You have a task to check out the Ford of Bruinen, though the result you get you probably knew if you read the books.

Why do I want a Ford if I have a horse?

There there is some more running around and a task to seek out the dark places in the zone.  This used to be a fellowship only series of quests.  The epic quest line used to vary, often quite abruptly, between solo and fellowship quests.  But now SSG has smoothed all of that out and there are either solo versions of the instances or special boosts that allow you to go forward solo.  In this case, there was a shimmering elf-stone that would get you through.

It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.

You can only light it up upon entering each of the three little instances you need to find in the zone.  The first is just is near the camp with Elladan, who gives you the quest.  After that it is a little more tricky.  To start with, the quest doesn’t keep track of which of the instances you have done.  They all appear with the ring on them on the map, and the quest tracker points at the nearest one, even if you’ve just done it.  I recall once, back in the day, having logged out mid-quest and then coming back and redoing the same instance.

At least there are trolls to slay.  There is a deed for that.  There are deeds for lots of things.  But as it goes, the deeds are up a notch in numbers again and I wasn’t going to stick around in the zone long enough to finish them.

And the elf-stone has some strange timing on it.  The buff only lasts for ten minutes or so, but then there is a ten minute cool down before you can use it again, during which time you’re sort of hanging in the wind.

I suppose that is the time to go work on the deeds.

But I hung around and waited until the timer ran down, then went into the next instance.  The instances aren’t that difficult… with the elf-stone.  I am pretty sure the elite mobs in there would have done me in quickly enough without it.  But you roll through, get to the deepest part, then light up the other stone… or try to at least… once you find it in your bag.

Maybe it needs a new flint

After the second instance, the third is very close by.  However, you had best be in a hurry because the mobs between you and there are all elite, so you need that elf-stone buff just to get where you need to go.  And then you need it once you arrive.  Fortunately I was fast enough and managed to get on out of the third instance before the elf-stone timer ran out.  And then I just recalled to Ost Guruth in the Lone Lands and took a horse from the stable back up to Elladan.  All that work with the Eglain faction pays off.

After that you’re back on your way to Rivendell again.

The Last Homely House in sight

I seem to recall having to do more in the Trollshaws when it comes to the epic story line.  Something about chasing Gollum around.  But maybe that comes later.

Once in Rivendell, after some discussion, you are likely left with two choices when it comes to the epic story line, Angmar or the Misty Mountains.  I guess I’ll be in time for a white Christmas.

Sotiyo Boom

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, while we were waiting for Fort Knocks to come out for the final timer, we diddled around and pushed a Sotiyo through its armor timer.  That came out just as I got home from work, so I quickly logged in and hopped into one of my ill-gotten loot ships from the Keepstar haul, a Hound that, judging by its name, was one of bombers from the Initiative fleet that night.  No doubt it was dumped to pick up a sweeter ride.

The ride of a barbarian on his way to a sack

I logged on to see that the Sotiyo timer was already paused.

Attack in progress

I didn’t bother to find a fleet or anything.  There did not appear to be any hostiles in the vicinity.  I just warped in at 50km and started orbiting the structure, sending torpedoes down range.

Not that I was making a big dent.  The Initiative was out again in the Raven doctrine spewing missiles from their blob.  The Ravens were packed so tight that you could barely distinguish one from another.

Ravens on the go

Somewhere there is a bomber FC looking at that blob and dreaming of lining up a perfect run.

And as missiles flew, the lights and the logo on the citadel flickered as if with the blows.

The Hard Knocks krab

There were others arrayed about the Sotiyo like myself, singletons who had dropped drones or were launching from a distance, showing a bit of care lest they get caught.  However, nobody was gunning the Sotiyo and no fleets showed up to help defend it.  The damage cut through it, dropping the last 40% in about 10 minutes.  Then it began to brew up.

Those are not fireworks

At least I got on that kill mail.

There was some loot ejected from the structure.  There were some hangar containers strewn about.  But it wasn’t anywhere close to the feeding frenzy of the Keepstar.  I could have grabbed a Catalyst.  A spray of those showed up in space.  But I already had more ships on hand than I could fly.

The lack of threat showed in the cleaning up after the kill.  A Roqual salvaged the wreck of the Sotiyo before I could even get a screen shot.

That isn’t the final target though.  In the picture above you can see a Keepstar.  The second Hard Knocks Keepstar, the one named “Unassailable Wealth.”  That one has also been reinforced.

The count down has begun

We may find that whatever wealth that structure contains is assailable after all.

