Tag Archives: Fade

Fade and the Art of Structure Maintenance

I was again out with fleets in the north last night.  During the day, if I read the pings correctly, the EUTZ crew was shooting their structures.  But come the evening and USTZ prime time, it was time again to defend our own structured being deployed on grid with the Darkness Keepstar in DO6H-Q.

We formed up in Ishtars again, so I grabbed my Guardian and got in the logi channel to play space priest once more.  Undocked we spread out in front of the station as everybody got together.

Ishtars once more in space

There is always somebody changing to the right fit at the last second, and even I was at the hairy edge of that as there was a call to change the Guardian fit from what I had been flying.

This time out we took gates to DO6H-Q.  It isn’t that far away and nothing was reported lurking between our staging and there.

Ishtars landing on a gate

We arrived in system and tethered up at one of our already anchored structures and looked around to assess the situation.  We had a bit until the first structure finished deploying and entered its 15 minute vulnerability window as it came online.

Coming online in a little over 12 minutes

You can see, in the background of the above, another Raitaru slowly deploying.

Raitaru deploying

By default Upwell structures take 24 hours to deploy, but as part of the sovereignty mechanics of conquerable null sec, deploying a structure in space owned by somebody else ups that time to six days.  So that Raitaru will be ready on Monday morning EVE time.

There was a moment of hope that GotG was going to bring a fight with something new when a Tempest Fleet Issue undock from the Keepstar.

Tempest Fleet Issue

However that turned out to be just one person undocking it for whatever reasons.

As the timer on the first structure ticked down Asher, privy to coalition level intel, decided that the locals were not going to undock a fleet at this point to contest the onlining.  We were going to stay in the area in case something came up, but do something else while we waited.

Asher warped us off to a gate and we jumped, and warped off to a POS where the locals had a jump bridge anchored.  The tower was armed, so we left light stuff with a bit of support back at the gate we came through.  We landed, anchored up, and disabled the warp disruption batteries on the POS first, then started in on the jump bridge module.

Shooting the jump bridge module

This was probably the most challenging part of the evening for logi.  The tower had no shortage of guns and we were big enough to hit fairly easily, with just a couple of shots able to put an Ishtar or Guardian into armor.  Also, when POS guns shoot in their autonomous mode, they switch targets regularly.  This meant a steady stream of calls for reps as everybody seemed to get their turn as a target.

Rep, cap chain, and neut effects on the Ishtar ball

A year from now, if CCP keeps on task, the venerable POS will be a thing of memory and jump bridges will be a different beast,  But last night we were in for the old school experience.  We knocked the jump bridge module down to half structure, then tried to rep the armor back up a bit.  The owned have to decide if the want to spend the time repping it back up or if it is easier to just shoot and kill it themselves in order to drop a fresh module.

We did not get much time to rep the module however.  As we were shooting things on the tower, a small group of locals undocked in bombers, along with one Ferox battlecruiser, in order to shoot the onlining structure.  They were hitting it with enough damage to stop the repair timer, but were making slow enough progress that we had time to finish disabling the jump bridge before heading back to shoo them away.

When we got back into DO6H-Q and landed on grid with the Raitaru, the locals set themselves to warp off.  But the Ferox pilot was a bit too slow on that front and ended up locked down, unable to warp, or even move very fast.

A Ferox in trouble

Asher wanted to let everybody get on the kill, so had us drop just one light drone each.  But as we started to eat through him he has logi start repping him as well.

Repping a hostile Ferox

I do wonder what was going on in the pilots mind as time dragged on and we were both shooting him and keeping him alive.  He kept trying to move and shoot us and launched his drones, which were shot as well.  That is all you can really do, just keep squirming and maybe there will be a mistake and you can get away.

After keeping him as a pet for a while, Asher had us all launch two more light drones to apply damage to see if logi could keep him alive.  I activated my other two reps on him as the extra drones hit.  As it turned out, we could not keep him alive.  According to the kill mail he managed to tank a lot of damage with us repping him.

We were briefly able to capture a Nemesis stealth bomber as well, but it was too fragile and blew up very quickly.

After that we were left alone to tether up and wait for the timer to count down, after which we headed back to our staging.  Or tried to.  On the gate out we got fed a couple of targets and started to wonder if this was a ploy to keep us there.  But once everybody’s aggression timer finally ran down we jumped through and headed home.

