Category Archives: Null Sec

Falling Back in Catch

CCP is going to try to fix the 4-07 system in 10 minutes. You will be booted. get safe

-Ping from last night

I had the flu… or a cold… or whatever the mucus based eldritch horror that was going around the office was… last week and through the weekend which, among other things, altered my video game activities.  So while there has been a war going on in Catch, of which I wrote previously, I haven’t had the wherewithal to go out on fleet ops.  Instead I have been playing things that are… interruptible… or which at least don’t require a three hour window of time.

I think I spent most of Saturday either napping or slumped sideways at my computer playing Minecraft and listening to an audio book, and that was done in part just to be upright so things would drain.

But the war has gone on without me.  Over at The Nosy Gamer there have been some regular updates as to changes in sovereignty and such, mostly collected under the Winter War 2017 tag.  Stuff has happened, including some awkward stuff.

As noted in a post over at Imperium News, a tackle on a TEST Leviathan was offset when an Imperium Ragnarok pilot hit “jump” instead of “bridge,” the classic bridging titan screw up, giving both sides a titan kill for the evening.

Picture source: unknown

Picture source: unknown

The evening’s fun was further complicated when Imperium forces went to extract their capital forces only to find that Against All Authorities, an absentee (and long standing anti-Goon) part of the Stainwagon Coalition, had put up a cyno jamming array in HY-RWO, a system which we had been using as a waypoint for capital operations.  We had to pile in some dreadnoughts to blow up this new bit of system infrastructure as we couldn’t get anybody from AAA to respond.

This led to a quick fireside chat yesterday where The Mittani explained the situation and that our response was going to be to pull back away from AAA’s territory and back towards Querious to cover the approaches there.  The whole thing was summed up in a modified piece of a comic from The Oatmeal which even The Mittani tweeted out as a representation of what happened.

Nope!

Nope!

We were no longer going to stage in central Catch and AAA could lose all their space.  Capitals would fall back to the gates of Qeurious while subcaps would be heading home.  So when I was finally feeling well enough for fleet ops again it was time to pack up my subcaps and head back to Delve.

So it was time to get myself setup for the return.  I had three ships to move and only two pilots.

Asher solved the extra ship problem by offering up space in his titan to Reavers, so I was able to hand over the Cerberus for him to carry back.  He also carried it out for me and I never actually flew it during the deployment.

The Cerb secured, I got myself setup in the Guradian I had in EX6-AO, loaded it up with anything I left in the citadel, and then logged in my alt so he could fly my Scimitar back with the move op fleet.

Only I had forgotten that he had not set his death clone of EX6, so when he got blown up back at the Fortizar battle in F4R2-Q, he ended up back in Delve.  I hadn’t bothered to get him back out to Catch and now the move op was about an hour away.  It was time to get him moving.  But how to get him out there without ending up with yet another ship to move back and without building up too much jump fatigue?

I realized that he still had a Clownshoe fit Sigil, the Amarr industrial we were using (along with the Nereus) as very annoying entosis ships back during the Casino War.  The Sigil warps fast, has a huge tank with a lot of passive regen in the Clownshoe fit, and would reduce any jump fatigue by 90%.  So I stripped out any excess modules and cargo, including the entosis module and all the stront, and headed off to the system with the jump bridge.

The Sigil proved its worth as I managed to get past a Pandemic Legion gate camp in T5ZI-S consisting of a Taranis, a Sabre, and a Kirin, along with several drag bubbles, that I managed to blunder into and escape from… though I am not sure if that is an endorsement of the Sigil or a rebuke of the gate camp’s competence.  They chased me to the jump bridge system but I kept out of their reach.

Once there I flew to the last system in Querious, parked the Sigil in the citadel there, installed a jump clone, and then docked up in the station in the system, which caused Pend Insurance to issue me an Ibis because I was docking in a station and had no ship available.  Free corvettes are still a thing you don’t get in citadels.

From there I flew the dozen jumps to EX6-AO successfully, avoiding a couple neutrals and a trio of CO2 interceptors, a Taranis, a Raptor, and another one I forget at the moment, one of which will come into play later in this narrative.

Happily at my destination, I docked up in the Fortizar, handed over the Scimitar to my alt, and waited for the move op to begin.

Once it got pinged I joined up.  Due to the usual confusion where at least 10% of any group never sees the ping or gets the instructions passed to them, the fleet filled up and there were lots of questions about moving caps.  That eventually led to us undocking and covering the gate to HY-RWO so a bunch of capitals could come to EX6 and either use the Fortizar there or jump to 4-07MU where another Fortizar was available.

Of course, it was about that time that a ping went out to indicate that there were problems in 4-07MU.  People in the Fortizar were having strange issues, couldn’t undock, had problems with modules, and other ailments.  Anybody jumping to the system was advised not to dock at the Fortizar, though tethering was okay, while people at the coalition level started trying to find somebody from CCP to look at the problem.  There was also a report on intel about TEST moving a capital fleet at about that time, an opportunity that passed because key people were stuck in the broken Fortizar.  Or so I heard.

After covering the caps, we moved off on our way back to Delve, out destination being 4-07MU.  That coincided with an update that CCP was going to bring 4-07MU down and back up again, which was broadcast as the ping at the top of this post.  Our estimated time of arrival at 4-07MU was going to coincide with that because or course it did.  Later The Mittani was on our coms and heard about that, among many other odd turns of event, and thought maybe we should give up on any current names and just call the whole thing “Murphy’s War” after the well known law that seems to govern, among other things, life in New Eden.

Otherwise though, it was a move op.  A slow move op, with battleships in tow, so we were limited to warping a 2.0 AU/sec, but a move op.  Jump through the gate, align to the next gate, wait for the fleet warp, do it all again.

The fleet ball warping yet again

The fleet ball warping yet again

But every op needs “that guy” who becomes the comedy star of the show.  It has been me on past occasions.  That night it was Parvulus Dei from the corp Into the Fray.

As we were moving along he called out on coms that he had made a mistake a jump or two back and had accidentally warp to the sun in his Rokh.  While there he reported that he had been tackled by a Probe, which is the Minmatar tech I scanning frigate.

Questions abounded about how he had managed this feat and Asher told him that since we had moved on he was on his own unless somebody in a small ship wanted to run back and save him.  We moved on our slow way while getting updates from him and from a couple of people who decided to run back and give him a hand.

After a chunk of time had passed… much more time that one would imagine would be needed to notice this… Parvulus Dei amended his status to indicate that he had, in fact, been tackled by a Taranis, a Gallente interceptor, and a considerably different ship in almost all regards.  This just made laughter and speculation swell on coms as people tried to figure out how one could mistake a Probe for a Taranis.  One guess was that he saw a combat probe on his overview, another was that the ship was named “Probe,” but I cannot recall if we ever got a definitive answer on this.

Help did reach him in time and the Probe-Taranis was blown up.  It turned out to be one of the CO2 interceptors I had seen coming out and had duly reported on the intel channel, complete with names and ship types, as being in that very system.  I don’t know what happened to the other two.

For the rest of the fleet there were ongoing jokes referencing Parvulus Dei and his side trip.  He caught up with us around the 4-07MU gate, where we had to wait as we did, in fact, arrive just as CCP took the system down.  Parvulus took this all very well and spoke up when somebody wanted to know who this had happened to and so on.  The only way to deal with being “that guy” is to just roll with it until it wears out.

Once we heard that the 4-07MU system was back up we did the prudent thing and just sent a couple of ships in to make sure it was working okay.

Hah hah!  No we didn’t, we shoved the whole 250 person fleet through the gate as soon as we possibly could before wondering whether or not that was really a good idea.

As it turned out, everything was fine.  We headed off to Querious and the jump bridge that would land us a couple of gates from home.  Along the way we drove off a gate camp with a few bubbles trying to catch people coming back solo.  After that we took the last gate, docked up in the Keepstar and called it “Op Success!”  Asher even gave us a PAP, which after getting 11 from him already this month seemed like a bit much, but maybe they hadn’t rained so generously on others.

Now I just have to go back and pick up that Sigil at some point.

Opening the New War at F4R2-Q

A new war for a new year, and its first major battle hit yesterday with as many as 4,000 pilots in local as much of null sec declared sides in the war between TEST, Circle-of-Two, and their allies and the Stainwagon Coalition, whose composition I noted in a war preview post last week, and its allies, which includes the Imperium.

One of those fights - Local at 21:16 UTC Jan. 1, 2017

One of those fights – Local at 21:16 UTC Jan. 1, 2017

The location was the system of F4R2-Q in the Catch region where TEST and CO2 had each placed a Fortizar citadel to act as staging points for their invasion of the region.

On the Imperium side there was a pre-battle State of the Goonion where The Mittani spoke of standing by those who had stood by us during the Casino War and opposing those who proved faithless when the going got tough.

I was already in Asher’s just formed Machariel fleet before the address concluded, joining the logi contingent in a Guardian.  The fleet quickly filled up and we ended up with too much logi, so some of them were sent off to other fleets, but I stuck around preferring to fly with Asher and Arrendis and more than a few fellow Reavers.

This was clearly going to be a big op.  As our subcap fleet undocked and moved to where we would get bridged, there were a lot of capital ships hanging on our staging Fortizar.

Cap Fleet still not fully undocked

Cap Fleet still not fully undocked

We hung out waiting for out bridge for a bit, with the usual calls for people who were not in range of the titan or who had accidentally clicked in space and started wandering off.  Coms were busy as we were in the mode where multiple fleets share the same coms channel, so chatter had to be heavily restricted.

Tethered and Waiting for the bridge

Tethered and Waiting for the bridge

I did get a bit cocky though and logged in my alt and got him setup in a pointing Vigil.  I did not join the fleet, but made my way along the gate route to the destination system where I warped out to one of our staging towers where fleets were staging and went into a 150km orbit to just watch from above things.  TEST and CO2 did not have the luxury of towers in the system as, in a repeat of the battle of 6VDT-H (another 4K pilot battle), they let us sneak in and put towers up on all the moons in the system.  They were depending on their Fortizars for safe points.

And then we warped in and the battle began.

What does one say about a battle where the server has hit 10% time dilation and still cannot keep up, so people get disconnected, parts of the UI stop working, where no action is reliable, where ships get stuck in your overview and appear there long after they have gone?

Wilhelm got disconnected four times during the battle.  But things were moving so slowly that I never had to worry about warping back to the fleet.  Even during the peak, when it took me 20 minutes to log back in and load grid, I found myself still on anchor, still capping up my partners in the cap chain, all as though I had never left.  The main problem was once when one of my cap buddies dumped out of the chain at the same time and I had to get back in fleet, get the watch list up, target a new buddy, and start capping him.  That series of actions took 15 minutes.  And then the old buddy got back in and I was another five minutes getting things sorted back to the way they were.

On the other hand, when time is moving slow and your fleet is clearly going to be sitting on grid exchanging alpha strikes, which kill a ship in a single volley leaving nothing to repair, you can find time to do other things.  I managed to go take a shower, make lunch, take down the Christmas lights on the house, and eat dinner while watching a TV show.  I just had to check my position at every set of commercials.

When our fleet started taking a few losses, I put my alt in and had him paint targets as Asher called for it.  But then he got disconnected, so I let him be for a while, choosing to focus on logi.  We did save a few people… more than a few… when attempts at alpha strikes were done badly and ended up as ragged volleys that applied damage over what seemed like a long stretch of time.  We kept Asher alive a few times as opposing fleets locked him up in an attempt to headshot him.

A while later, when things had hit a routine as we sat near the CO2 Fortizar I logged my alt back in.  However, he had been some place bad while I was away, having had his armor peeled away well into half structure, though his shields were back to full.  As he auto-warped onto grid again he landed in the midst of a TEST fleet and the ship wasn’t long for the world.  I did managed to paint and shoot a Flycatcher and a Sabre as that Vigil went out in a blaze of glory.

Painters on, missiles firing

Painters on, missiles firing

I left him there in his pod as a vantage point for screen shots before eventually pointing him at the gate home where he was picked off by Solar Fleet camp on the gate that was happily taking out anybody trying to leave.  I watched a couple of Oneiros logi cruisers get popped before it was my turn.

That leads us to who took sides with whom.  I am waiting for a full accounting… or at least a battle report that will generate accurately… but it looked like Provi Bloc, led by CVA, came out in support of Stainwagon and we made them temp blue for the fight.  Meanwhile, the Drone Region Federation, the “other” Russians that don’t get along with the Stainwagon Russians came out to join TEST and CO2, which saw us fighting people we had teamed up with in the past, like Solar Fleet, and former enemies like the Dronewalkers and Legion of xXDeathXx allied.

And then there was NCDot who came on down just to shoot targets of opportunity on both sides of the fight.  Have to respect that.

The fight went on and on as reports of the two Fortizars had them inching slowly to their doom.  Eventually the CO2 Fortizar exploded at 03:11 UTC and the fight shifted to focus around the TEST Fortizar, which had been erroneously reported as dead at 23:30, but which didn’t actually die until 04:14.

Somewhere along the way I managed to get a combat drone out and on each of the Fortizars in order to secure myself a spot on the kill mail.  I also was able to get in on a few of the opposing dreadnoughts at the end when the enemy had essentially given up shooting us and was trying to extract what they could from the field.  When the TEST Fortizar went up there was a short period of mopping up as tidi finally rose above 10%.

As the system emptied out, the game sped up, which was almost disorienting.  Things that had been essentially moving in slow motion for hours were suddenly running at full speed.  And then in a euphoric fit, Asher said he would make us ten participation links, one for each hour the fleet was out, something he no doubt immediately regretted as then he had to go make the damn things.  I would have been happy with a few less and a quicker trip home.

However, we did have to cover capitals as the went back to staging.  Fortunately we were only a gate and a jump from home, so it wasn’t a long haul.  We caught the bridge and covered a gate for the supers, then docked back up for the night.  And just in time too, as the new season of Sherlock was set to start on PBS just 11 minutes after I logged out.  But it had been a long day in space.

Fleet time - 10 hours 41 minutes

Fleet time – 10 hours 49 minutes

That leaves the result of the battle.

We won the objective.  TEST and CO2 lost their Fortizars and will continue to stage from NPC null sec space for now.  While they are pushing this off as no big deal, just a matter of a couple of gates, when your plan is an invasion and you are repulsed, you have lost.

Then there is the ISK war.  On Reddit, which is largely the sphere of TEST, our foes are claiming a stunning victory, claiming to have killed as much as 600 billion ISK in ships over the course of the battle.  They are oddly quiet about their own losses however.  They are likely less, so they have probably won the ISK war. How much less remains in question until things settle down and a battle report can be generated.  I cannot reliably fetch my own profile on zKillboard, much less a battle report.  All we have right now is ship losses.

DOTLAN report on ships destroyed

DOTLAN report on ships destroyed

But the question arises as to who can afford losses and who can’t.

TEST and CO2 just lost all of their space after a couple months of war in Tribute.  They are currently living in NPC null sec and do not have any territory from which to extract wealth.

I do not know the state of Stainwagon, though they have been hanging out in their space for a long time, so it should be safe to assume they are not poor.

Then there is the Imperium, which has been working to restore it coffers since the end of summer in Delve.  Look at the November economic report and note which region has the largest amount of mining going on. (And again in December.)  We lost 600 billion in ISK worth of ships in our own system less than a month ago and were still happy to go to war.  So I do not think the losses will dissuade us from our cause.

Also this is just the first major battle of the war.  Both sides can afford to dismiss what happened and claim it as a victory.  But which side is going to be able to sustain the fights, the losses, the day long events spent in 10% tidi?  That question has yet to be answered.

So the war is on.

Also, I am totally set for participation links for the month, with 11 in already.

Here is coverage of the battle on other sites, which I will update as more show up:

And then some screen shots from my 10 hours in space yesterday:

Winter War in South New Eden

After the giant mess of the M-OEE8 Keepstar battle, Circle of Two announced that they would be pulling out of the north end of null sec.  Neither they nor their allies, TEST, would defend their remaining holdings in Tribute or Vale of the Silent, allowing Pandemic Legion and NCDot to scoop up great swathes of the two regions to turn into rental space.  Same as it ever was.

The question then became where would these two alliances head.  They vowed to stick together to take new space, but there was speculation as to where.  The decision has finally been made; CO2 and TEST, joined by FCON and The Drone Walkers… not sure why they are showing up, but there they are and their space in Tenal is being taken… will be attacking the Stainwagon coalition, which is spread over the regions of Paragon Soul, Esoteria, and Impass along with bits of Feythabolis and Catch.  According to the Coalition Guide, Stainwagon is made up of:

  • Soviet-Union – 2060 pilots
  • Against ALL Authorities – 1151 pilots
  • Desman Alliance – 956 pilots
  • C0VEN – 1038 pilots
  • Good Sax – 306 pilots
  • FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT STELLAR SYSTEMS – 1409 pilots
  • pwn-O-graphy – 275 pilots
  • Wings Wanderers – 1335 pilots
  • The Afterlife. – 656 pilots
  • Kids With Guns Alliance – 2435 pilots
  • Swords of Damocles – 374 pilots
  • The Volition Cult – 2408 pilots

That gives them a combined total of about 14K pilots. (Yes, pilots don’t necessarily align to actual people, but it is the only measure we have.)  You can see those alliances grouped up in the south on the current influence map from the usual source:

Null Sec Influence - December 30, 2016

Null Sec Influence – December 30, 2016

TEST, CO2, FCON, and the Drone Walkers bring over 17K pilots to the fight and represent a smaller leadership group, which may make them effective beyond their numbers against the dispersed Stainwagon Coalition.

The alleged political reason for Stainwagon being the target is their past friendship with Goons, though if that had to count against alliances then we’d have to bring up TEST, CO2, and FCON as fellow members of that club as well.

The REAL reason is more likely contained in a quote from TEST (and former GSF) FC Vily over at EN24 that I would sum up, in my own words, as “Nothing personal, but they have space and we think we can take them.”  Ever a good enough reason for war in New Eden.

Some alliances the Stainwagon coalition did indeed come out in support of the Imperium during The Casino War (part of the Russian complication in April which also saw the Drone Walkers show up) and that relationship has been maintained, including allowing the Imperium to pass through the Catch region to hit FCON on occasion.  In return the Imperium will be coming to their aid to fight against what has become known as the Circle of TEST coalition and whatever hangers on they bring.  The Imperium has over 20K pilots on their roster, which is some weight to be throwing around.

War is coming, which is always good for the game.

But there is also a strategic question to consider.  Circle of TEST has stated that their goal is to find space where they can build up their super capital fleet.  Currently PL and NCDot have dominance on that front, having bounced back easily from their losses at B-R5RB just about three years back.  That is PL and NCDot’s ace in the hole, the fall back “I Win” button when the outcome of a battle is in question.

Right now the Imperium is on a crash capital and super capital building binge to close that gap, and have had time to setup and rebuild in Delve, something that PL and NCDot no doubt see as a threat.  But will they allow another defeated enemy in the form of Circle of TEST to also setup shop in the south and begin cranking out capital ships that may trim back the advantage PL and NCDot hold?  Or does conflict in the south suite them as the build their new rental empire in the north?

And what of the powers closer to hand?  The Imperium has already declared themselves in the fight.  Will Provi Bloc and the Drone Region Federation be content to left Circle of TEST move in so they can build up an offensive force in their back yards?  Provi Bloc generally keeps to itself, and the DRF has some animosity built up against Stainwagon.  Will third parties piling into the area change any of that?  Do the new neighbors look good or would they prefer the status quo?

So we will be going into the new year with a new war with its own set of New Eden-wide political and alliance questions.  A new chapter in the ongoing tale of null sec space. (I’m tentatively tagging this as “Stain War 2017” until a better name comes up.)  And, of course, there will be propaganda, sometimes the best part of these wars… especially when TEST is involved.  I grabbed a couple of samples from /r/eve:

Coverage of events so far:

Five Years in Null Sec

Back in December of 2011, even as Hilmar was telling the CSM that the era of the “Jesus Feature” was over, I was again subscribed to EVE Online.  Having unsubscribed after the debacle that was Incarna, I was back to see what CCP had done since then as they launched Crucible, an expansion that promised to get back to the nuts and bolts of the game and start a trend of fixing stuff that people had been complaining about for years.

I had to admit that it was pretty, with new nebulae and start gates that appears to be lined up to shoot you at the correct star even.

Jump Gate in Action

Jump Gate in Action

But as pretty as the update was, it wasn’t holding me.  I was back and looking at all the stuff I had in my hangar, leftovers from the various paths I had trod over the previous half decade in New Eden… mission, mining, production, arbitrage… along with 70 million skill points in training and felt no inspiration.  I was subscribed for a month and figured I would spend it toddling about looking at pretty things and then let my account lapse.

Even my friends, the people who came and went from our little corp, were all gone… all save Gaff.  Gaff was back and playing, but he was out in null sec where he had gone a year or so previously, and there was not getting there to visit, though he did stop by in high sec for the occasional romp.

He had tried to get me to join him in null sec in the past, but I am one of those people who gets stuck on “things,” and all of my things were in a station in Amarr space and I couldn’t imagine trying to get them all up to where he lived in Deklein.

This time, however, my commitment to the game was waning such that I was up to take a chance.  I filled out an application to join BSCL, got accepted, changed my home station, and self-destructed.

I was revived in the station at CU9-T0, the headquarters of my new alliance, TNT, but quickly scooted off to 0P-F3K, the system that BSCL mostly called home.  It was December 18, 2011 and a conflict had just broken out.  After the great VFK headshot Goonswarm had taken what was once DekCo, transformed into the Clusterfuck Coalition, or the CFC, once its boarders expanded, on the road after some neighbors to the northeast that were seen as threats.  The CFC struck out at them and these foes, White Noise and Raiden, announced they were set to come get us, promising to rid Deklein of Goons, a statement which was turned into the infamous cry of “VFK by February!”

It was war and I had to figure out what was what in a hurry.

I got to our staging system in VFK-IV, got on coms, got myself a doctrine ship, and was soon bumbling my way through fleets trying to figure out what was going on and not screw up.  But by December 21 I had already bridged off of a titan, been in a fleet fight, done a structure shoot, and had seen all sorts of new things in the game.  And probably more importantly I became part of the ongoing story that is null sec space.

Null Sec Sov. December 27

Null Sec Sov. December 27, 2011

Long after seeing a titan was no longer special and I had trained up skill points to fly in every subcap doctrine the coalition could come up with, being part of the sweep and story of null sec space has kept me interested in the game.  Before I came to null sec I used to drop my subscription and take a break every so often, usually after I wore out whatever goal or project I had been working on.  Since I came to null sec I have remained subscribed and logging in.

As something of an MMO tourist, being in a null sec alliance and part of a contentious coalition has afforded me the opportunity to witness many of the noteworthy events that have sometimes made it to the mainstream news.  To abuse a former CCP advertising catch phrase, “I was there” for:

  • My first “big” fleet fight in EWN-2U which saw the newly released time dilation mechanism in play (post)
  • Burn Jita of various flavors (Burn Jita tag)
  • Z9PP-H when CCP fumbled the node and saved TEST (Post, though I left just before that happened)
  • The Lazamo at 3WE-KY (post)
  • 6VTD-H at the end of the Fountain War (Post with lots of links about the battle)
  • HED-GP when we were killing nodes with drone assist (Post)
  • B-R5RB, which remains the most expensive battle in New Eden history (B-R5RB tag with several related posts)
  • M-OEE8 and the great betrayal of the Casino War (Post)
  • Defeat in the Casino War and the great migration to Delve (Delve 2016 tag)
  • M-OEE8 Keepstar fight with the most pilots ever to pile into a single system (Post)

Those are points in time that a lot of people will remember.  I think the one big event I totally missed was Asakai, which happened while I was at work and was done before I got home.  And these are just peak events.  For each great clash there are many smaller battles.

And even when there isn’t a wider war going on… which is usually when some vocal non-null sec players start chanting about “blue donuts” and “stagnation”… there is always something going on, even if it is just planning and building for the next conflict.  We can’t sustain constant war, it takes too much out of people.

And the story continues.  That series of discreet events I listed out are just points on the arc of a much wider and ongoing tale of which so many people have been a part.   Some actors and organizations come and go, others change sides or become part of new organizations.  If you read Andrew Groen’s book Empires of EVE, that is just part of the story, a great snapshot from null sec, but only a snippet from the ongoing saga of 0.0 space.  War, alliances, spies, betrayal, conquest, victories, defeats, old hands, bitter vets, new bros, null sec has it all.

Null sec sov Dec. 20, 2016

Null sec sov Dec. 20, 2016

Granted, null sec isn’t a game niche for everybody, and there are aspects of it that do get tiring.  After a couple of years of mostly being in the blob of main fleet, the whole effort was starting to wear on me.  If you look back at January of 2014, when B-R5RB happened, I am only on six kill mails.  They were six titans from that battle, but I wasn’t doing much else and my Dominix got left behind in the system after the Russians collapsed and lost all of that space.

And then Reavers came along with ops where 100 ships is a big turn out for an op and got to do all sorts of different sorts of fights all over New Eden.  And that isn’t a constant activity.  We deploy for a bit, have some fights, then come back home to do other things.

All in all though, being part of null sec is pretty much what made EVE Online finally “stick” for me.  Every time I think maybe it is time for a break, something new comes up in the story and I decide to stick around a bit longer just to see how that plays out.

Another Night, Another Keepstar Fight

This is becoming a regular thing.

Saturday night, after having gone out to see Rogue One, gone out to dinner, come home and watched Star Wars: Episode IV, I finally wandered around to my computer to see what was going on in New Eden.

Jabber had been up long enough that there was a ping about reinforcements going off to attack a Pandemic Legion CHAOS Keepstar up in the system of Vey.  The Imperium New Twitch stream was showing live video from the fight which showed the Keepstar coming online and the repair timer paused due it being attacked.  It seemed like there could be yet another Keepstar kill this month.

I was keen to get there and whore on the kill mail help out our fleet.

However, Vey is in the Placid region, which is Gallente empire space, and something of a haul from way down in Delve.  Also, the reinforcement fleet was well on its way.  A run by myself wouldn’t be impossible, but there were a lot of potentially hostile gates to pass through on the way there.

My first thought went to my Alpha Clone alt, Reynaldo Fabulous, who is now truly and Alpha as his account has lapsed.  He was parked in one of his hull tanked Thorax cruisers less than a dozen jumps from Vey.  I got him out… which meant I couldn’t log anybody else into the game… and headed that direction, but got caught on a gate camp in Renarelle and blown up, sending him back to Jita.  I put the kill rights he got up for sale at a low price and logged him out.

Getting to the fight now meant doing something with my coalition characters, both of whom were down in Delve.  I logged them in and looked at where they had jump clones.  Wilhelm’s closest was in Badivefi, which isn’t much closer than Delve.  But my alt had a clone in Amarr, which wasn’t too far from the fight.  So I jumped him up there.

Once in Amarr, I grabbed the fitting for the target painting Vigil that goes along with most of our fleet compositions and bought that and fit it all up (“buy all” and “fit” buttons for the win!) and set a course for Vey.  Once in motion there, I jumped Wilhelm to Badifevi and put him in a support Crucifier I had stashed there, undocked him, and set his autopilot to the last high sec station on the way to Vey, just in case I needed backup.

Then it was back to my alt who quickly got into Placid, bypassing any trouble right up the gate from Agoze to Vey… and the trouble there was time dilation.  I went from fast moving space straight into the soul-sucking sludge that is 10% tidi surrounding a big fight.  The warp tunnel almost seemed to stop and everything was in super slo-mo.

Which was a bit of a surprise after the 5,337 pilot battle at M-OEE8 because the numbers were less than half that when I hit the system.

Time dilation factor 10

Time dilation factor 10

From what I heard over the weekend, the big fight at M-OEE8 actually got to use the super Jita node (so the Jita market had problems that day) while this fight was just a standard reinforced node.  Judging from coms, the node had not been up to the load and people had been dumped from the game a while back.  But I was there at last and joined up with Asher’s Machariel fleet because… well.. Asher.

Landing on the Machs

My Vigil landing on the Machs

They were right in at the Keepstar.  I got in an orbit around the anchor and started painting the targets being called, which at that moment were fighters.

Target painter running as I fly under the structure

Target painter running as I fly under the structure

I also locked up the Keepstar and sent a missile its way just to get some damage in while I had the chance.  It still had quite a ways to go, but seemed to in peril.

Keepstar and two fighters targeted

Keepstar and two fighters targeted

However, by that time Pandemic Legion had gotten themselves assembled and began dropping their considerable capital ship assets on the Keepstar in order to defend it.  The weight of that turned the tide in their favor.

Capitals landing on the Keepstar

Capitals landing on the Keepstar

While others in the fleet had been going for five hours or more for this battle, including time spent forming up and flying out, we were now aligning for the out gate and heading home just minutes after I had arrived.  I tabbed out and stopped Wilhelm’s slow autopilot progress to the fight and sent him back the way he came, then aligned with the rest of the fleet as we, TEST, and other attackers sought to exit the system.  The Keepstar was going to be saved.

We slowly warped off to the gate and then waited there a bit until everybody arrived.  Then we jumped through and back into playing EVE Online and its normal pace, leaving all but residual bits of time dilation behind us as we made the trip back down to Delve.  That put us into Cloud Ring and then through the well trod path down the length of Fountain to Delve.  I stuck with the fleet for the ride home just in case we ran into any opposition… though a nearly 200 ship strong Machariel fleet would need some serious opposition for there to be a real problem.

Aside from a Sabre along the way, the route was clear and we arrived in Delve where a titan was waiting on a citadel to bridge us back to the staging system.  A cyno was put up at the far end, the bridge went up, and we went to jump through.

Bridge up on the titan

Bridge up on the titan, second titan in the background

However, before much of the fleet managed to jump, the titan, ran out of helium isotopes, the fuel consumed to put up the bridge and then to send each ship through, so those left behind were not going to be taking that bridge.  I made it, but others were still sitting there.  However the fleet was in luck as there was another titan on the citadel. It had a jump portal generator fit and enough fuel in its bay to send the rest of the fleet on home.  The fleet op was over. (More about jump drives and such if you are interested.)

We did not get a Keepstar kill, but the whole thing… and the fact that this was the third Keepstar battle in just over a week… made me start wondering about the state of Keepstar and citadel proliferation.  Pandemic Legion and its allies are going back to the old rental space model in null sec starting with the territory they just conquored in Tribute, which will likely expand into the Vale of the Silent region now that TEST and CO2 are moving south to stage in Derelik with an eye towards taking territory in Catch.

With a solid income stream behind them again and a strong capital fleet available to drop in defense (that whole “last war” polemic has not aged well) Pandemic Legion can keep putting up Keepstars and Fortizars to make a fairly unassailable perimeter. They won’t be able to hold more than half of null sec like the Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition rental empires of old, but they may not need to.  Fozzie Sov upgrades to null, citadels, jump fatigue, and overwhelming local superiority in supercaps likely means they can settle in for a long and lucrative stay in the north in some prime territory with easy access to Jita.  The ISK rolls in while whatever neighbors they have will keep the line members entertained.

With more than seven thousand citadels deployed already back during EVE Vegas, maybe citadel proliferation should be a Blog Banter topic?  Or maybe supercapital proliferation as a topic, since “build more supers” seems to be on every null sec power’s list of things to do?  Or maybe we can just do a Blog Banter about how the more things change, the more they stay the same or Malcanis’s Law or any of the usual tunes we all know the words to after more than a decade in New Eden?

Addendum: And the official rental space announcement is up on Reddit.  You can join Rate My Ticks (RMT, ticker: WERMT) and rent some prime space real estate in Tribute.  It is good stuff.  I know, I used to live there.

Addendum: EN24 has a post about the wider battle, as my perspective was pretty narrow.

A Structure Fight in Catch

I could have had another EVE Online post yesterday, but I thought I would break up my seven post streak.

Tuesday afternoon a ping had gone out to Reavers asking who had ship ready for a new doctrine.  It turned out we had enough people ready and a ping went out for a “short” op that evening.  It was time to get out our Sleipnir doctrine.

Sleipnir riding through a fleet boost burst

Sleipnir riding through a fleet boost burst

The word “short” used in reference to a fleet op in EVE Online is generally deceptive.  There can be short ops, especially if they are homeland defense ops where you are chasing off enemies already near your staging.  But for an offensive operation where you are going to travel somewhere and shoot something or somebody, you should probably block out three hours for the whole thing.  It might take less, but these things have a way of stretching out.

For our op, getting close to our destination was easy as Thomas Lear had a wormhole connection setup for us.  As somebody noted, we were playing at PL, flying a command ship doctrine and traveling by wormholes.  Our destination was the system E-YJ8G in the Catch region, where we were going to help Volition Cult take down an Astrahus that Honorable Third Party had anchored in their space. (We crashed a node in that system about three years ago, back during the drone assist days!)

With the wormhole path, which started just one jump from our staging, the ride out was quick.  However, the wormholes shrank as we went through, indicating that they might not be able to accommodate us for the return trip.  But there is no point in worrying about that on the trip out.  The whole thing might be a trap so we could be going home the fast way in any case.

When we got there we found an Astrahus already under fire from our temporary allies in the fight and a POS with carriers and faxes in it on the same grid, though about 900km off the citadel.  The capital ships were sitting off in the POS with fighters deployed, and were the juicer target.  So Thomas led us to the POS to see if we could catch a capital kill.

Our foes in HTP were no fools, as their carriers and support were close to the POS shields.  In order to get a kill we were going to have to bump one of the carriers away from the shields and fax support.  That takes a bit of skill, a department in which we proved lacking for a bit.  We failed on a Nyx and a couple more before we managed to get a Nidhoggur away from the pack.

Nidhoggur out on its own

Nidhoggur out on its own

We managed to kill that, which gave us a warm feeling, until we realized that we had lost a couple of Sleipners along the way.  Sleips are expensive ships and we don’t have to lose too many in order to balance out the ISK value of a carrier.

We took a run at another target, but it didn’t look like it was going to happen, so Thomas had us pull range on the POS and we contented ourselves with killing their fighters.  That was what we ended up doing for a stretch.

We warped over to the Astrahus and put drones on that to keep it ticking down to destruction, then continued working on fighters.  We did warp back to try and get another carrier that looked like it was straying from the POS bubble, but that did not pan out.  Then it was back to work on fighters and the Astrahus kill.

All in all a decent little fight which yielded a “we all had fun” thread on Reddit which seemed to have gotten ignore by the usual hate crowd.  Or maybe I’ve just blocked all the Rob Kaichin’s there finally.  The battle report is a little wonky… fighters get counted as kills, but only if you take out a whole squadron of them… but it was generally a pretty even outcome and both sides got to kill a few expensive thinks without taking huge relative losses.

Null sec working as designed.

Of course, then we had to go home.

Thomas said that anybody who cared to could zip back to the wormhole, but it was not at all clear if it would stay up long enough to allow the whole fleet to pass, even with some losses, so he was going to lead people home the long way.  He had us set our destination to Keberz and let us off the leash to free burn.  I must have heard him first because when the fleet got tangled with some locals in ERVK-P, I was already at the gate two jumps down the road.  After some “stay where you are” and “jump back in” over coms, I decided to just wander on down the line, stopping in HED-GP.