Meanwhile, this killing of a wormhole Keepstar has made another group nervous it seems.  Nobody wants to host the next loot pinata party I guess.

Fort Knocks Way Down in the Hole

There in J115404 the Keepstar was waiting for us.  The trip into the hole on Saturday was going to pay off.

Fort Knocks over a planet

The Keepstar called Fort Knocks had been initially reinforced by the Initiative.  The whole venture was the culmination of about a year’s planning and logistics and it was came to its culmination last night.  The Initiative had jumped into J115405, the wormhole system colloquially known as “Rage,” taken over the static hole into the system, and reinforced the Keepstar named “Fort Knocks” last week.

Fort Knocks, as noted over at PC Gamer, was the first Keepstar to be brought online in New Eden.  That article will also tell you a bit about Hard Knocks, the alliance that built it.

As noted, once the Initiative launched their plan, bringing out their pre-positioned assets and taking over access to the hole, the Imperium was invited along to participate, and Asher brought the Reavers into the hole on Saturday.

Sunday saw the armor timer for Fort Knocks come and go uncontested.  Hard Knocks gunned the structure, hurling bombs, running the PDS to shake off drones, and zapping those who dared stray too close with the doomsday.  But they didn’t undock a fleet or otherwise put a serious attempt into defense, nor did allies or other wormholers come to help them.

There is a legend that wormholers will band together in the face of outsiders, k-space dwellers, coming in to attack them.  But, then again, Hard Knocks has played the role of wormhole tyrant in the past, so perhaps that sense of unity did not apply to them.

Instead, Hard Knocks looked to be preparing for the end largely by shifting some assets about and by undocking and self-destructing capital ships to collect the insurance before the end.

Not that they were not beyond some hijinks.  Putting capital ships on the undock and self-destructing them was an ongoing temptation for those besieging the system to warp in and take a shot in order to get on the kill mail.  And then the doomsday would fire from the Keepstar and some unfortunate would get to “ride the lightning” for their trouble.

Even Asher lost his Monitor FC ship when he warped our fleet over to a Moros stuck in a bubble after somebody in fleet reported it as being far enough off the Keepstar to be safe.  It was not and Asher got to ride the lightning as well.

That, in a wormhole, is a pretty big pain in the ass.  At least he did not lose his capsule as well, because then you’re in your clone in normal space.  There is no jump cloning to wormholes.  Still, even with a capsule left you pretty much have to fly into the hole the ship you plan to use, as wormhole space isn’t just another system in New Eden.  You can’t just get a ship and fly back.  You have to find the right hole, or series of holes, to go through to get there.  Fortunately, somebody lent him a ship and he was able to arrange to get another one sent in, likely via an alt, so he was back in a Monitor by last night.

Anyway, come last night we were pinged to log on at about 01:00 UTC, or 5pm my local time.  We were forming up for the final timer.  We got into fleet and sorted ourselves out as usual, undocking to hang off the Raitaru and survey the system.  There was about a half an hour left to go before the big event.  Wrecks of capital ships were still lingering on the undock of the Keepstar.

Capital wrecks on the undock

But before that there was a Hard Knocks Sotiyo that had been reinforced.  We flew off to do the armor timer, anchoring up on Asher to hang about avoiding the defenses as we shot the structure.

Cruising around the Sotiyo

We had enough firepower to stop the timer, but not enough to hit the damage cap on the structure, so we were still shooting it when the Keepstar timer hit.  But the Initiative was already on the job and stopped the clock there right away.

Timer paused at Fort Knocks

As expected, the Initiative was out with the structure killing Raven doctrine, a mass of cruise missile spewing battleships trolling at long range and being jumped every so often to avoid bombs.

The Raven blob commeth

They have pretty much perfected this doctrine and have killed structures in the face of titan support without capital ships to back them up.  They shoot and then they scoot as the blob gets booshed along.

The jump effect forming before the fleet

They also had a fleet of torpedo bombers out as well taking shots at the Keepstar, giving enough well handled firepower that the result was never in doubt.  Without a fleet of their own, Hard Knocks could annoy the attackers, unshipping some, sending others back to K-space if they got podded, but could not stop them.

We finished up reffing the Sotiyo and then set on a Raitaru and watched as the circling fleet chewed away at the structure of the Keepstar.  The more damage the citadel received, the more the lights in the hangars, and even the Hard Knocks logo, dimmed and flickered.  A nice effect by CCP.

