Tag Archives: Fountain War 2015

The Doomed Convoy at KVN-36

The convoy ops for the final evacuation out of Fountain had been posted on the forums and broadcast multiple times daily on Jabber over the days preceding this past weekend.  Anybody who had been paying even the slightest amount of attention knew they were coming.  We were headed for home in the seven regions.

CFC / Imperium Space

CFC / Imperium Space

I mentioned having to get my stuff together last week.  Well all that warning was sufficient.  I managed to slip a couple of ships out and back to Deklein during the week, I moved the couple of ships I had in TEG-SD up to 4-EP12 (I put one Celestis up on contract cheap and somebody grabbed it pretty quick), and the night before the I got my main and alt accounts setup and in the two big remaining ships, a Dominix and a Megathron, ready for the move ops.

There were going to be three move ops on Saturday, at least from my time perspective.  One at 4:30am my time, one at noon my time, and one at 7:00pm my time (which is actually Sunday EVE Online time, since the game runs on UTC), each passing through the same set of systems to pick people up along the way, starting in Sakht and ending in B-DBYQ, hitting each of the staging systems in between, before heading along the most direct path home.

The purpose of a move op is to for a fleet massive enough that it won’t be viewed as a target of opportunity at gate camps and such.  ~200 ships makes for a tough nut to crack unless you plan for it.

I was tempted to try and get into the first move op.  I wasn’t going to get up at 4:30am, but I knew from past experience that move ops tend to be slow.  The idea isn’t just to get somewhere, but to get everybody in the op home safely.  That means you wait for people who disconnect or who get lost or who somehow fall a system or two behind.  It is a job more for a shepherd than a fleet commander.  And 4-EP12 is one of the last systems on the list, so I would have a lot of time before the op got there.

I also knew that our cats would wake me up at some point around 6am because they still don’t quite get the concept of “weekends” and get worried I might miss work if I am still in bed then.  And, true to form, our cat Rigby got on the bed and started meowing at me around 6am, waking me up.  I immediately… okay, maybe slowly… got up, walked down the hall to my office, booted up my computer, and got into EVE Online. However, things appeared to be moving apace for the early op, as they had already passed my system and were actually only a couple jumps from home, all in about 90 minutes.  Good speed for a move op and, I hoped, an indication of how things would go on the next op.

So it was back to bed for a bit more sleep.

I had warned my wife that there might be a two hour move op starting at noon our time, and she seemed to be okay with that.  There was an event going on in our local downtown area she wanted to go to, but it didn’t start until 2pm and ran into the evening.  Plenty of time.

Around 11:45am (18:45 UTC) I logged into EVE Online with both my accounts and started waiting for the fleet advert to appear.  I had things ready to go and decided, since I would spend a good part of the op just sitting and waiting for it to get to me, that I would take notes with time stamps, just in case this turned into a trail of tears op.

The classic Trail of Tears move op

The classic Trail of Tears move op

Game to blog, blog to game and all that.

So from this point forward, everything will be in reference to something I noted, with a time stamp in UTC.  I am also going to put in a cut here because of many words and a pile of screen shots.

Continue reading

Traveling Home and the Contraction of Empire

I think it says something about the nature of EVE Online that I end up writing about move operations as often as I do.  Essentially, there is no magic bank or mail system in New Eden that will deliver your stuff.  If you need stuff moved you have to haul it yourself or hire somebody else to do it for you.

And so it is that I sit with a pile of ships and supplies to move this month.  By the time the June expansion drops, which will bring the next changes to how null sec sovereignty, The Imperium plans to be sorted out and ready to defend its smaller territory.

(New Eden map from DOTLAN)

CFC / Imperium Space

CFC / Imperium Space

The old CFC at its peak held a lot of space, and empire that ran from Tenal down to Period Basis, linked by a network of jump bridges that made moving a fleet of subcaps from one end to another a viable operation.  You couldn’t base out of Querious from Deklein and conduct a sustained offensive campaign on a whim.  There would still need to be a supply chain setup and replacement ships put on the market to keep operations going.  But for defense you could move from Deklein and be anywhere in the empire in an hour.

Then came the Phoebe expansion back in November, and with it came jump fatigue and the end of the ability to defend on all fronts.  That restricted the effective size of the empire and three regions in the south were sold off.

Phoebe certainly didn’t take offensive operations off the board, as we saw in Delve in April, an event that demonstrated how unwieldy holding large stretches of space could be The Imperium hit one front while paying PL and encouraging the Russians to hit another.  And after the conquest of Delve and parts of Querious The Imperium is pulling back, leaving our allies to hold on to the space they grabbed.  The Kadeshi are already retaking systems after having been cleared from the map on May first.

The newly christened Imperium has mostly pulled back up into Fountain.  A few stay behind groups are active to harass the former owners and to keep their reconquest from being completely unopposed in some areas, but otherwise the march north has begun.

But Fountain is just a waypoint on the road home, as it is being handed over or abandoned.  The Hero Coalition and Black Legion have both setup in the region and have begun to fight. (You can read about what is going on at the excellent Updates blog that covers null sec.)  We are holding a few key systems to facilitate our exit, but convoys out have already begun, convoys passing through Cloud Ring, also to be abandoned, to the new core of regions that will make up The Imperium; Tenal, Branch, Deklein, Fade, Pure Blind, Tribute, and The Vale of the Silent.

Of course, we’ve held Fountain for a while now and were told to pre-position ships there to cover the south of the empire, so I have a dozen ships in our long held staging system that I want to bring home.  Foolish me for following orders and actually staging ships there.  In practice all ops came out of Deklein and I rarely ever used any of the ships I held there… most of which aren’t even part of official doctrine any more.  So while I would like to be down in Querious with the Reavers (or engaging in other game shenanigans), I am over in Fountain planning my exit.  The big ships, the battleships, will have to wait for convoys.  I might have to activate my second account for a stretch just so I can fly two ships at a time.  (None of our freighter services are running out of Fountain any more, or I would just strip the ships, repackage everything, and ship it all back to Deklein… or Jita to sell.  Losing the rigs would be worth it, but no such luck.)

Other ships I should be able to slip out on my own.  For some reason half of my ships down there are stealth bombers of various fits, including a special Mister Vee fit that was required for a short period of time during the 2013 war in Fountain.  I did manage to slip a Scimitar into Imperium space last night.

Scimitar traveling home

Scimitar traveling home

I ran the route to Pure Blind in a stealth bomber first, then back in just a pod.  The route was clear both ways so I decided to risk the Scimi, and managed to get it home safe.

Of course “home” is a relative term.  They are docked up in Imperium space, and in systems held by my alliance, TNT, but other changes are coming.  There will be another big reorganization of alliances in order to spread forces around to hold the seven kingdoms regions of The Imperium.

This is, of course, causing some grumbling of its own.  We can be a very conservative bunch and the idea of giving up long held systems in which we have ratted and mined for ages (as long as five and a half years in the case of one system), rubs people the wrong way.  It means yet more moving and learning new places and figuring out where to rat and where to mine, all while wondering if the promised infrastructure that will improve true sec (which could make currently nonviable ratting/mining systems worthwhile) will make it in June or not.  The opinion of the leadership is that we need a much higher density of players in our space in order to hold it, which means every system possible needs to be viable.

And then there is a rumor about a pessimistic view of the upcoming changes, in that we aren’t even sure if we have enough players to hold the regions we have staked out.  The Bastion was added as an alliance a while back in order to give corps a home if their alliance folded up shop, in order to retain players.  Now there is a big drive to recruit more players.  Karma Fleet was a started, but other alliances in The Imperium are apparently looking for their at their own variations on that.  I don’t claim to know what is going to happen come the June expansion, but we certainly seem to be hunkering down should a storm blow in.

Meanwhile, we will see how the rest of the null sec map changes over the summer.  I don’t expect any of the old names to disappear… Against All Authorities, Ev0ke, and TEST all  just resurfaced yet again on the sov map recently… but will the those names be able to hold on to huge swathes of space they once held?

So it is off for home, though I am not sure which system will technically be “home” at this point.  In all likelihood I will spend more time which ever system becomes the staging system for The Imperium than any system held by my alliance or frequented by my corp.  But that won’t be much of a change from how things are now for me.  The chaos of the changes though, that could be something new and interesting.

In Your Systems Taking Your Space

We are hellcamping enemy staging because that’s what it’s come to. One squad of jacket wearing roleplayers is now camping in an enemy alliance. Logon if you want to spread the good news about Max Singularity VI, the first of his name.

-Asher Elias

The war in the southwest of New Eden continues apace.  Once The Imperium gathers its forces into a mighty hammer and begins to pound on its foes, pieces eventually begin to fall.  At this point the change list for the Delve region over at DOTLAN shows N3 having lost 45 systems, or more that half the conquerable space.

Over the weekend the fights are mostly concentrated around 1-SMEB, where the hostiles were based… until they lost that system Sunday morning and, with it, the ability to dock up.  N3 had already given up fighting for the region, so the dominoes falling faster is natural enough.  But losing the system from which you are based, locking your alliance out of who know how many assets, is another story altogether.

And then there was the liberation of Mister Vee’s Cruor for the nth time, locked as it always is in NOL-M9, awaiting the next invasion of Delve.  He never actually rescues it.  It just sits there, having only two states of existence; sometimes it is free, and at other times it is trapped and waiting to be freed.  But it is never actually removed from harm’s way and brought back to Imperium space.

So the forces of the true Emperor of Amarr, Maximilian Singularity VI, spread his word… whatever that word happens to be.

I joined for the spiffy outerwear quite frankly, so why not?

And the most spiffy in that regard in His army are those of the Reavers, as more and more of our squad dons the jacket and takes up the official pose.  We have a infographic about it around here somewhere.

Anyway, the Reavers have been out and about in their flashy new uniforms and actually taking sovereignty in Querious.

Our corner of Querious

Our corner of Querious

Yes, we already broke sovereignty for our foes, first in ED-L9T and then more recently in C-7SBM.  We interrupted their hold on the systems, requiring them to start back ad level 0.  But in both of those cases the enemy formed up to take the system back from us.

But that is the point of the Reavers.  We are there to shoot things and set timers until we become annoying enough that the enemy has to pull pilots from the main fight in order to take care of us.  At that point we win, having done our job.  We can fade back into the bush and wait for the enemy to leave before starting again.  And if we shoot the same structures in the same system over and over… well, so long as it works.  But actually taking and holding sovereignty, that is a new thing.

And it isn’t just because N3 has given up on Querious.  We have been facing a group of pilots from Darkness, drawn from the front lines in Delve, who have been forming up to fight us now and again.  But they haven’t taken back VT-G2P or 9-HM04 from us yet.

In fact, in a new turn, we have been taking the fight to them.  We spent a good portion of Sunday in their local staging system, 9CG6-H, shooting their defensive SBUs, laying down our own, and then camping their station with them inside, all during their prime time hours. (They seemed to be mostly pilots from the French corporations Teutate Raiders and League 42.)

Again, this isn’t really our normal operating procedure.  We don’t generally go in with big numbers, 30 being a good size fleet for us most days of the week.  We get some assistance now and again.  We have had Harpy fleets from the main force sweep through the area when hostiles have formed in significant numbers and we have agreements with a few of the local groups that like to prey in the region.  But we’re not dropping multiple battleship fleets on a system to cover capitals doing a shoot.  We go in with some Ishtars and a little logi and a few scouts to set up shop and shoot things for an extended period of time.  If things are good, we drop in a couple of big guns to help us out, but most days it is just us and our sentry drones.

So it was something of a change of pace to sit on a hostile station again in order to protect our SBUs while they went online.  The enemy came out to fight a couple of times.  They bombed us during the SBU shoots and then formed up a kitchen sink cruiser fleet to challenge us on the undock.  We force the issue by shooting up the station services, removing their ability to repair or set clones amongst other things.

The fights were small, with a few losses on each side.  There were enough bombs flying that I managed to lose all my drones over the course of things.  Probably the most strenuous part of the whole thing for me was when I ended up being the logi anchor and had to actually pay attention to where I was flying.  I have managed to avoid that sort of thing up until now, preferring to just stare out the window and take pictures.  Instead I had to keep our station relative to the main group while trying to stay within range of a group of blues that dropped in to help for a bit but who didn’t bring their own logi, all of which I took more seriously than I probably needed to.  I did end up using the WASD keys to fly around for a bit, a feature that came in with the Rhea expansion back in December.

And that was my weekend in space.  We shot structures, stood up on the enemy’s door step for a while, then headed back home when all the shooting was done.  But there are always more timers waiting for us.

Hail The Imperium! Amarr Victor!

Goonswarm 2015: We are not here to ruin your game, but to ~enhance your immersion~

The Mittani, CEO Update: The Imperial March

And here I thought a few jackets might be pushing things.

The CFC has been declared dead, a clusterfuck no longer.  In its place rises the Imperium.

And the first act of the Imperium was to formally declare its loyalty to the True Emperor of Amarr, Maximilian Singularity VI.  Any residual loyalty to the irredeemably tainted Empress Jamyl Sarum will be rooted out and destroyed and our ideological purity will be assured as guardians of The Sixth Empire.

The Mittani kisses the ring and swears his allegiance

The Mittani kisses the ring and swears his allegiance

I am not sure exactly when The Mittani fell under the sway of Maximilian Singularity VI, though he did mention his admiration for him publicly a couple of times before Fanfest (where Maximilian blessed other known figures), but now our coalition is wed to his crusade, with The Mittani names as “The Sword of Redemption.”  His cause is now our cause.

Jamyl Sarum has stolen our Golden Empire and is no longer True Amarr…  I am True
Amarr as Tash-Murkon and Kador family lines and I shall see in my time all four Empires in battle while a gathering storm of the fifth empire comes. We Capsuleers of all races are the rising Sixth Empire… and we shall follow a storm!

All four empires are tainted. War is coming to them, my words will be true. The fifth empire is in turmoil. WE ARE THE SIXTH EMPIRE to rule the galaxy. The old ways are no more. Vitoc is an abomination we ALL SHALL BE FREE and no longer dogs of war to the poisoned State, Republic, Federation and Empire. I preach LOVE (and by love I mean lasers).

-Emperor Maximilian Singularity VI, to his Imperium forces before blessing his followers

Maximilian Singularity VI and his claims to the Amarr throne face issues, including a pro-Jamyl faction in Providence.   But with the usual squabbling between the five houses, Jamyl’s weak position after violating the doctrine of sacred flesh, and the ever present pressure from the Blood Raiders and Sansha’s Nation, a claim to the Amarr throne backed by Imperium titans cannot be dismissed lightly.

Within the Imperium itself, a new order is being forged.  Change is coming.  Uniforms are being discussed and appropriate propaganda being prepared.

Meanwhile, out in the farms and fields of sovereign null sec, the N3 appears to be falling apart under pressure from all sides.

Reavers leaving the roost for another night mission over Querious

Reavers leaving the roost for another night mission over Querious

Delve continues to be overrun and, in a surprise move, Imperium forces declined to deploy to the obvious choice of ZXB-VC in Delve and moved instead to a base designed to block Darkness and The Kadeshi (themselves working out of 1-SMEB) from having easy access to their route out to low sec Aridia.  Sahkt it to me?

NCDot has decided to abandon Querious and has reset its renters in the region.  The Germans may be stepping in however, as Ev0ke has already said they are headed that way.

Meanwhile, Nulli Secunda, unironically based for the moment in the system 3-BADZ in Feythabolis (and thus inspiring a new nickname for the N3 coalition, The Three Bads), facing the threat of Pandemic Legion dropping on them, is reported to now be headed for the exits as well, giving line members very short notice to pack their stuff.

So with all of that plus Brave already leaving null sec (or maybe headed to 1DH-SX in Delve, I don’t know, what with coup and counter-coup) and the Russians reportedly interested in exploiting N3’s weakness, the Imperium set to set to return to its new, Fozzie-sov-sized domain (consisting of the regions Deklein, Fade, Pure Blind, Tribute, Tenal, Branch, and Vale of the Silent) while dropping sov on its other conquests and holdings (Delve, Fountain, Cloud Ring, and anything else we might take along the way), and I don’t know what going on in Wicked Creek, the declining weeks of the Dominion sovereignty system look to be interesting times. The map will change before the updates hit.  I need to put that sov war updates blog in my reader.

And then we will have Fozzie-sov where, we hope, the real fun and chaos will begin.

While that is all going on, the troops of the Imperium are still out in the field and still taking sovereignty from its foes the old-fashioned, Dominion-style way.  Last night Reavers shot an infrastructure hub and reinforced a station while I was on, while dodging neutral or disenfranchised renter.

Sometimes we bring out the big guns, like this Drake XL

Sometimes we bring out big guns, like this Drake XL, to shoot ihubs

Tonight there will be another station.  Tomorrow there will probably be another ihub.  Or a POS.  Or another station.  Or some SBUs.  The war goes on.  Sovereignty will be overturned and infrastructure smashed.

Somebody put up a Gallente tower

Somebody put up a Gallente tower, let’s shoot it

And so it goes, until there is no more enemy and Emperor Maximilian Singularity VI sits on his throne without dispute.  Amarr Victor!

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.