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And Sometimes We Just Fly in Circles February 25, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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Every time I see a call go up for a Drake fleet, I try to join if I have the time.  My hope is to winnow down the Drakes I have stashed around in null sec, as CCP’s nerfs to my longtime favorite ship have made it unlikely to remain useful in fleets.

Basically, nobody will want to buy them, so I might as well lose them and collect the insurance and reimbursement ISK.

So on Friday night when Fyzick called over Jabber for another Drake fleet in an attempt to lure The Retirement Club out to fight, I was online and in the fleet.  After all, last time we tried that, I lost a Drake.  And, since I did eventually get reimbursed for that loss, and didn’t get podded, it was at least an economic victory.

This time around though, we rang the doorbell, but nobody came out to play.

We formed up, traveled out to our titan and got bridged out to the target.  It was yet another POS shoot.  We knocked the modules offline and started in on the tower.  There was a glimmer of hope that The Retirement Club might come out and play.  A couple of their members were inside the shield and had manned the guns until they were all out of action.

(Complete aside: I have the Starbase Defense Management skill up to level IV. I could shoot POS guns.  I trained it up for out aborted wormhole expedition a couple years back.  I have never had the opportunity to use the skill.  And that article I just linked has, at the bottom of the page, probably the best description of POS attack and defense issues that I have seen.  Pity it is hidden in an article about a skill.  Typical CCP.)

However, nothing happened.

Well, we flew in circles for a couple of hours, and launched missile after missile into the tower, slowly chipping away at it.  But it was a tedious event.  Nobody came out to bother us.  There was no in-fight movie arranged to distract us.  And Fyzick, our FC… a position that requires you to be more like a cruise director during these sorts of boring shoots… was distracted.  He was likely off in one of the intel channels trying to figure out if anything was going to happen.

So I did what I often do in this sort of situation.  I took a bunch of screen shots.  I also opened up Fraps and took some video of Drakes shooting missiles to use as stock footage should I ever get around to making another Drake Fleet video.

And then a DBRB fleet was announced, its intent to roam out and find targets, something at which Dabigredboat excels.  However we were all stuck flying in circles.  Fyzick did talk DBRB into waiting for us to finish up so we could join in.  However, by that point I had sort of had my fill of fleet ops for the night.  Even the lure of endless DBRB trolling and stories couldn’t keep me going.

But I ended up with a few decent pictures.

The War Against Super Capitals at Q-VTWJ October 31, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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That was how the fight was billed from the CFC side of things.

We were going to kill a super capital, rumored to be an Erebus, in its CSAA (capital ship assembly array) before it was born.  That this particular CSAA belonged to Intrepid Crossing (IRC), with whom we are neither at war nor at peace I gather, seemed irrelevant.  It was within our range and we were going to try and blow it up.  We have been down this path before.

A CSAA in its natural habitat

Razor put the POS into reinforce and we were coming back to take it out and the CSAA with it.

This fight was pretty well advertised.    The CFC had been put on alert and told to expect a fight, while intel reported that IRC had issued their highest level call to arms and was going to bring in as many allies as they could muster.

The only people who didn’t seem to get notified was CCP, since they clearly did not reinforce the node where we were fighting.  Or maybe they did.  It is hard to tell, but things got bad.

So it was last night.  The call went out that the fleets were forming.  DBRB was leading the Alpha Fleet, which filled up very quickly.  Zagdul was leading an armor tanked fleet, so we had Abaddons flying with us.  And finally there was Lazarus Telraven leading the third fleet, the Drake Fleet.

For reasons unknown, the Drake Fleet ended up in operations channel 2 because Zagdul took channel 3.  This seemed to confuse Laz and he kept telling people we were in channel 3 for long past the time it should have taken him to get his brain around it.  For Logical Laz, the third fleet should be in channel 3 dammit!

I joined Laz in a Drake, determined to shoot something fun before the month ended.

More after the cut.

