Tag Archives: Pandemic Horde

Null Sec goes to High Sec for a War Dec

Weren’t we just talking about war decs?

Okay, this isn’t that sort of griefing war dec that drives high sec care bears from the game.  In fact, this is exactly the sort of thing CCP wants war decs to be.

With the ending of the war in the north there was supposed to be a month of peace.  However, Pandemic Horde took great exception to the peace payoff that sent the Imperium on its way and loudly declared it was not bound by it in any way and heading off, along with Black Legion, after Guardians of the Galaxy in a war that seemed set to disturb any recovery peace might bring.

Pandemic Horde setting themselves apart from the peace terms left the door open to further conflict before the month long timer ran down.  And while there is combat going on in null sec space as each side drops on the others ratters and miner, a new front opened up over the weekend in Perimeter, a system one jump over from Jita, the central trade hub of New Eden.

Jita and Perimeter and the general area

Perimeter has been the system of choice for attempts to setup trading citadels since they were first introduced.  While not much trade has moved to those citadels… nobody is going to buy hulls or ship modules there when their market alt is in Jita 4-4… certain commodities like skill injectors have found a market home there.

If you are sitting in Jita 4-4 and you look at the market for skill injectors sorted by price, the lowest prices are in the Perimeter citadels.  Since you can activate them remotely, you should probably buy them there.  The lower tax margins allow for lower prices, though that still doesn’t stop people from buying them from Jita 4-4.  I’ve sold a couple dozen skill injectors, always in Jita, and always for much more than the current going rate in Perimeter, without issue.  People will pay more to buy from the station they are in, often much more, just to avoid having to undock and travel.

This is one of the special features of EVE Online.  There is no magical delivery service.  If you buy something remote you then have to go get it or pay somebody to bring it to you.  Travel is a burden in New Eden, but it makes market segmentation possible.  There is not a single, unified auction house that will pop your purchases in the post.  Distance matters.

CCP, in their usual techno-Viking libertarian madness, despite having seen how we generally behave, wants players to control as much of the economy as they can get away with, so this citadel market operation is their plan working as designed… for once.  Player owned citadel markets haven’t taken over the economy.  Gevlon citing this as a corrupt developer game-killing excuse to leave the game was yet one more sign of his self-deception.  But they are a thing and can make some groups a decent amount of money.

And, in the case of Perimeter, Pandemic Horde is a big player both directly and through their neutral alt alliance, IChooseYou Holding.  So this weekend a new front was opened against Pandemic Horde via high sec war declarations.

Declaring against Pandemic Horde

Both GSF and TEST got in early with their war declarations.  While the Imperium reset standings with TEST and its allies with the peace in the north, high sec is a different story.  We can work together and not be blue as standings between alliances do not matter in high sec, only war decs do.  And so both groups declared against PH and their alt alliance right away, with a few additional groups trailing in late.

Probably at war by the time this post goes live

Those mirror the war declarations against IChooseYou Holdings as well.  You can check their info in-game and see the same list.

So we may be working with Darkness, the lead alliance of Guardians of the Galaxy, in this war.  Black Legion, sided up with Pandemic Horde, was also included in the whole thing.

Black Legion’s war plan

Null sec alliances are used to having war declarations against them.  This is usually done by groups like P I R A T, which you see there on Black Legion’s list, that camp the undock in Jita (and sometimes Amarr) hoping to catch the unwary and the unknowing leaving the station for an easy kill.

If you look at Pandemic Horde’s status in-game, you’ll see they have no shortage of war decs running.  But none of them are quite like what they are facing now.  And TEST was quick off the mark to get the party started.  Once their war dec went active they immediately hit the trading Fortizars in Perimeter.

Pandemic Horde Fortizar reinforced

With the first timers down those using the market in either the PH or the IChooseYou Holdings face a choice.  If TEST comes back and wins the armor timer, then the market functions will be shut down and sellers may end up having to wait for asset safety in order to recover their goods.

But TEST was also in to setup their own trade hub.  There was a TEST alliance hub being spun up, using a Draccous faction Fortizar no less.  A bit of showing off in that I am sure.

TEST branded sales

But bigger still was the Keepstar they dropped in Perimeter under an alt corp.

A Keepstar in Perimeter

INN says that this is the first high sec Keepstar and it is right there on the Jita gate in Perimeter if you want to see on up close.

The Keepstar managed to slip past the initial vulnerability period when it was deployed, but anything that big is too sweet of a target to ignore.  War decs on the alt alliance went out immediately and we shall see what happens when it goes into its initial repair cycle after 19:00 today.

Fortizar with the Keepstar in the distance

So for those who were asking, “Now what?” when the war in the north ended, here is the answer, and likely not one many expected.  We will see if Pandemic Horde can be thrown out of the market hub business, something reported to be a serious source of income for the alliance.  The proximity of Jita, still the undisputed trade hub of New Eden, makes for fairly frictionless logistics, so both sides in this conflict could hang on for quite a while.

And, as null sec pilots prepare to enter high sec, the usual comedy will no doubt ensue.  If you live in null sec, where pretty much anything goes, the rules of empire space can be arcane and confusing.  There are already warnings going out for people to check the security status lest they find themselves a target of CONCORD and I am sure the locals will take advantage of anybody’s suspect status.

Finally, with war decs in the spotlight and loud calls to turn the feature off resounding around the community (if only until a better solution is found), there is the possibility that whoever can control the Perimeter trade might have their supremacy locked in by CCP.

Draccous Fortizar anchoring

That is, if you believe CCP will actually turn off war decs.  Somehow I doubt that will come to pass.

Further information:

A Return to Quiet in Fade

After the thousand ship battle of the previous night I wondered if GotG would keep that up to clear our structures from their space.  However, it seems that level of effort two nights running wasn’t going to happen as we formed up again and headed to DO6H-Q.

We went back to their staging system again, this time with less than a hundred ships, to cover a couple of things.  We were, once again, dropping a pair of Raitarus on their Keepstar grid.  In addition, the remaining Raitaru was coming into its final timer, so if GotG wanted to destroy it, this would be the time.

The Keepstar from the active Raitaru

The GotG response, however, was desultory.

We arrived in system and not much was going on.  We roamed around the grid where the two new Raitarus were deploying, but no forces were forming up to meet us, much less chase us off.

Two Raitarus deploying

To pass the time we went off to one of their towers to shoot their jump bridge module.  This, as before, meant more work for logi as the tower on which the jump bridge had been anchored was armed.  Lots of calls for reps.

Shooting a jump bridge module again

As we did that a few of the locals headed out to the structures to hit them as a way to annoy us.  We warped back a couple of times and caught a few after which they became a bit more wary.  Back on the jump bridge a couple of game pilots tried to bomb us.

It was at the jump bridge that we suffered our only loss, a Vigil that got popped by the tower.

A Raitaru deploying

The Raitarus take six days to come online due to being in space owned by somebody else.  Those will be future fights.  After we popped the jump bridge, deciding to make them spend the ISK to replace it rather than making them repair it, we were back to the online Raitaru to watch its timer tick down.

Just two minutes or so to go…

That went without issue and the Raitaru was saved, leaving GotG to start over again on the cycle to destroy it.  I understand that they got out a small fleet of bombers and Eagles to shoot it this morning to get that under way.

After that we had a Raitaru in a system next door to watch as it came online, leaving us another place to tether and dock up.  As we roamed around I noticed another Raitaru coming online in their space.

Another location coming soon

Overall as we did that we managed to pick off enough of the locals to make it worth generating a battle report to get the tally.

Battle Report Header

We ended up blowing up a few pilots multiple times, and got the pods on some, which is how the number ends up with 48 ships but only 23 pilots.

Meanwhile, as we did that in one fleet I had an alt in another fleet that was cruising around and blowing up leftover Pandemic Horde structures.

Astrahus going up

Aside from running into some Caldari faction warfare pilots, who chased us off, but then killed the Astrahus we were shooting, so goal accomplished, it was an easy op delivering torpedoes on one target after another.  And while PH is no longer in the area, these being gone means less places for any of the locals to tether up.

And so it goes.  One night a thousand people in local.  The next night almost nobody is there to resist us.  So we laid the groundwork for further fights.  We shall see when GotG chooses to rise up and defend again.

A Hole in the North

I heard Monday on comms that Pandemic Horde was packing up to move.  This was confirmed later via an article over at INN.  PH were going to leave their home in Fade, Pure Blind, and a bit of Cloud Ring, and move east to pick up space in Geminate.  That space was being vacated by the Russians who were going to consolidate deeper into null sec after Triumvirate gave up in Insmother.

The North Feb 15, 2018

That will actually put Pandemic Horde up tight against the rest of PanFam who sprawl across Tribute, Tenal, and Vale of the Silent, the latter sharing a border with Geminate.  That is probably a good move for them as it makes for a tighter center of mass for PanFam.

Move ops should be fun as people line up to try and catch them exposed on the path to their new home.

But it raises the question of who will move into the vacated space once PH finishes relocating?

Certainly the Guardians of the Galaxy Coalition, led by Darkness, seems a likely candidate.  One of their members, Mordus Legion, already holds some space in Pure Blind.  But do they want to shepherd that much space?

One of the oft commented upon/complained about aspects of the current situation in null sec is that you do not need to control nearly as much space to have sufficient access to mining and ratting to keep your members happy.  The Imperium, for the most part, is fine just in Delve, as the monthly economic report indicates.  Farms and fields.

The Initiative went and took much of Fountain when the previous situation there fell apart, not so much out of need as the fact that the space was there to be taken.  That put the reach of The Imperium up to the border with Cloud Ring and not so far from Fade and Pure Blind.  There went the neighborhood.  So PH’s move puts them a bit further from that mess.

Guardians of the Galaxy will no doubt scoop up the remains of Fade, which is small and in which they had maintained a foothold already.  The western half of Pure Blind however seems like a lot of space for them to keep an eye on.

And Cloud Ring seems right out.  Cloud Ring is already a bit of the Wild West with even some Gallente Faction Warfare pilots, off on a lark, grabbing the Assilot constellation in the region back in September, space that they still hold today.

I guess Cloud Ring could just roll along on its own, but western Pure Blind… GotG either have to take it to cover themselves or get somebody they can deal with to move in.  Maybe Tri is looking for a new home?

Then again, Pure Blind isn’t anybody’s favorite region… unless you like to hole up in the NPC in the middle and hot drop on the things.  So it will be interesting to see who ends up there and if they will live there or just hold it to keep somebody else from living there.

On the one hand, it is probably good that null sec is now all largely livable space without the useless systems that made people spread out.  On the other, if you told me five years ago that there would be chunks of prime, livable null sec that people wouldn’t want to bother with I might have laughed.

Anyway, we will have to see what develops in the hole in the north left by Pandemic Horde’s move.

The Million Dollar Battle Hangover

Some things are better read about after the fact rather than experienced live.

Or watched live.

The timer has come and gone and the Pandemic Horde Keepstar in 9-4RP2 still stands.

I was hoping that CCP would do a Dev Blog about the fight.  They might still I suppose.  But so far all they have is a promotional video using the battle to sell the game.

What the video says is technically correct, but it really doesn’t express the nature of the fight.

One thing I would like to see out of CCP is an official number for people in local for the battle.  CCP has mentioned the number “6,000,” which has been picked up by the press, but the video description says “over 6,000” and CCP said “more than 6,000” on Twitter.

On the INN stream I heard them calling out the number of people in local, 6,700 being the number I thought I heard, since somebody expressed a desire to see it go past 7,000 at that point, so I don’t think I mis-heard “5,700” on the stream but I’m not willing to go listen to the stream again (which Matterall has posted to Sound Cloud).  And shortly after that the system dumped over a thousand people, so maybe local was wrong, messed up by the stress on the server.

Anyway, an official number would be nice.  We know it beat the 5,337 number for the M-OEE8 Keepstar fight a little over a year ago, but where is the bar set today?

The INN stream itself, which I listened to at various points throughout the battle, was interesting.  Or, it was interesting to somebody who knew the game and some of the various alliance personalities.  Watching the stream was… less interesting, and doubly so if you knew nothing about the game, as it was mostly just colored brackets on the screen.

Orange defenders waiting for the battle, blue attackers in the distance

With about 20 minutes left to go before the Keepstar timer ended, the group on the stream was ready to declare the citadel saved.  The Imperium had jumped in a Nyx fleet and launched fighters to attack the Keepstar, but they were so far away and moving so slowly in TiDi that they were not going to get there in time to hit the structure.  A command destroyer group that was supposed to use their AOE microjump drives to speed the fighters along failed, leaving the fighters swimming on their own towards the Keepstar.

And when the defenders launched space superiority fighter… anti-fighter fighters… to take on the coming blob, things seemed lost for the attackers.

But the Imperium dropped in sub caps, a Jackdaw fleet and a Machariel fleet, to start hitting the Keepstar, feeding in new ships as losses in those fleets mounted, allowing the fighters to arrive.

The Keepstar structure started to get whittled away, and by the time it was down to 70% the discussion on the stream had flipped and was now talking about when the defenders would have to start pulling out.  It was estimated that they would need to start withdrawing supers by the 40% mark to keep them from being massacred when the defending Keepstar blew up, removing the protective cover.

Then the Imperium attack began to run out of steam.  The fighter force had been removed as a threat and the sub cap fleets were losing ships faster than they would be replaced.  I was home by about that point and saw the calls for Jackdaws and Machariels to form up in Delve to be flown to our staging system and jumped in.  When the Imperium firepower waned the repair timer, which runs in real time and is not affect by time dilation, began to count down again.  Soon the battle was over, the Keepstar being saved.

Despite getting home about an hour before that point, I never got in system during the conflict.  The login server wasn’t having it and I just got errors every five minutes or so until the game finally reset me and made me try again.

I’ve been on hold for more than 30 minutes here…

Eventually I got on.  There were about 2,500 people in the system at that point and time dilation was still pretty heavy.

11% actually means the server is working

The TiDi was lifting though, and was gone before I logged off about 30 minutes later.  I undocked from one of our Fortizars and surveyed the scene.  I cloaked up and warped around looking for looters or MTUs to shoot.

MTU pulling wrecks with the Keepstar in the background

People were being paranoid… and rightfully so… so MTUs didn’t get left hanging about for very long.  I did get a shot at a Coercer once I saw he was fully armed with salvage beams.

Coercer salvaging

However once I decloaked my Purifier caught the eye of a couple of other hostiles and I had to warp off after a few salvos.  Maybe I should have let them shoot me.  It would have gotten me home more quickly.  Instead I docked back up and called it a night.

Looking at a battle report, the Imperium lost about 1,200 ships and fighters totaling up to nearly $300 billion ISK.  There were a lot of Machariels on that list.  Meanwhile the defenders lot about 800 ships, but they were mostly small ships and fighters, so they didn’t even pass the 40 billion ISK mark.

A clear win for the defenders.

Of course, as with any battle that doesn’t live up to the hype, a lot of people seem to be unhappy and there is no end of people those infused with the wisdom of hindsight willing to tell people what everybody should have done.

There is a group that is mad at CCP because their servers can’t handle that many players, though anybody paying attention knew that this was going to be an issue.  It always has been.

There are people mad because the fight did not entertain sufficiently.  Somebody is always mad when Goons refused to suicide their titans by jumping them into a fight.

And then there are the people who hate when null sec gets any attention.

Some of the press, who eagerly snatched up the whole “million dollar battle” theme that was the brainchild of one person on Reddit, followed up with sad trombone posts about how the game let them down by failing to live up to that promise.

I like that we can’t agree on the alleged cost of the battle.  Over at The Nosy Gamer there is a calculation as to how much a titan costs in real world money using the spurious Dollars to PLEX and back again method.  Nothing being simple, he has four answers.  My own back of the envelope math says that, pulling from those headlines above, $3,300 is bit low, $10,000 is probably too high, and half a million is clearly from some other dimension of reality.  But it doesn’t matter anyway since no matter what answer you get, it was all virtual goods in the end, which we know lack any real world value.

And then there is the review of the game mechanics involved.  There is an interesting thread on Reddit, written by one of the defender, exploring how the balance favors the defenders in such battles.  That should actually make the Imperium happy, what with our “a Keepstar in every system, a Fortizar on every gate” plan.

Over at INN Arrendis explored the mechanics of the battle compared to B-R5RB and speculated as to how things could be mad better.  Maybe CCP will look into that.  They seem to like the attention such big battles bring to the game, so it would be good if they were not hamstrung by the mechanics when players show up in huge numbers.

A few people gave props to the Imperium for actually leaving fortress Delve to try to take down the Keepstar.  But not many.  As ever, Goons are bullies when they attack anybody and cowards when they don’t.  CCP says in their video that the “war is not over,” but I suspect that was the last fight over that particular Keepstar unless somebody has a plan that won’t collapse when more than six thousand capsuleers show up.  Instead, convoys of Imperium pilots have been shuttling they ships home since the battle.  We’ll see if GSOL slips in and takes down the Fortizars.  That’ll be the sign we’re not coming back.

Anyway, we all seem to prefer the static state of null sec currently, where we hunt each others ratters and miners but not much else, a scenario that has never dislodged anybody from their sovereignty ever.  I guess that meets the twin goals of safety and fun in some way.

The Coming Battle in 9-4RP2

Not too long after this post goes live the first fleets will be forming up.  Fleets of ships, each as big as 255 pilots in size, will start to coalesce and begin their last minute preparations.  The final timer for a Pandemic Horde Keepstar in the system  9-4RP2 in Cloud Ring set to expire later today.

I logged in last night to take one last peek.  There were fewer than 40 people in system.  The Imperium citadels ringing the Keepstar sat in silent vigil, watching the timer tick down.

Less than a day to go at that point…

That was at about 04:00 New Eden time, which puts the the start of the Keepstar repair cycle at about 22:00.

In a bit of a quirk, a bunch of the citadels around the Keepstar hit their vulnerability window a few hours before the big fight, so there is the possibility of some early action, though Asher says that nobody defends on the shield timer, so it might just be some attackers and people gunning the citadels exchanging shots, but it will be a side show to the main event.

The PH 9-4RP2 Keepstar

As these things tend to go, the form up and the start of any fight will happen while I am still at the office.  The earliest I can possibly be home and logged in is about 23:00 New Eden time, which is a full hour after the timer.

That is still better than last week, as the times have crept later and later with each fight.  But, if nobody shows up to defend the Keepstar… or if nobody shows up to attack it… the whole thing will be over in 30 minutes and I won’t even be on the road home by then.

I’m pretty sure the attackers are going to show up.  Imperium Jabber has been full of pings about the coming battle over the last five days… which probably means half the coalition still doesn’t know about it.  There have been no end of move ops to get ships pre-positioned for the fight, while the capital ops have been opened up, and reimbursement offered, to people who can only qualify for CrapSwarm, to fill out as many capital fleets as possible.  We shall see if people will risk their ratting carriers.

Which leaves the defenders.

I suppose the easiest option for Pandemic Horde would be to play the “Didn’t want that Keepstar anyway, made you form!” card and just let the Keepstar die without forming.  That at least has a reliable result.  Other options involve more risk and may not save the Keepstar.  But if they go that route, the question then would be “What will they defend?”  The Imperium might just move forward and try their Keepstar at C4C-Z4 in Fade to see. (We were there recently.)

On grid with the PH Keepstar in C4C-Z4

Ideally for them, they and their allies would both save the Keepstar and destroy copious Imperium capitals and super caps.  Saving the Keepstar but losing a lot of supers would not bode well however.  I strongly suspect that the Imperium’s primary goal is to destroy as many super capitals belonging to the coalition of the north as possible, the Keepstar just being the bait to get them on the field.

The Imperium would happily trade titans with them all evening and consider themselves the winner based solely on their ability to replace losses.  You have seen the production numbers for Delve from the December Monthly Economic Report, right?

December 2017 – Production Values by Region – Bar Graph

I suspect that were not just building Rorquals and ratting carriers down there.

And, of course, there is the “good of EVE Online” aspect to this.  Big fights like this generate headlines in the wider gaming press and bring attention… and new players… to the game.  I wonder what is going on at CCP as the battle looms?

From my own selfish point of view, I hope for a big fight as well because then time dilation will kick in and the fight will drag out to the point that I can get home, get settled, and log in to see things unfold.

The view from the Fortizar where I am docked

Maybe I will even get on a few kill mails with my stealth bomber.  We shall see.

Anyway, the coming timer is the topic du jour over on Reddit, with plenty of speculation, advice, and memes to be had.  Elsewhere there are some reviews of what has happened so far and previews as to what may come.

Addendum:

The Keepstar lived, no titans were lost, no great super cap battle was had, but more than 6,700 people were in the fight at one point.

As the battle progressed, a couple of the mainstream gaming sites posted about the fight:

I am not sure where the whole “million dollar battle” came from, but sites were using that to get clicks, and the idea was enough to get the game on the news… or at least the Canadian news.

I cannot find a direct link to that video at the moment, so the Tweet will have to do.  If AdBlock eats the tweet for you, you can find it here.

Waiting for some final numbers on the fight before I do a follow up post.

Time and the TiDi Wait for No Man

So many pings.

Things have begun to stir in null sec here in the new year.  The Imperium has risen from its ratting and mining binge… krabbing is us… to focus on blowing something up.  It isn’t really a war.  We’re not off to conquer more territory.  Instead we are focusing on a Pandemic Horde Keepstar in the system 9-4RP2 in Cloud Ring.

And so the alerts have been going out to rally people to be ready to join the fight, even asking people to resubscribe their capital and super capital pilots.  This started in earnest after the first attack set a timer on the Keepstar, practically becoming the Jabber equivalent of the old “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! See “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Shirley “Cha-Cha” Muldowney…” radio ads as the directorate tried to get the troops rallied and eager.

I was eager myself, ever keen to be part of a big fight, even if it was only to be a timer fight rather than a possible kill.  The problem was the time.  Form up for the fight on Tuesday was slated for 18:00 and the timer itself would come up a bit past 20:30.  Those are New Eden times, which runs on UTC, which puts those event at about 10am and 12:30pm on a week day out here on the left coast of the United States.  Even though I tend to be early into the office, I am never so early as to be able to be home by lunch time.

Still, I had a hope of seeing some of the action.  If the fight developed into a big enough brawl, if the goal expanded beyond the timer and became a slug fest between super fleets looking for titan kills, time dilation could help me out.  I couldn’t get into the game until 23:00 UTC at the earliest, but if everybody was running at 10% tidi then a fight might still be under way.

To get myself setup for that possibility, I hopped into a stealth bomber, made sure I had a couple of bombs and a stack of torpedoes, and flew out to Cloud Ring so as to be pre-positioned for any fight.

The flight out went without incident, it being late US/early AU time when things can be quiet, but when I arrived in 9-4RP2 I realized I had to find the Keepstar still.  It doesn’t show up on the overview and I hadn’t bothered to find out even a general location for it.  But I saw we had some citadels in the system as well… more than a dozen, including a Fortizar.  I figured I could just hole up in one of those and find the fight when the time came, so I warped to one only to find they were all still in the process of deploying.

That meant no docking up for me as well as an interesting angle to the coming fight.  In addition to the armor timer for the Keepstar there would be a range of Imperium citadels coming online and vulnerable just to confuse the issue.  If the locals stuck to the Keepstar, we would have a bunch of bases in the system.  If they attacked the vulnerable citadels, they might lose the Keepstar timer.

Anyway, warping to a deploying citadel did help me out, as I found that they were all on grid with the Keepstar.

The Pandemic Horde 9-4RP2 Keepstar

The timer was running down, but the event was still about 15 hours away.

Distant Keepstar timer running

I looked around for a bit, then went off to make myself a safe spot.  I did not want to log back in on grid with the fight lest I find myself in the midst of hostiles.  Once I had a nice location bookmarked I uncloaked and did a safe logoff.

That long 30 second wait to be safe

The next day at the office I watched the pings come in on my phone.  There were early form ups, late form ups, supers and sub-caps, battleships and destroyers, and all the sundry in between forming up and heading towards Cloud Ring.

I saw a report of two hostile titans having been blown up, another that we lost the timer, and a third that because the Keepstar was again vulnerable that we were going to re-do the shield timer yet again to start the event again.  Taking a quick peek at the INN stream it appeared that we were doing the shield timer via a  mass of fighters that had somehow formed themselves ala Voltron into an Avatar class titan. (Source: INN stream and Joe the Barbarian)

A titan and the fighter formation compared

The overwhelming fighter super capital assault was enough to drive off the enemy.

There were more than 3,000 people in local at the peak of the fight, but by the time I got home, logged int, and warped onto grid that number had dropped closer to 30.  We had set the shield timer again, so success on that front.

The timer running again… cloaked Purifier in the foreground

We also seemed to do very well with our own citadel array as there was now a constellation of CONDI citadels around the target, including a Fortizar in which we could hide dreads and carriers.

The view from the Fortizar

In addition there was another Fortizar going online, just to add to the collection.

Another Fortizar deploying

That left the a growing Imperium citadel count in system.

Imperium Citadel Count in 9-4RP2

Even though I missed the fight, there was some upside for me.  Because the shield timer got set later in the day, there was a greater likelihood of my being able to get home and online to see the next day’s fight.

However, yesterday’s fight went even more quickly that the previous one.  By the time I got home the system had again emptied out.  We did win the armor timer fight.  That meant a six day wait for the final fight.

I was more than 2 hours late…

That will put the battle for the destruction of the Keepstar early Tuesday afternoon next week when, naturally, I will be at work.

But I have hope.  Timers are timers and not so serious, so people slack off.

This fight though, this could mean the destruction of a significant Pandemic Horde asset, so I suspect the defenders will be pulling out all the stops in order to get people in system and on grid to defend the Keepstar.

And on our side there are already ‘”fight coming” pings going out in multiple languages to make people aware of this fight.

Then there are the third parties who will show up looking for kills, and maybe even a Keepstar kill.

With all of that I have high hopes that it will be everybody to the limit and time dilation at 10% and the system still lagging for a long fight into the night, leaving me plenty of time to get home, get logged in, and get on grid to see how it plays out.

In the mean time the Keepstar waits.

Look, it is an unsubtle metaphor!  Imperium surrounding Pandemic Horde!

Of course, that is just my story.  I’m still sitting in system waiting for the big fight.  For what actually happened this week the following stories have been posted:

There are also a number of posts on Reddit with good pictures of the first two fights.

Now to see if Tuesday brings a B-R5RB level blood bath.

VNI Victory in Fade

I HATE this kind of BR because it looks like we didn’t fight a lot of guys but what actually happened was they didn’t kill anything and the only living ships on the BR from their side are the ones that smartbombed their own ships that did die.

-Asher Elias, post-op ping

I have been slacking on the New Eden front of late.  I haven’t really logged on since that mid-November hot drop up north.  Things to do, pet battles to fight, and so on.

It already being a week into December I figured I had best check in and at least see what was going on.  As it turned out I got back in Jabber at an opportune moment.  Not only were we still deployed up north, so I was parked in the right station still, an op had just been announced.   Going along on the op would require me to purchase a new ship however.  The Vexor Navy Issue was the ship of choice.

The VNI, as it is commonly called, is a faction cruiser, a drone boat, and, in my experience, often the favored ship of low budget ratters in null sec who take on anomalies with the doughty little craft.

A VNI in station showing its distinctive color scheme

It has enough speed and shields when fit correctly to survive forsaken hubs and the like, but it isn’t a hard target.  Those who come into our space to hunt ratters often choose to go after VNI pilots because they are viewed as easy kills if they get caught unaware.

But the VNI is cheap… well, cheaper than an Ishtar and much cheaper than a carrier… so if you get a few anoms in the ship has paid for itself and you can afford to get another one.

So not exactly a combat ship of the line in my experience.  But Asher always has something new going on and I’ll buy into whatever doctrine he has in mind just to be able to go along for the ride.  There were some up on GSF alliance contract so I got somebody to buy me one in advance so I would be ready.

Being me I also looked to see if I had a SKIN for the VNI.  Oddly… or perhaps not… I had no SKINs for that hull.  While the VNI is actually a sharp looking ship, I always like to look a bit different.  However, out in the deployment station there weren’t any SKINs on the market for the VNI.  But CCP has a new SKIN set for Gallente up in the New Eden Store, the Kopis Edge style.  Somebody described the look as Gallente trying to disguise themselves as Amarr, but the cruiser SKIN was only 55 PLEX so I bought one and activated it.

Khopis Edge VNI

I got myself set for the op then busied myself with other things.  As I waited I saw a ping come up for a TNT op.  My alliance is also up north, though hanging out in a different system.  They too were calling for a VNI fleet, which made me wonder if the null sec meta had changed in some way since I had last been on.  Two separate VNI ops on the same night, though the TNT op was forming a good 30 mins before the Reaver op.

Of course there wasn’t really two ops as I found out a little later, but a single op.  My alliance and my SIG were joining forces for a fight.  The destination was DW-T2I in the Fade region where the Imperium had dropped an Astrahus to annoy the locals, in this case Pandemic Horde, and force them to come out and fight.  Dropping on their ratters and miners wasn’t enough, we wanted to shoot them in larger numbers.

As our op came together TNT made their way to us and we joined up on the way the the target system.  There we found the friendly citadel already into its timer with a PH Tempest fleet, supported by some anti-bomber destroyers, already hitting it, the timer paused at 11m 49s.

The state of things on our arrival

We landed on the citadel and tethered up.  After getting ourselves together and anchored on Asher, he had us drop sentry drones in small groups around the Astrahus.  When everybody had their drones deployed we were given a target to lock up and began shooting.

One, two, three, four, the hostile logi, tech II Guardians, were blown up as the Astrahus gunner joined in with void bombs and points when he could.  The hostile response was to try and pick off some of our drones and to smart bomb, presumably to shake off any tackle that might come their way.  Our drones were not going to come get them.  Sentry drones are immobile.

PH smartboming away

They managed to wipe out some of their own logi support with the smart bombs, but not much else.  After we shredded their logistics support they turned and warped off.  A few stragglers were tackled and blown up, but most got away.  Our losses so far were a single Sabre against 8 Guardians, a Damnation command ship, a Tempest, a Loki, and a Stiletto.

A good exchange from our perspective.

A gaggle of Mordus Legion Cormorants showed up about then and tried to take a shot at us. But after losing a couple of their ships for none impact on us they buggered off and found a wormhole to Delve where I understand they found a warm reception.

There was still time to go before the Citadel would be safe, and Asher figured they would be back with their Tempest fleet, this time with force auxiliary support to keep them from getting popped.   So he had us dock up, abandoning our sentry drones for the moment, but leaving them all on grid, and swap in some heavy drones in our bays.

The sentry drone menace still on grid

We then undocked and resumed our lolling about the citadel, anchored on Asher, waiting to see if they would return as expected.

Crowd of VNIs anchored up

Pandemic Horde did show up again as expected, their Tempest fleet landing at range to keep away from the sentry drones.  The began firing, pausing the citadel timer again, this time with just under a minute to go.

Not much time left…

We turned for them and launched heavy drones this time, sending them after the hostiles before their fax support showed up.  But no force auxiliaries ever arrived.  They were back with the remains of their force just to see if they could find an angle to hit the Astrahus without us killing them.

That plan proved to be futile.  We knocked out a Loki first as they tried to head shot Asher.

Their Loki going down to drones

After that we began to chew up the Tempests again.  They started to smartbomb but were far enough apart, and their caps were denuded by several well placed void bombs, that it was not seem very effective.  Half a dozen Tempests went down before the rest escaped.

A Tempest about to explode

They left behind their own drones, which we mopped up, leaving the field to us.

An Acolyte II’s shield flaring from hits

Meanwhile the citadel timer ran down so it was safe for the next six days.

Safe for now

All told, according to the battle report, we popped 45 enemy ships… well, they killed a few of their own, but we’ll claim them… worth about 6.2 billion ISK for the loss of a single interdictor.

Unfortunately, as Asher noted in the quote at the top of the post, since they barely killed anything besides their own ships, only those we blew up and those that smartbombed their own comrades appear, plus whoever got our dictor.

From there we were able to head home, enjoying Asher’s joke, which was to fight them in the same sort of ratting ships they are usually flying when we hunt them.

Later we went hunting for their VNIs in interceptors and I got popped by a Serpentis dreadnought.  I learned that they will point and neut you pretty fast, and all the more so if you boost your signature by lighting your microwarp drive so he can target you faster.  You live and learn… or die and learn.  I did get my pod back home in one piece, denying the an easy kill I suppose.