Tag Archives: Asher Elias

Foray into Nalvula

HICS JOIN THAT FLEET – HAVE TITANS TACKLED – WE ARE DREADBOMBING – GO GO GO

~~~ This was a broadcast from the_mittani to all at 2017-08-20 22:45:34.680221 EVE ~~~

A flurry of pings showed up Sunday afternoon, of which the one quoted above is merely a representation of what I was seeing.  It looked like something interesting was going on and I happened to be sitting down at my computer at almost exactly the correct moment.

It isn’t as though there haven’t been any ops to go on.  There have been plenty, and I have been out on some of them.  But none of them seemed to pass the threshold of interesting, or at least interesting enough to write about.  Do I need to write a post about another run into Tribute to reinforce another tower?  We did dash across New Eden via a pair of Thera wormholes in order to catch some capital ships down in Wicked Creek, but the fact that we got there too late takes some of the edge/interest out of the tale.  Without a fight the story becomes more about travel, indecipherable Scots accents, and the occasional person being dumb on coms.

Anyway, I digress.  Coms were not an issue for this fleet op.  Getting in and getting to the destination was laid out pretty simply.  I was a couple of minutes behind the curve, so when I got online and in coms Asher was telling people to undock and warp to a titan to be bridged.  At the far end of the bridge, targets were already being called.  I just had to get there.

I was a bit worried about that.  I wasn’t in Hakonen, I was in Jita.  That put me a jump clone and a couple of session changes behind the fleet.  EVE Online protects itself, in its way, but not letting players do some things with a delay.  After jump cloning the session timer keeps you from doing a number of things, like swapping ships or joining a fleet for 10 seconds or so.  It feels like forever when you are in a hurry, but I bit my lower lip and hummed as I watched the tiny white timer circle in the upper left hand corner finish its revolution so I could get in fleet.  They I got into a Typhoon and undocked.  I considered joining up in a Guardian again, but I was late, Asher was saying that more DPS was better, and some days just shooting things is all you want to do anyway.

As I was entering warp to get to the titan, Asher said on coms that people who were not in GSF, and who thus could not just wander through the POS shields to get to the titan, should warp to a planet, then warp to the target to avoid getting stuck.  So I hit the POS shield and bounced off as I watched others stream past be, unobstructed by the defense barrier.  It is at times like this that I wonder why I just don’t join KarmaFleet and enjoy the benefits of not being that guy stuck outside the bubble.

I was able to warp off to the planet indicated, then warped back to the titan at 10km, so as not to bump it.  I landed and pulsed my propulsion module once to speed up the time it took to close the gap between me and the titan, whose bridge was already up and sending people on their way.  I was almost there.

Need to be within 2,500m

And then the moment I was within range the bridge expired and disappeared.

Fortunately the plan was to just keep bridging people as they showed up, so in a few seconds the titan, a Leviathan, was again aglow with bridging goodness.  I right clicked on it to select the destination to jump through to, and couldn’t find it for a second.  I am so used to null sec designations for systems, being in all caps and sporting a hyphen, that an actual name name just blends into the list.  I looked, didn’t see it, right clicked again, just in case I had done so too early for the name to draw, didn’t see it again, right clicked a third time and really looked, found it, and selected the destination.

As the titan bridged me through my next thought was, “Nalvula? Isn’t that literally next door to Hakonen?”

Yes, Nalvula is connected to Hakonen via a gate.  But sometimes it is better to bridge people in even that short of a distance.  Doing so landed us directly in the middle of the fight and avoided any sort of gate camp that might have been setup along the direct and obvious route.

Nalvula was a busy place when I landed.

A pile of titans and other capitals on grid

Hostile titans were on grid as advertised, though I am not sure I would go so far as to declare them “tackled.”  That word implies we hold some sort of advantage and that we need to rush in and start shooting quickly lest the tackled titans escape.  There were more than a few about as the system filled with people.

Local under 1,000 when I arrived

Furthermore, they seemed to be multiplying.  Being within easy jump range of their super capital staging, PL/NC’s response to a titan being tackled was to log on more titans and pile on so they could use their big shiny toys to shoot things.

The glare of more ships jumping in

When I got into the system and on grid with the fight, I locked up the first target.  We were going after hostile force auxiliaries.  The Typhoons were putting their missiles on the one broadcast, being instructed to find and put their energy neutralizer on another with a name that starts with the same letter as you own name (“W” for Wilhelm in my case), and launching drones to try and pick off hostile fighters that were roving the battlefield.

Time dilation was about in full effect, not at 10% most of the time, but in the low teens as the battle went on.  That is a fine distinction, 12% isn’t much faster than 10%, but when it hit 10%, the minimum speed, and the system is still stressed, odd things start to happen.  So 12% can be immeasurably better than 10%, since 10% can have added problems.

Slowly I got targets locked, starting sending missiles and drones down range, and found a hostile Apostle whose pilot’s name started with a “V,” the closest letter I saw, and started motoring into range so I could put the energy neutralizer on him to drain his capacitor.  Meanwhile, the ball of capital ships was lit by explosions and doomsday effects.

Explosions in the midst of the ball

The first Apostle we targeted went down, but a secondary target had already been broadcast, so we were on to that.  I had managed to get within range of my neutralizer target only to realize he wasn’t a hostile but one of our cooperating, but not blue, allies, so I started sorting the list by name again to see who else I could go after.

The second target went down and we locked up and started in on a third.  My drones were wiped out by somebody’s smart bombs, so I launched the remaining ones in my drone bay and sent them after some fighters further afield, away from the thick of the smart bombs.  Ships were exploding almost constantly on the field, with doomsdays lancing out to strike the dreadnoughts that had jumped in with us.  As somebody noted on coms, they aren’t called “suicide dreads” without reason.

At some point along the way a command destroyer activated its area effect microjump drive nearby, booshing some of us 100km away from the fight.  Given the range the Typhoon missiles have, this didn’t stop any of us from blazing away with them.  However, it put a damper on any thoughts of getting my energy neutralizer on a target.  It also likely ensured I survived the battle, as I was now annoyingly far off for fighters to bother with.

As the third target went down for us, we stared on a fourth.  But then the FC at the moment… Asher was not on grid with us… had us change to target Grath Telkin, the volitile CEO of Sniggardly, one of the main corporations in Pandemic Legion.  He would be what one might call a “prestige target.”  Everybody likes to shoot CEOs, FCs, and anybody mildly space famous.

And Grath seemed to be going down well enough when there was a hiccup and my client started behaving badly, then quit on me.

Client chooses this moment to die on me…

You can see that Grath was into deep structure by that point.  He was going down for sure, but if I wasn’t online there was a good chance I wouldn’t be on the kill mail.  What good is a prestige kill mail if you don’t get on it?

I shut the window and clicked the button on the launcher to get Wilhelm back online with one of those firm clicks you use to let the computer you mean business.  Surprisingly the computer seemed to take notice of my emphasis for once and I was back in the game quickly.  Meanwhile, tidi did me a favor.

In a normal, non-tidi battle, if you disconnect the game warps you off to a “safe” spot and leaves you there.  When you log back in it then warps you back to where you were previously, which can be awkward if your fleet has moved on, and slow if you’re in tidi.  But with tidi in full effect, the game never got around to warping me off, so I was back on and in my spot.  I got back into fleet, targeted Grath, and had missiles down range in time to hit him to ensure I was on the kill mail.

Later I noticed that not only was I counted on the kill mail, but that I got in the final blow, which made it my kill mail, such that that matters.

The luck of the final blow

If you’re going to be on a prestige kill mail, then getting the final blow in is about all you can ask for I suppose.  However, I did not notice that I had gotten that kill mail, or another one, for a while.

We were still shooting targets as they were broadcast and the hostiles were still jumping more and more capitals into the system as our dreadnoughts were scourged from the field.  Afterwards Asher noted that for a dread bomb to work, you need enough dreads to kill the target, plut 3-4 more for every force auxiliary the enemy fields, and the enemy was pouring Apostles onto the field.  That was why we were shooting and neuting them, but it wasn’t enough.

There was a titan far from the enemy pack at one point, and we turned out attentions towards it, hoping that it might get tackled since it was too far off for help from the Apostles.  However he dropped off of targeting as he entered warp, signalling and end to that effort.  And then the command to “take fleet warp” came over comes.  With the enemy still dumping capitals on us, our own dreadnought force almost spend, and our Typhoons being chewed up by fighters, it was time to extract.  We had done about as much damage as we were going to do.  I let my Typhoon align towards the Hakonen gate, tried unsuccessfully to recall my drones, and took a few last screen shots as I warped away from the fight.

Local closing in on 1,300 as I warped off

It was about then that I noticed that I had gotten the kill mails, so I had to zoom in on my ship to find the kill marks, the other benefit you for getting in the final blow.  When you’re in main fleet with a couple hundred people, getting the final blow is a rarity.  These were the first two marks I received on a Typhoon.

Two more orange dots on a hull with many orange dots

On the long warp to the gate I thought the battle went pretty well… for me.  Not a lot of dithering or travel before hand, just shooting stuff for a while when we got there, another vista of capitals and super capitals to survey, a short trip home, and a couple of kill mails.  What more could I ask from a fleet op?

For the coalition however, the battle report was pretty grim.

Battle Report Header

There wasn’t an objective to win, save for “blow up ships,” which leaves us with the ISK war.  That did not go our way at all.  Even removing our two temporary allies from our loss column only drops the total by 10%.  Still, a victory for Jita I suppose as both sides resupply from the nearby trade hub.

And a victory for those wanting some screen shots.

 

Two Days to Delve

We had been deployed long enough.  We got some good fights, annoyed the locals, and blew up a Fortizar, but things were starting to slow down.  Asher had been busy with Alliance Tournament practice, things were brewing on the home front, and there was the promise of a different adventure on the horizon.  It was time to pack up our belongings from our favorite fishy referencing system in Curse and get back to Delve.

Of course, packing up is easier said that done.  We came out with two fleet doctrines and added a third while we were there, and being remote means keeping an extra ship or two on hand for each doctrine along with extra ammo and charges for things like boosts or interdiction bubbles.

The latter was exacerbated by Asher’s fondness for a Boy Scout level of preparedness, meaning we carry mobile depots and modules so we can refit to match the occasion, leading to full cargo holds and an oft repeated meme.

If we could strap things to our ships, Asher would make us…

On the bright side, we also brought carriers and dreadnoughts over to Curse, so there was some space available to carry extra ships.

As the time to the move op home ticked down, I made arrangements.  Ships I was unlikely to ever use again were stripped, repackaged, and shipped to Jita.  I organized what was left, decided what would just stay in the NPC station to await our eventual return, and tried to figure out how to get the rest home.

The smaller ships were not so bad.  RatKnight1 took my Scimitar, two interdictors, and three Vigils in his carrier.  That left me two Typhoons, a Damnation, and a couple of covert ops scanning ships.  I decided to leave a Typhoon and the cov ops behind, along with jump clones, so I could go back to hunting Fraternity deployables at some future date.  They were leaving MTUs around for me to shoot for a while.

That meant flying home a Typhoon and a Damnation.  A lot of people chose to fly their Typhoons back, battleships being awkwardly large, though I did see smaller ships along as we moved.

My Damnation near one of the local Minmatar gates

Tuesday night the appointed hour came and we all logged on and got into the fleet, captials and subcaps sharing the same fleet and voice coms, something that always leads to a bit of confusion.  Actually, most of us had been logged in for hours before the fleet, leaving the system empty under the threat of a few dozen Imperium pilots hanging about with nothing to do.

Then came the call to undock.  Capitals undocked first and jumped off to wait for their first dose of jump fatigue to wind down and for the sub caps to catch up.  Then the subcaps undocked, heading for our first waypoint on the road home.

The rag tag fleet in motion

We made it to the appropriately named system 0SHT-A, where we met up with the capitals.  The system is on one side of a inter-regional jump gate that the capitals had to take in order to continue on the way home.  The distance covered by the gate is beyond the capital jump range, so they either take the gate or travel a much longer, and more dangerous, route home.

The capitals logged on and got undocked and ready to go as the subcaps went through the gate to U-QVWD in order to cover them.  They came through and jumped to the next cyno.  However, as that was in motion, the locals showed up with a Loki fleet.  The system is an obvious choke point, so them showing up wasn’t any act of amazing foresight.   Any Imperium fleet traveling through the area is likely to show up in that system.

We sat there on the gate with a bunch of hostiles in local as the carriers and dreadnoughts came through and made their jump.  The Loki fleet showed up on grid, though far off from us just as the last few capitals were coming through.  Asher had us point towards the Astrahus we have in the system and somebody put up their fleet boosts… likely Asher… just in case a fight started.  I took that cue and ran the boosts on my Damnation for a cycle as well.  And then the Lokis warped to us, just as the last dread was jumping away, and Asher warped us to the citadel where we tethered up in safety… except for Asher, who left his boosts running, something that sets an aggression timer and keeps you from tethering or jumping through a gate.  He had to warp off and back to get safe.

We were not totally outnumbered by the Loki fleet, but they were a coherent combat fleet while we were a mix of various doctrine ships traveling together for safety in numbers rather than looking for a fight.  We were not going to challenge them.

So we all docked up.  The capitals had docked up at their end.  All we could do is wait.  However the Loki fleet seemed to be patient, so Asher called the fleet for the night, got us our participation link, and said we could go but asked that we stay logged on if we could just to keep our friends in the Loki fleet hoping for kills they were not going to get.

So ended the first night of the move op.  We were scheduled to reconvene the next night to finish the run home.

Wednesday night had most of us sitting at the login page waiting for the word to get into the game and resume our journey, there being no desire to show up early and tip off the locals again that we were in town.

Waiting to log in

As people got themselves set and got onto voice coms, the subject of pizza came up because Thomas Lear was ordering Dominoes for dinner.  What started as a condemnation of the position of Dominoes in the hierarchy of pizza quickly devolved when the New Yorkers on coms adopted the standard line that there is no good pizza outside the five boroughs of New York.

Having worked with people from New York in the past… one of the oddities of Silicon Valley is that so many people here are from somewhere else, so you learn which parts of the country think their the only ones who can do a given thing… I opted to stay out of that discussion since you might as well argue with a brick wall as a New Yorker on that topic.

Then, however, the topic somehow slid into the relative merits of regions BBQ styles in the United States, at which point it seemed like the SIG might break up as passions flared and intemperate phrases were tossed around about coloration and the appropriateness of vinegar and other ingredients in something as sacred as BBQ sauce.  Quick thinking saw a straw poll put up on the topic asking us stand up for whichever variety we supported.

BBQ Poll in Fleet

I did not bring up Alabama white sauce lest I be accused of some form of heresy and be branded as beyond the pale of polite company.  I voted for Kansas City style, less out of any true passion than because it is the style I grew up with and what is used at my favorite local BBQ place, where I have been eating since I was a kid.

Tempers cooled as everybody was able to vote for their choice.  There seems to be a calming effect to being able to have your view counted.  The discussion then somehow moved to the prevalence of spam in Hawaii and eventually sputtered out as the call to log in came.  The caps logged in and made their jump and then the subcaps got into the game, undocked, and continued the journey back to Delve.

Nobody formed up to oppose us as we settled into the usual routine of jumping and aligning as we Asher warped us from gate to gate.  An Imperium Jackdaw fleet caught up with us and moved with our fleet for a while, reducing the likelihood of anybody showing up to challenge us.

Aligned out for another warp

Along the way we learned that not only does Thomas Lear have bad taste in pizza… the only aspect of the pizza discussion on which we could all agree… but that he had never been to a concert in his life.  So that was added to the list of his sins.

Eventually we wandered into Querious, then Delve, and found ourselves in jump of the Imperium staging Keepstar.  From there it was onto a titan and a bridge to the cyno which, by tradition was lit inside the model of the citadel, a position known as the “twerk zone” because of the way ships bounce around when they land.

Damnation in the Twerk zone

From there we could bounce around if we liked or dock up and be done for the evening.  Our deployment was over… except for the people who did not make the move op.  There is always somebody who can’t make it and needs to be extracted at a later date.

As with the fleet, I expect any comments on this post will focus on the critical issues of BBQ sauce, pizza, and what concerts Thomas Lear should attend in the wilds of Kansas.

A Fortizar in the Great Wildlands

A Fortizar belonging to Silent Infinity waited for us in the formerly desolate region of the Great Wildlands.

Not AFK that night…

The Great Wildlands, a region of NPC null sec space with only three stations, used to be very empty.  I remember flying through the region for a deployment to Curse back in the day and hitting empty system after empty system.  I mean, a lot of null sec is empty at any given time, but usually not in such great strips.  A lot of space with no place to dock up and hide.

