Category Archives: Null Sec

The Coming Battle in 9-4RP2

Not too long after this post goes live the first fleets will be forming up.  Fleets of ships, each as big as 255 pilots in size, will start to coalesce and begin their last minute preparations.  The final timer for a Pandemic Horde Keepstar in the system  9-4RP2 in Cloud Ring set to expire later today.

I logged in last night to take one last peek.  There were fewer than 40 people in system.  The Imperium citadels ringing the Keepstar sat in silent vigil, watching the timer tick down.

Less than a day to go at that point…

That was at about 04:00 New Eden time, which puts the the start of the Keepstar repair cycle at about 22:00.

In a bit of a quirk, a bunch of the citadels around the Keepstar hit their vulnerability window a few hours before the big fight, so there is the possibility of some early action, though Asher says that nobody defends on the shield timer, so it might just be some attackers and people gunning the citadels exchanging shots, but it will be a side show to the main event.

The PH 9-4RP2 Keepstar

As these things tend to go, the form up and the start of any fight will happen while I am still at the office.  The earliest I can possibly be home and logged in is about 23:00 New Eden time, which is a full hour after the timer.

That is still better than last week, as the times have crept later and later with each fight.  But, if nobody shows up to defend the Keepstar… or if nobody shows up to attack it… the whole thing will be over in 30 minutes and I won’t even be on the road home by then.

I’m pretty sure the attackers are going to show up.  Imperium Jabber has been full of pings about the coming battle over the last five days… which probably means half the coalition still doesn’t know about it.  There have been no end of move ops to get ships pre-positioned for the fight, while the capital ops have been opened up, and reimbursement offered, to people who can only qualify for CrapSwarm, to fill out as many capital fleets as possible.  We shall see if people will risk their ratting carriers.

Which leaves the defenders.

I suppose the easiest option for Pandemic Horde would be to play the “Didn’t want that Keepstar anyway, made you form!” card and just let the Keepstar die without forming.  That at least has a reliable result.  Other options involve more risk and may not save the Keepstar.  But if they go that route, the question then would be “What will they defend?”  The Imperium might just move forward and try their Keepstar at C4C-Z4 in Fade to see. (We were there recently.)

On grid with the PH Keepstar in C4C-Z4

Ideally for them, they and their allies would both save the Keepstar and destroy copious Imperium capitals and super caps.  Saving the Keepstar but losing a lot of supers would not bode well however.  I strongly suspect that the Imperium’s primary goal is to destroy as many super capitals belonging to the coalition of the north as possible, the Keepstar just being the bait to get them on the field.

The Imperium would happily trade titans with them all evening and consider themselves the winner based solely on their ability to replace losses.  You have seen the production numbers for Delve from the December Monthly Economic Report, right?

December 2017 – Production Values by Region – Bar Graph

I suspect that were not just building Rorquals and ratting carriers down there.

And, of course, there is the “good of EVE Online” aspect to this.  Big fights like this generate headlines in the wider gaming press and bring attention… and new players… to the game.  I wonder what is going on at CCP as the battle looms?

From my own selfish point of view, I hope for a big fight as well because then time dilation will kick in and the fight will drag out to the point that I can get home, get settled, and log in to see things unfold.

The view from the Fortizar where I am docked

Maybe I will even get on a few kill mails with my stealth bomber.  We shall see.

Anyway, the coming timer is the topic du jour over on Reddit, with plenty of speculation, advice, and memes to be had.  Elsewhere there are some reviews of what has happened so far and previews as to what may come.

Time and the TiDi Wait for No Man

So many pings.

Things have begun to stir in null sec here in the new year.  The Imperium has risen from its ratting and mining binge… krabbing is us… to focus on blowing something up.  It isn’t really a war.  We’re not off to conquer more territory.  Instead we are focusing on a Pandemic Horde Keepstar in the system 9-4RP2 in Cloud Ring.

And so the alerts have been going out to rally people to be ready to join the fight, even asking people to resubscribe their capital and super capital pilots.  This started in earnest after the first attack set a timer on the Keepstar, practically becoming the Jabber equivalent of the old “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! See “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Shirley “Cha-Cha” Muldowney…” radio ads as the directorate tried to get the troops rallied and eager.

I was eager myself, ever keen to be part of a big fight, even if it was only to be a timer fight rather than a possible kill.  The problem was the time.  Form up for the fight on Tuesday was slated for 18:00 and the timer itself would come up a bit past 20:30.  Those are New Eden times, which runs on UTC, which puts those event at about 10am and 12:30pm on a week day out here on the left coast of the United States.  Even though I tend to be early into the office, I am never so early as to be able to be home by lunch time.

Still, I had a hope of seeing some of the action.  If the fight developed into a big enough brawl, if the goal expanded beyond the timer and became a slug fest between super fleets looking for titan kills, time dilation could help me out.  I couldn’t get into the game until 23:00 UTC at the earliest, but if everybody was running at 10% tidi then a fight might still be under way.

To get myself setup for that possibility, I hopped into a stealth bomber, made sure I had a couple of bombs and a stack of torpedoes, and flew out to Cloud Ring so as to be pre-positioned for any fight.

The flight out went without incident, it being late US/early AU time when things can be quiet, but when I arrived in 9-4RP2 I realized I had to find the Keepstar still.  It doesn’t show up on the overview and I hadn’t bothered to find out even a general location for it.  But I saw we had some citadels in the system as well… more than a dozen, including a Fortizar.  I figured I could just hole up in one of those and find the fight when the time came, so I warped to one only to find they were all still in the process of deploying.

That meant no docking up for me as well as an interesting angle to the coming fight.  In addition to the armor timer for the Keepstar there would be a range of Imperium citadels coming online and vulnerable just to confuse the issue.  If the locals stuck to the Keepstar, we would have a bunch of bases in the system.  If they attacked the vulnerable citadels, they might lose the Keepstar timer.

Anyway, warping to a deploying citadel did help me out, as I found that they were all on grid with the Keepstar.

The Pandemic Horde 9-4RP2 Keepstar

The timer was running down, but the event was still about 15 hours away.

Distant Keepstar timer running

I looked around for a bit, then went off to make myself a safe spot.  I did not want to log back in on grid with the fight lest I find myself in the midst of hostiles.  Once I had a nice location bookmarked I uncloaked and did a safe logoff.

That long 30 second wait to be safe

The next day at the office I watched the pings come in on my phone.  There were early form ups, late form ups, supers and sub-caps, battleships and destroyers, and all the sundry in between forming up and heading towards Cloud Ring.

I saw a report of two hostile titans having been blown up, another that we lost the timer, and a third that because the Keepstar was again vulnerable that we were going to re-do the shield timer yet again to start the event again.  Taking a quick peek at the INN stream it appeared that we were doing the shield timer via a  mass of fighters that had somehow formed themselves ala Voltron into an Avatar class titan. (Source: INN stream and Joe the Barbarian)

A titan and the fighter formation compared

The overwhelming fighter super capital assault was enough to drive off the enemy.

There were more than 3,000 people in local at the peak of the fight, but by the time I got home, logged int, and warped onto grid that number had dropped closer to 30.  We had set the shield timer again, so success on that front.

The timer running again… cloaked Purifier in the foreground

We also seemed to do very well with our own citadel array as there was now a constellation of CONDI citadels around the target, including a Fortizar in which we could hide dreads and carriers.

The view from the Fortizar

In addition there was another Fortizar going online, just to add to the collection.

Another Fortizar deploying

That left the a growing Imperium citadel count in system.

Imperium Citadel Count in 9-4RP2

Even though I missed the fight, there was some upside for me.  Because the shield timer got set later in the day, there was a greater likelihood of my being able to get home and online to see the next day’s fight.

However, yesterday’s fight went even more quickly that the previous one.  By the time I got home the system had again emptied out.  We did win the armor timer fight.  That meant a six day wait for the final fight.

I was more than 2 hours late…

That will put the battle for the destruction of the Keepstar early Tuesday afternoon next week when, naturally, I will be at work.

But I have hope.  Timers are timers and not so serious, so people slack off.

This fight though, this could mean the destruction of a significant Pandemic Horde asset, so I suspect the defenders will be pulling out all the stops in order to get people in system and on grid to defend the Keepstar.

And on our side there are already ‘”fight coming” pings going out in multiple languages to make people aware of this fight.

Then there are the third parties who will show up looking for kills, and maybe even a Keepstar kill.

