Category Archives: EVE Online

The YC118.6 Release in New Eden

It is now possible to reprocess Rorquals and Titans in Citadels.

YC118.6 Patch Notes

Bridge burning rage quit capabilities now fully enabled for titan pilots!

Time for another monthly EVE Online patch update sans code name.  We did get a real name worthy update back in April with the Citadel expansion, but the May patch update was thin enough that I didn’t even bother with a post about it. (Though, as always, there was a theme song for the release.)

This month however, the patch notes go on and on.  Some new things along with lots of fixes.

First, and foremost there is this item:

  • The number of possible overview tabs has been increased from 5 to 8

More overview tabs is a boon for me at least.  This is likely to have the most immediate impact on me in the game.

Also high on the list of stuff is the Serpentis Event, Shadow of the Serpent, which goes live with today’s update, and which should be plastered all over the UI in various places just to make sure everybody knows about it.

Serpentis Menace

Serpentis Menace

Among the new items coming with the event are three Serpentis capital ships, a dreadnought, a supercarrier, and a titan, plus a whole new set of faction implants.

Drugs are now legal in New Eden.  The space war on drugs having be declared futile and a waste of ISK, CONCORD will no longer confiscate your combat boosting drugs when you fly through the space they nominally control.

Choose your poison...

Choose your poison…

I’m more of a Quafe Zero fan myself, though living in the back of their warehouse for the last few months might have influenced that.

As I noted last week, CCP is removing the recurring opportunity daily quest and its 10K skill point reward.  No more Thrill of the Hunt as of today.  On the other CCP has tried its hand again at the New Player Experience, making the following changes:

  • Opportunities have been revamped, rewritten, and reordered.
  • Implemented ISK rewards for completing opportunities.
  • The Opportunities window and icons have been redesigned.
  • Starter system NPCs have been rebalanced:
    • Greatly increased hit points
    • Improved loot tables to better fit opportunities
    • Increased number of NPCs in starter system sites
  • Players who log out of the game while still being in the starting site will now log back into the site.
  • Reduced the cycle time and mining output of Civilian Miners.

That isn’t exactly the sweeping changes alluded to in the Fanfest keynote back in April.  Then again, CCP has been working to find a decent NPE for the entire life of the game.  What I faced back in 2006 is arguably better than the opportunities system that was in place up until today, so maybe they’re stepping in the right direction this time.  One can always hope.

Then there is one for our logistics people… logistics by the actual, real world definition and not the CCP “repair, let’s call that logistics” view of things… that will make their lives better.

  • It’s now possible to fit multiple repackaged ships at a time.

Bulk fitting of ships.  Being able to fit from a saved fitting was huge, but for our importers who haul in dozens of ships and have to fit them out one by one still, I expect that this will be a big quality of life improvement.  Also, preparing for Burn Amarr/Burn Jita just got a lot easier.

There have been a number of graphical updates.  Jump gates got the physically based rendering treatment, so now Amarr gates will be just as shiny and gold as some of their ships. (And, is it just me, or does it look like some of those Amarr gates were made out of Apocalypse hulls?)

The tactical overview will now give more details about items when you hover over them and a vector line for your own ship.  There is a new camera view to “give a more cinematic view of docking and undocking” from stations and citadels.  When you are docked up, there is a new lighting scheme (DirectX 11 only.)  And there are a host of new effects including black ops cynos get their own new look.

Cyno comparison

Cyno comparison – Current and new Black Ops

Then there is a long list of items that, to me, basically add up to “fixing stuff from the Citadel expansion” that address carriers, fighters, citadels, and some more of the oddities and issues found with them over the last two months.  As a subcap line pilot, most of that is over my head, though I think, if I read things correctly, that Svipul pilots won’t be calling insta-locking carriers over powered anymore.

I am sure there is more to it than that, but that is all I am going to try to summarize.  For those looking to delve through the data themselves, there are the YC118.6 Patch Notes and the June 28, 2016 Updates page as starting points, along with CCP Seagull’s Producer’s Update video.

There is also the feature tour video for the update:

And, of course, there is the update’s theme, a fast yet soothing piece, available over at SoundCloud for your listening and downloading pleasure.

The whole thing is reported as live on the servers now, so let the comedy commence.

Foothold in Pure Blind, Path to the Future

Summer has arrived! Following the closing of World War Bee, the north continues to be quite active…

Updates Blog, June 20-26 Summary Post Opening

I am still not convinced that one side in a war, much less those calling things safely from the sidelines, can declare a war is done and pretend that ongoing fighting is something else entirely. (That said, I am happy to see the return of Updates Blog activity.)

