Category Archives: EVE Online

Pointed Towards Delve

Almost five years of deployments and move ops have instilled in me a need to get in on any move ops as early as possible.  In my experience, if you are not on a move op and at the destination in the first 48 hours, move ops quickly start to taper off and getting to the destination becomes increasingly problematic.

With that experience in mind I was up on Saturday morning and in the first fleet op I could find.

As I mentioned last week, we had been told that we would be moving out to a new home come the weekend.  That new home is Delve, a surprise to almost nobody.  Delve is where Goons go when they don’t know where they should go.  Of course, the last time we left Delve, during the great consolidation before Fozzie Sov, I was very diligent in extracting every asset from the region.  Another lesson learned; just leave stuff in Delve.  We’ll be back eventually.

Anyway, the destination was clear.  We would be leaving Saranen in Lonetrek for Delve.

The general direction

The general direction

Of course, this could not/would not remain a secret… it was announced on Reddit before we were told officially… and so the path to Delve was festooned with traps and those looking for stragglers and solo travelers for easy kills.  There was apparently a very successful batch of smart bombing battleships sitting on a gate in Aridia that knocked off a stream of Imperium pilots making the run south in interceptors.

Thus, being in a move op convoy was all the more important.  So I jumped into Asher’s subcap fleet that was forming up.  We undocked after a bit and headed out to a titan for a bridge.  We were on our way.

Approaching the titan

Approaching the titan

Except, of course, we were not on our way.  Subcap move ops to Delve had not yet… and as of this writing have not yet… begun.  We were formed up to cover the movement of supercaps as they started their way down south, a necessary if tedious duty.  I spent more than three hours in the fleet and the biggest event was when NCDot nearly caught a Leviathan off of a citadel.

We were rushed off the moment that seemed to be a possibility, but by the time we arrived the Leviathan was safely off and NCDot’s Macheariel strike force was sitting about getting hit by the citadel’s gunner.

Another bomb lands on an Apostle

Another bomb lands on an Apostle

As the morning wore on into afternoon, I had other things to do and dropped out of the fleet in a station a few jumps from Saranen.  However, given how well camped the area around Saranen has been, that ship is now effectively out of range of Saranen unless I can find a fleet to swing by and pick me up.

Later in the day things were still going on, but I remained stranded so eventually decided to clone jump back to Saranen.  Since move ops seemed to be picking up for capitals, I thought I might pack up my carrier and see if I could that moved down south.  That would be one major anxiety off my list.

I was able to stuff almost all of my remaining ships into it, leaving behind only a couple of combat ships for our current doctrines.  Those I figured could wait for subcap convoys and would remain available for any further cover operations we might have to run.  I also bought quite a bit of fuel for the run, just to be safe.  My carrier, packed up, was ready to move.

Hey, we have a video ad now too

Hey, we have a video ad now too

Sunday morning I was up in time to get into a capital move op led by Jay Amazingness.  The pace for that was… slow.  We had to wait for some people to jump their capitals into Saranen, and then wait for their jump fatigue to fully subside before we were able to undock and make our first jump.  But the time finally came and we were told to undock and jump to the cyno that had been lit for us.

It was at that point I had a problem.

I had never been in a fleet with other capital ships before.  I have had the carrier for almost three years now, and have jumped it to various locations in the past, but that was always in a two person fleet.  So I have always just right-clicked on my alt in the fleet window and selected “Jump To” from there.  But now I was in a fleet over 150 players strong and had no idea who had actually lit the cyno.

So I had to speak up on voice coms to ask how to jump to the cyno the fleet was going to, and immediately became “that guy” in fleet once again.  Jay, after asking a couple of questions to determine I was in the right ship in the correct location, told me to right-click on my capacitor and select “Jump To” from there.  With that bit of information, I jumped successfully to the first waypoint.  Jay was quick and efficient in his response, leaving the mockery for after.  Even a few hours later he was complaining about the sort of people who were in his fleet, citing the fact that he had a guy who didn’t even know how to jump to a cyno.

We jumped, docked up, and then we waited.  As it turned out, we were going to sit and wait for everybody’s jump fatigue, the blue timer, to run down after each jump.  That wasn’t made clear, at least not to me, for the first two jumps.  So the first time around I sat there patiently at my desk for the 54 minute timer and then while longer as people got back together and we were cleared for the next jump.

Making the next jump

Making the next jump

The second time around I asked if we were going to wait down the timer again, but got no response as I think Jay had already wandered off for the timer.  I didn’t sit there the whole time, but I kept an eye on things, lest I get left behind.  By the third jump I was fully aware of the process.  However, we hit a point where the move op was halted, just over a dozen gates from Saranen.  We were going to hold there while other move ops got people up to that point.  After that, further ops would move forward from our current location.

That left me committed to moving the carrier, with my jump clone timer still many hours from letting me shift again.  As the day moved on, more pings went out for fleets and move ops, but nothing from my location.  Then, during the evening, after a couple of pings for caps to form up in Saranen, I saw a ping in the evening that announced that caps from my location had successfully moved closer to Delve.  I clearly missed an opportunity to move on.

That is where the great move stands for me right now.  I am still in Black Rise, an awkward number of jumps from Delve.  We have gotten the word that these move ops will keep going, so I hope to get end up down south this week.  On the other hand, I don’t want to clone jump away from my carrier, sitting at an early waypoint station, lest I miss the ping that announces a move forward.  So I am sort of stuck where I am.