With all of that I have high hopes that it will be everybody to the limit and time dilation at 10% and the system still lagging for a long fight into the night, leaving me plenty of time to get home, get logged in, and get on grid to see how it plays out.

In the mean time the Keepstar waits.

Look, it is an unsubtle metaphor!  Imperium surrounding Pandemic Horde!

Of course, that is just my story.  I’m still sitting in system waiting for the big fight.  For what actually happened this week the following stories have been posted:

There are also a number of posts on Reddit with good pictures of the first two fights.

Now to see if Tuesday brings a B-R5RB level blood bath.

Delve – How Does One Value Minerals?

CCP Quant must not have stayed up late to celebrate the coming of the new year as he had the December monthly economic report up and posted on Tuesday, leaving me to catch up.

As usual, I am viewing this through a Delve-eye lens because the region stands out amongst its null sec brethren.  And December was no exception, with Delve once again leading the null sec mining parade.

December 2017 – Mining Value by Region

Delve rang in with 11.5 trillion ISK in mineral value mined over the course of the month.  You can see how it stacks up to other regions more easily with the bar chart version of this data.

December 2017 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

The gap between Delve and the next most mined region closed a bit, but since that region is Querious, which is under Imperium suzerainty, I am not sure those outside the coalition should be cheering.

The value of the minerals mined in Delve went down, from 13.9 trillion ISK in value in November to the above noted 11.5 trillion ISK.  However, as minerals have no innate value… you can’t hand them in to an NPC for a fixed price… the total mined is measured in market value, and the mineral price index was down yet again in December.

December 2017 – Economic Indices

All that mining and the minerals have to go somewhere.  Still, while the mineral price drop looks drastic on that chart, the long range chart shows that it is still nowhere close to its lowest value ever.

December 2017 – Economic Indices – Long Term

Still, mineral prices are down, though the other indices are up, so I suspect that things are not getting cheaper in Jita all the same.  The disruption of T2 materials with the new moon mining mechanic… and the market speculation that preceded that… probably play into those numbers.

After minerals there is everybody’s favorite null sec range number, the NPC bounties where, once again, Delve is out in front.

December 2017 – NPC Bounties by Region

NPC bounty payouts were up some in December, hitting the 9.9 trillion ISK mark, up from 9.7 trillion ISK in November.  Unlike mining, Delve does not quite dominate as much when it comes to bounties.

December 2017 – NPC Bounties by Region – Bar Graph

The Branch region saw a boost over last month, coming in second place, with Deklein and Esoteria in third and fourth.

The percentage of overall NPC bounties being claimed in null sec went down by a tiny fraction, adding up to 92.1%, down from 92.4%.

December 2017 – Bounties by Space Sec Rating

Of the total bounty payment number of 65.9 trillion ISK Delve was responsible for 15%.

The change was in favor of high sec and probably reflects the fact that there is an event running.  As an ISK faucet NPC bounties remain on the rise.

December 2017 – Top 8 ISK Sinks and Faucets

The rise in NPC bounties makes me ask again if CCP will be looking to nerf that at some point, or are they too busy nerfing the agent finder and third party tools to get to that?

On the production front Delve holds second place behind The Forge.

December 2017 – Production Values by Region

However, that number is a bit deceptive as Jita, the center of New Eden, sits at the confluence of three regions.

December 2017 – Production Values by Region – Bar Graph

So if you look at it as “production around Jita” you have to include The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel, which all together add up to about double Delve.  So most production in New Eden happens around Jita, though the Delve number is still pretty impressive, adding up as it does to about the equivalent of Esoteria, Tribute, Deklein, and Domain.

And then there is market trade value.

December 2017 – Trade Value by Region

In this Jita, located in The Forge (along with those sales citadels in Perimeter), blows everything else out of the water.  It is so far ahead that CCP Quant publishes a chart with everything besides The Forge just so the variations in the rest of the regions will stand out.

December 2017 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph, The Forge Excluded

With The Forge out of the accounting Domain, the home of Amarr the second city trade hub, shows up at the top of the list with 76 trillion ISK in trade, or a little more than 10% of the number for The Forge.  Behind that is Delve with a little over 41 trillion ISK in trade value, followed by three more high sec systems with their own trade systems.

Finally, there is the region summary chart that compares some of the most active regions.

December 2017 – Regional Summary Stats

Even with all the production going on in Delve the region still imports 51 trillion ISK, most of which I am sure comes from Jita.  I am not sure if the Delve shipping services ever offer Amarr, which is closer, as a standard shipping option.  With the jump fuel changes that came with the December update the per square meter charge to get things shipped to and from Jita went up 20%.  I am not sure if that was responsible for the 34 trillion ISK drop in imports into the region when compared to November or if there simply wasn’t a need to import as much.

Anyway, another month and another economic report.  You can look at the full report which includes additional charts and all of the raw data if you are interested in the New Eden economy.

Daredevil Race

Ranger Gama drew Asher in the Theta Squad Secret Santa gift exchange, so his problem immediately became, “What do you get the 23rd best FC in the Imperium?”

He decided to get Asher a Reavers event since Theta just krabs in Delve day and night I suppose.

The event was to be a frigate race.  The route and frigate type were to be announced at the time of the race when Ranger Gama would hand them out.  He imported ten frigates, one for himself, one for Asher, and eight more for whoever showed up in time to claim one.

The planned time for the race was delayed on a couple of occasions, which worked out for me as I happened to sit down at my desk just after Asher pinged Reavers to let them know it was on.  I was in soon enough to claim one of the frigates, which turned out to be a Daredevil, a Serpentis faction frigate.

Me being me, I quickly logged an alt into Jita to buy a SKIN because I just can’t undock anymore without one.  The Glacial Drift SKIN was available and cheap, but then I saw some of the Serpentis Victory SKINs listed as well.  Those were given away as part of Alliance Tournament XV.  They were much more pricey, going for over 300 million ISK, but also more rare.  So I picked up one of those and contracted it to myself and activated it.

Daredevil in the hangar with a new SKIN

The race was originally going to be a point-to-point run, but Asher suggested something to make it more interesting… or dangerous… or both… so the instructions were updated in the fleet MOTD.

The route, with one five minute stop

Each of the ships had a name for the occasion.  I ended up with the ship named “In.”

We undocked our frigates and met up on a citadel in ROIR.  From there the race began.

The frigates themselves were setup for speed, capable of well over 5km/sec with the included faction MWD burning.  Otherwise, as you can see from one of the Daredevils that got caught, there was a bit of shielding and some festival launchers armed with fireworks to use along the way.

Festival Launchers on the ship

As we flew off Apple Pear showed up and was given a ship.  Only seven had been handed out so he started off a few gates behind us.  Given that the route was static and everybody was warping at the same speed he needed some hostile intervention to help his cause.

The rest of us warped along towards the first destination.

Daredevil in warp

This was where I started to have problems.  I was up with the leaders when one of our cats managed to get himself caught in the handle of a shopping bag which was hooked over the door across the hall from me and began to thrash wildly, seeming more likely to harm himself via that than anything the bag would do.  I dropped my headset, grabbed him, lifted him up to take off any strain, then calmed him for a bit before slipping his head out and letting him run off.  He was okay and I had my daughter dispose of the bag, but now I was behind the pack, though still out in front of Apple Pear.  At least I was still alive, having sat uncloaked on a gate for a bit.

Then I ran into another issue.  When we arrived in JU-OWQ in Deklein, my auto-pilot route sent me back the way we came to get to C4C-Z4.  I still do not understand why, as I checked later and did not see any systems anywhere close by on my avoid list.  So I passed by Apple Pear going the other way, made it through CCP-US, where he had reported a gate camp on both gates, and on towards Fade.

Fortunately there was nothing in the rules about the route, just the requirement to hit the specified waypoints, so that my route differed from the route everybody else took didn’t matter.

Some space maps with routes

Well, it did matter a bit.  My route was two jumps longer, but it turned out to be a bit safe as Asher and the rest of the pack ran into some trouble, with two Daredevils getting popped in K4YZ-Y.  I made it to C4C without incident, but was easily 3 minutes behind Asher, Ranger Gama, and Norgraad. I warped on grid with the Keepstar and started burning away from it and the few carriers that had fighters out to try and nab us.

On grid with the PH Keepstar

Asher and Ranger Gama seemed to do okay, but Norgraad managed to get popped by the locals, though gamely carried on in his pod.  They warped off, heading to the next waypoint while I lingered on grid watching the stopwatch on my iPhone slowly count off the minutes.  The leaders were reporting some people waiting for them ahead, but by the time I was able to warp off towards the next destination they seemed to have given up.  I left Apple Pear behind on the Keepstar grid and went in chase of the leaders.

While there was mutterings on coms about the dangers ahead, they were often vague, like the leaders did not want to help those chasing them catch up.  But it didn’t really matter.  The only hope I had of catching up was to warp straight from gate to gate and just hope to crash or burn past any gate camp.  So off I went.

Fortunately for myself an Apple Pear, the path through was pretty sparsely populated.  At least that was fortunate for us as far as staying alive went.  It also meant that there wasn’t much to slow down Asher or Ranger Gama or even Norgraad in his pod.  Norgraad’s slow warps mean I was able to pass him at least.  He got caught in Cloud Ring while I burned on.

The Cloud Ring nebula

The only real peril for me was at the Alsavoinon gate in F7C-H0.  There, on the boarder between null sec and low was the expected camp with a bubble setup.  I landed straight in it and the campers were slow enough to react to my arrival that I thought I might make it through to the gate unscathed.  However, burning in as fast as I did I hit the gate and bounced off it so far that I had to burn in again.  I took some damage, dropping to half shields, as I made my way back to the gate again, but got through and was on my way.

Low sec space posed no threat and it wasn’t until the path brought me back into null sec that I ran into some additional trouble.  There was a drag bubble in EWOK-K on the O-N8XZ gate that pulled me out of warp shy of the gate.

Burning to the gate again

However, no hostiles were minding the store and a lone TNT pilot was plinking away at the bubble to take it down.  I would have joined in to help… Asher and Ranger Gama were already over the finish line… but fireworks don’t do much.  After that it was just a few more empty gates and I was over the finish line myself.  There I burned over to Asher and Ranger Gama and joined in the shooting of fireworks.

Apple Pear showed up after a bit, followed by Elisha Okaski, who made it all the way from K4YZ-Y in his pod, earning him a special commendation.

For my third place finish I won a free ship of the line for whatever Asher’s next Reavers doctrine ends up being, mostly because Ranger Gama was the organizer so counted himself and Asher out of the contest.  Elisha Okaski will get a ship as well for persevering through most of the race in a pod.

I handed Ranger Gama back my ship so he could use them for some future event and thanked him for setting this up and, of course, declaring me one of the prize winners.  We’ll have to see what the next doctrine ends up being.

That was probably my last op of the year.  Below some screen shots of us shooting fireworks.  We had to turn the MWDs off as the ships were otherwise outrunning the launchers.

Blaze Fleet in Deklein

Up north it has become clear that the locals have decided to get serious about the citadels we have been dropping.  Early on they were responding with modest fleets only to find themselves in trouble from time to time even against our own modest efforts.  Battleship fleets started coming with force auxiliary support, then capitals started getting dropped, and we even saw supers getting dropped on us.

You can’t really complain about that.  We’d do the same on our own home turf.  But when our scouts are out reporting on the forces being arrayed against, just standing down instead of taking the fight starts to seem like the most realistic option.  We still tend to go to see if we can at least extract some kills from the situation, but the likelihood of us winning any timers is pretty much non-existent at this point.

We had a couple of timers the other night and Asher had promised us something special.  When we got online we found that, rather than our sturdy VNIs, he had a different theme planned.  We were going out in Armageddons instead.  We could then wear our CCP Blaze SKINs for the ship.

The CCP Blaze SKIN on my ‘geddon

There had been a real push to get people to pick up the limited edition SKINs that CCP offered to honor the late CCP Blaze and raise money for his family.  Pings went out Imperium-wide encouraging people to buy the SKIN pack, while within Reavers there was an even stronger push to get people to grab them as several of the ships are in our doctrine catalog.

So Asher had a whole fleet doctrine imported and handed out ships in our staging station, trading for logi, boosters, support, and the ships of the line, the Armageddon.  I opted for the latter, mostly because I had the CCP Blaze SKIN for it, otherwise I might have considered logi.

As that got sorted out reports were coming in about what was being brought to face us.  In Fade, the Astrahus in DW-T2I had Pandemic Horde coming in Machariel battleships and capitals, while the citadel up in Deklein had a Guardians of the Galaxy coalition was also forming capitals, but were going with a Typhoon battleship doctrine instead.  The odds against us were going to be long whichever way we chose to jump.

It was already clear to many of us that this Armageddon fleet was going to be a one-way trip, but Asher put it out there on coms and asked us if we still wanted to go.  The response in fleet chat was overwhelmingly in favor of going.  So we undocked.

Leaving our station

We did not have as many CCP Blaze SKINs… or SKINs in general… as I would have hoped.  The Armageddon isn’t used very much in the null sec meta, so buying a SKIN for one isn’t much of a priority.  If cash or ISK are short, it is arguably a bit of a waste for a ship you’re unlikely to ever fly.  But there were also some comments from people who hadn’t gotten the word about the CCP Blaze SKIN deal who would have bought it if only they had known.

That is always the way of things.  No matter how much you think you’re getting the word out about something… there was a dev blog, it was in the launcher, it was highlighted in the New Eden store, it was mentioned on EVE news sites, and our own coalition was pinging about it… most people don’t pay that close of attention to their video games.  As I have been known to say, if you’re reading this you’re part of some strange minority that probably obsesses too much about games.

Still, there were some CCP Blaze SKINs present.

SKINs on display

The first thing we had to do was warp to another station as the one we chose to stage out of does not offer insurance as a service.  If we were going to go on a one-way trip opting in on the Platinum insurance plan seemed like a good idea.  That goes double for T1 battleships like the Armageddon, which gets a handsome payout relative to its cost.  Once insured we got to undock again.

Armageddons undocking again

Then it was off to the titan to see where we would be heading.  Even as we were hanging around waiting for the bridge it looked like we would be off to Deklein as the INN coverage of the Fade Astrahus timer was already showing the shoot there winding down.

Drunk Canadian and the fall of the Astrahus

As expected, we went off to Deklein to face the GotG fleet in part, as Asher noted later, because they were flying a Typhoon doctrine, something they declared dumb when we did it, but not so dumb that they didn’t copy it.  The fleet meta defies propaganda.

Bridged into Deklein we gated towards the impending fight, then turned to hang on the gate 3QE-9Q gate in E-FIC0, a system name that always makes me think of my credit score.

The gate of fate

We held there because our scout had reported the hostiles coming that way.  Soon enough they were coming through the gate and the fight was on.  Bubbles were up and and we were off to the races.

Bubbles going up around the gate

The Armageddon gets boosts to energy neutralizer range as well as drone hit points, so we were sent off to neut out targets near our name alphabetically while putting drones on one set of targets while running our rapid heavy missile launchers against another set.

That did not start out very well.  While we knocked down a few Typhoons, their logi wasn’t breaking.  And then we spent some time focusing on one of the Apostles that was nearby in the hope of getting a big kill.

A fat target in our midst

That did not meet with success and all the time we were getting whittled away.  The ECM fleet that flew up from Delve to join in with us was picked off in short order and the Armageddons began to drop one by one.  After seeing that the Apostle wasn’t going to go down we switched back to Typhoons, sending our drones after each broadcast in turn, launching fresh drones when the current ones were cleared away by smart bombs.

The Typhoons did not seem to be hitting us very hard.  I survived quite a while with a batch of them hitting me.  But once one of the 19 hostile carriers on grid sent fighters my way, the end was nigh for my Armageddon.  Fighters eat up sub-caps pretty handily.

Into structure now… I also forgot to turn my neut back on when I capped out

I went boom shortly thereafter, managing to catch my ship coming apart only to have the screen shot ruined by the insurance payout popping up during the most dramatic point.  Still, it looks pretty neat cropped down.

My Armageddon coming apart

From that point on I was floating around in my pod watching the fight.  A couple more Typhoons went down but we were rapidly approaching the point where we could no longer break their tanks.  Fleet chat filled with links to our kill mails as we died and soon logi and support were gone as the final stand ended.

A few ships managed to get away, but the battle report shows we welped and welped hard.  I was sitting back in the station in my fresh pod when I saw the bounty payment notification for Asher come in.  They saved him for later.

Bounty Paid

It isn’t a bad thing to place a bounty on your FC.  The bounty system will often tell you they’ve been blown up well before you hear it on coms so you are ready to change over to the alternate anchor or get the hell out if appropriate.

Anyway, it all went as expected.  We got stuck in, got a few kills, and then died a glorious death in our old homeland. No citadels were saved.  All that remains in the CCP Blaze tribute thread on Reddit and some screen shots of our fleet.  For the latter I have a gallery below:

A Tipping Point for My Time in New Eden

What was going on in December six years ago?

The instance group was still early in its adventures in Rift.

EverQuest II merged with the EverQuest II Extended F2P experiment.

Diablo III seemed to be on the horizon, along with Torchlight II and Path of Exile.  My annual MMO Outlook post wasn’t very MMO-ish.

Star Wars: The Old Republic was arriving on the scene while Star Wars Galaxies was being shut down.

Lord British was being coy about his ultimate RPG, how fond he was (or was not) of EA, and how nice it would be if EA would let him use the Ultima IP he sold them way back when.

We starting to worry about the fact that the Mayan calendar seemed to call it quits in 2012… again, Lord British on the scene here as well, he seemed to be talking a lot back then… until we all got a new one in the mail from our Mayan insurance agents.  That was probably a good thing, since the contact information on the old one was pretty far out of date.

And I was back subscribed to EVE Online for the Crucible expansion.

Crucible – November 2011

Having voted with my wallet and unsubscribed after the Incarna fiasco, I was back to see if CCP was really changing course or not.

Crucible dropped at the end of November 2011 with a promise to focus on fixing the game that already existed in New Eden as opposed to dumping new features on us.  As Hilmar told us, the era of the Jesus Feature was over and the patch notes foretold a lot of incremental look and feel improvements for the game.

Things were pretty in Crucible, I gave CCP that.  But it was still the same game overall and I had worn out most of the paths in high sec that were available, having run missions, manufactured, invented, mined, and played the market.  After a few days of looking at space and ships and such I was already feeling a bit done with things.

And then my pal Gaff suggested I come out to null sec where he was.

He had been out there for a while and had asked me to come out previously, but I was always tied up with what I was doing.  I get hung up on my “stuff” and all of that “stuff” was in a station in Amarr space, much closer to Delve than Deklein.  The idea of packing it up and moving was too much and I would always put off joining him until I was “ready,” whatever that meant.

This time, however, I hadn’t been around my “stuff” for months.  My attachment to it was pretty weak, as was my attachment to the game itself in that moment.  I was pretty sure I was going to unsubscribe anyway, so I said I would go.

So six years ago today was my first null sec post where I joined the corp Gaff was in, set my home to their main station, and self-destructed to awake and find myself in Deklein.  From there it was fleet ops and space battles and ships and effects I had never before seen in the game.

From that point forward I started seeing new things and playing in a new way.  In the six years since the sovereignty map has changed (what it looked like back then), the mechanics have changed, the fleet metas have changed, the graphics have changed, moon mining has changed, jump travel has changed, skill injectors arrived, Alpha clones became a thing, and null sec has gone from being a pretty restricted club to being pretty accessible via large new player organizations with low barriers to entry like KarmaFleet, Pandemic Horde, and Brave Newbies.

Also, I’ve been part of an invasion of Delve at least four times.

But all of that has kept me invested in EVE Online and came at a time when I was ready to step away from New Eden once again.

As for the tipping point, with the coming of my sixth year in null sec it also means that along the way, in the last few months I suppose, I passed over the line where most of my in-game time went from being in high sec space and doing the PvE things I mentioned above… which I still do sometimes, but not as my sole vocation… to being mostly null sec based.

I suppose the real question now is, am I a bitter vet yet or not?

VNI Fleet Timer Skirmish in Fade

Once more into space went our VNI fleet, undocking for another foray into harms ways.

VNIs undock once more

Another Astrahus timer was set to expire where we were the other night, DW-T2I in Fade.

The op had been announced well in advance so I was ready and resupplied.  I even had a new SKIN for the VNI, having had SKINs on the mind with the advent of the CCP Blaze memorial SKIN set, which I also picked up.

A fresh SKIN on the VNI

The Glacial Drift SKIN was readily available in Jita for a reasonable price, so I grabbed that for the op.

As these things go, we got ourselves together and out on the titan to wait for our ride into the fight.

