Tag Archives: Asher Elias

I Survive My First Capital Op

While Burn Jita was still raging on Saturday afternoon, I was back in Delve and going out on my first real Cap Fleet operation.

I have formed up a couple of times for operations that never went anywhere, and I went on last week’s training on SiSi, the public test server, but those don’t really count.  But yesterday I happened to be sitting down at my computer just in time to see a ping from Thomas Lear for a CapSwarm form up.  I was already in our staging, so I hopped into my Apostle and got undocked to wait for instructions.

Cold Iron Apostle on the Keepstar

Cold Iron Apostle on the Keepstar

And then I docked back up because we were told to fit 500MN MWDs to aid in speeding up warping between gates.

I chose to go with the Apostle because I ran with my carrier during the training op on SiSi, which proved to me that I have no clue how to use fighters.  I have to find a guide somewhere about the basics of moving them, as everything I have seen so far seems to operate under the assumption that you have that part mastered and just need to hone your technique.

Anyway, I undocked with the MWD fit and waited for instructions again.  That was a bit difficult as we were sharing coms with Asher’s subcap fleet that was coming along to cover us.  There is an oft repeated joke that USTZ fleets are much more… talkative… on coms than EUTZ fleets.  I don’t buy it fully, as I have been on some EUTZ fleets that could sperg with the best of them, but this fleet seems set to prove the rule.  For the first time in a long time I had to go down to the “no chatter” channel, where you only hear people on the command channel.  And even that channel was a bit chatty as there seemed to be a bunch of people there across the two fleets.

We were first given a destination, then told to warp off to another citadel as the first gate we needed to take was on the back side of the Keepstar, so attempting to warp straight to it would end up with some of us just bumping off the face of the citadel.

I picked a nearby Astrahus and warped off, then turned about and headed for the gate.

Apostle warping off

Apostle warping off

While capitals have jump drives and can move 6 light years at a jump, jump fatigue keeps us from using those drives unless we have to.  So we went by gates to the first system in Fountain.  Once there we took off the MWDs and used our jump drives to put us close to our target, hopping over some hostile space, then took a few more gates to the target.

Caps and subcaps landing on a gate

Caps and subcaps landing on a gate

The subcap fleet did managed to bubble us on an in gate at one point due to the presence of hostiles, so we had to hang about for a short bit while that came down.  No hostiles were trapped.

Partially bubbled cap fleet

Partially bubbled cap fleet aligning out

The only tense moment for me during the trip either way was when I lost connection.  We were jumping through a gate and I was stuck in the warp tunnel for a long stretch, then got disconnected.  When I got back in game an rejoined the fleet, I had to go through the return from disconnect routine.  My ship had been warped off, so it had to go back to the spot it left from, which happened to be a few hundred km off the gate.  I had to warp to the gate again and jump.  Looking at local though, the fleet had left me behind, but there were half a dozen hostiles in system.  However, they didn’t show up and I was able to jump the gate and catch up with the fleet at the first target, a tower belonging to The Culture in G95F-H.

There wasn’t much for faxes to do during the first shoot.  I put out some Warrior drones and shot modules with the carriers, but other than that we were orbiting around Thomas Lear while the carriers and dreads did their work. (I even got on the kill mail for a couple of modules, though I didn’t think you could kill modules unless you killed the tower, only incapacitate them.)

We then went after a second tower, which was also reinforced.  This one had a jump bridge, which required the usual special treatment wherein you burn it down to half structure, then rep the armor back up to half again, so the owner has to either take the time to rep it back up or put damage on it to destroy it and replace it.  When it came time to apply reps the faxes were told to go into one cycle of triage.  The triage module greatly boosts the amount of repair a fax can put out, but you cannot recieve reps, move, or warp.  I lit mine for a cycle and started applying my reps.

The blue effect indicates Triage mode

The blue effect indicates Triage mode

And then, as I watched my capacitor drain away, I realized I did not bring and charges for my cap booster.  Well, something for the list.  So I turned off the repair modules after a bit and just let the triage timer run down.  Something to remember for next time.  Once we were done with that it was time to turn around and head for home.  Enough time had elapsed for our jump fatigue to wear off, so after a couple of gates we were able to jump to Y-2ANO and then gate back to our staging.  I managed to get through the op without screwing anything up too badly.

One thing I did notice was that, while the Cold Iron skin for the Apostle looks really good, in the darkness of space it can sometimes be too dark.  I ended up changing to the all white Purity skin every so often just so I could see myself.

Skin change in progress

Skin change in progress

But otherwise I was able to keep up with the fleet, jump when told, and find my way back when disconnected.  I just have to remember those cap boosters for next time.

Some Days You Just Sit on the Titan

I haven’t written much about operations in EVE Online of late for a couple of reasons.

First has been because I have been busy with other things.  Life will get in the way.  And, second, there has also been a drawn down in the number of ops I am likely to join.

The so-called Winter War between Stainwagon and the refugees from the north ended up in a Stainwagon collapse, with the defenders now mostly pushed off the sovereignty map as TEST, Circle-of-Two, and the Drone Walkers… soon to be joined by Brave Newbies… moved in. (Images grabbed from the usual source.)

Just six weeks passed...

Just six weeks passed…

That has put and end to that for us.

Which isn’t to say there haven’t been ops running.  There is always some op forming up to go do something; roam, homeland defense, poke a bear, or some such.  But I have become a picky bitter vet of sorts.  I want strat ops and concrete objectives or, barring that, an FC I trust.

Last week it was Thomas Lear who took us out in Sleipnirs.  Earlier this week it was Asher, who called us out for one of his plans.  He had some bait planned and moved us out to sit on a titan and wait for the right moment to spring the trap.

We even brought the titan with us

We even brought the titan with us

Sometimes that sort of things pays off, sometimes it goes badly awry, and some nights nothing at all happens.  This time around it was the last item.  The bait was out but nobody seemed interested in taking it.  So we sat there at a POS… at least a change from sitting on a citadel, which is the new normal… staring at the titan and wondering if we would go or not.

My Guardian floating there behind the Ragnarok

My Guardian floating there behind the Ragnarok

This is the nature of sandbox PvP.  Sometimes nobody shows up at your party.  We sat there for a while before Asher eventually called it a night and bridges us back home.  At least we took one bridge.

It wasn’t all that bad.  Being on-call let me tab out and work on other things.  I have screen shots lined up for my other blog into next month now.  And with a wireless headset I was able to get up and do things around the house, like put something in the oven for dinner, get a package from UPS off the door step, and use the bathroom.  My thoughts about broadcasting the latter over coms were held back by the fact that my push to talk button is mapped to the keyboard, which was still sitting on my desk.  Probably better for all concerned.

But other than getting what might be my last peak at a moon mining operation before it is changed to drilling rigs in the fall, there wasn’t much going on.

Moon mining modules running

Moon mining modules running

At least it yielded as strategic participation link, a strat PAP, the collection of which is one of the few reasons I think my corp keeps me around.  It certainly isn’t for my deep involvement in alliance activities.

Later I ran a couple of anomalies and actually netted an escalation finally.  It has been months since I got the last one.

It was the Dark Blood Fleet Staging Point escalation, which is a three part project, only our local escalation running service will only do the third part.  That isn’t bad.  The first two parts are doable, it just means I have to pack up the Ishtar and take it on the road.

The first part was in a nice dead-end pocket and I was able to complete it and drop off the resulting loot in a citadel to pick up later.  We have citadels… usually multiple citadels… in every system in Delve at this point.

The second part however was in one of the heavily traveled pipe systems, which meant I spend about two hours running what is maybe a 20 minute encounter.  Every time I would get settled in intel would announce some roaming gang was in an adjacent system and I would get myself lined up.  Then they would jump in the system and I would pull drones and warp off to a citadel, only to have them just pass through.   Then it was back to the start point, motor to the acceleration gate, and back into the encounter only to have intel ringing the bell yet again.

Somebody finally put up a homeland defense fleet to chase off one gang that had been roaming the area for a while and I was able to wrap things up at last.

Then I got the third part alert, which was in a nice quiet system as well, so it looked like I was in luck to get it run for me.  The last two… the only two… escalations I have had in the region both ended up in NPC Delve, and Lucky Runners doesn’t go there.  Too many hostiles buzzing about.

I went to the escalation, bookmarked the beacon, names it correctly, contracted it, and waited for the ISK to show up.  And then, many hours later, I got a note saying the contract had been rejected due to a contract bug.  But there was still about six hours left on the third stage.  You only get 24 hours from when each part appears in which to run it.  So I contracted it again and actually got paid this time.

So that is life in Delve at the moment.  I’ve been able to build up my ISK reserves, but I haven’t gone on many fleets.

Falling Back in Catch

CCP is going to try to fix the 4-07 system in 10 minutes. You will be booted. get safe

-Ping from last night

I had the flu… or a cold… or whatever the mucus based eldritch horror that was going around the office was… last week and through the weekend which, among other things, altered my video game activities.  So while there has been a war going on in Catch, of which I wrote previously, I haven’t had the wherewithal to go out on fleet ops.  Instead I have been playing things that are… interruptible… or which at least don’t require a three hour window of time.

I think I spent most of Saturday either napping or slumped sideways at my computer playing Minecraft and listening to an audio book, and that was done in part just to be upright so things would drain.

But the war has gone on without me.  Over at The Nosy Gamer there have been some regular updates as to changes in sovereignty and such, mostly collected under the Winter War 2017 tag.  Stuff has happened, including some awkward stuff.

As noted in a post over at Imperium News, a tackle on a TEST Leviathan was offset when an Imperium Ragnarok pilot hit “jump” instead of “bridge,” the classic bridging titan screw up, giving both sides a titan kill for the evening.