Last Moves Before the Big Move

After getting the word that the Imperium would be leaving Saranen for points unknown and being told to pack for a long stay elsewhere in New Eden, I started moving around to get things together.

The first thing I did, even as the fireside chat was winding down, was repackage a bunch of no longer in doctrine ships and modules and had them shipped to Jita.  I probably have to do another pass at that.  I still have too many ships in Saranen.  But at least the obvious stuff is off in Jita waiting for me to find time to jump clone over and list it all for sale.

It may be a bit before I get there.  I had other places to jump clone.  The first stop was UMI-KK, where I listed some stuff I had left behind.  Somebody got a good deal on an implant that I listed for cheap, and some mining stuff went at a discount, but other stuff I listed closer to Jita prices.  I think.  I tend to be haphazard and pricing on a good day.  If it sold already, I probably priced it too cheaply.  I also contracted a Heron to Orion Sa-Solo as a lark.  I am not sure if it was even fit, but it is his problem now.

Then it was off to my alt account.  I jumped him to D2-HOS in Pure Blind where he had one of the ratting Myrmidons that the coalition was selling back during one of our “retake Pure Blind” phases.  Designed to be able to survive and run away, I was able to test that out when I hit a bubble camp on the Mantenault gate in RQH-MY.

Nobody was there when I landed, so I started motoring to the gate.  Even with the afterburner lit my progress could be at best described as “stately.”  And then a couple of unaligned hostiles dropped on me while I was in the bubble, locked me up, and started blazing away.  I turned on the armor reppers and considered my options.  It looked like they would get through the armor before I got to the gate, so I spun up the micro-jump drive.  That sent me 100km from my attackers, who had followed me into the bubbles.  From there I was able to align and warp off to a safe.

After that, if I read local correctly, some Pandemic Horde guys showed up and, finding my attackers stuff, shot them up.  I was congratulated for being bait.  I don’t know how that ended up, but when I landed back on the gate a few minutes later, all was clear and I was able to motor to the gate and into low sec.  From there I flew the ponderous beast to Jita, where it and all its modules were repackaged and listed for sale.  I wasn’t bringing that on the move op.

Mymridon headed for recycling

Mymidon headed for recycling

Then it was time to wait for jump clone timers to tick down before the next moves could be made.

The next night I made another jump for another move.  Wilhelm went to YA0-XJ in Deklein, where I had a Harpy, a Crane blockade runner, and barely a quarter of a cargo load of excess junk.  I put the Harpy up on contract (I got an in-game mail later from a reader who said they would buy it at a reduced price, so I relisted it.  However, the contract remains unclaimed, so there is still an “as flown by Wilhelm” Harpy available!), loaded everything else into the Crane, and headed off on the longest of my planned flights.

Heading from YA0 to Saranen

Heading from YA0 to Saranen

YA0-XJ itself was pretty quiet, though Aryth, who is one of the Imperium reps on CSM 11, was hanging around in the system.  I don’t know what he was up to, and I didn’t hang around to find out.

The route out was pretty clear.  I did get somebody trying to grab me when I got impatient and uncloaked on the way to a bubbled gate to light my MWD.  However, by the time he targeted me I was already there and all he did was aggro himself, ensuring my escape.

Heading for the gate

Heading for the gate

I have very few bookmarks for bounces and safe spots in that part of Pure Blind, but I was able to use old corporate bookmarks for towers and jump bridges for that.  Those were available in plentiful supply, and the towers were often still there.

Another tower in Pure Blind

Another tower in Pure Blind

MOA, which holds/held/will hold that stretch of territory, didn’t bother to go through and shoot a bunch of the towers we left behind.  For the last month, every time I have bounced through the area, I kept landing on towers sitting there, unfueled, waiting for our return.  With the push into Pure Blind a bit back, GSOL looks to have gone out and fueled a bunch of them.  Of course, they are all GSF towers, so being in TNT, I can’t safe up in them unless I know the password, and the usual password isn’t always the right one.

Anyway, I managed to push through and made it to Saranen without incident.  Well, an NCDot scout tried to point me in Saranen when I decloaked, but I had warp core stabs fit, so I warped off for the station handily enough.  That Crane, which I have had for years now, will likely be hauling stuff to our next deployment.

Then it was my alt’s turn.  He had an entosis Rapier up in ROIR-Y, which isn’t that far from Saranen.  Still, I almost managed to get caught along the way.  I crashed through a camped gate, but the hostiles there jumped through with an interdictor and started bubbling to hold me there.  I did the uncloak, MWD, cloak, turn hard off previous course routine, but it looked like they might get me for a bit.  They had a decent sense of where I was and threw bubbles around that area while trying to close in and force me to decloak.  I watched one of them get within 6,000 meters of me as I twisted around to try to keep out of decloak range.  And then the range started to open up.  Soon they were well out of range and I was out of their bubbles and on my way again, arriving safely in Saranen.

And then another wait for jump clone timers.

The third night I had an easy run for my alt, but Wilhelm had a Harpy and a jump clone still stashed in QPO-WI in Deklein.  I thought about just selling it, but nothing else was going on, and it was only a Harpy.  I decided to YOLO it home or until it got blown up. (Orion Sa-Solo can confirm my prediction in advance that the ship was going to be destroyed.)

So off I went.  Deklein was, as usual, pretty quiet.

