Tag Archives: The Initiative

Fortizar Defense Brawl in JE-D5U

Another trip up north, up the Eye of Terror and into Pure Blind.  I’ve been up north a few times to defend one structure or another and a fight has yet to show up for me.  Not that there haven’t been some fights lately, it just hasn’t seemed to happen when I’ve been on the op.

But last night things finally rolled my way.  There was yet another Fortizar to defend up in the north and the word was that PanFam and the locals were going to form for it.  Maybe the other side was emboldened by killing our Keepstar. (Unanchored, and in a freighter, but they still killed it in the end.)

Anyway, the call went out for the op, but Asher had pinged Reavers a bit before looking for some people to fly ECM burst interceptors.  I’ve done that before and not many people were X’ing up, so I figured I had best jump in to help there.  Also, the ships are handed out for free and during the battle you get to sit above it all and see the whole thing… not that the view helps me much, I still never get what is going on half the time even when I can see it.  I took an Ares from the offer and got ready.

Asher was set to lead the Sacrilege fleet, so he had a newer FC, Kappa Hutt lead us on to the field.  So the Sac fleet and a Baltec fleet set off for the north with our interceptors flying along, peeking ahead to scout, then letting the others catch up.

My Ares in with the battleships

As we made our way along the route we caught up with some bigger ships that had started out ahead and were also making their way to the fight.

Some dreads in the mix now

We zipped ahead though… there was a gate that had been seriously bubbled, but that doesn’t bother interdiction nullified interceptors… and arrived in JE-D5U up in Pure Blind ahead of most of our fleet, but there were already over 300 hostiles in the system according to local.  There was going to be a fight it seemed, and the timer was counting down.

Less than six minutes to go

As the other fleets arrived we set about bookmarking our perches over the potential battlefield.  The plan is generally that we sit cloaked on a perch while the FC scans down a potential target, often the FC of a hostile fleet who is usually out in front of the pack.  Then we get the word to uncloak, overheat our burst jammer, and align, at which point the FC warps everybody beside himself onto the target.  We land, started warping back to a bookmark, then set off our ECM burst.  If the warp was good we’ll be in the middle of some hostiles and break some of their target locks… this is especially good if we land in the logi… and be warping back before anybody has a chance to take a shot at us.  Done right you don’t even get any heat damage on your mid slots because the burst goes off as you’re going into warp, which shuts down the module.

So we got ourselves in place as the timer counted down and the fleets got into position.  A fight seemed guaranteed as there were quickly over a thousand people in the system, with TEST dropping in to third party on the event, and even some notable PanFam FCs on grid like Vince Draken and Headliner leading Muninn fleets.

Hostile Muninn fleets getting ready

The timer hit and the repair cycle started, which meant we had to defend the Fortizar for 30 minutes while it repaired, though that 30 minute timer could be paused or pushed back by hostile fire on the Fort.  It was on.

Fight around the fort begins

Kappa Hutt was having a bit of a problem getting a probe signature on a good target.  Time dilation and system responsiveness was really bad, with the tidi number well below 30% for most of the fight, and into the 10% for some stretches.  Still, he got something and we got ourselves ready to go.

Uncloaked on a perch above the fight

We were then thrown into the fray to set off our jammers.  I landed pretty well the first time and got off some jams.

In with the hostile logi even

Meanwhile, the forces on the fort broke tether and were shooting up the attackers as they ran past the structure.

A Baltec Megathron on the fort

We warped off and back to our perches where we waited for the next target.  The scanning interface was acting up for Kappa still and for a few runs SpyFly Catharsis found wrecks for us to warp to, which worked as well if we timed it right.

Once again into the mix

We were getting good warps and I don’t think I went in even once where I didn’t get at least break a few target locks on hostiles when I landed.

Along the way I got a pop up that a bounty had been collected on Nkosis when his Sacrilege went down.  I think I have mentioned him before, but he is a newer addition to the coalition who is so enthusiastic and positive about the game that he has become something of a celebrity in his own right in the Imperium.  But being a celeb means he gets razzed as well and at some point he got a bounty place on him, which he didn’t like and said so, at which point everybody started adding to his bounty total with an eye towards getting him to the number one spot.  He was into the top ten last I checked.  I, too, put a bounty on him, so now I get a notification every time he gets blown up when I am in game. (I used to put bounties on our FCs as that pop up was often the quickest way to find out the FC was down.)

We had a bit where we had gone so many times in a row that we didn’t have enough capacitor to make a run, the ECM module needing over 200 units of power to activate on top of the bit you need to get your warp in and out.  This was when the system was into the 10% tidi zone, which is the slowest the game will go and, if that isn’t enough, controls begin to lag and your commands may get ignored.  Waiting for cap to refill during that was excruciating.  Somebody suggested we wait for our weapons timer to go down and just warp to the fort to tether and fill up our capacitors, but at 10% tidi having just 15 seconds left on the time meant nearly a three minute wait.

Still, tidi hits everybody.  The targets were as slow as we were and were not going to get away.  Cap was restored and we were sent in again for more runs.

Aligned for another run

By the the tidi was starting to relax a little bit, or at least get up into the low 20s, and Kappa was able to get good probe locks on some likely targets, so we spent some time dropping on names I recognized.

Coming for Vince

Down around the fort, the repair timer vacillated between running down and being paused, but kept moving slowly towards the structure being repaired.  By the time we got past the worst tidi it stood at around ten minutes.  We kept on going.

Landing on the hostiles again

At about the eight minute mark on the timer it seemed like the battle had been decided.  The hostiles pulled some distance and “gf” for “good fight” started getting spammed in local by them.  Some “fofofo” appeared in local as well, which I am going to guess was from Asher’s sac fleet as he is the only FC I know who still does the “fofofo” for victory.

From that point tidi began to ease up and we were released to go loot the field if we wanted.  Being in interceptors would seem to give us an advantage, but Goons will plunder like no others.  I didn’t come up with anything.

Somebody dropped an MTU, which is always a target on a battlefield no matter which side drops it.  I zipped over and got in on that kill.

Not that I needed another kill mail.  Landing on fleets and setting off an ECM burst puts you on the kill mail of anybody you jammed should they get blown up after you’re there.  My kill board was well padded by the end of the battle, with 111 new entries, enough to get me momentarily onto the top ten for KarmaFleet.  (The last time I did that I was also doing ECM bursts.  It is a kill mail whore’s dream.)  Most of them were hostile ships, but there were not a few blue targets on the list and quite a few pods.  A few of us even got the final blow for pods that were self destructing when we hit them.

The timer ran down and the fort was safe.

Tethered off the save Fortizar

At that point we were done.  Kappa set us free to head home, which should have been a quick ride in some interceptors.

Back through gates towards Delve

There were some bubbled gates along the way, but an Ares just passed through bubbles.  I was feeling somewhat invulnerable flying home, which I should recognize by now as a sign of impending doom.

My usual travel Ares has a 1.83s align time, and the game lore is that if your align in under 2 seconds you cannot be caught unless you are extremely unlucky.  But this Ares, fit for ECM burst runs, had a 2.03s align time, which means 3 seconds by the way EVE Online calculates, which means it can be caught.  It isn’t likely, but somebody who is good in the right ship can get you.

And they got me in Cloud Ring with a camp that was primed and ready to catch anything possible.  Normally I am inclined to attribute losses to my own incompetence rather than claim my foe was really good, but I think this crew was actually pretty good at this.  I was toast and knew it almost instantly.  Kind of a sour point to end the evening and I always feel bad when I lose a hand out ship, but it happens.

As for the fight, it seemed to be lauded by both sides as a good fight.  Asher posted a salute to the attackers on Reddit and other related posts seemed to be similarly warm and fuzzy about a real fight going down, which was a bit of a change from the acrimony over the Keepstar thing I mentioned earlier.

The results… well, pick your battle report generator and get your results.  EVE Battle Report Repair Tool seems shy of the mark for totals while the zKillboard report is detailed but has a habit of pulling in things outside of the fight.  For a report header image I am going to go with EVE Fleet Manager, which is close to the zKillboard totals, but which lets me pull out a few oddities.  I don’t think the Guristas, for example, really took sides in that fight.

Battle report header – trimmed to the top 7 alliances –  click on it to enlarge

Overall quite a fight.  A big brawl, fairly evenly matched, lots of losses on both sides that went largely our way as we had the Fortizar to tip the balance.  And there was quite the array of space famous names from both sides.  I even saw Bad Juice, who once challenged Asher to an MMA style cage match back during a Reavers deployment.  I was happy to report in the Reavers channel that he was still around and that I managed to get on his kill mail.

That battle would probably be the beat event of the month for me, but the word is that the Goon Expeditionary Force will be deploying later today, so the promise of more fights is out there.  Or at least more structure shoots.  Mittens was using the term “glassed” again, so we might just be burning down structures somewhere.

Brisc Rubal Exonerated

If we are radio silent [on] something you know it is quality drama.

-Aryth, CSM 13 member, announcing the CCP post

Previously on season 13 of our favorite show, CSM Drama, the real life politician Brisc Rubal had been accused by a fellow CSM member of sharing confidential information with his corp mates, allowing them to enrich themselves.  For this CCP threw Brisc off of the CSM and banned all of his EVE Online accounts for life.

Council of Silly Messaging

Brisc protested his innocence, and he had his share of supporters.  But he also faced many jeers from those who mocked his carefully worded response as something a politician would do.

That quieted down after a bit.  After all, CCP had spoken.  They certainly would not make such a public accusation with such a severe penalty if they had not done a thorough investigation and were absolutely sure of the facts.

And then, of course, we found out that they did not, in fact, do a thorough investigation and, upon further reflection, announced that they needed to review the facts.

I described this as the “nightmare scenario,” a dramatic public pronouncement that they had to walk back, a situation that would leave nobody satisfied.  An actual investigation into the events would now take place.

Naturally, this made some people happy, Brisc no doubt included.  Others complained loudly about CCP, the CSM, and the unfairness of the world, where high profile players get second chances.

Now we have the final statement… at least I hope it is the final statement, but I thought the first statement would be final as well… from CCP after having completed an actual investigation.

Final Statement On Brisc Rubal Follow Up Investigation

Dear Citizens of New Eden,

Following on from our statement on April 17, we have completed our review of the Brisc Rubal investigation and determined that our initial findings were incorrect. Neither Brisc Rubal nor the other players implicated in this incident breached CCP’s confidentiality, the terms of the Non-Disclosure Agreement, or used privileged information to obtain an in-game advantage.

We made a mistake here and we offer our formal apologies. First, to Brisc Rubal and the two other players involved, both for making the allegations and for the disturbance and stress caused by the way in which we handled this situation. Second, for not collaborating with due care with the members of CSM 13, who have acted responsibly throughout. Lastly, we owe our sincere apology to the EVE community for this error. We take full responsibility for any confusion and mistrust caused by our initial assessment of the situation.

After reviewing our assessment of the information on which these allegations were based and having spoken repeatedly with everyone involved, it’s now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions. While we were motivated by a desire to protect the working relationship between the CSM and the EVE Development Team with all due speed, had we taken the time to review the information with greater scrutiny, this incident could have been resolved without the disruption that has since occurred.

We aim to make it up to all concerned. Right now, we are in the process of restoring access to the EVE Online accounts of all three affected players, returning any confiscated assets and providing rectification as appropriate. We will work to set this right and will be making changes to our procedures and policies to ensure this kind of situation does not reoccur.

Thank you for your understanding.

Basically, CCP was wrong, know they were wrong, admits they were wrong, and has announced that they were wrong.

I think any internal review of what happened… one hopes they have some internal feedback process, since the only way you learn from mistakes is to examine how they occurred and build in checks to ensure the don’t happen again… should focus on what happened that led to this phrase:

…it’s now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions.

Holy moly, they did all of that based on what now?  It sounds like they just took somebody’s word for it, not the way to go in a game where shading the truth and presenting points of view as fact are long standing aspects of the meta.

Naturally, the forum thread to discuss this final turn has much of what you would expect.  There are people at least mildly happy that CCP ended up with at the right decision, scorn for CCP jumping to conclusions, and an array of pundits wanting to know if everybody who got banned gets a review now.  The usual suspects preside.

In the end Brisc Rubal, whom CCP called out publicly, as well as Pandoralica and Dark Shines, the two unnamed alleged co-conspirators, have been cleared.  The “INIT 3” go free.  They get their account reactivated and their stuff back and probably some sort of “we’re sorry” gift for all of the trouble.

As for what Brisc will do now, he made a short statement on Twitter:

And so it goes.

Brisc will be appearing on the Open Comms Show, which you can find on the INN Twitch channel, tomorrow night at 18:00 Pacific time, 21:00 Eastern time, or 01:00 New Eden time.  There he and Dirk MacGirk and the Open Comms Show team will no doubt have much to say on the topic and many memes to share.

Naturally, other people are covering this story as expressing their opinions, though probably not as many as covered the initial bans.  Bans are news, retractions are not, so guess which will dominate Google search results when you look up Brisc Rubal going forward?

Other coverage:

Addendum:

And you know something isn’t really a thing on the internet until there is a Downfall parody of it.

 

Out of the Hole and Back to Delve

After the second Keepstar kill a lot of those not in the Initiative took move ops out of the J115405, the wormhole known as “Rage,” having gotten the show for which they came.

But looking at the kill mails, the second Keepstar wasn’t as popular as the first.  Close to 1,400 people managed to get on the first one, but the second time around the number fell below 900.

I guess a second act isn’t as big of a draw.

The word had come down that Reavers would be sticking around in the hole for a while longer to join in on the structures still remaining.  As pings came up about fleets leaving for Delve or other ways out of J115405, the question about what we were doing would show up in Jabber.  The response from people like Zed Starshine was always that we were staying.  That persisted until Sunday when Asher pinged that we should get back home by any reasonable method.

So I blame Zed for my late start.

At that point I had passed up at least two fleets heading back and wasn’t sure if the alternate plan was still available.  I might have to scan myself out, though that was why I dragged along my alt in an Astero.  Now that the word had been given to bug out, I cleaned out my hangar, loaded up my ships, and got ready to travel.  Anything I couldn’t carry I stuck on the Hound that I looted, which I insured and had my alt undock.  Then I set it to self destruct and shot it for good measure.

Insurance fraud on the undock

I wasn’t the only one doing insurance fraud.  The way out was being reserved for cruisers and smaller ships.  Battleships and battlecruisers were not being let through on the threat of being blown up.  If you had a big ship you would either have to wait until official move ops were done or blow it up for the insurance payout.

While I missed a couple of fleets, the Initiative had a ratline back to normal space setup to get people out on their own.  To us that they had a fleet setup with instructions in the channel MOTD.  You had to warp to a carrier guarding the current out hole.

The Nidhoggur guarding the hole

There you would get a set of bookmarks that would guide you from hole to hole until you got to normal space.  I grabbed the bookmarks with my alt.  At the time there were two routes home.  I took the shortest one, which dropped into low sec.

I then dropped the fleet and formed one with my two characters.  I figured I would warp in with my alt, then have my main warp to him.  So I jumped through the first hole, then realized I didn’t know what to do with the bookmarks.  I motored off the hole I just went through and cloaked up and I Googled how to use bookmarks in your cargo hold.

It turns out you just need to open up your people and places window, go to the places tab, and drag the bookmarks onto it.  Easy.

That done, I remained confused for a bit as the first of the two bookmarks didn’t show up.  I realized, once I dragged the second one that the first was for the hole we had just gone through.  So once the second was in my places, I warped my alt to that, found the hole, and warped Wilhelm there to go through.

The Guardian goes through first

On the far side of the hole I found myself in Aridia.  That is a handy place to be if you’re heading back to Delve.  I was just eleven jumps from 1-SMEB, the gateway system to the region.

Of course, if I had been paying attention, I would have noticed that I was also only four jumps from Fountain and a direct connection to the new jump bridge network.  I actually knew I was close to Fountain, but I was uncertain about the state of the new jump bridges and it wasn’t until I was well on my way home that somebody linked the updates jump bridge map that would have showed me how to get home that way.

I know that for next time I guess.

But the route home via gates in Aridia wasn’t exactly a tough alternative.  And I saw a few people who were clearly taking the same path.  My Astero went ahead to check the path as the Guardian plowed on behind.  But the path was clear.  There was word that Black Legion had been staging in Sakht, the system in Aridia that connects to 1-SMEB and Delve, but while I saw a couple of them there they were not out in force.  They certainly were not camping the gate, so it was through and into Delve and the jump bridge towards 1DQ1-A.

The jump bridge in 1-SMEB

From there it was just two gates to home, where I warped to the Keepstar, only to find I was on the wrong Keepstar.

On the wrong Keepstar

I wasn’t even aware that we had two Keepstars in 1DQ1-A.  That is what happens when you stay deployed in the north for almost a year.  Also, the Imperium has so many structures in the system that I am surprised I can find any specific structure I want.

And so ended the wormhole expedition with both of my ships back where they started, a few kill mails and paps on my record, and a bit of loot in my cargo hold.  It was kind of a strange time being in a wormhole for a week.

I wasn’t there long enough to get used to logging in and seeing nobody in local.  Well, at least I didn’t see an accurate, up to date count of players in system at the top of the local chat window.  Various members of the Imperium were talking in local at any given point of time.

I was, however, in the hole long enough to feel the sense of isolation.  One of the things I am used to in New Eden is the ability to just get up and go where you need to.  It isn’t always safe or wise, but you can just set your destination and take gates to where you want to be.  When you’re in a wormhole, life is not so simple.  You cannot just jump clone out and back as I understand it, and I am not even sure how people can find the same wormhole twice when scanning things down.  Definitely a different EVE Online lifestyle.

Anyway, a recap of the whole thing in my posts:

And then what has been written elsewhere about it:

The Other Keepstar Falls in Rage

One one Keepstar awaited in wormhole J115405.  Named “Unassailable Wealth,” the Initiative had been in the night before to get it to the final timer.

Unassailable Wealth waits to be assailed

That was the last big target in the hole known to some as “Rage,” the final loot pinata to smack, and its timer was running down, set to end just after the transition to December 15th on the UTC clock that EVE Online uses.

There was a bit of a warm up a couple of hours before as a Fortizar on grid with the Keepstar had its final timer come up.

Astero with the Fortizar

Above the Fortizar is the Keepstar, below it the planet around which they all had been set.  My alt got out on grid in his Astero to drop a sentry drone in order to get on the kill mail.  I also got out Wilhelm in the Hound he looted to take a few shots as well.

Hound over the Fortizar

The main effort was by the usual ball of Ravens that the Initiative favors for these operations.  The Fortizar, lacking the Arcing Vorton Projector doomsday weapon, just sat there and took the damage until it blew.

The Fortizar erupts in flames

According to the kill mail my Hound actually kept up with individual Ravens as far as damage went, though damage deflected by the damage cap makes that an odd metric to figure.

After that there was a couple of hours off before the big kill.  As the time approached pings went out to alert everybody who wanted to be there for the final fight… if there was to be a fight.  It seemed unlikely that Hard Knocks would show up in force at this point, but complacency on our part might make resistance viable.

For Reavers Thomas Lear came out to FC our Ishtar fleet.  I jumped into my Guardian and, this time, remembered to put the Bouncer II sentry drone I brought along into the drone bay.  I wanted to be able to tag the Keepstar, as last time around it didn’t work out.

The rules for this fight were laid out up front.  This time around the Initiative, which had spent the last year setting up this whole event, was claiming the loot from this Keepstar for itself.  Once it blew everybody else was going to have to get off grid as they would be shooting any outsiders looking to scavenge.

In the Reavers channel this didn’t get much of a response.  It certainly seemed right to me that those who did the bulk of the work reap the rewards.  And let them try to haul stuff out after we were done.  I was there for the spectacle and a couple of kill mails, not some random stuff I would have to worry about taking home.  (I almost never loot after battles.  I don’t even think to do it until somebody mentions it.)

On the main fleet coms however, people were apparently pissing and moaning about getting left out of the sack of the Keepstar.  If there were ever a reason to join a SIG or a squad, it is main fleet coms.

The event itself went down about as expected.  Various fleets showed up, the main one being the ball of Ravens fielded by the Initiative.  They unleashed their barrage of cruise missiles at the Keepstar and, in return, the Keepstar gunner zapped them with the Arcing Vorton Projector whenever it cycled.

The Keepstar reaching out

With a 10 minute recycle time, only two shots were made before the final moment when the Keepstar exploded.

The Keepstar, now brighter than the sun

Then the loot pinata began spewing hangar containers to loot.  At that point the Initiative did something special.  They warped in and formed their logo in brackets on grid.

The Initiative logo in spaceships

For reference, this is their logo on DOTLAN EVE Maps.

INIT info

It is really only the center part of the logo, but it was a nice bit of work.  My screen shot of it isn’t that good, since I was caught unaware and just had to use whatever overview I had to hand to try and see it.  Over at INN their post has a screen shot with just the ships and aimed so the sun is behind the eye of the logo.   Very nice.

It is my understanding, confirmed on NER coms, that on person set that up, making the bookmarks for each ship location, then handed them out before the fleet so everybody could warp to the spot and, tah-dah, logo in space!

At that point all the wise people not in the Initiative warped out and docked up or tethered.  Those foolish enough to ignore the warnings, or unlucky enough to have missed them, were blown up according to the kill board.  More loot for the Initiative.

There are still some more structures to blow up and the Initiative has committed to hitting every last one of them, leaving only after they have all been destroyed.  Much of the rest of the Imperium headed home though.  The big kill mails and epic loot are all gone.  Only die hard structure shooters like Reavers are hanging around for some more kills.

And so it goes.  That post at INN looks a bit at Hard Knocks.  They aren’t imploding or shedding members.  They still have their null sec rental space in Cobalt Edge.  There is a rumor that they are folding into Pandemic Legion and merging their rental space, but there is as yet no substance it.

I suspect that once we have cleared out of JJ115405… nobody in the attacking force wants to keep the place… that Hard Knocks will return.  They will probably set up a more modest holding there.  No Keepstars.  The Keepstars were an extravagance, some bling to show off to the world.  And that is why we ended up there.  Fortizars are cheaper and would suit their needs.

I  do wonder whether CCP might look into the Initiative’s Raven fleet tactics to see if EVE Online players have found yet another hole in the game mechanics that ought to be filled.  What starts as ingenuity tends to become the meta.  We shall see.

A Keepstar Waits in the Hole

A Keepstar and a Sotiyo are down in J115405… along with various other smaller structures… but the timers on several more are counting down.

Structures in their final timer… and some mobile depots

The big circles are hostile structures, with each circle divided into thirds, each third representing one of the steps necessary to destroy it.  Each is already past the shield and armor steps, waiting only for the structure timer to arrive.  Over the next five days there will be some more fleets to kill them.  But the big one is coming soon.  The second Keepstar, Unassailable Wealth, is less than a day away.

Soon to be assailed

We got out last night to support the Initiative contest the armor timer.   We got out our Ishtars, and I climbed into my Guardian to fly logi, while our friends in INIT undocked their Raven fleet once more.

Ravens hanging off of the INIT Fortizar

Once more though, no ships undocked to try to fend off the attack.  Instead we were left to dodge the Keepstar defenses, its point defense system, its bomb launcher, and the dreaded doomsday that can reach out and hit even the elusive Raven fleet.

There is just a bright blue spark that appears on the Keepstar structure to let you know the Arcing Vorton Projector firing and the lightning is coming.

The lightning forming on the left side of the structure

Then it arcs out towards its target, bouncing across six more ships before dissipating.  The FC’s Raven was the target, with others eating the rebound.

Ravens exploding after the hit

Fortunately for the attackers, while this weapon pretty much ensures a few subcap kills on each firing, it has a 10 minute cycle time.  We only had to face it twice during the armor timer.

The second firing was just as effective as the first, the FC being the target both times.  The second time the fleet logi had their Typhoon pre-locked and reps running on it.

Armor reps on the Typhoon already

The Typhoon went anyway.

Here comes that lightning again

However, the kill mail showed that the Typhoon wasn’t fit, so an economic victory since it was probably insured.

After that there wasn’t time for the Keepstar to fire again.  The Ravens finished up the armor timer, with our Ishtars adding their bit.  The armor layer was soon burned down and the Keepstar did that transition effect that indicates that the structure timer is up next.

The Keepstar light show

The timer was set for 23 hours from that point, putting the final even at some time just past 00:00 UTC.  We will see if there is any final effort to contest this Keepstar and whether or not it will be anything like the loot pinata of the first.  I am sure somebody is busy tonight delivering 3200 cap boosters to lots of people just to make the loot hunt that much more dramatic.

Sotiyo Boom

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, while we were waiting for Fort Knocks to come out for the final timer, we diddled around and pushed a Sotiyo through its armor timer.  That came out just as I got home from work, so I quickly logged in and hopped into one of my ill-gotten loot ships from the Keepstar haul, a Hound that, judging by its name, was one of bombers from the Initiative fleet that night.  No doubt it was dumped to pick up a sweeter ride.

The ride of a barbarian on his way to a sack

I logged on to see that the Sotiyo timer was already paused.

Attack in progress

I didn’t bother to find a fleet or anything.  There did not appear to be any hostiles in the vicinity.  I just warped in at 50km and started orbiting the structure, sending torpedoes down range.

Not that I was making a big dent.  The Initiative was out again in the Raven doctrine spewing missiles from their blob.  The Ravens were packed so tight that you could barely distinguish one from another.

Ravens on the go

Somewhere there is a bomber FC looking at that blob and dreaming of lining up a perfect run.

And as missiles flew, the lights and the logo on the citadel flickered as if with the blows.

The Hard Knocks krab

There were others arrayed about the Sotiyo like myself, singletons who had dropped drones or were launching from a distance, showing a bit of care lest they get caught.  However, nobody was gunning the Sotiyo and no fleets showed up to help defend it.  The damage cut through it, dropping the last 40% in about 10 minutes.  Then it began to brew up.

Those are not fireworks

At least I got on that kill mail.

There was some loot ejected from the structure.  There were some hangar containers strewn about.  But it wasn’t anywhere close to the feeding frenzy of the Keepstar.  I could have grabbed a Catalyst.  A spray of those showed up in space.  But I already had more ships on hand than I could fly.

The lack of threat showed in the cleaning up after the kill.  A Roqual salvaged the wreck of the Sotiyo before I could even get a screen shot.

That isn’t the final target though.  In the picture above you can see a Keepstar.  The second Hard Knocks Keepstar, the one named “Unassailable Wealth.”  That one has also been reinforced.

The count down has begun

We may find that whatever wealth that structure contains is assailable after all.

Meanwhile, this killing of a wormhole Keepstar has made another group nervous it seems.  Nobody wants to host the next loot pinata party I guess.

Fort Knocks Way Down in the Hole

There in J115404 the Keepstar was waiting for us.  The trip into the hole on Saturday was going to pay off.

Fort Knocks over a planet

The Keepstar called Fort Knocks had been initially reinforced by the Initiative.  The whole venture was the culmination of about a year’s planning and logistics and it was came to its culmination last night.  The Initiative had jumped into J115405, the wormhole system colloquially known as “Rage,” taken over the static hole into the system, and reinforced the Keepstar named “Fort Knocks” last week.

Fort Knocks, as noted over at PC Gamer, was the first Keepstar to be brought online in New Eden.  That article will also tell you a bit about Hard Knocks, the alliance that built it.

As noted, once the Initiative launched their plan, bringing out their pre-positioned assets and taking over access to the hole, the Imperium was invited along to participate, and Asher brought the Reavers into the hole on Saturday.

Sunday saw the armor timer for Fort Knocks come and go uncontested.  Hard Knocks gunned the structure, hurling bombs, running the PDS to shake off drones, and zapping those who dared stray too close with the doomsday.  But they didn’t undock a fleet or otherwise put a serious attempt into defense, nor did allies or other wormholers come to help them.

There is a legend that wormholers will band together in the face of outsiders, k-space dwellers, coming in to attack them.  But, then again, Hard Knocks has played the role of wormhole tyrant in the past, so perhaps that sense of unity did not apply to them.

Instead, Hard Knocks looked to be preparing for the end largely by shifting some assets about and by undocking and self-destructing capital ships to collect the insurance before the end.

Not that they were not beyond some hijinks.  Putting capital ships on the undock and self-destructing them was an ongoing temptation for those besieging the system to warp in and take a shot in order to get on the kill mail.  And then the doomsday would fire from the Keepstar and some unfortunate would get to “ride the lightning” for their trouble.

Even Asher lost his Monitor FC ship when he warped our fleet over to a Moros stuck in a bubble after somebody in fleet reported it as being far enough off the Keepstar to be safe.  It was not and Asher got to ride the lightning as well.

That, in a wormhole, is a pretty big pain in the ass.  At least he did not lose his capsule as well, because then you’re in your clone in normal space.  There is no jump cloning to wormholes.  Still, even with a capsule left you pretty much have to fly into the hole the ship you plan to use, as wormhole space isn’t just another system in New Eden.  You can’t just get a ship and fly back.  You have to find the right hole, or series of holes, to go through to get there.  Fortunately, somebody lent him a ship and he was able to arrange to get another one sent in, likely via an alt, so he was back in a Monitor by last night.

Anyway, come last night we were pinged to log on at about 01:00 UTC, or 5pm my local time.  We were forming up for the final timer.  We got into fleet and sorted ourselves out as usual, undocking to hang off the Raitaru and survey the system.  There was about a half an hour left to go before the big event.  Wrecks of capital ships were still lingering on the undock of the Keepstar.

Capital wrecks on the undock

But before that there was a Hard Knocks Sotiyo that had been reinforced.  We flew off to do the armor timer, anchoring up on Asher to hang about avoiding the defenses as we shot the structure.

Cruising around the Sotiyo

We had enough firepower to stop the timer, but not enough to hit the damage cap on the structure, so we were still shooting it when the Keepstar timer hit.  But the Initiative was already on the job and stopped the clock there right away.

Timer paused at Fort Knocks

As expected, the Initiative was out with the structure killing Raven doctrine, a mass of cruise missile spewing battleships trolling at long range and being jumped every so often to avoid bombs.

The Raven blob commeth

They have pretty much perfected this doctrine and have killed structures in the face of titan support without capital ships to back them up.  They shoot and then they scoot as the blob gets booshed along.

The jump effect forming before the fleet

They also had a fleet of torpedo bombers out as well taking shots at the Keepstar, giving enough well handled firepower that the result was never in doubt.  Without a fleet of their own, Hard Knocks could annoy the attackers, unshipping some, sending others back to K-space if they got podded, but could not stop them.

We finished up reffing the Sotiyo and then set on a Raitaru and watched as the circling fleet chewed away at the structure of the Keepstar.  The more damage the citadel received, the more the lights in the hangars, and even the Hard Knocks logo, dimmed and flickered.  A nice effect by CCP.

As the end of the structure grew near, Asher warped us in at 30km to get in some hits so we could get on the kill mail.  However, we were in and out too quickly for my light drones to get in a hit.  I had a sentry drone in my cargo bay for just this situation, but had forgotten to swap it out, making this this third Keepstar kill mail this year I failed to get on because I was in the logi wing.  There was no time to go back as the structure soon began to brew up.

Keepstar Coming Apart

My alt, cloaked up in an Astero 40km off the Keepstar did have a Bouncer sentry drone in his bay, so I was able to launch that and get in some hits, so at least he got on the kill mail in time.

The kill mail is here, and over a thousand people managed to get on it.

And then there was the big boom as the Keepstar blew up, leaving a huge wreck behind.

The remains of the first Keepstar

But that wasn’t all that was left behind.  In normal space, all the stuff in an Upwell structure goes into what is called “asset safety” and is delivered to the nearest low sec station 30 days later, where it can be retrieved for a fee.  This was CCP’s response to years of null sec outposts changing hands, locking people out of their homes and leaving all of their stuff stranded.

In wormhole space however there is no asset safety.  Instead, Upwell structures are giant loot pinatas, and the oldest Keepstar in the game might have been the biggest and richest loot pinata of them all.  When it blew up all of the items people left in hangars was spewed out into space, forming a ball of loot consisting of almost 2,000 hangar containers.

The loot ball with tags on

Each one of those little yellow tags contains what was left in somebody’s hangar.  Each of them is a present in space, waiting to be opened.

A hangar container floating about

Some of those containers held great wealth.  There were dreadnoughts with 10 billion ISK fits.  Huge piles of PI materials.  Officer modules.  Freighters.  Blockade runners and Deep Space Transports.  And there was combat ships galore.

There were also cap boosters.  Somebody wryly seeded many people’s hangars with a single 3200 cap booster, the equivalent of getting coal in your stocking at Christmas.

And so a frenzy of looting began.

Because this was their operation, based on all of their planning and hard work, the Initiative was given exclusive access for the first 30 minutes after the Keepstar blew up.  But there was so much loot on the field, and it kept showing up for quite some time as CCP’s code processed through the hangar of each and every capsuleer who ever left anything in that Keepstar… and some who didn’t, because you can “deliver” things to people in Upwell structures now, which is how Doomchincilla ended up losing so many ships during this event despite being nowhere in the vicinity so far as I know… that there was still a huge pile to sort through when we were given the all clear to join in.

The PL killboard sullied with all those frigates

The code even went a little wonky, throwing out containers around the other Keepstar that were flagged as belonging to LAWN.

What followed can only be described as a sacking of a Keepstar as people filtered through cans, ejecting ships to fly around, grabbing items, and blowing things up they couldn’t carry off.  It was such a crazy event that I would be in favor of foregoing asset safety in null sec if this could be a regular spectacle after every structure kill.

That might get too crazy in normal space where every random outsider could try and show up to claim some loot, leading to even bigger numbers straining nodes during such fights.  In wormhole space the crowd is fairly well constrained.

Of course, we were also all stuck there in wormhole space.  You could grab huge items and haul them off to a local structure, but actually getting stuff out of the system was another matter indeed.  A couple of people in Reavers managed to grab dreadnoughts.  Ratknight1 was the first, picking up a Moros out of a can.  He flew it to the friendly Fortizar, insured it, then undocked it to self-destruct in order to collect the insurance.

Ratknight1’s Moros exploding

I was in time to help out with that, so at least I got on one kill mail this month.  That is all I ask, just to prove I’m still around and playing.

As time went on people went from grabbing all they could to blowing up everything in sight.  A gaggle of Praxis battleships was disgorged from one can close by me, but as I closed in with my pod I couldn’t board any of them as they were all locked up and being shot.

My alt managed to jump into an Ishtar and fly it off, taking out some time to shoot Ratknight1 as well, then docked it up to go out again.  He got a Hound stealth bomber next, allowing him to zip about to check cans… though it was only an afterburner fit, so maybe “zip” isn’t the right word.  But when it became clear that we had reached the time of just blowing stuff up, he just joined in to shoot things.

The pillaging looked set to carry on for quite some time still, but I tired of it once it turned to blowing things up.  I docked back up, leaving the two ships I snagged to inspect later.  I’ll see if there is anything worth stripping off of them then likely insure them and blow them up.

Even as I was logging off there was an Imperium fleet up to get people back to Delve.  But Reavers are hanging around for a bit.  There are still structures to blow up in J115405, like that Sotiyo that is coming out soon, and the other Keepstar looming across the way.  Where there are structures to shoot, Reavers will be there.

Other coverage of the event:

Waiting for a Hole

We had been warned that something might be coming up.  We had been given hints about when it might be and had been asked to have doctrine ships ready to go in 1DQ1-A.

Doctrine ships were no problem for me.  I had left them all in the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A when we returned from the war up north in the big move op.  So I figured we were ready to go.

Finally, yesterday, the ping came.  Asher was going to take us out for some sort of deployment again.  People logged in, got in fleet, and waited.  I got into my Guardian, put on the Emergency Response SKIN, and sat on the undock ready to go.

Guardian waiting

And there I waited for a while.  Asher told us where we were going.  There was an operation afoot to kill the Hard Knocks Keepstar in wormhole space.  There info about that over on Reddit as well as an update this morning over at INN.  We were waiting for a wormhole that would get us there.  In the meantime we were advised to pack for a week’s stay without any resupply and likelihood of living in space the whole time.

I docked back up.

I had not stocked up on enough supplies for that sort of expedition.  So, as we waited, I grabbed a mobile depot, a cloak, enough drugs for four long battles, replacement drones, a couple of sentry drones in case we shot a POS so I could whore on the kill, the extra modules we are supposed to carry but which I tend to leave in the station because we never swap them out.

I also got out my alt with the perfect scanning skills and put him in his Astero.  I was going to drag him along to get myself out of the wormhole should I get left behind.  I loaded up the Astero with extra probes, a back up mobile depot, extra drones, extra drugs, and a few more items.  If there was room in the fleet he was coming with us.

There were discussions going on as to how much to bring with us and what else we might need.

But eventually we went back to waiting.  The hole that we had logged in for hadn’t been right, so we were waiting for the next one.  Comms quieted down.  Asher, with not much else going on, went to appear on the Meta Show.  I pulled up the iPad and watched U.S.S Callister episode of Black Mirror.  I also undocked my alt and zipped around the system for a bit to see the new jump gate.  I didn’t really have to go far to see that.

The jump gate right off the Keepstar

As I idled on tether at the Keepstar I noticed an orange glow on one of the uprights that could only be an explosion.  I looked up in time to see a Rorqual coming apart.  A neutral had jumped to the cyno beacon and had been bubbled and blapped.

I didn’t quite get the camera on the beacon in time for the excitement, but if you are sharp eyed you can see the Rorqual wreck at the top of this screen shot.

Cyno Beacons are always bait

Before the Meta Show ended, while Asher was still on, a whole became available.  He pinged us to be ready go and had us free burn into Fountain.  There we grouped up and took our first ride on one of the new jump gates.  My first ride at least.

Jump Gate Ready

I had already setup the auto-pay on Wilhelm, but my alt wasn’t set yet and I have to approve a payment for 2,900 ISK in fuel to jump his Astero through.

From there we had another burn, though we traveled as a group this time.  Well, some of us did.  The more eager took the destination as a free burn.  Those of us more familiar with Asher’s style knew that if he didn’t say to free burn we would be going together and everybody should just jump through every gate and then align to the next one in order to be fleet warped.

Landing on another gate

Eventually we arrived at our hole.  The fleet gathered together so we could go through as a group.

Waiting for the word to go

When we all seemed to have arrived, Asher sent us through.  We were in Thera.

Once there we took the long warp to another hole, only to find somebody had been left behind.  DBRB went back to be a warp in for him.  One the lost sheep was collected, it was through the hole.

Only it collapsed before everybody got through.  A chunk of the fleet had been left behind and had to eventually wind their way back to wait for another fleet.  Apparently the Initiative had just pushed a fleet through that hole, so it wasn’t as fresh as we had been led to believe when we set out.

Those of us in the new hole were scattered about the system, the effects of a hole collapse.  I seemed to be inside of the sun.  Asher warped some people to our next hole, but that only caught some of the fleet so we had to wait a bit to collect.  Then we were off again, through nearly half a dozen more holes until we arrived in J115405 and saw the Hard Knocks Keepstar.

The Hard Knocks Keepstar in J115405

The armor timer was already running, the shields having been hit already.  The armor timer was set for late USTZ, so it seemed likely that I would be able to get online to see the fights that developed.

And that was really only the first Keepstar.  They have two together on the same grid, along with an array of other smaller structures.

The second Keepstar across from the first with a Fortizar in the middle

The first Keepstar was named Fort Knocks, while the second was Unassailable Wealth.  We shall see about that.  But there is a lot of fighting to be done here.

In addition to the Hard Knocks structures, somebody on our side had gone in and dropped over two dozen Raitarus in the hole in order to get us some place to tether and dock up.  I am sure most of those will get destroyed, but only a couple need to survive to make our foothold more tenable.

On arriving there wasn’t much else to do.  We scattered about the system, made safe spots, cloaked up if we were going to hang around or safe logged if we were not.

The only thing we’ve done so far is help the Initiative guard a hole into the system to keep Hard Knocks from getting anything in.  That mostly meant anchoring on Zed Starshine for a while and orbiting the hole, with the occasional trademark Zed Crazy Ivan turn to scatter us about and let the slower ships catch up.

Following Zen

Anyway, it is good to have a deployment of some sort going on.  I had been fairly dormant in null sec since returning from the war.  We shall see if more Keepstar kills result.  You can keep an eye on the kill board for the hole over at zKill to see what is dying.  Some POS towers are already down.

Another Structure Delivered to Fade

I missed a few days last week on the northern front.  Over the weekend I jumped back to Delve for the first time since November to join in as a logi pilot in an FC tournament.  But the efforts to draw out and Darkness and their allies in the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition continued on, and last night I was back in our staging and waiting on a titan to join in on the fun.

Waiting for a bridge to Fade

We had another anchoring Raitaru coming online on the grid with the Darkness Keepstar in DO6H-Q.  Soon enough I was up in Fade with the Ishtar fleet as we watched the anchoring timer count down.  After that the citadel would be vulnerable to destruction for fifteen minutes, after which it be online.

Ishtar fleet with many Blaze SKINs

It seemed that GotG would rise up to defend their space this time around.  On the overview was their new fleet composition.

Eagle Fleet arrives, their FC in a Loki

To counter out armor Ishtar heavy assault cruiser doctrine they picked the Caldari rail gun focused heavy assault cruiser.  They were on the field with Eagles, supporting shield logi, and a gaggle of Celestis electronic warfare cruisers to sensor damp us.  In addition they had some carriers out with fighters to support them.

As we moved around the fighters were sent our way first, but were withdrawn fairly shortly as our own drones were able to chew them up fairly quickly.  My big logi offensive for the evening came about because I managed to get on a few fighter kill mails.  However, once we finally closed with the Eagles I was too busy responding to calls for repair to launch my light drones again.

The clash was short and sharp and did not go well for the Eagles.  They got bubbled to pin them down when they started taking losses.

Eagles in the bubble

At our end we lost a few interdictors… which is something that just happens as they are priority targets and not very durable… but only one Ishtar, and they were already down to structure when I locked them up so my reps never got there. (Armor reps hit at the end of the module cycle.)  But logi managed to save everybody else who broadcast time.

The hostile fleet got out of the bubbles and withdrew, leaving us hanging around the Raitaru waiting to see if they were going to try anything else as the counter ran down.  They opted not to and we were soon tethered on the Raitaru.

Hanging in space off our latest citadel

As this was going on, a couple gates over in C8-CHY, an Imperium Raitaru on its final timer was getting pounded by a lone Phoenix dreadnought.  A drop, which included a super carrier, was organized.  While it did not save the Raitaru, it nabbed the Phoenix, so the locals ended up trading a dread that zKillboard says was worth 3.8 billion ISK for a Raitaru valued at about 600 million ISK.  Not a good exchange.

Looking at the battle report, the clash was very much in our favor.

Battle Report Header

Despite getting on those fighter kills I did not show up on the battle report, so TNT isn’t represented.  But neither were a number of the carriers.  If you don’t get on a ship kill you don’t get counted.  Still, I got to see us drop another structure in DO6H-Q.

As seen from the Darkness Keepstar

It joins a number of other Raitarus of ours in their system.

Imperium structures in blue

That seems to be the structure of choice, no doubt due to its low cost.

And so it goes.  The latest Raitaru is online, fueled, and with a module fit, so killing it will require the full three fight process rather than the two fights needed for a structure in Low Power mode.

Covering another Keepstar Deployment

MAX DUDES RED CRAYON CTA RIGHT NOW

TITAN>SUPER>FAX>CARRIER>DREAD

WE NEED EVERY WARM BODY WITH A HULL

THIS WILL PROBABLY BE THE LARGEST SUPER FLEET FORMED SINCE B-R5 SO YOU PROBABLY WANT TO BE HERE FOR THE SCREEN SHOTS ALONE

-tiberizzle to allcaps

How could I say “no” to that ping?  Besides, it was Sunday morning, my wife and daughter were off to other things and I had no plans for the day.  So I clone jumped to the staging Keepstar, jumped into my Apostle, and got into the armor capital fleet.  The armor fleet passed 200 people, while the first shield fleet filled up and they had to roll out a second.  There didn’t seem to be any special fit required, aside from having a prop mod to speed up gate travel.

Once I got myself squared away I undocked and warped off to one of the citadels ringing the Keepstar so as not to be yet another massive object on the undock that people might bump into.  The force auxiliaries are not as big as a titan, but they are bigger than a super carrier and make carriers look like mere battleships in the fleet.

My Apostle in warp with Tiberizzle’s Wyvern super carrier

As the fleets settled down we were given a destination to gate to and off we went.  Traveling in a capital taking gates means jumping through a gate, clicking warp/jump for the next one, then running your prop mod as you align until your ship finally approaches the speed it needs to warp off.  Then you turn it off and, as it cycles down, you should warp… unless you bounce of of another capital, which has a habit of knocking your speed back down to below the warp threshold.

Then you just want to get through the gate at the far end without bouncing off of somebody as ships land in a streaming mass and ending up out of range to jump.

That gate has to be feeling the pressure…

On voice coms somebody was telling people to spam the jump button in order to avoid that fate.  I opted for the old auto pilot trick.  Since we had a destination, as I my Apostle headed to the gate I would turn on the auto pilot which would then jump me through the gate itself hands off.  You just have to remember to turn it off as you jump, as you could end up 15km off the next gate and slow boating for the next jump if you’re not careful.

Then you’re through the gate and everybody is spread out, uncloaking, and aligning for the next gate.

Capital fleet doing its align thing

We bunched up on a Fortizar as our first waypoint, then were given a new destination a few more jumps out.  There was sat on a Raitaru, bunching up in a giant mass of capital hulls.

Make room! Make room!

We sat there for a while, so I was pretty sure this was where we would be jumping from to get to our destination.  I still did not know what we were up to, if this would be my first capital op to involve a fleet action.  Things were quiet on coms and I wondered what was going on in the command channel.

Then the order came through to jump to cyno that had been lit.  The order was quickly amended to restrict faxes from jumping through, so everybody else jumped out leaving a convention of force auxiliaries on the Raitaru.

A meeting of faxes

There were complaints of tidi and bouncing and whatnot from those who had jumped.  After a few minutes that settled down and faxes were given the clearance to jump.

Entering the jump tunnel from the Raitaru

Once through I could see capitals strewn about the field, but that was all the client was drawing for me immediately.

Landing after the jump

This happens some times when you land on a grid with a lot of objects to draw.  Ships get drawn first.  After a bit though the client got around to filling out a Keepstar citadel where we were all hanging about tethered or bouncing.

There we are

You can see some titans a bit off that may have bounced a bit.

This was the point of the operation.  Whenever a Keepstar is set to go online a large capital fleet is assembled to protect it while it goes through its initial repair cycle, the point at which it is most vulnerable because a hostile force can blow it up without all that mucking about with timers, as happened with the Keepstar over in Auga about a month and a half back.

To prevent that a large force is mustered to sit on the Keepstar to dissuade any attack.  And so there we were.  No fight was likely given the forces we had on the field.

Sitting on the Keepstar waiting

This was the first Keepstar for our Imperium colleagues in The Initiative who, as it was going online, also won their match in the alliance tournament.

So there we sat.  Jay Amazingness said that once it was online we would sit out our jump fatigue before we headed home again.  That was going to be a while so, to entertain us Jay asked a pilot in a Phoenix dreadnought if the fleet could doomsday his ship if Jay bought him a new one later.  He agreed and warped off to another citadel before returning to be in range off us but at a distance.  On command all of the titans fired on him.

Doomsdays away

I did not have a very good angle setup when the doomsday fire went off, but Jay linked us a better screen shot in fleet, which I have borrowed.

Jay’s view of the doomsday fire

To stretch out the shoot the Phoenix pilot activated his Emergency Hull Energizer which boosts resists to 99%.  However, even with that the weight of damage being thrown at him was so much that he exploded fairly quickly.

Phoenix down

That left us some time to sit around and stare at the fresh wreck or take a break while our collective jump fatigue timers ran down.

Phoenix wreck lit by an explosion

As I was looking for a good screen shot of the Phoenix wreck, it was lit up by something that happened behind me.  While I missed it, The Initiative blew up an Archon on the undock to sanctify the Keepstar going online or just to join in on the fun.

After that we mostly sat about.  There wasn’t anything like a BBQ war in coms, which was probably a good thing.  With about 15 minutes left on jump fatigue we were roused out of our torpor and given a destination.  We set out to take some more gates to put us in range of home.

We had to wait a bit as there was a titan running behind.  Somebody needed a bathroom break, but only after we started out taking gates.  He eventually just jumped to us, leaving him within range of home and giving him the option to either double jump, and take a jump fatigue hit, or just wait it out and use the safe cyno later.

I don’t know what he chose, but the rest of us took the cyno once it was up and landed back at home.

Back at the staging Keepstar

Unlike the move op the other night, we were not cyno’d into the Twerk zone, there being some fear that a titan might bounce, escape the model, and end up flung hundreds of kilometers away.  I’ve seen that happen.  While the ship would likely not be in immediate danger, it is best not to take chances with expensive toys.  After all, PL keeps dreads on hand for such opportunities.

And that was it for the operation.  Another capital op for me, though I have yet to use my Apostle to rep a single ship.

John Hartley took some video of the fleet which includes us landing on the Keepstar, featuring some titan bounces, and the doomsday shoot of the Phoenix at the end.