The monthly economic report for October is going to be interesting. If Delve isn’t far and away the top region when it comes to destruction somebody will need to do some explaining. There was more than 3 trillion ISK destroyed in YZ9-F6 earlier this week, just shy of a trillion ISK blown up last Sunday in 319-3D, which followed the first and second Keepstar fights in FWST-8 that burned about 3 trillion ISK combined.
And yesterday added more than a trillion ISK more to the count for the month as PAPI dropped another Keepstar in 319-3D and the ensuing fight saw it destroyed.
The Keepstar was spotted very soon after its initial deployment, but there wasn’t time to mount an attack during the first fifteen minutes of exposure. Instead, the Imperium opted to wait until the 24 hour deployment cycle finished and the anchoring process began, which would open up another 15 minute timer during which the structure could be destroyed in a single fight.
This gave both sides time to prepare for the battle.
At a little after 17:00 UTC yesterday the anchoring process began and both sides jumped in, the Imperium determined to destroy the Keepstar at all cost and the invaders set to defend it.
The invaders hit an initial hitch. Since the October update earlier this week, the second stage of the Quantum Cores plan has been in place, which requires a core to be installed before a structure can become operational. This fight was the first big test for this new feature, as PAPI would have to install a core in order to get services like tethering up and running.
What also requires a core is the start of the 15 minute timer. As the deployment timer ended and the anchoring timer was expected to begin… there was no timer.
As Pandemic Horde struggled with time dilation to get the core installed, the Imperium was basically given almost an hour of real world time to hit the Keepstar without worrying about hitting the minimum damage threshold. Not that meeting that threshold early in the fight was an issue, as multiple fleets were on grid and ready to shoot as the overnight timer ended.
What that also meant was that once the core was installed, the 15 minute timer was halted almost immediately, stopping at 14:55, giving the Imperium a lot of breathing room should damage slip during the fight.
By then the battle was already raging around the Keepstar.
I wasn’t able to be around all day for the fight, which spanned ten hours, but I was there for the start and the end and a bit of the middle.
The system passed 5,200 in local early on as it was prime time for EUTZ but still viable for many US players.
That number did not grow much over the fight. There was no risk of it passing the peak from the second battle at FWST-8 last week, where the number hit 6,557. And the number sank slowly as the battle carried on. Much of the time in the late fight local wavered around 4,000, with it pushing up to 4,300 as the last few percentage points were peeled off before the end.
I started off the day in an interceptor, orbiting the Keepstar at high speed, shooting away and generally being ignored, a tactic that worked well in the previous fight. However, the enemy wised up to that idea as a bunch of interceptors zipping around ended up being a bit of a give away. By the time I was able to check back in on the fight, around 20:50 UTC, the structure was at 50% and the enemy had some fleets specifically hunting interceptors. My dive into the fight was short lived that time around.
This is what happens in war. One side comes up with a trick or a gambit and it works for a bit, then the other side figures it out and counters it. But both sides had learned from the previous fights. They were able to counter many things that had worked before, but we had new surprises and fleet comps to throw into the fight.
One things that did not change were the Ravens. Used in the first Keepstar fight by The Initiative, it became a more wide-spread doctrine with each fight. So when I was able to join back in that evening, I went in with that fleet.
I haven’t flown a Raven in ages, not since they were briefly a Reavers doctrine back in Querious before Fozzie Sov came along. But generally they aren’t much different that the Rokhs we use when it comes to tactics. You warp in at at maximum range, which for a Raven is even more than for a Rokh, target the Keepstar, align out, keep firing until you’re going to get hit, then warp out. If you’re successful, you rinse and repeat. If you’re not… well, you collect the insurance, apply for SRP, buy another one, and return to the fight.
I was lucky most of the time, but the server was taking 5 minutes and more to grab a command from the client queue and even then it was taking minutes for that command to get processed. The server had slowed us all down to 10% speed, but was struggling to keep up even then. So on one run I watched as damage piled up on my Raven… once you have an automatic attack going, it carries on without interruption or need to wait for the server like a fresh command does… as I waited for my warp command, which had left the outstanding calls queue, to be executed.
The damage kept coming, but it looked like I might warp in time… I got the animation and was flying away… only to explode in warp. Sort of. My capsule didn’t eject and finish up the whole process for a good 10 minutes. Life in tidi.
It was during that time that our damage began to slip. We had held the timer at 14:55 for a long time. But as we passed the 20% mark we hit a couple of slow patches and the timer… which is not delayed by time dilation but runs in real time… unpaused and started counting down. There was an agonizing stretch in there where it would pause for a bit, only to be set in motion again.
I was on grid, having just returned from my loss in a fresh Raven, when there was a bit of a panic on coms as we tried to get more ships on grid and shooting the structure. In past battles, where we were only able to stop the timer near the eight minute mark, we would have lost letting so much time slip. This time though we were able to pull through.
I waiting a long time to get in range, lock the Keepstar, and finally get my first missile off. I had overheated my launchers in order to shoot faster and, due to the lag in picking up commands, managed to burn them out before I had to warp off again.
By that time though we had piled in some reserves and the timer was secure going forward. The enemy, too, seemed to get a fresh wind, as they could see the possibility of a successful defense. So the fighting, if anything, grew more fierce, but we managed to rally. The percentages were counted down and, before I could get back on grid again… I got caught in a bubble with my warp and had to warp to another of our structures to get my launchers repaired… the Keepstar had been destroyed. We had won the objective and destroyed another Keepstar.
But the cost.
The battle report says we fed more than 1.2 trillion ISK into the guns of the enemy in order to kill that Keepstar.
As usual, the Keepstar did not generate a kill mail. This is the fourth time running that has happened. That means you can add another 187 billion to the PAPI losses, though I think they recovered the Quantum Core that dropped after the kill, so they can recycle that for next time. But that added loss doesn’t change the balance very much. We paid for that kill in ships to the order of 1.2 trillion ISK.
You can see from our losses that we depended less on dreads this time around and more on battleships, sacrificing over 2,000 of them on the field in order to destroy the Keepstar. The SRP team is going to be busy getting payout fulfilled for all of those losses.
Another long grinding fight is now in the history books. As one wag pointed out, we may have set a record for the most battleships lost by a group in a single day. Somebody alert Guinness World Records!
The fighting went on for a while after the Keepstar went down. (The BR includes that.) While people started to leave the system, time dilation stayed in full effect for well over an hour past the big boom. We had to wait a while until things settled before the coalition could get us a titan to bridge us back home. RatKnight1, a solid member of Reavers, dropped in and started bridging us, once we could get to him. We were spread out all over our Fortizar. (A Fortizar, which had its own timer during the fight and which repaired successfully while everybody was looking at the Keepstar.)
And now both sides are planning for the next attempt. There are the usual complaints about the fight. Redline XIII of NCDot was caught on the New Eden Post stream calling for Keepstar deployments to be buffed because this was “horseshit.” I think that clip already made it into a Mind1 mix as he DJ’d the fight for us. Unfortunately for Redline XIII, CCP made deploying more tricky with the whole Quantum Core thing, as predicted.
Of course, that is the opinion of somebody trying to drop a Keepstar in enemy space. I’d guess if the shoe was on the other foot the situation would seem reasonable.
The question is, when will the next Keepstar get dropped and will we come up with something new to keep our kill streak going or will the enemy success on the next drop.
Update: PAPI dropped another Keepstar, number 5, in YZ9-F6, so another fight tomorrow.