Harpy on the move

Harpy on the move

Likewise, Venal was empty, though there were plenty of GSF citadels strewn about the place.  I was able to stop at one of those to tinker with my fit.  This was an old Harpy and one of the guns was offline,   That done, it was into Tribute and then into Pure Blind for the run down the pipe where I hit another bubbled gate.  This time, however, there was no escape.  A Garmur pointed me as I was turning away from the bubbles to try and warp off.  I was too far from the gate to make that, so I targeted him back and started blazing away.

Go little Harpy, go!

Go little Harpy, go!

I did manage to strip away his shields, however he had friends arriving to help out, which only sped up what was already a foregone conclusion.  The Harpy went boom and that was that.  That Harpy was the last asset I had left to fetch from our former home.  I am sure I have bits and pieces of things strewn about Deklein, Tribute, Pure Blind, Fade, and Branch, but nothing important.  Certainly nothing worth bothering about.  So I am about ready for the move, along with what is left of the Imperium at this point.

The Imperium - July 21, 2016

The Imperium – July 21, 2016

For those who will miss Goons in the north, fear not.  It appears that DARIUS Johnson and his “True Goons Only” club is arriving even as we are leaving.

Another Goon brand

Another Goon brand

They got a few systems transferred to them from Pandemic Horde.  I suppose that is one way to get sovereignty.

Now living in Fade

Now living in Fade

Anyway, shooting Goons will still be a thing in the north.  They won’t be as plentiful, but it will still be an option.  Pandemic Horde has you covered.

Now I am waiting around for the destination to be announced and the move ops to begin.  There is always the new 7.0 patch in WoW to keep me busy, along with the occasional op.

Shooting another tower

Always something to shoot

Wait.  Shoot a tower.  Wait some more.

BB77 – Everything Has a Season

We’re mutants. There’s something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us… we play EVE Online.

I wasn’t going to join in on the blog banter this month because the topic seemed to have the potential for hysteria about it.  And then people piled on with all sorts of variations on the theme, not all of them the obvious answers, some good, some bad, some a bit silly, and I felt that I had to get my two cents with a set of simple, coherent arguments.  Instead I ended up with the steaming pile of confused opinions below.  And that was after I trimmed out some of the more rambling bits.  But I don’t have anything else ready to post today, so proceed with caution/skepticism.

So this blog banter, the 77th in the series, posits the following:

Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it’s just another bout of summer “ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!”

Just to bring things in to perspective, Noizy noted that we are coming up on the 13th anniversary of the first known usage of the phrase “EVE is dying,” which happened on July 30th 2003.

So is EVE Online finally dying?

Certainly the PCU count is down.  You can go look at the data yourself, but even anecdotally I have seen the numbers go down of late.  Not too long ago there would be 19K to 22K players on TQ during my evenings, now that number seems to range from 16K to 19K.

This year the PCU hit its high point towards the end of April and has been trending down ever since.  Of course, that pattern happens to match the recent war as well.  Wars get people playing the game, but they also burn people out.  Even DBRB, a man of seemingly boundless energy who led fleets nightly for a couple of months, has wandered off the range to play ArcheAge.

Add in the fact that it is summer when people often go on vacation or simply go outside… I hear Pokemon GO is popular these days… and it seems like the cause of the recent decline is pretty easily explained with a bit of hand waving.

Of course, the PCU count has been going down for a while now.  But, then again, CCP has been making it easier to “play” EVE Online without logging on.

Back in my day there was no skill queue at all and you had to log in every time a skill finished training in order to get the next one started.  Short skills were a menace.  Starting a 12 hour skill before bed and knowing that it would finish while you were at work and the next skill would have to wait until you got home to start was a mild pain in the ass.  Level V skills were good, if only because you wouldn’t have to fiddle with that sort of thing for as much as a month, or even more with some skill.

Cormorant Docking - Trails On

Space, back before training queues…

Then we got the 24 hour queue, so you only had to log in once a day at most.  You could pack in a bunch of short skills and they would take care of themselves.  Life was better and we didn’t have to log in as much.

More recently we got a skill queue limited to 50 skills or 10 years in duration, which allowed people to pile on lots of skills and log in even less frequently.  You could play only on the weekends with that, and leave the training queue chugging along unattended for the rest of the week.

Finally, this year we got skill injectors so, with enough money, in-game if you are industrious, real world if you are well off, you can have all the skills you want right fucking now.  You can make a new character in the morning and be able to fly a titan by lunch.

Not that I really object to any of these additions.  As focused on level V skills as I am of late, I don’t want to go back to no skill queue at all.  And even skill goo has its place, as it tears down the barrier of time… for those who can afford it… so newer players can “catch up” to the veterans on the skill front.

All of which probably dented the PCU numbers, at least a little bit.  Beyond that though, they are indicative of my broader point, which I will get to any paragraph now.

MMORPGs… by which I mean the shared, persistent world sorts of game that were en vogue in the middle of the last decade, and from which I explicitly exclude lobby games, shooters, MOBAs, and what have you… are a niche, market no matter what Mark Jacobs may have said in the past.  People who play them, who put in the time, have a tolerance for the efforts required, who will pay a monthly subscription, are outliers in the video game market.

The core of the video game buys a video game, plays it, then moves on.  You mother, over there playing Candy Crush Saga on her iPhone, is closer to the core reality of the video game market than you are.

One of the many recurring dumb arguments I have seen over the years is whether or not video games can be considered a hobby or not.  When we get into MMORPGs, with their complexity and changing dynamics and time requirements, I would argue we are well into the domain of the hobby, and sometimes straying close to the boarder of obsession.

