EVE’s wretched hive of scum and villainy finally looks the part

If you’ve played EVE Online at any point during the past 15 or so years you’re well aware that the NPC station Caldari Navy Assembly Plant located at Planet IV Moon 4 of the Jita star system is the game’s major trade hub most players use to buy and sell their wares. And scam, and lie, and cheat, obviously. Hell, even if you’ve only heard or read about the game chances are “Jita 4-4” means something to you.

Despite its huge importance to the community the station looked like just another Caldari station for the longest time, on the inside as well as the outside.

Well, not anymore.

About half a year ago CCP completely remodeled the station’s exterior, and I think they did a pretty good job. It looks sprawling and busy, with electronic billboards plastered everywhere.

The thing is though, the station isn’t actually looked at much from the outside. As a matter of fact most arriving players dock as quickly as they can, and warp the hell off right after undocking when they leave again. The reason for this, of course, is the fear of suicide gankers.

The opposite is true for the station’s interior however. Thousands of characters basically live there. I assume more ship spinning happens in Jita 4-4 than any other station, so one might argue that in order to give players something nice to look at this should have been the priority.

Anyway, the wait is over now. A couple of days ago the station’s bowels followed suit at last. As I don’t log on my Jita alt often these days I’d probably missed it if not for Wilhelm. Which would’ve been a shame because I think it looks glorious.

Now, I know that there are much more important things CCP’s devs should be working on. Nevertheless I applaud that they took the time to do this because, for me, EVE isn’t just ‘spreadsheets in space’. It’s a virtual world, and while immersion doesn’t come easy in a game where I can’t run around and identify with an avatar, stuff like this definitely helps.

I’m sure the effect will wear off soon enough, but for now I’ll spin my ship in Jita 4-4 again from time to time, which I hadn’t done in quite a while.

Another Keepstar bites the dust

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Screenshot completely unrelated to the events depicted in this post

If you have so much as a passing interest in EVE Online you’re probably well aware that there’s a big war going on right now. While Wilhelm has posted quite a lot about his own involvement, all of it well worth a read, this is the first time I’m going to even mention it.

It’s not that I haven’t been on any ops since the war started. I just hadn’t deemed anything I’ve been part of so far interesting enough to write about.

The northern front, which is where we (PanFam) are fighting, has not seen much resistance during the first weeks. I’ve been part of several fleets to reinforce or destroy enemy structures and added two more Keepstar-killmails to my personal tally in the process. Some of these ops were long, tedious undertakings, yet during almost none of them we encountered any opposition whatsoever. I might have just been unlucky however.

In any case, during the past two weeks or so the excitement has ramped up considerably. The more we advance towards the border between Fountain and Delve, the more serious the enemy gets about defending their stuff.

Their most important system in Fountain is Y-2ANO. They need that foothold in the region because the distance between it and the neighboring system in Delve is so huge that ships can’t use their jump drives or be bridged by a titan to get to the other side. We already tried to destroy their Keepstar there and had it reinforced once, but unfortunately we screwed up the armor timer and have to start over. We’re not going to make that mistake twice! I hope.

The Keepstar in O-PNSN didn’t fare that well. Both shield and armor had already been stripped away, so yesterday we set out to make it explode. It isn’t nearly as close to Delve as Y-2ANO, but word had it that they were going to defend it anyway. I sure hoped so.

I had my main ready to go in a Ferox, our subcap of choice for most structure fights, and my alt in a dreadnought, hoping for a chance to finally use it. The three-month-insurance’s expiry date is August 23rd, and I’ve yet to fire a single shot with that damned thing.

The subcaps were bridged into O-P, and as soon as the system loaded my overview went completely red. They were going to defend all right.

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Gathering at our Fortizar, looking at our target and its defenders

Our tactics didn’t differ much from that in Y-2ANO, only that this time we didn’t have a regional gate to lock down at the same time, hence our carrier pilots sent their fighters towards the Keepstar right away. Those and a fleet of Ravens would shoot the citadel while all other fleets, mostly Feroxes and Jackdaws, provided cover.

Goons and friends had a lot of stuff on the field. Rokhs, Feroxes, Praxises, bombers and ECM-bursting interceptors as well as the Keepstar itself tried to make life as hard as possible for us. Oh yeah, and heavy TiDi too, which goes without saying for this kind of battle.

Killah Bee was FCing our subcap fleet, and at first it looked like we’d be sitting tethered on our Fortizar all evening. But eventually he warped us onto some targets sitting right at the Keepstar.

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Aligning back out to our Fort in potato mode

We picked off some ships who weren’t tethered while not losing much ourselves – although our logi wing was pretty busy keeping our Jackdaws alive if I interpreted the cursing from the other side of the room correctly – then we warped back out.

We gathered at the Fort and chilled for a while, but before long we went in again. By now they had undocked a couple of dreadnoughts and FAXes, and of course we wanted those juicy kills.

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Dreads and lots of tiny subcaps inside a warp disruption bubble

We’d just started to shoot some targets of opportunity – the dreads were in siege mode and not going anywhere any time soon – when a wing of Praxises landed right on top of us and started cycling their smartbombs.

I was well in range of at least some of them and started taking damage. This is where TiDi becomes a really painful experience because that damage came in very slowly, but my efforts to turn away from them, fire up my microwarpdrive and overheat my hardeners came to fruition just as slowly, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d manage to get out of range in time or if I was just watching my demise in ultra-slow-motion. The fact that Ferox pilots were told not to broadcast for reps as our logi had their hands full with the Jackdaws again didn’t help either.

Just when my shields dipped below one third damage stopped coming in though. I’d finally made it out, phew. Once you’re out of its range there’s not much a smartbombing battleship can do to harm you, so we stayed on field for a while longer and destroyed three dreads, a FAX and lots of subcaps before returning to our Fortizar once more to regroup. Killah’s Monitor as well as one or two dozen other ships had been lost and their pilots had to be bridged into system again after reshipping.

All the while the fighters and Ravens kept shooting at the Keepstar, and it was slowly but surely going down. It was below 10% when our fleet went in a third time.

Not to be surprised by the Praxises again we started to spread out at full speed just after exiting warp, and sure enough they came in, right on top of Killah Bee. Due to our preemptive maneuvering almost no one took serious damage though, and we pretty much ignored them and shot at squishier targets instead.

Whenever we were actually able to target anything, that is. I mentioned ECM-bursting interceptors above, and those took run after run at us now, firing their AoE ECM right after landing and instantly warping away again. And guess who was piloting one of them…

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I can now say I’ve been burst-jammed by a fellow blogger, isn’t that nice

Man, that shit is so annoying in TiDi! Please don’t do that again! 😉

We still managed to kill some more targets, among them another FAX piloted by Grath Telkin, who is kind of a Goon celebrity as far as I know. Not quite as flashy as that one time when I got the final blow on Asher Elias – ratting in a Myrmidon no less, shame, shame – but you take what you can get, right?

Of course we also made sure to shoot the Keepstar to get on the killmail, and soon™, as in just over four hours after forming the fleet, it went boom.

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No explosion in potato mode, just a low-textured wreck

We stayed on the field a bit longer and killed off the last remaining stragglers, then took a bridge home.

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Going by the battle report losses were pretty even if you don’t count the Keepstar itself. Given the defending team’s rather big advantage that’s still a win for us, however we outnumbered them heavily, so there’s that.

Still, we won the objective and didn’t lose two hundred Ravens this time, so op success x2. More importantly though, despite having to chew through a metric ton of hitpoints during heavy TiDi it was quite a lot of fun – although, to be fair, our fleet wasn’t the one doing the chewing – so thanks to Goons for showing up, and please more of the same!

How about today? Still a bit of time left to blow up my dread before its insurance becomes void…

Going after Goons again – EVE Online

A couple of weeks ago NCDot and Pandemic Horde deployed to Pure Blind, which brought us relatively close to space currently owned by The Initiative. They belong to the Imperium and thus, no matter how much they like to talk up their independence, are nothing more than another Goon pet-alliance to us.

Fighting Goons is always a good thing, however this particular deployment has left me rather cold thus far, which is why I hadn’t posted about it yet despite having partaken in several fights already.

The thing is, I don’t quite understand what we’re after here. I know, I know, getting fights and blowing up Goons should be more than enough to make me happy. I like to have at least a vague idea about our strategic objectives though, and while the average line member obviously doesn’t ever learn all the details we usually get to know what our grand goal is.

When we went after GotG last year we clearly knew our goal: to eviscerate and wipe them off the map completely, which we did. Clear objective, clear win-condition. Felt good.

Doing the same to the Imperium is out of the question though, they’re just too large for that. Also, if this was supposed to be an all-out offensive the whole of PanFam would’ve deployed and we also would’ve brought our Titans and Supers along. However Pandemic Legion didn’t join us on this one and we left the big toys at home. So, really, I have no idea what we’re actually trying to achieve here.

Anyway, fleets are going out every day, and I’ve been on a bunch. This is also the first time I’ve brought my alt with his Dreadnought along, and for most fleets I had him logged in and ready to go.

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Ferox battlecruiser on my left screen (zoomed in quite a bit), Revelation dreadnought on the right

Alas, I’ve yet to undock him as we haven’t actually commited our Dreads to a fight whenever I was around.

As is always the case in EVE, whatever does or doesn’t happen mostly depends on where and over what you’re fighting. If we stay in relative proximity of our staging system – meaning that we can drop Dreads and Carriers onto the enemy at a moment’s notice – and aren’t attacking something important like a Keepstar they mostly choose not to commit to a fight and let us shoot the thing uncontested, like these two Fortizar class citadels.

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Another one bites the dust…

If we dare venture further south however we find ourselves in range of their Titans and Supers, which dramatically shifts the balance of power in their favour and makes bringing our caps to a fight a very risky move as we might well lose them all without actually accomplishing much.

Determined to get things done regardless we set out on Sunday to destroy an Ansiblex jump gate and a cyno beacon in F7C-H0, the very system in Cloud Ring that serves as Goon Expeditionary Force’s staging at the moment, which is their We’re not officially at war but some of us still want to do PvP-stuff sig.

Horde went with Hurricanes, we brought Feroxes. I’m pretty sure the cheaper battlecruiser-doctrines were chosen because this was regarded a suicide mission from the get-go. A second fleet for our caps was formed and ready to go too though, so we would’ve been able to escalate quickly had the fight looked promising for whatever reason.

It actually didn’t look too bad when we arrived. Goons had a Sacrilege fleet, Init brought a sizeable force of Abaddons and Bhaalgorns. We were outnumbered, yes, but we’ve seen worse. Also, TEST showed up too, obviously wanting a piece of the action, and while some of us were shot by them they seemed to be mostly focused on Goons. We’ll obviously take reinforcements, whether invited or not.

As usual when we face off Goons I wondered whether I would meet Wilhelm Arcturus on the battlefield this time around, and lo and behold, there he was amidst the Sac fleet, flying logi as usual.

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Blue and purple: good. Red: bad! Grey…who knows?

He was never called primary by our fleet though, so I luckily didn’t have to shoot at him. He’s done his own report of the battle too, which is worth a read of course.

Anyway, the fight began with the usual dance where fleets circle each other looking for a good warp-in. It didn’t take long though, and once we warped right into Init’s fleet and bubbles went up all around us we knew that the slugfest was on!

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An Abaddon dies, next target already locked up, drones shooting the Ansiblex

From our perspective it even looked quite good for a while as we destroyed one Abaddon after the other while not losing much ourselves. As it turned out, though, that was because Horde’s Hurricanes took the brunt of the enemy fire at first. Meanwhile what we’d feared from the start happened: Goons brought their Supers and Titans to the field. At that point the fight’s outcome was decided, the only question was whether any one of us would make it out alive at all.

We lost all of our fleet boosters first, then they proceeded to decimate our logi wing. At that point the order came for everyone to align to the Alsavoinon gate and overheat our microwarpdrives. As Alsavoinon is a lowsec system no warp disruption bubbles can be launched there, so making it through that gate would probably mean getting home in one piece.

Only that we were still up to here in bubbles, and the still pretty strong Abaddon fleet was right in front of us…

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My Ferox heading almost straight towards all those baddies

Every time we got halfway near the edge of the last bubble a Goon interdictor landed right at that edge and dropped a new one, lengthening our path to safety by another 20-25 km. To conserve capacitor and keep the MWD running as long as possible I’d already disabled my shield hardeners a while ago, but no one aimed their guns at me yet. Others weren’t so lucky, and Lakisa was one of our last Basilisks to go.

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The bubble’s edge, so close and yet so far away

And then no more dictors came and some endless moments later I was free. I frantically hammered the warp-button until my client finally got the message that I indeed had entered warp. My sigh of relief was cut short however as the gate wasn’t far away and heavily bubbled too. Of course. Another 40 km to go, with an enemy fleet sitting right at the gate. Again I set my course and overheated the MWD, convinced that those ships would soon start to blink first yellow then red, heralding my demise. No one even locked me though, and soon enough I was in range and hit the jump-button. I was too excited to pay attention to alliance tickers at that point, but in hindsight I assume that fleet must’ve been TEST’s Zealots, which would explain (more or less) why they didn’t blow us to pieces.

So yeah, I truly survived and returned to our staging with a nearly burnt-out MWD but otherwise unscathed not long after. I guess that particular Ferox is my lucky charm as it wasn’t the first time I made it out of dire straits while piloting it. Astonishingly almost half of our fleet reached our safe haven intact, but, again, the enemy had probably just been too busy picking Horde’s fleet apart.

The funny thing is, although we took a severe beating Goons didn’t actually commit their big guns quickly enough to save their structures, and both the cyno beacon and the Ansiblex went boom. So, op success! Ha! Kind of, anyway. They obviously anchored new ones right after the fight was over, and the battle report shows, unsurprisingly, that they won the ISK battle by a fair margin.

So I guess in the end everyone won. Ain’t too bad of an outcome, really.

Time flies when you’re having fun

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As per tradition: moar cake!

Hard to believe, but today marks this here blog’s third birthday.

Had you asked me back then whether I thought I’d still be writing blog posts three years down the road…I really don’t know what my answer would have been.

One thing I do know for sure though. Had you told me at the time that I would publish 187 posts with a total of 156 thousand words, and still no end in sight, I’d called you crazy. But here we are.

The main reason, of course, is that it is a lot of fun. Much more so than I would have imagined. It’s also an ongoing learning experience. When I compare my first couple dozen posts with more recent ones it’s almost as if someone else had written the former. It’s remarkable how quickly human beings can learn stuff that’s rather alien to them and become at least somewhat proficient just by doing it over and over.

Along the way I’ve even learned a bit of HTML-code – I didn’t want to, but WordPress made me – which may come in handy…or not.

What didn’t happen was blogging becoming my true love and/or main driving force. Towards the end of Blapril Bhagpuss said that he’d rather write about games than actually play them, at least at the moment. To me actually playing the games is still much more important, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. After all the desire to chronicle my gaming adventures was and remains far and away the main purpose of this blog.

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Speaking of which, this third year has indeed been quite an adventurous one, not least due to the release of ArcheAge Unchained in October. Sucker for sandboxes that I am I’ve been deep-sea fishing, building a family empire with friends, trading, making music and generally goofing around quite a lot since then.

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Warframe was last year’s new addition to my gaming library, and a really great one. While it’s obviously neither an MMORPG nor a sandbox it has a surprising number of gameplay elements on offer that aren’t just about killing stuff. I’ve built a custom gun, went mining and fishing, composed deadly tunes, played Guitar Hero In Space and tried myself at parcours.

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The third game I’ve spent a lot of time with was EVE Online. I went back to nullsec, experienced my first Keepstar-kill, saw a faction Fortizar blow up and went to fight inside wormhole space. In April we would have finally made a trip to Iceland and attended the EVE fanfest too, but of course that didn’t happen. Maybe next year.

