Tag Archives: TEST

Home from Wicked Creek

We deployed down to Curse, holing up in a station in H-ADOC, the Monday before EVE Vegas.  Karma Fleet and LAWN joined us as we headed down south.  As I mentioned in a previous post, our main mission was to hit TEST sovereignty down in and around Wicked Creek so they would come out and fight.

Wicked Creek area of New Eden

Wicked Creek area of New Eden

And for the limited goal of getting fights, the operation was a success.  The fights, when they happened, were good and not heavily out of balance due to numbers.  I managed to miss most of the “good fights,” even when I was there in the fleet, but fun times were had.  Even under Fozzie Sov, in the Balkans of the south east of New Eden null sec, attacking somebody’s infrastructure will force people to come out and fight at a specific time and place.

We also got to fly a few doctrines.  We had our usual Tengus, and Ishtars returned to the fold during the deployment.  And with Karmafleet along, there were also Cormorants and Ferox fleets to join.

Sitting with Feroxes at the sun

Sitting with Feroxes at the sun

And if the enemy doesn’t come out to fight, then it costs them.  We managed to drop TEST sovereignty in LKZ-CY when they couldn’t get numbers together to come and fight us.  The did show up, but ended up declining to engage and for a bit the system was unowned.

There went your TCU...

There went your TCU…

I actually got to successfully Entosis a node during that op, flying a Cormorant.  I was also one of the few kills for TEST on that op as I had moved to do a node in LKZ-CY and then they showed up.  They didn’t go after the main fleet, but the dropped in to kill me.

Cormorant on a command node

Cormorant on a command node destined never to be finished

On the flip side, I was also involved in at least one Fozzie Sov endless tug of war horror show.  A couple hours after dropping LKZ-CY, another opportunity came up to hit S-E6ES, which is right next to our staging.  However, we only got about 20 people in the fleet, so the hope was that TEST wouldn’t show up and we could ninja the whole thing.  But TEST did show up after a bit with about 40 people.  That was too many for us to hit directly, and they did not seem inclined to come and get us to force a show down, so we each went off to one side of the constellation or the other and hit nodes.

We had gotten there first and eventually go the balance to tilt 90% in our direction.  But they have more links running, and so the number see-sawed between 80% and 95%, slowly working its way in their favor.  It eventually became clear that, unless we got more numbers… and it was past EUTSZ prime time on a Sunday night… the event was eventually going to go to TEST, the question was just how long were we willing to drag this out.  Sitting around running Entosis Links not being as fun as promised, we opted to stand down and end the madness.

There was a final event, a last battle, on Monday night my time where we ran out what forces we could round up in an Ishtar fleet to try and contest a timer in 1L-OEK.  In anticipation Slyce, which owned the system, put up drag bubbles on every gate between H-ADOC and their system, making us take a detour around to another route.

We ended up squaring off on the 1L-OEK gate in Q-GQHN (which gets pronounced Qui-Gon, as in Qui-Gon Jinn) where the numbers were only slightly against us.  We got there first and repaid the route blockage by having everybody with a deployable bubble drop it around the gate, leaving a small mess for the locals to clean up later.


Bubbles on the 1L-OEK gate

When the locals arrived, the fight was very tight, though we were losing a ship now and again as logi tried to keep everybody up and going.  Our work did not go unnoticed, even by our foes.

Pandi Borgia of TEST

Pandi Borgia of TEST

And then Pandemic Legion dropped in on the fight, landing pretty much in our midst.  At that point the requests for shield reps suddenly spiked and the logi pilots got very busy… to the point that I did not notice I had been yellow-boxed again and was soon wandering around in my pod, my Basilisk a wreck in my wake.

At least then I had a moment to survey the battle.  I set my pod to approach a Nestor in the PL fleet, just to get a closer look.

The shiny Nestor in the bunch

The shiny Nestor in the bunch

My sight seeing tour was short lived, as somebody eventually decided to pod me.  That was probably a favor as I didn’t have to try to fly home through bubble-ville, I was sent there directly and without cost.

The battle report shows the slaughter, with us losing 61 of 104 ships, including all but one of the Basilisks.  There are comments on the battle in one thread over at Reddit. (And a comment from Asher about bubbles, the fight, and our deployment goals.)

After that we were done in the south.  Tuesday evening USTZ the first fleet for home formed up.  I only had a Ferox to bring home, having left three Basilisk, three Crucifier, and two Cormorant wrecks behind in Wicked Creek.

We happened to get a fortuitous direct wormhole and the return op should have been very quick, but then CCP was having a problem with one of its ISP connections in London.  This meant that at a couple of points nearly a third of the fleet would drop from the game as we transitioned through a gate, and then would struggle to get back on.  So we spent more time waiting than we did moving.

Sitting on another gate waiting for people to reconnect

Sitting on another gate waiting for people to reconnect

There were moans at the start of the fleet because an Abaddon was along for the ride and was going to slow down our warps.  In the end though, that was less of an issue than the game itself.  Eventually things seemed to clear up and we got everybody to the wormhole.

Approaching the wormhole

Approaching the wormhole

On the far side of the wormhole we were just a half a dozen gates from the current coalition staging station at 3V8-LJ in Pure Blind.  We were soon landing on the station, docking up, and calling it a night.

Landing at 3V8-LJ

Landing at 3V8-LJ

And so ends another Reavers deployment.  Fun and fights were had deep in hostile territory.

I am going to steal one thing from Asher’s Reddit thread on that final fight.  At some point during the deployment we began spamming local now and again with the word “RATKINGBOIS” linked to the character profile of RatKnight1.  This seemed to start while I was off in Vegas, but I joined in when I got back and spammed local with the team and renamed my ship.  Later the word of the day got changed to “FISHKINGBOIS.”

Asher offered up an end of deployment tale on Reddit of where this all came from.

Oh I promised to explain RATKINGBOIS at the end of the deployment to some of the Test guys who were asking – but be forewarned, like I said before, it’s a shitty story: We were going to Test renter space to ref it and it’s kinda far away so it’s a long boring trip, I was looking through my fleet and I saw the name “RatKnight1” which I decided might be the worst name I’ve ever seen, so I asked him if RatKnight without a number was already taken because it’s such a desirable name. Well Mr. RatKnight1 then very earnestly describes how he is the original RatKnight but he lost access to him so he’s got the number now and we all had a good chuckle because he never seemed to grok that we were busting his balls over his terrible name. So the next day someone called us “RATKINGBOIS” because I guess they forgot the actual rank of the rat, he’s only a knight, not a king. And we were earnestly corrected by said Knight about his rank. So it just stuck after that. RatKnight1 seemed to enjoy the notoriety and being the mascot. And then it became FISHKINGBOIS because we were staging in H-ADOC – which sounds like haddock – which is a fish. So, you know, now you can put this on urban dictionary and your mom can look up why your in-joke is soooooo hilarious.

I had gotten the haddock part of the joke, largely because Sadus trolled it regularly on coms.

So deployment complete.  Now there is a rumor of war and an announcement coming tomorrow to indicate where it will be.

Wicked Creek Without a Paddle

The inevitable moment came to pass as I tried to dual box a fleet op in EVE Online.  Not only do I have a single monitor that now seems a bit small by today’s standards (I recently profiled my setup), but I insist on playing full screen, so I can only see one client or the other.  Eventually I become fixated on one of the clients, leaving the other one to fend for itself only to hear the FC call my character’s name because I haven’t aligned or missed a warp or have otherwise wandered out of formation, usually straight into the jaws of the enemy.  Then I have to flail to get things set right again.

And that’s if I am lucky.

If I am unlucky I tab back to the neglected client and find myself sitting in a pod, either in space or back in my home station, dead from the distraction.

I am not good at dual boxing in EVE, though that is, in part, because of my own stubbornness.  I like to see as much of space as I can.

And so it went Tuesday night in Wicked Creek.

I mentioned previously that on the Monday before EVE Vegas the Reavers, along with some of Karma Fleet, LAWN, and allegedly my own alliance, TNT, deployed down to Wicked Creek under the weak cover story of defending the Phoebe Freeport Republic or some such.  In reality, we were there to get fights.  Fights with TEST, who live in the corner of Wicked Creek close to Curse (via Scalding Pass) and the NPC null sec station where we set up shop. (If you read the last couple entries at the excellent Game of Sov blog, Trick or Treat and Pillow Fort Fight!, you’ll see some of the resulting battle reports, though the list there is not complete.)

I haven’t been on for as many ops during the deployment as I would have liked.  There have been other things going on… like EVE Vegas… or last weekend where my wife and I indulged in a James Bond movie marathon… but I have been there for a few.

I was there for the op when we killed the infrastructure hub in S-E6ES, which cut TEST’s jump bridge connection from their deeper in Wicked Creek to that system, an important feat as that connection allowed them to jump ahead of us and cut us off from home during a withdrawal.

I managed to show up for a “no logi allowed” slippery boat Tengu fleet op.  fortunately Karma Fleet came along as well, and was handing out free Cormorants to boot.  I hadn’t flown a Cormorant in ages.

Cormorant fleet is go!

Cormorant fleet is go!

I was happy to see that the little destroyer, which was my first “goal” ship in EVE Online, now has an additional low slot, for a total of two.  Go wee Corm!

That was the fleet where we were after the ihub in GGE-5Q.  I don’t recall specifically why, other than to generally annoy TEST and perhaps get a fight.  As I said, getting fights is now our thing.

It was also my first chance to run an Entosis Link ship.  We had lost our initial link ships and they were looking for people who had the skills to run the link.  I opted in and then warped off the fellow Reaver Azure and Argent and ejected from my Corm so he could get in and use his mobile depot to fit the links he had brought out from our staging.  Then he ejected and I got back in and headed to the ihub to start running the link.

Entosis Cormorant

Entosis Cormorant

This was just as exciting as I expected.  I went into orbit of the ihub, with a tech I link you need to stay within 20km, targeted it, and started the module.  There was a five minute warm up cycle, after which followed 20 minutes of Entosis Link magic, watching the timer count down as the Cormorants and Tengus lingered about.

As the timer rolled down to zero, TEST started showing up in the system.  With just ten seconds to go they warped on grid with me and the ihub, targeted me, and blew me up with a mere 3 seconds left on the clock.  I was subsequently podded and found myself back in the staging.

At this point the fleet had been going for more than three hours.  We were given a participation link, but the fleet kept going.  There was a scramble to get another link setup to pick up where I left off as the automatic defender regeneration had now kicked in.  It is slow… it takes an hour to regen my almost 20 minutes of work… but it just keeps going.  I never found out if we succeeded or not, as it was getting late on a work night, so I was off to bed.

Which brings us around to Tuesday evening and the fleet op departing our base.  There was a call for numbers and we collected a good 70 people initially, a number that grew to about 90 as we prepared to leave.

I was only going to fly one ship, being fully aware of how bad I am and dual boxing during fleet ops.  However, Asher said he needed people in Entosis Drakes.  How hard could that be to run on a second client.  Entosis is easy enough, and when was the last time I got to fly a Drake?

So I got out my alt, had him buy one of the Entosis Drakes on contract, strapped it on, fit the rigs in the cargo hold, and renamed it “I Bring Draek!”  I also setup the broadcasts on my alt so he would see calls for shields, highlighted in blue, just like Wilhelm in the Basi, so I wouldn’t miss any calls for help if I was in the wrong client at the moment.

Having gotten that sorted out, I waited until the fleet finally undocked and started out towards its destination.

I am the red Basilisk in the fleet

I am the red Basilisk in the fleet

Things went well to start with.  I kept my eye mostly on my main as I had to keep the cap chain going when we stopped, only tabbing over to my alt when I had a moment to get him aligned or to jump him through a gate.

We moved along, scouts reporting a clear road ahead, until we arrived at our first destination.  The main fleet anchored up, logi got anchored as well and got the cap chain running, ewar, anchored on Victor Fel, set themselves off to one side, and the Entosis ships went to safe up.  I made a safe for my alt, put him there, and went back to my main.

The timer ran down and Moomin was called as the first to Entosis… and likely die.  TEST was in the system.  There were reports that they were scanning down people who were safed up so, while the main fleet was waiting for something to happen, I switched over to my alt to run the directional scanner now and again to make sure no bad guys were in the vicinity.  I had safed up pretty far away from everything, though I could see another Drake on d-scan.

Then TEST dropped on grid with us and a fight started.

First round of shots

First round of shots

This was just a skirmish and did not add up to much.  But as the fight was calling, Asher called everybody back to the main fleet, so I had to tab out and warp my alt back… and then try to keep him up with the fleet.  While I was doing that Asher did a short warp with the fleet so my alt landed in the wrong place and my main was at the new location, sitting still and not in the cap chain.  I was already being excessively bad.  I pointed the Drake at the main fleet, turned on its MWD and said to hell with its cap and went back to get my shit straightened out on the logi front.

My absence had been noted.  I apologized, got myself back in range, got the cap chain going at my end, got anchored up, and everything on that front was back in order.  I quickly tabbed back to my alt and set him to approach my Basi because.. why not?

As this skirmish subsided, Asher warped us the U-HVIX gate and we all went through.  Then he warped us to a command node in that system.  We got caught in a bubble a ways off from the node and he had us all just approach it.  He then asked for an Entosis ship to x up, so I did so with my alt.

My alt was tasked to head to 1-7B6D to start working on a command node there.  Unfortunately, on coms, Asher just said (or I just heard) “One seven,” which isn’t enough to set a route.  So I had to tab about to a browser, get DOTLAN up, get Wicked Creek up, find us, then find the right system, go back to my alt, set a course, and start that trip.  It was just two jumps, so that went quickly enough.

Once there I discovered that I had not updated my overview on my alt, as I had long ago on my main, to show the new sovereignty structures.  So I had to dig into my overview settings and select those bits for my travel overview, my sort of go-to, generic, show me what I need to get around set.

And this is now me distracted and fixated on one character while shit is going down with the other, as I started in on at the top of the post.

I worked through what I needed to do on my alt, got him to the command node in the system, and started warming up the Entosis Link.  I then tabbed back to my main and found him sitting in a pod bouncing off the command node Asher had us approach maybe 10 minutes back.  Things were happening and I had also forgotten that, once off grid and out of system, my alt would stop seeing fleet broadcasts, so my plan fell down on that front as well.  Again, me being bad at EVE Online.

So I got out of the cap chain channel, declared myself dead and out in the logi channel, set a course for home, since nobody had blown up my pod, and warped off.

But at least I still had something to do on my alt.  Time to do the Entosis Link thing.

Drake running the Entosis Link module

Drake running the Entosis Link module

Before the warm up cycle had even gotten half way through an NCDot pilot in a Claw dropped on me, locked me up, and pointed me… presumably to hold me for somebody else, since they didn’t have much in the way of offensive power.

In my one moment of glory in during the whole evening, I had the presence of mind to lock them in return, launch my drones, turn on my rapid light missile launchers, and rather quickly blow them up.

In over nine years of playing EVE Online, this is the closest I have ever come to having a one-on-one PVP kill.  My alt will now have a kill mark queued up I think, when we get those on the sides of our ships.

My moment of glory was, however, short lived.  The rest of the NCDot crew, in the area to third party no doubt, showed up on grid with me, the odds quickly going against me.  I did manage to damage one of the Omen Navy Issues to the extent that he he felt he had to motor out of range.  But then, held in place by another point, I hit the long reload cycle for the rapid light launchers… 35 seconds of waiting… and their fire kept on whittling me down.  I had everything overheated that could be as I waited for the inevitable to occur.  Eventually I went boom.

At least I had remembered to insure it before I undocked.

I managed to warp my pod off… not that that was doing myself any real favors.  I was more keen just to deny them one more kill mail.  I posted my loss in fleet and set a course for home.

So now I had two pods wandering about Wicked Creek, slowly making their way back to our staging station.  Meanwhile, as I listened on coms, apparently the best fight ever unfolded back in U-HVIX.

I mean look at this thread on Reddit.  How often are both this jazzed after a fight?

TEST dropped T3 cruisers on us and we were outnumbered, the Dabigredboat showed up with a fleet from the north, mostly Hawks, Jackdaws, and ECM Claws, and joined in.  Then TEST dropped triage to support their end and LAWN followed suit by dropping six dreads on the field and mayhem ensued with over 100 billion ISK in losses, split almost exactly up the middle.  TEST lost a bit less when it comes to ISK, and won the node timer, but lost a lot of T3 cruisers and the skill points that go with that.  The Imperium lost a bit more on the ISK front, including all six dreads dropped on the field, but lost no T3 cruisers, and only a couple of Entosis ships since getting the fight was more important than the objective.

The ISK War

The ISK War

You can see it all on this battle report, which is almost the same as the one linked on Reddit, except I extended the time out an hour to cover the last bits of the fight.  Looking at that battle report, my Basilisk is almost the difference between the two sides.  See what being distracted gets you.

I spent almost the entire “good” part of the fight getting my ass back to our station, buying a new ship for Wilhelm, and then rushing back to get into the fight.  I opted for a Manticore stealth bomber set up with a point and a target painter (but no bomb launcher) that happened to be on contract at our station.  I figured that gave me better odds for the return trip.  In one of those odd twists, I was heading back at the same time Fate Aivo, whose Claw my alt had blown up, was on the way.

There was a gate camp on the direct route back.  However, there was a way around that, so I managed to arrive safely back in U-HVIX just in time for the fight to pretty much be over.  I landed on the field literally as TEST left.

There were a couple of skirmishes after that point.  We held the field and used that opportunity to loot or destroy everything left behind by the battle.  During this time a TEST Tornado fleet attempted to drop on us several times, but ended up only picking off a single ship on their runs.  At least that was all I heard they managed.  Hoping they might be lazy, I ran my Manticore out to where they had landed each time to see if I might be able to lock one up and point it so we could blow it up, but they were better than that it seems.

Once the field had been cleared of valuables, we packed up and headed for home.  We did catch a few people on the out gate, so I managed to get on a couple of kill mails.  Small comfort.

And so it goes on our deployment to Wicked Creek.  TEST keeps coming out to fight, generally with decent numbers.  There is a rumor going around that TEST is running out of ISK and may not be able to sustain itself in T3 cruisers for much longer.  But, then again, when isn’t “TEST is broke” an active rumor?  I suppose we will see what they show up with next time.

Meanwhile, no more dual boxing during ops for me… for now.

L7-APB Falls – TEST Officially Out of Fountain

TEG-SD was the next to last system to go.  That went down about noon on Sunday my local time.  I got into the Baltec fleet for the operation, but like so many ops since 6VDT, the capital ship fleet went and did the work while we sat on a titan, ready to ride in and support them should the enemy appear.

Riding a titan again in Fountain

Riding a titan again in Fountain

Then, about six hours later, the timer for L7-APB ended.  I wasn’t around, but capital ships and a Baltec fleet deployed again for the final stage of the sovereignty grind in Fountain.  There was no resistance and the system was taken.  The conquest of Fountain is complete.  115 systems in, or soon to be in, CFC possession.

Fountain - Aug 5, 2013

Fountain – Aug 5, 2013

Now there is the wait for sovereignty to rise and infrastructure to be built in the region.  And, of course, the need to figure out what to do next.

A Little Gasoline on the Fire in Fountain?

A check of the map over at DOTLAN shows that the sovereignty clean up in Fountain continues apace.  But I did notice a system of a different color this morning.

6VDT-H in Orange

6VDT-H in Orange

The system 6VDT-H, the symbolic capital of Fountain for TEST, the place they went all-in on in last Sunday’s big fight, was given to the CFC alliance Fatal Ascension.

And while what I don’t know about null sec politics and the relationships between alliances could fill a very thick book, I do know that TEST and FA do not get along.  They have come to blows off and on during my time in null sec, often when they were both part of the CFC.  Blow ups between the two nearly kicked off the TEST vs. CFC conflict six months early.  There was war fever back in January over that.

And while shooting did not start, TEST was reset at that time and a real war became a genuine possibility going forward.

Later, after Asakai, TEST made the FA angle part of their post-battle propaganda.

So FA being given that particular system seems to me to be sending a very specific message, and that message is not “We want TEST back in the CFC.”

What do you think?  Is the CFC now spitting in TEST’s eye?

Fountain – The Fighting Goes On

The war in Fountain has been declared over.

Boodabooda has said that TEST is leaving the region.  The CFC is busy picking up systems and knocking down the remaining TEST towers.  The latter seem to be all empty of strontium and conveniently labeled.  We hit one last night with the name “TEST R16 reimbursement fund moon.”

Who needs scanning?

Who needs scanning?

Systems are going our way.

Fountain - July 30, 2013

Fountain – July 30, 2013

The map is slowly turning our color.

Fountain turns yellow... eew...

Fountain turns yellow… eew…

What will happen beyond Fountain seems in doubt however.

Boodabooda is saying that the CFC will “almost definitely attack Delve.”  And certainly, in terms of chance, Goons attacking Delves seems only slightly less likely than there being a maintenance downtime on any given day.  It is almost habitual at this point.  They all have supplies and stuff sitting in stations from the last few ventures.  Even I still have stuff in Delve from last summer’s expedition.  So it is practically the natural order of things to head to Delve.

Arguing against an invasion of Delve are several factors.  It will be at least a month until sovereignty rises high enough in Fountain for a jump bridge network to be established to create a pipe into Delve.  It was a big deal for us to get the jump bridge from J5A to 4-EP, as it meant holding those systems for 35 days straight.  Now we have to wait that same 35 days after taking systems before a full jump bridge network can be established.

There is also the nature of the war from the CFC point of view.  The stated reason for taking Fountain was to possess the moons.  You may ascribe whatever additional sinister motives you like, but the moons are still important.  They are a source of income and they need to be protected.  We cannot all go back to Deklein and Branch and Tribute and expect these moons to remain unmolested.  Which means somebody needs to live in Fountain.  I expect that in a couple of weeks there will some realignment of sovereignty to cover the Fountain front, and a lot of people will be moving into new homes.  It is difficult to do that in the midst of a war.

And then there is the question of what happens if we do invade Delve.  Best case scenario is that TEST rolls over and dies, leaving us Delve in their will.  We march in and then face Northern Coalition in Querious and Tribal Band down in Period Basis.

The Delve Neighborhood

The Delve Neighborhood

Last summer when Delve was taken, the war moved immediately to Querious and would likely do so again, what with a competent foe holding a grudge and in possession of a lot of support sitting right there.  That means war with just about everybody from Cobalt Edge to Querious.  And while the most deluded conspiracy theories see total null sec domination as part of the vast Goon conspiracy, the idea of a great Goon donut strikes me a implausible.  Even if it were manageable militarily… and I wouldn’t grant that one… and could be held against all comers… and there would be many… I am not sure they could find enough competent and trustworthy satraps to administer and empire without them coveting each others possessions, fighting amongst themselves, or attempting to break with the empire altogether.  I think a Goon null sec Caliphate would be a very brittle entity before long.

And, finally, there is the fact that the war isn’t over.  Did I say that it was?  Yeah, I was clearly full of VF day enthusiasm when I wrote that headline.

Sure, TEST is pulling out of Fountain.  And they are not contesting timers any more.  Sovereignty is rolling over to us.  But there is no agreement in place, no peace plan in process.  Boodabooda is digging trenches in Delve waiting for the Goon onslaught.  We’re busy camping 6VDT station trying to keep TEST from evacuating anything valuable.  Gates are camped.  TEST is still red.

And just last night Northern Coalition and friends… and they let TEST tag along this time… attempted to pick off another CFC titan.  This time they dropped right into 4-EP to try and get it.  An observant CFC member noticed NC dreads in the system while a Baltec fleet that had been forming  for a structure shoot was able to jump right into the fight.  The siren went off on Jabber and a big battle ensued, with the NC fleet losing more than 20 capital ships.  And while they took down a few in return, no titans were killed.  Titans did, however, drop on the field and got to doomsday the hostiles.  See my current site banner (which I stole) or this NC video of the fight.   Here is the battle report.  (A write up at The Mittani as well.)

CFC kills in blue

CFC kills in blue

I missed that fight by just five minutes, but got into fleet in time to chase people all over Fountain and then go shoot some structures.

Titans were still hanging around when I got there

Titans were still hanging around when I got there

So fighting continues and seems likely to carry on for some time.  Grinding out sovereignty… even when uncontested… goes much faster with capital ships, and when capital ships are flying somebody will inevitably seek to blow them up.

Last night in comms, somebody said that TEST is the new Intrepid Crossing, an alliance that used to be on our border in Cobalt Edge and which we used to raid for fights, but which we never sought to conquer. (That is until Razor pushed the joke too far one day and IRC’s house fell over.  And now Razor owns Cobalt Edge.  Nice going.)  And that seems like an apt enough analogy.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of “win” in attempting to exterminate TEST, but having a hostile neighbor we can tangle with has value.  If nothing else, it gives us something to do and someone to fight on a regular basis.  That might not be something you would want in real life but, in a game like EVE, that could be the best possible situation for now.

Or such is the way things look to me.  But I am just a CFC grunt and the most exalted position I have ever aspired to is that of squad commander in a fleet. (I trained Leadership V somewhere along the way.)  I have no special insight into alliance politics.  I go where they tell me and shoot who the FC calls out.

So feel free to correct my assumptions and tell me where you think this whole situation is headed.

6VDT-H – The Biggest Battle in EVE History Ends the War in Fountain

Well, we won, not only the largest battle in the history of “Eve Online”, but also Fountain. While I was out enjoying a ~victory dinner~, TEST threw in the towel and is now busy retreating to NOL. We have a bunch of clean-up work to do and can’t let our guard down, but hi5s all around and well fucking done.

The Mittani, post-battle broadcast

The Preparation

Sunday was a long day online.

The battle had been in the sights of both sides for a couple of days now, and the work leading up to it started well in advance.

Saturday evening I was actually out on one of the preparatory missions, taking down jump bridges and blowing up the one remaining TEST POS in 6VDT-H.  Afterwards GSOL, the heroes who keep all of our infrastructure going, dropped 26 towers in the system, one at every possible location, so that TEST would have no safe spot at which to rally in the coming battle.  It is my understanding that TEST only figured this out during the battle when they sought to drop a tower to create such a haven and found all the parking spots full.

That work went on throughout the night while I slept.

Sunday morning I rose late.  The op was set to begin at 11:30am local time for me, so I rolled out of bed a little after 9am and jumped in the shower.  After getting dressed and having the “breakfast of champions” (cold pizza and a coke) I got myself logged into my computer and into the various comms channels with well over 90 minutes left before the form up time.

I was greeted by calls to stock food around my desk, to say farewell to my family for the day, and to get online and in a ship and undocked ASAP to avoid the rush.

When I got in game in 4-EP there were already 1,300 people in the system and that number was growing quickly, even as early bomber fleets assembled and jumped out.  I got slowly undocked and joined the mass of Megathrons at the staging POS where we attempted to form a conga line.  It was still nearly 45 minutes before the official operation start time when, faced with 2,000 pilots in the staging system and time dilation hard over at 10%, the decision was made to form fleets.

Six Baltec fleets were created and the megathrons flooded into them so rapidly that I only just found space in the sixth fleet under Zagdul.  All six were full and you could already tell the system was getting stressed.  On a number of occasions, our fleet showed 257 members, despite the limit being 256.

One by one the fleets were bridged out through the tidi.  We went by the numbers, so the sixth fleet went last while command was attempting to form up additional fleets for people still waiting.  Fortunately for us, getting to 6VDT-H involved a single bridge from 4-EP.  By the time it was our turn, tidi was fading in 4-EP and, while there was tidi upon us jumping into 6VDT-H, once the loading into system ceased, tidi went away.  We moved to the station where one of the recurring pictures of the battle was six fleets orbiting the station.

Waiting on 6VDT-H station

Waiting on 6VDT-H station

The view was compared to ants swarming.  I preferred to think of it as bees around a potential new hive.

Then it was time to wait.  Even delayed as we were, there being six Baltec fleet to move out, we were there with plenty of time to spare.  The station still had nearly an hour before it came out of reinforce and the main point of the battle… shoot the station… could begin.

The clock counts down

The clock counts down

We sat in orbit of the station, where we would remain for the bulk of the battle, waiting for bits of intel to dribble in while Solo Drakban was no doubt fretting over the comms infrastructure.  In the past, big operations like this have brought down our voice comms, requiring the server to be re-provisioned to accommodate the load, a process which requires every pilot to go change their Mumble configuration.  Since, at the best of times, maybe 4 out of 5 people actually hear (but not necessarily comprehend) instructions coming over comms, that sort of thing becomes a major undertaking on its own.

So we were told to just stay quiet and use voice comms as little as possible, lest we bring the whole house down.  This actually worked, at least on our channel, which was surprising.  Goons and allies are a talkative bunch and, when left with little to do, will begin to chat or argue about whatever happens to come up.  With the warning in place, for long stretches, it was like being in the “no chatter” channel, where you can only hear the fleet command personnel speaking. (That channel can be a mercy when the topic of the day becomes violently inane.)

We were told about TEST and their allies from time to time.  It was clear that they were forming up (answering the “Will they fight?” question) and that they had at least 2,000 pilots on hand from various sources.  In that at least some of their friends from the east, done thrashing SOLAR FLEET, had returned and there were contingents from Northern Coalition, Nulli Secunda, Why So Serious, joining TEST and Tribal Band for the big show.

Gevlon has a post up about the TEST fleet coming together that gives the view from that side of the battle that is worth a read.

So we sat and orbited the station as the timer ticked down.  At one point a good chunk of us got disconnected and had to ask for re-invites back to fleet on a specific chat channel.  That actually worked surprisingly well.  I just had to type “x for Baltec 6” and I was invited back immediately.

Finally, the moment arrived, the station came out of reinforce.  We locked it up and shot at it.  Then, finally, TEST began to arrive on scene.  The battle could begin.

The Battle

The local count began to rise and tidi, mostly absent up to that point, began to impose its iron will upon the fight.  3,600.  3,800.  3,900.  Then it was past 4,000 people in system.  TEST got themselves together and landed on us at the station and the fight began in earnest.

And for the next five hours we struggled to kill each other.

Why you name your ship

Why you name your ship

Tidi is one thing.  Everything, including your UI, moves at 10% of normal speed to help the servers keep up.  But beyond a certain point tidi is not enough for the servers to keep up.  And then you have entered the lag zone, where the UI ceases to respond, where you can spend a long time waiting for a target that shows as locked to actually become available, where attempting to activate your guns fails more often than not, where you fear to change ammo or scripts or targets because things just started working and you are afraid to mess with it.

There was a point later in the battle, when the numbers in local dropped down to 3,000 and CCP’s servers began to catch up, that merely being in 10% tidi felt liberating.  Simple things, like your guns activating on the first try or targets actually locking in the time indicated were like a breath of fresh air.  Running at one tenth normal speed is a doddle, if only the client will actually respond to your actions.

As for the battle itself, TEST landed on us and the fleets were intermixed in that odd way that happens in very large fights.  At times I found myself flying between a pair of NC dominixes or through a cloud of TEST logistics.  A Nulli Secunda logistics bantam appeared to orbit me at one point.

Meanwhile, we shot.  Targets were called and we struggled to get our guns to fire on them.  In the end I managed to get on 38 kill mails, primarily zealots and legions, which were our main targets.  I had to change my overview a number of times.  First I had to exclude capsules, which began to litter the field, and which we were told not to shoot.  Let them walk home was the plan.  And then I had to narrow that down to just the current target type so I could lock up the called target, as fleet target broadcasts were taking a long time to arrive on my screen.  I need to sit down and make a series of “just X” overviews, as my more general ones become useless in a big fight like this.

At its peak, the system was moving so slowly that there were times when we were told some intel over comms, we would then read about that intel in the live report updates over at The Mittani.com, and then the actual action would come to pass in game.

One such action happened when TEST and pals appeared to be pulling out.  The rallied around the B17 gate, then changed their mind and decided to end the battle in a glorious death ride straight into the teeth of the enemy (us), which by this time included two reinforcement Baltec fleets and a large fleet of dreadnoughts supported by carriers.

There is a decent summary of the battle posted over at The Mittani.  I will link more as they show up.  The numbers themselves are immense.  The Battle Doctor report , which has finally caught up and settled down so might be somewhat accurate, shows a total 5,095 characters involved over the course of the fight with over 1,500 ships destroyed, and a pile of capsules on top of that.

CFC kills blue - TEST kills red

CFC kills blue – TEST kills red

The battle raged on until even tidi began to ease up.  I was logged in for almost eight hours straight before it became time to take my wife out to dinner.  Lots of people came and went.  Gaff, who was busy at the beginning of the fight, got back in time to join the capital fleet that dropped into the middle of the fight.  Over at DOTLAN stats for the system were prominent.

Over a six hour fight

Over a six hour fight

Not sure how that aligns with the Battle Doctor report.  Maybe it hasn’t caught up after all.  And then there were the big spikes in the 6VDT-H system graphs.

Spikes in the Graphs

Spikes in the Graphs

I did not stay until the bitter end.  After all day on the computer, I took the family out to dinner.  But we were mopping up before I left.  The numbers were down to JUST 2,000 in system and tidi was going away.

The Result

The battle was won by the CFC, as was the war.  Reports of TEST retiring to Delve were in before I arrived home from dinner.

The war is over.  A good thing I got my second propaganda post up last week.  There is a large amount of clean up to be done.  And there will be plenty of groups out there eager for some kills who will no doubt be camping gates.  But operations will be unlikely to face full fleets of opposition.  We are back to the general state of null sec at rest, with 10 man gangs sitting on gates or on drag bubbles between gates ganking single passers by.

While I lived through the big battle, I managed to get myself killed in a silly and embarrassing way by a member of SOLAR FLEET no less… because everybody showed up I guess.  This was after I managed to escape from some NC zealots at the sun, who neglected to bring a tackler with them.  I wasn’t at the keyboard when the critical moment came and deserved to die.  Life in EVE.  At least I lost the cursed megathron that I had problems with at Z9PP-H.  And it was insured.

And since we managed to lose a titan during the post-battle operations, I don’t feel so bad.

There will be lots of musing about this battle.  It was a victory for the CFC as well as for CCP, who managed to keep everything going for a whole day under very trying circumstances, and with the memories of z9PP-H looming.

Coverage of the battle made its way from EVE sites to MMO sites (with Massively noticeably terse and late to the party) to gaming sites to the mainstream news.  Granted, the BBC seems to have a soft spot for EVE Online, and we are in the summer season of slow news, but still that is some coverage.  Various coverage:

And in the blogesphere, reactions and commentary continue to flow about various aspects of the battle.

Added:  CCP has a dev blog posted about the 6VDT battle now.

And then there is what to do with Fountain itself.  While the CFC grabbed the region for its moon wealth, that very wealth will make it vulnerable to those who would seek to mess with the CFC in general and the Goons in particular.  To protect them, somebody is going to have to move into the region.  I expect we will see some shifts in the sovereignty map as alliances get rewarded for their participation in the war.

Finally, there is the spectacle aspect of this, which is where the general media joined in.  A great event happened.  A record was set.  A war was won and lost.  And I was there.

Ironic twist: We didn’t actually take the station.  We just put it into the next level of reinforce.  That was expected.  But those on the outside looking in might be a bit confused over that.  Finishing that off is all part of the “more work to do” aspect of victory.

And after that, what are we going to do in space?

The Pictures

As usual, I took a screen shots during the battle.  A gallery of pictures is available after the cut.

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TEST Invokes a Star Wars Metaphor, Casts The Mittani as Emperor

A new bit of video propaganda that cropped up this week, putting the war into very understandable nerd terms I suppose.

(Direct link here)

The best bit for me was at about 0:32 where the picture they used is one I took. (It is also the thumbnail picture.)

I’ll take that as a compliment.  I do wonder that comments and ratings have been turned off for that video.  That seems very un-Reddit.

We shall see how TEST and its plea fares.  What is assumed by some to be possibly the last big fight of the war, the battle for 6VDT-H, the capital system in Fountain for TEST, their VFK-IV, their Jerusalem, looms.  That battle is slated for tomorrow.  Last night ops ran unopposed.  CFC fleets roam, shooting structures while a TEST oracle fleet tried to distract.  The fight has gone out of them for the last few days.

But tomorrow will tell the tale.

Fountain Downfall

Fountain Downfall

Will TEST rise up and defend their capital, die heroically in the attempt, or just stand down and effectively cede the war?

The bluster so far is that they will fight.

Flood 6VDT

Flood 6VDT

And, frankly, if they won’t fight for this, what will they fight for?