As the end of the structure grew near, Asher warped us in at 30km to get in some hits so we could get on the kill mail.  However, we were in and out too quickly for my light drones to get in a hit.  I had a sentry drone in my cargo bay for just this situation, but had forgotten to swap it out, making this this third Keepstar kill mail this year I failed to get on because I was in the logi wing.  There was no time to go back as the structure soon began to brew up.

Keepstar Coming Apart

My alt, cloaked up in an Astero 40km off the Keepstar did have a Bouncer sentry drone in his bay, so I was able to launch that and get in some hits, so at least he got on the kill mail in time.

The kill mail is here, and over a thousand people managed to get on it.

And then there was the big boom as the Keepstar blew up, leaving a huge wreck behind.

The remains of the first Keepstar

But that wasn’t all that was left behind.  In normal space, all the stuff in an Upwell structure goes into what is called “asset safety” and is delivered to the nearest low sec station 30 days later, where it can be retrieved for a fee.  This was CCP’s response to years of null sec outposts changing hands, locking people out of their homes and leaving all of their stuff stranded.

In wormhole space however there is no asset safety.  Instead, Upwell structures are giant loot pinatas, and the oldest Keepstar in the game might have been the biggest and richest loot pinata of them all.  When it blew up all of the items people left in hangars was spewed out into space, forming a ball of loot consisting of almost 2,000 hangar containers.

The loot ball with tags on

Each one of those little yellow tags contains what was left in somebody’s hangar.  Each of them is a present in space, waiting to be opened.

A hangar container floating about

Some of those containers held great wealth.  There were dreadnoughts with 10 billion ISK fits.  Huge piles of PI materials.  Officer modules.  Freighters.  Blockade runners and Deep Space Transports.  And there was combat ships galore.

There were also cap boosters.  Somebody wryly seeded many people’s hangars with a single 3200 cap booster, the equivalent of getting coal in your stocking at Christmas.

And so a frenzy of looting began.

Because this was their operation, based on all of their planning and hard work, the Initiative was given exclusive access for the first 30 minutes after the Keepstar blew up.  But there was so much loot on the field, and it kept showing up for quite some time as CCP’s code processed through the hangar of each and every capsuleer who ever left anything in that Keepstar… and some who didn’t, because you can “deliver” things to people in Upwell structures now, which is how Doomchincilla ended up losing so many ships during this event despite being nowhere in the vicinity so far as I know… that there was still a huge pile to sort through when we were given the all clear to join in.

The PL killboard sullied with all those frigates

The code even went a little wonky, throwing out containers around the other Keepstar that were flagged as belonging to LAWN.

What followed can only be described as a sacking of a Keepstar as people filtered through cans, ejecting ships to fly around, grabbing items, and blowing things up they couldn’t carry off.  It was such a crazy event that I would be in favor of foregoing asset safety in null sec if this could be a regular spectacle after every structure kill.

That might get too crazy in normal space where every random outsider could try and show up to claim some loot, leading to even bigger numbers straining nodes during such fights.  In wormhole space the crowd is fairly well constrained.

Of course, we were also all stuck there in wormhole space.  You could grab huge items and haul them off to a local structure, but actually getting stuff out of the system was another matter indeed.  A couple of people in Reavers managed to grab dreadnoughts.  Ratknight1 was the first, picking up a Moros out of a can.  He flew it to the friendly Fortizar, insured it, then undocked it to self-destruct in order to collect the insurance.

Ratknight1’s Moros exploding

I was in time to help out with that, so at least I got on one kill mail this month.  That is all I ask, just to prove I’m still around and playing.

As time went on people went from grabbing all they could to blowing up everything in sight.  A gaggle of Praxis battleships was disgorged from one can close by me, but as I closed in with my pod I couldn’t board any of them as they were all locked up and being shot.

My alt managed to jump into an Ishtar and fly it off, taking out some time to shoot Ratknight1 as well, then docked it up to go out again.  He got a Hound stealth bomber next, allowing him to zip about to check cans… though it was only an afterburner fit, so maybe “zip” isn’t the right word.  But when it became clear that we had reached the time of just blowing stuff up, he just joined in to shoot things.

The pillaging looked set to carry on for quite some time still, but I tired of it once it turned to blowing things up.  I docked back up, leaving the two ships I snagged to inspect later.  I’ll see if there is anything worth stripping off of them then likely insure them and blow them up.

Even as I was logging off there was an Imperium fleet up to get people back to Delve.  But Reavers are hanging around for a bit.  There are still structures to blow up in J115405, like that Sotiyo that is coming out soon, and the other Keepstar looming across the way.  Where there are structures to shoot, Reavers will be there.

Other coverage of the event: