Tag Archives: Asher Elias

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.

Clash of Titans in X47L-Q

The event started warming up at about 17:00 UTC, which was 10am local time for me, so I was at work.  But I could watch coms on my phone and follow the progress as events unfolded.

The source of the conflict was a Keepstar timer, so the trend of the war continues.  NCDot dropped a Keepstar in Pure Blind in X47L-Q to support its allies facing the Imperium.  That system put it in range to support the Circle of Two Keepstar in DW-2TI in Fade.  That also put the CO2 Keepstar between it and the Imperium staging in Cloud Ring.

It was, however, quite close to NPC null sec in Pure Blind, where Imperium SIGs and squads have been active since November of last year, and its position also put it astride the route to Tribute, NCDot’s home.

The fight itself was over the armor timer for the Keepstar which, depending on who is speaking, either doesn’t really matter or is the most important timer.

As I have noted before, to kill an Upwell structure like a Keepstar there are three fights that need to happen.  The shield attack, the armor timer, and the structure timer.  Successfully breaking through the citadel’s shields starts things off and can be done at any time.  The following two fights come at specific times.

The argument against the importance of the armor timer rests on the obvious; the Keepstar doesn’t die if the defender loses.  Very simple.

The argument for the importance rests on the idea that if the defender loses the final timer, they are stuck on grid, unable to tether or dock, thus left to the dubious mercy of the victorious foe.  You can lose the armor timer and still find safety.  Losing the final timer means a need to find an exit.

Either way, it wasn’t clear that the fight was going to happen.  Both sides were ramping up for it, however there was a DDoS attack on the game yesterday morning that was causing people to get dropped and leaving them unable to log on.  This rather ironically occurred about when CCP posted a Dev Blog about issues with the game earlier this year.

However, the CCP team was able to get that in hand before the timer hit and I saw the pings go out for fleets.  Ships were forming up and the battle was on.  Cynos went up and ships were bridged in, the system having been captured by NCDot too recently for them to be able to put up a cyno jammer.

A couple of people started live blogging things.  NER had a thread up on Reddit, while INN put one up on their site.  From those I was able to watch things unfold from work.  It looked like both sides were willing to drop titans on the field and battle soon became a measure of who was killing the most of the big ships.

Things seemed to be going in favor of the defenders on the titan count.  While the attackers managed to kill a Vanquisher, a very expensive faction titan, overall the count was going against the Imperium by almost 2 to 1.

Some of the Imperium leadership was on record before the battle saying that we would trade two of our titans for an enemy titan and feel we’d come out on top due to the economic power of Delve.

Of course, it is one thing to say that and another to see it actually happening, especially when our own faction titan landed on the chopping block.  The first Molok to die in the game went down during the fight.

As I finished up with work I went to try and slip into the system to see what was going on.  By then the live blogs were starting to taper off as those who needed to get up in the morning wandered off.

I managed to get into X47L-Q in a Purifier stealth bomber, joining nearly 4,000 other capsuleers as I crossed slowly into the system.

I am in the system, almost…

I was even able to get on grid with the Keepstar but I hadn’t reduced the video settings to put myself in “potato mode” and the client objected to this strenuously, closing down repeatedly until I gave up and went to have dinner.  At some point my ship was in system long enough to get blown up, so op success I guess.  But it seemed like I might just be reading about this battle on Reddit.

Later in the evening though, when the timer had been won by the Imperium, thus setting up a return match, and the EUTZ players were starting to fade, the call went out for USTZ capital pilots to get online an in various fleets to drop on targets of opportunity.

This looked like my chance.

I won a Naglfar as a prize for the Reavers race we had way back in December and it has been sitting in a station waiting for an opportunity like this ever since.

Nag in the hangar… and of course I bought a SKIN for it!

I got in fleet and made sure I was ready to go.  My hope was to be able to drop on a titan.  And a titan came up as the first target, but I did not “x up” in time to be called for that drop.  But another target was said to be coming up shortly, so I undocked so as to be ready to go.

On the undock about to get bumped

I did remember to set my graphics to “potato mode.”   I never do that, and I tend to pay for it in big fights, but I like to see pretty pictures dammit.  You must suffer for beauty!  This time though I wanted to get in and stay in if I had the chance.  So I dialed everything down.  Gone were the shiny, high res textures, but we were called and told a cyno would be up for us in a moment, so I was ready to go.

Then it was up and we jumped, the tunnel speeding along until we started to hit the X47L-Q server, at which point the animation, like everything else, slowed down to 10% speed.  That took a while, but people eventually started to land.  Our target was a Nyx that had disconnected and had been caught coming back into the game.

Then I had to do all the things, get myself in siege mode, target the Nyx, put my heavy warp disruptor on the target because I was close enough and wanted to help hold him in place, and none of the buttons were responding, which is often the norm in these fights.  Eventually siege went greed, and the warp disruptor went live, but I managed to toggle my guns on then back off, so I was set to unleash just one volley.  But that was the minimum I needed to at least get in the fight.

Potato mode Naglfar firing at last!

I had to tinker with things.  I had started the guns up again when I noticed that I had loaded long range ammo.  That made sense because you never know where you’ll drop, but I was close enough to want to swap to shorter range, higher damage ammo.  That meant cycling the guns off again, going through the reload cycle at 10% tidi, then getting the guns going again.  I made it happen, but all that fooling around probably explains my low position on the damage list for the kill mail.

The wreck of the Nyx

Things were going well enough that I started bumping up my graphic settings a bit, so that wreck is not full potato mode.  Tidi even jumped up to 14% at one point, before heading back down to 10%, indicating that the server wasn’t as swamped as it was earlier in the day.  But there were only about 2,600 people in system and the defenders were attempting to de-aggress and dock up or jump out.

Then we had to wait for the siege modules to cycle down.  A dreadnought in siege does a lot more damage, but cannot move or jump out, so you’re stuck there until it is done.  I had three minutes left on my timer, which meant 30 minutes real time until I could do something.  But coms were enough to keep me entertained.

Leadership was quite excited.

As I mentioned, in the first half of the fight the Imperium was losing two titans for every one we blew up.  But as the fight went on we kept piling in more pilots at every opportunity while the defenders began to try to escape once the fate of the Keepstar timer was set.  The aggressiveness of the Imperium set the titan kill totals back towards an even balance, with the end result being something around 29 titans lost on each side [final score seems to be defenders lost 29, attackers lost 27 in the system], which is the second largest loss of titans in a single battle, behind only B-R5RB.  (Infographic about that battle here.) I haven’t seen a final count, and zKillboard is still a bit wonky this morning, but to win the objective and trade titans one for one is a big op success for us.

The final titan kill for the Imperium was one that got bumped off of tether by Jay Amazingness then quickly killed by mass doomsday fire.

After that it was clean up.  There were a few more smaller targets of opportunity, but it was mostly about getting people out of the system.  Our group got out of siege and jumped to the extraction cyno lit for us.  There were efforts to communicate with people who seemed to have gone AFK on grid with the Keepstar, including trying to find people who might know them personally to call them and get them to jump out.  Most ships seemed to find their way home, but there were still plenty of people who got dropped and called it a night.  The defenders set up a bubble camp to catch people logging in this morning.

Bubble camp in X47

As with the bubble camp at UALX-3, there are lots of ships and fighters waiting in that bubble.

This is waiting for you

As I said, final numbers are not up yet.  I have heard a few estimates, but nothing concrete yet.  There is a nice graph estimating the ISK war up on Reddit.  And DOTLAN confirms that a lot of stuff died in the system yesterday and early today.

Pure Blind saw a lot of action

I’ll link any final result posts at the bottom when they show up.

And, of course, this was only the armor timer.  The final fight has yet to come.

Timer is counting down

So at about the same time next Wednesday everybody can long in and do it all again, this time for keeps.

Since I missed out on the main fight, I at least have some links to Imgur galleries of other people’s screen shots, if you are interested.

Other reports on this fight:

A Keepstar Goes Down in Aeschee

The War of the Keepstars carried on last night as the Imperium formed up in their forward base in Cloud Ring and went to… um… Aeschee… in the Essence region… to kill a Keepstar owned by Shadow Cartel, a 500 pilot low sec alliance.

That seemed odd.  Not that I think we need a reason to shoot a Keepstar.  If an alliance puts up a structure and cannot defend it, then it gets blown up.  But we are in a war here and Essence didn’t seem like a front line region in the conflict.

Shadow Cartel’s Keepstar minding its own business

However, it was explained that Shadow Cartel is a long time ally of Pandemic Legion and NCDot, not to mention one of our foes in the Casino War, so they were going to lose their citadel for being with our enemies then and now.  And if PL and NCDot didn’t form up to help defend their ally, well there was a lesson to be seen in that.  Plus, who isn’t going to go along for a Keepstar kill?

I was in for it and flew an interceptor over from our staging in Pure Blind to our own Keepstar in 6RCQ-V in Cloud Ring to join up with one of the fleets.  I bought a Megathron so I could join up with the Baltec doctrine fleet I knew would be called.  I felt like flying a DPS ship for once, and I have a nice SKIN for it.

Quafe… so refreshing

When the ping went our for the Baltec fleet forming under Cainun I was in it quick, which was good because it filled up fast.  Unfortunately it filled up with Megathrons, so Cainun first asked people to swap to logi, then started kicking battleships from the fleet in order to make room for logi.  We were going up against an armed Keepstar.

So I bought an Oneiros off alliance contracts and swapped to that.  I would go back to being a space priest for another fight.  Meanwhile, on coms we were asked/told to keep the banter down and be quiet as all fleets would be sharing the same voice coms so Asher could direct us all.  A lot of people would be on the same channel.

With not a lot of time between the form up and the Keepstar’s timer, we were undocked and waiting on a titan to be bridged out.

Waiting on a titan for the bridge, our Keepstar in the background

We could see capital ships undocking and jumping out to the first stop on the trip to Aeschee.  I knew a lot of ships were on the move.  But it wasn’t until we bridged out and landed at the first citadel stop that I started to appreciate how much firepower was on the way.

That Astrahus needs Traffic Control

That is the sort of scene that makes you wonder if an Astrahus should have enough power to tether all of those ships.  And, of course, the titans dwarf everything else.  The capital fleet near the back seems small while you can barely see the subcaps jumping in close to the citadel.

Having done the easy part, the slog to the destination began.  Low sec space tends to also be low utilization, so the nodes running them often start to stagger when a big fleet moves through, and we were several big fleets attempting to gate through the region.  Time dilation quickly kicked in as we went from system to system, easily dropping to 10% when too many people went through a gate at once.

Fortunately it wasn’t too many gates until the next waypoint, but the time went slowly and I started to wonder if we would make it in time.  I was watching Jebi on EVELog Twitch, one of my favorite New Eden streamers and his timer was counting down as we lumbered from gate to gate.

We arrived at another citadel where our titan friend bridged us ahead.  The subcaps were first in the system on a friendly Astrahus on grid with the Keepstar.

On the Astrahus looking at the target

Of course, it wasn’t subcaps only for long.  Soon the titans started jumping in, landing on the Astrahus.

Something, something, titans will never be common…

The titan blob blotted out the citadel, and we were not bridging everybody in yet.  Asher was trying to meter the incoming traffic to keep from revving the tidi meter to 10% by piling everybody on.

When the timer finally ran down we still had people out of the system, but the titans had aligned to the Keepstar already and warped to it to start shooting at it.

