Tag Archives: Circle of Two

Flip That Keepstar and Changes in Impass

Word came down as we sat on the former Circle of Two Keepstar in 68FT-6 that it would be changing owners again.  A deal had been negotiated wherein TEST would be buying the citadel from us.  Soon Middle Management Dino was floating between the uprights of the Keepstar.

The TEST logo flying proudly

It had been reported previously that The Judge had received 300 billion ISK to transfer the Keepstar to GSF, and the rumor going about was that TEST bought it yesterday for 400 billion ISK.  Despite the markup that is still a pretty good price for a fully fitted, lightly used (never been besieged!) Keepstar.  Look the price at which zKillboard valued a recent Keepstar kill.

The name remains the same for now.

Keepstar still bubbled

Meanwhile, some diligent camper brought in some more small bubbles and rebuilt the “LOL” in space above the citadel.

Bubble arrangement

Somebody on coms said that the shaft of the dong also had to be recreated as it had also been built out of tech I warp disruption bubbles, which only last for 48 hours.  (Bubble decay came in with the YC119.3 update.  Before then they lasted until somebody shot them.)

Selling the Keepstar at least answers my question about what we were planning to do with it.  We weren’t going to keep it here in Impass, which will soon be hostile to us again, and packing it up to ship it back to Delve invites a gank attempt.  Now what to do with it is TEST’s problem.

And speaking of problems, the camp itself is becoming a bit of one.  As time goes on more and more of the CO2 groups are leaving that alliance and joining one of the others that we are temp blue with.  So in addition to the people moving into Impass, some of which are temp blue and some of which are not, we have corps in transition, having left CO2 but in the cool down before they can join TEST or Brave or whoever.  So there were many moments where there seemed to be a target… like when a Capital Fusion Naglfar undocked… only to find they were tethered because they were pledged to TEST but not yet in the alliance.

The dismantling of CO2 continues, with many pilots and most systems gone now.

Circle of Two Changes – Sep. 15, 2017

CO2 membership is still in motion, but the sovereignty has been divided up by members of the Legacy Coalition, which Impass being shared by Brave, Drone Walkers, and Requiem Eternal.

Impass Sov – Sep. 15, 2017

TEST also has a system in the region, though it is not 68FT-6, which makes me wonder what they are going to do with the Keepstar once things settle down.

Meanwhile, the camp of the Keepstar seems set to wind down.  Fewer and fewer attempts to escape are being made and we’re occasionally having to pay people who we shouldn’t shoot.  The number of CO2 pilots hanging out in the Keepstar is dwindling.  Then there is the fire sale market, which has been pretty much picked over.  The good deals are gone.  There are a few things I might buy if we lived here.  But having to haul stuff back to Delve or to Jita is a non-starter.

I suspect that we will pack up and head home before the weekend is out.  Then the temporary cease fire will run out and Impass will go back to being hostile territory and somebody else’s problem.

Meanwhile Triumvirate, CO2’s ally in the war, looks to be in an uncomfortable situation.  Still, they managed to blow up an FCON Fortizar and a Nyx while people were focused on Impass and 68FT-6.

The camp out in 68FT-6, tiny in the scope of the universe

And the story of null sec grinds slowly on.

Addendum: The camp is over.  TEST head Progodlegend has declared that CO2 corps are welcome in TEST, (save for those evil advisors in Balkan Mafia who steered GigX into all of this) so they can’t very well let us keep shooting them (or join in on that).  Progodlegend declared his disgust with The Jude in his statement, though just the other day he was saying on Reddit “You made the right call Judge.”

So said PGL initially

Anyway, CO2 members have a clear out now and we’re all headed home after a few days of camping.

At the Camp in 68FT-6

Being the space tourist that I am, I had to get out to 68FT-6 to see the pilfered Keepstar, the hell camp, and the various warp disruption bubbles laid about the station.

The bubbles above the Keepstar

Pings were calling for more interdictors and I had a Flycatcher stashed not too far away, so I tried to get out to the scene, but fell victim to a gate camp.  It was a gate camp I should have expected, could have avoided, and likely could have escaped, but I managed to be dumb on all front at that point and got blown up instead.  Typical me.

