Tag Archives: Asher Elias

A Venture to HED-GP

Ranger Gama was back again with another frigate race for Reavers.  You may (but most likely do not) recall the race I wrote about back in December that had us racing Daredevils about the north.  That was enough fun that Ranger has made it a semi-regular thing in Reavers.  There was a second race a few months back that I missed, but I was around this weekend for the third one.

As has been the case in the past, Ranger Gama wouldn’t tell us where we would be headed in advance, nor what we would be flying, aside from the fact that he figured some of us might need to train up the skill.

That prompted me to see if there was any frigate that I could not fly.  Aside from the new Triglavian frigate, the Damavik, I seemed to be covered.  But if I had had to guess, I would have said the Venture was a likely candidate, being a mining frigate.  And, sure enough, when the time came Ranger Gama had some specially fit Ventures for us.

A Venture waiting to race

Ranger only had a few to hand out, so only the first 9 people who joined fleet were going to get one, which led to me hitting refresh on the fleet finder until his fleet advert popped up, at which point I joined (followed shortly by a couple other people) before the ping for the fleet was even sent out.  The fleet had to be disbanded until the ping, at which point people piled back in.

There were more people than frigates, but the fit was simple and cheap, so a couple people were allowed to buy their own in order to join.  As you can see from my eventual kill mail (we’ll get to that) it just fit a pair of mining lasers, a festival launcher, an MWD, an AB, a survey scanner, and a Nanofiber in the low slot.  We did get rigs to let us warp faster, so at least we had some speed.

There were questions about what we were allowed to do.  Not allowed was changing the fit.  Everybody had to race with the fit provided, though a couple of people felt that meant they could add some drones.  But otherwise people were allowed to run with implants if they so desired and take any route or mode or transportation they wished, so long as they stayed in their Venture.  We were then given the route and were sent on our way.

The race route

We started in 1DQ1-A, the capital of the Imperium, and our first waypoint was HY-RWO in Catch.  Most people headed straight down the most direct path, but four of us, myself included, got out GARPA to check the local jump bridge network, and turned the other direction to catch a jump bridge that shaved nearly a dozen gates off the route.  That put the four of us, Sicarius Bile, Grodd Gandar, Zarakik, and myself, way out in front of the pack.  In that group of four I was the second through the jump bridge.

The gate route, all 52 jumps

Part of the idea of the race is that hostiles along the way will cause trouble for the leaders who may (or may not) choose to share intel on what is happening.  However, Saturday night in Catch seemed to be pretty quiet.  TEST and their allies in the Legacy Coalition were not out roaming their space along our route, so the four of use made it to U-QVWD without incident.

Sicarius Bile got there first, and I jumped into the system just after.  I waited until he said he was on the TEST Keepstar in the system before warping to him and then moving off to pull distance while staying on grid.  Since grids… what is essentially the local bit of space where you can see other players and structures… are pretty huge now thanks to citadels, there is a lot of room to work with.

Nobody came out to molest us however.  I did see that there were a couple of player corpses on the undock of the Keepstar, which I suggested ought to fetch a prize bonus if collected (which somebody then did, because of course they would) but otherwise not much happened.

On grid with the Keepstar in my Venture

As we were winding down our five minutes on the Keepstar those who did not take the jump bridge began to arrive.  Asher seemed to be at the back of the pack, but unperturbed, with a calm in his voice, which made people suspect that he had a plan.

Then the early four headed out for the loop around TEST space.  During that run the lineup of the first four changed as Zarakik passed me.  I suspect that he might have opted for the warp speed implants.  But later he said that he was physically close to the London data center where the EVE Online servers are, giving him a consistent 7ms ping, which basically allowed him to load system faster than I could, eight time zones away from London, allowing him a small but tangible head start through each gate.

We started arriving back at the Keepstar for our second five minute stay on grid just as the last of the second group was leaving after their first.  Somebody in the second group tried to use the drones they packed to thin out the pack, but that did not work out.

I made a bookmark on the first stay so was able to warp straight in and start my five minute timer.  Again, there was little to remark on during our stay.  An interceptor undocked, but didn’t seem to have any use for us.  We speculated what they might be saying on their intel channel about a small gang of mining frigates hanging out around their Keepstar, but whatever it was, nobody came to get us.

So after our five minutes elapsed, we headed out for the final waypoint, Sicarius Bile in the lead, Zarakik next, and myself and Grodd Gandar close behind, smug with the distance of our lead.

And then we all died in SV5-8N, just one gate shy of the finish line.  Brave had a gate camp with drag bubbles up on the HED-GP gate.  Sicarius Bile died first and told us about the gate camp.  Then we proceeded to pile on and die, one by one, until eight of us were down.

Who is missing a jacket?

