Tag Archives: Delve

Back and Forth Across Fountain and Delve as Dominion Fades

The repulse of the attack on Fountain and the subsequent punitive invasion of Delve have been going well for the CFC.  I joke about Goons invading Delve out of sheer habit at this point, but the joke has its basis in fact; this is my fourth year in the CFC and at least my fourth time into Delve.

In the near corner of Delve, N3 continues to lose systems, with 15 now having been taken from them, a jump of 8 since Thursday.

The conquest continues

The conquest continues

As that was going on I missed what might have been one of the most glorious moments so far in Reaver history.  Sure, we’ve caught and killed some supers in the past, but this was even better.  The Reavers managed to break NCdots hold on one of their systems in Querious, so that they lost sovereignty for a short stretch of time.

In ED-L9T the Reavers, with some help for the final fight, managed to temporarily wrest sovereignty away from NCdot.

ED-L9T slips away for a few hours

ED-L9T slips away for a few hours

N3 lost more in that fight than we did, including a big fat Moros dreadnought, and had to pull allies back who should have been defending Delve (in addition to offering ship replacement coverage to their renters) in order to retake and hold the system while their TCU came online.  The system now has to go through the slow process of regaining “levels,” something that just happens over time as you hold a system, in order to restore full capabilities to the system and station.

This is exactly what the Reavers are supposed to do, keep prodding behind enemy lines until the hostiles have to respond in force, at which point we fade away.  Asher gave us a day off from operations to celebrate this coup so we could satisfy any need we might feel to join the main fleet and help burn a bit of Delve.

All of which is a lot of fun, but which also ignores the longer term question as to what the CFC plans to do when the sovereignty changes come this June.  We gave up Delve, Querious, and Period Basis, selling them to N3, before the Phoebe changes back in November, and nothing has changed to make me think that we will suddenly be able to hang on to Delve in the longer term.

Then, over the weekend, the other metaphorical shoe dropped and it was announced that the CFC will be pulling out of Fountain before the June Fozzie-Sov hits.  This came as a statement directly from The Mittani and via the LAWN state of the alliance update.

That means that at some point in the near future, the CFC is going to hold, the relinquish, possession of Fountain and Delve (circled in red below) before moving back to the north, outlined in blue. (Map from the usual source.)

April 12 map, marked up in MS Paint

April 12 map, marked up in MS Paint

The CFC will back at the top of the map, alliances packed into closer proximity so as to better defend our space during the chaos of change.  Because there is still a question as to what Fozzie Sov will bring.

I doubt it will bring down any of the established null sec organizations.  That would require a system where the best organized groups were put at a disadvantage, which would seem like a pretty counter-productive long-term goal for CCP.  Punishing the people who are likely the most invested in your game would be a bad plan.  But the goals laid out in early March made it clear that CCP wants to make sovereignty easier to take, which should still favor the organized.  And, as a counter to that ease of conquest idea, there is the plan that sovereign space that gets used for things like mining or ratting should receive a defense bonus.

What I have yet to hear… and I haven’t dredged through the 200 page long threadnought regarding the Fozzie Sov changes, so maybe it has been fully addressed… is whether or not null sec space is going to get any sort of boost to make it worth keeping.  Because, right now, there are systems in null sec, in the space I live in, that are held merely because they are adjacent.  They don’t spawn anomalies worth doing (and spawn very few at that) nor do they have belts worth mining.  Add in systems on heavily traveled paths through null sec, so nobody wants to rat or mine there as potential hostiles are always passing through, and you will find a not insignificant number of systems in null that nobody will want to invest time in.  I will be interested to see if there is a plan for those, or if they will simply become the weak parts in any sov holding entity’s armor by design.

Meanwhile, it looks like a good time to get into null sec if you are a new player.

Back when I started, getting into null meant establishing a reputation and knowing somebody already in an alliance to vouch for you.  Recruitment of newbies wasn’t all that common aside from certain groups that could pull from their external source, like the Goons from Something Awful or TEST from Reddit.  I got into null because I knew Gaff, and he got in because he knew somebody through another game, and how he got into null I am not sure, but it was probably through yet another recommendation.  There was something of a wall between new players and null, enough to cause some rage to be directed at me when I highlighted one day old character tackling in a fleet op because those results were not typical or available to everybody all the time.  How dare I pretend null sec entities want new players by telling an anecdote about a fleet op!

And then Brave Newbies, a group that specializing taking on new players, got into null sec, and the flood gates were open. (Not that it was tough to get into TEST, but it required a little effort.  BNI removed even that minor effort.)

The success of Brave Newbies and their ability to field large numbers apparently had some impact.  Goonswarm opened up Karma Fleet, which allowed just about anybody to join up and get into the fight in null sec.