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Sleepy Sunday Boat Fleet June 3, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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Good afternoon – I am super duper tired and haven’t slept in 28 hours BUT irc wants to die. So get into a scimitar, get into a drake, get into something fun and join us as we stomp over baddies! Op1 on mumble. Fleet is up in the advert under jarna civire. DO NOT BE A BUTT, IM TIRED SO KEEP THE BULLSHIT TO A MINIMUM THANKS :3:

The original goon broadcast was by dabigredboat to all-all

How could you not want to go on that fleet?  Dabigredboat tired and grumpy, a sure sign of fun!

Well, the timing was right, so I went.

Razor Alliance had a couple of towers that were mis-timed coming out of reinforcement during prime time for just about everybody.  Intrepid Crossing (IRC) had put out its own call to its own corps as well as allied to take down these towers when the timers ended.  IRC wanted to hit back for the loss of its CSAAs. A big fight looked imminent.

Fortunately it was prime time all around, so we were able to assemble our own forces.  The CFC put together a full Drake fleet in VFK, 256 ships with some stragglers following along hoping for somebody to drop out or get killed so they could join up.  In addition, Fatal Ascension (FA) was able to put together a 100+ strong Drake fleet of their own which was set to join us, and Razor had their own forces in place to help defend the two towers.

Things were a bit ad hoc for the fleet.  We were able to take a jump bridge down to Venal, but then had to fly the old fashioned way to the target, one jump gate at a time.  No titan support for us.  And shoving nearly 400 ships through the pipe meant essentially that we brought our own time dilation with us.

Moving at nearly half speed

We ended up stopping for a bit to let the other fleet jump to another node so we wouldn’t be slowing each other down all the way.

During that time, DBRB talked about playing Diablo III with two friends in hardcore mode, ordered some Chinese food to be delivered (of which I am a jealous, as it seems like the only food you can get delivered in Silicon Valley is pizza unless you are catering a big event), and then somebody linked to a web version of the game Lemmings in fleet chat.  It quickly became clear that DBRB was playing.  So was I.  Things were slow.

Lemmings in the EVE in-game browser

If you want to play as well, you can find it here.

We closed in on the destination system, then stopped and flew around a bit.

Claymores with Drake Fleet

DBRB reported that he was too tired to really enjoy his Chinese food to its fullest.  Porn was linked and discussed in fleet chat.  DBRB explained how IRC screws its membership.  People with trivial complaint in voice chat were jumped on mercilessly.

And then DBRB turned us around and started us back towards home territory.

He explained that a big fight was expected because IRC put out a level 5 alert, which he said meant that if you were in the alliance and online but not participating, you would be kicked from the alliance.  With that level of alert up, IRC could apparently only assemble a fleet of less than 100 ships and clearly were not going to come anywhere near us with 400 ships waiting to take them on.

The intel that he could share indicated that IRC put out a call to its allies in this ongoing tower fight, but that Black Legion was on an operation down in Geminate and Northern Coalition was simply sick of IRC’s bullshit and found something better to do.

And so we headed home.  Razor successfully repaired their towers.  A gang of about 30 ships was reported trailing us looking for stragglers to kill, while another was reported ahead of us.  The gang in our path got out of our way.  That will happen when 200 ships are traveling together.

And so it was traffic control delays and TiDi blips all the way home.

DBRB was too tired to make it back to VFK, where another hostile gang had arrived to camp, and was looking for somebody to take over that operation while he logged off.  I was home and logging off myself by that point.

Nothing for the kill boards for me on the first weekend of the month.

The Slow, Slow Trip to the Battle of Q1U-UI – Now With Music! April 2, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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As promised/threatened, a video look at Drake Fleet trying to make it to the battle at Q1U-UI.

As usual, you are better off going to YouTube to watch the video in higher resolution.  It should be available up to 720p.

If you are reading this via RSS or a mobile device that does not show the embedded video, you can find it here.

Unlike other EVE videos I have posted, this one contains audio from fleet coms in addition to appropriate music.

This was because there was no profanity, no confidential information, and because the pain of 10% time dilation occupied much of the com traffic.  The high point of hilarity was when news came back to us that the TEST bomber fleet had just bombed the CFC welp fleet.  Successful bombing is already an art, and TiDi makes bombing a more difficult task than usual. (CFC and TEST are allies, so this was a bad, if comical, event.)

As for the music, I actually asked in chat what music would be good for a video of slow-motion travel and got a few good ideas.  But I already had the song in mind even as I began taking video.  Can anybody name the song in the comments for the moral equivalency of “firsties?”

As noted in my original post on the fight, we did eventually make it to Q1U-UI, but it was a long trip.

Addendum:

The Fleet Route

This is the actual route the fleet took.  According to the time stamps on screen shots, it took us nearly 50 minutes to travel 8 systems.

Slow Times in Q1U-IU March 31, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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After spending some time this afternoon laughing at the internet because… well… go read this, as it seems to indicate we do not all live in the same planes of reality… I realized I had not logged into Jabber.  Being able to log on during Euro prime time usually means ops running in EVE Online.

And I was not disappointed.  A fleet message popped up almost immediately.

The message was for the form up of a fifth fleet, there being four fleets already in Tenal and engaged.  A big battle was under way.  Time to log in.  I was actually almost too late.  I got into fleet, got onto coms, and headed out of the station.  We were already being vectored to the system Q1U-IU where the battle was under way.

Undocking and on the way

We were only a few jumps out, and off we went… straight into the mud.

Two jumps down the line we hit the same set of servers that were hosting the battle and time dilation kicked in at 10%.

in EVE, time dilation, or TiDi, is the method by which CCP keeps giant fleet battles under control when the server is being overwhelmed by activity.  To keep up with the ships and gunfire and missiles, the system slows everything down, with the maximum slow down being 10% of normal, or 1/10 speed.

At 10% TiDi, a one minute warp across a system from gate to gate takes 10 minutes.  Everything slows down.  Even certain aspects of the UI slow down when TiDi is engaged.  I opened and closed the local chat window a few times just to watch it slowly disappear.

So the bad news was we were in for a long trip to get to the battle.

Drake Fleet moving slowly in warp

Of course, pictures do not capture how slow we were moving.  I opened up Fraps and took a few video captures.  Flying through warp at 10% TiDi is very soothing with the UI off.  I will try to splice them together and post them, I just need the right song to go with them.  I was thinking of the Dr. Who theme running at about one quarter speed.

On the bright side though, the battle was going slow as well, so it wasn’t like we were going to get there too late.

We did run into some opposition ships, which was kind of comical.  Because everything is moving so slowly, ships can hang there waiting to be targeted for what seems like ages and still get away.  We did get a few when we stopped and waited for some to catch up.  Then it was the other way around as they slowly fell into our trap.

And, eventually we made it to the battle.  It was a big one. There were almost 1600 people involved over the course of events, stacked about 2 to 1 in our favor.  At then end we had six fleets operating in the system.  Not bad considering we were just getting into our prime time hours.

One of those battles

Things were still running close to 10% Tidi (I think we got up to 14% at one point) when we got into the system, into formation, and started the routine of calling targets, firing, and then calling the next one.  It was a target rich environment.

A nice fat pack of Abaddons

Once there, the fight seemed to take very little time.  Odd how time flies where you have something to do.  The fight took place mostly at the gate where we jumped in.  There was a report of some enemy carriers hanging around at planet 2, but jumping into that once we were clear of bubbles only ended up in a space traffic jam.

Drake Fleet and Alpha Fleet collide

Raiden and its allies were driven from the field and the kill boards indicate that the CFC did very well.  The results at EVE-Kill.net seemed messed up, with Northern Coalition ships getting counted in the CFC ranks, but the TEST Alliance kill board seemed to have things sorted out correctly

TEST Killboard Results

That shows us as killing 413 ships and pods for a value of 83 billion ISK in return for losing 48 ships and pods valued at just under 3.5 billion ISK.   A hell of an outing.

