Tag Archives: Pandemic Horde

Taking the Eye of Terror to Lonetrek

Every so often I go on a main fleet op just to remind myself why I don’t go on main fleet ops any more.  Plus I happened to still be sitting in 1DQ1-A from the Reavers race (still in my Gnosis) and Pittsburgh2989, who is in Liberty Squad, was the FC.  So when the ping went out festooned with no fewer than three animated parrots I joined up.

I thought if Pitts was here we might not be having a Liberty Squad op.  I was wrong, but I only figured that out when it was too late.

The call was for Baltecs, a fleet composition built around the Megathron battleship.  I actually had a few options for this, including a Megathron left over from last year’s war, sitting in my hangar.  I decided to go with Logi though, hopping into an Oneiros and putting on the Emergency Response SKIN.

Oneiros in the hangar

I could have gone with a Guardian… I have a few of those sitting around as well… but being free of the cap chain for an evening had its appeal.  So I got in the logi channel while the fleet came together.

There are any number of reasons why I avoid main fleet ops.  They tend to be ponderous operations, full of strangers who will talk on and on in a fleet of 150 people about not being able to find a something in the hangar.  There are a variety of FCs, each with their own quirks and pet peeves.  And they fly battleships, which are slow to get places.  This is why you join SIGs and squads, to fly with a regular group… usually in cruisers.

While things were getting sorted I undocked and sat on tether, wondering where we were headed.

Hanging on the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A

Of course, the battleship slow travel problem isn’t always problem.  Not when you have the reconstituted Eye of Terror jump bridge network running from Period Basis all the way up into Cloud Ring.  When the fleet got going Pitts essentially gave us three way points, each corresponding to an Ansiblex jump gate.

We were headed up to Cloud Ring and the trip was essentially “take a normal gate, take an Ansiblex, take a normal gate, take an Ansiblex, take a normal gate, take an Ansiblex, take a normal gate” and we were way up north, passing a series of Keepstars along the way.

Also, who puts a Keepstar AT THE SUN?

In Cloud Ring we took a gate into low sec and sat on a titan for a while.  The word filtered down to us that we were there to jump on anybody who formed up against an op already in progress.  We lingered there for a while… for longer than it took us to make the trip there for sure… until it was decided that nobody was going to show up.  So a cyno was lit and the bridge went up.

Time to go

We landed in Nannaras, which is way up in Lonetrek, a location that seems like a long way from home.

Obligatory fleet landing screen shot

Looking at DOTLAN navigation, that is about 40 gates away from where we started.

Up the western edge of New Eden

But with the Ansiblex network it felt like we hadn’t gone that far at all.

As for what was in Nannaras, there was a Pandemic Horde Fortizar there in its final timer.

A kill mail to be had

We warped up within range of it and joined in the shoot.

Somebody was there to gun it, so bombs were launched our way repeatedly.  This led to a lot of people hitting the “need shields” button in the fleet window, an annoyance to those of us in the logi wing because Baltecs are an armor doctrine fleet.  There was nobody around to rep shields.

But even announcing that on comms didn’t stop people from broadcasting for shields.

I actually had some shield repair drones.  Since there was little else to do for the moment, I put those out and repped some of the pricier ships.

Shield rep drones on a Bhaalgorn

However, I missed a bomb launch… there was something nobody was announcing on comms… and it wiped out my drones in one go.  So that was the end of that.  A few people were unlucky enough to drop into armor due to bombs, but otherwise it was a simple shoot.  I put out a combat drone towards the end… among other benefits, the Oneiros has a big drone bay… to get in some hits on the Fortizar just to get on the kill mail.

The small ships in the fleet also warped in to get their hits in as well, which prompted the gunner to turn on the point defense system.  That meant I didn’t have to worry about recalling my Warrior II drone, as it died pretty quickly.  But the Fortizar followed suit shortly there after, and I was on the kill mail.  Priorities.

Another dramatic explosion scene

From there we had to actually slow boat back to the Ansiblex gate network.  But we were only seven jumps or so away.  And once we arrived we were let off the leash to free burn home.  As somebody pointed out in comms, the first thing that happens is that the logi, which are all cruisers, leave the slower warping battleships behind leaving the potential for comedy/disaster.

But nobody bothered us and we were all quickly back in Delve and docked up.

Not a bad op, for main fleet.  Comms were subdued.  There were relatively few Game of Thrones spoilers mentioned and only one fan theory brought up. (The “Due to a time travel loop Bran IS the Night King” theory.)  I am not saying that comms should be silent, but there are people who seem to forget they have an audience of 150+ people.

Even with a good main fleet op I’ll be happy to be back in a Liberty Squad fleet when I have the chance.

Setting Ansiblex Timers in Geminate

Another night, another fleet.  The ping was for Eagles as usual, so I logged in and got the important bit out of the way; deciding which SKIN my Basilisk would wear.

In the new dark and moody hangar lighting

I have to figure it out in advance because you can’t change your SKIN when somebody has you locked and, being in the logi wing, I was set to be in the cap chain and locked by two other people for most of the op.  Usually I run the Emergency Response SKIN, which is done up like an ambulance, complete with flashing lights, since that goes with the Police SKIN the Liberty Squad FCs usually run on their Monitors.

This time I figured I would go all red with the Rataa Sunset SKIN.  Liberty Squad is full of faux patriotism and I tried to get the logi wing to go all red, white, and blue SKINs at one point.  In what is probably a reflection of the general population, about half the fleet embraces SKINs in some way, while the other half rejects then and wants nothing to do with them.

And so it goes.

While I was pondering that our FC, Zintage Enaka, was trying to get the fleet composition together.  Our problem of late seems to be getting the right number of boosters for the fleet.  Not that that is a new problem.  I think half the fleets I’ve gone on over the years has spent some amount of time trying to find the required boost, with a good percentage of those threatening not to undock unless they get them.  I always feel a tinge of guilt during that scenario, as I have the skills to fly a booster.  And, when it comes down to it, the job isn’t difficult.  Boosts up when the FC says, boost down when he calls for that, gently remind the FC now and again when boosts are still up when they are determined to suddenly travel.  I just hate the waste of being a booster.  Inevitably I have the wrong implant so have to buy the right one and destroy the old one to put the new one in.  Then on the next fleet they’ll need somebody with the old one and the cycle will repeat.  I’m not poor, but I’m not keen waste that much ISK nearly every fleet.  And FCs can be insistent about your implant.  I had an FC threaten to kick me if I didn’t change my implant for a move op.  A freaking move op, with no fixed doctrine and a wide mix of ships, but my implant was somehow critically important. So I gave up on that.

Instead I sat quietly in the logi channel while that got sorted.  I take comfort in the fact that, after boosters, logi is the other thing that the FC will call for before they undock.  At least I am filling one of the critical roles.

And things did indeed get settled.  Boosters were found, sufficient logi pilots filed into the fleet, and we at last undocked.  However, rather than turning the usual direction to head into The Kalevala Expanse or The Spire, we headed for a different gate.  We were headed into Geminate, the core home area of Pandemic Horde.

As we flew into their space Zintage explained that PH was off to fight with Guardians of the Galaxy… because the north is still fighting amongst themselves in addition to having us lurking about… and we were going to use this opportunity to do what we do best… fly around in circles and shoot structures.

And, specifically, Ansiblex jump gates.

Eagles shooting another Ansiblex

These have the advantage of being a bit less of a commitment than reinforcing something like a Fortizar as well as the immediate impact of disrupting the local jump gate network.  When you put them into their reinforced state they stop being able to pass ships.

While PH was away these were mostly undefended.  Mostly.  People put them on grid with Fortizars and Keepstars for a reason.

Fortizar on grid with us as well.

And somebody did wander out to take potshots at us from the Fortizar.  Killing subcaps at that distance with a Fortizar takes some serious luck, but it did mean that logi had to wake up and rep somebody now and again.

He’s shooting the boosters just to drive home some sort of point I’m sure

The gunner had his fun I guess, though he mostly complained in local about the state of Upwell structures.  He did not stop us from reinforcing the the Ansiblex under his care.

This timer means we might be back

PH times their structures for USTZ, which means we might form up for a return visit.

We moved on to the next Ansiblex on Zintage’s list.  This time nobody came out to gun the Fortizar so we just flew around the Ansiblex and fired away.

I took more screen shots

When that one was about in the bag Zintage did an ammo check to see if we had hauled enough rounds along to reinforce a third Ansiblex.  People were running dry on T1 structure bash ammo.  It turned out a lot of people had been getting deflections all along, meaning their shots were over the damage cap and weren’t being counted. Had we started out the evening with guns split and pilots only shooting half their rack we likely would have had the ammo for another target.  But thinking about that two structures in meant we were not going to make it that far.  It was time to turn for home.

Word from the north was that PH had a mixed bout with GotG up in C4C-Z4 in Fade.  However, further word was that their Munnin fleet got caught by somebody on the way home that turned the loss meter way up for them.

Zintage looked into positioning us to intercept the remains of their fleet as it gated home… some of their jump routes now being in operable… but they took a route back out of our way.  So we turned for home ourselves.

Eagles through the gate towards home

Another op success in the smoldering east of New Eden.

More Structure Busting in the East

There are still a lot of somewhat low key operations running in the east of null sec on a regular basis.  My own alliance has a deployment running and a lot of ops, though they tend to run when I am at the office.  But Liberty Squad has me covered for US time zone evening ops.

There had been a warning ping about the approaching op, so when the real ping came over Jabber I was already logged into the game and ready to go.  We were advised to bring plenty of structure bashing ammo (read: cheap T1 rounds) so it was clear what we would be up to.

Once we got the fleet assembled… which took a bit because there were other competing ops running… we were able to undock and head out.  We even got a ride to our destination rather than having to gate our way out.

A Ragnarok sends us on our way

We landed in A-YB15 out in The Kalevala Expanse, which meant back to hitting Pandemic Horde structures to keep them from being able to turn the region into a rental income area.

We set up on anchor at a Fortizar and started shooting that, but it was clear to me what the real target of the night would be.  We were just setting up the Fort for later, but there was an Ansiblex Jump Gate on the grid that would be ready to kill in under an hour.

Less than an hour on the clock

We were just biding our time, setting ourselves in place for the real target and to be ready if Pandemic Horde came to defend it.  But for the time being we were pretty much left to our own devices.  Nobody even came out to gun the Fortizar.

The idea was to take up the time waiting for the Ansiblex by reinforcing the Fort, but we ended up done with that and still had 20 minutes on the clock before the main event.  So we found a Raitaru in the system and shot that as well.  That didn’t take long either.  It was even unfueled, which meant we burned through both the shield and armor.  We blamed RatKnight1 for speeding us up with his high DPS Kikimora.

The Kikimora

It took me a moment when I first saw him out there.  To my brain a solid red beam is a target painter and not the Triglavian weapon system.  When spun up to full power he was doing considerably more damage than the average Eagle was.

With the Raitaru set, we just loafed around the Ansiblex, waiting for the timer to get down to zero so we could start shooting.  There was some concern that Pandemic Horde would come out to defend it, since this would be a kill and, while it is easy enough to just drop a new one… it used to be the same deal with the POS jump bridges and so we wouldn’t kill them, just burn through their armor so the owner would have to work to finish the kill or repair the module… it does cost ISK to set these up over and over again as we kill them.

But they let us be and when the timer hit zero we opened fire.

The Fortizar visible in the distance

I had a couple of combat drones in my drone bay and we were close enough that I was able to set them on the structure to get on the kill mail.  However our FC, Zintage, was once again reminded that you cannot use a target painter on structures, and since that is all the monitor can mount, he did not get on the kill mail.  But he had already been in on a Brothers of Tangra  Ansiblex kill earlier, so he was ahead of the game.

The Ansiblex blew up shortly, leaving a glowing wreck behind as we aligned back for our staging base.

After the explosion

Thanks to cooperation with some of the locals we had a ride most of the way home as well, using one of their Ansiblex jump gates.

Sent back the easy way

With rides both ways it ended up being a fairly short op for how much shooting we did.  But I am sure there will be more to shoot again tomorrow.

Structure Shoots and Eagles in the East

I have probably been more active in New Eden than my posting would indicate.  I’ve been out with Liberty Squad, which is one of the Imperium groups that has deployed out the east of null sec to tangle with Pandemic Horde and its allied.

Freedom Squad – Of Course We Fly Eagles

The thing is, a lot of ops do not really have much to report.  We go out and reinforce a structure.  Sometimes we get to kill one, like that Athanor a couple of weeks back.  That was mildly interesting because it was mid-frack, so we go to see the moon chunk disappear.  But an op to reinforce a structure, or even to blow up something small, that doesn’t always yield a tale worth telling.

An Oracle wearing the Blaze SKIN at a Raitaru kill

Meanwhile, I don’t hear enough about the strategic picture to make much of a comment on that either.  I get a sense that things are not going well for PH over in The Kavala Expanse region, where the ADMs are low and almost all of the ihubs have either been destroyed or are reinforced.   My alliance, TNT, even took the TCU in A-YB15 after destroying the ihub, probably just for fun.  The TCU declares ownership of the system, puts the alliance name on the map, but it is the ihub that upgrades a null sec system to make it livable and useful.

Meanwhile, we have to go pretty far into PH space to find Ansiblex jump gates to knock out.

An Ansiblex jump gate offline and waiting to be blown up

We caught that one down in RQOO-U and blew it up, snapping another connection.  We had to dodge bombs coming from the Fortizar near which it was anchored, but that wasn’t enough to deter us… or even keep those of us in the logi wing very busy.

Not that there haven’t been fights.  I’ve heard tale of them.  But I seem to have spent most of the month missing the ops where the locals show up.  I know they are around.  We got a peek at them last week when we slipped in with some bombers to get on the killmail for a Triumvirate Fortizar that was unwisely hanging about in a war zone without an allies about.

Another Fortizar brews up

We had initially tried to bomb the Pandemic Horde fleet coming in to the shoot, but managed only to bomb a couple of our own.  My bomb, launched a bit late, got a solo kill on a blue capsule.  I don’t feel bad though.  Black Ops bombed us the other day when we were both going after the same target.  It happens.  And somebody learned not to MWD ahead of the pack on a bomb run that day.

Anyway, after a lot of quiet ops over the last couple of weeks, it was nice to show up yesterday and have some ships at which to shoot.

It started with us forming up and flying out in Eagles again.  We sat on a titan for a bit.

I just like screen shots of titans

Then we were bridged into Erstet, in low sec Metropolis, where NCDot was assailing a friendly Azbel with a few dreadnoughts supported by a Minokawa force auxiliary.  We went after the dreads, hitting a Phoenix first.

Phoenix shields flaring under impact

However, we were not able to out pace the Minokawa and its ability to rep, so a couple of dreadnoughts from out side were called up and jumped in, after which we managed… after much struggle… to deploy a cyno inhibitor on the field in order to keep NCDot from reinforcing their structure bash.

The extra firepower turned the tide and the Azbel was saved.  We exchanged a few subcaps for a Revelation, two Phoenixes, and the Minokawa force auxiliary, the wrecks of which stayed on the field.

The remains of the fight

We had to hang about a bit after that.  This took place in low sec, where things are complicated.  Our way back home was through high sec, so we had to wait out suspect timers.  This wait was extended because some of us in the logi wing had combat drones handy and got on a couple of the kill mails.  However, if you rep or cap boost somebody with a suspect timer then you too get the suspect timer, and we were all in Basilisks running a capacitor chain, so it became a self-refreshing round of suspect timers until somebody mentioned we would have to go through high sec, at which point we dropped the chain and tethered on the Azbel to wait out the 15 minutes.

Emboldened by our successful op, Thomas Lear, who was leading us, flew us off to another structure to reinforce it.

Eagles on the move again

Pandemic Horde gave chase with an Ishtar fleet, trying to get around us to cut us off and, if intel is to be believed, ended up with us sitting between them and home.  Finding themselves cut off instead, they then decided not to engage, docked up, and jump cloned back to their staging, leaving their ships parked for another day.  I cannot speak to the truth of that, but it does sound like an odd move.  There are other ways in and out of their space, as we were soon to learn.

After reinforcing another PH structure, Thomas decided that we would go deeper into their space and reinforce one more before calling it a night.  I have no idea what we were going to shoot though, because when we arrived in the system a Black Legion Munnin fleet, led by Elo Knight.  We were apparently not going to take that fight and spent the next hour trying to break contact with them and eventually flying the long way around south through the Great Wildlands and Metropolis before arriving back at our staging system once more.

And so it goes.  We made it back home again, and were out long enough to earn ourselves a second PAP.  But I still have managed to avoid anything akin to an actual fleet fight for over a month now.

Frack Denied

We were out again shooting at structures.  This time is was an Athanor belonging to Pandemic Horde over in The Kalevala Expanse in LEM-I1.  Liberty Squad mounted up and followed Cainun off into PH space where we found the structure waiting for us.

Detailed naming scheme

The Athanor had been reinforced already and we were there for the armor timer.  The first run, the initial reinforcement, doesn’t mean much, save for setting a date for the next two possible events.

The interesting thing about this particular Athanor was that it was in the midst of breaking off a chunk of the nearby moon as part of its mining cycle.  This is called a frack, since the station is fracturing off a chunk of the moon.  It is one of those things that looks pretty neat out in space.

Frack in progress

It is actually a bit of a trick to get the camera to get all of that lined up because the size and scale of the different parts are so different.  The Athanor is tiny, visible only due to its proximity, and jumps around quite a bit as you move the camera.  The moon and the planet are both huge and distant and barely move at all unless you pan the camera aggressively, which sends the Athanor flying off screen.  And then there is the chunk of moon itself, which is close than you might think.

EVE Online does a pretty good job of delivering on size and perspective.

Anyway, the Athanor was mid cycle, hauling in a moon chunk that would be broken up and available to mine in a few days. (EVE University has a bit about the process here.)

Would, except that we were there for the armor timer and PH was not.  Not much happens when you first hit an Upwell structure.  But when you win the armor timer and set things up for the final match, certain operational restrictions start to apply.  You cannot remove modules or reconfigure the structure.  And, if it is a moon mining platform mid-frack, you lose the moon chunk.  So when we finished our shoot and the next timer came up, the moon chunk was gone.

Disappearing moon chunk

I’m not sure where the chunk goes.  It is just no longer there as the mining cycle was turned off.  It would be nice if CCP left the chunk there for a bit, showing it drifting off to become a small satellite or have it crash back into the moon.  But that is probably a bit too much to ask.  We weren’t going to stick around long enough to watch that sort of thing.

Off we went once the next timer was set, knowing that there was one moon that wouldn’t be mined soon.

A Fortizar Shoot in Perimeter

As I mention in a previous post, the null sec alliances brought their recent conflict to high sec using war decs, allowing TEST to assail Pandemic Horde’s trade hub in Perimeter.  PH’s structures in Perimeter were reinforced while TEST dropped its own citadels, a faction Fortizar and a Keepstar.

War decs piled up between the groups as The Imperium joined in on the side of TEST and its Legacy Coalition allies while Black Legion jumped in to assist Pandemic Horde.  Notably missing was the rest of PanFam, including Pandemic Legion and NCDot.  Pandemic Horde has truly grown into its own entity.

It looked like there might be a fight brewing in high sec, just one jump from Jita.

Instead, Pandemic Horde decided to punt on its high sec trading empire.  There is a post over at New Eden Report about the impact of this on the market.  But for those of us just looking to shoot things, there would be no war.  Pandemic Horde opted to contest neither the structures TEST deployed nor defend their own structures.  At best there would just be a structure shoot to take them out.

Being in Reavers, structure shoots are clearly my bag.  And since our war dec was still in place, I went out to shoot the PH Fortizar just because I could.

The Safe Trade Hub is no longer Safe

The nervous bit was getting there.  I undocked from Jita 4-4 with my market/training implant clone to run to another station where I could install a jump clone.  Then I ran back.  Fortunately, the usual people who have us war dec’d and are generally camping the undock at 4-4 had joined us in the war.  I was able to safely setup a local clone, jump to it, then roll back into 4-4 to pick up a ship.

I had a Jackdaw handy there and, not wanting to spend any ISK I didn’t have to, I rolled out of Jita to Perimeter in that.

Jackdaw on the way

When I arrived the shoot was already under way.  TEST had a fleet sitting at range shooting the Fortizar.  There was another group about 120 degrees off from them shooting the citadel as well.  That group was putting out constant beams, which confused me for a bit.

Jackdaw spotting the red beams, TEST fleet ball visible

When I put the camera on that group though, the answer was clear.  It was a small fleet of Leshaks, the Triglavian battleship, (supported by a few Nestors) responsible for those beams.

A Leshak at the shoot

The Triglavian weaponry, the precursor weapons, fire a continuous beam that puts out more damage the longer it stays on a target.

I had warped in at 50km and went into orbit around the citadel until the structure got down to about 25%.  I only noticed after I arrived that the Jackdaw was fit for rockets rather than light missiles, which meant I would have to move in close to get my hits in.  Even in sniper mode that meant being about 25km off the Fortizar.  I was wondering if wandering in that close might draw the attention of the defensive weaponry.

However, that didn’t turn out to be an issue.  I decreased the radius of my orbit to bring the rocket launcher in range and let fly.  I am way down the list for total damage, but at least I got on the kill mail.  It has been a quiet month with the peace agreement and PH not defending in Perimeter, so this is the only kill mail I am on for October. I try to be on one every month just to prove I am alive.

And so Pandemic Horde lost its foothold in Perimeter.

The PH logo shortly before the explosion

If you look at the kill mail, you will see that the five Leshaks in that group managed to get the top five slots for damage.  Those precursor weapons work as advertised I guess.

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.