Seriously, anybody was getting in for a while... though not everybody was allowed to stay...

Seriously, anybody was getting in for a while… though not everybody was allowed to stay…

Since then, Pandemic Legion has announced their own new player friendly enterprise, the Pandemic Horde, which already has more than 600 pilots, not all of which can be spies.

I would suspect that other null sec entities would want to get in on that influx of new players in order to bolster their own numbers, lest they find themselves at an even greater disadvantage, and to provide a pool of potential candidates to promote into their core organizations… if they can get over their elite PvP bias.  I suppose you could view renting as an ingress, but it really isn’t the same thing.  There is a distance between the renters and the landlords.

So Fozzie Sov, when it arrives, will at least start with the CFC in a smaller space and probably with a scramble for the soon-to-be-abandoned Delve and Fountain sovereignty.  I wonder who our new neighbors will be?

Addendum: And judging from how Jabber is humming today, there should be an epic GSF Alliance Update out in the next day that will be full of smug.

The Fall of ZXB-VC and the End of Dominion

Today was what will likely be the last gigantic battle of Dominion. We killed 170b and lost 15b~ of shit, our enemies sacrificed upwards of 60 caps and TCUs are onlining within the next two hours in ZXB-VC, the Entrance to Delve. We have our foothold, we’ve kicked down the door, and we’re in.

-Blawrf McTaggart to all at 2015-04-08 23:59:11.908198 EVE

As I sat at the office yesterday working on an issue from a customer, the war in Delve reached a crescendo as the final time for the system ZXB-VC counted down.  Our foes had already lost several systems in Delve up to this point.  But those losses, while indicative of the way the war was going, were not all that important; those were tolerable losses.

But ZXB was different.

ZXB has a station in it, a place the CFC could turn into a forward staging system within Delve, making the commute to conquest all that much shorter.  And it was also the staging system of our foe, so their forces were already on hand, ready to defend.  Capital ships battled and subcap fleets clashed as I sat at my desk at work.  I pulled up a Twitch stream at one point and saw a mass of titans engaging the station.

ZXB Station Besieged

ZXB Station Besieged

The CFC won even with Brave and a drifter battleship assisting N3.  According to the narrative over at TMC (EN24 apparently declined to cover the battle at this time) the total combined losses for both sides added up to at least 153 billion ISK (or just ove 4.1 million WoW gold at today’s exchange rate) with losses tilted heavily against N3.

Seven systems have now changed hands in Delve, up from the three earlier this week. (Not sure who the EON Alliance is, but they now have sovereignty in Delve.)

South East corner of Delve

South East corner of Delve

The war could be far from over.  There are 78 more conquerable systems in Delve held by N3, with 44 stations, along with twelve NPC systems, each of which has an “open to all” station from which the enemy could stage to prolong the fight.

On the CFC side we are, of course, hearing the usual “hostiles are evac’ing to low sec” rumors.  And while the latest alliance updates from Darkness and The Kadeshi say that the fight will go on, N3 does appear to be under considerable pressure with the hammer of the CFC capital fleet hitting them in Delve, the Reavers burning fields in Querious, and now Pandemic Legion, having been hired by the CFC, going after N3 holdings in Esoteria and Feythabolis.  There might be more fights or it might be time for N3 to pull back into a tighter defense, if peace is out of the question.

So CFC Sky Marshall Blawrf McTaggart (who was getting some attention over at Polygon during the fight) might end up being correct in calling this the last gigantic battle during the era of Dominion sovereignty, because, come June, CCP says it will be rolling out a new set of sovereignty mechanics.  Gone will be the SBUs and myriad of timers and what not, and in its place we will have the Entosis links and an attempt to meet some goals laid out in early March.

The Dominion expansion changes will be thrown down.

Dominion - December 2009

Dominion – December 2009

At this late date I think it is safe to say that the Dominion sovereignty changes, if not universally reviled, are at least not viewed as an ideal way to run the whole conquerable space aspect of EVE Online.  There are voices from all parts of the game asking for change.

So, as we approach the June changes, it seems like an appropriate time to look back at Dominion and what CCP was trying to do back in late 2009.

Fortunately Sugar Kyle already has a post up, as part of her review of EVE Online expansions, that goes over the Dominion expansion.

I was there and playing the game when this dropped, but barely remember a bit of what came out.  But I wasn’t in null sec at the time and I was probably paying more attention to the Siege of Mirkwood expansion that was landing in LOTRO at about the same time.

So sitting here in 2015 reading the Breaking the Chains Dev Blog that speaks to the planned changes for Dominion brings about an eerie sense of… well… not exactly déjà vu, but certainly a feeling of familiar ground.

