More than 6,000 Players Clash in X47L-Q as Keepstar Battles Commence in Pure Blind

Yesterday’s post recounted how the Imperium and B3 coalitions had spent the afternoon setting timers on multiple structures, including four of Fraternity’s Keepstars in Pure Blind.

Fraternity Keepstar Locations in the region

The Keepstars were all set to enter their armor timer events, the second of the three shoots required to kill these structures today.  The first event, shooting the shields, can happen at any time.  But subsequent events are set to occur in the time zone the defender has chosen.

Fraternity, the defender, is a largely Chinese based alliance, so their choices were well off of normal business hours here in the US.  The times were:

  • ROIR-Y – 08:34 UTC – 04:34 Eastern / 00:34 Pacific
  • X47L-Q – 10:08 UTC – 06:08 Eastern / 03:08 Pacific
  • F-NMX6 – 12:39 UTC – 08:39 Eastern / 05:39 Pacific
  • 5ZXX-K – 13:48 UTC – 09:48 Eastern / 06:48 Pacific

This was further complicated by the fact that at 2am local time in most locations in the US  Daylight Savings Time began, so the clocks did their annual “Spring Forward.”

Imperium leader Asher Elias asked us to “alarm clock” these ops… get up early, stay up late, whatever… in order to push these structures into their next timers.  I opted to take a nap on Saturday afternoon and then stayed up past midnight to try and go on at least the first op.

When I got on we had more than 2,000 people in our staging system, a number that grew past 3,500 as the first timer approached.

It looked like Fraternity and its allies were not going to contest the first Keepstar in ROIR-Y.  Leshaks were sent in to shoot it for the armor timer.

Leshaks at work on the first Keepstar

I was in Asher’s fleet of Stormbringers, and we jumped in when a small fleet of Tengus from Siege Green, and Frat ally, showed up and picked off a couple of Leshaks on the edge of the formation.

When that was done, we moved on towards X47L-Q, taking up station at one of the gate leading into the system.

Waiting on the X47 gate as bombers took runs at us

X47 is a location where we have fought over Keepstars before.  Back in 2018 we fought many of the same people over a Keepstar in this very system.

This looked to be the system where Frat was going to contest the timer.  As we lingered outside waiting for the timer to get close, Frat and PanFam had collected a good 3K players of their own on the Keepstar.

The X47 Keepstar Awaiting our arrival

Then the word to jump into the system came and the game’s troubles began as more than 6,000 players attempted to have a battle in X47L-Q.  CCP had reinforced the node for us, and was clearly keeping an eye on things.  But past history indicated that we were likely in for a mess.

CCP unironically using the word “Breaking” as we tried to set fire to the server.

Things were moving very slowly as we tried to load into the system, and once people got into the system, commands were taking up to ten minutes to get a response.  The savvy in the crowd had hit shift-control-alt-M to bring up the Outstanding Commands window to keep an eye on if the server was processing inputs.

past 6 minutes trying to lock two targets

Our structure shooting fleet, the Leshaks, got into the system and got with range of the Keepstar, but ran into one of our old known issues.  While everybody else was moving at 10% speed due to Time Dilation, which CCP uses to slow things down so the server can try to keep up, structure timers do not slow down.

So we had 15 real time minutes to start shooting while 6 seconds of game time was taking 6 minutes to execute… if your commands made it into the queue to be processed… so by the time they could start locking up the structure it was too late.

6K people in space around a structure though, a fight was going to happen and the Leshaks started brawling with a Paladin fleet.  We were going to get something out of all of this.

However, we were heading for another timer.  at 11:00 UTC every day is downtime, when CCP restarts the cluster.  Everybody gets kicked off the servers when that happens, and that time was rapidly approaching.

I was within range of some stuff on the Keepstar and trying to lock up some of the Paladins when downtime hit.

As close as I got

And the big log off came.

Downtime arrives

Pings went out to log back in as soon as possible to continue the fight.  We had invested the time, we were going to blow things up or go out in a blaze of glory.  The server, however, had other ideas.  While the cluster was up again soon enough, X47 itself was having problems.

At first the server was still loading.

Character selection failed

Then it was reporting as stuck.

The server is not happy

The EVE Status Twitter account was reporting that they were working on the issues, but that they were present.

I was able to get in fairly soon, maybe 20 minutes after downtime ended, when a lot of other people were piling in as well.  The server number climbed well past 3K again and I was on the Keepstar watching people who had been safety warped off returning to their locations, landing on grid.

And I decided it was time to call it a night.  Or a morning, it being nearly 04:30 local time.  I set myself to dock in the Fortizar we had in the system and was able to warp off and get tethered, but I declined to wait to get docked and went to bed, leaving the game up.

I came back this morning to find I had been disconnected.  But I was safely docked up.  I can leave my ship there and jump clone back to our staging.

You can see that there were a lot more people online than usual before downtime on the server graph from EVE Offline.  There were 26K people online then, and more than 6K were in X47, with even more in surrounding systems.  Pure Blind was a popular location.

EVE Offline player graph

You can see people trying to get online, then some trouble as we all got kicked out of the system again later on.

At its peak I saw numbers in local well past 6.1K.  The highest I screen shotted was 6,115.

Character in the system – 6,115

In the end Fraternity and its allies saved their Keepstar and without a doubt won the ISK war, as a lot of us were blown up on the Keepstar or trying to escape.

But the evening was not a total loss for the Imperium and B2 Coalition.  We managed to set the timers on the other three Keepstars, so the final hull timer fights will be coming this week at some early morning hour.  We shall see.

There is more to this story, including some word of a roll-back for the X47 system that did not restore ships that were destroyed but which pulled back people who had escaped from the system.  I do not know any details, but I suspect there will be more news about this as the day unfolds.  This, however, is all I have in me for the story this morning.  I may need a nap today.


Early battle reports for the active systems in Pure Blind show close to 370 billion ISK destroyed.

Battle Report Header

The Imperium and B2 Coalition make up almost 300 billion of that amount, most of it no doubt on the Keepstar grid in X47.

Somebody worked on another battle report that filtered out the third parties into their own column (Team A) and expanded the range of the battle to include the systems where four Fraternity Fortizars were lost during the same time frame.  There was a lot going on.


Setup for Conflict in Pure Blind

In Reavers Asher used to always talk about “putting money in the bank” for our preparatory operations.  We would spend evenings flying around, shooting structures, setting timers, and laying the groundwork for potential battles.

And, of course, having deployed to Fade to bring war to Fraternity and its WinterCo allies, we were clearly going to be out putting money in the bank on a lot of structures in Pure Blind and Tribute.  So I was right there and ready to go when Asher wanted to take out some fleets for that purpose.

There were a couple of fleets going out, but I went with the Leshak fleet that Asher was leading.  It is a sign of Asher’s reign that we’re getting some interesting and expensive doctrines in the mainstream of the Imperium.  Leshak’s were once something that were tolerated in a couple of fleet comps, then became a SIG specific fleet comp for structure bashes, and now it is open to everybody who has the ISK.

Leshak fleet on the way

I do not have that much ISK to spend, so I joined up on the logi side of things.  A tech II logistics cruiser is more in my price range.

The Leshak is fun to watch.  Triglavian ships have a single beam weapon that spools up damage over time.  Asher warped us in a wall formation to our first target, a Fraternity Keepstar, and I tried to capture what it looked like with a host of red beams reaching out to hit the structure.

Red beams reaching out

Unlike lasers, the beams are on all the time, so there is a convergence of them on the target all the time.  Because of the way EVE Online targeting works, you quickly get a sense of the points on a hull or structure that weapons are allowed to hit.

Or everybody is just aiming for that one spot

And the damage output from a wall of Leshaks is pretty fierce.  We burned through the shield timer on two Keepstars in record time.

We also spent a little bit of time reinforcing a Fortizar or two.

Brackets on, walls of battleships hitting a Fortizar

We spent some time traveling around to our targets, setting up timers that will come up deep in alarm clock time for those of us in the US.

Leshaks moving again

The locals did a little to respond to our efforts.  They were waylaying some stragglers who fell behind at one point and Vily was out with some bombers trying to catch us on gates with a bomb run.

Bombs landing as a fleet gates away

We made our rounds, did our shoots, then got a ride back towards home on a titan.

Sending us home

We happened to arrive back at the same time that some titans from The Initiative were landing back on our staging Keepstar as well.

Everybody landing between the uprights

They had been out doing their own reinforcement ops.  All told, we set armor timers on four Keepstars in Pure Blind along with a series of smaller structures.

But the big newsworth item that got pinged out for our op was that we somehow managed to ALL be aligned for a warp.

Asher lets everybody know about our achievement

This seems like trivia, and it certainly isn’t the FIRST perfect fleet warp I have been a part of, but when you have a full 255 member fleet with a battleship doctrine in time dilation… because pushing a few full fleets around Pure Blind was dragging the servers down… and having everybody actually paying attention and doing the right thing at the right time, that is a rare event.  There is almost always somebody who didn’t hear or had to step away or for whom the UI failed to register the align command.

Of course there was the ping and now a Reddit thread, which includes an image from the internal new post about the miracle warp.  It was an event.

Somebody also happened to catch a screen shot of our fleet ball in the Cloud Ring nebula looking like a menacing eye.

The Leshaks are watching

Now we just have to get back online for the next timers which will be around 10:00 UTC on the day most of the US leaps forward into Daylight Savings Time.  That means… it will be either a really early morning or a really late night for those of us in the US.

We will see who shows up to fight over the timers soon enough though.


Somebody put together a quick video of some of the structure shoot ops.

You can, if you look carefully and the quick camera moves haven’t made you ill, spot Asher leading the Leshaks, and a couple of the battleship walls including the one I have a screen shot of above around the Fortizar.

Alphas for Homeland Defense

One of the aspects of deploying off to the other side of null sec for a war is that a bulk of the combat oriented players are now sitting up in Pure Blind while all of our accumulated stuff, infrastructure, and a the people who didn’t get the memo (or didn’t care) about the deployment remain back down in Delve.

This is always an issue, leaving your homeland undefended while you go off to fight elsewhere.  In fact, the Reavers SIG was formed in part to exploit just that situation.  Part of our mission back in the day was to go live out of ships in safes in enemy territory and attack their assets in order to divert attention away from the main front.

It is a problem for every group leaving their space in null sec to attack elsewhere, and the methods for dealing with it can vary.  We forced PAPI to do some clone jumping between regions while keeping up a modest second front in Feythabolis and Esoteria during World War Bee.

Now, however, it is our turn.  We’re deploying north and in the past, trouble at home has blunted operations… though the most effective foe was CCP when they sent Sleepers to attack our structures in Delve during a war. (They attacked other places in null sec, but they seemed to be especially present in Delve.  The Chaos Era was a hell of a time.)

Anyway, past experience has informed our planning, and the Imperium has been setting up an alternate homeland defense group for the last six months or more.

In that time we have been asked in pings and firesides to prepare an alpha character on its own account for homeland defense.  There were instructions and skill plans on how to roll a fresh account, get some bonus skill points, and assign them to the right skills.

There was also a specific corp within the alliance your alpha had to join, one with high taxes to ensure that nobody was slipping in to dodge obligations elsewhere.

I happened to have a character on another account that was unsubscribed and had all the skills, so I didn’t bother creating a new character.  I got him into the corp and stationed him in 1DQ1-A months ago, waiting for the moment when he would at last be called up.

And finally, this week, he got his chance.  The call went out for alphas to log in to defend our space and I got to see how the whole thing was supposed to work.

Ships were up on corp contract for 1 ISK each.  That is effectively a free ship, so nobody should be worried about losing one. (Hell, I insured mine just to make a little more ISK for the effort if it got blown up.)  That also removes the need to deal with SRP… though, as I understand it, that didn’t stop people from applying for it all the same.  People were scolded for that.

I found my ship.  The doctrine is our Ferox fleet, toned down to be alpha friendly and cheap to replace.  I even had a SKIN for the hull on my alpha.  So once we got everybody together, a full fleet of alphas with Sonrier as FC, it was time to undock and try out alphas.

Ferox on the way

We did not have far to go.  The hostiles were in the ESS in 1DQ… being in an ESS is the way to bait people into coming in and getting blown up… with a Demios fleet, because HACs are everywhere, with logi and boosters looking for somebody to come and fight them.  And so we rolled in with a 170 Feroxes to counter their 80 Demioses and it was on.

As one might expect, we shed a lot of ships.  But they were cheap ships.

ZKill puts the price of an alpha Ferox at 25 million ISK, while a Demios rings in close to 150 million ISK, so we could lose ships at a four to one rate and still win the ISK war.  Yes, we did have some more expensive ships on grid, but we were able to absorb losses and reship and return to the fight.

A Demios on grid with us, Feroxes in the background

And their command ships, a trio of Eoses, those were worth about a half a billion ISK.

So when we got to the end of the fight, having ground them down and blown up most of their fleet, the battle report put the ISK war pretty well in our favor.

Battle Report Header

Capsules count as “ships” in the loss total, so you can lop off 66 from our side and 93 from their side to get the actual ship losses; we lost 128 while they lost 127.  A pretty even count, until you get to the ISK.

That is our current go-to plan for defending Delve while our mains are all away in the north.  It was interesting to see it in action.  My alpha ended up on 34 kill mails, with two kill marks on his Ferox hull.  We’ll see how long that hull lasts.

Blizz Offers a Free Dragonflight Weekend with Caveats

Blizzard has announced that from today, March 9th, through Sunday, March 12th, if you are a lapsed WoW subscriber you can log in and play the Dragonflight expansion for free.

WoW Dragonflight

The specific statement is:

Grab your favorite character and we’ll grab you a Dragon! This is your chance to soar through the magnificent Dragon Isles and experience Warcraft at its nostalgic best. All players with an inactive WoW account will receive trial access to Dragonflight*. And if you don’t have a level 60, check the launcher app – there may just be a gift for you!

If the gift isn’t a level boost, then they have done something very wrong.

Actually, it looks like you get to create a level 60 Dracthyr, the new race that launched with the expansion, if you want to try that out.

Create an evoker

Blizzard would, of course, very much like you to buy a copy of Dragonflight, pretty please, because they don’t have much else going on in Q1 and it is March already and it would be great if their numbers didn’t completely tank for this quarter.

In order entice you further, all versions of the Dragonflight expansion have been discounted 20% through March 15th, in the hopes that the free trial will convince you to buy.

The catch, such that it is, is that you will not be able to level up past level 60 until you purchase the expansion.  Any experience you earn will be “banked” and held for you, to be awarded once you make the purchase.

I was curious to see who actually would be given free access to the expansion.  The emphasis in the announcement felt aimed at those not currently subscribed.  But the odd cases… people who own the expansion but who are not subscribed as well as people like me, who are subscribed but not playing Dragonflight… appear to be covered.  I can go play the new expansion this weekend if I want.

However, they do make clear that this free period gets you access to retail WoW only.  You cannot use this grace period to slip into WoW Classic and see what is going on there.


A Spark of Memory in the Halls of Lightning

We are at a point in Wrath where I am reminded that it was really the last hurrah for the idea of leveling dungeons along the way of your adventure.  Wrath opened up with a dozen five player dungeons in the tradition of vanilla and TBC, and we get another four as the phases unlock.

Once we get to Cataclysm we get fewer dungeons along the way, more at level cap, and we start getting special ones, like the old Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub raids re-cast as five person heroics.

There was certainly a reason for this change.  Our own travel through Northrend has required very little overland adventuring, even with us all starting at level 68 rather than 70, and we have leveled up into and sometimes beyond the levels of the dungeons.  The realities of managing an 80 level xp curve where Blizz wants people to get into the latest stuff and the plan to go to five level expansions for a couple of runs made the situation untenable.

Because, unless you’re going to do heroics at level cap, the instances can become a blur of one and done events.

I have strong memories of several dungeons in Wrath… Utgarde Keep and the Nexus for various reasons, and the Oculus for very specific reasons… but many of the other were things we did once back in 2009 and now, 14 years later, we’re doing once more.

Which brings us to the Halls of Lightning, which I actually bit more vague memories of from back in the day.

Riding up to the Halls of Lightning

Going back in the history of the blog… I am so glad I tagged every dungeon run with the name of the dungeon… so Halls of Lightning will bring up this run and the past two… I was able to see that we had to take two runs at this one.  We failed on the final boss and it was late and we had to call it a night on our first run.  So we spent a second week there on a return visit to finish it off.  By the second round we were all level 80 and managed to finish it off.

Which doesn’t mean I have any strong memories of the instance.  It was more a series of vague “we had trouble here” sensations now and then that came up.  But that was often guide enough for us, at least until the last boss.  We also came in at about the same level as we did in our first run at it back in the day.

The group

The first thing we noticed on arriving was that the first boss was there, wandering around the paths between us and the rest of the instance.

General Bjarngrim doing his rounds

He wanders around between a set of groups, seeming to get charged up with power as he visited each group.

The first floor map

That seemed like a hint that maybe we should take out those groups while the general was elsewhere before engaging with him.  We acted on that plan, taking out the nearest two groups while the general was on the far side of his patrol.  But after clearing the group in the lower right of the pentagon on the map, we ended up a little too close to the general on his walk back and suddenly it was on.

But we managed to power through it… mostly.  Ula got dropped, but on being revived she did win the roll for a new pair of shoulders.

Mantle of the Electric Charges

We went around and cleared out the last group, then turned to the Iron Cruicible room, which I remembered as some sort of event.  It ends up being a room with non-elites in it that respawn quickly, so if you sit there and try to clear them, which we did for a bit, you’ll never get to the far side of the room.  In the end we made a dash for it, cross the room, then made our way up to the second floor, where the remainder of the bosses reside.

Up to the second floor

The first boss waiting for us was Volkhan, whose name was changed for copyright reasons I am sure, whose location again triggered some deep past memory of trouble.

Volkhan works at his forge

Still, we took a run at him… and it did not go well.  We were not ready for his mechanics and barely disturbed his work.

Volkhan back to his forge after our brief interruption

His gimmick is summoning some golems who, when you burn them down to one hit point, he has explode for lots of damage.  Avoid the golems.  We read up on a couple of suggested ways to deal with it, but in the end I just pulled him across the room then kited him around in a corner while people steered clear of his helpers and we managed to bring him down.

Then it was around through the Hall of Watchers which, again, I somehow knew was going to be trouble… well, that wasn’t even memory, it was just the certain knowledge that in a room with a bunch of hostile looking guys frozen in place somebody had to become animated and attack us.  We made our way past there as quickly as we could and over to Ionar, who was clearly going to be dealing some electric damage.

He looks like a thunder storm wearing armor, what do you expect?

Bjorid was able to put up a nature resist group effect and, when it came down to it, we were able to get through him on the first run.  There is a point where he lets loose with some electrical creepy crawlies that wander around, but they were easy enough to avoid.

With Ionar out of the way, we went through the passage behind him and into the last big area which leads to the final boss, Loken.

Loken is kind of bored with the whole thing

Yes, there was some trash to clear along the way, but we managed that and were standing before Loken before too long.  Proving I pay some attention to what goes on now and then, I did recall Brann Bronzebeard mentioning Loken the previous week when we were in the Halls of Stone.  I don’t remember what he said, but the name definitely came up.

Loken has a couple of tricks up his sleeve.  He has an ongoing AOE attack that gets stronger the further away you are from him, and then a sudden AOE attack that you really want to run away from him before it hits.  So stay close, until you need to run away, then stay close again.

Also, he attempts to monologue you to death with how tedious it is to have to get up out of his big chair to deal with mortals.

The latter was survivable, but we managed to mis-time the former and ended up with just me standing there, embarrassed, with Loken down to 12% and little chance that I was going to finish him off.

We didn’t even have a soul stone, so we had to release and run back.  While we got ready again, I looked Loken up to see if there were any suggestions for the fight.  The clearest on I found just said fight him on the glowing line, so everybody knows where to be, then just back up when the big attack is coming, then let him come to you again once that has passed.  Rinse, repeat, and finish him off.

And it worked like a champ.  The first fight was chaos with us running all over, the second fight was all backing up every time I called out that the big hit was coming, standing just out of range, and picking up the fight again from there.  He went down, dungeon complete.

Halls of Lightning achievement

He dropped a nice wand upgrade that went to Beanpole.

After we rolled on that we went to take a final picture in the instance.

Loken’s end

We made it through, though we did wipe twice and, somehow, Ula and Bjorid managed to die an additional pair of times.

After this we will likely make our return to Utgarde Pinnacle to finish that off.  If nothing else, that will put off us having to face The Oculus.  That will be an adventure in and of itself.

First Fleet with Progodlegend

Move ops continue to run from Delve.  It takes a while to get everybody online and moved to the front lines.  A full week of daily move ops is pretty normal for a coalition sized move, and some people will still miss their ride and have to find their way northward.

Those still hanging out in Delve thinking that they can perhaps rat and mine in peace while war rages elsewhere have been in for a bit of the usual surprise.  I may not know how wed Pandemic Horde is to defending its allies in Fraternity and WinterCo, but they have been much more active out of NPC Delve, hunting for those who think running CRAB beacons during war time is a good idea.

At the front, things have been developing slowly.  Fleets have been going out and the stage is being set, but there have not be any titanic, tidi inducing clashes since we have arrived.  There haven’t been any critical, red pen ops yet.

But there was one op I had to go on the other night because of who was going to lead it.  I mentioned back in November that Progodlegend, former CSM member, the person who declared the “million dollar battle” back in the day, one time member of TEST leadership, and a key figure in the PAPI’s 59 week war against the Imperium in 2020 and 2021, had joined Goonswarm.  He was going to take out his first fleet for the Imperium.

That seemed like it might be an event, so I made sure I was around when it was time for the fleet.  (Asher pinged this op out in advance to Reavers; we’re still special.)

So when the fleet was pinged out I was already logged in and ready to join.  But the game wanted to know if I was really ready.

I keep the log window open by default…

I was, in fact sure, and once I was in I could see that Asher was going to be in the back seat for this, PGL’s first Imperium op.

The fleet command structure

That was pretty soon after the ping.  The fleet expanded beyond 200 characters before too long and, with that, the required jokes were made.  Would we be fitting rigs and how many interdictors would we need to avoid being yelled at, both related to moments in the last war that were repeated often.

PGL, as expected, took this all in stride and, once we were set, led us off into Deklein… which is always an odd experience, that having been our home from until mid-2016, so I have a ton of out dated bookmarks for staging POSes and jump bridge arrays… and into Venal where we caught titan bridge.

I only include this pic because we don’t see a Levi all that often

Our destination was Tribute and the system of UMI-KK… once again, a system of memories.  Once the capitol of TNT’s holdings in the region, I remember taking it from N3 Coalition back in 2012.

Destination in sight

This time around it is at the edge of Fraternity’s holdings and we were there to blow up an Ansiblex jump gate that had been reinforced previously and hopefully get a fight.

We went in along with a fleet from B2 and another from The Initiative and setup around the Ansiblex.

The Ansiblex in sight

We spread out and put drones on the structure while a Fraternity HAC fleet sat on the Keepstar watching us.  There was also a report of bombers lurking, looking for a run on us, which was why we were spread out and had bubbles around.

However, we brought too many ships for Fraternity to untether and try to stop us.  Their fleet stayed on the Keepstar and we whittled down the Ansiblex.

Watching them watching us

Once it was destroyed we lingered a bit, then started a careful extraction from the system.

Another legendary moment from the last was was PAPI attempting to extract a HAC fleet from 3-DMQT and getting caught with MWDs on burning for the gate by a pack of bombers whose runs managed to destroy most of their ships before they were able to jump.  It was an ignominious feat and one that PGL was clearly seeking to not repeat as we left UMI-KK by small groups.

We managed to extract safely.  There was no massacre… well, unless you count the cost of going through B2 Coalition Ansiblexes.  The prices seemed to be outrageous compared to what we pay back in Fountain and Delve.

Using a SCUM Ansiblex

Asher assured us that the prices had not been cranked up by B2 in order to soak their new allies from the south, but were just the normal prices.  It turns out that ice products are more expensive in the north.

Otherwise it was a low intensity op with a kill mail, which everybody enjoys.  PGL as an FC was clear in communication and got us there an back.  That is about all I ask of an FC.  Would fly with him again.

Do I Even Like Diablo Anymore?

This is something of a counter-point to last week’s post where I noted that we were in an “Age of Diablo.”   Almost a golden age, really, what with being able to play various incarnations of the Diablo series while waiting for Diablo IV to come out later this year.  How much more Diablo do you want?

Enter The Butcher!

You would think, having put up such a post… and having been effusive about the series on multiple occasions, that I might have spent some time over the weekend… you know… actually playing some Diablo.

I was, after all, getting over a cold this past weekend, which was a perfect excuse to do nothing but sit around and play video games.  But did I play any Diablo?

Well, I did play a little bit of Diablo III on Friday evening, getting myself along to the end of Act I with my Season 28 character, yet another barbarian.  But I was not particularly enthused and I spent most of the rest of the weekend’s video game time playing WoW Classic and EVE Online.

Now, of course, MMORPGs have that whole sunk cost fallacy going for them, so it is hard to compete… but I am literally replaying old content in WoW Classic and was doing so during the EVE Online move op I wrote about yesterday… my time played in EVE is always under counted because I spend so much of it tabbed out and doing something else… so clearly I could have found time for Diablo, but just didn’t.

All of which got me to question whether or not I even like Diablo anymore?  Is it going the way of TorilMUD or EverQuest for me, a game that had a long past happy state that I am never going to relive, so it just exists as a reference point for posts about video game nostalgia and the good old days and whatever it is I have gotten up to here for the last sixteen or so years.

I mean, some of my early posts here were about EverQuest nostalgia, for a game that was all of seven years old at the time.  It is going to be 24 years old in about two weeks.

Some part of me longs to go play it, but some part of me longs to go play those other two titles as well, and that just isn’t going to happen.

It wasn’t as though playing through the story in Diablo III was bad.  The problem is that I have done it before, multiple times.  Many times.

Which led me around to thinking more about what it is I do like about the Diablo series.  Certainly the mood it conveys, and the simplicity of the game play.  Diablo III loses a bit on those fronts, being a little too well lit, a little too neon glowy at points, a little too much in the indirect lighting to get the mood thing on that the first two titles did so well.

Still, it kept me playing through back at launch, with the expansion, and through a few seasons, though not very many seasons.  Maybe that was too much.  There are a lot of games in my history that I have only played once or twice, where the story was good enough, but I didn’t really need to see if through again.

Or maybe I am just not in the mood.  I suppose the real test will be when Diablo IV comes out.  But I felt like I had to ask myself the question, even if I couldn’t really test it right now.  Some things just wear out by the residue of the old enthusiasm remains behind.

The Long March Northward to War

We’re going to go live in interesting times.

-Asher Elias, State of the Goonion

If you are one of those people who hate it when r/eve gets taken over by null sec bloc propaganda wars, I have some bad news for you; war were declared.

This is no surprise to those who were paying attention, and even some who were not.  As I noted last week, the Imperium had not been coy about what Saturday’s State of the Goonion was generally about, telling members to be ready for move ops immediately following the address, listing out doctrines that will be used, and generally ramping everybody up to be ready for war.

Asher, sounding somewhat subdued to getting over a cold, gave the traditional short address that has become the format of choice over the years.  His words were broadcast both on Mumble and over the Imperium News Twitch channel.

Waiting for Asher to speak

We are headed north to link up with B2 Coalition, which has been defending itself from Fraternity for many months now, to push back on WinterCo and PanFam.  Pretty much what I guessed last week, it being the obvious choice.  The war is being framed, once again, as a battle against the landlord alliances represented by WinterCo and PanFam.  Not a new spin, but a solid one.  The Imperium and B2 Coalition both stand against rental empires… we’ll ignore the former FI.RE alliances now in B2 that were landlords up until fairly recently… so that is the dividing line between the two factions.

The only detail left was where we would be staging.  For the answer to that it was time for a move op.

Move op fleets were put up shortly after the SotG ended, with three capital move fleets being announced.  Those quickly filled up… I managed to get in one… and two more were announced in order to find space for those headed north.

Unlike a lot of past move ops, where I have just gone out in a single sub cap, the advance notice of doctrines and such allowed me to get ready.  I had my Ninazu packed and fueled up, the fleet bay packed with sub cap hulls… this was so much easier due to changes that allow refit modules to be in the cargo of ships being carried… and I was in a move fleet and ready to go.

But these things take time.  We were pushing close to 1,500 ships through the pipe that leads from Delve up to Fade.  While that is only 18 jumps with Ansiblex connections… something you could do in about 20 minutes in an interceptor… getting all of us through in ships from shuttles and frigates all the way up to titans was going to take more time.

We waited for our fleets to be called so we could move by groups, making each hop and gate jump along the way in our turn.  As it so happened, the fleet I chose was the last of the group to be told to undock, but we were all ready when the word finally came.

Capitals undocking from the Keepstar

Then it was on to the well trod route between Delve and Fade, one I have taken many times in the last dozen years, such that I know the system names and can remember events that occurred in most of them.  The first jump was to the boarder between Delve and Fountain, and the through the regional gate.

Pushing through the regional gate to Fountain while sub caps cover

Then there are the traditional four systems in Fountain, Y-2ANO, KVN-36, C-N4OD, and J5A-IX.  In a sub cap that is quick set of systems.  With capital fleets it can been fairly rapid, because they can take the Ansiblex jump gates, so don’t have to worry about jump timers and such.  But when you have supers and titans, too large for the Ansiblex system, there is a jump and then a wait, and then another jump.

But the waits were not too long, the timers ran down quickly enough, and we were soon at the far end of Fountain, pushing through into Cloud Ring, the nebula for which it was named being obvious in the sky around us.

Last exit from Fountain

In Cloud Ring things get a little more difficult.  While the region is now held by an Imperium Alliance, Shadow Ultimatum, it is also an easy region to slip into and there are a couple of groups who love to camp the Ansiblex route, looking for easy prey.

My Ninazu making a warp seemingly alone

And, of course, the jump timers started getting longer and longer with every jump.  We had enough fleet mass to push through.

So many caps to draw that the Fortizar took a minute to appear

By then we were pretty close, though the last jump timer was about 30 minutes for many of us.  It wasn’t much longer until we were in Fade and landing at our destination, the last system in Face, on the boarder with both Pure Blind and Deklein, where an Imperium Keepstar was ready for us.  That puts us within easy reach of those two regions and Tribute as well.

The operational tempo has yet to really kick off, though I did jump into a fleet that reinforced a Fraternity Fortizar that was close by.  First shots fired and all of that.

Structure Shoots are our bread and butter

I did go along with a later move op to get an alt on a second account up north.  I activated a second account for the war and have my main combat alt up there now who can fly most of ships I brought up.  I just brought him up in a bomber in the sub cap fleet that was covering the next surge of capitals northward.

Once again at the sun

This became important because our staging system is within jump range of where Reavers had staged a few months back.  Not much came of that deployment, but I had moved ships up to that in an Apostle, so I wanted to get it and all of my ships there jumped to the new location and then have my alt to hand because I now had two capitals deployed and will eventually need him to fly one of them home.

So now I have two faxes and 20 sub caps deployed, and I don’t want to have to bring them all home.

So we are off and running.  We are settling in at the front and now two pairs of blocs, the major powers in null sec, are squared off in a somewhat more even match up when compared to World War Bee, where it was the Imperium versus just about everybody.

I am not sure what the war is going to be called, but we all seem to be ready for it.

There is a video of some of the first move op, with music and some of Asher’s address overlayed, that gives a sense of what a move op can be like.

Now to see how this plays out.  EVE had 31,329 on at prime time during the move op, the highest point since the launch of Uprising.  A good war could bring more life to the game… and destruction always stimulates the economy.


  • Reddit – The top comment of this post is a good summary of the situation
  • Reddit – Brave video about the war

20 million Quest Headsets Later is VR Dead at Meta?

There was an item in the news this past week that declared that Meta had sold just about 20 million Quest headsets so far.

That kind of seems like a win.

I mean, you sell 20 million of any expensive electronic gizmo without a killer app to drive demand and you’ve done pretty well.  Right, because there remain no killer app for VR, no title that people would throw down for the hardware just to play.

I mean, Beat Sabre is cool, but not that cool.

Time Magazine on VR 7 years ago

It also at least implies that there is a market out there, an installed base ready to jump on board should somebody finally find the sweet spot for VR titles.

Granted, there are some holes you can poke in that vision.  How many people are still using those early generation units, if they are still viable?  How many of the subsequent generation units have been purchased by die hard VR lovers who replaced early units?  And how many were purchased, used for a few hours, then stuffed in the back of a closet only to be forgotten.

Still, a lot of companies would love to have sold 20 million of any of their products.  So the Oculus team deserves some credit.

Of course, if the division that made the 20 million things ended up losing $1,200 for every one they sold, that might take a bit of the edge off of any envy you might feel for Meta.

In just 2021 and 2022 the Reality Labs division within Meta operated at a $24 billion loss.  And, sure they did a lot more than just the VR headsets, but VR is the cornerstone of the whole metaverse VR reality that Zuck has been championing.  You can blame Horizon Worlds and whatever hare brained schemes that never saw the light of day over in Menlo Park for the losses as well, but it was all predicated on the idea of VR being the enabling tech.

Now, however, Zuck is out telling people how he is putting together a team to work on AI, that being the latest and greatest of buzzwords, which has seen Microsoft and Google pouring cash into, so Meta is going to follow suit.

But the unstated side effect seems to be that his ardor for the metaverse has cooled.

Zuckerberg goes to VR France and Spain

There hasn’t been any big announcement to that effect.  But John Carmack, maybe the only person on the Reality Labs team with the vision and sense to know where VR ought to go, has been in the wind, gone from Meta for about a year now.

The layoffs that have hit the tech giants, each shedding at least 10K staff in a show of something, have reportedly hit the Reality Labs staff particularly hard.  So now the group is a shell of its former self being run by the VP who worked on the Juicero (and no, I am never going to let that go) to carry on with whatever the plan is now that AI is the shiny new paste gem in the dime store tiara that is most of Meta.

Will Horizon Worlds users ever get legs at this rate?  That was all promised before the great cuts and the chase after AI.

Not that the Reality Labs group is dead.  They still have a roadmap with hardware objectives including new VR headset models and some AR gear.  But it seems possible that Zuck’s obsession with the metaverse might be well and truly over.  Still, something came of all that cash.  It isn’t like he did something really dumb, like buying Twitter for $44 billion.

Pax Dei offers a Vision of EVE Online in a Medieval Setting

Earlier this week a studio named Mainframe, staffed by some former CCP, Blizzard, and UbiSoft developers, revealed their first game.  Called Pax Dei it, as the headline says, it will attempt to bring the player interactions of EVE Online into a medieval setting.

Pax Dei with farms and fields

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… because that has been the premise of a few titles up to now, including Crowfall and Albion Online.

Okay, that is unfair, but it was the first place my thoughts went when I first saw this announcement… that and do we need another PvP gank box, which is what trying to turn New Eden into a fantasy setting tends to yield? (I am working on a theory about how being able to escape more easily in EVE Online makes it feel less oppressive that avatar PvP where you tend to be stuck… but I’ll get to that on another day.)

However, their announcement is surprisingly unhyped about the whole PvP aspect of the game. PvP is planned to be opt-in, as opposed to the usual game killing full loot PvP that such titles often pursue.  Instead it will focus on things that make it some more like an open world survival title, perhaps more along the lines of what New World started out looking to be or what Valheim does, but on a larger scale.

Not having the place kick off as a murder simulator from the moment you log in actually makes it sound somewhat interesting.  This grabs me in a way that some of the other “let’s make fantasy EVE” projects have completely failed at.

But I also have a reasonably reliable track record for liking these sorts of sims.

Of course, I still have questions.  The terms “sandbox” and “player driven economy” get tossed around a lot and there are many open questions in my mind.  The whole player drive economy makes me go “hrmmm…” due to how the lack of destruction often impedes MMO economies leading to massive wealth accumulation and the price inflation that goes along with it.

But the game has just been announced, so there is time to get to all of that.  There is even a trailer which, honestly, doesn’t say much either.

It does look pretty however.

Anyway, I have put this on my list to watch and pipped the announcement channel from their Discord server into the MMO News channel of the TAGN Discord.  I think three people show up there.