Picture source: unknown

Picture source: unknown

The evening’s fun was further complicated when Imperium forces went to extract their capital forces only to find that Against All Authorities, an absentee (and long standing anti-Goon) part of the Stainwagon Coalition, had put up a cyno jamming array in HY-RWO, a system which we had been using as a waypoint for capital operations.  We had to pile in some dreadnoughts to blow up this new bit of system infrastructure as we couldn’t get anybody from AAA to respond.

This led to a quick fireside chat yesterday where The Mittani explained the situation and that our response was going to be to pull back away from AAA’s territory and back towards Querious to cover the approaches there.  The whole thing was summed up in a modified piece of a comic from The Oatmeal which even The Mittani tweeted out as a representation of what happened.

Nope!

Nope!

We were no longer going to stage in central Catch and AAA could lose all their space.  Capitals would fall back to the gates of Qeurious while subcaps would be heading home.  So when I was finally feeling well enough for fleet ops again it was time to pack up my subcaps and head back to Delve.

So it was time to get myself setup for the return.  I had three ships to move and only two pilots.

Asher solved the extra ship problem by offering up space in his titan to Reavers, so I was able to hand over the Cerberus for him to carry back.  He also carried it out for me and I never actually flew it during the deployment.

The Cerb secured, I got myself setup in the Guradian I had in EX6-AO, loaded it up with anything I left in the citadel, and then logged in my alt so he could fly my Scimitar back with the move op fleet.

Only I had forgotten that he had not set his death clone of EX6, so when he got blown up back at the Fortizar battle in F4R2-Q, he ended up back in Delve.  I hadn’t bothered to get him back out to Catch and now the move op was about an hour away.  It was time to get him moving.  But how to get him out there without ending up with yet another ship to move back and without building up too much jump fatigue?

I realized that he still had a Clownshoe fit Sigil, the Amarr industrial we were using (along with the Nereus) as very annoying entosis ships back during the Casino War.  The Sigil warps fast, has a huge tank with a lot of passive regen in the Clownshoe fit, and would reduce any jump fatigue by 90%.  So I stripped out any excess modules and cargo, including the entosis module and all the stront, and headed off to the system with the jump bridge.

The Sigil proved its worth as I managed to get past a Pandemic Legion gate camp in T5ZI-S consisting of a Taranis, a Sabre, and a Kirin, along with several drag bubbles, that I managed to blunder into and escape from… though I am not sure if that is an endorsement of the Sigil or a rebuke of the gate camp’s competence.  They chased me to the jump bridge system but I kept out of their reach.

Once there I flew to the last system in Querious, parked the Sigil in the citadel there, installed a jump clone, and then docked up in the station in the system, which caused Pend Insurance to issue me an Ibis because I was docking in a station and had no ship available.  Free corvettes are still a thing you don’t get in citadels.

From there I flew the dozen jumps to EX6-AO successfully, avoiding a couple neutrals and a trio of CO2 interceptors, a Taranis, a Raptor, and another one I forget at the moment, one of which will come into play later in this narrative.

Happily at my destination, I docked up in the Fortizar, handed over the Scimitar to my alt, and waited for the move op to begin.

Once it got pinged I joined up.  Due to the usual confusion where at least 10% of any group never sees the ping or gets the instructions passed to them, the fleet filled up and there were lots of questions about moving caps.  That eventually led to us undocking and covering the gate to HY-RWO so a bunch of capitals could come to EX6 and either use the Fortizar there or jump to 4-07MU where another Fortizar was available.

Of course, it was about that time that a ping went out to indicate that there were problems in 4-07MU.  People in the Fortizar were having strange issues, couldn’t undock, had problems with modules, and other ailments.  Anybody jumping to the system was advised not to dock at the Fortizar, though tethering was okay, while people at the coalition level started trying to find somebody from CCP to look at the problem.  There was also a report on intel about TEST moving a capital fleet at about that time, an opportunity that passed because key people were stuck in the broken Fortizar.  Or so I heard.

After covering the caps, we moved off on our way back to Delve, out destination being 4-07MU.  That coincided with an update that CCP was going to bring 4-07MU down and back up again, which was broadcast as the ping at the top of this post.  Our estimated time of arrival at 4-07MU was going to coincide with that because or course it did.  Later The Mittani was on our coms and heard about that, among many other odd turns of event, and thought maybe we should give up on any current names and just call the whole thing “Murphy’s War” after the well known law that seems to govern, among other things, life in New Eden.

Otherwise though, it was a move op.  A slow move op, with battleships in tow, so we were limited to warping a 2.0 AU/sec, but a move op.  Jump through the gate, align to the next gate, wait for the fleet warp, do it all again.

The fleet ball warping yet again

The fleet ball warping yet again

But every op needs “that guy” who becomes the comedy star of the show.  It has been me on past occasions.  That night it was Parvulus Dei from the corp Into the Fray.

