Category Archives: Null Sec

Null Sec – We Rat and We Mine Things

Null bears are everywhere!

CCP released their monthly economic report for March 2017 on Friday with some new charts added and at least one old standard omitted.  There had been some discussion in the CSM as to what data might compromise op sec or otherwise signal other parties what was going on, which led to the mining output chart going missing.  But even with the last round of Rorqual nerfs, mining with them seems to still be running apace judging by the Rorqual kill mails alone.

But by far the most outrageous chart in the report has to be the one for bounty payments, the largest ISK faucet in New Eden.  Guess who rats a lot?

Bounty Payments – March 2017

Of the 66.65 trillion ISK in bounty payments paid out for killing hostile NPCs over the course of the month, the largest ISK input into the game representing nearly half of all of the total faucets, 92.2% of them were collected in null sec.

Looking back six months for a comparison (I was going to look back a year, but there was a war going on which was likely depressing bounty payments) that represents about a 50% boost in bounty payments.  (Though six months back bounty payments represented an even larger part of the ISK faucet pie.)

Looking at that chart, you are likely reacting in one of two ways:

  • That’s not fair!  Null sec shouldn’t get all the ISK.  CCP should make ISK available to me where I play!
  • If I want ISK I had better move to null sec!

Which one do you think is more likely to improve your bottom line?

This is all a result of how things have been evolving in null sec over time.  Five years ago, when I was finally settling into the null sec routine, ratting wasn’t what it is today.  Yes, it was still popular, but anomalies were sparse, a lot of null sec systems weren’t even worth ratting in, and shooting NPCs didn’t do much for your corp or alliance aside from provide a little tax income.  It was viewed as a bit selfish, an act of fattening your own wallet.  My old corp used to set the tax rate to 100% during operations or deployments to punish those who wanted to rat when they were needed elsewhere.

And then things changed.

There was Fozzie Sov, which introduce the activity defense multiplier.  That index was influenced, in part, by how many NPCs were destroyed in a given system.  Ratting suddenly became a patriotic way to support your corp/alliance/coalition.  This was accompanied by a boost in anomaly frequency to help make previously worthless systems worth ratting in.

Then there was the expansion of forces in null sec.  Brave Newbies started the trend, but now if you want to get into null sec there are multiple opportunities.  Once it was a wry comment that it was easier to get a home loan than to get into a null sec corporation.  Now just about anybody who wants to can find a slot in one of the newbie friendly corps in null sec.  The various coalitions need players both to form up to defend their space (or attack others) and to rat and mine and do the things that keeps the home front more defensible.  And so the doors opened.  If you’re not in null sec, it is because you do not wish to be, not because anybody is keeping you out.

However, given the trend in the top faucets/sinks chart, I wonder if CCP is going to let this continue on as is.

March 2017 – Top sinks and faucets over time

While most of those lines are fairly stable, the bounty payout line has been going up for a while.  If that trend continues unabated, they might have to change something.

Looking at the rest of the report though, it appears that while null sec is making the ISK, much of it ends up in high sec in general, and in Jita in particular.

Null Sec Outpost Conversions and the Great Asset Recovery

One of the presentations at EVE Fanfest this past weekend that attracted my attention was the structures talk. (INN has a summary of the presentation, or you can watch the recording which is at about the 5 hour  27 minute mark on the Fanfest Day 2 video on Twitch.  Addendum: Summarized by CCP in this forum post as well.)

Fanfest 2017

Upwell structures, which first showed up with the Citadel expansion last April have blossomed in New Eden, with citadels and engineering complexes being deployed in large numbers.

The presentation went over some of the statistics about such structures, repeating some of what was in the keynote presentation and the going into some additional detail.  There was also some further information about the coming refineries that will, among other things, replace player owned starbases in the moon mining role.

But for me, one of the most interesting bits of the presentation was regarding the removal of outposts from null sec.  Outposts are the conquerable stations in null sec space that have, over the years, change the shape of space and have been the focal point of conflicts.

CCP removed the ability to anchor new outposts in null sec space with the last update in YC118.  The final outpost was anchored just before the deadline by Fraternity, and event covered by EN24 which includes a retrospective about outposts including links to Dev Blogs about them going back to 2005.

The final five outposts

With this presentation CCP gave us a look at their plan for removing outposts.  The plan is for them to become “faction” citadels to be put in place of the current 68 null sec outpost structures.  The current sovereignty owner will get a special Fortizar sized citadel which they can leave in place or move elsewhere.

Faction Citadels

Interestingly, these will be very much limited edition citadels that nobody will be able to build.  This will no doubt both inflate their value as unique items in New Eden and make them more desirable targets for destruction.

While packing them up and selling them might be the plan for some, there will be an incentive to leave them in place.  At the time of the transition each outpost-come-citadel will get a special rig that will approximate all of the outpost upgrades in a single rig slot (leaving room for additions), making these citadels very powerful indeed.

Faction Rigs

As with the citadel itself, these will be one-off rigs, never to be seen again in New Eden.  And just to make the choice of what to do with the citadel “interesting,” the rig will be destroyed if you fold up the citadel to move it or sell it, creating a strong incentive to leave it where it is.

The actual date for this transition was stated as “Winter” which, given that we’ve just entered Spring, means there is a while to go before we see this transition.  I suspect that this is something that will easily fall into 2018/YC120.

When it does, however, there will be one interesting side effect.  When you leave something in an outpost and you no longer have access to that outpost, your asset is pretty much stuck unless you left a jump clone behind.

Citadels are different.  They have asset recovery.  So once all of the outposts have been converted to citadels, any assets in the outposts will also be moved.

On Outpost Transition Day

And with that, all of the assets that have been locked away in lost outposts will suddenly become recoverable.  There is a price, 10% of the assessed value, but paying that will put the items in a low sec station where the capsuleer can recover it.

Suddenly everything from bits of veldspar to capital ships left behind by people after various wars will suddenly be accessible.  While I have been pretty good about not leaving stuff behind in null sec (low and high sec if a very different story), I still have items left behind in a few outposts. (Mostly in Fade)

I wonder what sort of impact that will have on the game and the economy.  I wonder how much wealth in assets has been locked away, sometimes for years, in inaccessible outposts.

FR-B1H – Force Auxiliaries can Save Your Supers

In hindsight, it was probably a pretty sure thing that an alliance prone to dropping capitals without sufficient force auxiliary support would end up paying for it.  Faxes aren’t that expensive as far as capitals go and enough of them will save your supers.

And so it happened to Circle of Two when they collided with Pandemic Legion and Goonswarm yesterday in FR-B1H in Impass.  There is a report about the fight up at EN24 by a member of PL that details how things played out.  But the net result was five CO2 titans down and about 870 billion ISK in losses overall for the alliance.

Battle Report divided into the usual sides

This all happened while I was at work, as these things tend to.  Even B-R5RB started while I was at the office, it just carried on long enough for me to finish work, go home, eat dinner, and then join in.  But it was all over Reddit and the topic of the day on coalition coms last night.  I’ve already heard/read a few variations of the fight and how it escalated, but the main items seem to agree and from that a couple of items stand out.

The first is the use of force auxiliaries, or faxes, and CO2’s lack of them as they jumped into the fight.  This allowed the CO2 supers to be destroyed as there were not enough repair reps on field to save them.  CO2 seemed to be following a policy of “jump first, organize later” in order to first save the initial Rorqual and then to counter the growing PL capital fleet.

And I compare this to my own experience with this sort of situation.  In fact, not that many hours before the events in Impass the Imperium faced a similar situation in Y-OMTZ in Delve.  Again, Pandemic Legion was dropping dreads, this time on a Rorqual in our space.  A Ping went out for an fast fleet form with an emphasis on faxes.  The coalition has been pushing for everybody to train into and have a fax on hand.  We formed up, got undocked, and once a critical mass had been met… and the cyno inhibitor that PL dropped was destroyed… we jumped in as a mass.  That led to a less out-of-balance battle report result.

The drop at Y-OMTZ

We were even able to save a Leviathan that jumped in on its own and looked to done for until we landed and were able to rep it with the faxes on grid.  Coming in mass with lots of reps changed the result.  PL came out ahead, but the exchange hit both sides about the same.  If we had been able to save the single Hel we lost, the ratio would have been in our favor.

The counter drop on the field in Y-OMTZ

The second item that stands out from what I heard was how fighters were deployed on both sides.  PL came armed with space superiority fighters, the fighters meant to shoot down opposing fighters.  On the CO2 side of things it is alleged that, when asked whether or not his carrier pilots should bring space superiority fighters, GigX responded that they should not because he would not be calling fighters as targets.

This led to CO2’s carriers and super carriers losing almost 400 squadrons of fighters (seen here), adding 5 billion ISK to their loss total and rendering many of their carriers impotent as they ran out of fighters to deploy.  That couldn’t have helped out the CO2 cause.  Having counters to fighters ought to be another lesson learned here.

Another day in New Eden.

I haven’t been keeping close count of titan kills for a while, but adding FR-B1H to the last list I made sorts events out as such:

  • B-R5RB – 74 titans down (plus one on the way to the fight)
  • FR-B1H – 5 titans down
  • Okagaiken – 4 titans down
  • Asakai – 3 titans down
  • KVN-36 – 2 titans down

Have there been any other multi-titan loss events to add to that list.

Finally, I guess I have to give credit to CO2 for one thing.  In our battle we failed to save two of the three Rorquals that got dropped.  CO2 saved theirs.  So they have that going for them.

Camping in Impass

Asher told us we would be going on an old fashioned Reavers deployment, a chance for the veterans to relive the “good old days” and the new members to figure out just how rose colored our glasses really were when it came to said “good old days.”

We would be packing up ships with mobile depots and refits and reloads and plenty of nanite repair paste to mend our overheating woes and heading deep into hostile space to live in safe spots far from support or easy resupply.  We even got a new doctrine.

One of the fun bits of Reavers is Asher likes to try/fly different ships.  Of course, the downside is that I have ended up with a few ships sitting in my hangar with a fit we used just once.  Such is life.

This time around we were going out in the Sisters of EVE cruiser, the Stratios, beloved hull of Stunt and his Anime Masters.  On learning our main doctrine hull, I immediately made sure I had SKINs for it.  Oh, and I also bought a couple hulls in Jita lest the :goonrush: drive up the prices.

Stratios with the SOE Fire Cell SKIN

Once we got the fit, I bought all of that in Jita as well and flew the ship out to Delve to be ready to go.  There were some additional support ships on the list, including a Rapier.  I had an entosis Rapier left over from the Casino War which my alt could fly, so I updated the fit for that and was ready to go.

Then there was the wait for the go sign.  Asher wanted a wormhole to take us close to our as yet undisclosed destination.  Eventually the ping came, a fleet was formed, the ships were undocked, and we headed out for parts unknown.

Stratios fleet on the move

As we started out Asher followed tradition and asked us to put who we felt our target was in fleet chat.  Circle of Two was the easy winner and, sure enough, that was who we were heading out to pester, with the actual destination being the region of Impass.

As we went Asher explained the CO2’s layout in Impass and what our mission would be.

Impass – April 3, 2017

Impass is laid out with a single system choke point that protects four constellations.  That system is 68FT-6, which is where CO2 has made its capital system.  That system is also within capital jump range of most of the region.

On the far side of 68FT-6 are three constellations where CO2 does much of its ratting, noted in red circles above.  That was where we were headed with the intention of making CO2s ratters, to annoy CO2 in general, and to remind them that their betrayal has not slipped our mind.

We slipped past their capital system and into IRE-98, which was to become the rally point for our deployment.  From there we would form up to set gate camps, run entosis ops, and resupply.  When not doing ops as a group we were to camp their ratting systems to pick off the unwary, make the nervous dock up, and generally be pains in the ass when we could.  When we could not be online and active we were asked to safe up, cloak up, and stay logged on to the game in the traditional AFK camper move.  A hostile in system will send some people packing or make them log off rather than rat.

And finally, we were to follow the Reavers rule of never speaking in local.

I was fairly diligent about keeping myself logged in.  I would get both characters online before work, cloak up, and go off to my day, leaving myself logged in after I went to bed until downtime hit and kicked me out.

When I got home I would go active to annoy the locals or join up with the standing fleet to do something that required coordination.  We did not do a lot of full group operations, but once in a while we would form up to be a menace in larger numbers.

Stratios in all directions

In small groups we would pick on CO2’s mining Rorquals to get them to respond.  For example, Bruce Sparx managed to tackle a Rorqual and myself and RatKnight1 came along to help him.

Rorqual held in place

There was no way the three of us were going to be able to kill him.  Even neuting out his capacitor he was still able to run his shield booster often enough to hold his shields steady against us.  But it remained possible that more of us would show up, so CO2 had to send in a couple of interceptors then light a cyno to drop capitals on us.

Drop to rescue Plain Truth

At that point we recalled drones, cloaked up, safed up, and let them have the field to themselves.  They rescued a Rorqual but didn’t get any kills with their overwhelming force.  We were still lurking out there.

Once in a while they would pick somebody off.  My alt lost his Rapier while trying to hold down a Rorqual when DBRB had a bomber op in the vicinity.  I would not have been so aggressive otherwise, but dead is dead either way.

When solo and without any ratters obviously about, I spent time hitting some of their many undefended towers in the region.  This causes an alert to pop up for people in the alliance.

Why yes, I will shoot this POS

I would sit and do that until somebody showed up to chase me away, at which point I would recall my drones, cloak up, and sit quietly.  Once they were gone I would decloak and pick up where I left off.  This got the occasional lecture or plea in local.

Please stop

I hit one tower often enough that they came out and put a new defensive modules on it.  However, they didn’t seem to notice that the guns were anchored by not actually online.

Adding points and webs

When somebody decided to sit on a tower to keep me from hitting it, I went off and started hitting customs offices in the same system.

We didn’t stop people from ratting.  We had nothing close to the level of force to do that.  But we curtailed it some.  Asher was keeping stats on NPC kills in the systems, which were down noticeably.  The solo ratters went away or became very paranoid, unless they were ratting in super carriers, while others started ratting in groups to stay sage and keep ADMs high in their systems.  That was enough to keep almost all of their ratting systems at ADM 6.

With that state of affairs, I decided to bring my alt back in a covops frigate and learn how to use combat probes.  My alt is all level V on scanning skills.  I first fit out a Cheetah with a fit I found online that included a warp scrambler with the idea that I could scan something down and hold them in place with that, then warp my main in with the Stratios to finish them off.

Combat Probes out

Combat probing was easy enough that I wondered why I hadn’t done it before.  The Cheetah was a bit fragile though and I lost it on a bait Epithal.  Live and learn and watch for bait.

So I dropped the idea of direct combat with him and instead came back with a Buzzard fit just to scan and cloak, with a covert cyno fit in case we were able to bring our black ops battleship into action and drop on somebody.

Combat probes are a wonderful way to scare people.  CO2 ratters seem to use their directional scan pretty regularly so when I scanned somebody down, unless they were in a carrier or a super or in a group, they would usually bolt.  However, on bolting, they would often leave things behind, things like drones and Mobile Tractor Units.

So I went into the clean up business, keeping CO2 ratting space tidy by eliminating stray drones and MTUs by scanning them down and popping them.

Stratios hitting an MTU

Stray drones actually turned into a resource for me as I would forget or lose drones now and again, so I could replenish them from strays.  I was just sad when NPCs would pop them before I could scoop them up.

MTUs though became my main target.  Easy to scan down, easy to kill, and they even provide a kill mail.

MTU whore

MTUs don’t cost a lot in the grand scheme of things, but once you pop one (and the wreck) you have deprived a ratter of some of his take, and every annoyance is a plus.  CO2 even obliged by calling me names in local.

MTU anger

That bit from local was amusing because while they did drop some bait MTUs, they were so eager to catch me that they bumbled the drop and I was able to recall drones and cloak up with plenty of time to spare.  So they took to local, during which I killed one of Black Shogun’s MTUs.  He was carrier ratting and dropping MTUs to pick up later after each anomaly, so I was popping them once he left.

MTU Goes Boom

So that is what we spent our time doing for almost two weeks in Impass.  It was part of why GigX declared war on the Imperium, a war that really hasn’t seen much action after an initial spasm by CO2.

As a final gesture for the deployment, while CO2 was off helping TEST cover their Keepstar deployment on April Foos Day, we went out to entosis a bunch of systems in order to split their response.  The Keepstar went up uncontested while some scratch defense groups chased us around Impass.

Entosis running

After that we returned to Delve to repair and resupply, pulling out through another wormhole.  Repair was literally required for my Stratios.

Damaged Stratios

I ended up taking some armor hits while annoying a ratting Nyx.  Fighters chew up subcaps, so some care needs to be taken if you’re moving around carriers of super carriers solo.

But the deployment was over and we were back home.

Now the key question remains; was it really an old school Reavers deployment?  Sure, we were in the enemies home territory unsupported, living in safe spots and refitting with mobile depots.  But we didn’t reinforce any towers, and structure shoots were a part of the old deployments, part of the “money in the bank” strategy of.

Then again, we were in the core of CO2s territory while they were home in force, rather than in some periphery while the enemy was deployed elsewhere.  Maybe not a complete recreation of some of the times from the first year of Reavers, but every deployment has its own nature.

Another set of tales for the book of Reavers.

YC119.3 Update Brings Rorqual Nerfs and Bubble Decay to New Eden

This month’s update for EVE Online, YC119.3, brings some significant changes to New Eden.

I am once again content to use CCP’s logo for the update

The Rorqual and its capabilities are once again in the sights of CCPs nerf gun.  The industrial capital ship, which long languished in POSes across low and null sec space as an AFK booster for mining ops, was given a serious boost of its own with the Ascension expansion back in November.  Suddenly its new mining drones were the path to wealth in null sec.  Even after the previous nerf to mining yields, Rorquals from Delve to Cobalt Edge were still out making bank according to the February economic report.

February 2017 report mining value by region

This was bringing down mineral prices thus, according to Dinsdale Pirannah, who I am going to troll on this front (“Trolling Detected” tag deployed), depriving high sec miners their inalienable right to grown rich by mining veldspar two jumps out of Jita. (Note the mining value of the high sec regions around Jita, Lonetrek and The Forge, on that chart.)

So, despite the likely overall net benefit of making production cheaper and lowering prices for all (plus the insane nearly 103 trillion ISK negative trade balance Delve, the mining capital of New Eden, was running on that report, which means that ISK was likely enriching high sec, not impoverishing it) that had to be fixed!

Okay, the Rorqual has been too much of a money printing machine of late, but I wanted to point out that the economics aren’t as simple as “high sec loses.”  So now the billion ISK mining drones that Rorquals use (which will also now provide kill mails) will have higher skill requirements to get tech II benefits, while a change to spread out the asteroids in mining belts and anoms means that drone round trip time will effectively reduce yield.  This will reduce overall productivity of the Rorqual by an estimated 25%.

High sec has been protected from belt spread by having the lock ranges of mining barges increased proportional to the change.

Meanwhile, the invulnerable PANIC jump hictor usage of the Rorqual has been curtailed a bit, as the ship now needs to have an asteroid locked in order to activate its PANIC module.  So long as Jay can keep his super carriers out of asteroid belts, this should improve his quality of life.

Also on the null sec nerf parade is carrier ratting, likely the greatest source of individual null sec wealth.  (If CCP is controlled by Goons, how come they can’t stop this?)  Fighter signature radii are being increased and NPCs will view them as more threatening, thus making fighters both easier to hit and more likely to be targeted in the first place.  The range of responses I have seen to this change have gone from “carrier ratting is dead” to “no big deal if you pay attention.”

Since I haven’t mined in ages and still rat in an Ishtar, neither of these changes make a difference to me personally, but the drama around the changes has been mildly entertaining.  And fighters are getting a UI pass as well, so maybe I’ll figure out how to use them properly some day.

Another big change coming up for null sec relates to mobile warp disruptors, or anchorable bubbles as I generally hear them called. (I love when player terminology deviates from the official terminology.)  Up until today, these things lasted forever once you dropped them, were a pain to shoot, had enough passive regen to make them somewhat proof against solo attacks, and after all that work didn’t even provide a freakin’ kill mail.  Each of these items has been addressed in some way.

The biggest deal is that bubbles will die of their own accord when left in space.  The timers are:

  • Two days for all T1 bubbles
  • One week for all T2 bubbles
  • Two weeks for all Syndicate bubbles

Meanwhile, hit points have been reduced, regen has been toned down, and they now provide kill mails.  Let the bubble holocaust begin!  Also, the updates entry for these changes uses a screen shot I took at 319 station in Delve back in 2012.

319 Station, Many Bubbles Ago

Then there is a great big change to scanners and probes and that interface.  That has really been a work in progress since I started player, but maybe this time for sure!  I will have to see it in action to see if it makes any difference to my own indifferent scanning skills.

I mentioned the change to the Caldari Cormorant destroyer in a post last week, but the Caldari Chimera carrier is also getting a new look.  We will see how the former sits with me once it is live in space.  The latter… well the old model always looked like some sort of amphibian life that was trying to wade ashore, so I suppose it couldn’t get much worse… could it?

Those are what I think are the big items coming with today’s update, which has been deployed.  For further details the patch notes and updates page are both available.  And, as always, it isn’t an EVE Online release/update without another music track to go with it.

Getting Home from Oasa

The ping said that if we got in Cainun’s fleet fast, there was a chance of a big kill.  The call was for the armor T3 cruiser fleet doctrine, which features the Legion and Proteus strategic cruisers along with armor logi and support.  I happened to be at my desk at just the right moment to log in, get in fleet, get into my Oneiros and undock as we warped off to a titan to get bridged on our way.

Off we go, are we committed yet?

The bridge off the titan sent us to another system where a wormhole to Thera awaited us.  We formed up on the null sec side of the wormhole, waiting for the orders to go through.  The wormhole was not fresh and there was concern about how much mass we would be pushing through it.

To this end we were asked to go to our fitting window and offline the armor plates on our ships to reduce the mass going through the whole, though I admit that I did wonder how you can turn off something like an armor plate.  Armor isn’t like a shield, it doesn’t go away when you turn off the switch.  But I followed New Eden logic and set mine offline.

Lolling about at the first wormhole

Tackle was sent through first, and they zipped off to the exit whole in Thera, through, and off to catch up our intended target.  Then the call was for command ships and logi to go through the hole and into Thera.  After we were in successfully, the DPS ships were called to jump through.  That was enough to collapse the hole, though only about a dozen ships got left on the other side.  No wormhole adventure for them and they got to head home.  That still left over 200 ships in the fleet.

Once we were warped to the out hole in Thera, we followed the same routine.  Tackle had already gone through, so the call was for command ships and logi, with yet another follow up reminder to turn off armor plates in case somebody hadn’t done it when asked the previous dozen times.  Command ships and logi went through successfully, so the call went for DPS ships to make the transition.  About six DPS ships made it through before the hole collapsed.

That left us in something of an awkward position.  A small fleet consisting mostly of logi was now in 1-HDQ4 in the Oasa region, a long way from home, while more than 150 T3 cruisers were hanging about in Thera where the direct hole home had already closed and the hole to the target was no longer available to them either.  Those left in Thera docked up at one of the stations there.

Those of us stranded up in Oasa were told to start burning to KED-2O where an Imperium Caracal fleet, which had used the same holes before us, was already engaged.  They had killed a Rorqual up there and had a titan tackled.  So off we went with Thomas Lear now leading us.  Why not?  We were already there and didn’t have anyplace else to be.  But even as we closed in on the destination system, word came down the line that a titan kill wasn’t going to happen.  The defenders had been successful at blowing up any tackle and the big ship got away.

So there we were, up in Oasa, a long way from home, 33 ships made up of boosts, lots of logi, and a few DPS ships.  We were like the incarnation of old school WoW paladins in New Eden; we weren’t going to die, but neither was anything we rolled up on.  It was time to figure out how to get back to Delve.

As it turned out, there was another Thera wormhole about 20 jumps from our current location, over in The Vale of the Silent in 9-GBPD.  We just had to get there.  Getting there though, turned out to be a bit of a chore.  Going gate to gate for 20 jumps takes some time, but that got multiplied as we went through Russian space in Perrigen Falls.  The Russians have a habit of covering gates around their space with anchorable warp disruption bubbles.  Lots of them.

The gate inside the bubbles

So for a series of gates we ended up landing 60-90km off of a gate, slow boating with after burners lit to jump through, then slow boating on after burners out of the inevitable bubbles on the other side of the gate.

Out of the bubbles on the far side for another warp

The bubbles were all around the gates, so there was no sending somebody ahead for a perch around them, and we didn’t have enough DPS to blow them up as we went. (Though I think we did destroy a single small bubble as we motored to a gate, just out of boredom and anger more than anything else… launch logi whore drones!)

The bubbles probably didn’t cost us all that much extra time, but subjectively, having to motor on ABs felt like a long time.   Ironically, tomorrow’s patch is making a change to anchorable bubbles so that they decay and go away after a given amount of time, so this might be the last time we have to drag ourselves through a series of forever bubbles.  And if our trip felt like a long time to us, I am sure the rest of the fleet wasn’t happy about it either.

While we had been gating about the northeast of New Eden, the rest of the fleet had been hanging out in Thera just waiting for us to get back.  Jay, who was with us, started trying to get them to rise up against Cainun to get him to take them home rather than waiting for us.  I have to admit, keeping more than 160 people hanging about waiting for 30 or so of us had a lot going against it.  On the other hand, our detachment was made up of the boosters and logi pilots.  Everybody tells us we’re special… everybody who just wants to fly DPS and get kill mails… so I guess it was time for them to show us just how special we were.

We made it past the bubbles gates and finally arrived in 9-GBPD where B33R was sitting on the wormhole as a warp in.  We went through and found Cainun and the rest of the fleet sitting there waiting for us.

Back with the fleet in Thera… also, the only good Oneiros SKIN

Once we were all through and back into Thera, Cainun warped us to the out connection.  There, we had a plate check once again.  Then he called out four Guardians to stay behind before sending people through.  This hole was also questionable, but there was another Thera connection option if this one collapsed.  Cainun just wanted to be sure any fleet that had to take an alternate route had some logi support.

And he was correct, the whole did collapse before we all got through.  I was through and in the system I-ME3L in Stain.  That put us 23 jumps from home on a route through Period Basis, Delve, Fake Querious, and Delve again.

Down in Stain

Fortunately, there was only a single anchorable bubble on the route home, reported by our scout, and it was down before we even got to the system where it was.  We were able to gate home without incident.

All told, that was about a two hour adventure which took some of us on a multi-region tour the length of New Eden.

Our route, Blue for wormhole travel, Red for gate travel

You could certainly find systems more distant from each other than we hit, but Oasa to Period Basis does cover a lot of the breadth of New Eden.  And it also shows how handy wormholes can be and the hazards of them collapsing on you.

I Survive My First Capital Op

While Burn Jita was still raging on Saturday afternoon, I was back in Delve and going out on my first real Cap Fleet operation.

I have formed up a couple of times for operations that never went anywhere, and I went on last week’s training on SiSi, the public test server, but those don’t really count.  But yesterday I happened to be sitting down at my computer just in time to see a ping from Thomas Lear for a CapSwarm form up.  I was already in our staging, so I hopped into my Apostle and got undocked to wait for instructions.

Cold Iron Apostle on the Keepstar

Cold Iron Apostle on the Keepstar

And then I docked back up because we were told to fit 500MN MWDs to aid in speeding up warping between gates.

I chose to go with the Apostle because I ran with my carrier during the training op on SiSi, which proved to me that I have no clue how to use fighters.  I have to find a guide somewhere about the basics of moving them, as everything I have seen so far seems to operate under the assumption that you have that part mastered and just need to hone your technique.

Anyway, I undocked with the MWD fit and waited for instructions again.  That was a bit difficult as we were sharing coms with Asher’s subcap fleet that was coming along to cover us.  There is an oft repeated joke that USTZ fleets are much more… talkative… on coms than EUTZ fleets.  I don’t buy it fully, as I have been on some EUTZ fleets that could sperg with the best of them, but this fleet seems set to prove the rule.  For the first time in a long time I had to go down to the “no chatter” channel, where you only hear people on the command channel.  And even that channel was a bit chatty as there seemed to be a bunch of people there across the two fleets.

We were first given a destination, then told to warp off to another citadel as the first gate we needed to take was on the back side of the Keepstar, so attempting to warp straight to it would end up with some of us just bumping off the face of the citadel.

I picked a nearby Astrahus and warped off, then turned about and headed for the gate.

Apostle warping off

Apostle warping off

While capitals have jump drives and can move 6 light years at a jump, jump fatigue keeps us from using those drives unless we have to.  So we went by gates to the first system in Fountain.  Once there we took off the MWDs and used our jump drives to put us close to our target, hopping over some hostile space, then took a few more gates to the target.

Caps and subcaps landing on a gate

Caps and subcaps landing on a gate

The subcap fleet did managed to bubble us on an in gate at one point due to the presence of hostiles, so we had to hang about for a short bit while that came down.  No hostiles were trapped.

Partially bubbled cap fleet

Partially bubbled cap fleet aligning out

The only tense moment for me during the trip either way was when I lost connection.  We were jumping through a gate and I was stuck in the warp tunnel for a long stretch, then got disconnected.  When I got back in game an rejoined the fleet, I had to go through the return from disconnect routine.  My ship had been warped off, so it had to go back to the spot it left from, which happened to be a few hundred km off the gate.  I had to warp to the gate again and jump.  Looking at local though, the fleet had left me behind, but there were half a dozen hostiles in system.  However, they didn’t show up and I was able to jump the gate and catch up with the fleet at the first target, a tower belonging to The Culture in G95F-H.

There wasn’t much for faxes to do during the first shoot.  I put out some Warrior drones and shot modules with the carriers, but other than that we were orbiting around Thomas Lear while the carriers and dreads did their work. (I even got on the kill mail for a couple of modules, though I didn’t think you could kill modules unless you killed the tower, only incapacitate them.)

We then went after a second tower, which was also reinforced.  This one had a jump bridge, which required the usual special treatment wherein you burn it down to half structure, then rep the armor back up to half again, so the owner has to either take the time to rep it back up or put damage on it to destroy it and replace it.  When it came time to apply reps the faxes were told to go into one cycle of triage.  The triage module greatly boosts the amount of repair a fax can put out, but you cannot recieve reps, move, or warp.  I lit mine for a cycle and started applying my reps.

The blue effect indicates Triage mode

The blue effect indicates Triage mode

And then, as I watched my capacitor drain away, I realized I did not bring and charges for my cap booster.  Well, something for the list.  So I turned off the repair modules after a bit and just let the triage timer run down.  Something to remember for next time.  Once we were done with that it was time to turn around and head for home.  Enough time had elapsed for our jump fatigue to wear off, so after a couple of gates we were able to jump to Y-2ANO and then gate back to our staging.  I managed to get through the op without screwing anything up too badly.

One thing I did notice was that, while the Cold Iron skin for the Apostle looks really good, in the darkness of space it can sometimes be too dark.  I ended up changing to the all white Purity skin every so often just so I could see myself.

Skin change in progress

Skin change in progress

But otherwise I was able to keep up with the fleet, jump when told, and find my way back when disconnected.  I just have to remember those cap boosters for next time.