Taking up a collection to buy that Erebus a SKIN

One more trip into the POS shields.  Some day… maybe even some day soon… that will no longer be a thing in New Eden.  There aren’t many roles left for the good old POS, aside from hiding titans and anchoring jump bridges.

We waited a bit, but the call to take the bridge came as the blue effect swirled about the POS.  We jumped, landing on the Astrahus in DW-T2I.

The Cyno burns bright

We were there just in time as the counter ticked down to the appointed hour.

Citadel vulnerable in 1 second

The enemy had not yet appeared as the timer rolled over and the repair cycle began, but that situation did not last for long.  Soon Pandemic Horde dropped just off the citadel with the expected Tempest Fleet.

There they are on the overview

As they had previously, they came with an Apostle force auxiliary for reps.

Apostle on grid with the Astrahus

In addition they had reinforcements from their allies Guardians of the Galaxy coalition in the form of a Cerberus fleet.

We had a bit of support of our own, which arrived as the fight kicked off.  Asher set us up to hit the Tempest fleet first and we were able to pick off some choice targets almost immediately, including a pair of Basilisks, a Vulture, a Tengu, and a Cerberus that strayed too close to us.

However, they managed to get webs on Asher long enough to slow him down and pop him, which put us off our stride.  We went to a secondary anchor, shot a few Tempests, and then had to warp off as our drones we getting shredded.  Along the way I was red boxed by the Tempest fleet, but speed and our logi support saved me.

Meanwhile, a Jackdaw fleet that had flown up from Delve joined in the fray.  Also present were some bombers from The Initiative who were fresh off their server first Guristas Sotiyo kill.  After waiting out our aggression timer on at a safe, we docked up in the Astrahus to swap fresh drones into our drone bays from cargo.  Asher meanwhile had reshipped and rejoined us, leading us back on grid to the fight.

Tempest fleet in the new warp bubble effect

For this round we stayed at the edge of lock range in an effort to avoid getting webbed again.  Our survivability depends on keeping our speed up to avoid being hit by the battleship guns.  That made our ability to engage a bit dodgy as our drones had a long way to go and the Cerberus fleet, or target for this round, hove in and out of lock range.

A Cerberus caught by our drones about to explode

A number of times we would get drones on a Cerb only to have it move out of range, though our drones would keep attacking.  During that engagement I managed to get the kill mail on one of the Cerbs.  It was pure luck, as these things tend to be in fleets over a certain size, but it did give me a third kill mark on my VNI.

Those tiny white triangles on the upper hull, just in the blue, are kill marks

We kept at it and were able to take down a string of Cerbs though, once again our drones were getting chopped up.  A smart bombing Machariel was in their midst, taking its toll.  I lost my full second flight of heavy drones and towards the end had only my two backup heavies engaged.

We were not able to do much versus the Tempest fleet at that point, and they kept on hitting the Astrahus, eventually winning the timer.  That advanced the assault on the citadel to the final round, the fight to destroy it, which initiates six days hence.

The six day count down to the final fight

At that point the main event was over.  We docked up in the citadel again to move whatever drones we had left in cargo over to our drone bays.  That meant some sentry drones for me.  The hostiles hung around a bit then started to warp off.  However, a few of them were too close to the structure model and ended up bumping it while trying to align out.  A Sabre of ours outside the Astrahus, waiting for just such an opportunity, put up a bubble to hold them and we all poured out of the citadel, launched our reaming drones, and picked off the stragglers.

The Astrahus bubbled to catch the unfortunates

That netted us a couple more Cerbs, a Loki, and a Scimitar to finish off the evening.  Then people began to  loot the field then pop wrecks to keep the enemy from picking over the remains.  A daring Ibis and a Catalyst warped in and out looting and salvaging, staying just out of our reach.

I moved back to pick up my sentry drones and waited for the trip back to our staging.

Motoring back to my drones

So the fight was a bit of a split decision.  The enemy achieved their objective and sent the citadel into its final timer.  However, the results of the battle show the ISK war coming out very much in our favor in a fight where we were, once again, out numbered.  We lost about 6.6 billion ISK while blowing up more than 13 billion ISK in hostiles.

As I hung about waiting for the run back to staging I managed to catch a screen shot with an ad running on the Astrahus that seemed amusing.

Fly to Live, Live to Fight

My ship lived to fly another day.  We shall see if the VNIs undock again for another fight.