As we were moving along he called out on coms that he had made a mistake a jump or two back and had accidentally warp to the sun in his Rokh.  While there he reported that he had been tackled by a Probe, which is the Minmatar tech I scanning frigate.

Questions abounded about how he had managed this feat and Asher told him that since we had moved on he was on his own unless somebody in a small ship wanted to run back and save him.  We moved on our slow way while getting updates from him and from a couple of people who decided to run back and give him a hand.

After a chunk of time had passed… much more time that one would imagine would be needed to notice this… Parvulus Dei amended his status to indicate that he had, in fact, been tackled by a Taranis, a Gallente interceptor, and a considerably different ship in almost all regards.  This just made laughter and speculation swell on coms as people tried to figure out how one could mistake a Probe for a Taranis.  One guess was that he saw a combat probe on his overview, another was that the ship was named “Probe,” but I cannot recall if we ever got a definitive answer on this.

Help did reach him in time and the Probe-Taranis was blown up.  It turned out to be one of the CO2 interceptors I had seen coming out and had duly reported on the intel channel, complete with names and ship types, as being in that very system.  I don’t know what happened to the other two.

For the rest of the fleet there were ongoing jokes referencing Parvulus Dei and his side trip.  He caught up with us around the 4-07MU gate, where we had to wait as we did, in fact, arrive just as CCP took the system down.  Parvulus took this all very well and spoke up when somebody wanted to know who this had happened to and so on.  The only way to deal with being “that guy” is to just roll with it until it wears out.

Once we heard that the 4-07MU system was back up we did the prudent thing and just sent a couple of ships in to make sure it was working okay.

Hah hah!  No we didn’t, we shoved the whole 250 person fleet through the gate as soon as we possibly could before wondering whether or not that was really a good idea.

As it turned out, everything was fine.  We headed off to Querious and the jump bridge that would land us a couple of gates from home.  Along the way we drove off a gate camp with a few bubbles trying to catch people coming back solo.  After that we took the last gate, docked up in the Keepstar and called it “Op Success!”  Asher even gave us a PAP, which after getting 11 from him already this month seemed like a bit much, but maybe they hadn’t rained so generously on others.

Now I just have to go back and pick up that Sigil at some point.

Opening the New War at F4R2-Q

A new war for a new year, and its first major battle hit yesterday with as many as 4,000 pilots in local as much of null sec declared sides in the war between TEST, Circle-of-Two, and their allies and the Stainwagon Coalition, whose composition I noted in a war preview post last week, and its allies, which includes the Imperium.

One of those fights - Local at 21:16 UTC Jan. 1, 2017

One of those fights – Local at 21:16 UTC Jan. 1, 2017

The location was the system of F4R2-Q in the Catch region where TEST and CO2 had each placed a Fortizar citadel to act as staging points for their invasion of the region.

On the Imperium side there was a pre-battle State of the Goonion where The Mittani spoke of standing by those who had stood by us during the Casino War and opposing those who proved faithless when the going got tough.

I was already in Asher’s just formed Machariel fleet before the address concluded, joining the logi contingent in a Guardian.  The fleet quickly filled up and we ended up with too much logi, so some of them were sent off to other fleets, but I stuck around preferring to fly with Asher and Arrendis and more than a few fellow Reavers.

This was clearly going to be a big op.  As our subcap fleet undocked and moved to where we would get bridged, there were a lot of capital ships hanging on our staging Fortizar.

Cap Fleet still not fully undocked

Cap Fleet still not fully undocked

We hung out waiting for out bridge for a bit, with the usual calls for people who were not in range of the titan or who had accidentally clicked in space and started wandering off.  Coms were busy as we were in the mode where multiple fleets share the same coms channel, so chatter had to be heavily restricted.

Tethered and Waiting for the bridge

Tethered and Waiting for the bridge

I did get a bit cocky though and logged in my alt and got him setup in a pointing Vigil.  I did not join the fleet, but made my way along the gate route to the destination system where I warped out to one of our staging towers where fleets were staging and went into a 150km orbit to just watch from above things.  TEST and CO2 did not have the luxury of towers in the system as, in a repeat of the battle of 6VDT-H (another 4K pilot battle), they let us sneak in and put towers up on all the moons in the system.  They were depending on their Fortizars for safe points.

And then we warped in and the battle began.

What does one say about a battle where the server has hit 10% time dilation and still cannot keep up, so people get disconnected, parts of the UI stop working, where no action is reliable, where ships get stuck in your overview and appear there long after they have gone?

Wilhelm got disconnected four times during the battle.  But things were moving so slowly that I never had to worry about warping back to the fleet.  Even during the peak, when it took me 20 minutes to log back in and load grid, I found myself still on anchor, still capping up my partners in the cap chain, all as though I had never left.  The main problem was once when one of my cap buddies dumped out of the chain at the same time and I had to get back in fleet, get the watch list up, target a new buddy, and start capping him.  That series of actions took 15 minutes.  And then the old buddy got back in and I was another five minutes getting things sorted back to the way they were.

On the other hand, when time is moving slow and your fleet is clearly going to be sitting on grid exchanging alpha strikes, which kill a ship in a single volley leaving nothing to repair, you can find time to do other things.  I managed to go take a shower, make lunch, take down the Christmas lights on the house, and eat dinner while watching a TV show.  I just had to check my position at every set of commercials.

When our fleet started taking a few losses, I put my alt in and had him paint targets as Asher called for it.  But then he got disconnected, so I let him be for a while, choosing to focus on logi.  We did save a few people… more than a few… when attempts at alpha strikes were done badly and ended up as ragged volleys that applied damage over what seemed like a long stretch of time.  We kept Asher alive a few times as opposing fleets locked him up in an attempt to headshot him.

A while later, when things had hit a routine as we sat near the CO2 Fortizar I logged my alt back in.  However, he had been some place bad while I was away, having had his armor peeled away well into half structure, though his shields were back to full.  As he auto-warped onto grid again he landed in the midst of a TEST fleet and the ship wasn’t long for the world.  I did managed to paint and shoot a Flycatcher and a Sabre as that Vigil went out in a blaze of glory.

Painters on, missiles firing

Painters on, missiles firing

I left him there in his pod as a vantage point for screen shots before eventually pointing him at the gate home where he was picked off by Solar Fleet camp on the gate that was happily taking out anybody trying to leave.  I watched a couple of Oneiros logi cruisers get popped before it was my turn.

That leads us to who took sides with whom.  I am waiting for a full accounting… or at least a battle report that will generate accurately… but it looked like Provi Bloc, led by CVA, came out in support of Stainwagon and we made them temp blue for the fight.  Meanwhile, the Drone Region Federation, the “other” Russians that don’t get along with the Stainwagon Russians came out to join TEST and CO2, which saw us fighting people we had teamed up with in the past, like Solar Fleet, and former enemies like the Dronewalkers and Legion of xXDeathXx allied.

And then there was NCDot who came on down just to shoot targets of opportunity on both sides of the fight.  Have to respect that.

The fight went on and on as reports of the two Fortizars had them inching slowly to their doom.  Eventually the CO2 Fortizar exploded at 03:11 UTC and the fight shifted to focus around the TEST Fortizar, which had been erroneously reported as dead at 23:30, but which didn’t actually die until 04:14.

Somewhere along the way I managed to get a combat drone out and on each of the Fortizars in order to secure myself a spot on the kill mail.  I also was able to get in on a few of the opposing dreadnoughts at the end when the enemy had essentially given up shooting us and was trying to extract what they could from the field.  When the TEST Fortizar went up there was a short period of mopping up as tidi finally rose above 10%.

As the system emptied out, the game sped up, which was almost disorienting.  Things that had been essentially moving in slow motion for hours were suddenly running at full speed.  And then in a euphoric fit, Asher said he would make us ten participation links, one for each hour the fleet was out, something he no doubt immediately regretted as then he had to go make the damn things.  I would have been happy with a few less and a quicker trip home.

However, we did have to cover capitals as the went back to staging.  Fortunately we were only a gate and a jump from home, so it wasn’t a long haul.  We caught the bridge and covered a gate for the supers, then docked back up for the night.  And just in time too, as the new season of Sherlock was set to start on PBS just 11 minutes after I logged out.  But it had been a long day in space.

Fleet time - 10 hours 41 minutes

Fleet time – 10 hours 49 minutes

That leaves the result of the battle.

We won the objective.  TEST and CO2 lost their Fortizars and will continue to stage from NPC null sec space for now.  While they are pushing this off as no big deal, just a matter of a couple of gates, when your plan is an invasion and you are repulsed, you have lost.

Then there is the ISK war.  On Reddit, which is largely the sphere of TEST, our foes are claiming a stunning victory, claiming to have killed as much as 600 billion ISK in ships over the course of the battle.  They are oddly quiet about their own losses however.  They are likely less, so they have probably won the ISK war. How much less remains in question until things settle down and a battle report can be generated.  I cannot reliably fetch my own profile on zKillboard, much less a battle report.  All we have right now is ship losses.

DOTLAN report on ships destroyed

DOTLAN report on ships destroyed

But the question arises as to who can afford losses and who can’t.

TEST and CO2 just lost all of their space after a couple months of war in Tribute.  They are currently living in NPC null sec and do not have any territory from which to extract wealth.

I do not know the state of Stainwagon, though they have been hanging out in their space for a long time, so it should be safe to assume they are not poor.

Then there is the Imperium, which has been working to restore it coffers since the end of summer in Delve.  Look at the November economic report and note which region has the largest amount of mining going on. (And again in December.)  We lost 600 billion in ISK worth of ships in our own system less than a month ago and were still happy to go to war.  So I do not think the losses will dissuade us from our cause.

Also this is just the first major battle of the war.  Both sides can afford to dismiss what happened and claim it as a victory.  But which side is going to be able to sustain the fights, the losses, the day long events spent in 10% tidi?  That question has yet to be answered.

So the war is on.

Also, I am totally set for participation links for the month, with 11 in already.

Here is coverage of the battle on other sites, which I will update as more show up:

And then some screen shots from my 10 hours in space yesterday:

Another Night, Another Keepstar Fight

This is becoming a regular thing.

Saturday night, after having gone out to see Rogue One, gone out to dinner, come home and watched Star Wars: Episode IV, I finally wandered around to my computer to see what was going on in New Eden.

Jabber had been up long enough that there was a ping about reinforcements going off to attack a Pandemic Legion CHAOS Keepstar up in the system of Vey.  The Imperium New Twitch stream was showing live video from the fight which showed the Keepstar coming online and the repair timer paused due it being attacked.  It seemed like there could be yet another Keepstar kill this month.

I was keen to get there and whore on the kill mail help out our fleet.

However, Vey is in the Placid region, which is Gallente empire space, and something of a haul from way down in Delve.  Also, the reinforcement fleet was well on its way.  A run by myself wouldn’t be impossible, but there were a lot of potentially hostile gates to pass through on the way there.

My first thought went to my Alpha Clone alt, Reynaldo Fabulous, who is now truly and Alpha as his account has lapsed.  He was parked in one of his hull tanked Thorax cruisers less than a dozen jumps from Vey.  I got him out… which meant I couldn’t log anybody else into the game… and headed that direction, but got caught on a gate camp in Renarelle and blown up, sending him back to Jita.  I put the kill rights he got up for sale at a low price and logged him out.

Getting to the fight now meant doing something with my coalition characters, both of whom were down in Delve.  I logged them in and looked at where they had jump clones.  Wilhelm’s closest was in Badivefi, which isn’t much closer than Delve.  But my alt had a clone in Amarr, which wasn’t too far from the fight.  So I jumped him up there.

Once in Amarr, I grabbed the fitting for the target painting Vigil that goes along with most of our fleet compositions and bought that and fit it all up (“buy all” and “fit” buttons for the win!) and set a course for Vey.  Once in motion there, I jumped Wilhelm to Badifevi and put him in a support Crucifier I had stashed there, undocked him, and set his autopilot to the last high sec station on the way to Vey, just in case I needed backup.

Then it was back to my alt who quickly got into Placid, bypassing any trouble right up the gate from Agoze to Vey… and the trouble there was time dilation.  I went from fast moving space straight into the soul-sucking sludge that is 10% tidi surrounding a big fight.  The warp tunnel almost seemed to stop and everything was in super slo-mo.

Which was a bit of a surprise after the 5,337 pilot battle at M-OEE8 because the numbers were less than half that when I hit the system.

Time dilation factor 10

Time dilation factor 10

From what I heard over the weekend, the big fight at M-OEE8 actually got to use the super Jita node (so the Jita market had problems that day) while this fight was just a standard reinforced node.  Judging from coms, the node had not been up to the load and people had been dumped from the game a while back.  But I was there at last and joined up with Asher’s Machariel fleet because… well.. Asher.

Landing on the Machs

My Vigil landing on the Machs

They were right in at the Keepstar.  I got in an orbit around the anchor and started painting the targets being called, which at that moment were fighters.

Target painter running as I fly under the structure

Target painter running as I fly under the structure

I also locked up the Keepstar and sent a missile its way just to get some damage in while I had the chance.  It still had quite a ways to go, but seemed to in peril.

Keepstar and two fighters targeted

Keepstar and two fighters targeted

However, by that time Pandemic Legion had gotten themselves assembled and began dropping their considerable capital ship assets on the Keepstar in order to defend it.  The weight of that turned the tide in their favor.

Capitals landing on the Keepstar

Capitals landing on the Keepstar

While others in the fleet had been going for five hours or more for this battle, including time spent forming up and flying out, we were now aligning for the out gate and heading home just minutes after I had arrived.  I tabbed out and stopped Wilhelm’s slow autopilot progress to the fight and sent him back the way he came, then aligned with the rest of the fleet as we, TEST, and other attackers sought to exit the system.  The Keepstar was going to be saved.

We slowly warped off to the gate and then waited there a bit until everybody arrived.  Then we jumped through and back into playing EVE Online and its normal pace, leaving all but residual bits of time dilation behind us as we made the trip back down to Delve.  That put us into Cloud Ring and then through the well trod path down the length of Fountain to Delve.  I stuck with the fleet for the ride home just in case we ran into any opposition… though a nearly 200 ship strong Machariel fleet would need some serious opposition for there to be a real problem.

Aside from a Sabre along the way, the route was clear and we arrived in Delve where a titan was waiting on a citadel to bridge us back to the staging system.  A cyno was put up at the far end, the bridge went up, and we went to jump through.

