Tag Archives: Asher Elias

X47L-Q Preliminaries at Tosche Station

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

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

The wait for anchoring begins

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

Minmatar Liberation Day SKIN on the Scimi

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

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

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

Power Converters available soon

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

Munnin mass flying about

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

Hanging on tether under the Fort, Keepstar in sight

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

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

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

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

A subcap explodes as the Minokawa begins to fail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sitting on another Fortizar, waiting to go home

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

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

Battle Report across Three Systems

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

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

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

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

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

Smaller Operations in the North

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

Once again leaving the station

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

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

On grid with the Keepstar as it counted down

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

Keepstar further back

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

Fortizar deploying

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

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

The longer anchoring timer

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

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

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

Phoenix under attack while a Rorqual sits in its PANIC bubble

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltec fleet firing on the Rorqual

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

Rorqual goes boom!

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

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

Tribute is full of structures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clash of Titans in X47L-Q

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am in the system, almost…

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

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

This looked like my chance.

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

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

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

On the undock about to get bumped

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

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

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

Potato mode Naglfar firing at last!

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

The wreck of the Nyx

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

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

Leadership was quite excited.

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

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

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

Bubble camp in X47

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

This is waiting for you

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

Pure Blind saw a lot of action

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

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

Timer is counting down

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

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

Other reports on this fight:

A Keepstar Goes Down in Aeschee

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

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

Shadow Cartel’s Keepstar minding its own business

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

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

Quafe… so refreshing

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

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

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

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

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

That Astrahus needs Traffic Control

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

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

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

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

On the Astrahus looking at the target

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

Something, something, titans will never be common…

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

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

Opening salvos

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

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

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

My Oneiros in the middle of titans

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

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

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

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

This IS close than 129km

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

The Keepstar starts to go…

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

The wreck as the explosion subsides

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

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

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

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

Waiting for the word to go

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

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

Other coverage of this event:

The Keepstar Fight at 6RCQ-V

There is a war on.  Or a war is on.  Another one.

Over the past weekend The Mittani said we would be mobilizing and come Monday INN announced that the target was the northwest end of null sec.  Pandemic Legion had been moving its capital fleets down to the southeast of New Eden to assail TEST, Brave, and the rest of the Legacy Coalition.

That move left a vacuum up north, a serious reduction in the number of capital ships the locals could bring to bear on any invader.  The Imperium plans to move in and fill that vacuum.  Pandemic Legion and NCDot are seen as the biggest threat to the Imperium, so with PL away and just NCDot and the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition left to watch their homeland, an opportunity was seen.

Of course, Reavers and a few other SIGs and squads have been up north since at least November of last year hunting the locals and trying to bring them out to fight.  We’ve seen change over that time, with Pandemic Horde moving from Fade to Geminate, Mordus Angels collapsing in Pure Blind, and most recently, the resurrected Circle of Two taking up the space in Fade.  The locals have occasionally put some effort into trying to suppress our operations.

Our station wrapped in bubbles at one point

But more often than not they avoid us, leave our structures alone unless we’re on a break for a couple of weeks, and only form up for final timers on their structures or when we’ve got another Rorqual tackled.  I am sure there is a not unreasonable idea that if we get bored we’ll go away.  But Reavers live to shoot structures and do things that seem boring, knowing that it can all lead to a fight if we persist.

Anyway, once Imperium forces were on the move from Delve northward the first objective was to setup a deployment base.  So a Keepstar citadel was dropped in the system 6RC8-V in the Cloud Ring region.

The first staging in the war

The Gallente Militia alliance Federation Uprising owns the territorial control unit there, so they get their name on the map, but The Initiative owns the infrastructure hub, and since they are part of the Imperium any structure we drop there takes just 24 hours to come online.  (It can take days if you drop them in hostile systems.)

The location is right on the boarder with Fade, where Circle of Two lives.  If we were allowed to plant a Keepstar there, that would put them under a hostile capital and supercap umbrella.  We could drop forces on CO2 which they would be hard pressed to resist.

It became vital that the locals kill the Keepstar as it came online.  That is the point of vulnerability.  After it is online and can be armed it becomes much more difficult to take out.  So a big battle was brewing.

Fortunately for me this was all set to happen in the evening my time, which is the middle of the night EVE Online time.

I was already up in the north so planned to go with the SIGs and squads deployed there.  I did, however, fly an alt over to 6RCQ-V and put him on grid with the Keepstar just to make sure I could keep an eye on what was happening there.

And that turned out to be a good thing.  While fleet after fleet was getting called up and ready to move from Delve and Fountain to the fight, we undocked to take care of other business.

Undocking our Ishtars

While all eyes were on the Keepstar our fleet ran out and dealt with smaller structures.  We covered a Raitaru on grid with the hostile Keepstar in DW-T21, CO2’s capital.  It was in its final timer and we were there to make sure it got through that so the hostiles would have to start over reinforcing it.

