Category Archives: Null Sec

Last Flight of the Raven

We have a huge timer at 0230 tomorrow, so tonight we’re going to do a relaxing fun fleet.

FC: Asher Elias || Fleet name: Ferox Flun Feet || Op 8 || Peacetime
Ships: Feroxs + Ravens + support

FLeet departs in 20 minutes

~~~ This was a broadcast from asher_elias

When this ping popped up I hadn’t undocked for a fleet op so far this month.  Granted, a week in Hawaii took me out of the running for most of that, so it wasn’t like I was missing it much.

Being away also meant that I missed the six hour Entosis tug-of-war op versus Northern Army, where two small fleets could basically make no headway against one another until one side just gave up in exhaustion.  Fozzie Sov fun FTW!  Asher goes over some of that in his podcast this week where he covers our deployment down south.

Anyway, a relaxing fun fleet seemed a fine way to get back into fleet ops after a break, and all the more so since I could bring my Raven.

The Raven was left over from a doctrine we tried out last summer in Querious.  My own Raven had been saved after the fall of ED-L9T and stowed away safely in Khanid to await another deployment.

So I logged right in… waited for the launcher to verify and update yet again… is this any better with the new launcher… cloned jumped down to our staging station, got in my Raven and joined the fleet.

I also insured the Raven, since “fun fleet” often means we’re going to die.  But what better ship to sacrifice than this one, which had been gathering dust in a hangar for the last six months.  Sure, it had some history.  It was my ratting Raven as far back as 2007 and had, among other things, made the run up to Deklein and back for the Revenant kill.  But a ship is a ship, and in the zen of EVE Online, you must be prepared to let go of any possession which you undock.  Plus, you know, fun.

There was a minor fitting change; I had to remove the MJD and fit a MWD, but otherwise when I undocked it was pretty much the same ship I left in the station last summer… the same to the point that I should have looked in the cargo hold as I had clearly used it to haul some extra modules and a spare mobile depot back down from Deklein.  I might have cleared some of that out had I noticed.  Ah well.  And so it was we did undock.

Undocking in Khanid

Undocking in Khanid

Asher steered us towards Querious.  We also had Lazarus Telraven along for the op and he was streaming the whole thing on his Twitch channel, including our voice coms, so any hostile in the area would have all the intel they could want with just a 15 second delay.

As it happened, we were headed towards Pandemic Horde’s home at A2-V27, where we warped to the station and hung around on their stoop hoping that they might come out and play.  Eventually they obliged, undocking a sizable fleet relative to our own, including a triage carrier in support.

After a some initial losses we began to chip away at them, warping off and back as Asher tried to position us to play to our strengths versus their numbers.  Then again, Asher also warped us into an asteroid belt at one point, something he specifically mentioned had been an issue in past fights as big ships got caught and bounced off rocks, delaying align times and warps.

Ravens aligning out of an asteroid belt

Ravens aligning out of an asteroid belt

We shook off drones by activating the smart bombs that most of us had fit, which had the side benefit of getting us on some blue kill mails for fun, but at the final point of the fight it was clear that we were rapidly losing our ability to put enough damage on our foes to get kills.

The last point of the fight

The last point of the fight

My own Raven went down on that last grid as our logi gamely tried to save me.

I'm sure that tracking disruptor was really hurting me...

I’m sure that tracking disruptor was really hurting me…

As my ship exploded I warped off grid and then back at 100km to watch the remains of the fight.  We lost a few more ships, including Xenuria (See, he undocks! Xenuria for CSM 11!), as Asher got the remainder of the fleet headed outbound.  My staying alive a bit longer meant that my pod got on six kill mails, five of which were fleet members, due to damage I did before my Raven went down.  My pod is currently listed as the fourth most deadly ship for our corp this month… mostly because we kind of suck at PvP.  If I am the top killer for the month (I’m on 19 kill mails, seven of them blue, six of them in a pod) something is hilariously wrong.

Then somebody spotted my pod and I got popped and sent back to our staging station the quick way.  I listened on coms as the remains of the fleet extracted.  Pandemic Horde used a jump bridge to cut off the fleet’s escape, so Asher just had everybody safe up and log off when they could.  Not sitting still and dying made a few of our foes angry, and they went to Reddit to complain in the usual way.  The battle report shows we lost the ISK war, yet somehow we appear to have won on the rage front.  You would think people would be happy about us delivering some easy content to their doorstep.  Did we forget to say “gf” in local?

After a short time Asher had everybody log back in and brought people home.  We shall see if I can get on for the fight tonight to defend our station in 60M-TG.  Another Entosis struggle looms.

Below are the screen shots I took along the way in gallery form.  I also left the new camera on for the duration of the op to try it out. (You can see the new controls in that HUD screen shot.)  Once I changed the movement slider all the way to the fastest motion, it seemed to be okay.  And then, during the fight, I had the camera on a hostile as we warped off and it pretty much went crazy and wouldn’t stay pointed at anything, so I had to go turn it off to be able to keep space from flicking around me so fast it threatened to induce motion sickness.  Not quite ready for prime time.

 

 

BB71- Spaceships Make the World Go Round

Well, maybe not the world, but there is no question that ships make New Eden go ’round.  And few things get EVE Online players in general, and me specifically, is new ships being introduced to the game.

Think of how many expansions where the hallmark feature was a new class of ship.

What did we get in the last couple months?  New faction electronic warfare frigates, new tier 2 faction logistics frigates, an ice mining frigate, and that brand new class of command destroyers.  That is a lot of new toys to play with.

Caldari Stork command destroyer lurking

Caldari Stork command destroyer lurking

And these new ships have a great effect on the game, shaking up play styles and fleet tactics and giving people new ways to play the game.  The command destroyers especially have changed things up and, with their AOE MJD, have become a staple of operations already.

But when is it too much?

The question for this month’s EVE Online Blog Banter asks:

We all like important internet spaceships right? The more spaceships the better right? Or are we getting too many to be easily to remember them all. A Mastodon on scan? That the hell is that and what does it do? Oh! Never mind!

Are we getting too many ships. Is it too complicated to remember them all and what their traits are? Do FC’s these days need an encyclopedic knowledge of ship types unless they want their fleet to DIAF. With more and more ships being released each year will we ever reach “too many” or do you think there can never be too many important internet spaceship types?

Are there too many ships in EVE Online? 

There are enough to devote a whole blog to pictures of them I suppose.

Back before the Odyssey expansion, which went live more than two and a half years ago, CCP was talking about reworking and detangling the mess of subcaps they already had on the field because the balance was such that there were a few good choices and a lot of bad ones.

CCP's chart, no is jpeg format

CCP’s Tech I and faction subcap chart before Odyssey

That chart doesn’t have the tech II or the pirate faction variations of those hulls, nor the ships exclusive to some non-empire factions.  And then there are capital ships.

A since then, even more ships have been added to the game, including new skills required to fly some of those ships, while other ships have been revamped and tinkered with.

The ongoing result is, for me at least, confusion and neglect.  I am confused while many a hull suffers from neglect because some newly released ship or re-balance pass makes one ship shine while another seems sub-par.

So if you want to camp gates today, you likely have a Svipul along as your old insta-cane isn’t what it once was.  In The Imperium two doctrines got the axe, one based around the Hawk and the other based around the Harpy because the Jackdaw simply does everything either of them can do better.  I think Clay Hakkari is still weepy about the Harpy doctrine.

And then there are the quirks, like the fact that sometimes the navy faction version of a ship is better at the same role as the regular one and sometimes that are fit only for totally different roles.

I know there are some New Eden grognards out there that live in EFT and Pyfa for whom the fitting game is satisfaction in and of itself.  But for people like me I just want to know what to fly.  Fleet doctrines at least simplify that aspect for me, but that still doesn’t solve every problem.

The skill training aspect still holds sway when a balance pass from CCP hits and you find that those skills you had been focusing on are suddenly no longer needed because there is a new “best” solution.  I am past 150 million skill points and I still run into that problem now and again, finding some skill I never noticed is suddenly required.  For people with less SP breadth than me, and new players especially, this is no doubt frustrating.

For example, with our deployment down south, we have picked up a stealth bomber doctrine.  Two, actually, but don’t get me started on that.  For that doctrine the ideal stealth bomber is the Purifier.  I can fly that.  It is a pretty little ship, and the only one of the lot that looks good with a SKIN. This is it with the Raata sunset SKIN.

That nebula in Khanid is so distinctive

That nebula in Khanid is so distinctive

However, I can fly it because I happen to have all of the racial frigate skills trained up to 5, plus the stealth bomber skill.  I can fly any of the stealth bombers at this point.  But for newer players on our deployment, and we are deploying with KarmaFleet so there are a lot of those, the choice of what to fly is much more limited.  Due to other coalition doctrines, they were encouraged to train up the Caldari skill path, so they likely have Caldari Frigate V as their only gateway into stealth bombers.  And, of course, for our needs the Caldari stealth bomber, the Manticore, is at the bottom of the stack rank of desirability.  The hulls were ranked:

  • Purifier (optimum)
  • Hound (good)
  • Nemesis (OK)
  • Manticore (only if you have no other option)

So we ended up with some Manticores on a fleet op the other night.  Actually, looking at our battle report, we ended up with some of each of the stealth bomber hulls.  If you have a keen eye you can spot them all in this screen shot.

Bomber fleet in action

Bomber fleet in action

Now, it worked out for us.  We melted ten Augoror Navy Issues and their support, including two Guardians, while only losing one bomber.  Yes, we had overwhelming numbers, but stealth bombers are soap bubbles when hit, so they should have taken a lot more of us with them.

That aside, it wasn’t really a unified doctrine.  And, of course, the supply chain for replacements is complicated by the fact that we have to support four different hulls, each with a different fit, while deployed far from home.

(Business tip: Now would be the time to ship Purifiers from Jita to Amarr. There was only one on the market there the other night.)

Now, there is some slop allowed in a doctrine like that.  But if you want to run a more unified fleet where you want a single, mainline DPS ship, as with our Rattlesnake doctrine, you have to provide lower skill  support roles or leave people out.  And if you want to fly the big ship, you may have a lot of training to do.

All of which means what?  That EVE Online is a complicated game?  That ship balancing is hard?  That when CCP introducing a new ship it is often over powered?  That over powered ships are eventually nerfed?

All of that and more I suppose.  This is why a lot of people don’t like the game, and while other people love it.  And I suppose it is a bit of an achievement that some of the oldest hulls in the game can still be viable.  What other MMO has in-game gear more than a decade old that is still viable.  I know somebody will have an answer for that, but it is still a pretty big deal.

I just count myself lucky to be in Reavers, because Asher is one of those savants that likes to play with fittings, so we get to go fly some experimental doctrines built around Typhoons or Claws or Ravens or Caracals or Rokhs now and again.  I’ll throw my ISK at those ventures just to die in a blaze of glory every time.

Anyway, this is a post for Blog Banter #71.  Fortunately, some wiser people than me are writing on the topic, so maybe you’ll find something more on point and less just venting and fist shaking from the list below:

I will add additional posts as they appear.

Reavers Move South Again

We had known that a Reavers deployment was in the offing for a couple of weeks now.  There had been talk about doctrines and changes to fits.  There had been some briefings about what to pack and who we might bring along with us.  But when Asher started doing briefings for KarmaFleet, who would be joining us for the deployment, things were clearly getting close.  Then we were told to be ready to move and to have our security status at least up to -2.0 as we would be moving through high sec.

The things is, with these sorts of things, operational security dictates that the line members be kept in the dark as much as possible so that information doesn’t leak and we find the route to our deployment camped by hostiles.  We were all guessing where we might go, but Asher wasn’t telling.  I was hoping for a return to Querious as I already had some ships at our old staging system lined up.

The first call for a move op came on Saturday just as The Meta Show was wrapping up.  Pilots at our various staging bases were given directions as to where to head.  I had to log in and decide what I was going to fly out to the deployment.  I had a couple of the doctrine ships with me in D2-HOS, but figured I had best take a Basilisk for the first run.  We always need logi, so having that on hand seemed the best idea.  And we had been told that we would be staging out of a station and that shipping from Jita would be arranged, so we could buy and ship additional ships out later.

I undocked the Basilisk and warped to catch up with the fleet leaving the system via the jump bridge.  Various groups were moving from stations around Deklein and Pure Blind converging on the Torrinos gate in EC-P8R, one of the gateway systems between null sec and empire space.  We would form up there for our run into low, then high sec space.

It was there, while waiting for people to arrive that we got our first kill of the deployment.  Granted, it was a blue on blue kill when, after Asher said we could clear some of the warp disruption bubbles on the gate, one of my TNT compatriots thought launching an electron bomb into the bubbles was a good idea.  He didn’t even get a kill mark on his Purifier for the Cheetah, since he blapped a fleet member.

We're so proud

Our first kill of the deployment. We were so proud

Sitting around on the gate for a while, we did manage to bring the deployment back to an “ISK positive” state as we were able to knock off some of the steady flow of ships attempting to slip into null sec through the gate.

Hanging Around on the Torrinos gate

Hanging Around on the Torrinos gate

I even managed to launch a combat drone and get on the kill mail for a Hurricane that sat on the other side of the gate for a while… letting us all get ready… before jumping in to his death.

After a bit of a wait, punctuated by enough kills that we started to joke about the Torrinos gate being the deployment, Asher got our attention and had us set our destination to Sarekuwa in Lonetrek.  Those who had failed to get their security status up sufficiently were sent off to burn there and dock up while the rest of us were to move as a group just in case we ran into somebody who had a war dec against anybody in the fleet.  Then it was off to fly through high sec, ~100 ships causing a small bow wave of time dilation, and leaving behind a pile of spam in local, as we passed though Caldari space.

Warping on through high sec

Moving on through high sec

We met up in Sarekuwa and formed again for the run to the next waypoint, which turned out to be our final destination.  We were heading to Querious.  I was at once happy… our operations in that region are part of the Reavers legend, including the taking and heroic defense of the station at ED-L9T… and annoyed because I already had two Basilisks parked at our staging for the region, so I would have flown something else had I known.

Querious is, of course, a different place compared to our last visit.  Darkness and their friends are out and Pandemic Horde, Brave Newbies, Northern Army, are now residents with some others.  Phoebe Freeport Republic is moving in, having left Scalding Pass.  Even Red Frog appears to have a system in the region.

The state of Querious - Jan. 25, 2016

The state of Querious – Jan. 25, 2016

So it looks like Querious could be a region of fun.

The last leg of the run out was uneventful and we arrived at the Reaver home away from home once again.

Landing on an old familiar station

Landing on an old familiar station

Small ops started pretty much right away, though I had to run after the deployment cruise and didn’t get back into a fleet until the next day.

At that point we had a Ferox fleet going out with Entosis things to do.  There had already been a run at the station in ED-L9T, but it had been repulsed by the locals, so we were off to try for some other stations.

I have to say, as an aside, that the new UI feature that came with the January update which shows beneficial effects on your UI is the best thing ever as a logi pilot who is in a capacitor chain.  I can see when the chain is up and who has me.

Cap chain buddies shown

Cap chain buddies shown

So I am very happy about that.

Along the way we popped a couple of pilots from the corp Isogen 5 who were running around the area.  They alerted us to a Brave Newbies ratting carrier, after which we agreed to stop shooting them so we could help them shoot the carrier instead.  Our tacklers ran out ahead as we followed along.

The Archon was caught.  A couple of friends had run over to help him, but they were brushed aside as we went in for the kill.

Archon held down and waiting to die

Archon held down and waiting to die in a Haven

We got the ship, worth about 2 billion on the kill report, and the pod, which ended up having a set of High Grade Slave implants, which made it worth more than the ship.  A happy diversion, but then we had to get back on our way to our target before the vulnerability window closed.

We were headed to OGY-6D, a Pandemic Horde system, in order to Entosis their station.  We got there in time, passing through some of PH, got in the system, and set up on the gate to catch them if they followed up in.  As we sat in readiness, an Entosis ship warped to the station and started his work.

Entosis in progress

Entosis in progress

Pandemic Horde seemed content to stay on their side of the gate while we did our work.  As it appeared they wouldn’t be coming in, Asher sent another Entosis ship off to start on the ihub, however the vulnerability window closed before the end of the Entosis link module’s warm up cycle ended, so the ihub was safe for the moment.

When the station was done, our Entosis pilot rejoined the fleet and there was a decision to be made; should we fight Pandemic Horde or just try to blow past them and head home?  The numbers were against us, but we decided to give it a go and piled into their side of the gate, in K7D-II, to see how we might fare.

Things did not go our way.  Our boosting ship got caught trying to slip through to setup, so we were without the benefit of that.  We decloaked, formed up, and started what became a short, bloody fight where we were coming off the worse.  PH had some very effective EWar hitting our logi.  We kept Asher’s command ship alive and only lost one Basilisk, but they were tearing through our Feroxes, so we aligned out and headed for home.  A surprising number of us were able to warp off despite them having several of us tackled as the order to align out was given.  The battle report shows we lost a lot, but we probably should have lost even more.

All in all, not a bad first outing in Querios for me.  A nice carrier and pod kill for a warm up, the strategic objective accomplished, and a bloody fight on the way out.  And the deployment has only just begun.

One side note.  There is Pandemic Horde video up about the fight in D2-HOS that was part of a post I did last week.  They were very proud about the Jay Amazingness headshot during the fight, before they got wiped out, but in the last moments of the video (at about 8:10) somebody speculates that Goons might get mad and invade Querious over it.  Quite the prophetic statement.  I wouldn’t call us an invasion, but there are Goons in the region now.

Meanwhile, a gallery of the screenshots I have so far.

Rooks & Kings – Gridline Bombing

Rooks & Kings, who have applied some of the most interesting tactics in EVE Online and documented them in a series of fascinating videos (such as Clarion Call 4, which I posted here over a year ago), are back with a video about what they call gridline bombing.

This involved using the edge of grids in EVE Online to catch hostiles unawares.  As this depended on the old grid mechanics that were updated in December, this is something of a memorial to the way things used to be… until somebody figures out how to use the new, larger grids.

With a run time of just over 6 minutes, it one of the most brief exploration of tactics they have posted.

Typhoons and Jackdaws on a Saturday Afternoon

Asher had been pinging about a gimmick fleet he wanted to run this past weekend.  It involved some logi, a few command destroyers, a dreadnought, and some Typhoons.  I was all for that and imported a Typhoon, never having flown one before.  When the time came on Saturday I was logged in and ready to go, along with 30 or so others.  There was the usual fumbling around to get people into appropriate ships… you can ping all week about something and somebody will still show up and ask what we’re flying… and our Naglfar pilot, Swor Reborn, was a bit late, which put the operation in fix as Asher started trying to find an alternate who was willing to lose their dread on an experimental fleet.

Only a little bit behind schedule we had everybody together and undocked for the run towards Fountain where Asher had arranged a fight with The Culture, one of the small sov holding  alliances in Fountain which was, if I recall right, made up in part from the parts of Black Legion that wanted to stay in null sec.

On the way out

On the way out

Along the way Asher explained what we were up to, which involved one of the command destroyers using its AOE micro jump drive to  grab a hostile and launch it into the optimum range of the Naglfar’s guns, and away from any logi support, while all of us in Typhoons painted it with the target painters that were part of the fit, at which point the Nag, fitted with artillery, would open fire and blap the target in a couple of volleys.  The idea was optimistically called “shooting skeet” and Asher wanted Swor to call “pull” when he was ready just to keep with the gimmick.

At least that is how I understood it.  The high concept sounded fun, though I didn’t really grasp the mechanics on the ground.  It was either going to be hilarious or a slaughter or maybe both.

The run out was uneventful.  A couple of later arrivals got on to catch up, but nothing got in our way and we arrived at B-DBYQ, the designated spot, intact.  There was a moment of worry when a blue fleet showed up in the system.  It turned out to be a 4S Corporation roam and they passed through, leaving us to our business.

We got ourselves arranged about the J5A-IX gate in the system… the scene of many of the early clashes during the Fountain War, so a place I recall fondly… and then The Culture came through and it was on.

The Culture showed up with about 50 ships in a fleet built up around Rattlesnake battleships, which definitely put us on the back foot.  But Asher was still game, thinking that maybe the Naglfar would balance things out, and we didn’t have anything else to do anyway, so we got stuck into the fight.

And we got slaughtered.  We got in and focused on one of the Rattlesnakes, hitting it with our own missiles while painting it for Swor, but I am not sure if the MJD idea ever got kicked off or not.  Meanwhile we began losing Typhoons early and often.  When I got yellow boxed I called for shields and the remembered we were in an armor fit, so called for armor.  However, I think by that point they had eaten up our limited logi.  As I got deep into armor I lit off my own MJD in an attempt to pull range and maybe live for a bit longer.  However, I didn’t check where I was pointed and I believe I actually may have closed the range, or at least jumped through them so as not to open the range nearly enough.  The end result was that I had not in anyway impeded my own destruction and the Typhoon disintegrated around me and I was left in my pod.

At that point though I was out of the warp disruption bubbles that were all over the gate.  I could have warped off to relative safety and returned home.  But with no implants in my pod and the fight still going on, why leave the party early.  So I motored around and watched the remainder of the fight.  Asher, in a Damnation that was our booster, hung on for a while, though it seemed like he was getting reps as well as taking damage from our foes at one point.

Asher's Damnation attracting all sorts of attention

Asher’s Damnation attracting all sorts of attention

He and Swor eventually succumbed and that was then end of things.  Most everybody got blown up then popped in their pod, which meant not having to bother flying back home, except for Swor, who managed to get away with his capital pod.

Swor's wreck left behind on the gate

Swor’s wreck left behind on the gate

(That isn’t my screen shot, somebody linked it in fleet. I was back in D2-HOS in my pod by then.)

We did manage to knock off three Rattlesnakes, a Sabre, and a claw, but lost almost everything we brought.  A Pontifex command destroyer got away and a Claw, but that was about it.  The battle report is here.  A couple of people recorded the fight, but I haven’t seen it posted on YouTube yet. (I found one from The Culture side of things.  We’re the third fight in this video, which starts at the 3:08 mark.)

The experiment was not a success, but we died in the name of science I suppose… and the insurance payout on T1 battleships is pretty generous, so that, along with some peacetime reimbursement (75 million ISK for me from TNT), takes most of the sting away, leaving just the tale of a glorious defeat.

That done we thanked Asher for the fun ride and went our various ways.  I logged off and went to go look at the screen shots from the fight at least secure in the fact I would have something new to post about.

A while later, as I was farting around on my computer, a ping came in for a homeland defense fleet.  Jay Amazingness was calling for Jackdaws to tangle with a Pandemic Horde fleet that was hanging on the undock in D2-HOS and spoiling for a fight. (Pandemic Horde is Pandemic Legion new player learning/fun alliance. Watch their latest video.)

That seemed like a quick way into some action, so I logged back in and got into the Jackdaw I had handy.

Pandemic Horde had apparently just pretty much wiped out an SMA Caracal/Cormorant fleet with a pile of Federation Navy Comets (A JEFFRAIDER Police Fleet if I got it right, which means flying the Comet with the Police SKIN complete with blinky lights) in the system and were hanging around looking for another fight.  We piled into fleet at what seemed like an agonizingly slow pace.  The hostiles were on the undock and those who got in early were itching to get out there and come to grips with them before they decided to look elsewhere for fun.

Eventually we piled up enough numbers and undocked to chase them down… chase them down because they had left the undock.  Not that they were avoiding a fight.  Rather we bounced around for a short bit as each side tried to close with the other only to find themselves warping off just as the other side was landing.  EVE Online is like that some days.  Eventually though both sides were in the same bit of space at the same time and the fight began.  The head shot out FC right off the bat… something that is either good tactics or poor sportsmanship depending on who is talking about it and who just got head shot… which put us off our stride for a moment before somebody else picked up the reigns and started calling targets.

We managed to kill off the Horde that remained from the first fight with SMA in very short order, targets going down often before I could finish locking them up.  The ISK war would have totally gone to PH had they not brought along a few expensive ships, like a Kronos and a Vindicator.  Jay jumped in his Ragnarok alt just to pile on at the end, though he only managed to whore on two pods and a Megathron for the effort.  The battle report is here.

Jay's Ragnarok at the fight

Jay’s Ragnarok at the fight

That battle report actually includes both battles, so ships/players from both the initial encounter with SMA and the follow on with the Homeland Defense fleet are listed out.

All in all a good short, sharp fight and, as with our Typhoon fight earlier, the PH pilots were spared having to fly home.  And I actually got the killing blow on two of the hostiles, one in a Punisher and the other in the big old Vindicator that was along for the ride.  So somewhere on my Jackdaw there should be two kill marks, though I cannot seem to figure out where they are on that I-beam hull.  So now I have two ships with at least one kill mark, my Harpy and this Jackdaw.

Kill marks are around here somewhere...

Kill marks are around here somewhere…

All of which made for some fun in New Eden on a Saturday afternoon.

Some of the screen shots I took during the fights.

A Hurricane of Tower Reinforcement

It was one of those weekends where I didn’t actually have much on my plate to do, just enough to chop the days up into chunks too small to go on a fleet op safely.  The problem with fleet ops is that they could run anywhere between 15 minutes and four hours, given recent history.

But Sunday morning I looked to have a stretch of free time and there was a fleet going up under Apple Pear, one of our German FCs.  It was about the right time for cross-pollination between US and EU players, our morning and their evening., and it seemed like it might be a busy day in New Eden, with the player count closing in on the 40K mark for the first time in quite a while.

The fleet called was Katrina Doctrine, with features Hurricanes, because there is no joke in poor taste that we won’t make.  I happened to have a Hurricane ready to go in our staging, so got into game, on to coms, and into the fleet.  There was the usual build up, the call for boosters and hictors and, of course, more logi please.  Usually I would swap out for logi at the first call, but Katrina Fleet uses Basilisks for logi and I have at least five of those sitting around in other stations, so I wasn’t inclined to buy yet another one.  I’ll find time to fly one of the ones I already own out later.  According to the Neocom app. which has a new little “wealth” readout that gives you a pie chart depiction of where you ISK is tied up, about 60% of my wealth is tied up in stuff sitting in stations. (With another 18% being stuff in stations I have listed for sale on the market of via contract, the remainder being installed implants and liquid ISK available to spend.)

I didn’t feel the need to add to that pile of stuff.

So I got in my Hurricane and ignored the pleas of the FC to get into support roles.  Today I was going to shoot things.

We were also told to stock up on ammo for a POS shoot.  You don’t want to expend your expensive faction ammo shooting a tower.  However our staging system was fresh out of normal, non-faction ammo, so I loaded up a bit on some of the less expensive faction ammo.  At least with our projectile fit ‘canes, the damage is high and the rate of fire is low, so you don’t need a ton of ammo for a tower shoot.

Finally, once things seemed to be getting sorted, we were told to undock.  From there we were warped to a POS where we found an Erebus waiting for us.  We all got within 2,000 meters of it and waited for the word that a jump bridge would be going up to send us on our way.

Waiting on the Erebus, with a big red Ragnarok in the background

Waiting on the Erebus, with a big red Ragnarok in the background

As we waited, the Erebus suddenly turned into a red ball of building power and disappeared into distant space.  Coms were immediately overwhelmed with laughter and wry commentary as we suspected we had just witnessed yet another titan pilot hitting jump rather than bridge.  I’ve been there for that before.

Apple Pear had to shout at us to get us to shut up as he was trying to listen to what was going on in command coms.  The tale was later spun that the Erebus pilot meant to do that, that he was acting as some sort of bait to lure our foes out or some such.  I am not sure I believe that, largely because we were all left sitting there on the edge of the POS with no titan in site. (The Ragnarok had since logged off.)

We bounced around the system to another POS and another titan where we sat for a bit until we were given a destination in Black Rise, just 11 jumps away and told to align to the out gate.  No ride for us, we were going to have to walk to our destination.  Via gates.  Through tidi.  Uphill.  Both ways.

Eleven jumps doesn’t seem like much, just as  about 40K accounts logged in doesn’t seem like much, but squeezing more than 200 of us through low sec on a busy Sunday turned out to be a bit of a chore.  There was time dilation and traffic control and slow loading grids all the way to our first destination.  Oddly, there were not that many disconnects… often there are when the servers are straining… but there were a few and we waited for them to get back in game and catch up.

It was a long trip for just eleven gates.

The fleet jumping through another gate

The fleet jumping through another gate

We finally arrived at the first target, a small tower, and put it into the reinforced state.  Then we moved over a couple more systems… slowly… and reinforced another tower.  Then we did a third and then a fourth.  The shoots themselves were pretty quick.

Hitting a low sec tower

Hitting a low sec tower

We were putting out enough damage that knocking the shields down to the 25% mark, at which point the reinforcement timer kicked in and we were done, was taking 19 rounds out of the 20 loaded into each my guns.  So not much ammo expended, with 114 rounds total across six guns for each tower, for about half a million ISK in faction ammo expended total.

I would have rather expended a bit of it hitting other ships, but that didn’t quite work out.  nobody came out to contest the towers, though there was an Ares that showed up for the last three to adjust the stront so that the reinforcement period would end when it was presumably more convenient for the defenders than us. (The choice seemed to be to let the timer run 1 day 2 hours, which would put it late for EU but in prime time for US.)

We ran across a couple of targets on the way out and back, but due to being in a bit of a hurry and the fleet being cleared to “jump on contact” at each gate in order to keep things moving along, I somehow managed to always be on the wrong side of each gate when something happened.

All in all, we were out for about 2.5 hours, of which maybe 45 minutes was hitting, or traveling between, targets.  The rest was waiting and the slogging through tidi and traffic control and keeping everybody together.  Pretty normal stuff for a main fleet strat op.

Apple Pear is good about putting up after action report summaries in the forums, so we can go back and get a peek at what was going on.  Nothing is ever quite as it seems to the line member.  In this case we were initially formed up to cover a capital fleet operation in Cloud Ring, there was a hint that we might get some action, but when that failed to materialize we were sent off to hit the towers, but couldn’t get a bridge out because our cyno ship got popped before they could light it up.  So maybe that titan did jump on purpose.  Life in EVE Online.

On the bright side, there is some word of a Reavers deployment in the offing, so we will once again be able to escape the main fleet and run off on our own for smaller ops.

Pictures from the fleet formed up in a gallery.  In a couple of these you can see some non-doctrine ships that came along.  There was a shield fit Harbinger and a Vindicator.  At one point I would have been impressed to have a Vindi along, but I recently did a couple incursion fleets, where they are a staple, making them much less special.