Bridge up on the titan

Bridge up on the titan, second titan in the background

However, before much of the fleet managed to jump, the titan, ran out of helium isotopes, the fuel consumed to put up the bridge and then to send each ship through, so those left behind were not going to be taking that bridge.  I made it, but others were still sitting there.  However the fleet was in luck as there was another titan on the citadel. It had a jump portal generator fit and enough fuel in its bay to send the rest of the fleet on home.  The fleet op was over. (More about jump drives and such if you are interested.)

We did not get a Keepstar kill, but the whole thing… and the fact that this was the third Keepstar battle in just over a week… made me start wondering about the state of Keepstar and citadel proliferation.  Pandemic Legion and its allies are going back to the old rental space model in null sec starting with the territory they just conquored in Tribute, which will likely expand into the Vale of the Silent region now that TEST and CO2 are moving south to stage in Derelik with an eye towards taking territory in Catch.

With a solid income stream behind them again and a strong capital fleet available to drop in defense (that whole “last war” polemic has not aged well) Pandemic Legion can keep putting up Keepstars and Fortizars to make a fairly unassailable perimeter. They won’t be able to hold more than half of null sec like the Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition rental empires of old, but they may not need to.  Fozzie Sov upgrades to null, citadels, jump fatigue, and overwhelming local superiority in supercaps likely means they can settle in for a long and lucrative stay in the north in some prime territory with easy access to Jita.  The ISK rolls in while whatever neighbors they have will keep the line members entertained.

With more than seven thousand citadels deployed already back during EVE Vegas, maybe citadel proliferation should be a Blog Banter topic?  Or maybe supercapital proliferation as a topic, since “build more supers” seems to be on every null sec power’s list of things to do?  Or maybe we can just do a Blog Banter about how the more things change, the more they stay the same or Malcanis’s Law or any of the usual tunes we all know the words to after more than a decade in New Eden?

Addendum: And the official rental space announcement is up on Reddit.  You can join Rate My Ticks (RMT, ticker: WERMT) and rent some prime space real estate in Tribute.  It is good stuff.  I know, I used to live there.

Addendum: EN24 has a post about the wider battle, as my perspective was pretty narrow.

Targets of Opportunity in Tribute

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

Tribute - December 5, 2016

Tribute – December 5, 2016

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

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

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

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

Yesterday was round two

The system after yesterday’s fun

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

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

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

Bridge up, everybody jump

Bridge up, everybody jump

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

Waiting to go through

Waiting to go through the wormhole

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

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

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

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

On the other side however, the time dilation began.

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

4,400 and 10% TiDi

4,401 in system and 10% TiDi

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

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

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

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

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

Warp drive active at

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timer past half way and still running

Timer at the half way point and still running

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, not bad for a Sunday

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

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

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

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

Barghests Down in Querious Astrahus Fight

As Delve has been quiet, Reavers have been deploying to Querious off and on.  Since Delve and Querious are so close together… a chunk of Querious is actually something of a functional enclave within Delve, which is sometimes called either Fake Delve or Fake Querious depending on who is speaking and whether or not they remember what they called it last time it came up… there was some discussion as to what to do about the region.

Querious - October 23, 2016

Querious – October 23, 2016

The previous inhabitants for the most part moved on to other areas of null sec rather than live under the shadow of the Imperium.  Our first deployment to the region after Delve was to take the valuable moons.  However, the holders were mostly willing to sell them to us… along with a couple of citadels… to finance their move elsewhere.

After that, the region was somewhat sparsely held.  I ran around in a Raven and was unmolested as I ran sites during the Purity of the Throne event.  Of course, a sparsely held region invites people to show up uninvited.  To keep the worst kind of baddies from moving in, the coalition gave Asher the green light to try and turn the region into a fight club.  Details of the idea were posted on Reddit a while back.

There have been a few takers and Reavers have been back in Querious off and on to help people move in and evict people who have declined to join.  We popped a Voxis Accord Astrahus earlier in the month after they said no to the idea.  Last week we started on Brute Force Solutions and their Astrahus in 0-WT2D. (BFD on the map above.)  They had been giving Asher the run around, claiming they needed 6-8 weeks to process his request, along with doing a level of trash talking in local above their weight class.  They seemed keen to provoke a fight, so their citadel had to go.

Killing an citadel requires three passes.  You have to get through the shield layer, after which it goes into reinforced mode for 24 hours.  Then you go through the armor layer.  After armor, the reinforcement timer is related to local sovereignty.  Since they owned the system and ihub and had flagged it as their capital, the ADM was up to 6, which meant a six day wait for the final structure event.

I was there for the shield event, a Barghest fleet where I flew logi, but missed the armor event where BFD dropped carries on our fleet, so we countered with some caps and our bridging titan, which left BFD down 10 carriers.  The final event was slated for Saturday night in later USTZ.

After the second event Asher asked people to get more Barghests down in our staging for the final fight.  The previous fights had been more logi and support than actual combat ships of the line.  Being ISK rich (for me) I invested 900 million ISK in one of the space griddles and flew it out from Jita during the week to have it ready for Saturday night.

An Unblooded Barghest

An Unblooded Barghest

As the time approached on Saturday, the ping went our for Reavers to form up and get ready.  There were about 60 of us online, in fleet, and on the titan ready to bridge into the event.

Anal Thunder's Leviathan breaching the POS bubble

Anal Thunder’s Leviathan breaching the POS bubble

Reavers is not all of the Imperium, so for us getting 50-60 people deep in USTZ is about par for the course.  That would still give us an edge on BFD, as they and their local allies seem to be good for about 50 pilots while we would have our own local pals, Sarcos Federation and Imperium Divine along to help.

My Barghest on the Fortizar

My Barghest on the Fortizar

The wild card would be what help BFD would be able to call in.  Asher said up front, as we sat on the titan, that intel indicated that Pandemic Legion had been called and might be joining in on the fun, so we could be in for a serious fight.  We bridged in a little before the Astrahus entered its vulnerability.

We setup as the timer counted down.  Once vulnerable, there is a 15 minute timer.  If that runs down, the attack fails and the Astrahus goes back into its initial state and we have to start the whole routine again.  The timer is paused by applying sufficient damage to the citadel, which also wears down the structure.  If you keep the timer paused and finish off the structure, the Astrahus explodes.  There is also a cap on the damage so you cannot burn it down in less than ~25 minutes. (The dev blog about all of this here.)

We setup around the Astrahus, dropped our sentry drones, anchored up on Asher, and when the time came opened up on the citadel.

The target with undock bubbled

The target with undock bubbled

BFD and their local friends had some assets on the field and we exchanged blows with them.  They brought out some dreadnoughts and carriers as well.  At that point things were going our way, the frying pan fleet was getting a few kills while our logi was keeping us safe.  Then a cyno went up, which we zapped pretty quickly.  A couple of Pandemic Legion caps got in on a cyno.

Capitals bubbled up

Capitals bubbled up

And then a Tech III fleet made up mostly of Legions and Proteuses got into the system and the fight started to go badly for us.  We outnumbered what BFD had fielded, but the Pandemic Legion fleet had numbers on us and, when combined with BFD, put us at a serious disadvantage with the odds about 2 to 1 against.  We were hard pressed to break any of the T3s, managing to knock just one off the field (on which I got the kill mail).  On the other hand, they trimmed our logi back and then started knocking off the Barghests one by one.  I lost my fresh Barghest when we were just trying to get out of bubbles and get away.  I still had all the refits in the cargo too, so pretty much a complete loss of my purchase.  Only two Barghests got away.

It seemed like we were done.  Asher put out on intel that there were some caps to shoot, which got a few Imperium CapSwarm capitals and supers to drop on the fight.

Supers on the gate looking for targets of opportunity

Supers on the gate looking for targets of opportunity

However, there was still a few minutes left on the Astrahus timer and most of the Reavers had their clone set in our Fortizar just six jumps away, so the decision was made to give it another run in the Cerberus doctrine.  I have my clone set in Delve, but I had a doctrine Scimitar set and ready to fly there, so I burned back towards Querious.  With a jump bridge the fight was 14 gates away.

As I burned I could hear the fleet arriving back at the Astrahus where they managed to apply damage and stop the timer with very little time left on the clock.  It sounded like they got chased off but got back to apply damage again, stopping the timer with just seconds to go.

Dramatic interpretation of the timer

Dramatic interpretation of the timer

At about that point I had finally gotten back to the system.  However, in getting to the fleet I managed to warp in pretty much on top of the Pandemic Legion fleet, which meant my Scimitar got popped pretty much immediately.

I managed to get away in my pod and flew back to our staging to pick up a Vigil I had sitting there in hopes of getting back before the fight ended.  However, before I got back our Cerbs had been mostly eliminated allowing the timer to start back up again and finish before any further damage could be applied.  BFD’s citadel had been saved.

The battle report, which is broken up into Imperium and allies, Pandemic Legion’s fleet, and BFD and its local allies is… deceptive.  The raw numbers look even, 129 vs 136.  However, everybody who shows up in a Cerb, along with a few Scimitars, are counted twice because we went back and reshipped.  Then there are the Imperium caps, which killed a couple carriers but didn’t move on the citadel.  And then there was an Imperium Confessor fleet which showed up just long enough to kill a Magus before heading off.

If we had managed to coordinate all of that, we might have gotten the Astrahus.  But we did not, so it is back to the reinforce cycle to try and kill it again next weekend.  Life in space, such that it is.

Meanwhile, SRP on my Barghest was 400 million ISK. (And I think I got a Reavers bonus payout at that.)  So while the Scimitar was covered, the Barg was an expensive one fight ship.

Addendum: Asher also has a new podcast up where he talks to Elise Randolph about the war in Tribute and the Alliance tournament.