Finally, about a week ago Lakisa asked me, quite unexpectedly, about an MMORPG we hadn’t been playing for a couple of years. Honestly, I’d had heavy-heartedly made my peace with the fact that I’d never play it again some time ago, what with the reboot it got in 2017 that, in my opinion, was totally uncalled-for and ‘improved’ an outstanding game very much for the worse. Turns out, though, that the original version can still be played and even has a couple handful of players.

So yeah, we’re back.

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Looking stylish as ever…

Don’t be surprised to read some stories about a supposedly dead game around here in the near future. Year number four, here I come.

Op success…more or less

After all that preparation it was finally time for our attack to commence on Thursday evening. The system’s residents used a Fortizar class citadel as their main base, which we set out to reinforce (by depleting its shields) first, in hopes that the armor timer would come up on Friday, and the critical structure timer on Sunday.

We warped over to the Fort, anchored up and opened fire.

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Of course our incursion hadn’t gone unnoticed by now, but the home team didn’t come out to play. At least one of them manned the Fortizar’s gunner seat and pestered us with bombs and ECM bursts, but that slowed us down by just a bit. Reinforcing citadels without capital ships or a huge subcap fleet takes quite a while, but we got the job done.

Unfortunately it turned out that we had been a bit too late to set the armor timer for Friday, instead it was to come out on Saturday evening. Which also meant that the final timer, should it come to that, was going to be on Monday. With many of us grounded due to the pandemic we hoped that enough people would be able to make it though.

We proceeded to reinforce an Astrahus and an Athanor, then we were basically done for the night. Our next opportunities for combat would be our own Astrahus hitting its pre-anchor vulnerability window on Friday evening, and their Fort’s armor timer on Saturday.

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Astrahus under heavy fire

That didn’t mean that there wasn’t anything to do until then though. Probably the most important factor when fighting over w-space is who controls the routes in and out of the system. It’s what EVE players call ‘hole control’. Now that I type it out I realize how…weird…that actually sounds.

Anyway, they who control the entrance- and exit-wormholes basically control the system because the opponent can get neither reinforcements in nor their stuff out to safety.

In k-space this would mean camping the stargates, and we did camp the wormholes from time to time.

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Our gang from one of our battleships’ point of view, sitting at a wormhole

Even more important is regularly ‘rolling’ the holes we don’t want or need to control though, which means making them collapse by sending more ship-mass through than it can bear. Of course you don’t want to get any of your ships stuck on the wrong side, and it’s quite a science to get it right. The process involves high-mass battleships as well as heavy interdictors, the latter of which can fit modules that, when activated, reduce the ship’s mass to almost zero.

Like I said, all of this was pretty new for most of us, and mistakes were made. None of those proved to be critical though, and we had things under control for most of the weekend. Our targets helped quite a lot with that though because, unfortunately, they didn’t seem willing or able to defend their home.

They didn’t show up on Friday, so our Astrahus went online uncontested, and we reinforced another couple of their citadels.

Of course we had high hopes for a fight over their Fortizar’s armor timer on Saturday. They did show up this time, but all they brought to bear was a gang of about 15 Jackdaws. Those shouldn’t have been a threat to us at all, but they actually managed to destroy one of our Guardians because its pilot didn’t have his shortcuts for broadcasting set up correctly. We scared them off after that though, and the Fort’s armor melted pretty quickly under our fire.

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Not least thanks to our Leshaks’ insane DPS

Sunday was a rather uneventful day with us bringing some latecomers and ammo replenishments in and continuing to uphold our control over the system.

Attendance for the final timer on Monday was ok, although we were a bit shorter on logi pilots than before. It didn’t really matter because the defenders didn’t show again. The Fortizar went boom and that was that.

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Unlike citadels in k-spcace those anchored in a wormhole don’t have the luxury of asset safety, so everything that hadn’t been snuck out dropped for us to pick up. There wasn’t much of worth, but at least the Fort’s salvage netted us a nice sum.

On Tuesday we got everything and everyone out, back to highsec.

Quite an anti-climax after all that build-up, wasn’t it? Sorry about that. Not quite what we had imagined for sure. But, as I said, it was still pretty exciting. This wormhole stuff is so different, it’s hardly the same game.

Lakisa and I are definitely looking forward to our next deployment.

Blapril 2020 post count: 3

Well begun is half done?

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Preparations for a normal fleetfight in EVE Online’s nullsec-space are usually very simple. Log in, join fleet, read MOTD, hop into your doctrine ship of choice and wait for further instructions. If you don’t have one for whatever reason, chances are the contract market is well stocked with fully fitted ships and you just need to buy one.

The ramp-up for our new SIG‘s first deployment looked quite different. While nullsec alliances are used to tackle every problem by throwing more bodies at it, wormholers, out of necessity, very much operate under a ‘quality over quantity’ mantra. Since we weren’t planning to bring the whole alliance – where would have been the fun in that? – we knew we’d have to bring our A-game to stand a chance.

The first huge distinction awaited us before we even knew which ships we’d be going to pilot: implants. Capsuleers have a wide variety of cybernetic augments to choose from. The catch is that, once plugged in, they can’t be removed anymore from that particular clone, and if your pod is destroyed while using that clone, so are all implants.

Since the target system applies a hefty bonus to armor hitpoints to all ships in it the decision was made that every combat pilot needed to have a full set of at least mid-grade Amulet implants, which give another considerable boost to a ship’s armor HP.

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Believe it or not, we actually managed to dry up Jita’s supply of mid-grades and had to substitute with high- or low grade. That’s just shy of two billion ISK worth of implants I have in my head there. It’s a pretty weird feeling to undock knowing how expensive that pod is, let me tell you.

At least that last implant wasn’t new to me, as I was chosen to fulfill a role I’ve been in a lot during our time in Holy Cookie: fleet booster. Our ship of choice for the armor- and information-boosts was the Damnation.

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Is it a bird? If so it really needs to change its diet…

I won’t go too much into detail about the rest of our fleet’s composition for obvious reasons. Let’s just say the ship fittings had to match the implants’ quality. Where the Tech II variant of many modules almost always suffices for a nullsec fleet, we used at least faction mods, with some deadspace items thrown in there too. Man, that shit is expensive.

Once we were all set the train left Jita, headed towards the first of a route of wormholes that led into the target system at that point in time. I’m still really bad and slow at probing for wormhole routes, hence I hadn’t volunteered to do that kind of stuff on our first deployment. Of course some folks are very good at it already, and those heroes had spent a good chunk of the afternoon to map out that route.

Another thing to consider was how we were going to operate while in the hostile system. There are no neutral stations in w-space, and the normal practice to let a freighter or jump freighter haul construction kits for a citadel or two wasn’t going to work. Enter deep space transports.

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How did that tower fit in there? Err…space magic!

Those things are specifically designed to haul cargo through hostile space, and they are small and fast enough to take the route of wormholes along with our fleet. A couple of those were enough to carry materials for a good old POS and an Astrahus class citadel into the target system. The POS was to serve as our base of operations during the 24 hours it takes for an Astra to anchor.

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Our temporary shelter in an otherwise hostile environment

Once the citadel was placed and the POS finished anchoring we were finally set for action. Up to this point the operation had already been much more exciting than what we normally do, and we all couldn’t wait for the next phase of our plan to begin.

Blapril 2020 post count: 2

Breaking new grounds in EVE Online

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Reading Wilhelm’s tales about the various special interest groups (SIGs) he’s been in over the years as a member of The Imperium has always made me feel a little bit envious.

Instead of always doing stuff at alliance- or even coalition-level those groups are a bit more specialized, which, I imagined, can give their members a somewhat greater sense of purpose. They are also smaller, naturally, so people get to know each other better and possibly become more of a close-knit group and thus a more efficient fighting force.

Of course you can’t really compare Goons to NCDot – or any other alliance for that matter – but I always thought it would be cool if we had that kind of thing too.

Now, we do have regular activities on corp-level in Blank Space. Those are mostly done in cooperation with some out-of-alliance entities though, which unfortunately makes them feel even more anonymous to me than basic alliance stuff.

Lo and behold, as if someone had read my mind, about two weeks ago the founding of a SIG was announced, open to all NCDot-members. Conceived and led by Killah Bee the idea is to give interested pilots access to an exciting and, for many of us, new type of content: fighting over wormhole-space (w-space).

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A wormhole daring us to jump into the unknown

Wormholes have been a part of New Eden for many years now, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of players has only ever utilized them as a faster means of travel, if that.

The thing is, if low- and nullsec are EVE’s wild west, w-space is basically hell’s precipice.

Systems in w-space are not accessible by normal means of travel, namely via stargates or jump drives. They can only be entered or left through a wormhole – hence the name. Inconveniently those things aren’t always at the same place though, and they don’t always lead to the same destination either. After a certain total mass of ships has gone through in either direction a wormhole collapses, and even if left alone they vanish after a certain amount of time.

Wormholes also don’t show up on your overview unless you’re already on grid with them, so if you don’t have one bookmarked you have to use scan probes to find it. No probe launcher equipped? Well, good luck getting back to known space (k-space) again.

Yes, you can actually get stuck in w-space. If you can’t get out by yourself and don’t have help you might be forced to self-destruct. It’s an option that always remains, but depending on your ship’s and pod’s value that might hurt quite a lot.

On the other hand, if there’s a fight going on in there and someone else destroys your pod you’ll wake up in k-space too and might not be able to get back in to help your mates.

It’s a complicated matter to say the least. As usual EVE Uni has an extensive guide if you’d like to know more.

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Due to all this life in w-space is a wholly different beast than anywhere else in New Eden. Nullsec-residents like us and ‘wormholers’ have pretty much nothing in common, which is what our new SIG is all about: getting fights on a smaller scale while using completely different ships, fittings and tactics than those we’re all so very used to.

This past weekend we had our first deployment. A 100-odd strong corporation living in a C4 w-system was chosen as our target, and our goal was to evict them from that system and loot all their stuff. Such is life in New Eden, no?

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Our main object of desire, not yet knowing what was to come

Stay tuned for debriefing.

Blapril 2020 post count: 1

Nothing lasts forever in New Eden

I’ve been pretty busy in EVE Online since I’ve joined Blank Space and thus rejoined NCDot.

Due to PanFam’s running campaign against Dead Coalition there are fleets going up around the clock. As far as I can tell our goal here is to wipe DARKNESS and Co – still referred to as GotG most of the time – off the map for good. Old grudges and all that. Look, politics in EVE are complicated.

