Tag Archives: Thomas Lear

Three Years of Reavers

I just want to point out that Iceland is going to the world cup and the USA isn’t. America has a shit soccer team and star citizen. Iceland: Better at football and space ship games.

~~~ This was a broadcast from asher_elias to reavers at 2017-10-11 02:06:32.634838 EVE ~~~

-Sample of what you get on the Reavers ping list

So we are here at the three years mark of the Reavers SIG.

Reavers forum bee

I remain a bit cloudy on the exact founding date for the group, but middle-ish October works as a general rule.  It isn’t like the hard launch date for a video game… back in the days before early access and whatnot… where there was a line between when you couldn’t do something and when you could.

Anyway, here we are at the third year.  Summaries of the past two years are available here:

As for the last year, the map of null sec has changed some since then.

October 14, 2016 and October 14, 2017 compared

Probably the largest change to note is the alliances that were pushed out of the north in the wake of the Casino War, many of whom landed in space to our east and led to a refactoring of various coalitions. (Also, as I mentioned on Monday, look at LowSechnaya Sholupen losing the same area of space in Fountain two years running.)

Those changes influenced what Reavers did over the last year.

The first Reaver operation I went on after the last anniversary was in December and involved us helping Volition Cult pop an Astrahus that had been dropped in the territory in Catch.  It was a temporary alliance with them against Honorable Third Party.  Thomas Lear led us in our new Sleipner doctrine, getting on the citadel kill, a carrier kill, and an ESS kill along the way home.

In February Thomas Lear again led us in our Sleipners, this time up north into Pandemic Horde space in Cloud Ring, again to contest an Astrahus being anchored.  That went less well as PL dropped some of the newly OP Rorquals and used sentry drones to hit us.  I lost my Sleipner there, but at least I didn’t have to fly all the way home.

Asher led us north later to join in on the fights going on around the Circle of Two Keepstar in M-0EE8.  I had to go back on my own for the kill though.

Rolling past the Keepstar in Asher Cerbs

Once CO2 moved south we set up to camp their ratting and mining ops in their new home in Impass.  I killed a lot of MTUs while we were out there.  It was also my first time flying a Stratios and my real introduction to scanning things down to shoot, though mostly I shot MTUs.

In May we all deployed out to one of our favorite locations, H-ADOC in Curse to stir up some fights.  I lost a Cerberus almost right away.  We lingered out there for a time, setting up an Astrahus to work from so we could switch clones/implants at need.  We went home for a bit, but returned again in July.

From there we ranged out into the Great Wildlands with our new Typhoon doctrine to shoot a Silent Affinity Fortizar.  It cost an Apostle but we helped take it down.

I used my MTU scanning skills to blow up a bunch of Fraternity MTUs in the area.  They like to rat and run missions around there and have a habit of leaving their MTUs behind.

Eventually we were called home to Delve.  That run took two days and featured a heated discussion about BBQ sauce, pizza, and other aspects of cuisine.

We were back home to join in on the deployment north to Hakonen.  While that wasn’t a Reavers specific operation at all, it did see wide-spread use of the Reavers Typhoon doctrine.

Reavers however got the opportunity to fly a special doctrine during the fight.  Azure and Argent led a little fleet of us in Atrons fit for ECM Burst operations that we would fling into the midst of the enemy, after which we would hit the burst and warp back to our perches to cloak up. (Ops one, two, and three.)  An interesting new experience, but hell on your sec status.

After that it was time to come home.  I fixed my sec status and flew my Typhoon back to Delve, only to learn that we would no longer be using the doctrine, at least coalition-wide.  It might still be a Reavers thing.  Things were beginning to brew to the east of us… and then Judgement Day hit and the war was aborted.

All of which doesn’t sound like much activity from Reavers.  I know I missed a couple of Reaver adventures, like the flight of the armor tanked Drakes.  But it hasn’t been like the first year of Reavers when we seemed to spend a lot of time behind enemy lines.  Not only has the sovereignty map changed since then, the reality of holding sovereignty has changes as well.  And Asher led a lot more ops around the map over the last year (like this one), they just weren’t Reavers exclusives.

Overall though, that is about as many things as I posted for year two, so I suppose we’re steady.

Anyway, that was my view of year three of Reavers.  We shall see what the future brings.

An Azbel in Aridia

I had not been out on a coalition fleet op for almost a month, since the camp of the Keepstar in 68FT-6 that followed Judgement day and the demise of Circle of Two.

But my activity tends to be a reflection of the coalition’s activity.  I am not much for random PvP and gate camps and the like.  I enjoy operations that have an objective, and after the downfall of CO2 there wasn’t much going on with the strategic front.

And then The-Culture started falling apart in Fountain, stepping aside to let coalition allies The Initiative land in their space, which started to stir things up in the central-west of null sec in New Eden.  This also brought The Initiative into conflict with LowSechnaya Sholupen, which ended up losing their space in Fountain as a result.

Fountain as The Initiative moves in

Oddly enough, if you compare the current sov map (from which the above clip was taken) with the one from a year ago, LowSechnaya Sholupen was in the process of losing that very same chunk of space to The-Culture.  Some things never change… or always change… or however you sum that up.

We have had an opportunistic relationship with LowSechnaya Sholupen, or LSH, over time.  During the great retreat from Saranen to Delve they picked off… “sholuped” as it was termed… some careless Imperium capital ships attempting to make the run.   But we have also spent some time allied with the and helped them fend of The-Culture before, cooperating to bust towers and citadels that were encroaching on what they saw as their turf.

However, when things settled down we reset each other, it being more fun to hunt us than to be an ally when times were quiet.  LSH sat in Aridia and picked off people coming to Delve while we were up in Hakonen, and then picked off Imperium pilots attempting to return from the north when that deployment was done.  We shot them, they shot us, nobody thought too much about it.  And then we came into conflict over sovereignty in Fountain and we started hitting their assets.

Or that is my understanding of the situation.  I’ve spent most of the last couple of weeks either at EVE Vegas or playing RimWorld and derived most of that from what I heard on Saturday night.

A Saturday night ping.  A couple of hours in advance a ping went out announcing that there would be a strategic op forming up, with a guaranteed kill mail and a possible fight, at 05:00 UTC, which comes out to 10pm local time for me.    That isn’t all that late, or it used to not be that late.  I’ve become my grandfather, something or an early riser a lot of mornings, so I tend to be in bed at 10pm most nights.  Furthermore, a strat op like that can possibly run for hours and I’d been up since 5:30am local time as it was.  But I had taken a nap that afternoon and there were no plans for Sunday, so I decided to hang out and join in.

At the appointed time a ping went out for a Machariel fleet for the op.  I was already logged in and so joined fleet right away and hopped into my Mach.  I would normally fly logi for an op like this, but I bought a Machariel for a fleet a while back when they were short on DPS and now I am determined to fly it at every opportunity… and there aren’t that many… until I lose it.

Wilhelm Machariel

Our Mach doctrine has a large number of refits included so the first part of any op is getting everybody on board with the fit of the day.  Usually the FC has a link to the fit in the fleet chat MOTD.  Our FC, Dirk Stetille, was a bit behind on that.  Not that it mattered.  People will show up in a Mach fleet and immediately start asking on coms what the fit is without bothering to check the MOTD.  It is one of the annoyances of being in main fleet, people asking questions immediately without checking in the usual places.

Anyway, I got myself fit and undocked.  There I watched the capital fleet under Thomas Lear, which was going with us, undock and start heading out ahead of us.

Sitting on the Keepstar undock

As usual, the capital and sub-cap fleets were sharing voice coms, which adds its own element of confusion when one FC gives instructions that only apply to one fleet but fails to specify which fleet they mean.  Still, despite the usual amount of questions and people showing up late or being in the wrong ships or asking if they can catch up, we did get our act together and get under way in fairly short order.

We moved off to a nearby jump bridge that we would used to get us to 1-SMEB, and from there into Aridia, where we were told to hold and wait.  Of course, some people jumped anyway and the FC had a heavy interdictor put up a bubble around the jump bridge which prevents anybody from using it.  Well, anybody besides interceptors and interdiction nullfied ships that aren’t affected by bubbles.

Held in place on the jump bridge

We stayed there until the capitals got far enough ahead.  Then Dirk had the hictor pilot turn off the bubble and we jumped through and aligned for Sakht and the Aridia region where LSH lives.

We plodded along a bit with the capitals, then were warped to a perch off of an LSH tower that we proceeded to warp to and shoot.

Hitting an LSH tower

We successfully put the tower in a reinforced state.

Tower shoot finished

That immediately led to questions about the kill mail we were alleged to have been guaranteed.  At that point Dirk had to explain that we had indeed formed up more quickly than expected and were actually early for the timer we were planning to hit, so we stopped along the way to reinforce an LSH tower.

From there it was on to the main target of the night, the LSH Azbel in Yahyerer.

Arriving at the Azbel

We landed at a perch as carriers from the capital fleet jumped in with us.  We then warped into gun range of the engineering complex and opened fire.

The LSH Logo on the Azbel

The structure was being gunned by an LSH pilot, but the defenses were not much compared to what we brought.  We were fit for passive tanks and were using projectile weapons, so capacitor draining void bombs were of little use, and we spread out so that other bomb flavors were not much help.  Fighters were launched, but between our light drones and the carriers covering us, those were dispatched quickly.  The Point Defense System managed to catch a few support frigates that wandered too close to the structure in order to tag it and get on the kill mail, but other than that we just shot, reloaded, and shot again.

