Tag Archives: Cloud Ring

Lurching into Cloud Ring for War

As I mentioned in a previous post, the promise of a deployment was set to be fulfilled this past weekend.  The Mittani told us that come the Fireside on Saturday we would learn our destination and foe and the Goon Expeditionary Force would sail off on a new adventure.

The left bee is the official one, but I still like the CompuServe logo on the other one…

And then we got to the Fireside and he didn’t tell us.  We were still going.  It was still the traditional short speech and then into fleets to head out.  But he declined to tell us our destination or foe.

His justification was that some of the null sec watchers had declared that they knew exactly where we were going, but wouldn’t say where or even hazard a public guess, so Mittens said he wanted to keep them guessing since that was a pretty sure sign they didn’t know.

This sort of thing happens every time the word is out that we are going to deploy.  I was writing about the same thing almost exactly a year ago in the run up to our deployment north to glass Tribute.  So I don’t doubt that this time was any different.  And we would find out soon enough as the meeting ended and pings for move op fleets went up.

The doctrines for the deployment had been announced, the the usuals taking the lead.  I got out a Guardian for the Sacrilege fleet doctrine, loaded it up with extra drugs and replacement drones and a few other special refit items and got undocked and ready to go.  I always want to go in the first move op.  That is usually where you learn the most… and where the most screw ups happen.

Once again on the Keepstar undock

You can see a bunch of capitals… dreads, carriers, and faxes… on the undock with me.

I put my alt in a bomber as there was a special ping for those, so I figured that would be the next most important doctrine to get up there.  I was wrong on that.  Something for the Jackdaw fleet would have been better, but there is always time for another run.

The capitals jumped to their first destination while the subcaps formed up on a titan to be sent on our way.  It was quickly clear we were headed north, going up the Eye of Terror towards Cloud Ring and points north.  This is a well worn route for me these day.  When we lived up north we flew to Delve or Fountain to fight every summer.  Now we live in Delve and we fly north to fight every summer.

So we landed in ZXB-VC to cover the capitals as they took the gate into Fountain.

That gate sees a lot of traffic

The trip through Fountain can be short.  There is an Ansiblex from the first system to a mid point, where everybody takes a gate to get on the Ansiblex to the last system and the gate to Cloud Ring.  This can be a 2 minute run in an interceptor.

Pushing a thousand people… and there were over a thousand in the ops channel, which means there were more ships passing though as many of us were flying two or three… through the pipe ends up with time dilation hitting pretty hard.  At times we saw it drop well into the teens.

That is some slow times

So we shepherded the caps as they moved along.  For the Anisiblex jumps they had to put their armor plates offline in order to get under the maximum mass limit for the jump bridges.  This was where we found a few people who brought the wrong ship, like the guy in the Nyx who complained on coms that the Ansiblex wouldn’t let him go through.  Supers and titans cannot pass though, so he was stuck part way up the pipe with a convoy that was going to leave him behind.

Others had to be prompted to offline their plates repeatedly and there was the usual person who decided to AFK in their capital mid-op or who ended up going the wrong way.  There is always room for confusions on these ops.

There was also a bit of waiting for a few titans that were coming with us, no doubt to bridge us places later, who had to make the jumps themselves rather than using the Ansiblex jump bridges.  So it was a slow time getting to J5A-IX at the far end of the region.

Hanging on the gate to Cloud Ring

Once the last big boy passed we were finally able to move into Cloud Ring.

And it fits?

There, if anything, the tidi got worse.  This was no doubt because the fleet was all together again and because Cloud Ring isn’t really a busy region, so it doesn’t have the most robust servers running it.  We turned to take the jump bridge, which sent us to F7C-H0.  At that point I thought we were going to head into low sec, which is even worse when it comes to tidi and moving big fleets.  Our jump got us to max tidi.

The system is working hard now…

But rather than venture further, we settled into the Keepstar there.  This was our destination, at least for now.

On the Keepstar

That told us our destination, but I wasn’t exactly clear who our foes were going to be.  From that location we could move into Fade or Pure Blind, but we were also on the boarder of low sec regions Placid and Black Rise.

And the first op I went on didn’t help out much on that score.  We formed up a Sacrilege fleet and flew into Pure Blind, passing through 6RCQ-V where we have a Keepstar from a past deployment already.

Sac fleet going through the gate

From there we flew to X-7OMU to attack a Pandemic Horde Astrahus that was at the armor timer.

Astrahus in sight

They were waiting for us and we ended up in a brawl with a fleet of Muninns and some Abaddons with Fax support.  Some Jackdaws showed up to help us, and it turned into a running fight over a few systems.  We lost the objective and the ISK war, but it was a pretty intense brawl.

It was in the middle of that brawl that I realized I hadn’t taken all the extra stuff I had packed along out of the cargo hold.  However, I managed to survive my turn as the primary, though we ended up losing half of our Guardians along the way.  The Muninn fleet logi was also hard hit as the same people in fresh Scimitars was killed a few times after reshipping.  Towards the end of the fight they started showing up in Kirins, frigate logi, as the word was that they had run out of Scimitars.

Most of the fight took place in KLY-C0, but it ran across a few systems.  I think I caught it all in the battle report.

Battle report header – click to enlarge

The odds were pretty even, and the enemy was able to reship and rejoin the fight, so you’ll find a few logi who were blown up a couple of times.  The joy of fighting on your own turf.

Despite a couple of close calls, and that guy at the end in a Cynabal who chased me for a bit, I was able to get home with the remains of the fleet, where I pulled all the extra baggage out of my cargo hold.

So I guess we’re fighting… whoever is near by.  Pandemic Horde and the Conifers and their allies.  We shall see.  More move ops happened as the weekend went on and the order is to get the market stocked for people to be able to reship.  So as long as CCP doesn’t go full Hurricane Hilmar on us again, like they did last year, we seem to be stuck in for a fighting deployment.

Somebody did a video with some scenes from the move op, if you want to see it in action.


There is a section in the video of some subcaps sitting on the ZXB gate. (It is the small gate, a smuggler’s gate, that is different from the empire gates.)  I am in that fleet.

So we’re up north.  At least we made the move without getting ambushed, which was what happened during a similar move op five years ago this month.

Lurching North Towards Tribute

The word did come down via the State of the Goonion on Saturday that we would indeed be moving north for war and that Tribute would indeed be our target.  That seemed the most likely scenario even a week ago.

In anticipation of the move ops to come I had logged into the game an hour ahead of time to figure out what I wanted to bring north.  I didn’t know where we were headed yet, but I wanted to be ready.  I was not alone.  I found almost 2,000 people in local and when I undocked I found titans practically frolicking about the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A.

Conga lines and fireworks

Closer in my Megathron… I decided to take a battleship north… reflected the glow of the fireworks being set off.

The rocket’s red glare indeed

As the time for the SotG approached, the number in local climbed, peaking at just past 4,000 as The Mittani’s speech ended.

In Mumble as well people started filing into the SotG channel.  There the numbers climber, passing 2,600 during the speech.

SotG Numbers

That is a better representation of how many people were present since you get only one forum account and Mumble login no matter how many alts you have.

At the speech The Mittani confirmed what had be widely rumored, that we would be heading to Tribute to drive out Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition.  We were not going to take the region in order to hold it, but merely destroy all we could, reducing the infrastructure back to its lowest ebb.

Mittens gave us no dramatic raison de guerre.  He said he would not be waving a bloody shirt and calling for war.  The reasons for us going north to “glass” Tribute was simply to widen the gap between us and our traditional foes that we might deny them the ability to ever assail us again.  I am sure that the fact that those in Tribute remain among the organizations that sent us packing during the Casino War that haven’t been displaced or made to pay tribute fed into the decision as well.  Something, something, pays our debts.

The speech was short and our actual staging destination was left unstated.  We would have to go on move ops to find out.  But move ops were being pinged immediately.  Six fleets for capital ships went up and they began departing 1DQ1-A immediately.  The local count because to taper off some.

Those of us in subcaps had to wait about an hour before we were called.

This became one of those move ops where everybody was stuffed into the same coms channel.  All the capital fleets and all the subcap fleets would share coms, which meant we were told to keep quiet.

I was wondering how that would play out.  People often don’t know or care that there might be 2,000 other people on the line and start speaking up because they can’t find this or that in their hangar or asking where the fleet is or some bit of trivia about their day that really doesn’t play in front of a large audience.

But it did not work out too badly.  There were the inevitable people wandering in and chatting away like they were on a small gate camp as opposed to a 2,000 person move op, but they were hushed and things on coms remained mostly the command staff giving instructions to the various fleets about who should jump and who should hold.

When subcap fleets got called I piled into the Baltec fleet, which Cainun was running.  We hung around for a bit and it was explained that we would have to keep a close eye on the in-game fleet chat as that would be where most of our orders would appear.

CCP Please, let me pull the chat window out to another monitor.

I had been listening on voice coms and watching Jabber in another window while I played Minecraft.  But if instruction were going to be in fleet chat that mean keeping the EVE Online game window up where I could see it.  Oh well.  We eventually undocked and headed to the Eye of Terror jump gate chain to start our move north.

Aligned out for travel

Even in slow old battleships with TiDi hitting along most jumps, we were able to move along at a fairly brisk pace, jumping and aligning over and over.

Going through an Ansiblex jump gate

It wasn’t long before we had caught up with the capital ships.  They were jumping by groups and then waiting out their timers so as not to build up jump fatigue, so we caught up to the tail end of the big ships half way through Fountain.

Baltecs catching up with the stragglers

Some clever person in a dictor put up a bubble off the gate that stopped us short at one point and we had to burn through a mass of capital ships to get to the gate and jump.  That put us pretty much in the thick of the capital ships.

Capitals streaming to a gate

On entering Cloud Ring we ended up in a capital traffic jam.  The caps were supposed to jump in, warp to a structure, then warp to a gate.  However, time dilation was down to 10% from just us moving and jumping, people felt like they were falling behind and started trying to warp straight to the gate which meant they were bumping off the people still trying to warp to the structure.  And then a whole fleet of Apostles came through the gate.

When you really need traffic control

We orbited the gate… you can’t even see our tiny battleships in that blob… and waited for things to get sorted.  Eventually everybody got themselves pointed in the right direction and warped off.  We hung around to see off the final capitals before heading out ourselves.

From there it was just a couple of gates for us, then another ansiblex to the Kirkland Protein Star, the Keepstar we dropped back in July of last year to support the war against Circle of Two in Fade.

The Kirkland Protein Star

We moved out of there in October in a massive move op and I diligently carried all of my stuff home because I thought we were supposed to take down that Keepstar.  However, there it stood.  If I had just left my stuff there… which included the Megathron I had just moved up there… I would have been set already because that is where we stopped.  That is where the move op ended, well short of Tribute.

We were told that this was a preliminary staging point, that after we got more people up into Cloud Ring we would be moving forward to our final staging point for the assault in Tribute.  But for now we sit in Cloud Ring.

Others on this topic:

  • INN (includes link to the SotG recording)


A Hole in the North

I heard Monday on comms that Pandemic Horde was packing up to move.  This was confirmed later via an article over at INN.  PH were going to leave their home in Fade, Pure Blind, and a bit of Cloud Ring, and move east to pick up space in Geminate.  That space was being vacated by the Russians who were going to consolidate deeper into null sec after Triumvirate gave up in Insmother.

The North Feb 15, 2018

That will actually put Pandemic Horde up tight against the rest of PanFam who sprawl across Tribute, Tenal, and Vale of the Silent, the latter sharing a border with Geminate.  That is probably a good move for them as it makes for a tighter center of mass for PanFam.

Move ops should be fun as people line up to try and catch them exposed on the path to their new home.

But it raises the question of who will move into the vacated space once PH finishes relocating?

Certainly the Guardians of the Galaxy Coalition, led by Darkness, seems a likely candidate.  One of their members, Mordus Legion, already holds some space in Pure Blind.  But do they want to shepherd that much space?

One of the oft commented upon/complained about aspects of the current situation in null sec is that you do not need to control nearly as much space to have sufficient access to mining and ratting to keep your members happy.  The Imperium, for the most part, is fine just in Delve, as the monthly economic report indicates.  Farms and fields.

The Initiative went and took much of Fountain when the previous situation there fell apart, not so much out of need as the fact that the space was there to be taken.  That put the reach of The Imperium up to the border with Cloud Ring and not so far from Fade and Pure Blind.  There went the neighborhood.  So PH’s move puts them a bit further from that mess.

Guardians of the Galaxy will no doubt scoop up the remains of Fade, which is small and in which they had maintained a foothold already.  The western half of Pure Blind however seems like a lot of space for them to keep an eye on.

And Cloud Ring seems right out.  Cloud Ring is already a bit of the Wild West with even some Gallente Faction Warfare pilots, off on a lark, grabbing the Assilot constellation in the region back in September, space that they still hold today.

I guess Cloud Ring could just roll along on its own, but western Pure Blind… GotG either have to take it to cover themselves or get somebody they can deal with to move in.  Maybe Tri is looking for a new home?

Then again, Pure Blind isn’t anybody’s favorite region… unless you like to hole up in the NPC in the middle and hot drop on the things.  So it will be interesting to see who ends up there and if they will live there or just hold it to keep somebody else from living there.

On the one hand, it is probably good that null sec is now all largely livable space without the useless systems that made people spread out.  On the other, if you told me five years ago that there would be chunks of prime, livable null sec that people wouldn’t want to bother with I might have laughed.

Anyway, we will have to see what develops in the hole in the north left by Pandemic Horde’s move.

Discobricks and Preemptive Titan Kills

I was almost late to the party.

I saw the ping, Asher asking for max dudes in Discobricks, the current Augoror Navy Issue fleet doctrine (so called I imagine because the ship has all the graceful lines, and the innate toughness, of a brick, and shoots pretty colored lasers), but I was in the middles of something so couldn’t log in.

Then there was another ping.  And, as that ping started to go stale, to the point I figured that the fleet might have left already, I was finally able to launch the EVE Online client, get onto Mumble, and get my headset working… the latter being the biggest pain of the three, as my Logitech g930 headset seems reluctant to power on these days… and get in the game.

I had purchased an ANI previously and as I got onto coms the first thing I heard was Asher saying the work “undock.”  I quickly got into the ship and hit the undock button and had been sitting outside the station for about a minute before it became clear that he didn’t mean “fleet undock.”

He had been telling the dreadnoughts that would accompany us to undock and jump to the system where we would meet up with them.  The main fleet was still docked up.  Or most of it was.  There was me and about a half a dozen other ANIs lingering outside, having not understood orders.

I docked back up, insured my ship, made a couple changes based on the fleet MotD, and waited until we got the actual order to undock.  It came shortly enough, and we were soon streaming out of the station.

Another day at the Quafe Factory Warehouse undock

Another day at the Quafe Factory Warehouse undock

We headed off to a titan in order to catch a bridge.  I figured that with a few dreadnoughts in tow, we were off for a structure shoot.  It seemed unlikely that bait dreads were going to work again so soon after the Okagaiken trap.

That was fine with me.  On Reavers deployments Asher often had an oft repeated saying about putting money in the bank now in the expectation of it paying dividends later.  Setting timers one day will get you fights when they come out.  And so we wandered out to Cloud Ring, to the system 28O-JY, where Asher warped us to within sight of the target.  And it was a juicy target.

First sight of the target

First sight of the target

That is a POS with a Supercapital Ship Assembly Array and a X-Large Ship Maintenance Array, which marks it as a place where the locals, in this case TISHU, builds supercaps.  That seemed to make the eventual fight over this POS almost inevitable.

We warped into range of the tower and started spreading out and shooting the POS tower.  Asher had asked people to bring along deployable warp disruption bubbles, which were spread around the POS to stop anybody from warping in with a load of strontium clathrates that could change or modify the timer for reinforcement.  There was a guy in an interceptor in the POS, and interceptors aren’t affected by warp disruption bubbles, but to bring in any usable amounts of stront they would need something bigger.

The shooting began and the shield began chipping away, slowly but surely.  A Dread Guristas Control Tower is a large tower which has 60,000,000 shield hit points.  We brought those dreads along for a reason.

After getting the tower down to about 70% shields, during which time nobody else showed up to try and service the tower, Asher asked us to overheat our guns in order to get the tower down to 49% as soon as possible.

When out to reinforce a tower, the goal is to get it down to the 25% mark, and which point it goes into its reinforced state and begins consuming the aforementioned strontium clathrates.  The amount of stront in the tower determines how long it will remain reinforced.  A large tower consumes 400 units of stront per hour and, with a full load, will stay reinforced for 41.7 hours.

When the stront runs out, the tower can be shot again.

But there is another key point in the initial POS shoot mechanics.  Once the tower gets below 50% shields, the owner of the POS can no longer modify the amount of stront in the tower.   At that point there is what there is, and Asher wanted to remove their ability to tinker with the stront in order to time the tower to come out of its reinforced state at a time that favored them.

So we overheated.  Some people went too far.  One of the dreads overheated and burned out their guns at just about the 51% mark.  But we managed to get the shields below 50% before any help could come.  A couple of hostile T3s had shown up in system at just about the 50%, but had been deflected and didn’t bother trying to get to the tower once the mark was passed, so it was assumed they might have been trying to fly in some stront at the last minute.

Now all we had to do was burn the shields down to 25%, at which point all of our guns and lasers would no longer be able to lock the target and the reinforcement timer would begin.  The dreads stayed sieged up and the ANIs flew in slow circles, lasers hitting the tower.

Passing over the CSAA, obscured by bubbles

Passing over the SSAA, obscured by bubbles

The shields were ground slowly down until we were just getting to the 25% mark.  We expected to have the tower automatically unlocked as a target at any moment.  And then it went to 24%, and suddenly we all knew the word of the day was.

That's right Pee-wee! Unstronted!

That’s right Pee-wee! Unstronted!

It was such a moment that I didn’t even have the presence of mind to take a screen shot until the shields hit 23%.

There is no stront

There is no stront

Things went from being almost done setting up a fight for the weekend to killing an expensive tower and module and aborting whatever supercapitals TISHU had building.  There was a moment of excitement where the urge to run out and tell the world about this was almost overwhelming.

This was quickly replaced by a sense of paranoia, a feeling that if we said this too loudly that it might go away, that the hostiles might come and save the tower, that something might go wrong.  In something of an, “I don’t know, just shoot casually!” moment, people started pretending on coms like we were still shooting tower and it hadn’t hit 25% yet.

But that didn’t last long either.  The tower wouldn’t have much life left after the shields were down.  TISHU was deployed down in the Syndicate region, so they seemed unlikely to be able to mount a defense at that point.  And nobody else seemed to be near by, except for a White Legion fleet.  Since they are allies, Asher invited them to come over and help finish off the tower.

Once we were past the shields, the armor and then the structure went down rapidly and the tower was destroyed, followed quickly by the SSAA and the maintenance array.

Death of a tower

Death of a tower

A grand moment on a fleet where we expected to simply set a timer, and the obligatory Reddit thread was started.

As usual, there is no way to prove that anything was under construction in the SSAA, aside from the argument that people don’t put them up in order to let them sit idle.  Asher seemed to have intel that indicated there were two titans and three super carriers under way there, but unless we had a spy with an irrefutable screen shot, there will never be any definitive way to prove anything.  But whatever was being built there is gone, along with a few billion ISK in modules.

Time to head home.

As we were leaving the area, our eyes in the system reported that the hostiles ran out to another POS they had in the system and pulled down the assembly array they had running, no doubt thinking we were headed there next.  Was there no stront available?   Anyway, I suppose we can claim a soft kill on whatever they might have been building there.

We shepherded the dreads back to their staging point and then headed back to Saranen and our home in the back of the Quafe Compay Warehouse, still pretty happy about the night’s events.

Screen shots from the fleet in gallery form:

Four Hours in Cloud Ring

My wife was about to head off with a friend for a bit when the ping came in.  Two fleets were going up early Saturday afternoon my time, one Maze Fleet doctrine, the other Lockjaw doctrine, so it seemed like something might be happening.  I bid my wife farewell and logged in, joining the Lockjaw fleet, which is based around the Caldari Jackdaw destroyer.

Jackdaw in sniper mode with the new shield hardener effects

Jackdaw in sniper mode with the new shield hardener effects… also, Cloud Ring nebula

I happened to have one of those at our staging system already and had yet to actually shoot anything with it.  So I joined that fleet and made sure I was all ready to go.  I was keen to fire some missiles.  I undocked just to zip around a bit in the ship and look at it.

Then we waited around for a bit.  Some of it was the usual dance of getting boosters and logi and getting people in totally wrong ships to swap to something that matched the doctrine.  However, we started getting asked to swap over to the Maze Fleet if we could fly logi.

Grrr… I want to shoot something!

Then I got a ping on Jabber from Repswarm asking people to logi up for the Maze Fleet.  Repswarm was, if I read it right, a place to learn how to be a better logi pilot and even a logi anchor.  However, we don’t have our own forum for the SIG, we haven’t had any training since I joined, so the main effect of my membership so far is now Arrendis and Apple Pear can badger known logi pilots who signed up for Repswarm to get into fleet and fly logi.

So, obeying the call, I docked up, grabbed the last remaining Scimitar off of contract, left my still shiny Jackdaw and the Lockjaw fleet, joined the Maze Fleet, and got into the logi channel.

At least I was back in the familiar old Scimitar, the logi ship I first learned to fly back in the days of Drake Fleet.  Fast and agile and without the now familiar cap chain routine, at least it has a big enough drone bay that the doctrine fit includes some Hornet EC-3000 drones to you can whore on a kill mail or two if you’re not busy repping.  I undocked to zip around the station while we waited for things to get under way.

Scimitar with the new shield hardener effects

Scimitar with the new shield hardener effects

I flew around for quite a bit as there was a special fit required for this fleet.  Maze Fleet doctrine is based around the Rattlesnake, Gurista pirate faction battleship, and is so name (I think) because the escalation “The Maze” is one of the places you can get a blue print copy for the ship so you can build one. (I have an old screen shot from The Maze over at my other blog.)

People kept joining fleet and had to be told the new fit.  Meanwhile there was a guy who joined in a Lachesis who was way out in DY-F70 already and kept asking if that was where we were headed, because he didn’t want to fly all the way back if we were just going to be headed there.

While I have known that pain, and was sympathetic to his plight initially, the reality is that for operational security reasons we don’t tell people in the fleet where we are going, something he clearly did not get as he asked the same thing over and over on voice coms, simply helping to confuse the getting ready aspect of the fleet.

Still, things finally came together and we were given the word to undock and warp out to a POS where we would be bridged.

Rattlesnakes landing at the Blue Tiger Ragnorak

Rattlesnakes landing at the Blue Tiger Ragnarok

We hung out there for a while, waiting for the moment to arrive.  I was able to look at all we were bringing along.  With the Rattlesnakes and Scimitars was a flight of special Basilisks, a few Nestors, and a Scorpion Navy Issue.  Apparently everybody who has a Nestor has the blue skin for it, because there wasn’t a white one in sight.

Asher's Blue Nestor

Asher’s Blue Nestor

After some waiting around, during which Lazarus Telraven joined us, the jump bridge finally went up and we bridged out for Cloud Ring and whatever lay in store for us there.

Bridge up... new graphics

Bridge up… new graphics

Technically, I don’t think we spent a full four hours in Cloud Ring, having mucked about for a good 45 minutes back at our staging system.  But we were there for more than three hours easy, and after all that time I am still not sure what we were doing.

If I understood the latest update from The Imperium, we officially don’t care about who holds sovereignty in Cloud Ring.  We just want to control the money making moons.  However we were bringing along Entosis link ships with us… they were going out with the Lockjaw fleet… so we were clearly not after moons.

We flew on to our destination in Cloud Ring, but only after one Rattlesnake refit along the way.  There was a change up in drones, so the fitting services of the Nestors in fleet came into play.  As it turned out, that guy in the Lachesis lucked out as we ended up with him in DY-F70.

Once there, not much happened.  Some Fozzie Sov stuff appeared to be in action.

The slow pace of node regen

The slow pace of node regen… also, big grids again…

I mean, we heard about stuff happening.  The Culture took out some of the Entosis ships in another system.  There was a fleet of Machariels, or Machariels with capital support, or Machariels with super cap support, which was docked up, or had just undocked, or was docking back up, which might or might not come our way.

We deployed into our combat formation.  We moved and deployed again.  We went to another system and did the same on a gate.  Then we sat on a station, hoping to hold down the team that was attacking the Enotsis ships in the other fleet.

Along the way we orbited.  I took screen shots.  Asher put up several straw polls.  We learned that Dabigredboat’s first name is Allen.  We shot at Sothrasil in his shiny Scorpion Navy Issue with its immense EHP.  War was discussed.  Opinions were ventured about why Germany lost WWII, the nature of the rasputitsa is Russia in the spring, and whether or not Alaska gets anything even close to that.  We learned that in Germany today the conflicts around world today are not called wars, but war-like scenarios (Kriegsgleiche Szenarien or Kriegsähnliche Szenarien, depending on who you ask).  Sounded like a step up from our own situation.

And we moaned about the time, the lack of Entosis ships in the other fleet, Fozzie sov in general and how blowing shit up trumps watching somebody Fozzie laser something every single day of the week.  The Euros, including our long suffering FC Boomslang, who had to keep us all together on this fleet, noted how late it was getting for them, midnight having long since passed while we were still sitting around.  I took more screen shots.  A third fleet under Blood Hellioin was called up to bring more Entosis ships out to finish up the hacking.

At some point my wife arrived home, having sat through a youth performance of The Nutcracker and then stopped by Egg Roll House on the way home, arriving with fried rice and egg rolls.  I wandered away from my computer, filled up a plate, and listened to her review of the evening.  I sat back down at my desk and found I was still orbiting Arrendis as I had been about 15 minutes before.  A participation link had been issued at some point before the three hour mark.  A second one came a while after the mark.

Eventually we started moving in the direction of home.  We had some of our own capitals to escort, so things went slowly, but eventually they got in range of the cyno on our undock and jumped out, after which we were able to meet up with a titan and get bridged back ourselves.  And I am still not sure what we did.  I guess we killed the ihub there, eventually, but it didn’t get us a fight.  I did get two PAP links and took a bunch of screen shots.  And so it goes.  Some days you get the fight, some days you don’t.

Of course, as I am writing this on Sunday there is a ping that says, “HOSTILES UNDOCKING MACHS TO GO FOR OUR MAZEFLEET!”  Maybe the fight we missed was going to happen a day later.  I missed it.  I went and saw Star Wars Episode VII instead.  But I have some screen shots left to share.

Adventures with The Imperium in Low Security Space

Leaving my existential angst where it belongs… something for the middle of the night, quiet moments in the car, or where I need a blog post on a Friday… it was back to the only war The Imperium has at the moment… in space, at least.

Operations in Cloud Ring seem to have been left to SMA, and our light blue ally Fweddit, who together hold most of the sov in the region now, with 33 of 40 systems in their control.  I’m not sure why SMA want its, but they have their share.

Cloud Ring - Dec. 6, 2015

Cloud Ring – Dec. 6, 2015

However, that is null sec.  The other part of the war, so called, is our assault on moon mining operations and such in low security space, a destination where The Imperium has fared poorly in the past.  Asakai is often listed as an example, or the trap at Daras.

But I am not sure The Imperium has ever really settled in and tried to attack targets in low sec as part of a sustained campaign against residents there of.   So a new adventure.

The low sec meta… and I know some cringe when that word gets used, but it is the term of art… differs from null sec.  You cannot use warp disruption bubbles.  There are guns at gates and stations that will shoot you if you aggress.  Security status has some relevance, and people will often avoid things, like shooting pods, that will cause a big hit to their sec status.  And, of course, it is empire space.  There is no CONCORD, but there are NPC stations and infrastructure about. (And the lighting is better for screen shots.)

This leads to different behavior.  The locals form up against us in expensive faction battleships… nearly two billion ISK Machariels being the hull of choice… with pods full of high grade implants, in order to achieve a qualitative advantage over The Imperium.  A blobbing via stats versus blobbing by number match up.  How do you balance that out?  People whine because we bring two times the ships, but we’re fighting faction fit faction battleships that run 3-4x the cost of our ships.  I mean, here is a fight where we lost six times as many ships, yet won the ISK by almost two times.  How do we figure the qualitative advantage into those numbers?  Is ISK alone a good enough measure? (serious questions, not just rhetoric)

Not that we fly threadbare doctrines.  We’re transitioning from a Tengu to a Proteus focus for our main fleet, neither of which are cheap.  But we also fly lesser doctrines, like artillery Hurricanes and the much loved Harpy fleet, where losses are allowed and expected because the fits just don’t cost that much.  And every one of our doctrines has come cheap, low skill ships so that new members can join in operations right away.  But nothing we fly comes close, in a ship to ship comparison with bling fit Machariel.

And so The Imperium have been wiped out a couple of times now, something loudly proclaimed on Reddit.

I had not been on any of these low sec ops until this weekend.  It has been a busy week and the ops and timers seem to favor either our Euro or Australio-Korean contingents.  My first run was with a Hurricane fleet that went out to bust a small tower that was coming out of its reinforced state.

A small Gallente tower belonging to Project.Mayhem

A small Gallente tower belonging to Project.Mayhem

For this we headed out of D2-HOS and straight into low sec via Manternault in Placid, through Black Rise, ending up in Saranen in the Lonetrek region, where the tower lay.  We were paranoid about lurking Machariels.  We arrived at the system and setup for the shoot, opening fire as soon as the timer ran down.  Some SMA ewar support showed up to cover us as we started.

Starting the tower shoot

Starting the tower shoot

As it so happened, nobody came out to contest the tower.  We blew it up and headed back home.  Home, as it turned out, was only one gate and one jump bridge away.  We ran through low sec for no real reason that could be explained, other than a vague mention of “op sec.”

I think somebody just didn’t notice until we were already on our way, but what do I know?

First low sec op for me done.

Saturday night, another opportunity to join in came up.  There was a late-ish USTZ op against a Snuff Box tower.  Snuff Box is one of the groups that had a hand in our big welps so far.

This was going to be a big op, the foes were expected to show up in force, with their Machariels forming the backbone of the defense.  Pings went out early.  As it so happened, I missed all the early pings, having spent the afternoon first at my daughter’s play, then as part of the group of parents to had to tear down the set after that final performance.  But I saw the one from Asher at just after 9pm Pacific time calling for everybody to get into the fleet.

My wife was out with a friend, my daughter and I had just finished watching a movie (Nightcrawlers, which was pretty good, but felt like it needed Matthew McConaughey as the lead. That would have taken it to a new level.), and I had some free time, so I launched EVE, got on coms, and settled in to see what was going on.

It was going to be a Tengu fleet.  I was reluctant to buy a new Tengu, or a Basilisk, off contract as I already have enough of each ship hanging around in other stations. (Known problem)  However, there was also a call to get a lot of electronic warfare ships into the fleet as well, and they were handing out Crucifiers for free, so I took one of those to play the ewar role.

Free Crucifier is free

Free Crucifier is free

As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one with some free time on Saturday night.  The fleet filled up by the second ping and the ewar contingent got moved to their own fleet under Malkuth Tre.  There was the usual mucking about, finding boosts, getting everybody settled on what the plan was, then repeating that plan a few times for those who joined late, were AFK, or who just have short attention spans.  For my part, those in Crucifiers were to apply range dampeners to Machariels in order to reduce their effectiveness.

Eventually the order came to undock, and our wee frigates slipped out of the station.

Undocking at last...

Undocking at last…

From there we went to the jump bridge, bridged out, and then flew through 15 gates to arrive in the target system, Anchauttes… which was literally five gates from where we started, so I just give up.  I go where the FC tells me.

We started setting up around the tower, staying at range as the Tengu fleet landed.  Our job was fairly straight forward.  We warped out an back a couple of times to get ourselves setup, but things mostly went well for us.  We had a couple of interceptors try to harry us and set our drones on them.  There was a small group of Griffins, the Caldari ewar frigate, that showed up to try and jam us in return.  When they got too close our drones chewed them up some.  And a few ANIs and Cerberuses  tried dropped on us a for a bit, managing to pop some of us over time, including our FC, at which point Cartras Vokan took over.

It was hard to tell how the main battle for the tower was going.  It came out of its reinforced state and SnuffBox and its allies stuck close to it, their faction battleships and logi on the edge of the bubble, wandering inside when they needed to break locks on their attackers.

Machs at the POS shield

Machs at the POS shield

We damped the faction battleships and their logi when we could, threw drones at people who wandered too close, warped off when we had to, and otherwise kept dancing about the field.  We were on our own voice coms, so the status of the battle wasn’t clear to us.  We had our own things going on.

However, once a combined fleet of Imperium carriers and super carriers dropped onto the battle, I figured this were going our way.

Carriers landing

Carriers landing

All of that on grid made the defenders look for an exit, eventually leaving the grid for the local station, allowing us to concentrate on the still vulnerable station tower, which went down.  Oddly, we were out of system by the time it popped, so I did not get on the actual tower kill mail, despite having plinked it a few times.  However, I ended up on the kill mail for a pile of the modules.  Not sure how that worked out.

We were not there because, after picking up some loot from the field (I harvested some Bouncer II sentry drones) we were sent off to escort another capital ship fleet, including dreadnoughts, to hit another tower.

That was an uneventful operation, as no resistance formed to oppose it.  That gave us time to look at other things, at which point somebody noticed that we had a couple of Red Alliance pilots in our fleet.  Red Alliance, which was losing a war the last I checked, to the point of folding up shop and joining SU, is not an Imperium ally, they have no official standings with us, and are not anywhere close to us in null sec space.  Yet we had a couple of their pilots in fleet.

So we kicked them, only to have them rejoin.  We kicked them again, they rejoined.  They also brought a few friends back with them.  We started looking for who might having personal standings with them, but nobody would confess.

I was the wing 2 commander, but it wasn't me!

I was the wing 2 commander, but it wasn’t me!

We took away the fleet advert.  We changed the standings needed to join to +10.  We changed the fleet so that the fleet boss had to approve anybody joining the fleet.  But no matter what we did, the Russians would just appear back in fleet and troll us with “your mom” jokes in bad English, which actually made them all the more choice.  They also clicked on our participation link, so their efforts were officially recorded.

The fear is that we have a Russian infestation and that we might have to burn down the whole alliance to get rid of them.  They certainly seemed persistent.

That gave us something to focus on as we shepherded our capital charges to their target and then back home again.  At one point a Sabre landed on a gate with us and some caps and my first thought was, “Oh crap, capitals tackled!”  But then I realized we were still in low sec, so no bubble was coming.  We just popped him and that was that.

The battle report from Anchauttes looks like the ISK war was pretty evenly split, while the tower we were after went down, so op success I suppose.  The war will continue as we learn and adapt to the methods of our foes… and dropping supers on them when we have to.

Addendum: Snuff Box has a video from their side of the battle.

A few more screen shots from the events above.

In Which We Blob

The purging of Cloud Ring continues, though mostly while I am asleep.  Waffles and Pandemic Horde changed their vulnerability widow to be during AUTZ, so the Entosis Link ops have been left to Lemba’s Korean’s in DOKDO and Arsehole squad, the AU/NZ time zone SIG in The Imperium.  So I wake up in the morning and can see the fleet pings that went out overnight.

While The Mittani’s optimistic six day forecast now seems… well, optimistic… the purge doesn’t seem to be in doubt.  The desired end state though… I’m not sure what that is.  We don’t want any hostiles living in that region, so we are purging them.  But we don’t want to take the sov ourselves, so we didn’t, for example, drop a TCU in W-4NUU after we killed the Pandemic Horde TCU, which allowed them to drop one and take the sovereignty right back. (Though reset to 0, so the system is easier to take/retake.)  And we have seen that our only friend in the region, Fweddit, can’t hold the whole region by itself, so I am not sure who we expect to come live there.  Who wants to live next to us?

Anyway, there has been day by day coverage over at The Nosy Gamer under the Kickstarter War tag.

Having avoided Cloud Ring completely, I did get into one fleet over the weekend, once that ended up in a fight.  There is a story about it up at TMC that I find a bit confusing.  The copy makes it sound like the whole thing was a surprise when, in fact, there were pings out for a “max dudes stratop” nearly 24 hours in advance.  Maybe I have misunderstood.  I guess we did pour in over time.

Anyway, the pings were out far enough in advance for me to get down to our staging system in Pure Blind and be online and ready to go.  Well, mostly ready to go.  I ran down in an interceptor and wasn’t keen to buy a doctrine ship off contract until I knew what fleets were going up.

When the ping for fleets went out, the initial options were Tengu fleet or Harpy fleet.  Later Cawk fleet was added to handle all the people piling into the system and trying to get into a fleet.  I opted for Harpy fleet because, if nothing else, a Harpy is cheap and warps faster than a Tengu and looks better as well.

Harpy out and flying about

Harpy out and flying about

Also, with three Basilisks lost already this month, I might be past my limit on reimbursement.  No need to risk losing a Tengu or a Basi.

Anyway, I got into fleet and immediately began looking forward to the next Reavers deployment.  It has been a while since I have been in the main fleet during an op.  Somewhere around 500 of us showed up, got in fleets, and starting flying towards some distant destination, leaving time dilation and tasty stragglers for MOA in our wake.

We reached UMI-KK about an hour after I joined the fleet, a system where I had both a jump clone and a Harpy standing by, so if I had known I could have saved myself the first part of the journey and the price of a Harpy.  The cost of op sec.

We didn’t have to go the whole way by gates.  We did take one jump bridge.  When we arrived there, the guy who said he had a three day timer before he could take a jump bridge and was told we would be taking one, again announced his timer issue.  I suppose he expected us to all slog an additional half dozen gates to keep him safe.  We took the jump bridge and let him fend for himself.

We left one Harpy behind

We left one Harpy behind

From the far end of the jump bridge it was a few more jumps through tidi until we finally arrived at MR4-MY in Geminate.  Our FC was hurrying us along at that point, as it sounded like the fight was going to end soon.  Sure enough, things certainly seemed to be in progress when we got there.

Fight in MR4-MY

Fight in MR4-MY, many bubbles

After some mucking about just out of range of all of the fun, our FC pointed us at the two biggest targets on the field, the two Archon carriers supporting the NCDot fleet.

The prized on the field

The prized on the field

Everybody loves a capital ship kill.  And certainly everybody seemed to get on those kills.  There were 741 involved parties on the first carrier kill, and 717 on the second.  I also managed to get on the kills of a Proteus, a Damnation, and a Devoter.   But that was about it.  After that, the field was clear and it was time to head back home.

The battle report shows 865 of us blobbing 121 of them, inflicting 43 billion ISK in damage for about 5.5 billion in losses.  That is the old CFC way.

And then it was another hour getting back to our staging system.  The whole thing went a little longer than three hours, so at least we got two participation links for the effort.  But it was a reminder of what big fleet fights can be like in the main fleet, with time dilation, hours of travel, uneven levels of skill, and coms that made me hide in the “no chatter” channel.  After that, a Reavers deployment feels like a vacation.