We went back because it was late for some people… it was late for me even, though I get up at around 5am, so late is a relative term… so we docked up and let people log off.   A few more people joined the fleet and I decided to stay for the next round.

Asher said that we had intel indicating that they would undock for the next timer so we might get a fight.  That merited a ride out to battle, so we got in range of the titan and waited to be bridged directly to our destination.

Waiting for the bridge

Back in DO6H-Q the locals, like earlier this week, had formed up a fleet based on the Eagle heavy assault cruiser.  However, like last time, they didn’t form up enough numbers to overwhelm us so, once we clashed, things turned very quickly in our favor and they had to flee the scene.

As that happened a TEST pilot, Cpt Sobad (alt of Capt. Soban), indulged him in his alliance’s tradition of shitting up local by haranguing the locals for not being able to stop us despite being in their staging system and under their capital and super cap umbrella.  We, as usual, stayed silent in local.  But seeing an outsider taking the locals to task was amusing.

Cpt Sobad tethered at our citadel

He was able to tether up safely at one of our structures because we have them set to be open to anybody not in GotG or PanFam.  We let him warp out a pick up a souvenir corpse from the battlefield.  He has since returned the favor by writing to PepsiCo about the obvious state of our thirst after this hard work.

That was about the end of the action.  Asher deployed his MTU, named after Erebus SilentKill, the only MTU he will tolerate on the field, and it cleaned up the wrecks so as to leave nothing for the locals.

A Vigil valiantly salvaging wrecks

Once the Raitaru was online a hauler was brought in to fuel it up.

A Prowler and a covert cyno

That was it for the op.  We rolled home without incident.

The battle report for the night, which covers both interludes, shows the ISK war tilted again in our favor.  We didn’t kill as much as the other night, but we didn’t lose anything expensive this time either.  Somehow I didn’t get counted on the battle report even though I was on a few ship kill mails.  The zKillboard related kills shows me, though it has a different time frame.

Also, a side note on the topic of GotG FC Erebus SilentKill; he apparently has decided to quit EVE Online, for which he was memorialized and/or mocked over on zKillboard, depending on how you look at it.  We have faced him more than a few times lately.  He was the one harrying our fleet when we went back to shoot the Sotiyo again.  On the other hand, he was also streaming his fleet with no delay and talking about his intentions, so handed us a bounty of intel.

Anyway, I wonder what the leader of GotG, Sort Dragon, who is vacationing in Japan currently, will have to say when he gets home?

Addendum: See my comment here on what has happened this morning, including the theft of a Keepstar.

Another Structure Delivered to Fade

I missed a few days last week on the northern front.  Over the weekend I jumped back to Delve for the first time since November to join in as a logi pilot in an FC tournament.  But the efforts to draw out and Darkness and their allies in the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition continued on, and last night I was back in our staging and waiting on a titan to join in on the fun.

Waiting for a bridge to Fade

We had another anchoring Raitaru coming online on the grid with the Darkness Keepstar in DO6H-Q.  Soon enough I was up in Fade with the Ishtar fleet as we watched the anchoring timer count down.  After that the citadel would be vulnerable to destruction for fifteen minutes, after which it be online.

Ishtar fleet with many Blaze SKINs

It seemed that GotG would rise up to defend their space this time around.  On the overview was their new fleet composition.

Eagle Fleet arrives, their FC in a Loki

To counter out armor Ishtar heavy assault cruiser doctrine they picked the Caldari rail gun focused heavy assault cruiser.  They were on the field with Eagles, supporting shield logi, and a gaggle of Celestis electronic warfare cruisers to sensor damp us.  In addition they had some carriers out with fighters to support them.

As we moved around the fighters were sent our way first, but were withdrawn fairly shortly as our own drones were able to chew them up fairly quickly.  My big logi offensive for the evening came about because I managed to get on a few fighter kill mails.  However, once we finally closed with the Eagles I was too busy responding to calls for repair to launch my light drones again.

The clash was short and sharp and did not go well for the Eagles.  They got bubbled to pin them down when they started taking losses.

Eagles in the bubble

At our end we lost a few interdictors… which is something that just happens as they are priority targets and not very durable… but only one Ishtar, and they were already down to structure when I locked them up so my reps never got there. (Armor reps hit at the end of the module cycle.)  But logi managed to save everybody else who broadcast time.

The hostile fleet got out of the bubbles and withdrew, leaving us hanging around the Raitaru waiting to see if they were going to try anything else as the counter ran down.  They opted not to and we were soon tethered on the Raitaru.

Hanging in space off our latest citadel

As this was going on, a couple gates over in C8-CHY, an Imperium Raitaru on its final timer was getting pounded by a lone Phoenix dreadnought.  A drop, which included a super carrier, was organized.  While it did not save the Raitaru, it nabbed the Phoenix, so the locals ended up trading a dread that zKillboard says was worth 3.8 billion ISK for a Raitaru valued at about 600 million ISK.  Not a good exchange.

Looking at the battle report, the clash was very much in our favor.

Battle Report Header

Despite getting on those fighter kills I did not show up on the battle report, so TNT isn’t represented.  But neither were a number of the carriers.  If you don’t get on a ship kill you don’t get counted.  Still, I got to see us drop another structure in DO6H-Q.

As seen from the Darkness Keepstar

It joins a number of other Raitarus of ours in their system.

Imperium structures in blue

That seems to be the structure of choice, no doubt due to its low cost.

And so it goes.  The latest Raitaru is online, fueled, and with a module fit, so killing it will require the full three fight process rather than the two fights needed for a structure in Low Power mode.

Notes from the Pure Blind Front

We’ve been out on this deployment to the north for a while.  I do not think my main has been back to Delve since some point in November of last year.  Back at the start we were running around in VNIs shooting ratters with the same ships they were using.

VNIs leaving the station

I haven’t written that much about the deployment as this sort of guerilla warfare doesn’t always make for interesting tales.  We go shoot structures and drop on miners and ratters.  There are a few posts if you click on the Reavers tag and scroll down the posts, but that does not represent our level of activity.

However, recently a few things have happened, not all of which I was there to see first hand, so I thought I would sum up a bit of the situation.  A year from now we’ll see how all this played out, but for the moment this is what has come up.

Changes Over The Last Month

As I noted previously, Pandemic Horde moving to Geminate left something of a hole in the north that the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition was looking to fill.  They started off right after the whole million dollar battle thing by clearing all of our structures and aggressively camping our staging station, keeping it bubbled and watched.

This is a bubble camp

They seemed to tire of that after a few days and we were soon able to undock to clear the bubbles and kill some of their forces.  Eventually they gave up on that, but would aggressively defend the structures they had planted all over the system and attack any that we dropped.  Then they lost some titans and seemed to give up on activity in our staging system.  We have since been able to drop structures and chip away at theirs in system.

The New Normal

Recently we have had to go into GotG space to get them to form up, since they mostly leave our staging system alone.  We have been into the Darkness capital system to drop structures, or to reinforce their structures, on grid with their Keepstar, acts that don’t always get a response.

Shooting one of their structures, Keepstar visible

We’ve been into Deklein drop structures and reinforce their stuff to see if we can get a rise out of them.  We don’t always form up to defend what we drop or reinforce.

Deploying a Raitaru, visible between the Keepstar uprights

There was a Sotiyo engineering structure we hit, setting a timer.  A Sotiyo is where you build capitals and super capitals.   That they formed up to defend, but when the timer hit we were nowhere to be seen.  Depending on who is telling the tale, one of the titan pilots that formed up either blew up his own titan by playing the self-destruct dare game because they were bored or self-destructed and rage quit the game because they were assured we would show and we didn’t.  They self-destructed a super carrier as well.

Either way, reinforcing that Sotiyo ended up costing them a titan.  So we went back and reinforced it again, along with other structures.  And when we’re not doing that people are still out hunting miners and ratters.

A Rorqual we got after reinforcing that Sotiyo again

The Strange Tale of Bad Juice

At one point in a prod at GotG Reavers chief Asher Elias went to Reddit and posted a link to an enthusiastic video showing the locals shooting a small, undefended Imperium tower.  It was very much in the usual spirit of what happens in /r/eve, a bit of a laugh about them posting that but not fighting us.  Golf clap level stuff.  The video itself got some extra views and a few wry comments and the person who made the video, who we saw in space later that day, seemed chill about it.  More views are better, right?

Then the video maker freaked out, posted another video accusing Asher of cyber bullying for posting the link which ended up bringing legions of haters to his video and declaring that Asher could be facing up to 10 years in prison (according to Texas law).  And then there was the declaration that he wanted to face Asher in an MMA style cage match, a post which he took down because he said CCP Scorpion threatened him with a ban if he did not.  CCP Falcon showed up in that thread to say there was no CCP Scorpion and that he didn’t know anything about any of that.

The drama seemed to be too much for all concerned and the pilot ended up the week looking for a new home.

A MOA Defection

Mordus Angels, who long waged a low key guerilla war against the CFC then the Imperium when we lived in the north.  While their solo war was never more than a nuisance, once the Casino War opened up they found themselves with many allies as we were swept from our space and, in the aftermath, found themselves holding sovereignty.  They soon became part of the GotG coalition, “blue-trals” to their neighbors, and open to ratters and miners and getting fat on the bounty of null sec space.

Now it is us sitting in an NPC station waging a guerilla war against them and their allies.  Despite the occasional hysterical cry that we’re there to invade, we’ve just reversed things.  We just happen to have the economic power behind us to drop suicide dreads.

As the Monthly Economic Report earlier this week indicated, ratting and mining is down and not so very lucrative in Fade, Deklein, and Pure Blind where a lot of GotG lives.  Up in Branch however, some of the coalition are working away relatively unmolested being out of easy bridge range.

That MOA was suffering while others were making bank seemed to set off one of the MOA corps who defected to The Imperium, bringing with them some assets and snapping the local MOA owned jump bridge network.

Anyway, having been in our coalition for almost six years at this point it is bizarro world strange to have a MOA corp defecting to us.  But then, the MOA that lives in Pure Blind now is hardly the MOA that used to live in 5ZXX-K for all those years. (And a couple more corps, FWCEF and FWS, left MOA after A.N.D defected.)

Space Violence Arrives

While a couple of Imperium SIGs have been wandering the north for a while looking to harass and interdict the locals, it has often been a low key affair.  And then the Space Violence SIG announced that they had arrived with ~400 dreadnoughts and were looking for trouble.

The thing with low key is that, while the locals know you’re around and can guess pretty accurately what you can muster (and what it will take to counter), but the rest of New Eden is pretty oblivious unless something big happens, and then they only know after the fact.  That is too late for third parties.

Will a big splashy announcement about Space Violence’s arrival in the north shake things up?  NCDot has come over from Tribute to support GotG on occasion, but they know the drill, that we’ll just fade away if they bring enough supers.

Response by the Locals

Confirming what I mentioned up a way, the GotG response to our presence has gone from aggressively going after us to not forming to fight, this coming from a leak from GotG leadership.  The expectation is that they can time zone tank their structures and we’ll get bored and go away. As Asher notes, not fighting is a legit tactic, and one we have to use ourselves up in the north where we can easily find ourselves outnumbered if the locals form up.  But given our past, I think it will take a while before we tire of shooting structures and dropping our own.

Anyway, unless a war involving us breaks out somewhere in New Eden, I think we’ll be the north for a while longer.

Delve – Now With Contract Values

The Monthly Economic Report for March dropped on Friday and contains all the usual fun data to peruse.  This is the first MER since CCP Quant left the company, so we get to blame any errors on the new minder of the report, CCP Larrikin. (We’ll get to that.)

Going down the usual path I want to look at mining first.

March 2018 – Mining Value by Region

Mining value was up in Delve by almost a trillion ISK.  This came in the face of sagging mineral prices in the market overall.

March 2018 – Economic Indices

That means that there was just more mining going on in Delve, likely related to the ever expanding moon mining operations in the region, all of which left Delve at the top of the stack again.

March 2018 – Mining Value by Region – Bar Graph

Of note are the rather static month over month value of Querious.  I was wondering if that might go up due to Locust Fleet, the attempt to mine out all of the moon mining operations in a single day.  Perhaps that did not go as well as planned.  I heard it was of to a rough start, but did well enough to carry on again this month, running yesterday.  We’ll look back again next month to see if that raises Querious.

Also of note are the falling mining output numbers for Fade, Pure Blind, and Deklein, regions in the north that have been hunted by several Imperium SIGs.  They are all down noticeably over last month, more so than the dip in prices would explain. With the departure of Pandemic Horde for Geminate, the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition has pretty much ceded the staging systems being used against them and has adopted a defensive posture, allowing the Imperium to do its fighting on their home turf, inhibiting mining and ratting operations in those regions.