Among other oddities, MMORPGs stick around for a long time relative to other video games.  Yes, they get new content and technical updates, but you and your characters persist through them.

EverQuest has been around and getting regular updates since 1999.  How many other 1999 video games have gotten that much attention and effort put into them over the years.  Here is the list.  There are games there that were successes, faded, disappeared, and were revived with updated versions in the same time frame.  EVE Online has been going since 2003, and the list from that year is also very much stuff we don’t play any more.

MMORPGs, when they are successful, have long lives… for video games… that go through different stages.  I tried to map that out in a previous post.  There is the time of youth, the time of growth, when an MMORPG is fresh and new and a majority of its players are relatively new to the game.

And then there is middle age.  Growth has slowed down or stopped.  Some decline (Deklein?) has set in.  The majority of the player base are veterans of the game, and there tends to be a gap between the new players and the the vets.  In WoW or EQ or whatever, that tends to mean that the old timers are clustered at the level cap.  In EVE it manifests itself more in the form of skill points, knowledge, wealth, and stories about how things used to before there was “warp to 0,” but the effect is the same.  There is a gap.

And, at that point, the company has to decide who its customers really are.

Middle age isn’t a bad thing, not completely.

The heady vigor of youth is gone.  But there is now a base of resources and wisdom to build on, and things that seemed impossible in youth are viable.  As the SNL skit used to say, “I know how escrow works!”  I know this because I have bought and refinanced houses more than a few times, something 18 or 22 year old me would have found bizarre.

Likewise, CCP has built on what it created.  There was, and continues to be, an era of additional features to enhance the New Eden experience.

But for a middle aged MMORPG, its customers are the installed base.  They are the ones invested in the game, the ones who make the big in-game events possible, the ones who pay the bills month after month.

That doesn’t mean that a company should ignore new players.  New players should be encouraged, as replacements for departing vets are needed.  In fact, one of the greatest failures of CCP has been its consistently bad new player experience, which has been driving of potential players wholesale for the entire life of the game.

But new players aren’t showing up in sufficient numbers to pay the bills and there is no feature that CCP can add to the game now that will ever restore it to that era of growth it enjoyed for as long as it did.  I defy anybody to point out another MMORPG that managed to restore meaningful growth via any new feature besides simply giving the game away for free.

The installed base is the life blood of the game and CCP must cater to it, first and foremost.  Anything that isn’t focused on, or in support of, spaceships being out in space and fighting or controlling territory or harvesting resources or hauling or defeating the NPC scourge is extraneous.  Those are the customers CCP has now, and selling them out for some illusory potential new customers would be a tragic mistake, the sort of thing MMORPGs don’t bounce back from.

So where was I?  Oh, right, is EVE Online dying?

Yes.  Yes it is.

But I am also a bit of a fatalist when it comes to the big picture.  I too am making my way inexorably towards death.  Things have their time, and nothing lasts forever.  Some things have a recurring cycle.  I’ve been through almost half a dozen recessions, nearly as many droughts in my life, and a seemingly endless series of IT upgrade projects.  I expect I will see a few more.  Other things have a single arc; lives, video games, the earth.

So why EVE Online is dying, it is still in the midst of it arc, it is still in middle age.  There will still be opportunities, wars, PCU spikes, and general revivals based on space, friends, foes, and nostalgia.

In the end, we play EVE Online now because it entertains us and gives us fun memories.  The memories bit is why I write this blog, which reminds me that I didn’t even start off on the side track to the topic “EVE blogging is dying!!1!”  There is a whole different post in that, but I will live it alone for now.

So there I am.  Others have different, and likely more succinct and coherent, opinions on this month’s topic.  You can find them here and linked below:

And a couple of posts related to the picture being painted:

Defeat in the North and New Destinations

The war, for whatever name you chose… Casino War, World War Bee, The War of Sovless Aggression… will effectively be over by the end of the week.

The Mittani announced on the weekly fireside chat yesterday that The Imperium would be packing up and leaving Saranen. (Recording here, since it is already up on Reddit. The meat of the announcements are in the first 10 mins.)

I have previously had people tell me that the war was over already because The Imperium lost all of its sovereignty, or because they personally were done, or, most bizarrely, because Reddit wasn’t talking about it enough, as though Reddit defines reality.  But I have always maintained that wars aren’t over until the losing side admits defeat and goes away.

Well, here is that admission.  We lose.  End of war.  Fabian strategy failed.  The reconquista has been postponed indefinitely.  The MBC/CFC 2.0, rules the north.

So the fight, which has been going on for over six months for some of us, is over.  I know that there are ops going on this week, running into Pure Blind, but my heart isn’t in it now.  Of course, part of that is because we were told to pack all of our stuff and be ready to move this coming weekend.

I favor Vanilla Quafe myself

Good bye to the Quafe Factory Warehouse, Saranen V, moon 9

I was just enough ahead of the curve that I got nearly everything out of Deklein and Tribute before the MBC began to actively contest those regions.  There is still a Harpy in one station, a blockade runner in another packed with a final bit of stuff, and an Oneiros I put up on contract in UMI-KK.  But that is about it.

I sent a lot of it to Jita to be liquidated so as to have ISK for a protracted war, but a good chunk of useful stuff ended up in Saranen.  And my stockpile in Saranen grew as we swapped doctrines and I had to buy new ships time and again.

