Tag Archives: The Kalevala Expanse

First Day of Null Sec Blackout Roam

Everybody seemed to have a plan for the first day of the null sec local blackout.

Well, not everybody.

One question I heard fairly often was about whether chat was broken again because nobody was in local.  No matter how far and wide you think the word has been spread nor how much build up any change to the game has, there will always be a significant percentage of the population that won’t get the memo.

But at least various groups had plans.  And the plans seemed to mostly involve roaming into other null sec areas looking for targets.  I saw a ping for a DBRB interceptor fleet seeking to roam far across null sec and, about an hour later, a ping for an armor assault frigate fleet under Silvana Cadelanne.  Those two fleets were connected, but I didn’t know that when I joined the second.

Armor assault frigates, usually a Retribution/Wolf/Enyo mix in the main line, means getting out one of my lesser flown logi ships, the Thalia.

Thalia sitting on tether ready to go

I don’t get to undock this guppy-shaped tech II Navitas variant because we tend to fly Harpy fleet more often.  But this time I was able to clean up this ship, long languishing in a dark corner of my hangar in 1DQ1-2.  I could have bought a Deacon, the Amarr logi frigate, but it is seriously one of the most awkward looking ships in the game.  There are some lines I cannot cross.

Silvana Cadelanne got us undocked and headed via Ansiblex jump gates towards TEST space.  We gated out was into their space through the strange quietness of silent local, doubly weird in any location where Dreddit might be recruiting.

Assault frigates over a gas giant

But we were not there for TEST or Brave or anybody else in the south.  We were there for a wormhole that sent us into the Metropolis region.  There we headed towards Geminate.  However, arriving there, the FC informed us that our plan… which was to link up with DBRB’s fleet in order to assist in taking down a titan or a super or something… had been thwarted by DBRB lighting off after some distant target with his interceptors.

We were in Geminate already, so the FC decided we ought to do something, with “a blaze of glory” being mentioned as a possible plan.  He did seem a bit nonplussed at the lack of Pandemic Horde activity in Geminate, though he had been drinking and had likely forgotten that PH had moved to The Kalevala Expanse.  With that straightened out, we headed towards TKE looking for trouble.

Bubbles on the gate into TKE

We slipped into the region and went straight for their staging in R1O-GN.  Uncloaking there, in full sight of their Keepstar, and taking a few pot shots at people close by, it became a question as to what we should get up to while the locals figured out what to do about us.  Then somebody spotted an abyssal signature… the in-space indicator that marks somebody running an abyssal pocket will exit… and we decided to hang out on that.  Maybe we would get a Gila kill.

On the abyssal marker

As we anchored up and flew around the marker, the locals began to stir.  An Abaddon first landed near us, which gave us our first target.  From that point forward the fight was on.  Hostiles began warping in on us and we were suddenly very busy

Fight on! Enemy Keepstar just visible at the bottom of the screen shot

What came about was an odd bit of asymmetrical warfare.

The locals began piling on us with everything to hand, from frigates to carriers and dreadnoughts, looking to stomp us with sheer weight of numbers.

Some of the closer hostiles on my overview

However, this kitchen sink fleet composition was coming at us in dribs and drabs and was not coordinating their effort.  That meant that our fleet, unified in doctrine and taking targets from the FC, was able to inflict quite a bit of damage relative to our numbers on the field.  For several minutes our assault frigates were able to skate around the battlefield taking down targets while our logi was saving people and each other.  Being in the logi wing then was a very busy time.

That advantage was fleeting however and, as more and more hostiles landed on us, they began to get their act together and focus on the logi.  They seemed more eager to pop the Deacons than my Thalia, and soon I was the last logi left.  I had all reps on the FC, who was now primary for many of the locals, when he warped us out.  That came just in time for me.

Entering warp in structure is always fun

The FC’s ship blew up even as we were warping.  Our moment of glory had passed.  It was time to get out if we could.

The FC directed us to warp to the “QG” gate.  However, R1O-GN is one of those systems that has exit gates to two systems with very similar names. (There is one system where two adjacent systems that start with the same three letters, which always causes confusion.)  We were close to the “GQ” gate when he said that, so people asked if he was sure and, since he had been drinking, he had to check.  Eventually he confirmed what he said and, as we warped, he gave us a destination.

Take the gate? Don’t take the gate?

Jumping through the gate we found that the route to the destination led us back into R1O-GN.  He checked again and gave us another destination.  By that point we were getting spread out, some of us having gone back into R1O while others waited for a new desto.  I was a bit ahead of the pack, free burning for the way out.  However, as I noted last weekend in the post about dropping on PH’s move ops, there is only one way back to where we came from, and you have to pass through 1S-SU1.  The locals were well aware of this and were waiting on the LEM gate in that system.  I was one of the first through so was too late to heed the warning about the camp.  I decided to just press on, since my only other choice was to crash the gate, and given the state of my ship it wouldn’t take much to blow me up.

And they got me.  I was pretty quickly blown up, then podded, then back in my hangar in 1DQ1-2.  End of the fleet op for me.  Some people did get out.  For whatever reason the hostiles didn’t bubble the 1S-SU1 side of the gate, which let some people slip through.  Others turned around and went out via Vale of the Silent.

But, not matter what, we got our money’s worth out of that fleet.  A blaze of glory was achieved.

I would like to summarize the outcome, but with ZKillboard down, you cannot create battle reports or even see kills for which you did not get the final blow.  For me, ZKill being blacked out is one of the downsides to this event.  I want to see the battle report.  I want to see how many or few hostiles we managed to zap before we ran off.  I want to see how the brawl played out, with nice columns of time stamped kills dammit.  I want the data.

I know some people are cheering it being down, and even asking that it be kept offline, but I am not in that camp.  The main argument against ZKill seems to be a nebulous argument that kill boards ruin the game, which strikes me a being akin to suggesting scores in kids sports are bad.

But beyond that, bragging about your kill board is so looked down upon in the EVE Online community that before you can talk about your kill board you must first write a paragraph declaration about how you much you do not care about your kill board, before going on to prove that you probably really do.  Basically, we already have a system of social control around kill boards, so just let us have the information about what happened and get on with it.

Anyway, that was my big blackout inaugural roam.  And it was pretty good.

I did go on another op later in the evening which had its own bit of comedy.  We were in an Eagle fleet, flying through Delve to cover a timer, and while watching the local intel channel, it became clear that people were using their directional scanners, but perhaps not paying as close attention to the results as they should.  Several times we saw something like this:

The Eagles! Get them!

Given that dscan reports the name of your ship as well as the type, and that the most common ship name in our fleet seemed to be “GSF Standard,” which is what you end up with on a lot of pre-fit contracts, it seems like a bit of thought should have to occur before people panic.

Then again, if I were a hostile FC I might just have my whole fleet rename their ships “GSF Standard” if only to sow confusion.

Addendum:  Now that ZKill is back up and has caught up on its backlog processing I was able build a battle report to see what happened in out little brawl.  Here is the header from the battle report.

Brawl in R1O-GN in TKE

The ISK total gets balanced out if you add in the losses to the gate camp in 1S-SU1, though we did pick up a couple of kills along the way as well.  All in all a fun, chaotic fight and I was fine not having to walk all the way back to Delve.

Post War Moves and Drops in Null Sec

While the Imperium attack on the north, with its intent to “glass” the Tribute and Vale of the Silent regions, did not produce any record setting or headline worth spaceship battles, there was still a considerable amount of destruction.  In addition to blowing up all of the infrastructure hubs in Tribute and a good number in the western side of Vale of the Silent, the tally in the forums shows we blew up the following list of structures during the deployment, in something like descending order of value:

  • Keepstar : 4
  • Sotiyo : 11
  • Faction Fortizar : 1
  • Fortizar : 36
  • Tatara : 18
  • Azbel : 18
  • Athanor : 57
  • Astrahus : 73
  • Raitaru : 69
  • Ansiblex Jump Gate : 20
  • Pharolux Cyno Beacon : 4
  • Tenebrex Cyno Jammer : 68

Then the Drifters showed up and the war ended as everybody in null sec had to scramble to figure out what that really meant.  For us it meant move ops home, delayed because the people who would be leading those ops were the same people able to gun structures at home, and the were not able to do both.

As tends to happen, people adapted to the Drifter menace… though CCP dialed it up for a day last week, the attacks faded about the time the “no local” message started getting out… and the various groups started looking into what the post war world of null sec was going to look like.

The word going about is than PanFam, made up primarily of Pandemic Legion, Northern Coalition, and Pandemic Horde, were going to move.

Tribute has been pretty much abandoned by PanFam as being too hard to defend, and echo of what we learned during the Casino War.  It’s handiness to Jita and other regions is a blessing and a curse.  The Territorial Control Units mostly still show NCDot and PL, but that is mostly because TCUs do not have much in the way of value aside from being markers on the map these days.  It is the ihubs that count, and they were wiped out.

Tribute – July 7, 2019

In some parts of Tribute some new people have started moving in.  In the 03C-SU constellation, which is highlighted, the new owners even put down ihubs.  I guess they intend to stay.

I am not sure what is going to happen with Vale of the Silent, except that PanFam will no longer live there.  The word is that the coalition will be moving deeper into the Dronelands in eastern null sec, calling the regions of Malpais and The Kalevala Expanse their new home.

A leaked announcement that has shown up a few places, including Reddit, has Pandemic Horde setting up shop in TKE.

Horde instructions – click to make more legible

The word is that PL and NCDot will live next door in Malpais, while the renters that currently occupy both regions will be relocated to Geminate.  I am sure that will make those hunting ratters and miners happy as they will be.

Those wishing to hunt PanFam however will be less happy as they are moving to a similar model to what we have in Delve.  From a central staging point they will be able to drop supers and titans on anybody in their territory, being able to land on an estimated 200 systems.  The lack of nearby NPC null space, as we have in Delve, makes their situation all the more secure.  Dread bombs will take some work.

The Mittani, who has been showing up in the Talking in Stations Discord had some comments on the situation:

Mittens on Malpais

So that is the new null sec reality.  We have out are in the southwest of null sec, PanFam has their new center in the northeast of null sec, and if we’re going to brawl in any major way it will likely be due to us meeting in the middle somewhere.

But if people are moving, that means move ops and people wandering to their destination solo.  And for Pandemic Horde, there is a pair of systems through which they must pass in order to move from Geminate to where they want to be in TKE.  The gap between the two regions is too far for a direct jump unless you’re in a jump freighter.  Their extended range can bridge the gap, but everything else has to gate or go a long way out of the way.

The gap from DOTLAN navigation

And any place where you have a bunch of stragglers wandering blind through a choke point, you’re going to get some people waiting on a black ops ready to drop on them.

Sitting on a Redeemer in Geminate

The Drifter invasion stopped wars and got the null sec groups to cooperate and agree to a general non-invasion pact, but that doesn’t mean we stopped shooting each other.  Once the Drifter stuff was under control we all went back to roaming each other’s space looking for targets.  Even the blue donut isn’t all that blue.

So I got to spend some time with Black Ops (being in Reavers made me something like a Black Ops auxiliary back when we were operating out of Pure Blind in 2018) dropping on the occasional straggler.

This sort of operation involves a lot of waiting.  I sat around and wrote yesterday’s post while sitting on that Redeemer waiting for somebody to tell us to wake up.  But when the time comes you do get some fun kills.

The first drop was on a Thanatos that was caught on the gate in 9P4O-F.

Thanatos caught by us

This guy wasn’t particularly valuable according to the kill mail, but it is always feels good as a subcap pilot to kill a capital ship.  We blew up the wreck, so there was nothing left to recover.  There were some people in system, but nobody came to help him.  Like us, PH was probably telling people to no yolo on their own, so those that do at least serve as an example to the rest.

The next guy though, another Thanatos, he was hauling his stuff.  He made it through the gate, so we jumped through and caught him on the other side and blew him up.

Another Thanatos brewing up

The kill mail showed this to be a suitcase, carrying a bunch of his stuff to his new home.  That wreck got blown up as well, so nothing was recovered.

A little while later we also managed to grab a Charon freighter, though this time around some of the locals came to help.  We got the kill, but couldn’t stick around to blow up the wreck.  Still, a decent amount of stuff destroyed.

I couldn’t stick around all day, but the kills when they happen are exciting.  And sometimes you snatch something valuable right from under their nose.  That Ark was sitting on a Fortizar untethered.  The PDS from the citadel got top damage.

More Structure Busting in the East

There are still a lot of somewhat low key operations running in the east of null sec on a regular basis.  My own alliance has a deployment running and a lot of ops, though they tend to run when I am at the office.  But Liberty Squad has me covered for US time zone evening ops.

There had been a warning ping about the approaching op, so when the real ping came over Jabber I was already logged into the game and ready to go.  We were advised to bring plenty of structure bashing ammo (read: cheap T1 rounds) so it was clear what we would be up to.

Once we got the fleet assembled… which took a bit because there were other competing ops running… we were able to undock and head out.  We even got a ride to our destination rather than having to gate our way out.

A Ragnarok sends us on our way

We landed in A-YB15 out in The Kalevala Expanse, which meant back to hitting Pandemic Horde structures to keep them from being able to turn the region into a rental income area.

We set up on anchor at a Fortizar and started shooting that, but it was clear to me what the real target of the night would be.  We were just setting up the Fort for later, but there was an Ansiblex Jump Gate on the grid that would be ready to kill in under an hour.

Less than an hour on the clock

We were just biding our time, setting ourselves in place for the real target and to be ready if Pandemic Horde came to defend it.  But for the time being we were pretty much left to our own devices.  Nobody even came out to gun the Fortizar.

The idea was to take up the time waiting for the Ansiblex by reinforcing the Fort, but we ended up done with that and still had 20 minutes on the clock before the main event.  So we found a Raitaru in the system and shot that as well.  That didn’t take long either.  It was even unfueled, which meant we burned through both the shield and armor.  We blamed RatKnight1 for speeding us up with his high DPS Kikimora.

The Kikimora

It took me a moment when I first saw him out there.  To my brain a solid red beam is a target painter and not the Triglavian weapon system.  When spun up to full power he was doing considerably more damage than the average Eagle was.

With the Raitaru set, we just loafed around the Ansiblex, waiting for the timer to get down to zero so we could start shooting.  There was some concern that Pandemic Horde would come out to defend it, since this would be a kill and, while it is easy enough to just drop a new one… it used to be the same deal with the POS jump bridges and so we wouldn’t kill them, just burn through their armor so the owner would have to work to finish the kill or repair the module… it does cost ISK to set these up over and over again as we kill them.

But they let us be and when the timer hit zero we opened fire.

The Fortizar visible in the distance

I had a couple of combat drones in my drone bay and we were close enough that I was able to set them on the structure to get on the kill mail.  However our FC, Zintage, was once again reminded that you cannot use a target painter on structures, and since that is all the monitor can mount, he did not get on the kill mail.  But he had already been in on a Brothers of Tangra  Ansiblex kill earlier, so he was ahead of the game.

The Ansiblex blew up shortly, leaving a glowing wreck behind as we aligned back for our staging base.

After the explosion

Thanks to cooperation with some of the locals we had a ride most of the way home as well, using one of their Ansiblex jump gates.

Sent back the easy way

With rides both ways it ended up being a fairly short op for how much shooting we did.  But I am sure there will be more to shoot again tomorrow.

Structure Shoots and Eagles in the East

I have probably been more active in New Eden than my posting would indicate.  I’ve been out with Liberty Squad, which is one of the Imperium groups that has deployed out the east of null sec to tangle with Pandemic Horde and its allied.

Freedom Squad – Of Course We Fly Eagles

The thing is, a lot of ops do not really have much to report.  We go out and reinforce a structure.  Sometimes we get to kill one, like that Athanor a couple of weeks back.  That was mildly interesting because it was mid-frack, so we go to see the moon chunk disappear.  But an op to reinforce a structure, or even to blow up something small, that doesn’t always yield a tale worth telling.

An Oracle wearing the Blaze SKIN at a Raitaru kill

Meanwhile, I don’t hear enough about the strategic picture to make much of a comment on that either.  I get a sense that things are not going well for PH over in The Kavala Expanse region, where the ADMs are low and almost all of the ihubs have either been destroyed or are reinforced.   My alliance, TNT, even took the TCU in A-YB15 after destroying the ihub, probably just for fun.  The TCU declares ownership of the system, puts the alliance name on the map, but it is the ihub that upgrades a null sec system to make it livable and useful.

Meanwhile, we have to go pretty far into PH space to find Ansiblex jump gates to knock out.

An Ansiblex jump gate offline and waiting to be blown up

We caught that one down in RQOO-U and blew it up, snapping another connection.  We had to dodge bombs coming from the Fortizar near which it was anchored, but that wasn’t enough to deter us… or even keep those of us in the logi wing very busy.

Not that there haven’t been fights.  I’ve heard tale of them.  But I seem to have spent most of the month missing the ops where the locals show up.  I know they are around.  We got a peek at them last week when we slipped in with some bombers to get on the killmail for a Triumvirate Fortizar that was unwisely hanging about in a war zone without an allies about.

Another Fortizar brews up

We had initially tried to bomb the Pandemic Horde fleet coming in to the shoot, but managed only to bomb a couple of our own.  My bomb, launched a bit late, got a solo kill on a blue capsule.  I don’t feel bad though.  Black Ops bombed us the other day when we were both going after the same target.  It happens.  And somebody learned not to MWD ahead of the pack on a bomb run that day.

Anyway, after a lot of quiet ops over the last couple of weeks, it was nice to show up yesterday and have some ships at which to shoot.

It started with us forming up and flying out in Eagles again.  We sat on a titan for a bit.

I just like screen shots of titans

Then we were bridged into Erstet, in low sec Metropolis, where NCDot was assailing a friendly Azbel with a few dreadnoughts supported by a Minokawa force auxiliary.  We went after the dreads, hitting a Phoenix first.

Phoenix shields flaring under impact

However, we were not able to out pace the Minokawa and its ability to rep, so a couple of dreadnoughts from out side were called up and jumped in, after which we managed… after much struggle… to deploy a cyno inhibitor on the field in order to keep NCDot from reinforcing their structure bash.

The extra firepower turned the tide and the Azbel was saved.  We exchanged a few subcaps for a Revelation, two Phoenixes, and the Minokawa force auxiliary, the wrecks of which stayed on the field.

The remains of the fight

We had to hang about a bit after that.  This took place in low sec, where things are complicated.  Our way back home was through high sec, so we had to wait out suspect timers.  This wait was extended because some of us in the logi wing had combat drones handy and got on a couple of the kill mails.  However, if you rep or cap boost somebody with a suspect timer then you too get the suspect timer, and we were all in Basilisks running a capacitor chain, so it became a self-refreshing round of suspect timers until somebody mentioned we would have to go through high sec, at which point we dropped the chain and tethered on the Azbel to wait out the 15 minutes.

Emboldened by our successful op, Thomas Lear, who was leading us, flew us off to another structure to reinforce it.

Eagles on the move again

Pandemic Horde gave chase with an Ishtar fleet, trying to get around us to cut us off and, if intel is to be believed, ended up with us sitting between them and home.  Finding themselves cut off instead, they then decided not to engage, docked up, and jump cloned back to their staging, leaving their ships parked for another day.  I cannot speak to the truth of that, but it does sound like an odd move.  There are other ways in and out of their space, as we were soon to learn.

After reinforcing another PH structure, Thomas decided that we would go deeper into their space and reinforce one more before calling it a night.  I have no idea what we were going to shoot though, because when we arrived in the system a Black Legion Munnin fleet, led by Elo Knight.  We were apparently not going to take that fight and spent the next hour trying to break contact with them and eventually flying the long way around south through the Great Wildlands and Metropolis before arriving back at our staging system once more.

And so it goes.  We made it back home again, and were out long enough to earn ourselves a second PAP.  But I still have managed to avoid anything akin to an actual fleet fight for over a month now.

Frack Denied

We were out again shooting at structures.  This time is was an Athanor belonging to Pandemic Horde over in The Kalevala Expanse in LEM-I1.  Liberty Squad mounted up and followed Cainun off into PH space where we found the structure waiting for us.

Detailed naming scheme

The Athanor had been reinforced already and we were there for the armor timer.  The first run, the initial reinforcement, doesn’t mean much, save for setting a date for the next two possible events.

The interesting thing about this particular Athanor was that it was in the midst of breaking off a chunk of the nearby moon as part of its mining cycle.  This is called a frack, since the station is fracturing off a chunk of the moon.  It is one of those things that looks pretty neat out in space.

Frack in progress

It is actually a bit of a trick to get the camera to get all of that lined up because the size and scale of the different parts are so different.  The Athanor is tiny, visible only due to its proximity, and jumps around quite a bit as you move the camera.  The moon and the planet are both huge and distant and barely move at all unless you pan the camera aggressively, which sends the Athanor flying off screen.  And then there is the chunk of moon itself, which is close than you might think.

EVE Online does a pretty good job of delivering on size and perspective.

Anyway, the Athanor was mid cycle, hauling in a moon chunk that would be broken up and available to mine in a few days. (EVE University has a bit about the process here.)

Would, except that we were there for the armor timer and PH was not.  Not much happens when you first hit an Upwell structure.  But when you win the armor timer and set things up for the final match, certain operational restrictions start to apply.  You cannot remove modules or reconfigure the structure.  And, if it is a moon mining platform mid-frack, you lose the moon chunk.  So when we finished our shoot and the next timer came up, the moon chunk was gone.

Disappearing moon chunk

I’m not sure where the chunk goes.  It is just no longer there as the mining cycle was turned off.  It would be nice if CCP left the chunk there for a bit, showing it drifting off to become a small satellite or have it crash back into the moon.  But that is probably a bit too much to ask.  We weren’t going to stick around long enough to watch that sort of thing.

Off we went once the next timer was set, knowing that there was one moon that wouldn’t be mined soon.