I managed to put another 20 kills on my own killboard for the month of March.

And the moment the shooting stopped, TiDi went off.  Still having several hundred people in the system wasn’t an issue.  But shooting all those guns and missile launchers, that makes the CPUs grind.

Then it was back to our forward deployment.  During the trip back we got a bit strung out along the route, which was not helped by my having to step away from the keyboard at one point.  And so it was I got caught by a bomber gang that was sitting and waiting for an easy target to wander into their sights.  The same thing happened to a Drake just a minute or two before me in the same system.

Nobody was close enough to save my ship, and so it went boom.  But a few of allies and at least one corp mate rolled in quickly enough to keep me from getting podded.

That was my fourth Drake lost in null sec.  I seem to lose about one a month.  And the motto of Drake Fleet, when it comes to losses, is “Who cares? It’s a Drake!”  They are indeed cheap and plentiful, plus there is the insurance payout and the eventual alliance reimbursement.  Plus there were already a couple of dozen Drakes for sale on contract at the forward deployment base, so I was able to re-ship in no time at all.

And, in something that must have been a sign, moments after buying the new Drake, I got a stack of notifications about the insurance expiring on almost all of my ships in null sec.

The CFC is in the process of setting Tenal on fire.

Hunting Abaddons in Tenal March 14, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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A call went out over Jabber for a Drake fleet.  Then another one a bit later.  And then one in all caps, because Dabigredboat was apparently not getting enough people interested in his Drake Fleet op.

At that point I was sitting in front of the computer and decided that if we were short, I ought to log in and help out.

So I launched EVE and was reminded it was patch day.

Patching happened.  And then a follow up client patch went through.  And then, finally, I was able to log in, maybe 15 minutes after I set out.

I got in the fleet, I got on Mumble for audio coms, and found I was way behind.  I was sitting in VFK still while Boat and the fleet were way out at the far end of Branch and ready to enter Tenal.  That was maybe 25 jumps by gates, and still nearly a dozen with jump bridges.  And each transition takes time.

It was time to burn.  Throwing caution to the wind, I just drove my Drake out there as fast as I could.  I actually ran into two neutrals sitting at one of the gates, but they didn’t bother me and I did not bother them.  Meanwhile Boat was badgering people on coms to catch up and asking how far out we were.  I x’d up as being 8 jumps out, which put me far behind the next person ahead of me.

And yet I got there in time for the fight.  Which is sometimes how these things work out.

I made it to the system.  The operation was to protect a tower that one of the CFC alliances had placed 3DR-CR, a system in Tenal which puts it right in Raiden’s front yard.  In fact, looking at today’s map of Tenal, the Razor Alliance, part of the CFC, has been encroaching in Tenal and taking systems.

Western Tenal - March 14

Unfortunately, when the tower came out of reinforcement mode, Raiden and their allies were able to take it out, a loss Boat took rather personally.

We were able to knock out a a few ships, including a pair of carriers, which helped tip the ISK balance our way, though we lost more ships, the control tower, and all of the supporting structures.  More work to be done replacing that.

Drake Fleet in action in Tenal

After that, Boat was pretty determined to hunt down the fleet that did it.  There was a fleet of Abaddons, an Amarr battleship that is popular in some null sec alliances the way the Maelstrom is with the CFC, that was rattling around in the system with us.  That was our goal.

After some jumping back and forth between systems in an attempt to head them off, we had a bit of luck.

Drake Fleet drops on the Abaddons

The picture above is one of those in the category of “priceless.”

That is the Drake fleet warping in right on top of the Abaddons.  If you look at the full picture, and know your ships, you can see an Onyx heavy interdictor in the picture.  We were able to put up bubbles and catch a good chunk of the Abaddon fleet.  The kill mail tells the tale.

A bunch got away, but we were able to knock down 17 Abaddons along with some of their support ships, putting both the number of kills and the ISK total well in our favor.

After that, we continued to chase down the rest of the Abaddon fleet, but they holed up in a station a few systems over and would not come out to play.

Sitting on another bubbled station

We sat on the station for a while to see if they would come out or if another fleet would come to rescue them, as happened last Friday.  But it was not to be.  Eventually we pulled back into Branch again to consolidate with reinforcements and to coordinate further operations.  More towers were coming out of reinforcement, so ops were planned for well into the evening.

By that point though I had already been in game for over two hours, which is kind of a long time for me on a week night, so I dropped fleet and headed to the nearest friendly station to log off.

Still, it was a good night with some interesting action along with the usual amount of inaction.  We got to hear great detail about Boat’s dinner, which included ribs last night.  The ribs were so tender that Boat reported that when he picked one up, the meat literally fell right off the bone.  These are the important details on coms when nothing else is going on.  Then he had us all watch a video on YouTube of some Russians maiming themselves by rolling down a hill inside of a big wooden cable spool.  The spool gets the last word.

And we heard a pilot, whose name I have since forgotten, on coms from Nevis (EVE has pilots from everywhere) who has such a clear and perfectly toned Eastern Caribbean accent that he clearly missed his calling doing the voice work for those “Come back to Jamaica” commercials.  You might be too young to remember those.

Also, I want to shout out to Aleph Gideon, a pilot in the fleet channel who saw one of my few messages and said he liked the blog.  Thanks man!

So, as I always say, the war goes on.  The one other big topic in coms was the upcoming nerf to Titans, the details of which were posted in the forums and were reprinted over at Jester’s Trek.  It will be interesting to see how this change affects the war when in is introduced at some point in April.

Addendum: EVE 24 News has a Raiden view of the war up.  They aren’t losing ground so much as shortening internal lines of supply… or something.

My Drake Gets Popped in S-EVIO March 12, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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I was home from work on Friday, sitting at my computer and wondering how to spend my free time, when a fleet alert came through over Jabber asking for people to assemble for a Drake fleet.  An Alpha fleet announcement had popped up earlier, but I had missed it while I was in the shower and figured they had gone off by the time I saw it. (Every so often a fleet will leave in a timely manner.)

But now I was ready to go, and Dabigredboat was leading, so it was bound to be amusing.

I got on and had to rush to catch up to the fleet.  I was a few jumps from VFK when I logged in and had to get there, get one of my remaining PvP Drakes, and then join up with the rest of the fleet who, it seemed, were determined to be one of those fleets that does, in fact, leave in a timely manner.

I probably shouldn’t have worried.

Yes, the fleet got going in a hurry, but there were the usual snags along the way.  A jump bridge was out of fuel.  Some people joined even later than I and had to catch up.  And then there was the inevitable wait for the cyno to go up so that the titan could jump us out to our destination.

Seeing a titan is almost not a big deal for me now

We got out jump.  And, as usual, some people were not ready or AFK and Boat had to arrange the usual three bridges before everybody who want to get through made it.  I have made fun of Boat’s banter during down times, but I certainly don’t have the patience for his job. (Or the skill.)

This is one of those “too many damn pictures” posts, so I am going to put in a cut here so the front page doesn’t get to be a mile long.

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Back to the POS Shoot Game in N5Y-4N March 2, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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Last night was one of those nights of running around just waiting for a target.

I got an alert on Jabber that a quick op was forming up to go after some intruders into our section of space.  This was a Drake fleet lead by Ninetales, the CFC’s own Khazak Fleet Commander.  Unfortunately, this operation got held up by a need for logistic ship support.

Jump Bridge is Red while we wait for Scimitars

And once we got it and got out to where the reds were running around, there was a recall out for another op that had been planned for the evening, so nothing really happened on that first op.

The planned op got superseded for a short bit when word came in that somebody 40+ jumps away had a few super capitals tackled and we were all going to run out and help with that.  That actually got Dabigredboat’s fleet, the one initially scheduled for the planned op, filled up pretty quickly.  Welp fleet Hurricanes and such were the order at that moment.

