Tag Archives: Reavers

Smaller Operations in the North

Between the big battles, like we saw at X47L-Q last week, there are thousands of smaller ops that undock to take care of business and look for fun and targets of opportunity.  Saturday night saw Asher Elias, the sky marshal who has been running huge multi-fleet operations with hundreds of super carriers and titans following his orders, able to return to smaller fleet ops as Reavers formed up Ishtars and undocked.

Once again leaving the station

He has business for us to attend to and we headed to X47L-Q.

There the first thing we did on entering the system was warp to a cyno on the NCDot Keepstar and pop the ship running it.  Sitting exposed right on the hostile structure, we quickly turned about and warped off, then headed back to a point on grid with it again.

On grid with the Keepstar as it counted down

We had a couple of things on our plate.  One was a matter of expedience.  While we were there and able to fly cover, a call went out to cap pilots who might still be stuck logged off on grid after last week’s battle letting them know that they had an opportunity to log in and jump out of system.  A few pilots too advantage of the opportunity.

Keepstar further back

However, our main task was to cover a new structure being dropped in the system.

Fortizar deploying

A Fortizar named Tosche Station was dropped and we were there to watch it for the 15 minute deployment timer, during which it was vulnerable to attack.  This was part of the change to Upwell structures that went in last last year.  They are now vulnerable for 15 minutes when first dropped and then for 15 minutes at the end of their anchoring sequence.  During that time they are both easy to shoot, as they are unfitted and cannot shoot back, and can be destroyed in a single fight.

However, save for a single Pandemic Horde Cormorant, none of the locals sought to interfere with the structure during that vulnerable time.  The structure made it through and began to anchor.  It was good for three days, after which it would be vulnerable again before coming online.

The longer anchoring timer

We shall see if the locals care to form up to keep it from going online to keep us from having a structure on grid with their Keepstar before the final fight for that kicks off.

After that Asher had us head out for another destination in a hurry.  We flew into Tribute, home of NCDot and Pandemic Legion, and through systems I remember both from living there are from the battles in them over the years, to M-OEE8.

There tackle had run ahead and pinned down some targets for us.  Arriving on grid we found two dreadnoughts, a Phoenix and a Revelation, as well as two Rorquals.  We went after the Phoenix first.

Phoenix under attack while a Rorqual sits in its PANIC bubble

Even as we got there one of the Rorquals had already set off its defensive PANIC module, a protective bubble meant to keep the ship alive for a while in order to let help form up and rescue it, before we had had the opportunity to shoot it.

The Phoenix went down, and then the Revelation, before we were able to get started on the more expensive Rorquals.  By that point the PANIC module had run down on the first one while the second one put its up after we poked it a bit.

Foreground Rorqual dying while the other is in PANIC in the background

After that, we raced off to M-OEE8, a system of legend and PL’s capital, complete with Keepstar.

During this some hostile interceptors showed up with a mind to rescue the remaining trapped caps, but they did not fare too well.  On warping in we were able to divert drones to them, killing a few as the others warped off.  After a couple runs at that they kept their distance, waiting for a target of opportunity.

When the first Rorqual was dispatched we motored over to the second and setup around it waiting for its PANIC bubble to fade.  When it went down we started in, but then were told to pull drones.  Jay Amazingness Thomas Lear had a Baltec fleet in the area and Asher wanted to let them come over to join in on the kill.

Baltec fleet firing on the Rorqual

That additional firepower made short work of the Rorqual and it exploded in the dramatic fashion to which we have become accustomed.

Rorqual goes boom!

All four of the capitals were in Rate My Ticks (ticker: WERMT), which is Pandemic Legion’s rental alliance.  Both PL and NCDot still generate income by renting space as their other sources of passive income have dried up.

We then cleaned up the deployed warp disruption bubbles that they had laid about to keep people from warping directly to them from the gates and then started to head back towards home, past more structures.

Tribute is full of structures

As we and the Baltec fleet moved back towards Pure Blind we were shadowed by the hostile interceptor fleet, which was waiting for a straggler or somebody who didn’t align so they could pick them off, as well as flashes of time dilation.  Pushing a couple of fleets through an otherwise quiet region is enough to tax a server that otherwise hasn’t been reinforced.

On the way back we stopped again in X47L-Q in order to clear off some drag bubbles from a POS that was setup as a trap.  We were able to clear the bubbles, though the affair kept the logi wing busy as the tower shot at people, constantly switching targets.

Extricating ourselves from the tower was a task in and of itself, as the warp disruption batteries kept hitting people as we aligned to warp out.  Asher asked if anybody was pointed before he warped, the heard an affirmative only after he had warped us, so we turned around and headed back to try and rescue those caught.  We lost an Ishtar that way before we finally got off grid.

We also lost the fleet Impairor.  One person who logged on to go with the fleet didn’t have anything handy besides a rookie corvette, so brought that along for the fleet.  It made it through, getting on all the capital kill mails.  However, it got blown up at the POS tower, though the kill mail shows that the pilot took the effort to fit it up to be useful.  Tackle corvette!

After that we headed back to our staging and stood down.  Not a bad fleet at all.  It is nice to get back into the smaller ops that Reavers do.

Asher said on The Open Comms show last Friday that our whole SIGs and squads campaign in the north owes its origin to Bigbilltheboss who, after the Hakonen deployment didn’t want to bring all his dreadnoughts back home to Delve. (We came back from that about a year ago at this point.) So setup shop to drop on the locals ratting and mining and found the fields to be rich in targets.  Then we, and BlackOps, and TNT, and Space Violence all ended up in the north, where we have been deployed since at least November.  A long and fruitful deployment it has been too, with a lot of small fleet actions.

But more big ops are coming.  We will have the Fortizar to defend on Tuesday and then the final timer for the NCDot Keepstar on Wednesday.  Expect CCP’s servers to be heavily taxed once again as we see if more titans die.

CO2’s Keepstar Reinforced in DW-T2I

As expected, with our own Keepstar safely installed in 6RCQ-V the night before, operations directly against Circle of Two in Fade began.

Fade is not a big region, and while CO2 also holds a bit of Pure Blind as well, the bulk of its holdings are in Fade, including its capital and Keepstar in DW-T2I.  So that system and Keepstar are not far from where the Imperium’s own Keepstar is now planted as well as being close to NPC space in Pure Blind where Imperium SIGs & Squads have been based for the last few months.

Fade Map with Locations noted

Fleets were called up for various tasks last night, including Reavers.

I actually missed the initial ping, but reports were that nothing really happened and I managed to get online and catch up with the fleet as we headed off to DW-T2I.  There we hung out for a while on one of the Raitarus we have anchored in the system, waiting to see what CO2 would do when another group started shooting their Keepstar.

We spend a lot of time hanging around structures

While somebody was at the helm of the Keepstar and using its weapons to hit the attackers, no resistance showed up in ships, so we were allowed to run off and shoot something on our own.  Our target for the night was the Draccous faction Fortizar that replaced the station in system when CCP did the great outpost conversion back in early June.

CO2’s Draccous Fortizar

We approached this with some caution.  We were not a big fleet and a Fortizar’s defenses are not without teeth.  But nobody was at the helm and when scanned we found that only the default fittings that came with the conversion, the rigs and services, were there.  Without defenses we were clear to fly around and let our drones reinforce it… and goof off a bit.

HarleyQ trying to catch up to us

Aside from a lumbering point Proteus falling behind the fleet… somebody may have webbed him… the shoot went without incident.  The armor timer was set to go early on Saturday.

Draccous Reinforced

After that we warped over to the gate that would send us in the direction of home.  That gate is on grid with the CO2 Keepstar and we stopped to watch the attacking fleet for a bit.  There were some titans with fax support with Megathrons and Ravens along for the shoot as well.

Titans in defensive bubbles, battleships just barely visible

Looking at the related kills over on zKillboard, it looks like the Keepstar defenses were able to pick off some of the battleships, but none of the capitals were in danger.  And, looking at some of the kills, at least one was blue on blue.  I don’t know what Kun’mi did, but all the pilots on the kill mail for his Nestor are in the Imperium.

The Keepstar didn’t have much further to go.  It was down to the last few percentage points of shield when we arrived, so we saw a bit of shooting before it was reinforced.

Keepstar reinforcement timer

After that we were off for home, the evening’s work done.

The next attack, the armor timer, is set to come out on Saturday… if I am doing my calculations correctly… at about noon Pacific time, which is 3pm Eastern time, or 19:00 EVE Online time.  that makes it an evening event for the Euros and an afternoon fight in USTZ.

This puts the fight in contention with the final timer for the TEST Keepstar down south, so I suspect many of the possible allies of CO2 will punt on the armor timer to get in on a potential Keepstar kill at the other end of New Eden.  We shall seem come Saturday.  Meanwhile ops continue in the north to suppress the locals and reinforce other structures they have about.

The Keepstar Fight at 6RCQ-V

There is a war on.  Or a war is on.  Another one.

Over the past weekend The Mittani said we would be mobilizing and come Monday INN announced that the target was the northwest end of null sec.  Pandemic Legion had been moving its capital fleets down to the southeast of New Eden to assail TEST, Brave, and the rest of the Legacy Coalition.

That move left a vacuum up north, a serious reduction in the number of capital ships the locals could bring to bear on any invader.  The Imperium plans to move in and fill that vacuum.  Pandemic Legion and NCDot are seen as the biggest threat to the Imperium, so with PL away and just NCDot and the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition left to watch their homeland, an opportunity was seen.

Of course, Reavers and a few other SIGs and squads have been up north since at least November of last year hunting the locals and trying to bring them out to fight.  We’ve seen change over that time, with Pandemic Horde moving from Fade to Geminate, Mordus Angels collapsing in Pure Blind, and most recently, the resurrected Circle of Two taking up the space in Fade.  The locals have occasionally put some effort into trying to suppress our operations.

Our station wrapped in bubbles at one point

But more often than not they avoid us, leave our structures alone unless we’re on a break for a couple of weeks, and only form up for final timers on their structures or when we’ve got another Rorqual tackled.  I am sure there is a not unreasonable idea that if we get bored we’ll go away.  But Reavers live to shoot structures and do things that seem boring, knowing that it can all lead to a fight if we persist.

Anyway, once Imperium forces were on the move from Delve northward the first objective was to setup a deployment base.  So a Keepstar citadel was dropped in the system 6RC8-V in the Cloud Ring region.

The first staging in the war

The Gallente Militia alliance Federation Uprising owns the territorial control unit there, so they get their name on the map, but The Initiative owns the infrastructure hub, and since they are part of the Imperium any structure we drop there takes just 24 hours to come online.  (It can take days if you drop them in hostile systems.)

The location is right on the boarder with Fade, where Circle of Two lives.  If we were allowed to plant a Keepstar there, that would put them under a hostile capital and supercap umbrella.  We could drop forces on CO2 which they would be hard pressed to resist.

It became vital that the locals kill the Keepstar as it came online.  That is the point of vulnerability.  After it is online and can be armed it becomes much more difficult to take out.  So a big battle was brewing.

Fortunately for me this was all set to happen in the evening my time, which is the middle of the night EVE Online time.

I was already up in the north so planned to go with the SIGs and squads deployed there.  I did, however, fly an alt over to 6RCQ-V and put him on grid with the Keepstar just to make sure I could keep an eye on what was happening there.

And that turned out to be a good thing.  While fleet after fleet was getting called up and ready to move from Delve and Fountain to the fight, we undocked to take care of other business.

Undocking our Ishtars

While all eyes were on the Keepstar our fleet ran out and dealt with smaller structures.  We covered a Raitaru on grid with the hostile Keepstar in DW-T21, CO2’s capital.  It was in its final timer and we were there to make sure it got through that so the hostiles would have to start over reinforcing it.

We also reinforced a CO2 Astrahus on that grid, giving the locals something to form up and defend later.

Hitting the Astrahus

We then started in on a CO2 Sotiyo, which was gunned, hoping to reinforce that as well.

The view from the Sotiyo, our fleet boost visible in the distance

The Sotiyo was going to take a while however, and before we got even half way done there we were called off to help support the main fight by setting up to block hostile reinforcements.  We managed to knock-off a Gila and a few bombers while doing that.  We never actually went into the 6RCQ-V system.

That was probably a good thing, because in 6RCQ-V things were happening.  As the timer counted down on the Keepstar a cyno went up and the Imperium supercap fleet began to land on the structure.

Titans visible on the Keepstar

And then another cyno went up and a second group started landing.

Some more titans arriving

And then a third cyno went up and then a fourth as super capitals arrayed themselves in and around the Keepstar.

And even more titans start landing

There ended up being a lot of titans on the field, possibly as many as I have seen on the field since B-R5RB.

So many titans

What is hard to see is the super carries mixed in with those fleets.  They are big ships when compared to subcaps, but they seem so small when mixed in with titans.

Meanwhile the locals were forming up as well, with CO2 dropping a Muninn fleet into the system.

Muninns landing near the gate

Likewise Darkness and other GOTG groups formed up an Ishtar fleet and was circling the gate to Fade as they waited for the timer to count down.

Ishtars with the Keepstar in the distance

More and more people kept piling into the system, but things were not too bad… and then the shooting started.

My alt got knocked offline a few times during the fight, but things were not as bad as during the 9-4RP2 fight, the so-called “million dollar battle” where getting back in was pretty much impossible.  If your client died… and I could see my client grabbing more and more RAM until it expired… need a 64-bit client… you could get back in with a bit of patience.

But this fight wasn’t as hyped as the 9-4RP2 battle was, and we were well shy of the 6,142 players in system that earned that fight a Guinness record.  The peak I saw when my alt was in system was just past 3,800.

3,813 and 10% tidi

The fight itself involved the hostiles using Gilas and Ishtars and some long range fit dreadnoughts to stop the timer and start chipping down Keepstar.  They were successful for a while, getting enough damage on the citadel to stop the timer with 10 minutes of online repair to go and they did break it down to 85% of its hit points.

But the weight in numbers was against them.  While they got out in front of things, the titans and super carriers had been joined by a dreads and subcaps who chipped away, cutting back the attackers until the repair timer started up again and the outcome became inevitable.

Titans firing on attackers

Once the timer started up again the prospects for the attackers dimmed and they began to extract.

The Kirkland Protein Star about to go online

Tidi was still bad though, but my main was on the other side of the gate in Fade trying to catch some hostiles coming and going.

Asher, whose ongoing Kirkland Protein Bar meme helped name the Keepstar (though the name changed a couple of times), was not there to the Reavers.  He is now the Sky Marshall, the overall commander and coordinator of fleets and in charge of strategy.  I am glad he has an opportunity to move all the pieces on the map.  There are not many games where you can drive the actions of literally thousands of other players.  But I do worry a bit as the position tends to burn out those who sit in the Sky Marshall chair during a war.  I would miss him if he left the game.

Zed Starshine was leading us for the evening.  He has led us on some ops before.  He got us out to our targets, then to block the comings and goings of the locals, and then the hell out of the way when the hostiles packed up to head home en masse.  Our little fleet wasn’t going to stem that tide, we’d just be a snack for them on the way.  So we got home early and never had to face any tidi.

The Keepstar went online.

With a big flash

The capitals and super caps didn’t have to head home.  They were home.  They could dock up and be ready for ongoing ops against CO2 and GOTG.

The fight itself saw more than a thousand ships blow up.

Most violent system on DOTLAN

Most of those ships belonged to those attacking the Keepstar, as the battle report indicates.

Battle Report Header

[Corrected that battle report as I had CO2 on the wrong side initially.]

The ISK count wasn’t that big however, barely a titan’s worth of ships destroyed.  TEST and Brave, who are now allied with us against PL and NCDot, sent forces north to join in and cover the Keepstar coming online.

But once that Keepstar was online the situation in the north changed.  6RCQ-V is close enough to CO2’s capital and Keepstar in DW-T2I that the super fleet can just take the gate into E9KD-N and then jump straight there.  And you can bet that their Keepstar, and all of their structures, are clearly in our sights.  If they stand there will be more fights.

Rumor has it however that they might pack up shop and head to Venal.  There are still NPC stations there, places that cannot be destroyed.  That is, however, just a rumor at this point, as is the rumor that Slyce might join them.

But if they hang around there will be more titans on grid and more battles over structures in the weeks to come.  Maybe even another node killing, 6,000 player, “million dollar” battle.

Other coverage:

Welcome to the New North

Which is pretty much same as the old north.  At least the north as I last wrote about it, and it has been a while.  I mean, sure, some of the names and colors have changed.

The North around Pure Blind – July 5, 2018

Mordus Angels folded up and most of its corporations moved to other alliances in the area, many of them to Circle of Two.

MOA Dropping Off

Circle of Two, having suffered a stinging defeat when The Judge defected to GoonSwarm, stealing a huge amount of assets on his way out last September, lost Impass and had to spend some time on a couch in Vale of the Silent to rebuild under the protective umbrella of Pandemic Legion.

Good times… good times…

However, Circle of Two is back now, sent from the safe couch to fill in part of the hole in the front lines left by MOA’s departure, taking over Fade and part of Pure Blind.  Their leader is The gigX, who is rumored to actually be gigX, whose account was banned after threatening The Judge.  I am not sure if this is true, but even if it is not, it is somebody flaunting their defiance to CCP.

Meanwhile the Imperium SIGs and squads took a break for the first half of June, which no doubt helped CO2 get settled in.

But that has since ended, as has my own vacation time during the back half of June, and now we are back to our usual business of trying to draw out the locals to get them to fight.  The three usual methods are back in play.

The first is shooting their structures, setting timers, in the hope of getting them to come out and defend.

Shooting up an Astrahus just last night

The second involves planting our own structures around their space.  If the locals come out we get the fight we’re looking for, and if they do not then we get a safe spot to tether up and repair in their space.

Another Raitaru anchored and repairing

And third there is the ongoing hunt for their ratters and miners.

A CO2 Rorqual under attack

I was back from vacation just in time to get on that kill.

This is a priority, hunting down miners and ratters in order to suppress the income of the locals.  The Imperium, as reported over at the New Eden Register, has stepped this campaign up a notch by creating the National Goons Surveillance Agency.  Under this plan people will get participation links for cloaky camping hostile systems in the north, systems being doled out to get maximum coverage, as well as bounty payouts if they call in a hot drop that ends up in a kill.

The response to this from our foes was naturally dismissive.  They questioned the economic sense of it… to which one can only ask if they read the Monthly Economic Report… and claim to have setup an always on-call coalition-wide defense fleet of capital ships ready to counter-drop any Imperium activity.

The latter could be a thing.  We do, after all, operate under what should be their capital umbrella.  However, though I haven’t been out on a ton of ops this month, I have yet to see evidence that this counter force is in place.  It certainly didn’t show up to help that Rorqual, and we had to wait out its PANIC module.  Plus, it had a cyno and fuel.  So what happened?

Yes, they did counter drop a couple days later and made a save.  That proves that they don’t really have to deply a lot in order to counter-drop.  But Rorquals still seem to be shy in the north.

Anyway, the usual tempo of operations… we’ve been at this since at least November with a few breaks… continues.  We’ll be out on the evenings USTZ to play the structures game and the cloaky campers will be on the look out for targets on which to drop, all the while waiting to see what the north does in response.

A Venture to HED-GP

Ranger Gama was back again with another frigate race for Reavers.  You may (but most likely do not) recall the race I wrote about back in December that had us racing Daredevils about the north.  That was enough fun that Ranger has made it a semi-regular thing in Reavers.  There was a second race a few months back that I missed, but I was around this weekend for the third one.

As has been the case in the past, Ranger Gama wouldn’t tell us where we would be headed in advance, nor what we would be flying, aside from the fact that he figured some of us might need to train up the skill.

That prompted me to see if there was any frigate that I could not fly.  Aside from the new Triglavian frigate, the Damavik, I seemed to be covered.  But if I had had to guess, I would have said the Venture was a likely candidate, being a mining frigate.  And, sure enough, when the time came Ranger Gama had some specially fit Ventures for us.

A Venture waiting to race

Ranger only had a few to hand out, so only the first 9 people who joined fleet were going to get one, which led to me hitting refresh on the fleet finder until his fleet advert popped up, at which point I joined (followed shortly by a couple other people) before the ping for the fleet was even sent out.  The fleet had to be disbanded until the ping, at which point people piled back in.

There were more people than frigates, but the fit was simple and cheap, so a couple people were allowed to buy their own in order to join.  As you can see from my eventual kill mail (we’ll get to that) it just fit a pair of mining lasers, a festival launcher, an MWD, an AB, a survey scanner, and a Nanofiber in the low slot.  We did get rigs to let us warp faster, so at least we had some speed.

There were questions about what we were allowed to do.  Not allowed was changing the fit.  Everybody had to race with the fit provided, though a couple of people felt that meant they could add some drones.  But otherwise people were allowed to run with implants if they so desired and take any route or mode or transportation they wished, so long as they stayed in their Venture.  We were then given the route and were sent on our way.

The race route

We started in 1DQ1-A, the capital of the Imperium, and our first waypoint was HY-RWO in Catch.  Most people headed straight down the most direct path, but four of us, myself included, got out GARPA to check the local jump bridge network, and turned the other direction to catch a jump bridge that shaved nearly a dozen gates off the route.  That put the four of us, Sicarius Bile, Grodd Gandar, Zarakik, and myself, way out in front of the pack.  In that group of four I was the second through the jump bridge.

The gate route, all 52 jumps

Part of the idea of the race is that hostiles along the way will cause trouble for the leaders who may (or may not) choose to share intel on what is happening.  However, Saturday night in Catch seemed to be pretty quiet.  TEST and their allies in the Legacy Coalition were not out roaming their space along our route, so the four of use made it to U-QVWD without incident.

Sicarius Bile got there first, and I jumped into the system just after.  I waited until he said he was on the TEST Keepstar in the system before warping to him and then moving off to pull distance while staying on grid.  Since grids… what is essentially the local bit of space where you can see other players and structures… are pretty huge now thanks to citadels, there is a lot of room to work with.

Nobody came out to molest us however.  I did see that there were a couple of player corpses on the undock of the Keepstar, which I suggested ought to fetch a prize bonus if collected (which somebody then did, because of course they would) but otherwise not much happened.

On grid with the Keepstar in my Venture

As we were winding down our five minutes on the Keepstar those who did not take the jump bridge began to arrive.  Asher seemed to be at the back of the pack, but unperturbed, with a calm in his voice, which made people suspect that he had a plan.

Then the early four headed out for the loop around TEST space.  During that run the lineup of the first four changed as Zarakik passed me.  I suspect that he might have opted for the warp speed implants.  But later he said that he was physically close to the London data center where the EVE Online servers are, giving him a consistent 7ms ping, which basically allowed him to load system faster than I could, eight time zones away from London, allowing him a small but tangible head start through each gate.

We started arriving back at the Keepstar for our second five minute stay on grid just as the last of the second group was leaving after their first.  Somebody in the second group tried to use the drones they packed to thin out the pack, but that did not work out.

I made a bookmark on the first stay so was able to warp straight in and start my five minute timer.  Again, there was little to remark on during our stay.  An interceptor undocked, but didn’t seem to have any use for us.  We speculated what they might be saying on their intel channel about a small gang of mining frigates hanging out around their Keepstar, but whatever it was, nobody came to get us.

So after our five minutes elapsed, we headed out for the final waypoint, Sicarius Bile in the lead, Zarakik next, and myself and Grodd Gandar close behind, smug with the distance of our lead.

And then we all died in SV5-8N, just one gate shy of the finish line.  Brave had a gate camp with drag bubbles up on the HED-GP gate.  Sicarius Bile died first and told us about the gate camp.  Then we proceeded to pile on and die, one by one, until eight of us were down.

Who is missing a jacket?

We didn’t all just bumble in with a direct warp.  I, like most of the later group, tried to find a bounce point which might bring me in behind the camp and let me get to the gate without getting caught.  But they had four drag bubbles up arrayed about the gate so that there was no joy on that front.

That left Asher Elias, Locke Erasmus, Elisha Okaski, and Boris Agnon (who got away in his pod) still in the race.  Back in 1DQ1-A I asked if I refit a Venture if I could just race to HED-GP, but the ruling came back that I would need run the whole route again for it to count.  Given that the alternate route to HED-GP was another 34 gates, I didn’t think it was worth the effort.

It got quiet on coms as those left considered their options.  A long diversion from the easy path seemed to be the choice.  And then Asher called out that he had made it, long before he could have run the full way around.

He told us that he looked at the killmails that we had linked and started convo’ing the FC of the gate camp to bribe him to be let through.  As it turned out the FC just wanted Asher to bring a fight, and since Saturday Night Swarm was starting in HED-GP in just a bit… that was why it was the end point of the race… he was able to offer that up.  So they let him through and he won.

We asked what other plans he might of had, since he seemed to linger behind as the race started, so there was speculation that he might have been looking for an opportune wormhole to get an edge.  However, it came out that he convo’d TEST (and former GSF) FC Vily to ask him to set Asher blue to TEST so he could use TEST jump bridges.  Vily told him he couldn’t do that himself, but would try to find somebody who could.  It looked like Vily was good to his word and actually did get Asher set blue, but nobody got back to Asher so he ended up not using the jump bridge network.

Then after a time, Locke and Elisha made it to HED-GP via the long route and we had out winner.  The prize pool of 1.5 billion ISK was divided up, with 50% slated for the winner, 30% for second place, 15% for third, and 5% set aside for the first person to arrive in a pod.  Those finishing the race were:

  1. Asher Elias
  2. Locke Erasmus
  3. Elisha Okaski

Boris Agnon opted not to take the long way around in his pod, so the 5% for that was rolled over into the prize pool for the next race, along with Elisha’s prize money at his insistence.

And so the third Reavers frigate race ended, with most of us dying quickly at the gate camp in SV5-8N.  Brave popped me so fast I did not have a chance to launch fireworks at them.  Somebody had enough time to grab a direction scan of the camp, but that was about it.

What was waiting on the gate?

Despite not getting a prize I ended up 103,545.20 ISK ahead for the evening, that being the payout for losing an uninsured Venture.  I went with a clean pod, so losing that cost me nothing.

There was some talk as to what else we could have done with the race.  Since we were in mining frigates it was suggested that filling our ore holds ought to be a requirement… something Locke said he did anyway… but as not everybody had mining skills (the advent of skill extractors meant a lot of combat pilots ripped out the mining skills they trained as newbies back in the day) that was set aside.

Ranger Gama has promised to hold another race in the future.  We will have to see how that plays out and what surprises he comes up with.

Flying with Main Fleet While on Break from the Pure Blind Front

After a successful op last week… which I missed… Asher declared we were going to take a break from the north for a while.  We were to leave everything in place in our station, but we free to run off an rat or run abyssal pockets or whatever we wanted for a while.

Of course, I not only missed that op, I somehow missed the move op from our temporary foray into Venal back to our NPC staging station, so first had to work on getting my ships back to where I would need them when we returned.

Fortunately we have somebody who does shipping for us and who took care of those of us who got left behind.  I had to repackage some ships, which meant I lost the rigs and will have to import a fresh set to use those ships later, but at least they were back where I wanted them.

Then I had to think about what I was going to do while we were on a break.  Pretty much all I have done for most of the last 6-8 months has been Reavers ops, with the occasional diversion into an event now and again.

First on the list was to get a participation credit.  We took a break at the start of the month and I had to get in some PAP links in so my corp would know I was still alive and not kick me.  I swear that is all I do for them most months, add to the corp PAP total.

I usually aim to get a few right away at the start of the month, as you never know what is going to come up. (The earlier ops I mentioned that I missed were due to ill health.)  Without Reavers though, it looked like I was going to have to go on some main fleet ops.

I used to enjoy main fleet and the chaos and silliness and the lack of responsibility and such.  I did almost nothing but main fleet ops for years, from my landing in null sec through the Fountain War.  I saw many great battles and had good times.  But it started to wear on me after a time.  And then Reavers was formed and I managed to get in when they were taking anybody who signed up, and it changed my experience in null sec.

I will train any skill, fly an doctrine, and go on any op with Asher leading.  His fleets, for lack of a better term, are a quality experience and I enjoy them quite a bit.  They keep me playing EVE Online long after I otherwise might have taken a break.  I almost feel like I am part of the team.

So to go from that to a main fleet op I knew I was in for a let down.  But it was even worse than I expected.  We had an FC from a GSF corp who had all his pals in the fleet and it became a very in-group thing.  I’m already somebody who usually feels like the outsider, and with an in-group running the fleet… and all in the command channel so I couldn’t even escape it in the “no chatter” channel… it was more painful than I had expected.

It wouldn’t have actually been that bad, except that I also forgot how slowly main fleet ops move.  They have to ping for a form up an hour before we need to undock because it takes that long to get everything sorted out.  I wasn’t even going to go because I saw the first ping 15 minutes late, which usually means “too late” in Reavers.  But then more pings came out looking for logi and then boosters, so I logged in and clone jumped back to Delve to join in.

It was a Batlec fleet, so I bought an Oneiros off contract to join in as logi and added a couple of combat drones so I could get on the kill mail promised in the ping. (That promise meant it would be a structure shoot.)  I had to buy a ship because last September I wasn’t feeling it for the game and packed up all my stuff and moved it to low sec thinking I might take a break.  Then in October Asher took us on the current deployment and I’ve been happy doing that since.

Eventually everything got together and we undocked and burned off for our first waypoint.

Baltec Fleet on the move at last

We rallied up at a citadel then moved into Fountain.  From a Keepstar there we were bridged to the destination.

Baltec Fleet Bridging Out

There we found the expected structure, a Gang Bang Team tower, waited as I expected.

Tower Shoot Begins

I only brought a couple of light drones, which cannot hit a tower in a POS shield.  But I knew from long experience that all I had to do was hit one of the modules outside of the shield to get on the kill mails of everything we blew up, and we were there to blow everything up.  Capitals dropped in to help us with the shoot.

An Erebus titan with the 15th Anniversary SKIN

I realize I was bitching about the FC and his friends having fun together, and you shouldn’t take that too seriously.  I appreciate the FCs in the coalition.  They have a difficult job and I try to do everything I can to make their job as easy as possible, which usually means following instructions.

This is where my fellow line member F1 monkeys can make such fleets a pain.  I mean, I screw up all the time, so I can’t point fingers for being bad.  Just a week or so back in tabbing between windows I managed to decloak myself while we were all waiting on a black ops for a drop and I apologized and logged off in shame I felt so bad.  But I listen and try to do what the FC asks.  Our poor FC was trying to get people to follow simple instructions and failing, as tends to happen on main fleet.  For example, he wanted the main DPS arm of the fleet to orbit him, something he kept repeating.  Yet, as the tower went down there was still a ball of ships stuck to him.

Those Megathrons should not be there… and a Cerb?

Anyway, we blew up the tower and I got my kill mails.  In addition to PAPs I like to get on zKillboard at least once a month to prove I am alive.

An Amarr tower going up

I was okay with that.  I go on POS shoots now wondering which one will be my last, since they are slated to be removed from the game at some future date.

Then we turned around and headed for home, escorting the caps to their destination first.

An Avatar in Red

Caps warp slow, so it was a while getting home.  Eventually we arrived home, nearly three hours after I logged in.  And all we did was go 15 gates, shoot a thing, and come back.  As I said, the logistics of main fleet and the need to shepherd people of all levels of skill and listening ability.

I may bitch about main fleet, but it is a necessity.  Things have to get done in space.  But it just isn’t something I enjoy as much as I once did back in the day.  I look forward to the Reavers deployment resuming ops.

Vacation in Venal

Asher pinged to warn us that we would be moving.

The question was where.  Where would we be heading after Pure Blind?

We have been in Pure Blind for a while.  There have been a couple of short breaks, but we have been deployed up there since November at least.  However, once Pandemic Horde moved on from Fade to Geminate and people started sensing blood in the water when it came to Guardians of the Galaxy, things have started to get a bit more crowded.  Adding to us and the TNT deployment near another corner of Pure Blind, The Initiative has become a lot more active coming in from Fountain through Cloud Ring, with FedUp joining them, and Space Violence, anther Imperium group, chose to deploy into the middle of Pure Blind as well.

All those Imperium pilots roaming around the area has attracted the attention of GotG’s neighbors.  NCDot had deployed to Gehi to threaten Querios in the hope that it would make us pull back our groups in the north, but the Imperium has proven to be big enough to have mainfleet ops running to defend Queious without needing to call anybody back.  So NCDot has also been drawn into supporting GotG direction in the north.

And then there is Pandemic Legion.  They had been occupied since February attacking Providence.  Having pushed back ProviBloc and ground down their sovereignty slowly week after week, PL up and withdrew when TEST declared they were deploying to the area specifically to fight them.  ProviBloc quickly regained their territory.

Providence changed over the course of a week

That meant PL was back in the north looking for something to do as well.  With all those forces mixed about us, our small fleets seemed less likely to be effective.  Or so I gathered from Asher’s ping.

We did not know where we would be headed, or most of us did not.  The best way to broadcast intel to your enemies is to make it widely known among your friends, some of whom are no doubt spies.  All most of us knew was that all of us would be going and we would be hauling along all doctrines.  That meant capitals going as well, which helped some as the caps could carry extra ships for people in their ship maintenance bays. (CCP adding those to dreadnoughts a while back boosted deployment hauling potential significantly.)

After handing over a few ships to cap pilots to haul, I got my main in an Oneiros for the trip and my alt in a stealth bomber to haul that along as well.  When things finally came together we undocked to begin our journey, which was estimated to take us about an hour.

Combined fleet undocking for the move

Bombers went to hang out on a black ops battleship on a citadel, the rest of the sub caps loitered on the undock as the capitals were undocked and jumped to their first mid-point.  It was without a station, so they had to land, warp off to make safes, then cloak up to wait out their timer.  Meanwhile, the main subcap fleet aligned out to catch up with the capitals in order to cover them for their next jump, leaving the bombers behind.  But we ran into trouble almost right away.  The locals had heard about our move op and dropped supers and subcaps on us as we jumped through the first gate.

A local welcoming committee

We got away from that with only two ships lost, but it was an indication that our move might be eventful.  We bounced around to get away and when the drop cleared out we ended up back where we started.  We actually stood down for a while to let the hostiles clear out.  The caps were safe down the road, but people were trying to scan them down.

Eventually that cooled down and the subcaps were able to move out and catch up to the capitals, then move ahead to the next mid point, which had a station for them to dock up.   The bombers were sent along as well.  The caps were able to jump again and the subcaps ran along to our final destination, which turned out to be deep in Venal.

I hadn’t been to Venal since early in the Casino War.  It is an NPC held section of null sec, owned by the Guristas pirate faction, and follows the design philosophy of an past era.  It is a region consisting of 95 systems, but it only has five NPC stations in it, so there are not a lot of truly safe locations there.  But it is also in the center of the north.  If you like EVE Online donut metaphors, if the north is a donut (blue or otherwise) then venal is the hole in the middle.

Venal in the North

While none of the stations in Venal are particularly handy, if you don’t mind a few gates between yourself and the locals the region gives you access to quite a bit of the north.  Black Legion used to use Venal for this back when we lived in the north.  For us the likely target seemed to be Branch, where GotG has been able to rat and mine in relative peace for while we have been active in Fade, Pure Blind, and Tribute.  And so we settled in to our new home.

A Guristas Station in Venal

Well, we settled in once we got the bombers caught up.  Somehow they got left behind without a black ops battleship so one had to be cyno’d back in to jump us to our destination.

But once that was done we were able to settle in and start operating from our new location.

Undocking from the new station, Guristas logo visible

From there ops started rolling for targets of opportunity.  While waiting around for opportunities there were a few things locally to shoot.  There are towers and citadels hanging about for us to hit.

Following Asher around on a shoot

So we quickly got on the board with a couple of easy kills.

A POS module goes up, just because I like the picture

But juicer targets await.

GotG, learning of our change of location, packed up and deployed to counter our threat.  Never mind that of the groups deployed in and around Pure Blind represented much larger numbers, we were apparently the threat.  Or maybe we seemed like a manageable target.  Or perhaps they really were worried about their as yet unmolested ratting and mining space.

My Oneiros, lit by the destruction of a POS

This led to a particularly dramatic fight, which I totally missed.  It was on Saturday night and I was at home and not doing anything in particular.  But I wasn’t at my computer and so I did not see the pings for it until The Mittani was smug pinging about it.

We managed to catch and drop on Sort Dragon as he was moving his titan to the GotG staging in WLF-D3.  Sort is the leader of GotG, so this was a particularly satisfying kill.  The clash also saw another titan killed with the ISK war leaning well in our favor.

Battle Report Header

I am extremely bummed that I missed this fight, all the more so as I was home and could have easily joined in.  Ah well, I can’t be there for everything.  But this certainly did make for an auspicious start to our time in Venal.

More information on that battle:

Other posts related to the situation in the north: