Tag Archives: Thomas Lear

Liberty Squad and Running Away in Geminate

It was time for my first op of the year and for my first fleet op with Liberty Squad.

Liberty Squad is a group in the Imperium that runs in US time zone.  Formed mid-2018, the stated goal was to be something akin to Space Violence, a EUTZ squad meant to go find content for line members during peace time.

The Liberty Squad forum bee

Liberty Squad is not the first USTZ group with a pseudo patriotic name.  Back in the day there was Freedom Squad.  I flew with them some, but never joined because their fleets were open to and pinged out to everybody.  However, Freedom Squad dissolved and some of the team running that ended up forming Reavers from the remains.  I jumped on board that a little over four years back when recruitment was open to all.

Since then Reavers has become more difficult to join.  You need a vouch in from a current member in good standing with the notice that if you vouch in somebody who ends up being kicked for cause, you’ll likely be kicked as well.  While Reavers often operates in USTZ, it isn’t a group you can just join.  Reavers can also run hot and cold.  I spent most of 2018 docked up north in the long running Reavers deployment in Pure Blind.  When Reavers are active, it isn’t a casual operation.  And when we’re not, the group doesn’t do much otherwise.  Especially when Asher is out directing operations as the Imperium Sky Marshall during a war.

So Liberty Squad was formed to fill something of a gap in the USTZ.  Unsurprisingly, the leadership and members overlap with Reavers to some extent.  With Reavers quiet since the Hard Knocks wormhole operation I decided to sign up with Liberty Squad to see how things went with them.

My application was accepted without comment, which tells you how low the bar is at the moment.

Last Wednesday night was the first op that came up while I was around.  The fleet formed up on Thomas Lear, a familiar voice from Reavers.  He used to FC Reavers ops a while back.  In fact there were a number of familiar voices and names from Reavers.  I was not the only one looking for some USTZ ops while Reavers were idle.

The doctrine was the Jackdaw fleet.  I had a Scalpel handy, the tech II Minmatar frigate logi ship, so joined up with that to go wherever we were headed.

We first headed up into Aridia, where a wormhole was waiting to take us north.

Scalpel headed to the wormhole

We popped out in low sec space and made a run through high sec to get Oijanen, a low sec system in The Forge that adjoins BWF-ZZ in Geminate.

BWF-ZZ always rings a bell to me as it was the system where I got on my first supercarrier kill mail.  That was almost seven years ago. (Also, I am pretty sure the Megathron in the first screenshot in that post is Baltec1.)

These days BWF-ZZ is the gateway system to the home of Pandemic Horde.  We were just passing through to go try to blow up something of theirs.  We slipped into their space and headed to NQ-9IH where an Ansiblex jump gate waited for us.

The Ansiblex awaits, with a Fortizar in the background

The jump gate had been reinforced, so it was offline.  The final timer for it was ticking down as we arrived and we were there to shoot it once the clock was done.

Just 21 seconds left

A bomber fleet had come along as well to provide more firepower.  The hope was that the Jackdaws could handle whatever Pandemic Horde would throw at us to defend the gate.  However, the locals had other plans.

The first defender to show up was a Broadsword, the Minmatar heavy interdictor.

Hitting the Broadsword

We were happy enough to light out after him, trying to hold him down for a kill.  And then he lit a cyno and some hostile dreads started dropping in on us.

Dreads landing as the Broadsword goes up

While we were able to destroy the Broadsword, a second cyno was already up and it looked like Pandemic Horde had invited some friends to the party.  Pandemic Legion and NCDot were both there in some force and it quickly looked like that Ansiblex jump gate would not be getting blown up.

Thomas Lear decided to pull us out and we headed back towards BWF-ZZ.

However, the hostiles bridged there ahead of us and had the gate to Oijanen and escape bubbled up and camped.  We would not be going that way without taking heaving losses getting to the gate.  In addition our wormhole home was also that way.

Intel indicated that there was another wormhole options available to us.  We just had to move fast to stay ahead of the defenders.  With the Jackdaw fleet speed wasn’t a problem, but there was always the probability that the enemy might figure out where we were headed and bridge ahead of us again.  So off we went, jumping into a system aligning, and being warped to the next gate to do it all again as quickly as possible.