Now that all has to go… somewhere.

Even before the fireside chat was over I had repackaged a bunch of ships and modules and contracted them to be shipped to Jita.  That was the first pass, the easy picks, the ships no longer in doctrine and related items, 100,000 m3 of stuff.  It has already arrived safely.

But I am still left with a lot of stuff in Saranen, more stuff than I can easily move, including a carrier.  Since I am not part of CapSwarm, I am not sure how I will get that safely to wherever we might be headed.

Of course, that is the big question of the day, where are we headed?

If you look at the current null sec influence map, you will notice that there isn’t a big empty spot in sovereign null sec for us to simply move into.  So we will have to take some space.  But where?

Even leaving aside our old space, space occupied by groups with which we have agreements (various Russians), and space that is just shit (sorry Period Basis), there are a variety of possible destination regions on the map.

Where will The Imperium go?

Where will The Imperium go?

Delve is the classic Goon location and has NPC null stations to stage out of.  Querious has good access to empire space.  Fountain is old, familiar territory, though a bit close to the MBC.  Etherium Reach keeps some proximity to the big trade hub in Jita.  And the others… well… they are far away from the MBC.  Who is likely to follow us to Omist?

Everybody has a guess as to where we will be going, but the official announcement won’t come until the end of the week.

Wherever we are headed, we have been told we will be there for a long time, a year or more perhaps.  And that brings up the question of how this will change The Imperium.  Some people are tired of the war and want a place to settle into and in which they can rebuild.  Others are invested in Deklein and the north, either identifying with it strongly or having left a lot of their stuff behind.  This long march into exile may winnow down our numbers further.

As we head towards the new normal, whatever that may be, the winding down of the war and the summer downturn in PCU numbers has led to the usual “EVE is dying!” reaction, which is the topic of this month’s blog banter.

I won’t be joining in on that, I have too much to do in game.

Discobricks and Preemptive Titan Kills

I was almost late to the party.

I saw the ping, Asher asking for max dudes in Discobricks, the current Augoror Navy Issue fleet doctrine (so called I imagine because the ship has all the graceful lines, and the innate toughness, of a brick, and shoots pretty colored lasers), but I was in the middles of something so couldn’t log in.

Then there was another ping.  And, as that ping started to go stale, to the point I figured that the fleet might have left already, I was finally able to launch the EVE Online client, get onto Mumble, and get my headset working… the latter being the biggest pain of the three, as my Logitech g930 headset seems reluctant to power on these days… and get in the game.

I had purchased an ANI previously and as I got onto coms the first thing I heard was Asher saying the work “undock.”  I quickly got into the ship and hit the undock button and had been sitting outside the station for about a minute before it became clear that he didn’t mean “fleet undock.”

He had been telling the dreadnoughts that would accompany us to undock and jump to the system where we would meet up with them.  The main fleet was still docked up.  Or most of it was.  There was me and about a half a dozen other ANIs lingering outside, having not understood orders.

I docked back up, insured my ship, made a couple changes based on the fleet MotD, and waited until we got the actual order to undock.  It came shortly enough, and we were soon streaming out of the station.

Another day at the Quafe Factory Warehouse undock

Another day at the Quafe Factory Warehouse undock

We headed off to a titan in order to catch a bridge.  I figured that with a few dreadnoughts in tow, we were off for a structure shoot.  It seemed unlikely that bait dreads were going to work again so soon after the Okagaiken trap.

That was fine with me.  On Reavers deployments Asher often had an oft repeated saying about putting money in the bank now in the expectation of it paying dividends later.  Setting timers one day will get you fights when they come out.  And so we wandered out to Cloud Ring, to the system 28O-JY, where Asher warped us to within sight of the target.  And it was a juicy target.

First sight of the target

First sight of the target

That is a POS with a Supercapital Ship Assembly Array and a X-Large Ship Maintenance Array, which marks it as a place where the locals, in this case TISHU, builds supercaps.  That seemed to make the eventual fight over this POS almost inevitable.

We warped into range of the tower and started spreading out and shooting the POS tower.  Asher had asked people to bring along deployable warp disruption bubbles, which were spread around the POS to stop anybody from warping in with a load of strontium clathrates that could change or modify the timer for reinforcement.  There was a guy in an interceptor in the POS, and interceptors aren’t affected by warp disruption bubbles, but to bring in any usable amounts of stront they would need something bigger.

The shooting began and the shield began chipping away, slowly but surely.  A Dread Guristas Control Tower is a large tower which has 60,000,000 shield hit points.  We brought those dreads along for a reason.

After getting the tower down to about 70% shields, during which time nobody else showed up to try and service the tower, Asher asked us to overheat our guns in order to get the tower down to 49% as soon as possible.

When out to reinforce a tower, the goal is to get it down to the 25% mark, and which point it goes into its reinforced state and begins consuming the aforementioned strontium clathrates.  The amount of stront in the tower determines how long it will remain reinforced.  A large tower consumes 400 units of stront per hour and, with a full load, will stay reinforced for 41.7 hours.

When the stront runs out, the tower can be shot again.

But there is another key point in the initial POS shoot mechanics.  Once the tower gets below 50% shields, the owner of the POS can no longer modify the amount of stront in the tower.   At that point there is what there is, and Asher wanted to remove their ability to tinker with the stront in order to time the tower to come out of its reinforced state at a time that favored them.

So we overheated.  Some people went too far.  One of the dreads overheated and burned out their guns at just about the 51% mark.  But we managed to get the shields below 50% before any help could come.  A couple of hostile T3s had shown up in system at just about the 50%, but had been deflected and didn’t bother trying to get to the tower once the mark was passed, so it was assumed they might have been trying to fly in some stront at the last minute.

Now all we had to do was burn the shields down to 25%, at which point all of our guns and lasers would no longer be able to lock the target and the reinforcement timer would begin.  The dreads stayed sieged up and the ANIs flew in slow circles, lasers hitting the tower.

Passing over the CSAA, obscured by bubbles

Passing over the SSAA, obscured by bubbles

The shields were ground slowly down until we were just getting to the 25% mark.  We expected to have the tower automatically unlocked as a target at any moment.  And then it went to 24%, and suddenly we all knew the word of the day was.

That's right Pee-wee! Unstronted!

That’s right Pee-wee! Unstronted!

It was such a moment that I didn’t even have the presence of mind to take a screen shot until the shields hit 23%.

There is no stront

There is no stront

Things went from being almost done setting up a fight for the weekend to killing an expensive tower and module and aborting whatever supercapitals TISHU had building.  There was a moment of excitement where the urge to run out and tell the world about this was almost overwhelming.

This was quickly replaced by a sense of paranoia, a feeling that if we said this too loudly that it might go away, that the hostiles might come and save the tower, that something might go wrong.  In something of an, “I don’t know, just shoot casually!” moment, people started pretending on coms like we were still shooting tower and it hadn’t hit 25% yet.

But that didn’t last long either.  The tower wouldn’t have much life left after the shields were down.  TISHU was deployed down in the Syndicate region, so they seemed unlikely to be able to mount a defense at that point.  And nobody else seemed to be near by, except for a White Legion fleet.  Since they are allies, Asher invited them to come over and help finish off the tower.

Once we were past the shields, the armor and then the structure went down rapidly and the tower was destroyed, followed quickly by the SSAA and the maintenance array.

Death of a tower

Death of a tower

A grand moment on a fleet where we expected to simply set a timer, and the obligatory Reddit thread was started.

As usual, there is no way to prove that anything was under construction in the SSAA, aside from the argument that people don’t put them up in order to let them sit idle.  Asher seemed to have intel that indicated there were two titans and three super carriers under way there, but unless we had a spy with an irrefutable screen shot, there will never be any definitive way to prove anything.  But whatever was being built there is gone, along with a few billion ISK in modules.

Time to head home.

As we were leaving the area, our eyes in the system reported that the hostiles ran out to another POS they had in the system and pulled down the assembly array they had running, no doubt thinking we were headed there next.  Was there no stront available?   Anyway, I suppose we can claim a soft kill on whatever they might have been building there.

We shepherded the dreads back to their staging point and then headed back to Saranen and our home in the back of the Quafe Compay Warehouse, still pretty happy about the night’s events.

Screen shots from the fleet in gallery form:

One Hundred and Sixty Million Skill Points

Another skill point milestone, made somewhat more meaningless than usual by the advent of skill point injectors, which lets players buy skill points from other players, so that those with enough ISK can have as many skill points as they want.

My skill points have all been “earned” the old fashioned way, via the skill queue and the waiting game.  That is less a point of pride and more an admission that I am a cheapskate, along with the fact that, with more than 80 million skill points, each skill injector is worth only 150K SP to me.  If I had a brand new character I would be much more inclined to inject skill points.

Anyway, here is my skill point journey so far:

At some point I imagine I will have “enough” skills, but I haven’t reached that point yet.  There is still a 700 day long list of skills in my queue that I want.  Also, I would never extract any of my skill points, as you never know when they might come in handy.  As I mentioned yesterday, all those mining skills from way back when were useful again as we had a mining op in Pure Blind to raise ADMs.

Rock crushing in a Procurer

Rock crushing in a Procurer

So here are how skill points are currently distributed on Wilhelm Arcturus.  An asterisk indicates that the skill point total has changed since last post.

 Spaceship Cmd   47,008,495 (55 of 75)*
 Gunnery         16,202,145 (36 of 46)*
 Leadership      12,803,000 (14 of 14)
 Missiles        10,836,471 (22 of 26)*
 Drones          10,070,483 (19 of 23)
 Navigation       9,660,314 (13 of 13)
 Engineering      7,253,895 (15 of 15)*
 Armor            6,131,137 (13 of 13)* (skill moved/removed?)
 Shields          5,645,390 (11 of 12)
 Science          5,462,151 (21 of 39)* 
 Electronic Sys   5,141,415 (13 of 15)*
 Resc Processing  4,569,908 (22 of 28)
 Trade            3,271,765 (9 of 14)
 Targeting        3,207,765 (8 of 8)
 Neural Enhance.  3,072,000 (5 of 8)* 
 Subsystems       2,186,840 (20 of 20)
 Scanning         2,045,230 (7 of 7) 
 Rigging          1,312,395 (10 of 10) 
 Social           1,130,040 (5 of 9)
 Production       1,157,986 (5 of 12) 
 Structure Mgmt   1,084,784 (2 of 6)* (new section)
 Planet Mgmt        769,335 (5 of 5) 
 Corp Mgmt           24,000 (2 of 5)* 

 Total         ~160,000,000 (332 of 423)

Spaceship Command remains at the top, both in total points and in total points gained, up by about 6 million SP.  Flying ships trumps all.

There was some swapping about of skills and categories.  There was one less skill in the Armor category.   I am not sure where that went, but it took 768,000 skill points with it somewhere.  Then, with the release of citadels in New Eden, a new section called “Structure Management” appeared, which borrowed some skills from Corporation Management, like Anchoring and Starbase Defense Management, which accounts for all my skill points in the new category.

I added nine more skills to my list since the last update, bringing me to 332 skills, up from 323.  But I am not keeping up with the total number of skills, which is now at 423 (if I added them up correctly), a 25 skill boost since my 150 million skill point post back in December.

My skills, broken out by level are:

 Level 1  - 3
 Level 2  - 9
 Level 3  - 44
 Level 4  - 99
 Level 5  - 177

177 skills at level V puts me 8 up from last time.  There was also a general rise, as level IV and III skills went up in number, while levels I and II decreased.

Following my change over last time from tracking how long it would take to fly a titan to how long until I can fly all the subcaps as a random metric.   Here is the current list of sub-caps I cannot yet fly and the time required to train in order to get into them (rounded up to the nearest convenient value value):

  • Expedition Frigates (Prospect, Endurance)  – 10 days
  • Amarr Transports (Impel, Prorator) – 20 days
  • Gallente Transports (Occator, Viator) – 20 days
  • Loki strategic cruiser (subsystems trained) – 45 mins
  • Marauders (all factions) – 90 mins

That list got a lot shorter since the last post, standing at about 50 days now, down from about 80 days previously.

I knocked out interdictors and tech II logi frigates and the T3 destroyers and electronic attack ships and a few other, which were all a few minutes in order to get the minimum skill level required, though I trained them all well past that.  The biggest skill I trained for that list was Minmatar Battleships V, a 30 day skill, which gave me the Panther Black Ops battleship.  I can now fly a blops… well, all the blops… once I figure how.  There is always a gap between having the skill and having the actual skills to use that skill.

Our blops finally arrives

A Panther Blops

However, I am not sure what I would bother with when it comes to the rest of the list.  The Loki might be useful, and I could get it to level III or IV in a short enough time.  Expeditions frigate might be worthwhile at some point.  But do I need Gallente or Amarr transports?

Meanwhile, right now I am training up Tactical Weapons Reconfiguration V, with Minmatar Dreadnought V next on the list.  If suicide dread bombs are going to be the supercap killing machine, as they were at Okagaiken, I would like to have the option to join in on that at some point, and the Minmatar dreadnought, the Naglfar, is the dread of choice.

A Naglfar at the shoot getting hit by fireworks

A Naglfar displaying vertical supremacy

I can actually fly the base CapSwarm Naglfar, but those two skills will allow me to fly the upscale fit.  And then I have to actually find a hull and fit it.  Details.

I have also started abusing my alt account for skill goo.  I decided to set him up to farm skill points.  He was past 115 million, but I stripped out about 5 million points for skill injectors and now have him optimized so I can keep him stable with his skills and pull out a skill injector worth of skill goo about once a week.

The weekly cycle means I can be patient and get a better price, both for buying extractors and selling injectors.  The skill goo market is still very active… I price well above the current low offer and still sell within a day… so this is now pretty much a 400 million ISK a week income stream for me.  This has made me more ISK rich than I have ever been in New Eden.  I am not Gevlon rich by any means, but I can afford that Naglfar and a few replacements.

So that is where 160 million skill points puts me.  Given the ~7 month cycle time for me to train 10 million skill points, I should get to 170 million at some point in February of 2017.

The Keepstar, a Hellcamp, and Pure Blind

Last Thursday I posted a picture of a Keepstar citadel deploying in EVE Online, strongly implying that there was going to be something happening around that.

Looks like it has about 18 hours to go...

That is a titan’s worth of ISK in structure form…

And now it is Tuesday and I haven’t written any more about it, so I thought it might retrace what happened, or at least my own path through it.

If you are a regular on /r/eve you have likely read the story already and can probably skip this, as it will be a subset of events, mostly what I actually saw and heard.  If you live in New Eden vicariously through my posts, well, here is another tale from deep space.

Thursday night there was a ping for a Cerberus fleet led by Asher Elias.  This is a very Asher doctrine and I try to go on such fleets whenever I can.  They tend to be a good time.  I logged on and got into the fleet.

We had some special instructions.  One was to bring along a medium mobile war disruption bubble if we could deploy it.  The other was to bring along some extra ammo.  I bought a bubble and put it in my cargo along with some cheap t1 missiles, as it sounded like we might be shooting structures.  Then we undocked.  We had decent numbers, with over 200 in fleet, so there was a mass of Cerbs.

Cerberus undock

Cerberus undock

From there in Saranen we headed out a few jumps to catch a titan bridge into Pure Blind.  From there we headed through Fade and into Deklein, with our destination being the system 2O9G-D.

It was there that we saw, on the grid with the station, the Keepstar going up.  It was still early in its 24 hour deployment cycle, so I figured we were there to lay some groundwork in order to contest it once it came out of its deployment and spent an hour going online, during which it could not defend itself.

And that seemed to be our task.  First we went and dropped our bubbles around the station in order to making coming and going from there in anything besides an interceptor a chore.

2O9G station bubbled up

2O9G station bubbled up

We went and hit the POS in the system that had a cyno beacon and a jump bridge module in order to hinder comings and goings.  We also covered the deployment of a pair of POS towers and spent some time popping hostile warp bubbles around an Astrahus in I30-3A, which is the system next door.

Not much happened while we did this in the way of fights.  We killed a couple of bombers who tried to hit us, some interceptors that we buzzing around, and a couple of fighters sent out from a carrier.

During this The Mittani got on coms with us to tell us about the grand plan.  He said that we were not there merely to shoot the Keepstar, but to hellcamp the station through the 96 hour period it would take to turn the ownership over to us, thus locking down all the assets held therein by the locals.  We would also be there for the Keepstar fight, but the hellcamp was the thing.

A hellcamp is when you bubble up a null sec station and put a fleet on it to halt all but the most minimal comings and goings… you can’t really stop interceptors… for an extended period of time.  In this case, we The Mittani was talking about embargoing the station for 96 hours straight.  Not the longest hellcamp in my time… I think we spent at least a week camping a station in 319-3D in Delve back in 2012… but still a call for a commitment.

To do this Asher was going to take us back to Saranen and swap out for a Confessor fleet.  Those of us who didn’t want to stay up for the hellcamp… there were late night Euros in the fleet as well as early risers like me… we could safe log out in the POS and log back in the next day for the big fight and whatever else came up.

There was also the promise of a State of the Goonion announcement come the morning.

It wasn’t really that late, but I didn’t want to fly to Saranen and back out again, so I decided to call it a night and camp in the POS.  I was already planning to work from home on Friday and I figured if I camped in the POS I could log in to see a bit of the big fight… it was slated for about noon my time, so perfect for a lunch break diversion… and then figure things out from there.  So I left.

I do not know what happened with the hellcamp plan overnight, but when I finally got around to logging in the next day before lunch, 2O9G was starting to fill up.  There were already over 1,400 people in local.  Unfortunately for us, only about 20 of them were blue, and most were orbiting the stick in the now reinforced POS that had been setup the previous night.

As local climbed to 2,000 and time dilation started to kick in even without anybody fighting, the word came down through Jabber that there was not going to be a fight as there was no way we could kill the Keepstar in time.

Apparently, when time dilation kicks in and slows everybody down, one of the things that is unaffected is the timer to online a citadel.  Somebody had calculated that even without hostile interference, so long as tidi was running, we could not put enough sustained DPS on the Keepstar to keep it vulnerable and kill it before its unaffected timer ran down and it went online.

And, of course, hostile interference was going to be a big deal.  With about 2,000 people on grid with the Keepstar, including supers, we would be going in outnumbered, so that even without the tidi hitch the Keepstar seemed safe.

The calculations by the heads of the Imperium seemed to include an assumption that the MBC wouldn’t form back up as a single unit again to defend a single citadel, or even that PL might join in to get on a Keepstar kill.  They seem happy enough to shoot MBC capitals of late.

Instead, once again, the MBC showed itself to be the CFC 2.0, a massive essentially blue coalition holding the north together.  Protest all you like, but actions speak louder than words.  Even PL was able to get in on the act thanks to a suspiciously convenient wormhole connection opening up between Thera and 2O9G before the fight.

But no fight was coming.  Some people who were keen to stream the event… including TMC… clearly felt led astray.

Instead, the Imperium undocked a couple of battleship fleets to shoot structured in Pure Blind.  Those of us per-positioned in 2O9G were feeling a little lost.  I safe logged again and went back to work.

Fortunately for me, that evening Thomas Lear came out with a fleet to rescue some of us that were stuck in 2O9G.  He got us back to a titan that bridged us close to Saranen.

Another titan bridge

Another titan bridge

Finally, on Saturday, during the usual Meta Show time frame, there was the previously promised State of the Goonion.  There is a summary of it over at TMC, but the essence was that the plan didn’t work and we were going to pursue a more modest/methodical approach to the long promised reconquista.  We would be pushing into Pure Blind from Saranen, taking systems in the first two constellations, the one based around 93PI-4 and the one next to it, referred to as “the kite” due to its shape on the DOTLAN map, defending the timers and raising ADMs on the systems to make them more defensible.

There was also some announcements about doctrines that would be used going forward.  We had quite a few doctrines live up until this point.  Reducing that will make supply easier, though now I am stuck with two Naga battlecruisers I never got to fly.  I will either ship them back to Jita myself or go do a long range camp on a gate or something with them until they die.

Caps to be used going forward were discussed, and since only the Caldari and Amarr force auxiliaries are going to be used/reimbursed going forward, a few people undocked their insured Ninazu’s for us to shoot.  I got one one kill mail just to be there.

Then it was off to raising ADMs, which means raising the Military and Industrial indexes, which in turn means killing rats and mining.  So after the SotG I joined up with Jay Amazingness’ mining op and broke rocks in 93PI-4 in a Procurer.

Rock crushing in a Procurer

Rock crushing in a Procurer

And that is the plan for now.  We have secured the constellations in Pure Blind.

Pure Blind - July 11, 2016

Pure Blind – July 11, 2016

Now we have to see if we can hold them, raise the ADMs, and push forward.  Deklein is always the goal on the horizon, the Goon homeland for many years.

Gevlon says it won’t work.  And certainly, if the MBC continues to work together and applies itself again to sov warfare, we are likely to be pushed back to the soda warehouse in Saranen.  We shall see how this turns out, this next stage in the war for us.

I am kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to see the Keepstar after it was deployed.  I might have to sneak out to take a look at some point.

Meanwhile, some screen shots from the events of the last few days put together into a gallery.