Tag Archives: Reavers

Daredevil Race

Ranger Gama drew Asher in the Theta Squad Secret Santa gift exchange, so his problem immediately became, “What do you get the 23rd best FC in the Imperium?”

He decided to get Asher a Reavers event since Theta just krabs in Delve day and night I suppose.

The event was to be a frigate race.  The route and frigate type were to be announced at the time of the race when Ranger Gama would hand them out.  He imported ten frigates, one for himself, one for Asher, and eight more for whoever showed up in time to claim one.

The planned time for the race was delayed on a couple of occasions, which worked out for me as I happened to sit down at my desk just after Asher pinged Reavers to let them know it was on.  I was in soon enough to claim one of the frigates, which turned out to be a Daredevil, a Serpentis faction frigate.

Me being me, I quickly logged an alt into Jita to buy a SKIN because I just can’t undock anymore without one.  The Glacial Drift SKIN was available and cheap, but then I saw some of the Serpentis Victory SKINs listed as well.  Those were given away as part of Alliance Tournament XV.  They were much more pricey, going for over 300 million ISK, but also more rare.  So I picked up one of those and contracted it to myself and activated it.

Daredevil in the hangar with a new SKIN

The race was originally going to be a point-to-point run, but Asher suggested something to make it more interesting… or dangerous… or both… so the instructions were updated in the fleet MOTD.

The route, with one five minute stop

Each of the ships had a name for the occasion.  I ended up with the ship named “In.”

We undocked our frigates and met up on a citadel in ROIR.  From there the race began.

The frigates themselves were setup for speed, capable of well over 5km/sec with the included faction MWD burning.  Otherwise, as you can see from one of the Daredevils that got caught, there was a bit of shielding and some festival launchers armed with fireworks to use along the way.

Festival Launchers on the ship

As we flew off Apple Pear showed up and was given a ship.  Only seven had been handed out so he started off a few gates behind us.  Given that the route was static and everybody was warping at the same speed he needed some hostile intervention to help his cause.

The rest of us warped along towards the first destination.

Daredevil in warp

This was where I started to have problems.  I was up with the leaders when one of our cats managed to get himself caught in the handle of a shopping bag which was hooked over the door across the hall from me and began to thrash wildly, seeming more likely to harm himself via that than anything the bag would do.  I dropped my headset, grabbed him, lifted him up to take off any strain, then calmed him for a bit before slipping his head out and letting him run off.  He was okay and I had my daughter dispose of the bag, but now I was behind the pack, though still out in front of Apple Pear.  At least I was still alive, having sat uncloaked on a gate for a bit.

Then I ran into another issue.  When we arrived in JU-OWQ in Deklein, my auto-pilot route sent me back the way we came to get to C4C-Z4.  I still do not understand why, as I checked later and did not see any systems anywhere close by on my avoid list.  So I passed by Apple Pear going the other way, made it through CCP-US, where he had reported a gate camp on both gates, and on towards Fade.

Fortunately there was nothing in the rules about the route, just the requirement to hit the specified waypoints, so that my route differed from the route everybody else took didn’t matter.

Some space maps with routes

Well, it did matter a bit.  My route was two jumps longer, but it turned out to be a bit safe as Asher and the rest of the pack ran into some trouble, with two Daredevils getting popped in K4YZ-Y.  I made it to C4C without incident, but was easily 3 minutes behind Asher, Ranger Gama, and Norgraad. I warped on grid with the Keepstar and started burning away from it and the few carriers that had fighters out to try and nab us.

On grid with the PH Keepstar

Asher and Ranger Gama seemed to do okay, but Norgraad managed to get popped by the locals, though gamely carried on in his pod.  They warped off, heading to the next waypoint while I lingered on grid watching the stopwatch on my iPhone slowly count off the minutes.  The leaders were reporting some people waiting for them ahead, but by the time I was able to warp off towards the next destination they seemed to have given up.  I left Apple Pear behind on the Keepstar grid and went in chase of the leaders.

While there was mutterings on coms about the dangers ahead, they were often vague, like the leaders did not want to help those chasing them catch up.  But it didn’t really matter.  The only hope I had of catching up was to warp straight from gate to gate and just hope to crash or burn past any gate camp.  So off I went.

Fortunately for myself an Apple Pear, the path through was pretty sparsely populated.  At least that was fortunate for us as far as staying alive went.  It also meant that there wasn’t much to slow down Asher or Ranger Gama or even Norgraad in his pod.  Norgraad’s slow warps mean I was able to pass him at least.  He got caught in Cloud Ring while I burned on.

The Cloud Ring nebula

The only real peril for me was at the Alsavoinon gate in F7C-H0.  There, on the boarder between null sec and low was the expected camp with a bubble setup.  I landed straight in it and the campers were slow enough to react to my arrival that I thought I might make it through to the gate unscathed.  However, burning in as fast as I did I hit the gate and bounced off it so far that I had to burn in again.  I took some damage, dropping to half shields, as I made my way back to the gate again, but got through and was on my way.

Low sec space posed no threat and it wasn’t until the path brought me back into null sec that I ran into some additional trouble.  There was a drag bubble in EWOK-K on the O-N8XZ gate that pulled me out of warp shy of the gate.

Burning to the gate again

However, no hostiles were minding the store and a lone TNT pilot was plinking away at the bubble to take it down.  I would have joined in to help… Asher and Ranger Gama were already over the finish line… but fireworks don’t do much.  After that it was just a few more empty gates and I was over the finish line myself.  There I burned over to Asher and Ranger Gama and joined in the shooting of fireworks.

Apple Pear showed up after a bit, followed by Elisha Okaski, who made it all the way from K4YZ-Y in his pod, earning him a special commendation.

For my third place finish I won a free ship of the line for whatever Asher’s next Reavers doctrine ends up being, mostly because Ranger Gama was the organizer so counted himself and Asher out of the contest.  Elisha Okaski will get a ship as well for persevering through most of the race in a pod.

I handed Ranger Gama back my ship so he could use them for some future event and thanked him for setting this up and, of course, declaring me one of the prize winners.  We’ll have to see what the next doctrine ends up being.

That was probably my last op of the year.  Below some screen shots of us shooting fireworks.  We had to turn the MWDs off as the ships were otherwise outrunning the launchers.

Blaze Fleet in Deklein

Up north it has become clear that the locals have decided to get serious about the citadels we have been dropping.  Early on they were responding with modest fleets only to find themselves in trouble from time to time even against our own modest efforts.  Battleship fleets started coming with force auxiliary support, then capitals started getting dropped, and we even saw supers getting dropped on us.

You can’t really complain about that.  We’d do the same on our own home turf.  But when our scouts are out reporting on the forces being arrayed against, just standing down instead of taking the fight starts to seem like the most realistic option.  We still tend to go to see if we can at least extract some kills from the situation, but the likelihood of us winning any timers is pretty much non-existent at this point.

We had a couple of timers the other night and Asher had promised us something special.  When we got online we found that, rather than our sturdy VNIs, he had a different theme planned.  We were going out in Armageddons instead.  We could then wear our CCP Blaze SKINs for the ship.

The CCP Blaze SKIN on my ‘geddon

There had been a real push to get people to pick up the limited edition SKINs that CCP offered to honor the late CCP Blaze and raise money for his family.  Pings went out Imperium-wide encouraging people to buy the SKIN pack, while within Reavers there was an even stronger push to get people to grab them as several of the ships are in our doctrine catalog.

So Asher had a whole fleet doctrine imported and handed out ships in our staging station, trading for logi, boosters, support, and the ships of the line, the Armageddon.  I opted for the latter, mostly because I had the CCP Blaze SKIN for it, otherwise I might have considered logi.

As that got sorted out reports were coming in about what was being brought to face us.  In Fade, the Astrahus in DW-T2I had Pandemic Horde coming in Machariel battleships and capitals, while the citadel up in Deklein had a Guardians of the Galaxy coalition was also forming capitals, but were going with a Typhoon battleship doctrine instead.  The odds against us were going to be long whichever way we chose to jump.

It was already clear to many of us that this Armageddon fleet was going to be a one-way trip, but Asher put it out there on coms and asked us if we still wanted to go.  The response in fleet chat was overwhelmingly in favor of going.  So we undocked.

Leaving our station

We did not have as many CCP Blaze SKINs… or SKINs in general… as I would have hoped.  The Armageddon isn’t used very much in the null sec meta, so buying a SKIN for one isn’t much of a priority.  If cash or ISK are short, it is arguably a bit of a waste for a ship you’re unlikely to ever fly.  But there were also some comments from people who hadn’t gotten the word about the CCP Blaze SKIN deal who would have bought it if only they had known.

That is always the way of things.  No matter how much you think you’re getting the word out about something… there was a dev blog, it was in the launcher, it was highlighted in the New Eden store, it was mentioned on EVE news sites, and our own coalition was pinging about it… most people don’t pay that close of attention to their video games.  As I have been known to say, if you’re reading this you’re part of some strange minority that probably obsesses too much about games.

Still, there were some CCP Blaze SKINs present.

SKINs on display

The first thing we had to do was warp to another station as the one we chose to stage out of does not offer insurance as a service.  If we were going to go on a one-way trip opting in on the Platinum insurance plan seemed like a good idea.  That goes double for T1 battleships like the Armageddon, which gets a handsome payout relative to its cost.  Once insured we got to undock again.

Armageddons undocking again

Then it was off to the titan to see where we would be heading.  Even as we were hanging around waiting for the bridge it looked like we would be off to Deklein as the INN coverage of the Fade Astrahus timer was already showing the shoot there winding down.

Drunk Canadian and the fall of the Astrahus

As expected, we went off to Deklein to face the GotG fleet in part, as Asher noted later, because they were flying a Typhoon doctrine, something they declared dumb when we did it, but not so dumb that they didn’t copy it.  The fleet meta defies propaganda.

Bridged into Deklein we gated towards the impending fight, then turned to hang on the gate 3QE-9Q gate in E-FIC0, a system name that always makes me think of my credit score.

The gate of fate

We held there because our scout had reported the hostiles coming that way.  Soon enough they were coming through the gate and the fight was on.  Bubbles were up and and we were off to the races.

Bubbles going up around the gate

The Armageddon gets boosts to energy neutralizer range as well as drone hit points, so we were sent off to neut out targets near our name alphabetically while putting drones on one set of targets while running our rapid heavy missile launchers against another set.

That did not start out very well.  While we knocked down a few Typhoons, their logi wasn’t breaking.  And then we spent some time focusing on one of the Apostles that was nearby in the hope of getting a big kill.

A fat target in our midst

That did not meet with success and all the time we were getting whittled away.  The ECM fleet that flew up from Delve to join in with us was picked off in short order and the Armageddons began to drop one by one.  After seeing that the Apostle wasn’t going to go down we switched back to Typhoons, sending our drones after each broadcast in turn, launching fresh drones when the current ones were cleared away by smart bombs.

The Typhoons did not seem to be hitting us very hard.  I survived quite a while with a batch of them hitting me.  But once one of the 19 hostile carriers on grid sent fighters my way, the end was nigh for my Armageddon.  Fighters eat up sub-caps pretty handily.

Into structure now… I also forgot to turn my neut back on when I capped out

I went boom shortly thereafter, managing to catch my ship coming apart only to have the screen shot ruined by the insurance payout popping up during the most dramatic point.  Still, it looks pretty neat cropped down.

My Armageddon coming apart

From that point on I was floating around in my pod watching the fight.  A couple more Typhoons went down but we were rapidly approaching the point where we could no longer break their tanks.  Fleet chat filled with links to our kill mails as we died and soon logi and support were gone as the final stand ended.

A few ships managed to get away, but the battle report shows we welped and welped hard.  I was sitting back in the station in my fresh pod when I saw the bounty payment notification for Asher come in.  They saved him for later.

Bounty Paid

It isn’t a bad thing to place a bounty on your FC.  The bounty system will often tell you they’ve been blown up well before you hear it on coms so you are ready to change over to the alternate anchor or get the hell out if appropriate.

Anyway, it all went as expected.  We got stuck in, got a few kills, and then died a glorious death in our old homeland. No citadels were saved.  All that remains in the CCP Blaze tribute thread on Reddit and some screen shots of our fleet.  For the latter I have a gallery below:

VNI Fleet Timer Skirmish in Fade

Once more into space went our VNI fleet, undocking for another foray into harms ways.

VNIs undock once more

Another Astrahus timer was set to expire where we were the other night, DW-T2I in Fade.

The op had been announced well in advance so I was ready and resupplied.  I even had a new SKIN for the VNI, having had SKINs on the mind with the advent of the CCP Blaze memorial SKIN set, which I also picked up.

A fresh SKIN on the VNI

The Glacial Drift SKIN was readily available in Jita for a reasonable price, so I grabbed that for the op.

As these things go, we got ourselves together and out on the titan to wait for our ride into the fight.

Taking up a collection to buy that Erebus a SKIN

One more trip into the POS shields.  Some day… maybe even some day soon… that will no longer be a thing in New Eden.  There aren’t many roles left for the good old POS, aside from hiding titans and anchoring jump bridges.

We waited a bit, but the call to take the bridge came as the blue effect swirled about the POS.  We jumped, landing on the Astrahus in DW-T2I.

The Cyno burns bright

We were there just in time as the counter ticked down to the appointed hour.

Citadel vulnerable in 1 second

The enemy had not yet appeared as the timer rolled over and the repair cycle began, but that situation did not last for long.  Soon Pandemic Horde dropped just off the citadel with the expected Tempest Fleet.

There they are on the overview

As they had previously, they came with an Apostle force auxiliary for reps.

Apostle on grid with the Astrahus

In addition they had reinforcements from their allies Guardians of the Galaxy coalition in the form of a Cerberus fleet.

We had a bit of support of our own, which arrived as the fight kicked off.  Asher set us up to hit the Tempest fleet first and we were able to pick off some choice targets almost immediately, including a pair of Basilisks, a Vulture, a Tengu, and a Cerberus that strayed too close to us.

However, they managed to get webs on Asher long enough to slow him down and pop him, which put us off our stride.  We went to a secondary anchor, shot a few Tempests, and then had to warp off as our drones we getting shredded.  Along the way I was red boxed by the Tempest fleet, but speed and our logi support saved me.

Meanwhile, a Jackdaw fleet that had flown up from Delve joined in the fray.  Also present were some bombers from The Initiative who were fresh off their server first Guristas Sotiyo kill.  After waiting out our aggression timer on at a safe, we docked up in the Astrahus to swap fresh drones into our drone bays from cargo.  Asher meanwhile had reshipped and rejoined us, leading us back on grid to the fight.

Tempest fleet in the new warp bubble effect

For this round we stayed at the edge of lock range in an effort to avoid getting webbed again.  Our survivability depends on keeping our speed up to avoid being hit by the battleship guns.  That made our ability to engage a bit dodgy as our drones had a long way to go and the Cerberus fleet, or target for this round, hove in and out of lock range.

A Cerberus caught by our drones about to explode

A number of times we would get drones on a Cerb only to have it move out of range, though our drones would keep attacking.  During that engagement I managed to get the kill mail on one of the Cerbs.  It was pure luck, as these things tend to be in fleets over a certain size, but it did give me a third kill mark on my VNI.

Those tiny white triangles on the upper hull, just in the blue, are kill marks

We kept at it and were able to take down a string of Cerbs though, once again our drones were getting chopped up.  A smart bombing Machariel was in their midst, taking its toll.  I lost my full second flight of heavy drones and towards the end had only my two backup heavies engaged.

We were not able to do much versus the Tempest fleet at that point, and they kept on hitting the Astrahus, eventually winning the timer.  That advanced the assault on the citadel to the final round, the fight to destroy it, which initiates six days hence.

The six day count down to the final fight

At that point the main event was over.  We docked up in the citadel again to move whatever drones we had left in cargo over to our drone bays.  That meant some sentry drones for me.  The hostiles hung around a bit then started to warp off.  However, a few of them were too close to the structure model and ended up bumping it while trying to align out.  A Sabre of ours outside the Astrahus, waiting for just such an opportunity, put up a bubble to hold them and we all poured out of the citadel, launched our reaming drones, and picked off the stragglers.

The Astrahus bubbled to catch the unfortunates

That netted us a couple more Cerbs, a Loki, and a Scimitar to finish off the evening.  Then people began to  loot the field then pop wrecks to keep the enemy from picking over the remains.  A daring Ibis and a Catalyst warped in and out looting and salvaging, staying just out of our reach.

I moved back to pick up my sentry drones and waited for the trip back to our staging.

Motoring back to my drones

So the fight was a bit of a split decision.  The enemy achieved their objective and sent the citadel into its final timer.  However, the results of the battle show the ISK war coming out very much in our favor in a fight where we were, once again, out numbered.  We lost about 6.6 billion ISK while blowing up more than 13 billion ISK in hostiles.

As I hung about waiting for the run back to staging I managed to catch a screen shot with an ad running on the Astrahus that seemed amusing.

Fly to Live, Live to Fight

My ship lived to fly another day.  We shall see if the VNIs undock again for another fight.

VNI Fleet Flies in Fade Again

A third op for what seemed to be a comedy doctrine, a wry “coming to kill you in ratting ships” statement to the sov holders in the north, seemed a bit odd to me.  And this was made all the more strange as Asher is not one to nail his colors to a set doctrine, especially one that doesn’t have enough cargo space for a mobile depot, a full set of module refits, and a drag bubble. (A concept represented here in meme form)

I suppose a cargo hold full of extra drones might count as refits.  Maybe.

But there we were last night, undocking in our VNIs, loaded with drones, and off to fight over timer on another one of the citadels that had been scattered about the north for just such a purpose.  We keep this up and people will start copying this doctrine soon.

Resupplied with drones, drugs, and fresh hulls for those who lost theirs the night before, we undocked and got on a titan, pilots from TNT increasing our numbers, to wait for our bridge into the fight.

The same scene over and over

We were jumping back into DW-T2I, where we had successfully defended a timer previously, slicing up a Pandemic Horde Tempest fleet without any losses on our side.

Of course, that time PH fought the battle themselves and the odds… at least in the number of ships, leaving aside we were in cruisers and they were in battleships… were as close to even as makes no difference.

This time we jumped into DW-T2I to find that PH had called up their local friends, the effectively blue neutrals (bluetrals), to ensure things went their way.  The numbers were stacked heavily against our VNI fleet when we arrived and tethered up on one of our citadels in the system.  There were an array of fleets from PH, Guardians of the Galaxy Coalition, and Mordus Angels in the system, ranging from destroyers to capitals.  The directional scan from Moomin did not look good for us.

As Asher assessed the situation for us on coms it sounded like we were just going to give it a pass and go home.  Then the timer for the Astrahus came out and the gunner, Gennel, who had successfully made the hostiles pay for getting to close to his weapons in the past, started pasting hostile force auxiliaries that had nonchalantly gone into triage mode within his reach, with an Apostle exploding almost immediately.

Taking out the support that the capitals had brought with them and scaring them off the Astrahus grid seemed to change the situation for Asher and we were called to align then warped to the now besieged citadel.  We were safely tethered there when he called for us to anchor on him with propulsion modules on.  We launched drones, unthethered, and began hitting Tempest Fleet Issue fleet that GotG had brought.

VNIs on the move, drones out

A quick dozen targets were taken out and we were feeling pretty good about things.  Our speed and low signature kept us reasonably safe while our drones chopped up one target after another.

A Tempest Fleet Issue getting hit by drones

A bombing run caught us at one point, but did not hit us full on, so we kept going.  We were still clearly going to lose the Astrahus, but we seemed on the path towards extracting greater value in ISK from the enemy in faction battleships and force auxiliaries.

The hostiles were not done escalating however and we soon saw titans with a large group of force auxiliaries in support drop on grid with us.

Supers dropping as we align out

Asher aligned us off to a safe to let our weapons timers run down, then put us on a citadel, our drones left behind as we exited the scene.  Titans were definitely not within the realm of possibility for us, and certainly not ones that might be mounting any of the fun new anti-subcap doomsday weapons.

The update to the overview, titans and faxes

Asher had us dock up and reload our drone bays to replace any lost or left behind drones while the titans hit the Astrahus.

Targets too big for us

That is, of course, the problem with running into somebody elses’ home turf.  They have the opportunity to drop anything they have to hand on your, including supers.  We had that issue during the operations in Hakonen back during the summer.

Asher had us align back and we landed on the soon-to-be-destroyed Astrahus, tethered again, and anchored up for another run at targets of opportunity.  We had to warp out almost immediately, causing some of us to lose drones (I was lucky to get 4 out of 5 back).  We landed, aligned back, and gave it another try.  With drones launched again we were able to knock out another half-dozen GotG TFIs and got to see the Astrahus gunner pick off an fax in the midst of the titan ball.

Boom, another cap down

All that would have been well and good, but along the way a Hurricane fleet that had come all the way up from Delve to join us in the fight arrived and basically fed the enemy 70 kills, including some very expensive implant pods.  That slave set didn’t really help.

Local was actually up beyond 700 people at its peak and time dilation kicked in, dipping to under 20% speed at times.  But by that point the fight had passed its crescendo for us.  We ended up warping to safes, leaving behind more drones, then docking up in one of our remaining citadels as the titans finished their work.

Titans still hanging about in space

We waited a bit for things to settle down, then took gates home, unmolested by any of the defending forces who were still about.

Our little fleet did fairly well.  We lost less that 20 ships, including support, and inflicted some damage on the Tempest Fleet Issues on grid.  However, in the final accounting of the battle over at zKillboard, all of the usual measures went against us.  We lost the objective, with the defended Astrahus, plus two citadels coming online, all destroyed. (The Astrahus only had supers on its kill mail.)  Meanwhile the ISK war went badly for us once you count in the destroyed Hurricane fleet which totaled up to nearly 6 billion ISK in ships and a further six billion ISK in pods.  (Okay, not every expensive pod was in their fleet, but they own the lion’s share of that loss.)  And we simply lost more ships overall, again with the Hurricane fleet providing the bulk of that metric.

And yet it still felt like a win to us.  Our little fleet, about 100 ships all told, heavily outnumbered, and with no chance of changing the eventual outcome, sailed into harms way and gave better than it took.  Sometimes a desperate fight you know you’re going to lose is more fun than the objective outcome would make it.

Anyway, time to restock drones in my drone bay in case the VNIs fly again.

A Citadel Fight in Saranen

It has been a while since I’ve been through Saranen, once our staging before the retreat to Delve after the Casino War.

The Quafe Company Warehouse that was our home in Saranen

The low sec system remains, however, a fine place to drop citadels in order to annoy those who live in our old space.  So there were a couple in there, placed as part of our “plant a citadel and watch fights grow!” campaign in the north, including one dropped by my own alliance, TNT.

That citadel, and Astrahus, was coming out of its final timer last night and Reavers were set to team up with TNT to bring out the Vexor Navy Issue fleet again to see if we could save the structure.

We loaded up on drones and undocked our VNIs well in advance of the timer.

VNIs leaving the station

Getting to a fight can be a “hurry up and wait” situation.  We had drones loadouts setup and were in space for a while, but then had to wait around for a bit for our ride.

VNIs hanging about waiting

We weren’t there too long before our ride showed up and sent us on our way.  We were traveling in style, and avoiding any interdiction effort in between, via a titan bridge.

This seems so old school now, a bridge out of a POS

After that we settled into the citadel in Saranen and waited for the timer to run down so the fight could begin.  Looking out the “window” of the Astrahus we could see the hostiles beginning to form, with a Tempest fleet, complete with an Apostle force auxiliary to support them, showing up off the undock.

There they are

As the time got close we undocked as well and got ready for the fight.

VNIs tethered off the undock

Once the time arrive the hostiles opened up and paused the timer.  Local showed a lot of hostiles.  We were able to start off against the Tempest fleet with heavy drones initially.

Timer paused just a few seconds in

We were able to pick off a Guardian right off the bat, but their Apostle pilot then got on the ball and foes started catching reps pretty quickly as they got targeted.  Meanwhile a support fleet of Algos cruisers showed up.

An Algos alive on grid… temporarily…

We pulled the heavy drones back in and sent light drones out after the new arrivals.  We kept up after them and were popping them pretty rapidly, but that wasn’t saving the citadel, that was just swatting away an annoyance while the Tempest fleet worked away unhampered by us.

A Confessor fleet showed up as well, but moved in and out of the limit of our drone range, so did not suffer the way the Algos fleet did.

Asher warped us off and then back to the citadel to dock up and swap drones.  We dumped the heavy drones and replaced them with sentry drones.  We then undocked again and, staying tethered, ran a circle around the citadel to spread out the sentry drones before locking up hostiles and firing on the Tempest fleet.

Around the Astrahus

That worked well initially and we dropped a couple of Tempests with sentry salvos, but the Apostle reps began to catch up while the support fleets closed with us again.  We abandoned our sentry drones and launched light drones again to combat the smaller stuff closing in with us.

A Loki fleet from Snuffed Out and Pen Is Out showed up to help, but their numbers did not add much to our side.  Our own logi support had been stripped away by that point and Asher’s FC ship had succumbed to enemy fire.  It was time to align out.

Somebody blew up as we aligned

I did get one last kill mail as we headed off.  A Machariel loomed through our drones, smart bombing to clear out our drones.  I put my light drones on him as we aligned and scored a few hits.  We warped off to another citadel in system… because of course we have more than one, so more fights are coming… where we repaired and listened to the gunner on the Astrahus call his kills as he fought the station to the last second.  Among his final victims was the Machariel, a nice expensive faction battleship kill.

Once Asher secured a ship we parted ways with the TNT fleet and headed back to our own staging.  We lost the Astrahus and the ISK war (as the as yet incomplete battle report shows), though the hostiles had to bring more than double our numbers to take it from us.  To numbers go the victory more often than not, something that has worked for us often in the past.  But we still have more citadels scattered about the area and the locals have to come fight us for each one, so more battles await.

Three Rorquals Down

After the previous night’s VNI fight, things started to go downhill a bit for me. First, as I noted at the end of the last post, during an interceptor roam through Pandemic Horde space, I managed to avoid the hostiles only to get popped by a Serpentis dreadnought.

Then last night I got back on in again, a little late to catch Asher, but was able to join DBRB’s bomber fleet to join the defense of one of the citadels we have scattered about the north right now.

My Purifier with the Empress Catiz I jubilee skin

That did not go well however.  We never got a good run on them, and were probably shy of the numbers we needed to be effective, so lost some bombers, including my own, while the hostiles were able to kill the Raitaru.

Tempests inside the new blood orange hictor bubble

Still, these things happen.  I fetched a replacement Purifier out to our staging and then logged off for a bit to do some things around the house.  But I came back to find another Asher ping forming a fleet with targets in mind.  I was good to go for that and only a couple minutes late, but was able to get out and on the black ops battleship to wait with the rest of the fleet as things got set up.

The targets were a pair of Rorquals, the capital mining ships that have boosted the mining numbers all over null sec, up in Deklein.  The plan was to drop on them, bomb the Rorquals, kill their excavator drones with torpedoes, then see if we couldn’t maybe kill one of the Rorqs before the inevitable defense fleet showed up to see us off.

The time came, the bridge went up, and we dropped on the pair.  I let my bomb go on one of the Rorqs, then missed getting any of the excavator drones because I had a warp disruptor fit and was rushing in on one of the targets to hold it down and keep it from getting away.  I was a bit quick on that… or people were a bit slow with their bombs… because I ended up getting my shields stripped away and some armor damage from them.  But I got my target locked down and started blazing away at it with my own torps.

In on the first Rorqual

Asher called for everybody to start hitting it and it seemed to be going down pretty well when first one, then the other Rorq activated their PANIC modules.

Still taking fire while invulnerable in the PANIC bubble

This made the pair invulnerable for several minutes, during which I suspect they both expected to be rescued by a defense fleet.

By that point we had done what we had set out to do, which was kill some excavator drones.  Now we had the option to hang out and see if we could get one of these ships when the PANIC modules went down, but that meant also hanging about for a defense fleet we knew was coming and facing that peril in our flimsy bombers

The pair of them in their PANIC bubbles

We cloaked up and warped off to wait out the PANIC cycle as the defense fleet arrived in system.  A mix of Cerberus and Caracals with support, they did not seem very energetic in their attempt to defend the pair.  When the two Rorquals were vulnerable again the fleet did not go after the bombers, even the ones locking down their comrades.  Of course, we dropped in a distraction.

A cyno went up and we brought in a sacrificial Revelation dreadnought to try and pound down at least one of the Rorquals.  A Rorq is worth a few dreadnoughts on the market, so worth the exchange if we could get just one.

Revelation on the scene

The defense fleet seemed entranced to have a big shiny target of their own to shoot and focused on that while the dread and the bombers hit the first of the Rorquals.

Let the pounding commence

At that point I was headed in to help hold the Rorqual down when another bomber pilot let loose with a bomb to help speed things along and I caught it full in the face, destroying my Purifier.  People who had hit me previously were apparently down or gone, so Jinx Hita, the bomber pilot, got credit for a solo kill.

Freed from the demands of combat I hung around to watch the fight.  The hostiles left me alone for a while, so I was able to watch things unfold, including the destruction of the first of the Rorqual.

Rorqual down, op success!

Since I was still alive, on grid, and had done damage to the Rorqual recently, I appeared on the kill mail.  That’s what it is all about, right?

At that point we were ahead of the game, we couldn’t lose enough for the enemy to win the ISK war.  But we were not done yet.  The second Rorqual was going down fast, and even after the hostiles dropped a Minokawa force auxiliary on grid to try to save it, it was too late.  The second Rorqual went down.  Again, I was still alive and had done some damage, so got on that kill mail as well.

At about that point I caught somebody’s eye and my pod got popped and I was sent home to grab another Purifier.  As I started flying the new ship out to our staging, I heard the ongoing fight on coms, where our dread pilot was able to pop a Cerberus and a few Caracals before finally meeting their end.  That put the final tally at about 3.5 billion ISK lost by us versus about 24 billion ISK lost by the enemy.  And it all happened in 0P-F3K, which was my home system way back in the day when TNT was in Deklein.

The survivors left the scene and we were all happy with our success.  But even as we were starting to think about getting back home, word came down that another Rorqual was lolling about, oblivious to danger, not too far away.  High on two kills already, we were keen to try for a third.

I hurried at best speed back to our staging system to join those who had to reship.  However there was still a good chunk of the fleet that was off in Deklein, while our target was in Fade.

Soon we started running into that series of obstacles that can often pull apart an op.  We had to get everybody together at a third staging point, we needed two black ops battleships, we needed fuel for bridges, jumps, and cynos, half of us needed bombs, and we needed a plan.  The target, which had been joined by a second Rorqual at this point, was in a cyno-jammed system, so we weren’t going to be able to drop another dreadnought, and close to where we expected a defense fleet to form up and come get us.

Those of us at staging got bridged to the mid-point first, the Astrahus we had defended with the VNIs previously.  After two bomber losses that night I decided that the Empress Catiz I SKIN might be unlucky and changed to Rata Sunset.

My third Purifier of the night tethered at the Astrahus

We sat around there and listened on coms as the building series of complications tried to get sorted.  It seemed to me at several points that Asher was just going to call the thing off.  The plan, as it eventually shook out, was to slip somebody into the system, put a deployable warp disruption bubble between the anomaly with the Rorquals and the Fortizar in system where they would likely dock up, then spook one or both of them to get them to warp to safety, only to catch them in the bubble, drop on them, bomb them, point them, and kill them, all before a defense fleet a couple gates away showed up to wipe us out.

I could hear the skepticism in the whole idea in the voices of several people on coms and could see how it all depended on the hostiles obliging us at a few points.  And if it didn’t come off, we wouldn’t even get any excavator drone kills.  But we were all there, ready to go, and were far enough ahead on the night with the two previous Rorqual kills that we went for it all the same.

We listened as the drag bubble got deployed, the covert cyno was put in place, and then as the Rorqual, tipped off to flee, at which point it actually warped off exactly as we wanted.  The cyno was lit and the bridge went up.

A Redeemer black ops battleship with bridge up

As we arrived we were rewarded by the sight of a Rorqual caught in a drag bubble and waiting for us to go after him.

Landed on our target, already under fire

We plowed into him, Asher called for people to overheat their launchers to increase their rate of fire, as we tried to take him down before the enemy could react.

As we hit the Rorqual we saw a Rifter flying around us.  A few of us took a shot at him, but he seemed disinclined to get involved.  But then a Stabber showed up on the scene.  He was a lot more interested in getting some kills and he chose me out of the bunch.  I though I was surely going to lose my third Purifier for the night as he chewed through shield and armor and nearly 40% of my structure, but we popped him before he was able to finish me off.  Then it was back to the Rorqual.

Rorqual showing heavy damage

We were able to kill it as the local defense fleet showed up.  However they seemed a bit hesitant to jump on in and we cloaked up, warped off, and plotted our escape.

Then, of course, we had to get out of there.  This entailed a few awkward steps in getting fuel and black ops battleships together in the right location, bridging the fuel truck, transferring fuel, dealing with the people left behind on one bridge and the guy who went through the wrong bridge with the fuel truck, which was headed back into the system we were leaving.

Eventually that got sorted.  Asher said that those of us hanging about were free to burn back to our staging.  My Purified, having been repaired by the tethering service, was ready to go.  Of course, once I got one gate along one of the black ops pilots bridged people back home.  But I got there safe all the same.

We ended up getting out of the second drop having lost a pair of bombers while knocking out a Rorqual, a Stabber, and a Cormorant from the responding defense fleet.  About 100 million ISK loss for us and close to 10 billion ISK for the hostiles.  That, with the previous two Rorquals downed made for a pretty good night.

Below a gallery of screen shots from the evening, with a few that I couldn’t fit into the post along the way.

VNI Victory in Fade

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

-Asher Elias, post-op ping

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

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

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

A VNI in station showing its distinctive color scheme

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

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

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

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

Khopis Edge VNI

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

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

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

The state of things on our arrival

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

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

PH smartboming away

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

A good exchange from our perspective.

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

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

The sentry drone menace still on grid

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

Crowd of VNIs anchored up

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

Not much time left…

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

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

Their Loki going down to drones

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

A Tempest about to explode

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

An Acolyte II’s shield flaring from hits

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

Safe for now

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

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

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

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