That put me back in Delve where I grabbed a Sabre I had handy and started the flight out to 68FT-6 all over again.  The route from Delve to Impass was actually pretty safe thanks to the fact that we are temporarily blue with both TEST and Brave Newbies, so in my speedy ship it wasn’t too long before I was arriving at my destination.

First glimpse of the Keepstar name

I docked up, then undocked to join one of the fleets camping the Keepstar, waiting for any daring CO2 pilot to try and get away.

Hanging out in the bubbles near the undock

I hung out in the fleet, listened to coms, and generally only paid half attention at most to what was going on.  There wasn’t much.  Capsules and interceptors that undocked to try and slip out were quickly picked off by sensor boosted insta-lockers in the fleet.  There was little chance to get in on those kills unless you had drones assigned to one of those pilots.

I did luck out and get on one kill when an Apostle undocked to get blown up for insurance.

Apostle getting hit

I almost missed out on that.  I saw the Apostle appear on my overview and it took me a moment to process the fact that somebody had undocked and wasn’t almost instantly dead.  By the time I locked the ship up the damage was well into armor.  But I was close enough to get in a few hits with my tiny whore gun and was included on the kill mail.  Somebody gunning the Keepstar did most of the damage.

After that it was more hanging out and listening to coms.  DBRB showed up for a bit and stirred people up.  After he left some new guy said he had heard about DBRB but now understood why people hated him.  I could only think, “You know nothing Jon Snow!”  That little visit was barely Boat at all.  I am very much on the pro-Boat side of things because nobody throws themselves into this game like he does and he has been leading fleets and getting kills for longer than any active FC I know.  But he is an acquired taste and a little Boat can go a long way.

Sitting around on the Keepstar

We also have the station in the system well covered.

Station bubbles? Check!

Being a tourist attraction, other fleets and individuals would show up from time to time just to look in on the event.  What looked to be a Spectre fleet showed up in Confessors and hung about for a bit, killing somebody being dumb in a Legion before heading off for greener pastures.

Confessors lurking well out of range

Not far off from the Keepstar, on the same grid, Legion of xXDEATHXx was dropping a Raitaru.

Raitaru online in seconds

I am not sure what Legion of xXDEATHXx has planned in the area, but TEST was about guarding the deployment, so they are clearly welcome in the area.

Legion of xXDEATHXx logo on the Raitaru

And then there were the CO2 members hanging out in the Keepstar looking for a way out.

I am not going to go Gevlon and claim there were no victims here, but the people in CO2 do have some options.  There is asset safety with citadels, so after some duration they can pay 15% of the assessed value of their stuff to have it delivered to a station in low sec.  That can add up quickly and  you’re still stuck in low sec and have to move your stuff around, but you can at least get your stuff… unless you have a super capital.  You can only dock a super in a citadel, not an NPC station, so some very expensive ships might be lost.

But even that can be worked around.  A number of alliances are taking in CO2 individuals and corporations.  TEST is very open and even the Imperium has picked up some members from CO2.  Back at the end of the Casino War I saw people leave the Imperium, join Pandemic Horde, rescue their stuff, then come back to the Imperium.  Some times you have to do what you have to do to get your stuff safe.

I wouldn’t want to trade places with them, but all is not lost.

While out on the camp the word came over coms that The Judge had joined Goonswarm.

The Judge

Like Haargoth Agamar before him (the guy who disbanded Band of Brothers) The Judge was take in by Goonswarm, but faces a future of relative obscurity.  As others have noted, and even Haargoth himself said before he pulled the trigger, after you do something like this it isn’t like you’re going to get a lot of positions of responsibility.  You’ve shown your colors and that is that.  He certainly won’t run for the CSM again.  He would be a distraction and would be more likely to get people to vote just to elect somebody else.  Some people have been asking if there is a way to recall him from the current CSM.

And then there is GigX.

He got himself perma banned for continuous, very public, often very specific threats to harm The Judge in real life either at his home or when he shows up in Iceland for the next CSM summit.  That goes well beyond “heat of the moment” to my mind.  He burned himself and good, though he might yet get himself reinstated with an appropriate apology and whatever amends might fit.  We shall see.

I’m somewhat pissed that he felt he had to loudly and publicly threaten The Judge and get himself banned.  It was both dumb and avoidable and it also hurt the game.