Right now they aren’t resisting much, if at all. We’re clearing Tenal off their structures pretty much uncontested, and they reportedly also abandoned Branch already.

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One of our Muninn-fleets advancing on enemy space

Fortunately Goon-led Imperium wanted to get in on the action and deployed to the north about two weeks ago, so in addition to shooting defenseless structures real fights are also happening.

One of those occurred when we attacked a Dead Coalition infrastructure hub (iHub) in Deklein the other day. To no one’s surprise we took a few Titan bridges to get there faster. This Ragnarok was waiting inside a good old POS for us.

EVE_Returntonull4
The swarm of tiny specks approaching the Titan is our fleet

I wouldn’t have thought to ever see a POS again, what with CCP planning to take them out of the game for years now. But there it was, its shields protecting the Titan from any harm. Oh yeah, and also bumping out the Pandemic Legion guys whom to tell the POS-password no one had bothered. Some things just never change.

After that we arrived in Deklein without further incidents, and the “toasting”, i.e. capturing of command nodes in order to destroy the iHub, began. Some of the region’s actual owners did show up, but for the most part defending forces were composed of Imperium pilots. Test Alliance Please Ignore (TEST) were also present, to my surprise fighting on our side. I never seem to be able to track when they’re allied with Goons, and when they’re fighting them. Like I said, EVE politics are complicated.

Anyway, for quite a while the fight was looking good for us and node after node was captured. A TEST Apostle was dropped by a trio of Dreads and killed, but we destroyed all three of them in return, tilting that exchange heavily in our favour too.

EVE_Returntonull5
A Revelation’s remains floating in space, some fires still burning

We were almost finished with our task when a squadron of Imperium stealth bombers hit our fleet with a very well executed bombing run. Within a couple of seconds we lost over twenty Muninns and half a dozen logis. Ouch! Of course Muninns, like all heavy assault cruisers, are able to heavily boost their resistances for a short while at the touch of a button, but the “Bombs!! Bombs!!”-warning in voicechat came a wee bit late and not everyone, myself unfortunately included, noticed the bombs in time. Welp.

Most of the bombers died in return, nevertheless this one really good move of theirs tilted the battle report nicely in their favour ISK-wise. Still, we destroyed the iHub, so our tactical objective was accomplished. After that our fleet went home the long way. Lakisa and I, having both lost our ships, had the luxury to just self-destruct our pods and wake up in our home station instantly. One should enjoy the little things, right?

EVE_podded
On second thought, maybe “enjoy” isn’t quite the right word for it

On the next day yet another first awaited me, as well as the reason for this post’s header. A ping for a structure shoot went out, and since I had some time left before I had to leave for work I figured I’d tag along. The FC called for Feroxes, and once everything was sorted we left with a fleet just shy of 80 people. A small fleet by our standards, but not bad for around 14:00 EVE-time on a weekday.

No one came to defend the structure anyway, which turned out to be a faction Fortizar on its final timer. Which, to be honest, made me a bit sad.

Faction Fortizars came into being when CCP converted all old, player-built outposts into citadels in 2018. The ramifications of that conversion were manifold, but for me personally the biggest consequence by far was that these outposts lost their state of eternal existence due to it.

The old outposts, once built, were immovable and indestructible. They could change hands – voluntarily or by force – but they wouldn’t go away. I was around when those outposts were still a huge undertaking to build and thus pretty rare, a long time ago, and I also contributed to some of them being paid for and deployed in a couple of ways, so I always had somewhat of a soft spot for them.

For the most part the faction Fortizars even look like the outposts they once were, and the four different types wear the names players gave the first outpost of the corresponding type ever built. The administrative fortizar, for example, is called ‘Marginis’ after the first such outpost, constructed by the Interstellar Starbase Syndicate in 2005. I used to live in that outpost for months!

Fortunately this one was a ‘Draccous’ manufacturing Fortizar, which doesn’t have quite as big of a nostalgia factor for me. Still, seeing it blow up hammered home the fact that, indeed, nothing lasts forever in New Eden.

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Another remnant of EVE’s past…gone

I really need to pay KDF-GY a visit and see whether the OG ‘Marginis’ Fortizar is still there one of these days…

EVE Online – Out of nullsec, back to nullsec

EVE_Returntonull1

When Holy Cookie joined Northern Coalition and moved to nullsec in May of last year we all knew what we were getting ourselves into – or so I thought.

Despite having talked about life in a nullsec-alliance extensively before the move, quite a few corp members were less than thrilled about the goings-on within our new organisation rather soon. Some people left the corp, others remained on paper but mostly minded their own business when online.

Just over three months in, corp leadership realized that something had to be done and a voice-meeting was scheduled to talk things over.

Attendance was quite good, most of the remaining active players were there. We discussed our options for like two hours, the conclusion being that the majority wanted to stay in NCDot while also trying to do more stuff as a corp again. Sounded like a plan.

About two weeks later a message from our CEO suddenly informed us that we were going to leave the alliance, with cyno chains for getting our assets out of nullsec going up pretty much immediately. Our clear, almost unanimous vote to the contrary during our meeting wasn’t even mentioned. We also weren’t allowed to talk to anyone outside of our corp about it.

Lakisa and I were flabbergasted. We didn’t want to leave NCDot, and with a bit more time to think things through we’d probably tried to seek refuge in one of the alliance’s other corps right away. With the clock ticking and no means to get our stuff back to empire space on our own – not least thanks to CCPs godawful changes to cynos mere days before – we jumped on the train and moved along back to our old stomping grounds in Black Rise.

The move itself wasn’t great either, what with the short notice and timeframes mainly dictated by gatecamps in certain systems being or not being active, and by the time we’d arrived in Kehjari I was seriously pissed off at our leadership about the whole thing. Corp members tried to help each other out as much as possible, and I believe everyone got all their stuff out eventually, but it was a shitty experience and I absolutely wasn’t in the mood to carry on as if we’d never left lowsec at all.

So I just didn’t log in anymore. I canceled my second account’s sub – “Cyno changes suck, chaos era sucks!” were the reasons I gave CCP in their why-are-you-leaving-us questionnaire in hopes someone actually reads that stuff – and left my main running only to train some more skills for the time being.

Lakisa wasn’t as mad as I was, but she didn’t want to be a lowsec pirate anymore either, so she reached out to one of the nice folks we met at EVE Berlin who happens to be a director in Blank Space, a corp belonging to NCDot. She was accepted to their ranks right away, moved back to nullsec and has had a lot of fun since.

Of course she repeatedly tried to talk me into joining Black Space too, and she had a lot of goods things to say about the corp and its members. So two weeks ago I finally decided that I’d had long enough of a break and applied for membership, which was accepted last week. Yay!

I said my goodbyes to the Cookies, some of whom I’ll definitely miss, and made my way into the cold emptiness of nullsec again. Fortunately one of our old corpmates agreed to buy all assets I had left in Kehjari, including my carrier, saving me the hassle to schlep that stuff along. Thanks mate! A travel-fit interceptor and a padded wallet was all I took with me. After all I knew from experience that I’d be able to buy everything I’d need at our current staging.

The timing couldn’t have been better because just two days later I got onto my very first Keepstar killmail. Unfortunately its owners didn’t show up to defend – they’d already retreated to Branch by that point and are falling back even more as I type this – so it wasn’t much of a fight, more like a test of our TiDi-management skills. Still, a first for me.

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I killed this Keepstar! Along with over two thousand other pilots, that is

There’s much going on at the moment, pretty much all the time, and it’s great.

Last Friday held not one, but another two firsts for me. In preparation for an op to hunt ratters and miners in the heart of Goon-space I made my way to Thera – the capital system of wormhole space, if you will – by myself, which marked the first time that I had to scan for wormhole entrances without help. Not that it’s really hard, but it takes a bit getting used to.

Following that the op itself yielded a supercarrier kill, which was my first too.

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A Hel, going down from concentrated bomber and Dreadnought fire

Unfortunately two of the Dreads we dropped in order to kill our target quickly enough had to stay on the field and die, but that still was a good tradeoff for us.

After that seemingly every ratter and miner in all of Delve docked up to be safe from us, so there weren’t any more kills to be had. Considering how much ISK and minerals they would have generated, had they been in space instead of hiding during our presence, even that has to count as a win for our side though.

Even more stuff has happened since then, but I’ll save that for another time. Suffice it to say, being back in nullsec rocks and I couldn’t be happier to have taken that step. Also, last week’s events prove that EVE is a game that, even after more than 14 years, can still offer me new experiences. Can’t ask for any more than that, really.

A decade of MMO gaming – Part II

Happy new year, folks!

Last time I talked about the various MMOs I’ve played between 2010 and 2014. Now let’s have a look at the past decade’s latter half.

2015

Decade14

ArcheAge won my heart instantly, but alas, only to go ahead and break it soon after. I’ve talked at lenght about all that here.

The realization that the game was basically rotten to the core hit us pretty early on, nevertheless we continued playing for quite a while. We just couldn’t let go. Its great aspects, those we had so much fun with and that made us feel like we’d found our new virtual home, meant too much to us.

Having started in September ’14 we held on until about July ’15. What finally tipped the scales was the announcement of server merges later that year, meaning that everybody on affected servers – including ours – was going to lose their land. That made us drop the game like a hot potato.

Decade15

I’d read about Marvel Heroes from time to time, but wasn’t all that interested for some reason. Mainly because I thought (and still think) that I don’t really need another ARPG when I can play Path of Exile any time I want, I guess.

Quitting ArcheAge left a huge void though, and we’d just rewatched a couple of great Marvel movies – my favourites are still the first Iron Man, the first Avengers and the second Cap – so it seemed like the perfect time to try it. It didn’t even come close to knock PoE off it’s throne, but it was cool and I miss it.

Decade16

We went on vacation in September, and while we were away we pondered which proper MMORPG we might play next. WoW aside one of the the last AAA titles we hadn’t tried yet was Final Fantasy XIV. Lakisa was up for it from the start, I wasn’t so sure. Reading about its gathering and crafting systems won me over pretty much instantly though, and we ordered the boxes so that they were already waiting for us when we returned home.

The game took a bit getting used to, but we had fun and played it straight all the way until the end of the year. However by that time I was absolutely sick of the game’s stubborn gating of content behind the main story quests, the mandatory group content bits to advance said main story, and also burnt out by the crafting grind, so I decided to quit before we’d even seen the first expansion’s content.

2016

Decade17

Some time during spring I felt drawn to EVE again after a nearly five-year hiatus.* As usual I did some mission running to get into the groove again and pad my wallet. When Lakisa watched me doing that she got interested, played a bit on my account and eventually created her own.

We gave her character a little jump start by injecting skill points I’d extracted from an alt of mine who didn’t use them anymore and tried a bit of everything. Missions, exploration, mining, production. The ultimate goal was to get into PvP of course. By that time I’d read that the Mercenary Coalition, one of the game’s first large merc groups many years before, had reformed and Noir., my former corp, had joined them. They even had a training corp for newbies, Noir. Academy.

Long story short, we joined them in March. Perfect timing that was, because World War Bee was just getting intense and we got to see some really big fights. As academy pilots we weren’t allowed to fly “real” ships though, and having to move your base of operations every two weeks or so gets very tiring, so once WWB fizzled out in late June we decided we needed a break.

* I’d last played in 2011, which I totally forgot to mention in the preceding post. Oops. I was in Noir. Mercenary Group from March until about July, a relatively small merc corporation mainly operating behind enemy lines for their contractors. It was the first time I actually received a wage for PvP – we got a cut of the contract payment depending on activity instead of the usual ship replacement – which was pretty great. I didn’t stay longer for various reasons however.

Decade18

In October we returned to FFXIV. The next expansion, Stormblood, had been announced, and being a huge fan of all things Asian I thought, well, if we start now we should easily be able to get through the story until it arrives.

Yeah…no. I’m sorry, but playing this game is work. I mean, we played on and off (more on than off) until August ’17…

2017

…and we did have some fun, don’t get me wrong. But everything takes so much time here, and, more importantly, you have to do things just the way Yoshy P and co. have envisioned it. I’ve never felt so much like being held on a short leash by an MMO. Of course we did not actually make it through Heavensward and subsequent patches until Stormblood arrived, which meant that despite having bought the expansion we couldn’t even fricking go there and have a look at the new zones and housing districts.

It’s sad because there’s also much to love here, but…I’m sorry…screw that game!

Decade19

In June I started this blog, so from here on out it will be much easier to get the timeline right, and I’ll also have posts to link to in case you would like to know more.

Decade20

I don’t remember if it was Lakisa or myself who first expressed the desire to return to EVE in earnest, but by April we were back in New Eden. To make things easier for us this time around we wanted to join an all-German corp, preferably one operating in low sec. It didn’t take long to find Holy Cookie, and we joined them in May. Through the rest of the year we fought in Alliance Tournament XV, moved to a new home and scored lots of kills in low sec.

I also played Destiny 2 when it came out and had some fun for a while, but its problems soon became too blatant to ignore, and I haven’t touched it since.

Decade21

In December I made my third attempt to get into Black Desert Online. This time it really clicked, and hard. I still don’t know why I couldn’t get into it before only to absolutely fall in love with it then, but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes.

2018

Consequently I played a lot of BDO whenever there was no action going on in EVE. This two-headed dragon absolutely dominated my gaming time until we went on a long vacation towards the end of March.

Decade22

When we came home I seemingly needed something different, so I picked up Path of Exile once more. Discovering how fun and strong a summoner build can be in this game made me stick to it much longer this time around. I even played a challenge league somewhat seriously for the first time and reached hights I’d never reached before in an ARPG.

Just like in 2017 the summer months were also heavily shaped by preparations for EVE’s Alliance Tournament and the tournament itself. We fared relatively well once more, but were again put in our place by more experienced teams in the end.

Decade23

In August I returned to Everquest II after a very long break, wondering why the heck I hadn’t played it for this long. Revisiting Nights of the Dead and Frostfell was a real blast from the past, with additional content I didn’t know yet to boot.

Decade24

Come December it drew me back to BDO though, which carried me well into the next year.

2019

Black Desert is a really exceptional MMORPG, and during the year’s first half I played it almost exclusively.

Our corp joining NC Dot in May gave us another big push to play some EVE again though, and it was a pretty fun ride. Lakisa and I didn’t want it to end either, but many corp members didn’t like living in null sec as much as they’d imagined and left, so leadership decided to leave the alliance again. Unfortunately that whole thing was handled very badly by our CEO in our opinion, which made us pretty unhappy. Thus we ultimately left the Cookies after over two years. Lakisa joined one of NC Dot’s corps, Blank Space, and is still having fun in null sec. I haven’t played EVE since.

Decade25

In August a seemingly minor article over at Massively OP made me finally try out Warframe, and I liked it from the start. I see many parallels to Path of Exile here, which is always a good thing, just in the form of a 3rd person shooter. It’s great!

Decade26

That same August also gave us the announcement of ArcheAge Unchained. I dismissed it as just another cheap attempt to rob us blind at first, but as time went on and its release drew nearer I couldn’t resist and tried to inform myself about it.

Well, I’ll be damned! It’s the real deal, and it’s awesome.

If it works, that is.

By now it mostly does though, and we’re having a lot of fun. I played it every day and didn’t touch anything else for the rest of the year.

Honorable non-MMO mentions

Decade27

Despite my huge fondness of the genre I didn’t only play MMORPGs and MMOs during these ten years of course. I won’t (and probably can’t) name all other games I’ve played, but the ones I liked the most, in no particular order, are:

The Uncharted series (2 and 3 are the best), Resident Evil 2 Remake, Limbo, Inside, GTA V, Heavy Rain, Vampire: Bloodlines (playthroughs four to six or something), Batman: Arkham Asylum & City, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Overwatch, StarCraft 2.

Here’s to the next ten years of gaming!