We didn’t all just bumble in with a direct warp.  I, like most of the later group, tried to find a bounce point which might bring me in behind the camp and let me get to the gate without getting caught.  But they had four drag bubbles up arrayed about the gate so that there was no joy on that front.

That left Asher Elias, Locke Erasmus, Elisha Okaski, and Boris Agnon (who got away in his pod) still in the race.  Back in 1DQ1-A I asked if I refit a Venture if I could just race to HED-GP, but the ruling came back that I would need run the whole route again for it to count.  Given that the alternate route to HED-GP was another 34 gates, I didn’t think it was worth the effort.

It got quiet on coms as those left considered their options.  A long diversion from the easy path seemed to be the choice.  And then Asher called out that he had made it, long before he could have run the full way around.

He told us that he looked at the killmails that we had linked and started convo’ing the FC of the gate camp to bribe him to be let through.  As it turned out the FC just wanted Asher to bring a fight, and since Saturday Night Swarm was starting in HED-GP in just a bit… that was why it was the end point of the race… he was able to offer that up.  So they let him through and he won.

We asked what other plans he might of had, since he seemed to linger behind as the race started, so there was speculation that he might have been looking for an opportune wormhole to get an edge.  However, it came out that he convo’d TEST (and former GSF) FC Vily to ask him to set Asher blue to TEST so he could use TEST jump bridges.  Vily told him he couldn’t do that himself, but would try to find somebody who could.  It looked like Vily was good to his word and actually did get Asher set blue, but nobody got back to Asher so he ended up not using the jump bridge network.

Then after a time, Locke and Elisha made it to HED-GP via the long route and we had out winner.  The prize pool of 1.5 billion ISK was divided up, with 50% slated for the winner, 30% for second place, 15% for third, and 5% set aside for the first person to arrive in a pod.  Those finishing the race were:

  1. Asher Elias
  2. Locke Erasmus
  3. Elisha Okaski

Boris Agnon opted not to take the long way around in his pod, so the 5% for that was rolled over into the prize pool for the next race, along with Elisha’s prize money at his insistence.

And so the third Reavers frigate race ended, with most of us dying quickly at the gate camp in SV5-8N.  Brave popped me so fast I did not have a chance to launch fireworks at them.  Somebody had enough time to grab a direction scan of the camp, but that was about it.

What was waiting on the gate?

Despite not getting a prize I ended up 103,545.20 ISK ahead for the evening, that being the payout for losing an uninsured Venture.  I went with a clean pod, so losing that cost me nothing.

There was some talk as to what else we could have done with the race.  Since we were in mining frigates it was suggested that filling our ore holds ought to be a requirement… something Locke said he did anyway… but as not everybody had mining skills (the advent of skill extractors meant a lot of combat pilots ripped out the mining skills they trained as newbies back in the day) that was set aside.

Ranger Gama has promised to hold another race in the future.  We will have to see how that plays out and what surprises he comes up with.

Being a Distraction from Venal

We formed up again in Venal last night to put pressure on the locals.  There were several citadel timers in play around Deklein, so we formed up in Venal to be a force for which GotG would at least have to account.  If the fought us that would draw them away from the timers, which other groups were planning to contest.  If they let us be then we could get up to mischief of our own.

Ishtars were the doctrine for the night and we were given a bridge after we undocked to get us to the locals.

I wonder how many bridges I’ve take over the years…

That got us to WLF-D3, the gateway system to Deklein via DKUK-G and the GotG staging system to counter out move to Venal.

We moved around the system, visited next door, came back and decided that the locals were going to stay away to deal with the timers deeper in Deklein, so we went looking for targets of our own.  The first on the list was an Athanor that was mid frack, a giant hunk of moon being drawn slowly towards it.

The moon chunk looming large

We were not going to be able to stop the frack, which would require us getting it down to the structure timer, but the Athanor was in the process of being unanchored.  All we had to do was get the first timer set and the unanchoring process would be halted and would need to be resumed again after the timer passed.  So we pulled up to shoot it.

Ishtars strung out and shooting

A gunner got going on the Athanor and began lobbing bombs at us, so the small stuff had to warp off and logi had to wake up for a bit and cover anybody who caught the brunt of a couple of bombs, but otherwise we carried on.  The wind up for a bomb was such that when the Ishtars were stopped and had sentry drones deployed they could pull the drones, take the blast, then drop them again to carry on shooting.  We succeeding in putting the Athanor into its first timer, scuttling the unachoring.

We then spent some time shooting at a POS, deactivating a few modules.  Shooting a well armed POS is a bit different as the weaponry will start shooting even is nobody is gunning the POS.  As we did that the news came down the line that the GotG had successfully defended its timers and it seemed like we might be headed home at that point.  We started moving back towards our staging.

However Asher stopped us a few systems into the trip then turned us around and back to DKUK-G.  We were going to see if GotG would take a fight when they returned home.  In DKUK-G it seemed like we were being setup for a capital drop.  Asher said they were trying to draw us in, bubble us, and drop carriers on us.  We bounced around the system a bit, then went through to WLF-D3 again where we ended up facing off against GotG’s Eagle fleet on the far side of the gate.  Things went well for us there, the Ishtars chewing up their logi and then burning down Eagles until they started moving off.  Logi had some work to do, but we kept most everybody alive.

The Oneiros I was in during the fight

NCDot had some Jackdaws around as well and we managed to pick off a couple of those including the ship of LadyScarlet, the CEO of Destructive Influence, a corp whose alliance history shows it being in Band of Brothers, KenZoku, and IT Alliance, all past foes of the Goons, so every time she is on grid she is the first target called and there is a cheer when he ship goes up.  Blasting an old foe is always a morale booster.

We also blew up another of Hendrink Collie’s Monitor FC ships.  Expensive ships are always fun to blow up, though they are getting cheaper as production of them ramps up.

We ended up in control of the grid around the gate, in sight of their Keepstar, not too far off from where Sort Dragon lost his titan on Saturday. (See this Reddit post for a screen shot.)

Trailing our coats in sight of the enemy Keepstar

Overall GotG won their objective, but we managed to extract a cost and give them a few minor headaches.  The battle report from both fronts showed the ISK war well in our favor.

Overall Battle Report for the Evening

Things were tilted more in our favor if we exclude the other front and just look at the battle report for the Venal end of the engagements.

The Venal end of the night

That was the sort of fight we’ll take every night if we can get it.

Afterwards we went back to our staging and stood down.  There was an AUTZ timer coming up in a couple of hours, but staying up until 07:00 EVE Online time on a weeknight is well beyond my capability.  And so it goes, we continue plinking away at GotG.

Vacation in Venal

Asher pinged to warn us that we would be moving.

The question was where.  Where would we be heading after Pure Blind?

We have been in Pure Blind for a while.  There have been a couple of short breaks, but we have been deployed up there since November at least.  However, once Pandemic Horde moved on from Fade to Geminate and people started sensing blood in the water when it came to Guardians of the Galaxy, things have started to get a bit more crowded.  Adding to us and the TNT deployment near another corner of Pure Blind, The Initiative has become a lot more active coming in from Fountain through Cloud Ring, with FedUp joining them, and Space Violence, anther Imperium group, chose to deploy into the middle of Pure Blind as well.

All those Imperium pilots roaming around the area has attracted the attention of GotG’s neighbors.  NCDot had deployed to Gehi to threaten Querios in the hope that it would make us pull back our groups in the north, but the Imperium has proven to be big enough to have mainfleet ops running to defend Queious without needing to call anybody back.  So NCDot has also been drawn into supporting GotG direction in the north.

And then there is Pandemic Legion.  They had been occupied since February attacking Providence.  Having pushed back ProviBloc and ground down their sovereignty slowly week after week, PL up and withdrew when TEST declared they were deploying to the area specifically to fight them.  ProviBloc quickly regained their territory.

Providence changed over the course of a week

That meant PL was back in the north looking for something to do as well.  With all those forces mixed about us, our small fleets seemed less likely to be effective.  Or so I gathered from Asher’s ping.

We did not know where we would be headed, or most of us did not.  The best way to broadcast intel to your enemies is to make it widely known among your friends, some of whom are no doubt spies.  All most of us knew was that all of us would be going and we would be hauling along all doctrines.  That meant capitals going as well, which helped some as the caps could carry extra ships for people in their ship maintenance bays. (CCP adding those to dreadnoughts a while back boosted deployment hauling potential significantly.)

After handing over a few ships to cap pilots to haul, I got my main in an Oneiros for the trip and my alt in a stealth bomber to haul that along as well.  When things finally came together we undocked to begin our journey, which was estimated to take us about an hour.

Combined fleet undocking for the move

Bombers went to hang out on a black ops battleship on a citadel, the rest of the sub caps loitered on the undock as the capitals were undocked and jumped to their first mid-point.  It was without a station, so they had to land, warp off to make safes, then cloak up to wait out their timer.  Meanwhile, the main subcap fleet aligned out to catch up with the capitals in order to cover them for their next jump, leaving the bombers behind.  But we ran into trouble almost right away.  The locals had heard about our move op and dropped supers and subcaps on us as we jumped through the first gate.

A local welcoming committee

We got away from that with only two ships lost, but it was an indication that our move might be eventful.  We bounced around to get away and when the drop cleared out we ended up back where we started.  We actually stood down for a while to let the hostiles clear out.  The caps were safe down the road, but people were trying to scan them down.

Eventually that cooled down and the subcaps were able to move out and catch up to the capitals, then move ahead to the next mid point, which had a station for them to dock up.   The bombers were sent along as well.  The caps were able to jump again and the subcaps ran along to our final destination, which turned out to be deep in Venal.

I hadn’t been to Venal since early in the Casino War.  It is an NPC held section of null sec, owned by the Guristas pirate faction, and follows the design philosophy of an past era.  It is a region consisting of 95 systems, but it only has five NPC stations in it, so there are not a lot of truly safe locations there.  But it is also in the center of the north.  If you like EVE Online donut metaphors, if the north is a donut (blue or otherwise) then venal is the hole in the middle.

Venal in the North

While none of the stations in Venal are particularly handy, if you don’t mind a few gates between yourself and the locals the region gives you access to quite a bit of the north.  Black Legion used to use Venal for this back when we lived in the north.  For us the likely target seemed to be Branch, where GotG has been able to rat and mine in relative peace for while we have been active in Fade, Pure Blind, and Tribute.  And so we settled in to our new home.

A Guristas Station in Venal

Well, we settled in once we got the bombers caught up.  Somehow they got left behind without a black ops battleship so one had to be cyno’d back in to jump us to our destination.

But once that was done we were able to settle in and start operating from our new location.

Undocking from the new station, Guristas logo visible

From there ops started rolling for targets of opportunity.  While waiting around for opportunities there were a few things locally to shoot.  There are towers and citadels hanging about for us to hit.

Following Asher around on a shoot

So we quickly got on the board with a couple of easy kills.

A POS module goes up, just because I like the picture

But juicer targets await.

GotG, learning of our change of location, packed up and deployed to counter our threat.  Never mind that of the groups deployed in and around Pure Blind represented much larger numbers, we were apparently the threat.  Or maybe we seemed like a manageable target.  Or perhaps they really were worried about their as yet unmolested ratting and mining space.

My Oneiros, lit by the destruction of a POS

This led to a particularly dramatic fight, which I totally missed.  It was on Saturday night and I was at home and not doing anything in particular.  But I wasn’t at my computer and so I did not see the pings for it until The Mittani was smug pinging about it.

We managed to catch and drop on Sort Dragon as he was moving his titan to the GotG staging in WLF-D3.  Sort is the leader of GotG, so this was a particularly satisfying kill.  The clash also saw another titan killed with the ISK war leaning well in our favor.

Battle Report Header

I am extremely bummed that I missed this fight, all the more so as I was home and could have easily joined in.  Ah well, I can’t be there for everything.  But this certainly did make for an auspicious start to our time in Venal.

More information on that battle:

Other posts related to the situation in the north:

A Return to Quiet in Fade

After the thousand ship battle of the previous night I wondered if GotG would keep that up to clear our structures from their space.  However, it seems that level of effort two nights running wasn’t going to happen as we formed up again and headed to DO6H-Q.

We went back to their staging system again, this time with less than a hundred ships, to cover a couple of things.  We were, once again, dropping a pair of Raitarus on their Keepstar grid.  In addition, the remaining Raitaru was coming into its final timer, so if GotG wanted to destroy it, this would be the time.

The Keepstar from the active Raitaru

The GotG response, however, was desultory.

We arrived in system and not much was going on.  We roamed around the grid where the two new Raitarus were deploying, but no forces were forming up to meet us, much less chase us off.

Two Raitarus deploying

To pass the time we went off to one of their towers to shoot their jump bridge module.  This, as before, meant more work for logi as the tower on which the jump bridge had been anchored was armed.  Lots of calls for reps.

Shooting a jump bridge module again

As we did that a few of the locals headed out to the structures to hit them as a way to annoy us.  We warped back a couple of times and caught a few after which they became a bit more wary.  Back on the jump bridge a couple of game pilots tried to bomb us.

It was at the jump bridge that we suffered our only loss, a Vigil that got popped by the tower.

A Raitaru deploying

The Raitarus take six days to come online due to being in space owned by somebody else.  Those will be future fights.  After we popped the jump bridge, deciding to make them spend the ISK to replace it rather than making them repair it, we were back to the online Raitaru to watch its timer tick down.

Just two minutes or so to go…

That went without issue and the Raitaru was saved, leaving GotG to start over again on the cycle to destroy it.  I understand that they got out a small fleet of bombers and Eagles to shoot it this morning to get that under way.

After that we had a Raitaru in a system next door to watch as it came online, leaving us another place to tether and dock up.  As we roamed around I noticed another Raitaru coming online in their space.

Another location coming soon

Overall as we did that we managed to pick off enough of the locals to make it worth generating a battle report to get the tally.

Battle Report Header

We ended up blowing up a few pilots multiple times, and got the pods on some, which is how the number ends up with 48 ships but only 23 pilots.

Meanwhile, as we did that in one fleet I had an alt in another fleet that was cruising around and blowing up leftover Pandemic Horde structures.