First, the end of the story was cut short.  And in null sec stories are what makes the place great.  You can blow people up anywhere, but you can only play space empires in null.  CO2 is done for now by default because GigX is gone.  We won’t know how things might have played out had he stayed in the game or what sort of recovery of might have occurred.  I wouldn’t bet against the determination of GigX, and despite some of the things he has done to his alliance, he has his share of supporters.

Second, and probably more importantly, his behavior changed the narrative in the news.  Rather than this being a story of intrigue and betrayal, it is becoming a tale about how a bad person in a bad game made real life threats and got banned.  Gamers remain horrible people as he managed to shit on all of us.  Thanks.

Welcome to the new cycle.

So I remain out on the camp, collecting participation links… I need some as I haven’t been on a fleet yet this month… and watch a lot of brand new TEST pilots undock and fly away.  I wonder what we’re going to do with the Keepstar once the temp blue situation is over?

Even Fat Bee is in a bubble

There is still work to be done, CO2 space to be carved up and conquered, new homes to be found, and a new balance of power to be sorted out.  But that will come and eventually things will settle down and events of the day will fade into memory just like the mocking bubbles spelling out LOL above the Keepstar.

Bubbles, like events, fade eventually

And yes, somebody made a giant penis out of warp disruption bubbles below the Keepstar.

Make no mistake, it is a dong

I think people… well, men… have been scrawling penises on things throughout history, so why not in this pretend dystopian future?

The Imperium Buys a Keepstar

During the recent CSM summit Aryth, one of the representatives from the Imperium, brokered a deal to buy a Keepstar citadel in the system of 68FT-6.  Let me bring that system up on the DOTLAN map.

Hey, isn’t that Impass?

Yes, that is in Impass, and the system 68FT-6 is the capital system for the Circle of Two alliance.

In one of those great moments that happen from time to time in null sec politics, CSM member The Judge, who appeared on the Imperium ballot despite being in CO2, finally got fed up with the way GigX, the leader of CO2 was running the alliance and sold him out.

The Imperium ended up with a Keepstar… ISK well spent… so I guess it was true, we could work with him.  (It isn’t the first Keepstar that GigX has lost.)

Things have not gone well for GigX and CO2 since they betrayed the Imperium a year and a half back at the battle of M-OEE8 during the Casino war.  His immediate gains in territory were stripped from him once his erstwhile allies had sent us packing to Delve and he too had to head south to form up with TEST.

After acquiring space in the south things began to slowly deteriorate, both within the alliance and with neighbors, until things finally broke down with TEST, their closest ally, in late August.  Then war opened, with only a few siding with CO2.

And now this.  The Imperium holds their Keepstar and has a hellcamp setup to try to catch and blow up anybody trying to escape.  There is a temp blue situation with TEST so we can work with them on this.

Live from 68FT-6

(screen shot courtesy of Naice Rucima)

Meanwhile, TEST now controls all of the CO2 Fortizars, The Judge emptied the alliance coffers, and the line members have to be in a panic or looking for an out.  TEST has said they would accept corps and individuals from CO2.

This is going to take some time to play out, but I felt I had to put a pin in the date to remember when it started.  This could be the end for CO2.  It certainly seems likely to be the end for GigX, who was alleged to have threatened The Judge with an out of game visit and has reportedly been perma-banned for this.

Sources talking about what happened:

And so it goes.  I was going to write something up about today’s patch, but aside from new skills coming in for the moon mining update set for the upcoming Life Blood expansion, there isn’t much to talk about.  But now we have this instead!

FR-B1H – Force Auxiliaries can Save Your Supers

In hindsight, it was probably a pretty sure thing that an alliance prone to dropping capitals without sufficient force auxiliary support would end up paying for it.  Faxes aren’t that expensive as far as capitals go and enough of them will save your supers.

And so it happened to Circle of Two when they collided with Pandemic Legion and Goonswarm yesterday in FR-B1H in Impass.  There is a report about the fight up at EN24 by a member of PL that details how things played out.  But the net result was five CO2 titans down and about 870 billion ISK in losses overall for the alliance.

Battle Report divided into the usual sides

This all happened while I was at work, as these things tend to.  Even B-R5RB started while I was at the office, it just carried on long enough for me to finish work, go home, eat dinner, and then join in.  But it was all over Reddit and the topic of the day on coalition coms last night.  I’ve already heard/read a few variations of the fight and how it escalated, but the main items seem to agree and from that a couple of items stand out.

The first is the use of force auxiliaries, or faxes, and CO2’s lack of them as they jumped into the fight.  This allowed the CO2 supers to be destroyed as there were not enough repair reps on field to save them.  CO2 seemed to be following a policy of “jump first, organize later” in order to first save the initial Rorqual and then to counter the growing PL capital fleet.

And I compare this to my own experience with this sort of situation.  In fact, not that many hours before the events in Impass the Imperium faced a similar situation in Y-OMTZ in Delve.  Again, Pandemic Legion was dropping dreads, this time on a Rorqual in our space.  A Ping went out for an fast fleet form with an emphasis on faxes.  The coalition has been pushing for everybody to train into and have a fax on hand.  We formed up, got undocked, and once a critical mass had been met… and the cyno inhibitor that PL dropped was destroyed… we jumped in as a mass.  That led to a less out-of-balance battle report result.

The drop at Y-OMTZ

We were even able to save a Leviathan that jumped in on its own and looked to done for until we landed and were able to rep it with the faxes on grid.  Coming in mass with lots of reps changed the result.  PL came out ahead, but the exchange hit both sides about the same.  If we had been able to save the single Hel we lost, the ratio would have been in our favor.

The counter drop on the field in Y-OMTZ

The second item that stands out from what I heard was how fighters were deployed on both sides.  PL came armed with space superiority fighters, the fighters meant to shoot down opposing fighters.  On the CO2 side of things it is alleged that, when asked whether or not his carrier pilots should bring space superiority fighters, GigX responded that they should not because he would not be calling fighters as targets.

This led to CO2’s carriers and super carriers losing almost 400 squadrons of fighters (seen here), adding 5 billion ISK to their loss total and rendering many of their carriers impotent as they ran out of fighters to deploy.  That couldn’t have helped out the CO2 cause.  Having counters to fighters ought to be another lesson learned here.

Another day in New Eden.

I haven’t been keeping close count of titan kills for a while, but adding FR-B1H to the last list I made sorts events out as such:

  • B-R5RB – 74 titans down (plus one on the way to the fight)
  • FR-B1H – 5 titans down
  • Okagaiken – 4 titans down
  • Asakai – 3 titans down
  • KVN-36 – 2 titans down

Have there been any other multi-titan loss events to add to that list.

Finally, I guess I have to give credit to CO2 for one thing.  In our battle we failed to save two of the three Rorquals that got dropped.  CO2 saved theirs.  So they have that going for them.

Opening the New War at F4R2-Q

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cap Fleet still not fully undocked

Cap Fleet still not fully undocked

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

Tethered and Waiting for the bridge

Tethered and Waiting for the bridge

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

And then we warped in and the battle began.

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

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

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

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

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

Painters on, missiles firing

Painters on, missiles firing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fleet time - 10 hours 41 minutes

Fleet time – 10 hours 49 minutes

That leaves the result of the battle.

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

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

DOTLAN report on ships destroyed

DOTLAN report on ships destroyed

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

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

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

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

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

So the war is on.

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

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

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

Winter War in South New Eden

After the giant mess of the M-OEE8 Keepstar battle, Circle of Two announced that they would be pulling out of the north end of null sec.  Neither they nor their allies, TEST, would defend their remaining holdings in Tribute or Vale of the Silent, allowing Pandemic Legion and NCDot to scoop up great swathes of the two regions to turn into rental space.  Same as it ever was.

The question then became where would these two alliances head.  They vowed to stick together to take new space, but there was speculation as to where.  The decision has finally been made; CO2 and TEST, joined by FCON and The Drone Walkers… not sure why they are showing up, but there they are and their space in Tenal is being taken… will be attacking the Stainwagon coalition, which is spread over the regions of Paragon Soul, Esoteria, and Impass along with bits of Feythabolis and Catch.  According to the Coalition Guide, Stainwagon is made up of:

  • Soviet-Union – 2060 pilots
  • Against ALL Authorities – 1151 pilots
  • Desman Alliance – 956 pilots
  • C0VEN – 1038 pilots
  • Good Sax – 306 pilots
  • FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT STELLAR SYSTEMS – 1409 pilots
  • pwn-O-graphy – 275 pilots
  • Wings Wanderers – 1335 pilots
  • The Afterlife. – 656 pilots
  • Kids With Guns Alliance – 2435 pilots
  • Swords of Damocles – 374 pilots
  • The Volition Cult – 2408 pilots

That gives them a combined total of about 14K pilots. (Yes, pilots don’t necessarily align to actual people, but it is the only measure we have.)  You can see those alliances grouped up in the south on the current influence map from the usual source:

Null Sec Influence - December 30, 2016

Null Sec Influence – December 30, 2016

TEST, CO2, FCON, and the Drone Walkers bring over 17K pilots to the fight and represent a smaller leadership group, which may make them effective beyond their numbers against the dispersed Stainwagon Coalition.

The alleged political reason for Stainwagon being the target is their past friendship with Goons, though if that had to count against alliances then we’d have to bring up TEST, CO2, and FCON as fellow members of that club as well.

The REAL reason is more likely contained in a quote from TEST (and former GSF) FC Vily over at EN24 that I would sum up, in my own words, as “Nothing personal, but they have space and we think we can take them.”  Ever a good enough reason for war in New Eden.

Some alliances the Stainwagon coalition did indeed come out in support of the Imperium during The Casino War (part of the Russian complication in April which also saw the Drone Walkers show up) and that relationship has been maintained, including allowing the Imperium to pass through the Catch region to hit FCON on occasion.  In return the Imperium will be coming to their aid to fight against what has become known as the Circle of TEST coalition and whatever hangers on they bring.  The Imperium has over 20K pilots on their roster, which is some weight to be throwing around.

War is coming, which is always good for the game.

But there is also a strategic question to consider.  Circle of TEST has stated that their goal is to find space where they can build up their super capital fleet.  Currently PL and NCDot have dominance on that front, having bounced back easily from their losses at B-R5RB just about three years back.  That is PL and NCDot’s ace in the hole, the fall back “I Win” button when the outcome of a battle is in question.

Right now the Imperium is on a crash capital and super capital building binge to close that gap, and have had time to setup and rebuild in Delve, something that PL and NCDot no doubt see as a threat.  But will they allow another defeated enemy in the form of Circle of TEST to also setup shop in the south and begin cranking out capital ships that may trim back the advantage PL and NCDot hold?  Or does conflict in the south suite them as the build their new rental empire in the north?

And what of the powers closer to hand?  The Imperium has already declared themselves in the fight.  Will Provi Bloc and the Drone Region Federation be content to left Circle of TEST move in so they can build up an offensive force in their back yards?  Provi Bloc generally keeps to itself, and the DRF has some animosity built up against Stainwagon.  Will third parties piling into the area change any of that?  Do the new neighbors look good or would they prefer the status quo?

So we will be going into the new year with a new war with its own set of New Eden-wide political and alliance questions.  A new chapter in the ongoing tale of null sec space. (I’m tentatively tagging this as “Stain War 2017” until a better name comes up.)  And, of course, there will be propaganda, sometimes the best part of these wars… especially when TEST is involved.  I grabbed a couple of samples from /r/eve:

Coverage of events so far:

Death of a Keepstar and Exits from Tribute

The previous weekend we headed up to Tribute to 3rd party on the battle in M-OEE8 to shoot targets of opportunity.  There was a giant six hour slow motion spaceship melee around Circle-of-Two’s Keepstar.  However, that was just the preliminary, the second act of a three act play.

This past Saturday was the real deal, the actual final engagement when the Keepstar would be saved or blow up dramatically.  Even CCP put up an official notice about the event.  I wanted to see that, but I wasn’t sure the Imperium was going to show up.  We were having our own little spaceship tournament (in which Asher led the Reavers to victory) so I decided to make my own plan.  Fortunately I had an option in place.

Back when I pulled out of Tribute, literally just a day before we officially abandoned our space there, I left behind some stuff in UMI-KK.  I gave some of it away and sold most of the rest at well above Jita prices.  But I also left a jump clone there along with a Manticore stealth bomber along with a cyno and some liquid ozone with an eye to being able to bring in trouble some day.

That day never came and as summer rolled around we moved to Delve, but I left that clone and ship in place.  This seemed to be the time to reactivate that asset.

So on Thursday night I clone jumped to UMI-KK, packed up what I had left in the station, and made my way carefully E-OGL4, on gate from M-OEE8 and then safed up and logged out as there was a lot of coming and going at the time and I did not want to get caught on the gate trying to slip in.

Getting safely offline

Getting safely offline

I came back a couple of times until I found a quiet stretch and warped from my perch below the gate and jumped to M-OEE8.

Once there I made my own safe spots then set about trying to find the Keepstar.  Even something so big isn’t all that big in the scale of a solar system.  It wasn’t open to me, so it didn’t show up on my overview.  I saw that my kills from the previous week were marked on zKillboard as being in the vicinity of planet VIII, but warping there didn’t show anything.  My last shot was the cynos that seemed to be in continuous use.  They would likely be on grid with the Keepstar, but they might be also be at one of the citadels that the attackers had anchored around the Keepstar.  Either option would do, so long as I stayed cloaked.  Either side would be happy enough to shoot me.

So I picked one and warped to it at 100km while cloaked.  At least I am pretty sure that is what I did.  What happened was that I landed right on the Keepstar and was decloaked.  You feel a bit exposed sitting there on a besiged station, hostiles coming and going all around.  One of those “oh shit!” moments in New Eden that raises your heart rate.

I immediately aligned back to my safe and warped off… but had the presence of mind at the last moment to bookmark the Keepstar.  I got away safely and was able to warp back to the bookmark at 100km, this time landing at range.  Then I pointed myself up (relative to the plane of the solar system) and motored to a spot 250km above the Keepstar.   Then I made a couple more bookmarks at about that distance as backups, went back to my safe and logged off.

The next day, almost an hour before the Keepstar timer was set to some out, I logged in and warped to my perch.

On grid with the Keepstar

On grid with the Keepstar

There were already about three thousand people in local and the number was climbing steadily.  20 minutes before the timer came out, that number passed four thousand and time dilation had already kicked in and was down to 20% at times.  With about a minute left on the count down, I tweeted a picture of local, which had already crossed the five thousand mark.  Tidi was already in full force.

New record set before the battle

New record set before the battle

That was already more people in system for the battle than had every piled into before.  The number eventually passed 5,300, at which point the server seemed to feel that was the maximum point of stability as it started dropping people until it got under 5,300 again.

I do not have a dramatic tale to tell as far as the fight goes.  I was there to see the sights and, most importantly, get on the Keepstar kill mail.  As I joked, I figured I could sit in my safe for three hours, warp to the Keepstar, take a shot, then warp back to my safe and be set.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple.

After about an hour I warped to one of my perches, and watched the fight a bit, thne warped to 50km off the Keepstar.  I seemed to be fairly far from most other ships, with only a few in the 30-60km range.  From there I aligned back to a safe, decloaked, locked up the citadel, and fired my torpedoes.  After a couple of salvos I saw an Crow locking me, so I warped off, cloaked up, and sat safe for a bit as I went off to make some lunch.  The Keepstar was at 79% structure.

I tabbed out, watched some of the Imperium tournament, listened to a podcast, wrote most of yesterday’s silly post, and generally ignored the fight.

When I checked back I founded that the EVE Online client had quit with an error.  I was no longer in the system and as like as not I would no longer get credit on the kill mail.  This needed to be addressed immediately.

I logged back in, which given the stress on the system was surprisingly smooth.  I suspect being off-grid in a safe all by myself helped on that front.  I again warped to my perch, then to within 50km of the Keepstar and took another shot at it.  At that point it was a 56% structure and local had actually dropped to about 3,900 people.  I wasn’t the only one getting kicked off it seemed.

Then it was back to my safe, then on grid at a perch to watch for a bit, then back to my safe to idle.  I let the client be again and went and played Pokemon Sun on the couch.  Of course, once I returned, the client had died again.  Time to log back in.

In successfully again, I once more warped to a perch, then into range of the Keepstar to take a shot.  I aligned, decloaked, and salvoed the torpedo launchers again.  I seemed to be pretty safe in my spot, so I also locked up an Mobile Tractor Unit that was close by to take a couple shots at that.  The Keepstar was down to 21% structure then and local was still below four thousand.

Keepstar target

Keepstar target

I took shots at the MTU until a Caracal wandered into range, locked me up, and hit me with a couple of volleys of missiles.  Fortunately, he did not tackle me… he may not have been equipped to tackle me, as he never got closer than 30km but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out… and I warped off to my safe yet again.  Then it was back onto grid with the Keepstar to watch the final bits.

