Tag Archives: Fountain

Eleven Weeks of World War Bee

When we started this war, we knew that we were fighting this to the end,” Vily told Polygon. “For us, this is a war of extermination. This is a war to the death. We are aiming for the removal of Mittani and The Imperium from Eve Online. […] We are here to purge them.

-Vily, in an interview with Polygon about the war

When, further on down the road, somebody asks what the goal of the war was, I will reference this quote.  It is one thing to say it in your alliance update, or on /r/eve, or in some other dark corner of the internet, but when he has given it to the mainstream gaming press, that is now the benchmark by which he will be measured.

Vily is allegedly aggrieved because he was “fired” by the Imperium, something he explains in that article.  However, people who were around at the time remember him leaving amicably.  And the Imperium has, up through the last CSM election, put Vily on their ballot because he was viewed as somebody they could work with.  Also, there is that long non-invasion pact we had with Legacy when PanFam was their enemy.  Not behavior consistent with the Vily narrative.

Anyway, he and Progodlegend continued to push a narrative that Goons are bad for the game,  forming a huge blue doughnut against us while repeatedly using a scene from 300 where the Spartans claim “warrior” as their profession as part of his narrative.

Somehow the Imperium are the Persians in this scenario, the farmers and other non-combat types who are… completely outnumbered by an overwhelming force attacking their territory?  That doesn’t sound right.

And it is especially suspect when you look at the MER and see who is farming.  But I’m just a brainwashed Imperium line member (per Vily), so maybe I’ve mislearned that historical metaphor.

On the bright site, TEST has changed its tune on operational tempo.  February is no longer the target date for VD Day (victory in Delve).  They have decided they will only need until the end of October, though that might only be the 1DQ1-A victory date.  It only took until week eleven to declare that the invasion has begun.   We will see if they actually attack in Delve some time soon.

The Northern Front

There isn’t a “Northern Front” to speak of now.  All but four of the invader’s ihubs have been removed by The Initiative as of this writing.  They even got the staging Fortizar.  Anything left behind will end up in Hophib via asset safety.  The Initiative even visited there.  Basically, the attackers are gone, we aren’t doing much there other than clearing out the remains, and nobody lives there for now.

The Southern Front

Querious is now where the action is.  Last week I speculated about whether the invaders might be making for NPC Delve given their run of attacks on the northern systems that lead there.

However, their eyes were apparently focused on another target, the 49-U6U system.

They first dropped a Keepstar in 1M4-FK, which seemed a little short of where they might want to be for NPC Delve, though it was a single jump from their staging in Khanid low sec.

Then they put up a Keepstar in P-ZMZV, which definitely ruled out NPC Delve as the immediate goal.  Instead they were using that as a staging to take the ihub in 49-U6U, an operation where they got out 3,000 pilots for node contest.  That was more than enough to take the ihub.

Querious – Sep 20, 2020 – Invasion route and ihub status

The system is important to them because it is on the direct route from Catch to Querious.  Those who have been following along at home might remember that PandaFam and Legacy concentrated all of their supers and titans in two Keepstars, laid down expressly to dock them, early in the war.  That seemed like it might be their invasion route.

Where they started out and the current focus

And then, of course, those ships sat there and did nothing while KarmaFleet camped the gate in 49-U6U with a cruiser gang.

Later the invaders laid down a chain of 13 Keepstars to move the supers and titans all the way around to Fountain to bring overwhelming force to bear on the Imperium Keepstars in Fountain.

Once done there, they moved to Khanid low sec to focus on Querious.  Now their attention has finally turned to 49-U6U.  It seems like they could have force the gate a while back, but maybe they don’t have the thousand titans about which Progodlegend was boasting a few weeks back.

Now, with the 49-U6U ihub in their hands, we can no longer cyno jam the system if we want, so they used their advantage to… make the slowest move op ever, gating one dreadnought at a time through the gate into Querious to jump them to their new staging in P-ZMZV.  They were paranoid enough to be worried about getting caught by Imperium supers and titans that they wouldn’t put more that one dread on grid at a time… covered by three subcap fleets around the gate… but not paranoid enough to just use the chain of Keepstars to jump their caps around into Querious the long way.  It seems odd.

Systems in titan range of P-ZMZV and supply routes

Meanwhile, there is still an Imperium Keepstar and Fortizar in 49-U6U.  They reinforced the Fortizar, but then stood down for the armor timer when they found they did not out number us sufficiently to take the fight.  Who were the Spartans in that scenario?

But they’ll have to fight us on Keepstars and Fortizars in range of our caps at some point.  So far they have only faced subcap resistance, with some dread and carrier support, and had to bring out their own supers to overcome that.  It is going to be fun when we have titans on the structures waiting for them.

My Participation

This week was Slippery Pete week for me, the name referring to a Tengu doctrine fit with the covert and interdiction nullified subsystems.  This allows them to use black ops jump bridges and pass through warp disruption bubbles.  They are slow to align and not at all tanky, but can blap targets out to 200km and warp off before you can get to them.  You don’t hold the grid with them, you warp in on a group attacking a target and savage them from range then warp off, only to return from another direction and pick off more targets.

Petes on the move

I got in a Pete fleet four nights running during the week, and we managed to frustrate hostiles attacking our structures in Querious, saving a Fortizar while bleeding the enemy and making them jump their caps out prematurely, even killing an Apostle, a Thanatos, and a Revelation along the way.

Petes on the Apostle kill

Petes are a lot of fun and inflict a lot of damage for very few losses when used correctly.

I was also on the ops around 49-U6U.  Friday night I was in the wall of battleships there to defend our Fortizar in the system.

Battleships massed

That was the Fortizar timer I mentioned above where were were outnumbered by the attackers declined to take the fight.  So we reinforced the ihub in the system, so now they’ll have to at least form up to defend it because we have a whole SIG dedicated to entosis ready to contest it if they do not.

I was also around for the hostile move op through 49-U6U, though they were so cautious that there was never an opportunity for a fight as they ran their caps through the gate one at a time.

However, later that evening they got careless and Kun’mi and his dread group dropped on a TEST titan, killing it on their Fortizar in 4-07MU.  They responded with a dread fleet smaller than the group that dropped on the titan… I guess all their friends moved already… and a brawl ensued.  I jumped in a Ferox fleet that burned in to support the dreads and got on a few hostile dread kills (and one fax) as we helped clear tackle so our own caps could extract.

A Revelation goes up as we fly past

The battle report shows things fell our way.

Battle Report Header

I ended up getting caught on the gate trying to get out, so lost my Ferox, but it was still a hell of a fight, run and gun and go go go.

So I ended up the week with having been in a few good fights, having gotten on quite a few kills, all for the loss of one Ferox.  My loss total for the war across all accounts is now:

  • Ares interceptor – 9
  • Atron entosis frigate – 5
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 3
  • Drake entosis battle cruiser – 3
  • Guardian logi – 2
  • Malediction interceptor – 2
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Scimitar logi – 1
  • Bifrost entosis command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1

Other Bits

The invaders remain careful… hesitant at times… and no doubt the titan kill I mentioned above is an indication as to why.

Their leadership is telling their members that we’re already dead, that the end is a foregone conclusion, that victory is theirs to take.  It is all the slanted rhetoric of war, and I would expect nothing less.

But, at some point, they are going to have to get on grid with one of our Keepstars within range of our supers and titans, something that has yet to happen, and put that rhetoric to the test.

Maybe.  I guess.

I mean, Dunk Dinkle was on Talking in Stations saying that they don’t want to do that, that they might never do that.  Instead they want to keep laying down a bunch of Keepstars to try and bait us into fighting on their grid.

I remain mystified about this apparent plan to build a Maginot Line of defensive Keepstars in hopes that we’ll attack them.  It worked so well for the French in 1940.  Or maybe the Italians invading Egypt in 1940 is the better metaphor.  I don’t know, and I might fall back into a “that’s not how invasions work” routine if I am not careful.  Though, if they get one close enough to us, I am sure we will attack it.  We have attacked defended Keepstars before, and won.

It the end, it seems pretty silly.   If you’re going to run a war of extermination (see quote at the top of the post), don’t you have to actually go in and get the people you plan to exterminate?  How are they going to makes us leave the game if they don’t have a plan to blow up our stuff?  How do you achieve the declared victory condition with that mindset?

Anyway, the lack of offensive spirit in our foes probably explains why the Sunday PCU counts for the war remain tepid.  You need a big battle to get big numbers.

  • Day 1 – 38,838
  • Week 1 – 37,034
  • Week 2 – 34,799
  • Week 3 – 34,692
  • Week 4 – 35,583
  • Week 5 – 35,479
  • Week 6 – 34,974
  • Week 7 – 38,299
  • Week 8 – 35,650
  • Week 9 – 35,075
  • Week 10 – 35,812
  • Week 11 – 35,165

I fear we may have blown the horn of Goondor too soon.  The enemy remains tentative.

Other articles about the war this week:

(I’d link something other than INN, but EN24 just reposts CCP press releases these days and the New Eden Post has an apparent article quota of about 2 per month, and they blew one of them on EVE Echoes so far this month.)

Seven Weeks of World War Bee

This past week saw CCP take some official notice of the war.  We didn’t get a dev blog or a news item.  Instead CCP sent out a press email to some gaming sites announcing that $112,000 worth of ships and structures and what not have been destroyed so far in the war which has involved maybe 130,000 players/accounts/capsuleers.  Some examples of sites running with that:

And then there are sites who couldn’t even copy the email successfully, like MMOs.com that attributed that destruction amount to the Triglavian invasion of high sec.  Or maybe they got it right and the others were wrong.  I haven’t actually seen the email that CCP sent out.

I do wonder what the distribution list looked like, as I haven’t seen PC Gamer, where Steven Messner has done a bunch of in-depth coverage of the game over the years, mention this.  The email must not have had enough to build a story of much substance around.

I am disappointed that CCP didn’t publish a Dev Blog or a news item on their site, but you can figure out what it said based on what got repeated over the multiple stories.  I am curious as to how they came up with that 130,000 number.  Hell, I am curious as to how they came up with the $112,000 amount.  Back at the end of week four it was estimated that ten trillion ISK worth of ships, structures, and modules had been blown up, an amount that, with even the most generous PLEX package they sell (who spends $500 on PLEX?), comes up to nearly that $112K figure.  Maybe that count at four weeks was wrong, but that just makes me want to know how CCP counted all the more so.

And then there is the World War Bee site which is trying to log all the losses, and it tallies up to more than that as well.

I am also a bit surprised they went for the ISK to real world dollar measurement, which generally hasn’t been their thing.  But I guess it does get headlines.

We also saw some action in high sec as Legacy Coalition went into Niarja to defend its supply lines from the Triglavian invasion.  The Imperium pushed back and now Niarja is a free fire zone with no CONCORD there.

EDECOM gives up at this point

Haulers will want to bypass that system, which means taking a lot more gates between Caldari and Amarr space.

Northern Front

PandaFam has turned their attention to Imperium structures in the Fountain region.  They had killed a number of smaller structures, but the attention has mostly been on the Keepstars  The successfully reinforced then destroyed the Keepstar in O-PNSN and had the Keepstar in KVN-36 in their sights.  However, a server crash interrupted things during the fight for the armor timer.  The clock reset and they now have to start the process all over again.  That moved the fighting to social media, forums, and Reddit, as people tried to blame one side or the other for the crash.  It is all about the smart bombs people say.

PandaFam is momentarily stalled them on the road to Delve.  But they still have four Keepstars in the bag already.

The Fountain kills

The Keepstars in KVN-36 and Y-2ANO remain standing, waiting to for the coming assault.

Southern Front

It is difficult to sum up what TEST and their Legacy allies have been up to for the last week.  I mean, sure, they showed up at the Keepstar fights in some force and managed not to get bombed off the field, though their leader seemed to have problems fitting the rigs on his ship, as I mentioned in my post about the O-PNSN Keepstar fight.

They were, of course, part of the fight at Niarja, where Brave and TEST both declared they were going to help EDENCOM defend the system.  And Brave actually showed up.  But I mentioned that at the top of the post.

And then there is Queirous, where one can describe efforts as dissolute at best.  In order to prove that nobody really wants to hold that space, a bunch of systems now sit with no ihub installed.  Neither side wants to defend ihubs in eastern Querious, but neither can they abide the other side holding an ihub.

Querious ihub map – Aug 22, 2020

So the Legacy ihub count is down to 18, but it is clear they are not really trying any more, so the count is more an indication of that.

There have been the usual range of skirmishes at the gates between Legacy and the Imperium, but the war is happening in Fountain right now and the south is just a side show at best.

My Participation

I managed to get in on a couple of big ops, including the two Keepstar battles, but otherwise it has been a quiet week for me.  A massive heatwave out here, plus the state catching on fire (smoke from two of those fires are visible from our house), work, and getting ready for our daughter to head off to college has kept me from doing much gaming at all over the last week.  And this week will likely see me even less focused on gaming.

I did manage to lose at least one ship on every fleet I went on however.  My ship loss count for the war so far now stands at:

  • Ares interceptor – 9
  • Atron entosis frigate – 5
  • Drake entosis battle cruiser – 3
  • Malediction interceptor – 2
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 2
  • Bifrost entosis command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1

Overall

As I mentioned at the top of the post, CCP half-halfheartedly tried to drum up some press interest in the war with an email that got a few takers from second tier gaming sites.  I guess our fights are not big enough to be worth a dev blog yet.  But they at least put a little effort into some publicity.

But, after last week, I guess CCP doesn’t want to go bragging about a server crash.

Of course, CCP has been all about EVE Echoes since it launched the week before, putting out some odd adds.  But they are justifiably proud of the millions of players who have signed up for the game.  Now they just have to buy some stuff.

And then there was the fight over Niarja, which pulled null sec into the Triglavian invasion event.  I’m not sure everybody is happy that we showed up.

Anyway, another week of war has gone by and a victory for the attackers, or an accord between the belligerents seems a distant hope.

If the word is right, the invaders are moving their titans and supers from FAT-6P, where they have been sitting since the war, idle behind the 49-U6U4-07MU gate connection, to come around and approach Querious from a low sec direction to get them into the fight.  Apparently we’re too formidable for them to gate through directly into the region, so they have put down a chain of Keepstars to avoid that gate.

Maybe that is what drove the peak concurrent users up to 38,299, up from 34,974 last week.  Still not up to the first week peak of 38,838, but close.

We shall see how the move op turns out and what the invaders plan to do with their 1,000 titans.

Addendum:

The Node Crash at KVN-36

After we lost the Keepstar in O-PNSN on Thursday, eyes turned to the next target, the Keepstar in KVN-36.  The armor timer was set to come out a day later, so both sides were ready to form up to contest that.

Again, the battle was going to overlap a bit with work, so I pre-positioned another ECM burst interceptor so that I could join in when time allowed.  I saw pings and people forming up long before I was able to get in.  But Kun’mi had another little ECM burst fleet going, so once I had the time I logged in and undocked to join in.  I caught a warp into the fray almost immediately, landed in some hostiles, and got tackled.  I set off my ECM burst, but couldn’t get away.  My Ares went boom on the first run.

The hostiles were good enough to pod me though, so I was quickly back in 1DQ1-A where I grabbed my back up ship, a Malediction, and headed back to the fight.  As always, since tidi was slowing the fight down, very little happened before I got back.

I made a perch off the Keepstar and rode the warps as Kun’mi launched us into the hostiles fleets.

Aligning out from a run

The hostiles were running the same basic plan as the day before.  They had an Astrahus on grid with the Keepstar where they had tethered up their carriers.  Those carriers disgorged a mass of fighters to attack the Keepstar.

The hostile Astrahus

Meanwhile, the subcap fleets from both sides set to shooting each other, while we zipped in and out trying to avoid getting tackled.  Being hit with the ECM burst is annoying, I know this from having been on the receiving end a few times, and the enemy put a lot of effort into tackling and blowing us up.  No doubt each kill gave them great joy.  But we were close enough to home that the few of us in the fleet would just re-ship and fly quickly back.

There was also a lot of smart bombing going on.  We had some success the day before the a Praxis fleet set up to smart bomb, and the hostiles picked that up as well, so there were smart bombs going off all over it seemed.

The Praxis fleet from the day before

Both sides seemed to using them with impunity.  You can dig though kills and find ships that have smart bomb damage from both sides.  And, of course, some doctrines, like the Feroxes, are not smart bombing platforms, but carry one fit.  So it was a hazard and I had to warp off to repair a few times after flying into smart bombs.

Things seemed to be going with the attackers.  They had quickly stopped the repair timer and had been steadily whittling away at the armor layer of the Keepstar.  We kept doing our runs and our fleets in general tried to slow things down.

Another run in my Malediction

However, the system seemed more laggy than the day before.  Commands were slow, especially when close in with the Keepstar, even though there were not as many people in system as we had seen in O-PNSN.  But both sides persisted.  It is just something you put up with and power through to win the objective.  Then things got really balky and unresponsive and, suddenly, boom!  We were all kicked out of the game.

Connection dropped at 21:31 EVE time

That happened to coincide with Dave Archer’s Jackdaw fleet getting smart bombed by NCDot, which seemed like it was going to wipe them all out.  Kun’mi happened to be describing this action to us and the likely fate of the Jackdaws, and that was the moment when the server died, and so became part of the lore of the battle.

Of course, we all tried to log back in, but the server wasn’t having us.

Access denied

CCP tweeted out a link to a forum thread about the server going down.  They were aware and working on the situation.  That was at about 21:33, so they jumped on that pretty quickly.  Meanwhile, both sides were anxious about what was going to be the state of affairs when the server came back up.

In the past, servers going down meant tough luck to one side and a saving grace to the other.  I lived through the null sec era of server killing battles.  I remember back in Fountain War at Z9PP-H when CCP remapped the node incorrectly and dumped everybody out, effectively saving the TEST capital fleet.  I have posts about other crashes, like the one at HED-GP and the one at KW-I6T.

But that was all quite a while back.  And the ability of servers to handle such loads have gotten better over time.  The X47 Keepstar battle kept going despite a ton of ECM burst ships and a DDoS attack in progress.  There were about 6,000 ships involved, with fighters flying all over and all the other usual stuff, during the so-called million dollar battle.

There was also a bit of the Imperium institutional paranoia about the situation, a worry that this time, when a crash would benefit Goons, that CCP might try to roll back the clock on the timer rather than let things ride as they had traditionally done.

We had about a half an hour to think about that.  CCP said the server had been stood back up at 21:55, but by the time I got in and made it back on grid with the Keepstar… everybody had been warped off grid… it was 22:01.  And there I saw the Keepstar timer had just a little over two minutes on the clock.

Just about two minutes left

Given that first screen shot at the top of the post, taken at 20:55, showed 13:37 (leet!) left on the timer, it looked like only 12 minuted had counted down during the approximate half hour that the node had kept us out, though the node was down and presumably not advancing the clock for part of that time.  The downtime didn’t save the Keepstar completely, but the time left was so small that it ran down before the attackers could bring firepower to bear on the structure.  Keepstar saved.

Timers reset

You see a repair timer there, but you’ll notice the damage indicators for the armor and shields were set back to their pristine state.  The objective had been won, with some help from CCP.

We drew the card this time

Of course, recriminations were flying long before the servers came back up.  Everybody was looking for somebody to blame.  In the forum thread about the server outage somebody was trying to pin the blame on those Goon ECM burst interceptors, which made me laugh.  If there were even a dozen operating at once I would have been surprised.  We had about eight going at our peak when I was participating, and that isn’t enough to cause much of a problem.  It certainly didn’t break the server during the last fight.

There were also fingers being pointed about who was running their smart bombs, though both sides had them deployed.  Memes were being thrown around and Cryo, the official Imperium propaganda artist these days, even threw together a special piece for the occasion.

The smug is palpable

Meanwhile some people on /r/eve are claiming that the server crash was deliberately caused by “hundreds” of Goon smart bombing ships or ECM bursts or a Goon DDoS attack (evidence?) or anything else that their vivid imaginations could churn up, because Grrr Goons.  Some things never change.

I personally don’t buy any of the finger pointing about the crash being an intended goal.  We had more load on the server in the fight the day before and it made it, though at times things were marginal.  (Note the problem I mentioned with my UI when I returned to the fight.)  Sometimes things just fail.  We should probably be surprised that this doesn’t happen more often given how much load we put on the servers.  And nobody is going to stop using smart bombs, or ECM bursts, or masses of fighters on either side, so it seems like it will happen again during the war.

Anyway, the battle wasn’t over yet.  Everybody was back on grid and there were people to shoot, so things kept exploding for quite some time.  Kun’mi had lost his probes, so we just warped in on wrecks when we could.

Another run into the mix

I did get a couple of bursts off, but eventually got tackled again.  They put everything on me they could.

A range of effects

From left to right I believe I was neuted, painted, nos’d, webbed, scrammed, tracking disrupted, and pointed.  I like the tracking disruptor.  Some zealous pilot in a Cruicifier hit me with one on a few runs. (So did somebody in an Eagle, though why they didn’t just shoot me…)  Pity it doesn’t do anything to an AOE weapon.  It will get you on the kill mail however, and that is the important part for all of us.  I got my ECM burst off before I blew up, and was then able to warp off in my pod before the parade of effects were able to land on me again.

After that I docked up and waited around for people to clear out.  I didn’t pad my kill board as gratuitously as I did the day before, but I got on my share and didn’t even get on any blue kills.  A rare thing with the indiscriminate ECM burst module.

This time around, with no structure loss weighing us down, the battle report fell in our favor.

Battle Report Header

Plus, we won the objective.  PandaFam has to start over again by setting the first timer again, which they did not bother with.  They will likely want to set it to fall in EUTZ where they are stronger.

So it goes.  They still have four Keepstar kills in the bag and two more left to kill in Fountain before the fun starts in Delve when supers and titans will start being part of the mix.  I think they only have a few dozen there to kill.  At a rate of about one or two a week, this could take some time.

Other coverage:

The O-PNSN Keepstar Blows Up

After the rebuff at the Y-2ANO Keepstar last weekend, PandaFam changed their tack and decided to go after the Keepstar in Fountain that was the furthest from Delve.  That was the Keepstar belonging to The Bastion in O-PNSN.

O-PNSN is a good dozen gates from Delve and, perhaps more importantly, to get there the Imperium would have to travel through I-CUVX, PandaFam’s forward staging system.  They would be closer to the target than us and could reinforce multiple gate camps against any fleets attempting to gate their way to the fight.

I had actually flown out to check on the Keepstars the other night and was surprised to find that the final timer was looming already.

Final fight in 21 hours or so

Seeing that the battle would be start towards the latter half of my work day, I flew out in an ECM burst interceptor the night before hoping to be able to join in, or at least peek in on, the battle.

I was in luck.  Kun’mi had an ECM burst interceptor fleet up so I was able to join up with them once they arrived in the system, then watch the count down to the start of the event.

30 seconds left on the clock

The fight itself looked like a return to form.  Again, using fighters elsewhere, as PandaFam did at Y-2ANO, did not turn out well for them, so they once again focused their fighters on attacking the Keepstar.  Their carriers sat on their Fortizar, bubbled up so they wouldn’t warp off in case of a disconnect, and sent the fighters out early so they would arrive in time for the final stage to begin.

The PandaFam Fortizar anchored on grid with the Keepstar

Our subcaps were set to try and extract a heavy price in fighters while their subcaps were out in force to suppress ours.  There were Ravens on the field again to help keep the timer paused, but this time PandaFam was using them and they managed not to get blotted out in a single bomb run.

Meanwhile, we were hanging on tether on the Tatara on grid waiting for Kun’mi to warp us off into the thick of things.  Our job was just to be annoying, to slow the enemy down, and to whore on a bunch of kill mails.

I’ve explained this before, but as a refresher, Kun’mi would probe down a hostile group and fleet warp everybody at them… everybody was all 8-10 of us depending on when in the battle we’re talking.

My Malediction amid some Feroxes

When we land, we immediately start to warp out again, hitting our overheated Burst ECM as we aligned.  The wave from that has a good chance to break the target lock on any ship within 26km, which can be annoying for DPS and deadly if logi loses lock on somebody they are repping.

You get a lot of target breaks when you get right in the thick of a hostile fleet.

A lot of Feroxes were out and about

And everybody you tag counts as though you attacked them, so if they end up getting blown up after your run, you get on the kill mail as a participant.  This can lead to some serious kill board padding.

The odds, however, were very much against us.  It was about four to one against us in the system, so winning the objective really depended on the enemy screwing up.  If they limited the number of mistakes they made, they would kill the Keepstar and win the objective.

There were a few crazy moments.  We did a run on a fleet and got out just before it got bombed and wiped out.  The Bastion had some dreads in the Keepstar that emerged to fight against the odds.

The Revelation explodes, soon they would all be wrecks

And the enemy did not make any critical mistakes.  I mean sure, Progodlegend, one of the TEST leaders, got his Damnation shot out from underneath him and the kill mail showed that he hadn’t bothered to fit the rigs that were in the cargo.  This was made more amusing when he was trying to return in another Damnation, got caught along the way, and was blown up again, and that kill mail showed he had yet again not bothered to fit his rigs.

We kept on doing our runs whenever Kun’mi could find us a target.

In on another fleet… just within range

However, I got distracted at my end for a bit and had to tab out.  I tabbed back to find we had been warped in and I had been tackled.  I set off the ECM burst, hoping to break enough locks to be able to warp off, but I was out of luck.  My Malediction was blown up.  A lot of Jackdaws on that kill mail, a lot of missiles in flight my way.

The battle was still going on and the enemy was kind enough to pod me, so I jumped into an ECM burst Ares and flew on back.  With tidi running strong and restricted to that system, the battle would wait for me.

However, the server itself was clearly having problems.  I had to disconnect coming into the system as I ended up in the eternal warp tunnel.  Once I got logged back in and was in the system, the UI wasn’t working for me.  I wasn’t able to rejoin Kun’mi’s fleet and none of the right click menus were working for me… oh, and my capacitor and all the UI around it was missing.  I could only warp to bookmarks in the bookmarks window I had up, so I ended up tethered on the Tatara again hoping the game would catch up and fix my problems.

But it was not to be.  So I just moved the camera about and watched as the Keepstar slowly headed towards destruction.  Fighting carried on, and I got a nice shot of the arcing votron projector hitting a Ferox fleet.

Zap baby!

I stuck around and watched the final moments and the Keepstar exploding.

Flames erupting from the structure

The fighting carried on for a while, but eventually things started settle down.  I saw almost 3,200 in local at one point, a big fight for a weekday.  By the time it dropped to about half that number the server finally caught up and deigned to draw my UI finally.  I could travel back home now.

The battle report shows things going heavily in favor of the attackers.  Pandemic Horde put more people on the field alone that all of the defenders combined… and they can’t all be spies.

Battle Report Header

We killed a lot of ships… but that Keepstar weighs heavily against us, ringing in at 200 billion ISK.  Without that, not a bad exchange… but without the Keepstar in play nobody would have put up with those losses.

There is some question as to how many fighters we killed.  They don’t always get recorded correctly on zKill and do not get counted at all unless a full squadron gets destroyed.  So if just one fighter gets back, no kill mail.  But, in the end, we lost the objective.  The Keepstar died.

As for my time, zKill put me on 227 kill mails.  That is four and a half pages of kill board padding right there.  Enough to put me in the top ten for KarmaFleet, a totally undeserved position.

Padded kill board

But my kill board also shows how delayed the server was.

Up until I was blown up, all my kills are credited to my Malediction.  After I was blown up and podded, there are a few where there is just a question mark.  You’re not supposed to get credit if you leave the system, but things were out of whack, so I am sure the process leaves some margin of error.

But after a while… and this covers a whole page worth of kill mails… the credit goes to the my Ares.  However, I was unable to join a fleet or warp to anybody to set of the ECM burst, I was just sitting in system.  But as the server caught up, it no doubt had me on the list of parties that had applied some sort of damage or effect, checked if I was still there, then credited whatever ship I happened to be in at the time.  Again, getting kills when you’re in your pod is pretty common.  But I was podded, got a new ship, flew the 15 gates to get back, and then didn’t do anything, yet got the credit for ships I had tagged before I was blown up.

The magic Ares

And that still leaves 30 where the server wasn’t sure what to do with me, so just put a question mark for my ship.  Quirks of the game.  We should probably be happy it works as well as it does.  There were times when we were up close to the Keepstar when commands seemed to take a lot longer to execute than even 10% tidi would explain.

On the Keepstar trying to warp off

So it goes.  The invaders have now killed four of the six Keepstars in Fountain.  The one in KVN-36 is next on their list.  The armor timer comes out a couple hours after this post goes live.  The armor timer is the tough one, the one that will take more time, so it will likely be an even longer fight.  We shall see if the Imperium has any tricks left, or if the attackers do us the favor of making a mistake, when we go to defend it.

Addendum:

Six Weeks of World War Bee

The war carries on in the game, on Reddit, and in other media.

I mentioned Fountain Frank last week.  Well, there was more news on the Fountain Frank front as Brisc Rubal managed to track him down and interview him on the Meta Show.

At last you can get the real word on the war situation.

The Northern Front

In Fountain PandaFam has completed taking all of the ihubs in the region.  They own all the space now.

The Fountain ihubs all in PandaFam hands

Some hay has been made on Reddit about this being accomplished in under six weeks while it took the CFC of old eight weeks to evict TEST back in the Fountain War of 2013. (A timeline post here of that war.)  The missing bit is that after eight weeks TEST had to evac to low sec while we still have our main line of defense still in Delve.  Oh, and there is the whole Keepstars in Fountain thing.

Attention has now become focused on Upwell Structures in Fountain. There are still a string of structures that belong to the Imperium in the region.  That includes some Keepstars.  PandaFam has blown up three Keepstars in the region so far.

Three Keepstars Down

The remaining three Keepstars, located in O-PNSN, KVN-36, and Y-2ANO, are the next big targets.  My post yesterday was about the successful defense of the Keepstar in Y-2ANO when PandaFam failed the armor timer and had to start their attack over again.  More than 4K people were involved, with the balance well in the attacker’s favor.

Local during the fight

Now they have to do it all again.

With their supers and titan still sitting idle down in FAT-6P in Catch, the attackers have been depending on fighters from carriers to do the heavy lifting when attacking structures.  The Imperium response has been to configure fleets to kill fighters in order to make any structure fight as slow and painful and costly as possible.  Fighters are not only pricey, but I am told they are logistically awkward to bring forward to a staging system far from home… and all the more so when the supply lines get interdicted.

PandaFam started to show some reluctance to lose fighters.  A couple of Fortizars were saved when they just pulled back their fighters rather than let the Imperium take its toll.  Saturday’s Keepstar fight saw the attackers completely avoid sending fighters to the structure until it became clear that their plan to keep the timer paused with a fleet of Ravens wasn’t going to work.  Those Ravens were wiped out in two bomb runs.  Only then did they send fighters, though it was too little too late.

Both sides will no doubt draw lessons from the fight at Y-2ANO and we will see how things turn next time.  PandaFam seems back on board with using fighters and absorbing the cost as they set the first timer on the O-PNSN Keepstar yesterday.  That is the furthest one from Delve, so is more difficult for us to get to and defend.  They also managed to kill one of the Imperium Fortizars in Y-2ANO, but did not set the timer for the Keepstar.  The ISK war went their way though, and they blew up a lot of Feroxes.  They have not let the loss on one Keepstar timer phase them.

The Southern Front

I was looking at the Querious map and was surprised to see how well Legacy had done over the last week… and then realized I was looking at TCUs and not ihubs.  Once I switched to the ihub view I was reconfirmed in my belief that TEST and Legacy are not doing much at all.

I have, in the past, implied, sometimes strongly, that TEST seems willing to let PandaFam in the north do the heavy lifting.   But given the past week I am just going to say that is pretty close to being an established fact.  They do distract us, keep us busy at times, and win their share of skirmishes, but they aren’t really bringing it to us the way PandaFam has been so far.  They are more “annoying neighbor” than “hostile invader” most days.

The situation brings to mind a bit of propaganda from the 2013 Fountain War.

Independence

The same allies are keeping them in play seven years later.  Time is a flat circle, or something like that.

Back to the ihub map of Querious, it shows that Legacy continues to struggle with the systems in eastern Querious they were so proud to have taken previously.

The Querious flood plain – Aug 16, 2020

Their ihub count is 21 as of this writing, down a few from last week, representing about a quarter of the 95 systems in the region.  Legacy did use the distraction of the battle in Y-2ANO to reinforce a bunch of ihubs, and some are in play even now.  But they have some work to do to even get back to their high water mark of 41 ihubs they held back at the end of week four.

They also continue to thrash about trying to grasp some sort of foothold in the west of Querious or Period Basis.  Delve seems pretty safe from them so far.

Meanwhile, when the Imperium forms up and when Legacy won’t fight, we go into their space to cause problems.

The high point of the week in that regard was when GSOL flew into Esoteria, TEST space, and dropped around 70 Athanors in the A-CJGE system, covering most of the 82 moons there.  When Legacy drops structures in Period Basis or Querious, we’re very aggressive at hunting them down and blowing them up as they anchor, and we anticipated they would do the same.

We formed up a bomber fleet and some Slippery Petes to be ready when TEST formed up to shoot the structures as they anchored, their most vulnerable time, as you can simply kill them without having to go through multiple timers.  We thought maybe some dreadnoughts would show up as happened previously.

However, TEST and its allies were only able to form a small bomber fleet which killed only two of the anchoring Athanors before retiring.  There ended up being about 68 live, fueled structures in their space which they now have to take down in three separate operations per structure.

They have killed a few more since, but when I visited on Friday there were plenty alive and active with no timer set.

The list of Athanors in the system

We could set them to pull moon chunks and have a mining op I suppose.

This is not the way successful invasions generally work.

My Participation

I managed more than a fleet a day last week.  Not all of them were combat operations.  I did a couple where we were just ferrying various ships here and there to prepare defenses.  I am 22 PAPs up on the month so far.

Being out and about meant some more losses.  Only two, a Ferox in the big fight and a Sigil during an entosis op.  I am surprised I didn’t lose my Sabre during the shield fight at the Y-2ANO Keepstar, but somehow it lived to return home.

My ship loss count for the war so far now stands at:

  • Ares interceptor – 8
  • Atron entosis frigate – 5
  • Drake entosis battle cruiser – 3
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Bifrost entosis command destroyer – 1
  • Cormorant destroyer – 1
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 1
  • Hurricane battle cruiser – 1
  • Sigil entosis industrial – 1
  • Ferox battle cruiser – 1

Overall

The Keepstar armor timer fight did see quite a turn out, with more than 4,000 capsuleers counted on the battle report… you only get counted if you’re attached to a kill mail somehow… plus all of those on standby or doing peripheral tasks.

It helped that the timer was set for a Saturday at a time when both US and EU players were likely to log in.

The peak online user count for the day hit at 16:38 UTC, during the fight, when 34,544 accounts were logged in. Not a bad count for a Saturday.  But 30K of that number were involved in other space business.

And Sunday was still the high water mark for the weekend, with a peak of 34,974, even though there was no huge battle going on.  That was about where it was last week, when it hit 34,855, but still down from the start of the war when it hit 38,838.

So it goes.

I am now waiting for the July MER to be released.  CCP used to manage that early in the month, but they have been running late on it this year.  I want to see what the impact is on the markets, total destruction, and ratting and mining.  With the war focused on the southwest of null sec, those living elsewhere are likely free to mine and rat without bother.  I expect to see PandaFam regions doing very well.

Addendum:

Defending the Y-2ANO Keepstar

The war over the ihubs in Fountain, such that it was, is over.  PandaFam took the final one this past week.  Now there is just the structure in cleanup.  And that too has gone well for the attackers so far.  There were six Keepstars, the big targets, in the region and they have blown up three of them so far.

Three Keepstars Down

The remaining three Keepstars, located in O-PNSN, KVN-36, and Y-2ANO, were the next obvious targets.

PandaFam chose to go after the one in Y-2ANO, which is also the closest one to Delve, being on grid with the region gate to ZXB-VC.  The theory I have heard regarding the choice is that, in taking away the Y-2ANO Keepstar, they would hinder our ability to defend the other two.  We could not just undock a titan and use it to bridge fleets to help with the defense of the Keepstars deeper in the region.

This past Thursday they began their assault by hitting the Keepstar in order to set the first timer.  This involves knocking down the shields, after which the count down starts for the next round, the armor timer.

I missed the start of that fight, but showed up later in an interdictor to help out.

It seemed to go about the way it went back at armor timer in IGE-RI.  The enemy brought subcaps and carriers.  The fighters from the carriers were used to attack the Keepstar while the subcaps fought.  There were a few more people involved, but things played out as before.  The attackers managed to set the timer at a cost in ISK in time.  The battle report shows we did much better on the ISK war, but we lost the objective, and the objective is what matters most on defense.

Shield fight battle report header

It also took them almost three hour to finish the job, and the shield timer is the easy one.  When the fight was over and we left, we could see the clock counting down for the next fight.

The timer to the next fight

The timer was set to come out on Saturday in EUTZ prime time and early USTZ time.  Given that, the fight was expected to attract a lot more pilots.  And the Keepstar itself was said to have tech II armor plates installed, meaning that it would take longer to get through the armor layer and set the final timer.  The expectation was set that it might be one of those fights that goes on all day long.

In the mean time, both sides got ready.  At our end, the night before, I was along for a fleet that moved some resupply ships to the Keepstar, so that if people lost a ship during the fight, they could dock up and reship.  There was some talk about when the ping might come for the fight as the hostiles were looking to get there first to try and hold us off, so we might have to counter by showing up earlier.

Fortunately for me, I wake up by 6am no matter what.  It is part of getting old.  I used to wonder why my grandfather never slept in, and now I have become him.

So I was on and able to do a bit more prep work long before the first fleet pings landed.

I was actually concerned that there were zero Tracking Computer II modules listed on the market at our home Keepstar.  They are part of the extra fit you need to get a Ferox or Megathron set to shoot fighters.

So I ran out in an interceptor to NPC Delve where there were 60 up for sale at around 1.7 to 2 million ISK.  I bought them all up and flew them back.  19 would fit in my cargo hold, with another fit and offline in an empty mid slot.  I listed most of them on the market back at home for 2 million ISK each, where they sold out very quickly.  I hope they went to good use.

The first ping came over Jabber at 14:38 UTC (7:38am my time).

There were three initial fleets flying Megathrons, Feroxes, and Jackdaws.  I had hauled out a replacement Megathron the night before, so that was probably the right choice as I had a reship ready.  But Asher was leading the Ferox fleet, so I went with that instead.

We managed to put 1DQ1-A into 10% tidi just with people logging in, getting in fleets, and undocking.  2,000 people in motion will do that.

Staging slow down

We undocked and and took a titan bridge to the Keepstar in ZXB-VC where the fleets gather up for the push into Y-2ANO.

Megathrons and other Baltec ships bridge in

From there we warped to the gate and started to push through all together.

A clump of ships on the gate

It was there that I ended up getting disconnected.  The Ferox fleet went through and I could hear Asher giving orders and could tell that the fleet was in motion, but I was stuck in the tunnel animation.  There was tidi on both sides of the gate, so I could tell when things went wrong because the animation suddenly started running at full speed rather than the slow rate that indicates tidi.

I closed the client and tried logging back in.  The character screen indicated that I had made it into Y-2ANO, another sign that my client wasn’t in sync with the server, but there was so much going on that it took a long to get on.  I hit the jump button on the gate at 15:12 UTC, but didn’t load grid after logging back in until 15:35 UTC, by which time Asher’s fleet had made it away from the gate.

I had been watching some of the INN Twitch stream of the fight and could see that PandaFam had changed their plan from the first attack.  They had decided to try and keep us out, so they put the fighters from their carriers on the gate along with some subcaps, no doubt with the intent of trying to thin us out as we tried to get through the bubbles around the gate.

My lone Ferox trying to escape the bubbles

I was a big of an obvious target out by myself and was primaried by a Munnin fleet that was part of the group guarding the gate.  The game was moving so slowly that I saw my pod get ejected and got to watch the ship fly off for a bit before it finally exploded.

Bye-bye Ferox!

I got to watch that as I tried to motor out of the bubbles, but they popped by pod as well, sending me back to 1DQ1-A.

Back home, I hopped in a travel ceptor and headed back towards the fight.  I dropped fleet, thinking that I might have to get out the Megathron and join that fleet.

Getting back in the second time was much quicker and, of course, I could just warp out of the bubbles in my Malediction.  (The only thing faster was my SPR payment.  I filed for when I ended up back in 1DQ1-A and saw the ISK hit my account as I jumped into Y-2ANO.  The SRP team must have been ready to go.)

I docked up in the Keepstar and checked what was on alliance contract.  I was worried that I might not have the right fit if I grabbed a Ferox (those Tracking Computer II modules came to mind), but there were a bunch there that were the correct Keepstar defense fit. (Which probably explains why the market was dry of them.)  So I bought one of those, got into that ship, and rejoined the fleet, all of which took a lot longer at the time it took to type that out.

While I was doing all of that, the plan of the attackers started to unravel.  The plan, I gather, was to use the carriers and subcaps to kill us on the gate while a TEST Raven fleet kept the Keepstar timer paused.

However, two bombing runs later, the first led by DBRB and the seconds by Sister Bliss of The Initiative, left 200 Raven wrecks in their wake, allowing the Keepstar to continue its repair cycle. (Video of TEST Ravens exploding)

Undocked on the Keepstar we could see the hostile fighters, which had been engaged elsewhere, now turning our way to try and hit the Keepstar.  We took them under fire as they hove into range, but they were too few and too slow.  The timer ran down below a minute and it looked like we were going to win.  We all keyed up and counted down the last ten seconds as there was nothing in range than could stop the clock.

The repair timer hits zero

After that, the attackers were back to where they were on Thursday night.  The would have to shoot the shields again to set a new timer and come back again at a later date.  They did not seem inclined to do this and the next couple of hours were spent skirmishing and trying to extract.

The final battle report shows losses fairly evenly split.

Armor timer battle report header

Given that they had 800 more people than us on the report… more than three fleets worth of pilots… we did pretty well.  But fighting on your own Keepstar is a big advantage (something we’re just learning, as our history is attacking them, not defending them), as is the fact that the timer is not affected by tidi as it runs down, but runs in real time. (Something that bit us back during the so-called Million Dollar Battle a few years back.)  Imperium institutional paranoia expects CCP to change that now that it is helping Goons.

The battle report shows the whole thing lasting more than three hours, but the Keepstar had been saved in under two, so the objective was won in a shorter time than the initial attack that set the timer.

Meanwhile, as that was going on, some Legacy pilots not involved in the fight used this as an opportunity to set some ihub timers and reinforce a couple of Ansiblex jump gates.  Well played, but the war so far shows they are not very good at following up on such ventures.

We’re certainly not done in Fountain.  The attackers will be back.  There are three Keepstars sitting out there still.  If they cannot kill those in a situation where our titans and supers are not in play, then they are going to have a really rough time when they try to cross into Delve and hit Keepstars there.

Other Coverage:

The Fall of the IGE-RI Keepstar

We had been up to IGE-RI late last week, when Asher led a Ferox fleet to try and defend the armor timer against PandaFam’s carriers and subcaps.  That went well.  Even though we lost the objective we managed to blow up fighters and subcaps by the score.

And we were told we would be doing something for the final timer, which was set to come due this past Sunday around 19:00 UTC.  So I made sure to be around and logged in as the time drew closer.

And then the time hit… and passed… and no fleet was called.

There was a ping for the INN stream on Twitch, where DBRB would be covering the destruction of the Keepstar.  Its destruction was never in doubt.  But it didn’t seem like we were going to do anything to drag out the event and make the enemy pay a bit for that kill mail.

Finally, about ten minutes after the hour, there was a ping.  A fleet was going up on Jay Amazingness with no details save to read the MOTD.  I had wandered away from my desk for a bit, but when I got back I joined the fleet.  The MOTD said we needed to be able to fly a tech II Cormorant and that we should take a travel interceptor to the IGE-RI Keepstar, where ships would be handed out.

That I could manage.  I had an Ares handy, so undocked with it and headed towards the Keepstar up in Fountain.  The way was clear… it generally is in an interceptor… and I arrived in the system.

At the Keepstar

It seemed that somebody used the fight notification tool this time around, as there was no tidi until I jumped into IGE-RI itself, a sign that it was on its own node.  And there was some tidi, though not much, as the event had already started.

Everybody docked up and Jay started trying to hand out ships to people which, under tidi, was apparently quite a painful process.  He eventually dispersed some of the Cormorants to other people to help him hand out.  I got mine and immediately put my loudest SKIN on it.

Fresh Corm in the hangar

We loaded up scripts and ammo and undocked to face the attack.  And it seemed like everybody was there to join in.

The NPCs even showed up

As with the Ferox fleet, we started by shooting some of the fighters that were on the Keepstar, though the tidi was making the game respond oddly.  Distances in my overview didn’t seem to bear much resemblance to where the game thought things were.  I was trying to target fighters that were alleged to be only 35km away, but was told they were beyond the 115km targeting range of my ship.  But they were clearly there on the Keepstar.

And the game itself went through points of pausing and then resuming, which I thought might be just me, as I had graphics turned up so the game client’s memory usage was… high.

Not possible without the 64-bit client

But other people were calling out that the game was stalling at the same time I was seeing it, so I suspect the server was having its own rough time.  And the fight carried on around the Keepstar.

Blue beams from fighters or drones

We fought for a bit, though not very effectively.  Corms are not Feroxes.  And we had to warp off every once in a while to get out of the way when they wanted to fire up the Point Defense System to kill any hostiles too close to the structure.  The PDS is indiscriminate, so you have to be away or tethered to avoid it.

We got to see the Arcing Votron Projector, the Keepstar doomsday, go off a couple of times.

The beam reaching up to some unseen hostiles

But we were not making much of a difference.  After one warp off grid, we were aligning back to return and it was decided that the end was close enough that we should all make sure to lock up and shoot the Keepstar at least once before it died so we could all be on the kill mail as well.  The fleet warp came and off we went.

And then we stopped about 300km off the Keepstar, looking like we were tethered… though at extreme range… somebody’s code though we were some place much closer I bet… and couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong.

Way off the Keepstar, but looking like we’re tethered

Then somebody spotted the Sabre on the overview and the client caught up and drew the warp disruption bubble in which we had landed.

We had been caught and the trap sprung.  A set of Chemo doctrine ships… smart bombing Lokis… landed on us and lit us up.

The smart bombs going off around us

You can see we had enough time to turn around to try and get out of the bubble, but the Sabre was ahead of us and kept us from warping off.  And in the middle of the Lokis was Pittsburgh2989, one time Imperium FC who was kicked out and blacklisted from the coalition for reasons still argued about.

Pitts comes to kill us all

A few people got out.  My ship was very slow in blowing up.  It took the client view quite a while to catch up with the situation as it stood.  I tried to motor out in my pod.  If I could just get out of the bubbles and warp off, I might be able to grab my interceptor… which cost about 10x that of the Corm… and fly on home with it.

Pod with wrecks in the background

Alas, they picked off the pods as well.  I was soon back in 1DQ1-A, and shortly thereafter I got a notification that my stuff in the IGE-RI Keepstar was being moved to asset safety.  I guess I will be picking up that interceptor another day.  At least the Cormorant was free… and I insured it, so made a little bit of ISK on the side.

The Keepstar was destroyed.  My ship was blown up.  My pod was killed.  My interceptor was stranded. And the battle report showed that we didn’t even extract much of a price this time around.

Battle report header

All of that was very much predictable.  But what I really want to know is if anybody looted the PLEX out of my cargo hold.

For whatever reason my interceptor had 1 PLEX in the cargo, and before the fight I moved that over into the Corm’s cargo bay.  If you look at my kill mail, you will see that the loot fairy said “yes” and the PLEX survived and was in the wreck.  Maybe somebody got it.  Or maybe the smart bombs killed the wrecks.  I’ll likely never know.

Fighting on the Keepstars

PandaFam continues to sweep on in Fountain.  They have taken most of the ihubs in the region and, save for the few behind the KVN-36 line, the region is mostly theirs at this point.  However, a bunch of our structures remain behind in the captured space, including some Keepstars.

A Keepstar in Delve, still safe

Keepstars are the anchors of any defense, the strong points that an attacker must eventually assail if the don’t want the defenders to have a safe harbor behind their lines from which they can operate.  PandaFam cannot let them linger, so they have started setting up to kill them.

When our Keepstars in Fountain start to fall, it is going to be a big boost to the morale of the attackers.  If you look at zKillboard, dead Keepstars are relatively rare.  A few didn’t get recorded due to server issues, but there is only a page or so of kills to scroll down.  (There was a time when I was on the kill mail for almost all of the dead Keepstars, and I would wager that I am still on almost half of them.)  When one side starts losing Keepstars, it is generally a sign they are losing the war.  So the narrative that the Imperium is going to lose, is losing, should give up already is going to be strong.

We have a ridiculous number of Keepstars in Delve.  It is going to be a long, slow grind when the enemy attacks there in earnest.  But some of the Keepstars out in Fountain are guaranteed to be destroyed.  Getting all the way to the far end of the region to defend the one in J5A-IX doesn’t seem viable.  And PandaFam is setting up their own structures from which to attack the Keepstars.

Somebody is making plans for us

Still, the coalition has come up with a strategy to at least make taking these structures costly.

I went out with a Ferox fleet under Asher that was set to try out one of the Keepstar defense plans.  There is a Keepstar out in IGE-RI that PandaFam has started reinforcing.  We came out to try and defend the armor timer.

Getting there took gates and one titan bridge as the Ansiblex network in Fountain is no longer there.  Our ability to move around in the region is very much curtailed.

Landing on the Keepstar

The enemy showed up with carriers and battle cruisers.  Their super carriers, usually one of the main weapons when attacking a Keepstar, are down in FAT-6P in Catch with their main titan force, awaiting their time in the invasion.  So carriers need to pick up the slack.

The carriers stood off and sent their fighters in at us in a great wave.  We loaded up long range ammo and started shooting them as they fell within our guns.

Fighter inbound

We tore up a lot of their fighters.  Whole groups went down, while damaged sets were recalled.  That was when their Feroxes came in.

We swapped over to Spike, the longest range ammo, and Asher moved us so that they were within our fire envelope, at which point his back seat began calling targets and we commenced to blowing them up as fast as we could lock them.

The Keepstar in the battle

I went out on the fleet in an alt because he had a doctrine Ferox handy, but I kind of wish I had gone on my main, because there was some serious kill board padding to be had.  My alt ended up on 126 kill mails, including the final blow on two targets, which doesn’t happen very often on a fleet with more than 100 ships present.

Ferox alt goes wild

Two kill marks on my Ferox… and lots of wrecks up above the Keepstar where the hostiles had set up station.

Wrecks and corpses litter the area

The battle was a lot of lock and fire, with some of the hostiles reshipping and returning only to be called and blown up a second time.  The battle report showed that we blew up almost 500 ships and fighters.

Header from the Battle Report

Unfortunately, for all the carnage, we lost the objective.  PandaFam moved the Keepstar into its final timer.  A Sunday Keepstar fight will attract a lot of pilots.  People like to be on those kill mails.

The final fight coming this weekend

Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that we will be as successful with Feroxes again as we were this time around.  The enemy isn’t likely to be so generous in feeding us kills.  Next time they will have some counter to our defense, which means we will have to come up with some new twist of our own.

But this time we did okay, even if we lost the objective.  We took out fleet back to Delve.

Back the way we came

We will have to see how next time plays out.

Addendum: Our Keepstar in J5A-IX went down just minutes after this post went live.

Losses in Fountain but a Win in Period Basis

Yesterday during EUTZ PandaFam continued its attacks into the Fountain region where a series of ihubs were set to be contested.  At the end of the cycle, they had added ten more ihubs to their total, bringing the number held as of this moment to 17, taking over the entirety of Taurus and Wyvern constellations, including the key gateway system of D4KU-5.

Taurus and Wyvern constellations

Without ihubs, no further Ansiblex jump gates can be deployed by The Initiative in those areas, hampering the ability to move forces there quickly.  This will also allow PandaFam to quickly deploy Fortizars into those area should they wish to move their staging out of Hophib and into the region, or at least set up Ansiblex jump gates of their own to facilitate the advance into the region.

That leaves the Fountain situation looking like this at the moment.

Fountain – July 21, 2020

PandaFam now holds most of the systems in the area circled in red.  The critical transportation backbone for the Imperium runs between J5A-IX at the border of the Cloud Ring region and Y-2ANO, which is the gateway to Delve.  PandaFam’s position puts J5A-IX and C-4NOD at risk of attack.  Both systems have multiple structures, including Keepstars, but they are likely too distant to hope for Imperium titans and supers to save them.  These systems may be the first Keepstar fights of the war if PandaFam pushes that way.

If C-4NOD falls the region isn’t lost, but mobility in the north will be hindered and the long gate connection to KVN-36 will become the front line of the fight.  The fall back from there is Y-2ANO and Delve.  The connection from Fountain lands in ZXB-VC, which will be a tough nut to crack as that falls within a single jump of Imperium titans and supers.

We’re still a ways from that however.  But the first line of defense in Fountain has been well and truly cracked.

Less contentious was the ihub event down in Period Basis last night.  I wrote previously about how we had lost the ihub in XZ-SKZ to TEST, which gave them a potential foothold down in Period Basis.

Where the ihub was

It is on the boarder with Stain, an NPC null sec region with a bunch of Russians who enjoy nothing more than shooting TEST. (Including, it seems, a TEST Fortizar.)  Perhaps not the ideal invasion route, as their jump bridge network connects up to the Paragon Soul boarder and the combined Legacy and PandaFam titan and super fleets are said to be in the two Keepstars in FAT-6P, which is in the Catch region on the boarder with Querious.

We have failed to take the ihub back from TEST a few times, but Legacy hasn’t really done much to exploit the system either.  Their plan still seems to be to drop POS towers somewhere in our space to exploit.  So yesterday a Baltec fleet went up on Lazarus Telraven, famed FC of the Lazamo and the decision to go all-in at B-R5RB, just as I was finally done with work for the day.  I had a Megathron handy so logged in to go along.  We were once again headed for that ihub, which was about ready to be contested yet again.

ihub event in 22 minutes

We set up on the heavily bubbled CJF-1P to try and catch anybody slipping in from Stain to try and defend the ihub.

Parked at the CJF-1P gate

Lighter response fleets were also deployed and enotsis ships to take the nodes as they appeared.

However, Legacy declined to contest the event.  Aside from one Scimitar that had the bad luck to jump through the gate and into a hungry pack of Megathrons, they did not show.  (I am surprised I was quick enough to get on the kill and even applied some damage.)

The event went our way and we had little to do aside from sit around, help Grath Telkin figure out the GSF SRP system (making sure he put in his favorite ice cream flavor), and watch sumo wrestling on Twitch.  I understand that Asher is responsible for the current sumo obsession in the coalition.  It can be interesting to watch, though everything is in Japanese, so I am sure I am missing the subtleties.  (Though the commercials are anything but subtle. A window into a different culture in that I suppose.)

After the ihub was successfully destroyed and replaced, we headed for home.  We were back to the pre-war state in Period Basis for the most part.

Addendum: The New Eden Post has coverage of the changes in Fountain.

Two Weeks of World War Bee

I think my biggest disappointment so far in the war is the lack of coverage it is getting.  Huge forces are arrayed against each other, clashes of hundreds happen regularly, and thousands have collided several times.  And yet there hasn’t been much written about what is going on.

Last week CCP released a video with the title TOTAL WAR RAGES IN NEW EDEN and I thought surely that this was the coverage I had been waiting for, official acknowledgement by the company.  But, no.  The video was solely focused on the Triglavian Invasion event which currently, if I followed the video, involves about 4 systems total in the game.

I don’t want to begrudge anybody their PvE fleets or attention to the Triglavian events.  The game supports all sorts of different play styles.  But when 100+ alliances are lined up to evict us and four full regions are in play, my sense of what constitutes “total war” in all caps seems to be measured on a different scale.

Basically, Alton Haveri and The Scope seem to be indulging in a bit of sensationalism.  Damn click-bait journalism. *shakes fist*

In looking for coverage I am sure somebody will want to point at a couple of streamers, or Reddit, or a five hour long episode of Talking in Stations where somebody spoke about how they felt about the war, but I don’t have the time or patience for any of that.

I long for the coherent written word (which leaves /r/eve out of the running 99% of the time), and on that front the usual suspects, INN and EN24, haven’t said much. (And New Eden Report seems to be dead again, though every time I say that an article gets posted, followed by another long silence.)  I will give credit to January Valentine for trying to do a series of summary updates on Reddit for a bit, but that fell by the wayside after about a week.

In the past I have generally depended on other sources to get a sense of what is really going on in a war.  I remember a time of ongoing written updates and opinion pieces about such conflicts.  As a line member in a coalition I am probably less well informed than any decent spy.  All I have as a baseline source is a war update thread in the GSF forums which tracks big fights and battles over objectives.  Otherwise, I just write about the bits and pieces of the war I see in person.

Of course we are not really into the interesting bit of the war either.  As I noted last week, we’re not yet to the part where we’re fighting over Keepstars or where titans are clashing, the things that generate headlines, at least when the ISK to real world money calculation is high enough.

But the war so far has kept me engaged, providing that sense of purpose that gets me to log in regularly.  And there are fleets forming and going out pretty much all hours of the day, so there is opportunity to join in as well.

Since I mentioned my PAP link status last week, I’ll keep going with that as a metric.  I was a 33 for the month last week.  That number has risen to 46 as of this writing.  I wouldn’t use that number as a literal representation of my investment… none of that time spent lurking in Catch is counted, for example… but it does show I am logging in.

Another metric I can add in is ship losses.  So far in, in war related activity, I have lost the following ships:

  • Ares interceptor – 5
  • Scalpel logi frigate – 2
  • Atron entosis frigate – 1
  • Purifier stealth bomber – 1

Nothing bigger than a frigate really so far, though that Purifier loss was on a rough op.  A returning FC brought us out for what turned out to be a work up cruise to get him back into running bombers and they bit off more than they should of in TEST space.  But that is what SRP is for.

For the wider war, the northern front in Fountain saw a lot of action.

The northern theater of operations

PandaFam has been attacking aggressively from their base of operations in Hophib.  The constellations on the Fountain side of the regional gate have had their ihubs reinforced multiple times, so the map there often looks like this:

The Hophib adjacent constellations

As of this writing on Sunday afternoon, according to the structure list on DOTLAN for the region, PandaFam has managed to capture 7 ihubs in the region, along with 2 TCUs, which represents quite a bit of work.

They still have not captured ihubs in any of the critical systems that would break the Ansiblex travel infrastructure which allows us to move fleets from Delve to support The Initiative, though there was an attack on the Ansiblex in KVN-36, on the critical backbone of the Fountain bridge network, that destroyed the structure.  But an Ansiblex is easy to replace.  Attackers need to take the ihub in the system to prevent us from putting up a new one to have anything more than a short term impact.

On the southern front things have been less active.  In Period Basis TEST and their Legacy Coalition allies have managed to keep us from taking back the ihub in XZ-SKZ.  There have been several skirmishes over it, and the ihub remains reinforced, but they still hold it.

Where the ihub fights have been

Otherwise, while there have been fights in the south, the attacks have been nowhere as aggressive and what PandaFam has been doing in Fountain.  Legacy seems content to defend their one foothold in Period Basis, troll entosis in Querious, and scatter POS towers around in hopes of securing an advantage.

Even in Delve, which is closer to Legacy than PandaFam, it is PandaFam that gets out and organizes gate camps and such.

We clash with Legacy often.  There are lots of short, sharp fights with 5-20 billion ISK in losses between the two sides.  So I wouldn’t say they aren’t out fighting, but their allies up on the Fountain front, who had to move across New Eden for this operation, as opposed to just living next door, seem to be putting in a lot more effort.

So it it looks to me two weeks in.

Addendum: Somebody at INN is writing weekly updates on Sunday night as well it seems.  You can try to line that up with what I wrote, if you are so inclined.  That post has more details.

Addendum 2: The New Eden Post has some coverage of the war, so I will have to keep an eye on them as well.