And since we’re on about that, I might as well move to NPC bounty payouts where, as expected, Delve remains at the top.

March 2018 – NPC Bounties by Region

The change is moderate, up about a trillion ISK for Delve… what a world when that much ISK is a moderate change… so holds its place in the stack ranking.

March 2018 – NPC Bounties by Region – Bar Graph

As noted above, the regions in the north being stalked by Imperium forces saw some impact.  Deklein, once number three on the list, fell back to fifth, having shed nearly a trillion ISK from its 3.6 trillion ISK February number.  In this case a trillion ISK represents more than a 25% drop.  Likewise, Fade saw a significant drop, while Pure Blind wasn’t hurt too bad, but its February number wasn’t that hot to begin with.

As usual, null sec remained the prime recipient of NPC bounties, with its percentage dropping a bit, from 93.3% last month to 93.1% this month.

March 2018 – Bounties by Space Sec Rating

Overall however bounties saw a noticeable dip on the sinks and faucets chart during March, though it recovered somewhat by the end of the month.

March 2018 – Top 8 ISK Sinks and Faucets

I am not sure what was going on during that part of the month, but overall NPC bounties are down some.

On the production front Delve saw a huge surge in March, jumping from 29 trillion ISK in value in February to just past 40 trillion ISK last month.

March 2018 – Production Values by Region

This surge managed to push Delve past The Forge, the region that is home to Jita, in total production value.

March 2018 – Production Values by Region – Bar Graph

That is quite an accomplishment but, as I have noted in the past, Jita sits at the intersection of three regions, The Forge, Lonetrek, and The Citadel, so production centered on the marked hub of New Eden still exceeds Delve overall.  Still, the Imperium is building a lot of stuff as The Mittani encourages people to train into titans.

On the trade value front The Forge remains dominate.  There is a reason manufacturing is clustered around there, it is the place to sell things.

March 2018 – Trade Value by Region

The dominance of The Forge and its Jita market nexus is made starkly clear by the bar graph.

March 2018 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph

The next two contenders, Domain, home to Amarr, and Delve, fade in comparison to such an extent that CCP provides the same graph without The Forge every month, just so you can see how the rest of New Eden compares.

March 2018 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph, Forge Excluded

There you can see how the other regions compare to each other when the shadow of The Forge is removed.

This month we got an additional insight into trade when CCP Larrikin added charts about the value of contract transactions per region.  Unfortunately, the main chart appears to have problems.  It is not labelled correctly (it just says trade value by regions) and the number for The Forge is clearly wrong. (Blame assigned.)  However, the accompanying bar chart appears to be correct both in labeling and data, so I will toss that in.

March 2018 – Contracts Trade Value by Region – Bar Chart

Here The Forge is still on top, but Delve is not too far behind.  This is likely due to the fact that doctrine ships are generally purchased by line members assembled and loaded via contract and because capital and super capital purchases are also often done by contract.

Finally, I will end on the usual chart, the comparison of various stats across key regions.

March 2018 – Regional Summary Stats

Things to look for next month:

  • Will Fade, Pure Blind, and Deklein remain down?
  • Will the Space Violence SIG showing up in the north push them down further?
  • Will the “Bee Control” attacks on Delve suppress its numbers?
  • Will the Locust Fleet boost Querious mining?
  • Will Delve production remain this high?
  • Am I going to have to bring up Fountain at some point?

Anyway, that is my look at the New Eden Monthly Economic Report.  The report itself has many more charts and the raw data on which they were based, so if numbers are your thing you should go take a look.  Over at INN they have taken the raw data and rolled a few of their own graphs, if you want to see some of the data presented in a different way.

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.

VNI Fleet Flies in Fade Again

A third op for what seemed to be a comedy doctrine, a wry “coming to kill you in ratting ships” statement to the sov holders in the north, seemed a bit odd to me.  And this was made all the more strange as Asher is not one to nail his colors to a set doctrine, especially one that doesn’t have enough cargo space for a mobile depot, a full set of module refits, and a drag bubble. (A concept represented here in meme form)

I suppose a cargo hold full of extra drones might count as refits.  Maybe.

But there we were last night, undocking in our VNIs, loaded with drones, and off to fight over timer on another one of the citadels that had been scattered about the north for just such a purpose.  We keep this up and people will start copying this doctrine soon.

Resupplied with drones, drugs, and fresh hulls for those who lost theirs the night before, we undocked and got on a titan, pilots from TNT increasing our numbers, to wait for our bridge into the fight.

The same scene over and over

We were jumping back into DW-T2I, where we had successfully defended a timer previously, slicing up a Pandemic Horde Tempest fleet without any losses on our side.

Of course, that time PH fought the battle themselves and the odds… at least in the number of ships, leaving aside we were in cruisers and they were in battleships… were as close to even as makes no difference.

This time we jumped into DW-T2I to find that PH had called up their local friends, the effectively blue neutrals (bluetrals), to ensure things went their way.  The numbers were stacked heavily against our VNI fleet when we arrived and tethered up on one of our citadels in the system.  There were an array of fleets from PH, Guardians of the Galaxy Coalition, and Mordus Angels in the system, ranging from destroyers to capitals.  The directional scan from Moomin did not look good for us.

As Asher assessed the situation for us on coms it sounded like we were just going to give it a pass and go home.  Then the timer for the Astrahus came out and the gunner, Gennel, who had successfully made the hostiles pay for getting to close to his weapons in the past, started pasting hostile force auxiliaries that had nonchalantly gone into triage mode within his reach, with an Apostle exploding almost immediately.

Taking out the support that the capitals had brought with them and scaring them off the Astrahus grid seemed to change the situation for Asher and we were called to align then warped to the now besieged citadel.  We were safely tethered there when he called for us to anchor on him with propulsion modules on.  We launched drones, unthethered, and began hitting Tempest Fleet Issue fleet that GotG had brought.

VNIs on the move, drones out

A quick dozen targets were taken out and we were feeling pretty good about things.  Our speed and low signature kept us reasonably safe while our drones chopped up one target after another.

A Tempest Fleet Issue getting hit by drones

A bombing run caught us at one point, but did not hit us full on, so we kept going.  We were still clearly going to lose the Astrahus, but we seemed on the path towards extracting greater value in ISK from the enemy in faction battleships and force auxiliaries.

The hostiles were not done escalating however and we soon saw titans with a large group of force auxiliaries in support drop on grid with us.

Supers dropping as we align out

Asher aligned us off to a safe to let our weapons timers run down, then put us on a citadel, our drones left behind as we exited the scene.  Titans were definitely not within the realm of possibility for us, and certainly not ones that might be mounting any of the fun new anti-subcap doomsday weapons.

The update to the overview, titans and faxes

Asher had us dock up and reload our drone bays to replace any lost or left behind drones while the titans hit the Astrahus.

Targets too big for us

That is, of course, the problem with running into somebody elses’ home turf.  They have the opportunity to drop anything they have to hand on your, including supers.  We had that issue during the operations in Hakonen back during the summer.

Asher had us align back and we landed on the soon-to-be-destroyed Astrahus, tethered again, and anchored up for another run at targets of opportunity.  We had to warp out almost immediately, causing some of us to lose drones (I was lucky to get 4 out of 5 back).  We landed, aligned back, and gave it another try.  With drones launched again we were able to knock out another half-dozen GotG TFIs and got to see the Astrahus gunner pick off an fax in the midst of the titan ball.

Boom, another cap down

All that would have been well and good, but along the way a Hurricane fleet that had come all the way up from Delve to join us in the fight arrived and basically fed the enemy 70 kills, including some very expensive implant pods.  That slave set didn’t really help.

Local was actually up beyond 700 people at its peak and time dilation kicked in, dipping to under 20% speed at times.  But by that point the fight had passed its crescendo for us.  We ended up warping to safes, leaving behind more drones, then docking up in one of our remaining citadels as the titans finished their work.

Titans still hanging about in space

We waited a bit for things to settle down, then took gates home, unmolested by any of the defending forces who were still about.

Our little fleet did fairly well.  We lost less that 20 ships, including support, and inflicted some damage on the Tempest Fleet Issues on grid.  However, in the final accounting of the battle over at zKillboard, all of the usual measures went against us.  We lost the objective, with the defended Astrahus, plus two citadels coming online, all destroyed. (The Astrahus only had supers on its kill mail.)  Meanwhile the ISK war went badly for us once you count in the destroyed Hurricane fleet which totaled up to nearly 6 billion ISK in ships and a further six billion ISK in pods.  (Okay, not every expensive pod was in their fleet, but they own the lion’s share of that loss.)  And we simply lost more ships overall, again with the Hurricane fleet providing the bulk of that metric.

And yet it still felt like a win to us.  Our little fleet, about 100 ships all told, heavily outnumbered, and with no chance of changing the eventual outcome, sailed into harms way and gave better than it took.  Sometimes a desperate fight you know you’re going to lose is more fun than the objective outcome would make it.

Anyway, time to restock drones in my drone bay in case the VNIs fly again.

Three Rorquals Down

After the previous night’s VNI fight, things started to go downhill a bit for me. First, as I noted at the end of the last post, during an interceptor roam through Pandemic Horde space, I managed to avoid the hostiles only to get popped by a Serpentis dreadnought.

Then last night I got back on in again, a little late to catch Asher, but was able to join DBRB’s bomber fleet to join the defense of one of the citadels we have scattered about the north right now.

My Purifier with the Empress Catiz I jubilee skin

That did not go well however.  We never got a good run on them, and were probably shy of the numbers we needed to be effective, so lost some bombers, including my own, while the hostiles were able to kill the Raitaru.

Tempests inside the new blood orange hictor bubble

Still, these things happen.  I fetched a replacement Purifier out to our staging and then logged off for a bit to do some things around the house.  But I came back to find another Asher ping forming a fleet with targets in mind.  I was good to go for that and only a couple minutes late, but was able to get out and on the black ops battleship to wait with the rest of the fleet as things got set up.

The targets were a pair of Rorquals, the capital mining ships that have boosted the mining numbers all over null sec, up in Deklein.  The plan was to drop on them, bomb the Rorquals, kill their excavator drones with torpedoes, then see if we couldn’t maybe kill one of the Rorqs before the inevitable defense fleet showed up to see us off.

The time came, the bridge went up, and we dropped on the pair.  I let my bomb go on one of the Rorqs, then missed getting any of the excavator drones because I had a warp disruptor fit and was rushing in on one of the targets to hold it down and keep it from getting away.  I was a bit quick on that… or people were a bit slow with their bombs… because I ended up getting my shields stripped away and some armor damage from them.  But I got my target locked down and started blazing away at it with my own torps.

In on the first Rorqual

Asher called for everybody to start hitting it and it seemed to be going down pretty well when first one, then the other Rorq activated their PANIC modules.

Still taking fire while invulnerable in the PANIC bubble

This made the pair invulnerable for several minutes, during which I suspect they both expected to be rescued by a defense fleet.

By that point we had done what we had set out to do, which was kill some excavator drones.  Now we had the option to hang out and see if we could get one of these ships when the PANIC modules went down, but that meant also hanging about for a defense fleet we knew was coming and facing that peril in our flimsy bombers

The pair of them in their PANIC bubbles

We cloaked up and warped off to wait out the PANIC cycle as the defense fleet arrived in system.  A mix of Cerberus and Caracals with support, they did not seem very energetic in their attempt to defend the pair.  When the two Rorquals were vulnerable again the fleet did not go after the bombers, even the ones locking down their comrades.  Of course, we dropped in a distraction.

A cyno went up and we brought in a sacrificial Revelation dreadnought to try and pound down at least one of the Rorquals.  A Rorq is worth a few dreadnoughts on the market, so worth the exchange if we could get just one.

Revelation on the scene

The defense fleet seemed entranced to have a big shiny target of their own to shoot and focused on that while the dread and the bombers hit the first of the Rorquals.

Let the pounding commence

At that point I was headed in to help hold the Rorqual down when another bomber pilot let loose with a bomb to help speed things along and I caught it full in the face, destroying my Purifier.  People who had hit me previously were apparently down or gone, so Jinx Hita, the bomber pilot, got credit for a solo kill.

Freed from the demands of combat I hung around to watch the fight.  The hostiles left me alone for a while, so I was able to watch things unfold, including the destruction of the first of the Rorqual.

Rorqual down, op success!

Since I was still alive, on grid, and had done damage to the Rorqual recently, I appeared on the kill mail.  That’s what it is all about, right?

At that point we were ahead of the game, we couldn’t lose enough for the enemy to win the ISK war.  But we were not done yet.  The second Rorqual was going down fast, and even after the hostiles dropped a Minokawa force auxiliary on grid to try to save it, it was too late.  The second Rorqual went down.  Again, I was still alive and had done some damage, so got on that kill mail as well.

At about that point I caught somebody’s eye and my pod got popped and I was sent home to grab another Purifier.  As I started flying the new ship out to our staging, I heard the ongoing fight on coms, where our dread pilot was able to pop a Cerberus and a few Caracals before finally meeting their end.  That put the final tally at about 3.5 billion ISK lost by us versus about 24 billion ISK lost by the enemy.  And it all happened in 0P-F3K, which was my home system way back in the day when TNT was in Deklein.

The survivors left the scene and we were all happy with our success.  But even as we were starting to think about getting back home, word came down that another Rorqual was lolling about, oblivious to danger, not too far away.  High on two kills already, we were keen to try for a third.

I hurried at best speed back to our staging system to join those who had to reship.  However there was still a good chunk of the fleet that was off in Deklein, while our target was in Fade.

Soon we started running into that series of obstacles that can often pull apart an op.  We had to get everybody together at a third staging point, we needed two black ops battleships, we needed fuel for bridges, jumps, and cynos, half of us needed bombs, and we needed a plan.  The target, which had been joined by a second Rorqual at this point, was in a cyno-jammed system, so we weren’t going to be able to drop another dreadnought, and close to where we expected a defense fleet to form up and come get us.

Those of us at staging got bridged to the mid-point first, the Astrahus we had defended with the VNIs previously.  After two bomber losses that night I decided that the Empress Catiz I SKIN might be unlucky and changed to Rata Sunset.

My third Purifier of the night tethered at the Astrahus

We sat around there and listened on coms as the building series of complications tried to get sorted.  It seemed to me at several points that Asher was just going to call the thing off.  The plan, as it eventually shook out, was to slip somebody into the system, put a deployable warp disruption bubble between the anomaly with the Rorquals and the Fortizar in system where they would likely dock up, then spook one or both of them to get them to warp to safety, only to catch them in the bubble, drop on them, bomb them, point them, and kill them, all before a defense fleet a couple gates away showed up to wipe us out.

I could hear the skepticism in the whole idea in the voices of several people on coms and could see how it all depended on the hostiles obliging us at a few points.  And if it didn’t come off, we wouldn’t even get any excavator drone kills.  But we were all there, ready to go, and were far enough ahead on the night with the two previous Rorqual kills that we went for it all the same.

We listened as the drag bubble got deployed, the covert cyno was put in place, and then as the Rorqual, tipped off to flee, at which point it actually warped off exactly as we wanted.  The cyno was lit and the bridge went up.

A Redeemer black ops battleship with bridge up

As we arrived we were rewarded by the sight of a Rorqual caught in a drag bubble and waiting for us to go after him.

Landed on our target, already under fire

We plowed into him, Asher called for people to overheat their launchers to increase their rate of fire, as we tried to take him down before the enemy could react.

As we hit the Rorqual we saw a Rifter flying around us.  A few of us took a shot at him, but he seemed disinclined to get involved.  But then a Stabber showed up on the scene.  He was a lot more interested in getting some kills and he chose me out of the bunch.  I though I was surely going to lose my third Purifier for the night as he chewed through shield and armor and nearly 40% of my structure, but we popped him before he was able to finish me off.  Then it was back to the Rorqual.

Rorqual showing heavy damage

We were able to kill it as the local defense fleet showed up.  However they seemed a bit hesitant to jump on in and we cloaked up, warped off, and plotted our escape.

Then, of course, we had to get out of there.  This entailed a few awkward steps in getting fuel and black ops battleships together in the right location, bridging the fuel truck, transferring fuel, dealing with the people left behind on one bridge and the guy who went through the wrong bridge with the fuel truck, which was headed back into the system we were leaving.

Eventually that got sorted.  Asher said that those of us hanging about were free to burn back to our staging.  My Purified, having been repaired by the tethering service, was ready to go.  Of course, once I got one gate along one of the black ops pilots bridged people back home.  But I got there safe all the same.

We ended up getting out of the second drop having lost a pair of bombers while knocking out a Rorqual, a Stabber, and a Cormorant from the responding defense fleet.  About 100 million ISK loss for us and close to 10 billion ISK for the hostiles.  That, with the previous two Rorquals downed made for a pretty good night.

Below a gallery of screen shots from the evening, with a few that I couldn’t fit into the post along the way.