Category Archives: Null Sec

MER – New Eden Numbers for a New Year

We’re already into the back half of February and the Monthly Economic Report for January has finally made its appearance.  I suppose CCP had an update to push and event to launch, though the latter was pretty small while the former… well, the less said the better I suppose.

But now we have some charts and numbers to stare at finally.  So I might as well open up with mining, my usual start point.

January 2019 – Mining Value by Region

Mining was up some in our benchmark region of Delve, moving from 12.2 trillion ISK in ore mined to 14 trillion.

January 2019 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

The bar graph shows that the top five regions for mining output remained the same, with Imperium owned Querious passing Detroid where Fraternity lives.  The top three all saw an increase in mining output, while the next two, Detroid and Branch saw a decrease.

Given that the price of ore was up slightly, if all things were otherwise equal, output should have been up.  That the Imperium and TEST (in Esoteria) have deployed some groups to the east of null sec may be suppressing output there.

January 2019 – Economic Indices

While up a bit, mineral prices are still near an all time low for New Eden.  That they bottomed out seems to suggest that we have hit a natural price floor.

On the production front, both Delve and The Forge, the top two regions, say a small decline.

January 2019 – Production Values by Region

Delve remains the top region, though the three regions that directly feed Jita, The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel, still combine to more than Delve, totaling up to over 56 trillion ISK in production.

January 2019 – Production Values by Region – Bar Graph

Looking at the bar graph, you can see Esoteria (TEST) and Detroid (Fraternity) are not far behind, holding fifth and sixth place overall, indicating that they are also building up capital ships and the like.

On the market value front, The Forge, home of Jita, continues to dominate the numbers there.

January 2019 – Trade Value by Region

Trade in The Forge was down a little, but not enough to put any other region in the same ballpark, to the point that you have to exclude The Forge for the bar graph to show anything about the rest of New Eden.

January 2019 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph, Forge Excluded

The ranking of the second tier systems remained unchanged, with Domain, home of Amarr, in second followed by Delve.

And then there is the big ISK faucet in New Eden, NPC bounties.

January 2019 – NPC Bounties by Region

Delve, unsurprisingly, remained at the top of the heap, up two trillion ISK over December.  The Imperium has some SIGs and squads deployed, but otherwise continues to farm Delve under the protective supercap umbrella.

January 2019 – NPC Bounties by Region – Bar Graph

The next four regions remained in the same rank as before, Branch (GotG), Detroid (Fraternity), Esoteria (TEST), and Querious (Imperium), with all of them up for January.  That led to a new all time high.

January 2010 – Top Sinks and Faucets

NPC bounties peaked at that new all time high early in January, but was drawn back down some mid-month.  My guess is that the fighting in the east of null sec and the ongoing showdown over the Perimeter Keepstar trade hub drew some people away from their ISK collecting.  I keep thinking that maybe CCP will make some more tweaks to address this growing ISK glut, but players rolled right over the last change that was supposed to slow down titan and super ratting.  We’re like that.

Of course, maybe CCP has its eyes elsewhere.

January 2019 – Sinks and Faucets

Despite the peak in NPC bounties, overall ISK in the game went down slightly, with the infamous “Active ISK Delta,” which includes GM’s going after botters and RMT sales, pulling 95 trillion ISK out of the economy.  In addition to bans, they are moving level 4 and 5 missions to Omega only status to close the courier mission botting exploit.  Go CCP!

And, finally, the region summary chart with which I like to end, the regional summary.

January 2019 – Regional Stats

That gives you a nice overview of what each region has going on.

The Forge, while down from December, leads in total ship destruction.  That number that will likely go up with Burn Jita 2019 hitting this Friday.  And Geminate, where some SIGs and squads are deployed, saw its destruction number trending up.

And in a few weeks, or maybe less, we’ll see what February did in New Eden.

 

The Time Zones of New Eden

This isn’t a particularly insightful post, at least not is you’re really into EVE Online.  This is more of a reflection and maybe a bit of info for those who do not play or to somebody years down the road researching the game I suppose.

It is one of the quirks of there being one EVE Online server for the whole world that the time of day plays into what opportunities you have.

Okay, there is another server.  But the population on the Serenity server in China is small enough that it doesn’t really count.  The current count on the relaunched server is frankly tiny.  And the players in China have ways of slipping through the Great Firewall to play on Tranquility with the rest of the world in any case.