Astrahus going up

Aside from running into some Caldari faction warfare pilots, who chased us off, but then killed the Astrahus we were shooting, so goal accomplished, it was an easy op delivering torpedoes on one target after another.  And while PH is no longer in the area, these being gone means less places for any of the locals to tether up.

And so it goes.  One night a thousand people in local.  The next night almost nobody is there to resist us.  So we laid the groundwork for further fights.  We shall see when GotG chooses to rise up and defend again.

Escalating Battle Sizes in Fade

Asher always warns us to not talk to much about our deployments while they are in progress.  Talking about them… especially on Reddit… brings attention to the fact that there are decent, small scale fights happening somewhere in null sec regularly which gets other people to considering flying over to join in on the fun.  Then things escalate as more people show up and sooner or later you’re back to time dilation sized fights, which are fun once in a while but not something you want to face every night.

So our deployment up into Pure Blind to hound Pandemic Horde and Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t get a lot of mention for a while.  We’ve been up there since November and for most of that time we’ve done our thing with small fleets, occasionally teaming up with TNT, who have a had a fun times deployment like our own going in Lonetrek, but mostly keeping things light.  We prod the locals, drop on their ratters and miners, and dock up when things get too hot for our band.

Then Pandemic Horde moved to Geminate and Guardians of the Galaxy started coming apart under the pressure of our presence, pulling back from trying to camp us, letting us drop structures in their staging, and letting us get away with things an organization that size ought to be able to stomp on given their local capital and super capital dominance.  One of their FCs quit the game while a number of high level defections hit their moral, while some of their internal reactions embarrassed them in public, all of which was documented over on the /r/eve section of Reddit.

Anyway, enough preamble.  GotG’s leader Sort Dragon is back from vacation and knows he is facing a crisis that requires the coalition to stand up and win some fights, while all of this passing through Reddit means that more outsiders will be showing up for battles.

And so it was last night.  One of the Raitaru’s we had anchored on grid with their Keepstar in DO6H-Q was in its final timer and GotG was keen to kill it.  Removing us from line of sight of their staging point would be a good start towards boosting moral.

The Raitaru in question as seen from the Darkness Keepstar

To make sure that they won GotG enlisted the help of their allies NCDot, Mercenary Coalition, and Pandemic Horde for the fight.

At our end Asher was pinging about a big fight to get as many of us on as well as getting the TNT deployment to come over and join us.  In addition TEST, stepping beyond just watching and spamming local in DO6H-Q, brought over a fleet to help us.  We also got a fleet of Jackdaws from Federation Uprising (FEDUP), a faction warfare group that took some space in Cloud Ring on a lark a while back in September and are still there more than six months later. (Kirith Kodachi is part of FEDUP.)

At our end we formed up with the TNT group and were bridged up into Fade to get into position.

Bridging into Fade yet again

There we hung out on the Raitaru with TEST, led by Vily, who once long ago was an FC for the CFC.  They had brought a Cerberus fleet.

Vily in his command ship

There we watched the enemy form.  GotG was forming up a Loki fleet with Hendrink Collie as the FC, flying one of the new Monitor FC ships.  That was the first one I had seen on the live server.

Hendrinks new ride

GotG also had carriers out and were sending fighters towards the Raitaru as the timer counted down.  Also on the field were NCDot in Cerbs, MC in Feroxes, and PH in Jackdaws.

The timer was already in play and the fighters were slow boating towards it before anything happened.  It was not obvious as to whether or not the fighters would get there in time to hit the Raitaru when Asher had the Ishtars spread out around the structure, drop sentry drones, and then led us off tether and into combat.

The Ishtar Train speeds along

Our formation was pretty simple.  We all follow Asher with prop modules on.  The Ishtars shoot the targets called, the support ships bubble, boost, paint, or apply ewar, and the logi tries to keep up with calls for reps.  As with the last fight, life in the logi channel was very busy right off the bat as the enemy tried to trim us back so they could kill off the Ishtars.

That was also when things began to slow down.  Time dilation began to rear its ugly head, so what seemed like a long and busy fight from my own subjective view did not last too long in game time as it was moving at about 20% of normal.  More than a thousand people in local will do that.

Popular Fight

We seemed to be fixed mostly on the Loki fleet which was following Hendrink around in a tight ball.

Monitor and Lokis

They had an advantage on their side.  Being in their staging system they could replace losses very quickly and more than once I heard a target called that we had blown up once already.

A Loki going, only to return again

Our losses ended up jumps away in our staging system with a hazardous path back to the fight.  However our Ishtar fleet was big enough this time around to take down Lokis while we hand substantially more logi than last time so were able to save many ships.  In this the tidi helped with that.  When the game is moving slowly it becomes easier to lock up and get reps on people because the pace becomes leisurely.  The only frustration is that it does take time for modules to spin down, so it can feel like you’re not going to get reps on somebody in time.  But we did pretty well, saving people deep in armor (or sometimes in structure) before they blew up.

The haze of the cap chain and reps in the battle

Meanwhile we kept in contact with the Loki fleet, chipping away at them.

Inside the Loki ball

At one point GotG dropped an Apostle force auxiliary on grid with us and the Raitaru to help rep the Loki fleet.  This became a priority target and was blown up before too long.

The Apostle coming apart

Somewhere along the line I had launched the Warrior IIs in my drone bay and then lost track of them.  They were likely done in by smart bombs in the Loki fleet.  But that meant not having anything to send towards the Apostle to get on that kill.  Ah well.

Meanwhile I am not sure how much the fax helped GotG.  Their fleet zoomed by the wreck not long after the Apostle was lost.

Lokis near the Apostle wreck

As this was all going on the fighters from the carriers had arrived on the Raitaru with about a minute left on its timer and were able to stop it as they chewed away at its structure.

The Raitaru in the middle of all of this

There came a moment of decision.  There was a mass of fighters on the Raitaru.  We could try to shoot them and maybe save the citadel, though it was not certain we could do it, or we could shoot GotG ships some more.  Asher opted for the latter and among the eventual victims was Hendrink Collie’s Monitor, aptly named, “Asher NOOOOOOOOO.”

Target the Monitor

That was the first Monitor kill for almost everybody though again, having lost my drones somewhere, I missed out.

By that point the Raitaru had exploded, fighters were being recalled, and our reason for being there had expired.  It was time to go.  Asher sent the Ishtars off to scoop up their drones, sentry drones being stationary, long range models.  That actually led to a series of Ishtar losses.  There were still hostiles on grid with us and they started picking off lone Ishtars.  They would broadcast for armor but were mostly out of range of reps and sometimes out of lock range, so we took some last minute losses that might have been avoided.  Nothing like being on top of broadcasts for a long stretch and then getting a string where you can’t help.

We then headed out, keeping together so as to prevent stragglers from being picked off.  The tidi outside of DO6H-Q was worse than inside the system as several fleets pushed through gates.  Asher told us we needed to get back to our staging and reload drones as there was another objective to hit.  But by the time we got back to the station that event had already played out and we were done for the night.

On the GotG side of things they managed to complete their main objective in DO6H-Q.  They destroyed the Raitaru in question and another without any resistance.  The battle report shows they paid a price for that objective.

Battle Report Header

The ISK war clearly went in our favor.

Furthermore, as Asher notes in his after action report post on Reddit, while this was going on other forces were able to go out and kill a Tatara and an Athanor, so you can understand why we might feel pretty good about how the night turned out. (Also his AAR explains the broader fight as opposed to my narrow logi view.)

There is also a video of the fight up on YouTube now that shows a few items I mentioned above.

And a thousand ships is a sizable fight.  It seems like we might be past the time of 60-80 person fleets going out for objectives.  The fights are growing in size as the nature of the conflict escalates for GotG into a need to prove they can defend their own space.

 Addendum: Another video of the fight, this one with some of our coms, including bad puns.

Rising to the Occasion in Fade

Asher called it while we were still docked up long before the fight.

Having suffered the humiliation of yet another defection which, among other loot, involved us ending up with a Keepstar they had yet to deploy, the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition was rightfully pissed off and so formed up better numbers than usual when it came time to contest another Raitaru coming online on grid with their Keepstar in DO6H-Q.

They were not out in huge numbers, the sort of numbers a shared feeling of righteous fury would bring.  But it was more than we’ve seen in a while and it was more than we were able to field.  We were especially short on logi, undocking with only eight Guardians in the chain channel, about half of the number we’ve been working with recently.  Two more caught up later, but I am not sure the last one to arrive got in the fight before our logi was toast.

Still, we formed up and rolled out for DO6H-Q, arriving with plenty of time to spare before the event.  As we hung on on structure we could see the enemy forming.

Calm before the battle

As the time drew near we could see their Eagle doctrine ready to go again, with capital support in the form of carriers.  I thought that the numbers against us were enough that we might not take the fight.  But we were there and the time was set and Asher seemed keen to test them, so we broke tether, leaving safety to warp onto the repairing Raitaru.

The first thing we had to do was chase off the fighters already there and set to attack, the plan being to use the carriers to hit the structure while the Eagle fleet kept us busy.  But the Eagles weren’t coming for us yet so the fighters had to withdraw for the moment or get chewed up by our drones.

Then the Eagles were in play and we started warping around the grid from point to point, looking for an optimal position from which to fight them.

Bouncing off yet another deploying Raitaru of ours

That went on long enough that Asher wondered aloud on coms if they really wanted to fight us or not.  But they did want to fight us and, after a few more warps the fleets began to grapple.  We, as usual, went after their support ships first.  You can see in the battle report that we stripped out their tackle, boosters, and some of their logi.

They did the same… after a bit.  For some reason they were hitting Ishtars early on, leaving those of us in the logi chain to scramble in order to save people.  The Eagle fleet didn’t have enough burst damage to alpha any of us off the field, but their rail guns were chewing through armor quickly enough that it was tough to save anybody.  Waiting for armor reps to land, which they only do at the end of the module cycle, meant often seeing ships wink out from my UI before they could be saved.

Then they turned on the logi and we were then quite busy trying to save ourselves.  I managed to get reps onto my down chain logi partner early on, which was enough to get him reps in time and make the enemy swap targets, but the pressure began to tell.  Soon one Guardian was down, then another, and with each one gone the rest became that much easier to kill.  You can tell how busy I was because I only took the two screen shots above during the whole fight.  No time to gawk with my head out the window looking at space.

My turn came.  I had my hardeners pre-heated and when the yellow boxes began to blink on my overview I turned them on.  I broadcast for armor, but by that point there were only a couple of Guardians left.  I was probably gone before reps could finish their cycle and then I was out and about in a pod.  I warped for one of our structures, then headed for the gate and the few jumps back to our staging to get another ship.  The enemy was fully engaged with our fleet, so the route home was clear at that point.

I sat docked up and listened to comms.  Asher was still maneuvering, trying to find weak spots from which he could extract another kill.  Eventually though, the loss of logi, tackle, and other support meant the end of the fight for us.  The enemy was not keep to let him go, looking to get more kills while they held the advantage.  The straight route home was blocked by that point and Asher led the fleet on a round about march back to our staging, losing a couple of stragglers along the way but still bringing home the bulk of the fleet.

In the end Guardians of the Galaxy won the day.  For us the objective was lost, the Raitaru destroyed, and the ISK war tilted against us as well on the battle report.

Battle report summary

There was about another 1.6 billion in ISK lost on our part during the extraction and move back to our staging, which puts the ISK balance clearly, if not overwhelmingly, in their favor.  GotG has their own after action report up on Reddit.  A victory for them.

But another day has dawned already and more citadels will be coming online.  Our time in DO6H-Q is not done yet.  And it is worth noting again that we are taking these fights to them, in their staging system, on grid with their Keepstar, with fleets of between 70 and 100 pilots.

Granted, there is a pile of suicide dreadnoughts waiting for a few stray supers to show up, but it still seems like they could undock capitals in force and shoo us away without much effort.  They could clear their Keepstar grid in a week or so and be done with that nonsense.  This was, after all, the same group that just a couple months ago was bubbling our station and trying to camp us in with capitals and supers.

Our staging, not all that long ago

We shall see if this new resurgence is just temporary or not.

Fade and the Art of Structure Maintenance

I was again out with fleets in the north last night.  During the day, if I read the pings correctly, the EUTZ crew was shooting their structures.  But come the evening and USTZ prime time, it was time again to defend our own structured being deployed on grid with the Darkness Keepstar in DO6H-Q.

We formed up in Ishtars again, so I grabbed my Guardian and got in the logi channel to play space priest once more.  Undocked we spread out in front of the station as everybody got together.

Ishtars once more in space

There is always somebody changing to the right fit at the last second, and even I was at the hairy edge of that as there was a call to change the Guardian fit from what I had been flying.

This time out we took gates to DO6H-Q.  It isn’t that far away and nothing was reported lurking between our staging and there.

Ishtars landing on a gate

We arrived in system and tethered up at one of our already anchored structures and looked around to assess the situation.  We had a bit until the first structure finished deploying and entered its 15 minute vulnerability window as it came online.

Coming online in a little over 12 minutes

You can see, in the background of the above, another Raitaru slowly deploying.

Raitaru deploying

By default Upwell structures take 24 hours to deploy, but as part of the sovereignty mechanics of conquerable null sec, deploying a structure in space owned by somebody else ups that time to six days.  So that Raitaru will be ready on Monday morning EVE time.

There was a moment of hope that GotG was going to bring a fight with something new when a Tempest Fleet Issue undock from the Keepstar.

Tempest Fleet Issue

However that turned out to be just one person undocking it for whatever reasons.

As the timer on the first structure ticked down Asher, privy to coalition level intel, decided that the locals were not going to undock a fleet at this point to contest the onlining.  We were going to stay in the area in case something came up, but do something else while we waited.

Asher warped us off to a gate and we jumped, and warped off to a POS where the locals had a jump bridge anchored.  The tower was armed, so we left light stuff with a bit of support back at the gate we came through.  We landed, anchored up, and disabled the warp disruption batteries on the POS first, then started in on the jump bridge module.

Shooting the jump bridge module

This was probably the most challenging part of the evening for logi.  The tower had no shortage of guns and we were big enough to hit fairly easily, with just a couple of shots able to put an Ishtar or Guardian into armor.  Also, when POS guns shoot in their autonomous mode, they switch targets regularly.  This meant a steady stream of calls for reps as everybody seemed to get their turn as a target.

Rep, cap chain, and neut effects on the Ishtar ball

A year from now, if CCP keeps on task, the venerable POS will be a thing of memory and jump bridges will be a different beast,  But last night we were in for the old school experience.  We knocked the jump bridge module down to half structure, then tried to rep the armor back up a bit.  The owned have to decide if the want to spend the time repping it back up or if it is easier to just shoot and kill it themselves in order to drop a fresh module.

We did not get much time to rep the module however.  As we were shooting things on the tower, a small group of locals undocked in bombers, along with one Ferox battlecruiser, in order to shoot the onlining structure.  They were hitting it with enough damage to stop the repair timer, but were making slow enough progress that we had time to finish disabling the jump bridge before heading back to shoo them away.

When we got back into DO6H-Q and landed on grid with the Raitaru, the locals set themselves to warp off.  But the Ferox pilot was a bit too slow on that front and ended up locked down, unable to warp, or even move very fast.

A Ferox in trouble

Asher wanted to let everybody get on the kill, so had us drop just one light drone each.  But as we started to eat through him he has logi start repping him as well.

Repping a hostile Ferox

I do wonder what was going on in the pilots mind as time dragged on and we were both shooting him and keeping him alive.  He kept trying to move and shoot us and launched his drones, which were shot as well.  That is all you can really do, just keep squirming and maybe there will be a mistake and you can get away.

After keeping him as a pet for a while, Asher had us all launch two more light drones to apply damage to see if logi could keep him alive.  I activated my other two reps on him as the extra drones hit.  As it turned out, we could not keep him alive.  According to the kill mail he managed to tank a lot of damage with us repping him.

We were briefly able to capture a Nemesis stealth bomber as well, but it was too fragile and blew up very quickly.

After that we were left alone to tether up and wait for the timer to count down, after which we headed back to our staging.  Or tried to.  On the gate out we got fed a couple of targets and started to wonder if this was a ploy to keep us there.  But once everybody’s aggression timer finally ran down we jumped through and headed home.

We went back because it was late for some people… it was late for me even, though I get up at around 5am, so late is a relative term… so we docked up and let people log off.   A few more people joined the fleet and I decided to stay for the next round.

Asher said that we had intel indicating that they would undock for the next timer so we might get a fight.  That merited a ride out to battle, so we got in range of the titan and waited to be bridged directly to our destination.

Waiting for the bridge

Back in DO6H-Q the locals, like earlier this week, had formed up a fleet based on the Eagle heavy assault cruiser.  However, like last time, they didn’t form up enough numbers to overwhelm us so, once we clashed, things turned very quickly in our favor and they had to flee the scene.

As that happened a TEST pilot, Cpt Sobad (alt of Capt. Soban), indulged him in his alliance’s tradition of shitting up local by haranguing the locals for not being able to stop us despite being in their staging system and under their capital and super cap umbrella.  We, as usual, stayed silent in local.  But seeing an outsider taking the locals to task was amusing.

Cpt Sobad tethered at our citadel

He was able to tether up safely at one of our structures because we have them set to be open to anybody not in GotG or PanFam.  We let him warp out a pick up a souvenir corpse from the battlefield.  He has since returned the favor by writing to PepsiCo about the obvious state of our thirst after this hard work.

That was about the end of the action.  Asher deployed his MTU, named after Erebus SilentKill, the only MTU he will tolerate on the field, and it cleaned up the wrecks so as to leave nothing for the locals.

A Vigil valiantly salvaging wrecks

Once the Raitaru was online a hauler was brought in to fuel it up.

A Prowler and a covert cyno

That was it for the op.  We rolled home without incident.

The battle report for the night, which covers both interludes, shows the ISK war tilted again in our favor.  We didn’t kill as much as the other night, but we didn’t lose anything expensive this time either.  Somehow I didn’t get counted on the battle report even though I was on a few ship kill mails.  The zKillboard related kills shows me, though it has a different time frame.

Also, a side note on the topic of GotG FC Erebus SilentKill; he apparently has decided to quit EVE Online, for which he was memorialized and/or mocked over on zKillboard, depending on how you look at it.  We have faced him more than a few times lately.  He was the one harrying our fleet when we went back to shoot the Sotiyo again.  On the other hand, he was also streaming his fleet with no delay and talking about his intentions, so handed us a bounty of intel.

Anyway, I wonder what the leader of GotG, Sort Dragon, who is vacationing in Japan currently, will have to say when he gets home?

Addendum: See my comment below on what has happened this morning, including the theft of a Keepstar.  More links there.