Tag Archives: Apple Pear

Circle of Two Loses Another Keepstar

As I posted on Monday, the sights of the Imperium were set on the CO2 Keepstar in DW-T2I.  The destruction of this Keepstar has been an operational plan since July, when the first opportunity was thwarted by ignorance about cynojammers.

Lots of work since then led to the situation on Wednesday evening when the Keepstar, no longer under the protective umbrella of a cynojammer, came out of its final timer.

The question was whether or not there would be a fight.

Given that there was no defense of the previous timer and that the Imperium had picked off a number of jump freighters hauling cargo that smacked of an evacuation, it seemed likely that no defense would be offered.

But spies were also reporting that the north was trying to rally together a defense, with various organizations sending out pings looking for a maximum effort.  However, the north is not like the Imperium.  It does not have a unified communications and command structure.  So not every entity is on board with every plan.  And rumor had it that CO2 was not planning to defend the Keepstar.  Whether they saw it as a futile effort or because The GigX, the rumored return of the perma-banned GigX, was himself (or herself if you’re into the “Mrs. GigX” story) banned shortly before the CSM summit, it appeared that they were not going to show up.  And it is understandably hard to get motivated about defending something when the owners have given up.

We however were planning to show up in force.  In part that was to ensure if any defense operation managed to coalesced that it could be dealt with, but also because everybody wanted to get on the kill mail for the Keepstar.

There was actually a list of CO2 structures to destroy on Wednesday, with the Keepstar as the final course.  Operations opened with a pair of Baltec fleets forming up to run bridge out and take care of a pair of CO2 Fortizars.

Baltecs Bridging Out for the First Shoot

I managed to get online and into Apple Pear’s fleet in my Oneiros to go along for the ride, combat drones loaded to be sure I had a chance to get on the kill mails myself.

The initial ops were unopposed.  The Fortizars were empty and the shoots were quiet enough that one could focus on other thing in the long silences between Apple Pear’s instructions.  We were close enough that people packing drones were able to join in on the shoot.

Drone Dyson Sphere around the Fortizar

We hit both without incident or interference.

After the two of those down we went back to 6RCQ-V to stand down for a bit.

Aligned out as a Fortizar explodes

Not too long after that it was time to form up for the main op.  This saw over a thousand people logged into our staging before we started to head out.  Again I managed to find a spot in Apple Pear’s Baltec fleet with my Oneiros.  The fleet filled up and was sorted out in very short order at which point we were undocked and on our way.

We took a gate to meet up with our titan and were then bridged directly to the Fortizar on grid with the Keepstar in DW-T2I.

The Keepstar in the distance

The Keepstar still had more than an hour on its timer, but there were other activities planned for us.  There were three other structures coming out of their final timers in quick succession before the grand finale.

The first was an Azbel.

On the Azbel

Once that was down we moved on to wreck a Tatara mining platform that was already being hit.

Tatara wreck before being quickly salvaged

There was a pause after that to wait for the next target, a Sotiyo whose timer had a ways to go.

Circle of Two Sotiyo

Once that timer hit we warped over to it… all of these structures were on the same grid, so you could see them from our Fortizar perch… and commenced to bash that.

The Sotiyo was like some sort of pinata.  When it died almost 40 empty Magnate frigates spilled out or were destroyed… or both… as my kill board got credit for them.  40 more frigate kills for me and everybody else who was shooting the Sotiyo I guess.

The Sotiyo wreck

With the Sotiyo down the preliminaries were over and only the main even awaited us.  We perched back up, tethered on the Fortizar and watched the super carriers get themselves situated.

Fleets tethered up on the Fortizar

The plan was the same as it was the previous Saturday, with the super carriers launching fighters and sending them over to a command destroyer which formed the first of a chain of such ships that would AOE micro jump drive the ball of fighters to the Keepstar in 100km leaps.

This involved a lot of cajoling as controlling fighters isn’t completely intuitive and there is always somebody whose Nyx starts slowly trundling towards the target or whose fighters are headed off into space or end up inadvertently attacking somebody.  I feel for them.  I did the capital ops class on using fighters then forgot half of it within a day.  It is something you need to do a bunch for it to become second nature.

Still a lot of fighters ended up on the command destroyer.

Fighters swarming – Picture source unknown

That screen shot was linked in a ping.  I don’t know who took it, but it shows lots of fighters orbiting, ready for an MJD to take them closer to the Keepstar.

Fighters were in place when the Keepstar timer finally ran down.  The attack on the structure began as we all sat and watched.

The plan was to keep as many people away from the action until the last minute when everybody would jump in or warp to the Keepstar to get in their hit before it died.  So we just sat and watched, TiDi free, as the fighters chewed up the structure.  There were about a thousand people in local.

Then, as the Keepstar got down to 10% the word went out.  Cynos were lit.  We aligned to the target.  And about a thousand more ships landed in the system looking to get in their hit.  A host of titans jumped into our path as we slowly warped to the Keepstar, the tidi slamming down on the node, bringing us to 10% speed.

Titans blocking the view of the Keepstar

We flew on through the titans, and I spotted a Molok as we passed.  Things were slow enough for me to notice that.

That is a Molok, look at the paint job

We landed just 30km off the Keepstar.  I had prepared for this, loading up a sentry drone in my drone bay.  As I came to a stop I dropped the sentry drone, targeted the Keepstar, and engaged.  I saw a few hits recorded… and then my client crashed.  I hadn’t turned down my graphic settings and I am sure the client went beyond the 32-bit RAM allocation limit and terminated.  I was on grid and close proximity with a lot of ships.

All those ships, all visible

Fortunately this wasn’t as bad as some of the big fights.  I was able to log right back in and re-join the fleet.  I had not even warped off as I was still being warp scrambled by the Keepstar, something it does for 30 seconds when you start shooting it.

However, my Bouncer sentry drone was still in my drone bay, so something had gone out of sequence.  I dropped it again, locked up the Keepstar, and started shooting it again.

I also zoomed out my camera to maximum distance and turned it away from the fight in hopes of fending off another client crash before the Keepstar died.

I also did the control-shift-alt-M command to bring up the client monitor to see how my memory usage was doing.  I was riding on the edge there.

My memory numbers after logging back in

We had the order from Apple Pear to align back to the Fortizar, so I pulled the Bouncer.  However, I wasn’t sure if I had hit the Keepstar again after the re-log, so I launcher a Warrior II and sent it after it, willing to sacrifice a light drone in order to get on the kill mail.  Then I aligned and waited for things to go “Boom!”

The Keepstar was done very shortly thereafter.  I was even able to recover my Warrior II.  The Kill mail shows me… and a lot of people… having done zero damage.  But we got counted, which was what mattered.

And then began the unwind, the return to the Fortizar, the recovering of fighters, the capitals jumping out, and then finally the subcaps being bridged out.  Some impatient people decided to gate home and got caught by gate camps.  It was better to be patient.

So I managed to get on six structure kills in my Oneiros and never had to rep anybody.

Most Valuable Recent Kills

The Tatara was apparently significantly under valued.  A ping went out from Tuzy about the Tatara that explained how much the tech II rigs on it were actually worth:

I was just looking over the battle report today from all the structures we killed and I wanted to call this out to everyone. Take a look at this Tatara kill. https://zkillboard.com/kill/72384288/ I noticed it’s value was ~ 10b isk so I immediately looked at the rigs. Aha! But what did I discover? This was a 92 billion isk structure. Take a look at the rigs….both are T2. Zkillboard drastically undervalues them because these rigs are simply NOT sold anywhere in game. Anyone who needs these specific rigs are large, rich alliances – all of whom build them themselves. Go to https://eve-industry.org/calc/ and type in those rig names. That Reproc rig is 66 billion isk. That reactions rig is 15.9b isk. So you can add another 82 billion isk to this killmail to our tally for the day.

So we can add that to the value.

Through all of this, no defenders stood to.  There was a fleet of NCDot and other locals in interceptors hanging around, but they seemed as interested in getting on the kill mails as anything.

And now with that accomplished, with the Keepstar in CO2’s capital system destroyed, we get to ask, “What next?”  CO2 has other citadels in Fade.  Even another Keepstar.

We passed this while killing the Fortizars

But from what I am hearing CO2 is trying to pack up their citadels and it is now a race to see if we can blow them up before they get carried off.  Then there is the NCDot Keepstar in DO6H-Q.  The ihub has been cleared there, so that might be on the list of targets as well.

After that… well… Mittens says that we don’t want Fade, so we’re not going to take the sovereignty.  And we don’t have anybody lined up who wants to take it.  But we also don’t want CO2 to have it, so I suspect that we will stay deployed in 6RCQ-V until we’re sure that CO2 has moved elsewhere.

The destruction of this Keepstar took place on the anniversary of the last year’s betrayal of CO2 by The Judge which ended up with the Imperium buying the CO2 Keepstar in 68FT-6 from him, then turning around and selling it to TEST.

This is on top of the events of late 2016 when CO2 lost a Keepstar at M-OEE8 when NCDot and Pandemic Legion decided to take Tribute after the Casino War had ended.

As an alliance, they have not had great luck with Keepstars.  But their leadership made their bed, so they get to sleep in it.

Other coverage:

Focus on DW-T2I in Fade

After the climactic battle over the NCDot Keepstar in X47 the headline level events in the north dried up a bit.  The war carries on though and, while titans aren’t occluding the sun in mass blobs as often, things are happening.

Mostly docked up and waiting for that next apex battle

Things are once again focused on the Fade region where Circle of Two lives.  Given CO2’s position at the top of the list of Imperium enemies after their betrayal in the Casino War means that it is no surprise that we are camped on their doorstep.  The defection of The Judge and the subsequent downfall of CO2 in Impass, which included GigX being banned from the game, was not enough.  CO2 is back on the sov map and, more importantly, GigX is back, perma bans being transitory things I guess.

And so everybody is formed up in and around Fade.

Fade forces disposition

CO2 remains in DW-T2I with their Keepstar, which we failed to kill previously due to not understanding how cynojammers work.

Other northern forces are staged in DO6H-Q where NCDot now has a Keepstar.

The main Imperium staging is at the Keepstar in 6RCQ-V, planted there back in July.

And then there are the Imperium SIGs and squads in NPC Pure Blind, where we have been knocking about, dropping on local ratters and miners, and deploying structures since at least last November.  Longest deployment ever.  My annual Reavers review post is going to be all about Pure Blind.

The target for the Imperium remains, as I expected, the CO2 Keepstar.  But to be able to go after that we have to disable the cynojammer which means killing the infrastructure hub in DW-T2I so that our mighty blob of titans can drop on it the way it did in X47.

Doing that means entosis warfare and all which that entails.  The Imperium has been chewing on the near end of Fade, attacking both ihubs and TCUs.  If you look at the Fade map at DOTLAN you will see a couple more systems have been turned since I made the map above.  But all that has been a mere clearing of the brush between the Imperium and its target.  It is the ihub in DW-T2I that is the real objective, the necessary first step towards destroying the CO2 Keepstar.

We had a shot at the ihub on Saturday.  Early evening on Saturday EU time, and mid-morning Saturday at my end of the world, pings went out for form up for a run at the ihub.  It actually came about an hour earlier than had been announced, but I was up and wandering about the house, so saw the ping and was able to get into a fleet just before we departed.  The Baltec fleet was full when I got on, but there was also a Jackdaw fleet coming along, so I joined up there in a Jackdaw.  I had one of those handy already and didn’t want to buy a Scalpel just to fly logi.  I am already accumulating ships in 6RCQ-V, something that happens every deployment.

Anyway, I wasn’t in fleet for long before we were undocking and getting to a titan to bridge out towards our destination.

Watching the Baltecs bridge out as we approach

After jumping through we followed the Baltec fleet through a gate and into CR-IFM where a fight erupted around the gate.  The locals and their neighbors had formed up in greater numbers than we expected, their Muninns all over the place.

Battle around the gate, little Jackdaw sticks visible

While we were killing things, we were not exchanging well, and the Baltec fleet logi seemed to be taking an especially hard pasting.  Apple Pear, who was leading the op, had us align to a friendly Raitaru in the system and burn out of the bubbles, shooting any hostile interdictors that showed up.  We cleared out, leaving the field crowded with targets for a bombing run by pilots from Initiative.  That tipped the overall ISK exchange in the fight well in our favor accoring to the battle report.

Battle report header

However, any thought of contesting the entosis event for the DW-T2I ihub went out the window.  A weekend in the EU evening time slot was just about optimum for the defenders, who tend to be stronger than us in that time zone.

On the Raitaru Apple Pear had us dock up and log off.

Ships disappearing into the Raitaru

The plan was to go away for a few hours and then log back in to make our way back home when the system wasn’t camped and ready for us.  And so we logged off and went and did whatever it was we had planned for the day.

The ping for the extraction came a few hours later with a five minute warning to get in or be left to your own devices.  Of course, I only walked by my computer and saw that about ten minutes after it went up.  At that point I should have just kept walking and come back late in US time to fly out on my own.  But I thought that if the fleet was leaving then they would be headed towards Cloud Ring and our staging I might be able to head the other way towards Pure Blind and slip out.

I undocked and even as I started into warp I knew I had made a mistake.  Despite having a perch well off the gate already bookmarked I warped straight to the gate and landed in the bubble I fully expected to find when I got there.  Dumb once again yields a dead ship.  At least I had an empty pod and was sent home the fast way.

In any case, I was headed the same direction that the extraction fleet was, so all eyes were on my route and looking for stragglers, so it was a poor choice.  The nice, clean DOTLAN region maps don’t really show the distances between the systems in space.  If you using the jump planning map you’ll see if you’re going to bridge out there are places in Pure Blind closer to Cloud Ring that the systems at that end of Fade.

The morning’s operations were enough to put the system at the top of the list for kills in 0.0 space.

CR-IFM leads the way

Not a huge battle, but the biggest one on Saturday.

Operations picked up on Sunday where we repeatedly clashed with the locals, killing enough Munnins that I have to wonder if the price on those are going to start climbing.  In the end we managed to entosis the ihub in DW-T2I again, so we are set for another clash.  This time it will be on Tuesday in EUTZ, when I am at the office.  I will miss it, but I am sure everybody will carry on without me.  We will see if a weekday time slot works out better for us.  We only have to win the ihub fight once to move on to the Keepstar while the locals have to win it every time to keep it safe.

Daredevil Race

Ranger Gama drew Asher in the Theta Squad Secret Santa gift exchange, so his problem immediately became, “What do you get the 23rd best FC in the Imperium?”

He decided to get Asher a Reavers event since Theta just krabs in Delve day and night I suppose.

The event was to be a frigate race.  The route and frigate type were to be announced at the time of the race when Ranger Gama would hand them out.  He imported ten frigates, one for himself, one for Asher, and eight more for whoever showed up in time to claim one.

The planned time for the race was delayed on a couple of occasions, which worked out for me as I happened to sit down at my desk just after Asher pinged Reavers to let them know it was on.  I was in soon enough to claim one of the frigates, which turned out to be a Daredevil, a Serpentis faction frigate.

Me being me, I quickly logged an alt into Jita to buy a SKIN because I just can’t undock anymore without one.  The Glacial Drift SKIN was available and cheap, but then I saw some of the Serpentis Victory SKINs listed as well.  Those were given away as part of Alliance Tournament XV.  They were much more pricey, going for over 300 million ISK, but also more rare.  So I picked up one of those and contracted it to myself and activated it.

Daredevil in the hangar with a new SKIN

The race was originally going to be a point-to-point run, but Asher suggested something to make it more interesting… or dangerous… or both… so the instructions were updated in the fleet MOTD.

The route, with one five minute stop

Each of the ships had a name for the occasion.  I ended up with the ship named “In.”

We undocked our frigates and met up on a citadel in ROIR.  From there the race began.

The frigates themselves were setup for speed, capable of well over 5km/sec with the included faction MWD burning.  Otherwise, as you can see from one of the Daredevils that got caught, there was a bit of shielding and some festival launchers armed with fireworks to use along the way.

Festival Launchers on the ship

As we flew off Apple Pear showed up and was given a ship.  Only seven had been handed out so he started off a few gates behind us.  Given that the route was static and everybody was warping at the same speed he needed some hostile intervention to help his cause.

The rest of us warped along towards the first destination.

Daredevil in warp

This was where I started to have problems.  I was up with the leaders when one of our cats managed to get himself caught in the handle of a shopping bag which was hooked over the door across the hall from me and began to thrash wildly, seeming more likely to harm himself via that than anything the bag would do.  I dropped my headset, grabbed him, lifted him up to take off any strain, then calmed him for a bit before slipping his head out and letting him run off.  He was okay and I had my daughter dispose of the bag, but now I was behind the pack, though still out in front of Apple Pear.  At least I was still alive, having sat uncloaked on a gate for a bit.

Then I ran into another issue.  When we arrived in JU-OWQ in Deklein, my auto-pilot route sent me back the way we came to get to C4C-Z4.  I still do not understand why, as I checked later and did not see any systems anywhere close by on my avoid list.  So I passed by Apple Pear going the other way, made it through CCP-US, where he had reported a gate camp on both gates, and on towards Fade.

Fortunately there was nothing in the rules about the route, just the requirement to hit the specified waypoints, so that my route differed from the route everybody else took didn’t matter.

Some space maps with routes

Well, it did matter a bit.  My route was two jumps longer, but it turned out to be a bit safe as Asher and the rest of the pack ran into some trouble, with two Daredevils getting popped in K4YZ-Y.  I made it to C4C without incident, but was easily 3 minutes behind Asher, Ranger Gama, and Norgraad. I warped on grid with the Keepstar and started burning away from it and the few carriers that had fighters out to try and nab us.

On grid with the PH Keepstar

Asher and Ranger Gama seemed to do okay, but Norgraad managed to get popped by the locals, though gamely carried on in his pod.  They warped off, heading to the next waypoint while I lingered on grid watching the stopwatch on my iPhone slowly count off the minutes.  The leaders were reporting some people waiting for them ahead, but by the time I was able to warp off towards the next destination they seemed to have given up.  I left Apple Pear behind on the Keepstar grid and went in chase of the leaders.

While there was mutterings on coms about the dangers ahead, they were often vague, like the leaders did not want to help those chasing them catch up.  But it didn’t really matter.  The only hope I had of catching up was to warp straight from gate to gate and just hope to crash or burn past any gate camp.  So off I went.

Fortunately for myself an Apple Pear, the path through was pretty sparsely populated.  At least that was fortunate for us as far as staying alive went.  It also meant that there wasn’t much to slow down Asher or Ranger Gama or even Norgraad in his pod.  Norgraad’s slow warps mean I was able to pass him at least.  He got caught in Cloud Ring while I burned on.

The Cloud Ring nebula

The only real peril for me was at the Alsavoinon gate in F7C-H0.  There, on the boarder between null sec and low was the expected camp with a bubble setup.  I landed straight in it and the campers were slow enough to react to my arrival that I thought I might make it through to the gate unscathed.  However, burning in as fast as I did I hit the gate and bounced off it so far that I had to burn in again.  I took some damage, dropping to half shields, as I made my way back to the gate again, but got through and was on my way.

Low sec space posed no threat and it wasn’t until the path brought me back into null sec that I ran into some additional trouble.  There was a drag bubble in EWOK-K on the O-N8XZ gate that pulled me out of warp shy of the gate.

Burning to the gate again

However, no hostiles were minding the store and a lone TNT pilot was plinking away at the bubble to take it down.  I would have joined in to help… Asher and Ranger Gama were already over the finish line… but fireworks don’t do much.  After that it was just a few more empty gates and I was over the finish line myself.  There I burned over to Asher and Ranger Gama and joined in the shooting of fireworks.

Apple Pear showed up after a bit, followed by Elisha Okaski, who made it all the way from K4YZ-Y in his pod, earning him a special commendation.

For my third place finish I won a free ship of the line for whatever Asher’s next Reavers doctrine ends up being, mostly because Ranger Gama was the organizer so counted himself and Asher out of the contest.  Elisha Okaski will get a ship as well for persevering through most of the race in a pod.

I handed Ranger Gama back my ship so he could use them for some future event and thanked him for setting this up and, of course, declaring me one of the prize winners.  We’ll have to see what the next doctrine ends up being.

That was probably my last op of the year.  Below some screen shots of us shooting fireworks.  We had to turn the MWDs off as the ships were otherwise outrunning the launchers.

Targets of Opportunity in Tribute

As I noted the other week, the once simmering war in Tribute came to something of a boil recently as Circle-of-Two saw themselves driven out of system after system as NCdot, Pandemic Legion, and assorted allies marched towards their capital in M-OEE8.

Tribute - December 5, 2016

Tribute – December 5, 2016

CO2 lost their capital on Friday, leaving them with only a couple of systems in the region, plus their holdings in Vale of the Silent, where they have the constellation DMXN-3.

There was some war news the week before last on the Meta Show when guests revealed that Pandemic Legion had decided they did not want to move to M-OEE8 any more, the ostensible reason for the whole conflict.  Back in October they were saying how great M-OEE8 would be, now they are not interested.

However, despite that news, NCDot, Pandemic Legion, and their allies planned to continue to prosecute the war, including taking down the Keepstar that CO2 had raised in M-OEE8.  CO2 moved their capitals to low sec, within jump range of their Keepstar and the fight for the massive citadel was on.

Killing a citadel takes three attempts.  There is the shield timer, the armor timer, and then the final battle to kill the structure.  If the attackers fail at any step, it is back to the start again.  The attackers did the shield round successfully, and it was time for the armor timer yesterday.

Yesterday was round two

The system after yesterday’s fun

The armor timer was nicely timed as it was set to come out around 19:00, putting it in the Sunday sweet spot between Euro and US time zones, allowing the maximum number of players to pile in on the fight. Of course the Imperium wanted to drop in on the action as well, so an op was set to form up at 17:00 to take the trip north to shoot all the things.

Asher had warned the jacket pals to have Cerberus fleet ships ready to go for the expedition, and when the ping for the fleet finally went out it filled up fast… so fast that a second frigate fleet had to go up to take the overflow.  There was a bit of wrangling to get the right people into the fleet, but fleet formation has simplified somewhat since boosting was separated from the fleet hierarchy, rendering the roles of squad commander and wing commander superfluous. (But they are still there just to confuse people.)

Form up actually went smoothly.  The Cerberus doctrine ships on contract ran out quickly, but the fleet was not lacking for number.  There were a couple of special items we were asked to carry, and a few of us X’d up to fit remote sensor boosters to enhance the targeting abilities of Asher’s Loki FC ship, but nothing big got in our way and we were soon out and in range to the titan atop our own Keepstar and bridging out to the first leg of our journey north.

Bridge up, everybody jump

Bridge up, everybody jump

From the cyno, we had a free burn for a few jumps and then held to group back up again, at which point we were guided to a wormhole.

Waiting to go through

Waiting to go through the wormhole

Boosters and logi went through first, then the ships of the line.  But we need not have worried, as the hole was fresh and still looked good after we passed through.

The hole put us in Daras, a low sec system not too far from M-OEE8.  We moved along together, then held up at the station in Taisy, the low sec connection to M-OEE8, and docked up for a final set of bio breaks and drink refills.

Once set there, we undocked and warped to the gate.  From there we had only to jump to enter the fray.  The fray and time dilation and lag and all the issues of a big fight.  You could see the point at which you ceased to be in Taisy on the jump and were part of the load on M-OEE8.  The warp tunnel itself slowed dramatically as we passed through into the maelstrom.

On the plus side, CCP had clearly been notified that the fight was pending and had reinforced the system.  It appeared to be on its own node and not bringing down the surrounding systems.  If you were in Taisy, for example, you might not know what was going on next door, aside from the high amount of traffic passing through the system.

On the other side however, the time dilation began.

It actually wasn’t so bad when we landed in the system, hovering in the teens.  But the timer hadn’t run down yet, so the shooting had yet to begin, and there were still people piling into the system.  Asher warped us to a perch on the Keepstar grid and we could see the forces arrayed about the citadel.  And the time came and the universe went to hell.  More people piled in.  I saw Local go above 4,400, though I tried to keep that window closed as it was both full of the usual spam and processing that text was causing a noticeable drag on frame rate.

4,400 and 10% TiDi

4,401 in system and 10% TiDi

The thing with time dilation is that it can slow actions down to as low as 10% of normal speed, but sometimes that is not enough.  This was one of those times.  When you go beyond that, the system load manifests itself in other fun ways.

Modules fail to activate or deactivate.  One of our problems was simply being able to get the fleet to activate missile launchers, launch a volley or two at a target, and then deactivate them in order to switch targets.  The launcher modules would site there blinking red at us for ages.

Sometimes user input would just be missed or ignored.  At one point I was trying to put missiles on a target but the launcher activated on Asher, who I had locked up in order to use the remote sensor booster on him.  I turned them off after one volley, but this is why I ended up on his kill mail. (Along with a couple of other members of fleet running remote sensor boosters on him.)

At one point Asher asked on coms why I was broadcasting “Enemy Spotted!”  That is one of the least useful fleet broadcasts, which I turned off ages ago.  The default key for that is “Z” in the settings.  I have the toggle UI option set to Alt-Z.  However, the systems was losing my keyboard inputs (I had to make several attempts each time I toggled the UI) and it was sometimes just catching the “Z” causing me to broadcast.  I went and turned that off, but for a bit I was “that guy” in fleet again.

Then there was the UI, which has a good chance of drawing incorrectly in such situations.  I totally lost the Route view in the upper left of the screen, which I only noticed when we were leaving.  My overview ended up with a couple of ships stuck on it at 0m that simply were not there.  And when warping the UI didn’t always match up.

Warp drive active at

Warp drive active at 2,382 m/s?  It said that for most of my failed warp.