At that point my wife reminded me that I had committed to go pick up a pizza for an early dinner, so I called that in, left myself at the perch over the Keepstar, and my wife and I drove off to pick up the pizza.

When I got back I was still there… and so was the Keepstar.  However, when I checked Twitter, somebody said it had already been killed… but then was still there taking damage.  Had I missed the final moments?  Was the Keepstar still really there or not?  I put the camera on the Vanquisher titan that was parked close by the Keepstar and moved is to I was focused on the citadel.  The Keepstar obliged me by starting to explode shortly thereafter. (You can’t put the camera on the object itself, as the system yanks it back to your ship the moment it starts to explode.)

The explosion begins

The explosion begins

The explosion seemed somewhat off… probably due to tidi.  It spent a lot of time brewing up points of fire as in the picture above, then there was a sudden orange flash, then the explosion, and then things settled down and it was done.

Now for the important question: Did I get on the kill mail.  The system was still going well enough that it generated pretty quickly for the person who got the final blow, an Legion of xXDEATHXx pilot named Vlulvik Hrapruk.

The kill mail begins

The kill mail begins – two pilots gain fame

However, the kill mail itself was so big with 4,078 people listed on it that trying to view it crashed my client.  I had to log in yet again.  But people were getting the hell out of the system at this point, tidi was relaxing a bit, and I was eventually able to find myself way down the list on the kill.  You can find me on the list over at zKillboard.  A warning though, even trying to list all pilots on that kill mail will put your browser into a “Not Responding” state for a minute or so.

Soon the system was responsive and tidi was minimal and only those trying to loot the field were left.  I did my part and shot up another MTU, getting top damage and the final blow.

Deployable dispatched!

Deplorable deployable dispatched!

I warped around a bit while cloaked, looking for other targets of opportunity, but it was still a bit hazardous for something as easy to kill as a stealth bomber.  I did see some CO2 guys clearing off any hostile MTUs, including Tyffanny, who was our first kill during the Keepstar armor timer battle the previous week.

Back again in M-OEE8

Back again in M-OEE8

And that was about it for me.  I sat for a bit in my safe until the system totals dropped some more, then went to my perch over the Taisy gate.  Seeing it was clear I warped and jumped to low sec and motored on into high sec and headed to a station closer to home in Delve before I logged off.  My Manticore which, judging from its name was left over from the Reavers deployment to Wicked Creek more than a year back (RATKINGBOIS!), was safe and its cargo full of such valuables as Ice Mining Upgrade I modules was secure.

That was my exit from Tribute.  I have no assets left in the region.

And it was also and exit for CO2 and TEST, despite any remaining citadels.

The CO2 Fort on the Taisy gate, inaptly named

The CO2 Fort on the Taisy gate, inaptly named

Checking on DOTLAN now you can see that they hold no more sovereignty in Tribute.

Tribute - December 12, 2016

Tribute – December 12, 2016

Now the question is whether or not the war continues.  The original causus belli for the war was to secure part of the region for Pandemic Horde, as I recorded back in early October. PH has since changed its mind on moving and no longer seems keen to occupy M-OEE8.

Meanwhile, TEST and CO2 still hold sovereignty in The Vale of the Silent region next door.  A couple of systems in CO2’s constellation in the region seem to be reinforced and there is an unlikely rumor on Reddit that TEST is evac’ing to low sec, but I am far enough removed from the conflict to be unable to weigh either item.  I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

The battle itself saw a lot of ships destroyed.  If I read zKillboard correctly, the Keepstar itself got on something like 600 kill mails, even whoring on my MTU kill.  Destruction came to many.  The map says almost four thousand.

Trouble in Tribute

Trouble in Tribute

DOTLAN puts the number higher, claiming over seven thousand ships and five thousand pods destroyed over the previous 24 hours.

Tribute Region rules the roost

Tribute Region rules the kill roost

So that is what happened on Saturday, another 6+ hour long tidi lag-fest where thousands of players tried to get in to see the first fully operation Keepstar get blown up.  The server did not melt down and CCP can rightly ask what other online game is getting that many people in close proximity.

Other sites have overage of the Keepstar Battle and the war:

And, of course, I have a selection of screen shots from the battle itself.