Opening salvos

The titan guns were enough to stop the timer and hit the damage cap with room to spare.  It was suggest that titans ungroup their guns and fire using just a single weapon, since most of the damage was wasted anyway.

Of course some people, seeing the shooting start, panicked, fearing that they wouldn’t get on the kill mail.  Like fans at a concert for The Who, seeing this warm up got them to surge forward before their time.  A couple of force auxiliaries warped ahead into the titan ball, only to be targeted right away by the Keepstar.

That meant the subcaps got the call to move forward so we could use our logi wing to try and save the errant faxes.  The first one died before we could get reps on it, but a later one was save.  But now we were in range as bombs headed our way.  We spread out to orbit Cainun as best we could inside the super ball, where movement was constricted.

My Oneiros in the middle of titans

There was a lot of reps to be handed out at that point.  Bomb damage was hitting a lot of people, so I was busy for a stretch.

The handling and rationing of firepower had kept tidi down in system, keeping the shoot to its expected 30 minutes, so eventually the Keepstar wore down to the point that Asher started having groups warp in to tag the Keepstar with their weapons so they would get on the kill mail.

The subcaps turn came and we warped in, landing just 7km or so off the structure.  We were set to apply our minor damage.  I had brought a combat drone for just this reason… I chose the Oneiros because its drone bay can hold a selection of repair drones and still leave room for that whore drone to get on kills… and tried to target the Keepstar.

However, like a lot of people, my client was misbehaving.  With about 1,800 ships on grid, the client was near its memory cap and things were not always working right.  For me this manifested itself in my not being able to target anything.  Everything, including the Keepstar, came back with an error about needing to be within 129km when I was quite clearly much closer than that.

This IS close than 129km

No tinkering with this would fix it and I didn’t want to dump the client and restart at that point.  The kill was very close and I wanted to at least get a screen shot of it as it started to brew up.

The Keepstar starts to go…

The explosion hit.  It is a good thing that there is no splash damage from a Keepstar explosion, as I was very close in by that point.  The big explosion cycles through and a wreck remained on grid where the Keepstar had been.

The wreck as the explosion subsides

The kill was recorded, and while I did not get on the kill mail nearly 1,500 of my close and personal fleet mates managed to at least tag it.  Of course, you couldn’t even get to the kill mail for a while as everybody was hitting zKillboard at the same time, bringing it to its knees.

My client was about done for as well.  It had pretty much stopped responding, so as we aligned back to the Astrahus I was pointed and moving in my own direction.  I killed the client and logged back in.  There was still room in fleet fortunately, a bit of attrition having worn us down from the 256 people listed when we left Cloud Ring.  I was alone when I logged back in, but was able to warp to Cainun and get on the titan that would start us on our trip back to 6RCQ-V.

Thus began the tidi bound flight home.  Still, Asher gave us an estimated time for the operation before we departed which was pretty accurate.  We formed up at 23:00 UTC and he said that if all went well we would be back on our Keepstar at around 02:00 UTC.  We beat that time, but not by a lot.

The ride home was slow, but the lack of anticipation made it much more relaxing.  We jumped and aligned and waded through the tidi as the various fleets tried to stagger their movements along the way.  We sat for a bit at the final waypoint with some of the capital on an Astrahus, waiting for our turn to bridge back home.

Waiting for the word to go

Then it was “bridge up, go go go!” and we were back in sight of our Keepstar, ready to dock up and call it a night.

So, as I always say, the war goes on.  A lot more ops are planned for today and tonight.  There is still grinding to be done in Fade.  And tomorrow there is a final timer for another hostile Keepstar in the north.  I am not sure if that is going to be a fight or if we’re in the mode where we wear down the enemy by setting final timers for which they have to form, only to have us not show up.  But if the ping goes out and I have the time, I’ll show up.  And if not, well, there is always the Alliance Tournament on Twitch.

Other coverage of this event: