Tag Archives: Reagalan

Entosis Link Modules in Action in Querious

The first night out after the Carnyx expansion and we already using the new Entosis Link module to assail station services down in Querious.  There was a shield timer coming up on our besieged station in ED-L9T, our last little foothold in the region, and we were piling in early in anticipation of a fight.

Foothold in Querious

Foothold in Querious

As we often do, we assembled and flew two systems over, to I1Y-IU, and sat on their station in our Ravens in hopes of being able to pester them as they formed up.  And, as it turned out, somebody remembered to bring along an Entosis Link module.

Nobody mentioned it in coms that I heard, so for the first indication that something was happening was a strange beam… like the Cicadian Seekers scanning beam… emanating from one of the Ravens in the fleet.  Mtak had a tech II version of the module mounted and was hitting their services.

Entonsis Link beam

Entonsis Link beam

That go me looking at the station and the station services.

The station services, as noted in one of the update posts for Carnyx, have been moved around the station model so they aren’t all just piled up in a bunch around the undock.  Targeting them I could see the new status indicators.

Station services being hit

Station services being hit… also, new icons to confuse everybody for the next few weeks

You can see in the picture above that Mtak had already taken out one of the station service (fitting went first, if I recall right), which is indicated by the red circle.  He was just finishing up the second target on his list (repair maybe?) and you can see how the circle compares to the third service (clones) where, as the link runs, progress is indicated by progress of the marker (and the coloration) around the status circle.  The second set of services is almost out of action.

The whole thing worked as advertised… imaging that… with the first cycle of the link being just a warm up cycle, followed by actual progress on bringing down the service.  While the link was active attempts to apply reps or otherwise assist Mtak were greeted by error messages indicating that such things could not be done with the link running.  As a reminder, the restrictions are:

  • While the module is active, your ship is unable to cloak, warp, dock, jump or receive remote assistance. There is no way to get rid of the module penalties early except for losing your ship

And so we knocked out those three services on their station.  It was reported on coms that the absence of cloning services cause a couple of their pilots to get re-rerouted to their original home systems when they tried to suicide/death clone to get to I1Y-IU, but I couldn’t tell you whether that was true or not.  We certainly tried to pod anybody who lost a ship during the subsequent fight on the idea that doing so would keep them from simply docking up and reshipping.

As the timer on our station ran down to about the 30 minute mark, we pulled the Ravens off their station and headed back for ED-L9T to reship to Ishtars.  In the mean time we had been joined by some reinforcements from Deklein which included long time Imperium fleet commanders Reagalan and Lazarus Telraven in one of his alts.  As we landed back on the station grid in I1Y-IU, Pandemic Legion also showed up with some Tengus in order to get in on the fight.  In the short time we were away the hostiles had already started to run their own Entosis Link module in order to restore services in their station.

On the opposing side Darkness undocked their usual T3 fleet, supplemented by fleets from Northern Coalition and Gentleman’s Club, leading to numbers on the field sufficient to trigger time dilation throughout the fight, hitting pretty significant levels when fleets were taking gates between systems.

The fight itself went our way for quite a stretch.  I was dual-boxing, with my alt in an Ishtar and drones assigned to a trigger so I could set him to anchor up and pay attention to repping in my Basilisk.  Logistics was fairly strong, with more than a dozen Basilisks on grid for most of the fight.  I was able to keep up with both accounts for quite a while.  Then NCDot landed on the logi and the fight became a desperate scramble to keep ourselves alive.  We managed to survive mostly intact through that assault, but I knew I had to focus on logi completely at that point, so warped my alt off and sent him back to the station in ED-L9T for the balance of the fight.

After that the chaos of battle was pretty intense, with a lot of locking, repping, and unlocking for the next target.  NCDot managed to land on us again and ripped through the ranks of our Basilisks quite thoroughly this time.  My final act of defiance, my reps already engaged, my armor drones long gone, having already seen the yellow boxes meant for me, and having called for reps that I knew would never come, was to launch the one combat drone I had kept in my drone bay and set it on the nearest Loki in hopes of whoring on at least one kill mail.  Mission accomplished.

The logi having been all but wiped out, Asher wrangled the fleet and pulled it off the field, jumping into LS-V29 where there was one final exchange of fire before they disengaged and headed home to dock up.

The battle report, which was part of Arrendis’ article about the battle over at TMC (he was, as usual, the logi anchor during the fight), showed that we won the ISK war.  However, in being driven off the field we lost the strategic objective and were unable to rep the station in ED-L9T sufficiently to stop Darkness and friends from putting the station into the armor timer.  We are now pretty close to being evicted from our foothold in Querious.

The battle report also showed how much these fights have heated up over time, having gone from maybe 150 pilots total on grid on a good night to in excess of 400 pilots for this fight.  Also, the proximity of home stations meant a lot of people were able to re-ship and re-enter the fight, with ship kills standing at 523.  I died late enough in the fight that, by the time I got back to our supply base, the remaining Basilisks had been snapped up, so I was done for the night.  I filed for reimbursement (which got paid before my alarm clock went off this morning) and then waited for the PAP link before signing off.  (Oddly, neither of my characters, nor my alliance, show up on that battle report.  So it is at least two pilots and one kill shy of accurate.)

Now there is at least one big fight left in ED-L9T, over a station shoot that has to be done the old fashioned way, since the Entosis Link module is only for services with Carnyx.  We will see how many show up for that.

Heading to Fountain – The Chaos of Move Ops

A move op should be the simplest of all fleet operations.  The point of the exercise is merely to move a fleet of ships from point A to point B.  There is no plan to shoot anything, no hostiles to find, and generally little in the way of doctrine to deal with, at least when it comes to subcaps.

It should be just a matter of piling in the car and driving together down the road.

Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

The fleet commander’s job in a move op is to avoid trouble.  There is no target to shoot, just a destination to reach, and the FC’s duty is to get his whole fleet there in one piece.  The FC cannot go haring off, leaving people behind, because a limited opportunity target has presented itself.  And a move fleet tends to get strung out over several systems if allowed to free burn any distance, as the speedy frigates zip ahead while the lumbering battleships try to keep up.

There were literally problems in the five jump move op from QPO-WI to YA0-XJ that I wrote about the other day, with people falling behind or not hearing the FC because they had to step away from the computer for a bio break.  And that was before there were hostiles involved.

But there is a war going on in Fountain, something Endie has summed up in a post with his usual flare. (Also, click on the gif he has linked.  It is a pretty cool view of caps landing on what looks to be the J5A gate.)  And with that there wasn’t just one move op yesterday, but many, as our coalition tried to shuttle thousands of ships across New Eden.

The trip was just 25 jumps according to DOTLAN, something that shouldn’t take all that much time, but getting there was a two hour journey.

DOTLAN shows the route

DOTLAN shows the route

It would have been much less back in the old, pre-Phoebe days, when people could freely use jump bridges, but jump fatigue means everybody taking gates.  And I mean everybody.

I got into the 02:00 UTC move op fleet for subcaps which was being run by Reagalan.  Another move op had just gone out, but it was a taxi interceptor fleet for those who had somebody in a carrier haul their ships out to 4-EP, or who just planned on buying ships once they got there.  But I couldn’t go with that op because I wanted to get my Basilisk out there and ready for Reaver ops, otherwise I could have just used a jump clone and called it a night.  I still have one stashed in 4-EP from the last big war in Fountain, back in 2013.

Anyway, the first order of business was to sit around and wait for a bit while people piled into fleet or announced that they were some huge number of jumps out but would be there soon.  There were actually multiple move ops going on at the same time, including a capital move op, and part of our assignment was to be there to shepherd the big ships.  A nice plan in theory, but given the kitchen sink assortment of ships I wasn’t sure what we would actually do if we faced any opposition.  Somebody was asking who the anchor would be if we had to fight, betraying that blind optimism in the idea that there must be a plan somewhere.  My thought was that if we reach a point where we need a combat anchor, we’re probably screwed.

Undocking in YA0 was quite a site, with masses of capital ships streaming out of the station and slowly aligning for their first gate.

The crowd at the YA0 undock

The crowd at the YA0 undock

Of course, just the act of undocking a few fleets worth of ships put the system into time dilation.  Nothing like stretching out waiting by making time run slower!

At some point the cut was made and we were given our first waypoint on the route to Fountain and told to start burning ahead a bit. It was at the first gate that we were joined by the biggest ships in the fleet, the titans.

Titans landing on the gate in YA0

Titans landing on the gate in YA0

The supercaps, unable to dock, had been logging in at their home POS.  As we started moving out they had been given the green light as well and began to tag along with us, heading through the same gates.

That was a very odd sight for me.  Up until the Phoebe changes, even seeing a titan warp in system was something or a rare event in my experience.  Titans used to live inside of POS shields, using their jump drives to drop into systems to fight, then jumping back out when done.  Actually seeing a titan aligning and making their off-angle, sideways warp over and over again was something new.

Our fleet rushed ahead to the first waypoint and then waited as the capital ships caught up.  Then we would rush ahead… and even battleships feel fast when paced against a titan… to the next waypoint.  At one system I had gone through the gate and was watching the titans decloak, align, and warp off to the next gate.  I sat and watched them go and then warped to the gate myself, arriving with plenty of time to spare in order to watch those same titans finish their warp and finally land on the gate themselves.  Titans are slow.

That is what reigned in our progress, keeping our fleet from dashing ahead and wrapping things up.  We would move, then hold, then move a couple more jumps, then hold.  But the reward was getting to watch all those capital ships streaming past.  The new kids in Karma Fleet, the “just about anybody besides Gevlon and Xenuria can join” new player GSF corp were getting an eye full of special snowflake ships.  I think every supercap was represented on the way to Fountain.

Capital ships decloaked and trying to align

Capital ships decloaked and trying to align

The only thing we lacked was hostile interference.  A determined group of suicide Sabers or other interdictors could have bubbled up gates and really made our lives miserable, slowing the op down to… well… even a slower crawl than it already was.  That would totally be something we would do.  I am pretty sure DBRB has run that sort of op on past occasions.  But no hostiles showed up to bother us.

There was speculation as to why they did not show, the leading theory being that elite PvP organizations do not like to die as that tarnishes their kill board.  That lead into a long dissertation on the views and attitudes of organizations like Black Legion and how the eschew ship replacement programs, lest getting blown up lose its sting.  That went on for a bit.  There was a lot of chatter on the op, to the point that it was mentioned several times that the main Euro time zone move op was not nearly as talkative.  Having run more than a few ops with our European cousins, I will say that they do show a bit more coms discipline at times, but if they are silent it is only because certain Germans have been muted or are not on the op. (Looking at Xel.)

Finally we grouped up on the last gate before Fountain, the J5A-IX gate in B-DBYQ, the old staging system from which we launched the 2013 Fountain war.  There we sat as the capitals streamed in to join us. (Okay, I am going to link that gif too, it really sets the scene well.)

Caps landing on the J5A gate

Caps landing on the J5A gate

Then it was through the gate and into Fountain.

In J5A we all decloaked and sat as the capital ships, within jump range of their staging POS and willing to accrue a little jump fatigue space ebola in order to wrap things up, activated their jump drives and streaked out of the system.  And then one of the Archons lit a cyno there on the gate in J5A.

Apparently he wanted to record the jump out with FRAPs, but had assigned the same key to activate the record option as was used for the high slot where his cyno generator was located, so there we were.  And once a cyno is lit it has to run its full cycle, which in this case lasted 10 minutes, while the ship in question just sits there. (And here is the video he took!)

That generated some lively talk about how the poor guy would have been blown up for holding up a fleet during a combat op as well as tips about keeping your liquid ozone, the fuel for the module, in your fleet hanger and only moving it to your cargo bay when you need it.

The ten minutes rolled by and eventually the last capital ship jumped off to where ever they were staging.  Then it was our turn to head out.  The plan was to take the jump bridge from J5A to cut out a few jumps.  But then it turned out that one of the Domi pilots in the fleet had about five days of space ebola on him, so we opted to spare him further jump fatigue debt and just ran the five gates to 4-EP.  There was a small gate camp along the way, but when 160 ships land, that sort of operation tends to scatter.  We left no stragglers for them to catch, and were soon landing on the station, which had been put into reinforce.

Landing on the station at 4-EP

Landing on the station at 4-EP

That is the shield timer running down, just the first event in the Dominion sov station taking lifecycle.  And when the time gets close, we will just undock and hold the station, it being our staging system and all.

Once docked up I remembered to set my death clone to the station, so when I get blown up I won’t have to make the trek across space yet again.  Fountain is an active war zone with hostile gate camps all over.

I also went through the stock of ships I still had sitting around from the last time we staged out of 4-EP.

FM4-EPShipsI think the Scimitar might be useful, if it is fit correctly for Tengu fleet, and the Basilisk I brought is correct for current doctrine.  The rest of the ships on the list though represent more of a history than anything else.  I actually thought I lost that Hurricane on an op ages ago, but I guess not.

That was it for me for the night.  Op success, everybody moved safely, and it wasn’t even a trail of tears.  But, then, we didn’t have to go all the way to Delve either.  And now in position to join ops as they come up.  The war is on.

Meanwhile, here are some of the screen shots I took on the way to Fountain.

A Short and Bloody Visit to F7C-H0

Well, it was a short visit for me.

The highlight of weekend fleet ops up until Saturday evening had been flying around Black Rise to pop a couple of Black Legion faction battleships with DBRB.  I hadn’t been in one of his fleets in ages, and it was good to see that he hasn’t calmed down at all.  The best moment during that op was when he had us on a gate, yelling into coms that the hostiles were on the other side and jumping through, only to discover we were on the wrong gate.  All those low sec names look alike.

Things were quiet on Saturday afternoon until the call went out to form up to take on some hostiles out in Cloud Ring who were hitting one of our towers.  We were going to head out in Tengu fleet, though we had to go through the usual round of trying to get enough Scimitars and boosters before we could get on our way.  Having gotten on my share of kill mails for the month, I joined up in a Scimitar to help keep the fleet alive.

I figured something interesting must be going on as when I undocked to join the fleet at the staging POS, there was a huge lump of capital ships undocking as well.

Heavy iron undocking

Heavy iron undocking

We had to sit in the POS and be cajoled for a while until the fleet composition settled down into something useful before we headed out and down the “so familiar I could fly it in my sleep” pipe from Deklein to Cloud Ring.  After nearly three years in null, I think I have finally flipped over and systems with seemingly random letters and numbers as designators seem normal while systems with actual names seem odd.

We got into the region and held a couple of gates out.  I gather we were waiting for our own caps to get into the system.  Eventually we moved into F7C-H0 as well though, and dropped into the fight under heavy TiDi.  The main fight seemed to be a slugging match between capital ships, but there were plenty of sub caps running around as well.  Our personal nemesis seemed to be a fleet of rapid light missile launcher fit Cerberuses. (fit)  Those seem to be the counter to our Harpy fleet doctrine, but they seemed to do equally well in a mass against our Tengu fleet Scimitars and Scythes.  They were able to lock up and alpha Scimis off the field before we could get reps on them.  And so when my name came up as a target, I could see that mass of ships yellow boxing me, meaning that they were locking me up as a target, at which point I called for shield reps.  But before help for me could arrive, the boxes went red and the missiles began to hit.

And soon I was in a pod in the middle of the battle, my Scimitar having exploded.

I had about a minute of peace as I tried to move towards the edge of the bubbles with an eye to warping off when I got caught and was sent quickly home to our staging system at YAO.

The battle was still in full swing, and my first reaction was to just jump into another Scimitar and head back towards the fight.  I knew the route after all, and a Scimi can be swift.  But that way lies madness and gate camps, so I reigned in my enthusiasm and took stock of the situation.  A Harpy fleet had just gone out (soon to pay the price in facing those Cerebruses), and was far enough away that I wasn’t going to catch them.

However, a Baltec fleet was forming up.  That meant swapping to an armor doctrine ship.  As usual, logistics was in demand so I went with an Oneiros.  I wasn’t in the right clone to fly the Apocalypse battleship, the mainstay of the fleet, in any case.  It needs an implant.  The joys of clone juggling.  Anyway, we got out there on the titan, as fleet boosters were obtained and logistics pilots were recruited (including any number of dead Tengu fleet logi pilots), and sat.

We ended up just sitting for about an hour before we got our participation link and were stood down.  We were, it seems, just a fleet in being, there to show the hostiles that we had more forces to drop on them should they pursue our withdrawal from the battle.

The whole thing was apparently a trap to lure out some CFC capital ships to kill.  While much of the CFC leadership was hanging out at EVE Vegas (here are Elo Knight and The Mittani, something I linked in fleet during the op) Black Legion and N3 set their plans in motion, and we stepped right into it.  (Rumor has it that the leadership in Vegas were all hovering over Skymarshal Blawrf and his laptop at one point to find out what was going on while they were away.)  The ISK war was tilted heavily in their favor, though they did not leave unscathed, losing some caps of their own.  The battle report sums it up as such:

Red: BL & N3 - Blue: CFC

Red: BL & N3 – Blue: CFC

Long time gaming pal Gaff, who just returned to EVE Online last week, managed to get on kill mails for ten hostile dreadnoughts before losing his Archon in the fight.  He was almost all the way into the POS shields as the capital fleet pulled back when he went into structure and exploded.

And so it goes.  Another big fight in before the November 4 Phoebe expansion turns operations like that from a two jump flit for capitals (16 ly covered from YA0 to F7C according to DOTLAN) to a 20 gate slow march through TiDi.

The two competing EVE Online news sites both have battle reports up.

Meanwhile I have, as usual, a few screen shots from my own short time on grid.  You can just see the ball of Cerberuses that killed me in that last picture.

Another Null Sec Achievement!

There we were.  The ping had gone out.  Nulli Secunda was running around Deklein.  They were in YA0-XJ, our staging system, when I logged on.  all 54 of them.

A fleet was formed.

We piled into Tengu fleet doctrine ships to fight them.  We undocked, but our scouts reported they were running.

Reagalan, our FC secured us a titan.  We could cut them off.  All we had to do was get bridge to a system a couple jumps out to cut them off.  We had eyes on them, we knew where they were headed.

We hit the staging POS first, then Reagalan had us warp to him on the titan.  We all bunched up there, looking straight into the face of the giant Amarr titan, the Avatar.  Reagalan asked the titan pilot to bridge us to the beacon in the cut-off system.  We started intently at the titan, waiting for the visual effect that would indicate that the bridge was up.

The tension mounts...

The tension mounts…

Nothing happened.  Reagalan nudged the titan pilot again.

Suddenly the Avatar, this giant visage right before us, transforms itself into a red ball of energy and disappears as a streak into the distance.

Poof!  Gone!

There was a moment of silence as we processed what happened, and then fleet chat broke out in hilarity.

The pilot selected “jump to” instead of “bridge to” and sent himself off to the cut-off system, while we were all left to run there the hard way.

Fortunately Nulli Secunda was too busy heading out of our space to see the titan.  Not that they could have made much of an issue of it, as we were very quickly burning through gates as fast as we could to catch up.  Reagalan got himself popped racing ahead, but otherwise everything was okay.

So we headed back to YA0-XJ, catching a hostile on the way.

I have heard about titan pilots mixing up “jump” and “bridge” before.  It was how the battle of Asakai happened.  But to see it happen was quite a thing.  I feel steeped in just that much more of the null sec experience.  I can now mark that off of my list of things to experience.  And, some day, should I fly a titan, I will try to follow the simple guide.

Picture source: unknown

Picture source: unknown

All the more so because once Phoebe drops in about a month, there will be the heart ache of jump fatigue to deal with.  Then again, a titan won’t be able to get very far away after Phoebe either. Fun stuff.

 

We Pay Black Legion a Visit

We are suddenly living in interesting times in New Eden.  Change is coming.  A lot of people think they know how things will play out, but when CCP is telling people that they cannot predict the results, it can be hard to tell which pundit has some deep insight versus just some wishful thinking.

In addition to my own minor predictions, I am going to guess that, over the next few weeks, we will be witnessing the last hurrah of easy jump drive and jump bridge travel.  The Phoebe expansion and its huge travel changes, expected to drop in early November, looms and all good pilots in New Eden are at least making contingency plans.  The wise are making sure all their jump clone related skills are up to snuff.  The traders are stockpiling goods, the industrialists materials.  Those needing to have stuff shipped are doing it now rather than later, as shipping charges are expected to jump.  And I am willing to bet that alliances with supercapital heavy doctrines will be looking to get in some last-minute cross-region hot drops.

And those of us who have been flying subcaps back and forth across half the galaxy in order to defend the empire… we’ll be eager to do a few last farewell flings across space as well.

So it was Saturday when Reagalan put out a ping on Jabber that he would be doing something hilarious and that he had a fleet up, but that the doctrine was as yet undecided.

Once nearly 200 people showed up and piled in on that promise, it was time to pick ships.  Reagalan wanted to go with the new Hawk fleet doctrine which he has been championing, however logistics held us back.  There just weren’t any Hawks up on contract.  Some of us had them, but most of the fleet did not.  So the doctrine was changed to Harpy fleet, while asking some people to stay with Hawks to give us some more tacklers.  I opted for a Harpy because I happened to have three in the station, so I figured I might as well lose something I already had backup on.  Besides which, as I found out with Sunday’s fight, the Hawk fleet configuration changed a bit and my Hawk needed to be refit to be brought up to date.

The act of nearly 200 of us swapping ships brought up TiDi in the system.  CCP is going to have to put some more CPU power behind our new home, what with fleet assemblies and Black Legion coming to visit.

Once shipped, it was time to undock and head out to… wherever it was we were going.

Most dramatic undock screen shot yet

Most dramatic undock screen shot yet

That was some more TiDi, as was the move through the first few gates.  Other ops were likely in progress.

We started down a route I had not previously been aware of, and Reagalan had been very quiet about our actual destination, no doubt in the name of operational security.  But eventually he had to tell us where we were headed.  We ended up joining the old convoy route to Fountain, and by the time we got to J5A he had put NOL-M9 in as a destination for fleet.  We were headed to Delve.

Which was something of a pisser.  I have a jump clone and the correct doctrine ship down in Delve.  I could have just landed down there and waited for everybody else to take the jump bridge highway from Deklein.

Looking at another jump bridge array...

Looking at another jump bridge array…

That is the problem with op sec.  You can’t just ping that you want people for form up in YA0 and then add in the bit about jump cloning to Delve if you’re trying to keep the hostiles from being totally aware that you are coming.  So my jump clone sat unused, still saved for a rainy day, or Phoebe, whichever comes first.  I suppose I did get to update some jump bridge bookmarks.  The Oceanus expansion last week changed the rules a bit on where jump bridges could be anchored, so some of them had to move, obsoleting some bookmarks.

We were headed to Delve to support our southern cousins in the CFC.  FA had a fleet coming from Fountain, while the LAWN gnomes were forming up along with The Initiative to defend their turf.   A tower in NPC null had been put in reinforce so there was going to be a timer fight and Black Legion, also crossing the galaxy for a fight, was expected to be there.  Time for a bit of pay back for our losses at YA0 Thursday evening.  We had to fart about a bit camping a gate to see if we could grab anybody headed to the fight, but eventually we jumped into G-TT5V, warped to the tower in question, and found a fight in progress.

Landing at the tower

Landing at the tower

We were a little far off from the fight, so Reagalan warped us off and then back on top of Black Legion where we anchored up and started in.  Bubbles went up around the fight.  The numbers were in our favor, so the key to things was to pin them down, kill off their logistics, and then chop them up one by one.

Ball of Tengus in the bubbles

Ball of Tengus in the bubbles

As a percentage of their force, their logistics was not as prevalent as they were at YA0 two days before, and they did not seem to be as well coordinated.  This may have been due to there being different fleets calling different targets, thus spreading the Scimitar reps more thinly.  Whatever it was, we were able to start breaking the tanks on their Scimitars, and pretty soon they were going down as quickly as we could lock them up and start shooting.  With support down, our path to juicier targets was clear.

Black Legion Chimeras

Black Legion Chimeras

Black Legion had three Chimera carriers on the field, which we proceeded to target and turn to scrap one by one.

A Chimera wreck, and a soon to be wreck

A Chimera wreck, and a soon to be wreck

Three carriers down and the battle was really going our way.  Without logistics to support them, bubbled up and unable to flee, the Tengus were meat before us, waiting to be consumed.

And then, as we were laying down another round of  bubbles on Black Legion, some allied stealth bombers dropped on the Tengus and bombed them.  This was unfortunate, as they did not have nearly the firepower to do more than scratch the Black Legion fleet, but they had more than enough blast to clear away the bubbles.  The Tengus, already burning to get out of the bubbles, was clear to warp away.

There was some chasing about.  We managed to drop on and tackle one hostile in an asteroid belt.

Harpies unleash

Harpies unleash

But Black Legion had freedom of action and was able to dock up in the Blood Raiders station in system to avoid further loss.

We kept the station under guard while the other fleets finished up their business and withdrew.  The most expendable fleet gets to fly cover while the more expensive assets pull out.

Sitting on the Blood Raiders station

Why does every Amarr structure look like it was made out of Apoc parts?

We sat outside and made chicken sounds and attempted to goad Black Legion into undocking, but Elo Knight merely responded in local that sticks and stones might break his Tengus, but words would never hurt him.  At least I think that is when he uttered those words.  That might have happened on Sunday when we had him holed up in the station at 5ZXX-K.  I forget which.

Once everybody was clear, we were able to withdraw and get on the jump bridge highway back to the north.  Our movements may be hampered come November, but it is still October.  Black Legion also headed north.  As noted in the previous post, we ended up facing them along with Nulli Secunda in Pure Blind just a day later, and then again later that night up in Deklein.  They were not able to repeat their performance at YA0 and the Sunday night brawl devolved into us chasing their Ishtars all over 2R-CRW in Hawks while they tried to escape.

But the fight at G-TT5V at least got a little payment back for YA0, with the ISK war tilted in our favor this time according to the battle report.

Losses - Team 1: CFC, Team 2: Black Legion

Losses – Team 1: CFC, Team 2: Black Legion

A lot of our losses were wrapped up in a Naglfar that The Initiative threw into the brawl to hit the Black Legion carriers.  Being fixated on my own little corner of the battle, I completely missed the dreads dropping in to assist.

For a wider view of the battle, what it was about, who did what, and so on, there is a post up over at TMC by Arrendis, who was also our anchor for the main part of the fight.

I expect, with Black Legion, Nulli Secunda, and a few other groups now in the north to take advantage of the last few weeks of easy travel in null sec, that we will have more fights on our hands .  The final days before Phoebe will be bloody because nobody is really sure what we will be doing once the travel changes clamp down.  So we will take our fun while we can get it.

Black Legion Pays Us a Visit

I managed to sit down at the computer last night just in time to have a Jabber alert pop up calling for a fleet.  Black Legion was in our new Deklein staging system at YA0-XJ.  I guess those change of address cards worked.

The alert said that more than 100 ships were in YA0 looking for a fight, so I logged right in.  I was in my high sec training clone, so I jumped back to my clone in YA0,  got into my Baltec Apocalypse, and got onto voice coms to listen to the usual operetta of a fleet form up.  The fleet commander, the tenor, must sing his sad tale of not having enough logistics (and too many interceptors) and how we won’t even undock if we do not get enough.  I sit in my Apoc and rationalize by saying to myself that it is a new month so I need a couple of kill mails, and in any case I am in my Apoc clone, the one with the EG-603 implant, which is required to fly our fit, so if I am going to get podded and lose it I am damn well going to do it in the ship that requires it.  I’ll fly logistics next time, I swear.

Eventually Red Crown cajoled enough people to swap so that we meet the minimum doctrine requirements.  The logistics theme is not done yet though.  That motif will continue through the fight.  But we are able to start undocking, which turns on the time dilation.

Undocking in YA0

Undocking in YA0

Red Crown had us align to the 2R-CRW gate in YA0, where Black Legion was reported to be lingering.  That is when we started to prove again that we can be very bad at EVE Online.  On of the squad commanders warped his squad to the gate rather than aligning, sending most of his squad to a quick and early death.  On person was able to cancel warp, the rest were blown up on landing, being served up for Black Legion like hors d’oeuvres.  The rest of us managed to align without warping to a fiery death.

Once we had a safe warp in, Red Crown warped the fleet and we landed on grid with Black Legion and the shooting could begin.  Black Legion was out in Tengus with a fleet of over 120 ships, a quarter of which were logistics.  As has been discussed elsewhere, logistics is a very powerful aspect of fleet composition.  This is why the FC is always shouting for more logi.  Black Legion was going to be a tough nut to crack with all that support.

The first thing on the agenda was to clear off a Mobile Cynosural Inhibitor that was on grid, so that we could bring in some more firepower in the form of some carriers and their sentry drones.  This led to a moment of comedy where everybody locked up the inhibitor, shot it into structure, then moved on to the next target.  When you are shooting ships, and you see one out of shields, out of armor, and taking damage to its hull, it is time to think about moving onto the next target.  But with structures, the hull actually makes up the bulk of the hit points.  The inhibitor only has 20K hit points armor and shields combined, but 150K in the hull.

So everybody shot it into hull and moved on, leaving it still alive.  So the FC had to get us all to go back and finish it off so some carriers could land on grid with us and add their fire to the mix.

With that finally accomplished, we started trying to whittle down the enemy logistics, which were on the far side of the battle from us.  Baltec fleet in general, and Apocs in particular, are good and picking off ships at range. With the right crystals loaded, I can engage targets out past 150km.  So the FC began calling Scimitars as targets.  We even managed to pop the first one, but then the hostiles were alerted and each subsequent target got reps before we could get it into armor.

BL Scimitar taking heat

BL Scimitar taking heat

On our side though, casualties began to mount.  We had half as much in the way of logistics, and a third of it was being flown my one guy who was multi-boxing.  Add in the fact that armor reps apply at the end of the module cycle, as opposed to the beginning of the cycle with shield reps, and there was a lot less margin for error on our side.  Even TiDi, which usually makes logistics easier, as your reaction time remains the same while the world around you slows down, wasn’t enough to help us out.

BLYTiDi

We swapped to other target types, and managed to knock down a couple, but once the hostile logi was wise to our plan, reps thwarted further kills.

At some point Red Crown went down and Reagalan took over the FC slot.  He aligned us away from the hostiles so we could engage at range and then tried a few tricks to see if we could alpha ships before reps kicked in.  He would have us all hold fire until we were ready to go, then give us a target to lock up and shoot.  When this worked, it worked quickly, but for the most part Black Legion seemed to be on the ball and calling for reps as soon as we started locking somebody up.  Anybody who was slow died, the rest got reps in time to thwart our damage.

There were a couple calls to get more logistics in our fleet and a small Celestis fleet went up to try and damp the hostile logistics, though they were targeted and destroyed in pretty short order.  After a while of mounting losses for little gain, we left the field and headed back to the station.  Black Legion won the day, with more kills and more ISK destroyed.

Team 1: CFC, Team 2: BL

Team 1: CFC, Team 2: BL

The battle report from which that graph was drawn is available here.

Some screen shots from the fight.  There are a couple of shots where you can, thanks to colors, spot people using the wrong crystals for their lasers.

And Sometimes We are the Ones Outnumbered…

GUARENTEED FIGHT IN FOUNTAIN TONIGHT

-Blawrf McTaggart, the broadcast some claim jinxed the whole thing

Black Legion still has a tower set up in Fountain.  We had put it into reinforce and the timer was set to come up last night.  We were going to go and try to finish it off.

Reagalan put up a broadcast about fifteen minutes in advance of the form up time for the fleet, but otherwise it wasn’t really on the calendar or anything, so when Blawrf finally sounded the horn there were already about 40 of us in the YA0-XJ station and in the fleet.  The follow up got another 50 or so people, putting us at 93 total.

Not bad for a week night without much in the way of advance warning.  Enough to cause trouble most days of the week.

The fleet composition had yet to be announced.  Reagalan wanted to take a Hawk fleet out, an experimental doctrine, but was overruled.  Neither were we destined to run out to Fountain in Tengus, which was probably a good thing as my Tengu is still down in F2OY-X.  The call from command said we were to go out as a Baltec fleet because this was serious business, a strat op, and not just some roam.

So we got out our Baltec ships.  I got into my Apocalypse, which had made it back from Delve, and joined everybody out at the staging POS so we could begin the part of every fleet op where we discover we do not have enough boosters or logistics.  I am still ages away from being able to fly a boosting ship and I wanted to get on a kill mail, it has been a slow month so far, so I was reluctant to give that up for logistics.

As it was, we had to escort somebody a couple of jumps to pick up a boosting ship in order to cover him from a hostile gang roaming the area.  We managed to land on them at one point and I was able to lock up and get on a kill mail, helping blot out a tackled interceptor.  I even got top damage.

My need for a kill mail satisfied, I volunteered to swap out for an Oneiros logistics ship.

Oneiros at a Cloud Ring POS

Oneiros at a Cloud Ring POS

Some other people swapped for logi and we ended up with a fleet composition worth taking out at last.  Then it was a quick warp to a titan to bridge us a little ways along before we picked up the well worn trail to Fountain.  The route was posted in fleet for us to free burn to B-DBYQ, the gateway system to Fountain from the north, where we spent so much time last year.  I barely needed to look at the route, as I can fly it by rote at this point.

We burned out way, spreading out along the route, light ships landing at the destination as the battleships slowly followed a few systems back.  Reagalan was trying to get the battleship pilots to hurry up by having them cycle their MWD modules before starting the process to warp to the next point in space.  This is supposed to speed up the transition to warp by bringing the ship up to the 75% of top speed threshold needed to engage.  Wags on coms were pointing out that this was shaving off about a second from the align and warp time, but that the extra second was pretty much being eaten up by the actually having to cycle the MWD.

As we arrived in B-DBYQ over time, Reagalan had us hole up at the POS where the jump bridge was located.  The battleships finally caught up and joined us within the protective shield.

Apocs burning for the POS

Apocs burning for the POS

There we sat for a bit, the force now consolidated again, when Reagalan, without preamble, warped us to the local customs office.  This was unusual as part of the doctrine is to keep everybody aligned so that we will all warp and land together.  As we were all spread out in the POS and facing this way or that, this lead to a long, ragged fleet warp.  I happened to be facing almost exactly 180 degrees from the destination, which meant I was one of the last to warp off, but which also meant I got a pretty good view of the new warp termination effect as the rest of the fleet landed in front of me.  A pity it is so faint and transitory that it is tough to capture effectively in a screen shot.  It looks very nice when you see it happen, but a single frame can’t seem to capture its essence.

Reagalan then had us align back in the direction from which we had just warped.  A we landed back at the jump bridge he told us to take it, which got a collective moan out of the fleet on coms.  Taking the jump bridge would send us in the wrong direction.  That was the way home.  That meant no fight for us.

Reagalan confirmed this.  While we managed to get a fleet of nearly one hundred together, Black Legion had a Tengu fleet up with a reported 150 members in fleet, roughly one third of them logistics.   That last bit is a key factor.

Logistics for sub caps is the new trend (well, new-ish at this point) in why null sec is broken.  Back in the old days, long before my time in null, apparently fights were often blood baths where winner and loser could wander off almost equally mauled.  Everybody got kill mails though, so even the losers in a fight where they were burned down to the last ship would feel that at least they had inflicted some losses on their foes.  They had some tangible effect and the fight was not in vain.  Some of the bad guys… and your foes are always bad guys… had to walk home too.

Now, however, if two fleets of roughly equal size square off, if one has better logistics support not only is it likely to win the engagement, it is likely to do so with minimal losses.  So, in the absence of other ways to win a fight, piling on logistics support has become a thing.  We no longer fly strat ops with just a couple logi ships.  Instead the FC has to chide people into support ships under the threat of standing down if we do not get sufficient numbers in the space priest column.  The same go for boosting ships, though calls for nerfing boosters has been going on for a while now, at least for off-grid boosting.

Anyway, so you can add “nerf logistics” to the “fixing null” sec bingo card along with “nerf jump bridges,” “nerf jump drives,” “nerf supers,” and “fix sovereignty.”  (“Grr Goons” is the center spot and everybody gets that as a freebie.)

The upshot of this was that we faced a formidable foe by the reports that were shared with us.  Spies on both sides mean that we all generally know what we are facing for this sort of timer fight unless somebody is very, very clever.  The Tengu fleet alone seemed very likely to chew us up unless handled badly.  Add in the fact that Black Legion’s allies had assembled an additional fleet of 100+ ships for the fight, and the decision was made not to give the enemy an easy victory by fighting them with the odds in their favor.  We headed back to the staging station in YA0-XJ to stand down.

We got our participation link for showing up.  While Dabigredboat took a bomber fleet down to harass the hostiles at about the same time we headed out, I am sure Black Legion saved their tower.  I am also equally sure that we will soon be headed down to reinforce it yet again, so there will be more timers and more possible fights.

Addendum: And there was a fight there again already.  Oops, sorry about that LAWN.

Addendum2: Or maybe that wasn’t the same tower.  Still, bloodbath in Fountain.

Blow Up at F2OY-X

I was a bit disappointed on Saturday.  There were a couple of strat ops planned, but they were both during time frames where I was not going to be able to come along.  I like strat ops because they tend to be based on timers or some other event that forces both sides to show up.  And they tend to be focused on a specific mission beyond shooting whoever we can find.

But as I was poking around early Saturday afternoon, an op came up in Jabber asking people to get in fleet fast for action in F2OY-X.

That sounded like my kind of deal.  A fight in our staging system meant no travel.  Of course, it was likely to be a chimera, the possibility of a fight that would never materialize.  But I was sitting around and I wasn’t going to be around for the later strat op, so I jump into the game.  I would get a participation link for showing up at least.

But on getting into the game, a fight looked more than likely.  There were over a thousand people in the system, TiDi was already starting to hit hard, and even as I got into Reagalan’s Baltec fleet he was telling us to undock and align.  It was time to go, so I got my Apocalypse pointed in the right direction and went.

There were warp disruption bubbles of one flavor or another all over space within sight of the station.  We actually had to warp to a mid point to get around some to drop in on the fight.  Along the way, we passed within sight, if not range, of a TEST pilot who wanted us to be sure of who to shoot.

Ship naming fun

Ship naming fun

We slowly made our way to the engagement, tidi dipping to 10% already and, on arriving, started shooting the targets called.  Initially we did not have much success.  A later count showed that the hostiles brought a lot of logistics with their Tengu fleet, so were catching sufficient reps when targeted to shrug off our fire.  Remote reps have come up as part of the larger “fix null sec” thread of posts that has been banging about the EVE Online world.  You only get kills if you can out-damage the remote repair abilities of your foes.  So the game becomes “bring more dudes” while your FC yells at you to get into a logistics ship.  More reps means life, so nerfing reps is now being discussed.

Logistics become a lynchpin in engagements.  You keep your logistics alive, which tend to be easier to kill than your ships of the line, by having your logistics anchor keep as far off on the other side of the fight from your foes as possible.  Out of range means being safe.

Fortunately for us, the reach of Baltec fleet is pretty far.  An Apoc with range scipts and the right crystals can reach out and hit things as far as 150km off if you have the right skills trained.  Not that we needed that.  Their logistics seemed to be close to hand, within the range of our short-to-medium range ammo.  So Reagalan had us swap to targeting their logistics.  That worked and we started getting kills, breaking Scimitar tanks one by one.

That was an investment into the future of the fight.  However, killing logistics now leaves all the hostile firepower still on hand to shoot at you.  We had enough logistics for the fleet, so long as you paid attention and clicked the “need armor” button as the hostiles were just starting to target you.  That is indicated by the yellow boxes around ships in your overview.  I was not paying close enough attention and only hit the button when I noticed those yellow boxes starting to turn red, which means that you are now being shot at.

Never a good sign...

Never a good sign…

Soon I was floating around in a pod.  But first I got to see my ship explode in slow motion.  The tidi was bad enough… it had clearly pushed beyond the level that was showing as the backend systems struggled to keep up with things running at one tenth speed… that my ship was gone as far as my controls were concerned a good 30 seconds before it actually exploded on screen.

I go boom... eventually

I go boom… eventually

Then I was sort of stuck.  There were layers and layers of warp disruption bubbles to fly through so I would be clear to warp back to the station and re-ship.  I took that time to go through the contracts, pick out, and purchase a new Apocalypse.  Reagalan was cajoling us to return in Celestises in order to sensor damp the hostiles, as not being able to target and shoot things apparently induces rage in our foes, but those had all been bought out.  So it was back to a big ship.

Pods move slowly, put-putting along at 187 meters a second, made all the more slow by tidi inflicting is penalty.  Eventually though I wandered out into open space and was able to warp back to the station.  Docking and reshipping went very quickly given the TiDi situation, and I even remembered to check the fitting to make sure the guns were online before I undocked.  They were not.  Ships on contract sometimes get fit by an alt that cannot use all the modules, so they are with the ship but offline.  It is embarrassing to be in a hurry only to get undocked and find you can’t actually shoot anything.

Then it was time to find my own way back to the fleet, which meant finding a wreck or something to warp to, since the direct route from the station was still blocked by bubbles.

I got back in time to see the end of the initial engagement.  The long range ammo was out now and we were taking shots beyond the 100km mark as the hostiles headed away from us.  The last kill we got there was Doombunny.  As the hostiles began to fall out of range, Reagalan warped us off to the staging POS to regroup.  There we were joined by one of the hostiles.

I am not sure how this happened, but one of the enemy Scimitars warped to the POS with us, getting stuck outside the shields.

Visiting Scimitar

Visiting Scimitar

Of course, we were all “Shoot her, shoot her!” but were, for the most part, stuck inside the POS shields and unable to target or shoot.  So we started to burn out of the POS towards her.  Those who had forgotten to enter the POS password (I do not remember entering it myself, but somehow I landed at the tower) and were bouncing off the shield got a quick kill before we could get there.

We then warped onto the enemy Tengus again and were able to bubble them up and start shooting.  By this point their logistics had been pared down so that we were able to alpha Tengus off the field fairly regularly.  It became a race to lock up hostiles before they disappeared and the targets called quickly stretched out into a long list.  And then they were off again.  We warped around a bit trying to catch them, ending up hanging around on the 1DH gate for a while.  But that was the end of things for us.

Return, getting a warp in, more shooting.  Warping about, catching some more. Warp back to POS, scimitar joins us.  Hanging on gate, no joy.  The action was over for us.

The fight itself seemed to develop as a slow boil on our side of things.  Black Legion, Northern Coalition, and their allies dropped in and established an early dominance with a mass of tengus, which cost use a lot of losses amongst those who came out to meet them at the start of the fight.  There was a point where they were “winning” for whatever definition you choose, and if they had been able to extract at that point, they could have made the case for victory.  At the end of the first round, Reagalan seemed pessimistic about how we were doing, hoping for a draw on the ISK war after we were mauled early on.

But rather than leaving the hostiles lit cynos and jumped people in as the CFC pot came to a boil.  As things moved on the pings for fleets built up on our side, filling out the Harpy fleet and then bringing out a wrecking ball of carriers deploying even as the rest of us were reshipping and returning to the fight.  We were fighting right there in our home system, so people logging on had no problem jumping on.  The end result of the battle shows things tilted very much in our favor.

Total kills were close, with 358 kills for our side against 315 for the hostiles.  But the ISK war fell heavily in our favor, as we lost 16.5 billion ISK in ships to their loss of 37 billion.

Always the ISK war

Always the ISK war

We lost a lot of inexpensive ships.  If you look at the ships engaged, there are a lot of dead interdictors and Celestises and tier 1 logistics listed for us, all pretty cheap as far as things go, while the hostiles lost mostly Scimitars, Tengus, and Huggins.  Those are pricey.

The fight ended up about two hours before the start op I was going to miss, but I had gotten my share of internet spaceship kills for the day, so was satisfied to leave that to others.  It was certainly better than the fleet op on Sunday where we flew out to Aridia through a mess of TiDi only to arrive at a fight that had just ended.  Pandemic Legion invited us out to help, but I wonder if they just wanted to inflict pain on us as we took 16 very slow gates out to Soliara and then 16 back home again.

There is a write up of the larger, strategic view of the fight at F2OY-X over at TMC. which answers the whole “so how did this happen?” aspect of things.

And naturally, I have some screen shots from the fight after the cut.

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Fight at the POS in A-ELE2

The battle had been raging for a while when I sat down at my computer and saw a list of pings from Blawrf McTaggart, CFC Skymarshall.  Most of them were old enough to discard, fleets long since off to the races, and trying to catch up by yourself is a mugs game.  But the last one was only six minutes old, a call to get into a reinforcement fleet and get on a titan for a bridge into the current fight.

Multiple doctrines were being called up; Harpies, Celestis, and Apocalypses were in demand.  I was in my high sec implant clone, still working away at my leadership training plan, but my timer had run down and I was clear to clone jump immediately.  So it was back to my clone in F2OY-X where I jumped into my Apoc, primarily because I had the power grid implant needed to fly the doctrine fit already installed in the clone, and if I was going to lose it I figured I might as well lose it in the ship I need it for.

I was on the bounce right away, into the fleet with the titan to get a bridge, undock, enter the POS password, warp to the titan at 10km so as not to bump it, into the bubble, and then a quick burst of speed with the microwarp drive to get in range because the bridge was already up and I didn’t want to have to wait around for the next group to form up and get bridged.

Passing into the POS

Passing into the POS

We landed in A-ELE2 and things slowed way, way down.  There were about 1,100 people in the system and TiDi had everything running at 10% of normal speed.

A-ELE2 is not that far away from our staging system in F2OY-X, but it is in the hot zone corner of Delve, the NPC null sec, where our foes are staged and where there are often camps and where a lot of the action happens.

Where things happen in Delve

Where things happen in Delve

I dropped the reinforcement fleet and changed com channels to find out what the Baltec fleet was doing.  Reagalan’s was the FC and he was calling targets already.  It was time to get out there, but servers were balking at doing anything.  It took half a dozen tries to get into fleet even though there was space available and then it was time for the long, slow warp to join the battle.

Landing on grid was agonizing.  My ship seemed to spend an eternity stopped at the battle but still in warp.  I could see the targets being broadcast, they were in my overview, but I could not lock them up because I was still flagged as being in warp.  Finally, the server relented and I was back in normal space and able to engage targets.  Despite TiDi, the enemy, a host of Black Legion Augoror Navy Issues were in a bubble and going down fast.  Locking a target took ages, and when you finally got somebody locked they would appear to be only lightly damaged before suddenly blinking out in the familiar destroyed sequence.  They cycle time of my lasers was the gating factor for kills.  I launched some drones and got those into action to give myself an additional way to deal damage… and to whore on kill mails.

Reagalan had the fleet orbiting the POS tower, which is at the very center of the defensive bubble/shield, at just enough range to be outside of the bubble and able to fire, but also able to duck back in and become immune should they get targeted.  After the action, Reagalan asked how many pilots managed to pull off this maneuver, and there was quite a show of hands.  That, and reports shared with us about Black Legion complaining about us constantly blowing up their anchor or target caller because we had a spy in their midst, seemed to be tiling things our way.

And then, as often is the case, Black Legion got free of the bubbles and warped off, leaving us alone in space orbiting the POS with no targets.  TiDi dropped from the heart crushing 10% to a bearable range as the server was no longer having to keep track of hundreds of ships moving and locking and firing and taking damage.

We sat there for a bit.  There was a report of a fight at the 1DH gate, but Reagalan warned us not to just jump in willy nilly thinking we would get a few more kills.  So we stayed in orbit of the POS for a bit until the time was ripe, then he warped us all off to the gate together where the Brave Newbies Moa fleet had been bubbled.  Then it was a race to lock up targets again before the exploded.  Reagalan was broadcasting targets, but they were popping so quickly I just took to sorting by range and locking up everything possible in hopes of getting in a shot or two.  That did not last long, the Moas melting like snow under a hot sun.

Then it was back to the POS and into orbit.  There was actually a very nice starburst pattern of ships as we landed in a ball on the tower and then turned on MWDs to get out of the shields and into orbit.  We waited there for a while to watch the POS for any further hostiles and cover the carriers that had been sitting in a happy, self-repping ball all this time.  My corp CEO was in the carrier ball, in one of two Chimeras in a sea of Archons.  He wanted me to get a good shot of him, which I figured I had better do because I haven’t done much with the corp in ages.  I go on strat ops and click on participation links.  I don’t play with our towers, mine, do planetary interaction, or even rat much these days.

After the carriers pulled out, we headed to the 1DH gate where there was a scramble to get through as the ISboxer bombers were out and about and waiting for us to land on the gate.  All those people piling on the gate caused a bunch of people to drop, so there was a long wait until people got back online, through the gate, and back with the fleet.  Then it was another gate back to F2OY-X and then to the station and done.

I never did get the story as to how this fight started, except that it was over the POS where the brawl took place.

According to the battle report, there were more than 1,200 players involved with over 1,500 ships on the field over the course of the fight, with losses of nearly 48 billion ISK for both sides combined.  The split in forces was 686 CFC to 528 hostiles on grid, so not excessively unbalanced.  Black Legion and their allies ended up with more kills, destroying 435 ships to the 251 we blew up.  On the ISK war, things tilted our way, with the hostiles losing some expensive ships.

CFC is Blue

CFC is Blue

That comes out to about 21 billion in losses for the CFC and a little over 26 billion for the hostiles.  And we ended up with the POS still intact.  So I guess we won.

One bit of intel that got passed along was about TEST, who apparently had 60+ Ishtars formed up at one point, but then did not join the battle.  That force might have changed the ISK war if not the overall result of the battle.

Addendum: There is now a write up about the battle over at TMC.

After a quiet week or so, where I mostly collected participation links for sitting on titans by never bridging into combat, or chasing around reluctant foes when we did, it was nice to get into a stand up fight that did not involve us getting blow up in Ruptures. (Rupture doctrine is now dead.)  It managed to push me over the 1,000 kill mail mark, though EVE Kill and Zkillboard cannot agree on exactly how many kill mails I have been on over the years. (And Battle Clinic says I have less than 700. No idea what the right number actually is.)

And, as usual, screen shots from the fight after the cut.

Continue reading

Tackling in Syndicate

One of the things that has often been said about EVE Online is that a new player can be useful on day one.  In any operation there is generally room for the new guy in a basic frigate who is willing to get out there and tackle hostiles for the fleet.

And it is true.  I have seen it often enough flying with the CFC, and especially with Goonswarm, which prides itself in not just bringing new players to the game, but getting them into action very quickly.  So when the call went out last night for a Baltec fleet, which I was able to join, we had a couple of new players in the fleet as well, including a one day old account.

Jelly Knight - 1 Day Old

Jelly Knight – 1 Day Old

Despite having “things to do,” people spent time getting him into the fleet and pointed in the right direction.  We also got to hear him go through the sense of scale in EVE.  When he flew out to the staging POS in his Condor frigate, he was clearly impressed with how much bigger the battleships around him were.

Bumping Jelly Knight with my Apoc

Bumping Jelly Knight with my Apoc

He was then treated to another boost in scale when Reagalan led us off to the titan to wait for a bridge out for out op.  And there those big battleships looked pretty small waiting on the hulking titan.

Waiting for a bridge out

Waiting for a bridge out

I cannot image how it would have felt to have gone from a frigate to sitting on a titan after only a day or so in EVE Online.

The new guys also got to experience the “waiting on a titan” game.  We played that for quite a stretch until Reagalan had us turn around and head back to VFK-IV.  He got us a participation link for our time on the titan and asked those who could stay around for a different op to re-ship to a frigate or an interdictor.   I did not actually have either handy and the ship market in VFK was pretty empty last night.  The closest thing I had was a Hawk, a missile firing Caldari assault frigate, so I grabbed that.

Reagalan gave us a route that ended at 4-EP12 in Fountain, our old final staging base from the Fountain War last year.  I immediately checked to see if I had a more suitable ship there, and found I had a very low skill fit Rifter docked up in the station.  I would have just clone jumped out to it and save myself the trip, but I had just clone jumped to VFK for the fleet, so I had about 18 hours to go before I could jump again.  So I flew along with everybody else to the destination.  Fortunately, that did not take too long in frigates.

Arriving in 4-EP12, Reagalan had us drop his fleet and join the Freedom Squad fleet under DingoGS.

Freedom Squad is a Goonswarm group that looks for fights during US time zone prime time and which heavily plays up mock patriotic fervor in the “‘merica!” tradition.  They were happy enough to have us along, but were a bit surprised to find that we were mostly tackling frigates and interdictors;  Sabres and Rifters and what not.  Still, it seemed likely we would be able to hold on to any hostiles we managed to land on.

Then it was time to move a few systems in order to sit a titan again.  I took opportunity to head to the station and swap out my Hawk for me low skills Rifter and then joined up with the fleet.  In fleet there were some tips on tackling being given to the new guys which was also a helpful reminder for me.  While I had heard the routine before, I have never actually flown a tackling ship in more than seven years of playing EVE.  By the time I ended up in null sec, I was trained up to fly battleships for most of the factions, so have tended to fly in the “press F1 when told” DPS role (especially when DPS meant Drakes) or as logistics (which the first big training destination after hitting null sec).  So this would be something new… once we got into action.

Getting into action took a while.

We were waiting on a titan while the intended targets got themselves into position so that we could drop on them at just the right moment.  As usual, the right moment took its time in showing up.  Finally the bridge went up and we jumped through into CIS-7X and warped to where the hostiles were bunched up.  Then it was time to go through the tackling routine I had heard listed out on coms so many times.

Pick a target alphabetically close to your name.  For me that was the pilot VisualNarcotics, who was flying a Proteus in the middle of the pack.

Turn on your propulsion module, a basic MWD in my case, and spiral into the target so as to keep the traversal speed differential high enough to make your frigate tough to hit.

Orbit your target, remember to actually lock him up, and then turn on your tackling modules, which in my case was a Stasis Webifier I and a Warp Disruptor I.

Stay alive for as long as possible.

That last bit is, of course, always the trick.  I dove in through the blossoming warp disruptor bubbles and successfully locked down my target.

But then I was just there in the middle of the fight in a high speed orbit.  I turned my guns on my target, but wasn’t doing a lot of damage.  Meanwhile the FC was going through the list alphabetically, so I clearly was going to have to hold on for a while.  To keep myself busy I turned off my guns, un-grouped them, turned one back on VisualNarcotics just to let him know I still cared, then tried to lock up other targets being called to see if I could get in a few hits just to get on some kill mails.

Guns blazing

Guns blazing

Splitting my guns would be a sin if I were flying a DPS ship, but nobody is expecting the tackler to add significant damage… or to live very long… so what the hell.

I saw VisualNarcotics lock me up in return.  He apparently took a few shots at me as well, but failed to hit me according to my own kill mail.

In the fight itself, more ships were dropping in.  A hostile Naglfar landed right next to me, so I was able to lock him up and take a shot, which was enough to get on the kill mail.

And then the smart bombing started.

We were colluding with a group of neutrals on this op, which is always leads to interesting results.  In our case, we killed several of the neutrals before people got cleared up on who was who.  Meanwhile, the neutrals moved in and started to smart bomb the enemy formation.  Of course, I was in the middle of that with my MWD on, meaning I would get the maximum amount of damage if I was in range.  The first one hit and I was nearly dead, my status put me 90% into structure, meaning that even the duct tape holding the ship together was on fire at that point.  I turned off the MWD and hoped for the best.  I seemed to be out of range of the next few, but another one landed close eventually and suddenly my ship was gone and I was flying a pod, the kill mail having go to our temporary allies.

Gold pod away!

Gold pod away!

I expected, sitting there being smart bombed in the middle of warp disruptor bubbles, that my pod would soon go as well.  I headed for the edge of the bubble, crossed my fingers, and ended up getting out and away safely.  I hung around on grid, still opening the gap between myself and the battle, in hopes of being present for a couple more kill mails for ships I had shot up.  Then it was time to take gates back to 4-EP12.  The battle having wrapped up fairly quickly, the rest of the fleet was close behind.

The route to 4-EP12 ended up being clear.  There were a few neutrals along the way, but when the fleet showed up in system, the melted away.

Once there, I was able to re-ship in my Hawk and head back to VFK with Reagalan’s part of the fleet, while Freedom Squad went back to their current deployment base.

So the night ended up fairly well.  I got my first shot at tackling.  While I lost my ship (value ~730,000 ISK, look at how meager my fit was), I did not lose my pod (value ~55 million ISK thanks to all those skill points and the implant I need to fly a Baltec Apoc), I got on a dozen kill mails, and generally had a good time.  I could have done with less waiting, but that is simply part of the game.

The new guys seemed to be enthusiastic after their first battle.  Jelly Knight made it through without loss.  The fleet, as is the tradition, showered the new guys with some ISK.  I gave them each a million ISK, so I spent more on gifts than ships.  Another day in EVE Online.

A gallery of screen shots taken during the op is available after the cut.

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