Tag Archives: B-DBYQ

The Last Keepstar out of Cloud Ring

Yesterday the Imperium formed up again to cover the removal of the last of our Keepstars from Cloud Ring.  It was another big form up, a display of strength, a “filthy blob,” as streamer EVELog called it back when we dropped a huge force to cover the Keepstar deployment to 6RCQ-V two years ago.  I wish that clip was still available.

It wasn’t quite that big of a blob, but there were still a lot of big ships on grid and over 2,000 of us logged in and moving to cover the operation.  Fortunately the last Keepstar was only in B-DBYQ, on the other side of the gate from our staging in J5A-IX, so the move to get there was the least painful of the three operations.  The Mittani was even spotted undocked in a Revelation.

Over the Keepstar logo

He had to have chosen that spot on purpose.

The movement of the fleets followed the usual plan, with subcap fleets warping ahead to cover both sides of the gate, then capital ships gating through by fleet, aligning to the Keepstar, the warping off to tether up on it.

There was word that PanFam might make a move to interfere with this last Keepstar removal, but that apparently meant a small interceptor gang hanging around for a bit before being chased off once the subcaps were stationed around the gate.

The final Keepstar from the J5A gate

A few other people did show up, either by accident or in order to watch the spectacle.  Those that got too close were shot pretty quickly.  A rather surprised Tengu pilot managed to get shot by a titan… op success maybe?  They were carrying a covert cyno though, so they were up to no good.  I managed to get paints on a Stiletto that wasn’t quite fast enough to get away.  Nothing slowed us down and the pile on the Keepstar began.

There we are

There were some stragglers who missed previous withdrawal ops who jumped their capitals into the system, but before the Keepstar removal began the cyno jammers were turned on to keep any hostile capitals from showing up.

Getting our jam on in 1 second

And then, once things settled down and everybody was on the Keepstar, we sat and waited for a bit.  I put my camera at a set angle and managed to get a before and after shot.

Keepstar is there

Keepstar is gone

So it goes.  I even managed to slip into a fleet with my alt Claude Ring, which I created about four years ago and held onto for just such an opportunity.  He asked in Local why the Imperium was leaving him.  Then, when he spoke up back in J5A, people said they thought they were done with him.

That was pretty much all I created that character to do.  He has barely enough skills to fly T1 logi in newbie fleets, just so he could be there.

Meanwhile, we started running the whole op in reverse, with subcaps on the gate and capitals aligning back out.

Capitals aligning to the J5A gate

Some warps and a lot of tidi later, everybody was back at the Keepstar in J5A.  After that, there were move ops to reposition forces.

Flight of the Faxes

Later on today, at the regular Saturday fireside, The Mittani will be giving us a war planning update and is expected to announce some new ops coming up.  We still have a week to go before the NIP between the Imperium and Legacy Coalition expires.  We are still working on bring up ADMs and getting supplies laid in.  If nothing else happens it will be a long week of waiting.

A Massive Move Op Gets Me Home from the War

The peace of the north, where the Imperium agreed to withdraw forces back to Delve and not bother the north of null sec for a month and GotG for a full six months, came into effect on Saturday.  And with that began the first big move operation.  It was planned for 18:00 UTC, 11:00am for me, on that Saturday.

The first call to form up came at seven minutes before the hour in a ping and I was ready for it.

The whole operation had been announced almost a week in advance, so I had plenty of time to prepare.  As usual during a deployment, I managed to acquire a range of subcaps in my hangar.  Actually, in both of my hangars, the one in the Keepstar in 6RCQ-V and the one in the station in ROIR-Y in Pure Blind, where Reavers had been based for almost a year.

Usually the accumulation of ships means flying my main and my alt together in multiple move ops and maybe finding somebody with a bit of space in the ship maintenance bay of their capital ship to carry a couple of bombers or such.

This time however, one of the ships I managed to accumulate was a Naglfar dreadnought, a prize from the race that Ranger Gamma ran back in late December.  It was supposed to be a suicide dread, something expendable to drop on a valuable target like a titan   I only managed to use it one, during the first Keepstar battle at X47L-Q, and it survived so I had it to move back.

That turned out to be a bit of a boon.

With almost a week’s notice I was able to pack my ships into the Naglfar and jump it from ROIR-Y to the Keepstar at 6RCQ-V.  There I was able to stuff almost all of my remaining ships into the the ship maintenance bay along with the assorted modules and other stuff that ends up rattling around the corners of your station hangar when you stay in any one place for more than a week or two.  So much nanite repair paste mocking me because I forget to overheat most of the time.

The only ships that did not fit were a couple of travel interceptors, which are easy enough to jump clone to and fly out, and a Megathron battleship for the Baltec doctrine that I think I flew exactly once. (But that was one more time than the Ferox I had there as well.)

The Megathron was problematic.  A Battleship is big and takes up a lot of space in a ship maintenance bay, so I was reluctant to try to foist it off on another cap pilot.  But tech I battleships insure nicely and I wouldn’t miss it if it was gone, so I decided to just fly it home on its own.  I figure, best case, I might scatter a small gate camp and get a kill, while the worst case would be to lose it, collect the insurance, and not have to worry about it anymore.

Megathron in Cloud Ring

So on Wednesday night I undocked it and headed towards Delve.  I knew the risks. The coalition had pinged multiple times “Don’t move yourself!”  But I was going to go for it.  I already knew the route home.  Many trips over the years through the area hes left me with the lay of space.  You get into Fountain, you take the jump bridge to the mid-point of the region, you take the gate that cover the mid-region gap, you take the jump bridge to the gate to Delve, and in Delve you take a jump bridge to where you want to be.

Megathron on its way

The trip went off without incident.  It was even relatively quick.  With the revisions to jump fatigue I only had to wait for a timer to cool down a bit before hitting the next jump bridge.

My small op was done.  The big op was coming.  I was on and ready to go before the first ping came.

The first ping was for four capital fleets, divided up by type, and an overflow fleet.  Those quickly filled up and a second overflow fleet was called.  Then two subcap fleets were called.  If I recall right there was also an overflow fleet for subcaps eventually, and then a final fleet for people who could fly Apostles to help get the strategic force auxiliary reserves home.  I got my alt in for that, so had two accounts running for the move op.

If I had know that was going to be a thing I could have shoved the Megathron in the Apostle to carry it home.  Oh well, it was done already.

Move ops can be long and exasperating affairs, as demonstrated by the classic Endie “trail of tears” graphic memorializing an all day move to Delve from the north.

The Trail of Tears move op

That was back when capitals were rare and the pilots alleged to be the elite.  Now almost any scrub who rats in Delve has at least one capital ship and many of them have supers or titans.

And now, on a Saturday morning I was going to move to Delve with more than 1,800 other capital ships and a couple of fleets of subcaps, all of us sharing the same voice coms channel. (For those interested, there were about 1,400 actual people in the voice coms channel for the ~2,000 ships being moved, so less than a 2:1 ratio of accounts to people.)

There was a non-zero chance of this becoming a nightmare.

Instead, it all ran surprisingly smoothly.  People used all the advance notice we had to get ready, so a fleet of capital ships jumped to the first cyno just a little bit after 18:00.  The dreadnought fleet went at 18:17, while the Apostle fleet, the last to go, was cleared to jump at 18:25, landing on a Fortizar.

About 1,800 capitals tethered

Our first jump was a few gates shy of critical gate to Fountain, but we had jump fatigue to burn off, so we were sent by fleet forward to the last system in Cloud Ring, then gated again by fleets in order to keep time dilation from going crazy.  We held up together on a Fortizar in B-DBYQ, the last system in Cloud Ring, and the jumping off point for the Fountain War five years back.

Aligned in B-DBYQ

Again we were sent through the gate by fleets.  That put is in J5A-IX at the top of Fountain, where we regrouped on the Keepstar there, docking up.

At 19:34 we got the call to undock and, in a moment of hubris, the command was given for all fleets to jump.  That cranks up the tidi to 10% and ended with some disconnects, but for the most part it was just slow.  We got through, landing on the Keepstar in C-N4OD to dock up.

By 19:50, once people got through and things settled down, we were again called by fleets to undock and take the gate to KVN-36, the place where we were ambushed on another move op back in 2015. It ended up looking like a stream of titans being fired from the Keepstar.

You could walk back to the Keepstar on those titans

There we aligned to the Keepstar, then were sent by fleets to dock up, the Apostles going last to avoid bumping.

Apostles aligned and waiting

That put us in the southern half of the region.  We were told that for the next jump, which would bring us to the Delve gate in Y-2ANO, our arrival on the Keepstar would be recorded for use as a propaganda video, so we were all going to jump at once again, but this time we were not to dock up because that wouldn’t look as cool as all the ships arriving and just hanging on the citadel.

Again, lots of time dilation due to all of us going at once, but most people got through okay.  Traffic control was up for a lot of people and was even giving positions in the queue to jump.

412th position in the queue

My dreadnought went through, but the jump by the Apostle was cancelled by the delay.  I set it to jump again and it went through fine on the second go.

A batch of caps arriving in Y-2

I will be interested to see what the footage of us coming in looked like.

After that we all aligned to the ZXB-VC and waited for cynos to get in place in 1DQ1-A.   Another chain of titans was then fired at the gate.

Once through we were cleared to jump to the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A.  The cyno in the Apostle fleet disconnected, but by 20:41 the cyno was up again and I was docked in the Keepstar contracting the Apostle back to the person who handed them out.

Back at the Delve Keepstar

So from the time of the first ping at 17:53 to my being done and able to log off was just about three hours, which is amazing for a move op of this size and complexity.  Pilots new and old managed to make it down.

I think we’ve gotten a bit better as a coalition, but also the leadership has gotten better at keeping these sorts of operations moving.  For one thing, there were markers called at various points, that if you hadn’t reached a certain objective you were too far behind and told to log off and wait for the next move op.  The whole move op didn’t stop people one person disconnected or didn’t follow instructions.

Of course, citadels have made this sort of thing easier as well.  At every jump or gate there was a citadel waiting for us, usually a Keepstar, letting us tether up or dock.

And so it goes.  I am back in Delve for the first time since November of last year.  When I go back to put together all the posts for this deployment, this ought to be the final one.

A gallery of my screen shots from the op:

Typhoons and Jackdaws on a Saturday Afternoon

Asher had been pinging about a gimmick fleet he wanted to run this past weekend.  It involved some logi, a few command destroyers, a dreadnought, and some Typhoons.  I was all for that and imported a Typhoon, never having flown one before.  When the time came on Saturday I was logged in and ready to go, along with 30 or so others.  There was the usual fumbling around to get people into appropriate ships… you can ping all week about something and somebody will still show up and ask what we’re flying… and our Naglfar pilot, Swor Reborn, was a bit late, which put the operation in fix as Asher started trying to find an alternate who was willing to lose their dread on an experimental fleet.

Only a little bit behind schedule we had everybody together and undocked for the run towards Fountain where Asher had arranged a fight with The Culture, one of the small sov holding  alliances in Fountain which was, if I recall right, made up in part from the parts of Black Legion that wanted to stay in null sec.

On the way out

On the way out

Along the way Asher explained what we were up to, which involved one of the command destroyers using its AOE micro jump drive to  grab a hostile and launch it into the optimum range of the Naglfar’s guns, and away from any logi support, while all of us in Typhoons painted it with the target painters that were part of the fit, at which point the Nag, fitted with artillery, would open fire and blap the target in a couple of volleys.  The idea was optimistically called “shooting skeet” and Asher wanted Swor to call “pull” when he was ready just to keep with the gimmick.

At least that is how I understood it.  The high concept sounded fun, though I didn’t really grasp the mechanics on the ground.  It was either going to be hilarious or a slaughter or maybe both.

The run out was uneventful.  A couple of later arrivals got on to catch up, but nothing got in our way and we arrived at B-DBYQ, the designated spot, intact.  There was a moment of worry when a blue fleet showed up in the system.  It turned out to be a 4S Corporation roam and they passed through, leaving us to our business.

We got ourselves arranged about the J5A-IX gate in the system… the scene of many of the early clashes during the Fountain War, so a place I recall fondly… and then The Culture came through and it was on.

The Culture showed up with about 50 ships in a fleet built up around Rattlesnake battleships, which definitely put us on the back foot.  But Asher was still game, thinking that maybe the Naglfar would balance things out, and we didn’t have anything else to do anyway, so we got stuck into the fight.

And we got slaughtered.  We got in and focused on one of the Rattlesnakes, hitting it with our own missiles while painting it for Swor, but I am not sure if the MJD idea ever got kicked off or not.  Meanwhile we began losing Typhoons early and often.  When I got yellow boxed I called for shields and the remembered we were in an armor fit, so called for armor.  However, I think by that point they had eaten up our limited logi.  As I got deep into armor I lit off my own MJD in an attempt to pull range and maybe live for a bit longer.  However, I didn’t check where I was pointed and I believe I actually may have closed the range, or at least jumped through them so as not to open the range nearly enough.  The end result was that I had not in anyway impeded my own destruction and the Typhoon disintegrated around me and I was left in my pod.

At that point though I was out of the warp disruption bubbles that were all over the gate.  I could have warped off to relative safety and returned home.  But with no implants in my pod and the fight still going on, why leave the party early.  So I motored around and watched the remainder of the fight.  Asher, in a Damnation that was our booster, hung on for a while, though it seemed like he was getting reps as well as taking damage from our foes at one point.

Asher's Damnation attracting all sorts of attention

Asher’s Damnation attracting all sorts of attention

He and Swor eventually succumbed and that was then end of things.  Most everybody got blown up then popped in their pod, which meant not having to bother flying back home, except for Swor, who managed to get away with his capital pod.

Swor's wreck left behind on the gate

Swor’s wreck left behind on the gate

(That isn’t my screen shot, somebody linked it in fleet. I was back in D2-HOS in my pod by then.)

We did manage to knock off three Rattlesnakes, a Sabre, and a claw, but lost almost everything we brought.  A Pontifex command destroyer got away and a Claw, but that was about it.  The battle report is here.  A couple of people recorded the fight, but I haven’t seen it posted on YouTube yet. (I found one from The Culture side of things.  We’re the third fight in this video, which starts at the 3:08 mark.)

The experiment was not a success, but we died in the name of science I suppose… and the insurance payout on T1 battleships is pretty generous, so that, along with some peacetime reimbursement (75 million ISK for me from TNT), takes most of the sting away, leaving just the tale of a glorious defeat.

That done we thanked Asher for the fun ride and went our various ways.  I logged off and went to go look at the screen shots from the fight at least secure in the fact I would have something new to post about.

A while later, as I was farting around on my computer, a ping came in for a homeland defense fleet.  Jay Amazingness was calling for Jackdaws to tangle with a Pandemic Horde fleet that was hanging on the undock in D2-HOS and spoiling for a fight. (Pandemic Horde is Pandemic Legion new player learning/fun alliance. Watch their latest video.)

That seemed like a quick way into some action, so I logged back in and got into the Jackdaw I had handy.

Pandemic Horde had apparently just pretty much wiped out an SMA Caracal/Cormorant fleet with a pile of Federation Navy Comets (A JEFFRAIDER Police Fleet if I got it right, which means flying the Comet with the Police SKIN complete with blinky lights) in the system and were hanging around looking for another fight.  We piled into fleet at what seemed like an agonizingly slow pace.  The hostiles were on the undock and those who got in early were itching to get out there and come to grips with them before they decided to look elsewhere for fun.

Eventually we piled up enough numbers and undocked to chase them down… chase them down because they had left the undock.  Not that they were avoiding a fight.  Rather we bounced around for a short bit as each side tried to close with the other only to find themselves warping off just as the other side was landing.  EVE Online is like that some days.  Eventually though both sides were in the same bit of space at the same time and the fight began.  The head shot out FC right off the bat… something that is either good tactics or poor sportsmanship depending on who is talking about it and who just got head shot… which put us off our stride for a moment before somebody else picked up the reigns and started calling targets.

We managed to kill off the Horde that remained from the first fight with SMA in very short order, targets going down often before I could finish locking them up.  The ISK war would have totally gone to PH had they not brought along a few expensive ships, like a Kronos and a Vindicator.  Jay jumped in his Ragnarok alt just to pile on at the end, though he only managed to whore on two pods and a Megathron for the effort.  The battle report is here.

Jay's Ragnarok at the fight

Jay’s Ragnarok at the fight

That battle report actually includes both battles, so ships/players from both the initial encounter with SMA and the follow on with the Homeland Defense fleet are listed out.

All in all a good short, sharp fight and, as with our Typhoon fight earlier, the PH pilots were spared having to fly home.  And I actually got the killing blow on two of the hostiles, one in a Punisher and the other in the big old Vindicator that was along for the ride.  So somewhere on my Jackdaw there should be two kill marks, though I cannot seem to figure out where they are on that I-beam hull.  So now I have two ships with at least one kill mark, my Harpy and this Jackdaw.

Kill marks are around here somewhere...

Kill marks are around here somewhere…

All of which made for some fun in New Eden on a Saturday afternoon.

Some of the screen shots I took during the fights.

And Sometimes We are the Ones Outnumbered…

GUARENTEED FIGHT IN FOUNTAIN TONIGHT

-Blawrf McTaggart, the broadcast some claim jinxed the whole thing

Black Legion still has a tower set up in Fountain.  We had put it into reinforce and the timer was set to come up last night.  We were going to go and try to finish it off.

Reagalan put up a broadcast about fifteen minutes in advance of the form up time for the fleet, but otherwise it wasn’t really on the calendar or anything, so when Blawrf finally sounded the horn there were already about 40 of us in the YA0-XJ station and in the fleet.  The follow up got another 50 or so people, putting us at 93 total.

Not bad for a week night without much in the way of advance warning.  Enough to cause trouble most days of the week.

The fleet composition had yet to be announced.  Reagalan wanted to take a Hawk fleet out, an experimental doctrine, but was overruled.  Neither were we destined to run out to Fountain in Tengus, which was probably a good thing as my Tengu is still down in F2OY-X.  The call from command said we were to go out as a Baltec fleet because this was serious business, a strat op, and not just some roam.

So we got out our Baltec ships.  I got into my Apocalypse, which had made it back from Delve, and joined everybody out at the staging POS so we could begin the part of every fleet op where we discover we do not have enough boosters or logistics.  I am still ages away from being able to fly a boosting ship and I wanted to get on a kill mail, it has been a slow month so far, so I was reluctant to give that up for logistics.

As it was, we had to escort somebody a couple of jumps to pick up a boosting ship in order to cover him from a hostile gang roaming the area.  We managed to land on them at one point and I was able to lock up and get on a kill mail, helping blot out a tackled interceptor.  I even got top damage.

My need for a kill mail satisfied, I volunteered to swap out for an Oneiros logistics ship.

Oneiros at a Cloud Ring POS

Oneiros at a Cloud Ring POS

Some other people swapped for logi and we ended up with a fleet composition worth taking out at last.  Then it was a quick warp to a titan to bridge us a little ways along before we picked up the well worn trail to Fountain.  The route was posted in fleet for us to free burn to B-DBYQ, the gateway system to Fountain from the north, where we spent so much time last year.  I barely needed to look at the route, as I can fly it by rote at this point.

We burned out way, spreading out along the route, light ships landing at the destination as the battleships slowly followed a few systems back.  Reagalan was trying to get the battleship pilots to hurry up by having them cycle their MWD modules before starting the process to warp to the next point in space.  This is supposed to speed up the transition to warp by bringing the ship up to the 75% of top speed threshold needed to engage.  Wags on coms were pointing out that this was shaving off about a second from the align and warp time, but that the extra second was pretty much being eaten up by the actually having to cycle the MWD.

As we arrived in B-DBYQ over time, Reagalan had us hole up at the POS where the jump bridge was located.  The battleships finally caught up and joined us within the protective shield.

Apocs burning for the POS

Apocs burning for the POS

There we sat for a bit, the force now consolidated again, when Reagalan, without preamble, warped us to the local customs office.  This was unusual as part of the doctrine is to keep everybody aligned so that we will all warp and land together.  As we were all spread out in the POS and facing this way or that, this lead to a long, ragged fleet warp.  I happened to be facing almost exactly 180 degrees from the destination, which meant I was one of the last to warp off, but which also meant I got a pretty good view of the new warp termination effect as the rest of the fleet landed in front of me.  A pity it is so faint and transitory that it is tough to capture effectively in a screen shot.  It looks very nice when you see it happen, but a single frame can’t seem to capture its essence.

Reagalan then had us align back in the direction from which we had just warped.  A we landed back at the jump bridge he told us to take it, which got a collective moan out of the fleet on coms.  Taking the jump bridge would send us in the wrong direction.  That was the way home.  That meant no fight for us.

Reagalan confirmed this.  While we managed to get a fleet of nearly one hundred together, Black Legion had a Tengu fleet up with a reported 150 members in fleet, roughly one third of them logistics.   That last bit is a key factor.

