Tag Archives: Asher Elias

Fort Knocks Way Down in the Hole

There in J115404 the Keepstar was waiting for us.  The trip into the hole on Saturday was going to pay off.

Fort Knocks over a planet

The Keepstar called Fort Knocks had been initially reinforced by the Initiative.  The whole venture was the culmination of about a year’s planning and logistics and it was came to its culmination last night.  The Initiative had jumped into J115405, the wormhole system colloquially known as “Rage,” taken over the static hole into the system, and reinforced the Keepstar named “Fort Knocks” last week.

Fort Knocks, as noted over at PC Gamer, was the first Keepstar to be brought online in New Eden.  That article will also tell you a bit about Hard Knocks, the alliance that built it.

As noted, once the Initiative launched their plan, bringing out their pre-positioned assets and taking over access to the hole, the Imperium was invited along to participate, and Asher brought the Reavers into the hole on Saturday.

Sunday saw the armor timer for Fort Knocks come and go uncontested.  Hard Knocks gunned the structure, hurling bombs, running the PDS to shake off drones, and zapping those who dared stray too close with the doomsday.  But they didn’t undock a fleet or otherwise put a serious attempt into defense, nor did allies or other wormholers come to help them.

There is a legend that wormholers will band together in the face of outsiders, k-space dwellers, coming in to attack them.  But, then again, Hard Knocks has played the role of wormhole tyrant in the past, so perhaps that sense of unity did not apply to them.

Instead, Hard Knocks looked to be preparing for the end largely by shifting some assets about and by undocking and self-destructing capital ships to collect the insurance before the end.

Not that they were not beyond some hijinks.  Putting capital ships on the undock and self-destructing them was an ongoing temptation for those besieging the system to warp in and take a shot in order to get on the kill mail.  And then the doomsday would fire from the Keepstar and some unfortunate would get to “ride the lightning” for their trouble.

Even Asher lost his Monitor FC ship when he warped our fleet over to a Moros stuck in a bubble after somebody in fleet reported it as being far enough off the Keepstar to be safe.  It was not and Asher got to ride the lightning as well.

That, in a wormhole, is a pretty big pain in the ass.  At least he did not lose his capsule as well, because then you’re in your clone in normal space.  There is no jump cloning to wormholes.  Still, even with a capsule left you pretty much have to fly into the hole the ship you plan to use, as wormhole space isn’t just another system in New Eden.  You can’t just get a ship and fly back.  You have to find the right hole, or series of holes, to go through to get there.  Fortunately, somebody lent him a ship and he was able to arrange to get another one sent in, likely via an alt, so he was back in a Monitor by last night.

Anyway, come last night we were pinged to log on at about 01:00 UTC, or 5pm my local time.  We were forming up for the final timer.  We got into fleet and sorted ourselves out as usual, undocking to hang off the Raitaru and survey the system.  There was about a half an hour left to go before the big event.  Wrecks of capital ships were still lingering on the undock of the Keepstar.

Capital wrecks on the undock

But before that there was a Hard Knocks Sotiyo that had been reinforced.  We flew off to do the armor timer, anchoring up on Asher to hang about avoiding the defenses as we shot the structure.

Cruising around the Sotiyo

We had enough firepower to stop the timer, but not enough to hit the damage cap on the structure, so we were still shooting it when the Keepstar timer hit.  But the Initiative was already on the job and stopped the clock there right away.

Timer paused at Fort Knocks

As expected, the Initiative was out with the structure killing Raven doctrine, a mass of cruise missile spewing battleships trolling at long range and being jumped every so often to avoid bombs.

The Raven blob commeth

They have pretty much perfected this doctrine and have killed structures in the face of titan support without capital ships to back them up.  They shoot and then they scoot as the blob gets booshed along.

The jump effect forming before the fleet

They also had a fleet of torpedo bombers out as well taking shots at the Keepstar, giving enough well handled firepower that the result was never in doubt.  Without a fleet of their own, Hard Knocks could annoy the attackers, unshipping some, sending others back to K-space if they got podded, but could not stop them.

We finished up reffing the Sotiyo and then set on a Raitaru and watched as the circling fleet chewed away at the structure of the Keepstar.  The more damage the citadel received, the more the lights in the hangars, and even the Hard Knocks logo, dimmed and flickered.  A nice effect by CCP.

As the end of the structure grew near, Asher warped us in at 30km to get in some hits so we could get on the kill mail.  However, we were in and out too quickly for my light drones to get in a hit.  I had a sentry drone in my cargo bay for just this situation, but had forgotten to swap it out, making this this third Keepstar kill mail this year I failed to get on because I was in the logi wing.  There was no time to go back as the structure soon began to brew up.

Keepstar Coming Apart

My alt, cloaked up in an Astero 40km off the Keepstar did have a Bouncer sentry drone in his bay, so I was able to launch that and get in some hits, so at least he got on the kill mail in time.

The kill mail is here, and over a thousand people managed to get on it.

And then there was the big boom as the Keepstar blew up, leaving a huge wreck behind.

The remains of the first Keepstar

But that wasn’t all that was left behind.  In normal space, all the stuff in an Upwell structure goes into what is called “asset safety” and is delivered to the nearest low sec station 30 days later, where it can be retrieved for a fee.  This was CCP’s response to years of null sec outposts changing hands, locking people out of their homes and leaving all of their stuff stranded.

