Category Archives: Null Sec

Quote of the Day – The Power Blocs Will Never Die

Break the power blocs down and they’ll only build themselves up again, he shrugs. It’s human nature.

The Mittani to EuroGamer, Inside EVE Online’s Game of Thrones

EuroGamer gets a good deal of deserved mocking from time to time due to their sacrificing quality/depth of reporting in order to keep up with the pace of news on the web and the need to be able to be first (example one and two), but they have a post up today about the EVE Online meta game titles Inside EVE Online’s Game of Thrones that makes up for some of their shortcomings.

Reinforcements bridge in

Blocs Battling at 6VDT-H back in 2013

The article runs through some of the realities of the big null sec power blocs and is a decent read if the topic interests you (certainly more so than that article in The Atlantic that ran along as though the CSM was central to the meta game), though you have to remember that the focus is just on one aspect of EVE Online.  Null sec is just a slice of the pie.  And yes, there is some smugness to be had for CFC pilots as the article displays a tone of exasperation when it comes to our traditional foes like Black Legion and NCDot.

There are a couple of takeaways from the article that are important to remember.  One is the social bonding aspect and how a lot of people run ops more for the people they play with than because EVE Online is full of fun and exciting game mechanics. (It is objectively a pretty poor game in the regard on many fronts.)  That one comes out pretty clearly in the article.

The other one is stated less directly, but it is one I have brought up before. And that is, in any game where being organized and working together brings advantage, groups that can do so in the long term will tend to dominate in the long term.  Such group will tend to adapt to change better and will continue to succeed, which leads to the quote at the top.  Making the game more difficult for the organized groups will tend to harm the less organized groups even more so.  History has born this out.

And if you’re dying for more on the topic, there is Sion’s presentation from Fanfest about diplomacy, coalitions, and the meta game, now up on YouTube.

Punitive Expedition to Delve

I’m back from Fanfest and I’m FUCKING BORED – this ‘invasion’ we faced last week was the most laughably, pathetically weak attempt at our shit in years, and that says something. For too long we’ve been dealing with our foes thinking they can assault us and get away with these ‘fake invasions’ for funsies.

It’s almost April. It’s ~that season~. Who’s up for a bit of bloody-handed, oldschool reprisal? Get your face-stomping boots on boys. We’re not going to ~take space~ but we might make some ‘freeports’ or just give shit to Pizza, whatever. I have literally no idea except this urge to twist the knife and we’re going to do exactly that.

-broadcast from the_mittani to all at 2015-03-25

Like Goons need an excuse to invade Delve.  I think some of them were getting the shakes at not having invaded Delve recently.

Still, we brought a lot of toys down to Fountian, sent the Reavers south into Delve, took back the one system the hostiles grabbed, defended against their other attack on a system, and generally spent a lot of time chasing around after a seemingly reluctant foe.

You can say that CFC has greater numbers, but everybody knew that long before NCDot and friends came to Fountain.  If you’re going to poke the beehive you had better have a plan.  So both TMC and EN24 are reporting the Delve invasion as a go.

The main force of the CFC is packing up their Domis and convoying south to 319-3D… we’ve been there before… to hole up in the Blood Raiders station while they are not burning Delve to the ground.

319 Station, Many Bubbles Ago

319 Station, Many Bubbles Ago

Of course, if the main fleet is headed for Delve, then the Reavers have to find a new place to operate.  We operate in small groups behind enemy lines, not up front with the main fleet unless there is a special need.  So we had to wrap up our business, drop one final tower, then start packing.

A jump bridge module without a tower isn't very useful... still, we blew it up too

A jump bridge module without a tower isn’t very useful… still, we blew it up too

Then there was an immediate convoy operation to get us to our new forward base.

That big ship... it's... a Drake! Yeah!

That big ship… it’s… a Drake! Yeah!

We are now set up and running ops into the enemy’s backfield.  Now to see what the enemy has in mind.

The initial rumors were that Darkness and The Kadeshi were just going to fold up shop and evacuate to their other holdings in the N3 empire.  But war rumors always include some theme about the enemy running away.  I am sure that NCDot had rumors early on that the CFC was going to evacuate Fountain.

Other, more substantial news has been showing up though.  Just yesterday Brave announced that they would be joining in the fight and helping to resist the CFC invasion. (More on Brave here.)

Brave words

Brave words

Brave, of course, brings numbers along with a willingness to fight against the odds if needs be.  With them entering the fray I feel a bit jealous of my Domi fleet comrades back in Delve… at least until I start thinking about the time dilation that comes with big fleet fights.  I can live with that, but it generally isn’t an issue with Reavers.

So the Southern Coalition N3 empire looks like this at the moment, with major moves noted.

The south end of space, Goons on the left, Russians on the right

The south end of space, Goons on the left, Russians on the right

Unless somebody can mount a credible threat on the far side of CFC space and distract us, it looks like it might be an interesting time in Delve in April.  We sold it to N3 back before the Phoebe expansion hit, I wonder if we can sell it back to them again when we’re done?

Fountain, Wartime Jabber, and Points South

It isn’t much of a war, but it’s the only war we’ve got, so enjoy it

-Major General Charles Timmes, Military Assistance Advisory Group 1962

The war in Fountain continued from last week through the weekend.  By Thursday we had moved enough numbers to the region to stand up on every timer as well as to start reinforcing hostile targets on our own.

The enemy host was able to grab a foothold in Fountain while we were still getting organized.  D4KU-5 on the border with Aridia (Amarr low sec) fell while we were still involved with move operations.  An embarrassing loss of territory, but not a system with a station in it.

FW2015D4KUHowever, a push on Y-2AN0 and LBGI-2… both station systems, the latter being the system NCDot held briefly during their last fling in fountain… were both thwarted and both systems remained in CFC hands.

Y-2ANOThat is the extent of the strategic situation, with D4KU-5 timers set to run down today during Euro time, so the system might be back in CFC hands before I get home from work.  They will have held the system less than six days.

Generally I only keep Jabber up and logged in to the GSF feed when I am home and might be able to make a fleet.  But during a war I use the iOS Trillian client and keep myself logged in all the time.  The Jabber feed will include a lot of fleets I will never make, but there are wartime updates and bits of news and propaganda… like the assertion that Black Legion is steadfastly refusing to join its current allies in structure shoots or how BL’s leader has earned the nickname “Flee-lo Knight”… and basically keep me up on how things are going.

And I need Jabber up to stay in touch with how the war is doing, since I am not on the front lines.  No, the night after the big move op push to Fountain, Reavers had their own move op to push across the frontier and behind the lines of our foes.  We slipped through the gate to Delve and headed to the far end of the region to setup shop and start blowing up or reinforcing anything we could find.

Of course we’re in Delve.  Even the name of the place is like a magic incantation around Goons.

If your goal is to shoot Goons, all you have to do is lay in some ships and put a jump clone in one of the NPC Blood Raiders stations in the region and wait.  Goons will show up eventually.  They won’t pass up a chance and feel almost put out if they aren’t fighting there at least once every calendar year.    So while we could have staged out of high sec Amarr or gone deep into Period Basis, we ended up in Delve.

I suppose it is close to the war, so that we can lend (or get) support when needed, though I am not sure that is really in line with Reaver doctrine.  But our friends in Top Goon have been out our way, which has been nice.  And there are those NPC stations, which can be used to park clones and resupply losses.  Besides which, shooting structures plays out about the same in any region, so we might as well scratch that “must march on Delve!” itch for the GSF members, who make up most of Reavers.

So there we are.  I have spent a few hours on ops shooting structures.  Unlike past deployments, we seem to have actually brought an abundance of logi ships this time around.  I haven’t had to be the sole Basilisk in fleet more than once, and there have been a couple of times where it was requested that people swap out for Ishtars so that we have enough firepower to reinforce something while we’re all still young… or young at heart.

It has been the usual thing, shooting with occasional interference from the locals.  We were hitting a large tower with a small force… we were knocking down the shields at a rate of 1% gone every minute and a half, and since you have to get the shields down to 25% to reinforce, that was going to be nearly a two hour shoot… when a couple of the locals showed up and started deploying guns to try and stop us.  We had just enough firepower to offline the first couple of guns before they were up and ready to shoot, but we were clearly falling behind and could have been in danger had they been able to persist.  However, they stopped after about six guns.  The speculation was that they simply did not have any more on hand.

Then they moved to trying bomb us to kill our drones.  However, they started by hitting us with a single bomber, which won’t kill a sentry drone, and by the time they moved up to two bombers, we were all just sitting on our drones and able to pull them in before bombs hit.  Then they gave up on even that and we were able to reinforce the tower, though they did push the duration of the whole thing out to nearly three hours.

Otherwise, it has been the usual routine behind enemy lines.  The occasional gate camp to try and catch us moving around alone (and official doctrine is to never move alone or without a scout) and some attempts to interfere with our shoots, but no real organized defense as yet.  But we are starting to drop towers and make a nuisance of ourselves, so at some point the hostiles on the Fountain front will have to drop back to defend or we’ll actually start getting to real timers.  But with the way the war on the Fountain front is going, they may not have much left to do up there soon.

Addendum:

And NCDot lost D4KU-5 right on schedule.  Now we just have to sit on it for a bit.

NCLosesD4KUAnyway, the war doesn’t seem like it will go on much longer.  There has been a frenzy of ops running around the clock according to Jabber, but unless the hostiles have it in them to keep attacking, things could taper off very quickly.  Time to get on some ops while they last.  At least I got my combat drone out an onto one tower kill so I could prove I was there.

Some pictures from our time in Delve so far.

Heading to Fountain – The Chaos of Move Ops

A move op should be the simplest of all fleet operations.  The point of the exercise is merely to move a fleet of ships from point A to point B.  There is no plan to shoot anything, no hostiles to find, and generally little in the way of doctrine to deal with, at least when it comes to subcaps.

It should be just a matter of piling in the car and driving together down the road.

Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

The fleet commander’s job in a move op is to avoid trouble.  There is no target to shoot, just a destination to reach, and the FC’s duty is to get his whole fleet there in one piece.  The FC cannot go haring off, leaving people behind, because a limited opportunity target has presented itself.  And a move fleet tends to get strung out over several systems if allowed to free burn any distance, as the speedy frigates zip ahead while the lumbering battleships try to keep up.

There were literally problems in the five jump move op from QPO-WI to YA0-XJ that I wrote about the other day, with people falling behind or not hearing the FC because they had to step away from the computer for a bio break.  And that was before there were hostiles involved.

But there is a war going on in Fountain, something Endie has summed up in a post with his usual flare. (Also, click on the gif he has linked.  It is a pretty cool view of caps landing on what looks to be the J5A gate.)  And with that there wasn’t just one move op yesterday, but many, as our coalition tried to shuttle thousands of ships across New Eden.

The trip was just 25 jumps according to DOTLAN, something that shouldn’t take all that much time, but getting there was a two hour journey.

DOTLAN shows the route

DOTLAN shows the route

It would have been much less back in the old, pre-Phoebe days, when people could freely use jump bridges, but jump fatigue means everybody taking gates.  And I mean everybody.

I got into the 02:00 UTC move op fleet for subcaps which was being run by Reagalan.  Another move op had just gone out, but it was a taxi interceptor fleet for those who had somebody in a carrier haul their ships out to 4-EP, or who just planned on buying ships once they got there.  But I couldn’t go with that op because I wanted to get my Basilisk out there and ready for Reaver ops, otherwise I could have just used a jump clone and called it a night.  I still have one stashed in 4-EP from the last big war in Fountain, back in 2013.

Anyway, the first order of business was to sit around and wait for a bit while people piled into fleet or announced that they were some huge number of jumps out but would be there soon.  There were actually multiple move ops going on at the same time, including a capital move op, and part of our assignment was to be there to shepherd the big ships.  A nice plan in theory, but given the kitchen sink assortment of ships I wasn’t sure what we would actually do if we faced any opposition.  Somebody was asking who the anchor would be if we had to fight, betraying that blind optimism in the idea that there must be a plan somewhere.  My thought was that if we reach a point where we need a combat anchor, we’re probably screwed.

Undocking in YA0 was quite a site, with masses of capital ships streaming out of the station and slowly aligning for their first gate.

The crowd at the YA0 undock

The crowd at the YA0 undock

Of course, just the act of undocking a few fleets worth of ships put the system into time dilation.  Nothing like stretching out waiting by making time run slower!

At some point the cut was made and we were given our first waypoint on the route to Fountain and told to start burning ahead a bit. It was at the first gate that we were joined by the biggest ships in the fleet, the titans.

Titans landing on the gate in YA0

Titans landing on the gate in YA0

The supercaps, unable to dock, had been logging in at their home POS.  As we started moving out they had been given the green light as well and began to tag along with us, heading through the same gates.

That was a very odd sight for me.  Up until the Phoebe changes, even seeing a titan warp in system was something or a rare event in my experience.  Titans used to live inside of POS shields, using their jump drives to drop into systems to fight, then jumping back out when done.  Actually seeing a titan aligning and making their off-angle, sideways warp over and over again was something new.

Our fleet rushed ahead to the first waypoint and then waited as the capital ships caught up.  Then we would rush ahead… and even battleships feel fast when paced against a titan… to the next waypoint.  At one system I had gone through the gate and was watching the titans decloak, align, and warp off to the next gate.  I sat and watched them go and then warped to the gate myself, arriving with plenty of time to spare in order to watch those same titans finish their warp and finally land on the gate themselves.  Titans are slow.

That is what reigned in our progress, keeping our fleet from dashing ahead and wrapping things up.  We would move, then hold, then move a couple more jumps, then hold.  But the reward was getting to watch all those capital ships streaming past.  The new kids in Karma Fleet, the “just about anybody besides Gevlon and Xenuria can join” new player GSF corp were getting an eye full of special snowflake ships.  I think every supercap was represented on the way to Fountain.

Capital ships decloaked and trying to align

Capital ships decloaked and trying to align

The only thing we lacked was hostile interference.  A determined group of suicide Sabers or other interdictors could have bubbled up gates and really made our lives miserable, slowing the op down to… well… even a slower crawl than it already was.  That would totally be something we would do.  I am pretty sure DBRB has run that sort of op on past occasions.  But no hostiles showed up to bother us.

There was speculation as to why they did not show, the leading theory being that elite PvP organizations do not like to die as that tarnishes their kill board.  That lead into a long dissertation on the views and attitudes of organizations like Black Legion and how the eschew ship replacement programs, lest getting blown up lose its sting.  That went on for a bit.  There was a lot of chatter on the op, to the point that it was mentioned several times that the main Euro time zone move op was not nearly as talkative.  Having run more than a few ops with our European cousins, I will say that they do show a bit more coms discipline at times, but if they are silent it is only because certain Germans have been muted or are not on the op. (Looking at Xel.)

Finally we grouped up on the last gate before Fountain, the J5A-IX gate in B-DBYQ, the old staging system from which we launched the 2013 Fountain war.  There we sat as the capitals streamed in to join us. (Okay, I am going to link that gif too, it really sets the scene well.)

Caps landing on the J5A gate

Caps landing on the J5A gate

Then it was through the gate and into Fountain.

In J5A we all decloaked and sat as the capital ships, within jump range of their staging POS and willing to accrue a little jump fatigue space ebola in order to wrap things up, activated their jump drives and streaked out of the system.  And then one of the Archons lit a cyno there on the gate in J5A.

Apparently he wanted to record the jump out with FRAPs, but had assigned the same key to activate the record option as was used for the high slot where his cyno generator was located, so there we were.  And once a cyno is lit it has to run its full cycle, which in this case lasted 10 minutes, while the ship in question just sits there. (And here is the video he took!)

That generated some lively talk about how the poor guy would have been blown up for holding up a fleet during a combat op as well as tips about keeping your liquid ozone, the fuel for the module, in your fleet hanger and only moving it to your cargo bay when you need it.

The ten minutes rolled by and eventually the last capital ship jumped off to where ever they were staging.  Then it was our turn to head out.  The plan was to take the jump bridge from J5A to cut out a few jumps.  But then it turned out that one of the Domi pilots in the fleet had about five days of space ebola on him, so we opted to spare him further jump fatigue debt and just ran the five gates to 4-EP.  There was a small gate camp along the way, but when 160 ships land, that sort of operation tends to scatter.  We left no stragglers for them to catch, and were soon landing on the station, which had been put into reinforce.

Landing on the station at 4-EP

Landing on the station at 4-EP

That is the shield timer running down, just the first event in the Dominion sov station taking lifecycle.  And when the time gets close, we will just undock and hold the station, it being our staging system and all.

Once docked up I remembered to set my death clone to the station, so when I get blown up I won’t have to make the trek across space yet again.  Fountain is an active war zone with hostile gate camps all over.

I also went through the stock of ships I still had sitting around from the last time we staged out of 4-EP.

FM4-EPShipsI think the Scimitar might be useful, if it is fit correctly for Tengu fleet, and the Basilisk I brought is correct for current doctrine.  The rest of the ships on the list though represent more of a history than anything else.  I actually thought I lost that Hurricane on an op ages ago, but I guess not.

That was it for me for the night.  Op success, everybody moved safely, and it wasn’t even a trail of tears.  But, then, we didn’t have to go all the way to Delve either.  And now in position to join ops as they come up.  The war is on.

Meanwhile, here are some of the screen shots I took on the way to Fountain.

The Same Old Rumor of War

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.

-Matthew 24:6, New International Bible

It all started with a move operation, hours before the rumors began to swirl.  Pings went out over Jabber declaring the end of our mini-deployment to the frontier with Venal, just five gates away from our main staging point in YA0-XJ.

Of course, this came just as I finally gave in and moved a few ships from YA0 to the staging system, but I guess that at least gave me some ships to join in with.  So at the undock at QPO-WI, just about every sort of ship you might find in null sec was heading out.

Traffic control needed on the undock

Traffic control needed on the undock

Fleets were formed and convoys were run back and forth for quite a while on Saturday, occasionally interrupted by opportunistic hot droppers.  But that at least gave us somebody to go chase around for a while.

I am still not used to seeing capital ships taking gates.  And I am not sure that the capital pilots have all of the changes down either.

Ragnarok on the undock?

Ragnarok on the undock?

Despite the fact that there were convoys for subcaps and capitals, we had some carriers taking gates with us as we ranged back and forth between the to stations.  As it turns out, a carrier can be fit to warp pretty quickly.

Of course, as we were doing that, the rumors started on coms.  If we were pulling back to our main base it could only mean that we had something more interesting to do, some place better to deploy, some targets fatter than the residents of Venal, the latter having been somewhat thin on the ground since Black Legion departed for more fruitful hunting grounds.

The war in the east seemed to have wound down, with one Russian faction having secured control over the other and all having settled into a minor routine border conflict, while there didn’t seem anything new about the ongoing Brave vs. PL fun fest.

Then an item popped up in the forums over at EVE News 24 that indicated that Northern Coalition, a couple of their allies, and Black Legion were forming up for another run at Fountain while EVE Fanfest was going on in Iceland.

Black Legion, NCDot, The Kadeshi, and Darkness

Black Legion, NCDot, The Kadeshi, and Darkness

That started as whispers in the wind but the post eventually got firmed up and updated and became a front page story on the news end of the site, indicating that those four were forming up in ZXB-VC in Delve.

But while that was still just speculation, we got our own news in Jabber from fearless leader himself, who summed up the hostile plan as…

Let’s try to move on the CFC just before Fanfest – third time’s the charm, right?  They just can’t get enough ~Dominion Sov~ action.

-The Mittani, Jabber broadcast

With that out, there was a summary over at TMC as well about the pending conflict, and an alliance update when up in the GSF forum late yesterday, which will probably end up posted over at TMC today at some point.  I’ll link that when it arrives.

Anyway, I expect that means that move ops will continue.  We are still playing by the Dominion expansion sovereignty rules, with CCP’s proposed summer changes to the sovereignty mechanics still being discussed.  So more move ops will be going on, with capitals and subcaps alike moving out.

Carriers and dreads undocking

Carriers and dreads undocking

Of course, the CFC has a standard response to and sort of assault on its sovereignty.  A force will go out to contest timers, shoot SBUs, reinforce and hostile towers, and generally turn the whole thing into the usual trench warfare that is Dominion sovereignty, where one side can only win when the other side gives up, unless they can bring overwhelming force to bear.

While that is going on, the Reavers show up in the backfield of the attackers and start reinforcing towers, dropping their own SBUs, and generally attacking timers until the hostiles have to make the choice to either keep attacking our sovereignty or deploy back to defend their own.  Time to warm up the Basilisk and get ready for a wormhole trip and some space camping.

Landing on the wormhole

Always another wormhole to jump through…

We shall see if our foes have come up with a different plan this time around.  If not, I’ll throw in a third quote for this post… which is really hitting my limit… about how I expect things will turn out.

They came on in the same old way and we defeated them in the same old way.

Wellington at Waterloo

Not that there won’t be some fun had.  Look for updates soon enough.  Timers will bring opposing fleets together now and again, but without a new angle the outcome seems per-ordained.

 

An Ibis in Immensea

We had gotten word earlier in the week from our CEO that we needed to go on more fleet ops.  Or, more specifically, that we needed to click on more participation links for fleet ops.  Eight such links a month was the requested amount.

And eight such links for eight such ops wouldn’t be a problem at all for me… if there was a war going on or if the Reavers were deployed behind enemy lines.  I’ve gotten eight over a weekend under the right conditions.

However, there is no war going on currently.  The Reavers are all back in their home systems waiting for orders.  And hanging on a gate with some buddies trying to grab a couple kills via hapless passers by do not count.  You only get participation links for fleets that have been broadcast alliance or coalition-wide over Jabber, are led by an anointed fleet commander, and gets a minimum amount of participation… the number 10 has been bandied about… before before the operation can be given a participation link.

And, honestly, I’ve been a bit busy so far this month (you can tell I’m busy because I start writing about games as opposed to about actually playing games… which usually means I am not playing much…) so that as Sunday hit us, and the promise of a corp meeting, I had zero participation links for the month of March.

So I figured I had better get on that if I didn’t want to be evicted from null sec!

I was online and in coms 2 hours before the corp meeting… because my brain couldn’t quite remember how daylight savings time worked… and I had been doing bad things to my brain the night before.  So I had some trouble working out that “spring forward” meant that EVE Online time… which runs on UTC… would actually be earlier and not later.  It seemed a lot more complicated before I had some caffeine.

Anyway, the meeting was at 19:00 EVE time and there I was logged in and on coms at 17:00 and wondering why nobody was saying anything about the corp meeting.  I probably scared some of my corp mates as I am pretty sure that me being on TNT coms, in the corp channel, when there isn’t a corp meeting or event is one of the harbingers of the apocalypse.  I don’t spend a lot of time playing with my corp.  Anyway, we can now add “or its the start of daylight savings time” to the list of possibilities.