Logistics for sub caps is the new trend (well, new-ish at this point) in why null sec is broken.  Back in the old days, long before my time in null, apparently fights were often blood baths where winner and loser could wander off almost equally mauled.  Everybody got kill mails though, so even the losers in a fight where they were burned down to the last ship would feel that at least they had inflicted some losses on their foes.  They had some tangible effect and the fight was not in vain.  Some of the bad guys… and your foes are always bad guys… had to walk home too.

Now, however, if two fleets of roughly equal size square off, if one has better logistics support not only is it likely to win the engagement, it is likely to do so with minimal losses.  So, in the absence of other ways to win a fight, piling on logistics support has become a thing.  We no longer fly strat ops with just a couple logi ships.  Instead the FC has to chide people into support ships under the threat of standing down if we do not get sufficient numbers in the space priest column.  The same go for boosting ships, though calls for nerfing boosters has been going on for a while now, at least for off-grid boosting.

Anyway, so you can add “nerf logistics” to the “fixing null” sec bingo card along with “nerf jump bridges,” “nerf jump drives,” “nerf supers,” and “fix sovereignty.”  (“Grr Goons” is the center spot and everybody gets that as a freebie.)

The upshot of this was that we faced a formidable foe by the reports that were shared with us.  Spies on both sides mean that we all generally know what we are facing for this sort of timer fight unless somebody is very, very clever.  The Tengu fleet alone seemed very likely to chew us up unless handled badly.  Add in the fact that Black Legion’s allies had assembled an additional fleet of 100+ ships for the fight, and the decision was made not to give the enemy an easy victory by fighting them with the odds in their favor.  We headed back to the staging station in YA0-XJ to stand down.

We got our participation link for showing up.  While Dabigredboat took a bomber fleet down to harass the hostiles at about the same time we headed out, I am sure Black Legion saved their tower.  I am also equally sure that we will soon be headed down to reinforce it yet again, so there will be more timers and more possible fights.

Addendum: And there was a fight there again already.  Oops, sorry about that LAWN.

Addendum2: Or maybe that wasn’t the same tower.  Still, bloodbath in Fountain.

And Quiet Flows the ‘Thron

Last night I had a chunk of free time so I was hoping I might see some fleet action in Fountain.  I had Jabber up, I was logged into the game, I was ready.  I had ships outfitted for most of the popular doctrines, including a couple of new stealth bombers configured for siege fleet.

There had been some action since earlier in the week when I last checked in.  The CFC managed to take and hold 9-VO0Q, meaning that my map of North Fountain has to be expanded some to show TEST systems that are now on the front line.  So the war continues on.  The CFC now holds 11 of 115 systems, if that is your preferred metric for the war.

North Fountain - July 19, 2013

North Fountain – July 19, 2013

At the time, however, there was a whole lot of nothing going on.  So I put EVE Online in the background and resumed my latest game of Civilization V while I waited.

This time around I took up the banner of Venice, which has some interesting attributes.  It gets some boosts to trade and such, in keeping with the Venetian tradition.  But it also cannot create settlers.  As a civilization it has to grow by other means.  Conquest is one I suppose.  But you also get a “Merchant of Venice” great person every so often who is able to go buy off city states, which turns them into puppet regimes.

That can be a slow process however.

I also decided to go full on for a cultural victory in an attempt to learn how the culture and tourism changes worked.  It is not as easy or clear cut a path as it was before the expansion.  Tourism is a key way to spread your culture, and that is driven by how many great works and such your society has.  It is also driven by other aspects like open boarders, trade, and shared religion and ideology.

By the way, I want to reiterate what I said previously about liking where trade has gone with the new expansion.  In addition to commerce and science, it also spreads religion and plays into tourism.

I do not think I am going to get the culture victory this time around.  As I said, getting there is no longer a simple and direct path.  But it has lead to some interesting turns.  Arabia, for example, is complaining to me that all of its teens are wearing blue jeans and listening to Venetian popular music.

But the best moment was when Germany, who had been friendly up to that point, suddenly stabbed me in the back.  It went from open boarders, declarations of friendship, and trade caravans to the drums of war.  This was trouble, as Germany was the most largest and most aggressive empire and was probably peeved at me for failing to join it in its conquests.  I was technologically ahead of Germany and could hold out for a bit, but Bismark could overwhelm me.

And then, one turn into the war, two German cities defected to my side causing Bismark to sue for peace, saying it was high time to end this horrible conflict..  The cities in question apparently preferred my ideological choice of Freedom over Bismark’s Order choice.  But that situation brought back memories of one of the things I liked about Civilization III.

All of which was interrupted by a call for a Megathron fleet.

Megathron, circa 2007, just because

TEST and pals were reported to be putting together a Prophecy fleet and we were called up to counter and/or murder them.  Or at least to keep them busy while a CFC capital fleet roamed Fountain putting things into reinforce states.

Prophecy, circa 2009

That is my latest screen shot of a Prophecy… at least the latest one I have taken.  I certainly did not get a chance to take any new screen shots of one.  But I am not sure it has changed as much as the Megathron has over the years.

Anyway, EVE was back in the foreground and full screen as we assembled and loaded the ammo and scripts as directed by our FC, Lazrus Telraven.  We jumped out of the B-DBYQ staging system and holed up in a POS in Fountain to wait.

And wait.

It was reported that TEST called off their fleet, then changed their mind, and then changed it again a couple more times.