Then came citadels.  You don’t even need fuel for a basic Astrahus, and it is much more annoying to kill one of those, with the vulnerability window and three timers, than a POS.

Suddenly you could make a home amongst the Thukkar Tribe space in the Great Wildlands.  It is still crap space, since you can’t upgrade it with an ihub since it is NPC space, but it is null sec all the same.  There is some value to be found there ratting and mining.  Value enough for somebody to drop a Fortizar out there in the system H-8F5Q along a dead end path, no doubt hoping to escape notice.

It did not escape notice, and while I cannot speak to who did the groundwork for the first two timers, Shadow Cartel invited us out to join in the final battle over the citadel.  We are deployed not too far away and were even given some help getting out to the fight via a titan jump bridge.  It is always a bit dicey letting people you might otherwise shoot sit on your titan, but we were good and just took the bridge.

We showed up in Typhoons with a pair of Apostles to supplement logi support.

Typhoons on the way out, with the yellow Hazard Control SKIN stripes on a pair

I had the second monitor hooked up to dual box for the fleet.  I was in a Typhoon on my alt while flying a Damnation command ship for boosts on my main.

We arrived on grid after the repair timer for the Fortizar was already running, landing and anchoring up to open fire at considerable range.  The idea of the Typhoons is to have max missile skills and boosts so as to be able to hit targets with cruise missiles from beyond the 250km mark.

However we could not quite achieve that mark as the pilot running the relevant boost only had command ships trained up to level 4, and every level you train adds 3% to the effectiveness of the boost.  As it turned out, that last 3% was necessary, so we had to settle in and shoot at closer range, inviting the citadel, gunned and manned, to fire back on us.

We spread out around the Apostles to stay clear of the capacitor emptying void bombs the Fortizar was throwing our way.

The citadel was concentrating on the Apostle flown by Izalis.

Apostle under attack

The Fortizar was able to overwhelm any support we were able to muster for Izalis and her Apostle went down with what I would consider disconcerting speed.

The explosion fades on the wreck of her Apostle

In one of those twists of fate, the kill mail for the fax went to one of us.  RatKnight1, who has achieved fame/notoriety on past deployments, had run his smart bomb with the rest of us to shake some small ships.  He happened to have been in range of the Apostle when he did, applying some damage.  When the Fortizar killed it, due to how EVE Online accounts for these things, he ended up getting credit for the final blow… and top damage.  I thought that the person gunning the citadel would get credit, but I guess not.  And, in a testament to the dysfunction of the system, zKillboard even credits RatKnight1 with a solo kill.

So he was hearing about that for the rest of the fleet, letting Thomas Lear off the hook from hearing about how he jumped his titan rather than bridging earlier in the week.

Losing a fax so soon in the fight was something of a blow, but we carried on, re-positioning to shoot the citadel, leaving Izalis’ first capital wreck behind.

Arrendis in our remaining fax did not get hit and was moved out of range.

We remained focused on the citadel for a while until the defenders undocked a Vexor/Vexor Navy Issue fleet with Basilisk logi support to assist in the defense of the Fortizar.

Asher took the opportunity to warp in on them and we ended up wrecking quite a few of their ships.  At one point a command destroyer from the enemy fleet slipped in and used its area affect micro jump drive to boosh a few of us 100km off the fight.  However, the jump was not well planned as it dropped us on top of the bulk of the sentry drones that the Vexor fleet had deployed.  It was easy enough for us to activate the aforementioned smart bombs on our ships to clear away a great chunk of their supporting fire.

I was slow boating back in my Typhoon when we decided to move again and resume shooting the citadel.  We warped off and got ourselves pointed towards the dying citadel.

Timer still paused

It was at this point that we discovered the whole lock 250km lock range issue.  So we left Arrendis in his Apostle and warped into range of the Fortizar again more to make sure we got on the kill mail than because our DPS was needed.  With the enemy cleared from the field and some more firepower having arrived, the end was now a foregone conclusion.

We warped in, took some shots, then warped off.  Asher turned us around and warped us in again, but accidentally warped at zero, landing us in the the midst of the point defense system.  We left again in a hurry then warped back in at a more prudent range to get in a last few shots before the Fortizar started coming apart.

Explosions begin to erupt

You can see the ball that is our fleet hanging there in front of the citadel.  From that point we were about done.  There were some MTUs on the field, and Asher has declared war on all MTUs, friendly or not, so they got blown up.  Then we were off for home, Arrendis tagging along until he got within range to make a jump to cut a decent number of gates off of his trip.  That also allowed us to speed along.

The kill mail shows 141 capsuleers involved.  I tried to do a battle report, however there were so many groups represented on the field… often by just one or two pilots… that in many cases I couldn’t declare somebody for, against, or a third party.  The main thing that it showed was that there were fewer than 300 pilots recorded as involved in the battle.

Basically, a battle of an objective where the forces were not totally lopsided and both sides drew blood.  EVE Online working pretty well.

Pictures from the battle.

Tower Repair in Fountain

Before I was done with work on Tuesday a ping had gone out for an op to defend assets from our neighbors to the east.  That actually ended up being three fleets worth of people heading out to defend a timer… enough people that nobody showed up to oppose if I heard right.

There was a follow-up ping from Asher indicating that there would be another USTZ fleet going out later for those of us who were busy or lived on the wrong coast.  That seemed to mean me, so when that ping showed up later I was ready to go in the coalition staging Keepstar.  The call was for Cerberus fleet.

Once we had formed up a good enough composition… with three fleets already out we were not likely to get an ideal form up… we undocked and flew north to meet up with a titan to get a bridge.

Getting in range for the bridge

We were heading into Fountain where The Culture had put three of our towers into a reinforced state.  We were there to fly cover and counter The Culture if they showed up to try to finish off the towers once they came out.

Cerbs over the POS shield

There we met up with a couple of force auxiliaries who proceeded into siege mode to repair the tower shields once it had exited reinforcement.

A Lif in the foreground, a Minokawa behind

They went about their slow work while we waited to see if The Culture would respond.  Scouts out reported nobody coming our way, so we flew in a lazy formation following Asher in his dirty Phantasm. (It seemed much shinier back in Saranen, though that might not be the same ship.)

Does not use the “clean ship” button

I have been on any number of such operations over the last five years.  You go out to the tower and see if there is going to be a fight.  If not, you just wait until the tower’s shields are repaired back up to 50%, at which point the tower can be refueled with strontium clathrates, which enables the tower to go into reinforcement mode.

With two faxes and our own logi the tower took a while to get back to 50%.  But once there GSOL showed up to get things into shape.

GSOL rides in Rorquals

That was one tower down.  However, there were three in the system, all of which had come out of reinforce and needed to be repaired and refueled.

Fortunately a few more faxes ended up joining us so the second and third towers ended up going by much more quickly.

Minokawas join us at the tower

Once the last tower was finished we were set to head home.  Nobody showed up to oppose us, so it was more of a “cost of doing business” sort of op.  We got our participation credit to show our service to the coalition.

These specific sorts of ops will be coming to an end at some point.  All three of these were moon mining towers.  Those are fairly passive operations, just needing to be fueled regularly and have the output collected now and again.

Come the winter however, CCP is suppose to implement refineries.  Mentioned back in March, these will act as moon mining platforms while will be much more hands on when it comes to harvesting the output.  These platforms are supposed blow chunks of moons into orbit where they will need to be harvested by mining ships.

CCP’s image of a moon chunk

At that point it will be an Upwell Consortium structure running the operation, which will no doubt be more akin to the Citadels and Engineering Complexes already available in its mechanics.  The somewhat strange mechanics of POS towers will be a thing of the past.

Currently we hold a moon mining towers outside of our home region.  We shall see how that works out when moon mining becomes a more active operation.

A Short Lived Cerberus and a Sabre

Asher has brought the Reavers out on a new deployment, one where we will be working out of a familiar station in Reavers history.

Having a station, rather than living out of mobile depots in safe spots as we did in Impass, means having the option to field multiple doctrines during the deployment.

I barely made it into the deployment fleet and did not have time to arrange to have somebody carry a ship for me in a capital ship.  I just grabbed one of the doctrine ships I had handy and undocked to catch up with the fleet, which was already on the move.  I made it, but I I was locked into the single doctrine.

Fortunately, from where we are staging, it is possible to fly a ship out without an undue amount of risk.  Returning to an old stomping ground means that perches and safe spots are bookmarked already, making the journey more viable.  I jump cloned back and empty clone I hold in Jita, bought and fit a Cerberus, and flew it on out to our staging system.

Bright red Cerb headed into harms way…

The route through high sec was easy enough, but I waited until the evening had turned into night and the online user count had dropped down before heading into low sec and then null sec and the end of my journey.  I had arrived, safely docked up, and logged off when Asher sent out a ping for a Reavers fleet.

The doctrine called for was the first ship I flew out.  That doctrine requires implants and, having just cloned jumped a few hours earlier, I could not jump back into that clone in time for the fleet.  I remained logged off and started tinkering with Minecraft.  I noticed after a bit that another ping had gone out and that the doctrine had been changed to the Cerberus fleet.  I logged back in, got on coms, and joined the fleet.

The fleet was already undocked and in combat, following Asher around and kiting the enemy in his usual fashion.  The problem for me was being able to warp in and join up.  The Cerb doctrine is built to move fast, so warping carries risk.  By the time one comes out of warp the fleet will have moved quite some ways.  When you warp, you go to the point your target was at that moment.

So I tried warping in, found myself way off from both friend and foe, then warped off to a safe.  I did this a few times when Asher cleared people to try and warp in, however on my fourth attempt I managed to land right in the midst of the enemy fleet, also flying Cerbs, and was pointed before I could warp off again.  My brand new Cerberus exploded before I could even overheat my hardener.  I owned it for barely three hours total.

Loss keeps the New Eden economy thriving.

I was able to warp out in my pod and dock up, but that left me out of the fight.  The only other ship I had was not appropriate for what we were doing, so I was sitting in my pod in one of the stations listening to the fight continue.

There were additional losses and Asher eventually rounded everybody up and docked to asses how things stood.  We posted our losses in fleet and Asher tried to sort out getting people re-shipped.  I didn’t have anything else I could fly… and couldn’t get in the clone for the ship anyway, once you have clone swapping in citadels you start to miss it in stations… so he asked who had something for me.  There wasn’t a spare Cerb or logi to be had, but old school Reaver Norrec Lafisques had a Sabre sitting his hangar.

I was asked if I could fly it and said that of course I could.  And it was true, I had trained up the skills for all things interdictor related ages ago.  So Norrec traded me the ship and I threw some money at him hoping that it was enough in case I lost it, got in the Sabre and prepared to undock.

Of course, the question nobody asked was whether or not I knew what to do with a Sabre, or any other interdictor, once I was strapped in.  I had trained up the skills, but I had never actually flown one.  Interdictors are ships that require some individual skill and initiative.  They are tech II destroyers that can put up warp disruption bubbles, an action that can save the day when done at the right moment or get us in deep shit done at the wrong.  I’ve watched some masters of the art in Reavers use them to great effect, so I felt a little bit of pressure not to screw up.

Still, hostiles were in system, we were set to undock, so I figured one more ship even ineptly handled would be better than no ship at all, so long as I didn’t screw us by bubbling.  I had the ship insured and given that interdictors are generally high priority targets I wasn’t sure I would last long in any case, so when the command came I left the station with everybody else.

And then I set about trying to figure out what buttons to press.

I was in a panic for a moment as I couldn’t find the module for bubble deployment.  I wasn’t even sure what it would look like, but knew it had to be there somewhere.  Norrec had put it at the far end of the hot keys so it was under the fleet window, the traditional place to hide modules you don’t want to set off by accident. (e.g. cynos, bomb launchers, smart bombs)

I also had a little 125mm Gatling AutoCannon to let me whore on kills… shells down range to the target get you listed even if they do not hit… as well as what I took to be a light missile launcher loaded with EM missiles.  That seemed a bit redundant until I went to use it mid-fight and found it was loaded with Defender missiles, the new hotness for destroying incoming bombs.

Meanwhile the fleet was on the move and I was going with it.

Sabre in space

There were other interdictors in the fleet, so I was pretty sure I would be the last choice when Asher was looking for somebody who knew what they were doing, but part of the job of an interdictor in the fast moving Cerb fleet is to drop bubbles regularly when told to in order to shield us from people warping in on us.

When the time came I just sort of watched to see when the other interdictors were bubbling and when there was a gap I launched by own bubble.  Nobody said anything so I am going to guess I didn’t mess that up.

Flying back around one of our bubbles

The fight itself had been a running series of engagements with a Ferox fleet and a Cerberus fleet.  Then the Feroxes moved off, only to have a Machariel fleet show up.  We moved and shot and occasionally knocked down a foe.  While the Sabre doesn’t have the range of the Cerb, a few targets fell within range so I was able to get rounds in their direction and get on the kill.

The fight had us in the next system over and we were headed back towards base when the Machs were reported on their way.  We ended up with us on one side of the gate and them on the other.  We jumped through and attempted to zip away, but a couple people got caught, including Norrec, who lost his Cerb of many kill marks due to being in a bad spot.

We zoomed around some more, though the Machs were fit for speed as well, so we couldn’t engage at will.

Just another picture of us zooming around

The battle report shows us coming out on the short end when it comes to ISK… Cerbs are not cheap… but the odds were generally against us at each step, so not getting trapped and slaughtered meant some measure of success.

After we docked up again I asked Norrec if he wanted the Sabre back, seeing as he was now down a ship as well.  But he said I had bought it, so I suppose I threw enough money at him.  Now I have a Sabre there for future use.  In the mean time though I got my alt out in Jita and bought up a few more ships and some supplies to send out to our staging.

There was some talk about getting doctrine ships up on contract out where we are staging, however they have to be alliance contracts, since people will mess with you if you’re not paying attention with public contracts.  And being one of the few people not in the main alliance, well, it might be better to have my own stuff to hand in case things are popping again and nobody has time to find something for me.  Another one of those times where I think my life might be easier if I just joined KarmaFleet.

Astrahus Brawl in GE-8JV

Monday night a ping went out from Asher Elias noting that he would be leading a fleet Tuesday evening.  I am always happy to go on an Asher fleet so I made sure I was home and ready to go at the appointed time.  I wasn’t sure what we were up to, but I was willing to  go along for the ride.

When the ping for the fleet went out on Tuesday as expected the doctrine was Cerberuses and Caracals.  We would be spewing heavy missiles.  I had a doctrine Cerberus ready, a ship I hadn’t flown since Asher took us up to Tribute for one of the battles around Circle of Two’s Keepstar in M-OEE8.  I still had the remote sensor booster fit from that fight that was used to boost Asher’s FC ship.  I mentioned that in fleet chat and he told me (and a few other pilots) to leave the remote sensor booster fit and do the same for this fleet.

Meanwhile another ping went out for CapSwarm, of which I am also a member, calling for a dreadnought form up.  The a ping for a frigate support fleet to take off the excess pilots from the Cerb fleet as it had filled to capacity very quickly.  A fight was said to be likely and the dreads seemed to indicate that a structure might be involved.

Dreads undocking from the Keepstar

It seemed to me that we might just be shepherding the capital ships to a target, where they would do the shooting while we flew cover, swooping in at the last bit to tag the target so as to get on the kill mail.  So off we went, taking a jump bridge as the caps jumped, then it was time to spread out and cover gates and the might dreadnoughts lumbered along.

Watching Naglfars take a gate

However, once there the situation was different than I had assumed.  There has been an ongoing series of battles in the Catch region around GE-8JV and V-3YG7 between the locals, made up of Brave Newbies, TEST, CO2, Drone Walkers, and FCON and a force being led by Pandemic Legion that includes their usual host of allies from the north.  PL already has a foothold in the region so fights have been coming up nightly.  SynCaine was in one of the fights the night before.

This particular fight was over the armor timer of a Brave Newbies Astrahus in GE-8JV.  Nothing to do with us in the Imperium really.  Some locals a couple regions over trying to fight off PL who has grabbed a foothold in order to farm them for fights.

But we were not there to third party.  We were actually there to help Brave Newbies, working with them and TEST to shoot Pandemic Legion and its allies.  But it was a bit complicated.  We mostly didn’t shoot at Brave, and restrained ourselves from shooting TEST too much, but their other allies, such as CO2 and FCON, enjoyed no such prohibition on our part.  At one point during the fight an FCON Svipul fleet hove into range and we shot it up with gusto.

But mostly we shot Pandemic Legion and their friends, who were out there with Machariels and some dreads of their own.

Hostiles Machs ahoy… the target is painted

Our fleet was there to kite, moving fast into range to spew missiles but never sitting still long enough to get pinned down, Asher leading us from his Phantasm.  I even remembered to take the right drugs for the op.

Some drugs are good, mkay

The flight time bonus for Antipharmakon Toxot (part of the reason few use drugs is you cannot tell what they hell they do from the name) is for missiles, effectively giving them an extended range.  Missiles take time to move from launcher to target, but they will chase things down so long as they have the range to get to them.

The fight itself was both fast and slow.  Zooming around in the fast cruiser fleet put us all around the battle.

Cerbs and Caracals zooming through bubbles

However, there was also time dilation to deal with.  It wasn’t as bad as in some fights, but it got bad enough a couple of times that I was having problems cycling my launchers on to new targets.  They would get stuck in the red flashing cool down state and I would have to hit F1 a few times to clear them.  A side effect of that is a couple of times the next target was gone before the launchers cycled, so the missiles would launch against Asher, who I had to keep targeted to run the remote sensor booster on him.  A volley now and then barely scratched him, though if he had been blown up… and a group tried to headshot him at one point… it might have been a bit awkward to be on his kill mail.  We’re not NCDot.

As it turned out the dreadnoughts, who I thought might be playing the starring role in our effort, were merely a force in being for the fight, hanging out in the vicinity as a warning to others against escalating to supers.  They just sat and waited.

Fortunately the wait wasn’t too long.  The armor timer limited the amount of time we were going to stick around, though I honestly never saw if the Brave lost the timer or if Astrahus repaired itself and reset the whole destruction process.  At one point I saw the citadel repairing, but I didn’t see the end result.  It wasn’t ours and there wasn’t a kill mail to be had on it this fight, so I wasn’t paying close attention to that.

Our fleet did well enough.  We had a few deaths, mostly due to people falling off the anchor and flying off into space on their own due to a mis-click or not having their MWD running.  The ECM frigate fleet that went with us however got roasted.  I think the FCON Svipuls were shooting them while we were shooting the Svipuls.

There is a battle report that shows the results of the fight.  Of course, results are in the eye of the beholder.  That report is laid out from our point of view, with green being us, red being the people we were trying not to shoot, and blue being those we shot early and often.

GE- Battle Report, Imperium Perspective

If you were one of the locals, you might sort the columns in a different way.  My only regret was that I did not divert off course long enough to get on Dirk MacGirk’s kill mail, though looking down the list I see at least one of the pilots in our fleet took that route.  It is always just a bit more fun to get on the kills of the space famous.

But once the object was complete… for somebody… it was time for us to rally up and then escort the dreads back home.

Cerb fleet together

That was slow, but not intolerably slow.  The dreads were willing to build up a little extra jump fatigue at the end of the night, so just about three hours after we started to form up we were back at the keepstar with the capital ship size bee floating above it.

Capital of the Imperium

And since it was at the three hour mark, we got a second participation link.  So in one fleet I got some kills, a kill mail of my own (top damage and the final blow, so another kill mark on my Cerb), and half my participation quota for the month.  5/5 – would fleet up again.

INN has a post up about the fight, which is much more high level than this.  I only saw it after I finished up this post.  Technically the Imperium wasn’t there to third party because we were helping one side, though we effectively third partied because I think we ended up shooting everybody at some point.  I am on one Brave and five TEST kill mails.  Oops.

Addendum: This fleet is also where I first heard about Swarm Simulator, a time waster browser game my daughter called “Cookie clicker with just numbers!”

Camping in Impass

Asher told us we would be going on an old fashioned Reavers deployment, a chance for the veterans to relive the “good old days” and the new members to figure out just how rose colored our glasses really were when it came to said “good old days.”

We would be packing up ships with mobile depots and refits and reloads and plenty of nanite repair paste to mend our overheating woes and heading deep into hostile space to live in safe spots far from support or easy resupply.  We even got a new doctrine.

One of the fun bits of Reavers is Asher likes to try/fly different ships.  Of course, the downside is that I have ended up with a few ships sitting in my hangar with a fit we used just once.  Such is life.

This time around we were going out in the Sisters of EVE cruiser, the Stratios, beloved hull of Stunt and his Anime Masters.  On learning our main doctrine hull, I immediately made sure I had SKINs for it.  Oh, and I also bought a couple hulls in Jita lest the :goonrush: drive up the prices.

Stratios with the SOE Fire Cell SKIN

Once we got the fit, I bought all of that in Jita as well and flew the ship out to Delve to be ready to go.  There were some additional support ships on the list, including a Rapier.  I had an entosis Rapier left over from the Casino War which my alt could fly, so I updated the fit for that and was ready to go.

Then there was the wait for the go sign.  Asher wanted a wormhole to take us close to our as yet undisclosed destination.  Eventually the ping came, a fleet was formed, the ships were undocked, and we headed out for parts unknown.

Stratios fleet on the move

As we started out Asher followed tradition and asked us to put who we felt our target was in fleet chat.  Circle of Two was the easy winner and, sure enough, that was who we were heading out to pester, with the actual destination being the region of Impass.

As we went Asher explained the CO2’s layout in Impass and what our mission would be.

Impass – April 3, 2017

Impass is laid out with a single system choke point that protects four constellations.  That system is 68FT-6, which is where CO2 has made its capital system.  That system is also within capital jump range of most of the region.

On the far side of 68FT-6 are three constellations where CO2 does much of its ratting, noted in red circles above.  That was where we were headed with the intention of making CO2s ratters, to annoy CO2 in general, and to remind them that their betrayal has not slipped our mind.

We slipped past their capital system and into IRE-98, which was to become the rally point for our deployment.  From there we would form up to set gate camps, run entosis ops, and resupply.  When not doing ops as a group we were to camp their ratting systems to pick off the unwary, make the nervous dock up, and generally be pains in the ass when we could.  When we could not be online and active we were asked to safe up, cloak up, and stay logged on to the game in the traditional AFK camper move.  A hostile in system will send some people packing or make them log off rather than rat.

And finally, we were to follow the Reavers rule of never speaking in local.

I was fairly diligent about keeping myself logged in.  I would get both characters online before work, cloak up, and go off to my day, leaving myself logged in after I went to bed until downtime hit and kicked me out.

When I got home I would go active to annoy the locals or join up with the standing fleet to do something that required coordination.  We did not do a lot of full group operations, but once in a while we would form up to be a menace in larger numbers.

Stratios in all directions

In small groups we would pick on CO2’s mining Rorquals to get them to respond.  For example, Bruce Sparx managed to tackle a Rorqual and myself and RatKnight1 came along to help him.

Rorqual held in place

There was no way the three of us were going to be able to kill him.  Even neuting out his capacitor he was still able to run his shield booster often enough to hold his shields steady against us.  But it remained possible that more of us would show up, so CO2 had to send in a couple of interceptors then light a cyno to drop capitals on us.

Drop to rescue Plain Truth

At that point we recalled drones, cloaked up, safed up, and let them have the field to themselves.  They rescued a Rorqual but didn’t get any kills with their overwhelming force.  We were still lurking out there.

Once in a while they would pick somebody off.  My alt lost his Rapier while trying to hold down a Rorqual when DBRB had a bomber op in the vicinity.  I would not have been so aggressive otherwise, but dead is dead either way.

When solo and without any ratters obviously about, I spent time hitting some of their many undefended towers in the region.  This causes an alert to pop up for people in the alliance.

Why yes, I will shoot this POS

I would sit and do that until somebody showed up to chase me away, at which point I would recall my drones, cloak up, and sit quietly.  Once they were gone I would decloak and pick up where I left off.  This got the occasional lecture or plea in local.

Please stop

I hit one tower often enough that they came out and put a new defensive modules on it.  However, they didn’t seem to notice that the guns were anchored by not actually online.

Adding points and webs

When somebody decided to sit on a tower to keep me from hitting it, I went off and started hitting customs offices in the same system.

We didn’t stop people from ratting.  We had nothing close to the level of force to do that.  But we curtailed it some.  Asher was keeping stats on NPC kills in the systems, which were down noticeably.  The solo ratters went away or became very paranoid, unless they were ratting in super carriers, while others started ratting in groups to stay sage and keep ADMs high in their systems.  That was enough to keep almost all of their ratting systems at ADM 6.

With that state of affairs, I decided to bring my alt back in a covops frigate and learn how to use combat probes.  My alt is all level V on scanning skills.  I first fit out a Cheetah with a fit I found online that included a warp scrambler with the idea that I could scan something down and hold them in place with that, then warp my main in with the Stratios to finish them off.

Combat Probes out

Combat probing was easy enough that I wondered why I hadn’t done it before.  The Cheetah was a bit fragile though and I lost it on a bait Epithal.  Live and learn and watch for bait.

So I dropped the idea of direct combat with him and instead came back with a Buzzard fit just to scan and cloak, with a covert cyno fit in case we were able to bring our black ops battleship into action and drop on somebody.

Combat probes are a wonderful way to scare people.  CO2 ratters seem to use their directional scan pretty regularly so when I scanned somebody down, unless they were in a carrier or a super or in a group, they would usually bolt.  However, on bolting, they would often leave things behind, things like drones and Mobile Tractor Units.

So I went into the clean up business, keeping CO2 ratting space tidy by eliminating stray drones and MTUs by scanning them down and popping them.

Stratios hitting an MTU

Stray drones actually turned into a resource for me as I would forget or lose drones now and again, so I could replenish them from strays.  I was just sad when NPCs would pop them before I could scoop them up.

MTUs though became my main target.  Easy to scan down, easy to kill, and they even provide a kill mail.

MTU whore

MTUs don’t cost a lot in the grand scheme of things, but once you pop one (and the wreck) you have deprived a ratter of some of his take, and every annoyance is a plus.  CO2 even obliged by calling me names in local.

MTU anger

That bit from local was amusing because while they did drop some bait MTUs, they were so eager to catch me that they bumbled the drop and I was able to recall drones and cloak up with plenty of time to spare.  So they took to local, during which I killed one of Black Shogun’s MTUs.  He was carrier ratting and dropping MTUs to pick up later after each anomaly, so I was popping them once he left.

MTU Goes Boom

So that is what we spent our time doing for almost two weeks in Impass.  It was part of why GigX declared war on the Imperium, a war that really hasn’t seen much action after an initial spasm by CO2.

As a final gesture for the deployment, while CO2 was off helping TEST cover their Keepstar deployment on April Foos Day, we went out to entosis a bunch of systems in order to split their response.  The Keepstar went up uncontested while some scratch defense groups chased us around Impass.

Entosis running

After that we returned to Delve to repair and resupply, pulling out through another wormhole.  Repair was literally required for my Stratios.

Damaged Stratios

I ended up taking some armor hits while annoying a ratting Nyx.  Fighters chew up subcaps, so some care needs to be taken if you’re moving around carriers of super carriers solo.

But the deployment was over and we were back home.

Now the key question remains; was it really an old school Reavers deployment?  Sure, we were in the enemies home territory unsupported, living in safe spots and refitting with mobile depots.  But we didn’t reinforce any towers, and structure shoots were a part of the old deployments, part of the “money in the bank” strategy of.

Then again, we were in the core of CO2s territory while they were home in force, rather than in some periphery while the enemy was deployed elsewhere.  Maybe not a complete recreation of some of the times from the first year of Reavers, but every deployment has its own nature.

Another set of tales for the book of Reavers.