There I was, feeling a bit silly, realizing that the meeting wasn’t for a good two hours, when somebody dropped into our channel asking for more people to join a fleet that had just been broadcast… a fleet I had opted not to join because we had a corp meeting.  Well, I figured I had better get in on that action so I would show up to the meeting with at least one participation link in hand.

The first thing I had to do was get where the fleet was forming up.  I was logged in and sitting in Amarr space in my training implant clone, so it was time for a clone jump.  I paused my training queue… please removed to start and stop training queues in order to clone jump on the list of things to do CCP… and started rummaging through my clones looking for the one in the system closest to the one we were forming up in.  The winner appeared to be the clone I still had sitting in VFK-IV.   The one I actually clicked on however was the clone in XS-K10, at the north end of Immensea, just a couple of jumps from B-R5RB.

Well, I wasn’t going to make that fleet.

I had a clone in XS-K10 because for a brief bit of time we were helping some Russians in their conquest of Northern Associates rental space.  The last time I was down there, The Initiative owned the system.  However, I only ran a few ops there before the Reavers were called up to start hitting things at the other end of NA space in order to provide a distraction.  That apparently did not help enough as The Initiative collapsed and lost their holding in the region.

So there I was in the middle of hostile space with a Basilisk and an Ibis.  I put the Basilisk up for sale on contract at a bargain price so as to at least extract a bit of ISK from a ship I would probably never return to claim and then mounted up the Ibis and set a course for home.

And it looked to be a bit of a trip...

And it looked to be a bit of a trip…

I have developed an aversion to self-destructing.   I would rather risk an impossible run and go out in a blaze of something akin to glory than sit there and watch the self destruct timer run down.  Also, content creation!  So I set my destination and started flying towards home, pretty sure that I would find somebody along the way to speed up the process.  And what the hell, a pod doesn’t cost anything these days, and who cares about losing an Ibis.  I have too many of the damn things sitting around already.

An Ibis loose in Immensea!

An Ibis loose in Immensea!

I made it as far as Catch when I got caught by a drag bubble behind a gate… how does that even work, putting a drag bubble 20km behind your landing point and somehow you get pulled into it, how does the lore explain that… and got popped by a solo camper.  I was afraid I was going to make it all the way to HED-GP before that happened, space in the area being exceedingly bare.

Unfortunately my death clone had been set to XS-K10.  I tried to check that while I was there, but since I couldn’t use station services that was out.  But at least EVE won’t drop you back in a hostile station when you die.  Instead it put me back where my clone was originally set way back in 2006.  It put my at the Caldari Navy Assembly Plant and Jita Planet IV Moon 4.  Jita 4-4, the center of the known universe.

There was a time when that was where the Caldari new player experience dumped you.  Your first real agent was right there at Jita 4-4, which I am going to guess is how that because the most popular station in the entire game. (Also, back then, started a Caldari gave you a leg up with a few combat skills, so it was the default choice for many people.)  I remember when I finally moved away from Jita and set up shop in Hageken.  I felt like I was out in the freakin’ wilderness.

Anyway, I was closer to home and, if nothing else, at a station where I could equip myself for the run back.  I fitted out a Crow because that happened to align best with my skills, undocked safely, as nobody is paying the Marmites to keep us under a declaration of war any more, and continued along the route home.

If I had been thinking, I would have altered my course and gone in via the “safe” route to home, through which I have dragged any number of awkward ships over the years.  Instead I just followed the shortest, most direct route.  After all, I was in an interceptor.  They are invincible, right?

I blew through some familiar low sec names, made it to M-OEE8 and saw that we had the route camped as usual, and headed onward.  Just as I the gate to E-OGL4 was prepping to send me to that system, I saw that a friendly hand in local had written, “Wilhelm Arcturus don’t jump into E-OGL4!”

Well, what trouble could I possibly get into in an interceptor, being determined to fly through as opposed to fight?  I landed in E-OGL4 and held my cloak, but the coast looked clear.  There wasn’t anything on my overview.  So I set myself to jump for the next gate home, breaking cloak and starting to align when suddenly I found myself short a ship.  There were two of those new Svipuls camping the gate and, for whatever reason, not showing up on my overview.  I had best check that.  Anyway, they were set to insta-lock and stripped the Crow right off of my pod which, thankfully, continued the transition to warp and sped off to the next system.

While losing the pod would have cost me nothing, I hadn’t bothered to reset my death clone location yet, so I would have ended up back in Jita.  Instead I was able to carry on.  The next system put me on the jump bridge network and I was able to get a bit deeper into CFC territory where I picked up a siege bomber and flew the rest of the way to my usual home in Deklein, YA0-XJ as my jump fatigue/space ebola started counting down.

That about ate up all the time before our corp meeting.  I had put myself in the AFK channel in TeamSpeak, so I pulled myself back up to the corp channel to listen to the proceedings.

As I was doing that a ping came up for a “quick op” to chase down a hostile carrier close by.  I figured I could get in on that.  It was in our staging system down in QPO-WI.  I grabbed a Harpy, got on Mumble, put myself in the No Chatter channel so I would only hear the FC, since the corp meeting was just starting up as well and I was listening to that at the same time, and flew to QPO. There the FC, Alterair Phoenix, announced that we needed more logistics so I bought a Burst… they cost less than 10 million ISK, which is pretty much a “who cares?” level of pricing… and joined the fleet as we undocked.

My Burst undocking

My Burst undocking

From there we headed out towards the intended targets who were, of course, on the far side of YA0-XJ.  Some times I wonder why I ever leave that system for fleets.  Inevitably I make the run to QPO just to turn around and fly right back to YA0.  It is only a few jumps, so not a big deal, but if just seems amusing.

It turned out that the carrier in question got safe, but we did managed to catch a Triumvirate Ishtar and Cerberus on the gate in E-FICO.  And thanks to somebody loading up the Burst drone bays with a Warrior II I was able to get just enough of a bite on each of those to get on the kill mails.  I don’t need a lot of kill mails, but I like to show up on the boards at least once each month to prove I am still alive.

Orbiting our camp... also, Caroline's Star

Orbiting our camp… also, Caroline’s Star

As that was going on, our CEO listened to concerns about hitting eight participation links during a time of relative peace, so knocked that number down to four for now.  The meeting went on for a bit, focused on our industrial achievements and what might happen come the null sec phase II changes, at which time mining might get the respect it deserves given how it will impact the defense values of systems.  The fleet op wound down and Alterari Phoenix brought us back to QPO, generating a participation link for us.  25% of my monthly minimum in the bag.  And then, almost immediately, another op came up, again under Alterari Phoenix, where we chased some Mordus’ Angels ships around for a while until they buggered off for home, getting me a second participation link.

And that was about the extent of space operations for me on Sunday.  I did remember to reset my death clone before I logged of so I will end up back at home the next time my pod gets popped… and somebody bought the discount Basilisk.  So I have a bit more ISK.

The Proposed Phase Two of Sovereignty Changes

There was a big, big dev post from CCP yesterday about their next phase of changes to null sec sovereignty.  The first phase came with Phoebe back in November, which introduced jump fatigue.  That expansion changed the null sec map… before it even arrived.  The big null sec blocs adjusted themselves and settled in.  There has been some fighting in the east where the Russians have been staging a comeback, but they were already players on the map for many years.  The much ballyhooed, mythical big blue donut remained pretty much intact.  The names on the map sometimes change, but there are very few new powers that have shown up in my time.

Null Sec Sov - Dec 2011 and March 2015 compared

Null Sec Sov – Dec 2011 and March 2015 compared

You may see Absolution Alliance on the right side, but that is just White Noise from the left hand map.  Brave Collective is new, but it has TEST hanging out with them.  Even Intrepid Crossing is still on the map as two tiny little green boxes in The Spire.  You need a score card to tell who is dancing with who these days, to torture a metaphor, but a lot of the same players are out on the floor.  So, yes, there might be some justification for tinkering with sovereignty.

Anyway, the second phase is based on a series of goals CCP is attempting to achieve.  They are:

1. As much as possible, ensure that the process of fighting over a star system is enjoyable and fascinating for all the players involved

Hard to argue with that one, though that might be more because it is pretty vague.  Fights are fights after all, and I have been involved in some really great fights under the current sov system because timers force the issue and make people come out and play, because otherwise they will lose their holdings.  I think the previous dev blog about nerfing Ishtars and Tengus would be as likely to accomplish the “enjoyable” goal in my book, but I’ll take it as “don’t make things worse.”  I can live with that.

2. Clarify the process of taking, holding and fighting over star systems

Okay, amen to this one.  I’ve been a soldier in the sov wars since December 2011 and I still can’t tell when we are really, truly fighting over the very last, final, there ain’t no more, we get the system now, timer unless the FC explicitly says so.  And I’ve been on ops where the FC has said that and has been wrong.  Of course, they went on to describe a new system that seems to be just as arcane in its own way, but at least they want to give it a UI that mere mortals can access and decipher.

A UI proposal

A UI proposal – Also, Atlas Alliance!

I don’t get access to Region Commander, so it would be nice for CCP to let the soldiers be able to tell what is going on.

3. Minimize the systemic pressure to bring more people or larger ships than would be required to simply defeat your enemies on the field of battle

Make it so when the defenders bring three fleets we don’t have to up the ante and arrive with four I guess.  After two reads through the whole thing, I am not sure how a bigger coalition is not going to be incentivized to roll out as many fleets as possible when an important system is in dispute.