There was a minor bit of drama, as is usual, about people broadcasting for reps prematurely. (Or broadcasting for shield reps in an armor fleet.)  Dirk asked us not to broadcast until we were down to 60% armor.  That was more damage than anybody in a Mach was taking and so the logi discussion quieted down.

The Azbel itself was worn down until finally it exploded in the usual magnificent blaze, leaving a wreck behind.

Azbel Boom!

Then there was the question of looting the wreck.  The kill mail shows that a lot of capital ship building components dropped along with a pile of fuel blocks.  Thomas Lear brought a Rorqual to loot, but the sheer size of the loot… over 3 million m^3… meant that only a bit could be grabbed.  So we shot the wreck instead, terminating what was left of LSH’s dreadnought construction operation.

As we were heading out a Raven had the ill fortune to stumble upon us as we were heading to a gate.  He managed to jump just in time, but a few people ran him down and caught him, giving us our only non-structure kill for the night.

In the wrong place at the wrong time

You know that stumbling into 300 Goons in a system has to be a panic moment.

From there the capitals started back towards Delve while we hung about covering their departure.  At that point Dirk said that anybody under 60% could broadcast, and I think we all had some armor damage.  You could see some on almost every Mach.  Dirk said he was mildly impressed that so many of us could hold off.   We were then going to head back home ourselves, but first he had a couple more targets of opportunity for us along the way.

First was another tower to reinforce.  This went more quickly when another group of caps and supers showed up to add their firepower to the mix.  There was a moment of comedy when two Leviathan titans bumped on landing and went flying off.  It wasn’t a huge bump, but they went pretty far off from the rest of the caps.  But their firepower meant that the tower was reinforced in short order.

Second tower reinforced

The, finally, there was one last tower.  This one had been reinforced earlier in the day, but had so little stront in it that it came out that night.  So we headed to that with the capitals along as well and blew it up.

A True Sansha’s tower coming apart

With that second kill mail in hand, it was time to head home.  Fortunately Delve was only a few gates away.  We had gotten participation credit already, but Dirk gave us a second one as the three hour mark was upon us.  And that wrapped things up for the night.

We will see if there is more to do in Aridia or if LSH will come to some accommodation with us.

Meanwhile, screen shots from the op collected up in a gallery.

An Astrahus Dies in Hakonen

And it wasn’t even ours.

Despite not having anything major going on this past weekend I somehow managed to sit down at my computer 30 minutes after a fleet op had formed up and left.  So it goes in New Eden, where action operates on its own schedule, and if you’re not around you miss it.

But as the weekend drew to a close I managed to get into one fleet.  Thomas Lear pinged for a Typhoon fleet and a support fleet of Jackdaws and ECM.  We were forming up to shoot an Astrahus that Pandemic Legion dropped in the system.

Look for the PL logo…

Being a Pandemic Legion citadel it had to follow the long standing practice of being named with a Game of Thrones spoiler.  And people ask who the bad guys are in this war.

Names omitted to save your purity…

I hope I blurred that enough.

As with the Fortizars we dropped and lost to our foes previously, it was the expedient course to kill the Astrahus as it went online, removing the need to deal with multiple timers.  Shooting it immediately would kill it right then and there.

I joined up with the Typhoon fleet in a Guardian again as logi seems to be in somewhat short supply.  I think everybody just wants to fly their el cheapo tier 1 battleships and shoot things.  While the fleet didn’t fill instantly, it was still nearly full by the time we undocked and got down to business.

Typhoons scattered about with logi cap chaining in the middle

When we landed on grid with the Astrahus a mobile cyno inhibitor was deployed to keep our foes in Tribute from jumping straight in and on grid to defend the citadel, should they have a mind to do so.

Mobile cyno inhibitor

It is glowing orange-ish because logi was asked to lock it up and put a rep on it in order to keep it safe from attack.

Logi reps on the cyno inhibitor

This turned out to be a good plan, not due to any enemy action, but rather due to a few anxious fleet members keen to shoot anything unfamiliar appearing on their overview.

The enemy did not show up in force.  A couple of Bifrosts attempted to play booshing games with us, jumping a few fleet members 100km off.  But the Typhoon fit of the day included a microjump drive fit, so anybody who was jumped of in a boosh was able to align back to the fleet and make the return trip with a jump of their own.

The one bit of comedy I suppose was a Hurricane that undocked to contest our fleet… I guess… he showed up.

A wild Hurricane appears…

The support fleet went right after him and he was locked down pretty quickly.

There is a Hurricane in there somewhere

The distraction of the Hurricane did not last long however.  The ship was soon coming apart in anticipation of a final explosion.

