Tag Archives: Venal

A Final Fight then Home From Venal

The fall of Darkness, the alliance at the core of the Dead Coalition… once the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition… a couple of weeks back was a sign that the fighting in and around the Venal region was likely going to fall off.  Not immediately, of course.  Wars have their own momentum, and being deployed up in Venal with the Goon Expeditionary Force and ready to fight meant there were still some sizable clashes after the news.

The final fight for me was a dust up between a GEF Typhoon fleet and a Pandemic Horde Ferox fleet in Q-7SUI, just a jump from where we were staged.

Typhoons undocking

There was a call for more firepower so I bought a Typhoon, figuring I would regret it when it came time to move home, that being one more ship to get back to Delve, but whatever.  So got ourselves in range of PH and their Feroxes and the shooting began.

A Ferox exploding in the pack

My worry about hauling home a Typhoon was unfounded as I managed to get it blown up during the fight.  That left me hanging out and watching things transpire.

Just a capsule in the bubbles

A couple of PH pilots locked me up at various points to try and pop by pod, but their Ferox fleet was moving fast and they we not often in range.  I took a few hits but was able to motor to the gate and jump through to dock up.  This was fortunate as I realized at that point that I had deployed in my Reaver’s speed implant clone and, while it wouldn’t have been a tragic loss, it would have cost me a couple hundred million ISK to replace it.

As I was gating out HAW dreads were dropping in to join the fight.

Cyno off to the right

I got back to the station and re-shipped in a logi hull, but the fight was over by then.  While we had killed more more ships, the battle report showed the ISK went well in favor of PH and company.

Battle Report Header

That pretty much wrapped up the deployment for me.  There were some further fights… a couple of good ones from all accounts… but I missed out.  But when the first call came to fly home… I kind of missed out on that too.  I think I was playing Pokemon Sword.  And it is unlike me to miss the first move op.  It has long been my practice to be on the first one because there have been times when there has not been a second such op.  I was on the first move op to the deployment.

Fortunately, there was a second op… or whatever op it was I got in on earlier this week.  I joined the mixed bag of subcaps who wanted to go home.  Given that ranged from frigates to battleships, it was going to be a slow move.  I grabbed the largest ship I had out on the deployment, a Jackdaw, and undocked with everybody else.

The flight home wasn’t too bad.  It ran about an hour.  However, it would have been a lot quicker if we had been closer to the Eye of Terror, the Ansiblex Jump Gate network that runs from Querious around into Pure Blind.  Being out in Venal meant we had about twenty gates to take to get to the terminus to the network.

Move op landing at another gate

Mixed bag we were, but it was a big mixed bag, with about 150 in fleet.  So while we didn’t make up a coherent doctrine, we had the mass to pass and the locals left us alone.  Once we got to the travel network about three quarters of the time in fleet had passed.

Welcome to the Eye of Terror

After that it is about eight connecting gates and five jump gates and you’re back at the Keepstar in 1DQ1-A.  While it was slow going for a bit, with align and warp and align again, it was safe.

That done, there was still a bit of time left in the evening, so I clone jumped back up to Venal, where I still had two more ships to bring home.  I grabbed the Purifier stealth bomber and ran the route again solo.  This is not always advisable.  A move op often signals to everybody that people are trying to get home and highlights the route to camp if you want to pick off stragglers.  However I managed to slip through without any issue and was soon making the warp from the final Ansiblex on my route.

I cloak up for every warp. You never know who will be there when you land.

And so ends the deployment for me.  There were a few good fights for me, and enough structure shooting to keep me satisfied.  Now we’ll stand down for a bit until somebody figures out what we ought to get up to next.  Isn’t it about time for a Burn Jita or something?

Structure Shoots in Venal

I kind of enjoy shooting structures in EVE Online.  That probably has some roots in the early Reavers operations where, deep in hostile space, we would fly around and shoot towers to see if we could get the locals to respond.  Structures are conflict points, places that you can force your foes to come and defend… unless they didn’t want that structure anyway.

And given that we are out in Venal, which is NPC null sec, structures are all the more important as both sides are a ways from home.

A Pandemic Horde Astrahus – A likely target

There has also been a variety of fleets to roll out with.  I flew down in a Jackdaw, which is a staple doctrine for the coalition, and I had a chance to use that from pretty much the moment we arrived.

It is always good when the FC calls for sniper mode

There are also the torp bomber operations, a staple of the coalition since the Fountain War back in 2013.  With a black ops in support they can be bridged out to a target without all that messy mucking around taking gates everywhere.

Bridge up, time to jump!

Once out at the target even a modest fleet of bombers has enough firepower to hit the damage cap smaller Upwell structures, so they can be used for any timer stages.  With only three launchers, a couple thousand torpedoes in the cargo hold will last for a few shoots.

Torpedoes flying

While stealth bombers are easy enough to kill, if hostiles show up they can just cloak up and fade away if the opposing force is too big to handle.  And if they don’t show up, we set the timer or get the kill.

Previously pictured PH Astrahus

In addition to those old standbys, and the Sacrilege doctrine I mentioned last week, we have a new fleet doctrine just for this deployment based around the Typhoon battleship hull.  We have been north with Typhoons before, as during the Hakonen deployment.  Being cheap and easy to fit for line members, they are back again and represent the ships of the line for fighting PanFam and their battlecruiser doctrine.

A Deacon logi ship in with the Typhoons

When we heard that the hostiles are forming up to fight us over a timer it is time for the Typhoons to assemble.  If we get numbers things tend to go fairly well for us.

For Typhoons I decided to fly with the logi wing, which means a Thalia or a Deacon.  The Deacon is preferred, being cap stable, and only looks a bit like the sorting hat trying to consume a horn of plenty.

Of course, I stuck a combat drone in its drone bay so I can tag targets when things are quiet, though things are generally only quiet when we’re shooting structures and the hostiles don’t show up.

Another structure down

And so it goes.  The deployment so far has been pretty good.  Most evenings when I have some time and a desire to log in there has been a fleet running that I can get into.  And things have been pretty active overall.  My momentary jump to the top of the KarmaFleet kill board has since been thoroughly eclipsed, showing that there have been fights happening.

Given the situation out in Venal, things could stay active for quite a while.  Both sides seem to want fights and there are a lot of structures out there as yet untouched.

That Athanor needs to be hit before the moon chunk is ready

Structures keep things going.

I Burst to the Top of the Chart

I’ve barely been in KarmaFleet for a week and I’ve already made it to the top of their list on zKill.  What a success story!

Feb 4, 2020 – 04:30 UTC

How did that happen?  Did I suddenly get good at EVE Online?

No, of course not.  As with many things, I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

The deployment northward has taken us into Venal where we have begun to fight with PanFam and Fraternity who were previously pushing up against Dead Coalition in our old homeland.  Now both sides are busy shooting each other structures and fighting when timers hit, which is just how things are meant to go.

A fight was brewing over a Raitaru that we had dropped and pings had gone out for a fleet based around a new Sacrilege doctrine.  I didn’t have one of those to hand, having only brought along a Jackdaw on the move op, and I wasn’t too sure I wanted to invest in a half a billion ISK ship at the moment.  I suppose I could have logged in and checked contracts for the logi ships that go with the doctrine, which were no doubt cheaper, but I was on the fence about even logging in.

And then there was a ping from Kun’mi with a call for a few people for a special task… and ships would be handed out.  I’m always keen for an op where I can lose somebody else’s ship.  I logged in, got in his fleet, and opened up a trade to get one of the ships.

It was a Malediction interceptor fitted to be quick and agile with the sole purpose of landing in the middle of hostiles in order to set off an ECM burst to break all of their target locks.  Our job was to go out and sit on a perch away from the battle, aligned towards it, and have Kun’mi fleet warp us onto the hostiles when things looked ripe.  We would land on them, align ourselves to warp off, set off the ECM burst, and warp away.

Aligned towards the fight and ready to be warped

If this sound vaguely familiar, it was because I was in a similar fleet during the Hakonen deployment back in late 2017.  During those battles we were using cheaper Atron frigates with ECM bursts fitted.

My ECM burst Atron swoops down upon the foe

We were able to get away with the T1 ships there because those fights were in low sec, so there were no warp disruption bubbles present.  Now, up in Venal, we cannot just be fast and have warp stabs fit, we also have to get through the the thick of the fight with fleets locked down in interdictor bubbles, which means using fleet interceptors which are not constrained by those bubbles, or any bubbles, in null sec space.

Warp bubbles don’t scare me

So we got on our perch and Kun’mi flung us at the hostiles over and over and his am was often good and true.  I would land and set off my ECM burst to be rewarded with a long list of targets affected zipping by on my screen.

And, as it goes, I was then marked for everybody who I reached out and touched with those busts of ECM, so when any of them were blown up I got on the kill mail, as did any of the other interceptors that were on this op.  That got me on 91 kill mails over the course of about 30 minutes.

It seemed like less time than that, and we were under tidi for much of the time (as well as the additional lag from whatever is going on with the game still this week), so it wasn’t a huge number of runs for us.

Of course, not all of those 91 kill mails were hostiles.  The ECM burst knows no friends and its effects hit everybody within range when it goes off.  So my kill board for the evening looks… very blue in stretches, like this sample.

I got some hostiles on there!

That Legion of Zintage’s is my most valuable kill mail at the moment, followed by the Zarmazds I managed to hit.  Ooops.  But I did get on some good targets, though I think the Pandemic Horde players in rookie ships… like the Impairor and the Reaper… were my favorites.  They both ate several ECM bursts, then were killed by a bombing run by their own side.

Lots of blue on blue action that night.

The battle itself though, that did not go our way, as the battle report indicates.

Battle report header

We were, if nothing else, down in strength compared to the hostiles.  The core of our fleet were the Sacrileges, and we lost 48 our of 74 counted, while the PanFam core was  135 Muninns, and they only lost one of those, though we did rack up a decent count of their logi.  But that wasn’t enough.

So the battle ended as the Raitaru at its center was destroyed.  Our fleet wrapped up and I warped to one of the other structures we had in system to use the tether to repair some armor damage I had taken when we landed in the midst of somebody’s bombing run.  Then I docked up and returned the ship.  The little ECM burst fleet was otherwise unscathed, save for one that was blown up by NPCs.  As such it did not make it on the battle report.

A while after that we went and hit a hostile Astrahus when its armor timer came up.

An Astrahus goes that color when you reinforce it

Also, since I wrote this I have been passed on the KarmaFleet list on zKill.  At least the lead was taken by somebody who was in the Sacrilege fleet.

Fleets in Motion

It wasn’t a surprise that the coalition packed up and started deploying north on Saturday.  It had been hinted at… more than hinted at, there were pings that said we were going on the road somewhere after the weekly fireside and a Jabber channel had been created for the move to match up people with things to move with people with free space in their capitals… for the last week or so.

There was even a new SIG created to serve as the umbrella organization for those wishing to deploy.  Open to everybody in the coalition… no vouch required… the new group is called the Goon Expeditionary Force.  There is, or course, work on forum bees to represent the new group.

Two leading candidates

The acronym is GEF and it is pronounced “Jeff.”  That could indicate where Imperium leadership stands on the “GIF” pronunciation conflict.

You might ask what the purpose of a SIG is that pretty much has no barrier to entry.  I suspect it is really just an opt-in for pings related to deployments.  There is back end work already done to make SIG-only pings and there has long been a minor issue of “all all” pings going out and having people not deployed joining fleets from back in Delve.  That is my theory in any case.

There was, however, some worry about getting the whole thing off the ground.  There is a war going on  in the north, with PanFam lurching out from Malpais towards Darkness and Dead Coalition territory, which has meant fights in Venal and Deklein.   We just had to get there, but the game… the game has been having problems for a week now.

CCP was saying it was a DDoS attack early on, then switched to “network issues” as apparently you’re not supposed to give your attack the satisfaction of acknowledging an attack.  I’m not sure that works if you change stories mid-week.  Either way, a lot of people, especially those more distant from the London data center, have been getting this message when logging in.

Never a good sign

On the upside for some people, myself included, if you dismiss this error and click the “connect” button that is at the bottom of the client you end up in the game all the same.  CCP was even tweeting about that:

There was some talk on the fireside about using a VPN client to get around the problem.  People reported that with a VPN service that lets you set your connection to be as though you were in London (Express VPN was mentioned) seemed to make things better for some people.  Asher, who had been unable to connect before, was able to get in via VPN.

Of course, this being CCP, getting connected didn’t fix all problems.  Even if you could get into the game there seemed to be a 50/50 chance of chat working for you.

I saw this a lot

I had two clients running and one got connected to the chat server and the other consistently failed.  And, even when connected, things were not right.  You know something is up where local shows less people listed than you see in the station list with you. (Or when you log an alt into Jita and see just 75 people in local.)  I suppose you could estimate how many people were failing to get into the chat server by comparing the fleet chat number with the member count in the fleet window itself.

Anyway, the problems were annoying, but enough people were able to get in to make our own lurch northward a viable proposition.  So the move op commenced.

What can I say about a move op that I haven’t said already?  Lots of ships… multiple fleets, both capitals and sub caps (but no supers)… moving north along the Eye of Terror as we have done many times before.  I know the systems almost by heart.  So it is gates and jump bridges and time dilation and waiting around for other groups to catch up.

Also, alliance logos on structures not loading… put that on the list

The item of note for the operation was probably the fact that, in the name of speeding up the move, the capital fleet was shoved through Ansiblex jump gates just like the sub caps.

Dreads jumping through with the sub caps

GSOL said they could keep the Ansiblex jump gates fueled as we moved north, at least until we got to the edge of their domain.  So the capital ships were not delayed by jump timers or jump fatigue until we were into Cloud Ring.  GSOL seemed to be up to the job, though there were a couple of points where there was a bit of a wait for an Ansiblex refuel.

After that it was jumping as usual for the caps, though the sub caps were able  to use the Eye of Terror a bit further along.  Eventually though even we were gating our way deeper into the north, through old familiar systems from when we used to live in there.

Sub cap fleet landing at another gate

One amusing thing did come up unique to this move op.  I mentioned the Jabber channel that was created up at the top.  The name of the channel was “Geffrey.”  However, some PanFam spies apparently mis-understood the idea of the channel and thought the Imperium was using an in game channel with that name, so joined it… created it by joining it then joined it… and spent some time talking to each other about how we apparently can’t setup in game channels with the right permissions.

This got around so some people in our fleet joined the channel to troll and post memes.  I would have joined but the chat server was having none of it.  It seemed to think that because I had been allowed into the fleet channel and local that I had enough channels and could live with those.

Anyway, laughs were had.

And the move op concluded successfully without anything much to report.  We’re now working out of an NPC station in the north.

Our deployment home

We shall see if the game stays stable enough for us to do much up there.  Even when connected successfully I have seen quite a bit of lag when it comes to responding to commands.  A small op I went on yesterday afternoon was somewhat spoiled by the fact that people’s clients seemed to be working on their own timeline leading people to warp, bubble, shoot, or whatever in dribs and drabs rather than as a group.  CCP has some work to do here still.

Addendum: There is a forum thread tracking the three main issues the game is experiencing now (connections, chat, and lag) if you want to see the current status.  CCP is updating it as things evolve.

Being a Distraction from Venal

We formed up again in Venal last night to put pressure on the locals.  There were several citadel timers in play around Deklein, so we formed up in Venal to be a force for which GotG would at least have to account.  If the fought us that would draw them away from the timers, which other groups were planning to contest.  If they let us be then we could get up to mischief of our own.

Ishtars were the doctrine for the night and we were given a bridge after we undocked to get us to the locals.

I wonder how many bridges I’ve take over the years…

That got us to WLF-D3, the gateway system to Deklein via DKUK-G and the GotG staging system to counter out move to Venal.

We moved around the system, visited next door, came back and decided that the locals were going to stay away to deal with the timers deeper in Deklein, so we went looking for targets of our own.  The first on the list was an Athanor that was mid frack, a giant hunk of moon being drawn slowly towards it.

The moon chunk looming large

We were not going to be able to stop the frack, which would require us getting it down to the structure timer, but the Athanor was in the process of being unanchored.  All we had to do was get the first timer set and the unanchoring process would be halted and would need to be resumed again after the timer passed.  So we pulled up to shoot it.

Ishtars strung out and shooting

A gunner got going on the Athanor and began lobbing bombs at us, so the small stuff had to warp off and logi had to wake up for a bit and cover anybody who caught the brunt of a couple of bombs, but otherwise we carried on.  The wind up for a bomb was such that when the Ishtars were stopped and had sentry drones deployed they could pull the drones, take the blast, then drop them again to carry on shooting.  We succeeding in putting the Athanor into its first timer, scuttling the unachoring.

We then spent some time shooting at a POS, deactivating a few modules.  Shooting a well armed POS is a bit different as the weaponry will start shooting even is nobody is gunning the POS.  As we did that the news came down the line that the GotG had successfully defended its timers and it seemed like we might be headed home at that point.  We started moving back towards our staging.

However Asher stopped us a few systems into the trip then turned us around and back to DKUK-G.  We were going to see if GotG would take a fight when they returned home.  In DKUK-G it seemed like we were being setup for a capital drop.  Asher said they were trying to draw us in, bubble us, and drop carriers on us.  We bounced around the system a bit, then went through to WLF-D3 again where we ended up facing off against GotG’s Eagle fleet on the far side of the gate.  Things went well for us there, the Ishtars chewing up their logi and then burning down Eagles until they started moving off.  Logi had some work to do, but we kept most everybody alive.

The Oneiros I was in during the fight

NCDot had some Jackdaws around as well and we managed to pick off a couple of those including the ship of LadyScarlet, the CEO of Destructive Influence, a corp whose alliance history shows it being in Band of Brothers, KenZoku, and IT Alliance, all past foes of the Goons, so every time she is on grid she is the first target called and there is a cheer when he ship goes up.  Blasting an old foe is always a morale booster.

We also blew up another of Hendrink Collie’s Monitor FC ships.  Expensive ships are always fun to blow up, though they are getting cheaper as production of them ramps up.

We ended up in control of the grid around the gate, in sight of their Keepstar, not too far off from where Sort Dragon lost his titan on Saturday. (See this Reddit post for a screen shot.)

Trailing our coats in sight of the enemy Keepstar

Overall GotG won their objective, but we managed to extract a cost and give them a few minor headaches.  The battle report from both fronts showed the ISK war well in our favor.

Overall Battle Report for the Evening

Things were tilted more in our favor if we exclude the other front and just look at the battle report for the Venal end of the engagements.

The Venal end of the night

That was the sort of fight we’ll take every night if we can get it.

Afterwards we went back to our staging and stood down.  There was an AUTZ timer coming up in a couple of hours, but staying up until 07:00 EVE Online time on a weeknight is well beyond my capability.  And so it goes, we continue plinking away at GotG.

Vacation in Venal

Asher pinged to warn us that we would be moving.

The question was where.  Where would we be heading after Pure Blind?

We have been in Pure Blind for a while.  There have been a couple of short breaks, but we have been deployed up there since November at least.  However, once Pandemic Horde moved on from Fade to Geminate and people started sensing blood in the water when it came to Guardians of the Galaxy, things have started to get a bit more crowded.  Adding to us and the TNT deployment near another corner of Pure Blind, The Initiative has become a lot more active coming in from Fountain through Cloud Ring, with FedUp joining them, and Space Violence, anther Imperium group, chose to deploy into the middle of Pure Blind as well.

All those Imperium pilots roaming around the area has attracted the attention of GotG’s neighbors.  NCDot had deployed to Gehi to threaten Querios in the hope that it would make us pull back our groups in the north, but the Imperium has proven to be big enough to have mainfleet ops running to defend Queious without needing to call anybody back.  So NCDot has also been drawn into supporting GotG direction in the north.

And then there is Pandemic Legion.  They had been occupied since February attacking Providence.  Having pushed back ProviBloc and ground down their sovereignty slowly week after week, PL up and withdrew when TEST declared they were deploying to the area specifically to fight them.  ProviBloc quickly regained their territory.

Providence changed over the course of a week

That meant PL was back in the north looking for something to do as well.  With all those forces mixed about us, our small fleets seemed less likely to be effective.  Or so I gathered from Asher’s ping.

We did not know where we would be headed, or most of us did not.  The best way to broadcast intel to your enemies is to make it widely known among your friends, some of whom are no doubt spies.  All most of us knew was that all of us would be going and we would be hauling along all doctrines.  That meant capitals going as well, which helped some as the caps could carry extra ships for people in their ship maintenance bays. (CCP adding those to dreadnoughts a while back boosted deployment hauling potential significantly.)

After handing over a few ships to cap pilots to haul, I got my main in an Oneiros for the trip and my alt in a stealth bomber to haul that along as well.  When things finally came together we undocked to begin our journey, which was estimated to take us about an hour.

Combined fleet undocking for the move

Bombers went to hang out on a black ops battleship on a citadel, the rest of the sub caps loitered on the undock as the capitals were undocked and jumped to their first mid-point.  It was without a station, so they had to land, warp off to make safes, then cloak up to wait out their timer.  Meanwhile, the main subcap fleet aligned out to catch up with the capitals in order to cover them for their next jump, leaving the bombers behind.  But we ran into trouble almost right away.  The locals had heard about our move op and dropped supers and subcaps on us as we jumped through the first gate.

A local welcoming committee

We got away from that with only two ships lost, but it was an indication that our move might be eventful.  We bounced around to get away and when the drop cleared out we ended up back where we started.  We actually stood down for a while to let the hostiles clear out.  The caps were safe down the road, but people were trying to scan them down.

Eventually that cooled down and the subcaps were able to move out and catch up to the capitals, then move ahead to the next mid point, which had a station for them to dock up.   The bombers were sent along as well.  The caps were able to jump again and the subcaps ran along to our final destination, which turned out to be deep in Venal.

I hadn’t been to Venal since early in the Casino War.  It is an NPC held section of null sec, owned by the Guristas pirate faction, and follows the design philosophy of an past era.  It is a region consisting of 95 systems, but it only has five NPC stations in it, so there are not a lot of truly safe locations there.  But it is also in the center of the north.  If you like EVE Online donut metaphors, if the north is a donut (blue or otherwise) then venal is the hole in the middle.

Venal in the North

While none of the stations in Venal are particularly handy, if you don’t mind a few gates between yourself and the locals the region gives you access to quite a bit of the north.  Black Legion used to use Venal for this back when we lived in the north.  For us the likely target seemed to be Branch, where GotG has been able to rat and mine in relative peace for while we have been active in Fade, Pure Blind, and Tribute.  And so we settled in to our new home.

A Guristas Station in Venal

Well, we settled in once we got the bombers caught up.  Somehow they got left behind without a black ops battleship so one had to be cyno’d back in to jump us to our destination.

But once that was done we were able to settle in and start operating from our new location.

Undocking from the new station, Guristas logo visible

From there ops started rolling for targets of opportunity.  While waiting around for opportunities there were a few things locally to shoot.  There are towers and citadels hanging about for us to hit.

Following Asher around on a shoot

So we quickly got on the board with a couple of easy kills.

A POS module goes up, just because I like the picture

But juicer targets await.

GotG, learning of our change of location, packed up and deployed to counter our threat.  Never mind that of the groups deployed in and around Pure Blind represented much larger numbers, we were apparently the threat.  Or maybe we seemed like a manageable target.  Or perhaps they really were worried about their as yet unmolested ratting and mining space.

My Oneiros, lit by the destruction of a POS

This led to a particularly dramatic fight, which I totally missed.  It was on Saturday night and I was at home and not doing anything in particular.  But I wasn’t at my computer and so I did not see the pings for it until The Mittani was smug pinging about it.

We managed to catch and drop on Sort Dragon as he was moving his titan to the GotG staging in WLF-D3.  Sort is the leader of GotG, so this was a particularly satisfying kill.  The clash also saw another titan killed with the ISK war leaning well in our favor.

Battle Report Header

I am extremely bummed that I missed this fight, all the more so as I was home and could have easily joined in.  Ah well, I can’t be there for everything.  But this certainly did make for an auspicious start to our time in Venal.

More information on that battle:

Other posts related to the situation in the north:

Another Titan Sacrificed to the God of War

All I was going to do in EVE last night was one anomaly, then go to bed.

No strategic operations were planned.  Nothing else was required of me.

So I was back in my home system in null sec, for the first time in a few weeks, in my new Tengu, the old one having been blown up back during the Delve campaign, and blazing away an Guristas while watching local and the intel channel for Deklein.

Stock Tengu Image

And then things started to buzz in QPO-WI.

QPO is the staging system that the CFC has been using for the war against the Northern Coalition and its allies.  For a run down of who is who… or at least an amusing Goonswarm view of the players… there is a post up on The Mittani.com that lists out the usual suspects in the war: The Basement Dweller’s Guide to the War.

The intel channel reported that there were some hostiles in QPO, then as many as 90 hostiles and that they were on the station bubbling.

And then it was reported that the hostiles had a CFC titan tackled QPO, which was the point when, as they say, shit got real.

I had just killed the last NPC in my anomaly when that news hit the intel channel.  Jabber started its call to arms and fleets were hastily formed.  I headed back to the station, swapped out my Tengu for a fleet ops Drake I keep there.

QPO was only two gates and a jump bridge away.  I joined one of the fleets, got onto the right channel in Mumble, and started moving.  At the jump bridge to QPO I joined a few others waiting for the word that the other end of the jump bridge wasn’t camped.  Meanwhile, coms were confused as a cap fleet and a sub cap fleet tried to form up while using the same voice coms channel.

We were given the all clear to jump into QPO and upon arriving, the FC… or somebody giving orders over coms, I never quite figured out who was really running the show… told sub caps to rendezvous at planet three in the system.  I started warping there.

And just as my ship entered warp, that order was countermanded, we were not to jump to planet three as the hostiles were landing there.  Too late for me, I was on my way.
I landed at planet 3 and was quickly in a bubble.  I gave it the old junior college try, locking up a Sabre that was close by and opening fire as I tried to get out of the bubble.  He had me webbed though.  Still, for a moment I seemed to be doing okay, and then I got called as the primary and lasted long enough for 74 pilots to whore on my kill mail.

It is like a kill board public service.

I was podded before I could get clear of the bubble and warp to the station, where I had another ship handy.

By this point it appeared that the CFC titan, a LAWN Erebus worth more than 72 billion ISK, had been neuted and destroyed.  That was the second CFC titan loss of the day.  Earlier a RAZOR pilot fell for the CCP titan removal trap and clicked the jump button rather than the bridge button and jumped his Erebus into a red fleet at Y-WIQ3.

There was, for a short period of time, excitement on coms.  I had just reloaded into EVE and was wondering what to do when it was announced that there was another titan, a Black Legion Leviathan, in QPO.  There might be a possibility of some payback.

I used my jump clone in QPO to get back into the system right away, got into another Drake, undocked, and waited for… something.

It quickly became clear that the hostile titan had eluded us.  Reds disappeared out of the system save for a few observers.  The fight was over and we had lost in a big way.  The kill board shows the hostiles winning heavily in kills and overwhelmingly in the amount of ISK destroyed.

I warped out to planet three to see if there was anything left to loot.  The space scavengers are amazingly efficient, but there was still one unlooted wreck.  So I was able to grab something.

Some loot, better than no loot

And then I realized that in my hurry to get back on grid, I had neglected to upgrade my clone.  So I was flying around space recently occupied by hostiles with a 900K skill point clone backing up my 83 million skill points.  Not a good plan.  So I headed back to the station.

The station itself has been renamed to commemorate the occasion of our dual titan loss: QPOnly two titans lost in a day.  As usual, click on the picture to see it full size.

New station name

And so the war across Venal and Tribute goes.  You can find further details about the QPO fight here.  The comments actually add to the story.

On the one hand, it is a nice change to face opposition that doesn’t throw in the towel after losing one or two big fights.  That is the way things went in Branch, Tenal, and Delve.  Everybody complains on coms when the war becomes a routine of structure shoots and hostiles fleeing before the great CFC blob.

On the other hand, winning is a moral booster and fills fleets.  Losing… well, then the leadership has to work on morale.  I heard a couple of people comment that this war now sucks.  And to some people, we can never really win.  If we hold the field, it is because we are bad at EVE and just blob, and if we lose a battle, we are bad at EVE and blobbing.  Life in the CFC.

Myself, I am happy enough to have an ongoing war close to home that provides regular fleet ops with an enemy that shows up.  Fleet ops are my favorite thing in null sec at the moment.

Of course, I didn’t just lose a titan.

We Redeem Ourselves in US-TZ at 42XJ-N

And Dabigredboat was pretty happy about it.

The op was set to go and take out a Northern Coalition tower.

The end result went as planned.

NC tower at 42XJ-N

After the latest Goonswarm CEO Update, we had something to prove.  The combined AHAC fleets opposing us, the main backbone of which has been Zealot heavy assault cruisers, had been chopping up the Maelstroms and the Drake fleets during prime US timezone hours.  It was time for a change.

AHAC Fleet

A ruse de guerre sent the opposition elsewhere, allowing us to arrive at the target system 42XJ-N.  They jumped in and the fight was on.

Missiles vs. Lasers, Drakes vs. Zealots

I flew a scimitar for the fight, so no kills for me.  No time for sight seeing either.  A good thing we did well, as I pulled my usual stunt of buying a ship quickly off of a local contract and undocking without that whole “insurance” step.  It came home in one piece, minus drones as usual.

Early returns showed us losing around 30 Drakes and a handful of Scimitars from the main fleet.  A lot of that was offset by this Proteus we killed.  That kill ended enemy resistance aside from some bombers that made a too late run at us when we were leaving the system.  If somebody posts a real battle report, I’ll link it.  This should not be mistaken for anything of the kind.

Meanwhile, over Jabber, The Mittani sent his regards.

We have won a fight, won a tech, nuked a bunch of expensive shiny toys, and done it all with disposable tech one battlecruisers, As Is Our Way. Turns out that Drakes + Artycanes is hilarious fun!

Note: having damps in utility slots on Drakes is goddamned hilarious when the hostile fc is damped for literally the entire fight and unable to call targets.

Sounds like a doctrine change might be posted soon.

After that it was a tower shoot, which was followed by the raising of our own tower.

Afterwards, DBRB had us all get in the bubble, then he reset permissions and the password which sent us all flying back out again.  There was enough time for me to record that just for fun.

Nothing special, just another goofy EVE moment.  It is hard to see in the small resolution, so try watching it at YouTube.

Weekend War in Venal

In null sec wars are like buses; if you wait long enough another one will show up.

Which is a good thing, since war and the accompanying fleet operations are my favorite null sec activities.

OTEC, which previously brought various parties together, isn’t quite holding together it seems.  The upcoming nerf to technetium production… which will either kill tech moons and make us all poor or is purely for show and won’t change a thing, depending on who is speaking… seems to have shaken at least one member of the coalition out of the ranks and into conflict with the rest of the cartel

Tech moons were already under attack in Venal, which like Stain, is one of the more amusingly named regions.  Black Legion and our old foes from the south, Nulli Secunda were on the move there.  But then Northern Coalition, a member of the cartel, joined in as well.  I do not know if this was a dispute over other cartel members dumping tech on the market and killing the price or if they were just looking for something to do after the “mate war,” but things were on. (I have to go listen to the intel collected from NC comms.)

And so the weekend consisted of a series of fleet engagements base on reinforcement timers, starting on Friday night.

Friday night was pretty much a bust for me.  The fleets started off before I was home from work so by the time I could log in everybody was headed for home.

I have one shot.  I happened to be on coms and at the staging system as fleets were coming back when Black Legion tried to hot drop on our Drake fleet in 9-R6GU.  There were carriers on the field and I burned out to join the fight.  However, by the time I got there not much was left.  I managed to lock up an Abaddon and get missiles launched before it blew up, so I got on the kill report with 0% of the damage.

Saturday morning though, that was a different story.  Everybody seemed to be hungry for a big battle.  One of Northern Coalition’s tech moons was coming out of reinforcement the word was that they were going to gather up some friends and fight for it.

On our side we filled up an Alpha, a Tengu, and a Drake fleet and then had to make another Drake fleet.  Even The Mittani logged in and got into a fleet.  Just moving ourselves from VFK to the staging system brought up some serious time dilation.

13% TiDi and we haven’t even left yet!

I joined up with the first Drake fleet.  The FC was Zarks who has the cool demeanor of a late night FM disk jockey (if such a thing still exists).  Somebody in the fleet was complaining that the FC was “shouting” at them, and idea of which made people laugh and openly mock the person.  I have never heard Zarks speak in anything but the most moderate tone imaginable.

To counter that, we did have Suas along to be the Drake anchor.  And unlike Zarks, Suas always sounds like he is shouting with that finely honed British tone of voice that seems to imply that we are all morons because he had to even bring up a particular item, much less shout it at us to get us to pay attention.  So it was sort of Good FC/Bad FC.

We slowly bridged out to Venal and started burning towards the target system, N6G-H3.

Red in the ships/pods killed view

In what seemed like an odd turn of events to me, we did not face that much of a threat before Northern Coalition’s tower was destroyed.  Some stealth bombers came our way, but that was it.  Of course, that was just the part of the battle I was in.  The count in local was up beyond 1,200 people and TiDi was heavy, so something was going on.

With the tower blown, we joined the real battle.  With one of the first targets being a carrier that was inside the tower shields.  That went before I could lock it up.  Then the combined force from Northern Coalition, Black Legion, Nulli Secunda, Ev0ke, Ewoks, and Intrepid Crossing, with a few Gypsy Band ships thrown in for fun, collided with the CFC fleets.

Drake fleet in the fight

This followed the pattern I have seen in such battles in the past.  Once one side starts chewing away at the other, the balance of things quickly gets out of hand.  Our own targets were battleships and logistics at first, then the opposing Drake fleet until the focus became keeping them from escaping.

One of their battleship fleets retired to another station they had in the system where they were safe within the POS shield.

Battleships in the POS Shield

There were a few other skirmishes after that.  Stealth bombers plied their trade, attacking us while we roamed around the fleet safely in the shields.  The password to get in was known by us and at one point we flew into the shields and attempted to bump some ships out to face the waiting guns of the lurking Alpha fleet.

Drake formation in the enemy POS bubble

While an Iteron V that was sitting on the edge of the shields did get bumped out at one point, the exercise was not very successful.  If a ship is under way it is difficult to bump it very far, and the enemy fleet set themselves up orbiting the tower once we started bumping which put an end to our ambitions.

The end results, like the odds, favored us.  We put nearly double the number of ships in the system in the end which lead to us dominating the kill board for the fight.  This of course brought up the usual arguments about how the CFC is bad at PvP and needs to bring favorable odds in order to win.  That still leaves the open question, “If we are bad, why would we do anything else?” along with “If you’re so good, why do you need such evenly matched odds to win?”

I ended up with 84 kills for the day, though 44 of them were POS modules.

Kill totals for the weekend

I am not sure how I ended up with 43 out of those 44 kills.  I only shot the tower.  But I guess you somehow get credit for the module that are destroyed or collected afterwards.

Both sides drifted off the field and we headed back to the staging system where I parked my Drake in anticipation of the ops that were set to go on Sunday.

The Sunday ops were early in the morning for me.  As much as I like fleet ops, I wasn’t going to get up before 5am in order to participate.  It seemed like I wasn’t needed in any case.  These ops were to defend and rep our own towers that had come out of reinforcement, as opposed to going after the towers of the opposition, so Northern Coalition and friends were less inclined to go head to head.  I got on coms near the end of the second of the mornings three ops and it sounded like it was more of a cat and mouse game with a lot of scanning and probing.

And by the time the third op went out, the opposition had had enough of that, so we flew around hindered only by TiDi and our own incompetence.  Our inability to follow orders when we aren’t actually shooting things is phenomenal.  At one point, on the way home our FC, Reagalan, said one destination system in voice coms, then quickly changed it to another destination, which he said a few times, which was linked in the fleet channel, and which was broadcast in the fleet window, and still a good 10-20% of our fleet wandered off in the wrong direction.

We were also very lucky.  While the Tengu fleet went out with 55 Scimitars to support it, we had just two.  That would be about 18 shy of sanity.  And then one of them dropped off, which left us with just a single logistics ship, the pilot of which seemed quite concerned.  It is the logistics ships that keep us from getting turned into so much wreckage most days of the week, so we were primed for disaster.  But nobody showed up to fight us, so we hung around until our towers were repaired… we even sent our sole scimitar off to help… what good was it going to do us… and then headed home.

Moon Harvesting Array

The war of the moons in Venal continued on last night while I was asleep.  We shall see if it continues on with as much vigor next weekend or if, like so many past wars, the stand up fights come early and after that it turns into another bug hunt.

Retaking the Tech Moon at 42XJ-N

In which pretty much nothing happens, so you might as well just look at the pictures and move on.

I was not sure I was going to get to go on this op.

There was an update to fleet doctrine recently, during the war in Delve, with new fits, new ships, and even new fleets becoming part of official policy.

I can still fly Drake fleet of course, since my skills in missiles and shields are just about all max’d out.  And I am still good with Alpha fleet, even if I have to fly the Maelstrom with training wheels because of my low gunnery skills. (Both on my character and in person.  I never seem to have the right ammo for starters.)

But Welp fleet changed fits to something I am going to need to train for, while the Bomber fleet just scares me because, while I have all the skills, I have no clue on how to actually fly the ship and really don’t want to figure it out in my usual manner, which generally involves screwing up badly.

And then there is the Tengu fleet.

Tengu fleet is the new darling of fleet ops, as unlike Drake fleet, it doesn’t need a nearly full fleet to be effective.  So it has become the go-to fleet for odd hour weekday operations.  It is odd, fleet ops in Delve at late hours were filled to overflowing but back in Deklein we seem to be scraping by with much smaller turn outs.  No war fever I guess.

Of course, the promise of a fight related to defending or attacking a tower might have worn thin over the many tellings.

So it was last night when the alert came up promising a fight over the control of a tech moon in Venal.  This is where Black Legion and our erstwhile foes in Delve, Nulli Secunda, have been hitting OTEC installations in the wilds of Venal in hopes of provoking a serious fight now and again.  Bless them for giving us something to do.

The call was for a Tengu fleet, which got a very low interest reaction from me.  I can fly the official reimbursement Tengu fit.  However, our alliance policy also requires some minimum subsystem skills in order to qualify for reimbursement.  This is something my pal Gaff found out the hard way.  I am level 4 across the board, but some level 5 skills are required if you want to get paid for the loss of your 600+ million ISK ship.  So no Tengu ops for me until I spend a couple weeks training.

An update came along a bit later asking for more people to get in the fleet, even if it was only in a Drake.

There was the magic word.  I can afford to lose a Drake even if I don’t get reimbursed because I brought it to a Tengu fleet.  And strong still is the call to “go shoot stuff” for me.

I got into the game, clone jumped to VFK, saddled up a Drake a warped out to the rally point.  And there we sat as DBRB called for more Scimitars to support the fleet.  Logistics, space priests, ever the linchpin of our fleet operations.

So I volunteered to reship to a Scimitar, as I happened to have one parked in VFK in the right configuration.  Apparently one more logi was all he wanted, because the fleet started off before I was able to undock.

You may be tempted to mention at this point that, in flying a Scimitar, I can join any of the standard fleets (aside from bombers) that the CFC puts up because we never have too many logistics ships.  And you would be correct.  My reluctance stems from two things.

First, I am pretty sure I am bad at logistics at this point.  I do not have a lot of direct evidence from the four times I have flown them on fleet ops, once I was blown up very early in the fight and the other three times (which includes this very op) things ended up going so well for us that I suspect everybody else was simply able to carry my dead weight without notice.  But the fact that I ran off without nanite paste or performance enhancing drugs again (I actually have some nanite paste, but never remember to buy the drugs) seems to argue in favor of my failings as a logi pilot.

Second, I like to shoot stuff.  Getting kills still thrills, even if I am just one ship in the Drake blob.  And, frankly, the only way my corp or alliance seems to know I am doing anything at all is when I get on the kill boards or when I submit reimbursement forms.

But, in the name of getting a fleet op going, I will bite the bullet and fly a Scimitar.  I suppose there is no other way to learn.

Of course, as I mentioned, the fleet took off so I was rushed, which is part of the reason for no paste/no drugs.  The fleet had used a jump bridge and was a couple of gates into Venal when I finally caught up.  Getting to the target system was a good dozen jumps from the jump bridge, but soon we were sitting on the gate to 42XJ-N, at which point the logi leader told us to take our drugs.  Yeah, oops.

Then it was through the gate and into the waiting arms of a Black Legion Abaddon fleet, which started off the battle on a bad note for us, when one of our Tengus got popped before everybody was together and focused.  I was still locking up key individuals when the “need shields” call came, and by the time he was locked there was only a pod to rep.

My first though was the hope that we were not sailing into a fiasco.  But the kill turned out to be a quirk of fate.  Black Legion was able to primary him before we were together.  We did better after that.  Even drug free me got reps off on ships taking damage, including our heavy interdictor who was something of a key to the operation.

It was he who was to put up the bubble to trap the enemy and to light the cyno to bring in the dreadnoughts.

Bubble AND Dreadnoughts present

DBRB said later on coms that Black Legion had asked Nulli Secunda to not form up, except as a bomber fleet, as the expectation was that we wouldn’t be able to field enough ships to want to fight if they both showed up in force.  Then we dropped capitals on them.  And once that happened, things pretty much went our way, with 13 battleships and 2 carriers getting popped as they pulled up stakes and headed for the exit.

At one point I deployed a combat drone and assigned it to one of the Tengus in hopes of whoring myself onto at least one killmail, but the drone sat idle the whole time, then got left behind as we hopped around a bit to try and chase down the opposing fleet.

That done, we jumped to the tower we were there to destroy.  Here I managed to fly too close to the tower defense, which locked me up and started shooting at me.  However, between my speed, size, and reps from fellow logis, I barely sustained any damage to my shields at all beyond the tiniest sliver of red showing.  But it looked exciting.

OMG the tower defenses are shooting me!

And then it was everybody’s favorite activity, a POS shoot.  Fortunately, the dreads stuck around and helped make it a short shoot.

Big guns make for short work

Once the tower was down, it was time to put up one of our own in its place.  The dreads trundled off and we got to sit around guarding the tower during its vulnerable deployment and onlining stages.  Each of those takes 30 minutes.  So there was an hour of flying in circles.

The boredom of the wait was mercifully broken by Nulli Secunda, which had some stealth bombers in system.  They took runs at us now and again, the most comic of which took place just as DBRB went AFK for a bathroom break.  The bombers swooped in, launched their bombs, took a loss, but got a Tengu kill.

When DBRB got back he was incredulous.  How could a Tengu die to such a weak attack?

It turned out that the victim brought his ratting Tengu to the fleet op.  A look at the kill mail shows it fit for active tank Guristas operations, with a low (25K) effective hit points.  Compare that to one that is fit for Tengu fleet operations, with an EHP of 125K.  Ratting ships do not do well in PvP, as I could tell you.

A later bomb attack hit the logistics ships dead on, which knocked shields down about 25%.  Not a big threat to the right fit.

As the timer counted down, people started to get really bored, or cranky, or both, which DBRB tried to solve with a combination of trolling and talking about Kristen Stewart getting caught cheating on Robert Pattinson with her recent director Rupert Sanders, who also happens to be married.  It was like TMZ in space.

Then DBRB said how old he was on coms, and the age difference between him and I happened to be exactly the same as the age difference between me and my father, which was mildly disturbing.

And then, at last, as the timer for the tower going online dropped below the five minute mark, the word was given to head for home, all gates green.  Back to VFK I went, calling it a night when I hit the station.  But it was not the end of things for DBRB.  He had an op planned for two hours later, in which he planned to hunt the great truffle whale or some such.  I will have to go read the forums to see how that turned out.

Meanwhile, I still do not know how badly I suck at the logi thing.  But I am going to remember to buy some drugs.  I swear I’ll have them next time.