Now THAT’s what we play EVE Online for

An op was posted for 18:45 yesterday. As usual the announcement didn’t specify what we were going to do exactly, only that Ryzak Freemoon would be FCing and that getting a fight was deemed likely – they almost always promise the latter though.

Form up began on time and Ryzak told us that in order to further increase our chances of actually seeing some action we’d leave our shiny Tech II ships at home and go with Feroxes and Ospreys. As we didn’t get many good fights lately in part because the opposition couldn’t match our fleet’s strenght and thus didn’t engage us at all more often than not this seemed like a sensible choice.

Unlike myself Lakisa actually likes to fly logistics, so she quickly bought an Osprey and fittings from the market and joined the logi squad. I had a Ferox ready to go, so I jumped into that.

EVE_Feroxes0
Fill her up stat, and also wipe the windshield while you’re at it

First we took a couple of south bound jump bridges, then we gathered at a titan waiting to bridge us even further.

EVE_Feroxes1
I’m still amazed by how small normal ships seem next to those things

On the far side of that bridge Ryzak linked a destination system for a bit of old-school stargate travel. And then, once we got there, another one. Battlecruisers aren’t exactly fast, so our trip all the way down to Scalding Pass took quite a while. When some more minutes passed upon arrival while we waited for things to unfold people started to wonder if we had made a long trip for nothing yet again.

But the fleet warp finally came, we jumped into the target system and warped to our objective, a reinforced Brave Collective jump bridge, to finish it off.

EVE_Feroxes2
Our fleet and swarms of drones shooting the Ansiblex class jump bridge

At first it looked like the locals would just sit tethered on their citadel and watch. They undocked a couple more carriers, but didn’t actually try anything. We pulled in our drones in anticipation of a bombing run, but other than that we just kept shooting.

EVE_Feroxes3
Inside the orange glow of a HIC bubble to prevent them from warping on top of us

However, just before before we finished the thing off an Eagle fleet of Brave and friends landed right at the edge of our bubble and the fight began.

The fleets started to trade blows right away. We fired a few more shots at the Ansiblex to destroy it, then killed two Ospreys and focused on their Basilisks next. Meanwhile they killed our Claymore and one Vulture, thus wiping some of our fleet boosters off the field. Not a very good start for us. That our logi wing had some problems with keeping their capacitor chain up and running for some reason didn’t help matters.

We then managed to turn the tide somewhat though. We killed six Basilisks and a Scimitar within two minutes. They managed to destroy ten Feroxes during that time, but that was an acceptable tradeoff since they were now running pretty low on logi while we still had a lot of DPS left.

Alas, at that point a TEST Muninn fleet appeared on grid, and we knew full well that it wasn’t us they came to support. Now we had to GTFO, as it were, if any one of us was to survive.

EVE_Feroxes5
Burning out of the bubbles while praying that the capacitor won’t run dry early

Despite all odds quite a lot of us managed to get out, and Ryzak warped us off. But some, myself included, didn’t have enough cap left to make the full warp distance, so we didn’t land with him and the others, but in the middle of nowhere where we were safe for the moment, but couldn’t help our comrades either.

I could hear on Mumble that there was already fighting going on again, so I bookmarked my current position – you never know when you might need such a safespot – and warped to Ryzak. Big mistake!

While I was already in warp he gave command to our booshers to use their micro jump fields and move our fleet out of harm’s way, so I knew that I’d be nowhere near them once I came out of warp. Sure enough, when I landed I was right at the edge of a bubble and the nearest ships were all hostile.

Panic!! As soon as I could control my ship again I immediately aligned away from the bubble, kicked my microwarpdrive into full gear and started looking for something to warp to roughly in the direction I was going. I can’t tell you how extremely lucky I was to spot an asteroid belt almost right in front of me, what with space being infinitely vast and all that. I selected it and hit the warp button as hard as I could. Meanwhile quite a few enemy ships were blinking yellow on my overview, which means that they had me locked but didn’t shoot yet. I was still too far away for them to use their tackling modules on me, but that was only a matter of seconds now.

And then I was in warp. The blinking stopped and I zipped off grid. Holy crap, that was close. I wasn’t safe yet though. They’d surely seen where I warped to and might give chase, so I initiated warp to my safespot – told you it would come in handy – as soon as I landed. Shortly after the rest of our fleet gathered at a safespot too, so I warped to Ryzak and was finally with my mates again moments later.

EVE_Feroxes6
At a safespot, aligned and ready to warp should someone pay us a visit

Our FC wasn’t quite done shooting stuff yet. Apparently TEST had called it quits by then, fully expecting us to cut our losses and run home I assume, so only the Eagle fleet was still hunting us.

Once we knew that the outgate wasn’t bubbled Ryzak warped us there and then had our own dictor bubble it. You see, a bubble that has been activated when you were already in warp can’t catch you, so we just zipped through while anyone chasing us would get stuck and have to slowboat almost 20km in order to use the gate.

And chase us they did. We jumped through right as they landed and started pulling range on the other side, ready to lock and shoot.

Finally they came through, and the carnage began once more. In terms of firepower they had the clear advantage, and they knew it. Their dictors kept chasing after us, making sure we were always bubbled. We killed stuff, but were losing Feroxes fast in the process. At that point Ryzak declared on comms that we’d stay and fight to the end. Hell yeah!

EVE_Feroxes7
I had my MWD and even hardeners turned off, conserving all remaining cap for my guns

And then, all of a sudden, they warped off. We couldn’t believe our eyes.

Turns out a Fraternity Muninn fleet had arrived on grid to save what was left of us. Pretty late to the party, but the funny thing is, who knows if we had gotten a fight at all had they been with us from the beginning. Anyway, thanks guys.

And thus the battle was over and the survivors headed home, Lakisa and myself, quite incredibly, both among them.

We lost about two thirds of our Feroxes, half of our Ospreys and pretty much all tackle and support though. Still, the battle report is slightly in our favor ISK-wise, we achieved our objective by destroying the jump bridge, and, most importantly, we had a hell of a fight. This is what we play EVE for indeed!

Advertisements

Why I don’t play a ‘healer’ in EVE Online

You can’t really say out loud that you don’t want to fill the logistics role in an EVE Online fleet. If you do you’re immediately identified and called out as a killboard whore. Mostly by people who don’t want to fly logi either, naturally.

That the folks at CCP still haven’t found a way to make logi pilots appear on killmails is one deterrent to do it, yes. People like green entries on their killboards, and I’m as guilty of that as (almost) anyone.

That’s far from being my main, let alone only reason for not wanting to be a space healer though.

EVE_Logi1
So many targets…which I need to completely ignore

I don’t mind playing a healer in most MMOs. I’ve actually very much enjoyed playing one in Everquest II, SWTOR and FFXIV, among others. While I never had one as my main character – that position was mostly held by a tank – I usually prefer playing a healer over a DPS class. So I’m obviously not averse to filling group-beneficial roles, nor to actively keeping my teammates alive.

EVE_Logi2
Healing people by shooting them with a big-ass cannon? Count me in!

In EVE it’s different. To me flying a logistics ship is extremely unfun, probably the most unpleasant kind of activity I’ve ever experienced in the game. So what are the differences to playing a healer in other MMORPGs?

One major aspect for me is the way targeting is handled in EVE: there’s no distinction between friendly and hostile targets. A target is a target is a target.

EVE_Logi3

The tiny symbol at the bottom of each circle is all to tell someone who’s in your fleet from someone who isn’t – and someone not in your fleet isn’t necessarily a foe either.

So should you happen to have both friendlies and hostiles locked you need to be extremely careful as to not accidentally repair the hostiles or shoot the good guys. As you can only target so many ships at the same time anyway – and usually don’t have any weapons either – you mostly end up locking only friendlies when you’re logi.

Problem solved, right? In my opinion, no. The thing is, this makes me feel like I’m not really participating in the battle at all. Oh sure, I’m doing my part – and an important one at that – by keeping my mates alive, but doing that and absolutely nothing else doesn’t feel right to me.

When playing a healer in the aforementioned games I at least contributed a mixture of damage, debuffs, buffs and cures in addition to pure healing. I felt very much in the fight, just as much as when playing any other role.

EVE_Logi5
FFXIV’s Astrologian being a good, very fun to play example

Another problem in EVE is that you often find yourself in situations where you just can’t save people no matter how good or fast you are. If the enemy fleet has enough alpha (i.e. first-volley damage) and their pilots are disciplined enough to lock and shoot the same target all at the same time, it dies. That’s just disheartening. Now sure, if your fleet is the stronger one it’s the other way around, but that doesn’t comfort me when I’m sitting in a ship with no weaponry whatsoever because literally all I can do is sit there and watch.

In SWTOR’s Voidstar PvP battleground a tank player and I once held a door against waves and waves of attackers for I believe almost five minutes (don’t ask me what our team’s other six players were doing). They couldn’t take the tank down while I was healing him, and they couldn’t kill me either when they tried, while our combined DPS brought them down one by one. I’m still proud of that match, and the tank player even commended me afterwards although he contributed just as much as I did.

He’s impressed and I’m pleased as punch

Of course I’m comparing a big fleetfight to 8vs8 battleground PvP here, but even in small scale PvP something like this just couldn’t happen in EVE. Because you know what? You usually can’t repair yourself as a logi, and even if you can it’s with much less efficiency. Hence a single logi doesn’t do you much good, so if you’re going to use them at all you need at least two. Better make that three or four. Damn, now we need a couple more DPS ships; we can’t heal the enemy to death, can we? Oh, and boosts would be great too. And just like that you’re not really talking about small scale PvP anymore because your fleet is suddenly 12+ strong.

So let’s recap. As a logi pilot in EVE…

I don’t feel like I’m actually participating in the fight because I have to pretty much ignore everything but locking my mates and activating my reppers in time. Incoming damage aside the enemy fleet might as well not even be there.

I contribute absolutely nothing else to the fight, I just make bars go up.

When my fleet isn’t being shot at I’m not even doing that, essentially turning me into dead weight.

When I’m being shot at I can’t even repair myself, I’m completely at the mercy of others.

And, yes, I also don’t get much recognition in terms of killboard stats for my efforts.

This is why I’m not flying logi in EVE. I don’t even have the Logistics Cruiser and -Frigate skills trained to 5, and I sure as hell won’t train a FAX alt. Let me fly booster, boosher, scout, whatever, but I will. not. fly. logi! Life’s too short for something as unfun (to me) as that.

Officially not a bad egg anymore

In March last year I talked about how I “achieved” getting to a security status of -10 in EVE Online, the worst you can have. Turns out shooting at people in low sec – a lot – makes other people as well as the NPC empires not like you very much.

Once you’re at -2 or below police ships of the corresponding NPC faction will attack you on sight in certain high sec systems. From -5 downward this applies to all of high sec, additionally other players can attack you anywhere with impunity.

All of that we already knew before we started the life of a pirate. One thing we didn’t know, though, is that the police doesn’t just attack you when you go near them – say, at a stargate, where a bunch of them always keeps watch – they also actively hunt you down wherever you go in their space. We learned that the hard way when I had the glorious idea to run Abyssal sites in high sec despite our sec status.

EVE_positivesec2
Oopsie, my bad

When we joined NC Dot last May, Lakisa and I acquired a bunch of clone soldier tags to buy ourselves amnesty from CONCORD, EVE’s almighty uber-space-police. In null sec your sec status doesn’t matter, but unlike pirate corps, who just never enter high sec with anything but a very fast ship or their pod, null alliances take any shortcut they can get when moving around, especially when flying slow ships. We’ve been in that situation a couple of times since then, so it was the wise thing to do indeed.

Of course we only spent just as much as necessary to get to above -2. It gets more expensive the higher you want to go, and this was enough to move freely anywhere in New Eden again.

EVE_positivesec4
Where does this gate lead? Doesn’t matter, I’ll take it. Because I can!

There’s a catch of course. Sometimes we shoot stuff in low sec too, so if you stay in the negative there’s always the danger of hitting -2 again.

Fortunately all that blasting NPCs to bits I talked about yesterday isn’t only lucrative, it also has a very positive effect on your sec status. You’re getting rid of pirates – or in my case rogue drones – for the greater good of the galaxy after all.

A couple of hours was all it took…

EVE_positivesec
Finally one of the good guys again

And thus the last trace of my pirating days has pretty much vanished from the history books. Whether you look me up ingame or on the killboard, as long as you don’t bother to examine closely whom I killed and where you’ll never know that I was a bad egg once.

EVE_positivesec3

Some good deeds don’t rectify a lot of bad ones? In EVE they obviously do.

Good things come to those who wait

The first capital ship I bought in EVE Online was a Thanatos class carrier, a bit over ten years ago. I still own it today.

EVE_Carrier1
Somewhere in Period Basis, July 2009

This is remarkable because, rare exceptions aside, you buy or build every ship in EVE fully expecting to lose it sooner rather than later. Don’t undock what you can’t afford to lose isn’t the most important advice given to new players for nothing.

I did undock my carrier all right, but until very recently I didn’t actually utilize it the way I had intended when I bought it – namely combat. Instead I mostly used it to haul my assets whenever I needed ship replacements or my respective corporation moved their base of operations. I basically had what the community refers to as a suitcase carrier.

This limited and, frankly, quite lame usage of the ship wasn’t by choice though. My dream and main reason for buying it had been to send swarms of fighters to blot out the sun and bring destruction to my enemies.

EVE_Carrier2
I wonder where I got that idea from…

Unfortunately carriers were in a pretty bad place in that regard for a long time. They just weren’t that effective, mainly because you couldn’t control your fighters very well. Also, since carriers had additional bonuses for remote repair modules and the ability to fit a Triage module, carrier pilots were basically always relegated to the logistics role. I hate flying logi (I’ll save my reasons for that for another post), so I didn’t use the carrier at all most of the time.

EVE_Carrier3
Topping up POS shields, oh what fun

In 2016 capital ships were finally reworked quite heavily, and two results of that were the creation of Force Auxiliaries, aka FAXes, which inherited the carriers’ remote repairing capabilities and thus assumed the role of capital sized logistics ships, and a complete revamp of how fighters work.

The consequence of those changes is that carriers are now purely offensive ships, and fighters got a whole new control scheme and even some new abilities.

Alas, the ship class is still not used in PvP very often compared to all other capitals. I think this is mainly because everyone and their mother seems to own a supercarrier these days (incidentally known as mothership back in the day), which pretty much does everything a carrier does, just better. When we take out caps in NC. there’s usually a fleet of titans, supers and FAXes, and a second one for dreadnoughts and a couple more FAXes. Poor old carrier.

EVE_Carrier4
Titans check, supers check, FAXes check, dreads check…carriers: zero

But! Alliance leadership is adamant that we all krab a lot whenever there are no fleets going on, which in EVE terms means earning lots of ISK by engaging in PvE activities. To give us more ‘incentive’ to do so our SRP (ship replacement program) doesn’t cover pure DPS ships anymore, so if you lose your Eagle or Muninn in a fleet fight you need to earn the 400+ mil to replace it yourself.

So after all this time I finally started to use my carrier for combat. It’s only against NPCs, but it makes me pretty happy nonetheless.

EVE_Carrier8
Watching from afar as fighters make stuff go boom

It’s also freaking profitable.

For a very long time my main means to earn ISK in EVE has been running level 4 missions in high sec. Hence I have a lot of experience with it, and I know pretty well how much I can earn by doing it. Spoiler: it’s not all that much.

The measuring stick for how effective you are when shooting NPCs is ticks. The game pays out accumulated NPC bounties every 20 minutes, which is called a tick. When mission running I was lucky to break the 10 million mark every now and then, 15 when I got one of the really good missions.

The other day, after running a couple anomalies in my carrier, I got this:

EVE_Carrier6

Now, this doesn’t quite tell the whole story. While doing missions I also looted and salvaged most of the wrecks, which a Marauder class battleship can do pretty much without slowing down mission progress itself. In null, since we’re living in a drone region and most drones don’t drop any loot, the ISK is all you get. Technically I could salvage those wrecks, but the time investment isn’t worth it. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that I now earn much, much more per hour.

And it’s quite fun too, believe it or not, because wih the new fighter controls it actually feels a bit like I’d hoped when I bought the carrier all those years ago.

EVE_Carrier7
Rogue drone battleship under concentrated fighter squadron fire

The irony is of course that of all points in time I could have chosen to start doing PvE content in null sec I’m doing it now, mere weeks after CCP has decided to make such things more dangerous by giving us delayed local chat in null. Some timing, eh?

I’m pretty confident that it’ll work out all right though. We always have a response-fleet up, intel channels are used religiously and I have my own cloaky scout to give me some additional intel too. To be honest, I don’t quite get why so many folks have managed to lose their ratting ships in null sec before the blackout at all. You just need to be aligned and the moment you see someone you don’t know appear in local you warp off. Doing that cuts into your ticks though, and we can’t have that, can we?

EVE_Carrier5
Warping to safety after a hard day’s work

Anyway, I’m really happy that I finally use the carrier to actually blast stuff to bits. If all goes well I might even have the ISK to buy its big brother and use that for PvP someday. It’s always good to have goals, isn’t it?

Sov warfare can be fun after all

The ongoing war between Goon-led Imperium and PanFam doesn’t nearly make as much headlines as other wars in EVE Online have – and rightly so, unfortunately.

That’s not to say nothing’s happening – there’s fighting going on pretty much around the clock, every day. However, measured by the huge number of players involved the amount of destruction happening is rather miniscule. ISK-wise the highest damage isn’t done when combat fleets clash, but far off the front lines whenever yet another ratter or miner gets caught with their pants down by the other side’s raiding patrols or even third parties looking for easy kills.

I believe the main reason for this is that there’s actually not much at stake for both sides. Goons have stated from the beginning that they have no intention to hold on to whatever space they manage to take from us. Which means that, once they’re gone, we’ll just take it back. It’s not like anyone but Goons would be able to stop us from doing that.

As for ISK-damage done, that doesn’t matter a whole lot either. Both coalitions are more than capable of replacing any ships, citadels and whatever else the war might claim many times over.

Until now there’s been only one important and numbers-wise relatively huge fight – which Lakisa and I unfortunately missed due to it being very early in the morning in our timezone – after Goons had managed to reinforce the infrastructure hub in SH1-6P, our coalition’s main staging system. Had they succeeded to destroy it our position in this war would’ve been severely weakened. Our forces won that battle pretty decidedly and the I-hub was saved.

EVE_SovExplosion
Since I wasn’t there here’s a shot of an exploding Astrahus citadel instead

That linked article also talks a bit about the game’s current sovereignty mechanics. As usual you can read about it in more detail on EVE Uni’s Wiki, if you’re so inclined. This system, referred to as Fozzie Sov by most players, is in the game since 2015 when it replaced the Dominion Sov system introduced in 2009.

No one really likes Fozzie Sov much, just like no one really liked Dominion Sov. Or the system before that. The thing is – apart from the fact that MMO gamers in general and EVE bittervets in particular are never happy anyway – I don’t think it’s at all possible to devise a sov system that favours neither attacker nor defender too much and completely negates waiting periods and the chance for a whole lot of boredom.

That’s because you can’t actually force either side of a conflict to do anything. Whenever the attackers have reinforced a thing there has to always be a timer after which they have to come back and do another thing, so the defenders have a chance to react. There’s three possible scenarios for that to go down.

One – The defenders decide to not show up, either because they know they can’t win or they just don’t care. Everyone’s bored.

Two – The defenders show up in force, so much so that the attackers don’t like their chances and retreat or don’t show up in the first place. Everyone’s bored.

Three – Actual fighting happens, at least one side is happy. Probably the other side too, because considering the alternatives EVE’s PvPers generally like to get a fight at all, even if it doesn’t go their way in the end.

So no matter how the sov system works there will always be a good chance that you’re forming up for nothing.

That being said, last Sunday we were treated to an example of how fun Fozzie Sov can actually be. We lost the objective in the end, but most of us agreed that it was the most fun we’d had in quite a while.

Goons had reinforced some stuff in our home region Vale of the Silent, and we formed up in force to defend. Once the timer was up command nodes would begin to spawn randomly anywhere in the Z-DO53 constellation’s systems. PL and us formed a joint Muninn fleet, Horde came in Eagles.

EVE_SovPotato
Muninn fleet on the move in ‘potato mode’

In preparation for large numbers and the associated strain on the game’s client I dialed down the graphics to minimum settings, referred to as potato mode, disabled all sound – I really hate playing without sound – and turned off some other bits and pieces. The maximum fleet size of 256 pilots was reached well before we even undocked, and there were still people trying to get in. Hence having your client crash would most likely have led to losing your spot in the fleet, so I wasn’t gonna risk anything.

We were Titan-bridged into EIDI-N and waited there for the timer to tick down. Meanwhile multiple Imperium fleets were reported in KRUN-N, right next door. Since there was still time I fired up dotlan and assessed the situation.

EVE_Sov
As always, click to enlarge

I knew that we actually might have some fun when I saw the constellation’s layout and our starting position in it. Many constellations have kind of a ‘main road’ which you have to take if you want to reach every system in it. Often those are the fights that end before they even begin because neither side is willing to jump in first and be at a disadvantage from the get go. Here, though, we had many connections between systems, and apart from the IPAY-2 and V-OJEN branches neither side would be able to block the other from going anywhere by locking down just one stargate.

Sure enough, as soon as the first command nodes spawned we were off, zipping to and fro, trying to protect our ‘toasters’, the entosis-fitted ships that have to interact with the nodes, while killing off theirs. I say zipping…actually more like crawling, because there were over 800 pilots in the constellation already and TiDi was hitting pretty hard.

Time Dilation was CCPs answer to coalitions bringing more and more people into battles, crashing their servers left and right. Nowadays when a server is at maximum load everything gets slowed down to give it more breathing room. For us players this means the game effectively runs in slow motion, down to 10% of its normal speed at worst.

Additionally and unrelated to TiDi, session changes – for example when jumping through a gate or taking a jump bridge – have waiting queues when hundreds of people do it at the same time.

EVE_SovTraffic
We spent quite some time staring at this, though it rarely takes as long as it says

Nevertheless it was extremely fun. I think our FCs did a great job, but the true heroes were our Interdictor pilots. They dropped critical bubbles just at the right time and place more than once, ensuring that we didn’t get caught by fleets twice our size.

Still, after a while it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to win this. Even more reinforcements for Goons arrived while Horde’s fleet was effectively out of combat because they lost almost all of their logi due to some mishap. So at that time it was pretty much our lone 250 pilot Muninn fleet against all that stuff you see on the battle report’s red side. Time to cut our losses and go home.

Many people on our side say things like “Goons can only win when they outnumber us 4:1” or “If they blob us like that all the time they are the ones to blame when nobody gets good fights”. While that’s technically true I wonder what else they should do? I mean, are they supposed to fill up just one fleet and tell everyone else to stay at home? Just the other day Wilhelm portrayed what fleet formup looks like right now if you’re in the Imperium, and as I said, our own fleet was full too. Everyone wants a fight, that’s what we play EVE for. The difference is, if you combine all characters in the alliances on our side of that battle report you get about 24,300. The red side’s characters add up to almost 58,000.

So, yeah, being outnumbered will continue to be our lot in this war. As long as we get some good fights out of it I don’t care much. And, as I said, when it goes like it did on Sunday I might even start to actually like sov warfare. Who would have known?

13 1/2 years of EVE Online – Part III

After leaving the ISS towards the end of 2006 I took a break from EVE for about two years. I mostly kept my main account running to continue learning skills and run a mission or two every now and then, but my main game was Everquest II, which I played very extensively.

After many great folks had left my long-time EQII guild my motivation to play the game took a serious hit though, and I started thinking about internet spaceships again.

It was then that a friend of mine told me about a huge war that was going on, and that his corp, Lyonesse, part of KIA Alliance, was right in the middle of. So I sent an application to the corp’s leadership and prepared to move my stuff out to nullsec again.

EVE_History13
A common sight in null by then, a Titan sitting inside a POS’s shields

That war, today known as The Second Great War, was fought between Band of Brothers, the self-proclaimed “elite” of EVE, and Goonswarm, whose battlecry at the time was “We’re terrible at this game” and who aimed to shake up the established order. They were basically space anarchists.

BoB considered themselves unbeatable. For a couple of years they pretty much were. As if dominating New Eden’s landscape and scoring the first ever Titan kill wasn’t enough they’d also won the first three Alliance Tournaments in a row – which is why there was much rejoycing when they got their butts handed to them by a bunch of Tech I cruisers in AT IV.

In any given conflict I usually root for the underdog, so I was more than happy to join Lyonesse and KIA Alliance, who were allied with Goonswarm, to prove that BoB weren’t unbeatable in the regular game either. Unfortunately it turned out that I was late to the party.

Since its launch in 2003 EVE has always made headlines not only due to huge battles happening, but also with tales about deceit, theft and treachery. The arguably biggest such event happened just a few weeks before I joined the corp and moved to Peroid Basis. The BoB alliance was stripped of most valuable assets and then disbanded by a high ranking officer defecting to Goonswarm. The alliance being disbanded made them lose control of all their systems and outposts, which finally enabled Goons and allies to attack “Fortress Delve”, as BoB had previously dubbed their practically impenetrable home region, in force.

By the time I was combat-ready BoB were pretty much defeated and the first fleets I joined revolved around ‘mopping up’, as it were. We tried to catch as many BoB pilots, most of whom had reformed under the name KenZoku by then, while trying to evacuate their remaining assets from the area. There weren’t many left, but that doesn’t mean we had nothing to shoot.

EVE_History12
Dreadnoughts full guns blazing with battleships providing cover

Goons weren’t the only ones set on taking the now vacant space in Delve and Querious, and KIA’s systems in Period Basis were being harassed by a couple alliances living in nearby Stain whenever we were on the road.

For me this was the first time I operated under the Not Blue, Shoot It ruleset, and it was pretty fun. Overall I didn’t get all that much action due to working in shifts and hence missing many a fleet op, but I nevertheless had many ‘firsts’ during that time.

Firsts like catching a faction fitted Navy Raven ratting in an asteroid belt. We were doing a late night roam through Stain with just a couple Interceptors, an Interdictor, a Harpy and a Vagabond. Whenever we entered a system and saw someone in local we all warped to different belts in hopes of one of us picking the right one and catching the pilot unawares. When I landed in that belt my heart skipped a couple of beats because a Navy Raven was sitting right there. I immediately tackled it, started to orbit it with my maximum non-boosted speed to present as small and fast a target for its missiles as possible and told my mates to warp to me stat.

While they were still in warp I suddenly lost my target lock. The pilot had put his ECM-drones on me, and they’d successfully landed a jam cycle. You can’t tackle what you can’t lock, so I had to do something lest he get away. I hit the ‘approach’ button and fired up my microwarpdrive. Me sitting in an Interceptor meant that I picked up speed quickly, and I bumped into him with like 3 km/s. I don’t know if that really prevented him from warping off in time, but he was still there when my buddies arrived either way. While my Malediction eventually succumbed to the damage dealt by his missiles we got that kill and over 300 mil worth of loot for our efforts. I was as pleased as a punch to have managed the initial tackle and to hold him long enough for the gang to arrive.

I also got to fulfill one dream of mine: to fly a blaster-fitted Megathron battleship, Blasterthron for short, into battle. Blasters are kind of an all-or-nothing weapon system. They deal the highest damage of all turret types in the game. To offset that they have an effective range of pretty much the length of my pinky toe, so if you decide to get into that range you either win the engagement or you die. Those Thoraxes in the AT video I linked above were blaster fitted, which is why their stunt was so risky yet probably wouldn’t have worked any other way. I don’t remember why we even used close-range battleships that day, but the fight we got was just exhilarating.

EVE_History14
Battleships aligning away from a gate to their next destination

I even got one of my very rare solo kills. This Huginn tried to slow me to a halt with its Stasis Webifiers but came too close in the process. It literally melted within seconds. Unfortunately the successful op came to an inglorious end for me when I took a wrong turn on the way home and found myself all alone in the middle of a hostile gatecamp. Oh well, another first.

The successful rescue of a friendly carrier I’ve talked about a while ago also happened during that time.

Last but not least I experienced my first big capital ship brawl and also scored my first cap killmails. If I remember correctly there was a fight over a valuable moon going to happen between Goons and allies on our side and Against ALL Authorities and friends on the other. We were still staging from TN25-J in Period Basis and all available pilots were told by one of our directors to board a long-range battleship and make our way to Irmalin, a cool 28 jumps away without shortcuts. Fortunately all of Period Basis, Delve and Querious was covered by an extensive allied jump bridge network by then, so it didn’t take quite as many jumps to get there. I was extremely nervous, but it was a tremendously fun experience.

EVE_History15
I’d never seen something as epic as this in any game before

Although I definitely don’t remember it that way the battle report clearly shows that we had vastly superior numbers, but, yeah, sometimes that’s the way it goes in EVE.

Not long after that fight Lyonesse decided to leave KIA Alliance. I did understand the decision because the alliance wasn’t in a good shape by then. Leadership was mostly absent and there were less and less enemies to fight. It made me a bit sad though because I’d come to quite like a good many people of the other corporations. The overall atmosphere in our new alliance, RAZOR, was much more serious and at times even hostile towards one another. I didn’t feel welcome, let alone at home at all. So after almost a year in Lyonesse I decided that it was time to take a break from EVE once more.

The Cookies join Northern Coalition.

Yes, the big news I was talking about last week is that our EVE Online corporation Holy Cookie has joined Northern Coalition., or NC. (pronounced “N C Dot”) for short.

EVE_NCdot
The dot is even in the logo, so it’s important

It turned out that our directors had been in talks with Killah Bee, a prolific, long-time fleet commander of NC., for quite some time. To my surprise he’s also German and joined our corp meeting to discuss things with us and answer our questions. All attendees were pretty enthusiastic about the move, rejecting the invite was never even a considereration.

Personally, I was extremely excited about it and still am.

The main reason is that I haven’t been in a proper nullsec alliance for quite a while, and I kinda missed it. Sure, there are boring aspects to living out there, but anyplace else in New Eden can be equally boring while not providing the freedom and great opportunities for epic fights that basically only nullsec provides.

Another reason I’m happy to have joined NC. is that they and their allies are kind of the arch enemies of Goonswarm. While I have fought alongside Goons a very long time ago – more about that in part three of my EVE history series – since Mittani is in charge they have pretty much become the very thing they were once opposed to, at least to my mind. Getting another chance to kick their butts after Lakisa and I fought them during World War Bee back when we were in Mercenary Coalition is awesome.

The timing couldn’t have been better either, because Mittens has just decided to attack NC.-space in force. Not to take it for the Goons, but only to see it burn. They started moving their war machinery on Saturday. Let them come, I say.

But first things first. Before heading out to nullsec we had a lot of preparation to do since we had amassed quite a lot of stuff in and around our lowsec-home Kehjari by now. Ships, clones and other assets had to either be brought to highsec, be it for safekeeping or for sale, or hauled quite a distance out to our new home.

We also had to consider what to do about our security status, which was at or close to -10 due to our pirating ways. While that isn’t a problem in nullsec per se I know from experience that nullsec fleets, since they often need to cover large distances, use any shortcut they can get, so trips through highsec are always a possibility.

Lakisa and I decided ‘repairing’ our sec status before the move to be the prudent thing to do. We bought the needed tags from the market and took them to the nearest CONCORD office.

EVE_NC1
Tags aren’t enough, you charge an additional fee? What is this, the German government?

Getting our status to above -2.0 set us back about 280 million each. Yikes. At least we can now move around freely anywhere in New Eden again.

Hauling everything we needed to get rid of to highsec took a while, but we did so without losing anything and have already liquidated most of it. Alliance doctrine ships can be bought locally, so we didn’t really have to bring a lot of stuff with us. One trip in my carrier was all it took, and we were ready to go.

Which was fortunate, because a fleet op was about to start the moment we arrived. We quickly bought a pair of Eagles off contracts, set up voice comms and joined the fleet.

EVE_NC2
Eagles and support landing on a stargate

Unfortunately we didn’t get a fight that day. We reinforced a hostile Fortizar, but no one came to defend it.

The day after things looked more promising. A Goon Ferox fleet was reported to roam around M-OEE8, the entry system into Tribute (nullsec currently owned by NC. and allies) from Lonetrek (high- and lowsec). We formed Eagles again and made our way there.

We arrived at the perfect moment. Their fleet had become entangled in an array of warp disruption bubbles around the E-O gate. Killah warped us into position and the slugfest began.

EVE_NC3
A red overview is a good overview – at the start of a battle anyway

To be honest, it wasn’t a fair fight since we outnumbered them quite a bit, but of course that’s what you’re always looking for in EVE – or in any PvP game, really. Who wants a fair fight when you can just obliterate the enemy without casualties of your own, right? So we seized the opportunity and made short work of them.

EVE_NC4
Lots of wrecks on the field, none of them ours

Now this was the kind of action I’d hoped for.

A day or two later I was treated to a sight that’s old news for many nullsec veterans, but made my jaw drop a bit despite having seen it on screenshots numerous times. Turns out being there and seeing it for yourself is much more awe-inspiring.

EVE_NC5
A whole bunch of Titans sitting between a Keepstar’s uprights

My highlight by far was yesterday though, when Killah took a Muninn fleet deep into Delve, Goonswarm’s home region. With the bulk of their forces deployed in the north but seemingly not quite ready to attack us in earnest yet we now have a window of opportunity to hit them where it hurts without getting caps and supers dropped onto us.

A stealth bomber fleet of Pandemic Horde was to attack and reinforce some Goon Ansiblex jump gates, thereby disrupting their means of travelling to and fro quickly, and we provided cover for the bombers.

That cover was much needed, too. When fighting an alliance almost 35k characters strong their deployment elsewhere doesn’t mean that nobody’s home. As far as I could tell they had three sizeable fleets to oppose us; Jackdaws, Harpies and bombers. Local count climbed as high as 800 at times, with just around 300 of those fighting on our side.

Once Horde’s bombers attacked the first jump gate the hostile fleets started to zip around the grid, looking for an angle to shoot them from without being in our Muninn’s range, while we tried to counter just that.

EVE_NC7
Come and get some

Our Interdictors dropped bubbles constantly to deny their fleets the best warp-in angles. Every now and then a lone Interceptor looking to provide a good warp-in came too close and immediately felt the firepower of a couple dozen artillery platforms shooting in unison.

Then, we couldn’t quite believe our eyes, an enemy Phoenix class Dreadnought suddenly appeared on grid, right beside the jump gate. Obviously the pilot hadn’t gotten the memo of that gate being under attack and had blindly jumped through from the other side. I’ve never seen a Dread go down this quickly with only subcaps shooting it, but it wasn’t even fitted for fleet combat, so…yeah.

We all kept dancing around the gate without the enemy fully committing their fleets to defend. Eventually it was reinforced und thus rendered non-functional for at least the next ~23 hours while giving us a chance to come back and finish it for good after that time period.

We then moved on to the next such gate two systems away and repeated the process. I don’t know if this one was more important to them or if they’d just had enough of us at that point, but they now engaged us head on. Well, they tried.

EVE_NC8
The game is on

It was a slaughter. I could hardly lock the targets fast enough before they exploded. They admittedly killed a bunch of ships in return, mainly bombers, but the battle report still shows a pretty one-sided affair.

EVE_NC9
Mopping up while the remaining enemies retreat

The second jump gate had also been reinforced by then, so the op was a resounding success. For me and my corpmates it also was a massive adrenaline rush the likes of which we hadn’t experienced very often before, at least not on this scale. Extremely satisfied we made our way home.

Hopefully this was just the beginning.