Anyway, there is a pretty consistent ebb and flow of population over the course of the average day on Tranquility, or TQ.  You can see it repeated ad nauseum on the charts over at EVE Offline, the same hills and valleys over and over.

A typical week in New Eden

The deepest valley in the day is down time, the daily restart of the server that hits at 11:00 UTC and kicks everybody offline for a few minutes most days, though it can be longer from time to time.

Since downtime hits at 3:00 am or 4:00 am local time for me, depending on whether or not we have daylight savings time in effect, I’ve never been up and awake and online when downtime has hit.  I’ve been logged in.  I left my ship drifting during B-R5RB and went to bed, getting logged out at downtime, but I was fast asleep.

That, however, is mid-morning for for those in Europe, early afternoon for the Russians, and passing midnight for those in Australia, with the former two already starting to ramp up the online population.  There is something of a daily ski jump in the chart every day before downtime.

From there things keep ramping up as the Euros get into their evening and day breaks in the US, peaking at around 20:00 UTC.  That is still a bit early for me on the west coast of the US, being about lunch time.  The Russians, then the Euros, start logging off as the US and Canada hit their prime time.  I’m usually not able to get on before 00:00 UTC, by which time all the sensible people in Europe have gone to bed.

The steep downward slope flattens just a bit as US prime time hits, but continues on down to the daily nadir around 06:00 UTC, when the population begins to ramp up again for another day.

Exciting though all of that is… sarcasm, sorry…the real impact is what it means for those playing the game at any given time.

And it just isn’t PvP.  Yes, if you want to blow other people’s ships, you’re better off logging in when the population is at its peak.  Likewise, if you want to stage a million dollar battle, it should probably be timed to commence in the evening European time to let the US players get in on it… though, honestly, experience says that a bunch of us in the US will call in sick or find a way to be home for these things if they are early in the day.

But the population count also has an impact all all sorts of PvE tasks.

If I am playing World of Warcraft, the current server population doesn’t have a lot of impact on me.  In part that is because I play on a US timezone server, so the population is likely to be peaking when I am on in any case.  But even if I have insomnia and log in way off-peak, unless I want to use the dungeon finder or queue up for a battleground.  And, even then, the fact that those work cross server means that I am not totally without hope of getting a group of the fellow sleepless together.  But running around doing quests in the open world isn’t much changed regardless of when I am on, give or take running into a few people out in the world.

In EVE there is the obvious effect that, when more people are online, there are also likely more people likely to be hunting you as you go about your business.  There are more gankers waiting for you in Niarja, more followers of James waiting to bump your mining ship, more gangs on gates while you’re trying to haul your PI or minerals back from low sec, and more scouts looking to get you while you’re running anomalies.

But it also affects you even when somebody isn’t looking to shoot you.  I’ve been out doing a bit of ratting with an alt after taking over a year off.  I’m back to running the much beloved Blood Raider’s Forsaken Hubs.  I have a post about that brewing, once I hit a particular milestone.

I make a point of doing that as far from peak hours as I can possibly manage.  That is, in part, for safety.  I’m usually tabbed out as my drones take care of the rats for me, so I pretty much never dock up when a hostile shows up in system and my response time when I get jumped can be comically slow.  Again, there is a tale behind that.  So being on when there are fewer hunters is probably a good thing.

But there is also a competitive need for that.  In a world where the easy and cheap solution to subcap ratting is a Vexor Navy Issue running forsaken hubs, there are only so many such sites to go around in a given system.  When I have tried to do a bit of ratting closer to peak hours it becomes a task finding a system where you can reliably land in a hub and not find somebody’s VNI already feasting on Blood Raiders.  You end up either having to watch the probe scanner to try and jump on a fresh pop or you have to find a system where there isn’t so much competition.

And, of course, the systems without so much competition tend to be pipe systems with lots of hostiles passing through looking for targets or those near NPC Delve where hunters stage.  I’ve actually fewer encounters hanging out in a pipe system, most likely because the hunters probably expect you to be more on your guard, but lots of non-blue traffic coming and going does put you on edge.

I recall, back in the day, that when I was running missions in high sec, that the population of the current mission hub I was hanging out in was also had an effect on how things played out.  There seemed to be a limit to the number of mission spaces the game would allocate in a given system, so at peak hours you could end up being sent out of system, often more than just a jump or two.  I recall one of the reasons for packing up and moving to Amarr space was being in a seemingly safe mission hub system only to have the agent assign me missions half a dozen jumps away in low sec.  At the time I was still figuring out how to deal with NPCs, so having players show up to shoot me discouraged taking those missions.