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There is Always a Party at VFK February 28, 2012

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I am beginning to learn that flying with the Goons means getting fights delivered to you on a regular basis.

It seems that lately a hostile fleet will show up every night in or around VFK-IV during US prime time just to give us something to do.  This time is was a fleet from Initiative Mercenaries and Giantsbane.

I actually missed the broadcast for the home defense fleet initially, but logged on as soon as I saw it.  The battle had move on from VFK and I had to chase the fleet down C8-CHY in Fade after joining.  I got there just in time to sit and wait for a bit.

The fleet sitting in space

From there it was jump hither and yon, with one of the most frustrating moments of the night coming as we were jumping out to see the red fleet jump in on top of us.  Battle missed by mere seconds.

Some more hopping and a lot more waiting ensued.  Eventually we caught them up against a bubble at one of the gates and were able to pick off a few.  I got credit for assisting with a Muninn and a Huginn.  A pack managed to warp off and we spent the next 30 minutes trying to hunt them down without a dedicated scanning ship.

Searching again

Eventually boredom took over and we decided to head back, letting the remainder of the red fleet go.  The final tally looked to be 8 ships and 5 pods killed for 1 ship lost.  Some will look at that ship list and note the odds were heavily in our favor.  But when you fly in and kick the hive, you get all the bees.  You don’t get to complain about the odds when you do that.

On the way back we tripped over a cruiser gang doing a gate camp.

More bubbles

We scored no kills, but we probably startled them something good.  A one hundred ship fleet dropping in on your gate camp can wreck your plans.  After giving chase for a bit, we resumed our flight back to VFK. The fleet stood down to change commanders.  I took the opportunity to drop out as it was time for bed.  But I am guessing that some of the fleet headed out again to chase down the cruisers one jump over from VFK.

All of which is proof of what Gaff told me early on: Don’t rat or mine around VFK.  There is always something going on in the area.

My Number Comes Up in a VFK Homland Defense Fleet February 27, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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Just as I was thinking it might be time to turn off the computer and head to bed early, a fleet op got called.

Nulli Secunda was in VFK-IV and the call was out for Drake Fleet for a Homeland Defense op.

I clone jumped into VFK, where I keep my no-implants clone and my fleet op ships, joined up with the fleet and waited for instructions.  The first thing that went out was not to undock because Nulli Secunda had undock bubbled and a fleet of Nagas at range to snipe.

There was the usual confusion and mis-information and people undocking despite being told not to, but eventually we had a fleet assembled and were ordered to undock, so out we went.

We spew forth from Mittaningrad

We aligned to a distant object, used our microwarp drives to get out of their bubbles, and warped off to form up.

Once gathered, we aligned back to the station.  Some people warped early and, as the FC said, died hilariously and alone.  Then came the warp from the FC and we all headed into the battle.  It was quite a mess.

Bubbles, Missiles, and Mittaningrad

In the fight it was a struggle for us to keep in range.  It was the usual call the target, lock, and fire in the midst of chaos.

Drake Fleet in the middle of things

Things were not going well, but I was just locking and shooting as the FC called targets when rather suddenly I was in my pod, my Drake having vanished around me.  My low point on the alphabetical sort did not save me this time around.

And there I was, in the middle of a bubble, 100km from the station, and in my pod.  I wasn’t going to be a primary target any more, but you never know when somebody just wants a pod kill.  I headed out of the bubble then warped around the system a bit until things settled down.  Eventually the station was clear and I was able to warp back in safely.

And so I have my first fleet op death in null sec, and my second Drake down in null sec overall.

The result of the battle itself was mixed.  Looking at a battle summary, we clearly lost a lot more ships.  However, as usual, we lost cheap ships, so the balance of ISK was more in our favor.

At least it was some action on a Sunday night.  I suppose that is one thing about VFK, people will show up just for a fight.

And the insurance on that Drake was going to run out in a week in any case.  Now we’ll see if I get any reimbursement.

Addendum: Nulli put up a video of the battle.