So we sat on station in the POS as a ready reaction force.  I put EVE back in a window and pulled up Civ V again to continue my campaign there.  Laz talked people into playing what has become the favorite game of the CFC high command since it showed up on the Steam Summer Sale, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.  It is a first person shooter done up in the age of swords and armor… so if Diablo III in the first person perspective was on your to do list, here is an opportunity.   The game has popped up a couple of times during the sale for as low as six dollars.  I was tempted to join in, though it would have taken me longer to download the game from Steam than people ended up sitting around playing.  Maybe later.

So voice coms turned into cries of joy and pain and amazement as swords sang, arrows loosed, and heads rolled.  And fleet chat idled a bit, with occasional links to videos or more propaganda from the war, including one of my recent favorites.  I love the little Pandemic Legion logo on the bomb.

Literally North Korea

Literally North Korea

I am not sure that it needs the intro lines.  In fact, I think it works better without them.  But that is the way it is being spread about. (Some new TEST propaganda here.)

There were a couple more false alarms, reports of a TEST bomber fleet failing to catch the capital fleet, and some moving about the system to chase off a gate camp, but otherwise it was a quiet night for our fleet.

Eventually Laz gave us a participation link and flew us all back home to B-DBYQ.

Landing back on station in B-DBYQ

Stock footage of Megas landing at B-DBYQ station

We also serve, who only sit and play other games.

And so goes the war in Fountain on a Thursday night.

TEST Finds Their Motivation, Saves J5A

DoraTheExplora Taft > Log the fuck in and get your friends in!  Ill be raffling plexes away at random to people if we get over 900 in our fleets.  Ill start off with 5 plexes and add an extra plex to each additional 50 pilots we get.

-A TEST motivational technique in action

The war over Fountain has been through its first big weekend.  The CFC picked up five systems in the region over the weekend.

Fountain - June 10, 2013

Fountain – June 10, 2013

But the biggest point of conflict was the system J5A-IX.  If TEST controls that system, they can stage there and make CFC operations difficult while being able to strike at the CFC staging system at the other end of the jump gate.  If the CFC takes the system, then they can stage for operations in Fountain more easily and it takes some pressure off of B-DBYQ.

TEST couldn’t get the numbers for the first round on Friday night/Saturday morning.  The CFC had more than a thousand pilots roaming around J5A while TEST couldn’t get the numbers to fight back.

Sunday night/Monday morning was the final timer for J5A.  It was the make or break point for the system.  Sunday the CFC had been busy running around Fountain shooting structures.  I was on an op with Caracal Fleet to turn the station in XUW-3X.  It is kind of silly to send cruisers out to turn a station, and we ran out of ammo at one point despite being told to fill out holds.  The capital ships, which would have made short work of the station, were busy elsewhere with other targets.

I ended up having to leave before the op was done, so stayed in one of the NPC stations.  That left me stuck in Fountain.  Not wanting to risk flying solo back to B-DBYQ, I jump cloned back for the next big op, the final J5A fight.

The CFC rallied over a thousand pilots divided up amongst Tech Fleet, FU Fleet, Tengu Fleet, Caracal Fleet, and the usual suspects in the capital ship fleet.  Time dilation was out in full force.  B-DBYQ was running at 10% as we undocked, staged, and then finally moved into J5A.

In J5A we held in our staging POS.  The number of players in system peaked shy of 1,200 as we waited for TEST to arrive.  Multiple fleets were hanging around in there at various times.  I am sure I was probably in proximity of Poetic Stanziel, who has his own report up about the battle.

Time ticked by.  Tension mounted as we were told to be quiet on coms.  All the fleet commanders were getting news on the intel channel as to what was going on, and us talking in their ear at the same time was a distraction.

Then a cyno went up in system.  And then another.  The count in local began to rise, slowly at first, then by great chunks.  It topped 2,200 when orders began to come through.  We were to align to the B-DBYQ gate.  We were fleet warped to the gate and told to jump through or we would die.

Then began the longest gate transition I have ever experienced.  I think we were all stuck in the transition for a good 10 minutes, watching that gray Doctor Who tunnel slowly churn by at 10% tidi speed.  Many of us had session change duration errors come up, which actually let you invoke a debug stats window that at least showed you that things were still happening.

As that was going on, we were let in on some of the strategic situation.

TEST, in addition to bribing their own members to log on, had been getting other alliances on board with the “You hate Goons? Come kill Goons!” message.  So in addition to TEST and Tribal Band, they also had Black Legion, Retirement Club, Northern Coalition, Nulli Secunda, Pandemic Legion, and more riding with them, swelling their numbers past 1,700 according to intel I heard.

We were going to fall back and let them come get us.  It was assumed that they would not commit their capital fleet to a battle in B-DBYQ, thus evening up the odds some.  Once we were through, we sat on the gate, bubbles up, watching.

The first few ships that came through and broke cloak were picked off easily.  Then the numbers began to mount and the bloodbath began.

I got popped not too far into the fight, they must have been sorting Z to A or by distance, which was probably a good thing, as the operation had been going on for two and a half hours at this point and I had to call it a night.  Work was still going to be there in the morning.  I did get on a few kill mails, but the battle had a long ways to go.  As I tried to make my way to the edge of the bubbles in my pod, I was hit by a smart bomb and then it was just my corpse floating in space.  Back to the station and done for the night.  Judging from kill boards, the slaughter went on for at least another hour… which at 10% tidi is six minutes of actual combat at normal speeds.

In strategic terms, this was a win for TEST.  They let the CFC grab systems in Fountain already, but they managed to rally a huge force to defend J5A.  However, J5A is back in reinforce again.

The tactical results of the battle are less clear.  I haven’t seen a kill board result yet that I fully trust (this one maybe?), but it looks like the CFC, sitting on its own turf and able to reship and return to battle, was able to extract a greater cost on TEST and its allies than it had to pay.  I’ll link battle reports here as I see them.

The real question is what this battle portends.  Will TEST be able to motivate the troops and rally allies every time they face a decisive situation?  Black Legion and Retirement Club might be willing, but there was a rumor going around that Pandemic Legion had a break with TEST during the fight.  No idea on the real story there.

I suppose the next big fight will tell the tale.  The battle of attrition has begun.

Now I just want to know who in TEST won PLEX for showing up.

As usual, I have some pictures from operations on Sunday.  Wide angle shots are from Gaff.

TEST at J5A – Saving that Last Rifter for Another Day

MY PEOPLE: TEST is vowing to stand down and cede us J5A, leaving the first ‘battle’ of Fountain to us. Why? Of 900 online in their alliance, barely more than 300 are in Karan, their new lowsec staging point. Our response to this will be more sieging and flaying. TEST is vowing to return for the J5A armor timer.

DBRB is going to go on a rampage to hurt the remaining infrastructure

-Jabber Broadcast from The Mittani to a thousand online CFC pilots

One of the theories flying around after the beginning of the war for Fountain was that TEST was a sure thing to win because they bring the numbers, as happened at NOL last earlier.  Meanwhile, it was speculated that Goons wouldn’t show up in numbers for a fight that is over mere ISK.  Gevlon, ever the people person, assured us that is not how Goons are motivated and that The Mittani has made a fatal mistake in that regard.

Now, we are only one fight into the war, but like many pre-war theories from ages past, that one might need to be revised a bit.  We shall see.

Last night we were getting ready for our first big attack of the war and, as noted, TEST was expected to put up a defense.  Time dilation was running in B-DBYQ an hour before the 03:30 EVE time call for fleets.  I sat outside the station and watched capital ships jump in, with as many as nine cyno beacons running at once.

When the time to move off to the fight came, time dilation quickly fell into the 10-15% range as three fleets went to undock and move first to staging points and then to the gate to J5A.

J5A1-tidicomes

Earlier in the day I had taken a jump clone back to VFK where I bought a Caracal, as that is one of our fleet doctrines for this war.  It is cheap and I wanted to shoot something.  I caught a convoy back to B-DBYQ later, as the route to the front has been heavily camped.  Everybody knows where we are going.

So I got out my Caracal and joined Raeglan’s fleet.  And then we farted around in B-DBYQ for about 45 minutes trying to overcome tidi, mumble issues, and the usual problems of getting a thousand people pointed in the same direction.  At one point we were sitting in a POS and a Ragnarok jumped straight in with use sending people flying.  In Soviet POS, titan bumps you.

Eventually enough people made transitions… they left the station or they jumped into or out of the system… that the tidi went away.  The Caracals moved out and made the jump to J5A.  There, we flew to another POS and waited.  Then the announcement at the top of this post came through.  There would be no contest for the ihub at this time.

We went by and took a couple of shots at the ihub as the cap fleet was putting it into reinforce.  Then we jumped back to our POS while the coalition leaders decided what to with the forces at their disposal.  There was talk of putting more things into reinforce.  While we were there, we got the message about the ihub.

J5A-ihubmessage

At that point we had been out and about for 90 minutes and I was ready to call it a night.  I had been up early for work that day and I had to get up early again for my daughter’s soccer tournament in the morning.  So I broke off from the fleet and headed for home.

Lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that there were more than a thousand of us in the vicinity, I jumped back into B-DBYQ and headed straight for the station undock without checking anything.  This was, of course, a mistake.  I set myself in motion and tabbed out to another window, then tabbed back to find that Rote Kapelle had set up a bubble on the way to the undock.  Ripard Teg, aka Jester, was there, making it the first time I have seen him in game, even if the meeting was  extremely short.

B-DBYQ undock welcoming committee

B-DBYQ undock welcoming committee

There went my Caracal and capsule.  You snooze, you lose.

My first loss in the war.  It certainly won’t be my last.

I had at least set my medical clone to the station, so I popped right back into game at my destination.  And it looks like more ships are going up on contract at B-DBYQ, so I shouldn’t have to fly back to replace my loss.  And I have my two logis and a Celestis that Gaff hauled out for me.

Gaff got tapped for cap fleet and took a few screen shots of their op for me.  I have some of my side of the operation as well.

And the war goes on.  Gaff has been out and about with cap fleet today.  I am sure there will be more to follow.  Fights loom.

Meanwhile, Endie has a summary of the war so far.

Deploying to the Front Lines in Fountain

I was keen to get down to the staging base for the was in Fountain.  So as soon as I could get into the game, I started looking for a convoy op that was headed down to B-DBYQ, the initial CFC base of operations for the war.  I remember the delopment to Delve last year around this time, where I missed the first couple of days and convoys stopped getting formed.  I had to make my way down solo, which meant dying.  I think I have learned something since then.

B-DBYQ is essentially the last system in CFC space and sits on one end of a jump gate connection that covers the big gap between Cloud Ring and the J5A-IX system in Fountain.

If I am looking at the map right...

If I am looking at the map right…

That is our gateway into Fountain.

Fortune was with me, as a convoy was forming up for the run from VFK-IV down to B-DBYQ right then.  The question was, what to pack?  Or what to fly?

The State of the Goonion announcement said there would be no call for Alpha Fleet ships.  Drake fleet is no longer really a thing.  And I do not have any ships, other than logistics, for the remaining doctrines that we will be using.  So logistics seemed to be the way to go.  I pulled out my Tech Fleet Oneiros, joined the convoy fleet, and flew out to the staging POS to wait for the FC, Reelism, to get us under way.

Oneiros in the POS

Oneiros in the POS

Tech Fleet logistics seemed to be a good plan.  I saw a lot of Tech Fleet ships, especially Tempest Fleet Issue battleships, along for the ride in the convoy.

Tempests on the way

Tempests on the way

I realized, as we started off on our journey, that this was the first time I had really been in space since Odyssey launched this week.  So there were actually new things to see.  For example there is the sensor overlay effect that happens every time you enter space or jump into a new system.  This gives sort of a 360 degree sweep of the system around you, highlighting points of interest.

My first impression of that was it wasn’t really all that practical.  Often when I jump into a system I am busy doing other things while that scan happens, and I am not sure if it can be invoked again later.  But it is something.

And then there are the update jump gates.  The graphics of the games themselves have been updated to be more active.  There are elctro-static effects and such ships are jumping through.

Jump gate discharge

Jump gate discharge

And then, once you jump, your camera is aimed down the center of the jump gate, there is a whole new “warp tunnel” effect as you travel, and then a somewhat sudden transition as you arrive at the far end.

Because of its newness, there was some discussion of all of this on voice coms.  The consensus seemed to be that, while it was perhaps not the best thing since sliced bread, it sure beat staring at a loading screen or a progress bar or the like.  Give then bittervet demographic in the fleet, that seems to be an endorsement of the change.

The trip down was otherwise pretty quick.  The distance wasn’t all that great, but I have been on convoy ops where we have taken an hour to go 8 jumps.  And there wasn’t much opposition.  There was a report about some TEST bombers… TEST bombers are shooting us on purpose now, which given past events, might mean we are actually safer… but we managed to avoid any encounters.

Once down in B-DBYQ, I met up with Gaff who had a couple of spare ships for me that he hauled down in his carrier.  He had a Scimitar logistics ship and a Manticore stealth bomber for me.  The Scimitar was good.  I now have logistics ships for all of the likely fleet types.  The Manticore was cool though.  I trained for stealth bombers a while back, but never got around to buying one.  And the updated Manticore model looks pretty neat.  At this moment, it is featured in the blog header.  Plus, that gave me a potential “shooting” ship for operations.

And then it was time to look for something to do.  Jabber was quite active.  However, it was almost all for convoy ops to B-DBYQ from various points in CFC space.  Gaff was off on a POS shoot with the capital fleet.  He sent me a couple of screen shots.

Caps shooting a POS

Caps shooting a POS

Around B-DBYQ, there was a lot of travel activity.  There were capital ships all around the undock.

Big ships on the undock

Big ships on the undock

There was even a titan hanging around the station on bridging duty.  Seeing a titan no longer counts as a big deal for me I guess.  But it is still rare to see one sitting by itself in space, rather than inside a POS bubble or in a fleet.

Ragnarok on the station

Ragnarok on the station

Titans are extremely high value targets and titans that get caught alone in space tend to attract hostiles like flies.  Everybody wants to be on a titan kill mail.

So I pottered about.  I flew my new stealth bomber around just for the sheer hell of it.  I had dinner.  I watched some hockey.  I checked Jabber every so often.

Eventually DBRB and his Tengu fleet arrived back in the neighborhood and I was able to hop in a Scimitar and fly with them.  Not that we went very far.  We ended up camping a gate in J5A-IX, the system next door, our foothold system in Fountain.

Scimitars

Scimitars

This meant keeping bubbles up on the gate and hoping that TEST would stumble into the system.  A couple of singletons did show up, but the highlight was when 50 TEST Talwar destroyers jumped showed up and were shredded.

Destroyers to pods to corpses

Destroyers to pods to corpses

Coming up against a Tengu fleet, the Talwars pretty much had no chance at all.  Our mix of ships was off the biggest contingent was logistics, so we were even able to save most of our frigates.  We saved a Rifter that got targeted.  Total losses were approximately 50 Talwars for the loss of one Atron.

And then things were quiet as we flew around the gate.  The Mittani showed up in our op channel after the repeat State of the Goonion, this time with questions and answers, and there was a promise of going off to do something at some point.  But we mostly just sat at the gate.  I flew around, looted a couple of wrecks (I have a pile of faction light missiles now! Go me!), looked at the SBU that was off the gate, and listened to coms.

SBU with our bubbled gate

SBU with our bubbled gate

We eventually pulled back to our in-system POS to wait for a titan to show up so we could bridge out for whatever was planned.  That ended up taking a while and, it being a week night, I wasn’t able to hang around any longer, so I called it a night and headed back to the station in B-DBYQ.

I am deployed down by Fountain though, ready to be part of the fight.  The theme for the day, due to the date, was the D-Day invasion.  We are going to liberate Fountain.

TEST says that they are going to fight to the last Rifter.  This weekend should be interesting if that is true, but it can be hard to tell what is propaganda for the troops and what reflects the real situation.  I remember the famous declaration from White Noise a year and a half back.  At least TEST is not claiming they were surprised by all of this.