In wormhole space however there is no asset safety.  Instead, Upwell structures are giant loot pinatas, and the oldest Keepstar in the game might have been the biggest and richest loot pinata of them all.  When it blew up all of the items people left in hangars was spewed out into space, forming a ball of loot consisting of almost 2,000 hangar containers.

The loot ball with tags on

Each one of those little yellow tags contains what was left in somebody’s hangar.  Each of them is a present in space, waiting to be opened.

A hangar container floating about

Some of those containers held great wealth.  There were dreadnoughts with 10 billion ISK fits.  Huge piles of PI materials.  Officer modules.  Freighters.  Blockade runners and Deep Space Transports.  And there was combat ships galore.

There were also cap boosters.  Somebody wryly seeded many people’s hangars with a single 3200 cap booster, the equivalent of getting coal in your stocking at Christmas.

And so a frenzy of looting began.

Because this was their operation, based on all of their planning and hard work, the Initiative was given exclusive access for the first 30 minutes after the Keepstar blew up.  But there was so much loot on the field, and it kept showing up for quite some time as CCP’s code processed through the hangar of each and every capsuleer who ever left anything in that Keepstar… and some who didn’t, because you can “deliver” things to people in Upwell structures now, which is how Doomchincilla ended up losing so many ships during this event despite being nowhere in the vicinity so far as I know… that there was still a huge pile to sort through when we were given the all clear to join in.

The PL killboard sullied with all those frigates

The code even went a little wonky, throwing out containers around the other Keepstar that were flagged as belonging to LAWN.

What followed can only be described as a sacking of a Keepstar as people filtered through cans, ejecting ships to fly around, grabbing items, and blowing things up they couldn’t carry off.  It was such a crazy event that I would be in favor of foregoing asset safety in null sec if this could be a regular spectacle after every structure kill.

That might get too crazy in normal space where every random outsider could try and show up to claim some loot, leading to even bigger numbers straining nodes during such fights.  In wormhole space the crowd is fairly well constrained.

Of course, we were also all stuck there in wormhole space.  You could grab huge items and haul them off to a local structure, but actually getting stuff out of the system was another matter indeed.  A couple of people in Reavers managed to grab dreadnoughts.  Ratknight1 was the first, picking up a Moros out of a can.  He flew it to the friendly Fortizar, insured it, then undocked it to self-destruct in order to collect the insurance.

Ratknight1’s Moros exploding

I was in time to help out with that, so at least I got on one kill mail this month.  That is all I ask, just to prove I’m still around and playing.

As time went on people went from grabbing all they could to blowing up everything in sight.  A gaggle of Praxis battleships was disgorged from one can close by me, but as I closed in with my pod I couldn’t board any of them as they were all locked up and being shot.

My alt managed to jump into an Ishtar and fly it off, taking out some time to shoot Ratknight1 as well, then docked it up to go out again.  He got a Hound stealth bomber next, allowing him to zip about to check cans… though it was only an afterburner fit, so maybe “zip” isn’t the right word.  But when it became clear that we had reached the time of just blowing stuff up, he just joined in to shoot things.

The pillaging looked set to carry on for quite some time still, but I tired of it once it turned to blowing things up.  I docked back up, leaving the two ships I snagged to inspect later.  I’ll see if there is anything worth stripping off of them then likely insure them and blow them up.

Even as I was logging off there was an Imperium fleet up to get people back to Delve.  But Reavers are hanging around for a bit.  There are still structures to blow up in J115405, like that Sotiyo that is coming out soon, and the other Keepstar looming across the way.  Where there are structures to shoot, Reavers will be there.

Other coverage of the event:

Waiting for a Hole

We had been warned that something might be coming up.  We had been given hints about when it might be and had been asked to have doctrine ships ready to go in 1DQ1-A.

Doctrine ships were no problem for me.  I had left them all in the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A when we returned from the war up north in the big move op.  So I figured we were ready to go.

Finally, yesterday, the ping came.  Asher was going to take us out for some sort of deployment again.  People logged in, got in fleet, and waited.  I got into my Guardian, put on the Emergency Response SKIN, and sat on the undock ready to go.

Guardian waiting

And there I waited for a while.  Asher told us where we were going.  There was an operation afoot to kill the Hard Knocks Keepstar in wormhole space.  There info about that over on Reddit as well as an update this morning over at INN.  We were waiting for a wormhole that would get us there.  In the meantime we were advised to pack for a week’s stay without any resupply and likelihood of living in space the whole time.

I docked back up.

I had not stocked up on enough supplies for that sort of expedition.  So, as we waited, I grabbed a mobile depot, a cloak, enough drugs for four long battles, replacement drones, a couple of sentry drones in case we shot a POS so I could whore on the kill, the extra modules we are supposed to carry but which I tend to leave in the station because we never swap them out.

I also got out my alt with the perfect scanning skills and put him in his Astero.  I was going to drag him along to get myself out of the wormhole should I get left behind.  I loaded up the Astero with extra probes, a back up mobile depot, extra drones, extra drugs, and a few more items.  If there was room in the fleet he was coming with us.

There were discussions going on as to how much to bring with us and what else we might need.

But eventually we went back to waiting.  The hole that we had logged in for hadn’t been right, so we were waiting for the next one.  Comms quieted down.  Asher, with not much else going on, went to appear on the Meta Show.  I pulled up the iPad and watched U.S.S Callister episode of Black Mirror.  I also undocked my alt and zipped around the system for a bit to see the new jump gate.  I didn’t really have to go far to see that.

The jump gate right off the Keepstar

As I idled on tether at the Keepstar I noticed an orange glow on one of the uprights that could only be an explosion.  I looked up in time to see a Rorqual coming apart.  A neutral had jumped to the cyno beacon and had been bubbled and blapped.

I didn’t quite get the camera on the beacon in time for the excitement, but if you are sharp eyed you can see the Rorqual wreck at the top of this screen shot.

Cyno Beacons are always bait

Before the Meta Show ended, while Asher was still on, a whole became available.  He pinged us to be ready go and had us free burn into Fountain.  There we grouped up and took our first ride on one of the new jump gates.  My first ride at least.

Jump Gate Ready

I had already setup the auto-pay on Wilhelm, but my alt wasn’t set yet and I have to approve a payment for 2,900 ISK in fuel to jump his Astero through.

From there we had another burn, though we traveled as a group this time.  Well, some of us did.  The more eager took the destination as a free burn.  Those of us more familiar with Asher’s style knew that if he didn’t say to free burn we would be going together and everybody should just jump through every gate and then align to the next one in order to be fleet warped.

Landing on another gate

Eventually we arrived at our hole.  The fleet gathered together so we could go through as a group.

Waiting for the word to go

When we all seemed to have arrived, Asher sent us through.  We were in Thera.

Once there we took the long warp to another hole, only to find somebody had been left behind.  DBRB went back to be a warp in for him.  One the lost sheep was collected, it was through the hole.

Only it collapsed before everybody got through.  A chunk of the fleet had been left behind and had to eventually wind their way back to wait for another fleet.  Apparently the Initiative had just pushed a fleet through that hole, so it wasn’t as fresh as we had been led to believe when we set out.

Those of us in the new hole were scattered about the system, the effects of a hole collapse.  I seemed to be inside of the sun.  Asher warped some people to our next hole, but that only caught some of the fleet so we had to wait a bit to collect.  Then we were off again, through nearly half a dozen more holes until we arrived in J115405 and saw the Hard Knocks Keepstar.

The Hard Knocks Keepstar in J115405

The armor timer was already running, the shields having been hit already.  The armor timer was set for late USTZ, so it seemed likely that I would be able to get online to see the fights that developed.

And that was really only the first Keepstar.  They have two together on the same grid, along with an array of other smaller structures.

The second Keepstar across from the first with a Fortizar in the middle

The first Keepstar was named Fort Knocks, while the second was Unassailable Wealth.  We shall see about that.  But there is a lot of fighting to be done here.

In addition to the Hard Knocks structures, somebody on our side had gone in and dropped over two dozen Raitarus in the hole in order to get us some place to tether and dock up.  I am sure most of those will get destroyed, but only a couple need to survive to make our foothold more tenable.

On arriving there wasn’t much else to do.  We scattered about the system, made safe spots, cloaked up if we were going to hang around or safe logged if we were not.

The only thing we’ve done so far is help the Initiative guard a hole into the system to keep Hard Knocks from getting anything in.  That mostly meant anchoring on Zed Starshine for a while and orbiting the hole, with the occasional trademark Zed Crazy Ivan turn to scatter us about and let the slower ships catch up.

Following Zen

Anyway, it is good to have a deployment of some sort going on.  I had been fairly dormant in null sec since returning from the war.  We shall see if more Keepstar kills result.  You can keep an eye on the kill board for the hole over at zKill to see what is dying.  Some POS towers are already down.

Four Years of Reavers

Another year has gone by and somehow I have managed to not get kicked out of the Reavers for either lack of effort and marginal competence.  It must be my strict adherence to the dress code and a willingness to fly whatever doctrine that Asher dreams up that has saved me.

Reavers forum bee

As I do every year at about this time, since I still haven’t bothered to nail down an official founding date for the SIG, I review what we have done since last anniversary.  I probably should hold this post for Monday, as the 15th is probably the right date.  But I don’t have anything else set to post today, so here we go.

For those wishing a fuller history of the SIG, past anniversary posts.

To quickly sum things up:

The first year was the glorious start, with deployments deep in enemy space that early members still talk about.  It also saw us adjusting to null sec changes including jump fatigue and Fozzie sov.

Year two was tumultuous as the Casino War occupied the coalition from January through June of 2016, followed by the conquest of Delve once we fled the north for a new home.  Both events called for lots of fleet ops, but left little room for the traditional Reavers role.

Year three saw us ranging out again as our home in Delve was secure.  We camped CO2 in Impass and based out of Curse to find fights.  Then there was the Hakonen deployment where Reavers had some special tasks during the big Fortizar fights.

Which brings us to year four, with the usual map comparing the year as it started and ended.

October 2017 and 2018 compared

A lot changed in the east over the year, but most of our time was spent in the northwest.  But there were changes there as well and some parties came and went in between those to map time points.

Not too long after the three year anniversary post the SIG deployed north to an NPC station in Pure Blind.  I was a bit late to the party.  I have moved all of my stuff out of Delve and was thinking about taking a break from the game.  But I figured there was a deployment going on and I could take a peek in on that.  I caught up quickly, flying a bomber up to join in the fun.  This became the “Zungen Ops” era for us.  It developed into a combined deployment with Reavers and Black Ops.  Inspired by Bigbillthaboss3, who didn’t want to move his suicide dreads back to Delve after Hakonen, this ended up being our focus for most of year four.

Our area of operation for most of the deployment was Pure Blind, Fade, and some of Deklein.  As you can see from the map, when we started out Mordus Angels owned much of Pure Blind and Pandemic Horde was living in Fade, while Guardians of the Galaxy was up and Deklein.