You can pull some quotes out of CCP Abathur’s 2009 post that would fit right into the current discussions of null sec sovereignty.  At one point I was flipping between that dev blog and the March 2015 sov dev blog and I lost track of which one I was reading.

Perhaps my favorite quote in the whole 2009 document is this one:

…there is no one thing that causes more consternation amongst players than the seemingly endless task of shooting towers.

Okay, I know that in the pre-Dominion scheme of things, towers were how sovereignty was held, so the reasons to attack them have changed, but I’ll be damned if the seemingly endless task of shooting towers has abated one bit.  In Reavers we shoot towers night and day.  There are people who have become connoisseurs of tower configuration, and I hear each tower we hit critiqued on coms as we reinforce it.  (Sometimes module locations even contain a message.)

More on point, there is this quote:

No matter what happens, there will always be important things to shoot.  The key is finding a balance between allowing smaller gangs of raiders to disrupt the day to day operations of your space against requiring massive battleship and capital fleets to actually remove you from the same space.  Conquest of space in Dominion will differ greatly from what exists currently, as will the ability of roaming gangs to cause an ‘AFK Empire’ no end of frustration.

Just as raiders will be presented new opportunities to create havoc, aggressors intent on all out conquest will have to carefully weigh their plans and make decisions on what and where to attack first.  Strategies that work in one system may completely fail in the next.  Defenders of space in Dominion will have new ways of defending their space as well.  These tools will not replace a proper defense force but they will provide new and exciting options which ensure that not every fight is the same and will reward investment in military infrastructure.

You could almost pull that directly forward into the 2015 dev blog and have it make sense in the context of the current discussion.  I am looking forward to the June changes myself… a little bit of chaos can be fun… but a little voice in the back of my brain is saying, “This time for sure!” in a mocking tone.  We shall see.

Anyway, the war in Delve is still on for now, Reavers are still roaming Querious, Pandemic Legion has its contract for the other side of N3 space, and CCP’s sovereignty changes are still a ways out.  There is plenty of time left for another big battle or two if both sides want it.

Tales from the War in Delve and Querious

As Sun Tzu once said, “Stop quoting me about a video game.”

-kcolor, Jabber broadcast to all

The war in Delve continues, with operations running around the clock, at least judging from the pings in Jabber.  Three systems have been taken so far in Delve, T5ZI-S, 4X0-8B, and KEE-N6.

Highlighted with red, as DOTLAN seems fixated with the color yellow

Highlighted with red, as DOTLAN seems fixated with the color yellow

And preparation has gone in to taking the first big system, ZXB-VC.  I addition, judging from the kill boards of people I know in the capital fleet, the CFC has been reinforcing and wiping out towers all over the region, sometimes replacing them before the owners have even noticed that they are gone. (As with this loss, where a shuttle loaded with blueprints warped to where their jump bridge USED to be.)

So Delve is capital ships and fleets and hundreds of players roaming out at a time in order to crush our foes.

Operations in Querious though, that is a bit different.  There the Reavers roam about in small groups hitting undefended targets, reinforcing towers, blowing up defensive SBUs and dropping our own, and occasionally hitting the local renters when they become too complacent about us and start going about their business as though we were not there.

When the enemy forms up a fleet to defend a timer or puts some carries on an ihub to rep it, we fade away, mission accomplished.  Every pilot down defending sovereignty in Querious is a pilot not defending Delve.  The whole thing works at a slower pace though, with small fleets and limited capabilities and often the same people night after night in a given time zone.

And while we are there to harass, reinforce, interdict, and otherwise make a nuisance of ourselves, we do like a kill mail once in a while.

For example, the other night a pilot name s1thl0rd (which is ‘sith lord,’ though your brain can be forgiven for resolving those characters as ‘shit lord’) was attacking one of the SBUs we dropped with an expensive ship, a Barghest, the Mordu’s Legion battleship that came in with the Kronos expansion about a year back.

It was felt that we should kill it, what with it brazenly shooting our SBU, so a plan was devised.

For reasons still not completely clear to me, we decided to hot drop on it.  That meant stealth bombers and a black ops battleship to deliver us to the target.  We had some stealth bombers around, but the person with the battleship wasn’t on.  So we sent somebody to Amarr to go buy a Panther, fit it, and fly it back down.  I flew along to go grab a stealth bomber so I could join in.

We flew up, made our purchases, and flew back.  As we did that, a couple of tacklers were stealthed up and close by s1thl0rd, who kept on shooting the SBU.  If I heard things on coms correctly, he even decloaked one of the tacklers and didn’t think to fly off.

When we got back everybody who was going to drop on s1thl0rd formed up and flew to a system within drop range.  There was a short lesson on how to hot drop and stay stealthed and all that, required by the way we all failed to do so when forming up.

Our blops finally arrives

Our blops finally arrives

Finally, we were all set and the person on the gate with the cyno went to go light it so we could drop in… and it failed.  He decloaked, which didn’t seem to bother s1thl0rd, and found that the system had a cyno jammer in it.  We needed a covert cyno generator, which nobody happened to have handy.  There was a call out to see who online could actually fit and use one, and I x’d up in fleet and was tasked with lighting the cyno.

I just didn’t actually have a covert cyno handy.  So I went off to buy one and bring it back.  I was on my way back… at this point we were about two hours into this “we’re totally going to kill this guy” operation and not only were we still trying to get it together, but the target was still in place… when a couple of wormholers dropped into the target system and blew up s1thl0rd and his shiny ship.

At that point people were more laughing than disappointed as the total amount of time we spent trying to set up for that one kill… and our dependence on our target just sitting there for all that time… made the whole situation comical.

Besides which, we got to kill his shiny, billion ISK Rattlesnake a couple days later, along with his pod full of implants.  I even got the kill mail on his pod, as Asher let the logi pilots get first crack at it.

Otherwise, the operational tempo in Querious remains about the same.  We shoot stuff up until we become annoying enough that NCdot has to respond.  Just to do things even more on the cheap, we have even started using laser Vexors, which end up costing a couple million ISK if fully insured, so you can go AFK if you need and not be too worried about losing anything if hostiles show up.  The beams just keep cycling until you or the target are done.

Laser Vexor

Laser Vexor

Still, I have been a bit jealous of my corp mates who have been off fighting on the Delve front.  Big fleets, big battles, systems being taken, and all that.  So Sunday afternoon I decided I would clone jump to Fountain to take part in the Easter operation in ZXB-VC.  That operation was being pinged for hours and hours in advance, so it seemed like it might be an important fight.  I thought it would be nice to be there when a system went down.  So when the time came I was in place and in a big fat newly purchase Dominix, because that is the main battleship doctrine yet again, and ready to go.

However, when we finally got to ZXB, it turned out to be just the station timer.  We were going just there to put the station into the armor reinforce cycle.

ZXB shield timer counts down...

ZXB shield timer counts down…

We were the first of a few fleets to drop on the system.  As we sat around the station we were encouraged to shoot the station services to knock them out.

Choose a service you want to kill...

Choose a service you want to kill…

However we barely got into that before we were sent off to one of the gates to guard an SBU, lest NCDot and friends drop in and kill it during a window of opportunity and cause us to have to restart the whole reinforce cycle again.  So we sat out there, spread out in a ball, while the capital fleet came in and very quickly put the station into its armor reinforce time.

The times is visible in the distance

The times is visible in the distance

All we had to entertain us was the Circadian Seekers who kept showing up to fly around and scan us every so often.  I started seeing those in Reaver fleets.  In Reavers we are sharp enough to not start shooting them.  However, with 240 of us sitting on the gate with nothing to do but wait for orders, somebody was bound to shoot one of them.  And they did, eventually having to warp to the gate and exit the system to break the cycle of escalations that comes with starting that fight.

With the station reinforced again and no hostiles to speak of (920+ people in system, I counted 3 non-CFC pilots in local) I opted to head to the gate with the capitals, parked myself in Y-2ANO, and went to have dinner with my wife and watch a bit of TV. (We just finished up The Wire and are starting on Treme.)  My Domi will be safe there and will be set to join any operations headed for Delve if I want to pile in.

Meanwhile, while I was off experiencing battleship travel, time dilation, and the sitting and waiting that comes with covering the capital ships, down in Querious Asher was pinging for more pilots because we actually had a fight going down with the locals.  I chose poorly, but I couldn’t get back to Querious quickly enough to help out.  I will jump back down when my jump clone timer runs down and join the small harassing ops on the fringe of NCDot space.  There is no time dilation and there is always something to shoot.

On the bright side, I did get a few big fleet screen shots, which at least was a change from what is becoming an ongoing series of “Basilisk goes to…” events, so I have some fresh fodder for my other blog.

Punitive Expedition to Delve

I’m back from Fanfest and I’m FUCKING BORED – this ‘invasion’ we faced last week was the most laughably, pathetically weak attempt at our shit in years, and that says something. For too long we’ve been dealing with our foes thinking they can assault us and get away with these ‘fake invasions’ for funsies.

It’s almost April. It’s ~that season~. Who’s up for a bit of bloody-handed, oldschool reprisal? Get your face-stomping boots on boys. We’re not going to ~take space~ but we might make some ‘freeports’ or just give shit to Pizza, whatever. I have literally no idea except this urge to twist the knife and we’re going to do exactly that.

-broadcast from the_mittani to all at 2015-03-25

Like Goons need an excuse to invade Delve.  I think some of them were getting the shakes at not having invaded Delve recently.

Still, we brought a lot of toys down to Fountian, sent the Reavers south into Delve, took back the one system the hostiles grabbed, defended against their other attack on a system, and generally spent a lot of time chasing around after a seemingly reluctant foe.

You can say that CFC has greater numbers, but everybody knew that long before NCDot and friends came to Fountain.  If you’re going to poke the beehive you had better have a plan.  So both TMC and EN24 are reporting the Delve invasion as a go.

The main force of the CFC is packing up their Domis and convoying south to 319-3D… we’ve been there before… to hole up in the Blood Raiders station while they are not burning Delve to the ground.

319 Station, Many Bubbles Ago

319 Station, Many Bubbles Ago

Of course, if the main fleet is headed for Delve, then the Reavers have to find a new place to operate.  We operate in small groups behind enemy lines, not up front with the main fleet unless there is a special need.  So we had to wrap up our business, drop one final tower, then start packing.

A jump bridge module without a tower isn't very useful... still, we blew it up too

A jump bridge module without a tower isn’t very useful… still, we blew it up too

Then there was an immediate convoy operation to get us to our new forward base.

That big ship... it's... a Drake! Yeah!

That big ship… it’s… a Drake! Yeah!

We are now set up and running ops into the enemy’s backfield.  Now to see what the enemy has in mind.

The initial rumors were that Darkness and The Kadeshi were just going to fold up shop and evacuate to their other holdings in the N3 empire.  But war rumors always include some theme about the enemy running away.  I am sure that NCDot had rumors early on that the CFC was going to evacuate Fountain.

Other, more substantial news has been showing up though.  Just yesterday Brave announced that they would be joining in the fight and helping to resist the CFC invasion. (More on Brave here.)

Brave words

Brave words

Brave, of course, brings numbers along with a willingness to fight against the odds if needs be.  With them entering the fray I feel a bit jealous of my Domi fleet comrades back in Delve… at least until I start thinking about the time dilation that comes with big fleet fights.  I can live with that, but it generally isn’t an issue with Reavers.

So the Southern Coalition N3 empire looks like this at the moment, with major moves noted.

The south end of space, Goons on the left, Russians on the right

The south end of space, Goons on the left, Russians on the right

Unless somebody can mount a credible threat on the far side of CFC space and distract us, it looks like it might be an interesting time in Delve in April.  We sold it to N3 back before the Phoebe expansion hit, I wonder if we can sell it back to them again when we’re done?

Fountain, Wartime Jabber, and Points South

It isn’t much of a war, but it’s the only war we’ve got, so enjoy it

-Major General Charles Timmes, Military Assistance Advisory Group 1962

The war in Fountain continued from last week through the weekend.  By Thursday we had moved enough numbers to the region to stand up on every timer as well as to start reinforcing hostile targets on our own.

The enemy host was able to grab a foothold in Fountain while we were still getting organized.  D4KU-5 on the border with Aridia (Amarr low sec) fell while we were still involved with move operations.  An embarrassing loss of territory, but not a system with a station in it.

FW2015D4KUHowever, a push on Y-2AN0 and LBGI-2… both station systems, the latter being the system NCDot held briefly during their last fling in fountain… were both thwarted and both systems remained in CFC hands.

Y-2ANOThat is the extent of the strategic situation, with D4KU-5 timers set to run down today during Euro time, so the system might be back in CFC hands before I get home from work.  They will have held the system less than six days.

Generally I only keep Jabber up and logged in to the GSF feed when I am home and might be able to make a fleet.  But during a war I use the iOS Trillian client and keep myself logged in all the time.  The Jabber feed will include a lot of fleets I will never make, but there are wartime updates and bits of news and propaganda… like the assertion that Black Legion is steadfastly refusing to join its current allies in structure shoots or how BL’s leader has earned the nickname “Flee-lo Knight”… and basically keep me up on how things are going.

And I need Jabber up to stay in touch with how the war is doing, since I am not on the front lines.  No, the night after the big move op push to Fountain, Reavers had their own move op to push across the frontier and behind the lines of our foes.  We slipped through the gate to Delve and headed to the far end of the region to setup shop and start blowing up or reinforcing anything we could find.

Of course we’re in Delve.  Even the name of the place is like a magic incantation around Goons.

If your goal is to shoot Goons, all you have to do is lay in some ships and put a jump clone in one of the NPC Blood Raiders stations in the region and wait.  Goons will show up eventually.  They won’t pass up a chance and feel almost put out if they aren’t fighting there at least once every calendar year.    So while we could have staged out of high sec Amarr or gone deep into Period Basis, we ended up in Delve.

I suppose it is close to the war, so that we can lend (or get) support when needed, though I am not sure that is really in line with Reaver doctrine.  But our friends in Top Goon have been out our way, which has been nice.  And there are those NPC stations, which can be used to park clones and resupply losses.  Besides which, shooting structures plays out about the same in any region, so we might as well scratch that “must march on Delve!” itch for the GSF members, who make up most of Reavers.

So there we are.  I have spent a few hours on ops shooting structures.  Unlike past deployments, we seem to have actually brought an abundance of logi ships this time around.  I haven’t had to be the sole Basilisk in fleet more than once, and there have been a couple of times where it was requested that people swap out for Ishtars so that we have enough firepower to reinforce something while we’re all still young… or young at heart.

It has been the usual thing, shooting with occasional interference from the locals.  We were hitting a large tower with a small force… we were knocking down the shields at a rate of 1% gone every minute and a half, and since you have to get the shields down to 25% to reinforce, that was going to be nearly a two hour shoot… when a couple of the locals showed up and started deploying guns to try and stop us.  We had just enough firepower to offline the first couple of guns before they were up and ready to shoot, but we were clearly falling behind and could have been in danger had they been able to persist.  However, they stopped after about six guns.  The speculation was that they simply did not have any more on hand.

Then they moved to trying bomb us to kill our drones.  However, they started by hitting us with a single bomber, which won’t kill a sentry drone, and by the time they moved up to two bombers, we were all just sitting on our drones and able to pull them in before bombs hit.  Then they gave up on even that and we were able to reinforce the tower, though they did push the duration of the whole thing out to nearly three hours.

Otherwise, it has been the usual routine behind enemy lines.  The occasional gate camp to try and catch us moving around alone (and official doctrine is to never move alone or without a scout) and some attempts to interfere with our shoots, but no real organized defense as yet.  But we are starting to drop towers and make a nuisance of ourselves, so at some point the hostiles on the Fountain front will have to drop back to defend or we’ll actually start getting to real timers.  But with the way the war on the Fountain front is going, they may not have much left to do up there soon.

Addendum:

And NCDot lost D4KU-5 right on schedule.  Now we just have to sit on it for a bit.

NCLosesD4KUAnyway, the war doesn’t seem like it will go on much longer.  There has been a frenzy of ops running around the clock according to Jabber, but unless the hostiles have it in them to keep attacking, things could taper off very quickly.  Time to get on some ops while they last.  At least I got my combat drone out an onto one tower kill so I could prove I was there.

Some pictures from our time in Delve so far.

We Pay Black Legion a Visit

We are suddenly living in interesting times in New Eden.  Change is coming.  A lot of people think they know how things will play out, but when CCP is telling people that they cannot predict the results, it can be hard to tell which pundit has some deep insight versus just some wishful thinking.

In addition to my own minor predictions, I am going to guess that, over the next few weeks, we will be witnessing the last hurrah of easy jump drive and jump bridge travel.  The Phoebe expansion and its huge travel changes, expected to drop in early November, looms and all good pilots in New Eden are at least making contingency plans.  The wise are making sure all their jump clone related skills are up to snuff.  The traders are stockpiling goods, the industrialists materials.  Those needing to have stuff shipped are doing it now rather than later, as shipping charges are expected to jump.  And I am willing to bet that alliances with supercapital heavy doctrines will be looking to get in some last-minute cross-region hot drops.

And those of us who have been flying subcaps back and forth across half the galaxy in order to defend the empire… we’ll be eager to do a few last farewell flings across space as well.

So it was Saturday when Reagalan put out a ping on Jabber that he would be doing something hilarious and that he had a fleet up, but that the doctrine was as yet undecided.

Once nearly 200 people showed up and piled in on that promise, it was time to pick ships.  Reagalan wanted to go with the new Hawk fleet doctrine which he has been championing, however logistics held us back.  There just weren’t any Hawks up on contract.  Some of us had them, but most of the fleet did not.  So the doctrine was changed to Harpy fleet, while asking some people to stay with Hawks to give us some more tacklers.  I opted for a Harpy because I happened to have three in the station, so I figured I might as well lose something I already had backup on.  Besides which, as I found out with Sunday’s fight, the Hawk fleet configuration changed a bit and my Hawk needed to be refit to be brought up to date.

The act of nearly 200 of us swapping ships brought up TiDi in the system.  CCP is going to have to put some more CPU power behind our new home, what with fleet assemblies and Black Legion coming to visit.

Once shipped, it was time to undock and head out to… wherever it was we were going.

Most dramatic undock screen shot yet

Most dramatic undock screen shot yet

That was some more TiDi, as was the move through the first few gates.  Other ops were likely in progress.

We started down a route I had not previously been aware of, and Reagalan had been very quiet about our actual destination, no doubt in the name of operational security.  But eventually he had to tell us where we were headed.  We ended up joining the old convoy route to Fountain, and by the time we got to J5A he had put NOL-M9 in as a destination for fleet.  We were headed to Delve.

Which was something of a pisser.  I have a jump clone and the correct doctrine ship down in Delve.  I could have just landed down there and waited for everybody else to take the jump bridge highway from Deklein.

Looking at another jump bridge array...

Looking at another jump bridge array…

That is the problem with op sec.  You can’t just ping that you want people for form up in YA0 and then add in the bit about jump cloning to Delve if you’re trying to keep the hostiles from being totally aware that you are coming.  So my jump clone sat unused, still saved for a rainy day, or Phoebe, whichever comes first.  I suppose I did get to update some jump bridge bookmarks.  The Oceanus expansion last week changed the rules a bit on where jump bridges could be anchored, so some of them had to move, obsoleting some bookmarks.

We were headed to Delve to support our southern cousins in the CFC.  FA had a fleet coming from Fountain, while the LAWN gnomes were forming up along with The Initiative to defend their turf.   A tower in NPC null had been put in reinforce so there was going to be a timer fight and Black Legion, also crossing the galaxy for a fight, was expected to be there.  Time for a bit of pay back for our losses at YA0 Thursday evening.  We had to fart about a bit camping a gate to see if we could grab anybody headed to the fight, but eventually we jumped into G-TT5V, warped to the tower in question, and found a fight in progress.

Landing at the tower

Landing at the tower

We were a little far off from the fight, so Reagalan warped us off and then back on top of Black Legion where we anchored up and started in.  Bubbles went up around the fight.  The numbers were in our favor, so the key to things was to pin them down, kill off their logistics, and then chop them up one by one.

Ball of Tengus in the bubbles

Ball of Tengus in the bubbles

As a percentage of their force, their logistics was not as prevalent as they were at YA0 two days before, and they did not seem to be as well coordinated.  This may have been due to there being different fleets calling different targets, thus spreading the Scimitar reps more thinly.  Whatever it was, we were able to start breaking the tanks on their Scimitars, and pretty soon they were going down as quickly as we could lock them up and start shooting.  With support down, our path to juicier targets was clear.

Black Legion Chimeras

Black Legion Chimeras

Black Legion had three Chimera carriers on the field, which we proceeded to target and turn to scrap one by one.

A Chimera wreck, and a soon to be wreck

A Chimera wreck, and a soon to be wreck

Three carriers down and the battle was really going our way.  Without logistics to support them, bubbled up and unable to flee, the Tengus were meat before us, waiting to be consumed.

And then, as we were laying down another round of  bubbles on Black Legion, some allied stealth bombers dropped on the Tengus and bombed them.  This was unfortunate, as they did not have nearly the firepower to do more than scratch the Black Legion fleet, but they had more than enough blast to clear away the bubbles.  The Tengus, already burning to get out of the bubbles, was clear to warp away.

There was some chasing about.  We managed to drop on and tackle one hostile in an asteroid belt.

Harpies unleash

Harpies unleash

But Black Legion had freedom of action and was able to dock up in the Blood Raiders station in system to avoid further loss.

We kept the station under guard while the other fleets finished up their business and withdrew.  The most expendable fleet gets to fly cover while the more expensive assets pull out.

Sitting on the Blood Raiders station

Why does every Amarr structure look like it was made out of Apoc parts?

We sat outside and made chicken sounds and attempted to goad Black Legion into undocking, but Elo Knight merely responded in local that sticks and stones might break his Tengus, but words would never hurt him.  At least I think that is when he uttered those words.  That might have happened on Sunday when we had him holed up in the station at 5ZXX-K.  I forget which.

Once everybody was clear, we were able to withdraw and get on the jump bridge highway back to the north.  Our movements may be hampered come November, but it is still October.  Black Legion also headed north.  As noted in the previous post, we ended up facing them along with Nulli Secunda in Pure Blind just a day later, and then again later that night up in Deklein.  They were not able to repeat their performance at YA0 and the Sunday night brawl devolved into us chasing their Ishtars all over 2R-CRW in Hawks while they tried to escape.

But the fight at G-TT5V at least got a little payment back for YA0, with the ISK war tilted in our favor this time according to the battle report.

Losses - Team 1: CFC, Team 2: Black Legion

Losses – Team 1: CFC, Team 2: Black Legion

A lot of our losses were wrapped up in a Naglfar that The Initiative threw into the brawl to hit the Black Legion carriers.  Being fixated on my own little corner of the battle, I completely missed the dreads dropping in to assist.

For a wider view of the battle, what it was about, who did what, and so on, there is a post up over at TMC by Arrendis, who was also our anchor for the main part of the fight.

I expect, with Black Legion, Nulli Secunda, and a few other groups now in the north to take advantage of the last few weeks of easy travel in null sec, that we will have more fights on our hands .  The final days before Phoebe will be bloody because nobody is really sure what we will be doing once the travel changes clamp down.  So we will take our fun while we can get it.

Leaving a Pile of Stuff Behind in Delve…

Another Summer in Delves comes to an end.  The word came down on Friday that our deployment to Delve would be closing down and that there would be many… that was the term used… convoys heading back to Deklein so we could get various ships safely home to our new staging system.

Having piled up a number of ships, as I tend to on these deployments, I was looking to get a few of the more expensive ones home.  So I was keen to into one of these “many” convoys.  I made sure I had installed a jump clone down in F2OY-X so I could hop back and be ready to bring up the next ship after the first convoy.  I had a couple ships picked out to drive back up to Deklein.  All I needed was convoys to commence.

The first one came up Friday evening.  It was specifically called to get Tengu fleet ships back up north due to an op set to roll about an hour later.  However, we could only get about 20 ships in the fleet.  That turned out to be insufficient mass to gets us cleared to move out, so we stood down.  Due to other operations going on, no further convoys were called that night.

Saturday morning I managed to catch another call for a convoy op headed north.  I jumped into my Apocalypse this time, it being the most annoying of my vessels to get back to Deklein, shoveled any excess items from my hanger into the cargo hold, and joined the fleet.  This was about at the time when TNT was losing its match in the Alliance Tournament.  We managed to get about 35 people in the fleet, which was just enough to be cleared to head out.  And so a pack of battleships set off.

Getting aligned northward...

Getting aligned northward…

This ran like most convoys… actually, with so few people, it ran better than most… and we slowly moved from jump bridge to jump bridge through null sec, from about 7 to approximately 1 o’clock on the dial.  There was a point in Fountain where our scout spotted a 40+ fleet from the Battlement Coalition in our path.  That was enough to be a concern, as a convoy fleet is generally not fit to fight on equal terms, being a pretty random selection of ships, and depends on numbers to keep hostiles away.   An outnumbered convoy needs to be wary.

The hostiles were in a system where one of our jump bridges is anchored, so going around meant a long diversion off of our way.  But as we waited to see what they were up to, they left, missing out on a juicy target and never to be heard from again during the op.  We moved onward through Fountain, Cloud Ring, Pure Blind, and into Deklein.

The distinctive colors of the northwest

The distinctive colors of the northwest

A couple of jumps from our destination we were cleared to free burn to the staging systems.  A participation link was provided and the op was over.  I docked up, left my ship, a clone jumped right back down to F2OY-X in hopes of catching another convoy north.

However, no further convoys were announced while I was online on Saturday… or on Sunday.  And since I was logged into Jabber for most waking hours over the weekend, I am going to guess that it wasn’t just bad timing on my part.

The FC on the first convoy op, which stood down, speculated that with the push to get people into capital ships in the CFC, carriers were becoming pretty common.  And if you have a carrier deployed… and we had quite a pile… it is pretty easy just to shove a few sub caps into the hanger bay… yours or your friends… and hop home with the rest of the capital fleet.

Not being part of the capital fleet, and with most of the people I consider close enough friends that I would start asking for favors not playing EVE Online right now, I am somewhat dependent on the whole convoy thing to get bigger ships home safely.

I do own a carrier.  I bought it nearly two years back and then never really used it.  I am stuck in a chicken and egg thing on that front.  I am not confident enough in my ability to use it to sign up for capital fleets.  I literally have no clue as what to do, and while everybody is happy enough to answer questions in a frigate fleet, the more expensive the ships get the less tolerant of questions people get, or such is my observation.  And while I don’t mind being the idiot in fleet once in a while, when it starts putting people’s expensive toys at risk, I get really nervous.   But I cannot get any experience without joining up.

So, while theoretically I could fly my carrier down to Delve, pick up some ships and fly in back, the reality is that I lack the confidence to put my Archon at risk for a set of ships that cost significantly less than the carrier itself.  Meanwhile, over at DOTLAN, the route down and back they suggest is five jumps either way.

There and back...

Potentially there and back…

That means getting somebody in each of those systems with a cyno as a jump target for the Archon and being at risk for at least four of the five jumps.  Add in the fact that our alliance leader hates when people lose carriers in anything but strat ops, so a round of public humiliation and a quarter billion ISK fine are part of the bargain if I screw up, and I am seriously considering just selling the Archon.  I am just not invested enough in the game right now to want the complications it brings.

Meanwhile, I’ll just leave a jump clone and a collection of ships down in Delve.  It’s not like we won’t be back.