We were headed deeper into hostiles space, up into the Vale of the Silent and the system AZBR-2.  There, in Pandemic Legion space, was a wormhole to Thera.  Thera, the big shattered wormhole system introduced with the Rhea expansion back in 2014, always has multiple connections to normal space, and so can act as something of a transit hub.  In our case, if we could get into Thera, there was another connection that would drop us into Cloud Ring, closer to home and relative safety.

While we were shadowed by the locals almost all the way, their main fleets did not managed to catch up and we were able to slip into Thera and back out as we had hoped.  From there we just had to get to our own jump gate network to take the quick ride through Fountain into Delve.

The new Eye of Terror, running from Querious up into Cloud Ring, is living up to its predecessors.  Without any jump fatigue accrued, fleets are using it to zip up north and back in very little time.  This is apparently causing GSOL a bit of a headache as they have to refuel the gates with liquid ozone more frequently than the old jump bridges.  We made our own run down it into Delve without issue and ended up back home without further incident.

And so ended my first op with Liberty Squad.  It wasn’t exactly a rousing success, but most of us got home safe and there was a bit of adventure along the way.

Meanwhile, I suspect that I will be headed up to Geminate again in the future.  It seems like Pandemic Horde will be the next location where Imperium SIGs and squads go to find content.  Space Violence is already reported to be in the vicinity.

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 Short Visit to Geminate

Peace is dull.  I don’t mine nor do I rat any more.  I have accumulated enough ISK to tide me over for some time, helped along by alliance SRP payouts for losses.

SRP is the “ship replacement program,” where the alliance uses its wealth to compensate pilots for ship losses.  There is some nominal payout for peace time operations, but operations that are considered strategic get better returns for losses.

Also, strategic ops have that element of purpose, a sense of “doing something” that a separates them, in my mind at least, from the random roam or other attempt to fleet up just to find trouble.  That is probably my professional life bleeding over, as I am inevitably the person in sprint planning meetings pointing out that a sprint isn’t just a random three week period of time to do whatever.  If there is no goal or deliverable or whatever we might as well not bother diligently creating new sprints.

Anyway, I live for the Jabber ping that has a fleet flagged as “strategic,” and after going nearly half a month without seeing such a ping, one popped up yesterday.  Two, actually, though the first one was just a call to roll a wormhole and clean up some bombers that leaked through into Delve.

The second one though, that was a call for a Cerberus fleet to run out to get in on a fight that was brewing somewhere undisclosed.  And Thomas Lear, long a member of Reavers before he split off to form Liberty Squad, was going to be the FC.  That looked to be exactly my cup of tea.

I got into game, into fleet, and into a Cerberus, which I had to buy off contract because I appeared to have mislaid the one I thought I had hanging about.  After some cajoling about numbers… we had a lot of support and not enough Cerbs… things finally got under way and we undocked and got on a titan.

Three Avatars in a row

We were getting a titan bridge out because the new, fatigue free jump bridge network was still in the process of getting deployed.  In fact, CCP Fozzie announced the first connection between the new modules just this morning.

The old jump bridge network is still up and functioning, and I suppose we could have take that to get our first leg over, but a titan was handy so we used that instead.  The bridge went up and off we went.

Sent on our way

We were headed east.  As the story eventually came to me, TEST had reinforced a Pandemic Horde Sotiyo up in Geminate previously and were now set to contest the armor timer.  We were invited along to help them as they were expecting a fight.

So we gated our way into TEST space where they provided a titan to bridge us a bit further along.  Then it was up through Scalding Pass and  the Great Wildlands towards our destination, 04-LQM in Geminate, where the Sotiyo lay.

That gave us plenty of time to see the new gate graphics along the way.

A fiery Minmatar gate

We moved as a group through system after system in that familiar warp ball, our destination slowly moving closer, the 255 of us causing time dilation now and then as we transitioned.

Cerbs moving together

Unfortunately the dithering about getting the fleet composition right as well as having to gate most of the way (there was a wormhole, but it collapsed before we got to it) made us late to the party.

By the time we arrived in 04-LQM, the combined fleets of Pandemic Horde, NCDot, and Black Legion had destroyed much of the TEST battleship fleet and sent the rest packing.  There was only two minutes left on the repair timer when we arrived on grid as well as a lot of hostile ships already loaded and looking for fresh targets.  It was not our best timed arrival.

Still, we had come all that way, wrapping around half of null sec, driving from Delve to Geminate.  Thomas wasn’t going to go home empty handed.

Thomas brought us through the gate to LX-ZOJ and had our interdictors bubble it up in the hope that we could pin the enemy down and take some out at range with missile volleys.  The enemy followed through as expected, Elo Knight in his Monitor being one of the first ships to break cloak.

Looking at the bubbled gate from range

Cainun, who was shepherding logi and support, called targets for us, starting with the expected Munnins.  The plan was one volley per target in the hope that enough damage would land when the missiles arrived to alpha the ship.

Following the Muninns was a fleet of Nightmare battleships, which became the targets of choice.

Nightmares down in the bubbles

However, our volleys were falling short of our hopes.  I saw several Munnins and Nightmares knocked down into structure only to survive because the threat had passed as we moved to the next target.  A second volley might have pushed a few over, but I could see reps hitting many of those close calls so that follow on missiles would have to face full shields and reps.

Meanwhile we were losing our own ships as the hostiles started popping Cerbs.  Pilots who overheated their shield hardeners, remembered to trigger their assault damage control, and broadcasted for reps quickly, and in that order, likely survived.  But those who were slow or who slipped up went down quickly, long before any help could reach them.

With the death of Cerbs, our ability to alpha targets with a single volley stopped being a viable plan.  While we got in a few kills, we were losing more than we killed and things were tipping even more against us as time went on.  Thomas had us align out and we managed to escape, bubbling the gate behind us to slow pursuit.

Having already won the objective and the ISK war, the locals seemed content to wave bye-bye as we left.  They didn’t have anything left to prove.  The battle report tells the tale.

Battle report from the full fight

At least I got my strategic participation counted and got myself on a few kill mails, proving my existence in the game for yet another month.

Of course, we were still way the hell out in Geminate and a long way from home.  The route back to Delve was about 60 jumps.  While I like touring the new gate graphics, I wasn’t feeling the need to see that many gates.

As we were heading back the word came down that there might be a wormhole for us, running from Insmother, about a dozen jumps from our then current location, to Aridia, the low sec space adjacent to Delve.  That would cut a lot of gates out of our journey.  The problem was that the person with the wormhole information was getting it second hand and nobody actually had their eyes on the wormhole to know its state.  It could have been ready to collapse.

Eventually the person reporting it got there, saw it was up, and went through to verify that it did, indeed, poke through to Aridia.  Off we went, forming up at the wormhole.

Waiting on the wormhole

While some anxious people went through early, most of us waited until Thomas gave us the green light to enter the wormhole.  It stayed up for the whole fleet.  From there it was just a dozen gates or so to Delve.  Amarr gates, to compare with the Minmatar gates. (Both of which look better than the Caldari gates.)

An Amarr gate with the new doodads

We ran into a LowSechnaya Sholupen smart bombing battleship gate camp, which claimed an interceptor that was scouting ahead.  But they got out of the way when a nearly full Cerb fleet started landing on them.

From there it should have been simple.  However, there was an incursion going on in the constellation that includes 1-SMEB, the system that connects to Aridia.  So we grouped up there before going through, lest the incursion rats, known to camp gates and tackle passers by, take their toll for passage.

The gate into Delve, Fat Bee present, ships jumping through

As it was though, the incursion rats apparently had other business to which to attend, so everybody passed safely through to the jump bridge and through to home.

It was good to shake the rust off a bit and get something of a fight.  All this peace is too much to bear.

CO2 Keepstar in the Cross Hairs

Talk has already started about what various groups are going to do after the war in the north lapses.  In part this has been predicated on the assumption that once Circle of Two has been driven out of Fade and their structures destroyed that victory will be declared and the Imperium will go back to accumulating its huge pile of wealth in Delve.  However, during The Meta Show on Saturday The Mittani did suggest that we might stay in the north so long as we were getting fights in the Fade region, so we may be sticking around for a while.

Fade forces disposition… for the moment

Either way we have a couple of tasks left.  Back in July the CO2 Keepstar in DW-T2I was saved from destruction when the Imperium apparently didn’t know who cynojammer mechanics worked.

I guess we know the answer

That was a setback to the Imperium drive to hit CO2.  There were other targets though, so the Imperium went after the NCDot staging Keepstar in X47L-Q where the armor and final hull timer battles saw dozens of titans die along with the citadel.

There were also NCDot and PL allied Keepstars in low sec that were take out.

On the southern front, the was seems to have petered out with Fraternity attempting to anchor and subsequently losing a Keepstar of their own.  What with all of that and the two Keepstar battles in the south earlier, it has been the war of the Keepstars.

During all of that there has been an ongoing entosis campaign in Fade as the Imperium has attempted to remove cynojammers as a factor in the region, allowing it to drop its super captial force at will.  The pressure has been on and the north has formed up to defend the critical infrastructure hubs that allow cynojammers to be anchored.  But the Imperium has pushed forward, system by system, until last week when the ihub in DW-T2I was finally taken.

With that task complete, the CO2 Keepstar was reinforced very shortly there after.

On Saturday fleets assembled for the second of the three events needed to take down the Keepstar, the armor time.  Most of this had been happening in EU prime time during the week, when I have been at work.  But on Saturday I was able to get to the staging system in 6RCQ-V.  With the ping fleets were assembling and filling up.

I managed to make it into one of the Baltec fleets, with Thomas Lear in command.  Asher the Sky Marshall was in overall command of the multi-fleet operation.  We started moving out in a relatively short time span given that more than a thousand characters were logged in and in fleets.  The captial ship component jumped off on their own while the subcaps flew off to titans for jump bridges.

Waiting for our turn to bridge

With no cynojammer available to keep us out, we bridged straight into DW-T2I.  Looking over at the timer on the Keepstar, it was clear we were there early.

Armor Timer Counting Down

We were clearly not leaving anything to chance.

In previous Keepstar fights the armor timer had been heavily contested, so we were there and on grid with the structure to make sure there wouldn’t be any issues on that front.

On arrival we tethered up on the friendly Fortizar that had been anchored on the same grid as the Keepstar and waited for instructions.

Watching the Keepstar

We had not been hanging off the Fortizar for too long before Asher announced from the command channel that the locals were not going to defend the timer.  There would be no fight, no tidi, no clash of capital ships.

It was also about then that I think people began to notice that Asher had the Real Ultimate Power theme song running on speakers in the background throughout the operation, as every time he keyed up it was there to hear.  The YouTube version of the song had been discovered earlier in the week and I am pretty sure he had been playing it non-stop ever since.  Like ninjas, Sky Marshals are also mammals and are also fight all the time.

Except when the enemy doesn’t show up.

While the enemy was now not expected to take the field we still piled into the system, likely both as a show of force and to keep the locals from changing their mind.

A few tasks were handed out as we waited for the timer.  Our fleet warped over to an Athanor mining platform in the system to reinforce it.

Baltecs shooting a structure

Being in Reavers, shooting structures is practically a way of life.  With a full fleet though that did not last very long.  Soon we were back hanging off the Fortizar on our tethers wondering if anything would happen as the timer for the Keepstar counted down.

A supercarrier fleet jumped to the Fortizar and tethered up above us with heavy interdictors putting up defensive warp disruption bubbles around the supers to keep anybody from warping directly on top of them.

The supers in their orange hictor bubbles

Fighters from the super fleet were tasked to do the actual attack on the Keepstar and most of the voice coms traffic involved getting their fighters deployed and to the right location.  Even that coms traffic died off after not too long and things were pretty quiet.

I took off my headset and let coms play through my speakers while I made a snack.

As I ate that I started to sketch out some ideas in a blog post draft that eventually took form and became the post about acquisitions and CCP that went live on Saturday.  I suppose it is a productive fleet if I end up with two blog posts out of it.

The timer came out and the supers hit the Keepstar.  As expected, there was not much in the way of resistance.  A few CO2 pilots undocked to try for targets of opportunity and a Pandemic Horde interceptor fleet shadowed us coming and going, but neither were going to change the expected result.  The Keepstar itself was gunned and managed to pick off Xenuria when he strayed too close and got hit by the PDS.  But the fighters were successful in getting through the armor of the citadel and the timer for the final event was set.

Count down to destruction

That timer puts the final fight on this coming Thursday Wednesday.  With the timer set in DW-T2I we withdrew back to our own staging in 6RCQ-V.

Rumor has it that the final timer will not be contested either as CO2 is already well under way evacuating assets to the Keepstar in DO6H-Q.  However, the ihub in DO6H-Q was also taken by the Imperium over the weekend, leaving the Keepstar there unprotected by a cynojammer.  It seems quite likely that we will stick around until that too has been destroyed.

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.