We also reinforced a CO2 Astrahus on that grid, giving the locals something to form up and defend later.

Hitting the Astrahus

We then started in on a CO2 Sotiyo, which was gunned, hoping to reinforce that as well.

The view from the Sotiyo, our fleet boost visible in the distance

The Sotiyo was going to take a while however, and before we got even half way done there we were called off to help support the main fight by setting up to block hostile reinforcements.  We managed to knock-off a Gila and a few bombers while doing that.  We never actually went into the 6RCQ-V system.

That was probably a good thing, because in 6RCQ-V things were happening.  As the timer counted down on the Keepstar a cyno went up and the Imperium supercap fleet began to land on the structure.

Titans visible on the Keepstar

And then another cyno went up and a second group started landing.

Some more titans arriving

And then a third cyno went up and then a fourth as super capitals arrayed themselves in and around the Keepstar.

And even more titans start landing

There ended up being a lot of titans on the field, possibly as many as I have seen on the field since B-R5RB.

So many titans

What is hard to see is the super carries mixed in with those fleets.  They are big ships when compared to subcaps, but they seem so small when mixed in with titans.

Meanwhile the locals were forming up as well, with CO2 dropping a Muninn fleet into the system.

Muninns landing near the gate

Likewise Darkness and other GOTG groups formed up an Ishtar fleet and was circling the gate to Fade as they waited for the timer to count down.

Ishtars with the Keepstar in the distance

More and more people kept piling into the system, but things were not too bad… and then the shooting started.

My alt got knocked offline a few times during the fight, but things were not as bad as during the 9-4RP2 fight, the so-called “million dollar battle” where getting back in was pretty much impossible.  If your client died… and I could see my client grabbing more and more RAM until it expired… need a 64-bit client… you could get back in with a bit of patience.

But this fight wasn’t as hyped as the 9-4RP2 battle was, and we were well shy of the 6,142 players in system that earned that fight a Guinness record.  The peak I saw when my alt was in system was just past 3,800.

3,813 and 10% tidi

The fight itself involved the hostiles using Gilas and Ishtars and some long range fit dreadnoughts to stop the timer and start chipping down Keepstar.  They were successful for a while, getting enough damage on the citadel to stop the timer with 10 minutes of online repair to go and they did break it down to 85% of its hit points.

But the weight in numbers was against them.  While they got out in front of things, the titans and super carriers had been joined by a dreads and subcaps who chipped away, cutting back the attackers until the repair timer started up again and the outcome became inevitable.

Titans firing on attackers

Once the timer started up again the prospects for the attackers dimmed and they began to extract.

The Kirkland Protein Star about to go online

Tidi was still bad though, but my main was on the other side of the gate in Fade trying to catch some hostiles coming and going.

Asher, whose ongoing Kirkland Protein Bar meme helped name the Keepstar (though the name changed a couple of times), was not there to the Reavers.  He is now the Sky Marshall, the overall commander and coordinator of fleets and in charge of strategy.  I am glad he has an opportunity to move all the pieces on the map.  There are not many games where you can drive the actions of literally thousands of other players.  But I do worry a bit as the position tends to burn out those who sit in the Sky Marshall chair during a war.  I would miss him if he left the game.

Zed Starshine was leading us for the evening.  He has led us on some ops before.  He got us out to our targets, then to block the comings and goings of the locals, and then the hell out of the way when the hostiles packed up to head home en masse.  Our little fleet wasn’t going to stem that tide, we’d just be a snack for them on the way.  So we got home early and never had to face any tidi.

The Keepstar went online.

With a big flash

The capitals and super caps didn’t have to head home.  They were home.  They could dock up and be ready for ongoing ops against CO2 and GOTG.

The fight itself saw more than a thousand ships blow up.

Most violent system on DOTLAN

Most of those ships belonged to those attacking the Keepstar, as the battle report indicates.

Battle Report Header

[Corrected that battle report as I had CO2 on the wrong side initially.]

The ISK count wasn’t that big however, barely a titan’s worth of ships destroyed.  TEST and Brave, who are now allied with us against PL and NCDot, sent forces north to join in and cover the Keepstar coming online.

But once that Keepstar was online the situation in the north changed.  6RCQ-V is close enough to CO2’s capital and Keepstar in DW-T2I that the super fleet can just take the gate into E9KD-N and then jump straight there.  And you can bet that their Keepstar, and all of their structures, are clearly in our sights.  If they stand there will be more fights.

Rumor has it however that they might pack up shop and head to Venal.  There are still NPC stations there, places that cannot be destroyed.  That is, however, just a rumor at this point, as is the rumor that Slyce might join them.

But if they hang around there will be more titans on grid and more battles over structures in the weeks to come.  Maybe even another node killing, 6,000 player, “million dollar” battle.

Other coverage:

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.