Perhaps one might say that the operation, styled as “World War Bee” by one side, is over?  Some of us in the north have been fighting since before that name was even a thing, and we carry on fighting now that the operation has been unilaterally declared done.  Certainly plenty of individuals have said they are done with the war, but some of the same old names have carried on since January.

The again, we haven’t been doing ourselves any favors when it comes to reminding people that the war is still ongoing and that we form up every night.  The Mittani dot Com, or however you’re supposed to write that out (I usually just refer to them as TMC), has barely made a passing reference to the war in the last few weeks, with the last actual post about the war being Matterall’s article way back on the third of June.  Some organ of the state we have there.

TMC seems far more focused on its streaming channel.  Even there, the Meta Show this past weekend was more focused on TMC’s ArcheAge promotion than anything in New Eden.

Of course the flip side of that is, if some of our foes wish to declare the war over and move off to other places, that certainly seems to be to our benefit.  Maybe letting the war be “over,” for whatever definition of over one might care to choose, is a better plan.

And on the “over” front, Pandemic Legion has been reported to be pulling out of Saranen in what one wag over the weekend referred to as the “PLExit.”

The most common response to this pull out that I have seen is that PL always holes up some place to prepare for the Alliance Tournament.  Of course the dates for that were just announced, putting the whole thing out in November.  Does PL really go dormant for a third of the year over an event that requires maybe 50 people tops out of an alliance of more than 2,000 characters?

Anyway, war or not, tournament or not, the pressure on Saranen has relaxed noticeably, leading to GSF taking a system in Pure Blind over the weekend.

93PI-4 is on the other side of Saranen’s gate to null sec, and was once PL’s base of operations.  Now it is in Imperium hands, the station, ihub, and TCU having been taken and held.

Close to Saranen

Close to Saranen

A small start.  We shall see if it develops further.  NCDot is still in the neighborhood and we continue to fight them on a nightly basis.

Meanwhile, in another corner of Pure Blind, Imperium alliance LAWN, whose numbers were cut in half recently when the corporation The Graduates moved over to The Initiative, taking 368 characters with them, still managed to find the wherewithal to take not just one system, but a whole constellation in the region.

LAWN's 300 hold this

LAWN’s 300 hold this currently

Dare we draw hope from these minor gains?

I doubt we will have the forces to reconquer even half of the space we lost over the last few months, and all the more so if we plan to do it the hard way.  I have said in the past that I am not a fan of The Mittani’s book of grudges, where he has declared we will seek revenge on every last group who fought against us.  That isn’t practical, and even the new occupants of our space, who complain loudly and at length when called the CFC 2.0, are still blue-ish to each other.  They are okay fighting each other, but territory is inviolate, indicating that the age of coalitions and agreements is far from gone.  Different, but not so different.

There will have to be some coming to terms with the new state of affairs in the north, and we will have to have the flexibility to make new agreements if we can.  We are going to want some territory back, one way or another.  The only group that is completely beyond the pale is Circle of Two.  I would personally endorse any agreement or alliance that allowed us to send them packing after their betrayal.  I would ally with TEST or anybody else and forswear any claim on Deklein to take Tribute.  But that might just be me.

And any of that is all out in the future.  Nobody is going to deal with us because we captured a system or a constellation.  So we form up every night to press forward.  The war still goes on for us.

Thrill of the Hunt Not Thrilling Enough, Being Removed from New Eden

About a month ago I posted about how CCP had added what they called a “recurring opportunity” to EVE Online in the for of a daily quest called “The Thrill of the Hunt.”  All you had to do was undock and blow up a single NPC ship and you would be rewarded with 10,000 skill points.

The offer...

The offer…

The plan seemed to be to entice more people to log in, to get more people to undock, and to provide a reward that would be significant for newer players.

The move was controversial… though, I say this in the context of EVE Online, where some pretty trivial stuff seems to get people inordinately worked up on a regular basis… with people angry about other people getting free skill points, about the skill point reward being too much, or not enough, and about the mere idea of introducing anything that looked like a daily quest into the game because then we will all be “forced” to go do it.

With nearly 160 million skill points in the bag already, I wasn’t dying to undock my main just to get another 10K.  But I played around with a couple of alt characters.  On my main account I ran one out daily to see if just that 10K daily feed would get me anywhere useful.  On my alt account I switched the training queue from my main alt… sitting at 115 million skill points and training level V skills just because… to a new character to see if that added 10K would be worthwhile.

I gave up pretty quickly on the character without a skill queue… 10K a day is like the skill queue running at 20% of normal speed, which is to say very slowly… but kept logging in with the other, running a level 1 mission daily to get that kill and earn a bit of ISK.  Getting what adds up to about 5 hours of free training a day… or a skill injector every 50 days… did make a noticeable difference in the skill climb from new player into being able to do something.

In a game that puts you in space and then makes you wait while skills train almost immediately, being able to dump 10K SP into a new skill, bumping it up to level II or III right then, can be quite the boon.

Apply skill points now

Apply skill points now

However nice that might be for new players, or the obsessives with alts like myself, it became clear yesterday that new players were not the goal here.  Getting more people to log in was the goal, as noted in this post by CCP Rise:

I’m here to let you know that on Tuesday, in the 118.6 release, we are planning to remove the recurring opportunity “Thrill of the Hunt”.

Our hope in releasing this feature was to gain insight on how direct, daily rewards might effect and improve engagement in EVE. I can’t go into too much detail about results but I thought you guys might like to know a bit about what did happen after it launched. The biggest conclusions we can draw so far (though we are still gathering and analyzing data) are that recurring opportunities did have a significant effect on player activity in game. We saw a pretty big bump in the share of folks heading out to kill something each day, and we heard some feedback that this in turn led to some pretty funny situations (read: kills). On the other hand, we saw very little change in login behavior, i.e. if you weren’t planning to log on anyway, the 10,000 free SP boost wasn’t really going to change your mind. This is really important for us and by collecting solid data with a fast and simple feature like recurring opportunities we will be able to make better decisions as we work on larger things in the future, such as the Shadow of the Serpent event, which begins on Tuesday in the 118.6 release.

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to talk with us about the feature, both online and in person at Fanfest. While there were certainly concerns from you guys, the conversation stayed mature and productive which is fantastic for us and we really appreciate it.

Basically, nobody logs in just to get the 10K SP, so CCP is killing the feature.

I cannot say that I will miss it personally.  I’ll just stop working that character as diligently, since it will go back to being easier to just setup a long skill queue and come back in a few months.

But I am a little disappointed that the sole metric that mattered to CCP was people logging in, that no other benefit was deemed to be worth the effort.  As I wrote above, for me playing a new character with the default set of skills trained, having that 10K boost was an almost immediate thrill.

But I have so many skills trained on my main that I might also be a bit more aware of all the skills I didn’t have.

Anyway, you have until the patch deployment on Tuesday to collect your daily 10K.  That is an extra 40K SP just waiting for you.

Thrasher Holocaust

There was the possibility of a Naga fleet last night.

Asher’s pre-op ping said that Nagas or Hurricanes would be the likely ships for the 02:00 fleet.  Having secured a few Nagas, I was up for that.  Also, Asher had actually stopped by and left a comment on the blog, which I figured was a sign that I ought to log in. (Maybe FC ships will be a topic on his next podcast.)

I was on early, in my Naga, and ready to go.  Theoretically the 02:00 fleet should start forming up before that time, but things were not running to that plan, so I hung out in the station, refreshed the fleet finder window every so often, and watched the in-station ads flash past.

It is bad enough they are hanging out on the undock, but now they're in the station...

It was bad enough when they were just on the undock, but now they’re in the station…

I was also on voice coms, but forgot to actually turn on my headset, so I missed whatever pre-fleet banter might have been going on.

Eventually the ping went out, the fleet went up, and we all started to pile in.  There was an immediate din on voice coms with people asking, “Canes?”  “Nagas?” “Canes!” “Nagas!” in order to figure out, or influence, the doctrine choice for the evening.

The choice, given the turn out and what the opposition was up to, looked to be leaning towards Nagas.  The main question was whether or not enough Nagas were available for the fleet.  There were only five up on contract along with some hulls on the market that could potentially be fitted out.  As people worked on that Asher asked people to get into a Naga if they had one

The Naga count turned out to be low, so those of us who had them had to put them away for another day.  Instead of Nagas… or Hurricanes… the fleet doctrine for the night was going to be Thrashers.  The Thrasher was the original Minmatar destroyer and is also the basis for the Sabre interdictor, a common sight in null sec.

Since Thrashers are not an official doctrine, this was going to be a free handout fleet where we would all be given a pre-fit ship.  This led to the dynamics of Asher trying to get a few people to hand out ships for him so he wouldn’t have a hundred trade windows open up on him.  Then we had to open trades with the people who stepped in to do this, though because there is always somebody who isn’t listening, not everybody who X’d up in fleet chat actually had ships to give out.  So Asher had to drag the correct names into fleet chat, at which we probably all mobbed the first guy on the list judging from his comments on voice coms.

Eventually everybody who was paying attention had a Thrasher.  We were almost ready to go.  There was just one more detail.

Asher wanted somebody to X up in fleet chat who had an alt account in the station who could sit there and hand out Thrashers so people could reship if they got blown up.  That was met with crickets.  Nobody wanted to be that guy.  Eventually, after some uncomfortable silence and a bit of chiding, I X’d up, then logged my alt account in.  Asher put his name in the MOTD and those who were handing out ships traded their leftovers to him.  We were now ready to go.

Asher counted down and we all hit the undock button at something in the neighborhood of the same moment.  We cruised out, watching the invulnerability timer count down, not touching anything… well, some of us clearly grouped guns, chose ammo, or loaded scripts into sensor boosters, as a few ships started getting popped.  Then there was some problem and Asher had us all dock back up again.

Then we did the undock thing again.  I undocked, but people were already saying they needed reships, so I tabbed to my alt’s window, hoping to just catch the fleet warp and be whisked safely away.

However, as I handed out ships in one window, I heard somebody on coms say they didn’t get the warp.  It sounded like maybe Asher did just a wing or a squad warp.  Either way, when I got back to Wilhelm, he was back in the station in his pod, so I had to open a trade window to my alt as well.

Asher had some of the fleet out and at a safe distance, but a lot of people still needed to get away from the station.  The station camp moved some ships to the well known Karma Fleet insta-undock bookmark and sat there farming kills, so I sat in the station for a bit handing out even more ships.

Evenatully the handout queue had subsided and I swapped back to Wilhelm, got in my own Thrasher, and undocked.  I went to simply warp to Asher, but he was too close to warp to, so I warped off to my own insta undock bookmark, then warped to Asher.  I was finally at the fleet.

My Thrasher

My Thrasher with the Nefantar Skin

That was the only screen shot I have from the whole op.  You can see the sensor booster effects on the Thrashers behind mine and, in the distance, the citadel where we would end up shortly.

Once there I had to go back to my alt again to hand out more ships, so I once again trusted in Asher as I took care of administrative business.

Eventually I heard him say, “There’s your target” on coms and got back to Wilhelm’s window.  We were warping to the hostiles in order to pick off a Bhaalgorn.  We landed, I locked up the designated target and opened fire.  However, I was taking some pretty significant damage almost immediately after coming out of warp.

We had landed practically on top of a group of Apostles fitted with smart bombs.  They had those running, we were in range, so they were chewing us up right away.

If I understand how things went after that, Asher attempted to warp us away from this vortex of death using his alt, but his alt was too close to the target point, so warping was not an option.  By the time that got sorted we were all trying to warp out on out own.  I had to swap to a different overview tab, pick a celestial, and select warp, by which time I was safely away in my undamaged pod.  The Thrasher popped just before I was under way.

Back on my alt, trade windows began to spring up like mushrooms.  I was already low on Thrashers by that point, so I handed out the last ones I had and announced that I was out.

People were arriving back in station, the fleet had been almost entirely wiped out, and, as it turned out, there were no longer enough Thrashers to hand out to equip people for another run.  The fleet was over.

On my alt, one person opened up a trade and returned an unused Thrasher, which I turned around and traded back to Asher.  But a few trades kept coming up looking to get a ship.  At least one person had just joined up, the traditional, “Am I too late?” question when they are way, way too late.  By law this must occur at least once on every Imperium fleet op.

Asher thanked us for showing up, encouraged people to buy, build, ship, sell Nagas so we can get enough of them in Saranen to actually use the doctrine, and then posted a participation link in fleet.

Of course, we all clicked on it, at which point the EVE Online client brought us out of the game and to our respective default browsers where we were informed that one cannot click on participation links outside of the game.

As part of yesterday’s patch CCP started on its path to discontinuing the in-game browser by having it force you to use a browser outside of the game by default.  However, one of the interesting bits about the in-game browser is that it can grab information about your status in-game, like your location and the ship you’re flying, so you can use that information in your web app.  RAZOR had a great navigation app at one point that used the in-game browser.  And, of course, the participation link system grabs your character name, alliance, corp, location, and ship type to show that you were there.

That all doesn’t work outside of the game.

Fortunately, the in-game browser is still there.  You can open it up and use it still, it just won’t open up automatically when you click on links in-game anymore.  So we all had to open the in-game browser, copy the link from fleet chat, then paste it into the address field to get our “being there” accounted for.

So our participation link system will have to change.  We have until October for that.

As for the fleet, according to the battle report we burned up 105 Thrashers and 61 capsules for an estimated loss of 895 million ISK (35% of which looks to have been in the form of implants) for 7 incidental kills, to which I am not sure we can even lay claim.  So we’ll call that zero kills.  The only target the fleet shot at as a unit survived.

At least the ships were free.  It is hard to get mad when losing a free ship, unless you also lost a capsule with implants.   In fact, I made money on the venture.  I insured both ships fully before undocking, which netted me a small bit of money, something on the order of a million ISK.  That sort of venture isn’t going to buy me a titan anytime soon, but at least there was one upside for the night.

We shall see how it goes tomorrow.

BB76 – The Sanctity of the Fleet Commander

This month’s EVE Online Blog Banter, number 76 in the series, asks the following:

At fanfest CCP Fozzie proposed a potential new ship class. Let’s call it the fleet commander’s flagship for now. This is to try and prevent “FC Headshotting” where the opposing fleet knows who the FC is and alpha’s them off the field leaving the rest of the fleet in confusion and disarray. Fozzie mentioned a ship with a great tank but no offensive abilities. Is this a good idea? Is FC head-shotting a legitimate tactic? If CCP do go down the route of a “flagship” how might this work? Also is a new ship the answer or is there another way of giving an FC the ability not to be assassinated 12 seconds into the fight without letting players exploit it?

There are a bunch of arguments and assumptions in that package, and I am going to peel out the ones I want and leave the rest behind by asking and answering a few questions.

Do people head shot FCs?

Yes.  As an example, in the currently running Casino War, shooting the opposing FC is pretty much the go-to first move for both sides.  As an example, we went up to Fade to shoot Pandemic Horde and they shot DBRB’s ship repeatedly.  They didn’t manage to pod him however, so people kept giving him ships so we could keep going.  It happens all the time and, we have so many spies in each others fleets that we know FCs are being called specifically.

Is head shotting FCs a problem?

In my opinion, no.

If you are doing fun fights or honor brawls or whatever, like that one Reavers did against Ron Mexxico late last year, then killing the FC first is frowned upon as being unsportsmanlike conduct.  Plus, when you blow up the enemy FC, the other side is likely to leave, so it tends to be a fight ending move.  If you want fights and fun and kill mails, you don’t shoot the enemy FC first.

But in other circumstance, like a war where you have objectives beyond shooting some dudes, the FC is just another potential avenue of attack, just like logi, boosters, tackle, or whatever.  And, as with those other roles, there are already precautions a fleet can take to keep their FC alive.

Should FCs get a special ship?

They have special ships.  They are called command ships, and they come in eight fun flavors, two from each empire faction.  EVE University has a nice article about them.  And they are tough birds already.

Asher's Damnation attracting all sorts of attention

A Damnation command ship attracting all sorts of attention

For example, yesterday’s post was about how our Hurricane fleet got massacred in a fight.  90% of the line ships were blown up.  But you know who got away?  The battle report has them right there at the top, the two FCs… well known and always targeted… in the battle, Thomas Lear and Asher Elias.

Hail to the FCs

Hail to the FCs

Good for them and their shiny command ships.  I know that Thomas was targeted and had both armor and structure damage still as we rode out of the POS shield into the final battle.  So command ships, and fleet precautions, can work to keep FCs alive.

In addition to command ships, which are battlecruisers, CCP gave us command destroyers a while back, so FCs of fleets made up of smaller ships have a tougher option as well.

A Pontifex command destroyer

A Pontifex command destroyer

But are those ships really meant for FCs?

Maybe not… not for the role that FCs actually play in the game.  Command ships seem more focused on providing boosts for a fleet.  Like many ships, they were designed for a role CCP thought we should use, and then have been used for other roles instead.

And since CCP gave command destroyers that extra fun AOE MJD option, they get targeted and shot with extreme prejudice.  An FC flying one of those is waving a red flag and asking for a head shot most days of the week.

So FCs should get a special ship, a flagship or some such, right?

Maybe.

I mean, on the one hand, I love new ships.  New ships attract attention, stir the pot, change the meta, or whatever other metaphor you want to throw in there.  And a special new ship would give CCP a chance to introduce a few new annoying, long skills to train… that people will have trained to V via skill injectors in about 15 minutes.

But CCP’s track record on keeping Genie’s in bottles isn’t so good.  Anybody want to dig up that quote about how many titans they thought would ever be in the game?  I am pretty sure that number was lower than the number lost at B-R5RB.

Players in EVE Online are ingenious, and they end up using things in unintended ways all the time.  So putting a super hardened special FC ship in the game invites abuse.  And putting up a barrier, like making them expensive, is just an invite for the rich to get richer.  We already see fleets setup around Vulture or Slepnir command ships.

NCDot Slepnirs in a bubble

NCDot Slepnir fleet in a bubble

And we have had a demonstration of how ISK translates into power during the current war.

So, while I can come up with any number of suggestions… bigger tank with less weapon mounts, special FC siege mode, nerfs to damage and a boost to target painters or some such… I would be reluctant to endorse anything specific knowing how things have gone in the past.

So no FC Flagship?

I wouldn’t discount the idea entirely, but you would really have to convince me it was a good idea.  And then CCP would have to make four flavors, one for each empire faction, two shield tanked and two armor tanked, only one of which would be the obvious right choice and so on.

Such a thing wouldn’t even have to be a ship.  There could be a fleet commander module that, when fit or activated, boosted shield/armor/hull resists, disabled weapons mounts, and acted as an unjammable target designator or some such.  Just be careful about what it does, because it will be used for things you cannot imagine later on.  Even now I am thinking about fitting such a module on a hauler to make it more gank resistant, so maybe a module isn’t a good idea.

And, as I said up near the top, I don’t think this is a big problem in any case.  Certainly it is not one that CCP needs to divert a lot of development cycles to in order to “solve” it for whatever definition of “solved” you care to choose.

In the end, if somebody tries to head shot your FC, they are sending you a message about what sort of fight they are looking for, and you should respond as you feel fit.

But, I am also not an FC and I fly in fleets that tend to be objective oriented most days of the week, so what doesn’t look like a problem in my corner of New Eden might come with a different perspective elsewhere.

And speaking of different perspectives, here are some other bloggers who have taken a shot at this month’s topic:

Hurricane Massacre

Expecting another run with Nagas again, I logged into EVE Online early to grab two off of the contracts available in Saranen.  There seemed to be plenty available, so somebody had worked to restock the market over night.  Pick your favorite quote about logistics and war.

But when the ping went out to form up for the 02:00 op, the call was for Hurricanes alone.  No Nagas would undock, so I had to grab a Hurricane off contracts in order to go along.  Plenty of those were available as well. Thomas Lear was the FC and, by way of indicating what we might be up to, the message of the day in the fleet window asked that we bring extra T1 ammo.

We were going to shoot a structure.

Thomas would neither confirm nor deny this allegation, just telling people to bring extra ammo.  I had shipped out plenty of cheap ammo for Hurricanes, so I was covered, but people who went to the market in Saranen were faced with some very expensive choices.  Somebody had bought up the T1 ammo and priced it way above market, making faction ammo cheaper by comparison.  A bit of economic warfare.  So people bought faction ammo instead.  I listed some of my T1 ammo and mentioned it in fleet chat, however nobody seemed to notice and I wasn’t wearing my headset with a mic, so couldn’t shout about it in voice coms.  Ah well, somebody will buy it at some point… it was still listed last I checked.

After boosters were setup the fleet, approximately 100 people, undocked through the cloud of Abaddons sitting on the undock and warped off to a gate.  A couple people got tagged and had to dock back up, but most of us had no problem.

We traveled a few jumps to pick up a titan that bridged us up into Pure Blind where we did indeed setup and start shooting a tower.  It was an NCdot money moon in U-INPD in a MOA owned system.  So we went into orbit of the tower and started shooting it while sending drones after the offensive modules to incapacitate them.

Hurricane fleet blazing away at the stick

Hurricane fleet blazing away at the stick

We had a couple of hostiles in system scouting us, but things were quiet for a while until a group of hostiles showed up in local.  NCDot had put together a small bomber fleet to disrupt our POS shot, and disrupt us they did.

When the NCDot bomber force uncloaked and launched against us, the call went out to overheat hardeners.  That I did overheat saved my ship, as I was square in the middle of where they had aimed.  I saw my shields stripped away, then my armor burned off, and finally the very structure of my ship began absorbing the incoming explosions.  I thought I was done for, but the damage stopped with 8% of my structure remaining.  A couple of Hurricanes went down in that run, but most survived.  However, like my ship, the survivors were still heavily damaged.

Meanwhile, reinforcements were coming in to help our foes.  NCDot had put out the call to the other members of the We-Are-Not-A-Coalition Coalition and they were showing up in system.  Thomas warped us off, then brought us to a GSF POS in the system.

However, the POS password wasn’t the standard one you can find by googling “Goon POS password” and he did not know what the actual password was.  So anybody who was in GSF, which was most of the fleet, could safely hole up in the POS while those of us in other alliances had to go make safe spots and bounce around.

While Thomas was trying to get somebody from GSOL maintenance out to reset the POS PIN to let us in, a Guardians of the Galaxy T3 fleet showed up at the POS and started shooting our tower.

A blob of T3s outside of our POS

A blob of T3s outside of our POS

Meanwhile, somebody woke up MOA and told them they had an Imperium POS in one of their systems, so they dragged out a couple of Revelation dreadnoughts to join in the shoot.  Things had turned around and our own tower was the focus.

MOA Revelations exist

MOA Revelations exist

Pandemic Horde also filtered into the system with a mixed frigate and interceptor fleet.  All sorts of people were showing up.

I saw Hendrink Collie again

I saw Hendrink Collie again

In the mean time, the GSOL service tech had made it out to the POS and had set a temporary password so those of us warping between safe spots could rejoin the fleet.  Soon we were all huddled together, orbiting the stick at 500m, and wondering how long it would take our foes to get bored and go away.

Sitting in the POS

Sitting in the POS

At that point we were out numbered and out gunned, but in addition to that we were all still heavily damaged.  Ships orbiting the POS tower all showed visible armor damage.  We looked like a fleet of the undead shambling about the stick, giant patches of burned armor exposed.

Skins can't hide the damage

Skins can’t hide the damage

We were a shield tanked fleet, and shields do regenerate.  However, we still often count on armor and hull to act as a buffer while we hope that logi can get to us and start repping our shields.  And, for me, that secondary buffer was mighty thin indeed.

No armor, 8% hull, and heat damage on the hardeners

No armor, 8% hull, and heat damage on the hardeners

So we sat in orbit for a while inside the POS shields and waited.

Then Thomas told us all to wake up.  Asher Elias had pinged for a reinforcement fleet and was going to be arriving shortly.  At that point we were going to leave the POS shields and engage the enemy.

We stopped orbiting the stick on our own and anchored up on Thomas.  He made a few turns back and forth as we waited, then headed for the edge of the shields, then end of safety, and started calling targets.

I had managed to lock up and hit a Guardian before it exploded, then moved on to a Devoter where I scored the final blow, giving my Hurricane a temporary kill mark.  Very temporary indeed, as the NCDot bomber fleet had uncloaked already and bombs were on their way.

I overheated my hardeners again, annoyed that my ship hadn’t come with any nanite repair paste and that I hadn’t bothered to check and grab some before we left, and waited for the hammer to fall as I started shooting the next target.  My shields went down by leaps as each bomb hit.  There was a short pause in the pulses of the attack as my shields lingered at the hairy end of being gone.  I thought for a brief second that maybe I might survive a bit longer.  And then another bomb pulsed and the ship disintegrated around me and I was in my pod.

I am sure I was not alone.  Those who did not go with me on that round no doubt went soon thereafter, as the bombs were not done hitting and my pod was destroyed with the next explosion, putting me back in the station in Saranen.

There were calls on coms to reship and be ready to return, but I doubted that we were going to go back.  The bulk of our fleet, damaged earlier by a well aimed bomb run, had been finished off by the same bombers.

The battle report shows that we lost almost all of our ships in the engagement, totaling up to 15.3 billion ISK while only inflicting 4.43 billion ISK in damage on our foe, a ratio of almost 3.5 to 1.

Not a good day for the USTZ 02:00 op.  And the daily Astrahus in Saranen was destroyed as well.

We shall see what tomorrow brings.

Not Enough Nagas

One of the recent changes in The Imperium, announced publicly on the Meta Show this past weekend, is a plan to run a number of fleet ops at standard times every night, each one having a regular doctrine and mission.  I strongly suspect that this is mostly to boost participation in fleets by allowing people to plan their time in advance, as opposed to waiting for a Jabber ping to show up (or not show up) when you have some free time and are able to play.

As it turns out, this totally works for me, as one of the standard op times is 02:00 EVE time (UTC), which translates to 7pm local time here in California.  As an early riser (the alarm goes off at 5:30 am for me) 7pm is about the point in the evening when I have enough time left to commit to one more hour-or-more thing before starting to wrap things up and head to bed.

While I am not going to commit to being in that fleet every night, if you want to shoot me, 02:00 in Saranen seems a good bet.

This fleet op is set to accompany an Astrahus citadel finishing up its build cycle and going into its initial vulnerability time, so as to incent our foes to show up as well.  We’re kind of looking for things to keep us busy during later US prime time I guess… attacking sovereignty is left up to Euro and Aus time zones… so we’re sacrificing a citadel nightly for the sake of entertainment and a chance to shoot some foes.

We also have a new doctrine, which we plan to use during that op, centered on the Naga battlecruiser with a long range sniping fit.  I am told it can hit out to 300km with optimal skills.

My Naga in the fleet

My Naga in the fleet

I was keen to try that out, having about optimum skills for this amongst my nearly 160 million skill points, and doubly so since Asher was going to be leading this fleet.  I got on early and bought a Naga off contract in anticipation.

It is a good thing I did so, as the remaining Naga contracts went quickly.  One of the problems with the doctrine is that the Naga is a specialized ship… a lightly tanked long range sniper battlecruiser that can fit battleship rail guns… that isn’t all that popular, so stock in Jita was limited and sold out quickly.

So, while production gets sorted out to meet demand, the doctrine has to run with both Nagas and artillery fit Hurricanes in order to fill out a fleet.  As you can see in the screen shot above, there were a lot of Hurricanes along for the ride.

The tactics are essentially the same as our hit and run Hurricane fleet.  We land on grid, align out, lock up the designated target and shoot, when they are about to go down we are already building up to warp out in order to limit our exposure.  We have done this a bunch of times in Hurricanes.

Landing in an asteroid belt as a turn-around point

Landing in an asteroid belt as a turn-around point

The enemy knows this and has adapted as well.  The have their long range, beam fit Abaddons together with a screen of tacklers ready to burn into range where ever we land in order to grab a few of us before we can warp off.  Those so stuck get zapped in short order by the Abaddons.

So last night’s battle was largely between us and hostile tackle in Devoter heavy interdictors.  With the Hurricanes along, we had to land close enough for them to shoot, under 90km or so, which is a lot closer than the Nagas would generally want to land.

In some ways this was a boon for the Nagas.  We got to run scan resolution scripts in our sensor boosters and our shortest range, highest damage ammunition in our guns, so we could lock fast and hit hard.  The kill mails tell the tale in the regard.  As an example, with this kill mail you can see Nagas top the list for damage done.  I am at the top of the list and did three times as much damage as the top Hurricane, which had to fit lower damage, long range ammo.

Unfortunately, as noted, that put us within reach of enemy tackle, so on each run we were trading a Devoter for 3-6 Hurricanes.  Three is a sustainable trade, six is a losing deal.

We were probably lucky that they seemed to favor grabbing Hurricanes over Nagas.  Reshipping into another Hurricane was easy enough.  There were lots on contract.  And Hurricanes were both cheaper and doing less damage against the Nagas as individual ships.  But when I finally got tackled and blown up on a pass, I warped back to the station to find no Nagas left to buy.

I had a Hurricane handy though, so I refit that to meet fleet requirements and rejoined the fight, only to get potted again on the first pass.  Somebody opted to pod me which, since I had no implants, just got me back to the station faster.  Having lost two battlecruisers, I decided to head out again in a Crucifier in order to put range damps on the heavy interdictors, hoping to thwart their tackle attempts.

However, by that point the op was being wound down.  There were a couple more warps and then we docked up.  The ISK was was heavily slanted against us, with us losing almost 2.5 times in value compared to our foes per the battle report.

Helping weigh the balance against use was a group of smart bombing Rokhs that DBRB flew into the hostiles, an action that, if understood coms correctly, did not go as planned and yielded zero kills.

But it looked pretty on the field

But the smart bombs looked pretty on the field

And, of course, the Astrahus was blown up as well, adding to the ISK count against us.

Still, it was a quick, fun, and exciting operation, and fellow TNT and Black Sheep Down pilot Zurvon Starr came out of it better than I did, getting on twice as many kill mails during the fight and earning two kill marks on his Naga, which survived.

Anyway, I applied for my SRP, which was in my account when I checked this morning, so I remain ISK rich and able to come back for the next fleet.  We shall see how the Naga situation plays out.  I will be sure to check in early to grab one before the contracts disappear.

I also suspect that we will have to adapt our own tactics as the enemy has adapted theirs.