Things started mostly with bomber drops on ratters and miners, cynoing in a dreadnought now and again to help skill larger things.  There was also Asher’s VNI fleet doctrine, where we went after the locals in the same ships they used for ratting.

There was something of a break for a bit towards the end of the year, though we did do a special Blaze Fleet in Armageddons as well as running the first of our races, organized by Ranger Gamma.  I won a Naglfar in that race.

January saw us distracted by the Million Dollar Battle in 9-4RP2 while in February Pandemic Horde moved from Fade to Geminate, leaving a hole in the north and removing our most persistent adversary.  We also got changes to citadels, making them quicker to kill if unfueled as well as letting us shoot them any time we wanted, at least for the first timer.

Returning to NPC space in Pure Blind found our citadels gone and our station bubbled.

The situation upon our return

Guardians of the Galaxy tried to step in and suppress us on our return, going almost a full week trying to bubble us and camp us before wandering off.  There were also POS towers on every single moon in the system, which we slowly killed off.  But not before we spent time annoying the enemy by hitting them at random over and over to set off alliance wide alerts.  There were lots of little operations around that activity.

Somewhere around then the theme of the year emerged, which was Asher bringing up delicious Kirkland protein bars.  I don’t recall exactly when or why that became a thing, but it very much became a thing.

After trying to expand into Fade, Mordus Angels collapsed not too long after our return, with a couple corps defecting to the Imperium.  There was also the brief but odd exchange between Asher and Strange Juice over a video of GotG shooting an undefended tower.  Also, 3 2 1 Kenshin!

TNT, which had been staging in the North for a while began working with us more regularly and Space Violence decided to join the party in Pure Blind, which eventually led GotG to adopt a policy of not forming to fight us in the hope we would get bored and go elsewhere.  But Reavers love nothing more than shooting undefended structures and deploying our own.  We even chased them into Venal for a couple of days.

Along the way we discarded the VNI doctrine and swapped to Ishtars, starting with a shield tank then swapping to an armor tank.  That meant sending my Basilisks back to Jita and shipping out Guardians and an Oneiros, the latter of which managed to survive through the rest of the year.

Of course, the biggest issue for Reavers was that CCP took our trademark jacket out of the New Eden Store.  We have appealed for its return, but have had no luck.  The remaining jackets on the market are very, very expensive.

Wilhelm with the jacket

Meanwhile, the foundations of the next war were being laid.  TEST evicted Pandemic Legion from Providence in a week, reversing PL’s long campaign to take the region.  That left PL looking for revenge.

Providence changed over the course of a week

As that was happening the Imperium was clearing out Fountain,  Federation Uprising ended up owning some of Cloud Ring as The Culture collapsed, and the number one target on the Imperium hit list, Circle of Two, moved into Fade.

Reavers had its third race… I missed the second one… where we ended up racing through TEST’s space. Asher asked Vily to blue him so he could use their jump bridges.  Soon enough we’d all be blue to TEST.

Then war opened up, with PL and the Winter Coalition attacking TEST and Legacy Coalition in the south.  That led to the struggle in UALX-3 where TEST lost a Keepstar, but trapped a host of the attacking fleet while dropping another Keepstar in the same spot.  That one lived.  And while the hostiles broke their fleet out, that set of battles pretty much ended their drive in the south.

The Imperium teamed up with TEST and borrowed a Keepstar to drop in Cloud Ring in order to open up a second front in the north.  I am not sure we asked FedUp in advance if we could set that up in their space, but the fight over it in 6RCQ-V was the first real chance for the coalition to demonstrate is super cap power.  The Imperium won, the Kirkland Protein Star was deployed, we had a foothold on the doorstep of Fade, and the war was on.

Asher, as Skymarshal of the Imperium forces, which put him in charge of all the toys, was kept busy for most of the war, though he found time now and again for Reavers.  Zed Starshine ended up leading us out on ops in the north as Reavers did their bit to help with the war effort.  But there were plenty of coalition fleets to go on as we destroyed hostile citadels, including a number of Keepstars.

Eventually we wore down the north.  They lost multiple Keepstars in a single day.  Circle of Two announced that it was evacuating from Fade.  And GotG paid us in faction Fortizars to go away.  That included all SIGs and squads in the north.  So Reavers packed up and went home with the rest of the coalition for a break.

That isn’t all that Reavers did, but that is all I ended up posting about.  It is at times like this where I wish I had done some more posts about smaller ops, but I think I at least captured the theme of the year, which was spent in Pure Blind attacking the north.

And our break ends up being at just the right moment to close off year four of Reavers.  Asher already has plans for the start of year five, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

The War in the North Ends with a Payoff

The news apparently leaked on Reddit from a disgruntled source so the official announcement is now out over at Imperium News: The war is over.  We have blown up enough stuff in the north and now we will be headed home.

Destruction in our wake

A deal has been struck between the Imperium and Guardians of the Galaxy.  The tale of how it came about, starting at the CSM summit in Iceland, is laid out by Aryth in the linked post.

