Tag Archives: Goon Expeditionary Force

Six Years of Reavers

We are at the sixth anniversary of the founding of the Reavers SIG.

Reavers forum bee

As has become the norm, I post on or around this date every year to commemorate the founding and to recount what mischief the SIG got up to since the last post.  For those interested in past tales, you can find them here.

This year my post is a little bit different.  While I am happy to raise a glass to the SIG to mark the passing of another year, I don’t actually have anything to look back on since the five year anniversary post.

It is not that nothing has happened over the last year.  Asher and various members of the SIG have been quite active.  But there wasn’t a lot of opportunity over the last twelve months for the Reavers to run off and do their thing in distant lands.

There was a problem with an overlap of objectives between Reavers and Liberty Squad for a stretch.  And when Liberty Squad was stood down, with its leadership heading off to form their own group elsewhere in null sec, there was the formation of the Goon Expeditionary Force to take its place.

The logo on the left became the official forum bee, but I still like the helmet on the other

The GEF was sort of the Reavers writ large, a mash up of them and Space Violence and Liberty Squad, a way to bundle up the people in the Imperium who play for war and deployments and who chafe during peacetime, to give them something to do.  Founded back in February, it was there to take the show on the road.  And from them until this past June, it deployed, ran ops, blew things up, and gave some of us a sense of purpose in the sandbox.

And then, of course, the war came.  Well, the leak that indicated that war was coming, which was denied right up until it wasn’t, when the non-invasion pact between Legacy Coalition and the Imperium was cancelled by Vily and the count down to conflict began.  Then everybody came home, we pulled back what we could, and there was a sense of purpose every day you logged in.

Asher and many others had bigger responsibilities, tasks beyond the scope of a single SIG in the coalition.

So you might ask, with nothing really to report on over the last year and nothing likely to come while our space is being invaded, is Reavers effectively dead?  Are we just a channel on Jabber and a hidden section in the GSF forms?

The answer is no.

Despite having no official task, Reavers still forms a cadre of players who Asher can call on for special tasks.  It has been that way for a while.  Reavers haven’t recruited in ages.  You cannot get in without a personal vouch and I don’t even think we’re taking those any more.  Everybody left has been around for a long time and the names in the channel are all familiar.

So there will be a ping to Jacketpals, or Trashtiertactics, or another of the many ping groups that Asher has created to send us notifications on Jabber, looking for some people for a special op or to have a special fit ready, or to hold off on the main fleet ping that is coming up because there will be another fleet coming up that will be more our speed.

I think the SIG almost universally signed up for the Spec Ops SIG that was formed for the war, along with a couple of the other groups.  When I am out on an op doing ECM burst interceptors or Sippery Pete’s or something like that, there are always names from Reavers in those fleets.

And when Asher suggests training something up, like EDENCOM ships or whatever, I always jump right on that.  Maybe it will pan out, maybe it won’t.  But if the time comes and there is a Jacketpals ping asking who can fly some specific ship, I don’t want to be left out.

Ansiblex Clash in Cloud Ring

On Saturday I was down in Delve again in a fleet for a project that will be the topic of another post later this week.  But while people were down there, PanFam came by and reinforced the Ansiblex jump bridge and Pharolux cyno beacon in F7C-H0, the staging system for the Goon Expeditionary Force deployment.

We came back on Sunday for the final timers, with some early pings to ask people to be on hand and ready should PanFam decide to come back and contest the final timers for the two structures.  I logged myself in and got in my Guardian, assuming that Sacrileges would be the main doctrine yet again, and I was not disappointed.

The ping came that PanFam was coming and I quickly jumped into the Sac fleet being run by Apple Pear.  That fleet filled up and a Jackdaw fleet was called as well.  In addition, the Initiative had some Abaddons ready to go and capitals were logging on in case the fight escalated.  When the word came to undock the hostiles were already in system and time dilation was kicking in.  I got to watch ships streaming out of the Keepstar for almost a minute before the client got around to drawing the structure.

Undocking from the invisible Keepstar

There were PanFam Hurricanes and Feroxes already on grid around the two contested structures, with the beacon under attack.  We warped out and interdictors starting dropping warp disruption bubbles to hold the hostiles down.

The Pharolux cyno beacon being hit

The Hurricanes were close by when we landed and the Sac fleet began hitting them when we landed.  Anchored up, I put my drones out to take care of any small targets that wandered into range, but initially we had little to do as logi save keep up.  The Hurricanes were focused on killing the beacon, and we were likewise focused on the Hurricanes.

Sacrileges moving on anchor

They were lingering outside of drone range for me (60km) so I mostly had my drones chasing around their Sabres and the occasional command destroyer that might MJD us away from the fleet.  With the beacon down the fight moved towards the jump gate.

The new center of the fight

We remained focused on the Hurricanes.  The Ferox fleet was further off and TEST alliance was around with a small fleet of Zealots and another of bombers to try and third party on the whole thing, but Hurricanes remained the closest targets.

Hurricane taking hits by the Ansiblex jump gate

Meanwhile, at the peak of the fight, time slowed down, as it always does, with time dilation down to 10%, which meant everything was taking ten times as long to accomplish.

A sign of a big fight… or an Imperium move op

The TEST bombers began making runs on our fleet.  Running in slow motion meant our ability to react was good, I was able to turn off my MWD with each run, but it also meant they had lots of time to consider their warps and launches.  Things began to get busy for logi and people broadcast for bomb damage.  We had to get somebody in command to set the marker for when people should broadcast (below 50% armor) to get a handle on the stream of requests.

Meanwhile, we had undocked super carriers and a few titans who warped onto grid to take shots at the various hostile fleets.  There was also a fleet of dreadnoughts waiting to drop if PanFam escalated to capitals.  However, the dreads were disappointed as no targets came for them.

Then the jump gate exploded.  The Hurricanes had done their work.

The jump gate goes up

But that did not mean the fight was over.  There was still a fight going on around the wreck of the gate.

My Guardian in a tight turn to keep up

Interdictors kept bubbles up on the hostiles as they tried to pull away and more Hurricanes were hit as they attempted to run.

Hurricane target

The TEST bombers kept making runs, keeping those of us in logi busy.  Looking at the kill mails for some of them, they were being less than picky about targets, hitting PanFam and us (and themselves occasionally), but we were a big, obvious ball of ships so were targeted regularly.

The fight eventually moved to the gate out of the system where we congregated to try and grab those trying to get away.

On to the gate

There the fight petered out as those who were able got away.

PanFam won the objective, the beacon and the jump gate were both destroyed.

The Keepstar framed by the broken jump gate

However, the cost of doing that was pretty high according to the battle report.

Battle Report Header

We clearly won the ISK was by a fair margin… by a margin big enough to replace the two structures certainly.  A new jump bridge was in place not too long later.

As we were coming down from the fight, covering capitals as they got back to where they needed to be, a pair of ISD Polaris frigates showed up to see what was going on.

ISD out for a Sunday drive

They were no doubt scoping out what we had been up to.

ISD on the overview

ISD does a few things, including work on the stories from New Eden that go on The Scope or the Interstellar Correspondents page, so maybe the fight will get a mention.  I am given to understand that ISD members with the “BH” prefix are “bug hunters,” so maybe something happened during the fight that send them out to take a look.

Either way, the fight seemed to get positive reviews from both sides over on /r/eve.

Fortizar Kill in Notoras

To cut to the chase, we blew up a Fortizar in Notoras, which is Black Rise, which is low sec space.  It belonged to Snuffed Out.

Another structure goes boom

There were actually a lot of us on that kill mail.  Looking down the list of the 413 characters listed, I can see at least three different fleets represented.  The Initiative brought a Zealot fleet, while a Sacrilege and Jackdaw fleet formed up in Cloud Ring and flew out to join in.

Zealot getting reps after flying into the PDS

There were also some capitals formed up and jumped to a mid point, though they were not called in.

We were clearly expecting a fight.

I didn’t see any pre-pings for the op, but happened to be online and done with work in the afternoon just in time to join up.  Asher was leading the Sac fleet and I almost didn’t get into it, as it filled up so fast.  A few people must have jumped to the Jackdaw fleet or swapped to a capital, because I managed to slip in after getting the fleet full message for a while.

I was going out in my lucky Guardian, being lucky that it lived through the last op.  I actually volunteers to be a capacitor transfer Guardian this time around.  You pull off the remote repair modules in your high slots, swapping them out for some more capacitor transfer module so you can cap up other ships in the fleet if they need it.  I had read up on the doctrine and saw this was something we might need once in a while, so had brought the modules with me.  I would be in the cap chain, but could turn off broadcasts for repair as I couldn’t repair anything.  I was just there to fill up the tank of other ships.

Things formed up and got settled pretty quickly and we were soon undocking.

Everybody out of the Keepstar

The capitals jumped from the undock, while the subcap fleets went off to meet up with a pair of titans to get bridged on their way to the target.

Simultaneous bridges up

That got us into low sec, where we gated out way to the destination, fighting the usual time dilation issue that comes up when you start pushing a few hundred ships through otherwise quiet parts of space.

The gate animations are pretty cool in slow motion

We got into the Notoras and sat on a friendly structure for a bit before being warped on grid with the Fortizar.  The final repair timer was already counting down and a gunner was present in the structure.

On grid with the target

On grid with a lot of ships, we didn’t see any opposition other than the structure itself.  But Asher told us the hostiles were formed up.  Capitals had jumped into position to oppose us, having passed through a mid point while somebody was watching, while they were reported to have a full Muninn fleet and additional formations ready to drop in on us.  A fight sounded imminent.

And then a Pilgrim force recon showed up at range from us and lit a cyno.  Asher warped us to it and we blew it up quickly enough.  A quick kill to get the event started.

Asher warped us back into range of the Fortizar and we went back to shooting it.  Well, those with weapons did, the logi just orbited around their anchor and listened to what was happening in coms.

Guardians out and orbiting

Arrendis, the logi anchor, moved us around to keep us in range of the fleet but to avoid some of the bombs coming from the Fort.  In taking stock of the logi, he apparently noticed Crake MaddAdam for the first time, who was along in an Exequror.  Arrendis told him he was likely to die when the fight came, but I had to admit he had picked the right SKIN to join up with us.

Still the best logi SKIN ever

Meanwhile, we started getting word about the impending fight.  Its likelihood seemed to be diminishing rapidly.  Asher reported that the hostile capitals were spotted heading back from whence they came, that some subcaps that had flown in from the dronelands were homeward bound, and that the Muninns might be standing down.

The question then was whether or not we had killed their only cyno ship, because everything seemed to be building for a fight right up until that exploded.  It seems unlikely, but sometimes people forget to have backup plan.

So it looked like we were just going to blow up a Fortizar with a bunch of people.  As the structure got down under 10% I slipped away from the logi and into range so I could launch a drone to get in a couple of hits so I too would appear on the kill mail.  The gunner had abandoned his post as the end came near so the PDS was off.  My drone made it there and back.

Things went boom.  Nkosis wanted to loot and there was some discussion around that.  And then we turned around and gated back home.

Returning to base

That took a bit, once again due to time dilation caused by pushing that many ships through low sec, but it wasn’t all that far to go, even without a titan bridge short cut.

We made it back, free burning most of the way, and I docked up, pulled the extra cap transfer modules off the Guardian, putting the remote armor rep modules back on lest I forget, and that was that.  There were a few points during the fleet where bombs were hitting us and I thought about repping, only to realize I could only cap people up, so I had very little to do save look out the window and listen to coms.  But at least my Guardian made in back home again.

Addendum:  And the next day we blew up another one in Rakapas, again with little opposition.

Rebuffed Again in X-7OMU

We had another op out of Cloud Ring run last night.  The ping popped up as I was sitting down, so I logged right in and got in the fleet.  We were once again headed out in Sacrileges, so I went with the logi wing in my Guardian.  As we were getting ready I stepped away for a minute, got distracted, and when I got back I heard the FC, Kocicek, telling us to align for the Ansiblex.  I quickly hit the undock button and got out just in time to pick up the warp and follow the fleet, jumping through not too far behind.  By the next gate I was caught up.

Sac fleet outbound

We took the same route we took the other day after the move op, heading up to 6RCQ and into Pure Blind.  It was gate, Ansiblex, gate, and so on until we hit our first waypoint, KLY-C0.  There an armor timer was coming out on a Pandemic Horde Raitaru, which we formed up and shot, sending it to the final timer.

Just a blob of us flying around

That done, we warped off to a Fortizar of our own and met up with a titan who quickly bridged us off to our next destination, X-7OMU.

Off we go

There again.  That was where we had a tough time after the move op, and PanFam and the locals were formed up and waiting for us again, with Abaddons and Muninns and capital support, again.  This was another armor timer, thus not the final fight for the structure, so I suppose there was some question as to whether they would show up.  Question answered.

We got on grid with the Astrahus, as we did back on Saturday, and started putting damage on it as the time came out.

Circling the Astrahus

Unlike the last fight, where we left the citadel grid to take the fight elsewhere, this time we stuck it out.  It did not go well.  The gunner on the Astrahus was throwing a mix of damage and void bombs at us, the latter which can disrupt even cap chaining Guardians.  The void bomb hits and your capacitor is suddenly empty to the point that your cap transfer modules turn off and if you’re not paying attention you can find yourself drained and falling behind.

Meanwhile the damage bombs were keeping everybody broadcasting while the web on the Astrahus was on our anchor to slow us down, though we kept swapping anchors in order to mitigate that.  And then the hostile fleets came out to get us.  Things seemed to fall apart about then, though I was very busy following broadcasts for damage.

At one point Kocicek warped us and I caught the warp just as an interdictor bubbled the fleet, so I was alone until I could turn around and warp back to the fleet with a couple other ships that happened to be as quick to align as I.  That broke the cap chain where I was until I got back in range, by which time one of my cap buddies was down, as were two of the alternate anchors.

Kocicek told us to starburst as a bubble went up and warp to a safe.  I was getting yellow boxed as that happened, but had quickly scooted out of the bubble that was on us and was warping off as damage began to hit.  I was going to get away.

Almost on my way out… just pixels left on that align bar…

And then another bubble went up and I was just inside of it, cancelling my warp.  I scooted out of that, overheated my hardeners, and set myself to warp once more.  Damage was landing and I had to move to align and things looked pretty dicey for a bit there.  And the warp drive kicked in and I was off.

The hull is still half full, right?

I had warped to a planet, but wanted to get away from there, so warped to another in order to make at least a mid-point bookmark.  But X-7OMU is one of those huge systems and I fell out of warp before I made it to my destination, my capacitor drained.

So there I was, wandering at a mid-point in the system, halfway into my structure, heat damage on my lowers (and no nanite repair paste, I seemed to have forgotten it), and not really in any shape to do anything but hide.  However, Kocicek spoke up and told us to warp to him when he said to… so I got that up and ready to click… and he said “Warp to me…” and I was off.  And then he counted down from three, so I landed way off from him, but still on grid and close enough to get the fleet warp that pulled us all off to the J-CIJV gate, where we jumped out of the system.

An unguarded way out

We went from there to G95-VZ where we tethered up on yet another Fortizar we have hanging around the region and the repair function slowly took care of my hull, armor, shields, and heat damage.

Repairing on the Fort

From there the way home was pretty straightforward.  Once everybody was ready we made our way back to the end of the Ansiblex network and headed back to Cloud Ring from whence we had started.

Back in the Cloud Ring nebula

The fight, such that it was, did not go well for us.  The battle report, which looks incomplete to me… though if you don’t get on a kill you don’t appear on the list and we got precious few kills… shows us taking a pasting for very little gain.  We lost the objective and over 100 ships for only 9 real kills.

Battle Report Header – Click to Enlarge

But we cannot win them all.  Mistakes were made, ships were lost, and hopefully some lessons were learned, as I am sure we will be back again.

During the fight I did see Riverini get called as a target, one of the few I I recall coming up.  The experience of the fight was invigorating enough that he actually wrote about in on EN24, his first post in quite a while.  There was also a short AAR on Reddit, again highlighting that this was not a shining moment for the Imperium.

Lurching into Cloud Ring for War

As I mentioned in a previous post, the promise of a deployment was set to be fulfilled this past weekend.  The Mittani told us that come the Fireside on Saturday we would learn our destination and foe and the Goon Expeditionary Force would sail off on a new adventure.

The left bee is the official one, but I still like the CompuServe logo on the other one…

And then we got to the Fireside and he didn’t tell us.  We were still going.  It was still the traditional short speech and then into fleets to head out.  But he declined to tell us our destination or foe.

His justification was that some of the null sec watchers had declared that they knew exactly where we were going, but wouldn’t say where or even hazard a public guess, so Mittens said he wanted to keep them guessing since that was a pretty sure sign they didn’t know.

This sort of thing happens every time the word is out that we are going to deploy.  I was writing about the same thing almost exactly a year ago in the run up to our deployment north to glass Tribute.  So I don’t doubt that this time was any different.  And we would find out soon enough as the meeting ended and pings for move op fleets went up.

The doctrines for the deployment had been announced, the the usuals taking the lead.  I got out a Guardian for the Sacrilege fleet doctrine, loaded it up with extra drugs and replacement drones and a few other special refit items and got undocked and ready to go.  I always want to go in the first move op.  That is usually where you learn the most… and where the most screw ups happen.

Once again on the Keepstar undock

You can see a bunch of capitals… dreads, carriers, and faxes… on the undock with me.

I put my alt in a bomber as there was a special ping for those, so I figured that would be the next most important doctrine to get up there.  I was wrong on that.  Something for the Jackdaw fleet would have been better, but there is always time for another run.

The capitals jumped to their first destination while the subcaps formed up on a titan to be sent on our way.  It was quickly clear we were headed north, going up the Eye of Terror towards Cloud Ring and points north.  This is a well worn route for me these day.  When we lived up north we flew to Delve or Fountain to fight every summer.  Now we live in Delve and we fly north to fight every summer.

So we landed in ZXB-VC to cover the capitals as they took the gate into Fountain.

That gate sees a lot of traffic

The trip through Fountain can be short.  There is an Ansiblex from the first system to a mid point, where everybody takes a gate to get on the Ansiblex to the last system and the gate to Cloud Ring.  This can be a 2 minute run in an interceptor.

Pushing a thousand people… and there were over a thousand in the ops channel, which means there were more ships passing though as many of us were flying two or three… through the pipe ends up with time dilation hitting pretty hard.  At times we saw it drop well into the teens.

That is some slow times

So we shepherded the caps as they moved along.  For the Anisiblex jumps they had to put their armor plates offline in order to get under the maximum mass limit for the jump bridges.  This was where we found a few people who brought the wrong ship, like the guy in the Nyx who complained on coms that the Ansiblex wouldn’t let him go through.  Supers and titans cannot pass though, so he was stuck part way up the pipe with a convoy that was going to leave him behind.

Others had to be prompted to offline their plates repeatedly and there was the usual person who decided to AFK in their capital mid-op or who ended up going the wrong way.  There is always room for confusions on these ops.

There was also a bit of waiting for a few titans that were coming with us, no doubt to bridge us places later, who had to make the jumps themselves rather than using the Ansiblex jump bridges.  So it was a slow time getting to J5A-IX at the far end of the region.

Hanging on the gate to Cloud Ring

Once the last big boy passed we were finally able to move into Cloud Ring.

And it fits?

There, if anything, the tidi got worse.  This was no doubt because the fleet was all together again and because Cloud Ring isn’t really a busy region, so it doesn’t have the most robust servers running it.  We turned to take the jump bridge, which sent us to F7C-H0.  At that point I thought we were going to head into low sec, which is even worse when it comes to tidi and moving big fleets.  Our jump got us to max tidi.

The system is working hard now…

But rather than venture further, we settled into the Keepstar there.  This was our destination, at least for now.

On the Keepstar

That told us our destination, but I wasn’t exactly clear who our foes were going to be.  From that location we could move into Fade or Pure Blind, but we were also on the boarder of low sec regions Placid and Black Rise.

And the first op I went on didn’t help out much on that score.  We formed up a Sacrilege fleet and flew into Pure Blind, passing through 6RCQ-V where we have a Keepstar from a past deployment already.

Sac fleet going through the gate

From there we flew to X-7OMU to attack a Pandemic Horde Astrahus that was at the armor timer.

Astrahus in sight

They were waiting for us and we ended up in a brawl with a fleet of Muninns and some Abaddons with Fax support.  Some Jackdaws showed up to help us, and it turned into a running fight over a few systems.  We lost the objective and the ISK war, but it was a pretty intense brawl.

It was in the middle of that brawl that I realized I hadn’t taken all the extra stuff I had packed along out of the cargo hold.  However, I managed to survive my turn as the primary, though we ended up losing half of our Guardians along the way.  The Muninn fleet logi was also hard hit as the same people in fresh Scimitars was killed a few times after reshipping.  Towards the end of the fight they started showing up in Kirins, frigate logi, as the word was that they had run out of Scimitars.

Most of the fight took place in KLY-C0, but it ran across a few systems.  I think I caught it all in the battle report.

Battle report header – click to enlarge

The odds were pretty even, and the enemy was able to reship and rejoin the fight, so you’ll find a few logi who were blown up a couple of times.  The joy of fighting on your own turf.

Despite a couple of close calls, and that guy at the end in a Cynabal who chased me for a bit, I was able to get home with the remains of the fleet, where I pulled all the extra baggage out of my cargo hold.

So I guess we’re fighting… whoever is near by.  Pandemic Horde and the Conifers and their allies.  We shall see.  More move ops happened as the weekend went on and the order is to get the market stocked for people to be able to reship.  So as long as CCP doesn’t go full Hurricane Hilmar on us again, like they did last year, we seem to be stuck in for a fighting deployment.

Somebody did a video with some scenes from the move op, if you want to see it in action.

 

There is a section in the video of some subcaps sitting on the ZXB gate. (It is the small gate, a smuggler’s gate, that is different from the empire gates.)  I am in that fleet.

So we’re up north.  At least we made the move without getting ambushed, which was what happened during a similar move op five years ago this month.

The End of Liberty Squad

I first posted about Liberty Squad back at the start of last year.  The group was formed as a USTZ effort to deploy out of Delve and find fights in other null sec regions.  When I joined up we were off to Geminate to pick fights with Pandemic Horde.

The Liberty Squad forum bee

There was always a bit of a problem with Liberty Squad in that the membership had a large overlap with Reavers, such that either one or the other could deploy, but both could not… unless they went somewhere together… as they mostly the same people.  But that wasn’t a huge issue as Asher, the head of Reavers, is a lot more involved in coalition-wide operations these days, being one of the rare sky marshals to run a campaign and not quit the game in exhaustion once it was done.

Anyway, we got word earlier this month from Cainun that the leadership of Liberty Squad was going to take their corp out of GSF and go try something new.

By now, I expect many of you have either heard some rumors, or noticed some movements. Come this time tomorrow, the Terrifying League of Dog Fort will have left the alliance. With them go Thomas, Zed, Mapache, and myself, on a new misadventure of our own making. Liberty Squad will be without leadership, and I expect will be closed as a result. Some have expressed an interest in trying to step up to take over the reins, but those possibilities are not mine to decide, or attempt to influence.

It has been a fantastic 18 months building, and running this squad regardless of its ups, and downs. Our Uemon deployment in particular, will always be one of the more fun periods I’ve spent playing this game. It has been a pleasure running this squad, even with all you meme-riddled bastards making every drake related remark imaginable every 15 seconds on fleets. I wish all of you the best in your search for fun, and enjoyment in this terrible little game we all play. :911:

FC grants you eternal permission to always bring your Drake from now on, fly well.

And so it goes.  I actually met most of that group at EVE Vegas last year.  They all got Liberty Squad buttons from me, including a special Canadian Drake one for Zed.

My EVE Vegas buttons

It is a bit sad to see that group go.  I flew with them many times and their fleets were a lot of fun.  But when your friends want to run off and try new things you wish them well and hope they find what they are looking for.

With this announcement there was an attempt in the forums to drum up support for a new group to be called Freedom Squad.  This made me chuckle a bit both because USTZ groups seem to always have to play on faux patriotism as a gimmick and because we had a Freedom Squad back in the day, the remnants of which became the core of Reavers.  However, this attempt was shut down pretty quickly by a director.

The thing is, creating a group to cater to those of us who just want to deploy to foreign parts was nationalized by the coalition with the formation of the Goon Expeditionary Force earlier this year.

I’m not sure which one is our forum bee yet

I think that came about because there is always some of us who want to know when the next war or whatever is going to happen and the coalition finally decided to harness that drive officially rather than leaving it to the sometimes random attention of smaller, self-formed groups that tend to depend on a small leadership group.

Which doesn’t mean those groups are going away.  Reavers and Space Violence and Black Ops are all still around.  But none of them are open to all comers these days.  They are selective.  So the GEF scratches the deployment itch for all and sundry who just want to go on the road and shoot structures… or get fights, which also happens some times.

Things change.  People move on.  Spaceships remain.

A Final Fight then Home From Venal

The fall of Darkness, the alliance at the core of the Dead Coalition… once the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition… a couple of weeks back was a sign that the fighting in and around the Venal region was likely going to fall off.  Not immediately, of course.  Wars have their own momentum, and being deployed up in Venal with the Goon Expeditionary Force and ready to fight meant there were still some sizable clashes after the news.

The final fight for me was a dust up between a GEF Typhoon fleet and a Pandemic Horde Ferox fleet in Q-7SUI, just a jump from where we were staged.

Typhoons undocking

There was a call for more firepower so I bought a Typhoon, figuring I would regret it when it came time to move home, that being one more ship to get back to Delve, but whatever.  So got ourselves in range of PH and their Feroxes and the shooting began.

A Ferox exploding in the pack

My worry about hauling home a Typhoon was unfounded as I managed to get it blown up during the fight.  That left me hanging out and watching things transpire.

Just a capsule in the bubbles

A couple of PH pilots locked me up at various points to try and pop by pod, but their Ferox fleet was moving fast and they we not often in range.  I took a few hits but was able to motor to the gate and jump through to dock up.  This was fortunate as I realized at that point that I had deployed in my Reaver’s speed implant clone and, while it wouldn’t have been a tragic loss, it would have cost me a couple hundred million ISK to replace it.

As I was gating out HAW dreads were dropping in to join the fight.

Cyno off to the right

I got back to the station and re-shipped in a logi hull, but the fight was over by then.  While we had killed more more ships, the battle report showed the ISK went well in favor of PH and company.

Battle Report Header

That pretty much wrapped up the deployment for me.  There were some further fights… a couple of good ones from all accounts… but I missed out.  But when the first call came to fly home… I kind of missed out on that too.  I think I was playing Pokemon Sword.  And it is unlike me to miss the first move op.  It has long been my practice to be on the first one because there have been times when there has not been a second such op.  I was on the first move op to the deployment.

Fortunately, there was a second op… or whatever op it was I got in on earlier this week.  I joined the mixed bag of subcaps who wanted to go home.  Given that ranged from frigates to battleships, it was going to be a slow move.  I grabbed the largest ship I had out on the deployment, a Jackdaw, and undocked with everybody else.

The flight home wasn’t too bad.  It ran about an hour.  However, it would have been a lot quicker if we had been closer to the Eye of Terror, the Ansiblex Jump Gate network that runs from Querious around into Pure Blind.  Being out in Venal meant we had about twenty gates to take to get to the terminus to the network.

Move op landing at another gate

Mixed bag we were, but it was a big mixed bag, with about 150 in fleet.  So while we didn’t make up a coherent doctrine, we had the mass to pass and the locals left us alone.  Once we got to the travel network about three quarters of the time in fleet had passed.

Welcome to the Eye of Terror

After that it is about eight connecting gates and five jump gates and you’re back at the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A.  While it was slow going for a bit, with align and warp and align again, it was safe.

That done, there was still a bit of time left in the evening, so I clone jumped back up to Venal, where I still had two more ships to bring home.  I grabbed the Purifier stealth bomber and ran the route again solo.  This is not always advisable.  A move op often signals to everybody that people are trying to get home and highlights the route to camp if you want to pick off stragglers.  However I managed to slip through without any issue and was soon making the warp from the final Ansiblex on my route.

I cloak up for every warp. You never know who will be there when you land.

And so ends the deployment for me.  There were a few good fights for me, and enough structure shooting to keep me satisfied.  Now we’ll stand down for a bit until somebody figures out what we ought to get up to next.  Isn’t it about time for a Burn Jita or something?

Structure Shoots in Venal

I kind of enjoy shooting structures in EVE Online.  That probably has some roots in the early Reavers operations where, deep in hostile space, we would fly around and shoot towers to see if we could get the locals to respond.  Structures are conflict points, places that you can force your foes to come and defend… unless they didn’t want that structure anyway.

And given that we are out in Venal, which is NPC null sec, structures are all the more important as both sides are a ways from home.

A Pandemic Horde Astrahus – A likely target

There has also been a variety of fleets to roll out with.  I flew down in a Jackdaw, which is a staple doctrine for the coalition, and I had a chance to use that from pretty much the moment we arrived.

It is always good when the FC calls for sniper mode

There are also the torp bomber operations, a staple of the coalition since the Fountain War back in 2013.  With a black ops in support they can be bridged out to a target without all that messy mucking around taking gates everywhere.

Bridge up, time to jump!

Once out at the target even a modest fleet of bombers has enough firepower to hit the damage cap smaller Upwell structures, so they can be used for any timer stages.  With only three launchers, a couple thousand torpedoes in the cargo hold will last for a few shoots.

Torpedoes flying

While stealth bombers are easy enough to kill, if hostiles show up they can just cloak up and fade away if the opposing force is too big to handle.  And if they don’t show up, we set the timer or get the kill.

Previously pictured PH Astrahus

In addition to those old standbys, and the Sacrilege doctrine I mentioned last week, we have a new fleet doctrine just for this deployment based around the Typhoon battleship hull.  We have been north with Typhoons before, as during the Hakonen deployment.  Being cheap and easy to fit for line members, they are back again and represent the ships of the line for fighting PanFam and their battlecruiser doctrine.

A Deacon logi ship in with the Typhoons

When we heard that the hostiles are forming up to fight us over a timer it is time for the Typhoons to assemble.  If we get numbers things tend to go fairly well for us.

For Typhoons I decided to fly with the logi wing, which means a Thalia or a Deacon.  The Deacon is preferred, being cap stable, and only looks a bit like the sorting hat trying to consume a horn of plenty.

Of course, I stuck a combat drone in its drone bay so I can tag targets when things are quiet, though things are generally only quiet when we’re shooting structures and the hostiles don’t show up.

Another structure down

And so it goes.  The deployment so far has been pretty good.  Most evenings when I have some time and a desire to log in there has been a fleet running that I can get into.  And things have been pretty active overall.  My momentary jump to the top of the KarmaFleet kill board has since been thoroughly eclipsed, showing that there have been fights happening.

Given the situation out in Venal, things could stay active for quite a while.  Both sides seem to want fights and there are a lot of structures out there as yet untouched.

That Athanor needs to be hit before the moon chunk is ready

Structures keep things going.

I Burst to the Top of the Chart

I’ve barely been in KarmaFleet for a week and I’ve already made it to the top of their list on zKill.  What a success story!

Feb 4, 2020 – 04:30 UTC

How did that happen?  Did I suddenly get good at EVE Online?

No, of course not.  As with many things, I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

The deployment northward has taken us into Venal where we have begun to fight with PanFam and Fraternity who were previously pushing up against Dead Coalition in our old homeland.  Now both sides are busy shooting each other structures and fighting when timers hit, which is just how things are meant to go.

A fight was brewing over a Raitaru that we had dropped and pings had gone out for a fleet based around a new Sacrilege doctrine.  I didn’t have one of those to hand, having only brought along a Jackdaw on the move op, and I wasn’t too sure I wanted to invest in a half a billion ISK ship at the moment.  I suppose I could have logged in and checked contracts for the logi ships that go with the doctrine, which were no doubt cheaper, but I was on the fence about even logging in.

And then there was a ping from Kun’mi with a call for a few people for a special task… and ships would be handed out.  I’m always keen for an op where I can lose somebody else’s ship.  I logged in, got in his fleet, and opened up a trade to get one of the ships.

It was a Malediction interceptor fitted to be quick and agile with the sole purpose of landing in the middle of hostiles in order to set off an ECM burst to break all of their target locks.  Our job was to go out and sit on a perch away from the battle, aligned towards it, and have Kun’mi fleet warp us onto the hostiles when things looked ripe.  We would land on them, align ourselves to warp off, set off the ECM burst, and warp away.

Aligned towards the fight and ready to be warped

If this sound vaguely familiar, it was because I was in a similar fleet during the Hakonen deployment back in late 2017.  During those battles we were using cheaper Atron frigates with ECM bursts fitted.

My ECM burst Atron swoops down upon the foe

We were able to get away with the T1 ships there because those fights were in low sec, so there were no warp disruption bubbles present.  Now, up in Venal, we cannot just be fast and have warp stabs fit, we also have to get through the the thick of the fight with fleets locked down in interdictor bubbles, which means using fleet interceptors which are not constrained by those bubbles, or any bubbles, in null sec space.

Warp bubbles don’t scare me

So we got on our perch and Kun’mi flung us at the hostiles over and over and his am was often good and true.  I would land and set off my ECM burst to be rewarded with a long list of targets affected zipping by on my screen.

And, as it goes, I was then marked for everybody who I reached out and touched with those busts of ECM, so when any of them were blown up I got on the kill mail, as did any of the other interceptors that were on this op.  That got me on 91 kill mails over the course of about 30 minutes.

It seemed like less time than that, and we were under tidi for much of the time (as well as the additional lag from whatever is going on with the game still this week), so it wasn’t a huge number of runs for us.

Of course, not all of those 91 kill mails were hostiles.  The ECM burst knows no friends and its effects hit everybody within range when it goes off.  So my kill board for the evening looks… very blue in stretches, like this sample.

I got some hostiles on there!

That Legion of Zintage’s is my most valuable kill mail at the moment, followed by the Zarmazds I managed to hit.  Ooops.  But I did get on some good targets, though I think the Pandemic Horde players in rookie ships… like the Impairor and the Reaper… were my favorites.  They both ate several ECM bursts, then were killed by a bombing run by their own side.

Lots of blue on blue action that night.

The battle itself though, that did not go our way, as the battle report indicates.

Battle report header

We were, if nothing else, down in strength compared to the hostiles.  The core of our fleet were the Sacrileges, and we lost 48 our of 74 counted, while the PanFam core was  135 Muninns, and they only lost one of those, though we did rack up a decent count of their logi.  But that wasn’t enough.

So the battle ended as the Raitaru at its center was destroyed.  Our fleet wrapped up and I warped to one of the other structures we had in system to use the tether to repair some armor damage I had taken when we landed in the midst of somebody’s bombing run.  Then I docked up and returned the ship.  The little ECM burst fleet was otherwise unscathed, save for one that was blown up by NPCs.  As such it did not make it on the battle report.

A while after that we went and hit a hostile Astrahus when its armor timer came up.

An Astrahus goes that color when you reinforce it

Also, since I wrote this I have been passed on the KarmaFleet list on zKill.  At least the lead was taken by somebody who was in the Sacrilege fleet.

Fleets in Motion

It wasn’t a surprise that the coalition packed up and started deploying north on Saturday.  It had been hinted at… more than hinted at, there were pings that said we were going on the road somewhere after the weekly fireside and a Jabber channel had been created for the move to match up people with things to move with people with free space in their capitals… for the last week or so.

There was even a new SIG created to serve as the umbrella organization for those wishing to deploy.  Open to everybody in the coalition… no vouch required… the new group is called the Goon Expeditionary Force.  There is, or course, work on forum bees to represent the new group.

Two leading candidates

The acronym is GEF and it is pronounced “Jeff.”  That could indicate where Imperium leadership stands on the “GIF” pronunciation conflict.

You might ask what the purpose of a SIG is that pretty much has no barrier to entry.  I suspect it is really just an opt-in for pings related to deployments.  There is back end work already done to make SIG-only pings and there has long been a minor issue of “all all” pings going out and having people not deployed joining fleets from back in Delve.  That is my theory in any case.

There was, however, some worry about getting the whole thing off the ground.  There is a war going on  in the north, with PanFam lurching out from Malpais towards Darkness and Dead Coalition territory, which has meant fights in Venal and Deklein.   We just had to get there, but the game… the game has been having problems for a week now.

CCP was saying it was a DDoS attack early on, then switched to “network issues” as apparently you’re not supposed to give your attack the satisfaction of acknowledging an attack.  I’m not sure that works if you change stories mid-week.  Either way, a lot of people, especially those more distant from the London data center, have been getting this message when logging in.

Never a good sign

On the upside for some people, myself included, if you dismiss this error and click the “connect” button that is at the bottom of the client you end up in the game all the same.  CCP was even tweeting about that:

There was some talk on the fireside about using a VPN client to get around the problem.  People reported that with a VPN service that lets you set your connection to be as though you were in London (Express VPN was mentioned) seemed to make things better for some people.  Asher, who had been unable to connect before, was able to get in via VPN.

Of course, this being CCP, getting connected didn’t fix all problems.  Even if you could get into the game there seemed to be a 50/50 chance of chat working for you.

I saw this a lot

I had two clients running and one got connected to the chat server and the other consistently failed.  And, even when connected, things were not right.  You know something is up where local shows less people listed than you see in the station list with you. (Or when you log an alt into Jita and see just 75 people in local.)  I suppose you could estimate how many people were failing to get into the chat server by comparing the fleet chat number with the member count in the fleet window itself.

Anyway, the problems were annoying, but enough people were able to get in to make our own lurch northward a viable proposition.  So the move op commenced.

What can I say about a move op that I haven’t said already?  Lots of ships… multiple fleets, both capitals and sub caps (but no supers)… moving north along the Eye of Terror as we have done many times before.  I know the systems almost by heart.  So it is gates and jump bridges and time dilation and waiting around for other groups to catch up.

Also, alliance logos on structures not loading… put that on the list

The item of note for the operation was probably the fact that, in the name of speeding up the move, the capital fleet was shoved through Ansiblex jump gates just like the sub caps.

Dreads jumping through with the sub caps

GSOL said they could keep the Ansiblex jump gates fueled as we moved north, at least until we got to the edge of their domain.  So the capital ships were not delayed by jump timers or jump fatigue until we were into Cloud Ring.  GSOL seemed to be up to the job, though there were a couple of points where there was a bit of a wait for an Ansiblex refuel.

After that it was jumping as usual for the caps, though the sub caps were able  to use the Eye of Terror a bit further along.  Eventually though even we were gating our way deeper into the north, through old familiar systems from when we used to live in there.

Sub cap fleet landing at another gate

One amusing thing did come up unique to this move op.  I mentioned the Jabber channel that was created up at the top.  The name of the channel was “Geffrey.”  However, some PanFam spies apparently mis-understood the idea of the channel and thought the Imperium was using an in game channel with that name, so joined it… created it by joining it then joined it… and spent some time talking to each other about how we apparently can’t setup in game channels with the right permissions.

This got around so some people in our fleet joined the channel to troll and post memes.  I would have joined but the chat server was having none of it.  It seemed to think that because I had been allowed into the fleet channel and local that I had enough channels and could live with those.

Anyway, laughs were had.

And the move op concluded successfully without anything much to report.  We’re now working out of an NPC station in the north.

Our deployment home

We shall see if the game stays stable enough for us to do much up there.  Even when connected successfully I have seen quite a bit of lag when it comes to responding to commands.  A small op I went on yesterday afternoon was somewhat spoiled by the fact that people’s clients seemed to be working on their own timeline leading people to warp, bubble, shoot, or whatever in dribs and drabs rather than as a group.  CCP has some work to do here still.

Addendum: There is a forum thread tracking the three main issues the game is experiencing now (connections, chat, and lag) if you want to see the current status.  CCP is updating it as things evolve.