HED-GP is one of those border system, this one representing a direct transition from high sec to null sec, which are natural choke points if you want to set up a gate camp to zap passers by.  The system, as expected, had a small crowd. (It is also another place where we killed a server in the drone assist days.)  After trying to bounce off of a celestial… no corp tactical bookmarks in the system… and finding that blocked by a drag bubble, I warped off and safed up to wait for the fleet to catch up.

I wasn’t really watching local… I tend to have it as narrow as possible so I can just see a total number and a compact list of names… so I didn’t notice that the people in the system were asking after me.  I eventually got two private convo request from what turned out to be the tow groups squaring off around the gate.

One was from MIC Improvise, who was with the group who had just been at the Astrahus fight earlier and who kindly gave me a celestial to bounce off to get cleanly through the gate.  I assume it was legit, though you never know, and our temp truce for the fight was over.  But the fleet had unstuck itself from whatever it had been doing back in ERVK-P and was closing in on the system, so I opted just to move with them.

The other was from Madmatt Otsito, a local give his corp name (HED Hunters) who seemed to want me to join up with his group to fight the other group around the gate.  I think.  Voice coms were busy.  I let him know that the gate would probably be hot in a bit as a couple dozen more Sleipners were on their way.

The I warped to our in gate in HED-GP and rejoined the fleet as they jumped into the system.  I am sure everybody could see local more than double and when we warped to a perch over the Keberz gate, most of the people on grid thought it was about the right time to get the hell out of the way and warped.  As we landed on the gate, somebody called a Harpy that was in range and that got quickly blapped.  Then somebody pointed out that there was a Cormorant at the extreme edge of lock range.  I happened to already have long range ammo loaded, so I locked him up and took a shot.

And that is how I got on Madmatt Otsito’s kill mail.  Ah well.  I didn’t even hit him, but I had projectiles down range for him.

From there we were off to Queious and the route back to Delve and the jump bridge network.  The route was quiet so aside from a side trip to kill an ESS, we made our way back to staging and called it a night.  Another small op, no tidi, no drama, just a good clean fight.

Some screen shots from the op:

Death of a Keepstar and Exits from Tribute

The previous weekend we headed up to Tribute to 3rd party on the battle in M-OEE8 to shoot targets of opportunity.  There was a giant six hour slow motion spaceship melee around Circle-of-Two’s Keepstar.  However, that was just the preliminary, the second act of a three act play.

This past Saturday was the real deal, the actual final engagement when the Keepstar would be saved or blow up dramatically.  Even CCP put up an official notice about the event.  I wanted to see that, but I wasn’t sure the Imperium was going to show up.  We were having our own little spaceship tournament (in which Asher led the Reavers to victory) so I decided to make my own plan.  Fortunately I had an option in place.

Back when I pulled out of Tribute, literally just a day before we officially abandoned our space there, I left behind some stuff in UMI-KK.  I gave some of it away and sold most of the rest at well above Jita prices.  But I also left a jump clone there along with a Manticore stealth bomber along with a cyno and some liquid ozone with an eye to being able to bring in trouble some day.

That day never came and as summer rolled around we moved to Delve, but I left that clone and ship in place.  This seemed to be the time to reactivate that asset.

So on Thursday night I clone jumped to UMI-KK, packed up what I had left in the station, and made my way carefully E-OGL4, on gate from M-OEE8 and then safed up and logged out as there was a lot of coming and going at the time and I did not want to get caught on the gate trying to slip in.

Getting safely offline

Getting safely offline

I came back a couple of times until I found a quiet stretch and warped from my perch below the gate and jumped to M-OEE8.

Once there I made my own safe spots then set about trying to find the Keepstar.  Even something so big isn’t all that big in the scale of a solar system.  It wasn’t open to me, so it didn’t show up on my overview.  I saw that my kills from the previous week were marked on zKillboard as being in the vicinity of planet VIII, but warping there didn’t show anything.  My last shot was the cynos that seemed to be in continuous use.  They would likely be on grid with the Keepstar, but they might be also be at one of the citadels that the attackers had anchored around the Keepstar.  Either option would do, so long as I stayed cloaked.  Either side would be happy enough to shoot me.

So I picked one and warped to it at 100km while cloaked.  At least I am pretty sure that is what I did.  What happened was that I landed right on the Keepstar and was decloaked.  You feel a bit exposed sitting there on a besiged station, hostiles coming and going all around.  One of those “oh shit!” moments in New Eden that raises your heart rate.

I immediately aligned back to my safe and warped off… but had the presence of mind at the last moment to bookmark the Keepstar.  I got away safely and was able to warp back to the bookmark at 100km, this time landing at range.  Then I pointed myself up (relative to the plane of the solar system) and motored to a spot 250km above the Keepstar.   Then I made a couple more bookmarks at about that distance as backups, went back to my safe and logged off.

The next day, almost an hour before the Keepstar timer was set to some out, I logged in and warped to my perch.

On grid with the Keepstar

On grid with the Keepstar

There were already about three thousand people in local and the number was climbing steadily.  20 minutes before the timer came out, that number passed four thousand and time dilation had already kicked in and was down to 20% at times.  With about a minute left on the count down, I tweeted a picture of local, which had already crossed the five thousand mark.  Tidi was already in full force.

New record set before the battle

New record set before the battle

That was already more people in system for the battle than had every piled into before.  The number eventually passed 5,300, at which point the server seemed to feel that was the maximum point of stability as it started dropping people until it got under 5,300 again.

I do not have a dramatic tale to tell as far as the fight goes.  I was there to see the sights and, most importantly, get on the Keepstar kill mail.  As I joked, I figured I could sit in my safe for three hours, warp to the Keepstar, take a shot, then warp back to my safe and be set.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple.

After about an hour I warped to one of my perches, and watched the fight a bit, thne warped to 50km off the Keepstar.  I seemed to be fairly far from most other ships, with only a few in the 30-60km range.  From there I aligned back to a safe, decloaked, locked up the citadel, and fired my torpedoes.  After a couple of salvos I saw an Crow locking me, so I warped off, cloaked up, and sat safe for a bit as I went off to make some lunch.  The Keepstar was at 79% structure.

I tabbed out, watched some of the Imperium tournament, listened to a podcast, wrote most of yesterday’s silly post, and generally ignored the fight.

When I checked back I founded that the EVE Online client had quit with an error.  I was no longer in the system and as like as not I would no longer get credit on the kill mail.  This needed to be addressed immediately.

I logged back in, which given the stress on the system was surprisingly smooth.  I suspect being off-grid in a safe all by myself helped on that front.  I again warped to my perch, then to within 50km of the Keepstar and took another shot at it.  At that point it was a 56% structure and local had actually dropped to about 3,900 people.  I wasn’t the only one getting kicked off it seemed.

Then it was back to my safe, then on grid at a perch to watch for a bit, then back to my safe to idle.  I let the client be again and went and played Pokemon Sun on the couch.  Of course, once I returned, the client had died again.  Time to log back in.

In successfully again, I once more warped to a perch, then into range of the Keepstar to take a shot.  I aligned, decloaked, and salvoed the torpedo launchers again.  I seemed to be pretty safe in my spot, so I also locked up an Mobile Tractor Unit that was close by to take a couple shots at that.  The Keepstar was down to 21% structure then and local was still below four thousand.

Keepstar target

Keepstar target

I took shots at the MTU until a Caracal wandered into range, locked me up, and hit me with a couple of volleys of missiles.  Fortunately, he did not tackle me… he may not have been equipped to tackle me, as he never got closer than 30km but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out… and I warped off to my safe yet again.  Then it was back onto grid with the Keepstar to watch the final bits.

At that point my wife reminded me that I had committed to go pick up a pizza for an early dinner, so I called that in, left myself at the perch over the Keepstar, and my wife and I drove off to pick up the pizza.

When I got back I was still there… and so was the Keepstar.  However, when I checked Twitter, somebody said it had already been killed… but then was still there taking damage.  Had I missed the final moments?  Was the Keepstar still really there or not?  I put the camera on the Vanquisher titan that was parked close by the Keepstar and moved is to I was focused on the citadel.  The Keepstar obliged me by starting to explode shortly thereafter. (You can’t put the camera on the object itself, as the system yanks it back to your ship the moment it starts to explode.)

The explosion begins

The explosion begins

The explosion seemed somewhat off… probably due to tidi.  It spent a lot of time brewing up points of fire as in the picture above, then there was a sudden orange flash, then the explosion, and then things settled down and it was done.

Now for the important question: Did I get on the kill mail.  The system was still going well enough that it generated pretty quickly for the person who got the final blow, an Legion of xXDEATHXx pilot named Vlulvik Hrapruk.

The kill mail begins

The kill mail begins – two pilots gain fame

However, the kill mail itself was so big with 4,078 people listed on it that trying to view it crashed my client.  I had to log in yet again.  But people were getting the hell out of the system at this point, tidi was relaxing a bit, and I was eventually able to find myself way down the list on the kill.  You can find me on the list over at zKillboard.  A warning though, even trying to list all pilots on that kill mail will put your browser into a “Not Responding” state for a minute or so.

Soon the system was responsive and tidi was minimal and only those trying to loot the field were left.  I did my part and shot up another MTU, getting top damage and the final blow.

Deployable dispatched!

Deplorable deployable dispatched!

I warped around a bit while cloaked, looking for other targets of opportunity, but it was still a bit hazardous for something as easy to kill as a stealth bomber.  I did see some CO2 guys clearing off any hostile MTUs, including Tyffanny, who was our first kill during the Keepstar armor timer battle the previous week.

Back again in M-OEE8

Back again in M-OEE8

And that was about it for me.  I sat for a bit in my safe until the system totals dropped some more, then went to my perch over the Taisy gate.  Seeing it was clear I warped and jumped to low sec and motored on into high sec and headed to a station closer to home in Delve before I logged off.  My Manticore which, judging from its name was left over from the Reavers deployment to Wicked Creek more than a year back (RATKINGBOIS!), was safe and its cargo full of such valuables as Ice Mining Upgrade I modules was secure.

That was my exit from Tribute.  I have no assets left in the region.

And it was also and exit for CO2 and TEST, despite any remaining citadels.

The CO2 Fort on the Taisy gate, inaptly named

The CO2 Fort on the Taisy gate, inaptly named

Checking on DOTLAN now you can see that they hold no more sovereignty in Tribute.

Tribute - December 12, 2016

Tribute – December 12, 2016

Now the question is whether or not the war continues.  The original causus belli for the war was to secure part of the region for Pandemic Horde, as I recorded back in early October. PH has since changed its mind on moving and no longer seems keen to occupy M-OEE8.

Meanwhile, TEST and CO2 still hold sovereignty in The Vale of the Silent region next door.  A couple of systems in CO2’s constellation in the region seem to be reinforced and there is an unlikely rumor on Reddit that TEST is evac’ing to low sec, but I am far enough removed from the conflict to be unable to weigh either item.  I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

The battle itself saw a lot of ships destroyed.  If I read zKillboard correctly, the Keepstar itself got on something like 600 kill mails, even whoring on my MTU kill.  Destruction came to many.  The map says almost four thousand.

Trouble in Tribute

Trouble in Tribute

DOTLAN puts the number higher, claiming over seven thousand ships and five thousand pods destroyed over the previous 24 hours.

Tribute Region rules the roost

Tribute Region rules the kill roost

So that is what happened on Saturday, another 6+ hour long tidi lag-fest where thousands of players tried to get in to see the first fully operation Keepstar get blown up.  The server did not melt down and CCP can rightly ask what other online game is getting that many people in close proximity.

Other sites have overage of the Keepstar Battle and the war:

And, of course, I have a selection of screen shots from the battle itself.