Anyway, I’m not sure I’ve arrived at the point I set out to make.  That is the problem with just thinking about a topic and setting it to write before you’ve really nailed down where you want to go with it.  But I’ve used up my writing time and I’ve got nothing else on tap, so this is what you get.

Structure Shoots and Eagles in the East

I have probably been more active in New Eden than my posting would indicate.  I’ve been out with Liberty Squad, which is one of the Imperium groups that has deployed out the east of null sec to tangle with Pandemic Horde and its allied.

Freedom Squad – Of Course We Fly Eagles

The thing is, a lot of ops do not really have much to report.  We go out and reinforce a structure.  Sometimes we get to kill one, like that Athanor a couple of weeks back.  That was mildly interesting because it was mid-frack, so we go to see the moon chunk disappear.  But an op to reinforce a structure, or even to blow up something small, that doesn’t always yield a tale worth telling.

An Oracle wearing the Blaze SKIN at a Raitaru kill

Meanwhile, I don’t hear enough about the strategic picture to make much of a comment on that either.  I get a sense that things are not going well for PH over in The Kavala Expanse region, where the ADMs are low and almost all of the ihubs have either been destroyed or are reinforced.   My alliance, TNT, even took the TCU in A-YB15 after destroying the ihub, probably just for fun.  The TCU declares ownership of the system, puts the alliance name on the map, but it is the ihub that upgrades a null sec system to make it livable and useful.

Meanwhile, we have to go pretty far into PH space to find Ansiblex jump gates to knock out.

An Ansiblex jump gate offline and waiting to be blown up

We caught that one down in RQOO-U and blew it up, snapping another connection.  We had to dodge bombs coming from the Fortizar near which it was anchored, but that wasn’t enough to deter us… or even keep those of us in the logi wing very busy.

Not that there haven’t been fights.  I’ve heard tale of them.  But I seem to have spent most of the month missing the ops where the locals show up.  I know they are around.  We got a peek at them last week when we slipped in with some bombers to get on the killmail for a Triumvirate Fortizar that was unwisely hanging about in a war zone without an allies about.

Another Fortizar brews up

We had initially tried to bomb the Pandemic Horde fleet coming in to the shoot, but managed only to bomb a couple of our own.  My bomb, launched a bit late, got a solo kill on a blue capsule.  I don’t feel bad though.  Black Ops bombed us the other day when we were both going after the same target.  It happens.  And somebody learned not to MWD ahead of the pack on a bomb run that day.

Anyway, after a lot of quiet ops over the last couple of weeks, it was nice to show up yesterday and have some ships at which to shoot.

It started with us forming up and flying out in Eagles again.  We sat on a titan for a bit.

I just like screen shots of titans

Then we were bridged into Erstet, in low sec Metropolis, where NCDot was assailing a friendly Azbel with a few dreadnoughts supported by a Minokawa force auxiliary.  We went after the dreads, hitting a Phoenix first.

Phoenix shields flaring under impact

However, we were not able to out pace the Minokawa and its ability to rep, so a couple of dreadnoughts from out side were called up and jumped in, after which we managed… after much struggle… to deploy a cyno inhibitor on the field in order to keep NCDot from reinforcing their structure bash.

The extra firepower turned the tide and the Azbel was saved.  We exchanged a few subcaps for a Revelation, two Phoenixes, and the Minokawa force auxiliary, the wrecks of which stayed on the field.

The remains of the fight

We had to hang about a bit after that.  This took place in low sec, where things are complicated.  Our way back home was through high sec, so we had to wait out suspect timers.  This wait was extended because some of us in the logi wing had combat drones handy and got on a couple of the kill mails.  However, if you rep or cap boost somebody with a suspect timer then you too get the suspect timer, and we were all in Basilisks running a capacitor chain, so it became a self-refreshing round of suspect timers until somebody mentioned we would have to go through high sec, at which point we dropped the chain and tethered on the Azbel to wait out the 15 minutes.

Emboldened by our successful op, Thomas Lear, who was leading us, flew us off to another structure to reinforce it.

Eagles on the move again

Pandemic Horde gave chase with an Ishtar fleet, trying to get around us to cut us off and, if intel is to be believed, ended up with us sitting between them and home.  Finding themselves cut off instead, they then decided not to engage, docked up, and jump cloned back to their staging, leaving their ships parked for another day.  I cannot speak to the truth of that, but it does sound like an odd move.  There are other ways in and out of their space, as we were soon to learn.

After reinforcing another PH structure, Thomas decided that we would go deeper into their space and reinforce one more before calling it a night.  I have no idea what we were going to shoot though, because when we arrived in the system a Black Legion Munnin fleet, led by Elo Knight.  We were apparently not going to take that fight and spent the next hour trying to break contact with them and eventually flying the long way around south through the Great Wildlands and Metropolis before arriving back at our staging system once more.

And so it goes.  We made it back home again, and were out long enough to earn ourselves a second PAP.  But I still have managed to avoid anything akin to an actual fleet fight for over a month now.

PAP Link Economy

There are, in my experience, few metrics that cannot be gamed. Over the years of my career I have seen many attempts to measure employee productivity and value via metrics, and this often leads to people simply optimizing their behavior to these metrics, even if that does not end up being the best thing for the organization overall. Tell a dev you’re evaluating them based how many lines of code they produce and you get lots of lines of code. Tell a dev manager they’re being rated on how many defects are found in the code their group produces and they’ll beat on testing until they stop writing bugs. Tell the dev manager instead that the measure is defects found after shipping and they’ll make testing stay late and come in on weekends and argue that anything found is “as designed” or otherwise expected behavior.

Basically any organization needs to consider these things lest they find themselves encouraging behavior that is contrary to the good of the business. However, used correctly, a metrics can promote desired behavior. Reactivity and all that is a thing.

All of which brings me to what I tend to think of as the “PAP Link Economy” in EVE Online. PAP links, short for “participation links” have been a part of the Imperium for quite a while now. They are actually a contribution to the coalition from my own alliance, TNT. So you’re welcome for that I guess.

A null sec fleet operation, just because

The idea behind PAP links are simple enough; the alliance and coalition wanted to know who is going on fleets. That sort of thing is easy enough to keep track of casually if you have a hundred or so pilots. You look at a few kill mails to see who was shooting things, keep a list of your usual logi, and you’re probably fine. But when you have thousands over all time zones, knowing who is stepping up and who is shirking is more difficult. There was a need to count noses and see.

This was back before the changes to the shape of null sec. Dominion sov was still the rule, there were good and bad systems in null, and a lot of null sec organizations were still PvP purists or elitists, depending on how you looked at it. When I joined TNT if was made clear that we were a PvP alliance and I was expected to go on fleets and shoot hostiles. Ratting and mining were for times when there were no fleets going out.

Anyway, somewhere along the line, after the Fountain War if I recall right, the PAP link scheme showed up. At the time it was an actual URL put into fleet chat that fleet members were expected to click on. It would bring up the in-game browser and feed in the basic information about you, your ship, and your current location.

There were, of course, problems with this. You had to be paying attention to fleet chat to see the link. People asking for a repost of the link were a constant thing. Some people would covo the link to pals so they could get credit on the fleet without showing up. Once in a while an FC or other fleet VIP would make the PAP link and accidentally post it in the wrong channel. Nothing like a PAP link posted in local to get a bunch of randos on the list. And if Russians were inexplicably showing up in your fleet, they would click on the link just because it was a link.

There was a problem for a while where the links wouldn’t register if you were docked in a station, so you had to make sure and undock to click on it if you got the link at the very end of a fleet. And, while the most of the then CFC were using the same system, RAZOR had to be different and developed their own version on the links. If RAZOR people were in the fleet the FC would have to get somebody to make them one of their PAP links in addition to the regular one, and you were only supposed to click on the right one.

Later, after the Casino War, when RAZOR was gone and the in-game browser was removed, a new version was setup that let/made the FC capture the list of fleet members and paste them into the system to “capture” who was along on the fleet. This made PAPs a little more nebulous in that pilots did not have to take an action to get counted, but just had to trust that the FC did the thing and pressed the right button.

But it mostly seemed to work and it quickly became part of the coalition practices. It allowed the leadership to not only keep an eye out for individuals who don’t participate but has been used as a way to see which corporations are stepping up as a group. GSF publishes a set of participation metrics every month covering its corporations. There is a bar set by the stats, and if your corp falls under it, the corp is put on warning that it needs to shape up. (The metrics also show other details, like which corps have the most people posting in the forums, who has players not setup on coms, and participation in SIGs and squads.)

Corps also use it for various things. Most have a monthly minimum you need to hit. I think in KarmaFleet you need just one per month, but they only check every quarter, so you have time get yours. My own corp wanted us to get two or four per month at one point, but that seems to have eased up. Some corps pay a bounty for each PAP link you collect, sometimes adding an additional bonus if you fly a fleet critical role like logi or boosts.

Of course, some people love this and others hate it. Anytime leadership seems to be checking up on people it is going to feel like a lack of trust to somebody. I kind of like them. I tend to be so quiet on coms… coms discipline was something instilled on me many years ago… so I often wonder if anybody notices when I show up aside from the PAP credit. And I can see the need in such a big organization. You have to make the spies that have infiltrated carry some of the burden.

You can see why I think of it as the PAP economy. It is a currency of sort, a credit for your participation, a rent payment towards your continued tenure in the organization. It is something both tracking you and which can be said to have value, sometimes quite literally if you’re in a corp that pays a PAP bonus.

As with anything of value PAPs can be a contentious.  Some people don’t care about them, or claim they don’t, others obsess a bit about them.

On fleet ops there is always somebody asking about when a PAP will be captured and usually somebody ready to tell them to shut up.  People get angry when somebody even mentions a PAP on fleet coms.  Sometimes it is the FC, as they get tired of hearing about it.  But they also want credit for running fleets.  And occasionally an FC will feel generous and give us an extra PAP.  Asher gave us ten for the battle at F4R2-Q, then regretted it.  It was a pain to do a set a precedent.  Now you’re better off not mentioning PAPs in his fleets.

And so it goes.  In an attempt to add some accountability to the membership, the leaders of the coalition have incentivized making sure you get a PAP for every fleet.  Give value to a thing and people will get all weird about it.

Frack Denied

We were out again shooting at structures.  This time is was an Athanor belonging to Pandemic Horde over in The Kalevala Expanse in LEM-I1.  Liberty Squad mounted up and followed Cainun off into PH space where we found the structure waiting for us.

Detailed naming scheme

The Athanor had been reinforced already and we were there for the armor timer.  The first run, the initial reinforcement, doesn’t mean much, save for setting a date for the next two possible events.

The interesting thing about this particular Athanor was that it was in the midst of breaking off a chunk of the nearby moon as part of its mining cycle.  This is called a frack, since the station is fracturing off a chunk of the moon.  It is one of those things that looks pretty neat out in space.

Frack in progress

It is actually a bit of a trick to get the camera to get all of that lined up because the size and scale of the different parts are so different.  The Athanor is tiny, visible only due to its proximity, and jumps around quite a bit as you move the camera.  The moon and the planet are both huge and distant and barely move at all unless you pan the camera aggressively, which sends the Athanor flying off screen.  And then there is the chunk of moon itself, which is close than you might think.

EVE Online does a pretty good job of delivering on size and perspective.

Anyway, the Athanor was mid cycle, hauling in a moon chunk that would be broken up and available to mine in a few days. (EVE University has a bit about the process here.)

Would, except that we were there for the armor timer and PH was not.  Not much happens when you first hit an Upwell structure.  But when you win the armor timer and set things up for the final match, certain operational restrictions start to apply.  You cannot remove modules or reconfigure the structure.  And, if it is a moon mining platform mid-frack, you lose the moon chunk.  So when we finished our shoot and the next timer came up, the moon chunk was gone.

Disappearing moon chunk

I’m not sure where the chunk goes.  It is just no longer there as the mining cycle was turned off.  It would be nice if CCP left the chunk there for a bit, showing it drifting off to become a small satellite or have it crash back into the moon.  But that is probably a bit too much to ask.  We weren’t going to stick around long enough to watch that sort of thing.

Off we went once the next timer was set, knowing that there was one moon that wouldn’t be mined soon.

MER – Hard Knocks Distraction and a Slight Mineral Price Rebound

We’re into the new year, but news and data from the old is still being put together.  Information and reports always lag behind.  And so it is here in shiny new 2019 CCP has posted the final Monthly Economic Report for 2018 covering the month of December.

What did we do in New Eden while many of us had some extra time off?

Well, to start off with mining, where I traditionally begin, it looks like we mined less.  At least we mined less in Delve.

December 2018 – Mining Value by Region

Delve still remains way out in front of all other regions, something more easily visualized on the bar graph.

December 2018 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

Delve clocked in at 12.2 trillion ISK in value mined, down from the 15.5 trillion ISK mined in November.  And November was down from voracious 19 trillion ISK that was mined in October.

Previously I speculated as to whether the down turn in mining might be related to the dropping price of minerals, mining output being valued by what the market will pay.  And I might have gone to that as a potential explanation again this month, except that the price of minerals rebounded a bit in December.

December 2018 – Economic Indices

The price is still down near the three year low (though still a bit above the all time low), but still up some, enough that the drop in mining measured in Delve cannot be due to price.  Instead, it appears that people just mined a bit less.  This might even be related to the low price.  Ideally Adam Smith’s invisible hand will push supply and demand towards equilibrium.  A low enough price ought to get people to drop mining in favor of other economic endeavors.

But there was a week last month when a lot of us were in wormhole space blowing up that Hard Knocks Keepstar.  That might also explain the dip in Delve and the minor rise in the mineral price.

And all the more so since other places were on the rise.  Second place Esoteria, TEST’s home turf, was up a trillion ISK over November, as was third place Detroid, home of Fraternity.

Querious, another Imperium region, was down half a trillion ISK, leaving it in fourth place.  While still dominant, out mining the next three regions combined, Delve seemed to have been distracted by other events for a bit in December.

On the production front Delve remained steady.

December 2018 – Production Values by Region

Delve production was off by such a small number as to be effectively the same in December.  Likewise The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel regions, the production areas that directly feed the Jita market, saw very little change between November and December.

December 2018 – Production Values by Region – Bar Graph

TEST was busy in Esoteria though, as production there climbed, pushing the region ahead of Lonetrek and The Citadel in the ranking.  It is now in third place, even if it is a distant third.  Other null sec regions also saw bumps in production since last month.

Trade value by region saw very little change in December.  The Forge, home to Jita, still dominates.

December 2018 – Trade Value by Region

Leaving The Forge out of the picture, the rest of New Eden stacks up behind Domain.

December 2018 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph, Forge Excluded

Delve held on to third place, not closing in on Domain and the trade hub in Amarr, but still staying comfortably ahead of the other high sec trade hubs as well ahead of any null sec region.  Delve continues to try and have its own economy in a single region.

And then there is the big faucet, NPC bounties.

December 2018 – NPC Bounties by Region

Delve remains at the top of the chart on this front.

December 2018 – NPC Bounties by Region – Bar Graph

Delve, while still in the lead, was down, as were the other Imperium regions, perhaps reflecting the coalition being distracted by blowing up structures in wormhole space for about a week.  Other regions, however, were up.  Of note were Branch (GotG), Esoteria (TEST), and Detroid (Fraternity), which were undisturbed.

You can even seen the week where the Imperium was in w-space on the sinks and faucets chart. (I was rolling back home around where the line spikes up, with a lot of other people traveling with.)

December 2018 – Top Sinks and Faucets

It is interesting to see what else on that chart dipped (or rose) in conjunction with the dip in bounty payments.  And, of course, once everybody was back from wormhole space bounties jumped to an all time high yet again, something I suspect that CCP will feel the need to address at some point.

Then there is the final chart, which compares some select regions across several parameters.

December 2018 – Regional Stats

And so it goes, the end of another year.  We will see if next month sees a continuation in the rise in NPC bounty payouts.  Or maybe something will happen to distract us again.

As usual, you can find all the charts and the raw data used to create this report over in the dev blog.

Liberty Squad and Running Away in Geminate

It was time for my first op of the year and for my first fleet op with Liberty Squad.

Liberty Squad is a group in the Imperium that runs in US time zone.  Formed mid-2018, the stated goal was to be something akin to Space Violence, a EUTZ squad meant to go find content for line members during peace time.

The Liberty Squad forum bee

Liberty Squad is not the first USTZ group with a pseudo patriotic name.  Back in the day there was Freedom Squad.  I flew with them some, but never joined because their fleets were open to and pinged out to everybody.  However, Freedom Squad dissolved and some of the team running that ended up forming Reavers from the remains.  I jumped on board that a little over four years back when recruitment was open to all.

Since then Reavers has become more difficult to join.  You need a vouch in from a current member in good standing with the notice that if you vouch in somebody who ends up being kicked for cause, you’ll likely be kicked as well.  While Reavers often operates in USTZ, it isn’t a group you can just join.  Reavers can also run hot and cold.  I spent most of 2018 docked up north in the long running Reavers deployment in Pure Blind.  When Reavers are active, it isn’t a casual operation.  And when we’re not, the group doesn’t do much otherwise.  Especially when Asher is out directing operations as the Imperium Sky Marshall during a war.

So Liberty Squad was formed to fill something of a gap in the USTZ.  Unsurprisingly, the leadership and members overlap with Reavers to some extent.  With Reavers quiet since the Hard Knocks wormhole operation I decided to sign up with Liberty Squad to see how things went with them.

My application was accepted without comment, which tells you how low the bar is at the moment.

Last Wednesday night was the first op that came up while I was around.  The fleet formed up on Thomas Lear, a familiar voice from Reavers.  He used to FC Reavers ops a while back.  In fact there were a number of familiar voices and names from Reavers.  I was not the only one looking for some USTZ ops while Reavers were idle.

The doctrine was the Jackdaw fleet.  I had a Scalpel handy, the tech II Minmatar frigate logi ship, so joined up with that to go wherever we were headed.

We first headed up into Aridia, where a wormhole was waiting to take us north.

Scalpel headed to the wormhole

We popped out in low sec space and made a run through high sec to get Oijanen, a low sec system in The Forge that adjoins BWF-ZZ in Geminate.

BWF-ZZ always rings a bell to me as it was the system where I got on my first supercarrier kill mail.  That was almost seven years ago. (Also, I am pretty sure the Megathron in the first screenshot in that post is Baltec1.)

These days BWF-ZZ is the gateway system to the home of Pandemic Horde.  We were just passing through to go try to blow up something of theirs.  We slipped into their space and headed to NQ-9IH where an Ansiblex jump gate waited for us.

The Ansiblex awaits, with a Fortizar in the background

The jump gate had been reinforced, so it was offline.  The final timer for it was ticking down as we arrived and we were there to shoot it once the clock was done.

Just 21 seconds left

A bomber fleet had come along as well to provide more firepower.  The hope was that the Jackdaws could handle whatever Pandemic Horde would throw at us to defend the gate.  However, the locals had other plans.

The first defender to show up was a Broadsword, the Minmatar heavy interdictor.

Hitting the Broadsword

We were happy enough to light out after him, trying to hold him down for a kill.  And then he lit a cyno and some hostile dreads started dropping in on us.

Dreads landing as the Broadsword goes up

While we were able to destroy the Broadsword, a second cyno was already up and it looked like Pandemic Horde had invited some friends to the party.  Pandemic Legion and NCDot were both there in some force and it quickly looked like that Ansiblex jump gate would not be getting blown up.

Thomas Lear decided to pull us out and we headed back towards BWF-ZZ.

However, the hostiles bridged there ahead of us and had the gate to Oijanen and escape bubbled up and camped.  We would not be going that way without taking heaving losses getting to the gate.  In addition our wormhole home was also that way.

Intel indicated that there was another wormhole options available to us.  We just had to move fast to stay ahead of the defenders.  With the Jackdaw fleet speed wasn’t a problem, but there was always the probability that the enemy might figure out where we were headed and bridge ahead of us again.  So off we went, jumping into a system aligning, and being warped to the next gate to do it all again as quickly as possible.

We were headed deeper into hostiles space, up into the Vale of the Silent and the system AZBR-2.  There, in Pandemic Legion space, was a wormhole to Thera.  Thera, the big shattered wormhole system introduced with the Rhea expansion back in 2014, always has multiple connections to normal space, and so can act as something of a transit hub.  In our case, if we could get into Thera, there was another connection that would drop us into Cloud Ring, closer to home and relative safety.

While we were shadowed by the locals almost all the way, their main fleets did not managed to catch up and we were able to slip into Thera and back out as we had hoped.  From there we just had to get to our own jump gate network to take the quick ride through Fountain into Delve.

The new Eye of Terror, running from Querious up into Cloud Ring, is living up to its predecessors.  Without any jump fatigue accrued, fleets are using it to zip up north and back in very little time.  This is apparently causing GSOL a bit of a headache as they have to refuel the gates with liquid ozone more frequently than the old jump bridges.  We made our own run down it into Delve without issue and ended up back home without further incident.

And so ended my first op with Liberty Squad.  It wasn’t exactly a rousing success, but most of us got home safe and there was a bit of adventure along the way.

Meanwhile, I suspect that I will be headed up to Geminate again in the future.  It seems like Pandemic Horde will be the next location where Imperium SIGs and squads go to find content.  Space Violence is already reported to be in the vicinity.