Ships burning and going critical are pretty…

No opposing fleet arrive however, so after a the requisite amount of time… there is a damage cap for shooting citadels which means there is a minimum amount of time it takes to kill one, which in the case of an Astrahus is something like 22 minutes if I recall right… the target exploded with the usual fury.

Astrahus inferno

It did not brew up with very many pre-explosions, or I was watching from the wrong angle.  But there was the explosion followed by the wreck on grid which was quickly salvaged by somebody in the fleet.

The wreck barely lasted longer than the light effects…

At that point we were cleared to shoot the cyno inhibitor, as once you deploy one it cannot be recovered.  A small kill mail to add to the Astrahus.  I managed to get on both kill mails.  Bad logi pilot that I am, I always carry a combat drone and I managed to sneak off into range of the Astrahus to add it to the attack before scampering back to the ball of logi.

The operation over, Thomas warped us back to an insta-dock bookmark on the station we are currently working out of.  As it happened, we landed inside the model which ended up looking like a bunch of Typhoons were stacked vertically by the opening.

Typhoons stacked… and sticking out the bottom

Not exactly Elite: Dangerous docking there.

Another day in Hakonen, and more ops are planned for this week.

Two Days to Delve

We had been deployed long enough.  We got some good fights, annoyed the locals, and blew up a Fortizar, but things were starting to slow down.  Asher had been busy with Alliance Tournament practice, things were brewing on the home front, and there was the promise of a different adventure on the horizon.  It was time to pack up our belongings from our favorite fishy referencing system in Curse and get back to Delve.

Of course, packing up is easier said that done.  We came out with two fleet doctrines and added a third while we were there, and being remote means keeping an extra ship or two on hand for each doctrine along with extra ammo and charges for things like boosts or interdiction bubbles.

The latter was exacerbated by Asher’s fondness for a Boy Scout level of preparedness, meaning we carry mobile depots and modules so we can refit to match the occasion, leading to full cargo holds and an oft repeated meme.

If we could strap things to our ships, Asher would make us…

On the bright side, we also brought carriers and dreadnoughts over to Curse, so there was some space available to carry extra ships.

As the time to the move op home ticked down, I made arrangements.  Ships I was unlikely to ever use again were stripped, repackaged, and shipped to Jita.  I organized what was left, decided what would just stay in the NPC station to await our eventual return, and tried to figure out how to get the rest home.

The smaller ships were not so bad.  RatKnight1 took my Scimitar, two interdictors, and three Vigils in his carrier.  That left me two Typhoons, a Damnation, and a couple of covert ops scanning ships.  I decided to leave a Typhoon and the cov ops behind, along with jump clones, so I could go back to hunting Fraternity deployables at some future date.  They were leaving MTUs around for me to shoot for a while.

That meant flying home a Typhoon and a Damnation.  A lot of people chose to fly their Typhoons back, battleships being awkwardly large, though I did see smaller ships along as we moved.

My Damnation near one of the local Minmatar gates

Tuesday night the appointed hour came and we all logged on and got into the fleet, captials and subcaps sharing the same fleet and voice coms, something that always leads to a bit of confusion.  Actually, most of us had been logged in for hours before the fleet, leaving the system empty under the threat of a few dozen Imperium pilots hanging about with nothing to do.

Then came the call to undock.  Capitals undocked first and jumped off to wait for their first dose of jump fatigue to wind down and for the sub caps to catch up.  Then the subcaps undocked, heading for our first waypoint on the road home.

The rag tag fleet in motion

We made it to the appropriately named system 0SHT-A, where we met up with the capitals.  The system is on one side of a inter-regional jump gate that the capitals had to take in order to continue on the way home.  The distance covered by the gate is beyond the capital jump range, so they either take the gate or travel a much longer, and more dangerous, route home.

The capitals logged on and got undocked and ready to go as the subcaps went through the gate to U-QVWD in order to cover them.  They came through and jumped to the next cyno.  However, as that was in motion, the locals showed up with a Loki fleet.  The system is an obvious choke point, so them showing up wasn’t any act of amazing foresight.   Any Imperium fleet traveling through the area is likely to show up in that system.

We sat there on the gate with a bunch of hostiles in local as the carriers and dreadnoughts came through and made their jump.  The Loki fleet showed up on grid, though far off from us just as the last few capitals were coming through.  Asher had us point towards the Astrahus we have in the system and somebody put up their fleet boosts… likely Asher… just in case a fight started.  I took that cue and ran the boosts on my Damnation for a cycle as well.  And then the Lokis warped to us, just as the last dread was jumping away, and Asher warped us to the citadel where we tethered up in safety… except for Asher, who left his boosts running, something that sets an aggression timer and keeps you from tethering or jumping through a gate.  He had to warp off and back to get safe.

We were not totally outnumbered by the Loki fleet, but they were a coherent combat fleet while we were a mix of various doctrine ships traveling together for safety in numbers rather than looking for a fight.  We were not going to challenge them.

So we all docked up.  The capitals had docked up at their end.  All we could do is wait.  However the Loki fleet seemed to be patient, so Asher called the fleet for the night, got us our participation link, and said we could go but asked that we stay logged on if we could just to keep our friends in the Loki fleet hoping for kills they were not going to get.

So ended the first night of the move op.  We were scheduled to reconvene the next night to finish the run home.

Wednesday night had most of us sitting at the login page waiting for the word to get into the game and resume our journey, there being no desire to show up early and tip off the locals again that we were in town.

Waiting to log in

As people got themselves set and got onto voice coms, the subject of pizza came up because Thomas Lear was ordering Dominoes for dinner.  What started as a condemnation of the position of Dominoes in the hierarchy of pizza quickly devolved when the New Yorkers on coms adopted the standard line that there is no good pizza outside the five boroughs of New York.

Having worked with people from New York in the past… one of the oddities of Silicon Valley is that so many people here are from somewhere else, so you learn which parts of the country think their the only ones who can do a given thing… I opted to stay out of that discussion since you might as well argue with a brick wall as a New Yorker on that topic.

Then, however, the topic somehow slid into the relative merits of regions BBQ styles in the United States, at which point it seemed like the SIG might break up as passions flared and intemperate phrases were tossed around about coloration and the appropriateness of vinegar and other ingredients in something as sacred as BBQ sauce.  Quick thinking saw a straw poll put up on the topic asking us stand up for whichever variety we supported.

BBQ Poll in Fleet

I did not bring up Alabama white sauce lest I be accused of some form of heresy and be branded as beyond the pale of polite company.  I voted for Kansas City style, less out of any true passion than because it is the style I grew up with and what is used at my favorite local BBQ place, where I have been eating since I was a kid.

Tempers cooled as everybody was able to vote for their choice.  There seems to be a calming effect to being able to have your view counted.  The discussion then somehow moved to the prevalence of spam in Hawaii and eventually sputtered out as the call to log in came.  The caps logged in and made their jump and then the subcaps got into the game, undocked, and continued the journey back to Delve.

Nobody formed up to oppose us as we settled into the usual routine of jumping and aligning as we Asher warped us from gate to gate.  An Imperium Jackdaw fleet caught up with us and moved with our fleet for a while, reducing the likelihood of anybody showing up to challenge us.

Aligned out for another warp

Along the way we learned that not only does Thomas Lear have bad taste in pizza… the only aspect of the pizza discussion on which we could all agree… but that he had never been to a concert in his life.  So that was added to the list of his sins.

Eventually we wandered into Querious, then Delve, and found ourselves in jump of the Imperium staging Keepstar.  From there it was onto a titan and a bridge to the cyno which, by tradition was lit inside the model of the citadel, a position known as the “twerk zone” because of the way ships bounce around when they land.

Damnation in the Twerk zone

From there we could bounce around if we liked or dock up and be done for the evening.  Our deployment was over… except for the people who did not make the move op.  There is always somebody who can’t make it and needs to be extracted at a later date.

As with the fleet, I expect any comments on this post will focus on the critical issues of BBQ sauce, pizza, and what concerts Thomas Lear should attend in the wilds of Kansas.

Getting Home from Oasa

The ping said that if we got in Cainun’s fleet fast, there was a chance of a big kill.  The call was for the armor T3 cruiser fleet doctrine, which features the Legion and Proteus strategic cruisers along with armor logi and support.  I happened to be at my desk at just the right moment to log in, get in fleet, get into my Oneiros and undock as we warped off to a titan to get bridged on our way.

Off we go, are we committed yet?

The bridge off the titan sent us to another system where a wormhole to Thera awaited us.  We formed up on the null sec side of the wormhole, waiting for the orders to go through.  The wormhole was not fresh and there was concern about how much mass we would be pushing through it.

To this end we were asked to go to our fitting window and offline the armor plates on our ships to reduce the mass going through the whole, though I admit that I did wonder how you can turn off something like an armor plate.  Armor isn’t like a shield, it doesn’t go away when you turn off the switch.  But I followed New Eden logic and set mine offline.

Lolling about at the first wormhole

Tackle was sent through first, and they zipped off to the exit whole in Thera, through, and off to catch up our intended target.  Then the call was for command ships and logi to go through the hole and into Thera.  After we were in successfully, the DPS ships were called to jump through.  That was enough to collapse the hole, though only about a dozen ships got left on the other side.  No wormhole adventure for them and they got to head home.  That still left over 200 ships in the fleet.

Once we were warped to the out hole in Thera, we followed the same routine.  Tackle had already gone through, so the call was for command ships and logi, with yet another follow up reminder to turn off armor plates in case somebody hadn’t done it when asked the previous dozen times.  Command ships and logi went through successfully, so the call went for DPS ships to make the transition.  About six DPS ships made it through before the hole collapsed.

That left us in something of an awkward position.  A small fleet consisting mostly of logi was now in 1-HDQ4 in the Oasa region, a long way from home, while more than 150 T3 cruisers were hanging about in Thera where the direct hole home had already closed and the hole to the target was no longer available to them either.  Those left in Thera docked up at one of the stations there.

Those of us stranded up in Oasa were told to start burning to KED-2O where an Imperium Caracal fleet, which had used the same holes before us, was already engaged.  They had killed a Rorqual up there and had a titan tackled.  So off we went with Thomas Lear now leading us.  Why not?  We were already there and didn’t have anyplace else to be.  But even as we closed in on the destination system, word came down the line that a titan kill wasn’t going to happen.  The defenders had been successful at blowing up any tackle and the big ship got away.

So there we were, up in Oasa, a long way from home, 33 ships made up of boosts, lots of logi, and a few DPS ships.  We were like the incarnation of old school WoW paladins in New Eden; we weren’t going to die, but neither was anything we rolled up on.  It was time to figure out how to get back to Delve.

As it turned out, there was another Thera wormhole about 20 jumps from our current location, over in The Vale of the Silent in 9-GBPD.  We just had to get there.  Getting there though, turned out to be a bit of a chore.  Going gate to gate for 20 jumps takes some time, but that got multiplied as we went through Russian space in Perrigen Falls.  The Russians have a habit of covering gates around their space with anchorable warp disruption bubbles.  Lots of them.

The gate inside the bubbles

So for a series of gates we ended up landing 60-90km off of a gate, slow boating with after burners lit to jump through, then slow boating on after burners out of the inevitable bubbles on the other side of the gate.

Out of the bubbles on the far side for another warp

The bubbles were all around the gates, so there was no sending somebody ahead for a perch around them, and we didn’t have enough DPS to blow them up as we went. (Though I think we did destroy a single small bubble as we motored to a gate, just out of boredom and anger more than anything else… launch logi whore drones!)

The bubbles probably didn’t cost us all that much extra time, but subjectively, having to motor on ABs felt like a long time.   Ironically, tomorrow’s patch is making a change to anchorable bubbles so that they decay and go away after a given amount of time, so this might be the last time we have to drag ourselves through a series of forever bubbles.  And if our trip felt like a long time to us, I am sure the rest of the fleet wasn’t happy about it either.

While we had been gating about the northeast of New Eden, the rest of the fleet had been hanging out in Thera just waiting for us to get back.  Jay, who was with us, started trying to get them to rise up against Cainun to get him to take them home rather than waiting for us.  I have to admit, keeping more than 160 people hanging about waiting for 30 or so of us had a lot going against it.  On the other hand, our detachment was made up of the boosters and logi pilots.  Everybody tells us we’re special… everybody who just wants to fly DPS and get kill mails… so I guess it was time for them to show us just how special we were.

We made it past the bubbles gates and finally arrived in 9-GBPD where B33R was sitting on the wormhole as a warp in.  We went through and found Cainun and the rest of the fleet sitting there waiting for us.

Back with the fleet in Thera… also, the only good Oneiros SKIN

Once we were all through and back into Thera, Cainun warped us to the out connection.  There, we had a plate check once again.  Then he called out four Guardians to stay behind before sending people through.  This hole was also questionable, but there was another Thera connection option if this one collapsed.  Cainun just wanted to be sure any fleet that had to take an alternate route had some logi support.

And he was correct, the whole did collapse before we all got through.  I was through and in the system I-ME3L in Stain.  That put us 23 jumps from home on a route through Period Basis, Delve, Fake Querious, and Delve again.

Down in Stain

Fortunately, there was only a single anchorable bubble on the route home, reported by our scout, and it was down before we even got to the system where it was.  We were able to gate home without incident.

All told, that was about a two hour adventure which took some of us on a multi-region tour the length of New Eden.

Our route, Blue for wormhole travel, Red for gate travel

You could certainly find systems more distant from each other than we hit, but Oasa to Period Basis does cover a lot of the breadth of New Eden.  And it also shows how handy wormholes can be and the hazards of them collapsing on you.

I Survive My First Capital Op

While Burn Jita was still raging on Saturday afternoon, I was back in Delve and going out on my first real Cap Fleet operation.

I have formed up a couple of times for operations that never went anywhere, and I went on last week’s training on SiSi, the public test server, but those don’t really count.  But yesterday I happened to be sitting down at my computer just in time to see a ping from Thomas Lear for a CapSwarm form up.  I was already in our staging, so I hopped into my Apostle and got undocked to wait for instructions.

Cold Iron Apostle on the Keepstar

Cold Iron Apostle on the Keepstar

And then I docked back up because we were told to fit 500MN MWDs to aid in speeding up warping between gates.

I chose to go with the Apostle because I ran with my carrier during the training op on SiSi, which proved to me that I have no clue how to use fighters.  I have to find a guide somewhere about the basics of moving them, as everything I have seen so far seems to operate under the assumption that you have that part mastered and just need to hone your technique.

Anyway, I undocked with the MWD fit and waited for instructions again.  That was a bit difficult as we were sharing coms with Asher’s subcap fleet that was coming along to cover us.  There is an oft repeated joke that USTZ fleets are much more… talkative… on coms than EUTZ fleets.  I don’t buy it fully, as I have been on some EUTZ fleets that could sperg with the best of them, but this fleet seems set to prove the rule.  For the first time in a long time I had to go down to the “no chatter” channel, where you only hear people on the command channel.  And even that channel was a bit chatty as there seemed to be a bunch of people there across the two fleets.

We were first given a destination, then told to warp off to another citadel as the first gate we needed to take was on the back side of the Keepstar, so attempting to warp straight to it would end up with some of us just bumping off the face of the citadel.

I picked a nearby Astrahus and warped off, then turned about and headed for the gate.

Apostle warping off

Apostle warping off

While capitals have jump drives and can move 6 light years at a jump, jump fatigue keeps us from using those drives unless we have to.  So we went by gates to the first system in Fountain.  Once there we took off the MWDs and used our jump drives to put us close to our target, hopping over some hostile space, then took a few more gates to the target.

Caps and subcaps landing on a gate

Caps and subcaps landing on a gate

The subcap fleet did managed to bubble us on an in gate at one point due to the presence of hostiles, so we had to hang about for a short bit while that came down.  No hostiles were trapped.

Partially bubbled cap fleet

Partially bubbled cap fleet aligning out

The only tense moment for me during the trip either way was when I lost connection.  We were jumping through a gate and I was stuck in the warp tunnel for a long stretch, then got disconnected.  When I got back in game an rejoined the fleet, I had to go through the return from disconnect routine.  My ship had been warped off, so it had to go back to the spot it left from, which happened to be a few hundred km off the gate.  I had to warp to the gate again and jump.  Looking at local though, the fleet had left me behind, but there were half a dozen hostiles in system.  However, they didn’t show up and I was able to jump the gate and catch up with the fleet at the first target, a tower belonging to The Culture in G95F-H.

There wasn’t much for faxes to do during the first shoot.  I put out some Warrior drones and shot modules with the carriers, but other than that we were orbiting around Thomas Lear while the carriers and dreads did their work. (I even got on the kill mail for a couple of modules, though I didn’t think you could kill modules unless you killed the tower, only incapacitate them.)

We then went after a second tower, which was also reinforced.  This one had a jump bridge, which required the usual special treatment wherein you burn it down to half structure, then rep the armor back up to half again, so the owner has to either take the time to rep it back up or put damage on it to destroy it and replace it.  When it came time to apply reps the faxes were told to go into one cycle of triage.  The triage module greatly boosts the amount of repair a fax can put out, but you cannot recieve reps, move, or warp.  I lit mine for a cycle and started applying my reps.

The blue effect indicates Triage mode

The blue effect indicates Triage mode

And then, as I watched my capacitor drain away, I realized I did not bring and charges for my cap booster.  Well, something for the list.  So I turned off the repair modules after a bit and just let the triage timer run down.  Something to remember for next time.  Once we were done with that it was time to turn around and head for home.  Enough time had elapsed for our jump fatigue to wear off, so after a couple of gates we were able to jump to Y-2ANO and then gate back to our staging.  I managed to get through the op without screwing anything up too badly.

One thing I did notice was that, while the Cold Iron skin for the Apostle looks really good, in the darkness of space it can sometimes be too dark.  I ended up changing to the all white Purity skin every so often just so I could see myself.

Skin change in progress

Skin change in progress

But otherwise I was able to keep up with the fleet, jump when told, and find my way back when disconnected.  I just have to remember those cap boosters for next time.

A Long Way to Go to Die to Rorquals

There was word that there might be a Reavers op about the time I arrived home from work.  And, sure enough, shortly after I was able to sit down at my computer a ping went out from Thomas Lear to get into his fleet.  It was going to be an opportunity to use our Sleipnir doctrine again, an expensive command ship we fly on occasion.

However, he broadcast the fleet ping to all-all rather than just to Reavers, so he had to spend a while weeding out non-Reavers who joined the fleet.  They were at least relatively easy to spot, not being in Sleipners.

Once that was sorted, along with getting boosters for the fleet, we were off to the local jump bridge on our way out.

Sleipnirs landing at the jump bridge module

Sleipnirs landing at the jump bridge module

From the far side of the jump bridge we took a gate and warped to a conveniently located wormhole that sent us directly to the Placid region.  From there we passed into Cloud Ring and null sec space.  As we moved Thomas explained that we were on our way to a fight between Brave Newbies and Pandemic Legion.  PL had an Astrahus citadel going online in 9-4RP2, a system Brave recently took from the Imperium North group, Initiative Mercenaries.

(The Mittani said in a recent Fireside that The Initiative, while off on its own, was still considered to be part of the Imperium.  There are actually some familiar old names in The Initiative these days, including WALLTREIPERS and Fweddit.)

We were going there to third party on the fight, to shoot targets of opportunity from both sides.

Our first targets were a fleet of Pandemic Horde Talwars that cross jumped us at a gate on our way.  We managed to put an interdictor back through the gate quickly and jumped as many people back into QXW-PV as possible to blap the PH destroyers.  We got a fair number before getting back on course for the real fight.

Once in 9-4RP2, the Astrahus was going online, sitting in its vulnerable self-repair deployment process where an attacker can kill it in one go rather than having to wait for the vulnerability window and going through three attacks spaced by two timers.

Brave Newbies was out with an Augoror Navy Issue fleet to attack the citadel, while PL a small Rorqual fleet sitting tethered on the Astrahus along with the remaining PH Talwars.

We started off hitting the PH fleet as they were in range, taking down some more Talwars along with a couple of their logi support.  I took a target of opportunity and blapped a Rifter that was coming straight at us, so there was no tracking issue for my arty fit Sleipnir.  I almost got a solo kill on that, but one of our Sabres managed to get a hit in on him.

However, while we started off easily plinking small stuff, PL got themselves into action soon enough, dropping a battleship fleet to support them.

A GotG ball of Maelstroms and Rokhs, with a Minokawa for logi support

A ball of PL Maelstroms and Rokhs, with a Minokawa for logi support

The Rorquals had deployed sentry drones and put them into action against us as we got in range and things started to go downhill.  The PL drone trigger targeted me and I called for reps early, but we did not have much logi along with us, so while I lasted for a bit, the firepower of the Rorqual drones chewed me into armor and then into hull, popping my Sleipnir.

Sleipnir out of control

Sleipnir out of control

You can see my ship in the above screen shot, glowing with erupting explosions and turning out of control.  My pod had already ejected by that point, but the death animations continued on for a bit.  So dramatic.  A Brave Newbies pilot got on my kill due to some bomb damage from earlier, along with some Initiative pilots that were running ECM bursts.

The fight was pretty much done for me at that point.  I had hit a few targets before I blew up, so got on the kill mails after they went down even though I was in my pod at that point.  So I pottered about on grid for a bit and tried to take some screen shots of the Rorquals.

Rorqual Gaggle

Rorqual Gaggle

Sitting there with their sentry drones shooting as one, they reminded me a bit of the old wrecking ball carrier tactic from back in the day, except rather than being spider tanked and able to rep each other, the Rorquals can make their whole fleet invulnerable for a bit should they get in trouble. via the dread Pulse Activated Nexus Invulnerability Core that came in with the Ascension expansion.  Combat Rorquals are a thing.

On coms it sounded like we were losing ships slowly but surely.  Meanwhile, the Brave Newbie fleet left the scene.  Apparently we unintentionally blew up their FC and the fleet decided to get off grid after that.  That left us as the main target and it sounded like time for us to make an exit as well.

As that was coming together I suddenly realized, as Iolled about in my pod in the middle the battle, that I had implants in my clone.  Not super expensive, like a full set of Slaves or anything, but a couple of implants that were a bit pricey for me.  50 million ISK here, 90 million ISK there, soon that starts to add up into real currency.  I decided that I had best be on my way as well, heading for the out gate ahead of the fleet.

I didn’t feel the need to keep together with the fleet, since I wasn’t going to be able to help them at all, instead running ahead as something of a pod scout.  Fortunately, there was nothing between us and the wormhole back home to worry about.  It was also fortunate that I remembered to bookmark the wormhole when we arrived.

Pod back at the wormhole

Pod back at the wormhole

I got back through and arrived home safely, minus one Sleipnir.  It even had a kill mark on it for a short period of time.

Looking at the battle report I rolled up for the engagement, we lost the fewest ships, but the ships we lost were expensive.  Nine Sleipnirs down adds up fast.  Now to see what sort of reimbursement I will get for my loss.

Pandemic Legion carried the day, winning both the object and the ISK war.  Another small skirmish in the ongoing conflict that is New Eden.