Tag Archives: Fountain

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.

Imperium Setback in the Taurus Constellation

One of the occasionally frustrating aspects of working from home is that I can leave Jabber up and running and see what is going on all day while I am working.  That means any time something big comes up I am sorely tempted to join in.  Sometimes, if it is something quick around lunch time, I take a break and run off on a fleet.  I got to help blow up yet another TEST POS tower, this time in Querious, as I ate yesterday.

I always wonder if any POS shoot will be my last

But when pings start going up for something big and I am at least an hour from being done with work I have to just ignore the them and concentrate on what I am supposed to be doing.  Besides, if a big fight does end up going down, there are always reinforcement fleets later on in the fight to join.

And so it went yesterday.  About 90 minutes after I saw pings start for a big fight going down somewhere, I was able to finish up with work and find a fleet headed off for the action.  It was an Ares interceptor fleet with ECM Burst jammers fit, with XoB Codie as the FC.  We formed up in 1DQ1-A and headed off for the fight.

Our route was northward into Fountain, so it seemed an easy guess that there was something brewing over the ihubs that PandaFam had previously reinforced in the Taurus constellation.

I just keep re-using this screen shot

Traveling up there in interceptors was quick, right up until we got into the vicinity of the action, when everything slowed down to 10% tidi and it was clear that the server hosting the area was past its point of keeping up even at that rate.  At that point we spent a lot of time waiting for system transitions and for warps to end.

I was warping about as fast as this screen shot at times

People were disconnected and the fleet got spread out, but we were in interceptors, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

The fight was over the ihubs which were out, so it was another high effort entosis race… a race through quicksand… and we were there to try and keep the attackers at bay while The Initiative tried to grab nodes around the constellation.  By the time we were in and helping three ihubs had already been saved, but the hostiles were putting in a major effort to take the last two.  The main fight broke out in L-A5XP, in the middle of the constellation, where The Initiative and PandaFam capital fleets clashed.

I never saw any of the big fight.  We were out in the periphery chasing down hostile entosis ships to tackle and kill.

An entosis Prophecy in trouble

That was quite fun for us.  There was a bit of cat and mouse to our job, as the hostiles had a roaming fleet of Jackdaws to protect their entosis ships, but we also had some Jackdaws and Tengus running around as well.  We would swoop down on a node and try and grab one of the entosis ships.  Surprisingly, at least to me, our little band of interceptors was able to bring down battlecruisers.

An entosis Drake tackled

That Drake was a struggle.  We were chased off once by Jackdaws, but somebody warped back and tackled him.  Jay Amazingness showed up with his Slippery Pete Tengus and the Jackdaws fled and we were able to warp back and help finish the job.

During that time tidi swung rather wildly.  It had edged up to about 12% for a while, which meant everything was slow but responded, and then it was up in the 20s, then 50s, and then was gone completely for a good ten minute stretch.  I gather whatever was going on with the big fight had slackened by that point.  But then it returned again and it was down to 10% once more at times.  We kept on trying to defend nodes the whole time.

My Ares rolling in on a Bifrost

We got some more kills, including a few Bifrost entosis ships, which are a bit pricey compared to the frigates and battlecruisers.  And for a while it the push-pull of the conflict looked to be going our way.  But the hostiles were still pushing hard.  At one point we had tethered up between attacks and saw cynos go up and local pop as PandaFam capitals dropped into the system.

Capitals dropping into L-A5XP on the gate

We kept up our attacks, but the tide was turning against us again.  I managed to get the final blow on one of the entosis ships, which means a 50 million ISK bounty for me.  But more got away as support came to defend the entosis ships.  We had a Prophecy down into structure but had to warp out when Jackdaws landed on us again.

So close to a kill

In the end, the attackers took the ihubs in 9D6O-M and YRNJ-8.  That isn’t a war ending loss… the other ihubs were saved and Ansiblex jump gates into the constellation remained… but it is a setback and shows we will have a hard time defending when the enemy decides to press into our space in force.

Overall the battle went badly for us.  Two objectives were lost and the battle report shows that we were soundly beaten on the ISK war.

Taurus Constellation Battle Report Header

A lot of people were on the field, but we only had 64% of what the enemy fielded and we were much lighter in capital ships.

As things wound down we tethered up for a bit while XoB Codie charted a route home for us.  He did a stellar job leading us considering that it was past 4am for him by the time we headed home.

On our way out we got one final kill.  There was an abandoned Pandemic Horde Ferox just sitting at zero on a gate.  We stopped to shoot it, and at first thought it might have been bugged.  We knocked it down to 70% shields, but then it stopped taking damage.  Our guns were firing, the animations were going at least, but nothing was happening.  It must have been something backed up on the server, as after a bit it suddenly caught up and the Ferox was into structure suddenly.  We watched it explode on the gate.

The empty Ferox brews up

A kill mail collected, we took the Ansiblex out and headed back down to Delve, another fight behind us.

The enemy looks to have collected themselves and I expect that we have some rough times ahead.  We’re still fighting on our front lines, but we’re also spread out and our internal lines of communication, the Ansiblex jump bridge network, work for subcaps, but not for supers and titans.

A Week of World War Bee

It has been a busy time in Imperium space.

There is a Jabber command Imperium pilots can use to display how many fleet participation credits, PAPs, you have earned during the current month and over the last 30, 60, and 90 days.

I stand at 33 PAPs, which isn’t a ton compared to some people… I have heard counts beyond 80 for the month… but is a lot for me.  My 90 day total is 57 at the moment and there was a deployment during that time, so having a dozen counts as a pretty active month for me.

Granted, that doesn’t mean I went on 33 fleets of multi-hour duration.  There were a couple where a fast form ping went up and I got into fleet only to have it stand down due the threat having passed.  And I somehow managed to be in fleet at the exact right moment for a capital move op.  It was just a log in, undock, jump to the cyno, then log out level of effort, maybe five minutes maximum.  And on possibly the longest fleet op for me so far, when we flew out to D4KU-5 to support The Initiative and cover a couple of timers with them, we actually ended up with three PAPs because Asher gave us two for a long, dull fleet op, but somebody else captured a PAP for us as well.

A thousand of us kept an eye on the Hophib gate

Still, even with that, I have been out and seen my share of action.  I only regret passing on the fleet that flew one jump and destroyed yet another Pandemic Horde Cormorant fleet. (The kill board pegs the cost of a Corm at about 15 million, but apparently the PH line members are paying 35 million each for them at their staging in Hophib.  Their main FC seems a bit testy if you bring this up.)

And PAP links do not cover the time I have spent out on my own doing things, from moving ship to chasing entosis alerts, to roaming around in hostile space and ringing the entosis alarm for them now and again. (That will get its own post at some point due to my making some non-fatal but amusing errors at the start.)

Out returning the favor

So there has been plenty to do, fleets running at all hours of the day, and fights have been very common.  There has been enough going on that I have pretty much only played EVE Online since the war started.

That said, looking at the big picture, not a lot has happened.  The Mittani was complaining on The Meta Show on Saturday that he hasn’t had a lot to do so far in the war.  I imagine this is in part because the attackers really didn’t start on the war until July 5th while we had been getting ready for the attack for a couple of weeks before hand.

The biggest incursion into our space has been the TEST capture of the ihub in XZ-SKZ, which is the gateway system from Stain into Period Basis, which I posted about last week.

Where the ihub was

Our attempt to take it back failed the first time, and they eventually managed to drop a POS tower in the system.  That would allow them to get a titan in there to bridge people around and give them more mobility in our space.

Dreads landed too late to stop the stront delivery

However, to be used for that the POS would have to survive for a while.  That one died after the reinforce, as did the next one they dropped.

There has also been an ongoing pitched battle up in Fountain between PandaFam and The Initiative over the Taurus constellation, which is the way in to the region from their staging in Hophib.  The ihubs there have been reinforced once more, the way they were a week ago.

Reusing this picture

But, as I wrote last week as well, it is easy to entosis troll and reinforce things or trigger response fleets, but it is work to follow through, to make it stick.  And you have to go after the ihubs.  That is what signifies ownership, what allows you to deploy things like Ansiblex jump gates.  Brave has been making a big deal about taking a territorial control unit, a TCU, here and there.

A TCU taken in Querious

But, since Fozzie Sov became a thing, the TCU is just a flag.  It has no function.  You need the ihub.  So they no more own that system than we own XZ-SKZ down in Period Basis.  The TCU doesn’t do anything.

There have been daily clashes of fleets, wins and losses on both sides, but the big guns have yet to come out.  Capitals haven’t clashed yet, titans haven’t been unleashed yet, Keepstars haven’t been threatened.  Instead, forces are still building up around the various invasion routes where camps have set up on either side of regional gates to keep the enemy fleets from breaking through and running amok.

Bubbles on the regional gates

That doesn’t stop hostiles from getting in.  It is still hazardous to travel solo in anything that can’t get past a warp interdiction bubble.  A group has set up shop repeatedly in 1DQ1-A, our home system, camping the gates leading off the the active fronts and collecting an ongoing harvest of ships ignoring the intel channel and warping to the gate.

Here, in our home system

All the wrecks and little corpses of those who were podded.

Of course, I cannot be too hard on them as I lost my first ship of the war there as well.  I had eyes on the gate and the camp had warped off, no doubt to get a juicy target on one of the other gates.  But before I could warp and finish jumping through, their Sabre returned with some tackle and I was caught just on the edge of the bubble.  One more wreck… but no corpse.  My pod got away.

I was impatient and paid the price.  So it goes.  At least it wasn’t a pricey ship.

And so goes the war so far for me at least.  Nothing huge has happened yet, but it keeps me busy.  And wars like this always start slowly.  It takes a while to establish a foothold in hostile space.  Things only speed up when one side stops showing up.

Addendum: INN has a broader review of the first week of the war.

Theaters of Operation

Fighting in Delve ought to seem almost normal to me.  I think we spent time every summer from 2012 through to 2016 invading Delve and kicking whoever lived there out.

Delve – Summer 2012 Poster

We went there with TEST and Pandemic Legion in 2012 (seems like strange times now), against TEST in 2013, against somebody nearby in 2014 (we owned the place for a bit, but gave it up), against Darkness and NCDot in 2015, and then finally against LUMPY and a few others when we fled the north after the Casino War to set up shop in the region in 2016.

And yet, here in 2020, I don’t feel like I “know” the region all that well.  I know some of the key spots, our staging in 1DQ1-A, the path up into (and through) Fountain down which I traveled so many times, and some key intersections, like 1-SMEB and the run through Aridia.  But now that we are fighting a war, I wanted a clearer visualization of the region.  Despite living there for four years, I have spent most of that time deployed in space belonging to others and fighting there.  Since we arrived we’ve only had to chase small gangs out of Delve.  We’ve not been invaded.  Time for something new.

I went looking for a map that would cover the area where the war is taking place.

DOTLAN EVE Maps was my first stop.  It has logical maps of all the regions.  That is very useful for navigating within and individual region, but less so when you want to show more than one region.  They do have a combined Delve/Querious/Period basis map, which shows three of three of the regions we are defending.

Also, DOTLAN’s maps, being logical in an attempt to get the systems nicely lined up showing the jump gate connections in as little space as possible, do not reflect how the systems are oriented in space or the distance between stars, which plays into where Ansiblex jump bridges can be deployed and where capitals can jump.

The in-game map shows the distances between star systems fairly well.

Looking at the in-game map

You get some sense of the distances between regions… far further than any capital can jump or Ansiblex can bridge… which explains why some foothold systems like TCAG-3 are going to see plenty of action.  However, readability of the in-game map is, frankly, shit.  As I have said, it is an impressive site to show your friends if you’re showing them the game, but it isn’t all that useful when you’re trying to navigate New Eden.

It isn’t completely useless.  You can get some information out of it, see systems where battles have been going on.

The hot spot in Period Basis

TCAG-3 has been a focus point because it is at one end of the regional gate that lays between Period Basis and Paragon Soul, regions held by the Imperium and Legacy Coalition respectively.  Legacy getting control of that system and being able to lay down structure would let them roll up our southern flank. (That particular number reflects a Legacy push into the system.  We lost more ships, but held the field. I went out for lunch about five minutes before the pings went out for that fight, so completely missed it.)

But back to maps.

In between the DOTLAN and the in-game map is GARPA Topographical Survey, the home grown map tool available to Imperium pilots.  It has been around for quite a while, and there was even a version released to the general public at one point.  It is less readable than DOTLAN, but much clearer than the in-game map.  Also, it has nice pastel shades for regions.

The GARPA view of the southern theater

That shows how Delve, Querious, and Period Basis are lined up, along with the strange way that Querious bisects Delve, linking the two regions rather intimately.

You can also see the Legacy regions of Catch, Paragon Soul, Esoteria, and Impass and the routes through which those invading us must come. (Stain is NPC null, but there is a path in from there as well.)  Viewed close up, with system names visible:

Might need to click on this to read system names…

As I mentioned above, most of the action up to this point has been coming our of Paragon Soul and into Period Basis, with some ventured out of Catch and Aridia.  However, that seems likely to change, with the emphasis likely to be on the Catch route into Querious and Delve.  The two staging Keepstars, and the super fleets they are holding, are in FAT-6P in Catch, and the first target seems likely to be 4-07MU, which is the Imperium outpost in Catch.

The Foothold in Catch

At least I assume that is why they are amassing a super fleet there.  They can’t jump into our space, so they have to take the gate to 49-USU in order to get within range of anything.

And then there is Fountain, which doesn’t fit nicely on the above map without making it huge.

The northern theater of operations

There are three was into Fountain besides Delve.  Outer Ring is an NPC null sec region, while Cloud Ring, the route we took during the Fountain War back in 2013, seems quiet for the moment.  PandaFam has instead set up shop in Hophib in Aridia, which lets them base out of a low sec NPC station which cannot be assailed.  That is the upside.

The downside for them seems to be that getting to Hophib is a bit of a pain and doesn’t put them close to anything vital.  The main spine of the region runs between KVN-36 and C-4NOD, that epic gate jump up the left side of the region that is the primary highway for the Imperium to head north, and the axis on which our activity there centers. (Those two systems are simply next to each other on the DOTLAN region map.)  PandaFam has to go quite a ways to disrupt that, while the jump bridge network lets The Initiative respond to them speedily from the center.

Still, PandaFam, after some initial setbacks, appears to have made more progress than their allies in the south, reinforcing the Taurus constellation next door to their staging.

All reinforced as I write this

They still have to get in and fight the node contest, but that will be chaotic with nodes for all six systems spawning in a short time frame.  A foothold there won’t break the Imperium, but if they can snap the jump bridge network that lets The Initiative deploy there quickly it could force us to defend further back or spend a lot of time taking gates to get all the way around to where PandaFam is pushing.

Anyway, that is where we are fighting and will likely continue to be fighting for a while.  We will see what the new day brings.

Lurching North Towards Tribute

The word did come down via the State of the Goonion on Saturday that we would indeed be moving north for war and that Tribute would indeed be our target.  That seemed the most likely scenario even a week ago.

In anticipation of the move ops to come I had logged into the game an hour ahead of time to figure out what I wanted to bring north.  I didn’t know where we were headed yet, but I wanted to be ready.  I was not alone.  I found almost 2,000 people in local and when I undocked I found titans practically frolicking about the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A.

Conga lines and fireworks

Closer in my Megathron… I decided to take a battleship north… reflected the glow of the fireworks being set off.

The rocket’s red glare indeed

As the time for the SotG approached, the number in local climbed, peaking at just past 4,000 as The Mittani’s speech ended.

In Mumble as well people started filing into the SotG channel.  There the numbers climber, passing 2,600 during the speech.

SotG Numbers

That is a better representation of how many people were present since you get only one forum account and Mumble login no matter how many alts you have.

At the speech The Mittani confirmed what had be widely rumored, that we would be heading to Tribute to drive out Pandemic Legion and Northern Coalition.  We were not going to take the region in order to hold it, but merely destroy all we could, reducing the infrastructure back to its lowest ebb.

Mittens gave us no dramatic raison de guerre.  He said he would not be waving a bloody shirt and calling for war.  The reasons for us going north to “glass” Tribute was simply to widen the gap between us and our traditional foes that we might deny them the ability to ever assail us again.  I am sure that the fact that those in Tribute remain among the organizations that sent us packing during the Casino War that haven’t been displaced or made to pay tribute fed into the decision as well.  Something, something, pays our debts.

The speech was short and our actual staging destination was left unstated.  We would have to go on move ops to find out.  But move ops were being pinged immediately.  Six fleets for capital ships went up and they began departing 1DQ1-A immediately.  The local count because to taper off some.

Those of us in subcaps had to wait about an hour before we were called.

This became one of those move ops where everybody was stuffed into the same coms channel.  All the capital fleets and all the subcap fleets would share coms, which meant we were told to keep quiet.

I was wondering how that would play out.  People often don’t know or care that there might be 2,000 other people on the line and start speaking up because they can’t find this or that in their hangar or asking where the fleet is or some bit of trivia about their day that really doesn’t play in front of a large audience.

But it did not work out too badly.  There were the inevitable people wandering in and chatting away like they were on a small gate camp as opposed to a 2,000 person move op, but they were hushed and things on coms remained mostly the command staff giving instructions to the various fleets about who should jump and who should hold.

When subcap fleets got called I piled into the Baltec fleet, which Cainun was running.  We hung around for a bit and it was explained that we would have to keep a close eye on the in-game fleet chat as that would be where most of our orders would appear.

CCP Please, let me pull the chat window out to another monitor.

I had been listening on voice coms and watching Jabber in another window while I played Minecraft.  But if instruction were going to be in fleet chat that mean keeping the EVE Online game window up where I could see it.  Oh well.  We eventually undocked and headed to the Eye of Terror jump gate chain to start our move north.

Aligned out for travel

Even in slow old battleships with TiDi hitting along most jumps, we were able to move along at a fairly brisk pace, jumping and aligning over and over.

Going through an Ansiblex jump gate

It wasn’t long before we had caught up with the capital ships.  They were jumping by groups and then waiting out their timers so as not to build up jump fatigue, so we caught up to the tail end of the big ships half way through Fountain.

Baltecs catching up with the stragglers

Some clever person in a dictor put up a bubble off the gate that stopped us short at one point and we had to burn through a mass of capital ships to get to the gate and jump.  That put us pretty much in the thick of the capital ships.

Capitals streaming to a gate

On entering Cloud Ring we ended up in a capital traffic jam.  The caps were supposed to jump in, warp to a structure, then warp to a gate.  However, time dilation was down to 10% from just us moving and jumping, people felt like they were falling behind and started trying to warp straight to the gate which meant they were bumping off the people still trying to warp to the structure.  And then a whole fleet of Apostles came through the gate.

When you really need traffic control

We orbited the gate… you can’t even see our tiny battleships in that blob… and waited for things to get sorted.  Eventually everybody got themselves pointed in the right direction and warped off.  We hung around to see off the final capitals before heading out ourselves.

From there it was just a couple of gates for us, then another ansiblex to the Kirkland Protein Star, the Keepstar we dropped back in July of last year to support the war against Circle of Two in Fade.

The Kirkland Protein Star

We moved out of there in October in a massive move op and I diligently carried all of my stuff home because I thought we were supposed to take down that Keepstar.  However, there it stood.  If I had just left my stuff there… which included the Megathron I had just moved up there… I would have been set already because that is where we stopped.  That is where the move op ended, well short of Tribute.

We were told that this was a preliminary staging point, that after we got more people up into Cloud Ring we would be moving forward to our final staging point for the assault in Tribute.  But for now we sit in Cloud Ring.

Others on this topic:

  • INN (includes link to the SotG recording)

 

Flying with Main Fleet While on Break from the Pure Blind Front

After a successful op last week… which I missed… Asher declared we were going to take a break from the north for a while.  We were to leave everything in place in our station, but we free to run off an rat or run abyssal pockets or whatever we wanted for a while.

Of course, I not only missed that op, I somehow missed the move op from our temporary foray into Venal back to our NPC staging station, so first had to work on getting my ships back to where I would need them when we returned.

Fortunately we have somebody who does shipping for us and who took care of those of us who got left behind.  I had to repackage some ships, which meant I lost the rigs and will have to import a fresh set to use those ships later, but at least they were back where I wanted them.

Then I had to think about what I was going to do while we were on a break.  Pretty much all I have done for most of the last 6-8 months has been Reavers ops, with the occasional diversion into an event now and again.

First on the list was to get a participation credit.  We took a break at the start of the month and I had to get in some PAP links in so my corp would know I was still alive and not kick me.  I swear that is all I do for them most months, add to the corp PAP total.

I usually aim to get a few right away at the start of the month, as you never know what is going to come up. (The earlier ops I mentioned that I missed were due to ill health.)  Without Reavers though, it looked like I was going to have to go on some main fleet ops.

I used to enjoy main fleet and the chaos and silliness and the lack of responsibility and such.  I did almost nothing but main fleet ops for years, from my landing in null sec through the Fountain War.  I saw many great battles and had good times.  But it started to wear on me after a time.  And then Reavers was formed and I managed to get in when they were taking anybody who signed up, and it changed my experience in null sec.

I will train any skill, fly an doctrine, and go on any op with Asher leading.  His fleets, for lack of a better term, are a quality experience and I enjoy them quite a bit.  They keep me playing EVE Online long after I otherwise might have taken a break.  I almost feel like I am part of the team.

So to go from that to a main fleet op I knew I was in for a let down.  But it was even worse than I expected.  We had an FC from a GSF corp who had all his pals in the fleet and it became a very in-group thing.  I’m already somebody who usually feels like the outsider, and with an in-group running the fleet… and all in the command channel so I couldn’t even escape it in the “no chatter” channel… it was more painful than I had expected.

It wouldn’t have actually been that bad, except that I also forgot how slowly main fleet ops move.  They have to ping for a form up an hour before we need to undock because it takes that long to get everything sorted out.  I wasn’t even going to go because I saw the first ping 15 minutes late, which usually means “too late” in Reavers.  But then more pings came out looking for logi and then boosters, so I logged in and clone jumped back to Delve to join in.

It was a Batlec fleet, so I bought an Oneiros off contract to join in as logi and added a couple of combat drones so I could get on the kill mail promised in the ping. (That promise meant it would be a structure shoot.)  I had to buy a ship because last September I wasn’t feeling it for the game and packed up all my stuff and moved it to low sec thinking I might take a break.  Then in October Asher took us on the current deployment and I’ve been happy doing that since.

Eventually everything got together and we undocked and burned off for our first waypoint.

Baltec Fleet on the move at last

We rallied up at a citadel then moved into Fountain.  From a Keepstar there we were bridged to the destination.

Baltec Fleet Bridging Out

There we found the expected structure, a Gang Bang Team tower, waited as I expected.

Tower Shoot Begins

I only brought a couple of light drones, which cannot hit a tower in a POS shield.  But I knew from long experience that all I had to do was hit one of the modules outside of the shield to get on the kill mails of everything we blew up, and we were there to blow everything up.  Capitals dropped in to help us with the shoot.

An Erebus titan with the 15th Anniversary SKIN

I realize I was bitching about the FC and his friends having fun together, and you shouldn’t take that too seriously.  I appreciate the FCs in the coalition.  They have a difficult job and I try to do everything I can to make their job as easy as possible, which usually means following instructions.

This is where my fellow line member F1 monkeys can make such fleets a pain.  I mean, I screw up all the time, so I can’t point fingers for being bad.  Just a week or so back in tabbing between windows I managed to decloak myself while we were all waiting on a black ops for a drop and I apologized and logged off in shame I felt so bad.  But I listen and try to do what the FC asks.  Our poor FC was trying to get people to follow simple instructions and failing, as tends to happen on main fleet.  For example, he wanted the main DPS arm of the fleet to orbit him, something he kept repeating.  Yet, as the tower went down there was still a ball of ships stuck to him.

Those Megathrons should not be there… and a Cerb?

Anyway, we blew up the tower and I got my kill mails.  In addition to PAPs I like to get on zKillboard at least once a month to prove I am alive.

An Amarr tower going up

I was okay with that.  I go on POS shoots now wondering which one will be my last, since they are slated to be removed from the game at some future date.

Then we turned around and headed for home, escorting the caps to their destination first.

An Avatar in Red

Caps warp slow, so it was a while getting home.  Eventually we arrived home, nearly three hours after I logged in.  And all we did was go 15 gates, shoot a thing, and come back.  As I said, the logistics of main fleet and the need to shepherd people of all levels of skill and listening ability.

I may bitch about main fleet, but it is a necessity.  Things have to get done in space.  But it just isn’t something I enjoy as much as I once did back in the day.  I look forward to the Reavers deployment resuming ops.

Tower Repair in Fountain

Before I was done with work on Tuesday a ping had gone out for an op to defend assets from our neighbors to the east.  That actually ended up being three fleets worth of people heading out to defend a timer… enough people that nobody showed up to oppose if I heard right.

There was a follow-up ping from Asher indicating that there would be another USTZ fleet going out later for those of us who were busy or lived on the wrong coast.  That seemed to mean me, so when that ping showed up later I was ready to go in the coalition staging Keepstar.  The call was for Cerberus fleet.

Once we had formed up a good enough composition… with three fleets already out we were not likely to get an ideal form up… we undocked and flew north to meet up with a titan to get a bridge.

Getting in range for the bridge

We were heading into Fountain where The Culture had put three of our towers into a reinforced state.  We were there to fly cover and counter The Culture if they showed up to try to finish off the towers once they came out.

Cerbs over the POS shield

There we met up with a couple of force auxiliaries who proceeded into siege mode to repair the tower shields once it had exited reinforcement.

A Lif in the foreground, a Minokawa behind

They went about their slow work while we waited to see if The Culture would respond.  Scouts out reported nobody coming our way, so we flew in a lazy formation following Asher in his dirty Phantasm. (It seemed much shinier back in Saranen, though that might not be the same ship.)

Does not use the “clean ship” button

I have been on any number of such operations over the last five years.  You go out to the tower and see if there is going to be a fight.  If not, you just wait until the tower’s shields are repaired back up to 50%, at which point the tower can be refueled with strontium clathrates, which enables the tower to go into reinforcement mode.

With two faxes and our own logi the tower took a while to get back to 50%.  But once there GSOL showed up to get things into shape.

GSOL rides in Rorquals

That was one tower down.  However, there were three in the system, all of which had come out of reinforce and needed to be repaired and refueled.

Fortunately a few more faxes ended up joining us so the second and third towers ended up going by much more quickly.

Minokawas join us at the tower

Once the last tower was finished we were set to head home.  Nobody showed up to oppose us, so it was more of a “cost of doing business” sort of op.  We got our participation credit to show our service to the coalition.

These specific sorts of ops will be coming to an end at some point.  All three of these were moon mining towers.  Those are fairly passive operations, just needing to be fueled regularly and have the output collected now and again.

Come the winter however, CCP is suppose to implement refineries.  Mentioned back in March, these will act as moon mining platforms while will be much more hands on when it comes to harvesting the output.  These platforms are supposed blow chunks of moons into orbit where they will need to be harvested by mining ships.

CCP’s image of a moon chunk

At that point it will be an Upwell Consortium structure running the operation, which will no doubt be more akin to the Citadels and Engineering Complexes already available in its mechanics.  The somewhat strange mechanics of POS towers will be a thing of the past.

Currently we hold a moon mining towers outside of our home region.  We shall see how that works out when moon mining becomes a more active operation.