The terms of the agreement are as follows:

  • The Imperium will withdraw main fleet, SIGs/squads, and cloaky campers from the northern territories* for 1 month, and from GOTG** space for 6 months, starting on Sep 29, 2018 if the following terms are fulfilled:
  • GOTG pays total of 40 faction fortizar equivalents
  • Within 72 hours of agreement, a payment of 10 faction fortizar equivalents or 500 Billion ISK which will be refunded when the 10 Faction Forts are delivered as the first payment to a highsec station with highsec only routes to Amarr.
  • Within 10 days of agreement, all 5 Moreau+30 other faction fortizars must be delivered to a to a highsec station with highsec only routes to Amarr.
  • For the purposes of this agreement Moreau fortizars count as 2 faction forizars. Example: 5 Moreaus and 30 other faction forts would satisfy this payment agreement.
  • GOTG will not attack any withdrawing Imperium forces or interfere with unanchoring Imperium structures or ships attempting to scoop unanchored structures.
  • GOTG will not attack Imperium structures*** during the period of this agreement.
  • Within 24 hours of this agreement, Imperium will cease creating new offensive timers outside Fade/Pure Blind. Existing offensive timers can be attacked until Sep 29. As a sign of good faith, the Imperium will not hit the 2 planned Ihubs on the night of Sep 16. Both parties will maintain the secrecy of the agreement as much as possible. Imperium will also attempt to reach a “natural stopping point” after the main Keepstar kills and use that as cover to withdraw.

Definitions:

  • * Northern territories (Tribute/Vale of the Silent/Geminate)
  • ** GOTG space (Deklein/Branch/Fade/Pure Blind/Venal) Venal blazers can do whatever still.
  • *** Any Imperium structures
  • Imperium Alliances (CONDI/BASTN (DUTCH)/B C C (RENTD)/INIT.(-IA-,IM)/LAWN/TNT/IMGAY/ME4U/MEX/PBLRD/SV./WI.) This means no structure hitting in Cloud Ring also during the 6 months for any structures belonging to IMP alliances. This does not apply to non-imp entities.
  • 500B down payment will go to “Aryth” who will refund it after 10 Faction Forts are delivered.
  • Faction Forts can be delivered to “Dj’s Retirement Fund”
  • Upon start of the 5th month both parties can come together to decide if an extension is needed if not both parties accept that by the end of the month this deal is completed.

So there it is.  The Imperium will be taking payment in the form of faction Fortizars to leave the north.  As I noted in a previous post, my impression was that we were pretty much done in the north for the time being once the CO2 Keepstar went down.

In a talk over at Talking in Stations last night (recording here) Sort Dragon spoke about the agreement.  Apparently Ayrth first asked for straight up payment of ISK, which GotG didn’t have handy.  But they had those Fortizars, many of which came from outposts that the CFC/Imperium planted back before we were kicked out of the north as a result of the Casino War.

On the Imperium side there was a fireside chat last night (recording here) where some additional details were spelled out.  The whole deal was supposed to remain secret, allowing GotG to save face.  However, RiotRick from Slyce decided to spin the narrative of the Imperium leaving on Reddit leading to the whole thing becoming public.  I am sure it would have leaked eventually, but you know who to thank for all of us getting the word early.

Asher spoke for a bit, specifically clarifying that while we have agreed to leave the north for a month, the only longer term arrangement is with GotG.  There is nothing longer term with NCDot, Pandemic Legion, Pandemic Horde, and certainly not with Circle of Two.  He also mentioned that, after some time in Delve to mine and rat, that there is another target in mind.

The war itself racked up an impressive amount of structure kills.  According to a tracking thread on the forums the citadel count was something like:

  • Fortizar : 47 (8 flipped and destroyed by hostiles)
  • Faction Fortizars : 6 (+1 stolen) (3 destroyed by hostiles)
  • Tatara : 6
  • Azbel : 6
  • Sotiyo : 3
  • Athanor : ~73 (9 flipped and destroyed by hostiles)
  • Astrahus : ~35
  • Raitaru : ~19

On top of that there were 10 Keepstar kills along with another one that was stolen:

  1. Aeschee – Essence (Shadow Cartel)
  2. Kinakka – Black Rise (WAFFLES.)
  3. X47-Q – Pure Blind (Northern Coalition)
  4. 46DP-O – Tenerifis (Fraternity)
  5. DW-T2I – Fade (Circle-Of-Two)
  6. 16AM-3 – Tenerifis (Blades of Grass)
  7. C4C-Z4 (Circle-Of-Two)
  8. 3V8-Lj (Corcle-Of-Two)
  9. DO6H-Q (Northern Coalition.)
  10. 7X-VKB (DARKNESS.)

Some of those bleed into the southern front, where activity largely died down after the the attack on TEST ground to a halt on the second Keepstar in ULAX-3.

And of course there were titans, supers, and hundreds of dreadnoughts lost on both sides as well, leading to a butcher’s bill in the trillions of ISK for the war.

The monthly economic reports for September and October should be interesting.  With the Imperium returning to Delve and the north free of our presence, I expect we will see a surge in mining, ratting, and production in a number of regions.

Now I have to figure out what I am going to do.  The Reavers SIG has been in the north since November of last  year, so while there is talk of the last two month, fighting in the north has been my reality for nearly a year, with only a few short breaks.  SIGs and squads are part of the agreement, so we will be headed home as well.

But according to Asher on that recording, we’ll have a new task soon enough.

Other news items on this:

CO2 Keepstar in the Cross Hairs

Talk has already started about what various groups are going to do after the war in the north lapses.  In part this has been predicated on the assumption that once Circle of Two has been driven out of Fade and their structures destroyed that victory will be declared and the Imperium will go back to accumulating its huge pile of wealth in Delve.  However, during The Meta Show on Saturday The Mittani did suggest that we might stay in the north so long as we were getting fights in the Fade region, so we may be sticking around for a while.

Fade forces disposition… for the moment

Either way we have a couple of tasks left.  Back in July the CO2 Keepstar in DW-T2I was saved from destruction when the Imperium apparently didn’t know who cynojammer mechanics worked.

I guess we know the answer

That was a setback to the Imperium drive to hit CO2.  There were other targets though, so the Imperium went after the NCDot staging Keepstar in X47L-Q where the armor and final hull timer battles saw dozens of titans die along with the citadel.

There were also NCDot and PL allied Keepstars in low sec that were take out.

On the southern front, the was seems to have petered out with Fraternity attempting to anchor and subsequently losing a Keepstar of their own.  What with all of that and the two Keepstar battles in the south earlier, it has been the war of the Keepstars.

During all of that there has been an ongoing entosis campaign in Fade as the Imperium has attempted to remove cynojammers as a factor in the region, allowing it to drop its super captial force at will.  The pressure has been on and the north has formed up to defend the critical infrastructure hubs that allow cynojammers to be anchored.  But the Imperium has pushed forward, system by system, until last week when the ihub in DW-T2I was finally taken.

With that task complete, the CO2 Keepstar was reinforced very shortly there after.

On Saturday fleets assembled for the second of the three events needed to take down the Keepstar, the armor time.  Most of this had been happening in EU prime time during the week, when I have been at work.  But on Saturday I was able to get to the staging system in 6RCQ-V.  With the ping fleets were assembling and filling up.

I managed to make it into one of the Baltec fleets, with Thomas Lear in command.  Asher the Sky Marshall was in overall command of the multi-fleet operation.  We started moving out in a relatively short time span given that more than a thousand characters were logged in and in fleets.  The captial ship component jumped off on their own while the subcaps flew off to titans for jump bridges.

Waiting for our turn to bridge

With no cynojammer available to keep us out, we bridged straight into DW-T2I.  Looking over at the timer on the Keepstar, it was clear we were there early.

Armor Timer Counting Down

We were clearly not leaving anything to chance.

In previous Keepstar fights the armor timer had been heavily contested, so we were there and on grid with the structure to make sure there wouldn’t be any issues on that front.

On arrival we tethered up on the friendly Fortizar that had been anchored on the same grid as the Keepstar and waited for instructions.

Watching the Keepstar

We had not been hanging off the Fortizar for too long before Asher announced from the command channel that the locals were not going to defend the timer.  There would be no fight, no tidi, no clash of capital ships.

It was also about then that I think people began to notice that Asher had the Real Ultimate Power theme song running on speakers in the background throughout the operation, as every time he keyed up it was there to hear.  The YouTube version of the song had been discovered earlier in the week and I am pretty sure he had been playing it non-stop ever since.  Like ninjas, Sky Marshals are also mammals and are also fight all the time.

Except when the enemy doesn’t show up.

While the enemy was now not expected to take the field we still piled into the system, likely both as a show of force and to keep the locals from changing their mind.

A few tasks were handed out as we waited for the timer.  Our fleet warped over to an Athanor mining platform in the system to reinforce it.

Baltecs shooting a structure

Being in Reavers, shooting structures is practically a way of life.  With a full fleet though that did not last very long.  Soon we were back hanging off the Fortizar on our tethers wondering if anything would happen as the timer for the Keepstar counted down.

A supercarrier fleet jumped to the Fortizar and tethered up above us with heavy interdictors putting up defensive warp disruption bubbles around the supers to keep anybody from warping directly on top of them.

The supers in their orange hictor bubbles

Fighters from the super fleet were tasked to do the actual attack on the Keepstar and most of the voice coms traffic involved getting their fighters deployed and to the right location.  Even that coms traffic died off after not too long and things were pretty quiet.

I took off my headset and let coms play through my speakers while I made a snack.

As I ate that I started to sketch out some ideas in a blog post draft that eventually took form and became the post about acquisitions and CCP that went live on Saturday.  I suppose it is a productive fleet if I end up with two blog posts out of it.

The timer came out and the supers hit the Keepstar.  As expected, there was not much in the way of resistance.  A few CO2 pilots undocked to try for targets of opportunity and a Pandemic Horde interceptor fleet shadowed us coming and going, but neither were going to change the expected result.  The Keepstar itself was gunned and managed to pick off Xenuria when he strayed too close and got hit by the PDS.  But the fighters were successful in getting through the armor of the citadel and the timer for the final event was set.

Count down to destruction

That timer puts the final fight on this coming Thursday Wednesday.  With the timer set in DW-T2I we withdrew back to our own staging in 6RCQ-V.

Rumor has it that the final timer will not be contested either as CO2 is already well under way evacuating assets to the Keepstar in DO6H-Q.  However, the ihub in DO6H-Q was also taken by the Imperium over the weekend, leaving the Keepstar there unprotected by a cynojammer.  It seems quite likely that we will stick around until that too has been destroyed.

X47L-Q Preliminaries at Tosche Station

The north has been simmering since last week’s titan destroying battle in X47L-Q.  That fight was just the penultimate round for the NCDot Keepstar in the system.  The armor timer was beaten, leaving open to opportunity to destroy the giant citadel today.

Preparations for what might be the final battle over the station have carried on since.  I mentioned an operation that we ran on Saturday to cover the deployment of a Fortizar in X47L-Q on the same grid as the Keepstar.  That set a three day timer before it would be set.

The wait for anchoring begins

The deployment timer for that came due last night and we formed up to cover it again, this time to see that it went online.  Two subcap fleets were called up, a Baltec fleet under Thomas Lear and a Cerberus fleet under Asher Elias.  I already had a Scimitar to fly logi for Cerbs from a fleet the night before, also to cover a citadel coming online, so I went with Asher’s fleet.

Minmatar Liberation Day SKIN on the Scimi

Both subcap fleets were bridged to a mid-point system early to wait on citadel until the timer hit.  The subcap fleets hung there with the capital fleet that was also called up.  We were serious about getting this Fortizar online, so there were titans, super carriers, and faxes out for the fleet.

I had an alt in X47L-Q cloaked up on grid with the Keepstar and our Fortizar in order to see what was going on.  Watching the system, it did not seem to be as active as one might expect if a battle were expected.  There were fewer than 150 people in the system, many of them Imperium pilots.  We had plenty of eyes on things.

The count in the system went up as the timer transition moved closer.  First Black Legion arrived with a fleet of Muninns led by Elo Knight, followed by NCDot and their own Muninn fleet.  Local moved above the 500 mark, and then the Fortizar anchored and began its 15 minute repair cycle.

Power Converters available soon

The locals put their Munnins in range of the Fortizar and opened up, pausing the timer easily enough.

Munnin mass flying about

But the cyno for us went up shortly and we jumped in, docked up, then undocked to get around the tether delay, the headed on out towards the Munnins.  The Baltecs were there as well, along with a bomber fleet under Dabigredboat and the capitals, so the Munnins withdrew after a short clash.  We moved back to the Fortizar to tether up and keep an eye on things.

Hanging on tether under the Fort, Keepstar in sight

Asher told us then that Zungen from Black Ops had decided to try and start anchoring another Fortizar, no doubt hoping that all eyes would remain locked on X47L-Q.  However the locals could see that we were serious, with caps on field, something they didn’t seem keen to counter at the moment, so the Black Legion fleet broke off and went to kill Zungen’s Fortizar.

At some point, as we hung on tether, a Minokawa force auxiliary of ours ended up on the Keepstar.  Asher had us align and we warped in to try and shepherd it to safety, but we arrived just in time for the Keepstar doomsday to hit.

Cerbs caught in the arc… also, Caroline’s star!

We lost a couple of ships in the fleet, but the brunt fell on the Minokawa, which began to come apart.

A subcap explodes as the Minokawa begins to fail

A few of the locals in the NCDot Muninn fleet, which stayed behind, got in range to get on the kill.  We were able to return the favor by popping some of them, but the Minokawa exploded all the same, the Keepstar having done 99% of the work.

During that exchange the hostiles managed to headshot Asher, blowing up his Phantasm, despite logi getting reps on him right away.  We went to a backup anchor, The Pink Pansy, and shot a few more hostiles before everybody withdrew to their citadels to tether up.  Asher was able to reship into a Sleipnir and carried on leading the fleet from that.

Meanwhile, a few systems over, Zungen’s Fortizar was destroyed, so the locals got their success for the night.  Well, they got the Fortizar and slaughtered a host of bombers that flew over to try and defend the citadel.

When the repair timer on the Fortizar in X47L-Q finished up and the citadel was secure, the subcaps headed out to see if we could catch the hostiles from the other fight.

Subcaps smacking into a gate after using MWDs to get clear of a bubble

We ended up behind them, catching up with them on the gate in O-N8XZ, where a few shots were fired and a couple of ships exploded, but no decisive clash took place.

When that had peter we headed to one of our citadels to sit with the capitals while their jump timer cleared.

Sitting on another Fortizar, waiting to go home

When the capitals were ready to go they began jumping back to our Keepstar in 6RCQ-V.  We were bridged back as well and docked up.  The operation was over, lasting a little over 100 minutes from form up to dismissal.

Operationally, we accomplished what we set out to do.  We have a Fortizar on grid for the Keepstar final timer.  ISK-wise, we would have done very well had the second Fortizar not been dropped and lost along with so many bombers.  That cost us the ISK war according to the battle report I put together.

Battle Report across Three Systems

The numbers of players on the battle report are comparable, and the ISK war was in our favor in X47L-Q, even with the Minokawa loss.  But roping in all of the events across three systems seems like a more fair assessment of the evening.

All of which leaves us waiting for today’s events.  Before this post goes live… the joys of scheduled posts… fleets will have formed up and moved into the jump range or on grid in anticipation of the timer on the Keepstar running down.  A fight seems almost certain as there was a report at NER on Monday that Pandemic Legion, Pandemic Horde, and NCDot were moving capital ships away from the southern front and their war with TEST and towards the north and the coming Keepstar contest.

Before I am likely to even have considered lunch, the fight will have begun as the 30 minute repair timer begins.  Time dilation will likely keep any fight that occurs on the field long enough for me to get home from work and peek in… my alt is logged off in the system… and maybe even join a reinforcement fleet.

The question is really whether or not this will be another titan bloodbath.  Both sides no doubt learned from the last fight and nothing has changed since then, so it will be interesting to see how the two sides adapt to the situation.

Anyway, tomorrow’s post will be, at a minimum, the results of the fight.  I cannot cover the drama over this Keepstar and then not report the final result.

Smaller Operations in the North

Between the big battles, like we saw at X47L-Q last week, there are thousands of smaller ops that undock to take care of business and look for fun and targets of opportunity.  Saturday night saw Asher Elias, the sky marshal who has been running huge multi-fleet operations with hundreds of super carriers and titans following his orders, able to return to smaller fleet ops as Reavers formed up Ishtars and undocked.

Once again leaving the station

He has business for us to attend to and we headed to X47L-Q.

There the first thing we did on entering the system was warp to a cyno on the NCDot Keepstar and pop the ship running it.  Sitting exposed right on the hostile structure, we quickly turned about and warped off, then headed back to a point on grid with it again.

On grid with the Keepstar as it counted down

We had a couple of things on our plate.  One was a matter of expedience.  While we were there and able to fly cover, a call went out to cap pilots who might still be stuck logged off on grid after last week’s battle letting them know that they had an opportunity to log in and jump out of system.  A few pilots too advantage of the opportunity.

Keepstar further back

However, our main task was to cover a new structure being dropped in the system.

Fortizar deploying

A Fortizar named Tosche Station was dropped and we were there to watch it for the 15 minute deployment timer, during which it was vulnerable to attack.  This was part of the change to Upwell structures that went in last last year.  They are now vulnerable for 15 minutes when first dropped and then for 15 minutes at the end of their anchoring sequence.  During that time they are both easy to shoot, as they are unfitted and cannot shoot back, and can be destroyed in a single fight.

However, save for a single Pandemic Horde Cormorant, none of the locals sought to interfere with the structure during that vulnerable time.  The structure made it through and began to anchor.  It was good for three days, after which it would be vulnerable again before coming online.

The longer anchoring timer

We shall see if the locals care to form up to keep it from going online to keep us from having a structure on grid with their Keepstar before the final fight for that kicks off.

After that Asher had us head out for another destination in a hurry.  We flew into Tribute, home of NCDot and Pandemic Legion, and through systems I remember both from living there are from the battles in them over the years, to M-OEE8.

There tackle had run ahead and pinned down some targets for us.  Arriving on grid we found two dreadnoughts, a Phoenix and a Revelation, as well as two Rorquals.  We went after the Phoenix first.

Phoenix under attack while a Rorqual sits in its PANIC bubble

Even as we got there one of the Rorquals had already set off its defensive PANIC module, a protective bubble meant to keep the ship alive for a while in order to let help form up and rescue it, before we had had the opportunity to shoot it.

The Phoenix went down, and then the Revelation, before we were able to get started on the more expensive Rorquals.  By that point the PANIC module had run down on the first one while the second one put its up after we poked it a bit.

Foreground Rorqual dying while the other is in PANIC in the background

After that, we raced off to M-OEE8, a system of legend and PL’s capital, complete with Keepstar.

During this some hostile interceptors showed up with a mind to rescue the remaining trapped caps, but they did not fare too well.  On warping in we were able to divert drones to them, killing a few as the others warped off.  After a couple runs at that they kept their distance, waiting for a target of opportunity.

When the first Rorqual was dispatched we motored over to the second and setup around it waiting for its PANIC bubble to fade.  When it went down we started in, but then were told to pull drones.  Jay Amazingness Thomas Lear had a Baltec fleet in the area and Asher wanted to let them come over to join in on the kill.

Baltec fleet firing on the Rorqual

That additional firepower made short work of the Rorqual and it exploded in the dramatic fashion to which we have become accustomed.

Rorqual goes boom!

All four of the capitals were in Rate My Ticks (ticker: WERMT), which is Pandemic Legion’s rental alliance.  Both PL and NCDot still generate income by renting space as their other sources of passive income have dried up.

We then cleaned up the deployed warp disruption bubbles that they had laid about to keep people from warping directly to them from the gates and then started to head back towards home, past more structures.

Tribute is full of structures

As we and the Baltec fleet moved back towards Pure Blind we were shadowed by the hostile interceptor fleet, which was waiting for a straggler or somebody who didn’t align so they could pick them off, as well as flashes of time dilation.  Pushing a couple of fleets through an otherwise quiet region is enough to tax a server that otherwise hasn’t been reinforced.

On the way back we stopped again in X47L-Q in order to clear off some drag bubbles from a POS that was setup as a trap.  We were able to clear the bubbles, though the affair kept the logi wing busy as the tower shot at people, constantly switching targets.

Extricating ourselves from the tower was a task in and of itself, as the warp disruption batteries kept hitting people as we aligned to warp out.  Asher asked if anybody was pointed before he warped, the heard an affirmative only after he had warped us, so we turned around and headed back to try and rescue those caught.  We lost an Ishtar that way before we finally got off grid.

We also lost the fleet Impairor.  One person who logged on to go with the fleet didn’t have anything handy besides a rookie corvette, so brought that along for the fleet.  It made it through, getting on all the capital kill mails.  However, it got blown up at the POS tower, though the kill mail shows that the pilot took the effort to fit it up to be useful.  Tackle corvette!

After that we headed back to our staging and stood down.  Not a bad fleet at all.  It is nice to get back into the smaller ops that Reavers do.

Asher said on The Open Comms show last Friday that our whole SIGs and squads campaign in the north owes its origin to Bigbilltheboss who, after the Hakonen deployment didn’t want to bring all his dreadnoughts back home to Delve. (We came back from that about a year ago at this point.) So setup shop to drop on the locals ratting and mining and found the fields to be rich in targets.  Then we, and BlackOps, and TNT, and Space Violence all ended up in the north, where we have been deployed since at least November.  A long and fruitful deployment it has been too, with a lot of small fleet actions.

But more big ops are coming.  We will have the Fortizar to defend on Tuesday and then the final timer for the NCDot Keepstar on Wednesday.  Expect CCP’s servers to be heavily taxed once again as we see if more titans die.