And sometimes the client would just give up.  There was a moment when the point defense system on the Keepstar was activated and it was reported that a couple hundred people were knocked offline.  I was knocked offline a few times during the fight, including at the point defense activation.  The first time it took me 15 minutes to get back into the game.  My ship had been warped off to a safe, so I had to wait while it slowly warped back.  Fortunately our fleet hadn’t moved too far so I was close enough to catch Asher’s next warp, which got me back in the ball of Cerbs again.

The next time the client gave up, I was back into the game in about five minutes, as I was still in formation, targets still locked, and providing remote sensor booster support to Asher.  Great!  And then a bit later the ship did its disconnect routine and warped off the a safe and then back to the grid, leaving me off on my own again.  Fortunately Asher would slow down every once in a while to let people catch up.

But for all of that, it was an epic battle with sights you do not see every day as multiple fleets of sub caps flew around the grid, dreadnoughts dropped on the citadel, and the defense batteries blazing away.

Somebody even grabbed some video of us swooping through the fight with the Keepstar in the background.

We were there for targets of opportunity, willing to shoot either side in the conflict as they came into range.  The only thing we were not there to shoot was the Keepstar itself.  Since it was just the armor timer, there would be no kill mail, so we were not inclined to waste missiles helping the attackers.  They had plenty of firepower on hand, once they brought it to bear.  There was a gap when the repair timer started its 15 minute count down and when the attackers got enough damage onto the citadel to halt it.

Timer past half way and still running

Timer at the half way point and still running

But at just shy of the four minutes left mark the damage stopped the clock and there it stayed until the armor was slowly stripped away.

There is a conspiracy theory going about that the Imperium was there to support CO2 and TEST, but it has no basis in reality.  Apparently somebody in CO2 temp blued us, which makes sense, because we were not there to shoot the Keepstar, so why bother with us?  And still, that didn’t keep them from killing Xenuria.

Our first target was a CO2 machariel, after which we took shots at a PL Typhoon fleet, various bombers that landed in the vicinity, and then a fleet of dreads that dropped on grid for the fight.  As it happened, our targets tended to be the attackers, as the defenders were sticking close to the Keepstar while we were hunting out along the periphery.

Then, after the fight had dragged on, the defenders started pulling back, the armor layer looked to be well on its way destruction, Asher had been alpha’d off the field, and it looked like time for us to head home.  Corbzilla took over the FC position and tried to get us to the Taisy gate.  This ended up taking about half an hour, and not merely because the warp was 104 AU.  Several of us had problems just getting the ourselves into warp.  I ended up in the strange warping but not warping state which actually moved be about 30 AU and then stopped.  Eventually I was disconnected and then had to warp away, then back to the Keepstar (at which point my overview was totally hosed, as it showed nobody on grid with me besides the citadel), and then off to the Taisy gate.

And still I was not the last fleet member through the gate.  The fleet was holding on the far side and there was a rush of joy as the slow warp tunnel suddenly sped up and spat me out into low sec.  In some ways it was like being able to breathe again.

Corbzilla moved us back to Daras and the wormhole back south.  It was still there, so he had the boosters and logi move through first, then gave the word for the rest of jump, but the wormhole collapsed before the whole fleet got through, so some of us had to move through high sec while others had a much shorter ride home.  I lucked out and got through the hole.

Of course, nothing is ever easy.  An incursion had dropped in the constellation where our wormhole put us, so Plaid Rabbit shepherded us through that until we were clear to fly freely back to our staging.

Approximately six hours after we undocked to get on the titan I docked back up in our Keepstar.  It was a long day, though I still had time to put the Christmas lights up on the house afterwards.

I don’t mind a long op like that for an epic fight, but it isn’t something I can do every day.  Still,  the draw of the fight helped boost the player count past the 50K mark again, though we didn’t pass the high water mark of two weeks ago.

Still, not bad for a Sunday

Not bad for a Sunday, but not quite 50,958

And now we have a six day wait for the final timer on the Keepstar in M-OEE8, which comes out on Saturday.  I suspect that the system will see even more people in local as they try to get in, shoot some people, and get on the Keepstar kill mail.  We shall see if I can make that.  Not sure I have another all day fleet op in me this week though.

For a timeline of events, there is a post up over at Imperium News that has you covered.  I haven’t seen any battle reports yet, as zkillboard seems to still be digesting the battle and trying to handle all the people hitting it looking for a battle report.  I’ll link whatever else shows up here later.

And, finally, I have a series of screen shots from the battle.

A Fortizar Goes Online in 1-SMEB

TODAY 23:00 MAX NUMBERS DIVORCE YOUR CHILDREN, SACRIFICE YOUR WIFE AT THE ALTAR STRAT OP, SUBS, CAPS, SUPERS, TITANS, RORQUALS. BE THERE.

~~~ This was a broadcast from asher_elias to all at 2016-08-01 18:29:53.901185 EVE ~~~

Somebody was trying to impress upon us the importance of the 23:00 op.

As it happens, 23:00 is about the earliest time on a weekday when I can possibly make a fleet op, and I was home in time, online, and ready to pile into Asher’s fleet once the official ping went out and the fleet went up.  This was officially a Proteus fleet and I got into my Oneiros again.

The fleet filled up quickly enough and a second fleet went up on Apple Pear, one of our EU TZ FCs who was up late.  His fleet seemed to be… less discriminating.  There was a call to get people in fleet, alts included, in whatever ship was to hand.  So I logged on my combat alt, put him in a Crucifier, and had him join Apple Pear’s fleet.

Meanwhile, there was a capital fleet forming up… and all of us were using the same coms channel.  While confusing at times, this is generally a sign that we are doing some sort of coordinated op.

With one fleet full, another filling up, and the caps doing whatever it is they do as they assemble, we began to undock, with Asher’s fleet going first.

Once more out of the Genolution Biotech Production station

Once more out of the Genolution Biotech Production station

We undocked, headed to the 1-SMEB gate and jumped through.  The Apple Pear’s fleet undocked, warped to the gate, and then stood to there as the capitals began to hit the gate.  The landed there in two streams, one from the station and one from the safe POS, and jumped through.

Caps landing on the 1-SMEB gate in Sakht

Caps landing on the 1-SMEB gate in Sakht

On the 1-SMEB side, once most of the caps were through, Asher warped us to a spot on grid.  Had I been more aware of my surroundings, I would have seen it on the overview.  But, as I have grown used to citadels showing up there, another one didn’t strike me as something worth noting.  But as when we landed on it, I saw what was going on.

Fortizar going online

Fortizar going online

Yeah, I know, big deal, right?  There are lots of Frotizar’s in New Eden now.  We lived under the unblinking gaze of three of them in the Quafe Factory Warehouse back in Saranen.

You can see three Fortizars on grid now

You could see three Fortizars on one grid in Saranen

But this was ours.

The Imperium has put down dozens of Astrahus medium citadels.  They were in Saranen, all over Venal, in Pure Blind, and dotted the route south to Delve.  But for us to actually bother putting down a Fortizar, as common as they may be, is something of a statement I suppose.

And we were all there to make sure it went online without a hitch.  So all three fleets spread out around it and watched it count down through its final period of vulnerability, after which it could be gunned and would require the whole timer routine to kill.

Supers in a semi-circle around the Fortizar

Supers in a semi-circle around the Fortizar

One hostile landed on grid with us during the process, but warped off quickly.  Otherwise nobody showed up to try and keep our new citadel from going online.

When the counter finished and it was live, there was some cheering.  Asher and another titan pilot shot off their lance doomsday weapons.  And Jay Amazingness let us shoot his Chimera, a sacrifice to the welp gods in Delve no doubt.  We were also encouraged to troll Reddit by putting up pictures with 1-SMEB replaced with 93PI-4.  Somebody did one that looked pretty good.  My own attempt was a bit more… raw… in the grand MS Paint tradition.

And that was that.  We had a large citadel in Delve.  It isn’t a Keepstar, but we’ll get there I bet.

Then it was time to run the whole thing in reverse, with subcap fleets covering each side of the gate as the capitals went back home.  A participation link was generated, my first one for August, and I got to click on it with both my main and my alt. (Though, since they are both linked to my forum account, I am not sure if that really means anything.  But I did it anyway.  Never not click on pap links.)

Not a terribly exciting event, but one that was good for the team.  Once we were done shepherding the capitals back, the op was done.  We were encouraged to go mine and rat in 1-SMEB to build up the ADM.  I got out my Procurer to help out, but as it turns out 1-SMEB only had two asteroid belts (one of which was already mined out, and the other was almost gone) and wasn’t spawning any mining anoms, which put a damper on that plan.

So I decided to use the time to jump clone back to Jita to list all the items I shipped there from Saranen.  More assets converted to ISK.  I also stopped to look at the TNT Delve 2016 video.  See, we’re still a thing, we have a video!

The array of ships around the Fortizar as we babysat it was pretty neat, and a number of people put up good screen shots:

And I have my own screen shots from the Fortizar op:

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.