4. Drastically reduce the time and effort required to conquer undefended space

Sounds good.  I’ve already been through undefended region grinds.

5. Provide significant strategic benefits from living in your space

I’ve seen this one getting some heat.  What it means is that the systems you use to rat and mine and produce in, those will get a defensive buff.  What it does not mean, and what some people seem to expect it should mean, is any sort of boost to the benefits of living in null sec.  Without that latter bit, there are a lot of raggedy ass, bad true sec systems out there that alliances tend to hold merely because they happen to be in the same neighborhood as the systems they actually use.  All of null is not equally valuable, so I wonder what becomes of the off brand stars that don’t spawn worthwhile anomalies or asteroids.

6. Spread the largest Sovereignty battles over multiple star systems to take advantage of New Eden’s varied geography and to better manage server load

This is one where I begin to wonder if CCP plays its own game.  Have they been in a sov war since time dilation was introduced?  Because outside of Jita, very few star systems appear to get their own dedicated resources.  The same set of CPUs seems to run a whole constellation, or even a whole region at times, because a big fight in one system will spread the time dilation love to adjoining systems so we all share the pain.  So this one seems moot unless there is some server infrastructure change that goes with it, as 4,000 people in one system and 4,000 people in one constellation seem to be about as likely to bring the servers to their knees based on my own past experience.

7. Any new Sovereignty system should be adaptable enough to be rapidly updated and to incorporate future changes to EVE

CCP actually attempting to plan for the future.  Will wonders never cease?  Next they will tell us that their programmers comment their code in a comprehensible and meaningful way… and then I will know they are full of shit.

Thoughts on This

So those are the seven goals which are alleged to inform all of the mass of text that follows them in the dev blog.

What does it all mean?  Damn if I know.  I just align where the FC tells me and shoot the targets indicated… or rep the targets indicated more likely… when I can be bothered to stop trying to get good screen shots.

Moving sovereignty fights so that they occur in multiple systems in a constellation sounds interesting, if not exactly logical.  In order to capture system A you need to blow something up in system b and c?  Sure, I’ll do it, and I guess it makes as much sense as timers do in the first place.  And the defense bonus structures will get means that bigger fleets will still be encouraged by the system.

Likewise, the whole Entosis link module sounds interesting.

And they come with a flow chart, so #winning

And they come with a flow chart, so #winning

Of course, I am sure that module will never be abused, there being absolutely no history of EVE players gaming the system or min/maxing or finding strange new uses for things. (Cue footage of hot Ishtar on Ishtar action and suicide gankers resupplying from Orcas.)  I know, stop laughing.  But if you are thinking that at least it will put power in the hands of smaller groups, you might want to remember that the coalitions have their own think tanks dedicated to optimizing that sort of thing.

But we might have to start using all those SBU’s that Wibla is purported to be holding for a rainy day, as they will be obsolete when the new system comes online, replaced by the Entosis link module.

Freeport mode sounds like it could be rich in comedy.  I fully endorse that.

Being able to set your prime time defense window favors defense.  While I have seen it said that this pretty much lets the pacific time zones out of playing to sov game, you know some group will recruit Australians just so they can set their timers to go off when Europe and North America can’t get numbers on grid.  This will be a strategic decision.

While there seems to be an unstated goal in the mix about making sovereignty accessible by a more diverse group rather than the same old players that are in the maps at the top of the post, I am not sure that the price will be paid by the big blocs.  There are a lot of corps out in null sec only because they can rent space.  They are the most likely group to be driven out of null, replaced by whichever new groups (or reconfigured old groups) that want to grab a piece of space real estate to call their own.  Is that a good thing?  If you’re thirsting for sov, probably yes.  If you’re a renter corp, maybe not so much.

Finally, while I have seen a couple of references to the end of the blue donut again with this dev blog, I do not see anything in the whole mess that would make me think for an instant that the big, well organized, and currently entrenched blocs will be at any sort of relative disadvantage when the change eventually comes.

But I wouldn’t expect to see such a thing unless CCP completely lost hold of their senses.  Alienating a large and fairly dedicated chunk of your player base never plays out well.  Nobody wants to be part of the next NGE fiasco, so CCP isn’t going to change things to allow a couple 100 person corps to throw Goonswarm out of VFK.  They want null to be more interesting, but not THAT interesting.

Anyway, the dev blog is all just a proposal at this time for something to hit come the summer, so there will be plenty of time for CCP to gauge reaction and adapt to the holes poked in their ideas.  Plus they will get a couple of new CSM members putting their two cents in soon enough, and one of them is likely to be Endie, which should make for a good time.

We shall see what the summer brings I suppose, but first we have to get through Fanfest and spring and a couple more of those every five week releases.

Others writing about this dev blog: